"I heard Ed Sheerwand might be coming! And Red Cap for Cutie is going to be the main band. I'm so excited. I mean, to be honest, I like Maroon Firedragon better than RCC but how many times can they visit Hogwarts right?"
A nervous giggle was accompanied by a sneak peek beneath extremely dark, thick lashes.
Seokjin tried to return the smile and hoped it didn't look as awkward as he felt. It wasn't that he wasn't flattered. Jung Eunji was as attractive as she was stubborn with her gorgeously wide smiles and crescent-eyed laughs. It was just that he hadn't been planning on taking anyone to the Hallowe'en Ball since he would be one of the chaperones.
Also, he had tutored Eunji the previous year. It was difficult for him to see her as anything more than a younger-sister type of underclassman. Not that he would tell her that.
The younger Ravenclaw was definitely disappointed by his careful rejection, and Seokjin inwardly winced as she blinked rapidly and walked away at a brisk pace. A group of watching Ravenclaw girls tittered and drew her into their fold with sympathetic sounds.
"Well, aren't you popular?" Seokjin turned to see Namjoon approaching from the side, wand somersaulting over and over his knuckles.
He pursed his lips at the Slytherin, unamused. "I'm sure you've gotten quite a few people asking you to the Ball as well, since you're both Slytherin Head Boy and Quidditch Captain," he said dryly.
"Not just Slytherin Head Boy anymore," Namjoon corrected with a flick at his badge. "Just one patrol with you and a few days later I'm being called up to the Headmistress' office to switch out my nice green badge for this gaudy rainbow thing. I'm just two colors away from LGBT pride status."
He wasn't smiling exactly but the tilt to one side of his mouth and the light tone said the Slytherin was in a better temperament than usual for their patrol. Too bad Seokjin was utterly lost.
"Nothing, forget it," Namjoon muttered, dropping the subject. He led the way down a main hall as Seokjin followed and mentally kicked himself for ruining the mood.
As this was their sixth time patrolling together, they naturally fell into step with each other, Namjoon to the left, Seokjin to the right. They didn't take up that much space in the wide main halls of the school, but it felt like it the way students parted around them to let them pass.
It gave Seokjin a secret thrill that everyone could see them patrolling together as a united front the way he had planned. He was still having trouble organizing joint patrols with the other Head Boys and Girls, but just the fact that he had gotten Namjoon on board was a huge personal victory. Even now, their Head Boy badges were drawing gazes. Though Namjoon didn't think it was doing any good Seokjin knew it was.
Let them see the Head Boys working together, he thought with satisfaction. Not everything had to stop at house lines.
"Chaerin-noona!" Namjoon called, startling Seokjin out of his musing.
His gaze jerked over to where Namjoon was saluting, one hand in the air, at the Slytherin Head Girl who had been walking away from them in a small crowd of students, presumably on her way to class by the timetable in her hand.
She was a lithe girl with hair as long, straight and pale as the bristles of his broomstick and a chilliness to her demeanor that Seokjin thought was meant for him until her eyes slid over to him and went even colder. A shiver went up Seokjin's back like he'd been hit by a freezing charm.
"Yeah, so, I might have told Chaerin-noona about you," Namjoon relayed under his breath with faux nonchalance.
"Did you tell her I was a unicorn-hunter in my free time? Maybe that I also kick orphans and puppies between classes?" Seokjin muttered back, trying to keep the irritation off his face so the Head Girl wouldn't think it was meant for her.
Namjoon coughed like he was trying hold back a laugh and when Seokjin glanced over he looked like he was biting his cheek. "That would probably make her respect you more to be truthful," Namjoon said wryly.
Slytherins, Seokjin thought with an eye roll up at the ceiling.
To his amazement, Namjoon swiftly shot back, "Ravenclaws," in the same disdainful tone, and Seokjin colored to realize he had spoken aloud without noticing. He was still faintly pink when they caught up with Chaerin and her companions.
"What's up, Namjoonie?" Chaerin said in a surprisingly friendly manner. She hooked her arm around him in a quick greeting hug; Seokjin, she ignored entirely.
Of her entourage was Kim Kibum, who bit his lip like he found something funny about the Head Boys, another Slytherin girl who seemed too preoccupied with her planner to bother with them, and to Seokjin's bemusement, a younger Gryffindor girl who was impatiently tapping her foot as she waited for Chaerin to finish pleasantries.
At the Gryffindor's obviousness, Chaerin snorted and motioned for them to go on ahead as she followed at a more sedate pace with her arm around Namjoon's waist. The intimacy took Seokjin off guard, but Namjoon didn't seem to blink.
"This is Seokjin-hyung," Namjoon introduced with a wave in his direction. Seokjin felt a bit like a store display in Diagon Alley. "I told you he was trying to set up joint patrols with the rest of the houses, remember? Are you still thinking about it, noona?"
Chaerin laughed lightly. "Ahhh, you're cute, Namjoon. 'Still thinking about it'. You know I've already thought about it. And my answer was no," she said with a squeeze of the arm around Namjoon, which could have been wordless comfort or a subtle threat.
Seokjin deflated at Namjoon's other side. He was about to interject when the Slytherin gave him a quick glance and an infinitesimal shake of the head that said, let me take care of this.
