In the land of Ingary nothing seems impossible, the expanses of green that accompany the extensive hills are only the frame of a much more interesting and lively painting. The entrance to the city is located right at the end of the last hillside, an arch made of stone welcomes any newcomer, even the most dangerous–but in such a precious land there is no danger. The city is teeming with colorful people, through the narrow red brick alleys you can quickly reach the center and refresh yourself with the fresh water placed in the center of the square; beautiful sculptures of angels decorate the fabulous marble monument. The place would seem to have come out of a fairy tale written in ten hands, every little element is totally different from the other, as if to symbolize the different generations who happily lived in that country world, almost forgetting the flames, fire and death that completely destroyed Ingary during the last century.
Yoongi hated Ingary's colors because the colored stones had not allowed him to forget his mother's excruciating screams and the heat, the asphyxiating heat, while everything he loved boiled down to ashes and from that ashes nothing would survive but the nightmare and his fingers. The fingers that would soon learn to build the lost image of his mother with the piano that she had treated like a second child.
The boy drags his delicate fingers on the now rotten wood of that old piano, he wants to throw it away but he doesn’t know how despite all the times he repeated that he is old enough to no longer feel the need to fill the void with an object–the nights spent awake because of that constant absence seem to say something else.
“Yoongi? Honey?” Silver hair completely covers Yoongi's empty eyes fixed on the dead instrument. The boy wonders if even his father felt like that object. Nonexistent. After a few seconds, Yoongi meets the figure of his stepmother, Fanny has been hard to accept. Yoongi had no intention of having another mother, by now he had grown up and nothing could have forced him to forget who his soul would belong to.
But Fanny–Fanny had somehow managed to sweeten it.
"Yes?" he answers apathetic "Honey, there are people down, you should be seen by them" Yoongi snorts almost amusedly, filling the woman's minute heart with further sorrow. Sometimes Yoongi forgets that Fanny has just reached the age of thirty-five and his father has been so selfish as to tie her to his precarious existence without ever loving her, sharing a marriage of just three years and a son that would never be hers.
"Right, do you have to show the public your most successful work?" the tone was ironic, but among the many things Yoongi thinks he cannot do, going to his father’s funeral is one of those.
"Do you really think that about me? After all this time?" the way Fanny gets close makes Yoongi shudder, the woman looks dramatically enchanting in her long black dress.
"Time? Do you think three years is enough time?" Yoongi persists in keeping his gaze apathetic but the moment Fanny reaches his hand, his body fills with disgust.
"You've got to stay away from me!" Yoongi hates screaming, despises raising his voice, hates the frightened and heartbroken look on Fanny's face, but his skin repels feeling the other so close. Guilt devours him like a flame–the same flame that devoured his mother.
“Yoongi... I'm sorry, for what happened" Yoongi can hear her tone broken by tears, but the image of Fanny in his arms, the horrible feeling of having her under him with his father who just died–it makes him sick.
"It was a mistake, we can make mistakes" but Yoongi is already a distant presence, the boy leaves the room without giving her further time to deepen a memory that he intends to suffocate in the abyss. Because of course, it was a mistake. It was a regrettable action, the result of the pain caused by the sudden loss of his only parent, but it was also the consequence of his altercation, the consequence of his pride, the consequence of his extreme arrogance. For a long time Yoongi had resented his father for the death of his mother, for a long time Yoongi had prayed in some kind of revenge, Fanny seemed to have been the perfect move, but when you start playing with people, there is no more point of return.
His father was an old man, or maybe not, Yoongi can't remember him young. As people come to him to share pathetic words of condolence, Yoongi keeps the focus fixed on the photos of the now deceased man, on the man who had never been kind to his son. On the other hand, who could have loved a son who thought he had killed the only woman he really loved? And so, Fanny had been a vicious revenge, or perhaps the extreme attempt to feel pleasure after his death. How many times a younger and tiny Yoongi hoped that his father would die instead of his mother, yet now that it has happened his limbs feel empty. Even more alone.
The refreshment goes on for too long, but he would rather remain part of the wall than be forced and even more tired and mad Fanny to read a few lines in front of a pack of strangers who have only longed for the belongings of their company.
"Please? For your father?" Fanny's pleas know where to touch, which is why Yoongi finds himself in the middle of the room, his father's body a meter away, the public’s eyes on him. Generally, Yoongi loves the attention, he is completely in love with the applause, especially if directed at his music, but now it is only an unbearable burden.
"My father was a special man..." he begins "He was many things, sometimes so many that he forgot to be a man, a father..." the sudden hand on his back is a warning from Fanny, a warning that instead of calming Yoongi manages to make him angry “I bet you will miss him, especially when you’ll discover that the bastard will leave you nothing because first of all, Mr. Min was an asshole” the silence that follows his speech is chilling, Yoongi’ steps as he finally leaves the room break the climate.
Mr. Min left nothing to anyone except Yoongi. The boy never asked for anything, from the moment he finished his studies he simply made it known that he wouldn’t run the family business and would completely devote himself to the piano. His father had coldly accepted his decision. Of course, he had never gone to see Yoongi at his shows, he had never read the positive reviews, the interviews of the Ingary newspaper, even at home while Yoongi practiced, his father tended to hide as far away as possible.
Yoongi never blamed him, aware of what the instrument could remind him. That's why he doesn't understand. Why leave on him the weight of the whole shop? What does Yoongi know about hats? And it would have been extremely easy to leave everything in Fanny's hands, give up, but it seems his father made some wrong investments and he can’t leave Fanny like that.
Which means he must abandon his career as a pianist. His father deprived him of so many things during his life – affection, presence, warmth – all the shortcomings that Yoongi had never been able to fill. And now there he is, depriving him of the one thing that makes him feel alive. It looked like revenge had succeeded to someone else.
It is almost ironic how his pianist fingers are now chipped by different points caused by the needle of the sewing machine. During his first attempts Yoongi had tried to take care of the hot wounds with patches, but after weeks it even seems useless. The guy stretches his back feeling every stiffened muscle relax painfully, a wedding is coming and finally the shop Min has received an important order of hats with white sail. Although expectations had been extremely low, Yoongi seems to have managed to find art even among the fabrics he had always despised as a child. Hats hid his mother's seraphic face, taking away from the sight of the infant those few images that should have been enough for a whole life.
"Stop it" Yoongi suggests to himself with regret, the hat now completed and laid on the small counter. It's not the time to think about his mother, it never is.
Yoongi looks out from the workshop studio, now the shop is closed, the candles of the place are the only lights that allow him to observe the entire repertoire of fabrics and photos of customers satisfied with Yoongi's creations. It seems like the boy's fingers aren’t just good for music, but how pleasant would it be to be able to retrieve the piano? Playing his favorite lullabies. But he has a debt to repay, a Fanny to pay for, a regret to make up for.
Yoongi's eyes dwell on the darkness that can be seen from the closed windows, the silence is weird, the result of the different rumors that have put any citizen on the run. After the sundown no one comes out and the fault lies with that strange castle. Yoongi finally leaves his place, his feet move quickly towards the wooden cabinet carefully hidden in a corner of his father's studio. The last liquors with which Mr. Min tried to forget the soft love of the beloved wife, while Yoongi would do everything to remember more than smoke and flames.
A while ago, when a naive teenager Yoongi discovered his father's liquors, during one of the many evenings of pure solitude, he had decided to try those amber liquids. The small body had absorbed the alcohol until the last drop and for the first time, for the very first time after years of noise, Yoongi had finally managed to catch the silence of his loneliness. Was that what his mother felt when her last hope of survival was gone? That kind of peace, that kind of deaf silence.
Yoongi gently tastes his glass of whiskey, the liquid burns terribly by the throat. The boy no longer drinks, not as he once did, especially not after performing drunk at one of his first public shows. Shame burns as much as alcohol.
After consuming the first glass Yoongi is about to open a window, intent on observing that precious silence and that terrifying profile marked by the full moon.
They call it Taehyung's Castle – who Taehyung is, no one seems to know. Or at least it seems that only the most beautiful girls in Ingary, those whose hearts have been bitten by the sinful lips of the magician, could know him. The ones Yoongi sees dancing alone in the square of the old town, those with golden hair, those with diamond-studded eyes, those with Phoenician purple cheeks. The ones that will never look like Yoongi. Who knows what it would mean to have Taehyung eat his heart? Oh, getting that muscle ripped out of his chest could silence the noise as much as the booze used to do. Perhaps, getting his heart ripped out would have made him feel emptied at last. But Yoongi will never find out, not in his tiny body, not with that face. Taehyung will never eat his heart and the noise will never stop.
Marriages, love, affection - Yoongi never knew these things or perhaps he simply didn’t have the strength to taste them. These are not things he can recover from opening a book, or finding in one of Debussy's favorite pieces – there was a time when his piano teacher had asked him to write a piece about love, the cacophony that he achieved had been such that it silenced Yoongi's pen for months until he decided that his music would be the rhythm of sadness, lack, and loneliness. All things he knows, all things he thinks are solid against his shoulders.
Love is not one of those things.
For this reason, his cynical gaze in the crowd of invitees does not seem out of place. Accepting the order for a wedding had overwhelmed him a little, for this reason he loathes being here to watch a woman dressed in white wet her cheeks with tears and breathe fatigued in listening to the wedding promises of her future husband. How many happy years would they spend together before the inevitable? Perhaps Yoongi today feels generous in attributing years, Fanny and his father had never been happy. Not even a day.
"The bridesmaid hats are memorable, are they from your workshop?" Yoongi barely looked up from the ridiculous science before his eyes to move it to his left side, a sweet blonde-haired woman stood elegant in her cool blue dress. Anne is defined by Ingary as the pearl of the city at the age of eighteen, one of the few girls of her age still devoid of husband and satisfied with her desired solitude. Her family pastry had quickly made her independent and the male presence for her represents an accessory, a final touch that she would only welcome if agreed in the name of true love.
Again, love, something inconceivable in Yoongi's eyes.
"I imagine today we will eat just as well" Yoongi comments ignoring the compliment of the girl, he has no intention of being proud of a job he despises and that is making his hands disgusting. Anne seems to receive the message under the thin red veil that dyes her high cheeks.
"Who knows when we will be on the other side, Mr. Min" Yoongi visibly stiffens, doubly touched by the image of the future and the way Anne called him. When his father died, Yoongi became the new Mr. Min “I'd rather not be called that way" words are accompanied by features so harsh that it leaves Anne embarrassed.
"Excuse me... I–“
"No, it's my problem, you have been very polite in addressing my person in this way" Yoongi tries to remedy the damage, but Anne still looks dazed, her hands covered by gloves trying to not show the tremor due to embarrassment.
"The ceremony is over" the two barely notice, with the flowers being thrown to the sky, the squeals that make it impossible to exchange further words and the unbridled walking of people, excited by the birth of a new love, for the crowning of a fairy tale. When Yoongi had not yet been corrupted by the reality of life, marriages were the preferred conclusion of the fairy tales his mother read to him before falling asleep, the picturesque image that represented the birth of a family, of his own family.
"We should get away" Yoongi tries to raise his voice to be heard and Anne nods shyly, letting herself be guided by Yoongi's warm hand on her back, shuddering just to the touch. Anne – Anne is not in love with Yoongi as she blindly believes she is, although to many Yoongi's friendly behavior may seem contradictory and even cruel, the boy cannot behave differently in the face of a feeling that does not exist and of which Anne has simply convinced herself to be a victim.
"Yoongi?" Anne calls him as soon as the crowd thins out "Yes?"
"Accompany me home" it isn’t a request, it seems almost an order and Yoongi can’t deny it, even with the banquet that is about to start "Accompany me" Anne takes his hand, making him feel one by one the lace seams of his gloves against the still open wounds of his fingers.
"Why?" because Yoongi doesn't believe in many things and he may even be cruel, but he doesn't eat the girls' hearts, he's not the magician hiding in that terrifying castle "Because I don’t want someone to eat my heart" and Yoongi’s eyes rest on Anne's increasingly red cheeks.
"You shouldn't only be afraid of some wizard, there's also the warlock of the wasteland to be feared” Anne hints a smile at Yoongi's words and then bites her lip, fighting among the thousand thoughts she would like to share "Do you still think those things?"
She doesn’t need to add any more details to understand what Anne is referring to, to a past conversation, with a Yoongi perhaps more carefree yet still imprisoned by his solid beliefs when his best friend had tried to steal a kiss, a promise.
"I still believe that love doesn't exist" Anne's eyes glisten with sadness and it's deeply wrong to find art, beauty, music in that fragile pain, but Yoongi feels the wounds on his fingers pulsate and the sheets fill with notes before his enchanted eyes "One day you'll fall in love" Anne adds and almost looks like a threat "I don't think-"
"No matter what you believe" Anne's hand slips on Yoongi's apathetic face, stroking his cheek "Love has no eyes, it has no rationality, it doesn't make sense" Anne shakes her head "I know something about it and when it comes along, when you'll fall in love, there won't be religion or faith that can stand the comparison" Anne continues to look at him with apprehension for more minutes, sighs hopelessly as she drops her arms along her hips "You're right, however, there is more to be afraid of"
Yoongi watches Anne slowly walk away, return to the banquet as if a few minutes ago she didn't want anything else – as if she didn't want Yoongi. Sooner or later everyone loses their hopes with him, sooner or later no one will try to understand him anymore and it is decidedly frightening to think about it, but Yoongi can’t even imprison Anne in that unhappy square and if to save her from himself is forced to lose his friend, that’s okay, Yoongi has never appreciated free will.
That doesn't mean Yoongi will stay watching Anne in the crowd, brooding over the same things once again, not now that he's been given the chance to walk away without paying further attention. Stepping back on his feet and getting away from the things he prefers to ignore is not something new, perhaps it could be a talent even superior to his ability to touch notes as only a few can do.
The main streets of Ingary are certainly full of people, the small town takes weddings seriously, they become almost a patron festival and the streets are filled with such colorful celebrations that sometimes they forget the reason for it and soon everything becomes a pretext to drink fresh beer and dance in the center of the square. That's why Yoongi decides to take a side street, one of the alleys where the sun does not beat with ferocity forcing him to sweat, one of those alleys avoided by girls like Anne, frequented by others who would have liked to meet the much-feared magician. People say that those places are the favorites of the heart hunter, that his fingers as claws penetrate the corsets of the women that deliberately offer themselves to the monster.
Yoongi's footsteps ring deaf on the gray cobblestones of the road he's walking along, dodging some open pubs and rare men in white uniforms trying to enjoy the day before returning to their ships. Yoongi appreciates his selfish way of life, locked in his own bubble, oblivious to what happens outside it. But the war overboard is hard to ignore, although the motives and counterparts appear as confused segments of a painting stolen from who knows where. No one in Ingary speaks of it and no one seems to know what they are fighting for, yet their sailors leave daily for something foreign and empty.
"Pretty boy, where are you going alone?" Yoongi is not touched by the words of one of the many strangers with their back glued to the yellowed stone wall "Come on, stop for a drink" the person to whom the same voice belongs takes him from the wrist forcing him to turn. Yoongi has never been kind with words, but the same strength is missing from his arms, unable to defend himself.
"But you're Min's son" the languid gaze of the sailor is immediately replaced by a harder and equally unsettling one, Yoongi retreats but soon his back touches someone else "Do you know how much I lost because of your old man?" Yoongi swallows, cursing in his mind the face of his father who even death continues to cause him problems. Yoongi knows perfectly well how many people his father had teased, how many he tricked with his death. The two men get closer and closer and Yoongi can do nothing but close his eyes, hoping that his hands will not be further ruined by that unpleasant encounter and pretend courage with his back straight.
"Go away" a third voice intrudes, a voice that almost immediately forces the stranger behind Yoongi to loosen the grip he had made on his arms to hold him still.
"And who would you be to say it" but the man is silent, Yoongi barely opens his eyes to observe the scene before his eyes. The sailor appears not impressed in any way, simply held still by the fierce gaze of the newcomer. Yoongi squints his lips, wrapped in the poetry of his newly appeared face.
