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Are We All Lost Stars

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Jeon Jeongguk. 18 years old. First year. Family of notorious Death Eaters. Pure blood.

 

 

 

They filed into the Great Hall in pairs, absorbing all the details of the glorious night ceiling and floating white candles until they reached a stool with an old hat that looked long past its due date. The boat ride from the station was exhilarating but now, inside the actual exquisite school, the grand space, which held four long mahogany tables, certainly lived up to its name the ‘Great Hall’.

 

Upon reaching the front of the hall, the figure who led them explained “When I call your name, you will come forth and I shall place the Sorting Hat on your head and you will be sorted into your houses.”

 

The first years slowly got called, starting with Kunpimook Bhuwakul, a thin small-faced bloke that many girls ogled at. The other restless students who sat along the four tables shuffled in their seats and although hunger was clawing at them, each house erupted into loud cheers when a student was sorted into their house. However, all talk ceased as soon as his name was called.

 

“Jeongguk Jeon.”

 

“That’s him, isn’t it? The Jeon heir. So the rumours were true then.”

 

“With his family’s history, there’s no doubt he’s a Slytherin.”

 

“It’s hasn’t been that long since the War ended. No one has and will forget what they did. What are the Jeon family planning by sending their heir here?”

 

“Probably here to show off his power and dark magic and whatnot or spy on their next victim.”

 

“His parents destroyed so many of our families. How does he have the face to come to school here with the victims?”

 

“Hey Yoongi, isn’t that the same kid as the one in your photo,” whispered a Slytherin who shared the dorm room with Yoongi.

 

 

 

Min Yoongi. 22 years old. Fifth year. Slytherin. Pure blood.

 

 

 

“Mm,” grunted the mentioned Slytherin as he inspected the dark haired boy who hesitantly walked towards the stool amongst the hisses and glares, looking anything but threatening behind those doe eyes and bunny teeth. Growing up with the younger, and practically raising him for the last five years since most of his family decided to take a permanent trip to Azkaban, Yoongi had become quite fond of him and vowed to keep him safe from those who would hurt him, including his family. This did not seem like a difficult feat since the boy was sure to end up in Slytherin with him. He could sense the discomfort radiating off the boy as the hall hushed and stared at him, awaiting the verdict the Sorting Hat will soon deliver.

 

“Hmmm… Difficult... Very interesting. Your family has quite the history I must say. But that aside, I sense loyalty and a great mind too. Fairly ambitious and plenty of courage. There’s talent, a good deal of that, and a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you?”

 

A short silence ensued whilst everyone held their breaths and Jeongguk fidgeted in the seat with his eyes tightly shut as if opening his eyes will cause him to regret his decision of coming to Hogwarts just to receive blatant hate. The confines of his grim and cold so called ‘home’ was suffocating and the shivering walls, which were old and fragile, threatened to crumble as it beckoned to the call of gravity. The dusty, neglected furniture complimented the cobweb-laced windows and moving portraits of Jeongguk’s renowned ancestors while creaky floor boards streamed up and down the wooden staircase. Jeongguk dubbed the mansion nothing more than a ghostly silhouette as the only evidence of life was his messy bedroom, which considered of several articles of clothing strewn on the floor and various spell books decorating the black walls. He needed a break. But was this the right choice?

 

“GRYFFINDOR!” roared the Sorting Hat, snapping Jeongguk out of his thoughts.

 

I guess there’s no turning back- Wait, what? Gryffindor?

 

“Are you sure?” whispered Jeongguk hurriedly at the hat, which remained on his head due to the surprise of the teacher, who was still standing beside Jeongguk with wide eyes. But before he could hear the reply, the hat was removed from his head and he was finally aware of the identical expressions everyone wore on their faces which, no doubt, reflected his own.

 

“Well, go on,” said the teacher stiffly as he gestured for Jeongguk to move to the table that the Gryffindors occupied.

 

He had never felt more unsure, uncomfortable and self-conscious in his whole eighteen years of life. What could one possibly experience in their first eighteen years of life that might challenge what Jeongguk was feeling now and prepare him for the onslaught of hate, they would think but little did they know the struggles Jeongguk faced to come to terms with his identity. To accept that people had and will always fear his family. To accept that people are disgusted by not only his family’s actions but his as well. To accept that he would never be able to live a normal life with a normal family and normal friends, going to watch Quidditch tournaments and laugh over disgusting flavoured Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

 

Ironic isn’t it? Magic, a term thrown around naturally in Jeongguk’s life and was considered ‘normal’. Everyone knew the disdain the Jeon’s had towards muggles and there was no doubt that Jeongguk had never encountered a muggle born before or even came in contact with anything muggle. No, Jeongguk was brought up by distant relatives who drilled the dangers of the world into him and taught him dark magic at an early age in attempts to emphasise the need for him to avenge Lord Voldemort as the last living heir of the Jeon family. Jeongguk was tough and can look intimidatingly unapproachable sometimes, but he had a strong sense of justice and morals and would never hurt an innocent. Although Jeongguk was also prideful, he was neither one to look down on others nor one back out from anything. But in this current situation, he was beginning to regret his defiance to his relatives’ harsh warnings and insistence in coming to Hogwarts for a chance at a new life, which seemed to be going down the drain. I knew it. Coming here was a bad choice. Can I regret it now? Why are my decisions so rash?

 

He hung his head, stumbling out of his seat and almost stacking it down the short flight of stairs, leading to the table. I guess I’ll just die here. If not from the hate, then from the embarrassment.

 

As soon he sat down on the Gryffindor bench, he felt unsurprisingly out of place and a little intimidated when he sensed the already seated people shifting to get as far away as possible like he was a contagious virus. The sorting continued but no one paid any attention and all eyes were set on him, eyes wide with fear, pleading him against harming them. He cast his own eyes down and observed his clammy hands, wondering if he should dismiss himself and head to the dorm rooms. However, he realised he had no idea where the Gryffindor dorm room was or how to get in, only ever hearing stories from Yoongi of the Slytherin dorms in the dungeons, so he stayed put and hoped for dinner to come to an end soon.

 

“I don’t think me mam will let me back here if she hears about him. I might come here one day but then never be able to return home,” whispered a Ravenclaw.

 

“Don’t say that. He looks harmless, I mean look at those eyes! And those chubby cheeks! I could just squish them!” another Ravenclaw, with a box smile, exclaimed not so quietly.

 

 

 

Kim Taehyung. 19 years old. Third year. Ravenclaw. Muggle born.

 

 

 

“What happened to don’t judge a book by it’s covered. I thought Ravenclaws were meant to be smart. If he doesn’t even know what a threat Jeongguk imposes, why is that kid in Ravenclaw?” mocked a second year Hufflepuff. However, he was attacked by a hand, which cuffed the back of his head as he finished.

 

“Don’t insult people you don’t know,” huffed another Hufflepuff with an unusual glare which replaced his typical sunshine grin that blinded most people on the receiving end.

 

 

 

Jung Hoseok. 21 years old. Fourth year. Hufflepuff. Muggle born. Chaser.

 

 

 

However, said Ravenclaw seemed unaffected at the comment directed at him and just displayed his usual rectangle smile, complemented by a row of straight white teeth. He turned in his seat to look at his friend beside to him who smiled back a dimple smile and patted his head endearingly.

 

 

 

Kim Namjoon. 20 years old. Fourth year. Ravenclaw. Half blood. Beater.

 

 

 

They both turned to look at the Hufflepuff who had spoken up for Taehyung and Namjoon recognised him to be in the same grade since Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw had a few classes together the previous years. He was going to mouth a thanks to the other student, name he did not know, but he was already engrossed in a conversation with a handsome senior Hufflepuff, whose blonde hair stood at a reasonable length, hiding his perfectly arched brown eyebrows.

 

 

 

Kim Seokjin. 22 years old. Sixth year. Hufflepuff prefect. Half blood.

 

 

 

Namjoon made a mental note to thank the Hufflepuff the next time he saw him and they returned to look in front of them at the headmaster’s lifted cup and ‘Let the feast begin’, staring hungrily at the food that started appearing on the previously empty and polished silverware. Halfway through his third drumstick, Taehyung began to feel slightly queasy and regretted is inability to control himself when the lady on the Hogwarts Express rolled a trolley filled with sweets over. Despite his best friend’s exasperated reminders of the upcoming feast, he insisted on having a few ‘snacks’ before arrival and proceeded to stuff his face with various chocolate frogs, fizzing whizzbees and butter toffees. Turning around towards the Slytherin table, it wasn’t hard to spot his friend. Although Taehyung teased his friend about his height, he currently sported the brightest fluffy, cotton candy pink hair, which was easily distinguishable against the backdrop of their standard black robes.

 

Upon spotting his friend, he waved frivolously to get his attention and when the Slytherin looked up, Taehyung was greeted with his charming eye smile, which seemed to put him in a better mood. He faked a pout and patted his stomach at which his friend started laughing and shaking his head before rolling his eyes and giving him an ‘I told you so’ face. His friend’s face split Taehyung’s into a reflected grin.

 

 

 

Park Jimin. 19 years old. Third year. Slytherin. Pure blood. Chaser.

 

 

 

Jimin turned back to his own food and out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the senior Slytherin that everyone in Hogwarts deemed the most intimidating, ignoring his meal and watching a particular first year with a grim expression on his face. Following his line of sight, he discovered that the subject of the Slytherin’s intense stare to be Jeongguk, sitting by himself on the end of the Gryffindor table, plates of food in front of him barely touched. The kid moved to reach for his cup and the people around him flinched at the action before settling down, still cautious of any other movements. Even though Jimin did not personally know the younger, he could tell that Jeongguk was tense and probably wanted nothing more than to leave the Great Hall. He took pity on him for he had no reason to hate him but he didn’t necessarily like the way the other carried himself, as though people were going to attack him. After so many years, the houses were still very much divided, each house keeping to themselves, but he was certain that no one would go superfluously throwing spells at him.

 

Near the end of their meals, they were disrupted by a horde of ghosts who flew in to surprise the first years, popping up from tables and crashing through windows. The Slytherin ghost, Bloody Baron, did not fly down the Slytherin table like he usually did but to the Gryffindor table instead, coming to a halt in front of Jeongguk.

 

“Fancy seeing you here Jeongguk Jeon. Thought you would end up in my house. Not very ambitious? Or was it just that you’re not cunning? Or maybe The Sorting Hat is getting old and got the traits mixed up?” he shot at Jeongguk, who stared at his cup unperturbed.

 

His questions elicited a few giggles from the nearby students.

 

“Either way, you’re parents will be very disappointed to hear about this. Imagine their shock. The only heir of the Jeon family. A Gryffindor. Oh, the woes. God take pity of him for he has done nothing wrong but betray the hopes of his family. No, he did not choose this fate. This fate chose him,” he ended dramatically with a high-pitched snicker.

 

Jeongguk’s stomach did a flip and then sunk to the depths of his body. Jeongguk was aware that his relatives were against him attending Hogwarts as they found it a complete waste of time but he forgot about his parents. Judging by what his relatives had told him, his mother and father were ruthless Death Eaters so if they hear that he ended up in Gryffindor on top wanting to attend Hogwarts, the first thing they’ll do when they leave Azkaban is disown him and then probably kill him. Hopefully it will be an easy death. Avada Kedavra. Maybe I should be glad they aren’t getting released anytime within the next century.

 

“Leave. You have no business here at Gryffindor. Go terrorise your own first years,” said the Gryffindor prefect sharply as he stepped towards the group of Gryffindor first years. The Bloody Baron gave a glare to the prefect and flew away. The prefect, himself, gave Jeongguk an undecipherable look before directing all the first years to follow him to their new dorm room.

 

“I am Minho Choi, the prefect for the Gryffindor house. First years, please follow me to your dormitory. The password is ‘carpe diem’ by the way. You will need to remember it if you want to enter the common room.”

 

As the houses dispersed, Jeongguk looked around and identified Yoongi but was ushered away with the other first years before he had a chance to talk to his friend. While he was lead up several flights of moving staircases then a down a corridor to the Gryffindor Tower, he noticed that the portraits would gasp as he walked past, vociferously staring and pointing. He tried to ignore them but as he approached the entry of his new dorm, the Fat Lady shrieked and waved her pudgy finger at him.

 

“What is he doing here? I will not allow him to enter,” she hissed.

 

“Carpe diem.”

 

She refused to open to the door.

 

“Carpe diem,” the prefect said more firmly this time. “Do I need to go call the headmaster for this?” he asked when she still didn’t open the door.

 

“Fine. But if any of you die tonight, don’t come blaming me for letting him in,” she shrugged and swung the door open after one last hesitation. Jeongguk hardly felt offended at this point.

 

As they walked in, Jeongguk noticed that the room was illuminated by a flickering light, the fire blazing cheerily in the ample fireplace and directing its warmth to every corner of the room.

 

“Alright, everyone gather around here. Welcome to the Gryffindor common room. Boys’ dormitories, upstairs and down to your left. Girls’ dormitories, the same on your right. You will find that all of your belongings have already been brought up. If you do not have any questions, then I think everyone should go turn in for the night.”

 

“Actually, I have a question,” came from a lanky boy with a pale hand in the air. “Are we going to have to… you know… share a room with him?” gesturing to Jeongguk. Some other first years nodded immediately at his question and Jeongguk sighed, unsure how to feel. Maybe if I was one of them, I would be scared of me too.

 

“Is there a problem with that?” Minho asked.

 

“Well, I think it’s pretty obviously that none of us want to die just yet, so I reckon it’ll be safer if we don’t sleep together.”

 

“I guess if you have another place in mind, be my guest. I’m sure no one will die just yet but if I don’t get my sleep, you’re really going to get it,” he replied with a slight smirk, internally congratulating himself for his own wittiness before turning in his heel and walking to his own room, leaving the first years a bit confused and shocked.

 

“Can’t you and your family just leave the rest of us alone? I mean do you have any idea what your parents did to my family? Because of your family, I barely had a childhood. You think it was easy for me growing up with only one parent. No, it wasn’t. I came to Hogwarts to hopefully find coverage not to place myself in danger,” spat the same pale-skinned boy at Jeongguk once the prefect was completely out of sight.

 

“That’s your problem, not mine. You heard him. If you have an issue with sleeping in the same room as me, go sleep somewhere else,” Jeongguk snapped.

 

“Don’t play with me. Half of my family is in hospital because of your family,” he snarled back. “If you ask me, they should have received the Dementor’s Kiss. Rotting away in Azkaban was too kind of a punishment for them.”

 

“Shut up. Shut the fuck up. My family might not have been the greatest people but they were still powerful wizards and witches who deserve some respect and not have their names dragged through the dirt by the likes of you.”

 

“Ha. Respect? You want me to respect them? You’re just like them. Filthy, prideful bastards who don’t know where to stand in this society. So what if I insult you family? What’re you going to do? Kill me? That’s what the Jeons do, don’t they? You’re nothing more than an animal. A vile, foul dog who does what it’s told and then goes back wagging its tail to its owner for a treat.”

 

“You-“

 

“Stop it. Both of you. Before I call the prefect back here, I suggest that we all go to bed. We need to wake up early,” intervened another Gryffindor, with a face full of prominent features and head noticeably above the others.

 

Jeongguk and the lanky boy looked ready to pounce on one another but the tall Gryffindor walked up to Jeongguk and grabbed his bicep lightly before motioning him towards the boy’s dormitory staircase.

 

“I’m Yugyeom. Come on, let’s go. We don’t want to be late for classes tomorrow,” he murmured softly.

 

Their shared dormitory was empty when they arrived, consisting of a few beds that circled the room draped in red curtains. Although it was considered fairly small compared to Jeongguk’s large bedroom, which he shared with his snowy owl, Gureum, he felt the splash of red and yellow comforting and settled onto the bed next to the window, Yugyeom taking the bed next to his. As the others entered the dorm, they looked at him with guarded and begrudging expressions before moving to their respective beds and turning in for the night.

 

Jeongguk thought over the events in the common room, the other boy declaring ‘I barely had a childhood’. That had engraved itself into his mind. Jeongguk knew what it felt like. His world was so big while he was so small but he had to fight against it. Jeongguk sighed as he revisited his past and forcefully brushed the thought out of his head, not wanting to delve deeper into the tragic memories. Despite finding his roommates’ hostility cumbersome, he soon found himself in deep slumber, succumbing to the warmth the fire and blankets provided.

 

This was going to be one long year.

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk awoke the next morning to the hoots of his owl, its pearl white feathers glistening under the stream of early morning rays. He bolted upright at the unfamiliar surroundings and looked around, but immediately settled down when he was greeted by an empty Gryffindor dorm and a comforting sense of serenity embraced him. He weighed his options of sleeping a few more minutes or heading down to the Great Hall for breakfast but his growling stomach decided for him so he began dressing himself in the robes that were neatly folded on the small dresser next to his bed. He was looking forward to his first class of the day, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and eagerly made sure to bring his wand and the necessary books down to the Great Hall with him.

 

As soon as he entered, all the voices in the hall hushed to barely louder than a whisper and he was left standing awkwardly at the entrance, shifting from one foot to another. Realising that he was blocking the path to the Ravenclaw table for a group of first years, Jeongguk quickly moved inside and towards his seat at the end of the Gryffindor table. He noted how his end of the table was noticeably more vacant but he considered it satisfying, as he deserved a quite breakfast at least. After he dropped into his seat, he twisted around to search for Yoongi but quickly remembered how much the older boy valued his sleep and whipped his head back to the food in front of him. Everyone else returned to their own food once they deemed him harmless and the chatter finally resumed. Jeongguk started shovelling down food at a rapid speed, starving from not having dinner or lunch or breakfast yesterday. But before he could grab his second slice of bread, a girl from the Hufflepuff table screeched “Mail time.”

 

Jeongguk looked up just in time to see a flock of owls swooping into the hall from various windows to drop parcels and letters to the respective owners. He was going return to his meal as he didn’t really have anyone to contact outside of Hogwarts but his expression stiffened when he saw his snowy owl fly in with a letter between its beak. He held an arm out for his obedient pet, which landed gently on the limb. Before the owl could even settle on his arm, he recognised the distinct features of the red envelope in its curved, black beak. Holy shit. Guess I don’t need to finish my breakfast then. He already knew who the letter was from and didn't need to be told twice before quickly getting up on his feet and attempting to flee the Great Hall hoping the Howler wouldn’t explode. The temperature of the envelope was rapidly increasing in his bare hands and to his utter misfortune, many students had discovered the Howler grasped tightly in his clenches and gave him looks of either shock or scorn. Jeongguk prayed that the letter would hold until he was a reasonable distance away from the Great Hall but again, he was disappointed when the Howler succumbed to the heat in his bare hands and flew up so that it was level with his face.

 

"JEONGGUK JEON. WE DID NOT APPROVE OF YOU GOING TO HOGWARTS FOR YOU TO END UP WITH THE FAILURES IN GRYFFINDOR," spat a shrill voice.

 

Approve? Since when did you approve of me coming to Hogwarts at all?

 

"I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT YOUR PARENTS WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS. YOU HAVE NOT ONLY BROUGHT SHAME TO THEM BUT TO ALL YOUR ANCESTORS. WE DID NOT RAISE YOU FOR THIS PURPOSE AND WE CERTAINLY DID NOT TEACH YOU DARK MAGIC FOR YOU TO WASTE YOUR LIFE ROTTING AWAY AT HOGWARTS."

 

Raise me? Are you serious? So spending half my childhood covered in blood and ‘teaching’ me dark magic is considered raising me now, is it?

 

"YOU WERE BORN INTO THE JEON FAMILY AND NOW YOU MUST LIVE UP TO THE NAME. YOU WILL NOT DIGRACE OUR NAME. IF YOUR PARENTS WERE HERE, I’M SURE THEY WILL BE DISGUSTED.”

 

Yeah, well, they’re not here are they? I don’t think you need to be reminded why.

 

“REFLECT ON YOUR MISTAKE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE DRAGGED BACK HOME OR YOU WILL BE DISCIPLINED."

 

My mistake? What mistake did I make? I didn’t choose to be in Gryffindor. My only mistake is being in the Jeon family and I never considered that place my home. Why couldn’t I have left earlier? I’ve been hurting anyways, I really couldn’t endure it anymore. The wounds just got deeper, like pieces of broken glass that I couldn't reverse.

 

Jeongguk had shivered when discipline was mentioned but it was too discreet of a movement for anyone to notice. Once the full message was delivered, the envelope burst into flames and left ashes in its wake. Jeongguk had seriously considered running away halfway through its lengthy speech but the consequences were too severe. Immediately after the screaming stopped, the Great Hall was replaced with a sudden stillness and no one dared to move a muscle. Jeongguk hung his head and rushed out of the hall, continuing his hurried fleeing journey. He thanked his legs for not betraying him as they carried him outside towards the Great Lake, which he had travelled across just the previous night. There was a while for him to spare before his first lesson now that he missed breakfast so he found shelter underneath low hunkered tree next to the waterline. The early autumn gusts of wind brushed his hair and the branches fanned out to shade him, its golden leaves waving to him. The lake, which concealed many mysterious and magical creatures, laid flat without any disturbances, shimmering under the sun. The gentle, melodious choruses of the birds soothed him to close his eyes and drift away.

 

“Boy are you predictable.”

 

Jeongguk snapped up from his comfortable position and eyes widened as he greeted the familiar voice that he had been anticipating.

 

“YOONGI!”

 

“Hey, happy late birthday kiddo. Sorry I couldn’t say it yesterday,” he said while he naturally reached down to ruffle Jeongguk’s brushed hair and plop himself down next to the boy.

 

“Wow, thanks. I’m surprised you actually remembered,” he huffed with a smile forming on his face. “Wait. What’re you doing up so early? Why aren’t you sleeping?” he continued, smile turning into a smirk.

 

“Good to see you too, brat. Went down to breakfast to talk to you but then heard people whispering about a Howler and something about you. Wasn’t hard to piece it together so when I couldn’t find you, I figured you’d be somewhere like this.”

 

“Oh… right, yeah. Almost forgot about that.”

 

“Forgot?” Yoongi spluttered, shifting so that he could look at Jeongguk. “How did you forget when it just happened?”

 

“I don’t know. I don’t really care about them. I mean, they can’t do anything about me being in Gryffindor and neither can I,” Jeongguk shrugged before reaching for a few small pebbles to throw into the Great Lake. Yoongi nodded and turned to face the lake again. This was one of the many reasons Jeongguk liked and respected the elder. Although Yoongi was always curious about the things Jeongguk kept to himself, he would never pressure or force the latter to say more than what he was comfortable with. However, when the younger was ready to reveal his scars, he was always there to listen or comfort him. Jeongguk knew he wasn’t the best with words but he was silently grateful that he had Yoongi to confront about his problems and the other always seemed to understand his uncommunicated gratitude.

 

“Hm, what classes do you have today?”

 

“Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration second then Charms third and Herbology last I think. There’s flying lessons in the afternoon too.”

 

“Ugh, boring. First years and their full timetable.”

 

“Right, because Arithmancy and Ancient Runes are so much more interesting,” Jeongguk rolled his eyes, thinking about all the complaints Yoongi had made about his elective subjects.

 

“Do you even need to go to flying class?”

 

“I’ll just think of it as free time,” he grinned, flashing his two front teeth that reminded Yoongi of a bunny.

 

“I think it’s nearly time. Let’s go.”

 

“Where’re we going?”

 

“Do you want to be late on your first day?” he asked before treading away. This was another reason he liked Yoongi. The subtle gestures of kindness that the elder brushed off nonchalantly with a shrug and silent smile in his eyes.

 

The walk to Jeongguk’s Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom was long and discomfiting. Although Yoongi was half a head shorter than him, the aura he exuded always repelled people and thus he was believed to be the most cold hearted Slytherin. Whilst they walked together, Jeongguk overheard phrases of people beginning to reproach Yoongi for their friendship, which broke a tiny part of his heart. Being his one and only friend, Yoongi was making more sacrifices than him and Jeongguk wanted to protect him. He wanted to shield Yoongi from the others like the latter had done when Jeongguk was in his teens but he was conflicted between pushing the older away and keeping him closer. He knew Yoongi would think he was being ridiculous for even having such an idea but Jeongguk couldn’t bear the thought of the other getting injured. Before he could contemplate further, they reached the door of his classroom and Yoongi waved a hand in front of his face.

 

“What’re you thinking about so seriously?”

 

“Huh? Oh nothing much. Don’t worry,” muttered Jeongguk quickly.

 

“Stop contorting you face then,” he snorted. “Hey, if anyone shows you up, you’ll tell me right?”

 

“Uh, sure.” Whatever would put your heart at ease, I guess.

 

“Okay, kid. See you at break.”

 

“You’re coming back here at break?”

 

“Yeah. Problem?”

 

“Nah, just not used to you being so clingy,” Jeongguk shot with a cheesy wink.

 

“Brat.”

 

Jeongguk laughed for the first time since arriving at Hogwarts. Yoongi didn’t know he had missed the kid’s relaxed, genuine laugh until he heard it.

 

“See you later.”

 

Yoongi had a reason to be 'so clingy'. He didn't like the idea of the kid being in solitude let alone being by himself in Gryffindor. Because of his upbringing, Jeongguk had a tendency of self-loathing and depreciation and being a Gryffindor on top of everything he's been through was not the best way to help him. He knew that Jeongguk hadn’t revealed to him everything that had happened before they met and he also knew the various scars he had unintentionally witnessed on the boy’s body were definitely not what Jeongguk claimed as ‘accidents’. Yoongi, therefore, made it his job to be with him as much as possible even if it meant being late to his own classes or not studying a lot for his N.E.W.T.s.

 

Jeongguk, on the other hand, knew he was being an inconvenience and didn’t want to disturb Yoongi, especially now that he was a senior. But distancing himself would only infuriate the older and Jeongguk certainly did not want to get on his bad side so he was left alternating between his options like he had been ever since they met. He appreciated how much the senior always silently helped him but there was a lot that he still hadn’t told Yoongi about and he didn’t want to burden the elder with his insignificant troubles. He hadn’t told him how his relatives had treated him nor had he told him how he came to live on his own. He was used to dealing with these matters by himself. Yoongi only knew the bare minimum and Jeongguk wished to keep it that way.

 

When Jeongguk walked into the room, he was already acquainted with the drop of noise level and concerned eyes that followed him. The classroom itself was really spacious with tall windows that reached the high ceiling, allowing unsubdued light to shine on the tables that lined down the room. The professor had seemingly not arrived so the students were cluttered around the classroom in groups but at his entry, they all dispersed and moved to sit in their seats, leaving only a table at the front empty. At least the Defence Against the Dark Arts was not a joint class with another house. This could’ve been much worse.

 

“What’re you doing here? Don’t pretend that you need this class. We all heard the Howler. Dark magic, right? So basically this class is teaching us how to defend ourselves from you then,” a girl directed at Jeongguk before he could get to his seat.

 

He ignored her and walked to his seat, purposely taking the route on the other side of the classroom to avoid the girl who had spoken. Jeongguk knew that they had left the front seat vacant because they wanted to monitor him but he couldn’t find the energy to care with his stomach growling endlessly to remind him of his missed meals. He dropped onto the wooden bench and laid his textbooks over the table, hoping that the other students wouldn’t enlighten him with the same prejudiced opinions as well.

 

Fortunately, the professor strode into the room before anyone could pull anything.

 

“Welcome to your first lesson of Defence Against the Dark Arts. There will be no fussing or talking back in my class or you will be excused. I aim to make good students better, not weak students less weak,” the professor claimed as he started playing with a few strands of his hair. “You will learn how to defend yourself from Dark Creatures, the Dark Arts and other dark charms.”

 

Many students perked up at his last statement and glared at Jeongguk. The professor seemed to realise the shift in attention and turned to join the others in staring at the student.

 

“Well, well. Who do we have here? If it isn’t a Jeon. Hmm, I don’t think red and yellow really suits you, you know?” he sneered haughtily while gesturing to Jeongguk’s tie. When Jeongguk simply shrugged and not react harshly to his rudeness like the professor had expected, he pressed on. “I know you have the greatest knowledge about the Dark Arts out of all of us here, so I expect you to be contributing a lot. Correct me if I’m wrong but I overheard that you are quite practiced in dark magic yourself.”

 

“……”

 

“I’m glad you’re here then. Now, the others can practice their defence magic against you. Quite helpful if you ask me.”

 

“I didn’t ask,” said Jeongguk quietly, trying to control his anger.

 

“What? What did you just say? Repeat it,” barked the professor.

 

“I said I didn’t ask,” Jeongguk repeated unwaveringly.

 

“How dare you talk back to me? Get out. Get out right now! You do not deserve to sit my classes as you clearly have no respect for your elders,” he lashed angrily, even though he was secretly happy that he was given a reason to kick the student out.

 

“Fine,” Jeongguk seethed through gritted teeth and collected the textbooks on his table before storming out of the classroom. He’s had enough of being disrespected and he didn’t need the others practicing their magic on him. He could just study defence by himself he argued. Wait, maybe I should’ve blown up something. That’ll show them. He snickered at the thought of the shocked looks he would receive but he knew better than to abuse the power of his knowledge like that. To be fair, he would rather not use such magic if possible since they only brought painful memories.

 

Getting kicked out of his very first class was not the best news so he decided that he had no face to go seek Yoongi and planned to walk around letting off some steam. He turned a few corners, rushing around the maze of corridors and not really caring where he was going until he walked straight into a senior. Although he was slightly shorter than the other student, with his stronger build came enough force to knock the broad-shouldered senior down.

 

“Holy shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock you over. I wasn’t watching where I was going. I’m so sorry. Are you ok? Are you hurt?”

 

Jeongguk quickly reached over to help the other up after his embarrassed apology and noticed a Hufflepuff prefect badge sitting on his chest.

 

“Woah, kid. Calm down. Remember to breathe, would you? I’m good. I was meant to do that,” the prefect said whilst brushing his now dusty robe.

 

Is this guy joking with me? Maybe he hit his head when he fell and doesn’t recognise me.

 

“Aren’t you in first year? Why aren’t you in class?”

 

“Um, I got kicked out,” he choked out nervously as he rubbed the nape of his neck because he wasn’t sure of the authorities prefects had and he was definitely not keen on finding out.

 

“What? What happened? What’d you get kicked out for?”

 

“For being a Jeon,” muttered Jeongguk under his breath. He was glad that the elder hadn’t asked something subjective like ‘What did you do?’, which was one of the most common questions he had directed at him.

 

“Sorry? What did you say?” he asked, lifting his head. He thought he had heard the younger say something about his name but he wasn’t sure and didn’t like jumping to conclusions.

 

“Nothing, don’t worry. If you’re okay I’ll leave.”

 

“Wait, where’re you going? Do you even know where yo-“

 

With that, Jeongguk fled before the other could finish his array of questions. He seemed to be doing a lot of fleeing since he came to Hogwarts but he was undoubtedly not a coward since the Sorting Hat placed him in Gryffindor. He reasoned that he just ran into a lot of awkward situations. And to answer the prefect’s last question before he ran away, no. He had absolutely not idea where he was but there’s a whole lesson’s worth of time to figure that out so he continued walking around aimlessly but slower, not wanting another accident. If he could find his way to the broom shed, there was a possibility he would be able to sneak his broom out for a ride, he considered. It seemed like ages since he’s had a bit of freedom and time to himself. Bless whoever changed the rule of not allowing first years to bring their own broomsticks to Hogwarts.

 

It didn’t take him long to find the shed. Jeongguk could’ve simply Accio-ed his Firebolt 2000, the fastest broom in current existence, but he didn’t want to risk a random broomstick flying in mid air without an owner. The shed sat near the Quidditch field and each house’s shed was decorated with its respective colours.

 

“Alohamora.” The lock on the shed door was simple enough for this incantation so Jeongguk obtained his Firebolt in no time.

 

Mounting his broom, he quickly took off in the direction of the Great Lake. He felt the fragrant autumn breeze tousle his black hair and caress his salt-kissed face and he longed to extend time. He had missed gliding through this peaceful, tranquil mosaic, which was usually bequeathed only to the birds. The vivid colours, which painted the scenery, banished every dark thought and the marble blue sky lifted his eye towards the swollen, white clouds drifting carelessly. The virescent, dishevelled grass underneath him mingled with the brighter hued mosses, complimenting the beautiful range of flowers, which sprouted in harmonious colours. The Forbidden Forest spread its canopy of green, the only movements were the unfettered leaves dancing with the wind and allowing light to filter through the boughs. The peaks of the far away mountains overlooked the below valley, barely looking clearer than a discernible silhouette themselves. Jeongguk closed his eyes to bask in to picturesque shades of fall and progressed to execute a few flips and turns once he got used to the feel of his broom again. He practiced his self-taught flying for a while before talking a few trips around the Quidditch field and finally flying back towards the broom shed. Although he was not fully satisfied with his flying, he was limited by time and consequently walked back to the shed to place the broom away, only to encounter another tall senior with beagle eyes and smile and very large ears that reminded Jeongguk of a monkey.

 

“Wow, you’re really good at flying,” came the voice. Jeongguk looked up and witnessed a sincere smile, one that surprisingly reached the other boy’s eyes.

 

“Thanks?”

 

“Oh, sorry. I’m Chanyeol Park, the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team,” he introduced with a hand reaching for a shake. “Are you thinking of trying out?”

 

“I don’t think anyone would want me on the team,” Jeongguk answered quickly after receiving the handshake.

 

“Nah, don’t worry. I’m captain, remember? My word is law,” he chuckled. “You’ll make an amazing seeker or chaser, especially with that broom. You should come to tryouts tomorrow afternoon. I have to go but I hope to see you there,” Chanyeol finished expectantly and with a wave, he departed on the path that led back to the castle.

 

Well, that was unexpected.

 

When he finished locking up the shed, he went back to his Defence Against the Dark Arts room to look for Yoongi. Their fifteen minute break hadn’t started yet but he knew Yoongi would be worried if he didn’t see Jeongguk so he decided to retrace his steps. However, he ran into Yoongi as soon as he stepped into the castle.

 

“Jeongguk? Did you get kicked out of class already?” Yoongi asked, amused but getting straight to the point as always.

 

“Yeah, how did you know?”

 

“I expected it. This year’s Defence Against the Dark Arts professor used to teach Charms. It’s not the first time he’s kicked someone out of his class because of his personal preferences. He hates everyone who has a connection to Death Eaters so I didn’t doubt that he would hate you too. Just didn’t expect you to be kicked out so soon since you’re technically a Gryffindor.”

 

“Right, I kind of spoke back to him though,” Jeongguk said and remembered the rumours that Tom Riddle had jinxed the Defence Against the Dark Arts position so that no professor could hold the post for more than a year. Hopefully for Jeongguk, it meant that the next year’s professor would be different again.

 

“What did he say to you?” he asked as they started wandering around the corridors, which were bustling with students, roaming to their next class. Jeongguk knew that Yoongi never cared about what others thought about him but he was still taken aback at how fast Yoongi had adjusted to the whispers and dismissed the stares they got.

 

“Nothing much. I should’ve held in my anger.”

 

‘There goes the self-loathing.’ “You really have to stop doing that,” Yoongi scolded without malice.

 

“Stop doing what?”

 

“All of that. Stop blaming yourself. It wasn’t your fault, okay? He’ll probably be gone by next year.”

 

“Mm.”

 

'That’s the best reply I’m going to get.'

 

“Anyways, where did you end up going? I didn’t see you by the lake,” Yoongi commented, changing the subject.

 

“Went out for a fly,” Jeongguk grinned at the memory of the wind brushing his hair and tickling his face. Yoongi smiled back fondly, knowing that the younger liked escaping reality on his broomstick. It always seemed to put Jeongguk in a better mood as flying allowed stress to bleed out of the boy’s chest. Yoongi didn’t reprimand him for the risk he took and punishments he could’ve received as he, himself, would’ve accompanied Jeongguk if they had ran into each other. Yoongi was not as skilful at flying as Jeongguk was, hell he wasn’t as good at anything as Jeongguk was, but flying certainly proved itself as a cathartic method of relieving stress. “Also, Chanyeol or someone asked me to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team,” Jeongguk added after a moment of hesitation.

 

“Really? I thought first years weren’t allowed to play.”

 

“Yoongi, do you even go to this school? I only started this year and even I know they changed that rule a few years ago,” Jeongguk joked.

 

“Oh yeah, I forgot. Don’t really pay attention to Quidditch and I don’t watch the games either. They’re not that interesting to me, you know. Just a bunch of people flying after a ball on broomsticks.”

 

“How could you?” Jeongguk asked, pretending to be shocked.

 

“None of my friends play either,” Yoongi shrugged.

 

“Since when did you have friends?”

 

Yoongi wasn’t surprised at the joke but there was a specific reason he didn’t retaliate. Once in the past, he had joked ‘Do you need me to teach you some manners, kid?’ without meaning to but it had struck Jeongguk’s nerve. Yoongi watched helplessly as the boy’s face dropped and as he backed away into his little shell before rebuilding his walls so high that Yoongi couldn’t climb over and had to literally break them down and pull Jeongguk out of his shell again. He didn’t know the extent of what Jeongguk had experienced in the past but after re-entering his life, he never dared to make another threatening joke, letting the boy get away with his cheekiness but occasionally calling him names that he was sure wouldn’t trigger anything.

 

“What did you tell Chanyeol?”

 

“Nothing. He left before I had a chance to think.”

 

“Have you decided now?”

 

“No... Actually, I was going to ask you.”

 

“I know you’re still considering because it is the Gryffindor team after all, but you’ve always wanted to play Quidditch, so now that you have the opportunity and the players, maybe you should take the chance. You don’t need flying lessons, that’s for sure, and I think this is a great way for you to disconnect yourself from being a Jeon and start being a Jeongguk.” He paused allowing Jeongguk to muse of his words.

 

They reached Jeongguk’s Transfiguration class before the bell chimed to indicate the end of break but they both stood outside to maintain their ongoing conversation. When Jeongguk still looked deep in thought, Yoongi continued, “Stop thinking so hard, you’re brain’s going to explode. When’re tryouts anyways?”

 

“Tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Good. I don’t have class in the afternoon. I’ll come watch,” Yoongi stated, deciding for the younger.

 

“You’re coming? I thought you didn’t like Quidditch.”

 

“No. I said it wasn’t interesting.”

 

“Same difference.”

 

“It’s settled then. I have class now but I’ll see you at lunch. I haven’t seen you eat anything since coming here and knowing you, you probably didn’t eat before coming too. It’s unhealthy,” he reprimanded and then left.

 

Jeongguk was startled that Yoongi had noticed he’d barely eaten since coming to Hogwarts and as his eyes followed the retreating figure round the corner, he concluded that Yoongi was and will be the only person who ever truly cared about him.

 

Thankfully, the professor of Transfiguration was particularly strict and kept an eye out for any troublemakers so the class breezed by without any major disruptions. And soon, it was lunch. Jeongguk practically flew out of the classroom; he would have literally if it were permitted. His stomach didn’t give him a break during the lesson and Jeongguk was pretty sure he was going to faint if he didn’t eat anything soon. Jeongguk always liked testing his limits but they didn’t always end well, his scar on his arm as a reminder.

 

However, for the umpteenth time, he was disrupted from his meal when another student tackled him into an empty classroom on the way to the Great Hall. He didn’t even get time to comprehend what was happening before he was pushed against the adjacent wall, flinching as the attacker covered his mouth with two hands. He tensed his body, ready to fight back. Jeongguk learnt the hard way that if he wanted to survive, he had to learn how to fight and never give up otherwise the consequences would be worse. But his shock and current position, trapped between the boy and the wall, disallowed such actions. The other student, unaware he was restricting Jeongguk’s movements lifted one hand off his mouth and placed a slender finger over his own lips.

 

“Shhh.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t have a choice but to remain silent in his rigid position. He felt a parade of footsteps in the corridor outside the classroom before he heard it. The other boy held his breath as the figures outside yelled “Come out or you’re dead.” and “Who the fuck do you think you’re messing with?”. The footsteps lingered around the corridor for a moment longer before disappearing, presumably to continue their search for the boy in front of him. Jeongguk knew the other boy was still paranoid for his hand didn’t leave his mouth so Jeongguk kindly reminded him by whacking his arm.

 

“Ow, what was that for?” the boy whined upon impact but still didn’t remove his hand and just stared at Jeongguk absentmindedly as if he was analysing his features. Jeongguk glared back until his attacker realised the position that he had put them in before quickly pulling back before throwing a joke, “Oh shit. I didn’t mean to push you in here. You kind of blocked my way.”

 

Jeongguk noticed he had a really deep voice, a shocking contrast to his face, but still very captivating.

 

“Right. So it’s my fault. Do you want me to apologise for walking in your way?” Jeongguk scoffed.

 

“No. What? No, I didn’t mean that. I was only joking,” he said confusedly.

 

“Well don’t,” he growled back, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice for having his meal interrupted yet again but evidently failed when he saw the boy’s face drop. Jeongguk swayed a bit on his feet without meaning to and reached an arm out to stabilise himself on the wall behind.

 

“Hey, are you ok? You don’t look too good.”

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk sighed. “Sorry for being rude but you should stay away from me for your own good,” and with that he pushed the boy out of the way and rushed to the Great Hall to find Yoongi. If Jeongguk didn’t just get physically assaulted, he would’ve admitted that the boy had a pleasing smile and didn’t seem as detestable as the other students.

 

The Great Hall was bustling with students when he arrived and he thought that he could blend in without drawing too much attention to himself but he was proven wrong. The amount of glares directed at him increased after the Howler incident and they were enough to send any other person shrinking against the wall but not Jeongguk. He stood up a little taller because he knew they fed off his fear and discomfort but he wasn’t going to allow anyone look down on him again. That was the resolve he made when he left to live in his parent’s abandoned home at a young age of sixteen. From across the room, Yoongi gestured for Jeongguk to come sit to him so he strode down the tables and situated himself next to the older and as far away as possible from the other people. With Yoongi’s presence, Jeongguk was finally able to get a full meal after nearly two days of food deprivation.

 

With a full stomach, Jeongguk was finally able to process the events from before. What a hectic day. Jeongguk wasn’t sure how much of his day Yoongi wanted to hear about when they were making small talk but he decided that walking into three strangers who didn’t hate him in one day wasn’t a worthwhile story to bring up so he kept his mouth shut and listened to Yoongi complain about Arithmancy.

 

His next two classes were uneventful compared to his first but Jeongguk didn’t complain. Even though he knew everyone was avoiding him, he made sure to leave the class with the professor every lesson as a caution just in case they decided to corner him when he tried to leave by himself. His joint afternoon flying lesson with Ravenclaw was also mundane since he escaped to the other side of Earth as soon as Madam Hooch gave the word.

 

Just like this, a repetitive cycle of classes then Yoongi, classes then Yoongi, Jeongguk’s first day finished. When he returned to the dorm that night, he wasn’t even a little surprised to find his roommates awake and waiting for him. He was also sure that they hadn’t slept until they were certain he did last night. Little did they know, they probably posed more of a threat to Jeongguk than Jeongguk did to them. Even with the amount of dark magic that he knew, he wasn’t certain he would be able to defend himself from five wizards. But he had other things to worry about like his Quidditch tryout so he ignored them, quickly wanting to sleep and gather enough strength to focus tomorrow.

 

Maybe, this year won’t be as bad as I thought.

 

Chapter Text

“Jeongguk, you have to eat something.”

 

“But-“

 

“Eat,” Yoongi said as he shoves a small pastry under Jeongguk’s nose. “How do you expect yourself to ride a broom or even walk if you’re two seconds from fainting.”

 

“But-“

 

“No buts. Eat.”

 

The firm tone Yoongi used left no room for arguments so Jeongguk relented. But not before he got the last word.

 

“You look like you need to eat more than me though.”

 

Yoongi rolled his eyes as he playfully pushed Jeongguk’s elbow off the table and turned back to the textbooks scattered messily on his table. He knew the younger was worried about the upcoming Quidditch tryouts so he did his best as the responsible older he was to soothe him and make sure he wasn’t too stressed. After Jeongguk’s last class of the day, Charms, Yoongi had dragged him to the Great Hall to replenish his energy and he now watched approvingly as the soon-to-be Quidditch player popped the tart into his mouth, chewed and swallowed.

 

There wasn’t much time left now until tryouts evident in Jeongguk’s growing restlessness so Yoongi decided that it would be best if he just went out to familiarise himself with the weather and the Hogwarts Quidditch field. As they headed outside, they were greeted with a strong gust of wind and with it came pirouetting leaves, which elegantly spiralled around their legs. The sky was awash with various shades of grey, the air heavy with dampness that indicated an incoming storm. The path they took was adorned with a carpet of red and gold that breathed the scent of Earth’s perfume.

 

Despite the gloomy weather, Jeongguk was practically skipping to the broom shed, overcome with excitement and nervousness and Yoongi smiled fondly as they reached the shed and Jeongguk was in and out within a few seconds. Approaching the Quidditch field, they realised that they were the first ones to arrive and Yoongi headed towards the spectator seats for a high vantage point. Meanwhile Jeongguk took off for a few laps around the field, indulging himself in the mystiques of Hogwarts.

 

Flying never bored Jeongguk. Every time seemed like the first and when Jeongguk mastered flying on his second attempt, he decided that he wanted to be a bird in his next life. He could be free from all his troubles. All the pressure. All his responsibilities. ‘…disconnect yourself from being a Jeon and start being a Jeongguk’. Yoongi’s word rang in his head. He was right. Jeongguk should be able to play Quidditch despite his family history. They didn’t define him.

 

It was only when he caught sight of a group of people, who tottered behind the captain, that Jeongguk broke out of his thoughts and flew down, landing swiftly on the grass before proceeding to follow the group towards the centre of the pitch. The captain was lugging a massive case in one hand and a broomstick in the other and behind him stood two other seniors who were also carrying large pieces of luggage. When the captain came to a stop in the middle, they dropped the cases onto the grass field and the captain garnered the attention of the students with a few claps of his hand.

 

“Okay everyone quiet down. Now, just because you were in the team last year, that does not guarantee you a spot this year. Is that clear?”

 

A few nods.

 

“Good. Moving on.”

 

Jeongguk noted that there were quite a lot of first years, both male and female, attending the tryouts but fortunately, it seemed like no one had noticed him so far as they were profoundly concentrating on the captain’s instructions.

 

“Since you should all know the rules to Quidditch, I won’t be needing to explain them so we can move straight on to announcing the tests that you will need to undertake for each position. Students who are aiming for the Chaser position, split yourself into groups of three and listen to Baekhyun for further instructions,” he said while pointing to a shorter Gryffindor who he introduced as last year’s Chaser. “If you are aiming to be the Keeper, prepare to defend the goalposts against the Chasers. Students after the Beater positions, take your bats and head to the left side of the pitch with Jackson to test your aiming,” he continued, as the muscular boy grinned brightly. “And finally, Seekers, follow me.”

 

Jeongguk and three other students followed him to the right side of the pitch.

 

“Seekers are the most fouled player on the team so I’m looking for someone who can withstand distractions and unexpected circumstances. Instead of catching the snitch, you will be tested on your reflexes, speed and flying ability,” the captain stated, looking at each of them individually before making eye contact with Jeongguk and smiling. “Glad you came.”

 

The others whipped their heads around to see whom the captain was acknowledging but when they recognised Jeongguk, their faces moulded into distaste but it went unnoticed by the captain who was busying himself with his preparations. Jeongguk ignored them as always, but hoped that they saw him a threat as a Quidditch opponent and not a person.

 

“Alright who’s going first?” Chanyeol asked finishing unlocking and setting up a few cases.

 

While the others hesitated, Jeongguk stepped forward voluntarily. The captain nodded at him before motioning him to mount his broom and Jeongguk complied. As he ascended, he kept his eyes on the distant figure of the captain to watch his every movement until he heard “Catch.” Catch? Catch what?

 

Suddenly, a horde of small balls, the size of golf balls, was being propelled at Jeongguk in quick succession. Out of instinct, Jeongguk reached both arms out to catch the balls whilst balancing on his broom without the use of his hands until he had somehow managed to catch every single ball even with the howling wind disrupting the balls’ routes. With an “Evanesco” from the captain, the stack of balls he had cradled in his arms disappeared and Jeongguk relaxed himself, gripping the broom handle with both hands, thinking his test had come to an end.

 

However, his relaxation didn’t last long before his gut feeling sensed something moving at his rear. He turned around and his fast reflexes brought him to turn his broom over into a few flips, narrowly missing both Bludgers aimed directly at him. The Bludgers diverged from the path after missing their target and redirected themselves at Jeongguk again. He tilted the handle and sped towards the ground with both Bludgers in pursuit. Jeongguk wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing but his Firebolt reassured him as it guided him smoothly until he was a dangerous few metres above the ground. Many students had diverted their eyes from their own tryouts to watch him and the others in the spectator seats exclaimed in shock as Jeongguk showed no sign of slowing down, continuing his endless descent. He heard a muffled shout from the captain but the wind brushed the rest of the sound away from his ears. When he was only about five metres off the floor, he jolted the handle up and welcomed the powerful crunch of the Bludgers meeting Earth. He gazed into the spectator seats and amongst the stunned mullets who look like they had been ‘Stupefied’, he met Yoongi’s smirk with a small smile.

 

Returning back to the ground, the taken-aback captain had enough time to recover from the astonishment at the stunt Jeongguk had pulled, swiftly closing his O-shaped mouth and reconstructing his knitted eyebrows. He managed a subtle smile, attempting to not show his favouritism in the first year before turning to the remaining three students and finishing the rest of the tryouts for the Seeker position. He assigned various surprise tasks to the other students but none of them completed it to the level Jeongguk had. If Chanyeol were to be completely honest, he would’ve admitted he had already decided Jeongguk as the Seeker before the other students even had their turn.

 

The captain and his four students waited for the Beaters, Keepers and Chasers to finish their tryouts before Chanyeol, Baekhyun and Jackson gathered together to discuss the additional members to the team.

 

The three seniors turned back to the crowd once their talk finished and the captain stepped forward to deliver their decisions. He started with announcing the two Chasers then the Beater followed by the Keeper and lastly, the Seeker. Jeongguk zoned out halfway through and missed most of the names but when Chanyeol reached the Seeker position, he snapped back to reality, fixing his ears on the sixth year.

 

“…and finally our newest Seeker… Jeongguk Jeon. Congratulations, you guys are now officially part of the Gryffindor team. But before you go, I need a quick word,” he said dismissing the other students and leading the new team to the side of the pitch.

 

Jeongguk caught sight of Yoongi and gestured for him to head back to the castle first for he didn’t want the older boy wasting anymore of his precious studying time waiting for him. When he saw that the older boy had understood his message and begun moving out of the spectator seats, he turned to face Chanyeol again awaiting his words.

 

“Our first game against Ravenclaw is sooner than I would have liked but that’s okay, I think we have a pretty strong team this year. They’re not easy so we need to start training as soon as possible. Trainings will most likely be held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons but if you cannot make it for any reason, please notify me. Oh and one last thing. First years are exempt from flying lessons,” he finished, directing the last statement at Jeongguk, the only first year that made the team. “Okay, that’s all. Go enjoy your night.”

 

Jeongguk headed to the shed first to place his broom away, while the others loitered around the pitch, talking about their anticipation for the upcoming Quidditch games, which they will now be a part of. On his way, he noticed that the ominous, grey clouds were beginning to look angry, their glare draining the colours of the natural landscape that surrounded Hogwarts, leaving the castle shadowed under the faltering light. The trees swayed violently in the strengthening vortices, surrendering their barely attached leaves without a fight. The air was thicker with the sweet scent of the incoming storm and Jeongguk’s brain urged him to walk faster.

 

When Jeongguk arrived at the shed, he gently settled his broom down in the corner and stepped back outside, quickly relocking the door. During the journey back to the castle, the heavy rain dragged down the delicate frames of the blackened clouds, which struggled to withstand the burden of the weight. The clouds eventually gave in, spilling its disoriented chaos along the unforgiving wind. A flash of jagged lightening split the sky after which the empty silence was disrupted by grumbles of the sky. As Jeongguk hurried down the slippery track, his posture gradually weakened with the weight of his soaked clothes.

 

“Immobulus.”

 

Jeongguk felt his body unwillingly listening to the order, frozen in the heavy downpour. His stiff body did not allow him to see who cast the spell on him so Jeongguk concentrated on the presence of people around him instead. Cowards. He felt people, no less than three, move closer towards his backside and he willed his arm to move to grab his wand, sensing danger.

 

“Levicorpus,” came a second voice.

 

His feet flew in the air and he was dangled upside down, blood rushing to his head. He saw red and then white when he was dropped headfirst onto the drenched concrete. Without a break, he was lifted into the air again and this time, it was accompanied with a third voice that jeered at his Quidditch skills but Jeongguk was too focused on the spinning resupinate trees, which were suddenly advancing towards him, to fully listen to the nonsense spewing out of his mouth. Before he could process the sight, his stomach was slammed into the trunk of a redwood and his body rolled and proceeded to crumple at the bottom of the tree. A sudden gush of pain jolted through his body as his tongue soaked in blood. Bruised and winded, he glanced at the shadows of his attackers dissolving into the darkness.

 

Jeongguk grunted when he tried to shift himself up but was met with more unbearable pain so he slouched back into his awkward position against the damp trunk waiting for the aches to dissipate slightly. The blood from his face danced in swirls inside the puddles, which marked the floor. This isn’t half as bad as what I’ve experienced. Jeongguk Jeon, why are you always so weak?

 

Even his sigh brought excruciating pain to his chest and he looked up to the gloomy sky, his only friend in times like this. Why did you go? If you were here, would my life be different? I’m so sorry. Do you regret your decision? Would you do it again? I wasn’t worth it. As he brought his quivering hand up to the small scar of his left cheek, he had a silent conversation with the sky, which seemed to hold all the answers. All the answers that Jeongguk desperately needed and wanted to hear.

 

I wish you were here. This wasn’t the time for Jeongguk to get all sappy and lost in his thoughts though. If he wanted to survive, he would have to get up. An example of one of the lessons that were drilled into him. He pulled himself up, clutching his throbbing stomach and dragged his feet back to the castle. The bleeding from his face had subdued slightly but the taste of metal still remained between his mangled lips. Jeongguk noted that the distance to the castle wasn’t much, but the pain radiating through his body restricted most of his movements.

 

As Jeongguk stepped into the castle, he thought he could do with a little comforting for once. Jeongguk knew that it was the time for dinner but he headed to the Slytherin common room in the dungeons anyways, holding onto the sliver of hope that Yoongi might be looking for him. He wasn’t in the best condition and he knew Yoongi would be angry at whoever inflicted the pain on him but like every other time, if Jeongguk didn’t talk Yoongi would eventually let it go. There’s no point in letting another person know how weak I am.

 

Attempting to control his feet was a difficult feat as his left foot became a right foot and his right foot became a left foot. Even under these circumstances, he persevered and finally succeeded in reaching the level of the deep dungeons but he winced as he came in contact with the cold, which nipped at his open wounds. The corridors were deadly quiet except for the raspy breaths that Jeongguk had failed at stabilising.

 

Helping himself along the wall, he grabbed at whatever leverage the castle had to offer. At last, Jeongguk heaved his way to the front of the common room where he realised he did not know the password to enter. He had two options. To leave and hopefully not faint on his way back to the Gryffindor common room or to wait for someone to help him into the Slytherin dungeons. Both options seemed unappealing but Jeongguk really didn’t want to aggravate his injuries anymore and he wasn’t certain his brain was functioning properly so he chose the safer option and decided to wait outside, hoping that someone would find him soon. He anchored his body against the wall next to the entrance and centralised himself onto keeping his breathing steady. The queasy, sticky blood seeping out of his face melted into the castle walls, decorating the previous emerald green and silver embellishments with tints of red smudges. Jeongguk silently prayed that his body wouldn’t collapse.

 

But things never go according to plan.

 

His treacherous body betrayed him, his mind became blank and his vision turned white. The urge to drop to the floor and go to sleep became stronger until Jeongguk finally gave in.

 

However, the floor never met his face. He stirred in the strong pair of arms holding him up and opening his eyes into slits, he saw the faintest blur of pink before completely knocking out cold.

 

Great, someone else to witness how weak I am.

 

Chapter Text

The stealthy darkness that engulfed him dragged him further into its depths, his imagination supplying beasts that lurked beyond the pitch black. It had stolen his memory and now greedily devoured his consciousness, replacing it with paralysing fear. There was a distant voice. Too distant. The arms of the dark continuously grabbed him, trampled him, crushed him, suffocated him. At the end of the darkness, the cloak of black revealed a familiar figure, someone Jeongguk longed to see, the same spirit in the sky, who he regularly confided in. He reached out, desperately trying to free himself from the black limbs and scramble to the person illuminated in the darkness. Jeongguk would gladly leave everything behind but the soul whispered “No. Jeongguk, go back. Don’t come here. Please. You need to go.”

 

He was being pulled back roughly away from the figure. No no no. Come back. Please don’t go. You can’t leave me again. Why can I still not give up on you? I’m the only one holding onto the withered memories but the dead leaves fall down like tears. But the spirit was already gone, in its place stood a pile of dead leaves and white petals but they were soon enveloped by the darkness as well. Suddenly, a white light appeared on the other side. It seemed to be calling to him, interrupting the moment that he didn’t want to leave. The brightness grew stronger and stronger until Jeongguk couldn’t resist being forced out of the dark and towards the calming voice.

 

“Jeongguk?” murmured a gentle, soothing voice. “Jeongguk wake up.”

 

He woke up to a pair of tender hands on his shoulders, its warmth seeping through his battered Quidditch uniform. With his vision not obscured, he spotted the same ambiguous pink he had fallen unconscious to. However, Jeongguk noticed he was lying on the floor of a room he didn’t quite recognise. He concluded it to be the Slytherin common room, judging by the amount of green decorations around the room. There were low backed black and dark green button-tufted, leather sofas sitting around the room while haunting skulls hung on the walls. The tapestries of famous Medieval Slytherins crowned on the wall emphasised the cold but grand atmosphere, which permeated the room.

 

“Are you okay?” asked the kneeling figure next to Jeongguk.

 

“I’m fine,” he said as he tried to prop himself onto his elbows whilst having an internal war with his brain, which told him to remain still.

 

“I brought you to the Slytherin common room but do you need to go to the Hospital Wing?”

 

“No, it’s okay. I don’t think anything’s broken so it’ll heal by itself.”

 

“I sent someone to get Yoongi. I think he was in the Great Hall.”

 

“Oh shit. Don’t disturb him from his meal,” groaned Jeongguk in his half sitting position. The Slytherin student raised his eyebrows and his eyes reflected curious concern that Jeongguk thought he was imagining.

 

When Jeongguk’s elbow wobbled dangerously, the older student instantly extended his arm to stabilise him but Jeongguk flinched reflexively at the action, consequently collapsing onto the injured side of his torso. He winced as the throbbing pain that had ebbed away intensified. He greeted the white he seemed to be already acquainted to and was just about to fall unconscious again before a loud voice agonised his growing headache.

 

“What the fuck happened? Who did this?”

 

The voice hastily moved towards the limp body on the ground and a hand reached under his head, resituating it on top of his lap. To say that the other student was surprised at how panicked Yoongi looked would be an understatement. The senior was known to be nonchalant about anything and everything as he rarely voiced his thoughts or showed any emotions. Seeing him in this distressed condition brought the Slytherin student to see him under new light so he moved back slightly to not interfere, but still remaining next to Jeongguk.

 

“Jeongguk? Jeongguk, are you okay?”

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“Yeah, I’m here.”

 

“I’m sorry.” It was barely audible but Yoongi caught the movement of his mouth.

 

“For what?”

 

“For being an inconvenience… again.”

 

The words hit Yoongi harder than he expected. He had heard Jeongguk’s trademark phrase so many times that you would think he would be used to it. But every single time, they would constrict his chest and the weight of the words dragged his heart down further. How he wished for a finish to this never-ending cycle.

 

“I told you not to say that, didn’t I? You’re not an inconvenience and you’ll never be so stop thinking like that. Come on, let’s get you to the Hospital Wing,” Yoongi said and nodded to the other student who was still kneeling next to Jeongguk, intrigued the gentle interaction between the two.

 

“Mmk, thanks,” Jeongguk replied weakly without a fight.

 

Yoongi hoisted up the first year by his arm to the best of his ability but he faltered due to his leaner build, almost tumbling into the leather couches that lined the middle of the room.

 

“Uh, do you want some help?” asked the pink haired student, who was now on his feet.

 

“Yeah, if you’re not too busy.”

 

The other Slytherin student moved to cautiously grab Jeongguk’s other arm and wrap it around his own shoulders, making sure not to create any more sudden movements that might startle the younger. Jeongguk groaned as his other arm was lifted too, increasing the pain which ran through his body but didn’t voice it, choosing to focus on placing one foot in front of the other.

 

With both of their efforts, they managed to manoeuvre Jeongguk safely up onto the first floor and then up to the Hospital Wing. After dropping him gently onto a bed, Yoongi ran off to find Madam Poppy Pomfrey, leaving the other student with Jeongguk.

 

So this is the Jeongguk Jeon that everyone is afraid of. He’s everything but intimidating.’ At this distance, the unnamed student finally realised how young Jeongguk’s features made him look, a complete contradiction with his well-built body. As he peered closer, he found himself starting to take a liking into the kid when he noticed that Jeongguk resembled his younger brother who was sadly attending Durmstrang Institute instead of Hogwarts.

 

“Thank you. You didn’t have to help bring me here.”

 

“It’s okay. I think it helped Yoongi more than it helped you,” he replied softly and smiled, reaching to brush the hair out of the younger’s eyes. He felt a surge of relief when Jeongguk didn’t flinch at his actions but closed his eyes and relaxed into the bed instead. ‘And here I thought no one would go attacking him. Who would do such a thing?’

 

He sighed and broke out of his thoughts when a hurried Yoongi came back with the school’s matron on his tail. Stepping to the side to allow her to tend to Jeongguk, he heard her exclaim, “Injured already? It’s only the third day of school” Madam Pomfrey must have assumed that it was an accident and not a fight as there was only one student in the Hospital Wing.

 

Now that Jeongguk was in better hands, he turned to leave but was stopped by Yoongi when he reached the doors. He found that they were similar heights, a shock considering the other’s unapproachable demeanour. Yoongi seemed like he was thinking hard about something before he prudently started talking.

 

“Do you know what happened?”

 

“No. I found him slouched outside the common room but before I could say anything, he fainted so I brought him in. When he woke up he said he didn’t want to go to the Hospital Wing and then… well you came.”

 

“Right. Sorry, I didn’t mean you had anything to do with it if I sounded rude.”

 

“That’s okay.” Yoongi was glad that the younger Slytherin didn’t comment on his less stable condition. He admitted he was too emotionally attached to Jeongguk but there was never an ounce of regret that Jeongguk was his, you could say, one and only weakness.

 

“Thank you for helping though-,” he said with his eyebrows raised slightly and hand in a position that indicated his inquiry for the student’s name.

 

“Jimin. Jimin Park.”

 

“Yoongi Min,” he said reaching the same hand out for a handshake.

 

“I know,” Jimin replied with another small smile, returning the handshake.

 

The light and friendly atmosphere was broken when Madam Pomfrey approached them after she finished examining Jeongguk and they both turned to face her.

 

“How are his injuries?” asked Yoongi.

 

“Nothing that can’t be fixed. His face is heavily bruised and cut but luckily no internal damage and there are also quite a lot of bruises scattered around his torso but again, no broken bones there either. He had a slight difficulty with breathing so I gave him a potion to ease the pain. He needs to rest now so if you want to talk to him, do it tomorrow.”

 

“How long does he have to stay here?”

 

“Preferably overnight today but he should be able to leave tomorrow. Also, there were many permanent scars on his body, which weren’t treated properly so I tried my best to fix the skin tissue with a few potions and dittany so that the scars aren’t that prominent.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Once she finished, she scurried back to her office next to the Hospital Wing, leaving Jeongguk with the two Slytherin students. If Jimin was curious about Jeongguk’s scars, he didn’t show it and Yoongi was again grateful for the other’s consideration but it was quickly overcome with fury when he saw Jeongguk lying there placidly.

 

“I swear I’m going to find whoever did this,” Yoongi grumbled only loud enough for Jimin to hear.

 

“Calm down. We don’t even know if this was done by someone,” Jimin said, trying to think positively and not admit reality.

 

Yoongi huffed, knowing Jimin was not criticising him but thinking rationally, and returned to Jeongguk’s bedside, bringing a wooden chair to sit on. Jimin, hesitantly followed Yoongi, wanting to check up on the first year one last time before leaving. When he saw that the younger was sleeping peacefully, hands grasping Yoongi’s he decided it was time for him to go back to the common room so without another word he slipped out.

 

Yoongi exhaled heavily as he watched Jeongguk with unease. Six years ago, Jeongguk would’ve had no one; no one to care if he had eaten, no one to care if he was happy, no one to care if he was injured. Five years ago, if Yoongi hadn’t stumbled upon him, who knows where Jeongguk might’ve ended up. Four years ago, Yoongi started at Hogwarts, chastising himself for only being able to go back during holidays to visit him. Three years ago, Jeongguk opened up for the first time after coming to Yoongi dripping in blood during the summer holidays. Two years ago, Jeongguk had finally escaped his relatives with the help of Yoongi and went to live in his parent’s old house. One year ago, Jeongguk had told him he received a Hogwarts acceptance letter Yoongi was more than overjoyed at the idea of having him closer so he wouldn’t have to constantly worry about him when he, himself, was at school.

