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Flora & Fauna

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Yunho really hates fae parties.

They’re messy, they’re raunchy and worst of all, they’re loud. His ears are already ringing with the sound of too-raucous laughter, drunkenly-played flutes and obnoxiously off-beat drums, and it’s only been an hour since he first caught a whiff of them.

He’s just trying to gather up the last of the good berries at the edge of his territory before they leave with the spring. He’d managed to fill a basket by the time he realized just how close they were to his lands, and it made him bristle. He snaps up his basket and climbs the embankment past the tree line, and there they are. Partying.

There’s easily a dozen fauns and twice as many nymphs, all milling about the grassy meadow stretched out and dappled in sunlight. The ones who aren’t attempting to play their instruments are very occupied by the nymphs, lounging naked and tangled up in each other before the gods and everyone. Yunho grimaces and looks away.

Most fae live for the revelry, the drinking, the sex, but Yunho just wants everyone to leave.

Such parties don’t usually happen so close to the glade he calls home, but as autumn has begun to encroach upon the spring warmth, the fae have been forced to venture further south.

Yunho’s is the southernmost territory in the region, and while they definitely know that, definitely can smell his scent along the tree line… they are pushing their luck, their ruckus spilling over into his borders as the day has worn on.

It’s not as though Yunho will actually do anything about it, though.

Yunho has a reputation… but a reputation is all Yunho has.

Yunho is not an aggressive or confrontational being. Other fae just see him—his stature—and they… make assumptions.

Yunho might not be confrontational, but he is not in the best of moods, having to listen to all that. His ears twitch as he turns, making his way back down the embankment.

He stops when he hears voices, closer than all the others. One sounds so aggressive that it actually makes his hackles go up. Against his better judgement, he follows the sound.

After walking about forty paces, he finds the commotion. There’s a willow which grows aslant a brook that divides the meadow from the forest beyond it. One of the fauns is standing in the ankle-deep water, looming over a small figure at the base of the tree. He looks comfortable, perfectly cradled there in the tangle of roots as though they’d parted just for him. He has a phial of pale liquor in his grip, his eyes half-lidded against the setting sun. His hair is a pale, peachy orange, and there are dahlias in varying shades between yellow and vermillion crowning his head.

The other faun steps closer, his form shadowing the nymph, dwarfing him.

He’s so small.

Nymphs are generally svelte creatures, so this isn’t all that unusual, but he’s still particularly slight. It makes the faun looming over him look more threatening than perhaps he’s intending. Judging by his coloring, antlers and tail, he’s a deer faun. He looks strong, but he’s at least a full two heads shorter than Yunho.

His voice is aggressive when he speaks again. “Don’t be like that, baby—you’re only being a tease because of the season.”

Yunho bristles. Maybe he’s being exactly as threatening as he’s intending after all.

“I said no.” The nymph bites back, his tone lilting with indifference and irritation both. “Go bother someone else, I told you I don’t feel well.”

“And I told you I can make you feel better.” The deer faun leers, tired of waiting for permission and pouncing on the nymph, caging him against the tree roots.

The nymph squawks in protest, willing the low-hanging branches of the willow to wrap around the faun, to pull him off—but it’s clear the nymph’s powers are waning with the season, and he shakes them off easily. The nymph tries to scramble away, but he’s dragged back roughly by his ankles. He wails in pain when his thigh drags across the sharp knot of a root and it cuts him badly enough that he starts bleeding.

Yunho doesn’t think… rather, it feels as though all rational thought drains from his head as he just bullrushes the guy, knocking him away and sending him sprawling through the mud.

“What the fuck?!” The deer faun sputters as he tries to get his bearings. All the anger slides off his face when he sees just who attacked him, his mouth dropping open.

Yunho snorts, draws up to his full height and rolls his shoulders. His hooves kicks up water beneath him, scraping along the pebbles in the brook with a grating sound. “You’re really gonna act like that, in front of the gods and everyone? In my territory?”

The deer faun goes pale, all the color draining from his face. “You—Yunho! I’m… I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were—”

“I don’t give a fuck. Get out of here.” Yunho snarls, and the guy just nods manically and turns tail, scampering away like a gods-damned coward.

Good.

Yunho exhales, his shoulders dropping. He turns to check on the nymph, but it must appear to him that he’s being aggressively rounded on, because the nymph flinches and cowers further against the roots of the tree.

Yunho’s expression softens, and he crouches as he moves closer cautiously. “Oh gods, are you okay? You’re bleeding a lot…”

The nymph seems to realize he doesn’t intend to hurt him, and relaxes a little. “Yeah, um, c-could you maybe… help me get to the brook?”

“Yeah, yeah sure.” Yunho carefully scoops the nymph up in his arms and moves him the few paces toward the brook, setting him in the shallow water. He remains crouched there, ready to attend to him again if needed.

The nymph pays him no mind, washing away the blood and pressing his palm against the skin. His hand sparkles with magic, but after a moment, he hisses and pulls it away. The wound has stopped bleeding profusely, but the flesh hasn’t mended at all.

“Dammit… my magic is waning.” He says, clearly frustrated. “It’s the season, the closer we get to autumn—”

“Can I bring you somewhere?” Yunho asks gently.

The nymph frowns. “My home’s pretty far.”

“I could take you to mine. Just for now.” Yunho tacks on quickly. “It isn’t far, and it would give you a safe place to heal. No one ever comes too far into my territory.”

The nymph smirks slyly at him. “Can’t imagine why.”

Yunho flushes. “I’m not usually—what I mean is, I’m not some hot-headed bull all the time, that guy was just… he attacked you, so—”

“No, it’s fine. Really, I should be thanking you. So, thank you.” The nymph says, offering him a small smile. “My name’s Hongjoong.”

“I’m Yunho.”

“I figured.” Hongjoong teases, but then he shivers, the chilled water likely starting to get to him. He isn’t wearing much, just swaths of airy fabric tied at the waist with silky, golden ropes. “Sorry, could we—”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry—” Yunho scoops him up again, standing.

“Wow. You’re so—” Hongjoong mumbles almost thoughtlessly, looking around. “Would it be cliché to comment that the weather really is different all the way up here?”

Yunho barks a bashful laugh. “Well your delivery was clever so I’ll allow it.”

“Really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a faun as big as you.” Hongjoong admits, sounding fascinated.

Yunho coughs uncomfortably as he heads back toward his home, scooping up his basket of berries on his way down the embankment. “It’s, ah—well, most of the faun here, they’re from the deer or goat clans… sometimes you may even meet someone from the horse clans. My kind are from the northern regions, not many of us venture so far south… maybe a stray elk faun or two. And there are so few of us moose clan fauns left as it is.”

“I’ve never met another.” Hongjoong replies agreeably. “Are they all as big as you?”

Yunho clears his throat again when it suddenly feels dry. “Ah… no. I was, uh. Well, I felt like I had to leave because I was sick of every bull who crossed my path trying to start a fight. They always acted as though they had something to prove.”

“Your kind are territorial.” It flatly isn’t a question.

“Very.” Yunho mumbles. “Thankfully that means the other faun usually leave me alone, and all the way out here, I don’t see much of my own kind. A vast improvement.”