Who was he to argue? Seokjin might as well have been expired newt eyes for all Chaerin considered him.
With a chagrined grimace at Namjoon, he obligingly fell back a few steps so the two Slytherins could converse more privately.
With half an ear on their conversation and half on the morning chatter of the other students in the hall, Seokjin walked absentmindedly, his gaze not focused on anything in particular. It was a mystery if he ever would have noticed the newspapers being waved about him if he hadn't accidentally stepped on one a student dropped in passing.
"Hmm?" He pulled back his foot and bent over to pick the newspaper up. His movement stuttered to a stop when he saw the cover photo he had stepped on, footprint smear and all. He recognized the little figure peeking into the photo frame. Slowly, his eyes moved up the paper to confirm.
"I see it's that time of year again," Seokjin murmured, gaze lingering on the headline. He hadn't bothered to wait for the owl mail drop that morning so he must have missed the paper at breakfast.
When he checked the photo again, the figure within the frame had cautiously walked back into view and was looking around him in a guarded fashion, just as skittish as the actual wizard whose photo had been captured.
Seokjin folded the paper under his arm before he hurried to catch up with Namjoon and Chaerin, neither of whom having noticed his delay. He didn't need to read the paper right at that moment to know what it would say. Everyone knew that the Wizengamot opened its court of appeals for Azkaban prisoners every autumn.
If Jungkook's face was on the cover, then there was no doubt that the Jeon family was once again leading the charge against the wizarding court.
Everyone stared when Jimin gagged on his oatmeal and started hacking coughs over the Gryffindor table.
"Ew," said Kim Yura emphatically before she pointed her wand and vanished the oatmeal specks in her immediate area.
The girl seated to her right blinked. "Seriously? You're seriously just―?" Bang Minah huffed and finished vanishing the rest of the oatmeal mess on the table. "Next time just get rid of all of it, not just the bits around you!" she scolded as the taller Gryffindor grinned sheepishly.
"Sorry about that!" Jimin apologized, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand in case he had drool hanging. He flushed guiltily when Yura narrowed her eyes at him over Minah's shoulder and made an 'I'm watching you' gesture with two fingers in a v-sign. He waved the newspaper in his hand in defense. "I just got a little surprised by the news."
Byun Baekhyun, next to Chanyeol who was surreptitiously trying to levitate his and Kim Jongdae's bacon from their plates, pitched in, "I don't blame you, that's some flaming hair on the Jeon kid. I took him more for a black-as-my-soul kinda guy."
"Yeah, for real," Jimin agreed, tone going vague as he looked down at the paper again.
Below the headline title that read, JEON FAMILY HEAD TO TACKLE WIZENGAMOT COURT RULING YET AGAIN, was a photo of a familiar red-haired figure throwing suspicious glances around him before striding swiftly out of the panel. Under Jimin's stare, the photographed figure poked its head back into view and re-entered the frame with a frigid set to his face like he was being forced at wandpoint.
It was that Slytherin that Jimin had run into at the Quidditch locker rooms with the too-big nose, too-big front teeth and snooty pure-blood way of talking down to him. The Slytherin that was also apparently Jeon Jungkook.
Jimin was suddenly intensely grateful that his mother made him sign up for the Daily Prophet newspaper. Who knew how long he could have gone not knowing that the random kid he marked as a Quidditch rival was actually the school's most infamous Death Eater spawn? Jimin had seen his photo in the paper before, and yet, between the red hair and Jimin's spotty memory, he hadn't recognized him in person.
Chills ran up Jimin's arms and he rubbed them under his robe sleeves.
Students like Jungkook were raised by people that wanted Muggle-borns like Jimin dead. He felt like he had narrowly dodged a bullet.
"Hey, Tae," Jimin called, swiveling around in his seat to face the Ravenclaw table. "Did you see the news...?" He trailed off as he realized the spot where Taehyung had been sitting directly behind him was empty.
"He was right here!" Jimin wailed.
Taehyung flat-out sprinted from the Great Hall with the newspaper he'd swiped from the student sitting next to him crushed in his fist. He hadn't seen Kookie at the Slytherin table so he must have been skipping breakfast as usual, either still in bed or already on his way to class.
That was good, Taehyung decided. This day's Daily Prophet had been everywhere. He didn't imagine that was pleasant for Kookie―no, Jungkook, who valued his privacy more than any other witch or wizard Taehyung knew.
Taehyung was still mentally chewing on the information that he had received this morning. It was a lot to swallow.
The Slytherin never talked about his family with Taehyung. He hadn't even mentioned them. Taehyung hadn't pressed him, because family could be a sore topic among wizards, but that didn't stop him from wondering why the younger boy was so close-mouthed about it.
If Kookie was a Jeon, it explained everything.
The Jeon family appealed to the Wizengamot to release its war criminal family members from Azkaban almost every year. Famous for stubbornly, repeatedly fighting the Wizengamot's appellate court on the rulings since the end of the War, and for the fact that they had the backing of nearly every pure-blood family that was on You-Know-Who's side, the Jeons had become the face of the ex-Death-Eaters.