 

Remembering a certain frosty day five years ago, Yoongi could picture the thick blanket of white that coated the denuded trees, which lined the miserable graveyard for wizards. It was a few weeks before Christmas and the snow hugged the dead leaves on the floor, all signs of autumn already vanished even though it was only November. Everything around him was dead. The sky was an uninterrupted grey, and the subtle yet crystalline crunches under his foot were accompanied with the whistles of the wind. The fresh snow melted into the dents of his footprints, erasing all traces of his presence.

 

Yoongi was accustomed to everything there since he went every winter to visit his grandparents who died in the Second Wizarding War except this year as he was leaving, there was a slumped figure against the tall iron gates desperately clutching onto wilted white flower petals and several dead brown leaves. The child, barely over the age of ten, looked so vulnerable in his thin coat, which he attempted to use to shield his small frame from the cold. Yoongi could make out a thin scar decorating his left cheek and a few thicker cuts displayed on the visible parts of his forearms. What he couldn’t see though were the deep gashes, hidden underneath the sheer layers of clothes, as the blood had yet to soak up the material.

 

Only being seventeen himself, he was about to walk straight past him but the younger whimpered and tears threatened to slip out of his tightly shut and swollen eyelids. The shivering boy hugged his knees closer to himself and his state seemed to evoke a pang of sympathy and guilt from Yoongi. He stuttered in his path and bent down to talk to the kid but as he approached, the defeated figure pulled his arms up over his head in defence, whimpers turning into cries. Yoongi felt the sudden need to shelter and protect him but he was never too good with words. Instead, he took off his own fleecy, woollen coat and wrapped it gently around the boy.

 

The boy looked up and all Yoongi saw in his two eyes was fear and sorrow. Immobilising fear, overwhelming sorrow. He frowned slightly but the small action seemed to generate more fear, if that was even possible, and the boy flinched so far back that he toppled out of Yoongi’s clothes. With the extra movement, the blood from the youth’s body seeped through his attire, nearly staining Yoongi’s coat.

 

“Hey kid, are you okay?”

 

“Y-yeah, sorry.”

 

“Why’re you apologising? I was the one who startled you.”

 

“Right, s-sorry.”

 

Yoongi made sure not to frown this time as he held out a hand for the boy, who hesitantly looked at his own hands before taking it. When his freezing hands grabbed Yoongi’s, he tried his best not to jump and pull back out of shock.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“You d-don’t want to know. I-it’s better if you don’t’.”

 

Yoongi shrugged and hauled the younger onto his feet. The boy winced and cradled his torso protectively in his arms, but the blood continued to run, blemishing the pure white floor with dark smudges of red. Yoongi kept his hand on the boy’s thin upper arm to support him and wondered if the boy was even eating when all he could only feel bone.

 

“Do you live around here?”

 

“Uh… d-don’t think so, no.”

 

Yoongi raised his internal eyebrows so high they would’ve burst out of his brain but he sensibly didn’t question.

 

“Do you need help getting home then?”

 

“N-no. I can manage,” the child slurred.

 

Yoongi highly doubted that so when the kid shook his hand off his upper arm and started staggering in a random direction, he followed him at a reasonable distance. They passed through a street with neatly lined brick houses, identical in construction. There was beauty in the imperfect unity of the houses, which seemed the same but simultaneously very different. After a few steps, the child’s feet gave in and he stumbled back into the snow before Yoongi could catch him.

 

“Kid, you need to go to the hospital.”

 

“No, d-don’t take me t-there. I’m s-sorry. I know I-I’m useless. P-Please don’t hurt m-me. I’m sorry.”

 

“Trust me, I’m not going to hurt you but we have to get you to a healer.”

 

The younger wailed louder in protest at that and Yoongi was honestly about to give up but one swift movement from the fallen figure had Yoongi catching a glance at the brooch buried in between the kid’s clothes in the shape of the Jeon family crest. He drew a sharp intake of breath before turning back to look at the child. There were talks about the Jeon family still having an heir but no one had ever witnessed him so the rumours were dismissed a while after the War.

 

“You’re a Jeon?”

 

This time, Yoongi saw both fear and panic flash through his eyes.

 

“P-please don’t tell a-anyone you saw me h-here. T-they’ll kill m-me,” the Jeon sobbed.

 

“Ok we won’t go hospital, alright? But you still have to get your injuries treated, yeah?” Yoongi asked quietly.

 

“It’s f-fine. Really. I-I’ve had w-worse.”

 

The child seemed to be convincing himself more than Yoongi. Yoongi clenched his fists out of anger and resentment on whoever had hurt the younger. Having the younger listen and trust him seemed impossible now but still Yoongi still wanted to try so he crouched down and leaned against the wall next to the boy, making sure to leave a considerable distance between them before deciding that he should be the one to break down his own barriers first.

 

“I’m Yoongi Min.”

 

The kid gasped a little through his tear-stained face. The Min's were also well known savage Death Eaters, nothing like the Jeon's but rumour has it that their words alone were enough to kill you. However what surprised the younger wasn't the fact that he was a Min, but that he was personally revealing his identity. The Min's were a powerful wizarding family during the War but they had always kept to themselves. Their magic, their money and especially, their identity. Barely anyone knew half of them existed to be fair. So, yes it was a big deal that Yoongi was revealing his name.

 

“Jeongguk,” the kid said timidly recovering from his initial shock.

 

Yoongi wanted to say “You trust too easily” but it translated into a “Nice name.”

 

“Thank you,” he breathed shyly and gifted Yoongi a small but pleasant smile.

 

Yoongi noted the lack of stuttering and deemed Jeongguk way too gullible but as Jeongguk’s eyes started to droop dangerously, warning him of the physical and mental exertion required to stay awake, he brushed away that thought and hurried towards him. The best option, Yoongi decided, was to bring Jeongguk away from the cold and to his own home and let his mother, who was a healer, treat him. So that’s exactly what he did when the younger didn’t reply to his next question.

 

“Why were you at the graveyard that day? What are you not telling me?” Yoongi sighed, making to leave when Madam Pomfrey rushed in to shoo him away. He tenderly removed his own hands from Jeongguk’s and tucked the younger snuggly into the blanket. “Sleep well. I’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

 

It was a restless night for Yoongi though, hardly sleeping a wink as he rolled around endlessly on his bed until he had nearly fallen over after one vigorous turn. He sighed for the umpteenth time that day and sat up to lean against the headboard. This wasn’t what he had pictured when Jeongguk was excitedly talking about going to Hogwarts. No, it was the exact opposite. He imagined the younger pouncing on him whenever he drifted off, waking him for meaningless reasons. He imagined giving the younger the childhood he was deprived of. He imagined them having late night talks in the Slytherin common room when the youngest was feeling vulnerable. More than anything, he had imagined protecting Jeongguk from all the unpleasantness of the world. ‘I’m not really good at this, am I? Do you still not trust me enough to tell me everything?’

 

Yoongi was determined to break down the remaining walls Jeongguk built so when the first year woke up the next morning, Yoongi was already by his bed, chin resting on his palms and elbows resting on the bed.

 

“Hey. Are you ok? You look like you haven’t slept for weeks,” Jeongguk said, grinning sheepishly at Yoongi, all signs of his pain and weakness from the previous day gone, replaced with a mask of playful façade. Yoongi wondered how ridiculous it was for Jeongguk to be in the position of asking about the wellbeing of Yoongi.

 

“Whose fault would that be?” Yoongi replied but immediately regretted it as the words processed through his brain.

 

To his surprise, Jeongguk just chuckled and stared at the wall suddenly finding it very interesting, but the guilt still lingered.

 

“What time is it?” Jeongguk asked, changing the subject.

 

“Nearly eight.”

 

“At night?”

 

“No. Morning,” Yoongi yawned and when he sensed the younger’s mischievousness returning, he continued, “And don’t you dare make a joke about me being awake at this ungodly hour or I’ll steal your owl.”

 

“You wouldn’t?” Jeongguk gasped.

 

“Try me,” said Yoongi, smirking beneath his straight face.

 

“Fine, fine. I’m hungry. Can we go eat now? My muscles are cramping up,” he whined.

 

“We should check with Madam Pomfrey first.”

 

After Madam Pomfrey changed Jeongguk’s bandages, she gave a thumbs up and they both left the Hospital Wing, walking to the Great Hall in silence. Yoongi was still wondering how to bring up last night’s incident but didn’t know the best way to approach this sensitive topic. Whilst Jeongguk had a suspicion of who the three assailants were, he didn’t want to jump to conclusions, thinking it would be best to let the issue go as he didn’t seem horribly injured.

 

Once they were both seated on the Slytherin table, many students took a moment to process the marks on Jeongguk’s face while the centre of attention attempted to hide his scars from view with Yoongi’s head. They ate in silence until someone rushed towards them and slung his arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders. Jeongguk spluttered and dropped the cup of water he was drinking and the arm moved to pat him on the back. Yoongi looked up in mild surprise at the box smile worn by the student who had sprung on Jeongguk, unsure if the other meant any harm.

 

“Tae, get off of him. He’s injured,” came an exasperated voice, pushing the arm off of Jeongguk.

 

Yoongi looked up and saw the pink haired student who had helped Jeongguk yesterday before turning back to the person seated next to Jeongguk.

 

“Can we sit here?” said the student. There was more attention garnering on them as the mixture of the three different houses was sure to be strange but moreover one was an infamous heir to the Jeon, another was a Min, enough said, the third, the most well known troublemaker in the school and the last was a Chaser whose skills were acknowledged by everyone.

 

“Who’re you?” Yoongi asked bluntly.

 

“Sorry about him. This is-,”

 

“Taehyung Kim. Third year. Ravenclaw. Fan of elephants. And Gucci. And Cypher PT. 3. Oh my god you have to listen to it. It’s a ‘killer’ song.”

 

“Hey, you’re the-“ Jeongguk tried to say.

 

“Yeah.” Another rectangle smile.

 

“You guys know each other?” asked Jimin, unsurprised. He had taken a seat next to Yoongi and across from his problematic friend.

 

“He-“ Jeongguk began.

 

“Remember on Monday when I almost made Ravenclaw get minus house points? Well, I was trying to play a prank on Filch and Mrs Norris but I accidentally hit a bunch of Slytherins with the dungbombs. Let’s say they weren’t really happy with that and when they chased me, I ran into Jeongguk before Professor McGonagall caught me.”

 

Jimin’s laugh at Taehyung’s stupidity drew more attention and Jeongguk turned to face the pink haired student who had just whispered, “Guess you deserve those detentions”. Jeongguk wasn’t great with strangers and was wondering how to thank the student for not leaving him to die but thankfully the other drew an opening.

 

“Are you ok?” Jimin asked, noticing the boy’s gaze.

 

“Yeah, thanks again.”

 

“That’s ok. I’m Jimin Park by the way. Also third year and obviously Slytherin house.”

 

Jeongguk simply nodded and turned back to his breakfast. The next few minutes passed with Jimin and Taehyung’s constant bickering and Jeongguk thought that he could get used to this everyday. They emitted a pleasant sensation of a home Jeongguk never had and he felt weirdly at ease with them.

 

“Are you going class second period?” Yoongi asked at Jeongguk over the loud third years. The question attracted both Jimin and Taehyung’s attention and they quietened down to hear the conversation.

 

“Don’t think so. I-”

 

“Why aren’t you going class?” Taehyung intervened.

 

“Got kicked out.”

 

“Already? I mean. Oh my god. Shit I’m so sorry, I sound like horrible person now,” he groaned, covering his face.

 

“Do you have a habit of cutting people off?” Yoongi asked the younger but his question held no malice. He too had discovered a liking into the other two students. “Anyways,” he said turning back to Jeongguk, “I have a class second but I can-“

 

“Yoongi, I’ll be fine by myself. You’re in fifth year now. Go class,” Jeongguk ordered cheekily while rolling his eyes. “Maybe I’ll go fly for a while. I want to practice a bit before tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Be careful, your body isn’t completely healed yet. Wait, what’s happening tomorrow?”

 

“We’re starting training,” Jeongguk grinned.

 

“You made the Quidditch team?” asked Jimin.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Wow. You must be good. They didn’t even consider me in my first year. I joined last year.”

 

“What position do you play?” Jeongguk asked, interested in finding another Quidditch player.

 

“Chaser. You?”

 

“Seeker.”

 

“Shit. Get ready to be fouled,” Jimin warned, not unkindly. “A lot.”

 

Yoongi had twisted his face at Jimin’s statement but no one took notice as they moved on to busily discuss their favourite Quidditch team. The light conversation continued for the rest of breakfast and when the bell chimed for first period, they parted ways after promising to meet back at the Great Hall for lunch.

 

When second period rolled around Jeongguk headed to the broom shed to retrieve his broom. Upon arriving at the Quidditch field, the first thing he became aware of was a student gliding gracefully around the pitch in a yellow Quidditch uniform, which complimented his orange hair. He noticed the ease of the movement of the student’s broomstick, which seemed to be integrated into the rider’s body, moving together as one. He continued watching in awe even as he turned on his broomstick and zoomed towards Jeongguk’s side of the field.

 

Jeongguk still didn’t move when the student landed softly on the field and approached him.

 

“Keep staring, I know I’m good looking,” the student teased, snapping Jeongguk out of his daze.

 

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

 

“All good. What’re you doing out of class anyways. Aren’t you a first year?”

 

“Um… I got kicked out,” he repeated for the fourth time since the incident. He unconsciously started rubbing the back of his neck and was about to turn to leave when the other student replied.

 

“Oh well. You want to come fly with me then? I need someone to practice with. I’m pretty good just so you know,” the Quidditch player joked.

 

Jeongguk smiled back at the Hufflepuff before nodding and mounting his own broom. When Jeongguk saw that the other student had copied his action, he took off. The sky and wind felt refreshingly the same. He set off at a slow pace until he felt the other speed past him. That was a sign of a challenge and Jeongguk took it, racing after the elder. He didn’t really know where they were headed but nevertheless, Jeongguk continued following him.

 

The student led him further and further away from Hogwarts and Jeongguk unsuspectingly pursued. When Jeongguk closed in on the other, the Hufflepuff pointed towards a series of mini-waterfalls that Jeongguk hadn’t even noticed because he was concentrating on overtaking the elder. He nodded back, indicating he understood, and they both turned their brooms towards the water.

 

The tranquil water was fairly clear and it cascaded gently down the rocky outcrops leading to a lagoon. They both landed safely on the black pebbles next to the water.

 

“Not bad for a first year,” the Hufflepuff praised, patting Jeongguk on the back with the hand not holding his broom.

 

“Thanks,” Jeongguk beamed. “It’s beautiful here.”

 

“Isn’t it? I come here a lot when school stresses me out,” he sighed.

 

“Are you stressed now?”

 

“No?” the elder asked with a tilt of his head that suggested he was puzzled.

 

“Oh, then why are we here?”

 

“Uh… well you seemed like you had things on your mind so… I didn’t mean to offend you or anything.”

 

“Don’t worry about it.” Jeongguk smiled back, hoping it will convey the words jumbled in his head. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

 

“No worries. I’m Hoseok Jung by the way,” he said, giving Jeongguk a blinding smile.

 

Jeongguk nodded and remained silent. He was used to not introducing himself, assuming everyone already knew who he was but when Hoseok asked him for his name, you could say he was slightly taken back.

 

“You don’t know me?”

 

“Should I know you?”

 

“Right, no. Sorry. I’m Jeongguk Jeon.”

 

“Ohhh, I do know you… Well not really know you, but I know of you… Oh, is that why you got kicked out of class?” he rambled and closed in to peer at Jeongguk’s face. “Hm, you look like a baby, I don’t see what there is to fear.”

 

“Oh, well you know, maybe just all the magic, both the dark arts and defence against it, hidden up my sleeve,” Jeongguk replied sarcastically.

 

Hoseok roared with laughter.

 

“I’m sorry, please don’t say something like that again. Your face is too innocent. Reminds me of a rabbit,” he cooed cupping Jeongguk’s right cheek.

 

Jeongguk wasn’t used to this level of affection as Yoongi had always kept to himself probably from fear of overstepping boundaries. But sometimes, this fond care was just what he needed even if he didn’t quite like to admit it. He had always wanted someone to care for him in a maternal and paternal manner, not that Yoongi didn’t take care of him, he was just far too careful. So when Hoseok removed his hands from Jeongguk’s face, he tried his best to not show his disappointment.

 

“You’re not that much older,” Jeongguk sulked.

 

“Trust me, three years is a lot, kiddo. Come on, we should head back now. I don’t want to miss lunch.”

 

“Okay, yeah,” Jeongguk replied as he remembered his promise with Yoongi, Jimin and Taehyung before they both mounted their brooms and headed back the way they came from.

 

As they landed the bell chimed for the beginning of lunch so Jeongguk waved a quick goodbye to Hoseok at the broom shed before rushing back to the Great Hall.

 

Hoseok trailed quickly behind the younger but left a gap so Jeongguk wouldn’t realise he was being followed. When he cupped Jeongguk’s face at the lagoon, he had noticed a considerable amount of scars on his face resulted from magic, some old, some new. He also noted that Jeongguk winced when he was pat on the back. People didn’t call him meticulous for no reason. Although, he knew he was being paranoid, he wanted to make sure that Jeongguk returned to the castle safely.

 

But he was too deep into his thoughts that he didn’t see Jeongguk stop in his path and turn around quickly, eyes alert. He also didn’t notice that the younger had reached into his robe and pulled out his wand.

 

“Homenum Revelio.”

 

A strange sensation vibrated through Hoseok, snapping him out of his thoughts. However, he didn’t have much time to decipher what had happened when another spell was sent his way.

 

“Stupefy.”

 

Hoseok was just in time to yell “Protego”, barely blocking the incoming spell. He saw Jeongguk rush towards him with a wary expression drawn on his face, wand held ready in his right hand but when he caught sight of Hoseok, he immediately lowered his wand and ran to him.

 

“Shit. Are you ok? I’m so sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

 

‘”I thought you were someone else.” So those scars were really from someone then.’

 

“I’m okay, don’t worry. You know, most people would run if they felt someone following them. Not blindly confront them,” Hoseok joked, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“I thought we already established that I’m not most people,” Jeongguk said, frowning slightly.

 

“Oh my god. No, that’s not what I meant. I didn’t mean you’re different,” he babbled, unaware of the grin splitting Jeongguk’s face.

 

He looked up and Jeongguk burst into laughter and it took him a while to process. Hoseok saw light mischievousness and cheekiness glint behind the younger’s dark irises.

 

“You were playing with me?” he asked, astounded that the younger was even smiling after what had just happened. He affectionately ruffled Jeongguk’s hair before asking, “How do you even know so many spells by the way?”

 

Jeongguk crossed his arms and with a serious look on his face he sarcastically said, “Hmmm… Let’s see. I was brought up by one of the most powerful families in the wizarding world. I wonder how I know so many spells too.”

 

“Little punk,” he said as he raised him arm up and pulled Jeongguk down into a headlock.

 

Jeongguk laughed even harder at that, rabbit teeth on full display, and weakly protested by poking at Hoseok’s toned stomach. Although Jeongguk showed no signs of physical pain, Hoseok remembered the pieces he had just placed together and was quick to release the younger.

 

“Come on, we should really go if we don’t want to miss lunch,” Hoseok said as he benignly put a hand on Jeongguk’s lower back and manoeuvred him back to the castle.

 

As they stepped into the Great Hall Jeongguk bid another farewell to Hoseok, who was waving at his Hufflepuff friends, before walking swiftly and placing himself down next to Yoongi. Jimin who was the first to notice him walk over looked up to greet him whilst the older Slytherin seemed to be judging whatever Taehyung had just said.

 

“Hey, what took you so long?”

 

“Got distracted.”

 

“Was that Hoseok you came in with?”

 

“Yeah, you know him?”

 

“Nah, not really. We versed each other a few times last year during the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup. He seems like a nice guy though. I got injured during one of the games against Hufflepuff and he came to the Hospital Wing to make sure I was alright even though it wasn’t his fault.”

 

Jeongguk smiled. Sounds like something he would do.

 

“Hey, Jeonggukie look at this,” Taehyung interrupted before Jimin could ask more questions.

 

Jeonggukie? He turned to see what Taehyung was indicating and realised that the latter was pinching the skin below two moles on his arm.

 

“Elephant!” he exclaimed excitedly.

 

“Um… what’s that?” Jeongguk asked unsurely and glanced briefly at Yoongi who was covering his face, possibly trying to disassociate himself from the group.

 

“You don’t know what an elephant is?” Taehyung gasped. When Jeongguk shook his head, he fake sobbed. “You’re coming back home with me these Christmas holidays. I’m taking you to the zoo. Ooo, you could meet my brother and sister too!”

 

“Uhh…” Jeongguk said before Yoongi helped him out.

 

“No,” he said firmly while he uncovered his face and Jeongguk’s shoulders sagged with relief. But Taehyung’s face dropped.

 

“Is it because I’m muggle born?” Taehyung said, eyes reflecting unspoken hurt.

 

“No! It’s just… I don’t know… Maybe I could go summer holidays?” Jeongguk asked hopefully whilst he internally berated his mouth for betraying his brain.

 

Taehyung immediately brightened up. “Yeah,” he said while pulling up his trademark smile, not sensing the increased concern Yoongi radiated. “Are you going back home for Christmas? Is that why?”

 

Yoongi got up suddenly and turned to Jeongguk, “Can we talk?” and when the younger nodded, Yoongi led Jeongguk out the Great Hall and towards the lake, leaving behind two very confused third years.

 

“Jeongguk, what is wrong with you? You know what will happen if they find out you went to the muggle world,” he said sternly but not harshly as they stopped near a tree.

 

Jeongguk clenched his fists and tensed his jaw but didn’t say anything.

 

“Do you remember last time when you nearly entered the muggle world by accident? Because I do. They locked you up for a few days straight and you almost starved to death, Jeongguk,” Yoongi pleaded subtly.

 

“Yoongi, I’m an adult now,” Jeongguk retorted, partly because he didn’t want to take a trip down memory lane.

 

“And you think that’ll stop them from doing anything irrational because what? They’re so morally conscious?” he huffed. “And we still haven’t talked about what happened yesterday either,” he grimly remembered. “I know you don’t want to tell me but please can we just talk about it for once or least assure me, no… promise me, that it won’t happen again,” he finished.

 

I can’t make promises I can’t keep.

 

Before Jeongguk could think of anything to say, he was saved by the chimes of the bell.

 

“We’re not done with this conversation yet. You can’t avoid me forever, Jeongguk,” Yoongi sighed. “Come on, don’t be late for class.”

 

Although Yoongi was clearly frustrated with Jeongguk, he still walked with the younger to his classroom first before heading to his own. He was determined to not let the calm and collected Yoongi shatter in front of Jeongguk.

 

The rest of Jeongguk’s day passed by quickly as History of Magic and Potions were relatively simple since he already knew everything and the professors were not like the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Also the fact that no first year dared to disturb him now that he was wearing the scars of a fight on his face also contributed to this sense of serenity.

 

When the bell at the end of fourth period chimed, Jeongguk was the first out of the classroom and he headed straight for the Gryffindor dormitory, remembering that Yoongi still had class. On his way, he passed the group of eight prefects and the Head Boy and Head Girl who seemed like they had just concluded a meeting. He tried to shuffle past them slowly but when he caught sight of the male Hufflepuff prefect he ran into on his first day, he ducked his head and sped away.

 

However, before he could reach the common room he met a group of third and fourth year Gryffindors lurking in the corner of the corridor.

 

“What’re you planning, Jeon?”

 

“What?”

 

“Why did you join the Quidditch team? Are you trying to sabotage us in this year’s Quidditch Cup?”

 

“……” Jeongguk didn’t reply and just frowned.

 

“Answer me, you fuck!”

 

“Leave me alone,” Jeongguk said while walking away from them.

 

“I’m talking to you. Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” a tall male yelled and strode towards Jeongguk with four other students behind him. They intercepted him before he could leave the corridor by creating a barrier in front of him. Jeongguk glared at them and swivelled around, only to meet the other group of students obstructing his path in the form of a barricade.

 

“Do you mind?” Jeongguk asked, trying to push past them. However, he was no match for the crowd of ten students who were gradually enclosing him. Jeongguk recognised three of them as his rival for the Seeker position and the rest were vaguely familiar, probably from the tryouts as well.

 

“I’m serious. Go back to wherever the fuck you belong. Because it’s obviously not here.”

 

“And I’m serious too. Leave me alone.”

 

“Do you need us to teach you another lesson?” one of them asked while he whipped out his wand from underneath his cloak. The others followed him and soon Jeongguk was surrounded by ten armed students.

 

This left Jeongguk no choice but to take out his own wand. His wand, which was constructed from silver lime wood with a phoenix feather at its core, was exceptionally powerful and he had honestly not wanted the day to end like this but in this current situation, he deemed it necessary. No, he wasn’t going down without a fight, especially not after they used his relative’s catchphrase.

 

However, as soon as he took out his wand, a few students took a step back, disfiguring their previous perfect circle.

 

“He can’t take all ten of us on, don’t worry,” assured a female student standing behind Jeongguk and the others who stepped back retook their positions.

 

“Diffindo,” whispered a student on Jeongguk’s left.

 

Jeongguk barely had time to register the spell sent his way, but he sidestepped on instinct and the spell hit is arm with excruciating pain. Even though the gash was small it was fairly deep and blood ran out, invisibly staining his black robes. His robe also had a small tear near his left shoulder but a small movement rearranged the garment and covered the opening so that it was unnoticeable.

 

“Hey, what’s going on here?” said a Ravenclaw student, wearing the Head Boy badge, as he walked quickly towards them. Followed closely behind him were the Head Girl and the group of eight prefects that Jeongguk had seen a few minutes ago.

 

“Junmyeon, h-he threatened us,” one of the students who tried out for Seeker said, jabbing a finger under Jeongguk’s face, whilst hiding his own wand behind his back.

 

“What?” sharply asked the Head Girl, who also happened to be from Ravenclaw.

 

“Yongsun! He took out his wand and said that if we didn’t… if we didn’t join him or something, he would kill us,” sobbed another girl, desperately holding onto the Head Girl’s arm.

 

None of the prefects said a word and waited for either the Head Boy or Head Girl to speak up.

 

“Minho, Joohyun take them back to the Gryffindor common room,” the Head Boy directed at the Gryffindor prefects. “Actually Seunghoon, Hyojin go with them too,” he said turning to face the Ravenclaw prefects.

 

As the group of students were being led away, Jeongguk could’ve sworn he saw one of them turn around and smirk at him but then he realised he was left with the Head Boy, Head Girl and the Slytherin and Hufflepuff prefects. Jeongguk noticed that the Hufflepuff prefect he ran into a few days had a frown decorating his attractive face and lowered his eyes to the wand in his hand.

 

Fuck. I’m so screwed. They’re not going to believe me. It’s ten against one and well, that one is me so…

 

“I’ll go pack my things. Save the lecture,” Jeongguk sighed and turned to leave as well.

 

“Woah, woah, woah slow down there. Where do you think you’re going?” asked the boy named Junmyeon.

 

“Um… to leave Hogwarts? Aren’t you going to expel me?”

 

“Who ever said anything about expelling you? I’m not the Headmaster, I can’t expel anyone even if I wanted to,” the Head Boy chuckled.

 

“Oh.”

 

“But, you should probably avoid the Gryffindor common room for now, if you don’t want more trouble.”

 

“You could camp out at the Slytherin common room. I’m pretty sure Yoongi would be more than happy if you stayed there,” snickered the Slytherin prefect.

 

“Ahyoung, butt out,” huffed the other Slytherin teasingly while he rolled his eyes.

 

“Oh, don’t be such a spoilsport, Kibum. You should see the way Yoongi acts around this kid,” she laughed.

 

“Don’t any of you have class soon?” asked an amused Head Girl.

 

“Oh shit, catch you guys later!” exclaimed the Slytherin prefects as they rushed off.

 

“We should go too,” the Head Boy said to the rest of them.

 

“Wait. What about… you know… me threatening them?” Jeongguk asked uncertainly.

 

“Did you actually?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well, there we go. I don’t see a problem then.”

 

When Jeongguk stared back at him in shock and confusion he smiled and continued.

 

“Come on, it wouldn’t be really smart to threaten so many third and fourth years, would it now? Talk about being outnumbered.”

 

Then the Head Boy and Head Girl wandered off, leaving the Hufflepuff prefects with a flabbergasted Jeongguk. When the female Hufflepuff turned to follow, the male prefect said, “I’ll catch up with you later, Amber” before facing Jeongguk, who was still rooted in his spot.

 

“Hey Jeongguk, are you okay?”

 

Said boy quickly reconstructed the features on his face, erasing the surprise and replacing it with a relaxed smile.

 

“Yeah… thanks.”

 

“Are you sure? You look a bit pale.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“They didn’t do anything to you… right? Don’t hide it if you’re injured.”

 

“I’m fine. Really,” Jeongguk laughed hoping it would fool the older as he felt warm blood running down his arm.

 

The Hufflepuff prefect sighed and caved in.

 

“Ok then, if you say so.”

 

“I… I should go then,” Jeongguk said hesitantly.

 

The senior nodded and Jeongguk headed off, away from the Gryffindor common room. He watched Jeongguk leave until he was completely out of sight before proceeding back to the Hufflepuff dormitory.

 

Jeongguk wandered around the courtyard aimlessly for a while until he found a willow tree, its branches weeping onto the ground. As he closed in, he discovered that tree was hollow on the inside so he uncloaked the thick orange leaves and revealed a small area covered with shed leaves. He sat comfortably on top of the pile of orange before finally paying attention to his wound. Having treated several injuries by himself, he knew that he needed to stop the blood loss. Jeongguk unravelled the bandages around his torso and wrapped them tightly around his newly injured area instead. He sighed and leaned back onto the trunk, hoping that time would pass faster so he didn’t have to be alone.

 

Later that night when he met Yoongi, Taehyung and Jimin at dinner, he didn’t utter a single word about his day while the others complain about theirs.

 

It was definitely better this way.

 

Chapter Text

Same day, same moon. 24/7 every moment repeats. I have a long way to go but why am I running in place? I scream out of frustration but the empty air echoes. I hope tomorrow will be different from today. I’m just wishing.

 

Jeongguk woke up from his nightmare to the familiar red of the Gryffindor male’s dormitory. It had only been a few days since he moved back into the Gryffindor dormitory since he stayed in the dungeons with Yoongi and Jimin after the incident. He couldn’t stay for too long because he didn’t tell Yoongi or Jimin or Taehyung the reason why he decided to take a temporary trip to the Slytherin dorms.

 

In his bed now, he was drenched in sweat and sitting up, he bundled his legs towards his chest and curled himself into a ball. He looked out the window and observed the haze of black clouds that stretched over stars, providing a thin layer of concealment. He was no stranger to the dark but the transitory moonlight bleached Jeongguk’s world for a moment, increasing the current blur in his mind.

 

It was growing closer to that fateful day and Jeongguk’s nightmares were returning. He had grown somewhat accustomed to this annual routine, as he had dealt with it for the past five years by himself but every time his mind would develop new hallucinations, conjure new beasts that roamed and corrupted his thoughts, prolong his paralysis and embed remnants of the past into him.

 

He shivered as his body finally registered the October cold, which fought aggressively against the warmth of the fire, and he pulled himself out of bed to find a spare change of clothes. When he was changed, he walked back to his bed and laid down, facing the window again. He crossed his arms and sighed at the half-covered moon. Hey… How’re you doing? I’ve made a few new friends. Well, I think they’re my friends. I’m sorry I haven’t been spending as much time as I used to with you. I’ll try and visit you soon. I’ll sneak out of school if I have to. I don’t know if you can even hear me but I hope you’re doing well.

 

Jeongguk sighed again before rolling over and into his blankets to fall back asleep. There were no nightmares this time to haunt his short nap and soon it was morning. Noticing that the rest of his roommates weren’t awake yet, he quietly threw on some warm clothes and headed out of the dormitory and common room.

 

The cut on Jeongguk’s arm had healed completely over the few weeks, leaving a small cicatrix to match the others on his body. He refused to look at these scars, simply deeming them as badges of shame. Maybe one day, when he’s old, he would be able to wear it as a badge of pride and survival, forgetting the unfortunate days of his youth. But for now, they were nothing more than reminders of the harsh reality of his life.

 

He decided to take a stroll around the castle, as it was too early for breakfast. It was an early Saturday morning so there were no classes to prepare for. He took a few lefts and then a few rights, scanning the castle walls for hidden passages or secrets. However, he found nothing. It was bit disappointing really, Hogwarts was nothing like his parent’s ‘home’. There were still many mysteries inside the mansion, yet to be discovered but unfortunately, they may remain unknown forever.

 

As he turned another corner, he noticed a familiar figure.

 

“Hoseok!” Jeongguk yelled, waking up a few paintings in the corridor who proceeded to glare at him through their partially open eyes.

 

The Hufflepuff whirled around and when he recognised the student who had called his name, he presented a smile, which was almost bright enough to compete with the sun.

 

“Jeongguk! I haven’t seen you in ages. How’re you?” he asked while he naturally wrapped an arm around the younger’s shoulder.

 

“Pretty good,” Jeongguk replied smiling back at the older.

 

“What’re you doing up so early? Too nervous about tomorrow?”

 

“I guess you could say that.”

 

“Don’t worry, happens to everyone. Especially me, I remember I was barely eating but my friend forced me to, saying I needed energy and whatnot. Just make sure to eat or I’ll nag you too. I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

 

“I hope,” Jeongguk sighed.

 

Hoseok smiled encouragingly and ruffled his bed hair endearingly.

 

“Why do you look like you just had a bomb dropped on you though?”

 

Jeongguk smiled cheekily at Hoseok, making the older laugh.

 

“Come on, let’s go get breakfast before everyone else comes.”

 

As they were the first ones to enter the Great Hall, Hoseok led him to the Hufflepuff table and Jeongguk took a seat next to him.

 

“Where do you usually sit? I don’t see you at the Gryffindor table.”

 

“On the Slytherin table,” Jeongguk said while he looked longingly at his plate, wishing that food would appear soon.

 

“I see. Are your friends coming soon?”

 

Jeongguk shrugged.

 

“Not morning people, are they?”

 

Jeongguk let out a thunderous laugh and shook his head with fervour.

 

“I think I’m the only reason they make an effort to come to breakfast at all.”

 

“Oh… Well, you can come sit with me then if your friends want to sleep in and if you don’t mind,” Hoseok offered. Even though Jeongguk was smiling, he noticed that the younger was pushing blame onto himself for something so trivial.

 

“Thanks, I think they’ll love that.”

 

“Hoseok!” exclaimed another familiar voice, breaking their friendly moment. “Oh Jeongguk, you’re here too? You guys know each other?” the person continued as he took a spot across from Hoseok.

 

“Jin! How do you know Jeongguk?” Hoseok asked confoundly.

 

“He ran straight into me on the first day of school and knocked me flat on the ground,” Jin replied, chuckling at the memory while Jeongguk looked apologetic again. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Oh, my full name’s Seokjin Kim by the way. You can just call me Jin. So… how did the two of you meet?”

 

“I challenged him to a race.”

 

“Hoseok! Don’t bully a first year!” Jin scolded jokingly. “But all in all, who won?”

 

Hoseok and Jeongguk exchanged a look before they both erupted in laughter.

 

“You don’t have faith in my skills?” Hoseok asked, dramatically faking he was offended.

 

“Well, Jeongguk’s a Seeker. There’s a chance he could outrace you.”

 

“Then you can’t really call it bullying when our skills are on par with each other,” Hoseok corrected, rolling his eyes at Jin and directing a gentle smile at Jeongguk.

 

At the mention of Quidditch, Jeongguk’s stomach had rotated a full three hundred and sixty degrees. He was both looking forward to and wishing that tomorrow would not come. Jin must have sensed Jeongguk’s restlessness and paralleled it with the Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw Quidditch taking place on the upcoming day because he tried to lighten to mood.

 

“Don’t think that much about it. And make sure you eat tomorrow morning,” Jin said reiterating Hoseok’s words. “I practically had to force Hoseok to eat before his first game. I mean you kids should be more sensible. Why would you play a game on an empty stomach?” Jin chastised with a shake of his head.

 

Hoseok rolled his eyes again in reply and leaned towards Jeongguk, whispering “He’s like my second mother. He nags me almost everyday” under his hand. But before Hoseok could return to his sitting position, he received a light smack on his head from Jin.

 

“Stop badmouthing me. You realise I’m right here, yeah?” Jin joked before another sarcastic comment was sent to him from Hoseok.

 

Jeongguk was surprised he felt comfortable around the two elders and after observing their dynamics for a while, he decided that they were definitely an odd pair. Maybe even more so than Jimin and Taehyung who seemed like each other’s clone. Jeongguk was content on sitting here watching the two of them argue back and forth but the Great Hall was starting to get busier with students filing in for their breakfast. He contemplated whether he was supposed to move to the Slytherin table and wait for the others there or continue chatting with Hoseok and Jin.

 

His position on the Hufflepuff table interested some and disgusted many others. There were fingers and harsh comments thrown at him and even more at the two older Hufflepuffs for accepting him on their table. Jeongguk’s guilt was growing and he longed to move them away from the hate but he still did not sense the presence of his friends.

 

Jeongguk shifted consistently as the comfortable atmosphere rapidly grew sour, however, going unnoticed by the two Hufflepuffs. When he was just about to voice his departure, two strong arms wrapped themselves around Jeongguk’s shoulders and the body connected to the limbs leaned against his back, pushing Jeongguk’s upper body slightly forward. The owner of the arms back hugging Jeongguk then rested his chin on the younger’s left shoulder, drawing the attention of both Hoseok and Jin. When Jeongguk turned his head to the side to see whom the limbs belonged to, he was met with Jimin’s head tilt and attractive eye smile.

 

“Hey, Guk. What’re you doing here?” Jimin asked and laughed when he ruffled Jeongguk’s messy hair before helping him smooth the escaped locks down.

 

“We walked into each other before breakfast so I brought him here,” Hoseok answered for Jeongguk and continued, “You guys can go sit at the Slytherin table if you’re more comfortable, I don’t mind.”

 

“Do you mind if I join?” Jimin asked politely and when both Hufflepuffs shook their heads eagerly, he walked to sit next to Jin.

 

“I’m Jimin Park.”

 

“Hoseok Jung.”

 

“Seokjin Kim.”

 

It was Jeongguk’s turn to watch fondly as they exchanged names and he wondered how his various friends were going to get along. It wasn’t that any of them had a bad personality but just the fact that they were from two different houses. Before he arrived at Hogwarts, the houses were very much divided and he was certain that no houses mingled with one another, with the rare exception of Jimin and Taehyung.

 

“Where’re Yoongi and Tae?” Jeongguk asked after they finished their greetings.

 

“Sleeping and detention,” Jimin replied nonchalantly as he stabbed his fork into a sausage.

 

“Classic,” Jeongguk grinned. Over the month, Jimin, Taehyung and Yoongi had grown surprisingly close to each other. Neither Jimin nor Taehyung found it hard to tease the eldest anymore and Yoongi didn’t hide voicing his complaint about their energetic capacity of annoying people. Now with the addition of Hoseok and Jin, Jeongguk wondered what good deeds he had done in his past life to deserve such people.

 

Halfway through their breakfast, a half-awake Yoongi stumbled into the hall and squinted at their usual spot on the Slytherin table. When he realised that his friends were not there, he did a quick scan of the Great Hall, spotting Jimin’s noticeable pink hair amongst Jeongguk’s dark black, a blindingly bright orange and a pale blonde.

 

Yoongi absentmindedly made his way to the Hufflepuff table and dropped himself down next to Jeongguk before resting his head on the younger’s shoulder.

 

“Yoongi? Don’t fall back asleep,” Jeongguk said as he softly shook the senior Slytherin.

 

“Hm, what?” Yoongi mumbled as he lifted his head off Jeongguk. “Where am I?”

 

Jeongguk rolled his eyes and allowed the older to let his head fall back onto his shoulder. Both Jin and Hoseok were perplexed with the Slytherin’s actions and continued to gape at him.

 

“Is that who I think it is?” whispered Jin, not wanting to wake the newcomer.

 

“If you’re talking about Yoongi Min, the notorious, unapproachable, cold-hearted, emotionless Slytherin who is currently resting his head on a first year Gryffindor, then yes,” Jimin snickered.

 

“Shut up,” retorted Yoongi, waking up from his nap.

 

“Yes sir,” Jimin replied.

 

Yoongi shook his head and finally took a second to consider his surroundings, resulting in a sudden feeling of confusion.

 

“Why’re we sitting here? Who are you?” he asked bluntly to Hoseok and Jin with a small frown.

 

“This is Hoseok Jung and Seokjin Kim,” Jeongguk said, stepping in before sleepy Yoongi gets any grumpier.

 

“Ok,” Yoongi replied simply and then slouched over the table and resting his head on his arms, promptly falling back asleep.

 

“Sorry about him. He wasn’t being rude, he’s just a bit grumpy when he wakes up,” Jeongguk explained to the Hufflepuffs.

 

“Is he not hungry?”

 

“… Probably not,” Jeongguk shrugged, realising that he never really gave it a thought.

 

The five of them decided to stay in the Great Hall after breakfast as they led into a conversation of muggle life and Jeongguk found this new world very intriguing. He was learning far more from Hoseok than he had ever learnt from reading books. While they talked, Jimin watched and Jin and Yoongi brought their books to study for their N.E.W.T. classes and O.W.L.s respectively.

 

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Say that again. What’s a television and how do they work?”

 

“So a television is an electronic device where we can watch the news or television shows or other entertainment. You have a remote control which can turn the television on or off, switch channels, adjust the volume and a lot of other stuff,” Hoseok explained as simply as possible.

 

“Fascinating,” Jeongguk replied in awe while Jimin burst into laughter.

 

“If only Tae was here,” Jimin said through his tears.

 

“And this all works by using electricity?” Jeongguk continued, earning a nod from Hoseok. “Wow. And what about telephones? I think I’ve heard about them before.”

 

“We use telephones to talk to people over long distances. For example if I went home and you stayed here and we both had a telephone, I would just have to dial in your number and press call to be able to talk to you.”

 

“Interesting. And this device uses electricity too?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“So you don’t use owls or the Floo Network to communicate with each other?”

 

“Oh no, definitely not.”

 

“Brilliant,” Jeongguk said, trying to absorb all the information given to him while Hoseok looked affectionately at him and Jimin doubled over with laughter.

 

Soon, students came in and out of the Great Hall again for lunch and their conversation moved back to Quidditch as Jimin and Hoseok enthusiastically discussed their position as Chasers.

 

“This year, we have to stop Ravenclaw from winning the Quidditch Cup. They’ve won it three years in a row!” Hoseok exclaimed quietly while Jimin nodded fervently.

 

“Maybe Gryffindor will have a chance this year,” Jimin said raising his eyebrows at Jeongguk, who unintendedly ignored him.

 

“Jeongguk?” Hoseok asked, concerned that the younger hadn’t responded.

 

“Hm? Oh yeah, right. Sure,” Jeongguk muttered when he saw that they were looking at him.

 

Hoseok and Jimin exchanged a look of understanding before continuing with their discussion on tactics of how to beat Ravenclaw.

 

“Guk, stop worrying,” Yoongi said, lifting his face up from his stack of books when he realised that Jeongguk had turned quiet. There was an ink stain on his cheek that he was unaware of and it was also the reason why the rest of them started laughing. Hoseok and Jin kept their laugh muffled behind their hands whilst Jeongguk and Jimin openly chortled at the eldest.

 

“Scourgify,” said Jeongguk through his laughter, feeling slightly sympathetic for the confused Yoongi. The ink was instantly wiped off his face, leaving the pale white skin of the senior.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi grunted before burying his head back into his books, forgetting why he looked up in the first place.

 

“Don’t worry so much about tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll do fine. Do you want me to go fly for a while with you?” Jimin, who had also sensed the anxiousness of the youngest, asked.

 

Jeongguk felt a sudden déjà vu at Jimin’s second statement, having heard it from Hoseok this morning and replied, “Nah, it’s fine. Chanyeol said to not overexert myself today. Thanks for offering though.”

 

“Just watch out for Ravenclaw’s Beater. He’s really, really strong and very accurate. Ever since he joined, no team stood a chance against them because he just simply knocked half the players out,” Hoseok informed, without need to lower his voice as the hall was empty once again. “He’s also known to have accidentally injured several of their own players though.”

 

“Apparently people call him ‘Destruction Monster’ and ‘God of Destruction’ or something because he always unintentionally destroys things on and off the Quidditch field,” Jin added.

 

“Thanks, I’ll try,” Jeongguk replied, feeling more worried. He didn’t want to get knocked out on his first Quidditch game and have his whole team lose because of him.

 

“I think Tae might be friends with him,” Jimin stated.

 

“Tae’s friends with everyone,” Jeongguk replied without giving it much thought.

 

“Just get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need the energy tomorrow,” Hoseok advised.

 

“You can come sleep in the Slytherin dorm again tonight, if you feel more comfortable there,” Jimin offered kindly.

 

“When did you move back to the Gryffindor dorm?” Jin interjected in surprise.

 

“A few days ago.”

 

“What about-“

 

“It’s fine,” Jeongguk interrupted before Jin could finish his question. He tried to shake his head subtly at Jin, hoping that the eldest was the only person who saw his pleading eyes before looking away at his cup, suddenly pretending to analyse it.

 

However, Jeongguk didn’t realise that the rest of them had all caught the movement and were now looking back and forth between the oldest and youngest, sensing that there was a hidden secret amidst their unspoken words. Yoongi frowned when Jeongguk refused to make eye contact with anyone and this made him certain that something had happened.

 

“Jeongguk,“ Yoongi began, but before he could finish forming a coherent sentence, another person jumped on Jeongguk and slung his arms around Jeongguk.

 

“Gukkie, I’m so tired and hungry. The professor made me polish all the ornate candelabras in the whole school without magic. My arms are about to fall off,” the person whined, reaching to play with Jeongguk’s lobes. However, when he noticed the tense atmosphere he had just interrupted, he stood up and frankly asked, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

 

“Tae, sit down,” Yoongi ordered and Taehyung listened without a moment of hesitation, placing himself down next to Jimin and across from the older Slytherin.

 

“Jeongguk, why did you come stay in the Slytherin dorms for a while?” Jimin asked slowly.

 

“I… I-“

 

“He was having trouble sleeping in the Gryffindor dorm,” Jin finished for Jeongguk. He knew that Jeongguk probably had a reason for not telling his friends the truth so he thought it wouldn’t hurt to help him out.

 

Jeongguk looked up in shock at the elder who had lied on his behalf while Yoongi sighed and let it go, thinking that it was highly unlikely for a prefect to lie. When Jin smiled softly at Jeongguk, the younger returned the gesture, genuinely grateful that he didn’t have to lie to his friends. He had rarely lied to Yoongi, only just avoided his many questions and to be fair Jin wasn’t fully lying. Jeongguk was definitely having trouble sleeping but no one knew that and he wanted it to stay that way. This was another reason why Jeongguk moved out of the Slytherin dorms. Once he sensed his nightmares creeping up on him, he immediately departed back to the Gryffindor dormitory. He didn’t need anyone intruding on the miserable part of his life that he wanted to lock up and forget forever.

 

“So… what did I miss? Who are all of you and why are we sitting together?” Taehyung joked lightly, causing the rest of them, excluding Yoongi, to smile.

 

After everyone reintroduced themselves, the Great Hall started getting filled with hungry students, entering for the last time that day to eat dinner. When they noticed the four houses sitting together, they were more than a little horrified and even the Hufflepuffs began avoiding their own table. Jeongguk was getting used to ignoring them but he was bothered by the fact that his friends had to experience this as well.

 

“Anyways, if you’re having trouble sleeping, then I really don’t mind if you come sleep in my dorm. There’s only four people in my room anyways,” Jimin said.

 

“No, it’s ok. I’ll only be an inconvenience. Plus, it’s getting easier to sleep now. I think I just wasn’t used to a sudden change,” Jeongguk reasoned.

 

“Mmk,” Jimin shrugged.

 

Taehyung, who was quietly observing their interaction, finally spoke up, “No fair. How come you don’t have sleepovers with me? Gukkie, you should come Ravenclaw dorms too. We could play hide and seek or have pillow fights!”

 

“Tae, he has to get some rest tonight,” Jimin scolded, leaving Taehyung pouting.

 

“Fine,” Taehyung relented.

 

“What’s hide and seek?” Jeongguk asked, ensuring that the conversation did not steer towards Quidditch.

 

“Are you serious?” Taehyung asked dramatically before receiving a nod of confirmation from Jeongguk. “Oh my god. What did you even play as a child?”

 

Jeongguk froze. He had not expected to be asked such a question and he wasn’t sure if Taehyung wanted an answer but that simple question began triggering his unpleasant memories. Flashes of his past replayed in his mind and the nightmare from this morning tormented him by invading and torturing his psyche. Jeongguk saw streaks of light followed by a frenzy of voices burying him in a mirage. More blinding light before Jeongguk saw darkness. Familiar, familiar darkness, which beckoned him to follow.

 

“So, basically hide and seek is a game where one person closes their eyes and counts to ten while everyone else in the game looks for a place to hide. After he finishes counting, he has to go find everyone. Hence, the name hide and seek,” Taehyung explained, not noticing Jeongguk breathing heavily.

 

The others were also absorbed in their own conversations so no one paid any attention to the two youngest until Jeongguk gripped the table hard enough for his fingertips to turn white.

 

“Jeongguk? Jeongguk, what’s wrong?” Taehyung asked from across the table, concern growing when the younger didn’t respond.

 

His question and worried expression caught the attention of the others who stopped in the middle of talking to look at Jeongguk.

 

“Jeongguk, look at me,” Yoongi said gently while he gripped his shaking shoulders and turned Jeongguk around to face him. “Hey, it’s ok. Just breathe, okay? Follow me. In and out. In and out.”

 

Slowly, Jeongguk followed Yoongi’s instructions, breathing in and out when the older told him to and Yoongi finally managed to soothe him. The others, especially Taehyung, watched in shock at the Jeongguk’s unstable condition and Yoongi’s calm attitude.

 

“Come on, let’s go for a walk. I think you need some fresh air, you’ve been cooped up in here the whole day,” Yoongi said, helping Jeongguk to his feet.

 

As they were departing from the Great Hall, Jeongguk made sure to not let anyone witness his frail state but as soon as they arrived in the courtyard, he collapsed, leaning most of his weight onto Yoongi. The elder shifted both of them to a bench before he moved his left arm around Jeongguk, lightly patting him on back.

 

“Are you ok? Do you want to talk about what happened?”

 

“Not now,” Jeongguk whispered weakly, settling his face into his hands.

 

They continued to sit in silence and the only noise accompanying them was the whistles of the wind. The wintry air swirled around them, greedily stealing every breath of warmth it could reach with indecent speed. It caressed their skin, replacing the pink blush with a tint of blue. The only notion of brightness was the moon, it’s silvery light lessening the darkness. Yoongi began rubbing small circles on Jeongguk’s back, hoping it would comfort the younger more while he took Jeongguk’s right hand in his.

 

“Sorry,” Jeongguk said. “Your hands are freezing, you can go back inside if you want.”

 

“I’m not going to leave you, Jeongguk,” he replied and gripped Jeongguk’s hand tighter, earning a slight smile.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Do you want to come sleep in my dorm tonight?” Yoongi asked after another couple of minutes.

 

Jeongguk hesitated. The offer was really tempting since he didn’t want to be alone tonight but he also didn’t want Yoongi to know about his nightmares.

 

“It’s ok. I’m fine,” Jeongguk convinced.

 

Yoongi was about to say something but decided not to at the last second. The last thing Jeongguk needs right now is someone telling him he’s wrong or someone reminding him of the melancholic aspects of his past.

 

“It’s ok to rely on me sometimes, you know that right?” Yoongi asked in tender tone. “You can talk to me about anything. Trust me, it won’t burden me.”

 

“Yeah… I just… I don’t know… I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologise. I’ll wait until you’re ready.”

 

“Thank you. Really, I mean it,” Jeongguk said sincerely and squeezed Yoongi’s hand.

 

Yoongi squeezed back to hopefully express his “You’re welcome,” and “I’m here for you” before they both fell back into silence.

 

Meanwhile, at the Great Hall, as soon as Yoongi and Jeongguk had left, the others looked uncertainly at each other.

 

“What were you guys talking about?” Jimin asked gently, careful not cause any panic.

 

“We… I was just telling him what hide and seek was. I don’t know what happened. I swear I didn’t do anything,” Taehyung replied, feeling distressed and confused.

 

“No one said you did anything, Tae,” Jimin said softly.

 

“Do you think he’s ok?”

 

“Don’t worry, Yoongi’s with him. He’ll be fine,” Jimin whispered as he wrapped an arm around Taehyung’s waist.

 

“I hope so,” Taehyung said despondently.

 

“It wasn’t your fault, Tae. Don’t blame yourself,” Hoseok added and Taehyung tried his best to give him a sad smile.

 

‘Would he be able to play tomorrow?” Taehyung asked no one in particular.

 

“Definitely. Jeongguk’s a strong kid, okay?” Jin reassured from the other side of Jimin, having encountered Jeongguk’s stubbornness already.

 

When Taehyung nodded, the conversation ended and they all turned to finish their meal quietly while Jeongguk and Yoongi’s presence were dearly missed. Although most of them had only met today, they were all starting to feel comfortable around each other and didn’t hold back on revealing their feelings unlike Jeongguk’s reticence.

 

After dinner, they all separated in unvoiced agreement, Jin and Hoseok heading back to the Hufflepuff common room, Jimin to Slytherin and Taehyung to the Ravenclaw dorms.

 

Yoongi and Jeongguk, on the other hand, sat on the bench in the courtyard for what seemed like forever until Jeongguk felt ready to move. Both of their hands were beyond freezing and Jeongguk was now shivering from the cold and not from the sudden outburst of memories.

 

“We should go to bed soon. We’re going to catch a cold and I want to get some sleep before tomorrow,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to come to the Slytherin common room?” Yoongi persisted.

 

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Jeongguk replied as he managed to smile.

 

“Ok, at least let me walk you to the Gryffindor Tower.”

 

They stood up, Yoongi’s arm not leaving Jeongguk’s back, and walked back into the castle. When they reached the painting of the Fat Lady, Jeongguk thanked Yoongi one last time before saying “carpe diem” to the painting and disappearing into the common room. Yoongi watched the younger’s back until the Fat Lady swung the entrance closed. He sighed and trudged back to the dungeons where the Slytherin common room and dormitory were located.

 

When Yoongi entered, the common room was completely empty and he saw Jimin slouched on the black sofa, the right side of his face lit by the dancing flames on the side of the room. He approached the younger and placed himself down next to him. Jimin sat up from his hunched position when he realised that someone was beside him but upon seeing Yoongi’s exhausted face, he stopped moving and patted his shoulder, indicating that the older could lean against him. Yoongi took the offer, laying his head lightly on Jimin’s shoulder and then crumpled his body into a defeated stack.

 

“Um, I brought your books back for you,” Jimin said and when Yoongi didn’t reply, he continued, “Is he ok?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Are you ok?”

 

“I don’t know,” Yoongi mumbled. He paused before saying, “Do you remember how we first met?”

 

“Yeah. That day at the start of this term when I found Jeongguk…”

 

“That day I was with Jeongguk at his Quidditch tryouts. It was my fault, Jimin. I left him.”

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“If I hadn’t, then maybe nothing would’ve happened.”

 

“Yoongi, it’s not your fault,” Jimin argued.

 

“It is and he never even told me how he got injured. Why am I so bad at this?” Yoongi groaned and covered his face.

 

“Hey, stop blaming yourself. I’m sure you’re already doing everything you can.”

 

“But it’s not enough. He needs someone better.”

 

“…I’m sure he’ll talk when he’s ready.”

 

“But I’ve known him for five years already and he’s still not talking to me,” Yoongi sighed. “I feel like I know nothing about him.”

 

“What he experienced can’t be easy though. You just have to be patient with him. Please, don’t give up on him now, Yoongi. He needs you.”

 

“No.”

 

“No?”

 

“No. He needs us.”

 

The walk to the Hufflepuff common room was shortest as it was located right next to the kitchens. Jin quickly tapped the barrel in the rhythm ‘Helga Hufflepuff’, exposing the sloping, earthy passageway to the round, low-ceilinged room. The common room was decorated with a profusion of nature ornaments in addition to the cheerful yellow and black motifs and the cosiness was completed with honey-coloured wooden tables and round doors, which led to the separate dormitories. A portrait of Helga Hufflepuff was hung over the wooden mantelpiece and the walls were accessorised with small round windows, just level with the ground, offering a pleasant view of the grass and dandelions in daylight.

 

When they entered the Hufflepuff Basement, Hoseok and Jin headed for their usual yellow couch on the left side of the room by the fireplace. There were a few people scattered around the room but all were an adequate distance away from them so that they were not able to intrude on their conversation.

 

“So what was that about?” Hoseok spoke up.

 

“What do you mean?” Jin replied, honestly not knowing what Hoseok was referring to.

 

“Come on, Jin. I’ve known you for a few years now, I know when you’re lying.”

 

“Oh… that?”

 

“Yeah, that. So, why did you lie? How did you even know he moved out of the Gryffindor dorms?” Hoseok asked.

 

Jin sighed.

 

“Just don’t tell the others. I don’t think Jeongguk wanted them to know.”

 

“Know what?”

 

“So a few weeks ago, after our prefect meeting, we were roaming the corridors when he heard voices yelling so we all went to check it out. I thought I heard someone cast a spell but by the time we rushed there, no one was injured.”

 

“What does this have to do with Jeongguk?” Hoseok asked even though he had an inkling of where Jin was going.

 

“He was one of the students involved. When we got there, the other students said he was threatening them or something.”

 

“And then?”

 

“Well, it was pretty obvious that Jeongguk was the victim but none of us had proof so we had to let it go. Junmyeon told him that it would be best if he didn’t stay in the Gryffindor dorms for a while and yeah, that’s basically all,” Jin finished.

 

“Wait. If you’re saying you heard a spell then…,” Hoseok said as his voice trailed off.

 

“Yeah, I thought so too and he did look a bit pale but I asked him and he said he was fine.”

 

“Of course he would say he’s fine,” Hoseok groaned, falling into the sofa.

 

“I couldn’t do anything back then though, I wasn’t even his friend,” Jin stated.

 

“But you’re a prefect!”

 

“Yes, but it’s different. I have responsibilities but I can’t force him to talk to me if he doesn’t want to.”

 

“I know, I’m sorry. I’m just really worried about him,” Hoseok said apologetically.

 

“We all are, Hoseok.”

 

“I just hope he knows that he has us now.”

 

“Me too.”

 

Taehyung plodded up the spiral staircase of Ravenclaw Tower to the fifth floor with heavy footsteps. When he reached the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room, the eagle knocker asked, “What is always coming but never arrives?” to which Taehyung mumbled “Tomorrow” before he was let into the wide, circular room. Above the arched windows hung blue and bronze silks and the floor was covered with a midnight blue carpet, which was patterned with stars, purpose to reflect the domed ceiling. Hundreds of books were placed neatly on wooden bookshelves and the rest of the room was furnished with blue tables and chairs. By the door leading up to the dormitories stood a tall, white, marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw.

 

The airy room was very busy with students running around, excited for the first Quidditch match against Gryffindor tomorrow. Taehyung headed straight for the dormitory without looking where he was going, relying on his muscle memory and hoping his feet remembered. But before he could climb up the stairs, an elder Ravenclaw coming down grabbed him by the arm and stopped him in his path.

 

“Hey Tae, why do you look so down?”

 

“Huh? Do I?” Taehyung sighed.

 

“What’s wrong?“ asked the Ravenclaw.

 

“I… I don’t know… I think I hurt someone.”

 

“Wait, let’s talk somewhere quieter,” the elder said, leading Taehyung up the flight of stairs to the boy’s dormitory.

 

“I’m sorry. You should be preparing for your match tomorrow,” Taehyung remembered as they ascended and started to feel guilty.

 

“Tae, you’ll always come before Quidditch, okay?”

 

“Thanks,” Taehyung said, a slight smile touching his face.

 

The dormitory held six silver-framed beds covered with blue blankets and the side draped with matching curtains. The dormitory walls were decorated with wall hangings in medieval prints and the ground in similarly styled carpet. The moonlit room was very spacious and Taehyung casually dropped himself onto the other boy’s bed. The elder Ravenclaw followed and sat down next to Taehyung.

 

“So… what happened?” he asked hesitantly. He wasn’t great with comforting others but if you asked him to write a philosophical poem or essay, he could undoubtedly whip one up on the spot.

 

“I was talking to my friend and I think I said something I wasn’t supposed to but he started breathing really fast and he just… he just completely spaced out and stopped responding and… and I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do,” Taehyung rambled.

 

“What were you guys talking about?”

 

“Uh… hide and seek.”

 

“Hide and seek?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Ok, and then what happened?” the other boy asked slowly.

 

“His friend calmed him down and took him outside and I don’t know…” Taehyung said. Before his friend could open his mouth and respond, he continued, “Joon, what should I do?”

 

“Well, I don’t know what really went on but I don’t think it’s your fault, Taehyung.”

 

“But I said something that hurt him.”

 

“You don’t know that. And even if it was something you said, you didn’t say it intentionally,” the Ravenclaw reasoned.

 

“But-“

 

“Hey, don’t jump to conclusions. Go talk to him tomorrow. Trust me.”

 

“I’ll try,” Taehyung said as he looked down dejectedly. But then after a second thought, he perked his head up again and declared, “You’re versing him tomorrow actually.”

 

“I am?”

 

“Yeah, he made the team this year,” Taehyung grinned proudly, his mood already changing evident as he started swinging his legs off the ground like a child.

 

“So, are you going to cheer for me or for him?” the Ravenclaw asked jokingly, sensing that the conversation was moving successfully. Surprisingly, it was exactly the right thing to say as it pulled Taehyung away from his misery.

 

“Both, of course!”

 

When Jeongguk entered his dorm room, it was empty. He changed quickly into a loose white T-shirt and a pair of black shorts before scrambling into the welcoming arms of his blanket and tucking himself in. It was a long day and Jeongguk was very tired so it wasn’t long before sleep engulfed him and pulled Jeongguk into those defenceless hours where he was oblivious with his surroundings. Serenity was plastered on his features, which seemed even softer in his sleep, as the usual lines of worry on his face were replaced with a youthful appearance to match his age.

 

However, not long after, he was trapped in the darkness. The peacefulness was washed over with a crease in his brow and his fingers itched to grab onto something. His deep breaths became erratic as he attempted to escape the restraints. Panic grows, fear lingers and he hesitates but time waits for no one.

 

Jeongguk woke up abruptly, eyes throbbing and heart thumping against his chest. The emptiness vibrated in his ears and oxygen floods his lungs. He propped himself up before grabbing one shaking hand in the other for support.

 

It’s ok, Jeongguk, it was just a nightmare.

 

Chapter Text

The captain led them through the changing rooms and towards the large wooden doors, which were closed for now, but led to the Quidditch field. Streaks of light peaked through the wooden boards lining the side of their path and Jeongguk clutched onto his broomstick tighter. He came to a stop next to the captain, who pivoted to face the rest of his team, currently adorned in their matching scarlet Quidditch uniforms.

 

“Worried?” Chanyeol aimed at Jeongguk.

 

“Yeah, a bit.”

 

“It’s okay, everyone is on their first match,” he said lightly. “Just watch out for the Bludgers.”

 

When Jeongguk nodded his understanding the captain turned to the rest of the members.

 

“Ok guys. Remember what we went through in training,” Chanyeol said as he reached an arm towards the centre.

 

The rest of the team, including Jeongguk followed, piled up their arms into a neat stack on top of their captain’s.

 

“Here comes the speech,” Baekhyun snickered to Jeongguk, who grinned from ear to ear while Chanyeol ignored the older’s remark.

 

“This is the best team that Gryffindor has had in years and I don’t mind if we win or not, obviously I would prefer it if we win but just don’t forget to have fun, ok?”

 

With a firm nod from the team and a loud cheer from the captain, their pregame pep talk ended.

 

As Jeongguk stood behind the doors, he revised the important parts of the training sessions he’s had since joining the team.

 

‘During the first training session of the season, Chanyeol had approached Jeongguk after instructing the others to execute their individual warm ups and then continue on with the basic drills and since Jeongguk was the only new member to join their team, his main focus was on the Seeker.

 

”So as you know all Seekers have eagle eyes but they are also notorious for their tunnel vision. As soon as they see the snitch, they ignore everything else. But this is a mistake. Every Seeker must pay attention to the Beaters and Chasers of both teams. In a Quidditch match, if the Beater is good, they can win or lose the match for their teams by deciding the flow of the game. A good Seeker should never lose sight of the quaffle play as well. You wouldn’t want to catch the snitch if we were more than a hundred and fifty points behind. And finally, a Seeker must be cognisant of and in control of their reactions when they see the snitch. Remember, your true enemy is not the Snitch but the opposing Seeker. Got that all?”