“You don’t like the parties?” Hongjoong asks in a curious tone.

“No, not really.” Yunho admits. “I’m not much of—well, I’m not really good company, I think.”

Hongjoong looks up at him from his place in the faun’s arms, cocking his head and furrowing his brow. “I don’t know, I think you’re delightful company.”

Yunho snorts in amusement. “Well, thank you. I’ve never been much good at making friends. Fauns and nymphs alike take one look and turn tail. I’m not the sort of person others would expect kindness from.”

“Well, that’s their loss.” Hongjoong huffs indignantly. “I mean, you were scary at first, when you ran off that other faun… but you’re… well, you’re really quite nice, Yunho.”

Yunho flushes. “Th-thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Hongjoong says with a proud little smile that Yunho thinks is unbelievably endearing.

After a little while longer, they reach their destination. Yunho has been living in this particular part of the forest for most of the year, so it’s become rather homey. It’s nothing spectacular… just a wooden structure built into a cluster of trees, tall enough to accommodate his height and wide enough to accommodate his antlers. There’s a lantern hanging above the door to light his way home, woven into a tangle of healthy green vines as to not risk starting a fire.

Yunho cradles Hongjoong into the crook of one elbow as he pushes open the door, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. He’s never once had anyone else in his house before this.

“It, ah—it’s not much, but it’s home.”

“It’s lovely, Yunho.” Hongjoong says in a tone that isn’t at all placating, and his sweet smile is genuine.

Yunho clears his throat and scratches at the base of his antler before closing the door behind him.

“Let me, um… I can prepare somewhere comfortable for you to rest, and then we can work on dressing your wound.”

“Thank you.” Hongjoong replies softly, almost looking a little guilty as he’s set down gently on a bench that Yunho had made out of a massive fallen tree trunk.

Yunho doesn’t mind in the slightest, if he’s being completely honest.

Before anything else, he digs out his winter bedding… mostly furs and wool items, and piles them neatly near where Hongjoong is sitting. It may be a little warm for the season, but Hongjoong seems to get cold easily, so he hopes it will do the trick. By the time he’s done, the sun has sunk behind the horizon nearly entirely.

After that, he starts the tedious task of lighting all the lanterns throughout the space so that he can see in the kitchen. Hongjoong makes a noise of protest, however, and Yunho halts immediately.

“Wait, let me.”

The nymph brings both hands to his mouth, blowing into his palms. Magic glitters there for a moment before he opens them again. Tiny lights like fireflies dance in his palms, and when he blows on them, they scatter around the space, illuminating all the dark corners.

“Should you be doing that? Isn’t your magic waning?” Yunho asks worriedly. “Isn’t it getting harder for you?”

“It’s fine. Simple magic is easy. Cantrips, small gestures… healing is difficult. Manipulating nature is difficult.” Hongjoong explains. “Mostly in autumn. It’s the furthest season from spring, so that’s when my connection to my magic is the weakest.”

“I see.” Yunho mumbles, rifling through his shelves now that he can tell what is where. “Well, I have a few things that might help with your leg. Yarrow and marigold… ah, here!”

“Those will do.” Hongjoong tells him.

Yunho nods and gets to work grinding them with water in a mortar and pestle, making a salve he can apply to the wound. He mixes some of it into even more water, bringing that to Hongjoong in a cup. He kneels at his side with the salve, and Hongjoong moves the fabric of his toga aside without a hint of shame, which isn’t unsurprising, given that he’s a nymph.

Yunho carefully applies the salve while Hongjoong does his best to gulp down the concoction he’s been handed. Once he’s finished, Yunho smiles and gently squeezes the uninjured part of Hongjoong’s thigh.

“There, that should help your healing along.”

He’s looking at Hongjoong, but Hongjoong isn’t looking at him. He’s looking at Yunho’s hand spread across his thigh, long enough that his fingers easily span the entire breadth of it.

Hongjoong makes a somewhat breathless sound just as Yunho bashfully pulls his hand away. “Th-thank you again, really—you’ve done so much.”

“It’s nothing.” Yunho insists, picking up the cup and the mortar, heading back into the kitchen. “Are you hungry?”

“I can only confess to having wine at the party.” Hongjoong admits.

Yunho huffs a soft laugh. “Of course.”

A little while later, he returns to Hongjoong’s side with a plate of berries—the ones he’d picked earlier—and a cup of plain water. 

“Here, if you want to eat this for now, I’ll make something heartier. It will just take some time to cook.”

“Oh, you needn’t do all that—” Hongjoong protests.

“It’s fine, I was planning on cooking for myself anyway. I eat a lot, but I always make too much. Somehow, my eyes are still bigger than my stomachs.” Yunho insists, laughing off the concern. “Just give me a little time, hm? Make yourself at home in the meanwhile, but try not to move too much.”

Hongjoong hums and nods in acquiescence, and Yunho gathers some more things from his kitchen, including a cauldron, before heading out to the yard to cook it.

He can’t help the smile that’s plastered on his face as he cooks at his little fire pit, deciding on a hearty stew.

By the time he returns inside, Hongjoong is done with the berries, and has moved onto the plush pile of furs Yunho had set out for him. He looks comfortable, and even has one pulled over him.

“Chilly?” Yunho asks as he brings the cauldron in, setting it on the counter and finding the bowls.

“A bit.” Hongjoong admits. “More so now that the sun’s gone down.”

“Well, this should warm you up.” He brings a small bowl over to Hongjoong and refreshes his water, then sits down with a large bowl for himself.

Hongjoong must be famished, because he digs in. He pauses after only two bites, though, and makes a somewhat obscene sound that has color rising on Yunho’s cheeks.

“It’s delicious! What is it?”

“Just lentils, squash and chickpeas. But the spices have grown exceptionally this year, and I think it really accents the flavor.” Yunho answers proudly.

Hongjoong just hums in delight, nods and keeps eating.

Yunho can’t remember the last time he shared a meal with someone. Certainly not in this home, or any time in recent years for that matter. Perhaps when he’d been traveling south, looking for a place to call his own. When he managed to find a tavern that didn’t run him out instantly for just looking like someone who would start trouble, that is.

He’s pulled out of his thoughts when Hongjoong lets out a satisfied sound, dropping his bowl to his lap. “That was really good, thank you, Yunho.”

“It wasn’t any trouble.” Yunho insists. “Did you want more?”

“Huh? Oh no, I’m stuffed… but thank you.” Hongjoong replies. “I might try to sleep, it’ll help with the wound.”

“Oh, right, yeah. You should rest up as much as you can.” Yunho agrees, setting his bowl aside to gather up Hongjoong’s and bring it back to the kitchen. “If you have need of anything, just ask. No matter the hour. I’m a heavy sleeper, so you may need to… try.”

Hongjoong laughs, a sweet, melodic sound. “I’m sure I’ll be fine. Thank you again, Yunho. For everything.”

“It was nothing.” Yunho insists, grabbing his own bowl again to hork down the rest of his food quickly. He manages to remember his manners, swallowing before offering a kind, “Sleep well!”

“You too.” Hongjoong says softly, burrowing into the furs.

