As the middle child of three, Sanghyuk’s future has been very clear to him ever since the birth of his younger sister. Their family had never had much money to begin with, but even at five years old he understood that it would be difficult for a recent widow to raise three children on her own. Sanghyuk decided it was time to be a big boy, and so every morning he stood in front of the mirror and talked himself intro growing up as quickly as possible.
As for their future, it would go like this: the older brother would someday take over their mother’s shop, which he’s always loved; the little sister would do whatever her heart desired, because she was always going to be the baby of the family, adored by all, and they would do anything for her; and Sanghyuk? He would work for his brother until he was old and grey and had forgotten all about childish dreams that would soon be no more than a distant memory anyway. For after all, what could a middle child of no fortune hope for?
Hyeyeon is almost fifteen and no longer a baby. Sometimes their mother stops whatever she’s doing and sighs softly, and they all know it’s because she’s thinking about her baby and how much she misses her; Hyeyeon’s been as busy as a bee ever since she started apprenticing in a patisserie in spring, and even though she still finds the time now and then to sneak back home with a basket of leftover cake it’s not the same as having her home. Hakyeon has taken over the flower shop, as expected, and is soon to be married. Sanghyuk is… content. His life isn’t very exciting, but he’d already resigned himself to that a long time ago. His days are filled with the scent of cake and flowers, and even though he isn’t really needed in the shop anymore, Hakyeon keeps insisting on how important his work is; according to him, all the flowers he tends to seem to grow faster, healthier, and more beautiful than the rest. Even his bouquets last longer, he says, and he swears that in more than one occasion he’s seen the flowers actually tilt towards Sanghyuk as if listening when he’s talking to them.
That’s what he’s doing one day, telling the lilies of the valley how well they’re growing and how beautiful they will be by the time of his brother’s wedding, when Hakyeon crouches down next to him and asks him what some other time could have been a simple question.
“Are you happy?” Sanghyuk is about to answer automatically when he sees Hakyeon’s serious expression. They have never lied to each other in their whole lives, not about anything that mattered, so answering that he is wouldn’t be fair, especially considering how much he’s been thinking about his future lately.
He thinks it over for a moment before cautiously answering, “I’m not unhappy.”
“But you are not happy,” Sanghyuk just looks at the flowers, and Hakyeon nods in understanding. “You’ve always done so much for us, Hyukkie. For all of us, but me specially. I know it’s always been because you wanted to and not because you feel obliged,” he quickly adds, and Sanghyuk closes his mouth again, “but you don’t have to look after us forever. We want you to be happy.”
And on the day of his 20th birthday, the lilies of the valley are in full bloom out of season and Han Sanghyuk leaves home to become a wizard.
In retrospect maybe the whole magic thing looked better from afar.
It’s not that Sanghyuk (“Just Hyuk; your name has to have some impact if you want to be a respected wizard”, an annoying voice whispers in his head) doesn’t expect all the hard work, it’s just – it’s been almost a month and he’s spent way more time taking care of his master than actually learning any magic.
He knows his reputation perfectly well – everyone does – and of course he’s heard the stories: how evil he is; how even the Witch of the Waste, the King’s most powerful witch, will bristle at the mere mention of him; how he pursues pretty little things from neighboring villages and steals their hearts… But once he has finally decided to pursue his dream of becoming a renowned wizard and starts doing some serious research, he soon finds out the hard truth: Wizard Ken is undoubtedly the best wizard in the whole country, and Sanghyuk has to get over his fear and go in search of him if he wants to be someone. And so he does.
Really, his first encounter should have tipped him off about how this whole thing was going to go, but he was so young and unexperienced then, the poor thing.
It went something like this:
The sun is already high in the sky the first time he sees The Castle. He’s been walking around all day trying to find it and there it is, lying still next to a small lake, almost as if napping under the sun. He should walk up to it, Sanghyuk knows, but he is rather shy and not that courageous yet. So he sits and starts eating the food Taekwoon had prepared and given him with an encouraging nod before he left home forever that morning.