The stranger keeps rigid his features, outstretched jaw and high throats, lips seem to draw a broken heart for the sign of disgust they symbolize at the time, disgust accompanied by eyes full of authority. Even Yoongi, the one who the stranger is defending, would be willing to flee, lower his head and run. But what really stands out are the long blonde hair, Yoongi has never seen a shade of blonde so bright, he has never managed to get such a natural color with his herbs.
"I said, disappear" the deep tone makes Yoongi shudder, just as it allows him to feel the harasser behind him leave permanently and make a sign to the other to walk away. Yoongi finds himself confused, with his head spinning, watching the two strong sailors flee as if chased by a demon. Yoongi almost wonders if he should follow their example, but his knees tremble with the different emotions that have caught him over a too narrow time. Before he can fall, two arms gently squeeze against his waist, a different touch from the repellent one of before.
"Are you all right?" the stranger's voice sounds like a lullaby, one of those that his mother whispered against Yoongi's chubby cheeks "I... I don't know?" the uncertain response gets a worried sigh from the man who is still embracing him.
Yoongi looks up to meet that of the blond, from that height the man looks even more like an angel from which Yoongi could not have escaped as he believed a short time before, even if he had ordered it with the same contempt he had used with those men. The boy can feel the heat enveloping his face and descending up to his neck, but he manages to do little except to admire the solid body that is supporting him, looking at him, with equal attention.
"I found you" Yoongi squints at the strange phrase of the stranger, the heartbeat of his heart beats painfully against the chest, the tongue fatigued by embarrassment struggles to realize any answer "Found?" but the angel seems to have just realized the confession he made, Yoongi watches him bite his lips thoughtfully and then shares a square smile that obscures even his eyes forming two half-moons.
"I found my soulmate" it does not escape the irony of the comment, does not escape even the small pang of displeasure that clenches the stomach of Yoongi, the same Yoongi who not even an hour ago had refused the existence of any form of affection and now hung from the lips of someone who could even be the umpteenth sorcerer of those magical lands. But – but that man does not look like a monster.
"Are you okay? Were they bothering you for a long time?" Yoongi shakes his head at the apprehensive questions, finally he is able to stand on his legs, so he realizes a gentle pressure on the tightness attached to his waist and the man immediately senses that he must let him go. The absence of his presence is almost a tear on the bare skin.
"You still seem a little shaken, do you want me to accompany you home?" despite the obvious concern, Yoongi can sense that man's attention is elsewhere, addressed on the hidden alleys that surround them, almost looking for something or some other mysterious sailor "I am a man, I know how to take care of myself" and perhaps he had not really proved it, not with those two fools who had tried to harass him and later to attack him because of his father, but Yoongi can’t bear the idea of appearing fragile and uncertain even to that man.
"What does it have to do with men? We are all afraid of something" the man gets closer, his long and manicured fingers graze his cheek almost in the same way Anne did before, except that in this case the fingers of the other fall like a tear on Yoongi's cheek until he lingers on the left side of his dry lips "We all need something" Yoongi should be frightened by the look of the blonde, by the way he is letting himself be touched softly, as if they knew each other forever, but his limbs do not seem to respond to his deepest instincts.
"You have to go" the man sighs, moving his gaze back again.
"Should I?" Yoongi barely repeats, wanting to bite his tongue for the complaint, but the embarrassment disappears almost immediately before the umpteenth smile of the blond "You will find me too, don't worry" and saying so, the stranger disappears into one of the many narrow alleys, leaving Yoongi at the mercy of confusion and with his lips burning for something he could not say, or have. He's not entirely sure.
When Yoongi drank, it happened almost daily. At the time it was no longer possible to take a few glasses from his father's room and although his age didn’t allow him to drink, Yoongi knew how to buy people' silence with his family's money. During those years it was difficult to get up without throwing down liquor or bearing family lunches without feeling his head floating in nothingness. It was also difficult to learn the hard and increasingly fast music pieces that his teacher assigned him. Yoongi had come to a point where depriving himself of alcohol meant regressing, returning to a worse version of himself. That's until alcohol tried to ruin the one thing he loved: music. Yoongi carries on his shoulders the weight of the humiliation of his first public show, the ill-disposed confidence of his teachers, the agitation so high that it required an excessive dose of alcohol even for him.
Yoongi had to cancel his debut and postpone it for a year, a year spent fighting against himself and against any frustrating desire to silence the pain making his head and stomach empty.
That strange man had the same effect on him, the same terrible and asphyxiating effect. Yoongi’s thoughts are so loud that they could be heard as he closes the shop door behind him. The place is obviously empty, left in Yoongi's trembling hands, with Fanny probably dancing at a wedding that now looks like a distant mirage. Yoongi rarely meets his emotions, it is a dangerous meeting point that empties him for days if not weeks. Generally it would be enough to lock himself in his room and wake up at the moment when his brain is willing to cooperate, but now it is no longer possible to be selfish, not with his father breathing on his neck as if he had never died.
The sunlight comes from the closed windows of the shop, the sunset is more and more evident and Yoongi tries to savor on his face the slight warmth that confirms the end of another day – of a strange, heavy, incredible day.
"I have to work" Yoongi barely closes his eyes and after a deep breath he goes to the worktable, the shape of a hat just started rests on the wooden model of a head. The boy lights a candle and then approaches the unfinished work, but his heart continues to palpitate, making it impossible to attempt to use the needle and thread properly. There's one thing Yoongi could do, the only one that could calm his head and it is right in a room away. The old piano will never be able to process perfect notes, but for Yoongi it would be enough to feel it under his hands to regain his composure.
The steps to the old piano are full of tiredness and worry, Yoongi does not touch it since the death of his father, the thought of playing it again brings him back to far too many memories that he would rather have buried under the ground along with that man. Yet as soon as the old instrument appears in front of Yoongi’s exhausted eyes, his breath shortens until he regains his quieter gaggle and his hands stop shaking in contact with the almost rotten wood.
Yoongi sits gently on the stool, savoring every little noise, every story, that those noises have been telling for years. Recovering the notes of his mother's favorite piece means walking, one step after another, tapping the keys with a caress and letting go of everything behind the doors of that room: it also means finding an insecure smile between those yellowed keys.
But the magic, paradoxically, is interrupted by the doorbell of the entrance of the shop. Yoongi stiffens, the weights that had just dissolved recover the shape of red colored bricks that crush his curved shoulders. Abandoning the only moment of peace makes him even more restless, trying to control himself is almost impossible, but a man waits for him in front of the shop counter, his shoulders turned towards the windows now obscured by the absence of the sun.
"Good evening sir, how can I help you?" Yoongi tries to seem calm, remembering that it is not the client's fault if he finds himself on the verge of a panic attack. The man remains motionless, his shoulders still turned and wrapped in a heavy black jacket. Yoongi can safely recognize the precious fabric, he is an important person "Sir?"
"I heard something" the man begins to speak, finally turning to direct his attention to Yoongi. If the blond-haired stranger had appeared to him as an angel, the new client appears as his perfect opposite. The beauty they share is equally inhuman, thick black hair framing a perfect face, a hard look and full lips in open contrast "I've heard that your shop sells Ingary's most beautiful hats" Yoongi swallows as if questioned for some crime.
"Hm–I'm glad you heard these things, if you need anything, I could show you-"
"Show me your best pieces, show me how much you're worth" Yoongi frowns at that strange request, it's definitely not hats that define his value, but the antipathy that stands on both sides can't stop Yoongi's work. The boy performs his traditional tactic, initially showing his sillier hats and then reaching the most important pieces, but the man does not seem to be satisfied by anything, the obvious contempt in front of each creation.
"Because of these things your hands look like those of a military man?" Yoongi grits his teeth "If you don’t like anything, you can go looking in more appropriate stores, we don't need you purchases" the slight and presumptuous contempt of the man quickly turns into madness.
"How dare you turn to me in this way?"
"I don't know who you are, but if you think it's correct to come into my shop and-"
"Don't you know who I am?" the man hints with a sympathetic smile, Yoongi shudders "Didn't Taehyung tell you about me?" his inquisitive gaze doesn't make the question clearer.
"Taehyung? Sir, I think I am the wrong person, the exit is that way" Yoongi feels feverish, increasingly paranoid in front of his client's insistent and meaningless questions, eager to get him away from his sight "Don't pretend with me, boy" the man's hand forcibly seizes Yoongi's chin, forcing him to stand still.
"What did he see in you? You can’t sell hats, you’re the son of a failed entrepreneur, a junkie even" Yoongi uses all his strength to spit on the dreadfully twisted face of the stranger, a face whose features seem to get worse after Yoongi's action "Then Taehyung didn't really tell you about the Warlock of the Waste, if he was kind enough to warn you, maybe you wouldn't have behaved in this way"
"The... The Warlock of the Waste?" Yoongi stutters bewildered, his heart beating with fear.
"Yes, kid, in all his splendor" the squeeze becomes more and more painful and momentarily warm, Yoongi tries to get away but it's all wasted effort "Generally people who fall victim to my curses reach a greater degree of confidence, you can call me Jin from here on" a tear escapes from Yoongi's control, now sore for the ever warmer grip. Jin’s touch feels like a flame that is burning Yoongi’s body until the warlock finally lets him go. Yoongi falls to the floor, exhausted and coughing voraciously in desperate search for a quantity of air that never seems enough.
"Goodbye Yoongi, say hello to Taehyung the next time you meet him and remember" Jin takes the first steps towards the exit "Don't touch what doesn't belong to you"
Yoongi remains glued to the floor, his eyes heavy and full of tears that he does not intend to share until that strange presence is still there. As soon as the door closes behind the warlock's shoulders, Yoongi bursts into a painful cry. The anxiety he endured progressively during the day, accumulated as a balloon stuffed with water, overtakes him. As his eyesight gets clearer, Yoongi notices his gnarled hands on the floor, his knotty hands on the floor. The boy looks more closely at the skin intertwined by wrinkles while the sobs increase. Yoongi is unable to recover, dragging himself to the floor is no easier, but his knees are too weak to carry additional weights. The goal is to reach the horizontal mirror at the end of the room, the one Yoongi uses to show customers how his creations fit – but now, what the mirror reflects, what it claims to reflect, is the image of a man that Yoongi does not recognize, the image of a man too old to belong to himself.
Yoongi is scared in front of it, he looks in the room searching for that old figure, but no one seems to be present, no one besides himself. Bringing his eyes back to the mirror is hard, noting how the elder's reflection follows Yoongi's movements step by step, making the truth as impossible as it is obvious. Jin, the warlock, had spoken of a curse – he turned Yoongi into a wretched old man, unable to stand up. How many times Yoongi has wished to die, but his time seems to have shortened too quickly, too bizarre to be really a relief. Maybe it's just when you're one step away from not coming back that you understand what you really want. Tears come down between the wrinkles of his face, his gray eyes look like those of his father and Yoongi wonders if it is not really yet another punishment from the dead man.
But Jin had spoken of Taehyung, the name easily returns on the dehydrated tongue of the elder, Taehyung is the name of the magician who lives in that strange castle – why does Jin believe that Yoongi took him away?
It’s eight o'clock in the evening, Fanny could have come back any minute, Yoongi can't be found like that on the floor. The woman might even believe him, but she wouldn’t have allowed him to realize his unhealthy plan, that plan that is gradually coming to his wrinkled mind. Yoongi must reach Taehyung’s Castle and get help from the magician. The despair that envelops his soul must be momentarily forgotten; everything would have been fine if only he could manage to get up. Yoongi completely ignores the mirror, the elder has never been satisfied with his appearance, despising every delicate and hard trait that constituted his minute body, the idea of being even worsened by the curse makes him mad.
Yoongi leans against the wall, slowly rising, feeling each joint quivering with effort, but quietly continuing to hold his entire body.
"Oh" Yoongi croaks, feeling his throat dry, a foreign and almost ancient voice coming out from the surprised lips. He certainly feels devoid of much of his teenage energies, but not as much as he believed. Yoongi quickly manages to head to the small kitchen of the shop, collect the most important things for his survival and leave behind the despised place.
Before leaving everything behind, Yoongi approaches the old piano one last time, his fingers look as yellow as the keys of the instrument. Yoongi always wondered how that piano felt to be so old, to contain so many years and so many images. Yoongi is now marked by the same lines of time but he feels no weight, no memory able to justify the cracks of his skin. It is as unfair as a serious consequence of his foolish way of living, perhaps Jin's curse could have positive meaning, but as soon as this thought makes its way through Yoongi' silver hair, the man begins to cough, a drop of blood falls on the hands used to cover the cracked lips.
There is nothing positive about the death of a wasted life.
Walking the streets of Ingary in the middle of the night, with his back bent by old age, is a whole new experience. The main streets are empty, no one violates the curfew that allows girls to be protected from any kind of danger – any kind of Taehyung. And Yoongi is just going to meet the strange magician, but he isn’t that pretty to get his attention, now more than ever.
Yoongi never left Ingary, once after the death of his mother he had tried to flee the city that reminded him in all its colors of the lost presence, but he had never gone beyond the stone arch that announces the beginning and the end of its borders. Crossing the arch makes Yoongi's heart sob – when he hoped to abandon his existence behind, he certainly did not intend it like that.
A high hill rises strenuously before the eyes of the elderly man, his knees creak at every step while a slight wind makes the exhausted man shudder. Looking behind Yoongi can see that he is still too close to Ingary and just as far from Taehyung’s Castle which remains stationary on top of that same hill. Yoongi momentarily decides to sit on some cold rock, filling his tangled stomach with a slice of bread and cheese, chewing the food with a wrinkled look and still little inclined to fully embrace the new adventure.
Filled his stomach, Yoongi rises sorely and then resumes his journey, each step accompanied by the temperature that gradually lowers, demonstrating the rise of the hill and the coming of the deepest night. Just when his forces are about to fail, the profile of the magician's castle is presented in its wacky magnificence. The castle does not look like a castle – although the left side of the building was evidently that of an ancient castle, the right side was a mixture of different pieces. Yoongi could distinguish Ingary’s colorful bricks and some sections consisting of black, burning coal, the top surrounded by fireplaces and metal turrets that mouthed dark smoke. The castle looks like a living organism, all trembling and excited in the surrounding grass. Several doors stand in front of Yoongi's curious gaze, but any attempt to open one seems impossible.
Yoongi claps his hands against the wood of each door, getting no answer, until a third smaller door appears on the wooden side of the castle. The cold begins to be unbearable and all that smoke coming from the top can only promise a warm hearth inside the wacky dwelling.
"I'm coming!" Yoongi croaks, moving quickly towards the small door painted in yellow, but as soon as his hand rests on the handle, the door recedes – the door retreats and sinks into the castle, forcing Yoongi to chase it in disbelief "Stop! Please! Mr. Taehyung" Yoongi tries to beg "It's me, it's just Yoongi" the elder wouldn’t want to look desperate, but there is very little to hide.
At last the door stops and opens, someone on the other side holds it, Yoongi notices a little man with his face covered by a ridiculous disguise: a gray beard and a huge hat covering his plump face.
"What are you doing, sir?" the disguised voice is evidently that of a child.
"What are you doing! Is this the way to welcome a guest?" Yoongi improvises, still baffled by the weird things he just had to endure.
"We're not waiting for guests, this is Taehyung’s Castle" but Yoongi shakes his head "I don't care, I'm an old man and I'm dying of cold, do you want to let me die here?" the child stutters in front of the old man's request, but eventually gives in, making Yoongi sit inside the small dwelling. Although the castle from the outside seemed huge, inside it looks like something narrow and cramped, not to say dilapidated. Yoongi watches in disgust the cobwebs hanging in the corners of the room as he lets himself be driven in front of a warm fireplace, a small blue flame marks the actual presence of a heat source.
"Mr. Taehyung will punish me for this" the little boy stutters as he lets go of his disguise, black hair and plump cheeks stand out in the darkness of the room "I hope you spend a good evening, tomorrow Mr. Taehyung will hunt both" the child adds restlessly, while Yoongi remains mute, unable to set his head in motion during that chaos.