Or rather, just one Jeon had. Taehyung had grown up seeing Jungkook's face blinking back at him from the Daily Prophet, which focused on the boy every time the Jeon family tried to appeal. He could recall a stern-lipped old woman alongside him, but as a child Taehyung found the other boy and his quiet, solemn-eyed gaze more memorable.
Photographs of the unsmiling boy in courtroom settings, formal robes dragging him down, accompanied such headlines as:
MORE JEON LOSSES AT WIZENGAMOT COURT OF APPEALS
MINISTRY OF MAGIC VS. JEON FAMILY, REMATCH
WIZENGAMOT STRIKES DOWN APPEALS FOR JEON WAR CRIMINALS
The notice-me-not charm, the queer vigilance around other students, the twitchiness when Taehyung hugged him like he wasn't used to that friendly intimacy―it all made so much sense now. Taehyung felt blind that he hadn't noticed the clues before.
Kookie was Jungkook, the Jeon family's poster child. No wonder he wanted to hide so badly. It was near impossible for him to when most of the wizarding world already knew what he looked like.
Taehyung reached the Slytherin dungeons in record time. When the entrance portrait refused to let him in, he banged on the fiercely protesting portrait until someone finally opened the door and told him where Jungkook's year had their morning classes.
Care of Magical Creatures. If Taehyung hurried he could get there before the class started. He didn't know why exactly he needed to see Jungkook right at that moment; he just knew that the urgency thrumming in his blood wouldn't let him rest until he did.
The class was already assembled out on the castle grounds by the time Taehyung ran into view, but luckily for him it hadn't begun yet. The groundskeeper/professor was still busy setting up at the front of the loose crowd of Hufflepuffs and Slytherins.
It took approximately four and a half minutes for Taehyung to determine that Jungkook wasn't in the crowd, and curious looks were starting to draw to the random older Ravenclaw snooping through the class. Dejected, Taehyung began to head back to the dungeons, suspecting he had been sent on a wild goose chase.
He stopped mid-step and backtracked when he caught a snippet from a cluster of Hufflepuffs off to the side, sure that he had heard Jungkook's name.
As Taehyung watched, one of the girls gave an exaggerated shudder and said, "The way he was just standing there and not saying anything was so weird. His eyes are so creepy."
"Good riddance to Death Eater scum," a boy remarked with a sniff. "Like I'm going to take my lesson with the likes of him."
"You have to admit though, his new hairdo's not bad to look at. I can't ever do anything like that with my hair," one mused as she fiddled with one of her frizzy curls.
"Seriously, you want that color?"
"What shade is that anyway?"
"More like red like the blood of his victims!"
A shock of scandalized laughter came from the lot and Taehyung decided he had heard enough. He walked over to the group with a single-minded purpose, lips quirking out of habit as heads turned toward him.
"Hello~ I'm looking for my friend, maybe you could help me find him. He's about my height, red-haired and quiet as a dormouse?"
Their expressions changed. Taehyung's smile dropped.
Hoseok was ruminating so heavily on Yoongi's missing letter that he didn't notice Jimin's arrival until the younger boy was waving a hand directly in his face and he broke out of his thoughts.
"What―oh, Jimin!" Hoseok straightened up in his seat as the Gryffindor pulled the chair around from the desk in front of his and sat down. They were using the emptied Defense Against the Dark Arts room since it was the most suitable for practicing spells. There was a wide space in the front if they needed to stand, and most of the chairs and desks were already scuffed from previous magical accidents.
"You worried about N.E.W.T.'s, hyung?" Jimin asked, peering at him through his boyish bangs.
Bless him, he actually looked concerned, thought Hoseok with a surge of fondness for the Gryffindor.
"Not right now exactly. I mean I am," Hoseok admitted with a twist of his lips, "I know it's next spring and everyone thinks I'm being overly cautious about it, but I can't help but worry."
Before Hoseok could go on, Jimin exclaimed, "You're not being overly cautious, you're just being prepared!" At Hoseok's perturbed look, he coughed and said, "I get it, I mean. I'm getting ready for my O.W.L.'s in the spring too. I can't afford to slack off really, since I'm also failing Charms and barely passing all my other classes right now."
"On top of Quidditch," Hoseok said understandingly and chuckled as Jimin nodded frantically. "But wait, I thought your year was done with O.W.L.'s."
Jimin bashfully looked down and scratched at the beat up desk between them as he replied, "Everyone else is except for me. I failed three of my O.W.L.'s last year and now I have to retake them in the spring."
Jimin used his fingers to count them off as he spoke. "Divination, Ancient Runes and Defense Against the Dark Arts. In my defense for DADA, the test was crazy hard. We were the year that had Professor Tablo as the test master."
"That's right." Hoseok made a sympathetic sound. "Is it true that he made you learn Latin for the O.W.L.'s?"
"Yeah, so we could 'understand the spells better through language'," Jimin relayed with finger quote signs and a tired look at the memory.
Hoseok's ensuing laughter pulled a handful of wide grins from the Gryffindor.
"Oh, that's right, I almost forgot, Taehyung told me that he found a letter of yours, hyung," Jimin remarked, and just like that, all traces of humor on Hoseok disappeared.