The second time it’s maybe an hour or two after that. He decides to walk around for a bit to find his courage and try to approach the castle again, and is walking down a hillside when he hears something right behind him that sounds a bit too much like a stampede for his liking. Sanghyuk runs as fast as his legs will let him, which is quite fast thanks to his ongoing growth spurt, but soon finds himself awkwardly sprawled in what looks like someone’s living room. Through a door right before his eyes he can see down the hillside, and almost starts screaming at the speed at which they are moving. A moment later, a tall and slender blond figure appears next to him and, barely glancing his way, says out loud to apparently no one in particular a “You deal with that,” and throws himself out the door.
“Hey, potato nose,” a deep voice half-sighs from somewhere, “are you going to introduce yourself or do I have to kick you out?”
Startled, Sanghyuk sits up and looks around to find two big, round eyes looking at him from the fireplace, above what almost looks like mouth. “So?” The fire adds, looking at him expectantly. A tiny dog appears out of nowhere and growls at him, and then Sanghyuk passes out.
So begin Sanghyuk’s, I mean, Hyuk’s magical adventures. Only they aren’t that magical and mostly consist of babysitting ‘the Greatest Wizard of All Time’, as Wizard Ken likes to call himself when he’s happy, or drunk, or feeling particularly loving towards himself, which is most of the time.
The thing about Wizard Ken is: he’s actually even more powerful than Sanghyuk has heard or imagined, which is impressing, and really good at teaching too; he just isn’t usually in the mood for that. It turns out Wizard Ken isn’t that much older than him, barely three years, and when people say that he goes around stealing other people’s hearts? Yeah, they don’t mean that literally – he just can’t stop flirting and changing paramour every five seconds. Okay, more like three days to a week at most, if Sanghyuk is being honest, but he’s the one having to deal with the a) anger, b) sadness, c) self-loathing, d) fleeting depression because “I’m perfect, how could they leave me”, e) all of the above, and those are just Wizard Ken’s reactions.
The worst yet has been being woken up in the middle of the night by continuous screeching and wailing, which sounds kind of like someone literally dying at Sanghyuk’s door. At first he’s really scared thinking Wizard Ken is badly hurt, but then it turns out it was only his hair, which had been turned green by the Witch of the Waste. It lasts less than a day, but Wizard Ken still acts as if it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone.
So yeah, Sanghyuk has earned the right to overdramatize a bit.
Of course, to make all his conquests possible, Wizard Ken has not only to spend countless hours courting said paramours but also has to take perfect and almost constant care of his appearance to achieve his god-like level of beauty (his own words, not Sanghyuk’s); Sanghyuk has never seen him look less than 100% his best, which means it takes him roughly two to three hours to get ready every time he’s leaving his rooms, extra when he’s leaving the castle or, worse yet, has a date. This alone, unfortunately for Sanghyuk, doesn’t really leave a lot of free time to teach magic to anyone. So yeah, he is beautiful – really beautiful, with his blond hair, unnatural blue eyes, and overall princely looks – and very flirty, which Sanghyuk guesses can get to people easily (but he’s also pretty sure it’s just part of his personality), and that is the only dangerous thing about him. Honestly, Sanghyuk is over it almost instantly after realizing he’s pretty much useless when it comes to taking care of himself, even if he feels slightly dazed every time Wizard Ken smiles at him.
Most importantly, as annoying as he may be at times, he still took Sanghyuk in as his apprentice even though he had no money, experience, or seemed to possess any kind of magic whatsoever, so he feels really grateful towards Wizard Ken and is a little bit more lenient about his childishness than he would usually be.