Yunho can just barely see his bright, contented smile in the dim magical light, but it makes him smile, too.

He’s quick to finish his food and wash the bowls and cauldron before heading to bed himself. It doesn’t take him long, but by the time he climbs into bed, the house is almost dark.

As Hongjoong fades, so do the fairy lights floating through Yunho’s home… not because he is falling asleep, but because he has willed them to… and by the time sleep pulls him under, they have all gone out.

***

The next morning, there’s a bit of a chill in the air. Yunho delights in it, but he’s certain that it isn’t good for Hongjoong. He decides to make him some tea before he wakes, and drops some yarrow in with the sage to help with the wound.

Hongjoong seems to awaken when the smell reaches him, and he sits up just as Yunho crouches next to him, holding the steaming cup. He looks sleep-soft and a little disoriented. His hair seems duller, too, and several of the dahlias crowning his head have fallen out.

“Good morning. Tea?” Yunho asks, offering the cup.

“Mm, thank you.” Hongjoong accepts it, blowing on it a bit before taking a sip. After a moment he shivers, clutching tightly to the teacup. “Autumn is coming on swift winds this year.”

“This is warmer than I’m used to, still. In the north, it gets cold quickly, and stays longer.” Yunho explains. The warmer climate has actually been pretty uncomfortable for him, but it’s been worth it for the peace and quiet.

“This here is still somewhat north for me… my home is a bit further south, where the season keeps for just a little longer.” Hongjoong tells him. “I should… really be getting back there, to enjoy the last of summer’s warmth.”

Yunho is sure it’s inconvenient being stuck here, away from home with a strange faun he’s just met. He can’t blame him for the sentiment. “I can prepare anything you need for you to take with you, and you’re welcome to some of the furs. I won’t need them until the dead of winter and I can surely get more by then.”

“If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I can even make the journey.” Hongjoong laments with a defeated sigh. “My power is only waning as the days go by, and with this wound—”

“I could take you.” Yunho blurts out, unthinking.

Hongjoong chokes, and judging by the look in his eyes, it is both from the weight of that offer, and the unintended double-entendre.

Yunho flushes deep red. “I could accompany you, I mean.”

“It would be no small thing.” Hongjoong warns. “Half a day’s journey by foot, and that isn’t accounting for my current condition.”

“I can carry you. My legs are longer, so the journey will go faster.” Yunho says, a joke… but also, serious.

Hongjoong holds his gaze for a moment, earnest. “You mean it?”

“Yeah. Us fauns like to be on the move before autumn comes anyway.” Yunho says with a shrug.

“I know precisely what you bulls get up to in autumn.” Hongjoong quips in a flat tone.

Yunho’s cheeks blaze once more. “I just meant I like to get away from all the commotion. I’d rather be left alone. I don’t feel like locking antlers with a guy because I came too close to his lady.”

“Oh, but I bet the ladies all come looking for you.” Hongjoong teases.

Yunho just grunts uncomfortably. “No, definitely not.”

Hongjoong scoffs. “What, they don’t want a big, strong bull to breed them up?”

Yunho grimaces, nearly gagging at the crude statement. “Not my particular big. Other fauns just look at me and think I’m aggressive, and so… I’m undesirable.”

Hongjoong lets out a loud bark of a laugh that’s dripping with incredulity. After Yunho stares for a moment in shock, the nymph swallows awkwardly and glances away. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I meant it, though. I’ll take you.” Yunho tells him, earnest.

“You’ve… already done so much for me.” Hongjoong responds, staring into his tea. “I don’t know how I’d ever repay you.”

“Mm… well, in the spring, perhaps you could send a little more of your magic to my territories and ensure a bountiful season.” Yunho suggests with a teasing smile, because he’s mostly kidding.

“That’s the least I could do.” Hongjoong scoffs. “But… if you really will. I… I would really love to head home.”

Yunho smiles. “I’ll make us some food and pack for the journey, and we can leave whenever you’re ready.”

***

The trip should only take half a day, and even accounting for being slowed down by having to carry Hongjoong—light as he is—Yunho doesn’t anticipate them arriving any later than sunset. He packs meals for the both of them, a few light snacks and plenty of water. Hongjoong busies himself making a dressing for his wound with some spare fabrics, tying it tightly around his thigh. Yunho also rolls up one of the furs and attaches it to his side bag, then drapes another over Hongjoong’s shoulders as they prepare to leave.

He does one more check of everything before strapping his bag across his shoulder and taking a knee.

“Whenever you’re ready.” Yunho says, looking at Hongjoong expectantly.

The nymph nods, draping along his back. Yunho braces him by his legs, then stands, and as soon as he takes one step, he knows something is wrong.

Hongjoong cringes, clutching hard around his shoulders and seething against his ear.

“Wait, it, uh… it kinda hurts like that.”

Yunho realizes his hand is bracing against Hongjoong’s thigh. His injured thigh.

Yunho is a moron.

“Oh… oh gods of course it does, I’m such an idiot! You should sit on my shoulders.”

“Your… shoulders.” Hongjoong says slowly, a doubtful look on his face.

“Yeah. Here.” Yunho sets him down, then kneels as low as he can manage. He brings his hands up over his head, reaching back, and when Hongjoong takes them, he pulls him up. Once the nymph’s thighs are settled on either side of his neck, he stands.

Hongjoong makes a soft noise of surprise, grabbing his antlers to stabilize himself. After a moment, though, he releases them with a scandalized squeak. “Sorry! I just… balance…”

“It’s all right. Is this better?” Yunho asks. He doesn’t have to brace Hongjoong at all to keep him steady like this, and the wound on his thigh shouldn’t be getting pressure from anywhere.

“Yeah, a lot better… thank you.” Hongjoong murmurs.

“All right, then let’s try this again, shall we?” Yunho says, and then they’re off.

Hongjoong’s added weight doesn’t slow him down too much. He weighs hardly anything, really, and Yunho is no stranger to heavy lifting and carrying burdensome loads. When he was building his house, he’d had to lug tree trunks across decent distances, and it hadn’t been too much of a struggle. This was honestly nothing.

They make small talk as they go, Hongjoong mostly regaling tales of all the fae parties Yunho has been missing out on. Some of the drunken escapades honestly sound like a fun thing to witness, but Yunho is still sure it’s not his scene. He thinks he could listen to Hongjoong tell him something mundane like the gods’ hidden histories or something, and he’d still eagerly listen. The way he speaks is so eloquent and animated, and the way he drops or lilts his voice to imitate others is endearing.

Yunho notices as they reach the rockier terrain that Hongjoong seems to have trouble finding a hand-hold. Every time he lurches forward with too much momentum, he latches onto one of Yunho’s antlers, then lets go like it burned him and apologizes profusely. Yunho just chuckles and waves off his concern.

“You can hold onto them, they’re pretty strong.” Yunho tells him. “They won’t get loose ‘til midwinter.”

“Mm, so all faun shed their antlers?” Hongjoong asks as he finally lets himself lean against one, the curve of it cradling him like the roots of a familiar tree. “Even ones as big as these?”

“Yeah… helps us conserve energy in the colder months.” Yunho explains. “And we’re only supposed to really need them in the fall, anyway.”