"Where?" He nearly lunged forward in his excitement and Jimin seemed to sense that because he warily leaned back. "Sorry," Hoseok apologized and tried to settle down though his heart was still jumping. "It's just important that I get it back as soon as possible. It's not actually my letter," he explained with a pained expression. "It's my friend's."
Jimin's face dropped, which wasn't a good sign. "Oh...oh no, I'm sorry, Hobi-hyung. Taehyung found the letter and he said he meant to give it to me so I could get it back to you at our last tutoring session but he forgot. And then he lost it over the weekend while he was looking for Snorkacks, which I keep telling him aren't real but now he's convinced that one of them stole the letter!"
Hoseok felt all the nervous tension leave his body in the worst way. That was it then. He had to tell Yoongi he lost the letter. He drooped in his seat even as he smiled to reassure Jimin, who was starting to look panicked over his reaction.
"It's fine, don't worry about it Jiminnie," Hoseok repeated gently as Jimin kept pouring apologies for the mishap. "I know it was just an accident, it's alright."
"I don't even know what's up with Taehyung anymore. He's so spacey lately, even more than usual I mean," Jimin revealed in his agitation.
"Maybe it's classes," Hoseok said out of courtesy more than anything else. He was still busy dreading the fact that he had to tell Yoongi he'd lost a potentially important letter from his family.
"I think it's because of his crush on some kid named Kookie, but none of his other crushes made him this wacky―"
"Hold on, a crush on who?" Hoseok interrupted. "Did you say cookie?"
"No, Kookie," Jimin emphasized. "It's a nickname for a Slytherin kid―hey, that's right, maybe you know him, hyung! You hang around the Slytherin table a lot, don't you? Who do you know that's a fifth year, big-eyed, broody and abnormally quiet? That's about all Taehyung would tell me about his crush."
Hoseok promptly choked on his next breath.
Yoongi was curious at the disappointment he felt when he saw someone else instead of Jimin waiting for him in the dusty back end of the library. He had gotten used to the spunky Gryffindor's presence over the last few detentions. He was surprisingly easy to talk to when riled out of his shy silences. Even if Yoongi liked the shyness too.
Jimin blushed more than any other teenage wizard he knew. It was more endearing than Yoongi would ever admit aloud.
The boy already working on the book cataloging for their joint detention had his head bent over so he didn't see the approaching Slytherin, nor his slight frown at his hair, which was a shade of orange so bright it ached Yoongi's eyes to look upon it. And he thought Jungkook's hair was bad.
"Someone's prank gone wrong?" Yoongi asked, making the boy raise his head, quill feather tip in his mouth. He motioned at his hair when all he received was a dumb look.
Orange-hair spit out the quill feather and answered, "No, I did it myself. On purpose," he clarified, "Though the color was a surprise." He tugged on a bang and simultaneously raised his torso out of the bent position he was in so Yoongi could clearly see the Ravenclaw crest on his chest.
"I bet," Yoongi said dryly as he sat himself in the chair opposite. "Min Yoongi," he introduced himself succinctly, picking up the other quill and ink pot laid out for him.
"Kim Taehyung," the Ravenclaw gave in reply. Yoongi thought that would be it, but in his peripheral he noticed the Ravenclaw peering at him and inwardly sighed.
Taehyung didn't seem to be perturbed by his testy tone and shook his head. "I was just thinking you don't seem as scary as you usually do up close," he said blithely, turning back to the cataloging.
Yoongi raised an eyebrow at his bluntness, unsure if he found it refreshing or irritating.
"You don't find my eye bags terrifying? I'm hurt," Yoongi quipped, to which Taehyung laughed, loud and bright as his hair.
He seemed like an okay kid, if a little air-headed. Like Jimin, he didn't seem to be bothered by Yoongi's reticence, and throughout the detention period, kept up the idle, one-sided chatter by himself with just a few audible cues from Yoongi in the form of grunts.
After detailing his exact opinion on the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor which summed up to, "At least he doesn't force us to learn Latin like Professor Tablo did,"―Yoongi looked suitably boggled at that―Taehyung started complaining about the fact that he had to serve double detentions that day.
That actually piqued Yoongi's interest enough to question about it. "You some kind of delinquent?"
"Those Hufflepuffs had it coming," Taehyung declared, which explained...next to nothing.
Yoongi blinked deliberately to release some of the stress between his brows. "So, you're in two detentions for blasting a bunch of Hufflepuffs," he concluded.
"Close enough, I only gave them some warts," Taehyung corrected and then paused. "Pus-filled warts, that is."
"Not bad," said Yoongi approvingly, to which the Ravenclaw smiled in a pleased manner.
"Thanks! I thought so too."
They had maybe about ten or so seconds of silence where Yoongi could concentrate on accurately marking the book slips in front of him before Taehyung was speaking again.
"The warty Hufflepuffs are just the reason for this detention though. My next detention today is for playing with the Giant Squid. Does that sound fair to you?" Taehyung asked with no little petulance. "I keep the school's mascot hale and hearty with love and exercise, and they give me detention for it! Now Sir Squigg the Terminator is all alone with only the Merpeople to keep him company and to be frank, I don't think they treat him all that well because he always looks really happy to see me and Jimin," he told Yoongi in a gossipy hush.