"Hm–my name is Jungkook, if you need anything, ask Hoseok" after this confusing information Jungkook walks away while Yoongi remains fixed to observe the fireplace, looking for warmth.
Well, he arrived at the house of the magician, a magician who at the moment does not seem to be present and not even kind enough to his guests if the child feared to have angered him by accepting his presence. Yoongi hasn't had much time to think or reflect on what's happening to him, but now that his sore back rests on the wooden stool, now that fatigue weighs like dust on his dried skin, Yoongi would just want to cry and pray Taehyung to settle the issue.
For the moment this can’t happen, the only thing Yoongi's hands can do is invigorate the thin flame of the fireplace. Yoongi gently moves the dried wood with the iron rod lying on the floor, the flame crackles in multiple colored snaps until the blue is replaced by a more noticeable red. Of the many things that have happened over the course of a single day, it does not seem so absurd for him to recognize between the ashes the shape of two eyes and even a heart-shaped smile. His eyesight must be lowered because of the curse.
"Are you wondering if that's true?" Yoongi frowns scared, whoever spoke does not come from his shoulders, the room continues to be empty "I'm right here" another hot snap of the flame recovers Yoongi's attention, just as the latter actually recognizes in the flames the appearance of an almost human face.
"I-Is it you?"
"Yes, have you never seen a fire demon?" the flame asks with his ringing voice, Yoongi remains for the umpteenth time speechless "No? I've never left Ingary"
"A life still young" the demon adds hinting at a wink "Your curse is powerful"
"How do you know?"
"I am also the victim of a spell, these are things that we recognize quickly" the flame mutters losing some of its warmth, sadness envelops the room in the form of frost "Mr. Taehyung can't help you?" Yoongi asks curiously, at least to understand how much the magician could have helped him.
"Taehyung? My spell is his work, we made a contract a long time ago, neither of us had understood the duration of this kind of magic and now I am bound to the castle, as much as Taehyung is bound to me" Yoongi listens carefully connecting the puzzle of clues. The flame must be the engine of the castle, the source of its energy when Taehyung is not there.
"Does everything work because of you?"
"Exactly, Taehyung constantly exploits me, but I can't break the contract"
"You could break mine instead? My curse?" After the demon's confession, Yoongi no longer feels so sure in trusting a magician who exploits that little heart-shaped flame.
"Of course, I could, but I must be released from this place in order to do it"
"You're trying to trick me" Yoongi replies, certainly not so foolish from trusting a demon never met before "Even Taehyung will try to deceive you"
"No, I'm not a beautiful girl, he won’t eat my heart" the demon's laughter snaps into yellow sparks "Taehyung doesn’t eat hearts, but people want to eat his" Yoongi can't quite understand what beautiful and kind girls might feed on a magician's heart, but fatigue really starts to be unbearable and the warmth of the demon makes it too pleasant.
"So, do we have a deal?"
"What's your name?" Yoongi asks.
"Hoseok" oh, the name that Jungkook told him. Maybe he can trust that little demon.
"All right, I'm Suga" he stutters sleepily, hiding his real name for safety and using the nickname his mother used "How can I tear up your contract with Taehyung?"
"Oh, Suga, you have to know the terms of the contract to break it" Hoseok mutters as he chews in the flames yet another piece of wood "And what are these terms?"
"The contract forbids me to report them, but you can easily find out if you can listen" Yoongi whines evidently deceived by Hoseok's promises "Can you listen, Suga?"
The night descends into silence accompanied by the breaths of Hoseok who carefully observes the way his light is reflected on Yoongi's elderly face, the way his sight allows him to glimpse the real features of a young boy who despite appearances seems to be much more than a random victim of the Warlock. Hoseok wonders how Taehyung will handle this new meeting, if the end hasn't come for both.
Silence rarely comes. It happens for example when Yoongi plays the piano, or when alcohol replaces the flow of blood in his veins – one last chance to be in silence is when he sleeps. Yoongi tends to wake up every day thinking of the darkness of the evening, thinking of the auspicious moment when everything can keep quiet by closing his eyelids above his eyes weighed down by too many memories. Paradoxically Yoongi's nights are empty, there are no dreams or nightmares desperate to anchor him to the real world, there is no repetition of the worst moments of his existence, not when he can very well observe them awake in the sunlight.
That's why it's strange to wake up and be overwhelmed by strange images intertwined with magic and curses. Yoongi almost laughs recalling the strange warlock who would make him a bony old man and about to die, almost patting himself on the back to compliment his burning fantasy that created a flame that speaks with his heart-shaped lip. The stifled laugh soon turns into a fat cough that forces Yoongi to rise from the uncomfortable wooden chair on which he slept. It takes little to observe the thin drops of blood on the rough palms of his hands, very little to look around to observe the dark wooden room, now illuminated by the morning light. Of course it wasn't a dream, Yoongi can't dream, there's no need for it with such a traumatic reality.
"Good morning Suga, don't forget our deal" Yoongi loses his already fatigued breath in the face of the sudden burst of fire. Hoseok appears in all its warm splendor among the ashes of last night. Yoongi recalls the words exchanged with the demon, the trick in which he easily fell, trapped now in a further situation. On the other hand, he really gave the name of Suga instead of his real one, the same name by which his mother dared to call him in the flower of childhood. There is no limit to Yoongi's masochism.
"How could I forget it? I have to help you to break my curse, but I need a starting point!" Yoongi mumbles, stretching his back muscles and trying to figure out if his knees were ready for a new day "I told you, you have to know how to listen"
"Taehyung!" Hoseok squeals more and more irritated, "Are you deaf?"
"Sir? Is he still here?" Yoongi turns to give his attention to the little man from last night. Jungkook appears bigger in the sunlight, no longer a frightened child, but a well-dressed kid and big enough to run a castle.
"I'm waiting for the warlock" Yoongi adds sincerely "When does he come back? Or is he already here?"
"Taehyung will be back soon, he spent the evening chasing another girl" Jungkook reflects aloud, getting a grimace from Yoongi, a grimace that blends between the wrinkles of the face "Meanwhile do you want to have breakfast? We have bread and... bread" the boy adds awkwardly, looking among the various things left around the kitchen. The disorder causes Yoongi’s headache.
"Is that your role here? You are Taehyung' servant?"
"Oh, no! Absolutely!" Jungkook strongly opposes, picking up a couple of dishes that were once white "I'm Taehyung’s apprentice! He's teaching me all his tricks and magic, in return I take care of the castle" the moment Jungkook explains himself, the doorbell of the entrance starts to ring. Jungkook takes a few seconds to recover the strange disguise with which he had welcomed Yoongi last night. The latter follows the boy's movements as he approaches the yellow wooden door, the knob appears to mark a triangle of the same color, until Jungkook rotates it to the left, now marking a red rectangle. Yoongi looks astonished at the view outside the windows as it changes, the green hill is replaced by the view of the sea.
"I'm Mr. V's apprentice, how can I help you?" Jungkook uses a raucous deep voice as a little girl tries to look inside the castle "I'm here to pick up the potion for my dad, for his boat" Jungkook nods and then plucks from one of his many pockets a small purple vial.
"Spread this potion on the boat and your father will fish a lot" the little girl gently thanks before dropping some coins in Jungkook's minute hands. Soon the door closes and the knob returns to the yellow triangle, recovering the green hills instead of the sea.
"H-Have we just changed places?" Yoongi stutters and both Jungkook and Hoseok giggle at the surprise that Yoongi still can't digest. The doorknob marks four different colors – yellow, red, blue and black. The question arises, what is hidden in the black rectangle? But his curiosity and stifled by Jungkook's attempts to prepare a decent breakfast.
"Stop, you'll get hurt" Yoongi comes, taking from Jungkook's hands the thick knife he wants to use to cut some bread "Plus, there is a whole basket of eggs and fresh meat, we could cook a real breakfast, don't you think?" Jungkook squints and then looks at Hoseok.
"But Hoseok only responds to Taehyung!" Yoongi sighs already exhausted "Really? So, you can't have anything warm until Taehyung comes back?" Jungkook nods, swelling his cheeks in annoyance.
"Liar! I simply try to save my energy, I have a castle to carry on and protect!" Hoseok tries to defend himself "You didn't do a good job by letting in an unknown" Yoongi says and then cleans the table for breakfast.
"What are you doing? Sir, isn't it too heavy for you?" Yoongi smiles for the boy's worried tone, the same tone he used with his mother at a sour age while she was preparing her sweet sleeves. Yoongi would like to try humming the same melody, but his voice has never been particularly interesting as a young man, let alone now that his vocal cords are like ropes consumed by fire.
"I am old, not useless" Yoongi corrects Jungkook. Hearing his new tone, Yoongi is still waiting for the moment of the final crisis, for the moment when he will really realize that he has lost his present and even the possibility of a future. Thinking about it, there is very little to lose when you have nothing left.
"Well, Hoseok, raise your head" Yoongi claims, resting the pot over the reluctant flame "Remember we made a deal" Hoseok inflates his inflamed cheeks and rises to meet Yoongi's demand, just as the latter begins to break two eggs into the boiling pan.
"Taehyung won't be happy" Hoseok chews between one egg peel and another.
"Since when do you know me so well to say what can make me happy or sad?" Yoongi almost leaves the pan in surprise, but a second hand suddenly comes to grasp the handle of the pan before it's too late "Careful, move a little further, I'll take care of it now"
Old age has certainly not benefited Yoongi, so his neck is painfully uncomfortable to look at his side the predominant figure of a man whose figure appears as clear as even more beautiful. Yoongi doesn't need to ask if he's the famous Taehyung, but his heart begins to beat with unheard ferocity as he recognizes in those charismatic appearances the same angel who the day before had saved him from those sailors. Yoongi swallows visibly when Taehyung turns to observe the source of the prolonged glance.
"Do we know each other?" Taehyung sighs hinting at the same kind smile of yesterday, Yoongi hopes that among the deep wrinkles it is not possible to spot the warm embarrassment, as well as his skin quivers in not being recognized. He could not bear to be seen in that way by Taehyung. Yoongi gave up his entire life to reach that magician, but now his pride is a wall too high to be flown over.
"Impossible, Sir, never seen before" Taehyung tilts his head, a strange shimmer in the face, but it lasts an instant.
"Nothing is impossible, don't you believe Suga?" Yoongi is tired of being speechless in an all-too-tight time frame, but Taehyung doesn't stop surprising him "Don’t be scared, Jungkook told me your name” Taehyung adds sneering at Yoongi's obvious concern.
"But I wonder, what a man like you might have come to look for here, facing all these dangers and even trusting fire demons and sorcerer apprentices" Taehyung reflects aloud, continuing to cook eggs and adding meat to the creamy dough.
"I'm... looking for a purpose" and perhaps this is one of the few things Yoongi says sincerely, having lived so far without goals, sticking to his beliefs and then seeing them fall with a snap of a stranger's fingers. Maybe this is really his opportunity to understand, to understand the reason of his pain and his existence. Or maybe this is his actual point of arrival and give him an excuse to die as fast as possible without having to live a life of loneliness and dissatisfaction.
"You humans always believe in the existence of a light at the end of the tunnel, and if it was all dark? Maybe, Suga, you should learn to turn on a light with your own hands"
"I didn't come all the way here to take lessons on my life" Yoongi blurts out, soon remembering that his body may have matured early, but his soul remains anchored to what he was until the day before "My life is over, there is nothing to teach" the man corrects himself quickly, but Taehyung does not seem at all touched by his strange exit.
"Do you really believe that?"
"That there is nothing more to learn, on the contrary I think there are so many things to know that probably tomorrow I will not be the same person I am today" Hoseok whines when Taehyung frees his head from the weight of the pan, the table now laden with Jungkook's minute hands.
"I can't be different from what I am now" and Yoongi feels an invincible confidence in those words, perhaps he will be able to break that terrible curse, but no time or knowledge can ever repair his soul or silence the constant hum that reminds him of every little crack present in his existence.
"Oh, we couldn't disagree more on this" Taehyung laughs and his laugh has the same clinking of his shop's doorbell. Yoongi shudders remembering when he last heard it – remembering Jin's chilling presence and his empty words. The pieces begin to match when, sitting at the table, Yoongi thinks back to the warlock's accusations, the way he was convinced that Yoongi had touched something of his own, that he had known Taehyung.
"The Warlock of the Waste Lands greets you" his tongue twists almost forced to say those words and the quiet silence is interrupted by Taehyung's desperate cough and a glass of milk that quickly gushes until it drains from the sides of his red lips.
"I told you not to let him in!" Hoseok screams from his seat, the flames higher, the castle trembles just by the sudden thrust of its engine. Yoongi holds himself at the table while the plates slide on the floor crushing Taehyung’s cough with their own sound.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you!" Yoongi holds himself firmly at the table until Hoseok and Taehyung recover their tranquility, as if the two figures were so interconnected that the agitation of one was directly addressed to the other – and maybe it is like that. Hoseok asked him to listen and Yoongi's trying.
"Old, old Jin, let's hope we don't have to reciprocate the greeting, right?" Yoongi is puzzled by Taehyung’s calmness after almost imploding the entire castle "So what did you come to do?"
"No, I told you, I'm here to find a purpose"
"And you intend to look for it in the rooms of my castle? Aren't you afraid of me?" Taehyung asks, curious.
"Afraid? I'm not a young girl, you can’t eat my heart" Yoongi mutters, his heart may lose a palpitate because he's too old, but the man recognizes the same pain that the day before had gripped him when he realized that such an angel could never look at him that way. The laugh in which Jungkook bursts reminds both that they are not alone in the cramped kitchen.
"Taehyung? Eating hearts? At most he breaks them!" Jungkook keeps sobbing with laughter, his mouth full of food "It's just a rumor I put around to make him scarier"
"Oh, Suga, I'm a magician, I have a reputation to keep, people must be afraid of me in every region, you know what would happen if the King didn't fear me? He would try to make me one of his slaves and I love my freedom too much to deprive me of it because of such a silly reason" Taehyung's eyes glitter, now turned to the blue flames of Hoseok. Maybe the magician isn't that free.
"So, you don't eat the hearts of the pretty girls?" Taehyung smiles melancholy at Yoongi's disarming questions.
"Generally, they try to eat mine, but it hasn't happened in a while" Yoongi listens intently, the words like someone else's, heard at a time as close as it is far away. He needs to understand, he has never wanted so much to understand something as complicated as the magician who is now looking at him with tenderness, almost as he could see beyond the wrinkles the appearance of a frightened boy with far too much certainty about the desolation of the world.
"I'm here to stay" Yoongi says suddenly "To... to help, to make this place a livable place"
"What's wrong with my castle?"
"It's lurid, you can't ignore it" the kitchen is completely covered with Hoseok's ash, fruit baskets winged at the corners of the room and spiders walking in peace among the tall black wood beams.
"Do what you have to do to stay, but don't get into my room" Taehyung panders to Yoongi's strange request without blinking "If you do that, I could really eat your heart" Yoongi shudders, for the first time fearing Taehyung's presence "But I don't know if it would be a punishment."
Adapting to his new existence means avoiding every single mirror, ignoring the rough contact with the skin of a lost youth and grasping every step carefully to prevent his bony knees from stopping to support his body. Yoongi finds himself resting his back in the soft chair in front of Hoseok, pinching the demon with the iron rod and begging for some information about the type of contract he should break.
Although the weather seems to have risen, Yoongi is often busy cleaning the castle, snooping between one room and another, never being able to open Taehyung's room. Yoongi was never a curious man, everything he should have known was taken away from the death of his mother, after experiencing such a loss there is nothing worth knowing. Yet several times he drags himself down the stairs in the hope of peeking into the chamber of the magician, a magician strictly absent from his wacky castle. At least since Yoongi is there, Hoseok responds to Jungkook's requests without leaving him with an empty stomach or cold water.