 

Even though the captain overwhelmed Jeongguk with information on the first day, he absorbed everything nevertheless. After they finished with the basic foundation of the position of the Seeker, he called the rest of his team down from their drills.

 

“Ok, the Chasers in our team are Baekhyun, Byulyi and I. The Keeper is Minah and the Beaters are Jackson and Hyunwoo,” Chanyeol said as he introduced the team to Jeongguk.

 

The team responded with either a smile, a pat on the back or in Jackson’s place, a bold bro hug, before the captain ordered them to return to their training. Chanyeol rolled his eyes as the other’s made cheeky remarks about his commands, which they deemed as just an act to seem intimidating in front of Jeongguk and dubbed the captain a ‘happy virus’ instead. Jeongguk couldn’t agree more with the rest of the team for he had already seen the captain’s beagle ability and jovial attitude towards everything. He later found that the rest of his team were equally mischievous seniors but as soon as they entered their Quidditch mode, there were no games or jokes thrown around. Jeongguk found this aspect of his team very admirable and he resolved to not disappoint them.

 

While the others went back to practice, Chanyeol enforced many drills onto Jeongguk to improve his ambidexterity and ability to fly and balance on his broom without the use of his hands. Although the drills were tough and would take ages to perfect, Chanyeol was surprised once again when he found that the youngest of their team was so naturally gifted in Quidditch and flying in general that by the third training session, he was gliding freely around the pitch with no hands and could catch miniature balls with his left hand as easily as his right.

 

Chanyeol then instituted new drills that he hadn’t with last year’s Seeker, including working on his peripheral vision, ability to dodge Bludgers and diving, all of which Jeongguk had already demonstrated in his tryout. The last crucial part that the captain taught and reinforced over and over again was Jeongguk’s ability to communicate with the rest of the team. Through the many training sessions that were held throughout the term so far, the youngest was eventually able to signal his teammates and respond to their signals without the need of words.

 

The captain and the rest of the team made sure not to let anyone witness their Seeker’s skills, as he was their secret weapon. Jeongguk, himself, was also determined to not let his team down so he went to the library and borrowed ‘Quidditch Through The Ages’. He learnt that there were seven hundred different methods of committing a Quidditch foul and the book also historically proved that the most serious Quidditch accidents were experienced by the Seeker.

 

After reading the book, Jeongguk wasn’t sure if he was more prepared or less prepared for the Quidditch game but fortunately his team and friends were always there to support him so he persevered through balancing the draining Quidditch sessions and his increasing amount of homework.

 

On the last training session before the game, Chanyeol presented his knowledge on the Ravenclaw team while reaffirming that “You must know your enemy.” Apparently the Ravenclaw captain was also a Chaser and her name was Seungwan. She, along with the other Chasers Hyeri and Hyungwon, are known for their teamwork and ability to pass the Quaffle to each other without the opposing team realising. Their Keeper Jinhwan has been on the team since his third year and he was fairly skilled while their Beaters, Wonshik and Namjoon, were distinguished for their ability to work together to manipulate the flow of the game. Finally, Jeongguk’s opponent, the Ravenclaw’s Seeker Mark, was a relatively quiet person but when he played Quidditch, he was so agile and nimble that many people considered him a feather.

 

Altogether it seemed that the Ravenclaw team was strong and unified and even though the Gryffindor team posed an equal threat especially with the addition of their new Seeker, Chanyeol made sure that they were to remain humble no matter if they win or not.’

 

Back to reality and as the wooden doors creaked open, Jeongguk was bombarded with the impressive cheers, which were fuelled by exhilaration and anticipation that erupted from the spectator seats. He was momentarily blinded by the sun but as Chanyeol mounted his broom, Jeongguk followed the movement and then waited until the captain flew out before he took off himself. The Gryffindor team zoomed a few loops around the Quidditch field, the Ravenclaw mirroring their actions until Madam Hooch stepped onto the pitch. Upon seeing her, Chanyeol flew forward to shake hands with Seungwan before joining the rest of his teammates in lining up in an orderly circle that faced the opposing team while each team’s Seeker took a position slightly above them.

 

Many students brought binoculars to observe the match better and the entire stadium was an overwhelming concoction of blue and bronze and scarlet and gold. The students quietened down when the referee walked towards the suitcase placed in the middle of the pitch and under the circle of players. The case, itself, was vibrating with excitement as the bludgers threaten to break through the metal lock, which held it shut. She kicked the chest and muttered a spell to open it and out flew the two Bludgers and the Golden Snitch.

 

She allowed enough time for the Snitch and Bludgers to fly out of sight before she reached for the Quaffle and released it, marking the start of the first Quidditch match of the season.

 

As soon as the Quaffle was released, two Chasers from opposing teams dived to grab it but Baekhyun was slightly quicker than the other Chaser and the ball ended in his possession. The three Gryffindor Chasers immediately formed into their trained position, Chanyeol and Byulyi flying on Baekhyun’s side for support. Jeongguk, on the other hand, flew off to a high vantage point, ensuring he was able to view the whole Quidditch field to keep an eye out for every single player in the game. He also observed that Mark, the Ravenclaw Seeker, was also a fantastic flyer and he was now roaming the field on his broom, seeking for the Golden Snitch.

 

From his position above the game, he saw a Bludger dashing towards Baekhyun, who passed the Quaffle to Chanyeol before diving out of the way of the incoming danger. Jeongguk was too concentrated on both pairs of Beaters that were working hard on directing the two Bludgers to disturb their opponents that he nearly missed Chanyeol already closing in on the three goal posts. The Gryffindor captain pretended to throw the Quaffle through to the highest goal post but dropped the ball last minute to Byulyi who spun on her broom and hit the Quaffle towards the lowest goal post. Their tactic worked as the Ravenclaw Keeper was too distracted with Chanyeol’s fake attempt to score that he didn’t realise the Quaffle already being passed onto another Chaser, who scored a clean goal.

 

The crowd went wild at the first goal of the season and Jeongguk smiled proudly at his teammates who pumped their fists into the air and performed a few tumbles before attaining their defence formation. Now with Ravenclaw in possession of the Quaffle, all six Chasers shifted to the other side of the pitch, Gryffindor attempting to intercept their passes while their Beaters threw Bludgers towards the Ravenclaw.

 

While keeping an eye out on the flow of the game, Jeongguk searched for any glimpses of the Golden Snitch but was, however, unsuccessful. The other Seeker was also unable to find the Snitch for he was still circling the pitch at a slow pace. When Jeongguk looked back towards his team’s Chasers he saw that Baekhyun had the Quaffle under his arm again and they were back on the other side of the pitch. There were Bludgers swerving in and out of the six Chasers, constantly looking for a target while the Beaters busily chased after them. The Gryffindor Chasers scored another goal after the turnover and they were now leading by twenty points.

 

The Ravenclaw team changed their plan with a signal from Seungwan and the Chasers proceeded to fly at three different levels with the person in the middle seizing the ball tightly. As they neared the Ravenclaw goal posts, they spiralled around each other until it was unclear who had the Quaffle. When the Quaffle was released, it headed towards the left goal post and the Gryffindor Keeper who was flying near the middle just missed blocking it.

 

Now, the Quaffle was back in Gryffindor hands but one inaccurate pass had a Ravenclaw Chaser snatching the ball away and flying back towards their goal posts. The goal was an easy one as their Beater, Namjoon, aimed a Bludger directly at Minah who couldn’t block the shot as she was dodging out of the way of accelerating ball. The Ravenclaw team’s dynamics was slowly falling into place and with the points evened out, the Gryffindor Chasers altered their strategy as well, entering a different formation. As they crossed the pitch towards the Gryffindor goals, Jackson hit a Bludger precisely at Hyeri who was rapidly chasing Byulyi but before it came in contact with her, Namjoon flew in front and deflected the ball in a random direction.

 

That random direction happened to be where Jeongguk was hovering around unsuspectingly. When he saw the Bludger close in on him, he quickly tilted his broom to the right and narrowly missed knocking himself off, eliciting several relieved huffs from the spectators. So that’s the Beater that everyone was talking about. I should keep an eye out for him.

 

Now that he had experienced his near first Bludger hit, Jeongguk was more concentrated in looking for the Snitch. While he pursued an invisible target, one of his team members let out an agonising yell, whipping everyone’s head to his direction. Jeongguk saw Baekhyun grasp the side of his torso tightly, the Bludger that hit its target soaring off again. His teammate toppled down unsteadily until he landed safely on the grass and was led away, presumably, to the Hospital Wing.

 

With one less Chaser, Gryffindor was at a huge disadvantage and Jeongguk grew more anxious and wished he could catch the Snitch before anyone else on his team gets injured. Still keeping Chanyeol’s advice in mind, he drifted down lower to focus mainly on looking for the ball that will end the match. He caught glimpses of gold but they were all from decorations and banners that the Gryffindor students made to cheer his team on.

 

When Jeongguk looked back at the scores, he saw that the gap between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor was growing with the opposing team being thirty points ahead. However, it wasn’t long before he heard the audience shrieking again. Looking back at the Ravenclaw goal posts, he saw that his own team’s Keeper was gripping tightly onto her badly damaged broom and she was dropping unsafely towards the sand. Before she landed, the Ravenclaw Chasers scored another ten points into the unguarded goal posts. As Minah finally landed on the sand, she gave an okay sign to the rest of her team to indicate that she was uninjured.

 

Jeongguk desperately searched for the Golden Snitch now, as Ravenclaw’s points rose exponentially. He had to end the game before the point difference reached over a hundred and fifty. The other team’s Seeker seemed to be trailing behind Jeongguk, keeping track of his every move. It was a clever strategy. If Jeongguk were to see the Snitch, he would simply dive in front of him and catch the Snitch himself or block Jeongguk from obtaining the ball until his own team was more than a hundred and fifty points ahead.

 

However, Jeongguk was warned of this tactic during one of his training sessions so when he saw Mark behind him, he presented a few flips and then advanced to dive straight towards the ground. The audience cheered excitedly, thinking that Jeongguk had caught sight of the Snitch and there were many fingers pointed his way. He noticed that the other boy was chasing him but Jeongguk’s broom handling skills were unrivalled. He manoeuvred the broom easily with him, and similar to his tryouts, a chorus of screams sounded as he tilted the handle up last minute, nearly impacting the ground. He then performed a few sharp turns before eventually shaking the other boy off of his tail. Jeongguk was too busy continuing his search for the Snitch that he didn’t notice his flying leaving everyone in a trance.

 

Now that he had left the other Seeker below him, he rounded the Quidditch field at a careful pace until he spotted a gold shimmer dancing to his left. Jeongguk ensured to keep himself in control of his emotions as he eyed the Golden Snitch to not inform the Ravenclaw Seeker of the ball’s whereabouts.

 

This time, as he glided gently with the wind, the audience took no notice but focused on the overpowering Ravenclaw team instead. When Jeongguk was sure that Mark wasn’t looking his way, he swooped down at a steep angle like a bird hunting its prey. The Snitch sensed his presence and decided to misdirect the Seeker by changing its flight path every few seconds. Jeongguk was not fooled though. He continued his chase and was just about to catch it when a Bludger blocked his broom. The Seeker had to halt to let the Bludger pass but then resumed his pursuit, identifying the Snitch a few metres to his right now.

 

The crowd were, again, cheering loudly and Jeongguk saw the other Seeker panic and give chase to the opposing Seeker and the Snitch. Jeongguk flew closer and closer until he was finally able to reach out and grasp the tiny moving ball tightly in his hand, leaving the Gryffindor students roaring. He raised his right fist into the air to declare victory but before he could celebrate with the rest of his remaining teammates, he felt a searing pain in the back of his head. His grip on his broom loosened and he fell unconscious mid-air, unaware of the screeching students around him.

 

Yoongi, who was watching the game quietly with an enthusiastic Jimin, swore loudly as Jeongguk fell off his broom and landed into a heap in the middle of the pitch. They both stood in fear as the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw teams flew down immediately to the first year and demounted from their brooms. The two captains crouched down while the other players formed a circle around them. When Chanyeol carried a severely bloodied Jeongguk off the Quidditch pitch with a worried expression on his face, Yoongi took off without a single word to Jimin.

 

Jimin called after Yoongi but the elder had already disappeared. Everyone in the audience was talking or screaming in frenzy, making it difficult for Jimin to locate any of his other friends. However, after a few seconds, Taehyung pushed his way through the choas and towards Jimin, his usually bright face painted with an alarmed expression. Upon realising his friend, Jimin pulled him away from the spectator seats and towards the castle.

 

“Where’s Yoongi? I swear if he-” Taehyung asked as they ran hurriedly along the path, each footstep bringing a crunch of the autumn leaves.

 

“I don’t know. He just ran off. But he’s really angry, Tae,” Jimin quickly replied, interrupting his best friend.

 

“Fuck. We better hurry.”

 

The two third years made it back to Hogwarts in record-breaking time and noticed a panicked Hoseok and Jin standing near the entrance as well, both equally puffed out. After Jimin told the two Hufflepuffs about Yoongi, all four of them rushed around Hogwarts, desperately looking for Yoongi but after rounding several corners and climbing several flights of stairs, they were still unable to locate the elder Slytherin.

 

Whilst the others searched for Yoongi, he found the Ravenclaw Beater, who had injured Jeongguk, near the Hospital Wing and pushed him forcefully against the wall, shoving his forearm against the player’s neck.

 

“Hey-“

 

“What the fuck was that? Why did you throw a Bludger at him? He caught the Snitch. The game already fucking ended.”

 

The person whom Yoongi was half suffocating tried to push his arm off his throat but was not successful. Yoongi might be small and he rarely resorted to violence but he was still packed with a bunch of lean muscles that were used in occasions like these.

 

Yoongi was just about to spit out more words when he heard a storm of footsteps behind and turned around, arm not leaving its position against the other boy. Taehyung only took a second to observe the situation before he rushing towards Yoongi and the Beater without a moment of hesitation.

 

“YOONGI! STOP IT! HE DIDN'T MEAN IT!” Taehyung yelled angrily as he ripped Yoongi off the Beater, who was now spluttering from the sudden attack.

 

“Taehyung. Move,” Yoongi said under his breath.

 

“It was an accident, I swear,” the Quidditch player managed to say through his coughs.

 

Yoongi glared at both of them and Jimin replaced Taehyung on his side as the younger Ravenclaw dashed to the Beater and patted him lightly on the back before returning Yoongi’s glare. Hoseok and Jin hastily stepped in between the two houses to avoid further conflict.

 

“Stop fighting,” Jin ordered, using his authority as a prefect and as the oldest.

 

“Can’t you guys work it out later? Jeongguk is in the Hospital Wing right now but none of us are there because you’re too busy fighting over here,” Hoseok aggressively added, unable to hide his fury.

 

Taehyung and Yoongi continued to glare at each other despite the two Hufflepuffs separating them until Jin sighed and tugged Taehyung and the Beater towards the Hospital Wing leaving Hoseok with Yoongi and Jimin. The younger Slytherin was still holding onto Yoongi’s arm when Hoseok approached them.

 

“Yoongi, I know we only met yesterday but can you please for Jeongguk’s sake, get your shit together. That Beater already said it was an accident, ok? When Jeongguk wakes up, let him have a say in what happened,” Hoseok said firmly to Yoongi, who sighed and admitted defeat.

 

“Fine,” Yoongi grunted before he turned and led the two younger to the Hospital Wing as well.

 

Jin stood with the Beater and Taehyung outside the Hospital Wing, waiting for the others to join them.

 

“You ok?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine,” the player replied, giving Jin a thumbs up with one hand while the other rubbed his sore neck.

 

Taehyung still stood by the Beater’s side, hand not leaving his bicep and arm not leaving his waist. When the elder Ravenclaw gave him a reassuring smile and a pat on the back, Taehyung exhaled and rubbed his face roughly.

 

As Yoongi, Hoseok and Jimin approached the Hospital Wing, Taehyung glared at Yoongi and then stepped forward to put himself between the Slytherin and the Beater.

 

“Tae, it’s ok,” The Ravenclaw said, grabbing Taehyung’s arm and pulling him back gently.

 

“Once we’re in there, don’t you guys dare fight in front of Jeongguk. He doesn’t need to see his friends arguing,” Jin commanded.

 

The prefect waited until he received a nod from both Yoongi and Taehyung before he opened the massive wooden gates of the Hospital Wing. Inside, they found the injured Gryffindor Chaser on the bed by the door with his body wrapped in bandages and his friends sitting around him whilst the other half of the Quidditch team gathered near a bed on the opposite side of the room. Madam Pomfrey pushed past them in a hurry and returned with a several vials of potions in her arms.

 

They followed her to the bed at the end where they found an unconscious Jeongguk breathing heavily, a frown drawn on his face, whilst the Gryffindor Captain was holding his hand, face also grim. When Chanyeol saw Jeongguk’s group of friends he stood up and walked towards them, leading them away from the Seeker’s bed while one of the Beaters took their captain’s place next the Jeongguk.

 

“How bad?” Yoongi asked.

 

“He has a few broken bones from the fall but Madam Pomfrey is more worried about his head injury. Apparently he’s lost a lot of blood so it won’t be as easy to heal but she hasn’t deemed it serious enough to send him to St Mungo's Hospital. Don’t worry, he’ll be ok,” the captain reassured everyone.

 

“Thank you for looking after him, Chanyeol,” Jin said to the boy who he recognised to be in the same year group as himself.

 

“That’s ok, Jeongguk’s my friend too,” Chanyeol said before they all returned to Jeongguk’s bed.

 

Chanyeol waved his team members away from Jeongguk to allow Madam Pomfrey to treat him. As they stood in a crowd at the foot of the bed, the school’s matron cleaned up Jeongguk blood with a simple “Tergeo” before giving him a potion to alleviate the pain. When Jeongguk swallowed the potion completely, she waved her wand and whispered “Brackium Emendo” to fix the several broken bones scattered from his arm to his torso. She took the longest time to heal Jeongguk’s head injury and then progressed to wrap his head and body in bandages. Lastly, before she left, she fed him a Sleeping Draught potion to allow him to rest better.

 

After Madam Pomfrey finished the whole process, she stood up from Jeongguk’s side and turned to the group of anxious elder kids waiting at the end of her patient’s bed.

 

“He’ll be ok. He only needs to rest now,” she announced.

 

“How long does he need to stay this time?” Yoongi asked.

 

Jin, Hoseok and Namjoon had all caught the ‘this time’ but didn’t say anything as they listened to the matron.

 

“A few days at the very least,” Madam Pomfrey replied. “I need to make sure his head injury doesn’t have any side effects before he can leave.”

 

“Thank you so much,” Yoongi said.

 

“That’s okay, my dear. I’ll be in my office if you need anything,” she said before she scurried out of the Hospital Wing.

 

When Jeongguk’s team verified that their teammate was fine, they checked up on Baekhyun one last time before returning to their common room and leaving Jeongguk with his friends. While five of them crowded around the sleeping child, the Beater stood at a distance and watched. Taehyung noticed and pulled him forward onto one of the chairs that lined the side of the bed.

 

“Don’t worry. It was just an accident. Jeongguk will understand,” Taehyung said to the Beater as he put a hand on the elder’s shoulder and ignored Yoongi’s frown.

 

“What’s your name?” Hoseok asked the Ravenclaw from beside Taehyung.

 

“Namjoon Kim.”

 

“I’m Hoseok Jung. This is Seokjin Kim, Jimin Park and Yoongi Min,” Hoseok introduced and Namjoon nodded in acknowledgement at each of them.

 

“Pleasure.”

 

“Not for me,” Yoongi muttered quietly under his breath.

 

“I’m really sorry. It wasn’t on purpose.”

 

“So what? Your hand slipped?” Yoongi snapped.

 

“Yoongi,” Taehyung warned.

 

“No. I did hit the Bludger in his direction purposely because well… I am a Beater but I didn’t mean for it to hit him after he caught the Snitch,” Namjoon tried to explain.

 

Before Yoongi had a chance to reply sarcastically again, Jeongguk whimpered in his sleep. This caused them to all turned their attention away from Yoongi and Namjoon to look at Jeongguk who seemed to be in both physical and mental pain. He was sweating profusely and the bed sheets were twisted tightly in his fingers. Jeongguk’s lips quivered as his breath trembled and Jimin stood up quickly to feel the temperature of his forehead.

 

“Jeongguk? He’s freezing. Should we call Madam Pomfrey?” came a worried Jimin.

 

“I think he’s having a nightmare?” Jin questioned unsurely from beside Jimin.

 

“Jeongguk, wake up,” Yoongi said as he started shaking the younger’s shoulders.

 

“Wait, you shouldn’t do that,” Namjoon interrupted as he quickly reached forward and grabbed Yoongi to stop him from rousing the younger. “The only time you should wake someone up from a nightmare is if they’re at risk of injuring themselves or others.”

 

“Back off, you’ve done enough harm,” Yoongi hissed and wrenched his arm away from Namjoon.

 

“Yoongi, listen to him,” Taehyung ordered defensively while guilt struck Namjoon harder.

 

When Yoongi turned back to stare at the distressed Jeongguk without a word, Namjoon continued.

 

“Shaking him awake will make him feel more terrified because he might see you as an attacker. If you really need to wake him up, a gentle nudge should suffice.”

 

No one dared whisper a word as the Ravenclaw explained since none of them had ever dealt with someone with a nightmare before, especially not Yoongi.

 

“How do you even know this?” Hoseok asked, perplexed at the other’s wide knowledge.

 

“I read it somewhere.”

 

“Right, I forgot you’re a Ravenclaw.”

 

“So do we just wait it out?” Jimin asked, moving his hand to the Gryffindor’s tense shoulders.

 

“Yeah. If we wake him now, he’ll just feel the pain from his injuries.”

 

Jimin nodded and settled back down in between Yoongi and Jin but his eyes didn’t leave Jeongguk. As they sat in silence, Taehyung shifted to lean his weight on Namjoon, who in turn moved his arm behind the younger Ravenclaw’s waist. Yoongi rested his head on the palm of his hands, focusing on drowning out Jeongguk’s whimpers of pain while the Hufflepuffs leaned back onto the chair and looked at their hands.

 

“Yoongi,” Jin said slowly as he interrupted the silence.

 

“Mm?”

 

“I know this isn’t the best time to ask but what did you mean by ‘this time’?” he continued in a hushed tone as the Gryffindor Chaser and his friends were still in the Hospital Wing.

 

“What?” Yoongi asked bluntly and looked up.

 

“When we were talking to Madam Pomfrey you asked how long he needed to stay this time,” Jin said, emphasising on the ‘this time’.

 

“Oh.”

 

“He got injured at the start of this term. That’s how I met him,” Jimin inserted to help Yoongi out. Even after their talk last night, he knew that Yoongi was still blaming himself for what he couldn’t control.

 

“How?”

 

“We don’t know,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“It was after the quidditch tryouts though,” Jimin added.

 

“Could it be…” Jin started after a short pause.

 

“…because he made the Quidditch team?” Hoseok finished out loud even though everyone was thinking along the same lines.

 

“Either way, I should’ve been there for him. I left him at the Quidditch pitch. By himself. What the fuck is wrong with me?” Yoongi swore.

 

“Yoongi, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know that was going to happen,” Taehyung said, lowering his volume half sentence when Jeongguk stirred.

 

Namjoon smiled proudly at the younger Ravenclaw who still offered comfort despite being displeased at the Slytherin. Jimin placed his hand supportively on Yoongi’s clenched fists and none of them said another word as they watched Jeongguk shift uncomfortably in his sleep, occasionally whispering “Don’t go”.

 

When Jeongguk woke up, it was unexpected. He sat up with such speed that it shocked the others and even Yoongi flinched back slightly. The youngest looked around, fear evident in his eyes, and when the pain in the back of his head and the rest of his body finally processed he winced and raised a hand to rub the bandages covering in injuries.

 

“Hey,” Namjoon said gently. “It’s ok. You’re not in danger.”

 

“Who’re you?” Jeongguk asked as he leaned away from the stranger.

 

“Namjoon Kim. I accidentally hit you with the Bludger back there. I’m so sorry.”

 

Jeongguk must still have been suffering from his nightmare because he didn’t hear him and stared blankly at the blankets while both of his hands were still rubbing his injuries. Namjoon stood up and sat himself back down on the side of the bed and calmed Jeongguk down by whispering words of comfort to him while rubbing soothing circles on his back. He then told Jeongguk to lie back down as he was injured and that the younger needed to rest. Jeongguk complied obediently, allowing the Ravenclaw student help him back into the bed. When the Beater tucked him in, he brushed Jeongguk’s sweaty fringe out of his eyes and continued to rubbing the younger’s bicep.

 

“Are you ok? I’m really sorry about that Bludger. I didn’t mean for it to hit you after you caught the Snitch,” Namjoon repeated.

 

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’ve had worse,” Jeongguk said, drowsily exposing his vulnerability. His eyelids felt heavy, partly due to the effect of the Sleeping Draught potion but mainly because he had barely got a wink of sleep last night as every time he closed he was greeted with his haunting past and the unpredictable future.

 

Namjoon was surprised at how easily the younger forgave his mistake but he didn’t know how to respond to Jeongguk’s second statement. However, the other’s reactions were openly displayed on their faces as Yoongi’s morphed into an uncomfortable expression while the others exchanged a look of confusion. Namjoon waited until Jeongguk fell asleep before speaking up again.

 

“If you want me to leave, just tell me,” Namjoon said to Yoongi. He hadn’t wanted Jeongguk to witness any remains of their earlier dispute and he knew the only reason Yoongi was allowing the younger’s attacker to stay there was because none of the others knew how to deal with Jeongguk when he had a nightmare. But now that the Gryffindor was ok, there was no real reason for Yoongi to let him stay.

 

Everyone’s eyes flew to Yoongi waiting for his response, Taehyung looking especially unreadable.

 

“It’s fine,” Yoongi mumbled and Taehyung nodded, satisfied with the reply.

 

There was another short pause as they watched Jeongguk sleeping peacefully this time.

 

“I… Yesterday, when you asked why he moved to the Slytherin common room for a while… I lied. I’m sorry but it seemed like Jeongguk didn’t want to tell you guys so I just helped him out,” Jin spoke up.

 

“Why did he actually move out of the Gryffindor common room then?” Jimin asked with a frown.

 

“A few weeks ago, the prefects and I found him surrounded by a group of third and fourth year Gryffindors. When we approached them, they accused Jeongguk of threatening to kill them.”

 

“What the fuck?” Yoongi almost shouted.

 

“Shhhh,” Hoseok shushed to remind the others of the sleeping Chaser and Seeker.

 

“Those fucking cowards,” Yoongi whispered angrily. “I swear if they touch Jeongguk again, I’m going to-“

 

“Yoongi,” Jin interrupted. “Jeongguk wouldn’t want you to get involved. He probably didn’t tell you because he knew you’d act like this.”

 

The Slytherin froze. ‘Was that the reason Jeongguk wasn’t opening up? Because he was scared I would do something?’

 

“Are you ok?” Hoseok asked when Yoongi didn’t say anything.

 

“Yeah... yeah, I’m fine.”

 

Taehyung and Namjoon had observed the whole conversation without a word and the older Ravenclaw now realised that the injured child was the centre of the group and most likely also the reason they were all friends. Their concern for Jeongguk was very touching but he too could see why the youngest had warranted so much attention for he also felt the urge to wrap the Seeker in a blanket and never expose him to the horrors offered by the world.

 

“So… when Jeongguk said ‘I’ve had worse’. What was he referring to? When he got injured after the tryouts?” Namjoon asked for everyone.

 

“I don’t think that was worse than this,” Jimin reasoned logically, remembering the state of the child a few weeks ago, before they all nodded and turned to Yoongi for an answer.

 

Yoongi was conflicted with how much he should tell them since he didn’t know most of them but at the same time, he had also witnessed how all of them treated Jeongguk and he knew that all of their care and affection was genuine.

 

“You know how his parents are in Azkaban right?” he asked receiving a confirmation from everyone and sighed before continuing, “Well, he was brought up by his aunt and uncle and Jeongguk hasn’t really told me much but I know they didn’t treat him nicely.”

 

All five of them inhaled sharply, fearing what Yoongi was about to say.

 

“When I first met him a bit less than five years ago, he was badly injured. Like really badly. I found him collapsed outside a graveyard so I took him back home with me and my parents healed him but after that, he didn’t tell me anything and all I saw were glimpses of more scars appearing across his body. I thought it couldn’t get worse than that but I was so wrong. Three years ago, during the summer holiday, he came to me completely pale and there was so much blood. I was so scared I was going to lose him that day. Sometimes I question whether Jeongguk is the heir to the Jeon family. Why would they treat him like this? I- Can you imagine where he would be right now if I hadn’t found him that day?”

 

“But you found him and that’s what matters, Yoongi,” Jimin comforted.

 

“We can’t change the past but we can help him start again,” Hoseok said.

 

“A great future doesn’t require a great past,” Namjoon added.

 

“And, you don’t have help him by yourself,” Jin stated.

 

“He has all six of us now,” Taehyung continued.

 

Yoongi smiled for the first time in ages and whispered a “Thank you” to the others before they all fell into silence.

 

“We should go soon,” Jin said, pointing outside at the darkened sky to change the depressing topic. “It’s getting late, Madam Pomfrey’s going to come kick us out.”

 

Yoongi sighed. He forgot that the matron didn’t allow overnight visitors and he was worried that Jeongguk would wake up in the middle of night. ‘What if Jeongguk has another nightmare? What if he gets scared again when he wakes up? What if he’s in pain?’

 

When they were getting ready to leave, their stomachs kindly reminded them that they haven’t been fed since breakfast so all of them decided to head down to the Great Hall to catch the end of dinner.

 

“Yoongi, come on. Let’s go,” Jimin said as he nudged the elder who was still sitting next to Jeongguk.

 

“You guys go ahead, I want to talk to Namjoon alone,” Yoongi told the group.

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“I’m not going to hurt him, okay? I know he didn’t do it on purpose,” Yoongi huffed.

 

“Tae, it’s ok. Go to the Great Hall with the others first.”

 

When Yoongi was certain that everyone had left the Hospital Wing and the two injured students were asleep, he turned to the Ravenclaw Beater.

 

“I’m sorry about earlier.”

 

“It’s ok. He’s lucky to have someone like you.”

 

“No, I was way out of line. I shouldn’t of pushed you. Are you really ok?” Yoongi asked gesturing to Namjoon’s neck.

 

“Oh, yeah. Don’t worry about it,” the Ravenclaw reassured before he added, “I was wondering why you acted the way you did but I understand why you’re so attached to him now.”

 

“Am I that obvious?” Yoongi joked.

 

“Just a little,” Namjoon quipped back.

 

“I know we started off on the wrong foot but I hope we can be friends.”

 

“Any friend of Tae’s is a friend of mine,” Namjoon said and displayed his dimple smile to Yoongi.

 

Together, they headed down from the Hospital Tower to the Great Hall to find the others.

 

When Jeongguk was sure that all six of them were gone, he opened his eyes. He didn’t mean to overhear their conversation but when his friends started talking, it was too awkward for him to interrupt and mention that he was still awake so he just laid there and listened to them. Jeongguk honestly didn’t know how to feel about them discussing his life though. He was definitely not ready to corrupt his friends with the knowledge of his past and he didn’t need them treating him like glass. But he just felt so broken that nothing they could do would fix him.

 

It’s my truth, I will be covered with wounds all over but it’s my fate.

 

Chapter Text

“Are you going to the Hospital Wing later?” Jimin asked.

 

“Yeah, I want to check up on him again before class,” Yoongi replied as he took another bite of his pancake.

 

Jeongguk had been confined in the Hospital Wing by Madam Pomfrey to ensure that his injuries left no after effects and today marked his final day. On the plus side of being wounded, Jeongguk was exempt from all his classes until Madam Pomfrey said he was allowed to leave the Hospital Wing, which meant he was also able to avoid run ins with anyone. Over the week, the elders have rotated in their visits, except for Yoongi who usually came every break. He had also grown close to the Ravenclaw Beater who had sent him there in the first place and found that Namjoon was either a genuinely clumsy person or just very unlucky. On the Ravenclaw’s first visit, he had tried to sit on the chair next to Jeongguk’s bed but as soon as he touched it, the chair splintered into a hundred pieces of wood. If Jeongguk’s torso weren’t as injured as it was, he would’ve been rolling around laughing as the older looked at him like a deer in headlights.

 

But he also found that he always anticipated his visits as he surprisingly loved talking the older Ravenclaw. When Jeongguk talked to Namjoon he found that the world held so much more worth than he had believed and everything that spilled out of Namjoon’s mouth always hid a deeper meaning behind it. Jeongguk was interested in how Namjoon and Taehyung met since they were from different years and so he asked the Ravenclaw when he came one afternoon during his free period. However, he learned that when Taehyung entered Hogwarts, he was outcast by his peers for his eccentric behaviour, similar to Jeongguk’s current situation except not as severe. The Ravenclaw hadn’t met Jimin until halfway through their first year but the elder Ravenclaw had noticed everyone’s treatment to Taehyung during the first week and befriended him. Ever since then, they had remained close friends and even shared muggle similarities, often visiting each other during the school holidays.

 

“He’s lucky to have someone like you,” Jeongguk had said, repeating Namjoon’s statement to Yoongi a few nights ago.

 

“I wouldn’t say that’s really lucky,” the Ravenclaw had chuckled back.

 

But currently, it was a Friday morning and Jeongguk had something more important on his mind. Today was the day. Jeongguk had been given special permission from the Headmaster who had also notified Madam Pomfrey. The matron was against the idea of Jeongguk leaving before his head was completely healed but the Headmaster gave the go ahead so she was in no position to say anything. However, Jeongguk had not told any of his friends. He didn’t need them to question him, especially not after Yoongi had told them pieces of his past. Jeongguk knew that the Slytherin had only revealed it because he was worried about him but he was afraid too. They all had their own worries and didn’t need the addition of his minor issues with his family and his past. Even though he knew that his friends were only trying to help him, a thought continuously nudged at the back of Jeongguk’s mind. What if once they learn everything about my past, they leave me too? I can’t risk losing everything. Not again.

 

“I’m sorry. The others wanted to me to apologise too. Do you think you’ll be fine by yourself today?”

 

“Yoongi, stop apologising. It’s not your fault and I can look after of myself. I’m not a child anymore,” Jeongguk pouted earning a gentle ruffle of his hair from Yoongi.

 

“You are to me.”

 

Even though he knew that his friends all had busy schedules today, he pretended as if he didn’t. Thankfully, Friday was the day all his friends had classes and activities so Jeongguk didn’t have to lie to any of them.

 

“I’ll see if any of us will be able to pop in before but if not, we’ll definitely come pick you up during dinner.”

 

Jeongguk nodded. He hadn’t planned for a long trip anyways so he would be able to be back at Hogwarts and in the Hospital Wing before his friends suspect anything.

 

“Go. Don’t be late for class.”

 

“Stop ordering me around kid,” Yoongi joked as he stood to leave.

 

Jeongguk scrunched his nose in reply and waited until Yoongi was fully out of sight before he quickly got dressed into his normal clothes and left the Hospital Wing, heading outside of the Hogwarts school grounds. He needed to Apparate to his desired destination but there was a spell placed over Hogwarts, which didn’t allow Apparition in and out of the school. He had skilfully obtained his license for Apparition as soon as he hit the age of seventeen and he was one of the only wizards who were able to achieve this skill. Most wizards were afraid of Splinching and have thus relied on the Floo Network, brooms, portkeys or magical creatures to get around but Jeongguk had always preferred Apparition. Apparition was fast and one of the only methods of transportation that didn’t leave traces.

 

It was a fairly long walk and when Jeongguk was sure that he was out of the boundaries, he checked to make sure he knew he knew what he was doing since he hasn’t Apparated since arriving at Hogwarts on the first day. Okay, Jeongguk. Don’t be nervous. Remember the three D’s. Destination, Determination and Deliberation.

 

He focused on the flower store he had returned to every November. Jeongguk closed his eyes. When he reopened them, he was standing outside the familiar store. The elderly woman arranging a pot of flowers stopped what she was doing when she heard the small faint popping noise of his Apparation and looked up at her customer. She immediately recognised Jeongguk and after tucking her wand away into the back of her pants, she approached him.

 

“Back again, dear?” she asked, even though it was more a statement than a question.

 

“Yeah, hi,” Jeongguk replied giving the owner a soft smile.

 

“Are you after the usual?”

 

“Yes please.”

 

The woman nodded before rushing off the back of the store and reappearing with a bouquet, professionally wrapped with a thick band of white ribbon. Jeongguk exchanged four Galleons for the flowers and waved a goodbye at the woman before turning to leave the store.

 

He observed the nicely arranged white lilies, each one a delicate bloom, bestowing a sweet fragrance. Its silky petals were detailed works of arts and curled gently at the edges. The bouquet was altogether, an elegant blend of white and green, which gleamed against the yellow and red leaves scattered the floor. Jeongguk felt more confident with the flowers in his hands and he took a deep breath before thinking of the next destination, arriving with another small pop.

 

The walls and ground enveloped him in the many memories of the past and as he walked towards the tall iron gates, he took a moment to bathe in the reminiscence of his first meeting with Yoongi. Jeongguk was glad he had gotten injured that day or he would’ve never met the older boy. He smiled and continued walking. Everything was the same except unlike five years ago, the weather was better and there were no signs of snow yet.

 

When he finally entered, he was greeted with rows of white marble tombstones, rising from the manicured grass. The graveyard felt full and empty at the same time and the disembodied voices of souls that once roamed the earth seemed to be call out to Jeongguk from the cracks in the porous path.

 

As he approached his target, Jeongguk slowed down to a hesitant pace. He eyed the carved cursive writing, which was speaking out to him, telling him to come closer and Jeongguk couldn’t resist. When he reached the tombstone, he laid down the flowers gently in front before kneeling down.

 

“I’m back, like I promised. I’m sorry I couldn’t come as often as I used to but I started Hogwarts a few months ago and there’re a lot of great people there. I wish you could meet them too. You know Yoongi… he’s still the same old grandpa,” Jeongguk laughed. “But there’s Jin. He’s really caring, not just for me but for everyone… kind of like a mother. But I wouldn’t know. Then there’s Hoseok too. He knows exactly the right thing to say and he isn’t exactly the best with keeping his emotions hidden but I like that about him. I met this new guy. His name is Namjoon and he’s the smartest person in the universe but I think he’s also the clumsiest. And Tae and Jimin. They’re two years older than me… but sometimes I feel like they’re younger than me. I get along really well with both of them though. I think you would’ve loved them as much as I do. Maybe one day, if I’m brave enough to tell them about you, I’ll bring them here.”

 

Jeongguk smiled as he imagined all his friends, their worried faces when Jeongguk woke up, their distressed faces whenever Jeongguk winced in pain and their relieved faces when Madam Pomfrey assured that Jeongguk was fine.

 

“I… I’m lost. I don’t know what to do. Yoongi told them a bit about my past, nothing too serious but I was still worried. I thought that after they learnt a bit about what happened they’d run away but they didn’t. They all came back. I don’t know if I should say this but I kind of wish they hadn’t. It makes me scared. I don’t want to grow attached to them and if they are planning to stay beside me, I don’t want them to dig up anymore. It’s better this way. If they know more, they might make the same mistake as you and then I’ll be left with nothing again.”

 

Jeongguk felt he was getting too emotional so he quickly changed the topic.

 

“Anyways, guess what? I played my first Quidditch match last Sunday and we won. Even though it wasn’t by much, I think my team still played really, really well. It’s also how I met Namjoon. I think he really suits being a Beater, I mean he breaks everything without even touching it. I’m surprised he hasn’t broken his own broom in the middle of a Quidditch match,” Jeongguk snickered. “Ok, enough about me. How’re you? I hope you’re doing well wherever you are right now. Can you believe how long it’s been?”

 

He took a moment to adjust his position so that he was leaning against the tombstone. Jeongguk paused for a while as he tried to rearrange the jumbled, unspoken words in his brain.

 

“I really miss you and if I haven’t said it enough I’m sorry... It should’ve been me that day, not you. And it didn’t even get better, you know? It only got worse. I think it’ll never heal. No, I know it won’t because it just won’t go away. Do know how much how I would give to have you back in my life? You… you were my everything. It goes round and round, why do I keep coming back? I go down and down, at this point, I’m just a fool. I know I’m talking to myself again but why did you do it?”

 

Jeongguk’s words cracked as held back the tears that were threatening to spill out of his eyes. He was wrong when he thought that the visits would get easier with time.

 

“I wish I could turn back the time. I wish I could rewrite our past. I just wish you were here with me. But I know wishing can’t change anything,” Jeongguk sighed. “It’s been six years already and I still have trouble wrapping around the fact that you’re gone. The nightmares won’t leave either. They continue to haunt me every time it gets close to November. But I’ve become stronger. You don’t need to worry about me anymore. I can look after myself.”

 

Jeongguk got lost in time as he spent half of the day talking to the tombstone. When he realised that it was already starting to get dark, he quickly scrambled upright.

 

“I need to go before my friends realise I’m missing but I’ll come back as soon as I can. I promise.”

 

“Touching. Really touching,” someone sneered behind Jeongguk, causing the boy to quickly whip his around at the familiar voice. “I knew you would be here even after we told you not to come.”

 

“What’re you doing here? How dare you even set foot into this grave? Leave,” Jeongguk said firmly.

 

“Forgetting your manners already? You’ve only been away for two years and you’ve already forgotten how to talk to your elders? Maybe, you need another lesson.”

 

“Not here,” Jeongguk said through gritted teeth.

 

“Why not? Afraid to show how weak you are?” the person taunted as he grabbed Jeongguk collars and hurled him to his feet.

 

“This is a graveyard. Let go of me,” Jeongguk said as he tried to tug his shirt out for the other’s hands.

 

“Or what?”

 

Jeongguk stayed silent. There was no way he could win and talking back would only make his punishment worse so he looked away.

 

“That’s what I thought. You were always so weak,” he rasped and proceeded to roughly drag the struggling boy out of the graveyard.

 

When they stepped through the gates, the elder Apparated both of them away, landing in a familiar room. Jeongguk immediately recognised the black, imprisoning walls of solitude that he had grown accustomed to for sixteen years. The reminders of his childhood were dispersed unevenly across the wall in the shape of tears, scratches and dents.

 

“Useless piece of shit. Can’t even get sorted into the correct house,” he spat as he violently threw Jeongguk against the same wall.

 

Jeongguk hit the wall with so much force that the back of his head rebounded and his body crumpled onto the floor.

 

“You’re nothing. We should’ve just thrown you away when your parents were sent to Azkaban. That way, you wouldn’t have disgraced our name. How did my sister even have a child like you? She’s better off in Azkaban,” his uncle said before sending a kick at Jeongguk when he tried to stand.

 

His uncle laughed when Jeongguk started wheezing and clutching onto his stomach.

 

“Where’s your Yoongi now?” he scoffed. “I heard you made some new friends at Hogwarts. Let me tell you something. The only reason they’re nice to you is because they pity you for having no friends. You think they really care that much about you? Once I set them straight with a taste of my magic, they’ll sure to be running off with their tail between their legs.”

 

“Don’t you dare touch them.”

 

“Why? Are you scared I’ll kill them too?” his uncle with wicked grin. “Maybe I should just tell them what happened.”

 

“I may have held back before but I’ve learnt the hard way the consequences that follow. If you go anywhere near them, I don’t know what I’ll be capable of,” Jeongguk seethed.

 

“You thought your little threats could scare me off? I’ll show you what your up against since you seem to have forgotten.”

 

From the corner of Jeongguk’s eye, he saw the elder take out his wand and he rolled over his injury to hastily pull out his own wand.

 

“Expelliarmus,” Jeongguk gasped. He was not going to allow his uncle to injure him again when he had just healed. If he returned to Hogwarts with another gash or another set of injuries, he wouldn’t know what rash decisions Yoongi could make. There had been instances when the older had nearly barged into his uncle and aunt’s house to confront them but Jeongguk had always pleaded against it and Yoongi yielded every time. For the sake of Yoongi’s safety, he needed to stay away if he didn’t want a repetition of the past.

 

The other’s wand flew to the left side of the room but that didn’t wipe off the smug look his uncle wore.

 

“I see Hogwarts did change you. Go on then. Take this chance and kill me.”

 

“……”

 

“What’re you waiting for?” he sneered.

 

“I… I’m not going to kill you.”

 

“I knew you couldn’t,” his uncle scorned. “You’re pathetic and weak. Always have been and always will be.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t deny his uncle’s claims but a sudden thought struck his mind. When he looked outside, it was completely dark. He brought his left hand down to push himself off the ground while the right remained with the wand held in a ready position.

 

“I’m warning you. Stay away from them,” he said as he edged towards the door and before his uncle could reach his wand again, he ran out.

 

He heard his uncle reply “You can’t stop me” but Jeongguk was too focused on trying to avoid his aunt and making his way out of the house safely.

 

As soon as the November wind blasted him, he focused on the castle and disappeared with a faint pop, arriving back to the spot he had left. However, since he had missed lunch, he didn’t have enough energy to land stably and consequently collapsed onto the grass. He was slightly out of breath and just wanted to lie there for a while but when he heard the chimes of the bell ringing through the grounds, he clambered to his feet and ran with all his might back to the castle. Despite his throbbing head screaming at him to relax, Jeongguk sprinted straight for the Hospital Tower, pushing past many students who were heading to the Great Hall for dinner.

 

At the corridor of the Hospital Wing, he slowed down when he heard voices on the other side and took cautious steps before peeking around the corner. All six of his friends were gathered at the door and there was absolutely no way he would be able to sneak past them to where he was supposed to be. Jeongguk wracked his brain to come up with a solution and when he found one, he headed speedily to the Great Hall to wait for his friends.

 

In the Great Hall, nobody went out of his or her way to purposely walk a separate direction from him but no one approached him either. Dismissing the thought, he quickly placed himself down on the end of the Gryffindor table and noticed that his friends weren’t here yet. He took a moment to catch his breath before he caught sight of the six of them entering through the wide doors of the Great Hall. Jin was the first to spot him and notified the others of Jeongguk’s location.

 

“Jeongguk, where have you been? Madam Pomfrey told us that you left early in the morning even though your head wasn’t completely healed,” Yoongi said as he sat down across the younger.

 

“I was bored. She let me leave,” Jeongguk shrugged in reply.

 

“What about your injuries?” Jimin chimed in from Yoongi’s left.

 

“Don’t worry. She wouldn’t have let me leave if she thought I couldn’t endure it.”

 

“Ok, you still should tell us beforehand though. We were really worried,” Namjoon, who was on his right, said as he patted Jeongguk’s head softly.

 

“What did you do the whole day then? Don’t tell me you went back to class,” Taehyung said, leaning forward next to Namjoon so that Jeongguk could see his horrified expression.

 

“No, I just walked around Hogwarts.”

 

“For the whole day? Is that why you’re sweating?” Hoseok joked from Jeongguk’s left.

 

If the others hadn’t already noticed that Jeongguk was out of breath and sweating, they did now.

 

“Jeongguk, don’t exercise too much. You head’s not healed,” Jin chastised while Yoongi nodded from beside him.

 

The first year hummed in acknowledgement and also as an indication that he wanted to end the conversation. He was tired and his trip today was both physically and mentally draining and the addition of the weight of his uncle’s words didn’t help. However, none of them understood the message as they continued to question him.

 

“Did you find anything interesting though?”

 

“They closed off all the secret passages after Harry left. Did you come across another one?”

 

“Nope,” he replied to both questions dryly.

 

“I really want to find the Room of Requirement.”

 

“Have you seen the Trophy Room?“

 

“No,” Jeongguk sighed getting slightly annoyed at their nosiness but his blunt statement attracted everyone’s attention.

 

“Hey, are you ok?” Hoseok asked.

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk replied, inadvertently aggressive.

 

“Are you sure? You seem kind of pale,” Jimin pushed.

 

“Do you want to go have a check up with Madam Pomfrey?” added Jin while his brows folded into lines of concern.

 

“No, I’m fine. Really,” Jeongguk said as he closed his eyes and rubbed his temples.

 

“Did… did something happen today?” Yoongi spoke up.

 

“No, okay? Seriously back off,” Jeongguk sighed.

 

“Then why-“

 

“I’m just really tired. Why are you asking me so many questions when I made it clear I’m not in the mood?”

 

“Because we care about you.”

 

“Well, you’ve chosen the wrong person to care for then,” Jeongguk replied coldly and stood up. “You guys should stay away from me from now on.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I’m going to the common room. Don’t follow me.”

 

With that, Jeongguk left the Great Hall, ignoring them as they all called out to him. He quickly rounded the several corridors and now that he was familiar with the place, he needn’t hesitate at every corner to check if he was going the right direction. He wondered how today just continued to throw bad news at him. Jeongguk hadn’t expected to run into his uncle, hell, he thought that the older had forgotten the anniversary. But no matter how much he knew that what his uncle said wasn’t true, it nagged continuously at the back of his mind to the point where Jeongguk felt like he was being swallowed with the doubt. The one thing that Jeongguk was certain about though, was that his uncle’s threats were not empty.

 

I’m sorry… but if you guys get injured, I really won’t be able to forgive myself again.

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk didn’t wake up to the best feeling. The events from the previous night slapped him in the face and guilt was starting to stain his mind, taking him down a familiar path that he refused to take. Jeongguk wanted nothing more than to undo the damage done but he could not muster up to courage to approach his friends. Sure, he didn’t want his uncle injuring them but he hadn’t meant to be so rude to them either. They were truly the last people on earth that cared about him and now, he might’ve accidentally lost them to his bad attitude.

 

He sighed. If he were able to relive that moment, he would retract everything he said but Jeongguk knew deep down that he didn’t deserve them. They were like angels seeking peace and he was the demon wrecking chaos. He stampeded into their lives, quite literally with Jin, and then he had just flown right out when he felt like it. Jeongguk hadn’t even considered how his friends felt and the meaning of the words he had cast out carelessly last night finally hit him.

 

Despite not eating much yesterday, Jeongguk’s stomach was suddenly dragged down with the weight of his guilt and regret and so, he decided that there was no need for breakfast. He had usually spent his Saturday talking to his friends but that option was no longer available. Jeongguk considered entrapping himself in the Gryffindor dorms but that idea didn’t sound appealing either.

 

There was another long sigh floating through his dorm room before Jeongguk decided that the amount of walks he had taken around Hogwarts was not enough. He grabbed his wand and made his way swiftly out of Gryffindor Tower.

 

The grounds he roamed were comfortingly quiet with only the crunch of the leaves and the chirps of the birds accompanying him on his walk. Usually at times like this, Jeongguk would feel free but right now, all he felt was empty. Jeongguk tried his hardest to smile through the numbness but last night had left a void in his heart that longed to be filled with love and trust.

 

Reaching the courtyard, he looked up through the dense morning air at the clouds, which moved away from him. Did I make the right choice? When you left, you took away my stars at night, my sun at day, only leaving me with the darkness of a single cold cloud. If there are hellos, then there’s bound to be goodbyes. I don’t want to be on the end saying goodbye anymore.

 

Jeongguk kept his head hung as he continued trudging across the floor, forcing his feet to follow each other and paying no attention to his surroundings. He heard the hoots of his owl and looked up again to see why his owl decided to join him but then he noticed the white scroll tucked onto Gureum’s leg. Jeongguk held its breath as his owl landed on his shoulder and hastily pulled the scroll away, immediately recognising the sharp strokes of his aunt’s calligraphy. He wanted to shred the parchment into scraps and then burn away their existence but he couldn’t afford to miss anything important so he reluctantly unrolled the scroll and performed a quick scan the letter.

 

When he finished reading the contents he threw it on the floor in shock and disgust before uttering “Incendio” to the parchment, setting it alight with a jet of orange and red flames. He crouched down and watched as the fire greedily devoured the letter, leaving behind a thick wave of black smoke.

 

“Bad news?”

 

Jeongguk whipped his head around at the noise and he was sure he cracked a few bones during the process but he had thought he was alone so the voice took him by surprise.

 

“Namjoon? What’re you doing here? How long have you been here?”

 

“Reading and long before you came,” Namjoon said with an amused smile and then he raised his book for Jeongguk to examine.

 

“I… um…” Jeongguk tried to say as he stood up from his position.

 

“Is that your owl?”

 

“Yeah, his name’s Gureum,” Jeongguk replied as he transferred his snowy owl from his shoulder to his forearm.

 

“He’s beautiful.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“May I?”

 

Jeongguk nodded and reached his arm out to allow the elder to brush his hand through the owl’s white feathers before letting him fly off to look for his meal.

 

“About last night… I didn’t mean any of that. I was in a bad mood and I took it out on you guys. I’m sorry,” Jeongguk said, shuffling awkwardly on his feet. “You don’t have to forgive me. I don’t deserve it but I just wanted to apologise if I hurt your feelings.”

 

“Come here,” Namjoon said patting the seat next to him.

 

Jeongguk looked between the elder’s expressionless face and then the bench before hesitantly taking a step forward and placing himself down.

 

“Are you-“ Namjoon began.

 

“Yesterday, I lied.”

 

“Jeongguk, I was only going to ask if you were ok,” Namjoon replied gently and gave Jeongguk a reassuring dimple smile.

 

“Oh. I thought you were going to ask about it.”

 

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to say anymore if you don’t want to. You’ll tell us when you’re ready.”

 

“And if I’m never ready?”

 

“Then we’ll wait. No matter how long, we’ll always be there for you, Jeongguk.”

 

“…Thank you… Does that mean you’re not angry at me?”

 

“Angry about what?”

 

“About what I said yesterday. I was so rude to you guys.”

 

“It’s fine. None of us are angry. It was our fault too. We shouldn’t of pushed you when we knew your head wasn’t completely healed. But are you ok now? And tell the truth,” Namjoon said in an authoritative tone.

 

“I guess? My head throbs when I overuse it but apart from that I’m actually fine,” Jeongguk replied, eyes not meeting Namjoon’s but staring at his fidgeting fingers instead.

 

“And?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“There’s something else, isn’t there?”

 

“I… I don’t know. I just felt weird this morning. Like really empty.”

 

Namjoon nodded at Jeongguk’s statement and thought carefully through what he was going to say before replying.

 

“Well, sometimes we leave pieces of ourselves in everything we love. And even though we don’t realise it, once we lose those parts of our lives, we unconsciously lose everything. So say for example, when you left yesterday, you unintentionally pushed us away but at the same time, you lost a part of yourself.”

 

“But if I chose to stay, I’ll lose everything anyways,” Jeongguk argued.

 

“You don’t know that. Fate may decide who comes into your life but your heart is the one that decides who stays.”

 

“No it doesn’t. My heart didn’t choose to lose the only person who ever cared about me.”

 

“Jeongguk… that wasn’t your decision. That was the cruel choice of the world. Some things you just can’t control.”

 

“But what if I know that our friendship will put you in danger?”

 

“Jeongguk, we tend to push the people we love most away from us to protect them. But sometimes, you just have to accept the situation for exactly what it is instead of trying to manipulate it into what you think it needs to be.”

 

“But that doesn’t solve any of my problems,” Jeongguk refuted childly.

 

“What I said isn’t meant to solve your problems. It’s meant to help you understand that no matter what happens, we’ll be here for you and before you say anything, none of us are afraid to be your friend if that’s what you’re worried about.”

 

“That’s not… I’m worried about the future. I’m worried about death. I- I don’t want to lose everything.”

 

“Death is not the greatest loss in our life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.”

 

“What if everything inside of me is dead already?”

 

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon said in a pleading tone. Out of the group, he was the best with words but he needed to know that they were getting through to Jeongguk. “When we lose someone, the hardest part isn’t saying goodbye but rather it’s learning to live without them. You, right now, are only trying to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart. There’s a special hole for that person and this gap never closes and can definitely not be replaced by anyone but your heart can be refilled with love. You may have already found the right people that will fill those other gaps but you have to open the gates guarding your heart and let them in.”

 

“But they’ve been sealed for so many years. I’m not sure I’m ready to let anyone in... and if I do, everything will change. I’m scared of change,” Jeongguk said, continuing their game of riddles.

 

“Don’t fear it. Embrace it,” Namjoon replied. “Everything happens for a reason, for an experience, for a lesson. Sometimes when things seem like they’re falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”

 

They sat in silence as Namjoon gave Jeongguk a few minutes to dwell on his words before speaking up again.

 

“I know you've been through a lot but that doesn't mean you can't trust and love again. Have a little more faith in us.”

 

Jeongguk brought his eyes up to meet Namjoon and managed to slip a small smile.

 

“I’ll try.”

 

“Good,“ Namjoon said as he nodded to show his satisfaction with the younger’s reply. “Are you going to come have lunch with us then?”

 

“Yeah. Wouldn’t want to miss out on Jin’s jokes.”

 

Namjoon chuckled before standing up and leading the two of them into the Great Hall. Being the first ones of their group to arrive, they chose to sit across from each other on the Ravenclaw table. Jeongguk watched as Jimin and Taehyung came into the hall together, arms linked with one another, but when they saw Jeongguk, they quickly untangled their limbs and charged towards him. Followed behind them were the three other elders who walked in confused at the third years’ actions but upon catching sight of Jeongguk, understanding dawned on their features and they rushed towards the first year as well.

 

“Did you eat breakfast?” Jimin asked.

 

Jeongguk shook his head but before he could say anything Taehyung cut in.

 

“You barely ate dinner last night. You should stop skipping meals,” he scolded playfully.

 

“How’s your head?” Yoongi asked when he approached.

 

“Guk-“ Hoseok began.

 

However Namjoon’s cough interrupted them from their continuous questions and they all scrambled to seat themselves around the youngest. Jeongguk realised that they were all looking around at each other, waiting for someone to speak up but it was ultimately Namjoon who broke the silence.

 

“So, what’s for lunch? I’m starving.”

 

“Hi starving. I’m Jin.”

 

As soon as the first sentence left the eldest’s mouth, everyone groaned in sync.

 

“Couldn’t help myself,” Jin said through his own laughter.

 

“I’ve lost my appetite,” Jeongguk joked.

 

“Hey!” the Hufflepuff exclaimed, offended that no one appreciated his joke, before huffing, “Young people these days.”

 

“What should we do after lunch?” Taehyung asked changing the topic.

 

“None of us are as free as you younglings,” Yoongi replied. “We have O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s to study for.”

 

Jin, Hoseok and Namjoon nodded in agreement and Taehyung slumped back, dejectedly.

 

“We could go somewhere, just the three of us,” Jimin offered.

 

“Jeongguk, we should take you to Hogsmeade,” Taehyung suggested. “You’ve been so busy with Quidditch that you haven’t even had a chance to go since coming to Hogwarts.”

 

“Sure, I guess.”

 

“Have you ever been?”

 

“No, I’ve only been to Diagon Alley.”

 

“It’s settled then,” Taehyung beamed.

 

“Ugh, I wish I was young,” Hoseok complained.

 

“Really?” Jin asked. “Being young seems to take away your sense of humour.”

 

“You just have to up your game, Jin,” Jeongguk advised. “I could make a better joke than you.”

 

“Really now? I would love to hear them.”

 

Everyone watched in amusement as the oldest and youngest bickered. Jeongguk organised his mind for a moment before throwing a ridiculous pun at Jin.

 

“If a wild pig kills you, does it mean you’ve been boared to death?”

 

Jin’s face reddened and he spluttered, trying his best to hold in his laughter. When he recovered, he removed the smile on his face to continue their entertaining dad joke battle.

 

“Ok, that was good. I haven’t heard that one but do you know how to organize a fantastic space party?”

 

Hoseok rolled his eyes, having heard this joke a billion times.

 

“How?”

 

“You planet.”

 

It was Jeongguk’s turn to hold in the laugh tickling his throat.

 

“Not bad… but do you know why skeletons are bad liars?”

 

“Why?” Jin asked with a straight face.

 

“Because you can see right through them. Come on, a five year old could get that,” Jeongguk taunted.

 

“Fine but if you spent your day in a well… can you say your day was well-spent?”

 

This made everyone laugh. Everyone, that is, except for Yoongi and Jeongguk. The former looked horrified at the words spilt from the elder’s mouth while the latter shuddered and immediately quietened down.

 

“Ok, that’s enough jokes for today, let’s eat,” Yoongi said, interrupting their game.

 

“But we just started?”

 

“And the food’s getting cold,” Yoongi hissed while he shot Jin a hard glare, enough to burn two holes into his skull, and the older instantly withdrew from the argument.

 

“Here, Jeongguk. Have some pizza, it’s really good,” Jimin said as he pushed a slice onto the younger’s plate, not noticing the tension between Yoongi and Jin.

 

“Oh, thanks,” Jeongguk said as he snapped out of his momentary trance.

 

“I can’t wait to go Honeydukes. I’m craving some Fizzing Whizzbees,” Taehyung whined.

 

The friendly banter was back now with Taehyung and Jimin fighting for the last slice of pizza. The others spectated the show from their positions, no one moving to intervene. Jeongguk had grown awfully quiet as he sat there thinking about Namjoon’s words from the morning and contemplating what to say.

 

“Is something wrong?” Jimin asked. He was always the attentive one and usually the first to notice when Jeongguk’s behaviour changed.

 

“… No.”

 

“Is it your head?” Hoseok asked hesitantly.

 

Jeongguk shook his head. The nicer they were to him, the worse he felt. It was like he was living in a lie and he hated it. He wanted to be able to trust as easily again, he wanted to be loved and to love again but he was scared to be broken down and torn apart again. There were so many things he wanted to say to them but he just couldn’t find the right words.

 

“I… I just wanted to say that… I’m sorry I blew up at you guys yesterday. I didn’t mean anything I said. I took my bad mood out on you guys and I’m sorry you had to deal with my attitude,” Jeongguk said and looked up at Namjoon, who gave him an encouraging nod in return. “I should’ve apologised this morning but I was scared you guys hated me.”

 

“Jeongguk, it’s ok. None of us are mad, ok? And there’s no way we can hate you for something so trivial,” Jimin reassured.

 

“But I also lied to you guys. I wasn’t at school yesterday… I went back there,” Jeongguk said, last sentence only meant for Yoongi to understand.

 

Yoongi frowned for a moment, trying to decipher what the younger had meant by ‘there’ when it clicked.

 

“The graveyard?”

 

Jeongguk nodded and Yoongi realised that it was already November.

 

“Have you… been going back there every year?”

 

“Yeah. I’m sorry, I should’ve told you but-“

 

“Don’t apologise. If you weren’t ready to say anything, it’s ok. Just don’t apologise for it.”

 

Jeongguk nodded but he wasn’t sure how to express his gratitude so he didn’t say anything.

 

“Wait, but more importantly, how did you sneak out of Hogwarts? I thought you said you didn’t find any secret passages,” Taehyung cut in.

 

“More importantly?” Jimin asked quietly while he raised one eyebrow questioningly. “You need to sort out your priorities.”

 

“The Headmaster granted me special permission.”

 

“Ohhhh. So did you fly there?”

 

“I Apparated,” Jeongguk grinned proudly.

 

“You have an Apparition license?” Taehyung half yelled.

 

Jeongguk smiled. Whereas Jimin always noticed his mood changes, Taehyung had the knack of quickly lightening the atmosphere if it got too serious, but he was also careful to not cross boundaries either. If the conversation needed to be said, he would never intervene. In other words, he was just excellent at reading situations.

 

“Yeah, you want to try? I can Apparate us somewhere next time.”

 

“No thanks, I’ll stick to walking. Don’t want to get Splinched,” Taehyung said and shivered at the thought of losing a body part.

 

That was exactly what Jeongguk had thought when he first started Apparating but with time came confidence. He had never gotten Splinched before and it would be best if it stayed like that.

 

As lunch came to an end, Taehyung excitedly grabbed Jeongguk’s arm and dragged him and Jimin out of the hall after a quick goodbye to the seniors. The two indulged the Ravenclaw, letting him pull them towards Hogsmeade. When Taehyung started babbling, Jeongguk and Jimin glanced at each other before turning their eyes to look fondly at his back.

 

“I can’t wait to go home for the Christmas holiday. I wish it would come sooner. I haven’t seen Jeonggyu and Eonjin for three months!”

 

“Who’re they?”

 

“My younger brother and sister,” Taehyung grinned at Jeongguk.

 

“Oh.”

 

“What about you, Chim? Are you going home?” Taehyung asked.

 

“Jihyun’s not going home and my parents will probably be working through Christmas again so I don’t know. We’ll see.”

 

‘Who’s Jihyun?”

 

“My brother.”

 

“Oh,” Jeongguk repeated before quietly adding, “You guys must really love your siblings.”

 

“Mhm. So are you staying?” Taehyung finally asked.

 

“Probably,” Jeongguk shrugged. “There’s nowhere else I can go.”

 

“Hmm… then maybe this year I’ll stay too.”

 

“Tae, you don’t have to.”

 

“But it’ll be our first Christmas together!”

 

“Really? You didn’t even stay when I asked you to,” Jimin said as he clutched his heart, action speaking betrayal.

 

“Hey, you ended up coming back home with me!” Taehyung exclaimed.

 

“Still!” Jimin complained.

 

“I like Gukkie better,” Taehyung said as he slung an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders and brought their cheeks together all while mockingly sticking his tongue out at his best friend.

