Taehyung and Jeongguk giggled from where they were leaning over the railing to look out how high they had climbed. The group of seven were currently in Everland, an amusement park in Seoul, and they were waiting in line for the most popular ride, the T Express. While the youngest two seemed to be unable to contain their excitement, Hoseok was as white as a sheet. Sure, riding a broom a few hundred metres in the air wasn’t terrifying but that was because his broom made him feel safe. Now, however, he wished there was a spell to help him conquer his fears.
Jimin was standing beside Hoseok, checking on the elder every once in a while although he, too, was looking forward to the rollercoaster. Seokjin and Namjoon watched over the group like responsible parents while Yoongi voiced his dislike for large crowds and well, people in general. The only reason he was here, he told them, was because Jeongguk persuaded him and being the kind person he was, he didn’t want to disappoint the younger. What actually happened went like this. Jeongguk perked up at Taehyung’s suggestion of an amusement park and when he turned to Yoongi with those eyes, the elder didn’t even wait for the youngest to finish his question before he agreed to accompany them.
“Taehyung, Jeongguk, don’t lean so far,” Seokjin scolded again.
“Yes, Mum,” they giggled as they ran forward with the line.
Seokjin rolled his eyes, Yoongi and Namjoon laughed and Hoseok and Jimin slowly followed behind the group.
It had been less than a month since they confronted Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle, two weeks since Jeongguk left St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries and one week since the evil duo received their punishment. For the past few weeks, they’ve been trying to distract Jeongguk with exploring and understanding the muggle world. His parents, although hesitant, allowed them to whisk their son away on their mini adventures while Hogwarts was undergoing ‘maintenance’. The Ministry of Magic had appointed another headmistress and she was in charge of reinstating the school. They had also explained to the wizarding public the truth from the sixteen years ago and thus, Jeongguk and his parents were free. Though there were still doubts whether to allow Jeongguk to continue schooling at Hogwarts, the Ministry’s influence had shifted most of the witches and wizard community’s perspective on the Jeon trio.
Jeongguk, himself, was finally happy for once. He had no regrets, no worries, and no weights at the back of his mind. This was what freedom felt like. He spent his days either with his parents, with his friends or with both. They were his family. His everything.
“Hey, Guk. What’re you thinking about?” Taehyung asked when the younger didn’t move up the line with him.
“Nothing,” Jeongguk smiled before allowing the elder to drag him along.
“Come on, come on. We’re nearly at the front of the line,” the Ravenclaw urged.
“Let’s sit at the front.”
Taehyung’s face brightened with glee and the pair practically skipped forward.
“Children, watch your step,” Yoongi sighed, taking over Seokjin’s role as the eldest was too busy looking after a regretful Hoseok.
When they reached the front of the line, Taehyung and Jeongguk immediately ran to front two seats, Namjoon and Jimin sat behind them, Hoseok and Seokjin one more row behind and then Yoongi at the back of the group with his arms crossed over his chest, face nonchalant. The workers helped ensure they were sitting properly in the seats before fastening the safety gears.
Jeongguk looked back and while Jimin was radiating with excitement, Hoseok could only muster a nervous smile. He tried to smile back encouragingly and gave the younger Hufflepuff a thumbs up. The lady who was standing on the platform beside them yelled something Jeongguk couldn’t quite hear but he assumed it was something like ‘enjoy the ride’ because the rollercoaster started after she waved.
The slow ascend was exhilarating but also a slight bit boring for Taehyung and Jeongguk. Seokjin, Yoongi and Namjoon remained passive while Jimin’s reaction was full of sunniness and joy. Hoseok was already announcing his complaints about the abnormal height of the rollercoaster which seemed to be going up forever.
“Get me off.”
Jeongguk didn’t even get the chance to laugh at Hoseok’s remark before the rollercoaster dropped at a sharp angle. The three youngest hollered with their hands in the air but the sound was accompanied with Hoseok’s shrieks and screeches. Up, down, up, down, right, left, up, down, right, right, right… the ride seemed to never end. Their eyes were completely dry from the wind by the time they passed the large T sign but still, most of them enjoyed the attraction.