Also Sanghyuk has always been a clever boy, and he’s soon come to known and get along really well with Hongbin, the mysterious talking fire that almost scared him to death that first day – apparently not a demon, though he still doesn’t know what he is other than possibly under some kind of spell, seeing how Hongbin shuts up completely every time it seems like he’s about to say something about it. He’s teaching Sanghyuk all kinds of things about herbs and potions, and even some simple and easy spells to help with some of the housework. He’s even started gossiping about Wizard Ken with him when they’re bored and there’s nothing else to do – turns out they’re best friends, but you wouldn’t know if you don’t sneak behind doors late at night and hear them talking, which Sanghyuk totally does not do, ever. The tiny dog, Wonsik (“Like the wizard?” he asks Hongbin, “Exactly like the wizard.” Hongbin replies before going completely silent.), has been known to judge him silently in more than one occasion.
“Maybe you’re a star,” Sanghyuk tells Hongbin once, trying to find something out “you shine so bright it wouldn’t be hard to believe.” Hongbin just shakes his head –face?–, unable to answer. “Or maybe Wizard Ken stole your heart with a spell and now you have to live here and warm his bath for him.”
"Yeah, right, like he could,” the little fire snorts, “I’m not really into people who would rather literally die than be seen without makeup and his best clothes at all times even by his own friends and family, and I like to think I have better taste than that, thanks. Besides,” he seems to turn even brighter somehow, “it already belongs to someone, it’s just… complicated.” Wonsik yaps softly at this, and suddenly everything goes quiet.
The only thing he’s managed to say about his current state in all the time they’ve known each other is “Never laugh at a furious witch,” which Sanghyuk takes to heart just in case.
So it isn’t that bad, really; he’s doing housework and looking after Wizard Ken in exchange for housing and magic lessons, and he’s come really far even if most of his knowledge is coming from Hongbin and the books he finds while sniffing around. He quite likes it, actually, and has already developed some kind of routine; he’s even mixing some of the potions they sell to clients after everything’s been premeasured by Wizard Ken, and has even figured out when he’s going to learn from the man himself – there’s usually a whole weekend dedicated to learning proper magic after every breakup and subsequent extra work for Sanghyuk, because apparently Wizard Ken has a heart after all and feels bad about everything he makes him put up with, even if it’s only afterwards. He’s even starting to think Wizard Ken isn’t that bad when he isn’t being his usual cocky self, even if they do bicker a lot; he’s (at first) unexpectedly fun most of the time, and the little things Hongbin tells him sometimes makes him think that 1) they must have known each other for a long time and 2) he hasn’t always been this way. Mostly, it makes him wonder what happened.
Then everything changes on his 21st birthday.
He wakes up like every other day and comes out of the small bedroom behind the stairs, only to find Wizard Ken already awake and all done up, way too early for his usual self, and talking to Hongbin in hushed tones. As soon as Wonsik sees him he barks once, softly, and Hongbin stops talking. Wizard Ken turns around with a big smile and asks if he wants breakfast, which he does. They have breakfast together almost every day, but for some reason the whole thing feels awkward and somewhat forced. After almost a year of increasingly friendlier chatter every morning, to the point that Sanghyuk is sure that if his past self could see him somehow he would think he’s under some kind of spell, he just feels weird and out of place. Once they’re finished with breakfast, Wizard Ken throws the leftovers into Hongbin’s open mouth, makes the dishes disappear and reaper perfectly clean – making Sanghyuk feel wounded for a moment because he’s been doing that by hand every day when he could have just used magic and nobody told him –, claps his hands and, looking intently at him, says, “Alright, birthday boy, it’s time for you to learn some real magic.”
That’s how it all starts, and for the next few weeks Sanghyuk is happy. He’s learning actual magic now; every day is pretty much like it was on his birthday, only not awkward at all. Sanghyuk honestly can’t remember the last time he laughed as much as he does now, or had that much fun even while working, and he’s gotten so good now he’s even making the potions for the clients himself from scratch. He makes some for his family, mostly for good health, to take with him when he visits; they’re always so happy to see him and see how well he is doing that Sanghyuk’s eyes get mysteriously misty sometimes.
