It's where only one half of the soul (one person in the bond) knows who the other half is from the dreams that visit every night.
Sometimes it's about the present, other times it's about their future, and for the most part, the dreams tell of a happy ending.
For Jongin, the dreams started out as such. When he was five, he dreamt of a boy with plump cheeks and feline-like eyes leading him through a meadow field, and it made him feel warm. Other times, he dreamt of kisses pressed against his neck and saw pink lips with a playful smile say his name, and it made him feel wanted even though there were no sounds. They weaved together a story and young Jongin, a prince to a small kingdom, held onto each dream like an anchor to a happier future.
The dreams came and went, leaving hope and love in his heart until one night, when he was shy of sixteen, they turned dark. Faces and screams meshed together and they were never clear except for the single figure that stood a distance away with black flames curling around his feet and something like scarlet down his arms. The nightmares woke him with his own screams and ran his throat hoarse as he curled into his tears, wishing for the sight of his beloved turning against him to vanish.
(Minseok's name falls from his tongue like a litany during those nights).
Fire sparked and devoured the silk curtains his mother loved so much when his age turned twenty, and his wrists were imprisoned between iron before he was dragged from him broken home. The screams of his people tear at his heart and Jongin felt so helpless and broken when the soldiers brought a child, barely three, to a blade.
He screamed his surrender and sold his body before the innocent blood is spilt. The chains tore him into a stumbled walk, bringing him away with only memories of his beautiful home vanishing within the flames.
They find Minseok's name carved into his inner thigh upon reaching the palace, and he's told to never speak or his kingdom would pay the price. How they found him, he couldn't understand.
It isn't as if Minseok knew him.
He didn't understand until he caught sight of auburn hair and a strong set of shoulders hidden beneath fine clothing, and the delicate hand tucked into his beloved's elbow.
Minseok could not be his.
"You will have a new name, and you will adopt it as your very own while casting out your other if you know what is best for your kingdom."
Jongin could only scowl at the king in silence from where he stood, clothes a tattered cloth hanging onto his shoulders, wrists still bound by chains.
"The four kingdoms would have been at war with each other if this marriage had not taken place. I will not have it jeopardize by your existence. Unfortunately, it is too late now to be rid of you. Therefore, you shall stay here where the guards can keep an eye on you. If you are caught interacting with my son, your people will suffer for it."
The dreams still visited him every night, and by now with his age, Jongin was able to choose which memories would come to him.
He chose the ones where innocence was still evident in Minseok's eyes, and the adoration still so fresh. They kept his heart from breaking too soon, even as Jongin woke in quiet tears.
Sometimes, Jongin wondered of the melody Minseok must hear. Wondered what it sounded like and if there would ever be a day when he would get to know it as well. But of course, his mind stopped him short because despite of his cracking self, his people…his family…they depended on his resistance.
No matter how much it shattered his sanity.
A month passed before he could no longer take the solitude of his room and requested to be of service anywhere in the palace. It didn't matter where, so long as he wasn't required to stare endlessly out a window or at the walls until it sickened him.
The king granted his request and Jongin found himself milling about in the kitchens after all the servants have retired to their bunks, scrubbing the pots and pans, on his knees to makes sure the floors were free of stains.
It should have been degrading, but the tasks kept him far from the thoughts of Minseok, and since it required his wake, the dreams could no longer distracted his aching heart.
He should have known fate was more sadistic, but words and actions didn't come quick enough when he sees the prince standing at the kitchen entrance, dressed in hardly anything but his night robe.
Every part of his being screams at him to both run or tell Minseok his name, but his heart and mind stop him from going too far, leading him to stand instead.
His cheeks warm momentarily when he thinks about how Minseok would react if he knew his Dreamer was a hostage prince now-turned cleaning boy.
"I wasn't aware we had servants clean after nightfall. What is your name, boy?"
Jongin hasn't used his false name since the throne room.
"Haneul, your grace."
"Haneul…I've never heard nor seen you before. Are you new to the palace? Is that why you are cleaning when everyone is asleep?"
How is one to act unsuspicious at a time like this. In this situation?
So jongin doesn't and stands perfectly still, eyes to the floor and feels his face heat when he realizes his feet are bare.
He doesn't see the prince's frown. "Will you not answer me?"
Well damn. "I-...I do not know how to answer, your grace."
"You don't know how? I merely asked if you were new. Is that so hard?"
"Of-...of course not, your grace. Yes, I am new. Your grace."
Jongin never realized silence could be as daunting as this.
"Will you tell anyone that I was here, Hanuel?"
Jongin shook his head.
"You won't whisper and gossip with the other servants that you caught the prince sneaking down to the kitchens for a midnight snack? Nne of that?"
And then more silence (he's going to die).
Fingers come into view and Jongin had half the mind to not whimper, instead letting the prince guide his face up until he's blinking back at auburn eyes crinkled in an amused smile. He can't breathe.
"There you are," the prince - Minseok - whispered. "Are you sure you're a servant here?"
Jongin swallowed and whispered back, "Yes, my lord."
Something changes, tilting dark in those beautiful eyes.
"My lord…" Minseok echoes, though he doesn't move away and it's so very hard not to melt into his Listener's touch. "I've never liked that title very much…"
He's going crazy, jongin swears it.
The prince probably thinks so too because he's looking at him in surprise. "Because it is a reminder that I will not be my own any longer. That I am a prisoner within these walls, never to be set free. Perhaps servants, such as yourself, crave for titles and riches, but you know nothing of the chains that hold people like me down, would you?"
Jongin wants so terribly to tell him that he does understand. Tell him it is because he understands that he can never say.
Instead, he's mortified by the wetness that blurs his vision, blinking them away to see the prince's amusement slip and replaced with concern.
He stays still, and let's gentle fingers brush the tears away.
"Why are you crying? Have I hurt you?"
How many times must he shake his head tonight, Jongin wonders.
"No. It is just that my prince sounded so terribly sad, and I can do nothing to change it."