“For your dick wars?”

Yunho sputters, but laughs when he realizes Hongjoong is laughing, too. “Yeah. Gotta protect my territory from all the rowdy fauns. Otherwise, they’re just to… get attention.”

“Well, they have mine.” Hongjoong murmurs, smiling tiredly. “You have mine.”

Yunho snorts, and he wants to shake his head, but he doesn’t want to jostle Hongjoong, so he abstains. “You nymphs are such flirts.”

“It’s a gift.” Hongjoong mumbles sleepily. “You mind if I nap?”

“I don’t know where I’m going.”

Hongjoong waves a hand dismissively, and a little blue butterfly glittering with magic appears in front of them. It’s just another cantrip, simple magic that probably takes him no effort, but Yunho still thinks it’s impressive.

“Follow that, it’ll show you the way.”

“All right. Nap to your heart’s content.”

“Mm.” Is all Hongjoong manages, passing out within seconds.

***

The journey is a little harder without the companionship. The forest is mostly quiet, just the calm sounds of nature surrounding them. The magical butterfly seems to keep pace with him, never straying too much or getting too far ahead even when he struggles to walk through a particularly difficult tangle of roots or over a fallen tree. Hongjoong sleeps peacefully, only occasionally snuffling or snoring and reminding Yunho he’s there.

Yunho is used to adjusting to the difference in the weight of his own head with and without antlers, so the extra weight doesn’t really bother him much at all. He just has to remain conscious of how much he’s jarring Hongjoong, because he’s not holding on as tightly since he’s sleeping. Whenever he has to step over a tree trunk or traverse an incline, he leans forward a bit and holds Hongjoong’s calves, keeping him steady.

The nymph sleeps soundly through it all, though, most of his magic and energy likely going into healing his injury.

It’s several hours before Hongjoong wakes again. He grips tightly onto Yunho’s left antler to brace himself as he sits up, rubbing his eye with his free hand.

“Mm… where are we?” He asks groggily.

“No idea. I’ve never traveled this far south.” Yunho replies probably too cheerily.

“Here, can you… stop a moment over by that large tree, please?” Hongjoong requests, and Yunho complies.

Hongjoong reaches out a hand, feeling the bark of the tree. He goes still for a moment, closing his eyes as though he’s listening carefully. “More than halfway home. We should stop for a moment to rest and eat before continuing on.”

“Sure.” Yunho easily agrees, finding a small clearing in the trees for them. He kneels and helps Hongjoong down, then gets to unpacking their provisions.

That little magical butterfly flits around them as they eat, resting on Hongjoong’s head at one point before moving on to Yunho’s antlers. The faun can’t help but laugh softly and smile.

“You don’t see magic much, hm?”

“Well, as you know, fauns don’t have magic.” Yunho says. “And I don’t really meet many other fae, honestly.”

“Faun are known to cavort with nymphs quite a lot.” Hongjoong says, raising an eyebrow. “But you don’t really seem the… cavorting type.”

“No, I—I guess I mostly keep to myself.” Yunho admits sheepishly.

“That deer faun knew you, though.” It’s flatly not a question.

“Only by name. I have a… reputation. Those near my lands know to stay away.” Yunho explains.

“Because you aren’t one for cavorting?” Hongjoong guesses, but it’s equally a dig.

“Yeah.” Yunho shrugs. “Don’t have to constantly get into territorial disputes if every faun within the region thinks you’ll trample him for even coming close. But fauns get bolder as autumn draws near. And like you, they like to avoid the cold.”

“Just seems like you’d be lonely, is all.” Hongjoong murmurs, and he almost sounds… sad.

“Oh, well, I mean, I’m not completely alone.” Yunho assures, waving off his concerns. “I’ve finally gotten some of the animals that live in the forest around my home to trust me, so I have them to keep me company. Though most of them will be coming south for the winter, I suppose…”

Hongjoong cocks his head, another one of the dahlias falling out of his hair; a yellow one, this time. New ones seem to have grown in his sleep. “You’re… really quite something, Yunho.”

The faun lets out a flustered laugh. “M-me? No, I’m just. I don’t know. A big, dumb loser who wants to be left alone.”

“I don’t think you want to be left alone.” Hongjoong says softly, his thumb sliding across the rim of his empty bowl. “I think you just want to live a peaceful life. And because other fauns have always been so aggressive towards you, you think that means you have to be alone. But… you don’t.”

Yunho swallows, staring at the ground. “Don’t I?”

“No.” Hongjoong continues. “Because if you can convince the creatures of this forest to not fear you when they can’t even understand your words, then surely you could make friends with fauns you can actually speak to.”

He smiles, then, beaming brightly until his eyes become like crescent moons, and Yunho thinks that maybe he’s right.

***

They continue their journey once more after repacking, Yunho helping Hongjoong back up onto his shoulders before they’re on their way. It takes them several more hours to get to Hongjoong’s home, and the sun has already begun to set by the time they arrive.

The magical little blue butterfly guiding them has begun to glow faintly in the fading light. It isn’t really needed anymore, per se, because Hongjoong has been awake and talking with him through the remainder of their journey, but it’s easier to keep on track without Hongjoong having to check their bearings and figure out where they are.

“Ah, there it is, just past that glade.” Hongjoong tells him animatedly, holding Yunho’s antler with one hand so that he can lean forward and use the other to point.

Yunho isn’t sure what he expects, but he supposes if he’d thought much about it, what he sees absolutely suits Hongjoong.

His home seems to be made of thick vines and moss, likely manifested by his own magic when it was in its prime during spring. There are flowers everywhere, though many of them are wilting or losing their color. There are animals milling about, grazing on the grass or drinking at the ornate fountain made up of rocks and stones cascading down one corner of the roof. Most of them seem to spook and scatter when Yunho approaches, and he frowns dejectedly despite himself.

“Don’t worry, everyone! He’s with me! I’m home!” Hongjoong calls sweetly.

Yunho figures it’s just a silly gesture, mostly for his benefit. He remembers the way he’d softly cooed to the animals around his own home, gently reassuring them that he meant them no harm, feeding them and never lifting a hand to them. Later, when they came to trust him, he will admit—only to himself—to holding full conversations with them. He knows they don’t understand him, but Yunho finds comfort in it. 

He thinks it’s for him, but then, something incredible happens. The animals all peek their heads out from their hiding places, warily sniffing the air or glancing around before returning to gather around the front of the house.

Because Hongjoong is a spring nymph. He holds power over nature. They can understand him.

“Hi everyone! Did you miss me?” Hongjoong asks in that same kind tone, and several birds chirp from the roof. “Is that so? Well how would you feel if I told you that your feathers look dull? Hm?”

The same birds tweet much more solemnly, then flit down to light upon the base of the fountain and begin bathing themselves. Hongjoong laughs.

“I was only kidding! I’m sensitive, you know.”

“Did they say something mean?” Yunho asks, a little awed.

“They said my hair’s gotten duller.” Hongjoong sighs, patting his shoulder. “Help me down?”

“Sure, of course.” Yunho does, still keeping one hand in Hongjoong’s to help him hobble into the main yard.