There were so many different things Yoongi could say to that he wasn't sure where to start. Focusing on the least ridiculous part of Taehyung's explanation for his own sanity, Yoongi said, "You know Jimin?"
"He's my best friend," replied Taehyung.
"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me at all," admitted Yoongi.
Today, Jungkook was practically chased out of one of his classes by a gaggle of Hufflepuffs, tripped twice in the halls (resulting in some colorful bruises), and alternately stared and glared at the entire day, all because of the newspaper lying on his desk before him.
At the moment, Jungkook was in the middle of contemplating setting it on fire, having barely managed to hold back the urge until he got to his room tonight. It wasn't that bad this time around, except that they put his photo right under the headline so it looked like he was the 'Jeon family head' mentioned, and the photo they chose made him look like he was sneaking around to do something unscrupulous.
He had the torching spell on the tip of his tongue, wand poking into the photo where his face looked back at him, when the silver cloud came oozing through the bedroom wall beside his wardrobe. Jungkook flipped up his wand, though no defense spell came to mind, shocked as he was. To his confusion, the silver cloud didn't come after him.
Floating in gently like bird on an airdrift, it stopped before him and glimmered. It was more the expectant silence than the actual form that clued him in and his stiff stance loosened, wandtip lowering a few centimeters.
"You're a Patronus," Jungkook said, an unbidden curve edging his lips when the silver haze deliberately glowed in affirmation. He bent down to better inspect it. "You don't have a shape yet."
Which meant it couldn't send any messages with it. As if to make up for this fact, the Patronus drifted from side to side in a vaguely playful manner. Even though it wasn't fully solidified yet, the Patronus had a subtly canine-shaped head and a constantly moving extension that Jungkook could imagine was a tail.
"Who sent you?" Jungkook murmured, though he knew it couldn't answer. This was his first time in close proximity with a Patronus animal and he sat down on the edge of his bed so he wouldn't do something stupid like try to touch it. He wasn't sure if it would dissipate if he did.
Just the fact that the owner could create a Patronus that could travel away from them was a huge feat, no matter the lack of solid form. Whoever sent it was powerful, very intelligent or both, and was most likely an upperclassman since they were the only ones that received Patronus lessons. Jungkook was jealous; he still had another year before he could get the same training.
The upper years got all the best spells, he thought sulkily.
The Patronus lasted only about a minute before it started to disintegrate and disappear into the air. The last part to go was its head, which left a vague outline shimmering in the air before it was gone.
Jungkook stared blankly at the space where the Patronus had lingered and bit his lip. There was only one upperclassman that Jungkook knew would send him a Patronus with no message, but it was the same person he thought wouldn't want to see him again after the news on his family came out.
Was the Patronus from Taehyung? And if it was, what could it mean?
He looked over at the newspaper on his desk and then reached into his robe for the letters he'd been carrying around since he found them. With the letters overlapped in his hands, the wax seals came together in a pair of green and violet. Only one of the letters had its seal broken. The other was Yoongi-hyung's.
He had procrastinated giving the letter to Yoongi because he already had an inkling on what it would say, if what his grandmother told him in his own letter was true. He still didn't know why Taehyung had had Yoongi's letter in his possession but the appearance of the Patronus seemed like a sign that he should do something, anything, rather than continue to worry and wait the way he was now.
Taking the letter, he left his room in direction of the seniors' rooms where Yoongi and Namjoon's was located. Thankfully, this part of the dungeons was deserted, so no one noticed him slip the letter neatly under the door of their room and walk off before it could open.
There was no way to know if Taehyung wanted to see Jungkook again without speaking to him in person, but that was the last thing Jungkook felt ready for. The next few weeks would be difficult enough without knowing he'd lost his friendship, and even if Taehyung did want to be around him still, he might change his mind once the rest of the news about the upcoming court hearing appeared in the Daily Prophet.
Jungkook didn't even want to think about Yoongi's reaction.
"It's hip hop, not 'hip bop' or any variation thereof," Namjoon corrected for what felt like the hundredth time.
"Exactly, that's what I said. Hop pop," Hoseok said with a confused squint. His ruddy cheeks and slight swaying was starting to alarm Namjoon, and finally he reached over to pluck the goblet out of his friend's hand.
"Alright, that's it, you're cut off for the night," Namjoon said firmly, vanishing the contents of the goblet with his wand when Hoseok reached for it insistently. "There was entirely too much firewhisky in that fruit punch."
"What are you talking about. Give it back, Namjoon!" Hoseok demanded with a belligerent swipe at the goblet and then glowered when the Slytherin tossed it over.
"What? I gave it back."
"And it's empty!"
"Is it? I hadn't noticed."
This was turning out to be a pathetic fart of a night.
Namjoon hadn't come to the ball expecting good music and company; he hadn't wanted to come at all. He was only here because Seokjin had roped him into chaperoning with him, and despite the 'with' part of the deal, he had swiftly disappeared at the start of the ball, leaving Namjoon sitting at one of the little round tables and cringing at the live music. Then Hoseok came by, freshly dumped by his date after he mistakenly insulted Witch Direction, which was apparently one of her favorite bands and not to be slandered because it had just lost one of its core members.