His whole family has meet Wizard Ken at least once or twice at this point. The first time he saw his garden, Wizard Ken stared with such intensity at Sanghyuk that he still shivers every time he thinks about it. Mostly they are all a bit in love with him (his mother and Hyeyeon, the later as much for how charming he is and how much he spoils her – surprising literally no one – as for how mercilessly he teases Taekwoon), not sure if they like him or want to punch him (Taekwoon), and weirdly solemn around him and overall suspicious of his intentions and seemingly open personality (Hakyeon, who makes this weird face every time he sees them together). Only Taekwoon knows this, but Hakyeon actually likes him. “He’s a bit weird,” he tells him one night, “but Hyukkie does seem kind of vibrant lately.”
Jaehwan (“We’re friends now, you can call me by my real name,” he says suddenly one day, the light making it seem like the tips of his ears have turned slightly pink) looks pretty happy as well these days, and Sanghyuk hasn’t had to cheer him up in a while. He isn’t even going out that much anymore, which is surprising, but he must miss it because he turns his shameless flirting towards Sanghyuk, who is so used to it by now that he has started to play along. Jaehwan usually starts getting fidgety before going out now, that’s how they know he will, but he always comes back really happy and almost skipping. Sanghyuk comments on it once and Hongbin looks at him with a glint in his eyes.
“Kind of looks like he’s in love, doesn’t it?”
That thought bothers Sanghyuk for some reason, even though he’s happy for Jaehwan.
“So,” Wonsik nips at Sanghyuk’s hand playfully, demanding his attention and for him to throw the ball already, “you really can’t say anything about who you are and what happened to you?”
“Yup.” Hongbin replies absentmindedly, eyeing Wonsik as he tries to catch the ball and misses, and trying not to laugh.
“Can I try to guess?”
“Oh, you can, I’m the one who can’t talk about it. Well, I’m not the only one wh—oh.” His mouth closes suddenly. He breathes deeply and tries again. “I guess that’s as far as I go. You’re getting better at this, Han Sanghyuk.”
“Are you trapped in the castle? Is that what this is about?” Sanghyuk feels genuinely bad for the fire not-demon creature. They’ve been friends now for a while, and even if Hongbin can’t really say anything about it, it’s pretty obvious he’s not happy with whatever his situation is. “Is there nothing I can do to help?”
He ponders about it for a moment. “Yes and no, and I’d say you’re doing pretty well, actually.” He smirks. “You could always ask K—” his mouth shuts again and he sighs in resignation and starts mimicking something about hair that Sanghyuk doesn’t catch, so he gives up and sulks in silence for a while. Wonsik, ball now forgotten, looks up at him and whines softly.
He jolts awake at the whisper of his name, and for a moment doesn’t remember where he is. Then his eyes get used to the dark and he sees Jaehwan crouching next to his bed, a smile so big and bright on his face that Sanghyuk almost flops back down with a grunt. Instead, he looks at Jaehwan questioningly.
“We’re going on an adventure.”
That’s pretty much all it takes, and fifteen minutes later Sanghyuk has already had breakfast and is dressed and ready to go wherever Jaehwan will take him. Hongbin is talking excitedly to Wonsik and, even though he himself won’t leave the castle, he looks as happy as if he was the one going out. They slowly head towards the biggest surrounding village, and it takes a while because they both have to go on foot as soon as they get close enough for the castle to be seen, the castle itself following in the distance so as to not attract unwanted attention, but Jaehwan tells him they’re going to see something he’ll love.
Hongbin and Wonsik wait for them behind the hills nearest to the village as agreed, so as to not be easily seen but still being close enough in case they’re needed. Hongbin shouts an excited “Have fun, kids! Good luck!” as they’re leaving, and Jaehwan was absolutely right – Sanghyuk does love what’s waiting for them.