“Now, everyone, this is Yunho. It’s rather late so he’ll be staying the night at least. He’s been very helpful to me over the past two days so I beg that you will treat him with kindness. I promise he doesn’t mean you any harm.”

Yunho offers an awkward wave, smiling. “Hi, nice to meet you all.”

“They may not understand your words, but they understand intent. And so long as I trust you, they will trust you.” Hongjoong explains, laughing softly. “I think they can already tell you don’t intend to hurt them.”

“Right! Of course, I wouldn’t—ever!” Yunho insists, shaking his head and probably looking comically horrified by the idea, if Hongjoong’s laughter is anything to go by.

“Well, come on in, I’ll make some dinner. I owe you, after all.” He tugs Yunho along as he hobbles toward the house, Yunho helping him along and opening the door. He has to duck and turn sideways to enter, but the ceiling is at least high enough for him to stand once they’re inside.

Hongjoong’s home is… green. It’s covered in moss, vines, grass and flowers, though many are fading with the season just as the ones outside. As soon as they enter, Hongjoong’s magic brightens the space, lights floating like fireflies all around the house. The home is held up with thick, tree-like pillars made of hard vines that connect ceiling to floor, and some of them are not spaced far enough apart for Yunho to walk through without turning sideways again. It’s a little cramped for him, but it seems perfect for Hongjoong.

Yunho has to let Hongjoong go so that he can bustle around in his kitchen, though he does so carefully and with less ease than he usually does, Yunho imagines. He gleefully remembers that he has some salted fish he left to dry out before leaving for the party, and goes to the window to ask the birds to fetch it for him.

Yunho takes a seat in the common area on a small stump and takes everything in. After a short moment, he notices the animals poking their heads in through the windows, and waves sweetly at them. Some of them shy away, but the birds just sort of watch him and cock their heads to and fro, puffing up their still-drying feathers.

“You should really be resting that leg, you know.” Yunho chides when Hongjoong comes over carrying a bowl of figs. The nymph just pouts.

“I rested it all day. You carried me all the way from your lands to mine, in case you have somehow forgotten… I don’t think you really understand just how great a favor that was.”

Yunho shrugs, but takes the bowl happily. “It’s not as though you’re a faerie or pixie who’s obligated by nature to repay me.”

“Maybe so, but it would still be unspeakably rude if I didn’t.” Hongjoong retorts, heading back into the kitchen.

“I’d say you already have.” Yunho tells him in between bites of fig. They’re sweeter than any he’s ever had before, and he finds himself wondering if it’s because Hongjoong cultivated them with his magic. “You’ve been… nice company. This has been a welcome reprieve from my usual solitude, if I’m being honest.”

Hongjoong looks at him, then, and his gaze is somewhat piteous. “You truly have no friends?”

Yunho’s mouth scrunches up thoughtfully. “Well, there was this bunny—”

“No, Yunho, I mean… you know.” Hongjoong huffs. “Fae. Other fauns. You truly have no one…?”

Yunho shrugs again. “I’ve kept to myself for the past few years. Every time a faun’s come into my territory, they’ve been less than friendly. And I can’t even talk to faeries, I’ll end up giving them the skin off my own back. I’m not really careful with my words.”

Hongjoong tilts his head at him. His look is still pitying, but there’s something else there. Confusion… maybe fondness. Maybe something else entirely.

“I bet you would.”

It’s not insulting, or cruel. There’s almost a splash of humor in his tone.

It’s a long while before either of them speak again. When he does, it’s because he’s returned to the common area to join Yunho, now with plates piled high with fish, vegetables and bread.

“Oh, this looks delicious, thank you so much.” He takes a plate eagerly, and Hongjoong sits across from him.

“Dig in. You’ll need your strength.” He insists. “It’s a long journey back home.”

Yunho nods, and digs in. It seems as though Hongjoong is only picking at his food, his thoughts elsewhere. When their eyes meet, though, Hongjoong smiles… although it is a somewhat melancholy thing.

Yunho thinks he means to say more, but he doesn’t.

***

Later, after dinner, Hongjoong wills the grass in one corner of his home to grow in lush and thick in just large enough of an area for Yunho to lie comfortably. When the nymph wobbles precariously on his feet and clutches his head, another dahlia falling from his hair, Yunho insists it wasn’t necessary.

The grass only does so much, so Hongjoong lays out the furs they’d brought with them because he insists he doesn’t have anything more comfortable. Yunho doesn’t care—he’s grateful for the roof—but Hongjoong just huffs at him to get some sleep.

Hongjoong’s bed is tucked up in the far corner of his home near the ceiling, a large hammock-like cradle of vines and soft moss. He scrambles up into it with some effort, but sighs at the familiar comfort. Once he’s settled, he wills the floating lights around his home to dim, and wishes Yunho a soft, “Sweet dreams.”

When the dawn comes, Hongjoong does not seem well. His hair has lost some of his color, paling closer to yellow than orange. There are hardly any flowers left crowning his head at all.

“Do you need me to gather you some yarrow and marigold before I leave?” Yunho asks softly as the nymph hands him a breakfast of mulled wine and bread.

Hongjoong just blinks groggily and shakes his head. “I have plenty. I’m a spring nymph; you think I don’t harvest my own flowers?”

“Of course you do, that was stupid of me.” Yunho mumbles, shoving bread in his mouth just to not further make a fool of himself.

“M’fine, I just… pushed myself a little too much yesterday.” Hongjoong insists, plopping down next to Yunho. After a beat of silence, he speaks again. “When do you think you’ll go?”

Yunho does his best not to choke as he quickly swallows his bread, washing it down with the wine. “Um… well, I should leave before noon, if I don’t want to traverse the forest at night. That should put me back home by sundown.”

“Mm.” Hongjoong nods, his gaze fixed upon some spot on the floor, but not at all focused.

“Was there… anything I could help you with before I go?” Yunho asks softly. “If your leg is still bothering you, I mean, is there anything I can help with, to make things easier?”

Hongjoong finally looks at him. There’s something in his eyes again that Yunho’s seen before. Maybe that fondness from last night. “I… uh… can’t really think of anything.”

Yunho nods, finishing off his bread as a solemn silence falls between them.

“You know, if—”

Hongjoong doesn’t get to finish, because there’s a rustling sound above him just before something drops from the roof and right onto his head. He lets out a surprised yelp and whatever had fallen makes a shrill, distressed noise of its own before Hongjoong picks it up.

It turns out to be a reddish-brown weasel with a belly white as snow, and it’s probably the cutest thing Yunho has ever seen.

“Can I help you, sir?” Hongjoong asks, sounding a bit affronted. “What did I tell you about—”

The creature bleats at him again when he catches sight of Yunho, then wriggles free of Hongjoong’s grasp to climb up his arm and snake around his neck, hiding his face in the nymph’s hair.

“You’re being rude. This is Yunho, he’s very nice.” Hongjoong tells him, exasperated.

The weasel pokes its head out warily, then slinks down Hongjoong’s arm and starts making distressed noises.

“Oh. When did that happen?” Hongjoong listens intently as the creature squeaks at him, and Yunho wishes he could understand. “Okay. Um… can you show me?”