 

Jimin laughed at his friend’s antics before detaching the two younger.

 

“Right. Lead the way,” he ordered Taehyung.

 

The Ravenclaw obeyed and strode forward to walk in front of them as Jimin stopped Jeongguk in the middle of the foot walk by tugging on his arm. The Slytherin and Gryffindor watched in amusement as Taehyung continued marching onwards, not sensing the lack of his friends’ presence behind him.

 

“You know… Taehyung values family over everything. If he’s willing to stay at Hogwarts this break to spend Christmas with you then he considers you family already,” Jimin said before nudging the younger and continuing, “And he’s not the only one.”

 

Jeongguk smiled. The knowledge of having a family was surprisingly warm and comforting. What he had back home was not a family. It was a collection of nightmares blended into the roots of one house.

 

“Thank you. I don’t deserve you guys.”

 

“Don’t say that,” Jimin said while playfully slapping Jeongguk’s arm. “You deserve more than what we can ever give you. Please don’t say something like that again.”

 

“We’ll see,” Jeongguk grinned cheekily even though his eyes indicated his determination to try.

 

“Hey! Hurry up! Why are you guys so slow?” Taehyung asked, running back towards Jimin and Jeongguk.

 

When Taehyung reached the two, he assumed that they were conversing about him as they purposely kept their distance and didn’t include him in their talk.

 

“Chim, what did you tell him?” he asked as he narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Guk, whatever he told, it’s probably not true.”

 

“Tae, calm down. It would have to take me more than five minutes to tell Jeongguk your embarrassing stories. There’s so many, I wouldn’t know where to start.”

 

“Then what were you guys whispering about without me?” Taehyung questioned with an accusing glint in his eye.

 

“Nothing,” Jimin replied, displaying his sweet eye smile while Taehyung pouted at the elder.

 

“Guys, sorry to break your little moment but we should get going if we want to make it back for dinner,” Jeongguk said.

 

“It’s all your fault, Chim Chim. I bet you were just trying to distract me from buying all those sweets after what happened on the Hogwarts Express.”

 

“What happened-“

 

“Let’s not talk about it,” Taehyung said, interrupting Jeongguk’s question before he could finish. Taehyung turned and started walking towards Hogsmeade again, calling, “Well, come on slowpokes! We don’t have all day. Time waits for no one! You guys are going to grow old standing there.”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes at Taehyung’s dramatic monologue before he and Jeongguk followed.

 

Hogsmeade was a picturesque little village of cottages and shops near the train station for the Hogwarts Express. The three students walked through the High Street, which many wizards roamed as it contained the specialty stores and pubs. Taehyung tried to head straight for Honeydukes to refill his stash of candy but was stopped by Jimin’s hand at the hem of his sweater. He turned around to give Jimin his irresistible puppy dog eyes and the elder had no choice but to sigh and cave in. Taehyung beamed. He knew that trick always worked no matter how long they had been friends.

 

Taehyung quickly dashed into the store before Jimin could change his mind. Jeongguk followed after him leaving Jimin to wait outside as he was curious about the famous sweets shop that so many students had talked about. When they walked in, the bell on the door twinkled in a harmonious rhythm and Jeongguk was met with rows and rows of sweets, its containers lined neatly on the shelves. The vibrant array of colour was captivating and he felt the urge to try every single sweet.

 

He spun around, eyes capturing every detail and when he finished observing the shop, Taehyung ran up to him, hands cradling several containers of candy.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

Outside again, as soon as Jimin caught sight of Taehyung, he shook his head but a smile played at his lips.

 

“You never learn.”

 

“Yup,” Taehyung said, giving Jimin his box smile.

 

“Guk, do you have anywhere you want to go?”

 

“Not really. You guys know this place better than me. I’ll just follow,” Jeongguk replied.

 

“Ok, let’s go to the Three Broomsticks. I want a Butterbeer,” Jimin decided and Taehyung automatically winked at him.

 

The Three Broomsticks was very warm but so crowded that Jimin had to grab onto Jeongguk’s arm to squeeze him through the customers that filled the inn. They found a table near the stairs and Jimin ordered three Butterbeers while Jeongguk helped Taehyung not lose his sweets.

 

Madam Rosmerta was back with the foaming Butterbeers in no time and Jimin and Taehyung eagerly gulped theirs down. Jeongguk, on the other hand, sipped the drink. Butterbeer had slight alcohol content, enough to get house elves drunk, so Jeongguk drunk carefully as he wasn’t keen to find out if he was a heavyweight or a lightweight.

 

By the time Jeongguk was halfway through his first Butterbeer, Jimin and Taehyung finished their third. Jeongguk wanted to say something but the two elders looked like they were in a heated competition so he kept his mouth shut. He didn’t know why, but he thought Jimin and Taehyung knew what they were doing so as they ordered another drink, Jeongguk relaxed into his seat to watch them.

 

The two third years drank mug after mug until Madam Rosmerta looked hesitant to give them another Butterbeer. Jeongguk also decided it was enough as they could barely comprehend what he was saying and seemed to have trouble standing up straight. The first year sighed before paying Madam Rosmerta the money for the drinks and then gathering Taehyung’s sweets into his arm. He nudged both of them to wake them up from their temporary slumber and when they lifted their heads, Jeongguk nodded towards the door and the two obediently swayed towards the door.

 

On the way out, Jeongguk apologised to Madam Rosmerta and she asked if he needed help but he politely declined before heading out to take his troublesome friends back to Hogwarts. The sky was already darkening and Jeongguk wanted to hurry back for dinner, having wasted most of his energy baby-sitting his friends today. During their journey back, Jeongguk wished he had more hands as Jimin and Taehyung constantly swerved off path, knocking into walls and poles before apologising to them.

 

When they finally made it to the castle, the sky was completely covered in a blanket of black, occasional white dots glimmering in contrast. Jeongguk groaned when he realised that the Slytherin common room was in the dungeons while the Ravenclaw common room was located on the fifth floor. He decided that it would be easier to drop Jimin off first so he manoeuvred both of his friends towards the stairs leading to the lowest floor of Hogwarts.

 

Arriving on the level of the dungeons, they were greeted by a rush of cold wind, which frequented the corridor.

 

“Cold,” said the half-asleep Taehyung who shivered and clung onto Jeongguk tighter, trying to borrow the younger’s body heat.

 

Jeongguk tried to walk with his arms full of Taehyung’s candy, a koala on his back and a lost puppy who seemed confused where he was. It was quite a feat to bring them safely to where he wanted but an even greater achievement when he gave the password and finally entered the Slytherin common room without losing the two third years.

 

He was unable to shake Taehyung off his back so he dragged his body with him to drop Jimin off in his dormitory. As Jeongguk tucked Jimin into his bed, the older whispered a jumble of incoherent mess before completely knocking out. Jeongguk smiled and turned off the lights, quietly leaving the Slytherin common room and heading for the west side of Hogwarts.

 

When he reached the top of the spiral staircase, he walked up to the eagle knocker to accept the question. Even though he wasn’t from the Ravenclaw house, Jeongguk was usually able to answer the question, which changed every time you tried to enter. The Sorting Hat was probably right when it thought that Jeongguk was a mix of the four houses.

 

“The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?”

 

“Uh… Footsteps?”

 

Jeongguk was unsurprisingly let into the Ravenclaw common room where he neatly placed all of Taehyung’s candies onto his bedside table before gently helped his older friend onto the bed, not wanting to wake him up. When he finished tucking the Ravenclaw in, he was finally able to let out a breath of relief and massage his sore back. He stretched his cramped arms out before turning to leave but was, however, stopped by a hand on his wrist.

 

“Gukkie?”

 

“Hm? What’s wrong?”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“It’s ok. Go to sleep,” Jeongguk said softly as he sat down next to Taehyung and brushed his hair out of his eyes.

 

“Please don’t push us away again. I was really sad when you left last night,” he mumbled.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” Jeongguk whispered after a slight pause, remembering Jimin’s words from earlier. Family. He smiled tenderly and waited until Taehyung was sound asleep again before he slipped his wrist out of the other’s hand and got up to leave, heading straight for the Great Hall to meet the studious seniors.

 

When he entered, he realised that none of them had moved from their position on the Ravenclaw table so he resumed his seat from the morning as well. It was still a few minutes until dinner was served and the elders kept their heads low as they wrote their notes and papers, quills moving at incredible speeds. However, as soon as he sat down, all four of them snapped their heads up.

 

“What took you guys so long?” Hoseok asked before he became aware that only one returned. “Wait, where are Jimin and Tae?”

 

“They drank too much Butterbeer.”

 

“Why am I not surprised?” Yoongi grunted.

 

“Because you know them,” Jeongguk laughed.

 

“Right.”

 

Jeongguk stopped talking when the four elders returned to their books, concentration level at the maximum. It was soothing just to watch his friends study but the bell rudely interrupted the serenity and reminded them to remove their belongings from the table so that the food could appear. When they finished packing away their books, quills and ink, their dinner appeared in front of them and the conversation was brought back.

 

“Are you staying for Christmas?”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replied.

 

“Ok, then I am too,” Yoongi said.

 

“I think I might stay this year too. I have so many books, I can’t be bothered packing,” Jin added.

 

“Me too,” Hoseok agreed.

 

“If you guys are all staying then I’m staying too,” Namjoon joined in. “I’ll tell Tae when I go back to the common room. He’s probably going home.”

 

“Nah, he’s staying this year. So is Jimin,” Jeongguk told Namjoon.

 

“Tae’s staying at Hogwarts for Christmas?” Namjoon asked, accidentally knocking over Hoseok’s cup in the process and muttering a quick sorry.

 

“Yeah? Why?”

 

“He didn’t even stay last year when Jimin asked.”

 

“Why’s he staying this year then?”

 

“No idea.”

 

“Oh, that’s means we’ll all get to celebrate Christmas together!” Hoseok exclaimed enthusiastically.

 

Jeongguk nodded even though he didn’t understand why Hoseok was looking forward to Christmas. It was just another day, maybe with the addition of Christmas carols and a Christmas dinner but that’s all Jeongguk’s shallow upbringing allowed him to see.

 

While the rest of them talked about Christmas, Jeongguk remembered the letter from his aunt that he had received and burnt in the morning and suddenly his stomach felt queasy. There was no way the contents of the letter were true. Jeongguk wanted to believe that but it was like bringing the dead back to life. Hopeless. The knowledge that his aunt had personally written it to him though prickled at the back of his mind but it also left him curious. Although Jeongguk wasn’t sure if the letter was a simple warning or a threat, he had ensured that he memorised it before burning it so only his memory was able to access the crucial information.

 

“What’s wrong?” Yoongi asked. He had shuffled to sit close to him and spoke in an undertone so that the others wouldn’t hear.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Why’re you glaring at your chicken then? What did it do to you?” Yoongi joked, eliciting a chuckle from Jeongguk.

 

“I was just thinking about Christmas,” Jeongguk replied.

 

“What about it?”

 

“Never really celebrated it. Cause you know with my uncle and aunt...”

 

“Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure those hooligans will give you a Christmas you won’t forget.”

 

“I don’t doubt that.”

 

“Don’t doubt what?” Jin asked, having overheard Jeongguk’s previous statement.

 

“He doesn’t doubt that you guys are hooligans,” Yoongi replied for Jeongguk.

 

“Hey! I’m a model student. This prefect badge didn’t just drop from the sky,” he complained.

 

“He was joking,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“Oh. That was a really bad joke then.”

 

“Seems like old age takes away your humour too,” Hoseok said, imitating Jin’s statement from lunch.

 

“Let’s not go there again,” Yoongi said, fearful of their unintentionally triggering words.

 

“Jeongguk?” Namjoon asked when the younger seemed distracted again.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You ok? How’s your head?”

 

“Perfectly stable on my neck. Don’t think it’s going to fall off anytime soon,” Jeongguk joked with the usual mischievous grin and knocked the side of his head a few times to prove his point.

 

They all laughed, Yoongi too, even though he knew that this was one of the ways Jeongguk diverted attention away from more pressing matters but for now, he was not going to say anything. They had all agreed to give Jeongguk the space he needed but Yoongi was worried that if they drift too far away, Jeongguk would never open up and he knew the younger was definitely capable of hiding everything.

 

“That’s reassuring,” Namjoon replied with a fatherly smile. “Anyways, I should go make sure Tae hasn’t fallen out of bed.”

 

“Ugh, that’s makes me feel obligated to check up on Jimin,” Yoongi groaned even though he stood to follow Namjoon without any complaints.

 

“You guys go, we’ll be leaving soon anyways,” Jin said sympathetically.

 

“Good night,” Namjoon waved with the hand free from books.

 

Yoongi also grunted something that sounded like a ‘good night’ but he was gone before they could ask him to repeat it. The remaining three stalled for a bit before Jeongguk stood up, pretended to yawn and then indicated he was leaving too. The Hufflepuffs nodded and judging from the lack of people in the Great Hall, they deemed it late enough to return to their dormitory as well.

 

“See you tomorrow, Guk,” Hoseok said as he reached over and pulled the younger into a hug while Jin reached an arm out to ruffle Jeongguk’s hair.

 

“Good night guys.”

 

Jeongguk watched as the other two walked off. He was left to bathe himself in the shadows of the castle’s walls.

 

It was far too peaceful.

 

The air, however, felt like a different story. It was ominous. Jeongguk could feel it and he didn’t like it one bit. Maybe this was all a dream and the letter from his aunt was just a figure of his imagination. Maybe they were just bluffing. Or maybe Jeongguk was just wishing too hard.

 

What exactly are you planning?

 

Chapter Text

There was a melody of bells singing in Jeongguk's ear, gently soothing him out of his sleep. When he registered the music, he sat up in shock. Since the whole Gryffindor dormitory currently only housed him, the rest of the house having all returned home for the Christmas holidays, he should’ve be alone. However, he was greeted with six faces, each adorned with a bright smile, which tried to outshine the others. He rubbed his eyes to make sure they weren’t imaginary before finally accepting that they had all somehow managed to sneak into the Gryffindor common room.

 

“Merry Christmas!” someone exclaimed but Jeongguk was too tired to make an effort to figure out who was yelling at such an early hour or what said person had even said.

 

The bed by his side dipped when another person sat down next to him and he looked up to see Jimin’s affectionate smile through his puffy eyes, which were swollen from sleep.

 

“Hey Guk, it’s Christmas,” the Slytherin whispered.

 

“Oh right, ok,” he replied with his hoarse voice.

 

“He’s so cute. I just want to squish his cheeks,” Jeongguk heard someone behind Jimin murmur.

 

“Come on, let’s go downstairs. We have a surprise.”

 

Although Jeongguk wanted nothing more than to sleep right now, he obediently pushed his warm covers off and plodded downstairs with the others, not bothering to change out of his pyjamas. He wasn’t a fan of surprises but when Taehyung went behind him to cover his eyes and Jimin and Hoseok came forward to hold his hands, making sure he didn’t fall down the stairs, he unconditionally put all his trust in them. Jeongguk could feel Yoongi’s eyes from behind and he was certain that Namjoon and Jin were already in the common room, probably making sure their surprise was ready.

 

When they finally reached the bottom, he felt the warmth from the fire feeding itself into his body and he physically relaxed, allowing his friends to lead him wherever they pleased. He was led closer to the flames where he heard hushed whispers of Jin and Namjoon frantically trying to set things perfect.

 

Jeongguk felt Taehyung lift his hands off of his face and he gave his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the change in lighting before realising that his friends were watching him expectantly. He looked backwards at his friends hesitantly, unsure what the surprise was, until Hoseok gently nudged him forward.

 

“Go on.”

 

The first year turned to the direction where Hoseok had pushed him towards and saw that the common room was decorated with a small Christmas tree, the two packages of colourfully wrapped presents residing underneath were lit up by the lights tangled in the tree. Jeongguk tilted his head slightly to the left before crouching down and observing the packages. There was a small beige tag on both presents, in the shape of a heart, attached to it that read his name in delicate cursive. Jeongguk picked up the larger one and turned back to his friends, who were now gathered slightly behind him, all of their hands held behind their backs.

 

“Open it.”

 

Jeongguk returned to the present and gently untied the silver ribbon holding the wrapping paper together. As the ribbon unravelled, Jeongguk opened the red patterned paper and discovered a neatly folded garment in bright red. He could feel his friends standing behind him, holding their breaths and waiting for his reaction.

 

He pinched the garment at the shoulders and lifted it up to reveal a woollen, knitted turtleneck sweater with a line of white snowflakes dancing around the chest. The sweater was soft to the touch and draped gracefully in his hands.

 

“Wow,” Jeongguk breathed.

 

“Like it?” Taehyung asked as he hooked one arm around the younger, the other still behind his back.

 

“Yeah. Thank you,” Jeongguk replied, shifting his head to face the Ravenclaw.

 

“Do you want to try it on?” Jin asked from behind.

 

“Can I?” Jeongguk asked, eyes lighting up.

 

“Of course you can, silly,” Jimin laughed while he ruffled Jeongguk’s bed hair with his spare hand.

 

Jeongguk spun around to give his friends a toothy grin, eyes shrinking into crescents and nose scrunched up adorably. The others cooed at his smile and gestured for him to stand. When he was on his two feet, his friends suddenly brought their hands in front of them to flash identically designed turtleneck sweaters in a combination of red and green, each decorated with a different Christmas ornament. Jeongguk eyes spoke his surprise and then his joy while his nose creased into another scrunch when he realised that even though the idea of having matching clothing was cheesy, he loved it.

 

The first one that caught his attention was Taehyung’s red sweater, which was emblazoned with an appliqué in the shape of a snowman, white dots painting the background of the garment. Jimin’s green sweater was embellished with white reindeers running down the sleeves and around the length of the item. Meanwhile, Namjoon was holding also a red sweater patterned with golden jingle bells and Hoseok’s red and green sweater was split down the middle and across the chest by a golden line, which met in the middle in the shape of a bow, creating an overall appearance of a boxed present. Yoongi reluctantly held a red sweater, embellished with a green Christmas tree in the centre and finally, Jin displayed a green shaded sweater with a string of golden patterned baubles zig-zagging down the front.

 

Jeongguk was at a complete loss for words.

 

“So are you just going to hold it?” Taehyung questioned from beside Jeongguk.

 

The youngest laughed and shook his head before putting on the sweater, the others following his actions until they were all comfortably dressed in the warm clothing. Jeongguk probably would’ve looked like a fool to outsiders from all the grinning he was doing but he was just genuinely very happy that for once, he didn’t suppress his feelings.

 

“What about the other one?” Jeongguk asked, pointing to the wrapped gift, which was lonelily sitting in its stiff position under the tree.

 

“You can open that one later tonight,” Jin replied.

 

Jeongguk nodded and the group walked back in front of the fireplace and moved the sofas to the far sides of the room so they could all sit down in a circle on the furry carpet. On his sides sat Jin and Namjoon and beside Jin were Yoongi and Taehyung and next to Namjoon sat Jimin and Hoseok respectively.

 

“What time is it?” Jeongguk remembered.

 

“Like five in the morning?”

 

“Is that even legal?”

 

“That’s what I said,” Yoongi agreed.

 

“Yoongi, don’t be such a spoilsport. It’s Christmas,” Jin chastised playfully.

 

“So, what’re we doing today?” Jeongguk asked.

 

“We’ll stay here until the afternoon and then go down to the kitchen to do some baking. Then there’s the Christmas feast tonight.”

 

“Are we even allowed in the kitchen? Isn’t it just for the house elves?”

 

“Don’t worry, Jin is going to use his prefect privileges to sneak us into the kitchen,” Hoseok replied whilst Jin sent Jeongguk a sneaky wink causing the younger to laugh.

 

“What are we making?”

 

“You’ll see,” Jin replied while he patted Jeongguk’s shoulders.

 

“Well since we have like six hours to kill, we should play charades!” Taehyung exclaimed.

 

“What’s that?” Jeongguk asked.

 

“Basically, one person pantomimes a word and the others have to guess it. Get it?” Taehyung explained quickly.

 

“Mhm,” Jeongguk replied with a nod.

 

“We should split into teams of three and one person can act it out,” Hoseok said.

 

“I think Tae should do it,” Jimin suggested, knowing how excited his best friend got when it came to games and how much Taehyung wanted to be an actor.

 

“Ok and we’ll just divide the teams like this,” Namjoon said as he used his arm to separate himself and Jeongguk.

 

Everyone nodded so that Namjoon’s team included Hoseok and Jimin, Jeongguk’s team, Jin and Yoongi.

 

“Let’s start! Let’s start!” Taehyung said, clapping his hands frantically.

 

Once everyone’s attention was on him, he configured a deck of flashcards with his wand. He flicked his wand up and the cards flew in front of him to hang in the air. When he had everything ready he turned to face his friends again to begin.

 

Taehyung started flailing his arms erratically.

 

“Dragon?”

 

Taehyung nodded and waited for the cards to magically flip before flattening his nose with his index finger.

 

“Voldemort?”

 

Another nod from Taehyung and then he pointed at Hoseok and Jimin when the next card showed.

 

“Chaser?”

 

The cards shifted again at Taehyung’s nod and he balled his hands into fists and smashed the floor around him violently.

 

“Whomping Willow?”

 

Having heard the correct answer, Taehyung looked up when the cards flipped and he immediately started tooting.

 

“Hogwarts Express?”

 

He nodded fervently again before pulling his sweater up to cover his face and standing up to wave his arms around in front him.

 

“Dementor?”

 

Taehyung nodded and smiled widely when Jeongguk had gotten all the answers in one guess. The whole game was only a relay between Jeongguk and Taehyung, the others just sitting there in complete confusion, unable to guess anything.

 

“How did you even guess half of those?” Yoongi frowned. “I saw nothing.”

 

There was a chorus of agreement as everyone looked between the two youngest in awe.

 

“This is what you call telepathy,” Taehyung said dramatically, as he sat down again.

 

“Right,” Yoongi replied sarcastically.

 

“Fine, gramps, we can do something else,” Taehyung said as he rolled his eyes and magically removed the flashcards from the air.

 

“We should get into the Christmas spirit… with some singing,” Hoseok proposed.

 

Yoongi groaned at the thought and everyone else laughed.

 

“Count me out.”

 

“Yoongi, come on,” Taehyung whined while pulling on the elder’s arm. “I’ll go first.”

 

“Whatever,” Yoongi replied and Taehyung knew it meant a yes so he cleared his throat and tested out a few notes before singing.

 

“~Deck the halls with boughs of holly

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Tis the season to be jolly

Fa la la la la, la la la la~” Taehyung sang.

 

The song perfectly suited Taehyung’s deep voice and Jeongguk watched in delight as his friend displayed a new side of himself. Jeongguk also led the applause when he finished.

 

“Who’s next? Who’s next?” Taehyung asked in anticipation and Jin revealed the carol he was going to sing.

 

“~Joy to the World, the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart prepare Him room

And Heaven and nature sing

And Heaven and nature sing

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing~”

 

His audience clapped enthusiastically when he finished and Jin motioned for the next person to step forward. Yoongi noticed Jeongguk chewing on his lower lip and right hand rubbing the back of his neck while Jin was singing so he volunteered to go next to hopefully give the younger some confidence.

 

“~I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

Just like the ones I used to know

Where the treetops glisten and children listen

To hear sleigh bells in the snow~” Yoongi belted out note after note in the incorrect tone.

 

By the time he finished, everyone was rolling around the floor in tears.

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t sing a single correct note.”

 

“Shut up,” Yoongi grunted causing them to laugh even harder. “Who’s next?”

 

Hoseok and Namjoon must’ve gotten Yoongi’s message because both of them volunteered to sing next. Hoseok, being the elder one, politely gestured for Namjoon to go first and the Ravenclaw complied.

 

“~Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

But the very next day you gave it away

This year, to save me from tears

I'll give it to someone special~”

 

As soon as Namjoon started singing, the others tried to muffle their giggles behind their hands to not discourage him but by the end of the carol, all of them were laughing equally hard as they were for Yoongi since Namjoon had confidently added falsetto to several parts of the song.

 

“Ok, ok. Hoseok’s turn,” Namjoon said and everyone collected themselves before facing Hoseok.

 

“~Jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one horse open sleigh~” Hoseok screamed off tune.

 

When his song came to an end, Namjoon and Yoongi immediately started cheering and clapping whilst the other four were trying to hide their snorts.

 

“Guk, do you know any songs?” Jin asked.

 

“Uh… I only know one.”

 

“Which one?” Namjoon asked.

 

“Christmas Day… but my voice isn’t as great as Jin’s or Tae’s.”

 

“Don’t worry, I don’t think you can be worse than them,” Taehyung snickered as he pointed at Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon.

 

“I’m not even going to disagree,” Yoongi grunted.

 

“But I don’t remember all the lyrics.”

 

“It’s ok, I’ll help you,” Jimin offered.

 

When Jeongguk nodded, Jimin switched positions with Namjoon so that he could sit next to the younger. Jimin gave Jeongguk an encouraging smile and the younger gave one back before taking a deep breath.

 

“~ This year too we see the Christmas tree

Here to find, me who’s been waiting

Streets everywhere are bright in celebrations

For me today too and tomorrow it’s Christmas day~” Jeongguk sang before he paused and Jimin took over.

 

“~Beautiful lights welcoming us

The flowers in my hand fragrance overflowing

Getting to see your pretty smile again

It’s getting me fluttery~”

 

“~With you, shawty with you

With you, shawty with you

With you, beautiful christmas day~” they sang together.

 

When they finished, Jeongguk’s cheeks were painted with a faint blush, which blended his red sweater and he cast his eyes down. The others were in a state of shock and no one moved or said anything. Jeongguk and Jimin had sung in perfect harmony, almost like their voices were made for each other.

 

“Woah, your voices are amazing together,” Namjoon said, finally breaking the stunned silence.

 

“I could listen to your voices all day,” Hoseok added.

 

“Really?” Jeongguk asked, perking up.

 

He saw Namjoon and Hoseok nod and smiled proudly until he realised that Yoongi was also nodding. A nod from Yoongi meant a silent praise of a thousand yeses. Although the older was always kind to him, he never gave out sincere compliments unless he truly meant it. Jeongguk smiled even brighter and Jimin reached his arm around Jeongguk to rub the younger’s arm.

 

“Is there anything you’re not good at?” Jimin asked.

 

“He needs to improve his jokes. He’s not that funny… or should I say punny?” Jin asked, raising both eyebrows twice and then laughing his usual windshield wiper squeaks of laughter.

 

Everyone shook their heads at Jin’s joke but they were each trying to hold back a grin.

 

“Don’t listen to him, Guk,” Jimin said and pretended to pull the younger closer to himself to shield him from Jin’s lameness.

 

Jeongguk’s smile didn’t falter through the whole exchange.

 

They ended up wasting half of their day laughing, singing and joking until it was nearly twelve. Jin reminded them of the time and hurriedly told the youngest to change into warmer clothes before shooing them down to the kitchen with him. When they entered, Jeongguk realised that even though the house elves were busy preparing for the Christmas feast, they still cleared a section of the kitchen for the seven of them.

 

Jin immediately strode to the front and guided them towards the ingredients placed orderly on the bench. There was butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, eggs, flour, natural vanilla essence, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and pure icing sugar.

 

“What exactly are we making?” Taehyung asked, poking at the ingredients.

 

“We’re going to make a gingerbread house and a few gingerbread men,” he explained. “Without magic.”

 

The others nodded, confused at how they were going to achieve this when clearly none of them have ever even stepped foot into a kitchen before, and waited for their next instruction.

 

“Has anyone here cooked or baked before?” Jin asked. He was met with a bunch of nos so he asked another question. “Is there anyone here that may cause a disaster in the kitchen?”

 

Whilst most of them looked at Namjoon, Jimin and Namjoon looked at Taehyung.

 

“Ok, I’ll make sure you two stay away from any potential dangers then.”

 

Jin busied himself with sorting the ingredients into the correct amounts while the other watched. He cut the butter before measuring all of the other ingredients until they were all ready.

 

“Hoseok, Yoongi start mixing the butter and sugar until it’s pale and creamy and then add the golden syrup and vanilla. Guk, Tae sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda together. Jimin, Namjoon come help me with the icing,” Jin ordered.

 

They moved accordingly to their stations and begun carrying out the task Jin had given them. Taehyung carried all the ingredients while Jeongguk went to find a sieve and a stainless steel bowl. When he came back, they divided their job into Jeongguk sifting and Taehyung gradually pouring the ingredients together into the sieve.

 

Everything was peaceful until they were halfway through the mixture of powders. Taehyung dipped his index finger into the flour and then wiped the white powder onto Jeongguk’s nose. The younger stared at Taehyung with innocent eyes, unsure why the older had touched his nose and was now in giggles. He held up the silver bowl to look at his reflection and when he realised the streak of white along his nose, he reached into the cup of remaining flour and drew a line of flour on Taehyung’s cheek. Soon it turned into a mild flour war with both of them trying to paint the other’s face in white.

 

“Ow,” Jeongguk winced as he pressed his left palm against his eye.

 

“Are you ok? I’m so sorry. Did it go into you eye?” Taehyung asked reaching forward to cup Jeongguk’s face. “Let me have a look.”

 

Jeongguk uncovered his eye and the pained expression on his face was transformed into a cheeky smile when he brought his right hand up to cover the elder’s cheek with flour.

 

“I can’t believe you fell for that,” Jeongguk laughed, clutching his stomach as Taehyung stood frozen from disbelief.

 

When Taehyung nodded slowly and smirked, Jeongguk knew he had it in for him and turned to run away but the Ravenclaw was faster. Taehyung grabbed his waist and pulled him back and began covering his forehead with flour as the younger tried to struggle out of his grip.

 

“Hey, hey, hey. Stop wasting the flour,” Jin sighed, the two youngest stopping immediately when Jin walked towards their station.

 

The rest of them looked over at Taehyung and Jeongguk when they heard Jin sighing and laughed as they saw unrecognisable white faces smiling at them.

 

Jin ensured that they both cleaned their faces before ordering Taehyung to help Jimin and Namjoon with the icing and taking over the younger’s job with Jeongguk instead. Jin watched Jeongguk’s face wrinkle in concentration and lips pucker as the younger began to diligently sift the flour again under his guidance.

 

“Have you ever tried gingerbread cookies before?”

 

Jeongguk shook his head, eyes not leaving the mixture.

 

“You don’t have to concentrate so hard,” Jin laughed. “You’re not going to ruin the cookies if you spill a little bit of ginger or cinnamon, you know?”

 

The Gryffindor looked up and Jin met Jeongguk’s widely opened eyes. Jeongguk opened his mouth to say something and Jin could almost see the cogs turning in his head but before the younger could say anything he closed his mouth again.

 

“What?”

 

“Nothing,” Jeongguk grinned as he went back to sifting the powders.

 

Jin pushed Jeongguk to the side with his hip and the first year stumbled slightly before reacting and bumping the older back with his own hip. The sixth year smiled fondly as Jeongguk relaxed and they went back to playfully sifting the powders.

 

When the two of them finally finished, they leaned against the bench and waited for the others to complete their given tasks as well. Jin looked at Jimin, Taehyung and Namjoon and saw that the two third years were distracted by something on the side of the bench and left their task for Namjoon to finish by himself. However, the eldest one of the three was aggressively tapping the sieve to sift the icing sugar, half of it ending on the table and floor. He quickly rushed to Namjoon’s rescue so that the Ravenclaw wouldn’t accidentally break the sieve or burn himself with the boiling water he was then going to add to the sugar.

 

After Yoongi and Hoseok had finished their job too, Jin added Jeongguk’s mixtures together and beat them until it was a soft dough form before pulling out his wand to cool the mixture.

 

“I thought you said we weren’t using magic,” Taehyung stated.

 

“Well, they don’t exactly have a fridge or an oven here,” Jin replied.

 

“Right.”

 

Once Jin deemed the mixture cold enough, he put his wand back into his pocket and called Taehyung, Jimin and Namjoon away from their task. He picked up seven rolling pins and lightly floured them and then pulled out several cookies cutters from the drawer.

 

“I’ll cut out the shapes for the gingerbread house and you guys can focus on making the gingerbread men and whatever other shapes you want,” Jin said before splitting the dough into even portions and sending everyone back to work.

 

Jimin, Taehyung and Jeongguk joked around a lot and tried to sabotage each other’s cookie artworks while Yoongi peacefully cut perfectly shaped gingerbread men, Hoseok quietly worked on his different positioned gingerbread men, Namjoon tried his best to not break another cookie cutter and Jin sliced his dough into calculated rectangles for the gingerbread house. However, another flour war broke out when Taehyung placed his whole flour palm on Jimin’s cheek before running to the other side of the enormous kitchen. Jeongguk laughed and watched as Jimin soaked both of his hands in flour before chasing after his best friend. The older third year eventually caught up to Taehyung and received his revenge by slapping both of his floured hands onto the younger’s cheeks and smudging it around.

 

“Hey, no fair! You can’t use two hands,” Taehyung whine even though the grin on his face contradicted his complaint.

 

“Since when did we have rules?” Jimin teased as he quirked an eyebrow up.

 

“If you guys aren’t going to use your dough, I’m taking it,” Yoongi yelled from across the kitchen.

 

“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” both third years yelled in sync as they rushed back to their dough portions.

 

When all the dough was used up and placed neatly onto trays, Jin took out his wand again to heat the bottom of the trays. Whilst Jin held his wand steadily, the others went back to making the white icing.

 

After thirteen minutes or so, Jin stopped baking the cookies as they were a beautiful shade of golden brown and the rest were pretty much done with the icing. They were silent as they inhaled the sweet fragrance and allowed the cookies to cool before taking them off the trays and transferring them to separate boards so they could each decorate a different panel of the gingerbread house. There were no jokes during this period of time as everyone diligently concentrated on drawing neat patterns onto their cookie piece.

 

Jin took the panels when they finished and they all gathered around the table in the middle to watch him put the gingerbread house together. The eldest was unsurprisingly the most stable when it came to piping the icing and his lines were neatly standing on the edge of the panels so that it was easier to piece them all together.

 

As Jin put the final roof panel onto the house, he grabbed a few lollies he had prepared beforehand from one of the cabinets at the side of the kitchen and placed them next to the gingerbread house.

 

“Here, you guys can decorate it with these. Just don’t eat them yet,” Jin said before he went to consult the elves about something.

 

Taehyung began putting Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans around the base of the house and Jimin embellished the walls with chocolate chips. The others followed but despite Jin’s order, they sneakily fed each other the candies when the eldest wasn’t looking.

 

Jimin picked up a shiny white coloured bean and held it out for Hoseok who took it without looking. However, his face immediately contorted in disgust when he bit into the candy. The others roared his laughter as he opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out with the bitten jelly bean in the middle.

 

“What flavour?” Jimin asked curiously.

 

“Thope,” Hoseok replied and then removed the jelly bean but left his tongue stuck out.

 

“What?”

 

“Soap,” Namjoon interpreted, as Hoseok was busy cleaning the taste out of his mouth with Fizzing Whizzbees.

 

Taehyung laughed at Hoseok before taking a brownish looking jelly bean and giving it to Namjoon to eat. The older Ravenclaw eyed the bean suspiciously but threw it in his mouth anyways. He frowned as soon as the lolly entered his mouth and everyone watched intently at Namjoon’s reaction.

 

Namjoon turned around and spat the jelly bean out into the bin, causing another round of exploding laughter. Taehyung was busy apologising to the elder, his excuse along the lines of thinking that it was chocolate while Namjoon was blubbering about pepper. When the elder was done cleansing the flavour off of his tongue, the Ravenclaws returned to their positions around the table.

 

Jeongguk played it safe by choosing a pastel pink bean and held it out for Yoongi who took the lolly and popped it into his mouth without hesitation. The others stood and waited for Yoongi’s face of disgust but to their utter disappointment, he bopped his head up and down and continued chewing on the lolly.

 

“Cotton candy.”

 

Jeongguk smiled proudly while the rest went back to decorating the gingerbread house, their fun having been spoilt by Jeongguk’s luck.

 

This routine continued until all the candy Jin had prepared were either used or eaten up. They stepped back to admire their work and Jin had to admit that the end product was better than he had expected.

 

“Did you expect a total disaster?”

 

“Honestly, yes.”

 

“What are we going to do about the other cookies?”

 

“Eat them of course!” Jin replied gleefully, leaving all of them smiling at the obvious reply.

 

He pulled over the tray of gingerbread men and allowed them to each take one first. There was a mixture of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as everyone bit into their gingerbread man and they tried their best to savour the taste but failed, hastily stuffing the whole cookie into their mouths instead. The texture of the outside was slightly crisp but the inside was tender and moist and overall, just really soft.

 

“We’re getting in the way, we should leave soon,” Jin said when all the gingerbread men were gone in the span of five minutes, no one able to resist the buttery flavour.

 

They all agreed and turned to tidy up their stations with magic as it was more time efficient.

 

“Where’re we going to put the gingerbread house?” Namjoon asked Jin as they tidied the remains of their icing.

 

“I asked the elves if they could keep it here until dinner.”

 

“Oh, smart.”

 

“Thanks, that means a lot coming from you,” Jin grinned and they went back to cleaning in silence.

 

Once all of them finished, they made sure to thank the elves before heading back outside. Silvery flakes fluttered down weightlessly in spirals and today was one of those days where the snow was fluffy.

 

“Where do you guys want to go? We still have a few hours before dinner.”

 

“Should we-“

 

“Wait, where did Jeongguk go? Did we just lose-” Yoongi asked, interrupting Hoseok before he got interrupted himself.

 

“HEY GUYS, CATCH!” everyone heard Jeongguk’s voice sound from a few metres away.

 

No one was able to process the obligatory warning before all six of them were hit square in the back with a snowball. They turned around to face their assaulter who was bent over in giggles and then gave each other a nod. When Jeongguk was finally able to stand up straighter through his laughter, he saw all six of his friends approaching him, matching determined looks plastered on their faces. Getting exactly what he wanted, Jeongguk pranced away in the opposite direction.

 

“Sweetie, come here,” Jimin called after him in an eerily calm tone.

 

“Catch me if you can,” Jeongguk called back, teasingly.

 

“You think I can’t?” Jimin asked with a smirk that sent shivers down his spine. So this is why Jimin’s a Slytherin.

 

Yoongi stood at the back of the group and whispered a “Be careful, don’t take it too far” to the rest of them before they all grabbed a snowball and hurled it at the youngest. Jeongguk’s quick reflexes kicked in and he managed to dodge most of the snow and now his smile grew bigger as he prepared more ammo to send in the elders’ direction. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Taehyung trying to throw a snowball at Jimin and Namjoon but accidentally hitting the back of Yoongi’s head. He whispered a silent prayer to the Ravenclaw before readying his snowballs to launch at Jin and Hoseok.

 

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” Jeongguk heard Taehyung repeat as the elder sped past him, an alley of snowballs chasing after him.

 

Jeongguk laughed before taking pity on Taehyung and aiming the snowballs he made for the Hufflepuffs directly at Yoongi. The Slytherin who was previously occupied with the Ravenclaw shifted his focus onto Jeongguk.

 

“You chose the wrong side, kiddo.”

 

Three snowballs were propelled in Jeongguk’s direction but Taehyung rushed back over and pushed Jeongguk out of the way.

 

“Thanks,” Jeongguk tried to say but the elder was squishing him deeper into the snow.

 

Taehyung sat up when he heard Jeongguk struggling to breathe and grinned at the younger. But their moment didn’t last long as a snowball hit Taehyung’s back and another smacked Jeongguk right in the middle of his chest, the unexpected force sending him toppling backwards again. They quickly gathered themselves and whilst Taehyung assembled snowballs, Jeongguk attacked with precise aim.

 

After a few minutes, Jin started attacking from behind and Taehyung and Jeongguk separated to fight on their own. As Jeongguk ran towards a tree to find some cover, Jimin fired a concatenation of snowballs towards the younger, knocking him back into the snow. Jeongguk laughed as he sat up while Jimin crouched down to ruffle his hair and bop his freezing nose.

 

“I guess I deserved that.”

 

Jimin simply smiled at him before calling him Rudolph and then removed his scarf to wrap it around Jeongguk instead.

 

“Come on. Let’s go, we’re sitting ducks here,” Jimin said and pulled Jeongguk up before running back towards the centre of the battle and Jeongguk quickly followed.

 

On the way, another snowball attached itself to Jeongguk’s face, props to Namjoon. A tingly, stinging sensation melted across his face but as the elder ran up to laugh at his aim, the cold feeling gradually wore off.

 

“Are you ok?” Namjoon asked even though he was laughing and clearly not worried since the snow was soft and fluffy.

 

Jeongguk pouted as Namjoon took off his gloves and patted his face, transferring some warmth back.

 

“Do you want me to blow on it?” Namjoon joked, earning himself a playful shove from Jeongguk.

 

“Are we going to stand here or are we going to fight?” Jeongguk huffed.

 

“Oooh, starting to speak like a man. You’re growing up,” Namjoon teased and tousled Jeongguk’s hair.

 

Jeongguk rolled his eyes and then bent down to pick a handful of snow to throw at Namjoon. The Ravenclaw reacted as soon as he saw Jeongguk crouch down and ran off, leaving behind whiffs of his SpongeBob laugh. Jeongguk smiled and ran back to propel a snowballs at everyone, heating up the cold fight.

 

However, in the midst of the fight, Jeongguk and Hoseok agreed to slink away and make a snowman. They used magic to roll the snow together and levitate the three balls of snow on top of each other. Then they found two sticks and a few stones to attach to the snowman but a carrot was nowhere to be found so their noseless snowman would have to do. Jeongguk was about to take off Jimin’s scarf to offer to the snowman but Hoseok quickly stopped him.

 

“Wear it, you’re going to catch a cold if you take it off,” Hoseok said and wrapped the scarf tighter around Jeongguk’s neck.

 

“Were you two trying to make Voldemort?” Taehyung laughed from behind as he walked towards their masterpiece, having escaped the fight as well.

 

“That’s an insult to our snowman, Tae,” Hoseok joked.

 

One by one, the others slowly left the fight and walked over to join Jeongguk and Hoseok. They gathered around the snowman and gave words of compliment to their slightly tilted artwork. As they talked, Jeongguk patted the snow next to him before laying down flat on his back.

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin laughed but his question was answered when Jeongguk started moving his arms and legs around to trace out a snow angel.

 

When he finished, he laid contentedly in the snow and sighed happily as the fading light accompanied them through to the night. The others sat down around his angel, making sure not to ruin it, but still close enough to share body heat.

 

“I’ve always wanted to have a snowball fight.”

 

“Well, I’m glad you had fun,” Jin smiled as he brushed Jeongguk’s fringe out of his face, exposing his forehead.

 

“I wish everyday could be like this,” Jeongguk sighed.

 

“Me too,” Yoongi whispered, only loud enough for himself to hear.

 

Then there was silence as everyone sat, mesmerised by the intricate patterns in the snowflakes which drifted down lazily like colourless confetti in a wintry ballroom. Jeongguk breathed out hot puffs of air and tried to catch his own breath while the others watched him fondly.

 

“It’s dark, we should go see if the feast is ready,” Jin said.

 

They rose from their position on the cold floor and dusted the snow off each other before heading to the Great Hall.

 

“Are you ready?” Jimin asked as they stood outside the closed doors.

 

“For what?” Jeongguk questioned back.

 

“You’ll see,” Hoseok chuckled and opened the doors.

 

They spread to the sides to allow Jeongguk to walk into the hall first but as soon as the younger looked inside, he froze on the spot as he came face to face with the ethereal scenery.

 

It was the most magical thing he had ever encountered.

 

The Great Hall was lit with matching Christmas trees, apparently called The Twelve Christmas Trees, which enlightened the hall from their positions on the side. At the end of the aisle, behind the Headmaster’s usual seat, stood the grandest tree. There were real fairies, which roamed around the trees and the walls bore festoons of holly and mistletoe. The tables, on the other hand, were strewn with Wizard Crackers, which were filled with real sized hats, wizard chess sets, live mice and jokes. Jeongguk wasn’t sure what he was supposed to look at first but he got distracted when something white floated down and kissed the tip of his nose. Looking up, he realised that dry snow was falling gracefully from the ceilings.

 

Jeongguk wasn’t sure if he was dreaming but he snapped out of his trance when a pair of hands naturally found its place on his waist and gently pushed him inside.

 

“You’re blocking the way,” the owner of the hands whispered.

 

Jeongguk turned around to face Jimin and smiled in reply before finally walking into the Great Hall and taking a seat on the lone table, which was specially set up just for the seven of them since the rest of school had returned home. The others followed and sat around him so that he was surrounded on all sides. Curious, Jeongguk picked up on of the Wizard Crackers, having never seen one before.

 

“Open it,” Hoseok urged when he noticed the younger concentrating on the cracker.

 

“How?”

 

“Here, let me help,” Hoseok said as he reached over and grabbed one end of the cracker. “Pull.”

 

Jeongguk tugged on the side that was in his hands and a loud bang that reminded them of a cannon followed, enveloping everyone in a cloud of blue smoke. Out of surprise, he flinched backwards and almost fell off the bench whilst the rest of them laughed at his cute reaction.

 

“What was that?” Jeongguk asked when he regained his composure.

 

“That, my friend, is a Wizard Cracker,” Hoseok replied whilst handing Jeongguk the present inside. “And this is a Wizard’s Chess set.”

 

The Gryffindor observed it for a while and then put it aside. They didn’t have to wait long before savoury roast turkeys, mountains of boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce appeared simultaneously on their table.

 

“Dig in,” the headmaster announced.

 

Each of them grabbed the closest things to themselves and then shoved it into their mouths, all too occupied with feeding themselves to make conversation. The silence spoke the quality of the food and it was only until they were half way through the meal did someone speak up.

 

“This is really good,” Taehyung said as he reached for another potato.

 

“Yeah, this is why you should’ve stayed with me at Hogwarts last year.”

 

“Still prefer my parents’ cooking though,” Taehyung replied back teasingly as he held his nose high as if to ignore Jimin.

 

“Kid,” Jimin said but smiled anyways. The value of family in Taehyung’s heart was always something Jimin admired about the younger.

 

“I prefer Jin’s,” Hoseok joined in earning a chuckle from the older Hufflepuff. Having been the only one to try the eldest’s cooking, he told the others that were missing out and desperately needed to try his creations.

 

“Maybe everyone can come to my house next summer holidays and I’ll make dinner,” Jin offered and everyone hummed in agreement.

 

“That’ll be really nice,” Jimin said.

 

“We can bake something together again,” Taehyung added, excited at the thought and ignoring Jin shaking his head.

 

“You guys will ruin my kitchen,” he complained.

 

“Then you can just fix it again with magic,” Jeongguk grinned cheekily as his friends snorted with laughter.

 

“Why have I befriended such troublemakers?”

 

“You know you love us,” Hoseok stated and Jin rolled his eyes.

 

Following their main course, their dessert was served with the arrival of flaming Christmas puddings and their gingerbread house.

 

“Oh, I totally forgot about the gingerbread house,” Hoseok admitted while Jeongguk was distracted by the pudding.

 

“It’s on fire,” Jeongguk whispered as he let the flames hypnotise him.

 

They smiled at the youngest, finding his amazement at the most trivial things adoring.

 

After they let the pudding cool, Jin took a spoon and dug a piece to feed to Jeongguk whose eyes widened after the first bite. Jimin laughed endearingly as he wiped the crumbs away from the corner of the younger’s mouth before Jeongguk grabbed a spoon, himself, to take another bite. The pudding was soon devoured and resting peacefully in Jeongguk’s stomach and he vowed that he could not eat any more but when Jin moved the gingerbread house to the centre, he was unable to resist breaking a few pieces off the walls and roof to add to the growing amount of food in his stomach.

 

Content with their dinner, they sighed and wiped their hands and mouths with the serviettes next to them.

 

“We should leave so the house elves can clean up,” Namjoon stated considerately.

 

The others copied him as he farewelled the Headmaster and professors before exiting the Great Hall and returning to the Gryffindor common room with Jeongguk.

 

Jeongguk somehow ended up next to the fireplace and lying in between Jimin’s legs, head resting on the older boy’s chest while Jimin’s arms were wrapped protectively around his body. The rest of the group were scattered carelessly around the floor in similar positions, some heads resting on each other’s thighs. The atmosphere was nice and warm as they shared stories of their past.

 

Although Jeongguk had nothing to offer, he listened intently as the others retold their stories.

 

“At the end of our second year, Tae thought it would be a good idea to throw Exploding Whizz Poppers around the school but he underestimated its power and almost blew up the whole school,” Jimin laughed.

 

“Yeah and then he replaced all the professor’s cups with Nose Biting Teacups and all of them nearly lost their noses that day,” Namjoon added.

 

“How are you still here?” Jeongguk asked in shock.

 

“Maybe because I’m topping the grade,” Taehyung responded and grinned proudly.

 

“The teachers have gotten used to his pranks anyways,” Jimin smiled.

 

“What else have you done?” Hoseok asked curiously.

 

“Well, once I replaced Jimin’s wand with a trick wand and boy was it funny when he tried to cast a spell in Transfiguration. Instead of the cup transforming, his wand became a rubber chicken,” Taehyung said as they all tried to contain their laughter when they caught a glimpse of the annoyed look on Jimin’s face.

 

However all of them were unsuccessful, even Jeongguk, and they positively howled with laughter, some of them flailing their limbs around in an attempt to control their giggles. Jimin, on the other hand, tried to lean over and hit the younger third year but it was almost impossible with Jeongguk in between him so he gave up and sighed instead. There was a smile threating to split Jimin’s face but he refused to succumb to the pressure from his brain.

 

“Professor McGonagall was not that impressed though,” Taehyung said after he managed to stop laughing so hard.

 

“Of course she wouldn’t,” Jin voiced.

 

“She deducted twenty points from Slytherin,” Jimin complained.

 

“You earned them back when you won the next Quidditch game though,” Taehyung retaliated.

 

“Are you the reason Ravenclaw never wins the House Cup?” Yoongi smirked.

 

“Probably,” Namjoon answered whilst he patted Taehyung's back to console him if he felt offended but being the Taehyung he was, he just turned to face Namjoon before flashing him his trademark rectangle smile.

 

“What’s life without a little risk, eh?”

 

“Are you going to give us another one of your lectures on living life to the fullest?” Jimin teased.

 

Taehyung grabbed a cushion off the couch on the side of the room and threw it at Jimin but ended up hitting Jeongguk straight in the face instead. Jeongguk, unexpecting the attack, blinked in surprise while Taehyung laughed and quickly shifted on his knees towards the youngest.

 

“Are you ok?” Taehyung asked as he cupped the younger’s face and tried not to coo at how cute Jeongguk was with his mouth half open and eyebrows slightly creased.

 

Jimin seized the weapon used to hit Jeongguk and swung it softly at Taehyung’s arm. Jeongguk laughed when Taehyung fell dramatically on the floor.

 

“Man down. Man down.”

 

“Good,” Jimin grinned.

 

Taehyung sat up and pouted, about to throw an insult at Jimin when Namjoon stopped him. He smiled again before moving to sit in between the older Ravenclaw’s legs and clutched onto the back of Namjoon’s red sweater.

 

“No fighting, it’s Christmas,” Jin scolded playfully as Namjoon hugged the younger Ravenclaw.

 

“He started it,” Taehyung fought back making both Jin and Namjoon laugh in reply.

 

“Anyways, anymore noteworthy pranks?” Hoseok asked Taehyung.

 

“Oh yeah,” Taehyung said, brightening up immediately. “There was also another time last year when I sneaked into the Slytherin common room and replaced all their soap with Frog Spawn Soap. I bet it was great when they walked in and found frogs jumping around the floor.”

 

They smiled at the thought of Taehyung’s unlucky victims screaming and running away from the horrific scene.

 

“So that was you, huh?” Yoongi asked, no signs of delight on his face.

 

Taehyung’s smile dropped a bit when he heard the dissatisfaction in Yoongi’s tone but it was grew wide again as the Slytherin wrestled him out of Namjoon’s hold and onto the floor. Yoongi smirked as he squished Taehyung’s cheeks at random angles while the writhing boy giggled and tried to squirm out from underneath him.

 

No one interfered and watched the two grapple each other but it was ultimately Jin who pulled Yoongi off Taehyung before either of them could get injured. Taehyung returned to sit in the same position with Namjoon who laughed at Taehyung’s reddened cheeks before rubbing them gently whilst Yoongi lethargically moved to sit back down next to Hoseok.

 

“Did that take that much effort?” Jeongguk teased the older Slytherin.

 

Yoongi glared at him before waving for Jeongguk to come over. The Gryffindor refused by shaking his head and clung onto Jimin tighter when Yoongi got up again and approached him. Yoongi straddled Jeongguk and with his legs on either sides of Jeongguk, he kept the younger locked beneath him. Jimin, who noticed the elder’s intention also helped hold Jeongguk down before they started to attack him mercilessly with their fingers. Trapped between the two Slytherins, Jeongguk squealed and tried to roll away as they tickled him but was unable to overcome both of their strengths. Again, Jin stepped in when he noticed that Jeongguk was beginning to find trouble catching his breath in between his laughs.

 

The older Slytherin smirked and then lazily plopped himself next to Jimin, having used up all of his energy on Taehyung and Jeongguk.

 

“Traitor,” Jeongguk pouted as he looked up at Jimin.

 

“Mhm,” the Slytherin hummed back and then rocked Jeongguk from side to side.

 

After exchanging a few more stories, all of them silently basked in the heat of the fire, allowing it to engulf them in its warmth and draw them to sleep. Yoongi was first to notice Jeongguk yawning drowsily and trying to fight his drooping eyelids.

 

“Do you want us to leave so you can go to bed?” he asked.

 

Jeongguk shook his head against Jimin’s chest.

 

“Can you guys stay? For tonight at least… please?”

 

Jimin cooed at Jeongguk’s politeness. The younger honestly didn’t need to plead because he was sure each of them would fly across the world with just one word from Jeongguk.

 

“We’ll go get some pillows and stuff from our common rooms then, ok?” Namjoon suggested while giving everyone else the ‘look’, which made them all get up immediately.

 

“Be right back,” Taehyung said as he walked out and the others trailed closely behind him.

 

Yoongi was the last to leave, having been given the task of reminding Jeongguk. He scooched over to Jeongguk who seemed confused at why the older hadn’t left with the others.

 

“Hey… we’ll be gone for a while so you can open the other present if you want,” Yoongi said gently nodding in the direction of the wrapped present.

 

The younger looked over in surprise as he had honestly forgotten about the present. Yoongi got up and grabbed the gift and handed it to Jeongguk before quietly slipping out of the common room and giving Jeongguk some time to himself.

 

Jeongguk twirled the present around in his hand for a while. It was an odd shape and he was interested as to what important gift was inside that the others felt the need to give him space. He slowly untied the neatly shaped bow that the ribbon created and placed it aside. When the Christmas paper was completely unwrapped, he found six coffee coloured letters and a small jewellery case. He curiously set the envelopes down on his lap before opening the white box. On the inside, he saw that the walls were cushioned with black velvet and in the middle sat a thin silver chain bracelet with a small star in the middle. It was simple but elegant.

 

The only other jewellery piece that Jeongguk ever wore was a thin silver ring but it wasn’t his. It was a memento.

 

As Jeongguk held the bracelet and ring together, they surprisingly complimented each other and he admired his present for a few minutes before wearing it on his left wrist. He then proceeded to sit there for another few minutes as he looked at his wrist, a bubbly feeling buzzing in his chest.

 

Finally, when he finished memorising every small detail of the bracelet, he turned his attention back to the letters sitting on his lap waiting to be read. He took the envelope on the top of the neatly stacked pile and carefully opened the letter by lifting the wax seal.

 

Merry Christmas Gukkie!!

 

I realised I still have properly apologised for ramming into you on the first day of school so I’m sorry. I don’t regret doing it, I mean I might’ve never of met you if I didn’t pull you into that classroom that day but I know I didn’t give you the best first impression. I hope that has changed after our term together. I’m also sorry if some things I said early this term hurt you. I didn’t say them with intention and I’ll try to be more careful from now on.

 

Honestly, you are one of the most talented and wisest people I know, so please don’t let people tell you otherwise. Also I hope you like your present! All of us have the same bracelet by the way. It was Hoseok’s idea. I hope this was the best Christmas you’ve ever had and one day, maybe if you’ll let me, I’ll take you back to meet my family. They’ll love you, I promise.

 

I hope we can be seven minds with one heart forever.

Taetae

 

It was a heart-warming letter and Jeongguk couldn’t help smiling to himself as he reached for the next letter. Namjoon’s poetic style of writing was really starting to rub off on Taehyung.

 

When he opened the next envelope, he immediately knew whom the letter was from as the parchment revealed its owner’s thin cursive writing.

 

Merry Christmas Guk,

 

I never told you this but you remind me of my younger brother a lot. You guys are really similar in age, height, style and cheekiness and this is one of the reasons I love you so much. But more than that, you are also really strong. Strength doesn’t come winning, it develops from our struggles. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. So believe in yourself as one small crack doesn’t mean you’re broken. It just means you didn’t fall apart. Please don’t give up on love and trust now because I’ll never give up on you.

 

My father used to tell me that the past cannot be changed, forgotten or erased but we can accept it and learn from it. If you carry the bricks from your past, you will end up building the same house. Don’t try to forget it but don’t dwell on those memories either, you might lose yourself in the process of holding on to the pain. Your new journey starts now. With us.

 

Let us be your family.

Jimin

 

‘If you carry the bricks from your past, you will end up building the same house.’ Jeongguk never really thought too deeply about his actions but these words jumped up at him and he felt trapped in the sentence. The last line slightly softened his worries. Family. He had already unconsciously let them to enter the holes in his heart that his family was supposed to occupy just like Namjoon had told him and he decided that this family was all he needed. I will protect them.

 

He finally put Jimin’s letter aside before picking up the next envelope from the pile on his lap and unsealing it.

 

Merry Christmas Jeongguk,

 

I’ve said this about a billion times but I’m going to say it again. I’m really really sorry for injuring you. Your first Quidditch is meant to be the most memorable but I think I engraved it into your mind in a negative way so I’m really sorry. Also I’m glad you don’t let others affect you. We are often told that there are no monsters under our bed or hidden in our closets but we were never warned that some monsters come dressed as people. In this world, people can think what they want and they’ll only see what they want to see. But if they’re really interested, they will make an effort to understand you and then they wouldn’t say all those things.

 

I know you’ve been through some hard times but I want to tell you that happiness isn’t something you have to achieve. You can still be happy in the process of achieving something and now, you have met us and you could say that you have achieved true friendship or family if you will. Our lives are a collection of moments and you should cherish these moments because tomorrow, they will just be memories.

 

Don’t be afraid to rely on us and give us your trust because we are not going to leave you and I’m confident when I say I’m speaking for everyone.

Joon

 

Jeongguk smiled tenderly at the letter. It was so like Namjoon to write deep words in Christmas letter but some words had forced its way into the back of his mind. Memories… that’s really all I have.

 

He picked up the fourth letter and took a deep breath before opening it.

 

Merry Christmas Gukkie,

 

There are some things in our life that we cannot control and there are some things called accidents. I believe us meeting was not an accident. I think it was fate that led you to all of us and I’m really glad I got to know you. I hope you will share your smile more because those few seconds make me really happy too. Also your present, I personally picked it out. Suits us, don’t you think? We’re all just lost stars trying to light up the dark. That’s what I had in mind.

 

In our journey through life, we are faced with many problems but I think the biggest obstacle is the barrier our mind creates to protect ourselves. Worrying about the future doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it just empties today’s peace. I know one of the hardest things to learn is how to let go but you can’t start the next chapter if you keep rereading the last one. So remember if you ever find yourself pushed to the edge, we will be there to catch you and teach you how to fly. I will always be your hope.

 

We believe in you so you should believe in us and believe in yourself.

Hobi

 

Jeongguk smiled through the whole letter. Although he knew that Hoseok’s bright smile couldn’t be beaten, the thought of knowing that his own smile could cheer others up made him happy. Hoseok’s letter made him want to try to move on just for them even if it wasn’t easy.

 

When he opened the next letter, he noticed that the owner had redrafted his thoughts a various number of times as half the letter was scribbled out.

 

Merry Christmas Guk,

 

Can you believe it’s been five years already… time sure flies. Thank you so much for staying strong these few years, I really admire that about you. I want to remind you that the past does not define you. Everyone has light and dark inside them but the difference is which path they choose to take. I hope we can guide you on the right one.

 

No matter what happens, I’ll always be here for you.

You know who I am.

 

The letter was short but sincere. Jeongguk was touched. Neither he nor Yoongi were good with words so not many heart felt words were exchanged during their five years of friendship. He held the letter tightly and reread the last line a few times before he finally put it down. Last but not least, he opened the final letter.

 

Merry Christmas Guk,

 

I still laugh every time I think about how we met but I’m glad you knocked me down that day. I hope we were able to fill your day with joy and laughter and also give you an unforgettable Christmas. There are a lot of times when you actually act your age and those times, we can see the pure childish heart that you still hold. I wish you didn’t have to hide this side of yourself because you will always be our child no matter how old we grow.

 

Be proud of who you are and not ashamed of how other people see you. Don’t change and the right people will love you. No one can be you and I think that is your power. Being flawed and imperfect is not weak. You can’t spell beautiful without ‘be you’. Sometimes in life, all you need is a little faith. Faith is seeing light in your heart when all your eyes see is darkness so feed your faith and your doubt will starve to death.

 

Have some faith in us because we love you for who you are and not who you want to be.

Jin

 

It wouldn’t be a letter from Jin if it didn’t include a joke and a reference to food.

 

After he finished all six letters, he folded them neatly back into their respective envelopes and laid down onto the carpet to stare at the ceiling. I don’t deserve them. I really don’t.

 

It wasn’t long before the rest of his friends returned, each of them sporting a soft and affectionate smile. Jeongguk noticed that they were all wearing the same bracelet on their left wrists and reciprocated a small smile. Hoseok read the need behind his smile and bent down to hug Jeongguk. Everyone joined in until it turned into a big group hug with Jeongguk at the centre. They stayed undisturbed in the tight hug for a long time until Jeongguk gently tapped his friends who were by his side.

 

“I can’t breathe,” Jeongguk giggled and the others reluctantly let go before moving to get comfortable on the carpet with their various pillows and blankets.

 

Hoseok still remained on Jeongguk’s left, arm around the younger, and Namjoon on his right.

 

“Do you like it?” Hoseok asked.

 

“Yeah, but you guys didn’t have to… I have nothing to give back,” Jeongguk whispered and cast his eyes down at the bracelet.

 

“We don’t need any presents,” Namjoon said, rubbing circles on Jeongguk’s knee.

 

“You being here is the best gift for us,” Yoongi finished.

 

Jeongguk smiled sadly and whispered a thanks.

 

This time Jeongguk sat in Hoseok’s embrace and he rested his head on the older’s shoulder, as they moved into another round of therapeutic silence. In this instance, time seemed so inconsequential and Jeongguk revisited his memory of his friends’ letters.

 

I hope we can be seven minds with one heart forever… Let us be your family… Don’t be afraid to rely on us and give us your trust because we are not going to leave you… We believe in you so you should believe in us and believe in yourself… No matter what happens, I’ll always be here for you… Have some faith in us because we love you for who you are and not who you want to be.

 

Those words had left an imprint in his mind and Jeongguk felt safe wrapped in Hoseok’s arm and surrounded on all sides by the rest of his friends. He snuggled backwards, closer to Hoseok who held him tighter in response.

 

Soon everyone but Jeongguk and Hoseok drifted into their dreams.

 

“Did you have a good day?” Hoseok whispered.

 

“The best,” Jeongguk smiled, remembering Hoseok’s letter.

 

“I’m glad.”

 

After a while they laid down side by side on the messily arranged pillows, which were dispersed unevenly across the carpet. Hoseok hooked an arm over Jeongguk and pulled the younger closer.

 

“Goodnight,” Hoseok murmured.

 

“Night.”

 

Jeongguk waited until he could hear Hoseok’s level breathing before he gently removed the Hufflepuff’s arm and sat up. His friends were all sleeping peacefully, the only sound was the cackling of the fire and Namjoon’s deep snores. It was heart-warming. The matching sweaters. The identical bracelets.

 

This was definitely just the calm before the storm.

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk deemed the Christmas holidays the happiest two weeks of his life but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

 

That end started when all students returned to Hogwarts and began their united onslaught of hate as the school seemed to have changed their perceptions on Jeongguk once again after their trip home.

 

The worst news, however, was brought by another letter from his aunt and uncle. Jeongguk didn’t know what he was expecting when he opened the scroll of parchment in the second week of the new term but he was not shocked or disappointed at the content. The first letter was enough of a warning to prepare him mentally for this future. There will come a day when he would have to tell his friends everything but that day was not today. Jeongguk wanted to stall for as long as possible.

 

“Morning Guk,” Hoseok’s husky, morning voice sounded from behind him.

 

Jeongguk jumped slightly before crumpling the letter in his hand and shoving it into his pocket.

 

“What’re you doing here so early?”

 

“Early? It’s nearly eight,” Hoseok laughed. “I have class first period.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Where’re the others?”

 

“I don’t know. Probably haven’t adjusted to waking up this early again.”