It is easy to get lost in the corridors of that place, sometimes Yoongi forgets that in a time not even far away he was nothing but a boy without a soul. Other times while he’s cutting onions for dinner, Yoongi finds himself missing his warm tears and his fingers on the old piano. He wonders about Fanny, about the shop. During these moments guilt overtakes him. Most of the time Yoongi believes that he will never come back, that he will forever watch Taehyung’s young face observe him with determination from the darkest corners of the room.
Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung and his blue, red, golden clothes. Taehyung with his equally golden hair and elegant fingers that gently caress Yoongi's face when he believes he has fallen asleep.
The magician disappears too often, leaving all the work in the hands of a little boy, a demon without legs and a soulless man. It is not difficult to find out where Taehyung may be, even if he doesn’t eat hearts, the magician is hungry for love and every night someone will have to suffer his charm.
"He's not back yet" Hoseok snorts, lighting up his blue tongues and dragging a thin branch in his direction.
"Doesn't he always?" Yoongi mutters, sitting in his chair, warming his hands full of cuts against the fireplace.
"Not for so many days... I wonder why the girl still hasn't given up" the darkness of the room hides the redness on the pale cheeks of the elder, of course Taehyung is in love, he always seems to be. Who knows if the girl possesses Fanny' shiny smile or Anne's bright eyes? All the things Yoongi doesn't own right now – and maybe he'd never get back, maybe he never had. It's strange the way his mind works, obsessed with the idea of pleasing someone he doesn't know. Although sometimes, sometimes, it seems that they have already been here, looking for themselves. Yoongi does not believe in anything, there is no faith in him. But his senses still work, they light up as inflamed by a further curse when the doorknob turns towards the blue rectangle and Taehyung appears on the doorstep.
"Is he still here?" the magician sighs as he looks at the elderly man's body in his chair, almost sensing the pain he is feeling. Yoongi senses the magician's approach but his eyes remain closed, hating himself in the hope of having those fingers on his face once again. Yoongi hates being touched, now even more so, he despises with all himself the way his body is withered – but Taehyung's caress is sincere, it is the only feeling that makes him hope that he is not only the envelope of a dead man.
"You're still here" Taehyung has never been so close, his words come like a breath on his skin and Hoseok crackles in silence "Why are you still here?"
Why do you let me stay? – Yoongi would like to answer, ask, know. The only thing he'd want to know. And then why he always looks at him, as if he knows something. Can he really know the truth? Can he see beyond the curse and even discover something worse? A man unable to live, a coward, a traitor.
"You know why he's here" Hoseok intrudes but Taehyung seems to shut him up by kicking it out with a squat harder to burn. Yoongi thinks their conversation is over but Taehyung has something else on his mind. The magician tenderly tucks his arms under Yoongi's waist, if the dread of being discovered awake had not been so high, Yoongi would surely have hunted a shrill. Taehyung grabs him in his arms, carrying Yoongi’s face against his neck and dragging both who knows where.
Yoongi enjoys every moment selfishly – his hands joined softly behind the sorcerer's neck. Again, again, he finds himself thinking that getting eaten by Taehyung wouldn't be so terrible, not if it would mean feeling that way.
After a few minutes, too few, Yoongi feels something soft under his back and a sigh escapes from his dry lips.
"You can stop pretending you're sleeping" Taehyung breaks the silence, smiling between the words.
"I’m sorry" Yoongi stutters, keeping his eyes closed, arms stiff against his hips.
"Open your eyes… for me?" the sorcerer asks and if Yoongi had not been so overwhelmed by his presence, perhaps he would have had the strength to oppose him, yet his eyes open like withered petals.
"If you decide to close yours" Yoongi almost does not realize that his voice does not resonate at all mottled by the vocal cords consumed by old age, perhaps it is his imagination, the sleep that rests quietly on his shoulders that does not allow him to distinguish reality from illusion.
"Why should I?"
"I'm disgusting to look at" Yoongi confesses, the voice so thin that it's barely perceived by a Taehyung whose hands come back with more pressure on the man's shoulders.
Yoongi obeys with difficulty. It's not just contempt for his horrible curse, he probably would have demanded the same thing if his skin had been younger.
"You're beautiful" Taehyung whispers, his face for the first time dyed by a shade of red. Yoongi is obsessed with questions and, even now, he wonders what it would be like to be one of those girls that Taehyung loves for a few days until he finds another one. Do they feel that way? As if they were at the center of an unknown world, a new star around which someone extraordinary decides to turn? Or maybe it's them, the girls, who become the satellites of that world, depending on Taehyung's words.
"We elders no longer seek beauty" Yoongi reciprocates, the voice once thick because of him. Taehyung continues to look at him in silence until his hands slip away and Yoongi feels empty.
"Doesn't mean you can’t find it anyway, doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful heart… your body isn’t everything" Taehyung smiles, hiding his former displeasure. Yoongi doesn't know how to behave, not when the magician is about to touch his forehead with a warm kiss, a breath on the old skin "Sleep well, Suga, I hope you like this room, I made it for you"
"The King's assistant has been here, again" Jungkook informs Taehyung as soon as he sets foot in the castle and the magician is evidently upset by the news, his eyes making an immense turn before focusing on the boy.
"What did he want?" he asks, pretending to be calm. Yoongi may well spot the magician's fatigue in his slow movements, Taehyung has spent the last few nights out, taking away Yoongi's chance to understand the contract that binds him to Hoseok and tightening his heart with an increasingly thin and sharp rope. The memory of the sorcerer's lips on his skin is still intrinsic.
"The same thing as ever, he wants you to fight for him, his court wizard seems to have disappeared along with the prince" Jungkook adds, getting everyone's attention.
Yoongi has always ignored the war outside of Ingary, he knows that someone is fighting someone else and that one of them is the King of the country. Their kingdom stands brutally over both mortals and magical creatures, Taehyung is not the only warlock. Their special bloodline is educated in specific schools, their education marked by a further contract that provides an eternal service of their magic in favor of the good of the kingdom. The King has the right to call Taehyung and Taehyung has a duty to respond. If his name was immediately thought of as a substitute for the court wizard, then Taehyung is even more powerful than Yoongi believed.
"Did Prince Jimin and the warlock Namjoon disappear at the same time?" Taehyung reflects aloud, the gaze already lost, who knows towards what image.
"Not at the same time, Prince Jimin disappeared on his way to the Wastelands and the warlock followed him to find him, but now they both seem lost"
"Hm–I don't agree with this version, Namjoon is not naive, not as Jimin... who would willingly settle with Jin?" The name makes Yoongi shudder, the same suffocating terror that had glued him on the floor of his shop envelops him like a mist. Taehyung immediately looks at him but he doesn't seem to want to share any kind of words of comfort. How could he even understand what Yoongi is feeling now?
"Suga, do you know why we're fighting?" Yoongi shakes his head "No one knows, not even the Warlock of the Wastelands, but no one will stop until everything is destroyed" Jungkook swallows in the silence of the room, the shadows of it seem to take the form of a nightmare.
"Oh! Enough of that tormented look, now I'm going to leave and take a nice hot bath, Hoseok warm up the water" Taehyung explodes with one of his smiles, reducing every shadow and placing just as much warmth in the minds of those present.
"Obviously, at his command" Hoseok crackles sarcastically but Taehyung does not let himself be taken by the comment, the same false smile accompanies him to the small bathroom. Yoongi is still paralyzed for a few minutes, the paranoid consumes him faster than his old age. Taehyung once again represents an absurd mystery, an explosion of such different things, fine lines that divide the truth from the false and that make it difficult to distinguish reality from the fiction.
The newly regained peace lasts very few minutes. A heartbreaking scream shakes the entire castle, Hoseok loses much of its light, shrinking to the blue of a flame under Jungkook's worried eyes.
"Oh, no!" the boy sobs.
"SUGA!" Taehyung's scream squirts Yoongi's heart, the old man barely holding on to the nearby wooden table, oblivious to why the magician is so angry.
The bathroom door suddenly opens, from the wooden rectangle comes out the steam from the boiling water heated by Hoseok. Soon the figure of the sorcerer emerges, Taehyung shows himself in all his furious and restless splendor. The magician is almost completely naked, a white towel hides the waist, but no inch of his skin is dry. Yoongi is an old man, he cannot feel that way in front of that image, he cannot lose his breath or kiss his cheeks with a red blush.
"Suga! Did you touch the products in my bathroom?" Taehyung asks madly, water dripping on the floor. Only then does Yoongi realize that Taehyung's hair no longer reflects the traditional golden, a dark blue covers the long hair, making his gaze even deeper.
"I–" Yoongi stutters, stunned by sight and fear of confessing the truth. During the many searches and searches, Yoongi had probably moved something into the bathroom but he believed they were simple beauty products, not something so important from breaking the magician's heart.
"I don't want to hear your apology! Why are you here? You don't have to touch anything; how many times do I have to tell you? What is your purpose here!" Taehyung continues to scream, holding on to the bathroom door, almost holding back from approaching Yoongi dangerously.
"Of what? To have come out of nowhere? To have questioned my every belief or to have ruined me?" Yoongi does not understand at all the meaning of those harsh words, the contempt that he sees with painful evidence, without any kind of filter. The elder didn’t cry after losing his wretched youth, he did not shed a tear in abandoning his insidious life, but now warm waterfalls flow salty between the wrinkles of a face that can no longer distinguish his age. Such an old man cannot bear a heartbreak that only young people can welcome.
"I'm horrible! No one will look at me anymore, no one will think I'm beautiful!" Taehyung continues to scream. it's easy to think back to their last conversation, how the magician had consoled Yoongi's despair and now he’s taking back every word suffering from the loss of his blonde hair. Taehyung doesn't care at all about the silent tears that are wetting Yoongi's cheeks, his only thought is aimed at his vault when he slumps into the chair in front of the fireplace.
No one dares to talk, the only sounds come from Taehyung's feverish breath and Yoongi's nose pulling up with every wave of tears.
"It's happening again" Hoseok trembles, Yoongi looks around noticing thick shadows from the corners of the room, shadows that have Taehyung's profile. The elder turns his attention with sorrow to the sorcerer who lies almost in a fetal position on the chair, a thin greenish fluid flows with dense drops from his blue hair. It's a gruesome scene, Jungkook approaches Yoongi's trousers, gently clutching him in search of comfort.
"Taehyung, stop" Yoongi sobs but the magician seems not to be present "Taehyung!" Blind rage envelops Yoongi as he goes to meet the magician's wrapper, touching with disgust the body covered with a real green slime. The castle around trembles, Hoseok squeals worried as soon as the strange liquid grazes the chimney feeding on its flames.
"Taehyung, stop! I'm turning off! You're going to turn me off like this!" Hoseok seems to sob and Yoongi loses his head quickly, the asphyxiating smell and almost empty body of Taehyung touch a memory so dark that Yoongi can no longer see the magician or hear Jungkook's cry – it’s his mother, he sees his mother burned between the flames, asphyxiated by smoke and it is his crying that he hears.
"You may as well die! For such a silly thing then?" Yoongi cries without hiding "You said beauty didn’t matter! But what can I know about it if beautiful I have never been!” he screams with all the breath left in his lungs until the sight begins to cloud so much that Yoongi is forced to run away, away from that room and from that castle.
Yoongi has not been able to leave the castle since he set his foot there, the door is controlled by Hoseok and Hoseok can only open it under Taehyung's command – yet Yoongi manages for the first time to open it without problems, the knob directed towards the yellow triangle. The scenery that he sees is that of the highest hill overlooking Ingary, Yoongi closes the door behind him with such force that a severe mass of soot falls on his silver hair.
But it doesn't matter when the tears flow voraciously on his exhausted face, Yoongi takes further steps forward and sits on the damp dew grass. The cold penetrates the bones, Yoongi feels everywhere perforated and the knowledge that his existence is really crumbling in that way begins to be more consistent. How long has he been in that castle? His hands daily miss the absence of the piano – but his heart has no right to regret the past.
"Suga! Suga! Suga!" Jungkook reaches him breathlessly, stopping as soon as he notices the elder's tears "Mr. Suga! I know you’re very angry with Taehyung, but I promise he didn't mean any of those bad words, sometimes when he's under pressure a misstep is enough to get him to vent like that... you were just the victim of an unpleasant emotional breakdown" Jungkook tries to defend the magician, surely he too was once in Yoongi's place. But it's not just Taehyung the problem, it's not even the fact that he's an old horrible man, but the knowledge that he has nothing to believe in, nothing to trust – just now that he was starting to put his trust in Taehyung.
"Mr. Suga, if you don’t come back and don’t help Taehyung, I think the castle will collapse on us, please” Yoongi just turns to look through his tears at the castle's profile. The wacky colossus trembles and hunts colorful fumes on both sides, it's a terrifying sight "Please, only you can calm him down, since you went away his emotional state has fallen even more" Yoongi pulls up his nose, not at all convinced that his presence is so important, but he would not let another house collapse on the shoulders of a person who he lov–
Stepping back into the castle is tiring, every wooden step falters under his weight and the strange slime that was cast by the blue hair of the warlock has spread everywhere creating a kind of swamp for the entire entrance and for the kitchen. Taehyung still sits in the same position in front of the fireplace, Hoseok appears even more minute and tired because of the slime. The magician is keeping the hair in his hands; his eyes closed and his mouth stretched in a thin line. He seems to suffer; he seems to suffer from a simple aesthetic error. Yoongi's life is over but the great Taehyung is causing the death of all those present for a nonsense that does not make him any less wonderful than he already was.
Yoongi wipes the last tears with the sleeve of his shirt and then asks Jungkook to fill buckets with soap and water.
"Suga! Save me! Please" Hoseok screams "I’m coming!" hearing Yoongi’s voice, Taehyung's shoulders barely tremble, and the flow of slime seems to slow down. Yoongi laboriously walks through the thick liquid, seizing a frying pan on the floor and picking Hoseok from the base of the fireplace.
"What are you doing? I'm going to die like this!"
"Listen to me, I need to get rid of the slime or you'll drown" Yoongi tries to reason "Jungkook, take the pan" the boy nods and takes the heavy frying pan with difficulty, then he returns to Yoongi a bucket full of iced water and soap. The elder throws the bucket on the floor and directly on the fireplace, obtaining in return an asphyxiating wave of steam and the withdrawal of the slime.
"Taehyung, I need you to listen to me, listen to my voice, I know you can hear me" Yoongi approaches the magician again. The strange liquid seems to have definitely stopped but Taehyung has no intention of moving, although Yoongi can see his shoulders shaking slightly as they accompany thick tears flowing faster than the previous slime "Taehyung, everything will be fine" to that sentence the magician raises his head, piercing Yoongi with full black eyes.
Yoongi remembers perfectly the first encounter with the magician, when he was still a lost young boy and the other was not a scary sorcerer – he remembers his heart beating loud and the hint of fear he had suffered and then was replaced by extreme charm. The same feeling affects his limbs right now, frightened and charmed in an absurd way. The magic stops again when Taehyung closes his eyes and falls on himself.
"He passed out!" Hoseok squeals and Yoongi trembles from his position, after a little reflection the old man tucks his arms under Taehyung's and bears the man on his chest. Yoongi does not believe he can do much, yet suddenly the force does not seem to be lacking. Dragging the wizard's body to his room is still difficult, each step looks like a mountain but in the end they both manage to reach the room in which Yoongi was never allowed to enter – despite his several attempts.
This time the door opens without even needing to touch it, Yoongi looks at Taehyung's grieving face, he doesn't seem to be conscious, but it must have been him. The magician's room looks like a circus, Yoongi gasps at the multiple colors that envelop the walls and the floor. Each step is followed by clinking of mirrors and glass that emit the colors of the rainbow; feathers fall from the ceiling and between a red and yellow beam hang multiple swans. Yoongi is almost moved by the warmth that the room shares, who knows how many of these objects the magician needs to have a quiet sleep.
Finally, Yoongi manages to rest his body sticking on the bed, now he does not know what to do except to carefully observe the way Taehyung's chest moves welcoming every breath after the previous panic crisis.
"Yoongi" Taehyung gasps without opening his eyes, his hand closed on Yoongi's rough wrist, who in turn holds his breath. Did he just call him by his real name? How is that possible? Since when has he known it? "Yoongi, don't go away" the magician stutters unconsciously, his eyes still closed and his face now feverish.