"Who the bloody hell is Zayn and why am I supposed to care?" Hoseok went back to drunkenly whining about his lost date when it became obvious Namjoon wouldn't return his missing alcoholic punch.
"I don't know. I've never heard of any of these wizard pop artists. Stop asking me," Namjoon groaned.
Just then, Namjoon's vision seemed to have gone completely red, and he raised his chin from his hand to look up at the scarlet-robed boy standing next to their table. Flashy robes aside, he seemed mostly unremarkable until Namjoon's gaze floated up to his hair and stayed.
If the boy's robes were bright, his hair was just ridiculous. Orange that neon had to be magically-colored, Namjoon determined. No Muggle dye job could glow like that.
"Not enjoying the music, Namjoon?" Seokjin asked from beside the boy, drawing Namjoon's attention. He was in more sedate robes, in a deep serious blue that edged on cobalt in the right light. His Head Boy badge shined on his chest as always.
"I don't even know who it is," Namjoon admitted.
The orange-haired boy seemed to find that funny; his teeth gleamed white in the dim light of the Great-Hall-turned-ballroom. "It's the Scroll," he said. "I thought everyone knew this group."
"Too bad I'm not everyone," Namjoon replied, tone turning an edge sharp when he noticed how closely the newcomer was standing next to Seokjin. With an arm wrapped around the Ravenclaw's shoulders, they were hip to hip, a long line of contact with no space between their bodies.
So much for chaperoning, Namjoon thought snidely.
Seokjin was making a face at his tone so Namjoon deflected by turning to check on Hoseok. To his dismay, the Hufflepuff was busy drooling into the tablecloth, and Namjoon had fight back the urge to conjure water to throw on him.
"I thought Jimin looked bad, but Hoseok-hyung looks worse," the orange-haired boy observed aloud. At Namjoon's blank look, he explained, "Jiminnie drank too much of that spiked punch and had to take a bathroom break to sober up. Which is why Jin-hyung is helping keep me company until my dance partner gets back." The last part was spoken with a tight side hug that Seokjin returned with a half-hearted but fond air.
"Oh," said Namjoon as he registered that. There was only one girl he knew named Jimin, and he queried, "Park Jimin? Loud, snarky, about this high?"
Seokjin's not-date goggled at the hand Namjoon held at collarbone-height and told him, "That's sort of harsh. Jimin's not that short."
Before Namjoon could start arguing him on that point, he had the sudden realization that the sound of the bells ringing at the edge of his hearing was not part of the music playing and whirled away from the two to concentrate on it. As he suspected, it was Jungkook's tracer spell going into overdrive, the bell sound of it ringing so quickly there were hardly any pauses in between each individual ring. That meant Jungkook was using spells quickly, one after another.
It sounded like he was in trouble.
"Merlin, I hope this is a false alarm," Namjoon cursed and pushed up from his chair. Turning to Seokjin, Namjoon asked, "Could you keep an eye on Hoseok for me? I have to go, now." The press of time made his words short and abrupt, and he hoped Seokjin would understand him later when he could make up a proper excuse instead of just dashing off.
"Where are you going?" the orange-head asked, and before Namjoon could tell him it was none of his business, he followed with another rapid question of, "Can I go with you?"
"I don't even know who you are," Namjoon retorted on reflex, nonplussed.
"I'm Taehyung," the orange-head replied. "And I have to warn you, I'll probably just follow you even if you tell me not to."
As mild as they were, the words made Namjoon flare defensively. "I could just Stupefy you," he threatened.
"Then Jin-hyung would be disappointed in you," Taehyung said shrewdly, making Namjoon falter.
"Taehyung," murmured Seokjin, just audible over the music. He looked as disoriented as Namjoon felt, which meant he didn't know what Taehyung was up to either.
"I don't know what your problem is. I'm just going to take a leak," Namjoon lied, badly. Taehyung seemed to have gotten it into his head that Namjoon was going somewhere interesting, and he didn't have the time to convince him otherwise if Jungkook really was in trouble.
When Taehyung affirmed his desire to tag-along once again, Namjoon snapped, "Why? Where do you even think I'm going?"
"Jin-hyung told me about you," Taehyung confessed, making both Head Boys widen their eyes. "And I recognize your hair. You hit a Bludger at me once. I have an idea on where you're headed right now, and if I'm right, I want to help."
The Bludger reference caught Namjoon fast in his tracks and he blinked at Taehyung as he tried to recover from the whiplash.
"You used to have dark hair," he said finally.
"Yeah, I know. I changed it to match Jungkookie's," said Taehyung , smiling as Namjoon closed his eyes in defeat.
"What in the name of Rowena Ravenclaw is going on?" snapped Seokjin.
Jungkook knew it was a bad idea to go to the ball, he knew that. But the timing of the latest Patronus just this morning, the glow of it warmer than the pale sunlight shining through the lakewater outside his window, was just too coincidental for Jungkook to ignore. Even if it wasn't actually Taehyung sending the silvery wisps to his room.