As the ride reached an end, Jeongguk could hear Hoseok breathing harshly though the elder was relieved that the rollercoaster was over. The workers helped detach them from the ride and they gathered together again in a group of cheerful whispers.
“Are you ok?” Jeongguk asked Hoseok, genuinely concerned.
“Yeah but can we do something lighter. I don’t think my stomach will be able to take it anymore.”
“Let’s go Safari World,” Taehyung gasped. “Come on, Jeongguk. We need to show you all the animals.”
“Sure. You up, Hoseok?” Jeongguk smiled.
“Oh yes, thank you, Tae.”
Taehyung beamed at Hoseok before running off in the direction of the Zootopia zone. The others gave chase to the excited wizard, hoping that they wouldn’t lose him because god knows how long it would take to find him again. Jeongguk was the first to arrive at Safari World and after realising that Taehyung was already in the line, he moved to join the elder. The rest followed not long after and when they reached the front, they flashed their entrance ticket and boarded the safari bus.
They chose to sit relatively close to the front because according to Taehyung, the drivers sometimes interacted with the animals so it was better experience it up front. Taehyung urged Jeongguk to take the window seat while he placed himself on the younger’s side, ready to inform the Gryffindor about the various animals.
As the vehicle entered the first set of gates, Taehyung energetically tapped Jeongguk’s arm and pointed in literally every direction. Jeongguk chuckled. He knew full well there was no way the elder was going to calm down so he might as well just indulge him.
“There, there and there. Oh and look over there,” Taehyung said as he pointed at a particular rock where three tigers were resting.
“Woah, what’re those?”
“Tigers. They’re called tigers.”
Then the bus drove them to another area which looked similar to the first except for the animals residing inside. Jeongguk looked around trying to spot something and saw another three animals lying under a rocky shelter. The bus stopped there for a few seconds while the driver allowed everyone to observe them.
“What’re those?” Jeongguk whispered, mesmerised by the powerful stare of the animal with a mane.
“Lions,” Taehyung murmured.
“Yes, they are.”
“Why do they look different?”
“The one with the mane, like the frizzy hair around his head, is a lion. The ones without a mane are lionesses.”
Taehyung laughed when Jeongguk chose to have a staring competition with the lion. Their intense battle was broken when the bus took off again and his amusement increased at Jeongguk’s insistence that he had won. They exited the gate and entered another. This time, it was easy to spot the grizzly, brown animals who all seemed to be huddled near the pond, just lazing around. As the bus approached the animals, two of them crawled forwards on all fours and Jeongguk watched as the driver threw out pieces of what he assumed was the creatures’ food.
“Those are bears,” Taehyung informed without even waiting for the younger to ask this time.
Jeongguk nodded, too amazed to form any coherent sentences and watched as one of the bears stood up on its hind legs and seemed to be playing around with the driver. He innocently waved at the bear when the bus pulled away again and his eyes grew even fonder when he saw the two bears trying to follow the vehicle.
This routine continued for the next few animals, Jeongguk being perplexed to silence and Taehyung informing the younger of the species before laughing at startled Gryffindor.
“I want to be a lion in my next life,” Jeongguk announced to the group when they got off the bus.
While Taehyung chortled, the rest of the group looked between the two youngest trying to figure out what they had missed. When they realised they weren’t going to get an answer they shrugged and watched as Taehyung and Jeongguk amused each other with animal imitations. It was almost like they were having a competition so Namjoon quickly stepped in before they could get too distracted.
“Guk, do you have any other attractions you want to go check out?”
“I’ve always wanted to see what an arcade was like,” Jeongguk replied shyly.
They cooed at Jeongguk’s timidity and Taehyung didn’t hesitate pulling the younger with him to the nearest arcade. They were met with a dartboard and when Jeongguk gave it a longing look, Seokjin handed the girl some muggle money, trading it for a few darts. He handed it over to the youngest and was rewarded with a bright, bunny smile.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, feel free. I’m sure we’ve all played this before already,” Seokjin encouraged.
“Ok,” Jeongguk relented and looked over at the dartboard.