"You never asked me to stay" Yoongi sobs.
"I never told you to leave" and this time Taehyung is there with his eyes focused on Yoongi's soul, his eyes no longer obscured by madness "Don't go away" he pleads once more and Yoongi would like to say /where I should go, what place exists in the world for me, what is there for me if not this room?/ but it is silent. They let themselves be lulled by the stillness of that moment, by the silence that is music and has the rhythm of their breath progressively quieter.
Falling asleep together is a big mistake for a heartless magician and a soulless old man.
Waking up in Taehyung's arms is like feeling young, Yoongi doesn't feel his wrinkles in contact with the magician's hands clutching him to his chest gently, a sweetness still capable of holding him there, imprisoned in a prison he wishes to possess. Yoongi observes Taehyung's profile, long lashes lying on high cheeks, perfect nose with his tiny mole and ajar lips. Yoongi has never wanted anything in life other than counting the moles that dot the perfect skin of the man who is breathing with him.
"Suga?" Yoongi almost doesn't notice Jungkook's embarrassed presence in front of the bedroom door. The man sighs and soon every furrow on his skin recovers its unpleasant weight, the awareness of his old age has never hurt him as in that moment – how could Taehyung keep him in his arms without being disgusted?
"Here I am" Yoongi slips away from Taehyung's grip, the cold he feels is terribly painful as he leaves the room full of colors, although the only one Yoongi could now see is that of the magician's lips.
"I'm sorry if I woke you up, it's been a while since you showed up and I was worried” Jungkook quickly confesses squinting in shame, Yoongi barely blushes "Quiet, I had to stay to calm him down" the little boy rolls his eyes but Yoongi knows there's more behind the words of both of them.
"I cleaned the kitchen, Hoseok and I worked for hours!" Jungkook jumps happy and Yoongi can only feel tenderness towards the apprentice.
"You spend too much time serving Hoseok, instead of devoting yourself to magic?"
"Actually right now I'm studying a spell, do you want to look at me?" Yoongi looks at the closed door behind him, preferring to return to Taehyung's arms but the sudden thought is immediately driven away by Yoongi's reflection on one of the many mirrors hanging in the hallway.
"Sure" Jungkook squeals happily before taking Yoongi's hand and dragging him into the kitchen. Hoseok keeps his eyes closed, thin blue flames demonstrate the tiredness of the demon, the same weariness that enveloped Taehyung. Hoseok had confessed of being tied to the magician through a contract, that Yoongi’s goal was to break it to get his curse resolved and – oh, he never wanted it as much as he does in that moment.
"That's the spell! Listen, Taehyung taught me that every spell is nothing more than a nursery rhyme, a game of logic, to realize it you have to solve it!" Jungkook opens an old book, the yellowed pages give off an unbearable smell.
"Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
Lives a woman true, and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
False, ere I as, to two, or three. "
"Where did you find that spell?" Hoseok interrupts Jungkook's reading, for the first time Yoongi is frightened by the demon whose flames pass early from blue to bright red. The nursery rhyme read by Jungkook appears delicate but above all touching towards Yoongi – the man is completely impressed and Hoseok's disquiet brings further attention.
"I-I found it in Taehyung's book"
"Did Taehyung tell you that you can touch it without his presence?" Hoseok continues to squeal, the flames even higher until it touches the roof of the path.
"N-No, but? He's been out lately, I'm not learning anything!"
"Hoseok, were you a star?" Yoongi intrudes and immediately the flames fall, the demon recovers his original stature intimidated by an old man imprisoned in a stupid curse.
"Every fire demon was once a star" Yoongi is surprised but perhaps not too much. The nursery rhyme begins to have a meaning, the bond between Hoseok and Taehyung becomes almost clearer, but still much of the picture isn’t there.
"Stop scaring our friends" the sudden presence of Taehyung instead of warming the atmosphere makes it even heavier. Yoongi has several questions on the tip of his tongue but every thought fades in front of the sight of the magician wrapped in a red dressing gown woven with some gold ornaments. Since Yoongi left him, Taehyung has woken up and reassembled himself. No trace of the cruel expression of the night before or of the strange liquid stains him.
"I'm not trying to scare them but to warn them about things they shouldn't touch" Hoseok whispers, looking at Yoongi. The elder is cut in half by the need to keep his attention rigid towards Taehyung and the knowledge that Hoseok with his attitude was trying to share some clues related to their contract.
"Despite not sharing his tones, Hoseok is right" Taehyung adds, turning to Jungkook and closing the heavy book by unleashing a pile of dust "These are things you shouldn't learn, catching a star is a cruel thing, an unforgivable sin and would make you a wizard like the Warlock of the Wastelands" Taehyung reinforces his words among the sneezes of the little Jungkook. What do those words mean? Yoongi is more than ever sure that Hoseok was a star and that Taehyung was probably the one who picked it up, here's the point of origin of the contract – so why, why, why is Taehyung implicitly painting himself as similar to the monster that reduced Yoongi in that way?
"Is it so easy to distinguish good from evil in your world?" Yoongi asks, inclined to defend the magician's newly glimpsed soul. Taehyung shifts his attention to him for the first time, there is no embarrassment in his features despite having shared a moment of weakness and even his own breaths during one of the quietest sleeps Yoongi has gotten in the last decade.
"There are rules that can help you do it"
"So can life be divided, judged, by rules? Would this mistake be enough for Jungkook to become evil?" Yoongi insists in a trembling voice, completely opposed to wanting to call Taehyung a monster.
"Yes, this was enough to expel me from the academy of magic" Taehyung confesses without even thinking about it, there is no fear or curiosity to understand the thoughts of those present. The magician almost mocks his audience with that news and Yoongi would like – he always wants something, his constant dissatisfaction has made him over time a voracious consumer of everything and it is extremely difficult at this time to understand what he wants, but Yoongi recognizes his hunger, even if he doesn’t understand the origin of it.
"It's not a mistake, or a rule or an academy to define us" and Yoongi knows it very well after the shame of his drunken performance. His academy had suspended him for months before taking him back in their arms "There is no clear difference between the good and the bad, but there are grays and second chances"
"Do you believe in second chances, Suga?"
"I don't believe in anything" Yoongi spits with pain, Taehyung's presence getting closer and closer as Jungkook and Hoseok silently observe the strange exchange of words. There is the wooden table to separate them, Yoongi's hand is resting on it. Taehyung’s movements are so light and slow that Yoongi almost does not realize that his fingers have been touched by those of the magician. The difference between Yoongi's predominant veins and the sweetness of Taehyung's makes him sigh.
"We both know that's not the case" Taehyung whispers and Yoongi can't help but look, remaining silent, reflecting on how his existence has completely turned around. A month ago Anne had looked at him in the same way, with awareness and affliction, yet Yoongi had not felt as involved as he is here, now, in the present.
"No matter what I know, I'd like to understand what I don't know" Yoongi says cautiously, his tone just as low and full of questions.
"Do you want to know why I lost my mind so easily?" Taehyung smiles at the man's frantic nod "Try to think of the most foolish reason, but also the one that touches anyone, even a magician"
"What are you afraid of, Taehyung?" Yoongi immediately asks, understanding the riddle.
"The King continues to request my presence at court, he certainly wants to make me the new Court Wizard, but I have no intention of becoming his slave" Taehyung speaks as if those words had been uttered too many times. Yoongi becomes bolder, his hands sticking between the blanks of Taehyung's.
"What else are you afraid of?"
"If... If I accepted, Jin would know my position" Taehyung finally confesses.
"What... what does the Warlock want from you?"
"Me" is the simple answer and Yoongi thinks back to Jin's words, his hostility to knowing that the pianist had known/touched/had Taehyung for a few minutes.
"Is he in love with you?" his throat clenches around the words.
"It’s my fault" Taehyung takes away his hand, his face lowered almost as a sign of surrender. Embarrassment, shame made his cheeks red "I thought Jin would be the right companion for a corrupt creature like me, but once again my empty chest did not allow me to love... that's why I constantly try to win over men or women, in the hope of feeling something, but my heart doesn’t beat"
Yoongi doesn't know what to get angry about, what to grit his teeth for and hold his hands back from slapping Taehyung's grieving face. The magician believes himself so corrupt because of his contract with Hoseok that he tried to love Jin, Taehyung believes that nothing good can happen to him – Taehyung does not eat hearts but hopes that his is eaten.
"What you’re saying–what you're saying is complete nonsense!" Yoongi almost screams, but it's not the heartbroken rage of the previous evening, in this case it's rational, thought, calculated "You act recklessly for a stupid reason! Love, that love that you are desperately looking for and that you believed you could only deserve from bad people, that love does not exist! Stop, stop looking for something that doesn't exist, stop tormenting and hurting yourself and risking your damn life for something that no one ever finds in life, good or bad, star or not star, wizard or common mortal, young or... or old" at the end of his monologue Yoongi is breathless, his lungs crushed by anxiety, Taehyung's eyes barred.
"Do you see that there is something you believe in?" Taehyung whispers, the hoarse voice is a sign of further suffering. Why should the magician be so impressed by Yoongi' speech?
"I haven't... I still don't understand why Jin is pursuing you" Yoongi stutters, walking away from the table, from Taehyung's suffocating presence and going in front of a more guarded Hoseok.
"I had him and... then I refused him, so he wants me back" oh, everything seems clearer.
"Well, refuse the King's request and no one will find out your location" Yoongi tries to revive the tense climate.
"I don't think it's possible, every rejection makes him more impatient" Taehyung shakes his head.
"Does he trust you so much?" the elder asks "But what if this trust fails? What if he thought you weren't able to play a role like that anymore?" Yoongi adds thoughtfully, capturing everyone's attention.
"What do you have in mind?" Hoseok asks curious.
"Hm–if you pretended to be your father? And I shame your name in front of the King?" Yoongi proposes, the request is strange, it has a bitter taste on the tongue.
"It's not a bad idea!" Jungkook says his first words but Taehyung is not at all happy with Yoongi's proposal. The gaze hardens as well as his grip on the table, it is even possible to feel the wood bending against his strength.
"Yes? And show to the world his relationship with me? If he comes out, Suga will be under Jin's attention!" Taehyung punches the table at Yoongi's first attempt to open his mouth "I have no intention of putting you in danger, I won't let you leave this castle unless under my close surveillance, do you understand me? From today you'll stop being a martyr!"
"Excuse me? Who do you think you are to talk to me like that? To tell me what I can do or where can I go? I could leave this castle anytime I want! You couldn't stop me!" Yoongi responds equally agitated, the room heat seems to drop a few degrees and in fact Hoseok is reduced to a brief flame by throwing almost into darkness the room and barely illuminating Taehyung's features. Blue hair frames the distraught face, the red dressing gown makes Taehyung look like an ancient myth, one of those that makes children scared.
"Then why are you still here?" Taehyung asks, his face completely obscured by an indecipherable fear. The magician is very good at resuming the words that can most affect Yoongi, not surprisingly the latter does not think twice before he throws himself against Taehyung with his weak forces, pushing him as much as possible and then leaving the kitchen.
"Because you didn't tell me to go away!" Yoongi sobs in the darkness of the room that Taehyung himself has realized with such care for him – but what is Yoongi for Taehyung? A servant? An absurd company? Maybe a hope. A tiny hope.
Would that be enough?
Yoongi's eyes were wide open most of the night. The sleep shared with Taehyung confused his body and in addition the tension he suffered on the last day didn’t help. It doesn't matter if for hours Taehyung knocked on his door, even though he had every right to enter. At least the magician knows when to take a step back, when to surrender to Yoongi's demands – but he can't apologize, Taehyung has never apologized for his unpleasant words.
Despite all this why Yoongi is slowly rising from his bed, meticulously preparing his clothes, preparing precise words? Why is Yoongi still doing the opposite of what Taehyung ordered him to do? Going to the King without anyone knowing would have been even riskier than going there with the magician's supervision, but Yoongi can't stay in the castle a minute longer, he can't forget Taehyung's fear and the way he reduced Yoongi’s abilities to nothing. It was what his father did daily, the asphyxiating lack of confidence that had reduced him to an empty envelope.
For the first time in years Yoongi would like to drink, but not a simple glass – Yoongi would like to lie submerged in some liquor, feel empty, silence his anxiety and paranoia. He would like to play, he would desperately want to play, but none of this is possible until the curse is broken and to break the curse Taehyung must stay alive – Taehyung can’t become Jin's. Yoongi is finding so many excuses that in the end it is difficult even for him to understand the truth, the origin of that sense of defense and concern despite Taehyung having been quite clear the previous night.
"Where are you going?" Hoseok interrupts his walk, Yoongi’s hand already outstretched to the doorknob that would lead him on the royal road "We were worried about you all night!" Yoongi almost whines, no one has ever cared about him or at least he didn't let anyone be.
"I'm sorry" the elder whispers "But I must go to the King, I must protect Taehyung"
"And who will protect you? Are you crazy?" the flames get higher.
"Shut up! You will wake up Taehyung!" Yoongi approaches the fireplace.
"Then you get it..." Hoseok observes Yoongi's movements around the chimney.
"That you and Taehyung are physically united?" the man panders, the lines of the contract becoming increasingly clear "You were a star and Taehyung caught you, he made you his own"
"No, you're not there yet" the flame shakes "I can’t really stop you, right?" Yoongi smiles at yet another attempt by the demon to make him change his mind. Yoongi’s hand almost tends to leave a caress, but he knows it is impossible.
"After all of this Hoseok, everything will be fine" then why does Yoongi feel tears of fear rising to his eyes? But there is no time to be afraid, not if the lives of the people present in the castle are at risk.
Leaving the castle is just as scary, Yoongi has seen nothing from the outside world except the surrounding hill and rose bushes that he cultivated gently with Jungkook. Dragging his feet up the hill isn't even overly tiring, Yoongi perfectly recalls the weariness of his first trip inside his new skin, reminiscent of the creaks and of the brittle bones – it seems to get better.
Reaching the capital means taking the royal road for at least an hour, despite the short journey taken using some kind merchant's wagon. Yoongi hopes to have time to act before Taehyung notices his absence and Hoseok confesses the truth. With all the time he has available Yoongi once again wonders about the magician, his deep fears and the despair of his gaze when he admits that he believes he can't love.
What does Yoongi know about love? Besides the fact that it does not exist, that is an illusion, that generally believing that you are in love represents a death sentence? It was like that for his mother, somehow also for his father – isn't it a death sentence to go to a king to lie in the name of a magician? Yoongi shudders, he can't fall into the trap of that illusion.
"Sir! We're here!" Yoongi is dragged out of his thoughts by the voice of the kind merchant who accompanied him to the entrance of the capital. The merchant helps him get off the wagon and Yoongi feels extremely embarrassed that he must depend on others.
"Thank you, where can I find the King's Castle?"
"Follow the central route, it is not very far from here as soon as you see high stairs then you’ll be in the right place... but you won't want to talk to the King? You need permission for an audience!" the merchant scratches his head.
"Oh, but I have a specific invitation" Yoongi smiles as he taps into the trouser pocket containing the King's last letter requiring Taehyung to attend the court.
"I understand, then good luck" the merchant lowers his head out of respect and then resumes his journey. Yoongi sighs laboriously in the morning sun, he doesn't quite know how long he's actually been away, but he has to hurry if he doesn't want to feel Taehyung with his breath on his neck – but where does all this confidence come from? Why would Taehyung leave his safest place to save someone as ungrateful as Yoongi?
"Don't do it, don't do it Taehyung, don't put yourself in danger for me" the elder mutters silently as he goes step by step, getting closer and closer to the huge white marble building. The royal abode appears so large that Yoongi's eyes cannot contain it. A flock of guards in blue uniforms extends to each side, security is so high that it worries Yoongi, almost making him want to turn his back and go away. Yet a greater force urges him to continue, to risk for once, to do something different than to stand still in the face of tragedies.
"What are you doing here, good man?" a guard immediately interrupts his walk.