 

“Mmm,” Hoseok hummed as he took a bite out of his blueberry muffin. “What were you doing?”

 

“N-nothing.”

 

“What’s wrong? Why’re you sweating so much? Do you feel sick?” Hoseok asked one after the other, having noticed Jeongguk stutter, before holding his hand up to Jeongguk’s forehead and then comparing the temperature to his own forehead. “Hmm, you don’t seem like you have a fever though.”

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk said while swatting Hoseok’s incoming hands again.

 

“Sure sure. What were you reading?”

 

“Hmm?” Jeongguk asked.

 

He cursed at how meticulous Hoseok was and he considered that his best choice was probably to play stupid but as always, Hoseok wasn’t having it. He observed Jeongguk’s expression for a while, reading everything the younger boy offered like he was an open book before sighing and letting go of his muffin.

 

“You know, you can tell me if something happened right?”

 

Jeongguk nodded but he made no movement to pull the piece of parchment out of his pocket.

 

“Ok, I’m not going to skirt around this issue. What’re you hiding?”

 

The Gryffindor looked a bit shocked. None of his friends had ever pushed anything and always made sure to give Jeongguk his space.

 

“It’s nothing. Really,” he pushed back.

 

However, Jeongguk’s words only made Hoseok wrinkle his face into both concern and suspicion. There was an awkward silence between them and neither intended to break it first.

 

Eventually, Jeongguk sighed. Since Hoseok was definitely not going to let it go, he pulled the parchment out of his pocket and handed it over to the elder. As Hoseok read the four words, his face changed from anxious to confused.

 

“’It’s time. Get ready.’ What does that mean?”

 

“…I don’t know,” Jeongguk shrugged.

 

“Who sent this?”

 

“I... also don’t know.”

 

“Why did you hide it then?”


“I was scared you were going to overthink it. It’s probably just a prank or something. Ignore it,” Jeongguk said with a nonchalant attitude and pocketed the letter again.

 

Hoseok frowned. He didn’t like the sound of the letter and if it really was a prank, he wondered what they were telling Jeongguk to prepare for. He was just about to open his mouth and say something else but the arrival of the rest of the group cut him off.

 

“Why are you guys so late? Breakfast is nearly over,” Hoseok said with a disapproving shake of his head.

 

However, the only responses he obtained were yawns and apologies.

 

“I’m going to head to class first,” Jeongguk said, finding the perfect time to escape and gathered everything before running off.

 

“What’s wrong with him? He’s always the one who whines about having to go class,” Taehyung frowned.

 

“The sun must be rising from the west,” Jimin joked.

 

“Um Jin, can I talk to you?”

 

“Yeah,” Jin replied but didn’t question further when he saw the serious look on the younger Hufflepuff’s face.

 

The Hufflepuffs left the hall first and Hoseok proceeded to tell Jin what had just happened between him and Jeongguk before they got interrupted by their friends.

 

“Why’re you only telling this to me?”

 

“Well, I don’t know if it’s real or not. Jeongguk just brushed it off as a joke so I didn’t want to alarm everyone but I’m still worried. Can you keep a look out for him or something when you do your prefect patrols?”

 

“Don’t worry. Since when have we not been looking out for him?” Jin smiled.

 

“Okay, thanks. I feel better now that you know.”

 

“Go to class and leave the worrying for the adult,” Jin joked, pushing the younger in the direction of his class.

 

“I’m twenty one,” Hoseok said as he rolled his eyes.

 

“Mhm and I’m twenty three. Now be a good boy and go class.”

 

Hoseok smiled. He knew Jin was trying to lighten his mood and it was working. Hoseok nodded and waved at Jin before departing for his first class.

 

Meanwhile, when Jeongguk walked into History of Magic, everyone hushed. All eyes were set on him and most of them didn’t leave him once the whole lesson. It seemed like everyone was let in on a secret except for him but Jeongguk really wasn’t complaining. He’d rather not know about their gossip, especially if it was about him.

 

The period was slow and uneventful but once it ended Jeongguk bolted straight to his next class, Herbology. The eyes on the back of his head had already burnt a few holes into his head and the uncomfortable feeling was devouring him.

 

Herbology was another boring lesson of learning about some bitter herb that Jeongguk couldn’t care less about and without knowing how time passed so quickly, Jeongguk was back again, walking to the Great Hall. However, a plump brown owl stopped him in his path as it flew towards him and landed on his shoulder. The scroll attached to the owl’s leg read ‘You have no choice. It was you. Don’t ever forget that.’ and Jeongguk hid it away in his pocket with the parchment from breakfast. He prayed from the bottom of heart that if his aunt and uncle were to keep sending letters, they’ll all be delivered when no one was around.

 

When he arrived in the Great Hall for lunch, all his friends were already seated and he moved to join them with his façade ready and painted over his face. They acknowledged him and he sat down on Namjoon’s side before pushing a few books out of the way so that he could reach the food.

 

He ate quietly, content with just watching the others talk until Jin’s fake cough interrupted Namjoon from his studying causing the Ravenclaw to look up.

 

“I know you like reading a few weeks ahead of your professor but put your books away so we can all eat together,” Jin ordered.

 

Namjoon grumbled but nevertheless stacked his books and moved them to the side. Jin watched and nodded, satisfied, before turning back to talk to Taehyung.

 

“How was class?” Namjoon asked, trying to start a conversation with Jeongguk.

 

“Meh,” Jeongguk replied dryly as he pierced his fork into a slice of cucumber.

 

“You good?”

 

“Mhm, just tired,” he mumbled.

 

“I could do with a little sleep too,” Namjoon yawned. “I stayed up late reading.”

 

“Again? How do you still have books left to read?”

 

“Hey! Don’t be a brat,” Namjoon laughed, ruffling Jeongguk’s hair.

 

Jeongguk looked up when Namjoon finished making a mess of his hair but he felt a pair of eyes on him and realised they were Hoseok’s. When he glanced back at the elder, he was already looking in another direction so Jeongguk shrugged went back to talking to Namjoon.

 

“So what were you reading?”

 

“It’s a philosophical book called ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus,” Namjoon said before trying to catch a glimpse of Jeongguk’s face. He had always bored others about his books but when he saw the ‘go on’ look Jeongguk was giving him, Namjoon smiled and proceeded to explain the story. “So it explores the whole idea of nihilism, existentialism and the inevitability of death. That life is meaningless and has no purpose. The protagonist discovers the death of his mother and then believes that the world is essentially absurd and all that exists is the relative truth. However, at the end of the story, he finally accepts fate and embraces human existence.”

 

“Sounds… interesting,” Jeongguk said uncertainly but nodded his head up and down.

 

“Oh it is. After I read it, I realised that everyone’s first reaction to death is always denial but when we come in terms with death and learn to accept it, only then are we able to move on. If you ever want to read it, I’ll lend it to you,” Namjoon replied excitedly.

 

“Maybe later,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“Ok.”

 

As lunch came to an end, everyone parted ways at the gate of the Great Hall to head to their respective classes or library if they had a free.

 

“Don’t wait for me, I have Quidditch training after class today,” Jeongguk waved at his friends before running off to his Transfiguration classroom.

 

As two lessons came and left, he was once again at the Quidditch pitch, practicing a few new drills that the captain wanted to experiment before their next match. He floated around the field, gripping tightly onto his broom and unconsciously drowned out the captain’s commands. There were too many things running through his mind and he didn’t know which issue to face first but his thoughts nearly cost him a Bludger in the arm. Chanyeol frowned when he noticed how out of it his team’s Seeker was and called Jeongguk down to the ground.

 

“Are you ok? Our next match is in two weeks, we need you in top shape.”

 

“Sorry yeah, I’m fine.”

 

“Do you want to try again or just rest for today?” Chanyeol asked, still worried. “I don’t want you getting injured so close to the game.”

 

“I… I’m good. Let’s try again.”

 

Chanyeol nodded and Jeongguk flew back up to his position. This time, Jeongguk made sure to not get lost in his thoughts and perfectly executed the drill, pleasing the captain and the rest of his team.

 

It was dark when the captain finally dismissed them and Jeongguk stayed behind to help Chanyeol place all their equipment away into the shed without a word. Back outside again, Chanyeol stopped Jeongguk from leaving and led the younger Gryffindor to one of the snow-covered hills by the side of the castle. The captain sat down first before patting the snow next to him and motioning for Jeongguk to join him.

 

They both stayed silent as they observed the complicated configurations and patterns of stars, which gleamed against the dark night sky. The crescent moon, under siege by the stars, hung concealed but the stars were glowing bright enough to provide them sufficient light. Illuminated by this natural light, Chanyeol caught sight of a shimmering band of silver on the younger’s wrist.

 

“I like your bracelet.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Hey, what happened today? You’ve never lost your focus before when it came to Quidditch.”

 

“I’m sorry. I... What if I got injured and couldn’t play the next match?”

 

“Why would you ask that? Don’t worry about the ‘what if’s in life, they’ll haunt you if you dwell on them.”

 

Jeongguk sighed quietly to himself. Chanyeol didn’t get his point and Jeongguk didn’t have the courage to give a stronger warning.

 

“If there’s something on your mind, at least talk to your friends about it. Trust me, you’ll feel much better.”

 

Jeongguk looked up and stared at Chanyeol for a moment before giving a small smile and nodding.

 

“Come on, let’s go get some dinner.”

 

“Can I stay here a bit longer? I’m not that hungry.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Mhm. I want to be alone for a while.” I don’t want to be alone.

 

“Ok, I’ll tell your friends not to worry then but don’t stay out here too long or you’ll catch a cold,” Chanyeol said before departing and leaving Jeongguk to have some time by himself in the late January gusts.

 

There was so much left to say but there wasn’t much time. The truth scared him but lying hurt more.

 

As Jeongguk sat, mind wandering far from his body, another owl flew straight into him. Jeongguk quickly apologised before realising it was just an owl and gently picked up the confused creature.

 

“Are you ok?”

 

The owl hooted happily and nuzzled against Jeongguk’s chest, making him smile. He tidied the owl’s feathers, using his hands as a brush, before noticing a scroll attached to its leg.

 

“Do you have something for me?”

 

Again, the owl hooted and allowed Jeongguk to remove the scroll of parchment from his leg. They’ll leave you as well once they know.

 

Jeongguk sighed and sent the owl off. He should’ve expected as much but the words still hurt. His friends had promised they would always be by his side but the seed of doubt was growing exponentially in Jeongguk’s mind with every minute he didn’t tell them. Up again in the sky, Jeongguk faced the stars like they had an answer.

 

Help. I don’t know what to do anymore. I want to tell them about you but I’m scared. You’re there but for some reason, I can’t reach you. You, who’s like a dream is a butterfly high to me. I didn’t even let go of your hand but you just flew away and broke me instead. I know it’s going to happen again so maybe I should be the one who leaves first this time.

 

With his mind made up, he headed back to the castle.

 

In the middle of Jeongguk’s crisis, however, Chanyeol had located his group of friends who were gathered on the Ravenclaw table.

 

“What’s up?” Jin asked Chanyeol when he saw the other sixth year approaching. “Where’s Jeongguk?”

 

“He’s not coming, he said he’s not hungry.”

 

“Where is he then?” Hoseok asked.

 

“Um, probably still sitting outside?” Chanyeol answered with another question.

 

“You left him by himself?”

 

“Yeah?… He wanted to be alone. Is something wrong?”

 

“No, nothing. Thank you,” Jin said calmly.

 

“Wait, actually. Jeongguk seemed a bit out of it in training. Did something happen?”

 

Jin, being the first to react, simply shook his head but his smiled indicated to the other that their conversation was finished so Chanyeol left to seek his own friends.

 

“What?” Yoongi asked bluntly as soon as the Quidditch captain was gone.

 

Jin and Hoseok glanced at each other before Jin nodded and gestured for Hoseok to reiterate his story from this morning.

 

“Before you guys came to breakfast this morning, Guk received a letter saying ‘It’s time. Get ready.’ but he just brushed it off as a prank.”

 

Yoongi frowned. There were many people who could have written that letter to Jeongguk but the severity of the situation depended on who. If it was a student, then Jeongguk being alone at this current time was definitely worrying.

 

“I’m going to go look for him.”

 

“Wait Yoongi, we’ll go too,” Jimin said as he grabbed the older to prevent him from running off first.

 

The Slytherin turned back and nodded for the others to follow before all six of them left the Great Hall.

 

While the others searched, Jeongguk trudged back to the Gryffindor corridor, mind heavy with the weight of his decision. However, he was literally pushed out of his thoughts when a pair of hands found themselves against his back and then he found himself against the wall. He turned around and realised he was trapped by a semicircle of bodies and the jagged bricks behind him dug unkindly into his back to the point where he feared that it would draw blood. Thankfully, however, he was able to hold in his whimpers before it slipped from his mouth.

 

“So we heard a lot of things when we went home.”

 

“……”

 

“Did you really do it?“

 

“I don’t know what you guys are talking about but I’m not in the mood. Can you just leave me alone?”

 

“Well Jeongguk, that’s the funny thing. You acting like this make me believe the rumours more now.”

 

Jeongguk said nothing but just glared at them. He knew exactly what they were talking about as it was something he could never forget. It was the nightmares that he knew he would never let go. It was the truth he could never forgive himself. It was his weak spot and they were pricking and prodding dangerously at this bubble which may burst at any time if they pushed hard enough. Jeongguk, himself, didn’t know if he had the capacity to restrain himself from a sudden outburst.

 

“So it’s true then? You really killed-”

 

“Enough,” Jeongguk hissed.

 

The rest of them looked taken aback at Jeongguk attitude. Even Jeongguk was shocked. He didn’t know he was capable of being so malicious and he was about to apologise but then he argued to himself that they deserved it.

 

“If you guys don’t mind, I’m leaving,” he sighed.

 

“HEY!” one student yelled while holding Jeongguk from leaving by his shoulder.

 

“Where do you think you’re running off to? We’re not done.”

 

“You know what else we heard?”

 

“No, I don’t and I don’t want to know. Can I leave now?”

 

“Jeongguk,” one boy spat as he moved forward so that his face was only inches from Jeongguk while his hands tightly grasped onto Jeongguk’s arm, fingernails digging into the Gryffindor’s biceps. “I’m not joking. If you don’t stay away from us, I swear to god I will not hesitate to destroy you and your family.”

 

“And I’m telling you, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jeongguk lied. Why am I lying to everyone today? This isn’t me.

 

The blow Jeongguk received in the face as an answer was not painful but it was unexpected so it threw Jeongguk slightly off balance. They were at a school of magic but the assaulter had chosen to attack with his hands and Jeongguk was in a bit of a daze. He was also unable to snap out of it before another punch came from the side and knocked him onto the ground. There was no pain though.

 

There was a kick to his stomach and he still didn’t feel anything. Maybe aunt and uncle were right.

 

Void of any emotions, he let the others trample him. He wasn’t sure how many arms and legs he had come in contact with but they weren’t stopping or giving him a break. Through the whole ordeal he kept his hands up to guard his face until one student decided to climb of top of his struggling body and reached his hands for Jeongguk’s neck. Jeongguk felt pressure, a lot of pressure but he didn’t have the energy to rip the hands of perpetrator away.

 

“Let’s end this here. I don’t want to lose anyone else in the hands of a Jeon.”

 

Jeongguk clawed desperately at the hands, which felt like ice, as his face turned a sickening shade of red. His lungs started to burn in pain from the lack of oxygen and his eyes were bulging out but the grip was too strong. The nails were digging painfully into his soft skin and his vision was turning blotchy with dark spots. His hands lost all hope in defending himself, falling limply to his side. He laid there and watched as life slipped away from him. He could hear his aunt and uncle calling him weak in the back of his mind and he was finally going to accept it.

 

However, the body was suddenly thrown off him and the hands were gone. Small ragged gasps escaped his throat and he felt a few pairs of hands tugging him upright and rubbing his chest but his eyes were hazy and unfocused and they were threatening to close. There were voices. They sounded worried. And concerned. And angry even. Were they angry at me?

 

“Are you ok?”

 

“Please be ok.”

 

“I’m sorry we left you by yourself.”

 

“Jeongguk, try and stay awake.”

 

“Don’t fall asleep.”

 

“We’re right here, Jeongguk.”

 

No, they were worried. Definitely worried.

 

When Jeongguk’s breathing eased and his eyes refocused, he could finally see the people around him. He was lying in Yoongi’s arm and Yoongi eyes were glassy. Actually, all of their eyes were glassy but he didn’t understand why. Am I the reason?

 

“I’m sorry,” he managed to whisper.

 

“It’s ok. You’re ok.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Jeongguk, what happened?”

 

“They… they found out.”

 

“Found out what?”

 

“Jeongguk?”

 

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

 

Chapter Text

Adrenaline pumped through his veins as they ran. Further and further away from the house, the other led. Jeongguk didn’t stop for a second to look back.

 

It was the first of September. Only two people remembered his birthday and one of them was he, himself.

 

This was his first visit to Diagon Alley and it was bustling with people. The vibrant colours offered by the alley were too much for Jeongguk’s eyes to handle but he kept his eyes open, absorbing every detail of every store. There were a variety of school supplies being sold but also various restaurants that left Jeongguk’s mouth watering.

 

Their first stop was Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour where Jeongguk was treated to ice cream. It was safe to say that it was the first time in his twelve years of life that he had tried ice cream. He devoured the cone in less than five minutes and they were off to their next adventure.

 

Jeongguk was taken to look at brooms in Broomstix. He had often heard of the sport Quidditch but had never once seen an actual game. The brooms around the store all seemed to draw Jeongguk’s attention away in turn.

 

“I’ll buy one for you when you’re old enough.”

 

“Really?” Jeongguk asked, eyes lighting up immediately.

 

The other laughed before answering.

 

“Yes, really.”

 

Next location was Eeylops Owl Emporium where Jeongguk fell in love with a white snowy owl.

 

The other whipped out a wallet and paid for the owl.

 

“Here. Happy birthday.”

 

“Thank you. I love you,” Jeongguk said and ran up to give the other a long and tight hug.

 

“I love you too,” the other laughed.

 

“Jeongguk, please wake up.”

 

Gentle hands caressed his cheeks while another was running through his black hair. For the sake of the pleading voice, Jeongguk forced himself to leave the comforting darkness and peeled open his eyes.

 

Back at the house, he was ripped apart from the other. He was grabbed by the neck and thrown into another room, door locking automatically behind them.

 

Hands around his neck. Coarse language hurled at him. Cries behind the door.

 

“We told you not to go out. No one needs to know about you.”

 

“LET HIM GO! PLEASE DON’T HURT HIM!”

 

Someone was pounding on the door.

 

But all he felt was numb.

 

He just wanted it to end.

 

“Jeongguk? Jeongguk, look at me.”

 

He looked. It was blurry but he could still distinguish the six heads. And then he smiled. It was forced but it was there. However, this seemed to distress his friends more and a few of them turned their heads away from the fragile boy.

 

“Are you ok?”

 

“Could be better,” he whispered through three breaths.

 

“I’m so sorry, Jeongguk. I’m sorry.”

 

“Not you fault,” the boy mumbled. “I’m sorry too.”

 

“No, don’t. Please don’t apologise.”

 

“Jeongguk, we need to get you to the Hospital Wing,” Jin said, interrupting Jeongguk and Yoongi’s moment. “Can you move?”

 

“Hurts.”

 

“Where sweetie? Tell me where it hurts.”

 

“Everywhere,” Jeongguk grumbled unhappily. “Why’re you not letting me go to sleep? I’m so tired. Please stop talking to me.”

 

“Jeongguk, I’m sorry but you can’t fall asleep now. Can you stay with us?” Jin asked whilst he shook the Gryffindor out of unconsciousness.

 

The boy stirred and lifted his eyelids again to focus unstably on the blurs in front of him.

 

“Mm trying,” Jeongguk slurred.

 

“I know and you’re doing great, honey.”

 

Jin motioned for the others to quickly help him hold Jeongguk up and carry him to the Hospital Wing. The five nodded and each reached their two arms underneath the frail body before raising him on the count of three. Together, they headed slowly and steadily towards the fourth floor where the Hospital Tower was located and they took turns making sure to gently awaken the boy if he was in danger of falling asleep.

 

The hands were getting stronger and the cries were getting more desperate.

 

“Help,” Jeongguk choked out.

 

“No! Jeongguk!”

 

As the door swung open, the hands were gone. Hurried footsteps ran over to him.

 

“Jeongguk. Please be ok. Please be ok. Look at me. I’m right here.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“No, it’s not your fault. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have taken you to Diagon Alley. I’m sorry.”

 

He felt himself wrapped in safe arms and he was ready to give in to the temptation of sleep but the voice carried him out again.

 

“Jeongguk, look at me. You’re going to be ok, ok? I promise.”

 

Although he was exhausted, he smiled back.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Once they carried him into the room and dropped him softly onto on of the beds, Jin immediately ran off to search for Madam Pomfrey and in no time, he returned. Madam Pomfrey rushed to Jeongguk’s side and frowned.

 

“Again?”

 

The others hung their heads at this. None of them needed to be reminded of their failure of being unable to protect the youngest so her question shot right through the guilt. Without waiting for a reply from the six older students, she busied herself again with healing Jeongguk to the best of her abilities.

 

When she finished and assured them that Jeongguk was going to be fine, she told them that they needed to leave for the night as visiting hours had come to an end. Then there was a round of synchronised protests as they all persisted that they needed to stay the night and only when they told her the situation, did she allow them to stay.

 

Jin, taking on his role as a prefect, left to talk to the Headmaster about Jeongguk’s attack whilst the others crowded around his bed. They watched with sorrow in their eyes as the Gryffindor laid defensively, chest rising up and down in a steady rhythm. Yoongi grasped his left hand tightly whilst Jimin intertwined his own hand with Jeongguk’s right. Namjoon was hugging Taehyung who was scrunching up the blanket covering Jeongguk with both hands, probably leaving permanent creases with the amount of strength he was putting in his clutches. Hoseok was also trying to soothe the younger Ravenclaw by rubbing circles on his tense hands but his eyes never once leaving Jeongguk.

 

When Jin quietly re-entered the Hospital Wing, four pairs of eyes left Jeongguk and gathered on the eldest.

 

“How did it go?” Namjoon asked.

 

“I… I don’t know. The Headmaster said we’re going to have to wait until Guk wakes up to know exactly what happened.”

 

“What?” Taehyung screeched.

 

“Tae, shhh,” Namjoon whispered. “Why is he waiting for Guk to wake up? Isn’t it obvious what happened? That kid literally had his hands around Guk’s throat.”

 

“That’s what I said but he won’t listen.”

 

“Do you think Guk is going to talk when he wakes up though?” Hoseok spoke up. “Or would he just hide it again and pretend nothing is wrong?”

 

“I hope he’ll tell us what happened at least,” Jin sighed exhaustedly and took a seat next to Hoseok. “But right now, judging from the Headmaster’s attitude, I’d say the worst punishment those students are going to receive is suspension. Guk’s parents are in Azkaban, they have no power but those kids out there, their parents will fight and defend their children, throwing whatever excuse is necessary.”

 

“They’ll probably argue that it was out of self defence and with Guk’s background, he’ll be the one in trouble,” Namjoon groaned as he raised one hand to rub his temples.

 

“Exactly,” Jin nodded. “And plus, Yoongi did do a bit of damage to them as well. I don’t think the Headmaster was very happy about that.”

 

Yoongi, who had been the only one to not acknowledge Jin’s arrival, finally looked away from Jeongguk.

 

“They deserved it,” he whispered before glaring at the empty space at the end of Jeongguk’s bed. Hoseok, noticing the anger fuming off the Slytherin, quickly removed his hand from Taehyung’s and moved them to rub Yoongi’s back.

 

“I know you’re angry but don’t do anything rash. For Guk, okay?”

 

Yoongi directed his glare at the Hufflepuff but dropped it hastily with an apology when he realised that his temper was getting the best of him.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m just… I wish Guk didn’t have to live like this you know?”

 

“We all do,” Hoseok reassured the elder.

 

“He’s been through so much already, why can’t they just give him a break?”

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“They’re going to push too far one day.”

 

“Hey-“

 

“And what if we’re not there to save him?”

 

“……”

 

“What then?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Yoongi, don’t worry about the future and let’s focus on protecting him now,” Namjoon reasoned.

 

“I… I’ve nearly lost him too many times. I don’t want it to be like this anymore. I want him to feel safe. I want him to be safe,” Yoongi stated, emphasising the ‘be’.

 

The others remained quiet. None of them have experienced nearly as much as Yoongi had with Jeongguk and they knew that they were in no place to tell him that everything was going to be ok because they all knew deep down that it wasn’t. If no one did anything, these attacks will continue and one day, they’ll really be unable to stop it.

 

“Yoongi, I know you just want to help him but sometimes it takes more than one person to help another. You’re strong but Guk’s strong too. If you ever want to do something, please talk to us about it. All of us,” Namjoon said firmly, eyeing Jeongguk during his last sentence.

 

The Slytherin sighed and nodded.

 

“I will, I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s ok. We all just want the best for Guk but it won’t come easy. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to have to do it together, okay?” Namjoon asked.

 

“Okay.”

 

With a confirmation from Yoongi, their conversation ended. Through the silence, all of them drifted slowly to sleep, resting in awkward positions around Jeongguk’s bed. The only movements were them shuffling into more comfortable positions but otherwise, the tranquillity carried on until first light.

 

When morning rolled around, only one person was awake. Jeongguk.

 

As he rose from the bed, he noticed that all his friends were sleeping soundly around him and he smoothly slipped his hand out of Yoongi and Jimin’s hold. Although the pain to physically move was overbearing, he persevered until he was leaning against the bed frame behind him and his knees were tucked securely under his arms. There was a throb around his throat. The sore area served as a reminder of the events of the previous night and his fingers trembled as he touched it. He then moved his hands onto his head and tousled his hair roughly trying to erase the unpleasant memories, which had forged its path to him again.

 

Scars, which were inerasable, always decorated his body. He wanted to scratch them off. He wanted to cut them away from his skin. He was only nine yet he carried more scars than most adults. They were too ugly for show.

 

“Jeongguk, stop. Please. You’re going to hurt yourself.”

 

“I don’t care. I want them gone,” he cried as he roughly rubbed another cut on his arm.

 

“Jeongguk, please,” the other voice cried before pulling Jeongguk closer and holding his body tightly.

 

“I don’t want to see them. They’re ugly.”

 

“I’m sorry, Jeongguk. I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s not your fault. It’s mine.”

 

They were both crying now. The shared sobs filled the empty bathroom with sorrow.

 

Moving his arms back around to clutch his knees, Jeongguk closed his eyes and kept his head down, focusing on keeping his breathing level to not disrupt the others from their slumber. Jeongguk wasn’t sure how long he had stayed in that position but it was only when he heard the rustling of sheets beside him, did he finally open his eyes. Greeted with a look of confusion from Taehyung, he smiled at the older boy.

 

“Morning.”

 

“Gukkie?” Taehyung asked while swivelling his head around to observe the others.

 

Jeongguk merely laughed at the action. The elder was always slightly confused whenever he woke up but it was one of the behaviours that Jeongguk found endearing about Taehyung.

 

When understanding dawned on Taehyung, his expression quickly turned pained before he stood up and sat down on the bed beside the younger.

 

“Can I?”

 

There was a moment of hesitation before the nod came and Taehyung reached over to hug him. Burying his head in the younger’s neck, he tried to control the anger rising as he noticed the finger shaped dark bruises left on the younger’s neck.

 

“Does it hurt?” he asked, voice a bit muffled.

 

“Not really.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Ok, maybe a bit,” Jeongguk answered truthfully.

 

Taehyung’s emotions accelerated and he wanted nothing more than those who hurt Jeongguk to get what they deserved. He unknowingly held on tighter to the younger and didn’t realise until Jeongguk whimpered quietly.

 

“I’m so sorry,” he said, backing swiftly away and nearly falling off the bed.

 

Jeongguk laughed at the other’s ungracefulness and this stirred Jin from his sleep too. As the eldest yawned and then stretched lazily before rubbing his eyes, Jeongguk and Taehyung watched. When Jin finished his routine he felt two pairs of eyes on him and turned to face their innocently curious and slightly humorous expressions.

 

“Woah,” he exclaimed as he jumped backwards, startled that the two youngest were already awake. “Make a sound, will you? Why’re you guys awake already?”

 

Both of them shrugged and Jin also moved to sit on the bed alongside Taehyung. The bruises on Jeongguk’s face were dying down faster than the ones of his neck, which were strongly visible against his pale skin. Jin held Jeongguk’s hand in his and traced circles on the back of his hand.

 

“It was them, wasn’t it?”

 

“What was?” Jeongguk asked.

 

“The letter.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Jin took that as a yes and sighed.

 

“Hoseok told me about the letter yesterday morning. I’m sorry, I can’t believe we were so careless.”

 

“It wasn’t your fault. Don’t blame yourself,” Jeongguk said and squeezed Jin’s hand.

 

He was eleven. He didn’t want to live anymore. But he never dared to take that extra step. There was someone waiting for him. He would stay on this Earth because of them. He couldn’t disappoint one more person. The only person that has ever cared for him and probably the only person that ever will.

 

His bedroom was hollow and suffocating but they told him it was home. He hugged the tattered pillow and draped the blankets over his shoulders. They offered a sense of safety and security in this so called home.

 

There were people screaming outside, voices he recognised. A man and a woman. He heard his name uttered several time and curled into a ball. He couldn’t help the fear rising inside himself as the voices grew louder. He unintentionally let out a whimper as a loud bang was heard outside and tried to hide further into the comforts of his old blanket.

 

Then his bedroom door was slammed open, rebounding off the wall and the doorknob had most likely dented the same hole in the wall further.

 

“Get out here right now,” the man growled.

 

Jeongguk scrambled up, falling off his bed and half crawling out of his bedroom, too afraid of the consequences of disobeying the order. His legs carried him out successfully before his knees and hands met the floor with an extra hard push on his back. He tried to get up but a foot was placed on his back and down he fell again.

 

“Useless,” the woman scoffed.

 

She was right. There was nothing he could do. He was pathetic, worthless, despicable, detestable and a liability. They had made sure he was clear of that his whole life.

 

He heard the front door open and close. Then there were footsteps running up the stairs. Once it reached the top, it headed in the direction of Jeongguk’s bedroom where the owner of the footsteps found Jeongguk trapped under the man’s foot, woman merely inspecting the situation.

 

“Get off him.”

 

The foot was removed and Jeongguk was pulled up.

 

“Don’t touch him.”

 

The other led him back into his bedroom where Jeongguk was tucked back safely into his blanket. He mustered a smile.

 

“Thank you.”

 

The other didn’t smile or answer but looked up instead, hiding the tears threatening to fall. The man and woman were wrong. Jeongguk was strong but he didn’t know that. Jeongguk was compassionate and considerate but he didn’t know that.

 

Jeongguk was loved and hopefully he knew that.

 

“The… the people that attacked you. The Headmaster can’t expel them. Jeongguk, I’m so sorry. I swear I tried but he wouldn’t listen.”

 

“What’s going to happen to them then?”

 

“Suspension at most.”

 

“That’s fine,” Jeongguk sighed. At least I won’t be seeing anymore of them.

 

Taehyung sat quietly and listened to them but he could tell that the younger was uncomfortable and that there was more he was hiding. He could sense the unsaid words hanging behind Jeongguk’s mouth but he kept his mouth shut as the other was in delicate state.

 

When Jin and Jeongguk’s conversation ended, all three of them sat in silence and smiled at the peaceful sleeping figures of their friends. Ultimately, it was Jin who decided that Jeongguk needed to get his injuries checked on again.

 

“I’m going to get Madam Pomfrey. Tae, wake the others.”

 

As Jin left, Taehyung moved and lightly shook Jimin awake first. When he reached Yoongi, his slight hesitation caused Jeongguk to laugh before the younger kindly stepped in. Jeongguk tapped Yoongi’s shoulder only to get his hand swatted away. Trying again, he was met with the same result so he gave up and passed the job to Hoseok who was now awake despite his closed eyes.

 

Jin came back into the Hospital Wing just in time to see Hoseok squeezing Yoongi’s cheeks whilst the older was grumpily trying to push the hands off, obscene language spilling out of his mouth. Jimin in the mean time was helping Taehyung with slapping Namjoon’s cheeks to wake him up whilst Jeongguk was just watching the whole scene unravel in front of him.

 

“Hey, stop it. Honestly, I leave you kids for two seconds and you’re already a mess.”

 

Noticing Madam Pomfrey behind Jin, everyone immediately pulled themselves awake, gravity of the situation sinking in again. They stood up and gave room to allow the matron to scrutinise Jeongguk’s injuries before gathering back around the bed.

 

“How’re you feeling?”

 

“My throat still hurts are bit but apart from that, I’m fine,” Jeongguk answered.

 

Madam Pomfrey nodded and moved closer to have a look at his neck but as soon as her fingers made contact, Jeongguk flinched back.

 

The touches were never gentle. They were always rough and demanding. He was treated like a rag doll but he never fought back. Not once for he had learnt that the consequences were more severe. This was his life and he had accepted it.

 

Another wrong word and he was back on the floor, cowering in the corner and trying to become one with the wall. At the age of eight, he had no power to defend himself with.

 

“Weak,” he spat.

 

His wand was out and pointed at Jeongguk. A sudden slash of the wand and Jeongguk saw purple. It wasn’t just colour though. It was flames. Purple flames.

 

Jeongguk tried to dodge. He only successfully missed half the streak of flame. The other half struck his body but there was no blood or marks. He didn’t feel anything either and thought the spell hadn’t worked until internal soreness exhibited itself. He winced and doubled over, holding his ribs and rubbing the area to ease the pain.

 

As he laid on the floor, the attacker walked away, leaving Jeongguk to deal with the damage himself. It wasn’t until night that he was found.

 

Yoongi walked swiftly to Jeongguk’s side and seated himself next to the younger before placing a supporting arm around his back and the other arm’s hand on younger’s.

 

“Jeongguk, it’s ok. She’s just going to have a look, yeah? I’ll be right here.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Don’t worry about it. I should’ve asked for consent before touching you,” Madam Pomfrey replied.

 

This time, Jeongguk didn’t flinch or wince and stayed still. He was unconsciously leaning into Yoongi’s embrace and the elder was glad the younger felt more comfortable with him by his side.

 

“It looks like it’s still quite painful so I’ll give you a potion to ease the pain. The injuries on your face are healing quite well and they should be gone in no time. Also the Headmaster has notified me that he would be coming here to talk to you soon.”

 

Madam Pomfrey instructed Jeongguk to take a few more potions for the other injuries and told him to remain in the Hospital Wing to rest before heading back to her office.

 

With the departure of the matron came the arrival of the Headmaster, who waltzed lightly into the Hospital Wing, disregarding the heavy atmosphere.

 

“Morning Jeongguk Jeon. You’re looking well. Are you healed already?”

 

Jeongguk’s friends frowned in unison. The younger, himself, was capable of holding back all emotions and smiled at the Headmaster.

 

“Nearly, yes.”

 

“Well, that’s good. I guess they didn’t do that much damage then.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Yoongi, don’t,” Jeongguk whispered to the older boy beside him before turning back to the Headmaster. “Ignore him, he just woke up.”

 

“That’s ok. So as for the other students, we’re looking at a two week suspension or one week if you don’t mind them coming back. They’re seniors, they need to attend classes too. Can’t be missing out on too much,” the Headmaster chuckled.

 

“Whatever you deem best, professor.”

 

“That’s settled then. I’ll be on my way then. Good day to you all.”

 

After the Headmaster left, Jeongguk’s smile dropped immediately and he sighed.

 

It was so dark and cold and wet. The rocks were sharp. The environment was familiar. There was no way out but up. He had been here before.

 

He had regularly visited this place for the past ten years.

 

Jeongguk looked up and greeted the moon with a blurry vision. Tears were streaming down his face. He couldn’t remember why he had deserved this treatment.

 

No, actually he does. His existence. A mistake they called him.

 

Screaming was to no avail. Climbing would be a waste of energy. Crying and accepting was all that was left.

 

But Jeongguk was wrong when he saw a shadow above him.

 

“Jeongguk? Are you there?”

 

“I’m here,” he whimpered.

 

“Oh my god.”

 

Then Jeongguk was lifted out of the well when he heard a “Wingardium Leviosa”.

 

“Are you ok? Are you hurt? Did they do anything to you? Why did they put you here again?”

 

Jeongguk was still crying. He held onto his saviour, burying his head in the other’s chest and undoubtedly staining the blue shirt with dark patches. The other didn’t seem to mind but was also on the verge of tears.

 

“I’m so sorry. I said I would be here to protect you. I told you I’d never let them throw you down there again. But look what happened. Jeongguk, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” the voice spoke, cracking at several parts of the sentence.

 

“It’s ok. Thank you for being here.”

 

Jeongguk was sure that was how he fell asleep that night by the well. In the embrace of the warm arms.

 

Yoongi was the first to break the stunned silence that Jeongguk and the Headmaster’s conversation had left them in.

 

“What the fuck was that?”

 

“Yoongi, calm down,” Namjoon said.

 

“No. They deserved to be expelled and you’re just letting them get away with a one week suspension?” Yoongi almost yelled as he suddenly stood up.

 

“What did you want me to say then? That I’m not fine with them coming back at all? That they should be expelled?”

 

“You should’ve let me talk to him then.”

 

“I’m not a child anymore. I can make my own decisions.”

 

“But-“

 

“Yoongi, he’s right,” Jin input. “There’s no way this would’ve gone down prettily if you had intervened.”

 

“So you guys are ok with them getting one week of suspension?”

 

“That’s not what I said. Of course none of us are ok with it but we also don’t have the power to change anything.”

 

Yoongi sighed. He knew the prefect was right but he didn’t want to admit it. He wished he had enough power so those students could receive the punishments they deserved. Yoongi looked back over at Jeongguk and noticed that the younger looked slightly hurt.

 

“Guk,” Yoongi whispered as he sat down next to Jeongguk again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to blow up. I just don’t like them getting away with it.”

 

“That’s ok. I don’t like it either but I’ve already learnt to accept these things.”

 

All of their hearts burned at Jeongguk’s statement. Even though he was eighteen, he will always be their child, their precious younger brother that they would give anything to protect.

 

“Jeongguk, I know that you’re not completely better… but we need to talk about what happened yesterday.”

 

“Yeah… ok,” Jeongguk sighed. He didn’t have much time left but he had a plan.

 

The others, save Yoongi, took their seats again and prepared themselves for what they might hear.

 

“Yesterday… you said that they found out. What did they find?”

 

“They found out I killed someone.”

 

“What? You what now?”

 

“I killed someone,” Jeongguk repeated to Hoseok.

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I wasn’t always the heir.”

 

“You… you had a…”

 

“An older brother, yes. Jeonghyun Jeon. But he’s gone. I killed him.”

 

The silence spoke the other’s disbelief and confusion.

 

“This scar,” Jeongguk said as he indicated the scar on his left cheek. “I got it the day he died. I… That day… my aunt and uncle were really going to kill me. They had me trapped. I couldn’t move. I didn’t have my wand, I couldn’t do anything but wait for death. But suddenly Jeonghyun bursts in and they start arguing. My aunt and uncle rarely argue with him. He was the first-born and the heir to the Jeon family. He was a prodigy at dark magic and I was just useless.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t look up to see the others reaction but took a deep breath himself. He didn’t want to cry in front of his friends otherwise they, too, would know how weak he is. After a few seconds, he was ready to continue.

 

“Either way, everyone respected him and they vowed to make my existence unknown but that day was the first time I saw them arguing. Jeonghyun was angry. Really angry. They started throwing spells at each other. Harmless spells of course, nothing like the ones they used on me. When they were fighting, I should’ve left. I made it harder for my brother. He had to protect both of us. But I was too scared and all I could do was sit there even though Jeonghyun was yelling at me to get away. It happened so fast. My uncle had his wand pointed at me and I just closed my eyes. When I opened them again, Jeonghyun was lying in front of me, soaked in blood. Everyone was screaming and they pushed me away, they didn’t want me to touch him. My aunt carried him away and I only found out the next day that they couldn’t save him.”

 

He covered his face in shame, head still hung low and his fists were clenched tightly in the sheets.

 

“They didn’t tell me where he was buried. I had to look through the whole graveyard to find him but they said I didn’t deserve to visit him. The day Yoongi found me was a few days after his death. I went back to visit him and my aunt and uncle found out. They got angry and decided that I didn’t have enough scars on my body but after all this, there is one thing that I won’t disagree with them. The fact that I’m a liability.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I killed the only person that ever cared for me.”

 

“Jeongguk, that wasn’t your fault,” Yoongi said firmly.

 

“He sacrificed himself to save you. That was his decision, Jeongguk. You can’t control what he did,” Namjoon added.

 

“No, but it’s my fault he died. If I wasn’t so useless, so weak, he would still be here.” Why do you guys not hate me? This wasn’t how the plan was supposed to go.

 

“It wasn’t your choice to make. He chose to save you and I’m sure all he wants is for you to be happy,” Jin said.

 

“Jeongguk, he loved you. He loved you so much and we do too. But it was not your fault he died,” came from Jimin.

 

“You didn’t kill him, Jeongguk and you’re not a liability,” Hoseok said.

 

“I did,” Jeongguk restated.

 

“Jeongguk, stop blaming yourself, okay? It wasn’t your fault. Don’t let your aunt and uncle get to you,” Taehyung spoke up.

 

The first year finally looked up. All of his friends looked determined and the seriousness of their tone was reflected on their faces. What his friends said had warmed his heart but they weren’t the ones he was hoping for. Thank you so much for believing in me but I don’t have time. It’ll be best if you guys hated me.

 

“Can… can you guys leave? I want to be alone.”

 

“Jeongguk-“ Jimin started but stopped when Jin shook his head.

 

“He needs space,” the eldest whispered to the others.

 

“Call us immediately if something happens, ok?” Namjoon asked and patted Jeongguk’s back before taking off.

 

The others hesitantly followed, each casting one last look to Jeongguk before exiting the gates of the Hospital Wing. When they were gone, Jeongguk sighed at his failed plan. If everything went according to his imagination, he wouldn’t have friends to worry about right now. He sat on the bed and stared out of the window to a series of mountains a great distant away. Jeongguk sought for a solution there to make everything right but he didn’t find anything.

 

Everything seemed so right but so wrong.

 

Chapter Text

Friendship is like a house of cards. It is built up from the very bottom but in the process, it often collapses.

 

Jeongguk never had any friends but he knew how to value something. After his brother’s death, he had promised himself that he wouldn’t let anyone else suffer because of him. Now that his friends carried the burden of the knowledge of his identity as a murderer, they couldn’t be involved anymore. He couldn’t risk it. The more they knew about him, the more danger they would be in and he didn’t need history repeating itself. Jeongguk is learning from his mistakes.

 

The Hospital Wing felt empty. But Jeongguk was used to this silence. It was welcoming even.

 

He pondered his next move but before he could evaluate the situation, his owl flew through the window and alerted him with a few hoots. Jeongguk had been expecting him since it had been a while since he received a letter, the last being the previous night before he had the run in with the other students. He brought Gureum to his chest and sighed as he brushed the owl’s feathers.

 

When he felt that he was mentally prepared he pulled the letter off of Gureum’s leg and removed the seal on the back. His hands trembled as he slowly unfolded the letter and Jeongguk was once again met with the sharp writing of his aunt. We heard what happened. You should’ve listened to us. We are never wrong. Do you understand your place now? If you do, you know what to do.

 

Jeongguk could practically hear his aunt enunciating every sentence of the letter and he sighed. At least he had gotten something off his chest before he left. He was pleased that his friends didn’t hate him even though they knew now that he wasn’t the innocent little boy that they had come to know over the few months but at the same time, he was vastly disappointed. His friends had believed him too easily. What if I was actually lying to them? Would they have believed that as well?

 

He looked around at the vials of potions standing on the table beside his bed and took a deep breath before pouring the contents out the window. He didn’t deserve to drink them. This was his punishment for bringing his friends into his mess. He definitely did not deserve their kindness.

 

As the last one emptied, he closed the vials and placed them in a neat row on the table again.

 

“It’s time,” he whispered to Gureum.

 

He turned around and let Gureum out the window. The sun had already risen high so Jeongguk guessed that it was around ten or eleven in the morning. This meant that he had less than six hours to complete his unfinished business. There was so much to do but in such little time. Under the watchful eye of the school matron, nothing could be accomplished though. He devised another plan and this time, it was going to work.

 

His plan? Climbing out the window. Yeah, brilliant.

 

Jeongguk felt around his clothes but realised he was still in his Quidditch uniform. This also meant that his wand was probably back at the common room and this made climbing out the window a lot more difficult than originally planned. He thought for a while before deciding that he could just scale the walls. It’s not like it’s the first time anyways.

 

No, it was a skill he had acquired and it was finally being put into good use again.

 

He looked out the window. Four stories. It seemed manageable.

 

Jeongguk hooked a leg out first before the rest of his body followed. It was freezing outside and his uniform was not thick enough to provide the necessary heat but right now, he had no other options. He turned his body so that he was facing the wall and slipped his fingers into the crevices of the bricks before slowly but steadily scaling down the wall of the Hospital Tower.

 

When he was about three metres from the floor, his foot slipped on the ice and his hands did not hold enough energy to keep their grip on the bricks. He ended up falling the remainder of the distance but since this was also not the first time he fell off a wall, he was prepared and landed in a way that reduced critical injuries. Jeongguk landed on the blanket of hard and slightly frozen snow and received a sprained ankle.

 

Observing the tower again, he realised the distance he had just climbed down from and clapped at himself. It was greater than the walls he used to scale at his aunt and uncle’s home but he had still successfully pulled it off in this unforgiving weather.

 

His first destination was the Gryffindor dormitory. He needed to pack his minimal clothes and most importantly obtain his wand. Jeongguk tried his best to walk normally on his injured foot. No one needed to see him have another weakness. His injury just invited more people to jeer, laugh and taunt him and it was an understatement to say that Jeongguk was sick of it. When he reached Gryffindor Tower on the other side of the castle, the Fat Lady did not question why he was out of class, still disgusted by his existence and just quickly swung the portrait open to allow him to enter the common room.

 

Once Jeongguk was inside, he didn’t need to hide his foot injury and hurriedly limped up the stairs to his dormitory. The first thing he did once he was inside the room was change into warm casual clothes. He left his Quidditch uniform on the bed and stared longingly at it. He wanted to pack it with him but it would be of no use. In the end, he just folded it neatly and placed it in a drawer before fetching his other belongings. Jeongguk made sure to place the letters his friends had given him for Christmas safely in his bag. He wanted to keep them so that he could read them over and over again if he ever got lonely. His wand was placed in its usual place, under his blankets and he quickly retrieved it before bringing out a small bag and shoving his clothes and other items he had brought to Hogwarts inside.

 

Jeongguk inspected the room one last time and nodded, satisfied that he had collected all his belongings in the span of ten minutes. Now, where to?

 

Next stop was the broomstick shed. He looked out the window of Gryffindor Tower and saw empty fields and courtyards. Perfect.

 

He left his bag beside his bed but equipped himself with his wand, already feeling ten times safer. When he turned to leave again, he felt the sharp pain in his foot worsen and tripped over his own feet, falling backwards onto the bed. Jeongguk rolled up his pants to reveal an area of swollen purple and green. He pulled out his wand and aimed it at his ankle. Jeongguk had never used healing spells, especially not on himself but he knew all the incantations.

 

“Episkey.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t dare to look at his ankle but stood up instead to see if he had done more damage. When there was no pain, he looked down and saw that his ankle was completely healed, no signs of bruising or swelling. He twisted and turned it in circles and when there was still no pain he grinned and rolled his pants back over his ankle before heading out.

 

At the broom shed, he unlocked the door easily and grabbed his broom. Locking the shed again, he ran back into the castle but halted immediately at the gates to the Great Hall as familiar voices approached from the other side of the corridor. Jeongguk ran to hide behind the staircase next to the hall as the voices grew louder and louder. Having just ran up from the broom shed, Jeongguk had to hold his breath and quietly calm his breathing otherwise he’ll make his presence known to the others.

 

“Why can’t I go see him?”

 

“Tae, he needs time. It wasn’t easy for him to tell us that much and if he needs time, we need to respect that.”

 

“Namjoon’s right. Guk’s just scared and confused.”

 

“But Hoseok, doesn’t that mean he needs us more right now?” Jimin.

 

“He’ll come to us when he’s ready. But until then, we need to be patient and wait.” Jin.

 

“I don’t know, I just feel so uneasy about this whole thing.”

 

“Tae, don’t worry. The people that attacked Guk already left yesterday and if he even tries to step outside the Hospital Wing for one second, Madam Pomfrey will force him back into bed.” Jin again.

 

“I know, I know. It’s just that… I don’t like Gukkie being by himself.”

 

“None of us do but he’s made it clear that he needs space. I don’t want to take one step forward and then two steps back. … He means too much to me.” … Yoongi.

 

“He’ll come find us when Madam Pomfrey lets him leave the Hospital Wing.”

 

At last, the voices disappeared into the Great Hall for lunch and Jeongguk let out a breath of relief. His heart ached painfully at their words. He felt like he was betraying them, betraying their kindness, betraying their trust but more importantly he was betraying his own heart. Jeongguk could close his eyes to hide the things he didn’t want to see, shut his ears to hide the things he didn’t want to hear but he couldn’t close his heart to hide the things he didn’t want to feel but how he wished he could.

 

He waited a few more moments until he was sure that the hallway was clear before running to the Gryffindor common room, taking three stairs at a time. Luck seemed to be on Jeongguk’s side today as he made it safely back into the dormitory and gently dropped his broom next to his bag.

 

Jeongguk was physically and mentally exhausted and fell face first onto his bed, both of his arms flopping by his side. He turned his head on the pillow to face the rest of the room, absorbing the serenity of the dormitory. He might never see this sight again and it was one he actually adored. Aside from the hatred of the residents, the dorm was rather relaxing and Jeongguk found himself wishing that time would stop running.

 

Drowsily, he rubbed his eyes as sleep threatened to enwrap him but then he remembered that there was one last mission that needed to be completed. He dragged himself upright and searched for a quill and some parchment before walking back down to the common room. Jeongguk sat in front of the cosy fireplace and pulled out the items he had just collected.

 

After a while of gathering his thoughts, he finally composed a letter fit for his friends. He tried not to think too much into it but the letter turned longer and longer as he wrote. It consisted all the unsaid words that he wasn’t brave enough to tell his friends in real life of. As he wrote the third paragraph, his eyes were starting to tear up and Jeongguk had to pause and breathe before he left tearstains on the letter. What he was writing contradicted his heart but they had to be said and he wasn’t going to regret this. Definitely not. He addressed all six of them at the end and then wrote three simple but meaningful words to conclude the letter. He read over his words and nodded before folding and sealing it shut.

 

Jeongguk was just about to pack up the mess on the table but as Jin’s words rang through his head again, he realised that he couldn’t allow Madam Pomfrey to tell his friends that he had disappeared so he wrote another letter to the matron.

 

Thank you for looking after me, I have taken all the potions so I decided to leave the Hospital Wing slightly earlier. I’ll be with my friends so don’t worry about me but I’ll come back if the injuries still haven’t healed.

 

Lies, yes but Jeongguk couldn’t risk anything. When Jeongguk finished packing up, he headed back outside and towards the wall of Hospital Tower which had just climbed down from.

 

“Wingardium Leviosa.”

 

The letter to his friends was lifted up and through the window and although Jeongguk couldn’t see from the angle below, he knew that it had landed safely on the bed he was meant to be resting in. The next letter to the matron, he levitated it up and from memory, he tried to direct it to the matron’s office and slide it under the door.

 

Hoping that the letter found its way to Madam Pomfrey’s office, he began walking back the way he came from but the corridors were starting to fill with students again, probably ready to attend their next class. The chimes of the bell confirmed his thoughts and Jeongguk hastily scanned the area to find a place to hide. When he decided that the bush was enough to cover himself with, he jumped behind it and waited for the storm of people to pass.

 

“You didn’t hear?” a girl screeched.

 

“No one told me!” another girl replied.

 

“Well apparently they got into another fight and out of self defence they start choking Jeongguk but then he brought out his wand and starting shooting spells at them.”

 

“That’s so unfair. They were only trying to protect themselves. Why isn’t Jeongguk suspended too?”

 

“Yeah, that’s what everyone is saying right now. I wish the Headmaster could expel him or something.”

 

“Do you think if enough students and parents petition, they’ll kick him out?” Looks like I beat you to it. Sorry to disappoint.

 

“I don’t know. We could try.”

 

“But did you know what a lot of people heard when they went home?”

 

“No? What?”

 

Jeongguk couldn’t catch the next phrase but he knew what she had said when he heard the other girl gasp.

 

“Like they could,” the same girl, who gasped, huffed.

 

“Don’t underestimate the Jeons.”

 

And then they were gone. Jeongguk waited until the corridors were completely empty before he left his place of hiding. He sighed, having given up trying to please others and change their perception of him the minute they came back from the Christmas holidays. But their conversation did serve as a reminder of the perks of leaving. He wouldn’t have to deal with their abhorrence and prejudiced opinions any longer.

 

Jeongguk sprinted back to the common room to make sure everything was neat and tidy and erase all traces of his existence. His goal was to make it seem like he was never even there to begin with. However, when he entered again, his luck ran out.

 

Standing in the middle of common room, was a group of burly seniors. Jeongguk recognised them. A few of them had accused him of threatening them in front of the Head Boy, Head Girl and all the prefects. They were also the reason Jeongguk had another scar on his arm so they weren’t that easy to forget.

 

He tried to slink past them to the stairs of the dormitory but they caught sight of him before he was even halfway across the room. Jeongguk heard his name being called but he ran for the staircase anyways. When one of them came to block his path, he pulled out his wand immediately.

 

“Move.”

 

“Or what?” the boy at the back of the group jeered.

 

“Are you trying to make me fight you so you can get me suspended too?” the boy blocking his path laughed when he caught sight of the bruises on Jeongguk’s neck.

 

“If you don’t move, maybe I’ll consider that,” Jeongguk threatened emptily. At this point, he really didn’t have anything to lose.

 

“Hmm… I wondering why Junmyeon didn’t get you expelled last time but maybe you threatened them too. And you have that Hufflepuff prefect friend on your side too. Quick question, did you threaten them to be your friends?”

 

Jeongguk shoved the wand under his face and glared intimidatingly. He saw a few of them shuffle back and he smirked.

 

“So what if I did? What’re you going to do? Tell on me?” Jeongguk asked with a quirk of his eyebrow.

 

The boy that Jeongguk was holding his wand to looked shocked at the younger’s sudden change of attitude but quickly reconstructed his face with a smug smile.

 

“Well then I’m sorry for getting in your way sir. You may pass,” the same boy sneered as he took a step to the side and bowed at Jeongguk to allow him to pass.

 

As Jeongguk shifted past him, he made sure to keep his eyes on the seniors at all times. Once he reached the bottom of the staircase leading up to the dormitory he stopped and wracked through his brain.

 

“You guys might want to be more careful.”

 

“Of what?” another scoffed. “You?”

 

“I-“

 

“Trust me. We’ve been careful since the moment you stepped into Hogwarts.”

 

The real danger isn’t me. Jeongguk sighed, his good intentions having gone to waste and shrugged before running up the stairs as fast as his left could possibly carry him. If they didn’t want to take heed to his sincere warning, then they probably didn’t deserve it. Too deep in his thoughts he didn’t see another senior coming down the stairs and walked straight into his chest. Jeongguk hurriedly walked backwards down two stairs and apologised as he rubbed the sore area on his forehead.

 

However, the person Jeongguk bumped into laughed heartily at his clumsiness and patted the younger’s shoulder. Looking up, he saw that the senior was actually his Quidditch captain and his heart calmed itself before quickening again. This wasn’t good. If Chanyeol told his friends he had seen Jeongguk outside of the Hospital Wing, this would ruin everything. He couldn’t make it too obvious though that he wanted the captain to keep his whereabouts a secret so his words will have to be a gamble.

 

“Are you ok?”

 

“I-I’m fine.”

 

“No, I mean…” Chanyeol said while indicating the younger’s purple neck and face.

 

“Oh, that yeah. Hence why I’m here and not laying in the Hospital Wing.”

 

“Right… Anyways I… I’m sorry I left you by yourself yesterday. If I stayed with you then they wouldn’t have attacked you. I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s fine. If they didn’t confront me yesterday, they would’ve found me by myself another day. It’s not your fault.”

 

“That makes me feel worse,” Chanyeol groaned.

 

“Don’t worry. Look, I’m completely fine,” Jeongguk laughed as he spun around on the spot. “Are you going somewhere?”

 

“Oh. I nearly forgot. I have to look over something for the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.” Well, that eliminates Chanyeol running into them until dinner.

 

“Sounds fun. You should go then.”

 

“Yeah, ok. Also don’t you dare think about coming to Quidditch training tomorrow in that condition. I’ll let you off. Just this once though,” he grinned.

 

Jeongguk smiled in reply and nodded. This was actually playing out perfectly. He had never planned on going Quidditch training but now that his absence was acknowledged by the captain, this lifted another worry off his mind.

 

“Hey, um…”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Be careful.”

 

“Of what?” the captain laughed light-heartedly.

 

“I don’t know. Everything?”

 

“Ok, Guk. You too.”

 

Then Jeongguk was left alone again. There was a lot of weight lifted off his chest with the talk but at the same time he was frustrated. No one was taking his warning seriously and they didn’t know the storm that was coming for all of them. Jeongguk reminded himself that it wasn’t their fault and that if he was them, he wouldn’t take his warning seriously either but this is why he was leaving.

 

Like this, Jeongguk supressed his annoyance and trod into the dormitory to collect his bag and broomstick from the floor before walking out again. Down at the common room, the group of seniors were still loitering around and some of them sent Jeongguk glares as he entered. He shrugged it off and carried on his way towards the footpath that led outside of the castle. He was surprised none of them had stopped him or questioned the bag and broom he was bringing out of the common room but then he realised that since he didn’t really pose a threat at the moment, the others would obviously not care.

 

Jeongguk stood in the same place he had when he Apparated to visit his brother’s grave and stared at the castle longingly. The air around him felt heavy as if it knew the reason for Jeongguk’s departure. The ancient grey walls stood mute and the lake which surrounded Hogwarts reached its arms protectively around the castle, guarding it from enemies. The great expanse of green was lit under the luxurious shade of the afternoon.

 

He brought his eyes away. If they dwelled on the castle for any longer, he wouldn’t be able to resist its tempting callings, advising him to return and stay behind the safe walls. There was only one thing on his mind now and he wasn’t even sure if it was true but he had to make sure. The first letter, the most haunting one which Jeongguk was now going to confirm its veracity.

 

They’re coming.

 

As he took one last glance at the place he deemed his favourite home, he smiled at all the memories that he was taking away with him and others that he was leaving behind. Never would he forget the family he had met here.

 

He loved them like there’s no tomorrow but now, he’s saying goodbye like there’s no next time.

 

Maybe we’ll meet again in another life.

 

Chapter Text

"I’m so tired.”

 

“That’s like the fiftieth time you’ve said that, Yoongi,” Taehyung exaggerated with a roll of his eyes.

 

Yoongi slumped over the table as the others ate their breakfast. None of them had visited the Hospital Wing, respecting Jeongguk’s wish for time and space but they were already growing restless and impatient. The table was weirdly empty without Jeongguk’s presence and despite the whole group feeling it, Yoongi was the only one who displayed it on his face. The Slytherin had barely slept at wink, too worried about Jeongguk to rest properly and now he was grumpier than his usual self.

 

“If you’re that worried, we can go briefly check up on him after breakfast,” Jin said.

 

The Slytherin immediately sat up and started gobbling down his breakfast.

 

“Why is everyone looking at us?” Hoseok asked, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

 

“I don’t know. Gukkie isn’t even here,” Taehyung frowned.

 

Before any of them had the chance to open their mouths again, a Hufflepuff boy strode up to them and slammed his fist down on the table, startling them away from their food. The rest of the hall seemed to notice the boy’s confrontation and stopped eating to watch the scene go down.

 

“You guys knew, didn’t you?” the boy hissed.

 

“Knew what?”

 

“Don’t act stupid. We all know how protective you guys are about Jeongguk but this has gone too far.”

 

Another of his comrades marched next to him to offer his support.

 

“I swear if you guys are involved in any way, we’ll kill you right here.”

 

“What are you guys talking about?” Jin frowned and stood up, placing himself between the boys and his friends.

 

“You seriously don’t know? Guess Jeongguk didn’t trust you guys as much as we thought.”

 

That sentence hurt. A lot. Jin was two seconds away from pulling out his wand but Yoongi beat him to it. The Slytherin stepped forward and held his wand under the first boy’s chin, digging unkindly into his skin.

 

“If you’re not going to spit it out, then fuck off.”

 

The boy laughed hysterically and the rest of his comrades joined in before he suddenly stopped and his face turned serious as he pulled himself up to his full height.

 

“You’ll find out. But not from me. When you do, you will wish that Jeongguk had died that night. You will wish that he got choked to death. You will wish he never existed.”

 

Yoongi didn’t react, too shocked by the boy’s words, and by the time he recovered, they were gone. The rest of the group, however, was still sitting in their seats, mouths wide open and frowns decorating their delicate features.

 

“What the fuck was that?” Yoongi asked, snapping them out of their shock.

 

“I don’t know but it seems like we’re the only ones who don’t.”

 

As if on cue, hundreds of owls flew into the Great Hall to deliver their letters. When they looked up, the ceiling was flooded and more was trying to fly in. There had never been so many owls in the hall at once and all six of them immediately became washed over with a sense of anxiousness. Yoongi’s owl was first to find them and carried a letter between its beak, placing it lightly in his owner’s hands before flying off.

 

Yoongi ripped open the letter and found that it was from his parents. He hadn’t talked to them since the last summer holidays and they have never written a letter to him during his time at Hogwarts. Yoongi proceeded to quickly scan the contents and found that the letter served as a warning to leave Jeongguk and break all connections to the younger. He frowned, unable to comprehend. His parents had never minded Jeongguk and fully understood his situation without prying more than necessary. His mum, being a healer, had always been the one to treat Jeongguk whenever Yoongi brought the injured child home. Before he could voice his confusion, Jin’s owl arrived and dropped a copy of the Daily Prophet on the table.

 

Jin reached for the newspaper as soon it landed in front of him and the rest of them gathered behind him. Smack bang on the front page of the Daily Prophet, in frightening big bold letters, wrote ‘Entire Jeon Family Escapes Azkaban’ and right below the heading was a photo of Jeongguk’s parents and a few other Death Eaters. What caught their attention though wasn’t the photo of the convicted criminals but the photo beside that. Jeongguk. He had bruises and scars on his face and he was frowning at something out of the frame. The caption underneath, ‘Jeon heir to follow in his parents’ footsteps’.

 

They drew a sharp intake of breath simultaneously before all of their minds connected. Leaving their breakfast and the newspaper behind, they sprinted from the Great Hall to the Hospital Tower, inconsiderately pushing past people who stood in their path. None of them stopped to even breathe until they reached the gates of the Hospital Wing and Yoongi slammed open the doors without hesitation before bolting inside. However, they were greeted with disappointment when they realised that the room was empty.

 

Yoongi took the initiative to race back outside and towards Madam Pomfrey’s office, without realising that only Namjoon was following his tail while the third years and Hufflepuffs remained in the Hospital Wing. The office doors were already open and the Slytherin didn’t even bother to knock before stomping in.

 

“Where’s Jeongguk?”

 

His aggressive tone shocked the school’s matron, who was sorting vials of potion and placing them neatly on their respective shelves.

 

“I thought he left yesterday with you guys?”

 

“What?” Namjoon asked.

 

“He left a letter. Where did I put that now?”

 

She rummaged through the mess on her table and picked up a letter, buried at the bottom, before holding it out for them to observe. When Yoongi took the letter and read it, he nodded to confirm that it was indeed Jeongguk’s writing.

 

“Where did you find this?”

 

“I found it on the floor, next to the door,” she said, pointing at the door of her office.

 

“There was only one?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Yoongi turned to face Namjoon and his face expressed both his anguish and helplessness. Namjoon put a supportive arm around Yoongi’s back and led him outside after thanking the matron.

 

“YOONGI! NAMJOON!” they heard Taehyung shout from inside the Hospital Wing. “COME HERE!”

 

Namjoon led both of them inside the room to find their other four friends assembled around the bed Jeongguk was laying in the previous day. The letter in Jimin’s hand made Yoongi perk his head up and he hastily ran forward, tripping over his feet. The younger Slytherin quickly handed over the letter sensing the desperation radiate off the elder. Yoongi opened the letter with his unstable hands and sat on the bed so that the others could crowd around him and read as well.

 

I really hope this letter falls into the correct hands.

 

First off, I’m sorry you guys had to get involved with me. I don’t regret our time together but if I could go back to the days I met you all, I would have made sure to keep my distance. I thought that we could be friends forever but time never seems to agree with me. I was lucky to be able to meet you guys but at times I wish we didn’t become so close. Then it wouldn’t be so hard for me to say goodbye but since I have learnt that the most painful goodbyes are the ones never said, this letter here is my goodbye.