His eyes changed from playful to serious in less than a second and they were reminded of how competitive Jeongguk could get. The first dart surprisingly hit close to the centre, shocking everyone, Jeongguk included. When he turned to give his friends a dumbfounded look, they laughed and urged him to continue. Jeongguk spun around and threw the remaining four darts, three of them hitting the centre red and the other one missing by a centimetre.
“Guk, is this really your first time?” Yoongi frowned.
Jeongguk giggled, ignoring the elder, and when the worker asked him what prize he wanted out of the plush toys, he pointed at a fluffy, pure white bunny the size of torso. He took it in his arms and happily skipped away, further into the arcade, his friends following closely in fear they would lose him.
He paused at a coin operated basketball machine. Without hesitating, Seokjin stepped forward and dropped a few coins in before offering to carry Jeongguk’s toy for him. The younger obediently handed over his rabbit plush before stepping up to the basketball machine. He pressed the start button and the barricade lifted so that the balls could roll towards him. They watched in awe as Jeongguk scored one ball after another, face completely at ease. Even Yoongi was momentarily thrown off at how perfect Jeongguk’s aim was but was quick to recover and throw up his nonchalant façade.
The next machine Jeongguk ran to was a pair shooting game and Jimin didn’t wait for the younger to ask him as he stepped up beside him and held the gun ready in his hand. Jeongguk happily clutched onto the other gun and after Seokjin entered the coins, they readied themselves to shoot the zombies. It was entertaining for the rest of them as they watched the two males yell at the zombies on the screen like it would scare them away.
“Die,” Jimin and Jeongguk screamed.
Even though Hoseok wasn’t playing, he would flinch every time a zombie was too close to the screen for comfort. The game ended when both of them were dead and Hoseok sighed a breath of relief, feeling like he had just gone on another rollercoaster. Then the group moved onto another game and when Jeongguk was sure he had played everything in the arcade, he finally asked to leave and continue riding the park’s attractions.
“Which ride do you want to go on?” Namjoon smiled.
“Hurricane. Hurricane,” Jeongguk chanted at once.
“Why can’t we ride something like the Flying Elephant?” Hoseok groaned.
“Because they’re for children,” Jeongguk chuckled.
Jeongguk pouted and made sure to ignore Hoseok as they walked to the Hurricane. Maybe he would choose to go to the Mystery Mansion next just to give Hoseok a bit of a scare and prove to the elder that he’s not a child. No, Jeongguk would never use the elder’s fears against him. Yeah, they all tease Hoseok sometimes when he flinches at jump scares but they would never force him to do something he really did not wish to do.
When they reached the Hurricane, Jeongguk excitedly pulled them into the line, Taehyung and Jimin not needing to be pulled but still getting caught under Jeongguk’s strong hands. Seokjin, who was still holding Jeongguk’s toy, chuckled and told them that he and Hoseok would sit the ride out to look after their bags. The younger Hufflepuff breathed a sigh of relief and sent the elder a grateful smile before sending the youngers off. Yoongi grumbled that he was too tired and wanted to sleep but Jeongguk had none of it and dragged the Slytherin up the line with the others.
“For me, please.”
“But sleep,” Yoongi groaned.
“I want to ride it with you though,” Jeongguk pouted.
Jeongguk smiled cheekily whilst Namjoon chuckled at the pair’s dynamics. Getting on the ride, the five of them sat side by side, Jeongguk in between Yoongi and Namjoon. All of them screamed happily through the ride save for Yoongi who wore a face similar to one before he fell asleep. As they exited the ride Jeongguk was discussing where to go next with Jimin and Taehyung as Yoongi and Namjoon shook their heads. The four elders were completely out of energy but none of them complained about it because today was for Jeongguk. They would follow him wherever he wanted to go.
Seven rides later, it was getting late and even Jeongguk grew tired and bored. When he asked if they could go home, the others immediately agreed and walked out of the park with him. Now, they had to safely deliver him back to his parents before they get scolded like last time. Just one week prior to today, they had stole Jeongguk from his parents and when the younger decided to sleep over at Taehyung’s house, they all forgot to notify his parents. That led to them receiving a scolding from Jeongguk’s parents when they Apparated to Taehyung’s house in the middle of the night, full of worry and concern.