It’s been autumn for a while now, and the fallen leaves have never looked prettier to Sanghyuk; if he concentrates hard enough, like Jaehwan has taught him, he can make some of them move around in little whirlwinds of colors. There are suddenly people everywhere, especially kids, as they start to get closer to the village, and some of them are eating caramel apples, which makes Sanghyuk’s mouth water. In the center of the square village there’s a carousel, and all around it there are lots of little stalls with people selling and buying food and playing games. He doesn’t even remember the last time he went to a fair like this one, and he suddenly feels like a little kid.
They talk probably more than they’ve ever done before, which is saying a lot, and Sanghyuk can’t stop thinking about little things he keeps noticing about Jaehwan, like the funny way he moves his mouth and how easily he pouts and makes kissy faces, and that thing he does with his eyes that he has started to find adorable. They play all the games at least twice and eat until they can’t move, then lay down on a pile of dry leaves until they gather enough strength to move again and eat some more. By the time it stars getting darker, Jaehwan looks at him for a moment and then winks, and suddenly lots of really tiny balls of light start appearing everywhere, to the amazement of everyone gathered there, and Sanghyuk thought it could not be more perfect but it is.
There’s a small stage on one side of the square and Jaehwan pushes him towards it, to the sheer delight of some of the kids that seem to recognize Jaehwan and know what’s about to happen, and are now gathering around and calling some friends over. Jaehwan takes one of Sanghyuk’s hands, brushes it with his lips, whispers “For luck,” and goes to sit with the kids. Sanghyuk can feel himself blushing furiously and feels a bit lost for a second, but then he does some simple but flashy tricks for the kids, mostly play of hands, and he’s so happy and entertained by their reactions that he can’t think about anything else.
Later, when he’s finished and the crowd finally starts thinning, a tall woman starts waving her hands at Jaehwan in the distance. His whole face lights up as he sees her and he darts to her after exclaiming “Oh, it’s Hyuna!”, and suddenly Sanghyuk thinks he knows who he’s been seeing all this time. Jaehwan goes back to where Sanghyuk is still standing, Hyuna following close behind, and introduces him as “my apprentice, Hyuk”, which feels impersonal after months of him finally calling him by his actual name. Up close Sanghyuk realizes how beautiful the woman – Hyuna – is and how good both of them look together, and starts feeling a bit strange.
“Oh, so you’re the apprentice,” she smiles at him after they’ve been introduced, “I’ve heard so much about you, it’s nice to finally meet you.” Jaehwan coughs at this, and her smile grows mischievously. They talk for a bit and she seems genuinely nice, which only makes Sanghyuk feel worse about his curtness, and he tries to stop acting so weird and be his normal self.
They’re all getting chocolate from one of the stalls when someone starts calling Hyuna’s name, and when all three of them look towards the voice to see who it is, Jaehwan takes Sanghyuk’s arm and starts pulling him out of there while muttering a hurried “Sorry Hyuna, we have to go” over his shoulder. Hyuna calls after them, but Jaehwan isn’t listening anymore and Sanghyuk doesn’t understand what’s happening. They run away as if from a ghost, and he only catches a glimpse of long dark hair and a pair of eyes that remind him of someone else’s.
On their way back to the castle Sanghyuk keeps bumping their shoulders together until Jaehwan starts to calm down and even smiles at him again. They part ways in the living room, Hongbin and Wonsik sleeping peacefully, and once in his room Sanghyuk can’t stop thinking about everything that’s happened that day, from the way in which the night ended to his reaction at seeing Hyuna and Jaehwan together, to how perfect most of the day had been. He’s lying in bed, mentally replaying some of his memories of the day and thinking how dream-like most of it had been and how he wishes he could go back, when it suddenly hits him.
“Oh my god,” he whispers, “I’m in love with Jaehwan.”