"I'm here to talk to the King, I come instead of the magician Taehyung" Yoongi stutters agitatedly, showing the letter marked by the royal seal. The guard frowns, not that much inclined to let Yoongi pass, but as soon as the contents of the letter are shown, Yoongi is brought inside the palace.
"This way" other guards show him the way to accompany him to the meeting room. If from the outside the palace appears quite anonymous in its grandeur, the interior is draped with a thousand colors and gold threads that outline every single element. It perfectly resembles Taehyung's messy room and Yoongi wonders if the magician himself didn't take inspiration from this place, isn't it in one of these rooms that magic lessons are held under the supervision of the court wizard?
"Here we are, you can come in, the King is waiting for you" Yoongi swallows noisily despite his dry mouth, the door taller than him of a few meters is open from the inside. The first steps inside the room are taken with some care until Yoongi realizes that he is surrounded by a beautiful greenhouse. The colorful walls and golden drapes are replaced by tropical flowers, the ceiling is equally decorated with green whose smell makes Yoongi's nose twist.
But to catch Yoongi's attention is something else, a white piano is glued in the corner of the room, illuminated by sunlight penetrating from the large stained-glass windows. Yoongi's hands tremble in desire, the urge to touch those keys is atrocious, the man feels the pain screaming from his tired limbs. How sweet it would have been to get lost in a few notes, to play his mother's lullaby, to pretend that time does not exist, that what condemns them to death cannot be romanticized with the myth of love.
"Do you like it?" a female voice echoes in the room and Yoongi immediately notices who it belongs to. An elderly woman walks slowly across the room, reaching the piano and touching what Yoongi craves with all his heart. The stranger drags behind a large celestial robe, equally important ornaments mark her high status. Paradoxically, her grey hair shows an age no different from Yoongi's.
"I was waiting to see the King"
"The King? Do you think the King would agree to see a stranger?" the woman laughs, her gaze still focused on the musical instrument.
"I'm willing to meet a stranger, I'm doing it now" Yoongi insists, standing firm in his position, as the woman turns to look him straight in the eye albeit from a distance.
"Who are you? Why did you come instead of Taehyung?"
"I'm... I am Taehyung's father, I came to report to the King that my son cannot be able to fulfill the role he requires, he is not able to do anything, he is a coward with a large ego" Yoongi speaks quickly, biting his tongue between words, not believing at all in those cruel claims.
"You don’t seem very convinced" the woman already seems to know how to see beyond the wrinkles, the appearances, the lies.
"Of course I am, he's my son, I raised him! Taehyung can't absolutely become the court wizard, he can't come here, he can't be here and take the whole attention... yes, all this attention wouldn't make him finish anything! Believe me!" Yoongi is a puppet, trying to hold back the desperation, but he doesn't seem to be able to do it fully.
"You must love him very much" love, again, still that word, that lie, that death penalty.
"Hm–yes, as I told you, he's my son" Yoongi keeps lying, those words taste disgusting on his tongue.
"A father at such a young age..." the woman reflects aloud and Yoongi shudders.
"Who are you?"
"Pentstemmon, the real court wizard until Taehyung takes my place" Yoongi takes a step back, if the woman in question is really a magician, maybe she can see beyond his lies? But if so, if the truth is clear to her, then there would be no way to deceive the King.
"As I told you–"
"Taehyung was my brightest pupil, younger than Namjoon, but better in the magical arts... he was the chosen one for this role, his destiny, but he had to tear his heart from his chest, commit sacrilege in order not to take on this responsibility" Pentstemmon recounts, her gaze now empty and turned towards who knows what image, who knows what memory of a younger and more innocent Taehyung.
"If you think he's so corrupt, why do you want him back?" Neither of them ignores the refrain present in Yoongi's question.
"Because he is our last hope to destroy Jin, wouldn't you want it too?" yes, yes, yes, but not if he must face once again Taehyung's despair, the fear of losing him. He can't, can't, he can't physically bear another loss "Now tell me where Taehyung is, together we can convince him" the old woman makes her way around the room, a little faster, a little more disturbing.
Yoongi doesn't know where to look, he doesn't know what to do. His eyes seem to deceive him, it's like the features of the woman are changing.
"Tell me where he is!" the Warlock asks again and again as the distance shortens and Yoongi can't even breathe. The situation is extremely like that of a few months ago, trapped in his small shop, with the Warlock of the Wastelands watching Yoongi on the floor.
"Right here" a whisper comes to Yoongi's ear and his paralysis seems to go away, it takes little to understand that behind his shoulders there is Taehyung.
Taehyung's presence must have taken the magician by surprise, but at that point Yoongi is aware that his eyes are not making fun of him, the kind lady slowly shatters. Her skin decays into large puddles of tempers and Pentstemmon's curved back writhes and then rises, broad shoulders replace the closed ones of the elderly woman and finally the real lady's face is revealed.
"I didn't think you'd be stupid enough to show up yourself, but I overestimated you" Jin, the Warlock of the Wastelands, roars with a smile. Yoongi knows that Taehyung's hands are touching his hips, but it doesn't stop him from feeling stunned, jumping into contact with the magician.
"Taehyung" Yoongi whispers, his heart beating fast against Taehyung's chest. Yet the magician does not seem to be agitated or angry with Yoongi, angry at his reckless choice and for putting himself so at risk. That situation, that kind of exposure, is just what Taehyung tried to avoid last night. The thought that the magician was now in worse danger made Yoongi's body weak, his old age has never been so dangerous.
"I just came to retrieve something of mine" Taehyung sends the same smile back to Jin, almost enjoying the fury that paints the beautiful features of the sorcerer. Suddenly Yoongi is pushed behind Taehyung's shoulders, but Yoongi can't take his eyes off the newly discovered beauty. Taehyung had every reason to think he could have loved such a beautiful creature.
"You forgot that you are m-"
"Where is the real Pentstemmon?" Taehyung interrupts him, clutching Yoongi's hands around his hips, implicitly asking the man to–trust him.
"I won't let you go" Yoongi whispers against Taehyung's neck, getting a sigh of relief in response.
"She's dead, you know I can only take on the appearance of someone when I kill them" Jin barely tilts his head, the attention still paid to the man loaded on Taehyung' shoulders. Jin can't tell the beginning or the end of Taehyung, not when Yoongi is holding him like that – but Yoongi can see a heartbreak take its shape, a heartbreak hitting a sorcerer who probably made a contract similar to Taehyung's; if Jin is really the victim of a heartbreak, it means he can love. If Jin can love, then–
"I see you like cursed people" Jin resumes his speech and Yoongi gasps, which is why in front of the Warlock it seemed like he could see over his wrinkles. Of course, Jin knows who Yoongi really is – but the thing that really strikes, is the way Taehyung is not at all troubled by that statement.
"Do you trust me?" Taehyung does not need to turn around to make Yoongi understand that he is turning to him, the confused man nods "Then close your eyes, I don’t know how you could react in front of certain heights"
Yoongi frowns confused, until Taehyung just bends on his knees and then jumps up. The window on the ceiling breaks just before the couple can reach it, Yoongi closes his frightened eyes and tightens even harder his arms and legs around the magician's body who almost laughs at the uncomfortable position in which they find themselves. Yoongi doesn't have the courage to look at what's going on but the noise of the wind inside his ear is enough to make him realize that he's not on dry land yet.
"You can open your eyes, if you will, you’ll see the city is wonderful and Jin is less scary from here" Taehyung laughs again as if they had not just risked their lives, as if Jin had not let them go because surely he has much more in mind. Soon Yoongi agrees, his eyelids rise slowly and the sky around both is so heavenly that Yoongi would not know how to distinguish it from the water flowing in the fountain of his city. The roofs of the houses are tiny, squares hardly distinguishable, Yoongi looks at everything with a stunned look until he really realizes that he is flying, that Taehyung is flying – that Taehyung is flying with two huge wings.
"You can let me go and you can touch if you want" Taehyung's words come choked by the wind, but Yoongi senses the embarrassment and at the same time the challenge. The magician is challenging him and Yoongi, Yoongi absolutely does not want to lose, not when under his touch the blue wings have the same consistency as cotton candy, not when Yoongi gets quietly slumped on the body covered with feathers, sucking the scent of Taehyung and his warmth "You're safe, Yoongi"
Do you like cursed people?
Discovering something without anyone saying it directly means trusting your instincts and Yoongi has been able to use his instincts as a compass for years, as the only direction to follow. When he recently trusted Taehyung, Yoongi knew he was making a mistake, but throwing himself into the knowledge of the mistake also means taking time to validate his thoughts. To admit to himself that Yoongi really trusted the sorcerer from the very first moment, since he had decided to join him to ask him for help. Yoongi barely bathes Taehyung's warm feathers with a tear – it's hard to admit to himself what has been so clear to anyone, even to Jin.
"You must love him very much"
"No matter what you think... Love has no eyes, it makes no sense and when you fall in love, there will be no religion or faith that can stand the comparison"
"I never told you to leave"
"Do you trust me?"
If love is really an illusion, why Yoongi's tears are real, as real as his hands caressing Taehyung’s wings are cold, as real as the sorcerer's feathers, as real as the pain of betrayal. Because Yoongi trusted Taehyung and Taehyung lied to him all this time. If love is just a myth, why is Yoongi flying through heaven above an angel who has no heart? Perhaps love is just a punishment, only a death sentence, at least on this he can’t have been wrong.
"Suga?" and Yoongi would like to laugh at that clumsy attempt to figure out what's wrong, that attempt to forget that it's the second time Taehyung has called him by his real name. He always knew him, he always knew him, he always saw him.
"Take me home" Taehyung does not oppose, the wings just rotate to be able to take the right trajectory and at that point there is the excuse of the wind, there is the excuse of dizziness to stop the words that both wish to share.
After whom knows how long, Yoongi can finally put his feet back on the hill, the castle is still there with its wacky shapes and excessive smoke. Taehyung seems to suffer as his skin sucks inside the various feathers, Yoongi observes with macabre charm the claws formed on his hands. Every time the wizard was described as a monster, Yoongi couldn’t believe them – now it doesn’t seem so unlikely.
"I asked you to take me home" Yoongi clasps his hands in two fists, too cowardly to watch Taehyung and acknowledge the confusion that is plaguing him.
"This is your home" Taehyung tries to approach "Our home" but Yoongi does not intend to submit, this time he will not let himself be captivated by the enchanting words of Taehyung. They have no value if told by a liar.
"My house is in Ingary, it has always been in Ingary" yet it is not even true, Yoongi has never had a home since he was taken from his mother's arms. Illusions, illusions, illusions – what an illusion to have believed that Taehyung could be his home. What a misfortune to have fallen into the trap he has always despised.
"No, it's not true, you wouldn't have come to me if it had been so"
"You know so many things, Taehyung" Yoongi finally raises his face full of anger and above all of disappointment "You know things I don't even know, don't you? Things you shouldn't know, things..."
"Suga, breathe" Taehyung tries to calm Yoongi by reaching out to his cheeks but Yoongi painfully manages to dodge him.
"Now you call me Suga? Now you try to forget that you called me Yoongi? And not for the first time? Now you’re pretending you don't know my real name, trying to lie again when I'm here and I'm begging you, I'm really begging you to tell me the truth, to be honest for once since we met!" Yoongi screams, his hands tucked into his hair in front of Taehyung's progressively harder features.
"Go back inside the castle, it's not safe to stay here"
"But I'm safe with you?" Taehyung is crushed by that question, the steps towards the castle door are interrupted.
"Are you really asking me this question?" Yoongi can't stand the magician's gaze, not when it contains the same betrayal, the same disappointment that grips Yoongi's chest.
"How can I trust you if you can't be honest with me? What is the difference between you and Jin if you both play with people!" Yoongi sobs as soon as Taehyung's hand grabs him by the shoulders, the black claws still painfully present and disturbing.
"I've never hidden from you that I'm the same as Jin, if not worse" Taehyung chews the harsh words one by one, his breath on the face of a trembling Yoongi.
"It’s not the truth! Why are you lying? Why can't you tell me something true?"
“I've always been sincere with you!” it's impossible to distinguish one scream from the other, the increasingly agitated voices mingling in a haunting symphony that Yoongi would like to transcribe on the grass surrounding that hill.
"Since when? Since when you know who I am–you know the truth about my curse?" Yoongi pleads and Taehyung barely closes his eyes, defeated. The grip on the shoulder loosens and Yoongi almost would like to moan about the absence of touch, claim it back, feel Taehyung again, enjoy those last seconds before losing him.
"From the first moment" Taehyung's confession is just a whisper, the wind could easily have hidden those words, helping Yoongi ignore the truth. Their foreheads match, Yoongi feels precisely his wrinkles rubbing the magician' skin. Who knows what Taehyung saw in him from the first moment, if he could recognize his flaws behind the apparent old age, if he managed to find even the inside of that curse disgusting.
"Why? Why didn't you say anything?" Yoongi's hands are on Taehyung's shoulders, fingers barely clenching the man's cloak. Yoongi would like to touch his skin and inflict his nails in the flesh, make him suffer at least a minimum, make him feel the rift that is tearing apart his wretched chest "Tell me the reason, tell me the reason and I will forget everything and this castle will become my home and I will never leave your side" too many promises, too many promises one after the other like a necklace of thorns that is flaying Yoongi's throat.
"I can't" Taehyung tries to hold Yoongi's hands again against his chest "Don't leave me, you promised you wouldn't leave me, you promised” and Yoongi can see tears for the first time shaking Taehyung's black eyes, he can feel under his fingertips the accelerated breath – but it's not enough.
"I don't believe in promises" Yoongi retrieves his words, moving away from Taehyung, trying to gather a minimum of rationality. Taehyung seems to have been torn from a few pages, the pain of a second ago is replaced by a subtle anger.
"You're not honest either, and you know how this is worse than my lies? You can't even be honest with yourself" Yoongi's wrist is again in Taehyung's hands "You say you don't believe in anything, you say love doesn't exist, you say promises don't exist, so why are you still here?" Yoongi is speechless, his lips trembling in search of an answer. It’s Taehyung' same question, so why is Yoongi incapable to answer? Even if he knows – he knows the answer.
"Don't tell me–don't tell me it's because I didn't tell you to leave, don't tell me that the way your pulse beats means nothing, don't tell me, don't tell me... don't lie to me" it’s Taehyung’s turn to beg and Yoongi does not know, does not know how to make his head work, how to make sense of all those things.
"My mother and father died of something that gave them no good, how can something be so cruel?" Yoongi asks, asks but does not seek an answer, there is no real answer. Taehyung swallows contact now absent from Yoongi's skin. How can there be something like this? And yet what it is, what it is, what is that arrow that is tearing apart his heart, which is making him bleed from the inside until he suffocates.
Is this falling in love? Stay when there's nothing left to do?
Yoongi remembers very little of the after, some images see him moving with uncertainty inside the castle, not addressing a single word to the worried Jungkook and Hoseok. The memory ends with Yoongi collapsing on his bed, under a roof that has a life of his own and that can’t be his home. On the last night Yoongi had the chance to close his eyes in Taehyung's arms, peace had enveloped him and no nightmare had intercepted the stillness. Now it is impossible to feel in the same way, to ignore the reason why Yoongi continues to stay, especially after discovering that he was betrayed in that way (especially after discovering that he had fallen in love).
In the middle of the night, with his eyes still attentive to the darkness, Yoongi clearly senses a distracted racket coming from the outside. The man does not intend to go out, he does not yet have the necessary forces to stifle pride and humiliation, but the voice becomes louder and louder until the wooden beams begin to shake. Yoongi swallows his last breath and opens the door to his room. The kitchen no longer appears immersed in darkness, on the contrary it is completely illuminated by the power of Hoseok.
Jungkook and Taehyung are holding their hands, in the center of their tiny circle there is some drawing. It's a spell, it can't be anything else – the beams keep shaking and Yoongi can feel soot falling on his head.
"What's going on?" Yoongi tries to ask, once again excluded from the wizard's plans. No one seems to pay attention to him; the spell already requires enough. Yoongi tries to lean against the wall, closing his eyes and hoping that the roof won't collapse on his head.