 

When I was down, you were there to cheer me up. When I was scared, you were there by my side. When I lost hope, you were there to give me courage. And when I was happy, you were the reason for my smile.

 

I’ll forever be grateful for all that you’ve done for me and I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused for you guys in return. Thank you for showing me what love is again and I’ll never forget you. I hope I’ve left you guys with some unforgettable memories too and I know it’s selfish of me to ask this favour but please forget about me. Forget about our friendship. Forget about everything. Just remember to stay together and keep each other safe. I can’t make any promises about myself but I will try and stay safe too so don’t worry about me.

 

Past the end of this cold winter, until the spring comes again. until the flowers bloom again, stay there. Please don’t come looking for me, it’ll do more harm than good. I focused too hard on what I wanted and not what I deserved so I’m letting go now and you should let go of me too. I know it hurts, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on. Let’s not wait for the impossible. With this letter, we are no longer friends. We are just strangers with memories. Don’t look back. Keep moving on.

 

Thank you Jin, Yoongi, Hoseok, Namjoon, Jimin, Tae for being the family I’ve never had. I hope we meet again in our next life.

 

I love you.

 

“’Try and stay safe?’ Who do you think you’re lying to?” Yoongi whispered.

 

Jeongguk’s letter left the rest of them speechless and on the verge of tears. No one said anything except for Yoongi.

 

“Why? Jeongguk, why? You fool.”

 

The letter dropped from his hands and fluttered down to the floor whilst Yoongi moved his hands to his head and rubbed his face. Jin knelt down to pick up Jeongguk’s letter and held it out for Yoongi to take again.

 

“What… what do we do?” Taehyung asked no one in particular.

 

“Find him of course. Before he gets injured. Or worse,” Namjoon stated.

 

Hoseok shivered at the horrific thought of the endless possibilities that could find its way to Jeongguk while the others didn’t dwell long on Namjoon’s words and nodded in agreement.

 

“But how?”

 

“I… didn’t think that far yet.”

 

“Jeongguk, I really hope you know what you’re doing,” Yoongi murmured and they all turned to gaze out the window.

 

He didn’t know what he was doing. Jeongguk stood, stunned in his aunt and uncle’s house. It was weird. Jeongguk was expecting blasts and exchanges of crude words. What he wasn’t expecting was to be pulled into a hug the first time he met his parents. There were tears even. He hesitantly held his parents’ crying figures and patted their backs to soothe them down from their uncontrollable sobs. His mum seemed genuinely sad but relieved so Jeongguk was in a bit of a panic and surprise.

 

“M-Mum? Dad?”

 

“Look how big you are,” his mother cried as she leaned back to observe him before pulling Jeongguk into her arms again.

 

“Last time we saw you, you were barely starting to talk,” his father added.

 

“How old are you now?”

 

“Eighteen.”

 

“My baby’s all grown up.”

 

His parents finally let go of him and Jeongguk felt like he could breathe again after being squished in between the two adults for more than five minutes. His parents observed his face for another few minutes before they directed their attention to Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle and the next words that came out of their mouths disgusted Jeongguk.

 

“Thank you so much for looking after him. He’s grown up so well.”

 

“Of course. He’s the heir to the Jeon family. He must be treated like royalty.”

 

“Hold on,” Jeongguk started. What had aunt and uncle been telling my parents? Do they know none of how they treated me for the past sixteen years? Do they even know how Jeonghyun really died?

 

“Jeongguk, before you say anything, I think we should talk,” his mother said gently.

 

“Now that your parents have escaped Azkaban, we think that it would be best for us to finish what Lord Voldemort started,” Jeongguk’s uncle cut in.

 

“But-“

 

“You have always been hesitant to use dark magic but you are also quite practiced now. You have the potential for so much more,” his uncle continued.

 

“With some more training, you’ll be on par with us maybe even them,” Jeongguk’s aunt nodded.

 

“And you’ll definitely have to learn the Unforgivable Curses whether you like it or not,” his uncle stated.

 

“Oh, definitely yes,” his aunt agreed.

 

“Wait, you want me to help you kill people? I… I don’t think… I-I’m not ready… I can’t.”

 

“What?” his uncle growled.

 

“I won’t join you guys.”

 

“Jeongguk, we heard what happened at Hogwarts. Those kids deserve to get expelled, not suspended. They treated you unfairly and trod on our family name. Our family name, Jeongguk. They weren’t doing it because they have any personal hatred to you. They were only doing it because the Jeons are no longer feared,” his father said.

 

“They thought the Dementors had everything under control but they were just too easy to defeat. We have to bring power back to our name and we’re not going to do that by sitting around here all day. And although your parents have been locked up for quite a while, within no time, they’ll be the most powerful wizards on this Earth again. Nobody will be able to stop us.”

 

“Your aunt’s right. They should’ve killed all of us when they had the chance but they’re too weak. We have to show them the consequences of showing us pity,” his uncle scoffed.

 

“If you join us, no one will ever hurt you again,” his father spoke. “All those kids back at your school that used to look down on you and injure you… they’ll never even dream of touching you ever again.”

 

“We’re your real family. The only people you have left. Trust me, your friends won’t stay around you. I doubt they ever loved you,” his uncle snorted.

 

“They will stay.“

 

“No Jeongguk. We’ve lived for longer than you. We’ve experienced more than you. Once they see our power, they’ll leave too. They’ll think you’re a monster when you were merely being yourself. Show them the true you and we promise you they won’t stay. All the Dark Arts that your we taught you when you were young weren’t for nothing. So trust me and join us,” his uncle continued with a hard glare that intimidated Jeongguk and dared him to argue against.

 

“But-“

 

“Jeongguk, your parents wouldn’t be asking you this but you know with your brother gone. You’re the only heir. Jeonghyun would’ve listened to us if he were still here.”

 

Guilt washed over Jeongguk at his aunt’s words but his she didn’t give him a break as she stepped towards him and continued.

 

“We wish your brother were here too but we can’t change the accidents from the past. Your parents know that your brother died trying to save you when you ran away from home and came across some trouble. They don’t blame you for his death but together, we can make the future better, Jeongguk. I know this will make Jeonghyun proud. If only he were here to witness it with you though. Can you finish what he couldn’t?”

 

Jeongguk’s reaction wasn’t immediate but it was relatively quicker than before. Of course aunt and uncle would lie about Jeonghyun’s death as well.

 

“I… I can try?” he whispered. This is what Jeongguk came back for but why was he so scared to join them? When he left Hogwarts, he made the resolve to pretend to join his family so he could prevent them from killing innocent people but the thought of fighting alongside them disgusted him. He wanted to be by his real family.

 

“I guess that’s settled,” she nodded while Jeongguk’s parents pulled him back into a hug.

 

They stood there. No one moved. You could hear the tiniest of noises. Jeongguk seemed to be the binding force of the group and his absence reminded them of the emptiness. They couldn’t remember what it used to be like before they became friends with the younger. There was no cheeky Jeongguk who messed around with them. There will be no one to appreciate Jin’s cooking like Jeongguk did, no one to tease Yoongi about his laziness like Jeongguk had, no one for Hoseok to share his secret hideaway at the lagoon with, no one to talk to Namjoon about his boring books like Jeongguk did so attentively when the others didn’t want to, no one for Jimin to dote on and remind him of his younger brother and no one who would mess around with Taehyung as much as Jeongguk did.

 

Had it always been this quiet? This meek?

 

Yoongi still hadn’t let go of the letter. He couldn’t. It was the last thing Jeongguk had left them and it was hanging lifelessly in his hand. Jeongguk’s words replayed over and over and over again in his head. Yoongi couldn’t stop them. They were corrupting him.

 

Please forget about me. Forget about our friendship. Forget about everything… I focused too hard on what I wanted and not what I deserved so I’m letting go now… With this letter, we are no longer friends. We are just strangers with memories… I hope we meet again in our next life.

 

Then in the intense silence, he screamed. He screamed with his whole body. It was a loud, piercing scream that bled with desperation and fear. The noise tore through the others like shards of glass however, they continued to stand unwavering in their defeated positions around the courtyard. Their expressions conveyed the hopelessness they were refusing to feel.

 

“Yoongi,” Jin began but when the younger turned glared at him, he backed away again.

 

“This is my fault,” Yoongi’s voice trembled. “This is all my fault.”

 

“Hey-“

 

“I should’ve stayed with him.”

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“I could’ve prevented this.”

 

“Yoongi,” Namjoon said firmly as he stepped forward. “No you couldn’t. You couldn’t have controlled whatever it was that happened at Azkaban and you most certainly could not have predicted Jeongguk running away but this is not the time to take on blame.”

 

“I… I need to talk to my parents. They’ll tell me what to do,” Yoongi mumbled before getting up, folding Jeongguk’s letter again and tucking it safely into his back pocket. Then he sprinted to the Slytherin common room without sparing his friends another glance.

 

They watched him run off before nodding and all giving chase. Jimin helped them navigate through the corridors until they reached the dungeons. He quickly gave the password and they entered to find Yoongi pacing back and forth around the common room.

 

“Yoongi, what’re you doing?” Jimin whispered.

 

“A letter… a letter will take too long. I… what do I need now?”

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“Floo Powder! I need Floo Powder!”

 

“What’re you going to do with Floo Powder?”

 

“I’m going to talk to my parents.”

 

“Ok… but where’re you going to get Floo Powder from?”

 

Yoongi stopped pacing and lowered his head to think before suddenly jerking up and staring at Taehyung. The younger looked startled at the sudden attention and instinctively took a step back, accidentally treading on Jimin’s foot but forgetting to apologise under Yoongi’s intense gaze.

 

“Taehyung!”

 

“Y-Yes?” Taehyung replied, trying to shrink back into Jimin.

 

“I know we’ve all been checked so none of us have Floo Powder but do you for some random reason have some stashed amongst your joke objects?”

 

“Uh… maybe?”

 

“Can you go look for it?”

 

Jimin squeezed Taehyung’s arms before he could say anything and the younger whipped his head around to look at the Slytherin.

 

“Tae, I’ll go with you. Yoongi, we’ll be right back,” Jimin said before pushing Taehyung out of the common room.

 

“What was that for?” Taehyung asked once they were outside.

 

“I figured we might as well try and get some Floo Powder.”

 

“Yeah, but why did you stop me from talking? I was going to agree.”

 

“He wasn’t in the best mood and I was worried you were going to say the wrong thing.”

 

“I’m not blind or deaf,” Taehyung huffed.

 

“I know. Sorry. I was just trying to prevent Yoongi taking out all his frustration on you. I’m really worried about the both of them. Jeongguk and Yoongi. I’m scared they’ll do something they’ll regret,” Jimin sighed.

 

“Me too.”

 

“Come on. Let’s go get some Floo Powder for Yoongi. I want to know what his parents have to say too.”

 

It took a while for Taehyung and Jimin, searching high and low in his dormitory before they finally scavenged out a box of green Floo Powder. By the time Jimin pulled the dusty box out from under Taehyung’s bed, it was almost time for dinner so they hurried back to the Slytherin common room and found that their friends managed to calm Yoongi down slightly and were now sitting around him on the black leather couch.

 

As soon as they rushed in, Yoongi leapt up and grabbed the box from them with a soft grunt that you could probably interpret as his thanks.

 

Yoongi squatted in front of the fire, throwing some powder into the flames and waiting for them turn green. When they did, he didn’t hesitate to stick his head through while the others held their breaths. However, they didn’t even have to wait for a minute before Yoongi was leaning back again, pulling his head out of the flames and sitting in a defeated hunch on the floor.

 

“What happened?”

 

“They’re not there,” Yoongi frowned.

 

“So what now?”

 

“I’ll leave them a message,” Yoongi said before running to his dormitory and crashing back into the common room with a quill and some parchment.

 

When he finished composing his letter, he threw some more Floo Powder into the flames before reaching in an arm and dropping the letter on the floor. Yoongi sat in front of the fire, unmoving while the others glanced nervously at each other.

 

“Do you want to get some food?”

 

“No”

 

“But Yoongi-“

 

“I need to wait for them.”

 

“Yoongi, I know you’re not in the mood but what are you planning to accomplish on an empty stomach?” Jin scolded.

 

“How about Namjoon and I head up to the Great Hall and bring some food down? You guys stay here and wait with Yoongi,” Hoseok announced before dragging the other fourth year out of the common room.

 

Walking into the Great Hall, all talking ceased and every eye in the room landed on them. ‘So this is what Jeongguk feels everyday.

 

Hoseok and Namjoon ignored the stares as they headed to the Hufflepuff table, collected some plates before stacking them with food. Namjoon dropped a lot in the process and Hoseok finally gave up trying to get the younger to help. They ended up levitating the five full plates with them slowly out of the Great Hall to the Slytherin common room.

 

Back with the others, Hoseok and Namjoon laid out the plates on the table in the middle before calling their friends away from the fireplace, Yoongi only moving after Jin scolded him again. They ate uneasily and no one seemed to be able to divert their attention away from the flames. Although they tried their best to stomach the food, they only managed to empty two plates. Then they returned to waiting in front of the fire again.

 

Jimin and Taehyung were leaning against each other, both of them on the verge of falling asleep while the fourth years were sitting uncomfortably on the couch, glancing at the flames every now and then. Yoongi was sitting on the carpet close to the fire while Jin was leaning against the wall of the fireplace watching over his five friends even though he was exhausted himself and wanted nothing more than to go back to the Hufflepuff common rooms, wrap himself in blankets and forget about everything. But he knew he couldn’t. Jeongguk was more important than anything.

 

Yoongi tapped the floor impatiently until a crackling sound snapped him back into reality. He crawled hastily to the fireplace as his mother’s head formed in the flames and his friends came forward to join him.

 

“Mum?”

 

“Yoongi, are you ok? I just saw your message, your father and I have been… busy.”

 

“Yes, I’m fine. Where are my dad and brother?”

 

“They’re fine.”

 

“In the letter, you told me to stay away from Jeongguk. Why?”

 

“Don’t talk about him. Where is that boy?”

 

“He’s gone, mum. He left Hogwarts.”

 

“Good. I don’t want you around that kid anymore.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Now that the Jeons are back, I think they’re going to try to take over the wizarding community.”

 

“And what does this have to do with Jeongguk?”

 

“They’re going to do whatever it takes even if that means taking out all their enemies. They have the power. Even though Jeongguk’s parents were locked up in Azkaban for that long, as soon as they escaped, all the other Death Eaters immediately felt their strong presence back in this world and I can bet that they’re going to come here soon too. They need allies. But Yoongi, your father and I, we’ve agreed that we don’t want to be part of another war. We can’t lose anyone. Especially not you and your brother. We’ve already sent your brother into hiding so please just stay at Hogwarts and please stay out of his war.”

 

“And you also don’t want me to find Jeongguk?”

 

“No. As the heir to the Jeon family, Jeongguk will no doubt help his parents so I don’t want you getting involved with him anymore.”

 

“Mum, you’ve healed him for the last five years. You know him. He’s not going to help them.”

 

“It’s different Yoongi. His aunt and uncle, you don’t understand them as well as I. They’ll do anything to make him believe that what they’re doing is for the better of this world. They’re manipulative people. They’ll use whatever they can and even threaten Jeongguk if need be and what else is better than using the people that Jeongguk treasures the most.”

 

“But-“

 

“Yoongi, just please promise me you’ll stay out of this.”

 

“I… I can’t.”

 

“Yoongi I can’t lose you. Please.”

 

“Wait wait wait. Earlier… you said that the Jeons would go find you and dad.”

 

“Yes they will.”

 

“But they’re not going to accept no as an answer,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“That’s not important. Just-”

 

“Why did you send my brother away, mum?”

 

“Yoongi, promise me.”

 

“No. No. You sent my brother away because… because,” Yoongi tried to say but he could barely breathe.

 

“Yoongi. We sent him away as a precaution but I don’t have time. Promise me.”

 

“No, mum, you have to go.”

 

“Yoongi-“

 

“Go! Go hide with my brother. I’ll be ok. Please,” Yoongi begged.

 

“Not until you promise me.”

 

“Mum… I-“

 

“Yoongi, I have to go.”

 

“Wait-“

 

“I love you.”

 

“Mum-“

 

Before Yoongi could finish his sentence, his mother’s face in the flames disappeared.

 

“NO!”

 

Yoongi scrambled forward and tried to reach his hands into the flames, grasping whatever he could but before he made contact, Jin stopped him. The Slytherin tried to twist himself out of the prefect’s grip but it was like steel.

 

“Yoongi, you’re going to get hurt. Don’t touch the flames,” Jin pleaded.

 

“JIN LET GO. MY MUM. MY DAD. THEY- I NEED TO-”

 

“YOONGI,” Jin tried to yell over the younger. “CALM DOWN AND TALK TO US.”

 

“NO- I- MY PARENTS. I HAVE TO GO!“

 

The fifth year thrashed around and tried to push the sixth year off him but Hoseok and Namjoon came forward to help calm him down. Jimin and Taehyung on the other hand were holding onto each other tightly behind the tangle of four bodies, scared to move from their place in fear that the others will divert their attention to them.

 

“Yoongi. Tell us what’s wrong so we can help,” Jin spoke calmly but authoritatively.

 

“My parents.”

 

“I know it’s your parents but what about them?”

 

Yoongi stopped moving and turned to face Jin. The sixth year finally let his grip on the younger go as he could see all the pain written on Yoongi’s face but he still couldn’t piece together what was happening.

 

“If Voldemort was here right now and he asked you to join his army, what would you say?”

 

Everyone frowned at that question. They didn’t know where Yoongi was going but at least he had calmed down and they could have a civilised conversation without worrying that he would punch them in the eye or something.

 

“I would say no,” Jin answered.

 

“And then what would he do?”

 

“He would threaten me?”

 

“But you’ll still say no. And then?”

 

“And then he would most likely… oh.”

 

“I… I have to go. I need to go.”

 

“Yoongi, if you’re going, then we’re going too.”

 

“Don’t. You guys don’t have to go. It’s going to be dangerous.”

 

“We’re not leaving you,” Hoseok said.

 

“With Jeongguk gone, we have to stick together, ok?” Namjoon said more than asked.

 

“Together,” Yoongi nodded.

 

Jeongguk was taken back to his parent’s home after their discussion and now he was lying in the bed he had occupied for the past two years before he started at Hogwarts. Everything was the same. The old and fragile black walls were still shivering and threatening to crumble whilst the neglected furniture, stayed there collecting more dust. The floor boards continued to scream when weight was put on it and Jeongguk’s room was still the mess it was when he had left it.

 

He heard his parents talking downstairs but he didn’t want to figure out what was going on. Jeongguk held his arm up and looked at his silver bracelet and ring. His friends and his brother. He felt like he had to choose between the two but he couldn’t so in the end, he just laid his hand over his heart as sleep tried to overtake his body. There was no more abusive aunt and uncle who would throw down his door and give him the ‘treatment he deserved’.

 

Jeongguk didn’t really know his parents that well but from what he could recall from his aunt and uncle, they were ruthless Death Eaters so he deemed it best to not get on their bad side. They hadn’t hurt him yet but Jeongguk wasn’t positive that the situation would stay this way if he defied them. However, they were still his parents and this was at home. He was meant to be comfortable but there was persistent thought at the back of his mind persuading otherwise.

 

He rolled over and tried to sleep it off but it lingered.

 

There was rustling outside his door and he held his breath as he heard footsteps pass by and then let it out when the noise was gone. Facing the ceiling, his ears remained alert, seeking for any danger, which could show themselves.

 

“Jeongguk!”

 

The call surprised him more than it should have and he groaned as he rolled off his bed. Jeongguk dragged his legs to the door and coming outside, he leaned over the rail of the second floor to look at his mother who had called him.

 

“Yes, Mum?”

 

“When do you want to start training?”

 

“Training for what?”

 

“You still have a bit of the Dark Arts left to learn before you’ll be ready for the Unforgivable Curses.”

 

“Oh. I don’t know. Whenever you want.”

 

“Ok, your father and I need to sort out some things before we can teach you.”

 

“You’re teaching me?”

 

“Is something wrong with that?”

 

“No. Not at all.” Just as long as it’s not the same teaching as aunt and uncle.

 

“Good. Go on then and get ready to leave.”

 

“To where?”

 

“The Mins deserve a visit. Time to get ourselves some allies.”

 

Shit.

 

Jeongguk let the words sink in before running back to his bedroom. He had a bad feeling about this but he felt so powerless at the same time. Knowing Yoongi’s parents, they wouldn’t want to join the war again but his had heard from rumours that his parents were ruthless. The only way to save the Mins was to play along. He prayed that Yoongi’s family was two steps ahead. Jeongguk prayed and prayed until his parents called him down. Jeongguk briefly noticed that his aunt and uncle had come too and tried not to flinch at their every movement to continue praying. He prayed as they Apparated to the Mins’ house. He prayed as the five of them arrived outside the familiar fence of Yoongi’s home. He was praying so strongly he was scared the elders might hear him but as they started towards the house, he dismissed the idea.

 

He gripped the bracelet as he stepped into the front garden.

 

Please don’t be in there.

 

Chapter Text

“Mum, Dad. Wait.”

 

“What is it Jeongguk?”

 

“The Mins… what if they don’t want to join us?” Jeongguk said and noticed that his aunt and uncle had walked ahead, choosing to ignore him.

 

“Don’t worry about it, Jeongguk. I see no reason for them to not want to join,” Jeongguk’s mother replied and Jeongguk was sure he caught a slight lift in her voice that suggested she was persuading herself more than him.

 

“But what if?”

 

“Jeongguk, stop worrying,” his mother said more softly than expected. “If they don’t, which I highly doubt, then we’ll just make sure they stay out of our way.”

 

“What do you mean by ‘out of our way’?”

 

“I don’t know. Your aunt and uncle said they would handle it if the Mins didn’t want to join.”

 

“That’s not a good idea.”

 

“It’ll be fine,” his mother said.

 

Jeongguk sighed and followed his parents as they approached Yoongi’s house. His aunt and uncle were outside the front door and had already knocked but there was no reply so they knocked again. Jeongguk held his breath as still no one answered the door.

 

“Maybe they’re not home?” he suggested.

 

“No, they’re home,” his aunt stated.

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Feeling,” his uncle said as he knocked again.

 

“Maybe they’re busy?”

 

“Jeongguk, stop. The Jeons and Mins have been allies for generations and we’re not breaking the connection here,” his uncle snapped.

 

“But what if they don’t want to fight anymore?”

 

“Then we’ll let them go visit Lord Voldemort,” his aunt snapped as she banged the door this time.

 

“Please can we just go? We don’t need them to fight with us.”

 

However his parents, aunt and uncle ignored Jeongguk as they continued to bang on the door. Finally, his uncle grew impatient of waiting and pulled out his wand to unlock the door himself. Without further ado, the Jeons stepped into the Mins’ house and looked around. His parents took the right side of the house while his aunt and uncle took the left. Jeongguk headed upstairs with his parents’ order to search for any traces of the Mins.

 

He nodded and sprinted up the stairs, hoping to find Yoongi’s parents first if they were even still at home. He walked along a familiar corridor where Yoongi’s bedroom was located and peered inside, finding it completely empty. Jeongguk smiled at the room. Many days he had camped out here when he was avoiding his aunt and uncle and every time, Yoongi welcomed him. There was once when he had come and accidentally stained Yoongi’s blankets with blood but the other merely assured Jeongguk that they could be washed and getting him treated was more important. He shook the thoughts away and continued walking around the rooms upstairs until he heard rustling from the shared family room.

 

Jeongguk hurried into the room and found Yoongi’s parents standing in front of the fireplace, a letter in Yoongi’s mother’s hand. There turned their heads around as soon as he entered as stared at him with fear. Jeongguk hesitantly took a step forward but Yoongi’s parents both walked backwards, closer to the wall. He stopped. Why are they afraid of me?

 

“Mr. Min, Mrs. Min,” he addressed them in a whisper. “What’re you still doing here? Don’t tell me you actually plan on joining my family.”

 

“No, Jeongguk. We’re not participating in another war. We can’t put our kids in risk.”

 

“Then what’re you still doing here?” Jeongguk kept his voice low as he rushed to the elderly couple. “Hurry and leave before they find you.”

 

“Why aren’t you helping your parents? Where’re they?”

 

“Downstairs. My aunt and uncle are there too. Please. Leave now,” Jeongguk pleaded.

 

“What about you?” Yoongi’s mother gasped at the mention of his aunt and uncle.

 

“It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about me,” he urged. “My parents and aunt and uncle. They… I don’t know what they’re going to do if you tell them that you’re not going to fight with them.”

 

“Jeongguk!” they heard his aunt and uncle call from downstairs. “There’s no one downstairs. What about upstairs?”

 

However before Jeongguk could reply, footsteps sounded as the party of four headed up the stairs.

 

“Use me,” Jeongguk whispered and hastily grabbed their wands, put it in their hands before making them hold it at him.

 

“Jeongguk, we’re not going to hurt you if that’s what you’re planning,” Yoongi’s father said.

 

“Don’t worry about me. Worry about escaping.”

 

“Jeongguk, if anything happens to us, please don’t let Yoongi get hurt in this mess,” his mother whispered.

 

He stared at them. Both of Yoongi’s parents were looking at him, eyes pleading and full of sorrow. Jeongguk nodded.

 

“I promise. I promise I’ll do anything to protect them but if you can, use this chance to escape.”

 

“Thank you,” they whispered.

 

Then the elders arrived in the family room too. Jeongguk whipped his head back to look at them before turning back to Yoongi’s parents but he was shocked at what he saw. Their soft, desperate eyes had changed to hard and determined in less than a second and Jeongguk’s own parents’ and aunt and uncle’s eyes were even harsher and colder.

 

Jeongguk stood, helplessly stuck between the three couples as their eyes waged a silent but deadly war at each other.

 

“Can’t we just use the Floo Network?”

 

Jeongguk’s friends were currently brainstorming on how to get to Yoongi’s house from the Slytherin common room. Using the Floo Network was a suggestion Taehuyng had just blurted out but Yoongi thought about it before nodding and agreeing.

 

“Do you think Floo Powder will work though?” Jin asked as he hesitantly eyed the powder. “What if the Headmaster blocked it again?”

 

“Well I could talk to my parents through the fire, right? Doesn’t that mean the Network is working?”

 

“I guess. Do you want to go first?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi replied as he reached his hand into the box of Floo Powder. “Are you guys sure you want to come?”

 

“Yoongi, for the last time, we’re not leaving you alone. If you’re going, we’re going,” Namjoon said, putting his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder.

 

“Ok but we have to be back before nine though,” Yoongi said.

 

With the Jeon family out of prison, the Headmaster had started enforcing a roll call every morning after breakfast and every night after dinner. The others nodded at Yoongi to confirm they understood.

 

“Let’s do this,” Yoongi said and took a handful of powder before stepping towards the flame.

 

Jeongguk was starting to feel uncomfortable in the eerie silence.

 

“Step away from him,” his mother hissed.

 

“Get out of my house,” Yoongi’s mother hissed back.

 

“I’m taking that as you don’t want to join us?” his uncle asked with a bored demeanour.

 

“You’re out of your mind if you think for a second that we’re going to risk our family again.”

 

Jeongguk’s aunt threw her head back and laughed maniacally.

 

“You don’t understand. If you join us, we’re not going to lose. We’re the two strongest families out there right now. If we combined, we have enough power to destroy all our enemies,” his uncle said.

 

“We’re not fighting.”

 

“Are you sure? Your children won’t be safe if you don’t,” his aunt snickered.

 

“They’re our children. We can protect them,” Yoongi’s father spat.

 

“Then you leave us no choice, you’re our only threat right now so either you join or we fight it out here. Only one side leaves this fight alive.”

 

“No,” Yoongi’s parents said as they took a step closer to Jeongguk, wands still pointing at the younger.

 

“Really? You’re going to use my son to make us leave?” Jeongguk’s mother frowned.

 

“You know you would use our children to get what you wanted too.”

 

“Let me guess. You’re going to kill Jeongguk if we don’t leave?” his aunt smirked.

 

“Precisely.”

 

“And how do we know that after we leave this house, you won’t just kill him anyways?”

 

“Because we’re not you.”

 

“Mum. Dad. Leave, I can handle them,” Jeongguk said and nodded to the staircase.

 

“We’re not backing down,” his aunt said firmly.

 

His aunt and uncle stepped forward and Yoongi’s parents pulled Jeongguk back.

 

“Leave or else.”

 

However, Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle moved forward again and the Mins stepped back even further, tugging gently on Jeongguk’s arm while they kept their wands raised at the younger. His aunt and uncle scoffed at Yoongi’s parents and continued to step towards Jeongguk. The younger was too occupied with trying to be a good hostage that he didn’t notice his parents frown and then grab onto his aunt and uncle, holding them back, only to get shrugged off by the pair.

 

Jeongguk also didn’t see what happened next, he only felt it.

 

Yoongi’s parents were fast, Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle were faster and Jeongguk’s parents were the fastest.

 

His uncle yelled Stupefy at Yoongi’s mother to stun her, distracting Yoongi’s father and that split second gave Jeongguk’s parents enough time to pull him towards themselves. However, Yoongi’s father reacted with a ‘Diffindo’ directed at Jeongguk’s uncle who deflected the spell with a shield only to have it rebound and hit Jeongguk. His mother tugged him back further until he was in between herself and her husband.

 

“Are you ok?” she whispered with a concerned frown.

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk replied, body bent over and hand pressing the area on his right thigh. He dismissed his mother, turning back to face Yoongi’s father and unconscious mother.

 

“We’re going to ask you one more time,” Jeongguk’s uncle spoke.

 

“Are you joining us or not?” his aunt asked.

 

Jeongguk looked anxiously at Yoongi’s father and nodded. He tried to mouth ‘join’ to the adult but Mr. Min just turned away. Yoongi’s father checked on his wife before standing up and facing the Jeons.

 

“No, we won’t.”

 

“Then we will not be forgiving you for breaking our centuries of alliance.”

 

“Don’t. They’re not a threat,” Jeongguk said desperately as he tried to break away from his aunt’s grip on his arm.

 

“Avada Kedavra,” Jeongguk’s uncle smirked.

 

“N-No,” Jeongguk whispered as he watched Yoongi’s father fall back.

 

His uncle then pointed his wand at Yoongi’s mother but Jeongguk roughly pulled his arm away from his aunt before pushing his uncle’s away from her.

 

“DON’T!”

 

“Jeongguk, she’s our enemy,” his aunt spat and glared at his parents to pull their son back.

 

“You think Lord Voldemort gained followers from loyalty? No, most of his followers were on his side because they feared him. They feared his power and what he would use it for if they didn’t make an alliance,” his uncle spat and Jeongguk flinched back.

 

“The Mins are the only ones with enough power to compete with us so we need to get rid of them. That’ll show everyone else what happens when you mess with us,” his aunt continued.

 

“No. She’s treated me for the last five years,” Jeongguk said quietly, remembering that his parents knew nothing about his injuries. Then he limped in front of Mrs. Min’s unconscious body and spread his arms out before raising his voice. “If you want to kill her, you’ll have to go through me first.”

 

“Jeongguk, don’t test my patience.”

 

“Then leave her alone.”

 

Jeongguk’s uncle took a step forward but Jeongguk didn’t back down.

 

“Move.”

 

“No.”

 

A crackling sound interrupted their argument and every snapped around to look at the fireplace as Yoongi’s figure appeared.

 

“Yoongi?” Jeongguk frowned.

 

As the Slytherin stepped out, he met the atrocious sight in front of him. He didn’t even realise Jeongguk was standing there but went straight to his parents who were lying on the floor.

 

“Mum?” he asked shaking his mother.

 

Yoongi frowned as he put his finger under his mother’s nose but when he felt her breathing he relaxed and then went to his father. He shook him as well and when his father didn’t wake up, he put his finger under his father’s nose.

 

Jeongguk held his breath and looked empathetically at the elder. When Yoongi was rousing his parents, he saw that his friends were starting to appear through the fire, one after the other and he felt his hands growing clammy. They needed to get out of here. When each of them stepped into the room, they froze, sneaking glances at Jeongguk’s parents and aunt and uncle every now and then but keeping their main focus on Yoongi and the two bodies.

 

“Why isn’t he breathing?” Yoongi whispered.

 

Jin knelt down and put in his hand over Yoongi’s father’s heart.

 

Jeongguk shook his head at the other four people standing behind the kneeling figures. When Jin took his hand off of Yoongi’s father, he looked down at the floor.

 

“Yoongi, I’m sorry.”

 

“What? What do you mean you’re sorry?”

 

Jin shook his head and Yoongi’s breathing started getting heavier.

 

“What’s wrong with him?” Yoongi asked desperately as he held Jin’s arm.

 

“Jeongguk, we’re leaving,” his aunt and uncle hissed. “Now.”

 

Their voices finally made Yoongi look up and notice the five Jeons in the room. He fearlessly and rather stupidly stood up and strode over to Jeongguk’s parents and aunt and uncle.

 

“What did you do?” Yoongi asked, voice unstable.

 

“He got what he deserved,” Jeongguk’s uncle scoffed.

 

“You- no,” Yoongi whimpered as he fell to the ground.

 

“Yoongi-“ Jeongguk started.

 

“NO!”

 

The tears behind the Slytherin’s eyes finally spilt out. They were coming down in streams as Yoongi screamed over and over again. He crawled over to his father’s body and then held him in his arms. The pain in Yoongi’s desolate sobs, which flowed around the room, was almost palpable. The bereavement Yoongi was feeling, Jeongguk had gone through five years ago. It wasn’t the same but every scream burned Jeongguk’s heart and suddenly Jeongguk felt heavy.

 

“No, I don’t believe it,” Yoongi whimpered. “No, no, no. Dad, wake up. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave us. Dad, please.”

 

Jeongguk watched, tears almost falling out of his own eyes. The couple that he had grown to love, the couple that had always treated Jeongguk like their own son, giving him a place to stay and food to eat. One was unconscious while the other was lifeless. To make to worse, the Slytherin was blubbering incoherent phrases as he cried. This was the first time Jeongguk saw Yoongi cry and it hurt more than the gash on his thigh. This was entirely his fault. If he had played his role as the hostage properly, Yoongi’s parents could’ve escaped and returned Jeongguk safely to his parents. But he hadn’t. He had allowed his parents to drag him away from Yoongi’s parents and he hadn’t been able to stop his uncle killing Mr. Min.

 

Everything was his fault. All over again.

 

“Y-Yoongi-“ Jeongguk stuttered as he tried to approach.

 

“NO, DON’T COME HERE!”

 

“I-“

 

“STAY AWAY!”

 

“Yoongi-”

 

‘I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU!”

 

“Please.”

 

“LEAVE!”

 

“Jeongguk, I think it’ll be best if you leave now,” Jin said.

 

“But-“

 

“It’s ok. We’ll stay with him.”

 

“Go,” Namjoon nodded.

 

Jeongguk took one last glance at the elder Slytherin before following his parents down the stairs since his aunt and uncle had decided to leave already. Both of his parents hooked an arm under his to help him walk and once they were outside, they Apparated themselves back home. However, as soon as they arrived Jeongguk removed his arm from his parents and glared at them.

 

“What is wrong with you? I could’ve died. They were holding their wands at me.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“Is this a joke to you?”

 

“Jeong-“

 

“What am I to you? What if they had really used the Killing Spell on me?” he snapped. “You don’t really care if I live or die, do you?”

 

Without waiting for a reply, he stormed past his aunt and uncle into the house, ignoring the outburst of pain in his right leg and drowning out his parents’ call. Jeongguk didn’t want to hear their excuse.

 

He wanted Yoongi.

 

The five of them watched as Yoongi clung to the body of his father. His eyes were unfocused and staring absentmindedly at the wall while tears continued to run down his face and he was now rocking back and forth.

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin asked and squatted down next to the elder Slytherin.

 

Jimin reached a hand to comfort Yoongi but the elder slapped it away.

 

“Stay away from me.”

 

The younger retreated into Taehyung’s arms but they continued to stay by Yoongi’s side. He was muttering to himself and the others shared sympathetic looks before looking back at Yoongi and his father. Jin gestured at Hoseok to help him with Yoongi’s mother and together, they moved her onto the sofa. Hoseok grabbed a cushion and laid Mrs. Min’s head on it before they both returned to the others, Hoseok standing with the others while Jin sat down next to Yoongi.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“……”

 

“Are you ok?”

 

“Do I look ok?” Yoongi sniffed.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jin whispered again.

 

“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault,” he said, voice turning harsh.

 

“You were too hard on Jeongguk before.”

 

“We don’t know what happened.”

 

“It wasn’t Jeongguk.”

 

“We don’t know that.”

 

“Yoongi, I know that you’re in grief right now but please don’t jump to conclusions.”

 

“So you think my dad dropped dead on his own accord?” Yoongi spat.

 

“No. I’m just saying it wasn’t Jeongguk.”

 

“Yoongi, trust Jeongguk. He would rather sacrifice himself than see the ones he love get hurt,” Namjoon added.

 

“Knowing Jeongguk, he most likely tried his best to save your parents already.”

 

“He should’ve tried harder,” Yoongi whispered.

 

Jeongguk limped up the creaky stairs and then into his bedroom, slamming the door shut before slumping onto his bed. This wasn’t why he had left Hogwarts. He had left to protect the people he loved most but now, he had just harmed the friend who had been with him for the longest. The friend who had put up with Jeongguk for five years without once complaining or giving up. He couldn’t return the kindness and support Yoongi had shown him and he despised himself for it.

 

His aunt and uncle were right. Jeongguk was really useless and now, Yoongi will never forgive him. And even if for some miraculous reason he did find the heart to forgive the younger, Jeongguk was never going to forgive himself. Not now, not ever.

 

In his lonely bedroom, he hugged his pillow to his chest as he stared at the ceiling. Did I make a mistake? Would it have been better if I stayed at Hogwarts? But could I have saved Yoongi’s mother if I was at Hogwarts?

 

His tense fists clenched even harder. Jeongguk could feel his nails digging into his palm. He could feel the beginning of blood seeping out of his skin. But he didn’t loosen it.

 

He tried to erase his mental suffering with physical pain.

 

Soon the Stunning Spell on Yoongi’s mother wore off and she woke up. Her eyes went wide as she saw five strangers in her house while her husband was lying unmoving in her son’s arms.

 

“Yoongi? Yoongi, what’re you doing here?” she asked as she ran forward to hug her son.

 

“M-Mum?”

 

“What happened?”

 

“H-He’s dead, mum. They k-killed him.”

 

She pulled back and took her husband in her arms before checking his pulse. When she felt nothing, her hands went slack and her body dropped back.

 

“No,” she whispered as she shook her head. “No, those monsters.”

 

Her voice wavered and then the dam burst as she began weeping on her husband’s shoulder and Yoongi moved forward to hug the both of them. They stayed in that position in what the others felt like forever before they both managed to calm down. However, neither of them were willing to leave Mr Min’s body so they remained on the floor.

 

“Where’s Jeongguk?”

 

“He left.”

 

“Is he ok?”

 

“Why should we care?”

 

“He’s only pretending to help his parents,” his mother sniffed.

 

“……”

 

“Yoongi? Please don’t tell me his aunt and uncle hurt him again,” she sobbed, grabbing Yoongi’s arm.

 

“He… he was limping when we got here.”

 

“Who hurt him?” she gasped and Yoongi shook his head. “Yoongi, look at me. It wasn’t Jeongguk’s fault, ok?”

 

“I know, I know. I wasn’t in the right mind but I trust him. His parents and aunt and uncle though… I’m going to kill them.”

 

“No, Yoongi. You’re going to go back to Hogwarts and stay there.”

 

“Mum, I’m not leaving you alone.”

 

“I’ll go hide with your brother but you should go back to Hogwarts. It’s safer there.”

 

“But-“

 

“Yoongi,” she said sternly so Yoongi sighed and gave up.

 

“Ok, fine. But at least let me stay tonight.”

 

“I’ll tell your brother. We’ll bury him tomorrow and then you and your friends will go back to Hogwarts.”

 

Yoongi turned around, remembering that his friends were still there and they all gave Yoongi a reassuring smile and nodded at him.

 

Jeongguk ignored his parents calling him. He ignored them knocking on his door. He ignored them asking if his leg was ok. He ignored them when they called him for dinner. He couldn’t decide if he was sad or angry or both. Jeongguk was no doubt devastated about Yoongi’s father, angry with his own parents for not caring about his wellbeing and outraged at his aunt and uncle for well… everything but there was another feeling. It was interfering with the other two emotions but he couldn’t figure it out. He flipped around aggressively on his bed, making it squeak in protest before it finally came to him. Two different feelings. Guilt and disappointment.

 

Mr. Min’s death was his fault and now he was disappointed in himself.

 

He wanted to see Yoongi. He wanted to see his all his friends. He wanted to make sure Mrs. Min was alright. He wanted to make sure they were all alright but he couldn’t. It was a matter of life and death and he was not risking it. If he left, his parents and aunt and uncle will go after his friends and that’ll only cause them more pain so his only choice was staying here and pretending that everything was ok.

 

As Jeongguk lay in bed, he pinched himself to stop his heart from screaming. He wanted to let out all his anger, frustration, unhappiness but he didn’t. He didn’t scream or cry. Not only did he keep his emotions locked inside of himself because he didn’t need anyone else knowing that he was weak but also because he knew he couldn’t control them. The monsters inside of him couldn’t be seen or heard. There were already two lives smeared on his hands and he didn’t want to add another one to the count.

 

What Jeongguk feared the most was himself.

 

While he mourned, Jeongguk’s father and aunt and uncle sat in the dining room and his mother walked back and forth, occasionally coming up to the table, giving it a few taps before walking around again.

 

“Jeongguk’s hurt.”

 

“Don’t worry, it was just a small cut. He’ll heal,” Jeongguk’s uncle said apathetically.

 

“What is wrong with you guys?” Jeongguk’s mother asked with a stern frown. “They were holding their wands up at him. I don’t think I need to remind you that they were Death Eaters too. He could’ve died if we were any slower.”

 

“Calm down. The Mins love Jeongguk. He’s friends with their second son, Yoongi. You know that boy who came when we left. We knew they would never hurt him.”

 

“But you could’ve told us before taking that risk, you know? Even though you’ve raised him for the past sixteen years, he’s still my son.”

 

“Take him back then, whatever.”

 

“And you didn’t have to kill him. That was completely unnecessary and they have two kids, don’t they? What if they were the reason they didn’t want to join us? Remember twenty years ago when Voldemort asked us to join and the only reason we said yes was to protect Jeonghyun? And then Jeongguk was born and they were the only reason we stayed by Voldemort’s side. Why can’t you understand from a parent's point of view?”

 

“Because I’m not a fucking parent.”

 

“You raised Jeonghyun and Jeongguk,” his mother frowned.

 

“I cleared a problem for us. Why’re you so fucking angry with me? Don’t tell me after sixteen years in Azkaban, you’re still so soft? You were one of the most powerful Death Eaters for God’s sake. Get your shit together,” Jeongguk’s uncle scoffed before muttering in an undertone, “At least I know where Jeongguk’s genes come from.”

 

“Don’t swear at her,” Jeongguk’s father snapped with a glare. “And what did Jeongguk mean by Mrs Min. treating him? Why does he need to be treated?”

 

“Oh you know how kids are. They play and get hurt. It’s normal,” Jeongguk’s aunt said, waving it off. “The more pressing problem is Jeongguk.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with my son.”

 

“No, there is. He doesn’t understand what we’re doing here. He’s only getting in the way.”

 

“Your point?”

 

“We need to help him understand,” her brother advised.

 

“And… how’re you planning to do that?” Jeongguk’s father frowned.

 

“He needs to let go of his friends,” his aunt chimed in.

 

“And he needs to let go of all his emotions. They’re controlling him,” his uncle stated.

 

“What’re you thinking?”

 

“We need Jeongguk to understand that we’re his real family. That we’re the only ones that’ll be there for him. That we’re the only ones he needs. You’ve lost one son already. I don’t think you want to lose another,” his uncle said nonchalantly.

 

“……”

 

“I have a plan.”

 

They moved Mr. Min’s body onto the couch and they sat on the floor in front, waiting for Mrs. Min to return with Yoongi’s elder brother. Yoongi was sitting next to the couch, holding his father’s hands and the others sat quietly beside him.

 

“You guys should go back to Hogwarts first.”

 

“We’re not leaving you, Yoongi. Especially not now,” Hoseok said.

 

“They probably already know by now that we’re missing. It’s way past nine.”

 

“What can they do? Expel us?” Jin asked.

 

“They could’ve contacted your parents.”

 

“We’ll handle our parents. Don’t worry,” Namjoon said.

 

“You should tell them where you are,” Yoongi whispered. “They’ll worry since the Jeons have escaped.”

 

The others looked around at each other and realised that Yoongi was right. With the Jeons out of Azkaban, the news of seven students missing from Hogwarts will no doubt throw the wizarding community into chaos. And if the school notified their parents that their children were missing, the five of them were sure that their parents were not going to have an easy night.

 

“I’ll tell the Headmaster where we are and say that I’m responsible for bringing you guys here,” Jin said.

 

“No, Jin don’t,” Taehyung said. “We broke the rules together. If you take the blame, you might lose your prefect status.”

 

“Tae, that doesn’t matter. What matters is staying safe, ok?”

 

“But-“

 

“I’m going to tell him that we’ll all return to Hogwarts tomorrow after we’ve finished everything that needs to be completed, yeah? We’ll all go back home and visit our parents to tell them that we’re safe and then we’ll meet back up and return to the castle. Together.”

 

The authoritative tone Jin used indicated that he did not want anyone arguing against his idea so they all nodded and allowed the eldest to write the letter for their Headmaster.

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi whispered.

 

As soon as Jin let his owl go, Yoongi’s mother returned with his brother through the fireplace. Yoongi could see the redness behind his brother’s swollen eyes and had to turn away to prevent himself from crying again. His brother staggered to their father before kneeling down and crying. Yoongi moved forward to place a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder while the elder wailed. Their mother looked away, unable to tolerate the pain from her sons and her own heart before deciding to go downstairs.

 

When his brother finally stopped crying, the two of them sat side by side next to the couch.

 

“I’m going to kill them.”

 

Yoongi nodded, not trusting his voice.

 

“Is Jeongguk on their side now too?”

 

Yoongi shook his head.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

He nodded again before looking up as his mother returned with eight cups of water. She gave everyone a cup before sitting across from her two sons.

 

“Mum, what happened?”

 

“We knew they would come looking for us and since we already agreed to not join them, we couldn’t risk them coming after you two so we stayed. Your father wanted to talk it out. Said they would spare us and overlook it because of our generations of alliance. Jeongguk’s parents are actually decent people so we thought it was going to be fine. We just didn’t predict his aunt and uncle would come too.”

 

“You should’ve just come with me,” Yoongi’s brother whispered.

 

“No. We needed to make sure Yoongi was safe too.”

 

Yoongi looked up guiltily from his cup and reached for his mother’s hand before nodding at her to continue.

 

“We heard them come in and we thought we were done for but then Jeongguk came upstairs found us first. He told us to leave.”

 

“He did?” Yoongi’s brother asked.

 

“Yeah but we still weren’t sure who’s side he was on so we talked for a while and that’s when we found out his aunt and uncle were here too. Then it was too late. We could hear them coming so Jeongguk grabbed our wands and made us hold it at him. He wanted us to use him as a hostage so we could escape,” she sobbed.

 

Yoongi’s heart clenched. He thought about how he treated Jeongguk when the younger had tried to approach him earlier and he wanted to kick himself. Jeongguk’s heart was already hurt before but Yoongi’s harsh words might have just added another wound to it. He held his head in his hands and sighed, unable to meet his friends’ eyes. He needed to go see Jeongguk. He needed to apologise.

 

“I honestly thought it was going to work. We told his parents to leave otherwise we would kill Jeongguk and they actually looked worried so I thought they were going to back down but then his aunt and uncle moved forward.”

 

“They… they don’t care about Jeongguk,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“I know. We could’ve actually hurt him if we really wanted to. I… I just can’t believe they would attack us even though we had our wands held up at Jeongguk.”

 

Yoongi could hear the rest of his friends holding their breaths. The news wasn’t surprising but to hear from his mother was still shocking.

 

“How did he get hurt?”

 

“I don’t know. I think that might’ve happened after they stunned me but that’s the part I don’t understand. Your father and I would never hurt him, his parents wouldn’t either and his aunt and uncle wouldn’t dare to touch him in front of his parents so how did he get injured?”

 

The longer Yoongi thought about it, the more he grew anxious for Jeongguk.

 

“Why did they not kill you?”

 

“I… I also don’t know. I thought they were going to as well. Maybe when you arrived, you interrupted them. Just don’t blame Jeongguk, he’s still good at heart.”

 

“I’m such an idiot,” Yoongi groaned as he roughly dishevelled his hair. “I need to talk to Jeongguk.”

 

“No, it’s too dangerous,” his mother said.

 

“Mum, you don’t understand him. He’s going to blame himself. I can’t let Jeongguk torture himself over this.”

 

“So what’re you going to do? March into the Jeons’ house and demand to see him?”

 

“…Doesn’t sound too bad.”

 

“No,” his mother said firmly. “I know you’re worried about Jeongguk but please worry about yourself too.”

 

“But what if they hurt him?”

 

“His parents would never lay a finger on him, trust me. But his aunt and uncle… I don’t know.”

 

“Exactly-“

 

“Yoongi, I can’t lose another person,” his mother interrupted him, emphasising the ‘another’.

 

“Ok. Ok, I’ll go back to Hogwarts tomorrow.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

His mother and brother then went downstairs to talk about arrangements for tomorrow, leaving Yoongi with his father and friends. Yoongi hung his head and sighed.

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin asked, receiving a nod in reply. “Are you ok?”

 

“No. I… still can’t believe my dad…”

 

Jimin scooted closer and put his arm around the elder.

 

“But Jeongguk,” Yoongi continued. “I… I’ve never screamed at him before.”

 

“It’s ok. He’ll understand.”

 

“No. He looked so hurt. I pushed him away. I told him that I would protect him from his aunt and uncle but here I am hurting him.”

 

Jimin nor the others could deny that. When Yoongi had screamed for Jeongguk to leave, the younger’s eyes didn’t hide his desperation and distress. It pained them to watch Jeongguk go but he couldn’t stay. What made them feel worse though was the fact that Jeongguk was by himself while the six of them were together. And to add more discomfort, they had seen Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle too and that thought made them more worried. While they were together to provide each other emotional comfort, Jeongguk had no one. No one to hug him and no one to lend him a shoulder.

 

“I wish this would all end,” Yoongi whispered.

 

Jeongguk was still lying in his bed when his parents came and knocked on his door again. He heard them whispering outside but chose to ignore it again and sat up, holding his pillow up to his ears to mute their voices. However, the bloodstained pillow wasn’t enough to block the second round of knocking on his door.

 

He flipped around and was about to rudely reply with a simple ‘what’ when his parents spoke first.

 

“Jeongguk? … I know you’re in there. … Your father and I and your aunt and uncle have somewhere to go tomorrow. We don’t know when we’ll be back… Can you at least tell us if you’re ok?”

 

He gave no indication he heard them and continued to ignore them.

 

“Jeongguk?”

 

His mother sighed and then he heard their footsteps leaving before finally letting out a breath. He honestly didn’t care where they were going just as long as it didn’t involve him. If they were going to ‘find’ more allies, Jeongguk was positive he didn’t want to take part again. He fell back onto his mattress and brought up his arm to stare at his ring and bracelet.

 

I wish this would all end.

 

Chapter Text

Bright and early the next morning, Yoongi’s mother and brother left to buy a coffin while Yoongi and his friends remained at his house to discuss their plans for the rest of the day. Jin had received a letter back from the Headmaster who wrote something about breaking the school rules and them being too careless and dangerous but he honestly didn’t care so it was now resting in the corner of the room. Just as long as he didn’t contact the Ministry of Magic and cause havoc in the wizarding world, everything else could be fixed.

 

“Are we going to go separately?” Taehyung asked.

 

“Yeah, it’ll be faster but we’ll all meet back up after,” Jin nodded.

 

“Here?”

 

“It’s too dangerous to come back here,” Jin said, shaking his head. “Let’s just meet back at the graveyard?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“Ok.”

 

“Do you think Guk is ok?”

 

Yoongi’s voice was so quiet, it would not have been heard if they were sitting any further from him. However, the seven of them fell asleep on the ground that night and woke up again in the same positions, no one willing to move.

 

“I hope so,” Jin murmured.

 

“Are you ok?” Hoseok asked.

 

Yoongi hesitated before shaking his head and then sighing. He hugged his knees closer to his chest while the arms around him squeezed him tighter. Yoongi turned around and tried to smile at Jimin but it came out as a grimace instead. Jimin understood the expression and gave him a sad smile in return before running his hand up and down Yoongi’s arm to rub gentle lines.

 

“We’re here Yoongi. You don’t have to hold back your tears. Cry if you want to. We’re not leaving.”

 

The elder Slytherin shook his head and looked down, resting his forehead against his arm.

 

“I’m emotionally exhausted,” he whispered. Yesterday, he had cried until he was completely empty. His irises were threaded with scarlet lines and his whole body felt twice its weight. It was painful to even breathe.

 

“That’s ok. You went through a lot,” Jimin continued, whispering soothing words in the elder’s ear.

 

“Guk...”

 

“Hm?”

 

“I’m worried. His aunt and uncle were there yesterday.”

 

“Me too but we can’t do anything rash, ok? We’re going to go back to Hogwarts and wait there.”

 

“I don’t want to wait.”

 

“Neither do we but Guk’s parents and aunt and uncle are too dangerous.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Nothing will happen to him, yeah? He’s been through so much yet he’s still here. Guk’s a strong kid.”

 

“He’s been through so much but that’s why he needs us.”

 

They all wanted to see Jeongguk but they couldn’t. They wanted to see if he was ok but they couldn’t. They had to wait. Wait for this storm to pass if it ever will. There was a rustle downstairs that indicated Yoongi’s mother and brother was home. This was confirmed when they reappeared on the second floor and told Yoongi they had bought a coffin and were now ready to move Mr. Min. Yoongi sighed again before getting up to help his brother move their father downstairs and into the coffin.

 

His friends followed them downstairs to the pristine black coffin, with cushioned and quilted silky lining, which laid open in front of their house. After carefully lowering his body into the casket, they took a deep breath as they watched how peaceful Mr Min. looked, resting in the casket. They stared as if they were memorising every single detail on his face. Yoongi’s eyes welled up again and he was still not ready to say goodbye but he and his brother stepped back to allow their mother to gently close the lid. Taehyung stepped up and held Yoongi’s hand while they stood next to the black box and Yoongi squeezed his hand so tightly, Taehyung thought he was going to crush it but he didn’t say a word. He just let the other grip his hand. This was his way of showing emotional support.

 

“Come on. Let’s go,” Yoongi’s mother whispered and then they were off with the casket.

 

When they arrived at the burial grounds, Yoongi shuddered. The tall iron gates glared intimidatingly at him. It was the same one as his grandparents. It was the same one as Jeongguk’s brother. And now it will be his father’s place of rest too. They stayed by Yoongi’s side when he stopped walking and gave him time to regain himself before following him in.

 

They walked past rows and rows of tombstones, the same one Jeongguk had walked past every year but now, Yoongi felt like he was finally able to walk in the younger’s footsteps. He couldn’t even describe the unbelievable anguish he was feeling and he suddenly felt empathetic towards Jeongguk. Yoongi had all his friends and his family surrounding him but Jeongguk, he had no one. He had to walk these steps by himself. He had to weep in front of his brother’s tombstone by himself. He had to overcome the pain by himself. And to this day, Yoongi was sure that the younger was still suffering but again, by himself.

 

There was a large ditch in the ground, already prepared for his father’s coffin and honestly, Yoongi knew he should’ve been ready for the sight but when they walked closer, the hollowness reflected his own emotions. It was as if someone was digging into his body and stabbing his heart all over again. Yoongi unconsciously took a step back but Namjoon was there to steady him when he stumbled against the younger’s chest. He nodded appreciatively at Namjoon and turned to follow his mother and brother again after taking a deep breath.

 

Yoongi had to turn away from the sight of his father getting lowered into the ground. His whole body felt heavy and it threatened to collapse again if not for the three bodies around him. Jin, Namjoon and Taehyung. All three of them towered over Yoongi and had an arm held out, ready to support the elder if he needed. Hoseok and Jimin were standing next to each other on the side, hand in hand. His brother was holding his weeping mother in his arms while he watched the coffin being secured into the ditch.

 

Once the coffin was covered and a tombstone was placed on top, Yoongi knelt down beside it. His friends moved back to give the family some time. They watched as the family of three held hands in front of Mr. Min and after a few minutes, Jin nodded for them to move away and wait elsewhere.

 

“We should go visit our families soon so we can meet back here and get to Hogwarts before roll call. We’re going to get an earful from the Headmaster,” Jin sighed.

 

They nodded at the prefect and without another word, they dispersed.

 

As Jin’s father was a wizard and his mother was a muggle, they decided to live in the wizarding community so Jin headed off to Godric’s Hollow. Jimin followed Jin as his parents were probably at their home in Godric’s Hollow if they weren’t working. Hoseok’s, Namjoon’s and Taehyung’s families all resided in the muggle world in Seoul so they left together.

 

Jin walked into his home and noticed that it was unusually deadly quiet. On normal occasions, you would be able to hear his parents bickering about the other’s cooking while his elder brother laughed on the side. But as of now, no one was home. Jin frowned as he strolled through the house, searching high and low for any traces of his parents or his brother but all he found was a note in the middle of kitchen, which he curiously went over to observe. Jin thought it might have been one of his mother’s secret recipes and he wasn’t going to pass this chance to sneak a look if it really was.

 

Hoseok’s parents were both accountants and thus their house was littered with random receipts that gave their home a messy appearance. He walked around, trying to move the scattered receipts out of his way to look for his parents and elder sister but after a while, he realised that no one was home. Hoseok shrugged as this wasn’t abnormal and went to grab some pen and paper to leave his parents a note telling them the situation and assuring that he was fine. However, when he reached the living room, the table was already cleared of its mess and in its place was a note.

 

Namjoon walked leisurely around his small and cosy house that slightly resembled a cottage from the outside. His father was a university professor while his mother worked closely with the Minister in the Ministry of Magic so there was a mix of wizard and muggle objects decorating their neat and orderly home. Namjoon found no one at home and was about to turn to leave when he noticed the note sitting on top of one of his father’s desk. It was beside the various philosophical books that he and his dad shared to read so thinking it was a note his father made for himself, Namjoon chuckled and walked over to pick it up and read.

 

Jimin’s house was tranquil but it wasn’t unusual as his parents both worked in the Minstry. He smiled as he walked through the hallways, which were embellished with photographs of him and his brother as young children. There was one that Jimin always liked in particular. He had his right arm wrapped around his brother while his left was holding up a peace sign. They were by the beach and he could still recall the way the water called to them. It was enchanting. He continued walking until the end of the hallway, then taking a left he entered the playroom his parents had made for he and his brother when they were younger. Jimin smiled at the memories and was just about to leave when he saw a slip of paper, which looked like a note, situated on the wall next to a family photo.

 

Taehyung called to his parents and younger siblings as soon as he came home. He waited but there was no reply. He frowned before taking off his shoes and venturing further into the house. Seeing no one on the first floor, he walked up to the second floor where all the bedrooms where located. It wasn’t that early but he thought that maybe everyone just wanted to sleep in. He knocked on his parent’s bedroom door before entering and meeting the emptiness. Turning around, he ran to his sibling’s rooms and was once again met with silence. A sensation tingled through his body. It gave Taehyung a bad feeling as he rushed downstairs anxiously to find a note lying on the dining table.

 

They rushed back to the graveyard.

 

“Y-Yoongi,” Taehyung stuttered, tears evident in his eyes.

 

The elder immediately stood up from his kneeling place in front of his father’s tombstone and reached out for the younger.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“My family. T-They have my family.”

 

“What? Who do?” Yoongi frowned before glancing back at his mother and brother who were staring at them with fear and concern.

 

“I-I don’t know. T-This note,” Taehyung whimpered, fumbling for the note in his pocket and handing it over to Yoongi.

 

Yoongi read the note and frowned.

 

Come to Sapphire Bridge if you ever want to see your family again.

 

“Jeongguk’s parents and aunt and uncle,” Yoongi’s mother whispered from beside them. “I told you this was going to happen.”

 

“Jeonggukkie?”

 

Yoongi’s mother nodded and stood up too, followed by Yoongi’s brother.

 

“I don’t know what they want but I know it’s them,” she said, taking the note from her son and then nodding again. “Jeongguk’s parents wouldn’t think of this themselves. It has to be his aunt and uncle.”

 

“Do I… what should I do?” Taehyung whispered.

 

“Don’t take this threat lightly. Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle don’t give empty threats.”

 

“I’m going to go then,” Taehyung decided.

 

“They’ll want something.”

 

“I’ll give it to them whatever they want.”

 

“Even if it means losing Jeongguk?”

 

“Is that what they want?” Taehyung asked, voice turning low again.

 

“There’s no other reason I can think of that they’ll need kidnap your family. Yesterday… something must have happened otherwise Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle wouldn’t need to do this. If I know them as well as I think, then it’s going to be a choice.”

 

“I… I don’t want to lose my family. I have two younger siblings. T-They’re just children.”

 

“And Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle are ruthless.”

 

Taehyung turned to Yoongi and his eyes asked the elder for help. However before Yoongi could reply four pairs of feet stampeded towards them and interrupted Yoongi’s thoughts. They looked between Taehyung and Yoongi before each holding out a note. Yoongi held out Taehyung’s for them to see and they all gasped. The same six notes were staring back at them with a piercing gaze and Yoongi’s mother sighed as she took the notes from them.

 

“You’re too late. They got to all of your families.”

 

“They? … Guk’s parents?”

 

“Aunt and uncle,” Yoongi corrected.

 

“We have to go,” Namjoon said.

 

“It’s going to be dangerous,” Jin countered.

 

“They’re not going to hurt you,” Yoongi’s mother stated and before anyone could question she continued, “They want something else. If Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle wanted you guys dead, they wouldn’t have to capture your family.”

 

“What… what do they want?” Jimin asked.

 

“I don’t want to think too pessimistically but it definitely has to do with Jeongguk.”

 

They nodded slowly at Yoongi’s mother before glancing at each other.

 

“Yoongi, you stay here ok? We’ll go by ourselves.”

 

“No. We said we’d stay together.”

 

“But this has nothing to do with you.”

 

“They made it my business when they broke into my house and I’ve always wanted to pay Guk’s aunt and uncle back for the way they treated him,” Yoongi said but after a stern disapproving look from his mother he added, “I’m not going to do anything but I am going. I want to see what they have to say.”

 

Yoongi’s mother sighed. She wanted to disagree but Yoongi’s expression was so determined that she had no choice but to nod.

 

“Please stay safe. And choose your words carefully,” she whispered.

 

“I will. You guys should go back to your hiding place.”

 

“Ok. Bye, Yoongi,” she said as she pulled her son into a hug.

 

“Bye. You guys stay safe too.”

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

Then they separated. His mother and brother hesitated in front of his father’s tombstone one last time before Apparating away. Yoongi nodded at his friends and together, they headed for Sapphire Bridge.

 

When they arrived, they saw Jeongguk’s parents and aunt and uncle waiting there for them already. A pleased yet villainous smile touched his aunt and uncle’s faces at the sight of Jeongguk’s friends hurrying across the bridge. They noticed that Jeongguk’s parents chose to stand behind but their eyes flickered up at the sight of their son’s friends.

 

“What a shame it had to come to this,” his uncle spoke.

 

“Where are they?” Taehyung growled.

 

“Patience,” Jeongguk’s aunt tutted. “You do want to see your precious brother and sister again, don’t you?”

 

“Don’t you dare touch them,” Taehyung whispered.

 

“You’re not in the position to be giving me orders,” Jeongguk’s aunt snapped.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Ah, Yoongi. I’m dearly sorry about your father. I presume you’ve given him a proper burial?” his uncle asked with a smiled.

 

“You have no right to talk about him,” Yoongi snarled.

 

“They should’ve just joined us. Your father was a great wizard. We would have been the most powerful wizards in this whole world. Such a pity. Aren’t you ambitious?” Jeongguk’s aunt teased.

 

“No.”

 

“That’s fine with us too. You’re family is no longer a threat to us,” his uncle shrugged.

 

“So what do you want?”

 

“Getting straight to the point. You’re just like we heard,” Jeongguk’s aunt laughed.

 

“I’m going to make this clear,” Jeongguk’s uncle stepped in. “You’re going to tell Jeongguk that you were never his real friend and all the other bullshit you’ve told him for the past few months, he needs to know that they’re all lies.”

 

“And in return you’ll spare our families?” Namjoon asked.

 

“Exactly. Guess you are as smart as they say.”

 

“Y-You’re asking us to chose?”

 

“Your family or Jeongguk? Trust me, I think family is the right choice here. Jeongguk will join us one day or another.”

 

“No he won’t,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“With his brother gone, he’s the only heir,” his uncle said.

 

“You guilt tripped him into doing it. You used his brother,” Namjoon frowned.

 

“So what if we did?”

 

“Monsters. You’re actually monsters.”

 

“I prefer the term playing our cards wisely,” Jeongguk’s aunt shrugged.