He’s been lying awake in bed for almost two hours now, quietly panicking and not really knowing what to do after that revelation, when he suddenly gets up. He opens the window, breathes in, and just throws himself outside. It’s a small fall to the underbrush, and he starts walking around trying to not get lost and calm himself down, hoping the fresh air helps. His brain mostly consists of the words “what do I do now” playing on loop, so he almost has a heart attack when, a while later, a dark figure appears in front of him.
“You,” the person says, making him jump, “are Han Sanghyuk, right?”
Sanghyuk just stares at her, and for the hair and the eyes he guesses she’s the one they ran away from before. He nods.
“Oh, finally. I’ve been looking for that damn castle forever.”
“It’s just right—”Sanghyuk turns around to point at where he knows it should be seen through in the distance and there’s nothing there. He looks around nervously, wondering if he has somehow gotten lost.
“Don’t bother, he does that sometimes. Jaehwan, I mean. You can only see it if you’re with him. Anyway, I need to talk to you.”
“Me?” Sanghyuk is still staring at her, and then he thinks he knows why they ran away before, “Are you the Witch of the Waste?”
“Don’t,” she makes a pained face, “don’t call me that, please. My brother tries to be funny and suddenly everyone starts calling me ‘Witch of the Waste’.”
“Your brother?” Sanghyuk asks slowly.
“Yes?” she stares up at him, “Are you alright? You seem kind of… shaken.” And now he seems the resemblance, in those worried eyes. He nods again and is about to say something to her, he doesn’t even knows what, when a loud noise comes from the direction of the castle that’s suddenly visible again (so it was there after all).
They turn around and run towards it, not knowing what to expect. The door flies open and something comes crashing towards them, screaming.
“Kyungri, what the hell!”
Neither of them can believe their eyes, but there, running towards them, is Wizard Lee Ken Jaehwan completely disheveled; his always-perfect hair completely down and terribly matted, wearing a threadbare bathrobe that may have been red at some point, barefoot, with big round glasses on, and eyes that are definitely not blue. He looks so different from his usual self that neither of them would have even recognized him if not for the incessant screaming.
They are almost at the door already, so when Jaehwan throws himself at Sanghyuk they both go down hard. Jaehwan still manages to snake his arms around Sanghyuk’s somehow, even though they’re both in a heap on the forest floor, and he’s still screaming at his sister. Kyungri tries to answer but Jaehwan won’t shup up, so she starts screaming as well.
Thus starts a very brief screaming match between both of them, with Jaehwan’s voice getting increasingly higher with each word and Sanghyuk almost losing his hearing due to his right ear being right there. Even so, he only manages to catch pieces and bits; about how Jaehwan needs to grow up already (Kyungri) and how he (Jaehwan) went to look for Sanghyuk because he had to tell him something important and found the room empty and the window wide open. Wonsik and Hongbin start barking and screaming respectively from the door and they both finally, thankfully shup up.
Kyungri looks at them then and seems to remember something, then turns to Jaehwan, “Right, listen,” she pretty much stabs him with one of her fingers, “This whole thing was supposed to be a little funny curse you’d get over in a month at most, to teach you a lesson about not playing with people’s hearts. You were supposed to find someone you liked, tell them, and get this over with, and it’s been more than a year already! And of course I am the bad guy here, and my reputation is the one getting damaged. I even tried to help making you a bit more… interesting,” Hongbin snorts at this, “and everyone knew about you already, thanks to me! What have you been doing all this time?”
“I’ve been trying!” Jaehwan retorts. Sanghyuk looks from one to the other, trying to understand what’s going on, “I’ve been really trying, but thanks to you everyone thinks I’m some kind of serial heartbreaker and it’s been… hard, finding someone who wants to date me seriously.” Sanghyuk still doesn’t understand anything that’s going on in front of him and looks at Hongbin for help.