"I knew, I knew he was going to kill me" Yoongi mutters "I knew I was going to die like this in the end, that love is a death sentence" and the sarcastic words soon are filled with images that are too real, images of a smaller Yoongi, scared in the same way, a Yoongi crushed against the walls of a different house "I knew" he keeps saying, even when everything is finally silent.
"Yoongi?" someone calls him but Yoongi can't open his eyes, not with his heart beating so hard "Yoongi? You are safe, I promise you are safe" one hand touches his cheek, another belts his side tearing it from the wall and bringing it against a warmer body, a more pleasant scent, a less terrible hope.
"You don't have–You have no right to call me by my name, you don't have my permission" Yoongi stutters on Taehyung's chest. The magician nods by resting his chin on the elder's head. Neither dare to separate. How long have they been separated since they left? Too much, too much, too much for both.
"You're right, Suga" Taehyung strives not to look distressed as he pronounces Yoongi's false name "Why did you choose that name?" Taehyung's attempt to change the subject of his speech, to calm him down by making him talk about something else, makes Yoongi's heart burst. Is this love?
"My mother said I was as pale and sweet as sugar" Taehyung keeps touching him but every caress on his back is like a whiff. The magician is aware that Yoongi is in an unpleasant position, on the verge of a panic attack, but does not intend to weigh down the burden of his emotions.
"Stop you two!" Jungkook interrupts their pointless conversation and then grabs a sleeve of Yoongi's shirt and draws his attention "What did you try to do this morning? How could you be so stupid? Risking your life by going who knows where! Leaving us here and not even saying anything about your return!" Yoongi is overwhelmed by the boy's emotions, Jungkook's face is red yet exhausted, his shiny eyes still breaking Yoongi's bewildered heart.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you worry... I didn't think I was that important" Jungkook throws himself into the man's arms, rubbing his damp nose on Yoongi's clothes.
"You're my family, how can you believe you're not important?" oh, oh, oh – Yoongi welcomes the little apprentice, clung to Jungkook, and wipes away his every tear, every silly insult, every concern.
"I'm so sorry, it's never going to happen again, I promise you”
"You said you don't believe in promises" Taehyung never moved, he's a breath away from Yoongi, his eyes on him are a clear reminder. Despite the brief embrace, Yoongi still hasn't had the courage to look at him.
"How could I if done by a liar?" Yoongi retorts, Jungkook just deviates from watching both.
"Don't fight, please" the little boy pulls up his nose loudly "Forgive Taehyung, forgive all of us"
"Did you know? You too?" Yoongi asks in amazement.
"I'm an apprentice magician, I know how to recognize such a powerful curse when I see it" Jungkook squeezes more into Yoongi, fearing that the elder would turn him away "I kept quiet because you didn't want to talk about it, I thought to respect your request" and Yoongi can't be angry with the little boy.
"I forgive you, indeed there is nothing to forgive" Yoongi lowers himself on his knees to leave a damp kiss on the little apprentice's red nose "Is that okay?" Jungkook nods happily.
"Then will you forgive Taehyung too? And you're going to stay with us? We're not going to let you work anymore, we're going to split the household work between us!"
"No, I won't forgive Taehyung" Yoongi admits, dodging the magician's feverish presence by his side "But I'll stay, as long as you want"
"Always" Taehyung's touch on his left hand shakes both, Yoongi this time can’t avoid looking the warlock in the eyes and just that minimum to give him the strength necessary to forgive him "You will stay forever" Yoongi can’t avoid blushing.
"Have you at least ever tried to break my curse?" Taehyung's touch immediately goes away, as does his asphyxiating closeness. The magician moves to the kitchen and only then does Yoongi realize that something has changed in the formation of the room and even in the view taken outside the window.
"Of course, I tried, but only Jin can break it... but have you noticed any improvement lately?” Taehyung looks at him with squints, intimidated by a simple human "Physically I mean... you feel less sore, don't you? I tried to make your condition more bearable" the magician smiles and soon Yoongi also finds himself hiding a smile. Indeed, in recent times his absurd old age had seemed almost like a dress, the energies had returned to what they used to be.
"Where are we? What was that spell?" Yoongi tries to shift the focus to another topic.
"Jin was definitely about to find us! So, we moved the castle completely, we reduced ourselves to a small apartment from the outside and changed a few rooms!" Jungkook screams excitedly and then Yoongi realizes that because of the effort, Hoseok is sleeping "We have a back garden where we can grow flowers! And a new room for you!" but Yoongi is elsewhere because he now clearly recognizes the view that extends outside the windows.
"Ingary" the lump in his throat becomes a slow flame and Yoongi hates his atrocious sensitivity but tears overflow naturally in front of that strong emotion. Ingary has always been the place to escape, the monument to all his cruelest memories, broken dreams and even his most blinding humiliations.
"Jungkook, go look at the flowers, we’re coming" Jungkook seems to want to oppose Taehyung's request, but he gives up.
"Ingary?" Yoongi sobs and Taehyung is back behind him. This time Yoongi doesn't ask too many questions, he doesn't think back down until he can hold on to Taehyung, until he feels his presence as an irreplaceable consolation. Taehyung trembles just, uncertainly, before embracing from behind Yoongi, resting his face in the neck.
"You asked me to take you home"
"I hate you" Yoongi sighs "I hate you so much, it didn't have to go like this... You know that?” don't you know you’re my home?
"I know, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" Yoongi holds his breath when Taehyung rests his lips on his sweat-soaked forehead "Can you hate me later? I would like to show you something" Yoongi does not have the strength to pull back. He accepts Taehyung's hand tightly in his and despite the wrinkles, color, ugliness, Yoongi is on the verge of being moved again by that image.
The steps that the two takes are not many, there is a new door in the main corridor, surely the new room to which Jungkook was referring. Taehyung takes a deep breath before opening the door and Yoongi finds himself equally worried. The room is bright, some cream-colored curtains cover the large windows and the floor is covered with a fluffy carpet of the same color. It doesn't look like a part of the castle; it doesn't look like anything Yoongi has seen so far.
"Oh" Yoongi can only say, the view clouded by a precise instrument placed in the center of the room.
"You asked me to take you home" Taehyung repeats the words from before, now full with a different meaning, now more true and honest – because in the middle of the room there is a piano, but not just any piano.
"It's my mother's piano," Yoongi explains but there seems to be no reason to explain himself.
"You can get close, you know? It's yours" Taehyung smiles between his words and Yoongi agrees. His hands are already outstretched to that much-desired object. Placing his fingertips on the old wood fills his heart with nostalgia, it takes away another pinch of sanity and at the same time gives him a new chance to breathe.
"Do you want to play something? For me?" the warlock asks, shy in his rigid position. Yoongi is unresponsive, his body already sitting on the small stool, his feet looking for rusty pedals and his fingers in search of a symphony. The notes come to the memory as if they had never been forgotten, each line is played perfectly and only after whole minutes spent immersed in that composition Yoongi realizes that he is no longer playing his mother's lullaby, but a completely new piece.
"For me?" Taehyung asks again, the note interrupted in half and abruptly due to the recent epiphany. Yoongi turns to look at the warlock.
"For us" no one dares to add anything else, not even the piano. Sunlight penetrates the room like a flame, Taehyung no longer looks like a corrupt magician, a blue-winged monster – an angel, in Yoongi's eyes he has always been an angel.
"Taehyung! Someone's at the door!" Jungkook screams from the kitchen; Yoongi gets up surprised and even Taehyung does not hide a hint of curiosity.
"Who can it be?" Yoongi asks with his hands still glued to the piano.
"I think it's someone who wants to see you" Taehyung confesses "Do you think the piano came out of nowhere?" to those words Yoongi smiles and overtakes the magician by running to the kitchen. Yoongi is surprised by himself but his heart beats so hard and the possibility of having contact with what was his life ignites him.
As he suspected, in the middle of the kitchen, equally in turmoil though agitated, there is Fanny. How long has it been since the last time the two met? Yoongi almost can't remember a time when he wasn't imprisoned in this skin, or a time when Taehyung wasn’t by his side. Fanny looks radiant, her cream-colored dress makes her look like a princess, her hair perfectly tidy and some bright pins blind the view of Yoongi. When the two glances finally cross, Fanny's knees stop shaking and her face glows with a blush that is difficult to comprehend.
"Yoongi?" the woman stutters, her lips barely tremble and Yoongi doesn't know how to approach her. However, there is not much to think about when Fanny throws herself into the elder's arms. The two remain intertwined for minutes, Yoongi relishes Fanny’ scent, he lets himself be drowned by memories and completely forgets that serious sense of blow, that grave guilt for which he is convinced he is now serving his sentence.
"I was so desperate, I didn't know where you were! If you wanted to punish me, you succeeded!" Fanny sobs on Yoongi's chest and the man feels tremendously sorry, when he left the shop he did not believe he would be held so long out of the house, but Taehyung changed everything.
"I'm sorry Fanny, I swear I didn't want to punish you in any way, I lost track of time" Yoongi tries to apologize, in response Fanny unties herself from the arms of the other and gently wipes away the tears.
"I've been looking for you for a long time"
"I didn't think... I didn't think it would matter" a slap suddenly comes against his cheek, Fanny appears even more angry.
"Didn't you think? Yoongi... I loved you, I loved you so much" Yoongi opens his mouth to try to console her, but nothing comes out "Do you know how I felt when you disappeared?" the man shakes his head.
"And instead I find you here, with a terrible sorcerer who could eat your heart!"
"Taehyung is not like that! They're just lies!" Yoongi immediately attacks Fanny's words.
"You don't know what you're saying, look how it reduced you! How he consumed you!" Fanny takes his hand but Yoongi walks away from the grip.
"It wasn't Taehyung who did this to me"
"I don't want to fight, please" even Yoongi doesn’t want to fight, not when he has managed to recover a piece of his past life "Come home, come home with me" Fanny asks desperately.
Yoongi knows they are not alone, Jungkook's surprised sigh is a clear demonstration of his presence, but Yoongi can also feel Taehyung's eyes on him.
Home – Fanny talks about home.
"I'm already at home" Yoongi whispers as Fanny's eyes fill with tears, until he moves his shoulders towards Taehyung "I'm already at home"
"I still love you, I love you even if you are like this, I love you" Fanny pleads and perhaps, perhaps if she had come long before Taehyung called him by his real name, long before the magician had touched him, long before his heart had heard him; perhaps Yoongi would have given in, because it is clear that in Fanny's words there is implicitly written 'I’m the only one who could love you in this condition'.
"But I don't love you, it wouldn't be fair" Fanny closes her eyes, a tear slides slowly and Yoongi picks it up by stroking her cheek "It's time to move on, Fanny" the woman barely smiles but nods.
"You're right, it's time to... it's time to get rid of certain things, isn't it?" the choice of words seems strange, but Yoongi doesn't even object – he can't even object when Fanny gets too close and his lips touch Yoongi's in a soft kiss. The contact is brief, Yoongi remains wide-eyed in amazement, but can't push away Fanny who is simply trying to get her moment of closure.
"I'm sorry" Fanny whispers in turn, her face now far away, her lips – her lips now black. Yoongi frowns confused by that sight until any kind of noises can be heard, not even Taehyung' screams.
Then – then it's dark.
It's always cold since wrinkles have replaced the softness of his skin, the chills only stop in front of the castle fireplace – that Hoseok is an extension of Taehyung must have some value. It is always cold if Taehyung is not nearby, no blanket suffocates the tremors due to frost when the magician spends his nights outside the castle, who knows where, who knows with whom while trying to feel something in his empty chest.
It's extremely cold when Yoongi opens his eyes, his eyes turned to a roof too high, unattainable for anyone mortal. Grey stones cover the whole place, but the frost does not come from that cramped material, it comes from the firm chains that bind his wrists behind his shoulders and his ankles on the floor. Yoongi sits on an uncomfortable chair in the middle of an unknown place, a small altar stands in front of his frightened figure, the steps separate the two areas. The torches hanging on the ceiling and corners of the room do not allow him to catch a glimpse of any more people – the only noise is that of his trembling sigh. Yoongi wets his lips, trying not to panic. The last thing he remembers is Fanny's lips, Fanny's black lips pressing on his own and in front of Taehyung – oh, Taehyung.
Fanny had whispered a broken "sorry" before the darkness fell and his body was dragged here.
"I guess you're wondering what's going on, where you might be, why you" an unpleasant voice echoes the icy walls, Yoongi could recognize it anywhere.
"Why are you hiding, Jin?" the man spits the words out of his mouth burned by cold and exhaustion. How long had he been unconscious?
"It's you who can't see, there's always something clouding your view" the warlock appears in his eerie splendor from the top of the small altar. The man is even more beautiful, his full lips are bent in a deadly smile, his eyes twinkle in the dark and the thick black hair is longer until it touches the broad shoulders.
"Will you answer those questions? Or will we just stand here and wait?" Yoongi questions as he tries to move his wrists, but each movement makes the chains narrower.
"I would avoid moving too much"
"Don't tell me what I can do"
"You've never been good at listening, everything would have been resolved easily if you'd listened to me" Jin disappears from his distant seat to catapult himself a breath away from Yoongi.
"Don't touch me" Yoongi tries to resist Jin's attempt to touch his face.
"Is it okay only if Taehyung touches you like this?" the words resonate for each wall and come back like sharp shots "Do you think you're special? That he was the only one who touched like that? Like you are something precious?" but Yoongi can very well catch a glimpse of the sorcerer's jealousy.
"Yes, if it hadn't been so, you wouldn't have been so upset" Jin darkens like an eclipse, his seemingly sweet hand clasping against Yoongi's neck, taking his breath away.
"Don't you think you're too brave from this position?" Yoongi tries to breathe but his neck continues to be tightened by Jin, the air is less and less until Yoongi can do nothing but sob "Sad that for the moment I can't do anything about it" Jin concludes, letting him go and observing with a veil of sadism the man as he recovers every breath lost by coughing repeatedly.
"W-What am I doing here?"
"I've been trying to catch Taehyung for years, this time he's going to come to me"
"Taehyung is not stupid, he will never come to you!" Yoongi screams with little breath left.
"You just can't see, can you?" Jin is again too close, bent on his knees to reach the same height as Yoongi’s “Don't you know?"
"What? What don't I know?"
"While during these years I was looking for Taehyung, Taehyung was looking for you," Jin says slowly, drinking from Yoongi’s confused eyes.
"Me? Why... why would he look for me?" Jin smiles at him.
"Why am I looking for Taehyung?" Yoongi knows this answer and it’s terrifying to think– "Oh, here he is” Jin nods between himself, interrupting the flow of Yoongi's thoughts.
"Were you looking for me, Jin?" Yoongi looks up from the sorcerer, his heart beating frighteningly, his mind screaming please don’t let it be him, please Taehyung don’t be so stupid. But Taehyung is right there with his magnificent blue wings, some feathers surrounding the pale face and the black claws sprout evident from the stiff hands. Although Yoongi is fearing for Taehyung's life, he cannot avoid the sigh of relief, the happiness of seeing him there. The cold is silent for a few moments.
"Finally in the open, forced to be honest by such an ordinary man" Jin rises to his feet shaking his head almost disappointed by Taehyung's behavior.
"Yoongi? Ordinary?" Taehyung barely laughs, but his laugh contains no note of sincere sympathy.
"Come on Taehyung, would you like to tell Yoongi why we're here?" Yoongi tries to look for Taehyung's gaze but the man is away from him and much closer to Jin. Yoongi's stomach tightens at the thought of losing him.
"We're here because you're obsessed with me" Taehyung says sharply and Jin can't hold back a dark laugh "I didn't come to you the first time, if I remember correctly" and Yoongi knows that Taehyung for a moment believed that Jin was the right person, believed he was just as corrupt and could not deserve anything but something equally macabre.
"Does he know why you came to me?" Jin insists and for the first time Taehyung searches for Yoongi's gaze. Both are reflected in the other, both recognize a fear until that moment never heard "Tell him or I'll make him scream" Jin presses and Taehyung is ready, completely ready to assault the sorcerer.