 

“How do we know you haven’t killed out family yet?”

 

“Look,” Jeongguk’s uncle growled. “Jeongguk is way too attached to you guys. It’s clouding his judgement. All we want is for Jeongguk to be on our side.”

 

“After what you’ve done to him, you think he’ll ever join you?”

 

For a second, just a brief second, Jeongguk’s friends thought they saw panic in his aunt and uncle’s eyes but as quickly as it had come, it was gone. Yoongi had realised that Jeongguk’s parents had stayed quiet through the whole exchange and they even looked uncomfortable standing there, constantly shifting positions. Yoongi dubbed his mother correct. This wasn’t their plan.

 

“Do you have my brother?” Jimin whispered.

 

“Yeah, Durmstrang was pretty easy to break in,” Jeongguk’s aunt nodded.

 

“You-“

 

“Jimin, don’t,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“So, which is it? Your family? Or Jeongguk?” Jeongguk’s uncle asked with a bored sigh.

 

“Choose wisely,” his aunt said. “I mean your poor parents were terrified and not to mention your sister. She’s so young.”

 

Taehyung nearly lost control of himself as she directed her last words at him but quickly caught on when Namjoon grabbed his wrist.

 

“Ooh, got a temper there, do we? You’re a feisty one,” Jeongguk’s aunt taunted.

 

Taehyung gritted his teeth while Namjoon kept his grip on the younger.

 

“Now hurry up and choose. We don’t have all day.”

 

They looked around at each other. No one wanted to say it but they had all chosen already. They had all chosen their families’ lives over Jeongguk and the thought of it alone broke them. When they turned back to face Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle, the elder two smirked at the hopeless expressions of Jeongguk’s friends and nodded satisfied.

 

“So I’m guessing by your faces that you want your families back?”

 

Although it was hesitant, all of them, excluding Yoongi, nodded.

 

“Good. I didn’t expect any less. You’re trading your friendship with Jeongguk for sixteen lives. I would say that’s the correct choice.”

 

“Yoongi, you know where their house is,” his uncle said, pointing at Jeongguk’s parents. “You’ll know where to find Jeongguk. He hasn’t left the bedroom since yesterday. Take the others and get it done.”

 

“You… You’re really going to do this to Jeongguk?”

 

“If that’ll get him to leave you guys once and for all, then yes.”

 

“He’ll hate you for this if he doesn’t hate you guys enough already.”

 

“Not if he never finds out. If we keep this a secret, you’ll be the ones he hates.”

 

“He’s… he’s going to break.”

 

“And then his parents will be there to fix him. When he realises that they’re his real family, he’s not going to be so weak with our victims. I mean, if Jeongguk wasn’t there, your mother would be long gone, Yoongi.”

 

“What… what do you mean?”

 

“Do you honestly think we would’ve spared you mother? No. We were going to kill her after your father and if Jeongguk hadn’t stop us, we actually would’ve succeeded.”

 

Yoongi saw anger flash through his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to whip his wand out and kill Jeongguk’s uncle for all the pain he had caused not only Jeongguk but himself now as well. However, there were sixteen lives in their hands. He had to hold it in. He wasn’t going to let his friends lose their families too. Instead he turned so he wouldn’t get agitated from looking at their faces and sighed instead. They were going to shatter Jeongguk’s hearts, he could just feel it but there was nothing he could do to stop it.

 

“So are you guys going to leave? We’ll return your families once it’s done.”

 

They spun around and walked off the bridge, the way they had came. The walk seemed so short. They wished the bridge went on and on forever but the walk ended as fast as it started. Jeongguk’s words echoed in their heads and they had to pause and take a deep breath before leaving. ‘Time never seems to agree with me.’

 

Yoongi walked in front while the rest trailed unwillingly behind. Jeongguk’s parents’ house was in a secluded area where no one else resided so the eerie silence dampened their mood further. When they finally arrived in front his house, they stood together and held hands with one another to gain enough courage to even look at the building. Jeongguk was inside. He was inside and probably suffering already. They weren’t here to make it any better.

 

“Are we… do we really have to do this?” Taehyung whispered.

 

“If you want your families back, this is the only way,” Yoongi sighed.

 

“He’s going to hate us so much. He’ll never want to talk to us again.”

 

“All the walls we’ve managed to break down… he’ll put them up again.”

 

“This is going to break him.”

 

“No, we’re going to break him.”

 

“We have no choice.”

 

They took one last deep breath before Yoongi opened the front door and they followed him in. As soon as they stepped into the house, Yoongi led them up the stairs. He had been to this house several times to visit Jeongguk so he was familiar with navigating through the hallways. Once they were outside Jeongguk’s bedroom, Yoongi gave them a few minutes to collect themselves before knocking on the door.

 

“Go away,” Jeongguk muttered.

 

Yoongi knocked again.

 

“Mum, Dad. I’m not in the mood. Leave me alone.”

 

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi whispered. “It’s us.”

 

Yoongi knew that his voice wasn’t strong enough but if he said anymore, he wouldn’t be able to stop the tears coming out of his eyes again if there were even any left to be lost. Jeongguk couldn’t see them crying. He couldn’t.

 

The door swung open violently to reveal a wide-eyed Jeongguk, with severe dark circles under his eyes and extremely messy hair sitting on his head. Their hearts broke at Jeongguk’s state. While they were hugging and comforting each other last night, Jeongguk had to spend all of it by himself, locked up in his bedroom. They wanted nothing more than to reach for the younger, console him, cuddle him and never leave him again but they couldn’t. It would risk their families’ lives and they couldn’t afford that.

 

Jeongguk immediately flung himself at Yoongi and squashed the elder with bone crushing hug before spilling about a million questions.

 

“Yoongi. What’re you doing here? Where’s your mother? Is she ok? Wait, why’re you all here? Did something happen? Where’re my parents and aunt and uncle?”

 

Jeongguk turned to look each of them in the eye while Yoongi broke away from the hug. They watched as Jeongguk’s face fell from the rejection and his sad, little frown had them wanting to back out already. He ran a hand nervously through his messy hair and they could identify the dried bloodstains on his hands but they all chose to divert their eyes. They also noted that he was favouring his left leg but didn’t open their mouths to ask whether he was ok. Ultimately, it was Yoongi who was brave enough to start speaking.

 

“We’re… we’re actually here to talk,” Yoongi said choosing to answer only one of Jeongguk’s questions.

 

“You shouldn’t be here. You guys need to go. My aunt and uncle might come home at any time. It’s not safe,” Jeongguk said, trying to push them all towards the stairs.

 

They took a deep breath and held back their tears. After the few days of not talking with Jeongguk, he hadn’t changed one bit. He was still putting all them before himself and doing everything he could to protect them. The thought of having to break off this friendship was like getting stabbed in the heart and then twisting the knife to intensify the pain but it would be nothing compared to what Jeongguk will feel. None of them wanted to do it but it had to be done and it had to be quick.

 

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon said firmly. “We have something to say. We need to tell you before you continue all of this.”

 

“All of what? Stop talking in riddles.”

 

“We lied.”

 

“Lied? … About what?” Jeongguk asked hesitantly.

 

“Everything.”

 

“You guys aren’t making sense. Hurry up and go. Don’t let my aunt and uncle see you, especially you, Yoongi.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“Wait. Didn’t I tell you not to come looking for me? Did you not get my letter? I left it in the Hospital Wing.”

 

Then they remembered that Jeongguk was still injured when he had left. Their eyes travelled to his neck where the bruises had still not faded. It was obvious where the fingers and had held Jeongguk’s throat and thinking back to when they had found the younger on the verge of death, they clenched their fists and looked away yet again. It seemed so painful to them but Jeongguk didn’t really seem fazed by the bruises.

 

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi said sternly. “Listen to us and stop blubbering.”

 

“The letter, we got it,” Jin said while Yoongi pulled it out of his pocket.

 

“Then why’re you-“

 

Jeongguk stopped mid-sentence as Yoongi begun ripping it. With every rip, Jeongguk’s heart cracked a tiny bit. Jeongguk looked at Yoongi and saw that the other was indifferent as he tore Jeongguk’s heart felt words into pieces. He glanced at each of his friends but they all seemed more interested in the walls than in him or the letter. It wasn’t until the letter was in shreds that Yoongi stopped and scattered them messily on the floor.

 

“What’re you-“

 

“I said listen, Jeongguk,” Yoongi growled and Jeongguk took a step back like a frightened rabbit. Yoongi could fell the walls coming up again. He could almost see it but he pushed on. “This letter. We didn’t read it. I don’t care what it says.”

 

“And this,” Hoseok said as he held up his arm and took off the bracelet. Knowing where Hoseok was going, the others mimicked his action until none of them were wearing the bracelet. “It was just a joke.”

 

“The letters we wrote to you during Christmas, I hope you didn’t keep them. We didn’t mean any of that,” Taehyung whispered.

 

“What-“

 

“Did you think we were actually worried about you?” Jimin laughed but it wasn’t his usual kind and friendly laugh. It was dark and empty. ‘I worry about you everyday.’

 

“When I told you to have faith in us, did you not see that I was lying?” Namjoon asked. ‘I wasn’t, Jeongguk. I wasn’t. We’re the ones who’re betraying that faith.’

 

“Stop.”

 

Each one of their words was attacking Jeongguk and they could see the younger breaking, crumbling down in front of them but they couldn’t stop. Jeongguk had to understand. His love for them would not only ruin himself but it will ruin all of them and their families so it had to stop here and now.

 

“Jeongguk,” Jin said and the younger noticed that none of them were calling him by his nickname. “We’re sorry that it had to come down to this but you really shouldn’t have trusted us. Everyone in this world is the same.” ‘Not us. We will never leave you if we could but I can’t lose my family.’

 

“We only wore a mask like you did to earn your trust,” Namjoon continued. ‘We were never wearing masks.’

 

“What do they call it… a taste of your own medicine?” Hoseok asked, no trace of his usual smile on his face as he glared at Jeonguk. ‘No. No. I’m so sorry.’

 

“You don’t mean it,” Jeongguk whispered, shaking his head and falling back onto the floor of his bedroom. He looked at them like they were strangers. Like they had peeled their masks off and then revealed each layer by layer so clear for Jeongguk to see but he still didn’t believe it.

 

No. Rather than not being able to believe it, he didn’t want to.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

“W-Wait, where’re you going?”

 

“Jeongguk, do you still not get it? We never loved you and we never will. Stop clinging onto false hope. We most certainly were not your true family either. It was all an act and those... everything we said to make you believe us were just empty words,” Jimin said, tone icy. ‘We meant every word, Jeongguk. We love you and we always will.’

 

“No. NO! DON’T LIE!”

 

“We only became your friend because we pitied you,” Jin snorted. “You think they’re actually people in this world who care about you?” ‘We do. We care so much.’

 

“The only person who loved you and the only person who ever will is your brother. But he’s dead. You killed him,” Namjoon said, knowing he was attacking where Jeongguk hurt most. ‘Jeonghyun wasn’t your fault, Jeongguk.’

 

“NO! STOP!” Jeongguk screamed desperately.

 

“I shouldn’t have saved you five years ago,” Yoongi spat. ‘I have no regrets saving you five years ago.’

 

“You’re not worth anything, Jeongguk,” Taehyung said harshly. ‘No, that’s not true. I love you more than you can probably imagine.’

 

“Please,” he whimpered.

 

“No, Jeongguk. Your family. You. You guys are the monsters that killed my father. I’m never going to forget and I’ll never forgive you.” ‘You didn’t kill my father.’

 

“Yoongi, I’m sorry. If this is about your father, I’m so sorry.”

 

“Don’t.” ‘My father wasn’t your fault so forgive yourself.’

 

“My aunt and uncle. I tried to stop them.”

 

“Stop lying, Jeongguk. We’re done with your lies.” ‘I’m sorry for everything.’

 

“Jin? Yoongi? Hoseok? Namjoon? Jimin? Tae? Please don’t leave me too.”

 

“You left us first,” Namjoon half whispered. ‘To save us, I know.’

 

“I… I had to protect you,” Jeongguk tried to explain.

 

“No, you were running to save yourself,” Hoseok said sharply. “You’re weak.” ‘We’re the weak ones.’

 

You’re weak. You’re weak. His aunt and uncle flashed through his mind and he whimpered and crawled backwards into his room until his back hit the wall.

 

“We’re here to say goodbye, Jeongguk. I hope we’ll never have to meet again.” ‘Please stay safe.’

 

Jeongguk whimpered and covered his face with both hands.

 

“You’re nothing to us.” ‘We love you so much.’

 

And they were gone.

 

Nothing. I was nothing.

 

His life shattered. Five minutes. That’s all it took. Five minutes to lose his whole world. Five minutes for everything he valued to vanish.

 

I want everything to disappear. I want it to disappear like a mirage. I want myself to disappear.

 

If Jeongguk’s heart was trampled on, stabbed, burned, cut open and broken before, it was ripped apart now. His heart laid in front him in a billion pieces and Jeongguk knew he would never be able to put them back together again. He had trusted them. He had trusted them so much. With even his life. But this was his breaking point. Jeongguk was ready to give up. His heart was too tired.

 

As he watched their retreating figures from his curled up position on the ground, he finally accepted it.

 

He was lied to. He was used. He was always just a rag doll.

 

But most importantly, he was never loved.

 

He understood.

 

Nothing matters anymore.

 

Chapter Text

He had wanted his world in colour, not black and white.

 

Jeongguk took off his bracelet and placed it in the box, on top of the Christmas letters. He wanted to burn it. He wanted to burn everything.

 

We never loved you… we were not your true family... it was all an act… you’re not worth anything… you’re weak… I hope we’ll never have to meet again… you’re nothing to us.

 

He never wanted to trust anyone ever again. They knew he was broken but they just glued some pieces back together, pretending to fix him before shattering him again.

 

His parents and aunt and uncle were right. They never loved him. No one will.

 

The letters they had written to him during Christmas were just twisted lies too. He had remembered their words so clearly and it had kept him going in his most conflicted times but now, they only disgusted him.

 

I hope we can be seven minds with one heart forever… Let us be your family… Don’t be afraid to rely on us and give us your trust because we are not going to leave you… We believe in you so you should believe in us and believe in yourself… No matter what happens, I’ll always be here for you… Have some faith in us because we love you for who you are and not who you want to be.

 

Jeongguk didn’t cry. There were no tears left in his worthless soul. His eyes had sunken into dark hollow orbs. Jeongguk just sat staring blankly at his bedroom wall like a mannequin. He was devoid of all emotions, like he was sitting in a never-ending dark abyss which consumed everything. Even his soul was silent. Jeongguk couldn’t subside the emptiness that lurked in the shadows of his soul. He had never been so bereft of comfort but he couldn’t find the energy to care.

 

It was still winter, he noticed. As he glanced outside, he realised he had always loved the way nature chattered. The branches would wave to each other as they swayed with the gentle breeze while the dead leaves whispered to one another. However, what once used to give him joy was replaced with a creeping sorrow but he had veiled all this grief under his pale, cold skin. He was a master of masking himself so now, he created a hundred masks to conceal the pain. His friends’ words had swallowed his sanity and Jeongguk’s whole life just slipped through his fingers. With every breath came a sharp stinging pain in his chest as the shards of his heart prodded him and slowly cut him open from the inside.

 

Nobody cares. Who cares if I live? Who cares if I die?

 

For the first time Jeongguk, himself, actually didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything. He was ready for anything now. He had no more attachments to this world. He truly had nothing left to lose.

 

Jeongguk laughed. He couldn’t stop laughing. It wasn’t a laugh of happiness though. Instead, there were hints of desperation which rolled along the waves of despair. There was a limit to how much one can withstand and Jeongguk’s limit had been surpassed long ago. He didn’t understand how he had managed to survive eighteen years in this cruel, poisonous world which vowed to destroy him and throw him into the depths of hell at any chance. He had no one to blame but himself. Jeongguk chose this path and now, he must live with its consequences.

 

As he stared at the box, he was still determined not to cry because well… you can’t miss something you’ve never had.

 

Why is it everyone always leaves me? Always. Is there something wrong with me? Something that caused the others to just… leave?

 

No, actually this was all his fault. He had let down his guard so easily and they had effortlessly walked into his life and ruined him. He let them destroy him. He literally gave his whole self to them and brought down his walls, leaving himself vulnerable and susceptible to harm but they had used that to their advantage.

 

The time seemed to tick by without him knowing and soon the sun had set and he heard his parents coming back home. There was whispering but it went unnoticed as Jeongguk’s sat in his daze. His parents walked up the stairs and saw pieces of ripped paper lying on the floor and were quick to get rid it with a simple wave of their wand. They peeked their heads into Jeongguk’s bedroom and saw their son sitting against the wall, face blank and body unresponsive.

 

“Jeongguk?”

 

He gave no reply.

 

“Jeongguk? Are you ok?”

 

“You…” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“What? What’s wrong?”

 

“You guys were right… all along.”

 

“About what, sweetie?” Jeongguk’s mother asked as she moved into her son’s bedroom.

 

“Those people. They’re not my friends. I hate them.”

 

“Hate is a strong word.”

 

“I know.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I never want to see them again.”

 

“That’s ok. You won’t have to,” Jeongguk’s father said, reaching to pull his son into a hug.

 

“Do you want to sleep?”

 

Jeongguk shook his head and closed the lid to the box of his friends’ letters and bracelet.

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk said in a robotic tone that didn’t go unnoticed by his parents.

 

“Ok we’ll always be here for you if you want to talk, you know? We said we’re your real family and we’re not going back on our words.”

 

Jeongguk nodded.

 

“Is your leg ok?”

 

“It’s fine. I’ve had worse,” Jeongguk sighed and his parents’ expressions faltered before morphing into a calm outlook again.

 

“We want you to rest for tonight. We going somewhere tomorrow,” his mother whispered.

 

“Where did you go today?”

 

“To sort out some business with the other Death Eaters.”

 

“Did you kill anyone?”

 

Jeongguk missed the glance his parents gave each other.

 

“…No.”

 

“Where’re we going tomorrow?”

 

“You’ll see.”

 

“Where’re aunt and uncle?”

 

“They went home… why?”

 

“…Nothing.”

 

“Ok, we’ll be downstairs if you need us,” his mother whispered.

 

Jeongguk nodded obediently and his parents hugged him one last time before leaving his room and gently shutting his door. No one knew but his parents hated seeing him like this. In pain. But Jeongguk had grown up with his aunt and uncle so they should know him better than his parents. If they said this was the right thing to do, then they should be right.

 

Right?

 

Downstairs, his mother was once again in her pacing routine that she would resort to when she was concerned as if walking would find her a solution.

 

“He looked so upset. Was that really the right thing to do?”

 

“I… I don’t know,” Jeongguk’s father answered truthfully.

 

“And is it just me or does it look like Jeongguk doesn’t get along with my brother and sister-in-law?”

 

“I thought it was just me getting that vibe.”

 

“No. Something definitely happened between them. Was it Jeonghyun’s death?”

 

“Why don’t you ask them? Actually, that would be a bad idea,” Jeongguk’s father finished in a whisper but his second statement must not have made its way to his wife because she didn’t question.

 

“I don’t know. I just have a bad feeling about all of this.”

 

“There’s nothing we can do about it now. It’s not like we can go back and undo everything.”

 

“I know but… I don’t know. If we could go back in time, I would undo everything. From the very beginning… before Azkaban,” Jeongguk’s mother whispered.

 

“Me too. But that was the best decision we could make at that time. Jeonghyun and Jeongguk needed someone,” Jeongguk’s father sighed.

 

“I still regret it though. And I would’ve never listened to my brother if I knew what those six kids meant to him.”

 

“But if Jeongguk finds out that we were involved, he’ll hate us too.”

 

“I don’t want to lose another son but I do want to tell him the truth… can we afford to be selfish just this once?”

 

Jeongguk’s father shrugged in reply and his mother sighed.

 

“I’m so sorry Jeongguk.”

 

There seemed to be nothing holding him down now. He was so empty, it was like he could fly. Jeongguk no longer felt suffocated and trapped. He felt free but at what cost, he didn’t dwell on for too long.

 

Overthinking was one of his biggest causes of unhappiness so he was just going to let life be. He couldn’t control the world, he learnt.

 

Mind made up, he pushed the box under his bed. He’ll deal with it another time but for now, he was so tired he knocked out as soon as his head touched his pillow. Jeongguk hadn’t had dreams for a long time but tonight, he met his brother. Jeonghyun was calling for him to come instead of telling him to go for once. He frowned in his sleep. What does Jeonghyun want?

 

Jeongguk couldn’t understand what his brother was trying to tell him. His mouth was moving but there was no sound. However, as he tried to move closer, his brother moved further. Jeongguk reached his arm out and chased. It felt like he was running forever but he couldn’t reach his brother.

 

And then he was falling.

 

They cried. They all cried.

 

Jin cried with Hoseok. Yoongi cried with Jimin. Namjoon cried with Taehyung.

 

“I’m so sorry Jeongguk.”

 

The tears just wouldn’t stop.

 

After leaving Jeongguk’s house, they headed back to Sapphire Bridge. His aunt, uncle and parents were all still waiting there for them and when they saw the defeated and empty look of their faces, Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle smiled mockingly.

 

“Done?"

 

“Where’re our families?”

 

Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle tsked before disclosing the location of their families. Yoongi glanced one last time at the four elders as they walked away and he could’ve swore he saw Jeongguk’s parents frown but it must’ve been his imagination because they had no reason to be unhappy. They got what they wanted. Jeongguk hated them. So why were they frowning?

 

They quickly arrived at the house where all his friends’ families were held captive and no one hesitated to blast the door open before barging into the building. There was a whimper from a room down the corridor and to the left so everyone headed in that direction. Arriving in the room, there were sixteen people all tied up and struggling but as they entered, everyone froze. The six of them gasped and quickly moved to free their family, Yoongi helping whoever was in his reach.

 

In a few minutes, Jin was hugging his parents and elder brother while Hoseok’s parents and sister were fretting over him. Namjoon’s family were calm but still on the verge of tears while Jimin was hugging his brother tightly with his parents patting their backs. Taehyung was crying while squishing both of his younger siblings to himself and his parents watched their children from beside Taehyung.

 

Yoongi smiled at their reunion but it quickly disappeared when he thought of his own family and then Jeongguk. His father. They couldn’t even have a proper funeral. A funeral his father deserved. And Jeongguk. Jeongguk wasn’t ok. Killing him would’ve been less painful than what they had done.

 

He hated himself. He wanted to go back to Jeongguk, hold him in his arms and profusely apologise for everything he said but then he remembered. Yoongi had never even gotten the chance to thank Jeongguk for saving his mother’s life. His father’s death was not Jeongguk’s fault either but judging by the younger’s face, he hadn’t slept yesterday. Jeongguk blamed himself. Yoongi knew and he pushed Jeongguk even closer to the cliff. No, that’s wrong.

 

They pushed Jeongguk off.

 

Yoongi suggested that their families stay away from home for the time being. It was too dangerous for them to return but when they had no place to go, Yoongi went to his mother to ask if she could help in some way. His mother’s willingly expanded their hiding place with an Extension Charm and Yoongi and his friends helped move their families there. The parents questioned. Of course they would but Yoongi nor the others disclosed anything. They couldn’t.

 

Returning to Hogwarts, the Headmaster didn’t take Jin’s prefect badge away, dismissing it because he had heard what the Jeons did to Yoongi’s family. Instead, the Headmaster thanked Jin for staying with Yoongi because the younger needed company but then he added that the Jeons were a common enemy now and that he was glad the Mins weren’t fighting alongside them. They were about to give the Headmaster a stern glare but were disrupted as they held Yoongi back from lunging at the elder male. Then they were separated and sent back to their own dormitories.

 

As soon as they were by themselves, they let their barriers down.

 

‘Jeongguk, we’re so sorry.’

 

Before Jeongguk could decipher his dream, he woke up and it was long forgotten. He shrugged it off, remembering that they had somewhere to be today. Even though he was trying to erase his friends from his memory, from his life, it wasn’t easy since he got up and the first thing he saw was the Christmas sweater. He scoffed and scrunched it up in a ball before throwing it in the corner of his closet. As one of the six had said in their letters, ‘you can’t start the next chapter if you keep rereading the last one’. He forgot whom but he didn’t care. Jeongguk needed to take his mind off them and what better way than to explore the dark with his parents.

 

He ripped up one of his precious white shirts and wrapped it around the cut on his leg. The blood wasn’t even running anymore but Jeongguk covered it just in case. Running downstairs, he greeted both of his parents before strolling into the kitchen and making himself some eggs and toast. He turned around and asked his parents if they wanted some and when they both nodded, he turned around and took out a few more eggs and pieces of bread.

 

“Scrambled or sunny side up?”

 

“Whatever you’re having, sweetie,” his mother said.

 

Jeongguk nodded and pulled out his wand. His mother watched from the side with a proud smile while his father pretended to not care from the dining table but he could sense him nodding in appreciation at his mother. He started humming as he cracked the third egg.

 

“What’s got you in such a good mood?”

 

“Don’t know,” Jeongguk shrugged. “Had a good night’s sleep probably.”

 

“That’s good.”

 

Jeongguk smiled. It was forced and he didn’t notice his mother frowning at him as he went back to humming and scrambling the eggs. He separated them neatly onto three plates when he was done and levitated them to the table, his mother following closely behind him.

 

“Do you want to talk about yesterday?” his father asked when Jeongguk and his mother were both sitting comfortably at the table.

 

“Not really,” Jeongguk shrugged.

 

“Are you sure? You don’t really look affected by it anymore.”

 

“I’m moving on. I don’t want to talk about them.”

 

“If you’re sure,” his mother hummed. “Also I wanted to talk about two days ago…”

 

“At the Mins’ house?”

 

“Yeah,” she said before holding up a finger to silence her son. “ I know what we did was wrong but we heard from your aunt and uncle that you were close to Yoongi.”

 

“And?”

 

“I was just trying to say that that’s the only reason they dared to save you. They said they were sure the Mins wouldn’t hurt you. Jeongguk, we would never put your life at risk.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“I’m sorry if we hurt you. We do care about you Jeongguk. A mother will do anything for her child and I am no exception. I wouldn’t have risked what we did.”

 

“And we’re also sorry that we weren’t there for you and your brother when you guys grew up.”

 

“Really, we are.”

 

“That’s ok. It wasn’t your choice to get locked up,” Jeongguk shrugged and the heavy mood was faintly lifted as his parents smiled.

 

“I guess you could say that,” his father whispered but Jeongguk missed the frowned his parents exchanged.

 

“So where’re we going today?”

 

His mother and father shared another hesitant look and his father nodded for his mother to talk instead. Jeongguk’s mother turned to their son before touching his neck. When she realised Jeongguk had flinched slightly at her touch, she looked at her son for consent before bringing her fingers along the bruises.

 

“Two days ago, we told you those kids who attacked you deserve to be expelled not suspended. Do you remember?”

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Your aunt and uncle found out where they lived.”

 

“And?”

 

“They suggested that we should make an example out of them first. They didn’t only look down on us but they also hurt you and we can’t let them get away with it. If they do it and receive nearly no consequences, everyone will start believing they can too. I don’t want anyone to overlook our name. I don’t want anyone to overlook you.”

 

“Yeah whatever you want,” Jeongguk shrugged.

 

“What?”

 

“I said yeah,” Jeongguk repeated.

 

“You’re ok with this?” his father asked.

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk laughed even though the back of his mind was telling him to say no.

 

“Wow… ok.”

 

“What?”

 

“We just didn’t think you would agree so readily.”

 

“I’m sick of everyone looking down on me. I don’t want to be inferior to others anymore. Why should I let others trample on me when my power is twice as great as theirs?”

 

His parents didn’t seem to notice how harsh Jeongguk sounded but simply nodded and turned back to their breakfast.

 

They thought he was weak. They all saw him as an easy target. They pushed him over the edge of the cliff but now, he decided he wasn’t going to fall. No one was going to look down on him again. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Maybe it was better that his ‘friends’ had revealed their true intentions. Maybe it was better for him. Maybe he should really change. To defend. To fight. For once he wanted to do something for himself and it wasn’t revenge he wanted. He just didn’t want to run away anymore. If everyone perceived him as a dangerous being who threatened their safety, he decided he wasn’t going to hold back anymore. Jeongguk was determined to learn all the Dark Arts from the strongest wizard and witch on this Earth and then he was going to stand up for himself.

 

Jeongguk didn’t need anyone. He’s going to carry himself on his own back because people always dropped him faster than they picked him up. They were once his weakness but now that they were gone, he was going to reach his full potential.

 

“Are we leaving after breakfast?”

 

“Yeah, the sooner this happens, the sooner the news will spread.”

 

“Are aunt and uncle coming this time?”

 

“Not this time.”

 

“But we heard something else, Jeongguk.”

 

“Hmm?” Jeongguk nodded for them to continue.

 

“Something about your professor.”

 

“Ah, you must be talking about my Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.”

 

“So it’s true? He kicked you out of the class on the first lesson?”

 

“Mhm.”

 

“What did he say?”

 

“Let me think,” Jeongguk frowned. It occurred like five months ago so he had honestly brushed it away already but for the sake of his parents, he forced the memory back. “He said he had overheard that I was quite practiced in the Dark Arts so he wanted to use me to let the other students practice their defence I think.”

 

“And then he just kicked you out?”

 

“I spoke back and then he kicked me out,” Jeongguk corrected.

 

“Well, at least you spoke back to him. If it was me, I probably would’ve blasted him away,” his mother muttered before thinking for a bit. “How should we deal with him? What do you see fit?”

 

“Let’s decide after the students today. I want to see what today’s like first.”

 

“Ok, whatever you want.”

 

“But how’re you planning on getting into Hogwarts?”

 

“We’re going to march straight in.”

 

Jeongguk laughed. They definitely had to power to knock down whatever protective barrier the hopeless Headmaster had set up already so he nodded.

 

“Sounds like a good plan.”

 

“We’ll have to deal with the Headmaster as well,” Jeongguk’s father remembered. “It was a coward move. If he saw this coming, he probably would’ve expelled those kids instead.”

 

“There’re so many enemies,” Jeongguk’s mother sighed.

 

“It’s ok, your brother said to bring everyone. They didn’t escape with us from Azkaban to sit around and do nothing. I think they’re all ready for some exercise and I’m sure his aunt and uncle are more than eager to come.”

 

“That’s going to be another War then,” Jeongguk frowned. “Is that really what you want?”

 

“Your aunt and uncle said it’d be the only way for the Ministry to stop bothering us and for the students to stop hurting you. It should be fine. We just have to make sure the Ministry of Magic doesn’t arrive. That’ll make things slightly more difficult,” his father said.

 

“Oh and you don’t have to get trained up on the Unforgivable Curses if you don’t want to. You’re aunt and uncle were joking. Just stick to the more complex curses they taught you.”

 

“Ok,” Jeongguk nodded but secretly he was relieved on the inside. The three Unforgivable Curses were not something he would like to execute on anyone especially having experienced two of them himself. But if his parents and aunt and uncle were planning a War, he had no doubt that he would be involved. Jeongguk wasn’t sure why he wasn’t feeling desperate to stop them this time though.

 

Then he remembered.

 

He had nothing left to lose.

 

This gave him the perfect opportunity to show the students that he wasn’t weak, that he wasn’t an easy target and that he definitely was not just a toy they could just throw around and use for their own satisfaction. Ok, maybe it was revenge he wanted but Jeongguk didn’t want to think of it that way. Rather, he deemed it life giving him a second chance and he was not going to miss it. Not this time.

 

After they finished eating, Jeongguk cleaned and dried the plates with magic before getting ushered out of the house by his parents. They Apparated to the coast of England where a small village sat near the cliff. His parents pointed out one of the houses and told Jeongguk that it was the home of the boy who had choked Jeongguk. He raised an eyebrow at how detailed his parents were and smiled as he led them towards the brown house covered in snow.

 

Jeongguk took a deep breath before knocking. His mother had mentioned that it was polite to knock. She had also told him not to be too patient otherwise they would think he was weak so when no one answered the door he knocked again, waited ten seconds before kindly blasting the door down and entering. The inside was surprisingly neat and his mother immediately walked to the fireplace and lit the woods on fire.

 

“It’s freezing in here,” she frowned.

 

Since no one was inside, Jeongguk’s father decided it would be best to mess up the place a bit and wait for the family to return home.

 

They ended up trashing the house.

 

Books ripped and scattered across the floor. Ink spilt and decorating the windows. Broomsticks splintered and thrown into the fireplace. Jeongguk smiled as his parents put their finishing touches on the house by engraving the white walls with the Jeon family crest. They turned the house into a masterpiece.

 

“Wow,” Jeongguk said, stepping back and observing their work while his parents nodded.

 

“Now all we have to do is wait for them to return.”

 

“Should we hide and immobilise them when they come in?” Jeongguk suggested. “Give them a bit of fear before jumping out?”

 

“That sounds like fun. See, my boy. You know how to do this,” his father replied before not so subtly pointing at Jeongguk’s mother and accusingly saying, “She doesn’t like having fun. Just likes getting the job done.”

 

Jeongguk’s mother rolled her eyes as she followed them into the kitchen where all the cutlery and cookware were damaged beyond repair. It was quite a spectacle for Jeongguk who had never done anything this out of line before. He kicked one of the severely dented pots out of his way and it made loud clanging noises as it rolled away. Then Jeongguk knelt down behind the island with his parents to await their unsuspecting victims.

 

“What does he look like?”

 

“Who?”

 

“The boy who choked you.”

 

“Ugh… quite buff, tallish, thick eyebrows, has his black hair styled up I think and a bit of a scruff. I don’t really remember.”

 

“How could you not? He attacked you,” Jeongguk’s father frowned.

 

“Too busy getting choked, remember?” Jeongguk joked but then he realised who he was talking to and quickly slapped his hand over his mouth, eyes widening in fear. He chanced a glimpse to see his parents’ reactions but noticed that neither were looking at him.

 

“Sassy. Just like your father,” his mother laughed as his father glared playfully at his wife.

 

Jeongguk frowned as he parents begun joking with one another and for a brief moment, he thought that it actually may not have been that bad if he had grown up with his parents. Despite being here to torment another family, his parents actually seemed like decent parents. Maybe in another life, he would be able to have a proper childhood with a complete family. Maybe in another life, his aunt and uncle would be like normal relatives and gift him presents when they come back from their random travels. And maybe in another life, he would meet sincere friends who he loved and who loved him back. But this life was cruel to him and he had none of those in this lifetime.

 

He turned back to his parents who were now bickering with one another and as Jeongguk watched them, he couldn’t believe they had just spent more than sixteen years in Azkaban with hundreds of Dementors. They seemed so happy and normal. Jeongguk smiled as his mother lightly whacked his father’s shoulder because of an insult he had thrown at her. Jeongguk’s father pouted. Yes, he actually pouted. The image of the tough, macho man that Jeongguk thought his father was had suddenly dissipated in his mind. His smile grew wider when his mother laughed and faced Jeongguk, shaking her head at her husband’s failed attempt to act cute. His father childishly turned away and pretended to ignore them.

 

Then Jeongguk laughed. It wasn’t forced. It was genuine. His first real laugh in a really really long time. He was actually starting to feel comfortable around his parents. They were surprisingly playful for their age but more than that, they seemed to actually care about him. He remembered that night at the Mins’ house, it was his aunt and uncle who had moved forward, not his parents. They were actually telling the truth but he still didn’t want to let his guard down. Jeongguk was learning.

 

As his mother went to sarcastically apologise to her husband for not playing along with him, Jeongguk heard voices. He popped his head up and saw a few bodies through the windows next to the front door. Squatting down, he hushed his parents before pulling out his wand and saw that the two elder’s expressions had turned hard as they pulled out their own wands. Jeongguk had no idea where they had attained wands from but then he remembered seeing spares lying around several corners of their house.

 

As the family entered, Jeongguk’s parents had to muffle their snorts when they heard someone gasp and another shriek. Jeongguk rolled his eyes at his parents finding amusement in others’ misery but then decided that they deserved it so he didn’t feel bad for them either. His parents nudged his arm and when he turned around and raised an eyebrow, his mother quickly pointed at his wand and then at the occupants of the house. Understanding, he gave a quick nod before peeking out to locate the family who were rummaging through the remains of their house.

 

“Immobulus.”

 

Jeongguk and his parents jumped out from their hiding place behind the kitchen island, each wearing a smirk. The frozen family glanced at Jeongguk and he was surprised to see that the male that had attacked him was holding a young girl in his arms, her head buried in his neck. Their parents looked equally terrified when they spotted his parents and Jeongguk felt a tinge of sympathy before it vanished. The only thing that weakened his resolve was the innocent child whose round eyes darted around in fear at her trashed house.

 

His parents however didn’t seem to notice his slight hesitation as they moved forward to the family. Jeongguk was quick to recover and step up beside his parents as they cocked their heads and observed the family in mock hatred.

 

“Well, this was unexpected,” his mother frowned, finally looking at the young girl.

 

Jeongguk walked up to the boy who had been choking him a few days ago and saw terror and panic flash through the boy’s eyes but instead of leaving and getting replaced with arrogance like it usually would when people confronted Jeongguk, the fear stayed. Jeongguk tilted his head and eyed the small child in the boy’s arms.

 

Meanwhile, his parents were taunting the boy’s parents and Jeongguk happened to catch phrases of the one-sided conversation.

 

“You should teach your children better.”

 

“Did you honestly think he could get away with nearly killing my son?”

 

“What your son did deserved to have him expelled but what can I say? We were in Azkaban. No one feared us. Of course the Headmaster would choose your side.”

 

“But, we’re back. And we’re going to find every single person who had given Jeongguk a hard time and teach them the consequences of messing with a Jeon.”

 

“Oh don’t worry,” his mother shook her head when the boy’s parents starting trembling under the Freezing Charm. “We’re not going to kill you.”

 

Jeongguk nodded approvingly at his mother who was still looking at the frightened parents.

 

“But…” she continued and added a dramatic pause. “We will teach you how to discipline children properly.”

 

Jeongguk released the parents from the charm and they both fell onto their knees and began crying and begging his parents.

 

“Please… please don’t hurt my children.”

 

Jeongguk looked away. He’d rather much not witness their plea. It was dangerously softening his heart but he couldn’t let that happen. He knew they had done nothing wrong but their son deserved what he was about to get. When he looked up again, his mother was walking towards him, the male student and presumably the other’s sister. The parents on the floor let out another whimper when they noticed the direction his mother was heading towards.

 

“Leave her out. She had nothing to do with this,” Jeongguk said and his parents nodded, almost a bit too fast but he shrugged it off.

 

Jeongguk didn’t uplift the charm when he took the young girl out of the other’s arms. He didn’t need a crying, screaming child attracting the attention of the neighbours so he gently placed her down on the opposite side of the house before returning to the others.

 

“How do you want to do this?” his mother asked when he returned.

 

“I was actually hoping you guys would show me how you do things,” Jeongguk said, leaning against the doorframe.

 

Both of his parents nodded before turning their attention back to the parents. His father waved his wand swiftly and they parents fell back, ropes coming around to bind their arms to the side. Jeongguk noted that his father had used ‘Incarcerous’ probably to stop them from pulling out their own wands.

 

Then their attention was back on the student and the parents were forced to watch with tear-stained faces. First his parents nodded at Jeongguk to remove his Freezing Charm only to paralyse the boy and watch as he fell back and hit the ground. When his mother stepped back, his father moved forward in perfect sync and slashed his wand at the petrified boy.

 

Jeongguk recognised it. This spell. The purple flames. And suddenly the house was suffocating.

 

He shuddered as he watched to boy frown. Jeongguk knew what was going to happen. There was going to be excruciating pain unveiling itself inside the boy any… second… now.

 

As Jeongguk predicted, the boy’s eyes suddenly grew larger and he tried to thrash around under the spell. Jeongguk could feel the pain from where he was standing. Having experienced the spell himself, he understood. That night as he suffered from the pain, he thought he was actually going to die until his brother found him. It had felt like he was getting eaten from the inside and the places the spell touched left a burning sensation which he could still feel to this day.

 

Finding it hard to breathe himself, he sped towards the door and threw himself desperately into the wintry cold. He felt two hands on his back and then the village disappeared. Jeongguk didn’t even realise his parents had Apparated him to the beach below the cliff but was gasping for air instead.

 

“Jeongguk? Sweetie, what’s wrong?” came a worried voice.

 

He bent over, hands his knees, breathing heavier and eyes unfocused. He was gripping his pants so tightly that his whole hand was a pale shade but he didn’t loosen his hold until a warm hand covered his and rubbed soothing circles over the back of his freezing hand.

 

“Look at me, Jeongguk,” a stern male voice sounded as a face appeared in front and hands came out to cup Jeongguk’s face. “Hey, it’s okay. Just breathe. Focus on breathing.”

 

“You’re doing great,” the second voice said as a hand rubbed his back.

 

He felt numb but gradually the two voices brought him back to reality. His breathing returned to regular intervals and his hands stopped trembling. His vision became clearer and he saw both of his parents holding a hand and looking at him, concern shown through the angle of their eyebrows and spark in their eyes but still, Jeongguk was going to keep his guard up.

 

“I-I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Jeongguk whispered as he tried to move backwards. They were going to hurt him. He hadn’t done anything except watch but he was still weak and he knew he was going to be punished for it. His aunt and uncle kept replaying in the back of his mind and from what he had heard of his parents, they were not going to be generous with their assault. “P-Please don’t-“

 

“Hey, it’s ok. It’s ok,” his mother assured him and surprised him by pulling him into a hug.

 

Jeongguk unconsciously relaxed in his mother’s arms and closed his eyes while his father moved forward to pat his back. The gestures were so fond and domestic and he wondered how his parents knew this comfort was exactly what he needed right now but he was still curious as to why they hadn’t hurt him. He had failed even the smallest task of just watching so why were they not throwing him into the ocean and drowning him? Is this the mask they’re wearing to earn my trust? Or do they truly care for me?

 

“What… what happened?” his father asked hesitantly. “You didn’t even react this strongly when your uncle used the Killing Curse.”

 

“That curse. Antonin Dolohov's Curse. Please don’t use it again,” Jeongguk whispered. “I… I have bad memories of it.”

 

He didn’t know how much of his relationship with his aunt and uncle his parents knew but if their protectiveness of him throughout the day was real, he deemed it best that they never find out. When Jeongguk felt his mother stiffen at his words, he reluctantly drew back to question her reaction.

 

“Who was it? Who dared to use that curse on you?” she hissed, her voice suddenly going cold. “I’m going to kill whoever it is.”

 

“It… it was a long time ago. I want to forget it. Can we please not talk about it?” Jeongguk asked weakly.

 

“Jeongguk, didn’t we say that we were going to show everyone who mistreated you and looked down on you the consequences?”

 

“Yeah, we will. I just… don’t want to chase this particular matter anymore. It happened a really really long time ago like when I was eight and plus I’m completely fine now,” Jeongguk claimed as he spread out his arms.

 

Both of his parents raised their eyebrows at him and were about to open their mouths to remind Jeongguk of the panic attack he just had and the line of bruises on his neck but he quickly shushed them with a cheeky grin that reached his eyes. His father sighed as his mother rolled her eyes and Jeongguk didn’t even realise that he was inadvertently giving them a piece of his trust.

 

“Do you want us to blast our way into the hospital and steal a few potions for your neck?”

 

“Really mum?”

 

“Yeah?” she shrugged and Jeongguk laughed.

 

“It’s ok.”

 

“Looks painful, how hard did he press?” Jeongguk’s father frowned.

 

“I don’t remember.”

 

“Does it hurt?”

 

“…A bit,” Jeongguk replied and then quickly stepped back to meet both of his parents’ eyes. “I want to go back.”

 

“Go back where?”

 

Jeongguk pointed up to the house on the cliff. This was his first test for them. He wanted to peel off the mask if they were wearing one and the truth will lie in their answer.

 

“Both of his parents were tied up and I just want to make sure he’s not going to die.”

 

“Jeongguk-“ his mother started.

 

“I’m just going to lift the curses. Nothing more.”

 

“Fine. But be careful.”

 

They… care. They really care.

 

“I will.”

 

“We’ll wait outside.”

 

Jeongguk smiled and they Apparated back up to the top of the cliff. When he walked into the house, both of his parents were crying at the son who was whimpering in pain. He gave an apologetic look to the parents before rushing to bring their daughter back to them. He lifted the spell that was on the girl first before untying the ropes around the parents with another wave of his wand. They immediately crawled to their son and finally, Jeongguk lifted the Full Body-Bind Curse off of him too.

 

“Take him to the hospital and tell them that he was hit by the Antonin Dolohov's Curse,” Jeongguk whispered to the parents.

 

“T-Thank you,” the mother said through her sobs.

 

Then he got up and walked back outside to where his parents were leaning against the wall.

 

“Can we go home?” Jeongguk asked. “I don’t think I can deal with anyone else today. I kind of just want to sleep.”

 

Home. It sounded so wrong but so right.

 

“Yeah, that’s fine sweetie. Don’t push yourself.”

 

His parents took his arms as they Apparated back to their home and Jeongguk was silently grateful that he didn’t have to Apparate himself. He clearly didn’t have the energy and his parents probably felt it too. When they arrived in front of the house, they led Jeongguk in and his father brought him upstairs while his mother went to the kitchen.

 

“I’ll bring some food up later. You have to eat,” he heard his mother say.

 

“Thank you,” he called back.

 

His father chuckled when Jeongguk walked into his bedroom and collapsed straight onto his bed.

 

“Why is your room such a mess?”

 

“I haven’t been here since the summer holidays last year.”

 

“Wonder whose genes you inherited,” his father laughed as he nudged a few books out of the way so he could walk to Jeongguk.

 

“Both,” Jeongguk grinned and his father rolled his eyes before placing himself down on the bed next to his son.

 

“Jeongguk… the curse today, who used it on you?”

 

He sat and up and faced his father. The elder looked equally tired and Jeongguk felt bad that he was adding worry lines to his father’s face.

 

“What… what has aunt and uncle told you guys about me?”

 

“Why?” his father frowned.

 

“Curious,” Jeongguk half-lied.

 

“They said that you were always a troublesome kid unlike your brother. You were reluctant to learn the Dark Arts when they- how did they put it- oh so kindly tried to teach you.”

 

“Did they tell you how they taught me?”

 

“No?... Why?”

 

“……”

 

“Jeongguk, why?”

 

“They used it on me,” Jeongguk replied truthfully. This was his second test to see whether their care was genuine. “They said I needed to know what being on the victim feels like to really use the spells.”

 

“W-WHAT?... THEY WHAT?”

 

His father stood up angrily and Jeongguk was quick to pull him back onto the bed before he blasted something or started yelling. His father had most certainly passed his second test but now he had a bigger problem. Jeongguk hadn’t really thought this far, faith still lying in the wrong places, but now that his father knew some of the truth of his aunt and uncle’s treatment towards him, it wasn’t going to end nicely if he didn’t do something. He reasoned that he probably should’ve planned this better but then an excuse formed in his head as he panicked.

 

“Please don’t tell Mum.”

 

“How do you not expect me to say anything?” his father asked, raising his voice slightly and quietening down when Jeongguk shushed him.

 

“I… I don’t want Mum to hate her brother,” Jeongguk whispered. He wanted to pat himself on the back for this genius excuse but refrained from doing so to not let his father see through his dissimulation.

 

“Are you serious?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I lost my brother and I don’t want her to lose hers.”

 

“But-“

 

“Please.”

 

“Jeongguk, this is serious. We- You-“

 

“I know but it’s in the past and I honestly just want to forget about it so can you please not tell mum until I’m ready?”

 

His father sighed and rubbed his temples. Jeongguk, sensing his father’s conflict, tried to soothe the elder by hesitantly patting his back.

 

“They treated you like that for so long. How did you bear with it?”

 

“Jeonghyun. They loved him. He always stopped it before it got too severe,” Jeongguk shrugged.

 

“Antonin Dolohov's Curse. So it was them?”

 

Jeongguk nodded.

 

“I can’t believe we left you with them. You know, when I married your mother, I always had this bad feeling about her brother. And then two days ago at the Mins’ house you would always flinch at them and this morning, you kept asking about them so I just had this feeling but I didn’t want to push it. I’m glad you told me, Jeongguk.”

 

“Please just don’t tell Mum. I’ll tell her when I’m ready.”

 

“Will you ever be?”

 

“Someday. I promise.”

 

“Fine but if they ever come find you again, you come straight to me. Got it?”

 

Jeongguk smiled and nodded.

 

“Was that all?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“They didn’t do anything else right?”

 

“Um… they would take out their anger on me and beat me up.” That’s not all but it’s all you should know for now. You don’t need to know about the well… or the Cruciatus Curse and Imperius Curse… or Jeonghyun.

 

“How often?”

 

“Almost everyday,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

His father sighed in frustration and rubbed his temples again.

 

“I’m going to fucking kill them,” he muttered.

 

“Dad,” Jeongguk whined and his father chuckled sadly.

 

“Also I think now would be a good time to tell you the truth but… do you remember how you said this morning that it wasn’t our choice to get locked up? Well do you have any idea how we really ended up in Azkaban?”

 

“You fought against ‘the good guys’ during the war?”

 

“Yeah and?”

 

“You killed people?”

 

“No. That’s actually just a rumour. Your mother and I have never killed anyone. We’re not actually as tough as we seem. Your mother and I are the most feared Jeons because we’re the most powerful and skilled but I’m not lying when I say we haven’t killed before.”

 

Jeongguk frowned. My parents have never killed anyone?

 

“Then… how?”

 

“We took the blame for your aunt and uncle.”

 

“What?”

 

“I know right. We’re both idiots. We were the ones with two children but we took the blame.”

 

“I can’t believe it. So you spent sixteen years in Azkaban for nothing?”

 

“Well not exactly nothing. I mean come on, Voldemort was there. We had to do a bit of damage to the students otherwise he would blast our heads off but your aunt and uncle had killed more than a few dozens of students and we had… well, severely injured several. We were all going to be sent to Azkaban regardless but then we realised that you and Jeonghyun would be on your own. We couldn’t let the Ministry send you guys to some orphanage or somewhere where they would monitor your every movement and that’s when your aunt and uncle convinced us to take the blame for their crimes so they could look after the two of you.”

 

“Unbelievable.”

 

“I know. I think that’s the biggest regret of my life but what I’m trying to say is I’m really sorry for the choice we made. We missed you and Jeonghyun growing up.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

 

“Because we made the choice to leave you and I guess we were scared you might’ve thought that we were abandoning you and then you wouldn’t like us. We already lost Jeonghyun, we didn’t want to lose you as well.”

 

“Are you serious? You think I would dislike you for something like that?”

 

“Honestly I doubted it but your mother was so certain. But now that I know how your aunt and uncle treated you, I feel even worse for leaving. Jeongguk, I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s… it’s fine. Just don’t ever leave me again. Ok? Even if it means we have to hide from the Ministry forever.”

 

“Yeah, I promise,” his father sighed.

 

“Wait, you didn’t call Voldermort, Lord.”

 

“Who cares? He’s long gone,” his father chuckled, waving his hand. “Plus we were never that loyal. Your aunt and uncle were dedicated followers but not us. We only half-heartedly followed because we had to protect you and your brother.”

 

Jeongguk laughed. He was in shock. His parents were actually really nice people. They didn’t deserve any of the hate they received. His aunt and uncle did.

 

“I can’t believe mum.”

 

“Me too.”

 

“But you too,” Jeongguk accused as he frowned at his father. “Why didn’t you talk some sense into her?”

 

“Trust me, I tried but I knew they wouldn’t take the blame for us and your aunt and uncle promised that take great care of you guys.”

 

“Look how that turned out,” Jeongguk snorted.

 

“I’m sorry, Jeongguk,” his father whispered. “For everything.”

 

“Dad, it’s not your fault,” Jeongguk said, sliding even closer to his father. “It’s in the past now. Let’s forget it.”

 

“I’m trying,” his dad huffed.

 

“Also… today…”

 

“That was your aunt and uncle’s brilliant idea as well. They said if we didn’t draw fear in our enemies then they’d keep hurting you and we were just… so afraid at the thought of you get injured. We don’t want to lose another son so we listened to them. You mother and I, we’re both parents so we understand the pain of watching our children suffer. Your aunt and uncle told us to exploit that and I don’t know why we listened but-“

 

“But you did it because you thought it would be protecting me. Right?”

 

“Y-Yeah. Exactly.”

 

“It’s ok. I understand. We all do reckless things for the ones we love.”

 

“But when we told you this morning, we didn’t think you were going to agree. If you had disagreed, we would’ve just dropped it and left it to your aunt and uncle to deal with them.”

 

“Oh,” Jeongguk frowned.

 

He had honestly not really thought through his answer when he replied but unconsciously developed the idea that arguing would be to no avail. Jeongguk had lived his whole life with just agreeing to whatever his aunt and uncle decided for him and that on top of all his grief made him forget he had the right to an opinion. He had also forgotten that in the morning he was scared of his parents injuring him because the thought of that now after hearing his father’s story just sounded ridiculous.

 

“Isn’t it better that we went though?” Jeongguk asked. “If I had disagreed, aunt and uncle would’ve killed him.”

 

“Yeah. I was both happy and sad you agreed,” Jeongguk’s father shrugged.

 

“I… I’m just so used to accepting everything…”

 

It was barely a whisper but since there were only two occupants in the room, his father heard him loud and clear.

 

“Jeongguk, I’m sorry that we gave you the impression that you couldn’t voice your opinions to us but we care about what you think. If you ever disagree with something, don’t be afraid to say it. We’re not your aunt and uncle… we won’t hurt you. Ever.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” Jeongguk smiled. “This is nice.”

 

“What is?”

 

“You guys being home.”

 

“Feels good to be home.”

 

“Just don’t bicker too much. You guys are giving me a headache,” Jeongguk joked.

 

“Get used to it, kiddo. We’re not leaving anytime soon.”

 

Jeongguk’s face fell a bit at the nickname. It was what Yoongi had always called him. Kiddo and brat.

 

“Anyways, I’m going to go see what’s taking your mother so long and hope I don’t spill.”

 

“Dad,” Jeongguk groaned.

 

“I’m joking. I’m joking.”

 

“That wasn’t funny,” Jeongguk pouted as his dad ruffled his hair and again he saw his friends. They were standing there, smiling and throwing jokes at each other.

 

He shook his head and smiled at his father but a knock on the bedroom door interrupted them and his mother came in with bowls and more bowls of food. His father ran forward to help her carry them but not without a cheeky comment.

 

“You know you’re a witch not a squid, right? You could magic these up instead of pretending to have eight arms.”

 

Jeongguk laughed as his mother frowned and then elbowed his father in the ribs.

 

“Is this all for Jeongguk? He can’t eat that much!” his father exclaimed.

 

“No, you baboon. I was thinking we could eat here too.”

 

Jeongguk nodded happily and slid off his bed as his parents settled the dishes onto the floor. His mother laughed as he hungrily eyed the food and quickly gave him a bowl so he could dig in.

 

“I haven’t cooked in a while so-“

 

“You haven’t cooked in sixteen years,” Jeongguk’s father frowned. “That’s not a while. Are you sure you didn’t poison it?”

 

Jeongguk didn’t even bother to look up as his parents started bickering again but focused on the food instead.

 

“This is really good.”

 

“See?” his mother gloated. “Haven’t lost my touch.”

 

“Jeongguk, you don’t need to lie. I’ll protect you,” his father laughed and received another playful slap.

 

“Feel free to eat everything Jeongguk. Your father doesn’t need to eat.”

 

Jeongguk’s father whined childishly on the side causing everyone to laugh and his mother reluctantly handed him a bowl.

 

“So what were you guys talking about?”

 

“Father son things,” Jeongguk’s father stepped in when Jeongguk tensed up.

 

“What about me?”

 

“Are you a father?”

 

“Why did I marry you?”

 

Jeongguk laughed as his parents started bantering but he couldn’t help feeling a little sad. For the vast majority of the day, his parents had successfully gotten his mind off his friends but everything fond exchange just reminded him of them.

 

“Mum, Dad. I was thinking.”

 

“Good for you, son.”

 

“Dad, I’m serious.”

 

“Hi serious. I’m-“

 

Jeongguk’s father was stopped with his wife’s hand over his mouth but Jeongguk paused as he got reminded of Jin. Jin had used that joke on Namjoon last year and his mind blanked for a few seconds before his mother’s words drew him back to reality.

 

“Shush you,” she said before turning to Jeongguk. “Yes? Sweetie, go on.”

 

“After everything is over… after the War at Hogwarts. Can we not try and take over the wizarding community?”

 

His third and final test.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The War will allow me to finally move on from everything. I want to go back to Hogwarts because I think that’s the only way for me to completely let go of the past and then I… I want to start afresh with you guys. I like what we have here. We feel like a family and I don’t want to lose that.”

 

Jeongguk’s parents looked at each other.

 

“After the War, no one will dare to bother us anymore and we can go into hiding just in case the Ministry are still after you guys so you won’t have to return to Azkaban.”

 

“You know what Jeongguk, that actually doesn’t sound too bad.”

 

“It- what?”

 

“That sounds nice,” his father repeated whilst his mother nodded.

 

“You’re… you’re ok with it?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Shouldn’t you be happy with our decision?” his mother laughed before explaining, “Well, when he heard the news of Jeonghyun’s death, we were devastated and we blamed ourselves. The choices we made led us to Azkaban and we thought that if we were here, maybe we could’ve prevented it. Maybe our lives would’ve been different.” Choices you made…

 

“You don’t blame me?”

 

“No, we don’t. It wasn’t your choice. It was Jeonghyun’s and I’m actually really glad he grew up like that. It was courageous of him.”

 

“Must be my genes,” Jeongguk’s father nodded and Jeongguk and his mother burst into laughter.

 

Jeongguk’s parents had sacrificed their happiness for their children while Jeonghyun had sacrificed his life for Jeongguk’s. What a family.

 

“But anyways, my point is, we realised how short life is. You don’t live forever so why not spend it with the people you love.”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk whispered. People you love.

 

“Let’s leave. We’ll leave this hellhole and start afresh.”

 

“That sounds really nice.”

 

Jeongguk smiled but behind it hid genuine happiness and sadness. He was trapping all of his emotions inside of himself because he didn’t want to feel them anymore. All the pain the others caused him was because he deserved it. Because he was weak before. But now, he’s changed. With his parents by his side, he no longer felt threatened, exposed, and vulnerable. Rather, it was the breath of power he never knew he was going to feel.

 

One day was all it took for him to open up to his parents and they had undeniably warmed up to him too.

 

Jeongguk had spent his whole life listening to others’ prejudiced opinions but here he was, judging his parents based off rumours.

 

Everything he thought about them was wrong.

 

His parents cared about him.

 

They loved him.

 

And they’re the only ones who ever will… right ?

 

Chapter Text

I went on the road that I was told not to go. I did things I was told not to do. I wanted things I couldn’t want. I got hurt and hurt again. It’s time to be brave. I’m not afraid because I believe. Because I’m different from before.

 

Jeongguk had grown to love his parents so much and the three of them were basically inseparable. He loved the feeling of his father coming into his room before light had touched Earth and dragging him out to see the sunrise with him. He loved his mother’s cooking and couldn’t imagine how he had survived the last sixteen years without it. But what he loved most was just spending time with them. They took him on little adventures every now and then to places he had never been to. Whether it was a mountain climb, a beach walk or a relaxing game night, Jeongguk loved it.

 

When Jeongguk told them he loved Quidditch and flying in general, his parents immediately dug up their old brooms and that day, Jeongguk couldn’t even remember how long they had spent breezing through the air. He thought they had probably flown around the whole word and as he stepped back down onto the ground, his body had felt sore and walking had felt so foreign but it was all worth it.

 

However, Jeongguk’s parents were also troublemakers. He didn’t know why he hadn’t seen it coming but they would always pull pranks on him. Although, Jeongguk complained during the time his mother ‘accidentally’ poured a sea of salt into his dinner only to have his father give him a cup of saltwater, Jeongguk secretly loved it.

 

Another time when Jeongguk’s mother tucked him into bed, he rolled his eyes and reminded her that he was eighteen, technically an adult, but his mother merely laughed at his pout and kissed him on the cheek before leaving. Jeongguk smiled. Then his father had snuck into his room against his wife’s orders to let their son rest and they ended up talking for so long that Jeongguk’s mother had to come in and drag his father out. It was nice. They were nice.

 

The house was redecorated and it actually seemed like a home. Jeongguk thought he wasn’t emotionally attached to the place but when he remembered that he would be leaving it, he felt a little upset. His parents obviously noticed as soon as his emotion changed and when they confronted him, Jeongguk didn’t hesitate to speak the truth. They smiled and reassured that their next home would be even better and then he was back to being the happy, cheeky Jeongguk that his parents loved seeing.

 

He had barely caught glimpses his aunt and uncle since the time at the Mins house and he wondered why. What he didn’t know was that his father had been trying to keep them away from the house as much as he could. Jeongguk didn’t complain, of course, he’d rather never see them again but he was just simply curious why they hadn’t come to find trouble again.

 

In this one month, Jeongguk had never forgotten his ‘friends’. It wasn’t never easy when they resurfaced in his memories but he had nevertheless tried and tried again to forget them, always to no avail. The only reminder he kept of them was the box under his bed and the Christmas sweater he had long forgotten about but he hadn’t touched those since the day they left him. Jeongguk didn’t need them anymore. His parents were enough but why did they keep appearing in his thoughts? Whenever he remembered something about them or another action reminded him of them, his face dropped. His parents had tried asking about it every time but it was the one thing Jeongguk kept to himself. That and the truth about his aunt and uncle. He was content with his life now. Jeongguk wanted to be selfish. He didn’t want it to change.

 

What they had done to Jeongguk’s attackers had quickly spread through the wizarding community like contagious virus. His aunt and uncle were angry that they hadn’t cause more severe damage but Jeongguk’s parents were quick to step forward and defend themselves. Everywhere you went, people talking about the rise of power of Jeons were heard and this created an rise of hysteria amongst the society. People would constantly glance over their shoulder to check whether they were being followed and only travel in packs.

 

It was nearing spring now and the Jeons have finished preparing for the War at Hogwarts. The Ministry of Magic were constantly at their backs, capturing whichever Jeons they could but he and his parents were still safe and undisturbed. They had not forced him to learn the three Unforgivable Curses but had taught him more of the Dark Arts and defence so that he could protect himself. It was definitely not the same kind of teaching his aunt and uncle had used and soon, Jeongguk’s skill had surpassed most of his family’s and was nearly on par with his parents. Throughout his trainings, he gradually grew more and more confident with himself and now, Jeongguk decided he was ready.

 

No one but the three of them knew that this was going to be their last and final battle. If the other Jeons still wanted to fight and take over the wizarding world, they were going to have to do it without Jeongguk and his parents. Jeongguk didn’t know if he was prepared to confront his past but he knew he wanted to let go. After the War, they planned to move to the other side of the world where they will restart their life without the Ministry on their tail. Today was their last night at this house.

 

The War was tomorrow.

 

Currently they were laying in the family room on a pile of blankets and pillows, his parents reciting their love story while Jeongguk listened intently. Jeongguk had pleaded his parents to build a fort at dinner and they easily agreed so after eating, his parents cleared the area with a flick of their wands and then another flick had pillows, blankets and sheets flying around the room. Jeongguk had watched the fort come to life and as soon as it finished building itself, he scrambled inside. His parents laughed before following suit and that’s how Jeongguk ended up sitting in between his parents, listening to their life story.

 

“I met your mother at Hogwarts too. She was a shy little girl,” his father had said, earning himself a pillow in the face.

 

“Excuse me? I was not shy,” she huffed and Jeongguk laughed.

 

“As soon as she saw me, she fell in love.” Another pillow. “Ok ok, I’m joking. It was the other way around. I fell in love with her first and then chased her around the castle until she agreed to date me.”

 

“Bold.”

 

“No shame, no gain,” his father winked at his son and then Jeongguk saw another pillow flying past him, towards his father.

 

“It was only because he was so persistent and I found him annoying so I agreed.”

 

“You found him annoying so you dated him?”

 

Her excuse made both Jeongguk and his father exchange a look of understanding before they laughed out loud. When they looked at Jeongguk’s mother, she was frowning playfully and they laughed even harder.

 

“Like father, like son,” she sighed but couldn’t help the smile appearing on her face.

 

“You know you love me.”

 

“Do I?”

 

“Yes. Yes you do.”

 

Jeongguk was surprised that there wasn’t another flying pillow but when he looked over, all the pillows had already ended up on his father’s side. He sighed contently and laid back onto the jumble of blankets to watch his parents. They were fighting over who fell in love first and Jeongguk found it slightly ridiculous because they looked like any other cheesy couple but he wouldn’t exchange this moment for the world. He grinned and then suddenly thought of an idea. His parents were unaware that their son had grabbed two pillows from behind his father before striking both of them on the back. It took a moment for them to realise what had just happened but when they did, a smile appeared on both of their faces.

 

“PILLOW FIGHT!” his father screamed.

 

From the corner of his eye, he saw his father grab a pillow in each hand while his mother was trying to snatch them out of his hands. Jeongguk took this moment where his parents were both distracted to attack them again and that brought their attentions away from each other and to their grinning son. Jeongguk saw them nod at each other before evenly dividing the pillows to launch them at him. He quickly reacted to the two pillows flying at him by grabbing them before they could hit his face and not long after, Jeongguk had possession of all the pillows.