“Quick question,” Hongbin tells Kyungri, “may I?” she sighs and nods at him, and Hongbin takes in air and just blurts it all out to Sanghyuk, “Okay, so! Some idiot – and I’m not saying Jaehwan is an idiot but you know that version of him already, it was only slightly exaggerated – went around breaking hearts left and right and for some reason thought it would be really funny to try and seduce his sister’s best friend, the only person she’d specifically said not to mess with. You know his sister, one of the most powerful witches ever? Of course it didn’t work, Hyuna basically laughed in his face, and then Kyungri found out and here we are: the idiot himself cursed to have to Feel Something for Someone for once and not just play with their hearts and toss them away, and his best friends changed into a dog and a literal talking fireball for laughing at Kyungri for expecting her brother to behave – which, for the record, Wonsik didn’t even do, he was collateral damage! And for what it’s worth I am sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed.” He blinks, a bit surprised. “I feel so much better now that I could talk about it, wow.”
“It’s true, I was a complete asshole and I’m really sorry, Kyungri. I never should have done something like that, any of that. It really won’t happen again, but something’s wrong with the curse, it won’t break.”
Kyungri just stares at him, dumbfounded. “Did you ever—?”
“I’m pretty sure I’ve been in love with Sanghyuk for a while now and—” before he’s done speaking, there’s a sudden woosh and instead of the dog and the fireball at the door of the castle, there are suddenly two men, standing there, looking at each other startled. The one with the really broad shoulders fiercely hugs the other, who finally reacts and clings to him like a lifeline. Then Sanghyuk finds his voice.
“Wow, you’re… very naked.” He blurts out. Kyungri coughs and they’re suddenly both covered in bathrobes, because she is that good. “And human! People… persons… men! Wow.”
Kyungri sighs dramatically and looks at her brother again, while Sanghyuk seems to be processing everything. “My dear baby brother, did you really never think that maybe the whole ‘tell them’ in a curse that pretty much went ‘have feelings for someone and tell them’ was perhaps kind of the whole point of it? It was a punishment for breaking it off with people right after they started having feelings for you, after all.”
“Oh.” Jaehwan whispers softly, and a collective resigned sigh escapes them all.
Hongbin and Wonsik don’t seem like they’re going to let go of each other anytime soon, but they go inside the castle to escape from the cold, quietly ushered by Kyungri. Jaehwan slowly lets go of his death-like grip on Sanghyuk and stands up, helping him do the same. He’s starting to turn to go inside when Sanghyuk grabs one of his hands and pulls him closer.
Standing that close, almost chest to chest, it’s really obvious how much Sanghyuk has grown since they first met, how broad his shoulders have gotten, and Jaehwan feels like he’s going to burst into flames. He’s suddenly embarrassed and the words he was about to say die in his throat.
“Yes?” Sanghyuk asks in a teasing tone, but even with only the light from the open door Jaehwan can see the flush spreading over his face, which actually encourages him. He pulls up his arms and tightens them around Sanghyuk’s shoulders.
“Hey, guess what,” Jaehwan whispers, “turns out I’m in love with you.”
Sanghyuk laughs at that and follows the impulse to kiss the tip of Jaehwan’s nose.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that one out.” He hides his face in Jaehwan’s neck, suddenly shy. “I love you too.”
The next time that Hakyeon asks him if he’s happy, he says he’s never been happier and means it.
Sanghyuk kind of misses living in a moving castle and having a dog to play with, but he and Wonsik get along pretty well and have even managed to move the castle somewhere prettier and closer to civilization, so it’s not that bad. It’s a bit weird at first knowing how long he’s been playing ball with him, but they get used to the jokes soon. Also, he likes Hongbin a lot more as a human; now he doesn’t throw little fire balls at him when he’s pissed, at least not as often as he did before. Kyungri is helping him with his magic prowess, since it turns out both of them control reality with words, and he’s getting better every day. Hyuna turns out to be Hyeyeon’s boss at the patisserie, so they see each other pretty often as well.
And, well, he has Jaehwan too.