The weasel squeaks again, then dashes to the door. Yunho tries not to coo over the adorable way it runs.

“He says there’s a downed tree that blocked off the only way into his den, and his mate and kits are trapped and will need food and water soon or they’ll die.” Hongjoong explains, standing. “You can wait here, if you want… I won’t be long.”

“I can come!” Yunho says probably too eagerly, standing so fast that he carelessly clips his antler on one of the trees holding up the house. He winces, ducking his head. “Sorry. I mean, I can help. You’re still not completely healed and your magic is weakening, so… I could help, maybe.”

Hongjoong inclines his head. “I can’t argue with that. Come on.”

The two of them follow the weasel through the forest. Hongjoong isn’t limping anymore, but he takes it slow. Eventually, the weasel stops on top of a tree trunk that’s fallen directly up against the roots of a mighty pine tree. It squeaks and soon they can hear a chorus of similar muffled sounds coming from underneath the tree.

Yunho immediately feels his heart twist. “We have to help them!”

“I know, I’m thinking.” Hongjoong huffs, surveying the fallen tree. “The roots look healthy, and it isn’t huge… it was probably shoved over by an aggressive bear. Maybe I can re-root it.”

He moves toward the disturbed dirt where the roots have been ripped free and focuses his magic. After a few seconds, the roots begin to reach out like viney tendrils, clawing back toward the dirt. The tree starts to tilt up and the weasel startles, jumping off of it and onto Yunho’s arm. He skitters up onto his shoulder and watches while Yunho tries not to embarrass himself by being excited that the weasel isn’t afraid of him anymore.

The tree is barely off the ground when the roots let go of the dirt and it falls back down with a thump, the family of weasels beneath the pine tree shrieking nervously in the wake of it.

Hongjoong wobbles on his feet, stumbling back toward Yunho and bracing himself on his arm, breathing hard. The weasel hops over to Hongjoong’s shoulder and squeaks at him.

“I’m sorry… I just… my magic is too weak right now.” Hongjoong sighs, holding his head. “This is so frustrating. I don’t know what we can do.”

“It’s fine, Hongjoong. I’ll just move it.” Yunho says, squeezing his elbow in reassurance before moving closer to the tree.

This would be easier if he had tools, if he could saw the tree into smaller parts first… but there are weasel babies depending on him. There isn’t any time.

Yunho braces himself between the fallen tree and the pine, digs his hooves into the trunk of the still-rooted tree, and shoves as hard as he can. The fallen tree gouges into the dirt but it moves about two pygōns before getting caught on another tree. It’s enough to uncover the roots, though, and that’s all that matters.

Yunho hears them before he sees them: a little chorus of squeaks and chirps. And then a brown weasel just a bit smaller than the first comes bounding out of the roots followed by eight miniature ones. Yunho doesn’t stop himself from cooing this time.

“The babies!” He cries gleefully, and they all titter happily and scamper around his feet while the parents reunite and rub their faces together in greeting.

Hongjoong smiles, huffing a soft laugh. “Good job.”

“You’re welcome weasels! Oh, you’re all so cute…” Yunho laments as though it’s causing him physical pain. It might be here in a moment.

“Here, to tide you over until you get the chance to hunt again.” Hongjoong says, crouching to lay some fruits in front of them. When he stands, he sways dangerously and Yunho quickly moves to brace him.

The weasels chirp what Yunho can only assume are their thanks as they gather up the fruits and head back into the tree. Yunho’s heart feels warm, and he smiles all the way back to Hongjoong’s abode.

***

It’s already nearly noon by the time they return. Yunho really needs to go. He knows he needs to leave.

“I should… probably get going before it gets too late.” Yunho says, though it’s almost painful to do so.

“Right, right, of course. Here, let me.” Hongjoong bolts to attention and heads for his kitchen, gathering him some supplies for the trip.

“It’s just me, I won’t really need much.” Yunho insists, but Hongjoong seems to be pulling out a variety of things to eat.

“Still, I want to send you with extras. You can just eat them over the next day or two.” Hongjoong reasons, shuffling around the kitchen a bit manically.

“Hongjoong, you don’t have to—”

“Yes I do.” Hongjoong huffs, slamming his hands down on the counter. “You’ve done so much for me, so let me just… do this.”

He doesn’t even wait for a response, just goes back to what he was doing.

Yunho sighs softly, because he knows it’s pointless to argue.

“I know I had some of that other jerky… it’s somewhere…” Hongjoong mumbles to himself, stretching up to reach the higher cabinets. When he can’t reach, he uses his magic to make one of the vines in the roof unfurl, willing it to wrap around the jar he’s seeking and hand it to him.

He barely has his hand around the jar when his eyelids flutter and he staggers, a wave of fatigue washing over him before he and the vine let go. The jar shatters on the counter and Hongjoong goes with it, collapsing.

“Hongjoong!” Yunho dives forward, barely making it in time to catch him. He doesn’t account for all the space he needs for his antlers and he feels it rattle all the way down to his teeth when the right one slams into one of the larger vine beams connecting to the roof. The house shivers, but nothing breaks.

At least it hadn’t been something he could have caused destruction to.

“Hongjoong?”

Hongjoong isn’t moving. Yunho gently gathers him into his arms, carrying him into the main part of the house. He cannot possibly set him into his own bed… Yunho cannot reach the cramped corner where it hangs from the ceiling, due to his size.

Instead, he lays him out carefully on the bed he had prepared for Yunho just days earlier. Even then, Hongjoong doesn’t stir.

“Hongjoong…? Are you…?”

He doesn’t even know what he means to ask.

After a moment, Yunho begins unwrapping the bandages entwining Hongjoong’s thigh. The wound does not look infected—as he feared it might be—in fact, it has healed beautifully, hardly any scabbing left. Just fresh, pink skin.

Yunho wonders if that is why he is so weak… because his body is using every ounce of his magical energy to heal it, and he still kept pushing with other uses of his magic.

He leaves Hongjoong for a moment to bustle about the kitchen as carefully as he can. He prepares another salve of yarrow and marigold, then applies it to the wound before redressing it. He mixes the rest into more water as he had done before, but he knows Hongjoong cannot drink it now. Instead, he coats his finger with it and gingerly forces Hongjoong’s mouth open, gently running his finger over the nymph’s tongue to coat it in the mixture. He is careful not to push too far, to force him to gag… and Hongjoong doesn’t. He’ll naturally swallow it without choking, this way.

After he has finished, all Yunho can do is wait.

***

It is well past noon, only hours shy of sunset, by the time Hongjoong’s eyes flutter open. He groans, and Yunho is immediately alert, having remained by his side in those hours.

“What happened?”

“Are you all right?”

They’d asked their questions at the exact same time, Yunho realizes, and waves his own question off.

“You… I don’t know, you fainted. I checked your wound, and it’s healing well. I think it’s using up all of your magic.”

“I think so, too.” Hongjoong mumbles, scratching at his hair. One of the few remaining dahlias, a red one, falls to the floor. 

Yunho glances at it worriedly. “Are you—?”

Hongjoong shakes his head. “I’m fine, I’m not dying or anything. It’s just… my power continues to wane with the season. I shouldn’t have pushed myself, especially while I’m injured.”