As they walked along the gravel on the footpath leading up to Jeongguk’s house, he turned around and gave them a long, hesitant stare. The others waited patiently for him to speak, offering a small encouraging smile.
“Do you guys want to stay the night?”
“Of course,” they agreed quicker than a heartbeart. “Let us tell our parents first, ok?”
“Ok,” Jeongguk smiled.
They followed him as he ran into the house, greeting his parents with a long hug and a many kisses.
“Did you have fun, sweetie?”
“Mhm. Look what I won,” Jeongguk gasped as Seokjin handed him the rabbit plush and he gave it to his mother.
“Where did you win that?” Jeongguk’s father chuckled.
“Turns out Guk has a natural talent for darts,” Hoseok smiled.
“Mum, Dad, can they stay the night?”
“Definitely. Just make sure your parents know.”
Jeongguk’s friends chuckled while he grimaced and sent another apologetic look to his parents who quickly dismissed it with a laugh.
“We’ll call you when dinner’s ready,” Jeongguk’s mother said, shooing her son and his friends out of the kitchen.
They spent the afternoon lazing around in the family room, joking around and distracting Jeongguk from thinking about his aunt and uncle. Whenever the youngest turned silent, they would change topics and directly ask Jeongguk questions. When his parents call them for dinner, they messed around with Jeongguk for a bit while washing their hands before sitting down like civilised people at the dining table.
Jeongguk’s parents joked about having seven sons and his friends reassured them that no one would ever be able to replace Jeonghyun. Although Jeongguk watched them quietly, he didn’t let his mind drift to the past. He was glad they were enjoying each other’s company and no bad memories were going to take his happiness away from him this time around.
He exchanged a small smile with Yoongi whose was smiling knowingly and they watched as the remaining seven discussed their houses. Jeongguk’s parents were, unsurprisingly, both Hogwarts students when they were young and unlike Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle who were both Slytherin, his mother was a Gryffindor while his father was a Ravenclaw.
“So what did you guys do after you left Hogwarts?”
“Well, we both worked as Aurors for a while before Voldemort rose to power.”
“Do you want to go back to being Aurors?” Namjoon asked.
“Not anymore. We were thinking of working a quieter job, maybe like opening a store together or something in Hogsmeade. Working in the Ministry is quite busy and we won’t have that much time to spend with Jeongguk. If we were in Hogsmeade, he’d be able to visit us whenever he wanted, even during school.”
Jeongguk smiled and leaned his head onto his mother’s shoulder. Jeongguk’s father, who was on the other side of Jeongguk, pouted at being left out and leaned his head onto his son’s shoulder, much to the amusement of Jeongguk and his mother. The bunch laughed at the elder man’s childish actions before they all returned to peacefully eating their meal.
After dinner, his parents moved to their own room to give Jeongguk and his friends some space. They ended up back in the family room except they were a tangle of legs on the carpeted floor instead of the couches. Jeongguk had two pairs of arms around him, a body above his head and someone’s head on his stomach and one on his leg. Blankets were messily strewn around the floor, covering random body parts. Jeongguk smiled in satisfaction when a hand started running through his hair.
“You still haven’t told me what an elephant was.”
Taehyung chuckled before turning around so that he was fully facing Jeongguk.
“I’ll show you next time, Guk. I promise.”
Jeongguk smiled and nodded before closing his eyes, relaxing onto the bodies around him.
If you told Jeongguk a year ago that he would have two loving parents and six older brothers who loved him and cared for him, he would never have believed it. With them, he no longer wished for a better life, for a better family. He was content.
His parents were the kindest couple in the world. If he had grown up with them, his life would be completely different. But his friends were the ones who made him believe in himself. They gave him the capacity to love again.
And that’s how he knew, it was always them he was looking for.
Home was never a place but a feeling.
When he was with them, he was home.
They were all his family.
Jeongguk smiled as he ran his finger along the bracelet.