He waited until long after the ball began so the hallways would be clear when he left. He assumed once he was inside the ballroom, he could just hide within the crowd. For his hair, he stole one of the many beanies Namjoon had in his room. Since he let Yoongi take them all the time that meant he wouldn't mind if Jungkook did too, right?
Strangely he didn't see Yoongi around anywhere, and knowing he hadn't gone to the ball like Namjoon it was a mystery where he could have disappeared.
Jungkook thought he could just stop by the ball to satisfy his urge to see Taehyung and then leave. He didn't want to admit it but he missed the Ravenclaw badly, and it ached to imagine that Taehyung might be wary of him now that he knew who he was.
Just a minute and he would leave, Jungkook promised himself and mentally prayed for the magic of All Hallow's Eve to aid him. When he heard the first sound of a spell zapping, he almost mistook it for an answer to his prayer. Then cursing noises were thrown out along with more spell zaps and he understood what he was actually hearing was a duel.
A wizard's duel after hours wasn't uncommon, though Jungkook wondered at the reasoning for having it while the ball was under way. Until he walked in view of the side hall where the noises were coming from and discovered it wasn't a duel. He stepped back before he could be spotted.
Two male students in formal robes were jeering as their wands spurted red sparks that left painful looking pustules all over the face of their dangling victim, a short brunette hanging from the air by his ankle. By the way only his eyes squeezed from the pain, he must have been petrified by a body-binder curse as well.
Jungkook honestly felt bad for him, but this wasn't his fight. His appearance might even make things worse. He was about to go fetch a professor to stop the bullies when the boy in the air glanced over in his direction and caught his eye.
Jungkook's jaw dropped. It was that Gryffindor from the Quidditch locker room!
Mindlessly, he moved forward a step and the Gryffindor's eyes widened. Jungkook was too far to see what he was trying to wordlessly say, but he could imagine easily enough from the little conversation they've had.
Help me, you big-toothed dunderhead.
Unfortunately, Jungkook had stalled for too long. He lost the element of surprise as both boys standing by the Gryffindor noticed him at the end of the side hall.
"Oh, it's you," said one, squinting in the torchlight of the hall. "The little Jeon lordling. Here to join in on the fun?"
Both the Gryffindor and Jungkook's eyes popped.
Jungkook walked in further now that he had nothing to lose, biting his inner cheek in dismay as the two turned towards him casually. They were older Slytherins he hadn't talked to before but who he frequently saw goofing off together around the school. They didn't seem like the type of people to pull this kind of stunt, and Jungkook wasn't sure what to do now that he'd stopped them.
"No, this isn't my kind of fun," Jungkook said, and pulled out his own wand. "I think you should stop now. He's had enough."
Both Slytherins locked on the movement and subtly, their stances changed. The cold night air was getting thick; Jungkook could hear every breath he pulled into his lungs.
"I don't know, we were just getting started. Weren't we, Jinyoung?"
The other Slytherin twirled his wand between his fingers, his previously playful look gone tight and mean like a rat's. "Mm hm, we're still talking plenty with Jimin here," Jinyoung remarked, and then he slapped Jimin's cheek with a crack, making Jungkook wince. "He always had so much to say about us in class. Me and Jaebum-hyung were just returning the favor."
"What did he say?" Jungkook blurted before he nearly bit his tongue through for the spill.
"Does it matter?" Jaebum drawled cuttingly. "It's all the same hippogriff shit. You know, you must have gotten plenty of it yourself."
"Funny, funny, funny. They all think they're so funny!" Jinyoung pointed his wand at Jimin and conjured fire-brand curses that made the Gryffindor's robes smoke. The fact that Jimin didn't even twitch was somehow more frightening than if he had. His eyes were overfilling with tears.
"Aguamenti!" Jungkook doused the heat with water, and then he promptly threw up a shield charm when Jinyoung shot one of those fire-brands at him.
Jinyoung's spell flashed out when it hit Jungkook's shield and the Slytherin looked near murderous.
"Seriously, you're protecting him?" Jinyoung yelled, advancing on him. Curse after curse was thrown almost too quickly for Jungkook to keep up.
"Protego! Protego! Protego!" Jungkook shouted, scrambling to keep up with the older Slytherin. Jaebum was still standing by Jimin's hanging body, arms crossed, an inscrutable set to his face as he watched his housemates battle it out.
Finally, one of the fire-brands caught Jungkook in the fleshy part of his bicep on his wand arm and the pain made him stagger and hiss. He clasped a hand over the smoking cloth and immediately regretted it when it rubbed over the raw wound. Jinyoung wasn't holding back, Jungkook understood then with a tingle of fear down his back.
"I always did want to try dueling a Jeon," Jinyoung mused as he kept advancing.
Behind him, Jaebum clicked his tongue and muttered, "I knew I should have kept you from drinking too much of that punch. Don't get carried away, Jinyoung."
"I won't~," Jinyoung sang in a not so reassuring way, "Just let me write my name on this kid's face and I'll be good."
Jungkook backed away, breathing hard, as Jinyoung raised his wand and the tip glowed like an ember with another fire-brand curse. His wand arm hurt too much to keep raised and he wasn't sure how long he could fight Jinyoung off with his shield charms before the arm gave out on him.