“I… maybe I should stay for another day. Until you’re better.” Yunho murmurs.

“I’ll be better off once I’m fully healed but… my magic is always weak in the autumn. It’ll get worse before it gets better.” Hongjoong reasons, looking at Yunho with something in his eyes. A request.

Yunho swallows. “I can’t stay for too much longer.”

“Because you’ll be in rut soon?” Hongjoong guesses.

Yunho’s face heats up, but he nods.

“As you mentioned, autumn is quickly approaching.” He says, a nervous timbre in his voice. “I need to leave soon, or I’ll—it won’t be pleasant.”

“Where do you… intend to go?” Hongjoong asks so, so softly.

“Back home. I can reinforce my territories so that no one strays past my borders, and I can just… be alone.” Yunho replies. It’s what he’s done every year since reaching maturity.

“So you just… lock yourself away from the world and… what? Take care of your own needs?” Hongjoong presses, and from his tone, he sounds almost accusatory. Disagreeing.

“Y-yeah, basically.” Yunho admits, shrugging.

“What if I… don’t want you to go?” Hongjoong asks, his voice low and sultry, though it is clear he isn’t teasing. He climbs into Yunho’s lap —straddles him— and he feels so delicate. Like Yunho could break him if he isn’t careful. “What if I want to help you with those needs?”

Yunho feels all the air leave his lungs in a whoosh of breath, and he nearly chokes. “H-Hongjoong, it isn’t… it’s not that simple. When I’m in a rut, it’s a constant, aggressive need. I wouldn’t ever harm you on purpose, but I could really hurt you—”

“Then let’s be careful.” Hongjoong says, as though it’s the easiest thing in the world. He leans in so close that his breath fans over Yunho’s lips, and he smells like flowers and earth and the last vestiges of spring. “I want to help you. I want you.” 

He makes such a bold claim with no hesitation, as if it is an easy admission. As easy as breathing. His eyes flick down to Yunho’s lips before he captures his gaze once more, ardent and sure.

“I want you to stay.”

As though he is a tree bowing to the whims of nature, Yunho feels powerless to disobey.

He nods.

Hongjoong lets out a breath equal parts relieved and victorious, then leans in to kiss him.

If Hongjoong smells like spring, he tastes like it, too—sweet like overripe fruit, the kind they use to make expensive wine. Yunho drinks him in, but he, in turn, feels he’s being devoured in equal measure.

Hongjoong is not demure or hesitant. Hongjoong is passionate, his fingers curling into the gathers of fabric at Yunho’s shoulder and wrenching them free, never once pulling away. He moves further into Yunho’s space as he works to loosen the knots at his waist, kissing him with as much fervor as though he was not distracted in the slightest. Yunho can barely get himself to move his hands, fumbling with the silky fabrics draping Hongjoong’s form.

Yunho is too distracted by his mouth, his tongue, the way it sinfully curls around his own like a promise of more to come. His hands end up wandering the nymph’s body rather than undressing him, slipping under the fabric just to get a taste of bare skin.

Hongjoong yanks hard at the linens tied about Yunho’s waist, and they go obediently.

For a brief moment, time stops.

Hongjoong freezes when he finally frees Yunho from his toga, his hands hovering but not reaching out to touch.

Yunho’s face blazes, but he feels as though an entire vase of frigid water has been dumped upon his head.

How could he have ever agreed to allow Hongjoong to even attempt this—?

Fully erect, Yunho’s cock is easily a pygōn in length. As Hongjoong sits there on his lap, it is easy to see that it exceeds the length of the nymph’s forearm. His girth is wider than that of Hongjoong’s bicep.

This is… an absolutely horrendous idea.

“I-I’m sorry—” Yunho sputters, gently taking hold of Hongjoong’s wrists. “This was stupid, we can stop. We should stop—”

“Have you gone mad?” Hongjoong asks breathlessly, tearing himself from Yunho’s grip to —oh— wrap his fingers around him with no hesitation at all. His fingers overlap ever-so-slightly at the center, but as he slides them down to the root, they just barely can no longer touch. Yunho’s head swims.

 “I-I’ll hurt you…” He murmurs weakly, 

“We nymphs are very resilient. And determined.” Hongjoong says, taking in the sight of him again and —gods, licking his lips. “I’m determined.”

Of that, Yunho has little doubt.

That said, it takes… time.

Hongjoong retrieves a jar of some sweet-smelling oil from his kitchen and Yunho is almost dizzy from the flowery scent of it by the time the nymph is riding four of his fingers, rocking down onto them quick and rough like he’s proving himself, like he knows he has to audition to earn Yunho’s cock.

Yunho’s head swims at seeing his eagerness, seeing all that promised determination.

“M’ready, I am, Yunho, please.” Hongjoong begs, and even though he isn’t sure he could ever really be ready, Yunho relents.

Hongjoong whimpers in mild protest when he pulls his fingers out, but watches with an eager sort of hunger as Yunho coats his cock liberally in the oil. It’s probably more than is strictly needed, but he wants to be careful.

Once Yunho’s free hand settles on Hongjoong’s knee, he takes it as permission. He slides up on his knees until he can hover over Yunho’s cock—and even sitting all the way up, he has to slip against him at at angle—before wiggling his hips back onto him.

As soon as just the head of his cock breaches Hongjoong’s rim, Yunho knows this is a very bad idea. The nymph’s body is like a vice, and even though the oil is making their way silky and slick, he wonders if it’s simply impossible for Hongjoong’s body to accommodate him.

But, as promised, Hongjoong is determined.

He takes him slowly—at first. Hongjoong lowers himself down only a finger-width or two at a time, letting out little huffs of breath and slightly-strained moans with every movement.

Yunho thinks that if they keep this up, he might gradually begin going insane. He goes still as the grave, his hands bracing against Hongjoong’s waist to ensure he doesn’t recklessly slam himself down, but otherwise, he isn’t doing anything. He doesn’t move, doesn’t let out a single sound… it hardly feels like he’s breathing.

When Hongjoong notices how quiet he’s gone, he reaches up and cradles Yunho’s chin with one hand, thumbing gently at his lower lip. “S’good for you?”

Yunho finally breathes, finally moves… he lets out a strangled groan with a long whoosh of breath as he nods manically, feeling as though it’s been stolen from him. “Y-yeah, yeah, just… don’t wanna hurt you…”

“You’re not.” Hongjoong assures, leaning in to press a sweet kiss to his mouth before letting his hand move down to settle on Yunho’s shoulder. He uses the newfound leverage to slide further down, to take him deeper, and they both let out soft moans that harmonize in the quiet home around them.

Hongjoong isn’t fully seated. He’s still sitting up with most of his weight on his knees, little more than halfway down onto Yunho’s cock. When he takes him a bit further, he impatiently slips down nearly to the hilt, stopping only when he feels resistance. Yunho’s grip on his waist tightens.

“Easy…” Yunho soothes, but Hongjoong isn’t listening.