"Taehyung!" Yoongi screams and they both turn to look at him unarmed "Taehyung! Taehyung! Look at me, it’s all right–it's alright, I don't care about the past, there's nothing, nothing that could make me change my mind about you, please" Yoongi pleads and not, not because he doesn't want to suffer, but because he fears that Taehyung couldn't handle a direct confrontation with Jin. Taehyung sighs sharply, his lips trembling.
"I came to you because I wanted to find Yoongi" the information is so new that the silence that follows is poignant. Yoongi can't understand, so Jin just didn't lie to him. Taehyung had been looking for him for years before this mess began.
"Why?" of course Yoongi can't hold back that unfortunate question, but Taehyung doesn’t seem willing to answer, his focus on Jin.
"I can't tell you" Taehyung clenches his fists "Are you sure?" Jin starts talking again.
"You know I can't!"
"Why?" Yoongi once again yells, "Why can't you ever tell me the truth? I'm exhausted! What am I doing here? What value do I have in this damn situation? I want to–I want to go home! I want this to stop making noise! Please, I want..." Taehyung is immediately by his side, Yoongi can't breathe and this time nobody's to blame.
"It's going to be okay, you're safe with me, remember?" Yoongi shakes his head "I don't believe you anymore, I don't believe you anymore!"
"It’s a touching scene, what a pity that Yoongi is right and Taehyung can't protect you" Jin's steps closer and closer.
"Go away Taehyung, go away" Yoongi tries to push the magician away with his legs tied by further chains, but it's not enough to do so.
"I'm not leaving without you" Taehyung is so close that Yoongi can distinguish the eyelashes of his eyes, he would like to get lost among the moles of his face and rest in the incave of his neck despite everything.
"Why did you come? Why are you so stupid? What will happen to you?" Yoongi sobs while Taehyung gently strokes him with his claws, the contrast is almost poetic.
"You really don't know?" but Taehyung's question is broken by Jin's grip, the sorcerer with a hand sign pushes Taehyung across the room, slamming Taehyung against the stone wall. Yoongi screams but his screams are useless in front of Jin's deadly gaze.
"I'm tired of your presence, you should have died years and years ago, you just dragged on an inevitable ending" Yoongi is terrified, he doesn't know where to pay attention, his eyes move quickly between Jin's figure and Taehyung's. The latter is slumped on the ground, barely trembling, but he is still alive. Yoongi's relief lasts very little, Jin would kill him any minute.
Take time/take time/take time – his mind hammered without missing a beat.
"What does that mean? At least you could be honest with me" it's easy to touch Jin's pride, to drop that innocent trap. The warlock frowns and then stops.
"It means that I knew that this day would come, you were born accompanied by a prophecy" Jin lets his fingers run through the profile of the pale man "I knew that only you would have the power to destroy my contract with my demon, I also have my Hoseok, but you already understood that..." Yoongi glances to his left, Taehyung does not seem to recover and the new information makes the man even more tired.
"I don't know anything about it, I swear I don't know anything about it!"
"Ignorance is a power, in front of your destiny you would know what to do" Jin smiles sadistic "You do not know, but we have already met"
"Yes! When you turned me into this!"
"No, long before... you were a lovely child" Yoongi's tongue gets dry "You got it right from your mother"
"No, you're lying"
"Lying about what? About the fact that I razed your apartment, about the fact that because of you someone died in your place?" Yoongi never believed he could shed so many tears in such a short amount of time, the pain spreads quickly in every inch of his body. In front of his eyes flow the images of his mother gasping in search of air, the flames that seem to have the appearance of a thousand different people, the fire that never, ever, never, ever stopped. Not even now.
All of this because a prophecy says Yoongi would destroy Jin.
"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" Yoongi leans over, his handcuffs getting tighter, his throat burning and burning completely flayed by his screams "Kill me! Let's get this over with!"
"It will be a pleasure" but Jin does not – Jin does not continue his actions, his gaze immediately appears glassy, the cruel emotions are replaced by a cold surprise. At that point Jin lowers his head toward his chest, Yoongi follows the movement and his lips open; there where Jin's heart should be placed, a sharp tip emerges and blood begins to come out.
"You can't, you can't kill me like that" Jin sobs, his lips dyed purple as Yoongi acknowledges behind him the figure of Taehyung, his claw inside the sorcerer's chest.
"I know, that's why Yoongi is here" Taehyung whispers sinisterly, but his gaze softens as he turns to Yoongi “Remember your mother's lullaby? The one you played for me? Can you hum it?"
"What?" Yoongi is paralyzed.
"Please?" Taehyung begs, holding Jin's unarmed body in his arms. Yoongi feels like he’s about to die, his heart can no longer hold for long. The man barely wets his lips with his tongue and then sings that damn song – that symphony that now takes even a more macabre tone resounds against every stone. Tears stream on Yoongi’s face as he manages to see in Jin's increasingly dull eyes the figure of his mother.
One last sigh rattles the sorcerer's body, until his image fades into a pile of ash at Yoongi's feet.
Taehyung is back by his side, but Yoongi feels nothing but the feeling of Jin's hands on him or the weird smell of those ashes touching his feet, his free feet. By the time the sorcerer disappeared, even the chains that imprisoned him had vanished. The rational part of Yoongi is completely dead, the man thinks he can't go back this time, there's no hope of recovering contact with reality – but Taehyung's arms around his body are strong, real, painfully concrete, like an anchor gently bringing him down.
"I'm here" Taehyung whispers, the exhausted face of the magician hidden right inside Yoongi’s neck.
Yoongi didn't even realize he was convulsing Taehyung's name – Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung.
"I'm here, I'm not going anywhere without you" the warlock squeezes him even tighter and at that point Yoongi notices his own hands clinging to Taehyung's body.
He had once found disturbingly fascinating the contrast between the pale wrinkles of his aged hands and the warm color of Taehyung's young ones– now, the only difference is given by their different skin colors. Yoongi is still pale, Taehyung once again seems sun kissed.
Young, young, young.
Yoongi is – unconscious.
Yoongi's mother was called Soyon, his father loved to caress the woman's pale skin and describe it as snow-like – on the other hand Yoongi loved to fill her cheeks with kisses until they turned red as her lips. Soyon was beautiful, sometimes the contours of her face became less precise in Yoongi's mind, but as a child he could not take his eyes off every gesture his mother made. She was like a narcissus, Soyon and her obsession with yellow – for yellow, music and piano. The woman had held Yoongi's hand all the time, covered her husband with all the love possible and shared her favorite lullaby with both.
"It's a special song" Soyon whispered to her baby as she guided him note after note "Promise me that you will learn it and that you will never forget about it?" Yoongi had nodded softly – Soyon died in front of his eyes a few weeks later, the child sung the melody until the flames went out.
"Mom!" he cried.
Yoongi opens his eyes, it takes a few minutes to realize that he is sitting on a bed, not that of his old room in Ingary, not even that of the small room of the castle. Feathers and precious objects surround it, even hanging from the high ceiling; it is Taehyung's room. Yoongi places a hand on his chest, trying to acquiesce his heartbeat, the memories of his mother still so clear in his head, as if they had just happened.
"A bad dream?" Yoongi turns to the sound of a too close voice, at the side of his figure lies on the bed a serene Taehyung. The magician wears a freshly unbuttoned white shirt and blue velvet pants, Yoongi finds himself already lost.
"No, it was a good memory" until the flames, the reality, destroyed it. But the previous day returns in all its destructive power, Yoongi touches his still sore wrists, but his touch is soon replaced by Taehyung's fluffy kisses. Taehyung.
"I'm sorry" for what, it's not clear. Taehyung might have apologized for so many things, for secrets, for pain, but not for kissing his skin, not for being here.
"It's not enough"
"I know" Taehyung sighs on his wrist. Can the warlock feel how much his heart is beating? Probably.
"I need to know everything, I need to understand" Yoongi slumps against Taehyung's chest, against the skin left uncovered by the shirt. His lips tremble just before touching him and they both sighs, at the same time relieved and frightened by that new sensation.
"Do you want to look in the mirror?" Taehyung asked cautiously, his hand now on Yoongi's back in a sign of comfort.
"I don't like to look at myself, I haven't looked at myself in a while"
"I noticed, you missed a few things... I don't think you'll want to miss this one too" Taehyung kisses Yoongi’s jaw as Yoongi closes his trembling eyes, overwhelmed by an affection he has never gotten or desired in his existence. The contact is brief, replaced by Taehyung's hand that bears Yoongi's face to his right, towards a mirror framed by a golden frame.
Yoongi sobs – his skin is no longer burned by wrinkles, his eyes are no longer hollowed out by the purple of an old age, his hair is still silver.
"I'm... am I back?" Taehyung rests his chin over Yoongi's hair “You never left"
"How can you... how can you say such a thing? How could you have wanted me when I was like that? Even now, even now I'm no better, I'm not..." Yoongi tries to wriggle out, now devoid of the excuse of old age to justify the impossibility of Taehyung liking him.
"Stop, Yoongi, stop" Taehyung squeezes him tightly, squeezes him as tight as every time he realizes that Yoongi is losing touch with reality, that Yoongi would like to hide, clutching him tightly to remind him that they’re both here "I fell in love with you when I saw you the first time in my dreams, I was just a child when it first happened and you too could only be a child–you and your crooked back as you tried to play the piano, you and your lips shaped in a sulk and your hands that turned everything in gold, you and your hair of a thousand colors, you and your silent tears when your father did not come to see your performances... Do you know I came to all of them with my dreams? To each one, since your uncertain debut, since that time when you were too drunk to play, I have always been with you" Yoongi remains paralyzed by that confession "You could not see me and I could not touch you, but you were always there when I closed my eyes, I desperately wanted to search you, find you, and I believed that Jin could help me... but he immediately understood, he immediately understood what I didn't understand either, you know what?" Yoongi knows, he knows, he knows.
"That I love you, that my void chest has no value, that the heart I gave to Hoseok beats for you, just for you" Taehyung wets Yoongi's neck with some tears, Yoongi looks both from the mirror, the way their arms are so united that he can't distinguish each other "I wanted to destroy him and I had to find you... when I found you Yoongi, when I found you in that alley I didn't want to let you go anymore but I felt Jin's shadows, I felt them too close and I could absolutely not let him find us together"
"But he found me anyway"
"When I saw you in my castle, your appearance, I immediately felt that it was you and I loved you even more, you and your stories and the reality of your person and your silly beliefs and your soul, Yoongi, your beautiful soul wrapped me like a blanket... it's cold, it's so cold without you by my side" Yoongi knows that they're both crying, that there's nothing left to hide, that their love is so clear, so clear.
"Why have you never... why did you have to break me like this?"
"My contract with Hoseok, my contract said that one day someone would come and touch my heart giving me a chance to recover it, I knew it was you... I knew it through my dreams, but I could not tell you, the contract forbids it" The heart – The heart of Taehyung.
"Still... I still don't understand, what happened to Jin?"
"It seems that my Yoongi should become the hero of my story, the song that your mother taught you is a powerful spell that extinguished the demon that kept Jin alive" his mother, his mother knew? "Jin probably got the same dreams, I thought he was looking for you because he was jealous, my ego blinded me... He was looking for you because he knew you'd be the source of his destruction... he moved the whole world to find you, he kidnapped Prince Jimin, the court wizard Namjoon and in the end it was me who led him to you"
"Stop it, don't you, don't you... Hear me!” Yoongi asks with a hint of terror and finally Taehyung turns towards him, their fronts touch. They can both look inside each other and find themselves after all those confessions, those truths that progressively free both but leave a weight on Yoongi's chest.
"My mother... My mother... I thought she was dead because of me, for a long time I dreamed about that night, I thought how I could die in her place and Jin's confession could confirm this burden, but it's not true, Jin killed her, my mother just wanted to protect me... I just want to protect you”
"Do you want it?"
"Taehyung, I want everything about you" Yoongi sighs against his lips, the hands of both are on each other's face "I'm in love with you, I'm madly in love with you"
"You don't believe in love" Taehyung moans grieving "You don't believe in love"
"I believe in you" Yoongi wipes away Taehyung's tears, he never wants to see him so sad again "I'm in love with you" the magician seems to hold on again and Yoongi is desperately scared of having done something wrong, of losing the one thing he ever loved.
"Can I?" Taehyung asks with his eyes closed, his lips so close to Yoongi's and the latter understands the reason for his "Can I?"
The first kiss between Taehyung and Yoongi is not a simple encounter between two mouths, it is not Taehyung's tongue that touches Yoongi's upper lip, it is not the opening of their lips, the deepening of that initially so tender and now full of necessity, need, ardor – it's Taehyung who notices from afar Yoongi in that narrow alley, it's Yoongi who spends the evening looking at the castle from afar wondering what it would feel like to get his heart eaten by Taehyung, it's the first time their hands have touched on the old kitchen table, the way Taehyung has tucked him in, his promises, his lies, his lies. The first kiss between Taehyung and Yoongi is not a real first kiss, not when they have kissed so many times in secret, in their hearts, in their dreams, in their words.
"I'm afraid," Yoongi confesses, his forehead frowning and not at all convinced of what is about to happen. In the small kitchen space Jungkook observes the situation with equal concern, while both Taehyung and Hoseok share an absurd smile, it makes Yoongi angrier.
"There's nothing to be afraid of, it's all written in the spell!" Hoseok repeats for the umpteenth time, his position no longer placed in the fireplace but on a small rusty pan.
"Taehyung" Yoongi uses that tone of voice, the authoritarian one but evidently worried "Taehyung tell me what to do" the magician smiles at him, a slight kiss is blown on Yoongi's lips.
"Love, it's easy, you'll pick up Hoseok in your hands and press him against my chest where my heart should be, okay?" it is the time to break the contract, time to free both Taehyung and Hoseok from that tremendous bond before it consumes both. Yoongi nods still restlessly.
"Do you trust me?" Taehyung asks and isn't that their question? The constant promise of their love?
Taehyung lays on the floor with his bare chest makes Yoongi's face boiling, but nothing is hotter than holding Hoseok in his hands. It's strange the way Hoseok isn't burning his hands, but now Yoongi is no longer surprised by anything. The boy kneels next to Taehyung, their eyes chained and full of a subtle affection.
"Taehyung, I love you" and it's not a goodbye, Yoongi knows in his little heart that everything will be fine, but it's nice to be able to say it, to be able to hear it.
"I love you too" Taehyung whispers as Yoongi places Hoseok against his chest. The magician makes a strange and painful expression but Yoongi knows that he must continue. His hands still push Hoseok in Taehyung' skin until an immense light enters the entire room.
The silence that follows is deafening and for a moment Yoongi is caught in the absurd concern of having lost Taehyung just now that he has found him, however he manages to hold back tears when a flower of light comes out of Taehyung's chest.
"I'm free!" Hoseok's ringing voice appears even clearer, his form is really that of a point of light, a star "I'm free!" he screams once more and then disappears from the room, leaving behind an unbridgeable void. But Yoongi’s attention is immediately directed to Taehyung. The magician still appears quiet, his face perhaps paler.
"Taehyung? My love?" Yoongi calls him, stroking his still blue hair.
"How?" Taehyung whispers, "How did you call me?" and Yoongi can't hold himself back, he can't hold back the way his body throws itself at the magician's body, desperately clinging to the man's body.
"My love, my love, my love" Yoongi stutters, kissing the whole face of the laughing wizard, with his heart beating. Yoongi can now feel it against his chest, he can feel perfectly how Taehyung's heart beats for him, just for him.
"Stop you two!" Jungkook interjected "And look who's back!" the little boy pointed out an unknown person but at the same time someone Yoongi must have seen. As soon as the stranger gets closer, everyone perfectly recognizes his look and the heart-shaped smile.
"Hoseok?" Taehyung asks tearfully, believing that he has lost his life partner forever.
"Can I stay?" the demon asks shyly "Now that I am free, I can take all the forms I want, I can also be a human"
Taehyung and Yoongi barely look at each other, their chests full of happiness.