"Stupefy!" Jungkook shouted, heart sinking when Jinyoung simply knocked it away with a shield charm of his own. Jinyoung was too quick to catch off guard and Jungkook was getting sloppy as he started to panic.
Finally, he thought of one spell that Jinyoung wouldn't be able to defend against and he raised his wand arm as high as he could.
Fight fire with fire. "Fiendfyrio!" Jungkook cried, and gnashed his teeth through the pain of keeping his wand arm raised as a stream of fire burst from his wand like water from a breaking dam. The fire moved faster than the shield charm that Jinyoung threw up and it hit him in a blazing lightning strike of flame.
Jinyoung screamed from within the inferno and Jungkook did too when he tried to stop the ribbon of fire coming from his wand and found out he couldn't do it quickly enough. The fire broke off from his wandtip but continued its stretch to Jinyoung who kept screaming and screaming until finally, a torrent of water came crashing over him from Jaebum.
Jinyoung fell in a wet, steaming black mass of robes as the water puddled around him spread out like blood.
"Oh Merlin," Jungkook breathed as he fell to his knees. Jaebum was checking on Jinyoung, swearing madly in between begging his friend to be alright, to hold on until he got him to the infirmary.
"I didn't mean to," Jungkook whispered, eyes watering. From the corner of his eye, he caught movement at the end of the hall and turned his head to find Yoongi standing there, soaking in the scene.
"Yoongi-hyung," gasped Jungkook when Yoongi's blank gaze met his. "Help."
"I didn't mean to," Jungkook said when Yoseob didn't get up again. The boy was starting to hyperventilate, streams of tears sliding down his face as he took in huge gasping breaths. Yoseob's body was very still.
"I just wanted him to stop hurting you. I didn't mean to, hyung. I didn't, I swear." Yoongi heaved himself to his feet, despite the pain making his head dizzy and his breath short.
He said through gritted teeth, "Jungkook, stop. Stop, and just―get out of here. Now. Hurry."
"But what about you?"
"Don't worry about me. I started this." Oh, did he start this, Yoongi thought, the regret bitter on his tongue. "It's not your fault, so go on," Yoongi ordered, the pain making his voice sharp. "Get out of here. Go, Jungkook! GO!"
Yoongi snapped back to the present. Jungkook was collapsed on the ground not too far from him. There was a smoking body about two or three meters from Jungkook, a charred mess that Im Jaebum, a Slytherin underclassman, was panicking over as he tried to levitate the body through stuttering lips. Another body lay on the ground a little farther off.
"Locomotor," a voice behind Yoongi spoke the incantation, making him jerk around.
"Rapmon," Yoongi said in relief. The grim-faced Head Boy was a sight for sore eyes. To Yoongi's confusion, his latest detention partner was also there, rushing forward from behind Namjoon to gape at the scene.
"I'll take this one to the infirmary," Namjoon said as he directed the levitating body by wand tip. "His injuries look too serious to wait around. Can you take care of the others?"
Before Yoongi could answer, Taehyung was leaping past him and calling, "Kookie!" and he turned just as Jungkook was being swallowed up in the Ravenclaw's arms.
"What in the name of Salazar Slytherin," Yoongi murmured, shaking his head, but turned back knowing he could leave Jungkook to the Ravenclaw. "I've got it, go on ahead. I'll probably be meeting you there," Yoongi told Namjoon, who nodded and snapped at Jaebum to follow him.
Once their steps were echoing down the hall Yoongi went to check on the other body, expecting the worst. It still didn't prepare him for the cold shock he felt when he found the puffy-faced Gryffindor lying there. He was bruised and swollen wherever skin showed, and his robes were a smoking, wet mess, not unlike the body Namjoon had just levitated out.
"Jimin?" Yoongi's voice came out so hoarsely he couldn't recognize it. He slapped gently at the Gryffindor's cheeks. "Hey, kid, wake up. Hey, hey."
Behind Yoongi, Jungkook croaked, "I found them dangling him in the air, no wand or anything. When I tried to stop them they turned on me, and then...I lost control."
Again seemed to be the unspoken word in the air between them.
"What did you use on that guy? The one Namjoon took to the infirmary?" Yoongi asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Fiendfyre." It came out on a broken exhale, and Taehyung's arms tightened on the Slytherin.
A high level curse using dark magic. Jungkook's family taught him well, Yoongi thought as he looked around and located the wand that must have been dropped by Jimin during the fight.
"Good job," he said aloud before he cast the incantation to levitate Jimin's still body into the air. "Now let's get out of here before any professors come running to see what the noise was about. I could hear the yelling from a floor away, I swear."
"They're all too busy getting smashed at the ball," Taehyung was saying when he choked and garbled the rest as Yoongi floated Jimin past him. "Is that Jimin?!" he nearly shrieked, pulling Jungkook after him.
"Hold your hippogriffs, he's fine," Yoongi said. "A little beat up, and a lump on his head the size of a Quaffle, but he'll live. You two good to walk? Jungkook? Alright then, let's go." His brisk tone demanded no argument and the younger students promptly followed in step.
The four of them departed down the emptied hall, three walking, one floating. What an end to this All Hallow's Eve night.