He rolls his hips down again and suddenly the head of Yunho’s cock pressing up against his navel and distending his abdomen. Hongjoong looks down and lets out a fucked-out groan, lifting himself off of Yunho just a bit only to take him back down again. His tummy bulges out again, and Hongjoong goes a little cross-eyed, lashes fluttering as his head falls back a bit on another wanton moan. His desperation starts to ramp up and he begins rolling his hips faster.

The feeling is—it’s more amazing than anything Yunho’s ever felt. Hongjoong’s entire body is engulfing him in slick heat, and the friction is deliciously smooth… yet, Yunho cannot help but to feel horrified at what Hongjoong’s body is going through.

Yunho is afraid that he might break him. That he is breaking him.

“Hongjoong—” It sounds like a protest, it must, because Hongjoong immediately shakes his head, his mouth dropping open on a harsh exhale.

“N-no, no, Yunho, it’s good, it’s so good.” He keens, his tongue lolling out a little to rest over his bottom teeth as he pants heavily in time with the movement of their hips.

Yunho isn’t even moving his hips, too terrified to. It’s still Hongjoong doing all the work, lifting himself up on his knees and rolling himself back down in a slow, steady cadence that only quickens with his desperation.

Yunho swallows and tightens his grip on Hongjoong’s waist again, lifting him up a little and taking the weight from the nymph’s knees, which must be aching by now. When he gently pulls him back down onto his cock, Hongjoong wails, grabbing at Yunho’s wrists so hard that his nails dig crescent shapes into his skin.

“Yunho! Y-Yunho please—” Hongjoong cries out, nodding in encouragement. When Yunho does it again, Hongjoong lets out a broken groan that gets caught up in his throat like he’s choking on it. “Yes, y-yes, oh, fuck, Yunho-!” 

He prides himself on having a lot of self control, and a fair amount of restraint, but he’s only one man.

Hongjoong goes all but pliant in his hold, letting Yunho control their pace, control his gravity. It feels like too much power to have, and Yunho trembles before it, shackled by his hesitance and fear. Hongjoong must sense it, must feel it, because he brings his small hands up to paw at Yunho’s chest, whimpering desperately.

“Yunho…”

It’s a question, a plea, and Yunho feels his fear and hesitance melt away.

“Gods, you feel so good, Hongjoong…” Yunho murmurs into the infinitesimal space between them. “Didn’t think you could ever… that we could ever… but look at you…”

Hongjoong gasps around a sharp moan as though his words affect him just as much as his touch. “Nnh—Yunho…”

Yunho finally starts rolling his hips, but only just, meeting Hongjoong’s as he pulls him down. He can feel the way Hongjoong’s body struggles to accommodate him, despite how eagerly he tries to take more and more of him.

“Fuck, fuck, I’m gonna come—” Hongjoong warns, though it feels unnecessary. Yunho doesn’t plan to stop until Hongjoong tells him to.

He does move, though. He lets go of Hongjoong’s waist, siding one arm around his hips to grip his thigh on the opposite side while the other wraps around Hongjoong’s cock. The nymph isn’t small, almost a little disproportionate to the rest of him, but Yunho’s hand still completely engulfs him.

Yunho finally rolls his hips up with some kind of force, bracing Hongjoong with that grip on his hips as he sets a faster rhythm. Hongjoong wails and his hands fly up to grab onto Yunho’s antlers, just for something to hold, to brace himself against. Yunho can’t help but grunt at the feeling of Hongjoong yanking at them with most of his weight, not because it’s painful but because it’s beautiful to see him so far gone that he doesn’t care at all about courtesy.

It’s a mere half-minute later that Hongjoong comes. He goes eerily quiet, just huffing out desperate puffs of air on every thrust and trembling, until finally he just breaks. He lets out a strangled cry, his head falling back as he gasps and shakes and makes a mess of his own chest and Yunho’s hand.

In the wake of it, the entire house shudders. The moss and vines on the walls are suddenly flaring with life, the grass springing up beneath them and flowers blooming brightly all around the space. Yunho knows that a nymph’s magic is heavily tied to their sexuality—to their pleasure—but he had no idea it was such a direct cause and effect.

Hongjoong himself is glowing, his skin dewy with sweat and hair blossoming with new flowers. Yunho can’t help but to lean in and kiss him, though Hongjoong only hazily receives him with an open and eager mouth, his tongue curling around the faun’s lazily.

“Uhn… feel so good, Yunho…” Hongjoong slurs deliriously. “Come for me, want you to feel good…”

Yunho realizes that, in this moment, he has exactly zero of his self control left. He rolls them both, depositing Hongjoong on his back on the grass and furs. The arm he had around Hongjoong’s hips releases him in favor of bracing himself above the nymph, while the other presses flat against Hongjoong’s navel, smearing the mess of come across his stomach. He can feel the head of his own cock beneath his palm every time he buries himself into Hongjoong’s body, and the extra pressure from his own hand is heavenly.

Hongjoong finally lets go of Yunho’s antlers, his arms falling above him limply and his whole body going pliant. He watches with hazy, hooded eyes as Yunho chases his own release, licking his lips eagerly.

Yunho breaks.

He pulls out, because he’s not sure if it’s okay for him not to. He wraps a hand around his own cock and pumps himself until he’s coming in long, thick waves across Hongjoong’s stomach and chest. There’s a lot… not as much as when he’s in a rut, but by the time he’s done, Hongjoong is filthy, streaked from navel to neck in streams of white. He looks beautiful. 

Yunho realizes he must have taken leave of his senses for at least several seconds, having no recollection of just what had been pouring from his mouth in the preceding moments. Judging by the pink flush settling high upon Hongjoong’s cheeks, it wasn’t just incoherent grunting.

“You really think I’m beautiful?” Hongjoong asks between panting breaths, lashes fluttering halfway between bashful and coquettish.

Yunho snorts. “Well I do pride myself on my working eyesight.”

Hongjoong’s cheeks just burn brighter. Yunho’s always heard that nymphs are somewhat vain and value—even expect—flattery from others, and that rumor doesn’t appear entirely unfounded.

“Let me clean you up.” Yunho says when Hongjoong doesn’t respond, leaning forward to steal a chaste kiss before heading into the kitchen. He pulls his toga back on but only bothers securing it around his waist, letting the rest drape freely.

Yunho cleans himself up, then returns a little while later with wet cloths. He wipes Hongjoong down, getting as much of the mess as he can… but they could both probably do with a wash in the river. Maybe later, or tomorrow, when the sun is high and Hongjoong doesn’t look completely boneless.

“Thank you.” Hongjoong murmurs once he’s finished, tugging him back down onto the furs.

Yunho goes willingly, settling next to him on the makeshift bed. “S’the least I could do, since I made the mess.”

They lie together in comfortable silence for a long moment, just breathing. 

“Stay with me through the autumn.” Hongjoong eventually says, and it’s a request, surely, but Yunho doesn’t think he could possibly deny him. It may as well be an order.

“Mm.” Yunho hums agreeably, sliding Hongjoong up onto his chest so he can cradle him there, comfortable and warm. “And what about the seasons after that?”

“Just stay.” Hongjoong huffs, grumbly and muffled against Yunho’s arm.

Yunho thinks he’ll be willing to stay as long as Hongjoong will have him.