 

His parents smiled before both escaping the fort in a rush. Jeongguk rolled his eyes before crawling out of the fort making sure to arm himself with two pillows. Looking around, he noticed that his parents were not in the room so he cautiously walked the corridors to search for them. He heard hushed whispers near the staircase and crept quietly along the wall. When he caught sight of his mother’s long hair, he pounced and whacked both of his parents on the arms with a pillow before quickly making his escape back to the safe walls of the fort.

 

Jeongguk could hear his parents on his tail and laughed as he clambered through the messy blankets. His parents entered soon after him and tackled him down before attacking him with wiggly fingers. Christmas… Yoongi… Jimin. The thought was immediately brushed away and he began giggling as he tried to push their hands away. Jeongguk didn’t even realise that his shirt was riding up until both of his parents stopped tickling him and frowned. Jeongguk caught his breath before sitting up and following his parents’ line of sight to his torso where there were numerous scars. His badges of shame.

 

He slowly pulled his white shirt back down and avoided their gaze. Both of his parents’ expressions were of shock but his father’s was border lining guilt and anger. Jeongguk glanced up at his father before quickly averting his eyes again. He didn’t even dare look at his mother. Jeongguk was afraid of telling her his past but now that his scars were in the open, he didn’t even have time to find an excuse. She had trusted her brother in looking after them but when and if she ever finds out how Jeongguk was treated, she would feel so betrayed and that wasn’t a nice feeling, Jeongguk knew. He didn’t want his mother to experience the same thing as him. There was always a time and place for everything and revealing the truth was not fit for the present.

 

“Jeongguk…” his mother started. “Who?”

 

“……”

 

“Tell us who hurt you.”

 

“I…”

 

“Those are old scars. They don’t look like they have been attained in the last year or two so it can’t be the students but then who?”

 

“I… I can’t tell you.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because the truth will hurt you.”

 

“Jeongguk, not knowing the truth hurts more. Please tell us who did it.”

 

“Not now... I’ll tell you someday but just not now.”

 

“Sweetie-“

 

“If Jeongguk’s not ready to say it, we should give him time,” his father said, cutting off his wife.

 

Jeongguk mouthed a thanks to his father while his mother opened her mouth to argue but then closed it.

 

“After tomorrow, when we leave here, I’ll tell you everything.”

 

“Promise?”

 

“I promise.”

 

His mother sighed and let it go.

 

“We should sleep soon. We’ll need our energy for tomorrow,” his father suggested.

 

“Can we sleep here tonight?”

 

“Don’t see why not,” his father smiled as he ruffled Jeongguk’s hair.

 

“Just as long as you don’t snore.”

 

Both of Jeongguk’s parents laughed at this and the tense atmosphere was forgotten. His mother rearranged the pillows nicely before grabbing a few more blankets to cover themselves with. As his father waved his wand to turn off the light, Jeongguk settled snuggly in between his parents.

 

“Goodnight Dad. Goodnight Mum.”

 

“Night, sweetie.”

 

“I love you.”

 

“We love you more.”

 

“I love you most.”

 

“It doesn’t work like that,” Jeongguk’s father laughed.

 

“In my head, it does.”

 

“We need to get you to a healer then.”

 

“Hey,” Jeongguk pouted.

 

“Go to sleep.”

 

“Yes Mum,” both Jeongguk and his father replied at the same time before falling into fits of laughter.

 

“Children,” she groaned as she smiled at her husband and son.

 

“Mmm.”

 

Then they drifted into their dreams. Tonight, nothing disturbed Jeongguk as he slept. He felt at peace remembering that after tomorrow, everything will be over and they’ll be a small happy family in their own happy world. He’ll only need them and they’ll only need him. It seemed so perfect and for once, he decided he deserved this.

 

Next morning, a sharp knock woke them all up.

 

His parents sat up and frowned before they moved out of the fort to check who decided to visit so early in the morning. Jeongguk rubbed his eyes sleepily, brain not processing his surroundings. When it finally decided to wake up, Jeongguk blinked a few times before poking his head out of the fort and saw his parents talking to his aunt and uncle. When did they arrive? Why’re they here? Oh. The war.

 

Jeongguk crawled out of the fort and his parents laughed at his hair. He smiled sheepishly but when he heard his uncle scoff, he lowered his head. His father placed a hand on his back and steered Jeongguk away from the four of them and towards the bathroom.

 

“Go wash up.”

 

“Thanks,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

When his father returned to the living room, he tried his best not to glare at his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was safe to say that he now despised them.

 

“I see you three are getting along rather well.”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk’s mother smiled.

 

“If you guys ever need a break, just know that we’ll be happy to look after him.”

 

“No thanks,” Jeongguk’s father replied quickly. ‘You’re never going near my son again.’

 

“Actually, we have something we want to tell you-“

 

“But it can wait until after the war,” Jeongguk’s father interrupted his wife.

 

“Can’t be that important then,” her brother shrugged.

 

“Where’s everyone else?”

 

“Getting ready. We’re leaving in an hour.”

 

“Ok. I’ll go cook some food then. Have you eaten? Do you want to join us?”

 

“That’s why we came actually. Your cooking and our precious little nephew.”

 

At that moment, Jeongguk strolled in and his father ordered him to go to the kitchen to help his mother with breakfast. Jeongguk knew what his father was doing and smiled before following his mother. While she made pancakes, he prepared the fruit, cutting several strawberries, an orange and adding plentiful of blueberries to his own plate. When they finished, they carried the plates to the dining room and Jeongguk’s mother called his aunt and uncle.

 

He shifted under their fierce stares but he knew they couldn’t touch him with his parents on either side of him. Jeongguk could tell his uncle had something he wanted to say but he kept his head down and quietly ate his breakfast. His father was uncomfortable fidgeting in his chair so Jeongguk turned his head and gave him a reassuring smile.

 

“Jeongguk,” his uncle’s rough voice sounded and Jeongguk hesitantly faced his uncle. “Have you learned the Unforgivable Curses?”

 

“We actually decided not to teach him that,” Jeongguk’s father answered coldly.

 

“Why not?” snapped his aunt. “Do you want him to die?”

 

“Just because you don’t know the three curses doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll die. He’s learnt everything else.”

 

“We taught him enough to protect himself,” Jeongguk’s mother quickly said before a fight broke out.

 

“What good is he if he can’t kill?” Jeongguk’s uncle muttered.

 

No one heard his uncle and so the rest of the breakfast went by peacefully.

 

It was nearly time to go when Jeongguk remembered something. He told his parents to wait while he ran up to his bedroom. Jeongguk took out the box from under his bed and blew the dust off before opening the lid. He didn’t know why he had kept the bracelet and letters but he decided that maybe it was for a memento not to trust so easily because look where it had led him. Jeongguk quickly took the bracelet out and shoved the box under his bed. This was going to be his last chance. He was going to find his ‘friends’ and return the bracelet. The letters, he will burn when he gets back.

 

Shoving the bracelet into his pocket, he ran down the stairs and into his mother’s arms. They walked outside where his aunt and uncle were impatiently pacing back and forth before Apparating to Hogwarts. When they arrived, there were about thirty or so people there already. Thirty against two hundred and eighty. Seems doable. Jeongguk was the youngest of course, being the only heir to the Jeon family, and he felt people stare at him as his parents and aunt and uncle led him to the front of the crowd facing Hogwarts.

 

He watched the castle. The last time he was here was more than a month ago. The walls no longer looked protective to him as they had last year. The lake looked like it would offer little to no protection to the army of Jeons. Jeongguk had nearly died at this castle and they had done nothing. He wasn’t furious. He honestly wasn’t. Jeongguk was just disappointed but that’s why he was standing there. He thought this place was his home but he was lied to. Deceived. Jeongguk was back now. He was back to return all the memories.

 

“First things first,” his father stated. “We find your Defence Against the Dart Arts professor and then confront the Headmaster.”

 

“Shouldn’t be too difficult,” his mother added.

 

Jeongguk could only nod.

 

“We’ll come too,” his uncle said gruffly. “I want to see how much Darks Arts that Defence Against the Dart Arts professor can defend himself from.”

 

If Jeongguk didn’t hate his uncle, he might’ve actually found that comical.

 

“Ready?” his father whispered.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Are you asking me or telling me?” he laughed.

 

“Both?”

 

“Ok. Let’s go.”

 

Jeongguk’s parents led the way to the castle. It wasn’t too difficult. No, scrap that. Breaking into the castle was a walk in the park. His parents seemed bored as they brought down barricades and barricades of magical defence. The number of spells protecting the castle had decreased with the new Headmaster, as he was incapable of executing the several advanced magic spells. Jeongguk laughed when they finally decided that they had had enough and blasted down all the barriers and the doors, which opened to reveal the Entrance Hall, at the same time.

 

Judging from the time, Jeongguk decided that it was a little before first period which meant that there would be plenty of students walking towards their respective classrooms. After weeks of planning, they had decided that this would be the perfect time to invade the school and Jeongguk couldn’t deem them any more correct.

 

As soon as they entered the Entrance Hall, many students turned to observe the noise but when they recognised Jeongguk and then the army of Jeons, there was chaos. Students were screaming here and there, many trying to climb on top of others to get out of the way of the pervading wizards and witches. Jeongguk’s parents shook their heads at the noise before nodding at him to lead the way to the Defence Against the Dart Arts professor’s office.

 

Jeongguk took them up a flight of stairs until he reached the second floor and near the top was a little wooden door. His aunt and uncle didn’t even bother knocking and just pointed their wand at the door, causing it to explode. Then the five of them stepped through and found the professor cowering in the corner of the room. Jeongguk watched as his uncle headed towards him first and dragged him up by the scruff. It was quite amusing when the professor immediately started begging and Jeongguk could almost discern the glimmer of tears in his eyes when his uncle scoffed.

 

“Defence Against the Dark Arts, huh?”

 

“P-P-Please, I-I-“

 

“Is it true you wanted to use my son so your class could practice defence magic on him?” his father said cynically.

 

“N-No, I’m s-sorry. That’s n-not what I m-meant.”

 

“Then what exactly did you mean?” his mother’s snapped.

 

“I-I- please d-don’t kill me. I’ll j-join you if you s-spare me.”

 

He looked up at Jeongguk’s parents but when he didn’t see the forgiveness in their eyes, he turned to Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle. There was even less sympathy there and the professor’s last hope was Jeongguk. He pathetically crawled on all fours to the younger and grabbed his leg desperately while stuttering a messy apology.

 

“You’re the last person we want in our army,” his mother said with a cold glare and ripped the elder off of Jeongguk. “Stay away from my son.”

 

His uncle pulled the professor away again and Jeongguk sighed. He wanted to leave but he also didn’t want to annoy his aunt and uncle so he kept his mouth shut as his uncle threw the male against the wall and jabbed his wand at the professor.

 

“You see here. You kicked Jeongguk out of your class and he’s missed quite a few lessons. Since I’m more practiced in the Dark Arts than my nephew here, how about you show him some defence spells while I attack you with dark magic. Seems fair, don’t you think?” his uncle cackled.

 

Jeongguk knew his uncle couldn’t care less how many lessons he had missed but this was just his uncle’s way of showing dominance and power and Jeongguk was in no place to stop him. Not when he was so deep into his mindset. If he tried to stop his uncle now, it would only end with him getting hurt and his parents getting angry so he nodded. His uncle handed the professor his wand with a pleased smile before the rest stepped back to avoid any potential dangers.

 

“Relashio!”

 

“Protego!”

 

They had yelled at the same time so his uncle’s fiery sparks simply rebounded off the other’s shield charm.

 

“Flipendo!”

 

“Protego!”

 

“Reducto!”

 

“Protego!”

 

“Is Protego all you know?” Jeongguk’s uncle scoffed. “Jeongguk’s not going to learn much if you just keep yelling one spell.”

 

“I-I-“

 

“Expelliarmus.”

 

His uncle had sneakily attacked when the professor lowered his wand and now he was left without a wand. Jeongguk shrugged. Well, that was the end of his professor. His uncle was taunting not fighting. He pretended to give the professor a chance only to show how weak and incapable the other was.

 

“No one looks down on the Jeons,” his uncle spat.

 

“Can we go now?” Jeongguk asked. “I think you’ve humiliated him enough.”

 

“Whatever you wish,” his uncle replied and Jeongguk frowned. Wait, what? He’s not arguing?

 

Jeongguk’s parents held his arms as he turned to walk out but before he even took one step, he heard it. The spell of death.

 

“Avada Kedavra.”

 

He was too shocked to even scream at his uncle when he whipped his head around to watch the professor crumple into a heap on the floor. Jeongguk snapped his head to his uncle and glared.

 

“What was that for?” he growled.

 

“Don’t tell me you actually wanted him to live?” his uncle laughed.

 

“Well it’s not like he-“

 

“Jeongguk,” his father whispered. “Let’s just go. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can leave. Forever.”

 

He sighed and nodded. It’s not like this was the first time his uncle had killed a person and definitely not the first time it happened in front of him. Jeongguk walked out with his parents on each side, blasting away whichever student was in their path as they walked up to the Headmaster’s Tower through the Gargoyle Corridor.

 

When they arrived, his parents didn’t blink twice as they destroyed the gargoyle blocking their path to the office. Jeongguk knew why they were in such a hurry. They were as eager as he was for this War to be over so that the three of them could leave and start afresh. He led them up the stairs and found the Headmaster sitting calmly at his desk, unaware that the castle, his school, was under siege by the Jeon family. At Jeongguk’s entrance however, he frowned and stood up hurriedly but when his parents, aunt and uncle appeared the Headmaster looked close to fainting.

 

“Morning, Headmaster,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“J-Jeongguk. W-What’re you doing h-here?”

 

“Been here for a while already. Thank you for noticing though.”

 

The Headmaster glanced nervously between the other four behind Jeongguk, uneasy with their presence while the younger seemed to be comparatively relaxed and unbothered by the fact that his uncle was going to kill the elder soon. There was no way Jeongguk could stop him but at least the Killing Curse was fast and efficient so they could be out of here so soon as possible.

 

Of course, Jeongguk was wrong again.

 

His uncle walked up to his side and placed a hand on his shoulder. Jeongguk flinched and tried to slide away from his uncle tightened his grip so Jeongguk stopped struggling.

 

“So why was it that my nephew here was nearly killed but those bastards only received a week of suspension? Does the name Jeon not frighten you anymore? You’re getting brave,” he smirked.

 

“I-I’m sorry. The p-parents. They threatened me,” the Headmaster cried.

 

“Did they now? Are you sure they didn’t bribe you?”

 

“N-No. Of c-course n-not. W-What kind of H-Headmaster would I-I be?”

 

Even Jeongguk quirked an eyebrow out at that last question but he didn’t want to look at the Headmaster for another second so he sighed and closed his eyes, bringing a hand up to massage the bridge of his nose.

 

“Jeongguk. What do you think?”

 

“I don’t care. You can deal with him. He’s giving me a headache.”

 

Jeongguk knew that it was against all his morals to say that but he wanted nothing more than to just get out of this place. If he could just hurry and give the bracelet to his ‘friends’ so that his parents and him could leave, that would be brilliant. But obviously, his uncle wanted to give him a hard time until his last breath.

 

“That’s no way to go,” his uncle tutted. “I suggest that I teach you the Killing Curse now.”

 

“Enough,” Jeongguk’s father said sternly and tugged Jeongguk away. “We already decided against Jeongguk learning that.”

 

“You’re too soft on him,” his aunt stepped in before turning to Jeongguk’s uncle. “You should show him how it’s done. Properly.”

 

Jeongguk’s uncle smirked and nodded, seeing where she was going.

 

“Watch closely,” his hissed before walking to the Headmaster.

 

“P-Please-“

 

“Crucio!”

 

Jeongguk eyes went wide as the Headmaster fell, writhing on the ground. He howled from the pain and the sight made Jeongguk want to scream and run away. Every whimper tore into Jeongguk’s past and pulled the memories of his childhood back. He hadn’t suffered from them for a long time but now, it was forcefully making its way through his mind. Especially this spell. This spell was the most dangerous one after the Killing Curse and Jeongguk didn’t want to admit that he had suffered this pain too. He didn’t want to remember it. The searing pain. The lack of oxygen. The tortured screams.

 

“THAT’S ENOUGH! STOP IT!” Jeongguk yelled.

 

His parents, sensing his distress, dragged him outside the office and he fell into his mother’s arm immediately. She brought her fingers through his hair to calm him while his father rushed back inside to stop his brother-in-law. She didn’t speak and Jeongguk appreciated it. He could faintly register the Headmaster’s cry cease and then saw his father run back down to him. When he reached Jeongguk and his mother, he tugged them away from the Headmaster’s Tower.

 

“I-Is he ok?”

 

When Jeongguk’s father said nothing, Jeongguk clutched his mother tighter and rubbed his ears roughly, trying to erase the pained sounds. His parents grabbed his arms and held them away from his ears.

 

“Sweetie, you’re going to hurt yourself.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“No, don’t apologise. You did nothing wrong.”

 

Jeongguk kept his head on his mother’s shoulder and his parents waited until he had calmed down before talking.

 

“Come on, let’s go. After we help finish this, we can leave.”

 

“Actually I have somewhere I need to go first,” Jeongguk said, reluctantly pulling out of his mother’s warm embrace.

 

“Where?”

 

“Oh, I um… have some unfinished business with some people,” Jeongguk replied, clutching the bracelet tightly in his hand.

 

“Do you want us to come?”

 

“No… no, I think I want to do this alone.”

 

“Who do you need to find?”

 

“The people who left me.”

 

Jeongguk glanced down at his bracelet the moment his parents decided to look at each other so he missed the exchange of regret in their eyes. He rubbed his thumb along the thin silver chain and stopped at the small star. Jeongguk sighed. He had really come to like the bracelet and the meaning but now, whenever he thought about it, he was revolted. Jeongguk looked up again noticing that both of his parents were staring at him like they had something to say. Jeongguk frowned as his parents moved closer towards him, both of them no longer with any traces of ease on their face.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Jeongguk… we have something to tell you.”

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“We’ll understand if you hate us after this but we don’t want to hide it from you anymore.”

 

“Mum, Dad, I could never hate you.” Please, please, please don’t. If you have done something that requires my forgiveness, then I’d rather not know about it. Just keep it a secret forever. You two are the only people I have left in this world and I don’t want to lose you too. “But I have a lot on my mind right now so can you tell me after we leave? Remember how I was going to tell you about my scars? Well, that’s not a happy story either so can we leave both for later?”

 

With that Jeongguk took a deep breath and turned back around to go find his former ‘friends’.

 

“Jeongguk… this can’t wait.”

 

The crack in his mother’s voice twisted his stomach and he felt an uneasy sense of fear wash over him when he swivelled around to face his parents again. Both of them appeared determined and anxious so he took a deep breath and nodded for them to continue. However, Jeongguk didn’t see his parents walk towards him. He also didn’t notice them pulling out their wands and pointing it straight at him.

 

This isn’t good.

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk didn’t see his parents.

 

What he saw was someone running up the stairs behind them but he had failed to notice the presence of bodies behind himself.

 

“JEONGGUK, DUCK!”

 

He ducked instinctively and his parents’ spell flew over him and hit the crowd of students behind him. Jeongguk frowned and whipped out his own wand to blast the people running at his parents. He was about to stand up and run to his parents but a wall of bodies now blocked his path so his only choice was to get up and escape. He couldn’t take on thirty people by himself. His parents could but he still yelled at them to leave and find the others. As Jeongguk took one last glance back, he briefly noticed his aunt and uncle arriving to help but was forced to face away again when another spell missed his face by a mere few centimetres.

 

Jeongguk didn’t know how long he had been running for but only stopped when he couldn’t hear any more voices. He bent over his knees, trying to catch his breath before looking around to figure out were he was. Jeongguk recognised this corridor. It was the sixth floor corridor but he had barely been here. It looked pretty deserted at the moment so he took his time as he cautiously walked around and found a flight of stairs, taking it down to the fifth floor. Jeongguk wasn’t really sure where he was going but he knew he needed to get back to his parents to make sure they were ok.

 

He avoided wherever he heard screaming and shouting but unluckily his streak of fortune ended with his accidental run in with a group of senior students. There were only three of them. With his newly developed power, he could easily take them on but as they turned around to face him, he froze. Jeongguk recognised them. The Quidditch students. The ones who had glared at Jeongguk when he earned his position as Seeker and probably also the ones who had left Jeongguk bleeding near the forest of trees on the day of their tryouts. He was never going to forget his first encounter with the student body’s hatred.

 

“Jeongguk,” one of them spat. “You’re going to regret stepping foot into this castle.”

 

“Oh yeah? What’re you going to do? Lift me up and slam me against the wall this time?”

 

“You can’t take all three of us on,” another scoffed.

 

“Really? So you aren’t afraid of me?”

 

“We never were. Who gave you that idea?” the first one laughed. “If we can defeat you before, we can defeat you now.”

 

“I don’t think I recall you guys ever defeating me. I only remember three cowards attacking me behind my back, in the pouring rain.”

 

“You’re weak and delusional then.”

 

“Expelli-“

 

“Locomotor Wibbly!” Jeongguk called as one of them tried to attack him off guard and he watched as the boy helplessly dropped to the floor.

 

“You-“

 

“Expelliarmus,” Jeongguk mumbled, waving his wand lazily and disarming the student on the floor.

 

The other two frowned and held their wands higher.

 

“We’re not afraid of you.”

 

“You’re doing a great job of showing that.”

 

“Reducto!”

 

“Protego!”

 

Jeongguk frowned. If he hadn’t blocked the spell, it could have killed him or injured him severely. This meant that Jeongguk’s control in holding back his anger was made slightly more difficult but he was determined not to stoop as low as them and do more than necessary.

 

“Slugulus Eructo!” he yelled at one of them before pointing his wand at the other one and calling, “Furnunculus!”

 

Jeongguk watched in resentment as the first boy starting vomiting slugs while the second spell caused his victim to break out in boils. The students started screaming but Jeongguk turned on his heel and just walked off. If he stayed any longer, he might have actually done something he would regret. He had more important issues to attend to such as finding his parents, giving back the bracelet, winning the war and leaving forever.

 

However, the screams of the students must have attracted the attention of other because Jeongguk was quickly surrounded with another group of students. He rolled his eyes as they gathered around with their wands. The situation gave him déjà vu. Last year, during the beginning of the school year, they had surrounded him. A month ago they had done just the same in the Gryffindor common room. So wasn’t this like the third time they were going to threaten him?

 

This time, though, Jeongguk was stronger. Stronger than all of them combined, even if they didn’t know it. What a wonderful surprise that will be. His past month of training with his parents was finally going to pay off. They were going to get what they deserved and Jeongguk was not going to regret his decision for once. He had made a resolve to stand up for himself and not have others look down on him again and that’s exactly what he’s going to do.

 

He waited for them to finish getting into their positions before lifting his wand up in front of him. Their eyes immediately flitted to his wand before moving back to his face. Jeongguk nearly laughed at the nervous energy the students radiated but chose to keep his mouth shut and wait for them to start their threat.

 

“So this is what you told us to be careful of? Yourself,” started a boy, just like how Jeongguk had predicted.

 

“That day, we shouldn’t have let you leave. We thought you were running away but you were only running to get help.”

 

“You’re pathetic if you think you’re getting out of this alive.”

 

“Where’re your precious friends now?”

 

“Are you here to talk or fight?” Jeongguk frowned.

 

“Don’t talk to me with that tone,” one student spat.

 

“Or what?

 

“We-“

 

”You what?” Jeongguk asked as he cut the student off, not wishing to hear the trash coming out of the other’s mouth. “You’re going to try and get me expelled again?”

 

“We can try and get you killed,” a girl shrugged.

 

“I’ll like to see you try,” Jeongguk laughed, amused by her words.

 

“You think you can take all ten of us?”

 

“I don’t see why not.”

 

“Don’t overestimate yourself.”

 

“Why don’t you we fight and you can see whether I’m overestimating or not?”

 

“We’re not going to hold back.”

 

“Mhm. I would hope not.”

 

“Really, we’re not.”

 

“If you’re scared, I’ll give you ten seconds to leave.”

 

“Who’s scared?” the girl scoffed but Jeongguk found it hard to believe with the way her lip was slightly trembling under his gaze.

 

“Diffindo,” Jeongguk said lazily as he pointed his wand at the student that had attacked him with the exact same spell last year. His spell hit his target and Jeongguk nodded proudly before switching moods as the rest starting attacking as well.

 

He dodged their spells left and right and paralysed about half of them before attaining his first injury right under his chest. Another cut to add to his endlessly growing collection. Jeongguk could tell that it was a fairly deep wound from the level of pain and placed his left hand over the wound to stop the blood flow which was staining his perfectly white shirt red as his right hand continued relentlessly slashing up and down. Jeongguk hadn’t killed any of them of course but when all of his opponents were either unconsciously or paralysingly sprawled out on the ground in splatters of blood, Jeongguk took a moment to admire his newly acquired skills before taking his leave again.

 

As he walked away he noticed another throb on his wand arm. He looked down and there was a gash on his upper arm but it wasn’t bleeding as severely as the one on his torso so he dismissed it, continuing to make his way around Hogwarts. He was successful in avoiding other groups of students but there were also no signs of his parents either so he walked down to the fourth floor. The centre of the battle was happening on the first floor and Jeongguk wasn’t sure he would be able to find them down there so he stuck to roaming the corridors and trying to keep his blood inside him. However, as he walked down one particular corridor, a person from behind stopped him in his path.

 

“Jeongguk?”

 

That voice.

 

The person who had helped Jeongguk through his brother’s death. The person who stayed up through the long nights to look after him when he was injured. The person who he had first confronted about his uncle and aunt’s abuse. The person who promised he would always be there for him. But he was also person who had betrayed him and left.

 

When Jeongguk needed him most, he disposed of him. Yes, he may have had a part in the death of the other’s father and so yes, the hate for him was justified but why did the voice have to appear and sound so miserable?

 

He turned around but it wasn’t just one face he saw. It was six.

 

Jeongguk wanted to run. But he couldn’t. He was rooted on the spot. Isn’t this what he had wanted? He wanted to find his ‘friends’ and return the bracelet but now that they were finally standing right in front of him, why was it that his mouth of sealed shut and his brain was malfunctioning?

 

They took a step forward and he took a step back.

 

Why now?

 

“Jeongguk. Oh my god.”

 

He didn’t realise that the person who had just spoken had run and thrown his arms around him. He stood unmoving like a statue.

 

“Are you ok? Oh my god. Who hurt you? Why’re you bleeding so much?”

 

He couldn’t move in Taehyung’s arms. He was trapped like the first time they had met except this time, Jeongguk hated him.

 

“Get away from me.”

 

“Jeongguk, I-“

 

He didn’t give the older a chance to finish his sentence before forcing Taehyung off of him. When he pushed the elder off, he noticed that his blood had stained the other’s school robes but neither seemed to care.

 

“You can’t do that.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“No. You can’t just come into my life, be my friend or family or whatever you called it, promise to stay with me forever, throw me away and then hug me. Stop confusing me.”

 

“We-“

 

“Wait, no. You were never my friends to begin with. It was all an act.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“You lied from the very start. I was stupid and naïve and I believed you. I believed that you were my family. I believed that you guys would always be there for me and I believed that you loved me.”

 

The volume of his voice decreased through his speech and ended in a whisper.

 

“But I was wrong.”

 

“No-“

 

“I know you only became my ‘friends’ because you felt sorry for me. You guys were never my family. But do you know what you put me through? No, you don’t because you guys had each other. I was by myself the whole time. Did it cross your mind what I must have felt?”

 

“Guk-“

 

“Don’t call me that. We’re not friends and Yoongi, the letter you ripped, I know you guys didn’t even read it but I take back my words.”

 

“Jeongguk, we read it.”

 

“No. Don’t lie-“

 

“’Thank you for showing me what love is again and I’ll never forget you. Thank you Jin, Yoongi, Hoseok, Namjoon, Jimin, Tae for being the family I’ve never had. I love you.’ Is that what you’re taking back?” Yoongi recited. They read it?

 

“…Yes. I take everything back but it doesn’t mean anything now anyways. The letter’s gone.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I know I left first you guys but I was an idiot to think you actually cared about me. I’m actually glad that I left this hellhole. I met my parents, you know? They’re great people. I don’t need you guys or want you in my life anymore.”

 

“Wait-“

 

“No, let me talk. Do you know how long it took me to get over you guys? No you don’t because I still don’t know, myself. Every time anyone does anything remotely affectionate, it just reminds me of you guys and I can’t live like this anymore. I just can’t. I’ve tried to forget you guys so many times but the pain I went through was worse than what my aunt and uncle had inflicted on me so I just can’t forget. There were so many times I considered Obliviating you from my memory so I wouldn’t have to live with the pain but I never could. Do you know that feeling? It felt exactly like all those times I thought about killing myself but I just couldn’t take the extra step.”

 

He didn’t even think twice through the words he was recklessly blurting out but he didn’t miss the six identical look of fear as he whispered the last sentence. Only then did he realise what he had just admitted but at this point, he barely cared.

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“The spells my aunt and uncle used on me, at least I could fix the physical wounds but my heart… you can’t fix that,” Jeongguk whispered. “I sometimes try and pretend that I’m fine and it doesn’t hurt but I can’t.”

 

“Jeongguk, we didn’t mean any of it. We love you and we care.” If only that was true.

 

“Stop. Stop lying to me. The letters you wrote me, I burnt all of them and this bracelet,” he lied as he flashed the bracelet. “I’m here to return it.”

 

“You brought on a war to return the bracelet?”

 

“Is that really what you think of me?” Jeongguk spat harshly. “Guess you guys really aren’t that different from other students.”

 

“That’s not what I meant.”

 

“Enough. When you guys left that day, you said that you hoped we would never meet again. Well, I’m sorry that I’m here now. If my existence annoys you, you could always just hex me away or something.”

 

“We’re not going to fight you but-“

 

“You can’t take me on anyways. The Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and the Headmaster, they’re both dead,” Jeongguk laughed. Why am I laughing? “Yoongi, you were right. You shouldn’t have saved me five years ago. You should’ve just left me to die at the graveyard. And that student who choked me, I’m sure you all heard what happened to him. You shouldn’t have saved me from him either. You should’ve just let him kill me. I hope you’re not regretting that decision.”

 

“Jeongguk, stop. This isn’t you.”

 

“Stop trying to tell me who I am. This is the real me and if you can’t accept it, then leave. Oh wait… I forgot. You already did.” Jeongguk, stop it.

 

None of his friends said anything and Jeongguk took it as his cue to leave.

 

“Whatever. I’m done here anyways. After this war is over, I’m leaving forever and this time, we’ll actually never meet again.” Please make me stay. Please tell me you had a reason to leave me. Please don’t lie to me again.

 

“Wait, Jeongguk you’re injured. Jeongguk-“

 

Jeongguk surprised them by throwing his bracelet their way and before they could finish what they were going to say, he ran off. He wanted to find his parents and get out of here but he couldn’t help the way his insides were twisting. Jeongguk promised himself he wasn’t going to cry and that he was going to be over his ‘friends’ once he returned the bracelet but why was his heart hurting so much? Shouldn’t the physical pain be overpowering his emotions by now? He tried to take deep breaths to calm down and focus not crying. It was too dangerous to cry here when he was exposed left and right.

 

He stood up and continued his search until a warm hand grabbed his wrist and roughly shoved him against the wall, inconsiderate of his two open wounds. Sensing danger, Jeongguk tried to hold up his wand but the other hand came up and stopped his arm, pushing it back down beside him. The hand was covering his injury, digging unkindly into the cut and before he could look up to see who had thrown him against the wall, the voice spoke next to his ear and he didn’t need to see to recognise it.

 

“Jeongguk, don’t talk and listen to me.”

 

“Get off.”

 

“Not until you finish listening to what I have to say.”

 

“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say.”

 

He tried to push Yoongi away but another set of hands found Jeongguk’s shoulders and kept him firmly against the wall. Jeongguk glared at Namjoon as the other four of his ‘friends’ appeared, slightly out of breath, behind his tall figure.

 

“Let go of me.”

 

“Jeongguk, please listen,” Jin pleaded.

 

“Please just… let us say this and then we’ll let you go. If you’re still angry after this, you can hurt us as much as we hurt you.”

 

“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not going to hurt you. I can’t,” Jeongguk sighed before continuing, “The pain you inflicted on me, there’s no way I can ever forget it. I’ll never want another person to suffer what I have so just leave me alone.”

 

“Jeongguk, we’re sorry about everything. We are. But if we went back to the day we left you, we still would have made the same decision. None of us regret what we did. If you want us to leave, just say the word. If you never want to see us again, we promise we’ll never show ourselves again. But please just hear us out first,” Jimin murmured.

 

The youngest sighed, knowing there was no way for them to let go of him now, and turned his gaze to the floor.

 

“It hurts,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“What hurts?”

 

Yoongi frowned before realising how much Jeongguk was tensing his arm and quickly withdrew his hand to reveal a deep gash, seeping with blood. He grimaced at the sight and moved his bloodied hand down to the younger’s wrist, making sure to avoid the injury and gripping more gently this time. The cut on Jeongguk’s torso was also throbbing from the way they made him stand upright but he didn’t voice it. Even though they had probably already seen him at his most fragile state, they didn’t need another image of his weakness so he kept his mouth shut and let the blood run down to his pants.

 

“Everything we said to you that day was a lie.”

 

“And you expect me to believe that?”

 

“No, I don’t expect you to but I want you to try. We really didn’t mean anything of it.”

 

“Then why did you say it?”

 

“Because we had no choice.”

 

“You had no choice to hurt me? You knew how broken I was but you had no choice to say all of that to shatter the broken pieces even more?”

 

“Jeongguk, we-“

 

“You never loved me. You admitted it a month ago so what changed?”

 

“Nothing changed.”

 

“Then why can’t you just admit it now? I know I killed your father and for that, you deserve every right to hate me but-“

 

“My father wasn’t your fault, Jeongguk. My mum told me that you tried to help them escape-“

 

“But they didn’t.”

 

“And that wasn’t your fault either. I’m sorry you had to get hurt- wait… why were you limping? Who hurt you?”

 

“Accident,” Jeongguk said, eyes looking down again.

 

“Who? Your uncle’s?” Yoongi asked and Jeongguk shook his head. “Your aunt’s?”

 

“Your father’s,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

Jeongguk looked up just in time to see the shocked expression on Yoongi’s face.

 

“It was an accident. He was supposed to hit my uncle not me.”

 

“Oh. Jeongguk, I’m so sorry. I- I didn’t know. I’m sorry. Oh my g-”

 

“It’s fine. It wasn’t his fault… or yours. Don’t apologise.”

 

“I… there’s something I should have said early but I never got the chance. Thank you for saving my mother’s life.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Know what?”

 

“How do you know I stopped my uncle from killing her? Your mother was unconscious. She couldn’t have known.”

 

“Because-“

 

“HEY!” a voice interrupted Yoongi and a group of about twenty students appeared before them. “Looks like you guys aren’t on the Jeons’ side after all. Good job catching him.”

 

Jeongguk was ready to retort something but Yoongi and Namjoon released their grip and stepped between him and the group of students. Without them supporting him, the younger immediately fell forward from the dizziness of blood loss but quickly caught himself and stood upright. He winced from the sudden twinge of pain and covered his wound again with his left hand, earning a worried glance from the other four behind him.

 

“What’re you doing? Keep him against the wall unless you want to die,” a female student ordered.

 

“We’re not on the Jeons’ side but we’re on Jeongguk’s side.” What?

 

“That’s the Jeons’ side, you imbeciles.”

 

Jeongguk frowned at their condescending tone and tried to push in front of Yoongi and Namjoon but Jimin stopped him. He turned around to question but the Slytherin shook his head and gripped the younger’s arm tighter. Hoseok came to stand on his other side and pulled Jeongguk closer to himself as Yoongi glared daggers at the group. Jeongguk glanced down at their hands and caught sight of the silver bracelet dangling on Jimin and Hoseok’s wrists. The thin chain. The small star. They’re still wearing the bracelet? Why?

 

“Leave.”

 

“Why’re you protecting him? He killed your father, didn’t he?”

 

“That’s none of your business.”

 

“Fine but the Ministry of Magic have been notified and they’re on their way already.” I have to warn my parents. “If the Ministry finds out that you helped the Jeon heir, you’re not going to get away either. So hand Jeongguk over and we’ll be on our way.”

 

“That’s not going to happen.”

 

“Are you guys stupid? If we have him, we can end this war.”

 

“So you’re going to use him as a hostage?”

 

“Yeah. You have a problem with that?”

 

“Yes we do.” They do?

 

“Then I guess we have no choice,” the male said, as the party all pulled out their wands. “Step away from him unless you want to die.”

 

“Yoongi, move,” Jeongguk said, tapping the side of the elder’s waist. Why? Why are you doing this?

 

“No.”

 

“Yoongi, this isn’t the best time for you to be stubborn. You can’t take on that many students.” Move, you idiot. I don’t want you to get hurt because of me. If the Ministry finds out you protected me, you’ll get into trouble too.

 

“See, you heard him. Step away and hand him over.”

 

“Jeongguk, we’re not handing you over.”

 

“Petrificus Totalus!”

 

“Protego!”

 

The male student attacked before Jeongguk could react to Yoongi’s words but he was quick to throw up a shield. However, as the twenty or so students advanced, the seven of them were forced to separate and Jeongguk found himself once again running in a random direction. Most of the students had ended up chasing him and Jeongguk wasn’t sure why he was secretly glad he had twenty people on his tail. Was it because he knew that the other six were safe? Or was it simply because he was just glad to be away from his ‘friends’ so they couldn’t corrupt him with their lies again? Either way, he was worried about their wellbeing. If the Ministry of Magic came, would they get blamed as well for letting him go? What if the Ministry decided that they’re on his family’s side as well and throw them in Azkaban?

 

He didn’t get too much to much time to dwell on his thoughts as the stampede of footsteps behind him reminded him of the danger. On another occasion, he might’ve actually stood his ground to fight but there were more than ten and he wasn’t going to take the risk now, especially with them wanting to use him as a hostage. He knew his parents wouldn’t hesitate to give up everything just as long as he was safe but Jeongguk didn’t want to be the reason his family lost this war so the best option was for him to not get caught. Another reason Jeongguk was so adamant on running was because he was starting to feel faint from all the blood loss so he didn’t have the energy to defend himself but he reasoned that winning the war was the more important reason.

 

Jeongguk climbed a set of stairs and arrived back on the fifth floor however, this time there were both voices behind him and in front of him. Both groups of people were calling his name. The only difference was the tone. The people behind him were angry, ferocious, and murderous while the voices in front were worried, anxious and distressed.

 

Forward was the best way, he decided as he charged ahead. Jeongguk turned back and briefly caught sight of the students catching up so he ran harder, ignoring the weeping blood, until he came to the end of the corridor.

 

“JEONGGUK!”

 

“DAD!”

 

He ran into his father’s arms as his mother, aunt and uncle quickly ran up behind him.

 

“Are you ok? Are you hurt? Why’re you so out of breath? Were you running from someone?”

 

Jeongguk nodded at his mother’s questions, not really sure which one he was really answering but looked behind him as the students reached the end of the corridor as well. His parents’ features dawned with understanding and pushed Jeongguk back before the four elders stepped forward, wands ready in their hands.

 

The students took one step back. And then another step. And then they were scrambling over each other to get out of the corridor. Jeongguk watched in amusement as the boy who had threatened them tripped over his own two feet and pushed the other students out of the way so he could leave first.

 

“Jeongguk, what happened?” his mother asked, cupping his face to check for injuries before noticing his now red shirt and voice immediately changing to a harsh tone, “Who did this? Where are they? Why is there so much blood? How long have you been bleeding?”

 

“I’m fine. Don’t worry but they uh… wanted to use me as a hostage to end this war.”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Should’ve killed them when we had the chance,” his uncle grunted.

 

“So, where have you guys been?”

 

“Blasting away people who stood in our way,” his aunt shrugged.

 

“Stop chit-chatting and let’s go. We have a war to win,” his uncle said before turning around and walking off.

 

This time as they walked, Jeongguk’s parents made sure to keep their son in between them at all times but shared worried glances with each other when they noticed how pale their son’s skin was turning. As they roamed the corridors, searching for people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jeongguk thought about what Yoongi had said. Nothing was adding up and Jeongguk felt his brain was going to overheat from using it too much. They didn’t have a choice to lie? How did Yoongi know I saved his mother? He wasn’t there and she was unconscious…

 

“Jeongguk sweetie, are you really ok? You’re turning rather pale.”

 

“Yeah, I’m good. I just want to finish this so we can go home already.”

 

“Me too,” Jeongguk’s mother whispered.

 

“Oh also, I overheard that the Ministry of Magic were coming soon.”

 

“Then we better hurry,” his mother said as they sped up their pace.

 

“Let’s put an end to this now,” his father nodded.

 

Half of the castle was immersed in flames but no one seemed to pay any attention as they walked down to the Great Hall. On the way, they saw that the corridors were littered with bodies of both students and Jeons. Jeongguk could only differentiate between the two by their clothes but whenever they passed a student, Jeongguk couldn’t help but look closely at their faces to decipher if they were his… he doesn’t even know what to call them anymore, friends who may or may not have betrayed him because they had no choice? Thankfully, none of the dead students happened to be them though but every scream kept him on his toes.

 

Jeongguk was torn between trying to believe them and shielding himself from any more potential lies that’ll break him again. They had seemed so earnest though. But if they were telling the truth, who forced them to lie to him?

 

Can I risk trusting them again?

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk followed his parents to the heart of the battle. The Great Hall.

 

He despised the smell. The fresh scent of blood. He despised the noise. Screams casting spells against screams of pain. He despised the sight. One body dropping after the other like they were dominoes.

 

The violence was confined inside the walls of the castle but all Jeongguk wanted was to just be outside. It was too much. Everything was overwhelming his senses and to make it worse, his blood didn’t plan to stop running any time soon. Jeongguk wanted to remind it that it’s not participating in a marathon but he might just be a little out of it. There were dried bloodstains on his hands but Jeongguk couldn’t care less, not when they were so close to the Great Hall.

 

As soon as they arrived, he saw that the battle was organised like in his mind. He had pictured his family, the Jeons, on one side of the hall while the students and professors were on the other side whilst both sides simultaneously yelled one spell after another. But he was wrong. It was a mess. His extended family was scattered around the hall, each battling more than three or four students. There weren’t many bodies around the hall but as unconscious ones woke up, they immediately returned to the fight to support their peers.

 

Jeongguk hated it.

 

But he wasn’t going to run. His parents turned to face him, expressions sullen, but before they could ask if he was ok to fight, he nodded at them and the three of them stepped through the gates. The students were barely holding their ground against the Jeons but with the addition of the four strongest wizards and witches, they were getting annihilated. Neither of his parents delivered fatal spells but when they finished with one victim, Jeongguk noticed that his aunt and uncle were quick to follow his parents’ trail and dispose of the unarmed students.

 

However, before he could analyse the situation, he was quickly surrounded by four students who had decided that he’d be an easier target. Their mistake. Jeongguk brought up his own wand, hand flicking back and forth as he defended and attacked. The light-headed feeling he was experiencing had increased after several utterance of magic spells but he kept the panic inside his brain at a minimum.

 

When he finished dealing with one student, another student replaced the last and he was once again dealing with four. His wand movements picked up pace as a fifth student found her way into the circle. Jeongguk noticed the male who wanted to use him as a hostage and considered him his next target. Sidestepping gracefully, he directed a Disarming Charm at said student before moving closing to him and knocking him down with a Full Body-Bind Curse.

 

Jeongguk managed to dodge another two spells before his double Confundus Charm hit both targeted students, bewitching them in confusion. As he turned to face his last two opponents, they had somehow doubled again and there were another two new faces. Jeongguk groaned silently as he threw up a Shield Charm to protect himself from the incoming fire that one of the senior female students conjured. With his back turned to another student, he didn’t realise they have used Langlock on him until his tongue had affixed itself to the roof of his mouth.

 

Without his mouth to pronounce incantations, Jeongguk could only muster the small variety of simple spells which his parents taught him to use without the recitation. They didn’t see it coming though. They thought he was defenceless but Jeongguk surprised them once again by alarmingly dodging an Eradication Spell before disarming two students wordlessly. Sensing his increased power, they eyes widened before throwing more fatal spell the younger’s way.

 

Jeongguk vaguely noticed his six friends entering the hall as well but he didn’t allow himself to become distracted as another spell flew too close to home. Way too close. He wanted to yell at them to get out because it was too dangerous for them here but he remembered that his tongue was locked and gripped his fists in frustration.

 

Despite his persistence, his vision was slowly blurring into blotches of colours but it didn’t slow him down. Not now, body. Not now.

 

He must have been fairly pale because the students smirked at his weakened state before using it to their advantage. Jeongguk backed up while trying to defend and attack with the minimal spells and it wasn’t astonishing that he somehow ended up leaning against the wall for support.

 

Another spell to his arm left a tingling, fiery sensation like his whole arm was afire. The unexpected feeling caused him to stumbled but Jeongguk fought back as he quickly caught himself against the wall. Jeongguk tried to shake his head to clear his eyes but the action only made his headache worse. His uneven rasps of breath were short and laboured but they were barely audible compared to his pounding heart that was screaming in protest against his ribcage. The drumming sound was so loud, it travelled to his ears alongside a series of quiet, restrained whimpers.

 

He wondered why he wasn’t dead yet. Why hadn’t anyone attacked him when he was on the verge of collapsing? But then he registered the pair of arms around his waist and unconsciously leaned into them. The two bodies beside him were so warm and he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and sleep but he knew he couldn’t. He had a war to finish. He had a war to win. There was no time for weakness.

 

Jeongguk reluctantly forced his eyes open before standing upright and facing his saviours. His friends.

 

There was a concerned frown on all six faces but before anyone could say anything, another flash of light came their way and he pushed his friends behind him as he conjured up a silent Shield Charm. When he knocked the opponent away he turned back to them and pointed to his mouth. Immediately understanding, Yoongi rapidly lifted the spell off the younger.

 

“Thank you,” Jeongguk whispered and he spun around to return to the fight but a person with a strong grip held him back.

 

“Stop. You’re injured.”

 

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk insisted, without looking at Hoseok, before trying to shrug the elder off.

 

“Lies.”

 

“I could be better,” Jeongguk corrected.

 

“Verdillious!”

 

Jeongguk saw the green sparks before he heard the spell and violently shoved Hoseok back towards the group of five before dodging the spell himself. When he saw Namjoon had safely caught Hoseok, he glared at the male who had attacked them when their guard was down.

 

“We’re not in the middle of a drama, you little shit! This is a war your family brought on so pay fucking attention!”

 

He lashed out and stunned the male before sending him flying back to the opposite side of the hall with an “Expulso”. Satisfied that the other was no longer a threat, Jeongguk raced back to Hoseok and held the elder’s arm.

 

“Are… are you ok? I didn’t mean to push you that hard,” Jeongguk muttered, fighting back another wave of dizziness.

 

“I’m ok but you’re not,” Hoseok murmured.

 

“It’s fine. You guys should leave. It’s too dangerous here.”

 

“What?”

 

“You guys should leave. It’s too dangerous,” Jeongguk repeated, confused at why they didn’t understand his simple request.

 

“No,” Yoongi said firmly. “If we’re leaving, then you are too.”

 

“Yoongi,” Jeongguk started carefully. “Go. This war, my family started it. I can’t abandon them. Especially not my parents.”

 

“Then we’re staying too,” Jin nodded.

 

“And before you argue with that, head’s up. There’re seven students headed our way,” Jimin said with a grim face.

 

He whipped his head around and brought his wand up to deflect the first spell. Soon, the seven of them were battling the students, one on one. Jeongguk could hear a particular student snorting at his friends for having chosen the Jeon side after all and Jeongguk realised that they were right. If the Ministry were to arrive now, his friends would be in trouble for betrayal and he wasn’t going to let anyone else get dragged down by him. Why he cared about them so much, he didn’t know himself.

 

“Expulso!” he called, blasting his opponent away. He skittered back to the other six battles before directing the students’ attention away from his friends. “They’re not on my side. They hate me and the feeling is mutual.”

 

“Then why’re they helping you?” a student spat.

 

“Because I threatened them to.”

 

“Of course you did.”

 

Jeongguk wheezed in pain as one of them sent a chair into the wound on his stomach. Doubling over, his feet finally gave out and his willpower to fight slowly diminished. His friends ran up to him without hesitation even though Jeongguk was eyeing them with fierce intensity, ordering them to leave. Jeongguk had to admit that he had never seen the flare of fury in their eyes. Despite their fake friendship, the six people he had come to know in the past few months were probably the most gentle and caring beings on Earth so this unfamiliar anger was definitely new. The resentment wasn’t directed at him but he still found himself shuddering from the sight.

 

Jin immediately began nursing the cuts on his arm and torso while Hoseok cradled his head and whispered soothing words in his ear. He noticed that the other four stood in front of them, blocking his view of the students.

 

“Don’t fucking touch him,” they seethed.

 

The next few minutes were a blur. Jeongguk tried his best to focus on the relentless spells Yoongi, Namjoon, Jimin and Taehyung were angrily expelling but in the gentle embrace of Jin and Hoseok, he became too tired, darkness threatening to engulf him. However, nature refused to give way again as his whole body suddenly trembled and he went into a coughing fit. He heard a gasp when he stopped but his brain didn’t even try to figure out why there was a metallic, iron taste on his tongue but he was quite sure a sticky substance was running out of his mouth.

 

Out of the corner of his nearly closed eyes, he realised his other four friends had joined the huddle again, the furious glint in their eyes dissipated.

 

“Jeongguk, stay with us.”

 

“I’m right here,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“We have to get you to a healer.”

 

“Watch out!” Jeongguk whisper-shouted with all his remaining energy, eyes warning his friends of another incoming attack.

 

However, this time another two people came to their rescue and in less than ten seconds, the five students who had tried to approach them were nowhere to be seen. His parents hurried to his side and gently pulled him away from his friends and into their embrace.

 

“Jeongguk, sweetie. Oh my god. What happened? Why’re you bleeding so much? Who did this?” his mother fired question after question.

 

“I’m going to kill them,” his father threatened.

 

“No you’re not,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“They can be my first.”

 

“Please don’t.”

 

“Jeongguk-“

 

“I’m fine. Don’t worry. It was a momentary. The chair threw me off balance,” Jeongguk said, grimacing as he propped himself up. “See?”

 

“I don’t see anything but blood,” his mother frowned.

 

“Petrificus Totalus,” Jeongguk coughed at another stupid student. “Come on. Let’s go finish this war. I want to go home.”

 

“Can you stand?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Needless to say, Jeongguk wasn’t in a good condition but with the help of his parents, he managed to pull himself up and look somewhat alive. He swayed a bit from the movement as a sudden rush of blood veered its way through his head but his father was quick to reach an arm out to steady him.

 

“We have to end this before the Ministry comes,” Jeongguk stated before turning to his friends. “You guys should leave too. The Ministry won’t be happy about you defending me.”

 

“Not until you leave.”

 

“It’s ok. We’ve got him,” his mother whispered, apologetic look on her face going unnoticed by Jeongguk who was too busy trying to focus on staying awake. “You… you should leave.”

 

“What about you guys?” Taehyung replied.

 

“We’re leaving once this war is over.”

 

“Forever?” Namjoon asked.

 

“…Yeah,” Jeongguk’s father nodded without looking his friends in the eye. “Did you tell him?”

 

“No, we didn’t,” Jin spoke.

 

“Tell who what?” Jeongguk frowned.

 

“Maybe it’s better that he doesn’t know then,” Hoseok whispered.

 

“He seems happier like this,” Jimin agreed with a sad smile.

 

“We’re… we’re really sorry about everything.”

 

“Can we at least say bye?” Yoongi asked.

 

Jeongguk’s parents nodded.

 

“We were going to leave tonight but we need to get Jeongguk to a healer first so we’ll leave tomorrow morning.”

 

“What’s going on?” Jeongguk asked.

 

At that moment his uncle and aunt decided that it was the perfect time for them to show up beside Jeongguk, his parents and his friends. Jeongguk tensed when his uncle placed a hand on his better arm and he noticed that his friends’ and dad’s face immediately transformed into an annoyed frown.

 

“Leave my nephew alone.”

 

“You leave him alone,” Taehyung spat. “How dare you even touch him after everything you’ve done?”

 

“Become brave have we now? There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity. I suggest you not cross it.”

 

“So would you say Jeonghyun crossed that line?” Namjoon asked.

 

“What does this have to do with Jeonghyun?” Jeongguk’s aunt hissed.

 

“You guilt tripped Jeongguk with his brother this whole time. He’s been living with the weight of his brother’s death on his hands for how many years now? Doing whatever to get out of your way and not infuriate you but he just can’t accept that Jeonghyun’s death was entirely your fault not his. Everything that’s happening now is also your fault,” Yoongi seethed.

 

Jeongguk looked up at his friends and begged them with his eyes to stop talking but they ignored him. He could sense his uncle restricting his blood circulation and warning him through the fingernails piercing into his arm.

 

“What?” Jeongguk’s parents frowned at the same time.

 

“Don’t listen to them. They’re lying,” Jeongguk’s uncle growled, grasp on Jeongguk’s arm tightening. “I’ll handle them.”

 

“You don’t know how Jeonghyun died?” Jimin asked in a low tone even though it was more of a statement than a question.

 

“He died protecting Jeongguk?” Jeongguk’s father spoke slowly.

 

“And why did he need to protect Jeongguk?” Hoseok questioned.

 

“Because he ran away from home and something happened?” Jeongguk’s mother said unsurely and turned to her son.

 

“He what?” Jin frowned.

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk nodded at his mother. “Now let’s go.”

 

His desperation to keep his uncle from his friends and put a safe distance between them was increasing steadily and the panic at the back of his mind was pounding dangerously.

 

“No-“

 

“Yoongi, stop. This isn’t your story to tell.”

 

“Your parents deserve the right to know how their son died.”

 

“But not from you.”

 

“You’re never going to tell them.”

 

“Maybe they don’t need to know.”

 

“Jeongguk,” his mother whispered. “What happened? What’re they talking about?”

 

“I promise I’ll tell you after this but can we go? Please? I don’t think I can last much longer,” Jeongguk whispered so his uncle wouldn’t hear.

 

“…Ok,” she nodded. “Ok.”

 

His father pushed Jeongguk’s uncle’s hand off the younger before his parents supported him away. Jeongguk cast worried glances behind him, making sure his aunt and uncle were following and his friends were leaving. Most of the students in the hall were either unconscious or dead but there were quite a number of injured Jeons too.

 

Either way, they had already won.

 

Hogwarts was neither a school nor even a castle anymore. It was a pile of ruins which stood weak and frail, walls sighing from defeat and ceilings weeping at the destruction. All they needed to do now was get out and Apparate back home.

 

But easier said than done.

 

His aunt and uncle had other plans. They followed Jeongguk and his parents for less than half a minute before returning to Jeongguk’s friends and releasing their attack. Jeongguk’s heart couldn’t handle the shock and his body reacted violently when Jeongguk gasped and choked on his own blood. His parent’s hurriedly tried to pat his back but his coughing didn’t seize as it layered the floor with more blood. Jeongguk, don’t be weak now. They need you.

 

Jeongguk pointed futilely in his friends’ direction but his parents didn’t leave his side. He let out a strangled cry as a spell struck Jimin and the elder stumbled backwards, catching himself and raising his wand to fight again. A ball of fire hit Hoseok’s leg but apart from a slight wince, the Hufflepuff showed no signs of pain, continuing to help his friends battle Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle. His heart started racing again when he noticed Taehyung’s bloodied shoulder and Namjoon holding the side of his back. Jin’s wand arm was injured but he was still casting spells with his left hand and Yoongi seemed to be the only one holding himself.

 

“H-Help them. T-They’re going t-to kill them.”

 

When his coughing stopped and he finished wiping the blood from his mouth, he glanced at his parents, desperation and fear written on his face. Their eyes were shining from unshed tears as they hesitated between helping their own son and saving his friends. It was one life against six.

 

Jeongguk wasn’t going to last though so that was more of a reason for his parents to help his friends. His body was losing strength and he could feel his soul loosening its grasp on the world. Jeongguk felt death’s icy breath on the hairs on the back of his neck but he didn’t want to accept it. Not now. In the misty veil, his eyes recognised Jeonghyun. It was tempting to stop holding onto to the wisps of life and just let go but he couldn’t.

 

“Please stop them.”

 

Jeongguk chanced another look at his aunt and uncle and his blood ran cold as he noticed a familiar wand movement. He thought he was never going to see it again but the lightening bolt stroke of the wand was unmistakeable and made his breath hitch.

 

While his aunt and uncle yelled “Avada Kedavra”, his friends yelled a mix of “Confringo”, “Expulso”, “Diffindo”, “Sectumsempra”, “Verdillious” and “Incendio” almost simultaneously. It was the Killing Curse against the six other less powerful hexes and curses so there was no doubt which one would win, especially since his aunt and uncle’s skill was so much greater.

 

“NO!” Jeongguk screamed.

 

There was absolutely no way his friends were going to avoid the Killing Curse.

 

None.

 

Unless you’re Jeongguk and your reflexes are faster than the speed of light.

 

It all happened in a flash.

 

One second Jeongguk was by his parents.

 

Then he was in front of his friends, body stretched into a shield.

 

Some may say that it all started with a big bang but this ended with one.

 

All eight spells hit Jeongguk and he dropped with a dull thud.

 

He took one last breath and his eyelids fell.

 

This is really the end.

 

Chapter Text

It was a race. It was a mess. It was a tragedy. But it wasn’t hopeless.

 

Jeongguk might have survived about a hundred different spells but never once does he recall a situation where he had to throw himself in front of the Killing Curse. But he was ready to face death. His death wouldn’t be meaningless. Jeongguk would be pleased to know that his death saved six lives. He smiled contentedly as the pain overwhelmed his senses and death called to him.

 

There was noise. A lot of it. They were all saying his name.

 

Screaming.

 

Crying.

 

Suffering.

 

“JEONGGUK! NO! NO!”

 

“NO! JEONGGUK, SWEETIE, WAKE UP!”

 

His parents. It was too dangerous for them to be here. The Ministry would arrive soon so they needed to leave. Leave. Please, leave. Run.

 

Their screams were hysterical. Mixed with raw emotions, the pain flowed from every corner. Jeongguk didn’t know his wish had been granted when his aunt and uncle forcefully dragged the shaking parents out of the Great Hall and away from their dead son. Their desperate, devastated voices carried back and continued to echo through the hall. They struggled of course but grief makes you weak and vulnerable to force and soon the cries were gone but there wasn’t silence.

 

“JEONGGUK!”

 

“PLEASE! PLEASE!”

 

“WHY DID YOU DO THAT?”

 

“YOU CAN’T LEAVE US LIKE THIS!”

 

“PLEASE DON’T GO!”

 

“WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH! COME BACK!”

 

Their grief was like an ocean. The waves came and engulfed them. Strangled them. Blinded them. Jeongguk was getting buried in his friends’ tears. Hurt. Their cries hurt more than all the cuts and burns on his body but his eyes wouldn’t open and all his friends could do was tremble and cling helplessly onto his lifeless body. None of them noticed the tears which had slid out from beneath Jeongguk’s closed eyes. They made wet tracks down his face but the rest were too busy crying.

 

Hollow.

 

Empty.

 

Darkness.

 

“There’s so much we need to tell you, Jeongguk.”

 

“Please wake up.”

 

“Don’t leave us.”

 

They whispered and whispered at his body. Each word was tinged with more regret than the previous and Jeongguk wanted to wake up. He wanted to tell them he was fine. He wanted to make sure they were ok. But they needed to go as well. The Ministry was coming. They helped him. They’ll get in trouble. They won’t be safe. Leave. Get out of here.

 

“W-Wait, h-he’s still breathing.”

 

That’s all they needed.

 

His body was lifted and they moved in perfect synergy. Getting Jeongguk out of the Great Hall and castle would not be difficult for six people but his level of injury required extra care.

 

All of them knew where to go without question.

 

“MUM! MUM! WHERE ARE YOU?”

 

“Yoongi? What’s wrong?” Yoongi’s mother asked, running to the door.

 

When she caught sight of the seven of them she gasped and fell back onto the floor. All of them were crying and bleeding but Jeongguk looked like he took a blood shower. Yoongi’s brother appeared next but stumbled back as soon as he saw them. Although he was equally shocked, he was quicker to react and pull his mother up before ensuring that the other five families didn’t make an entrance too otherwise who knew how many parents would get a heart attack.

 

“P-Please save him. He can’t last much longer,” Taehyung sobbed.

 

“What happened?” Yoongi’s mother whispered before checking Jeongguk’s pulse. “His pulse is fading. Quickly bring him in here.”

 

They followed Yoongi’s mother in a small room with a cleanly made double bed before she rushed out again to retrieve all her potions. They lowered Jeongguk gently onto the bed before ripping away his bloodstained shirt. The younger’s chest heaved up and down and his friends could feel his pain from beside him. The effort it took for him to just breathe made them more distressed but they had no power to do anything except for waiting for the healer.

 

Yoongi’s mother returned almost immediately with nearly a hundred vials of potions. They didn’t even know that many potions existed but none questioned as they stepped back and let her get to work. She frowned at Jeongguk and examined the burns and cuts before turning back to his friends.

 

“It would be quicker if I knew exactly what spells were used on him.”

 

They took a moment to recall their own spells and listed it out for her.

 

“Confringo.”

 

“Expulso.”

 

“Diffindo.”

 

“Sectumsempra.”

 

“Verdillious.”

 

“Incendio.”

 

“And Avada Kedavra,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“The Killing Curse?” Yoongi’s mother gasped. “W-Why is he still alive?”

 

“We don’t know.”

 

“Never mind that. Yoongi, your brother is watching the door but you guys should go get cleaned up first. I’ll tend to your injuries after Jeongguk.”

 

“C-Can we stay? We won’t get in your way. We just want to make sure he’s fine.”

 

They watched the back of her head nod as she distractedly picked up her wand and muttered a few spells at Jeongguk. They saw the dried blood clear up instantly and realised she fed Jeongguk a Calming Draught first. It was a wise choice, they noted, as the younger’s breathing gradually evened out to a steady pace.

 

“Vulnera Sanentur. Vulnera Sanentur. Vulnera Sanentur.”

 

The first incantation allowed the flow of blood to slow down, preventing death by exsanguination. The second began to heal the wounds and the third to fully knitted the wounds closed. They watched as she applied dittany over the closed scars to prevent scarring. Next they recognised the vial of Blood-Replenishing Potion she made Jeongguk swallow before moving to heal his burns and other cuts. The rest of the potions were lost to their eyes as Yoongi’s mother endlessly fed Jeongguk one after the other.

 

All six of them stood at the side of the room, tears peaking from their swollen eyes as they held their breaths for an abnormal period of time. They felt so numb but the fear was slowly seeping away with every consumed potion. Their hands were in each others, clenching tightly like they were each other’s life support.

 

After what felt like forever, a pink tint resurfaced on Jeongguk’s face and they eased back, knowing the potions were finally getting to work. However, they all refused to leave Jeongguk’s side and Yoongi’s mother reluctantly had to agree, treating them next to his sleeping form. She started with Hoseok’s leg which obtained the most severe injury out of the six of them before moving to Taehyung.

 

As Yoongi’s mother tended to the last of them, Jimin, they heard a crash come from the front of the house followed by Yoongi’s brother’s voice sounding from outside the room. Then in burst Namjoon’s mother and Jimin’s parents. Since the three of them worked in the Ministry of Magic, it wasn’t a surprise that they had already heard the news of the War.

 

They immediately went to check up on their own sons and once they realised that they were healing, the parents thanked Yoongi’s mother before frowning at the sight of Jeongguk.

 

“What’s he doing here?” Namjoon’s mother hissed.

 

“Mother, don’t.”

 

“Why did you save the Jeons’ heir? Do you how many deaths the War just caused?” Jimin’s father frowned.

 

“War? What War?”

 

“The Jeons marched into Hogwarts and started a War. They killed more than half the school. But we managed to capture around half of them and the other half a dead. They’re only five escaped Jeons and one of them is laying in that bed.”

 

“N-No way,” Yoongi’s mother whispered.

 

“So again, why is the Jeon heir here? And why’re you healing him?”

 

“He’s our friend,” Yoongi said bluntly.

 

“He’s the world’s enemy.”

 

“But he was our friend first.”

 

“He-“

 

“I think now would be an appropriate time to talk about a month ago,” Namjoon intervened before a fight broke out.

 

“The other parents deserve an explanation too,” Yoongi’s mother sighed. “I’ll go call them.”

 

Although none of them wanted to leave Jeongguk’s side, they agreed that their parents did indeed deserve the right to know why they were kidnapped a month ago so they headed out after the parents. When they entered the family room, most of the parents were already seated but noticing their injured sons, all of them leapt up and ran forward to observe the extent of their injuries. They somehow managed to convince their worried parents to calm down and listen to them explain. The six of them gestured for their parents to take one side of the room while they took the other side.

 

“A month ago, the people who kidnapped you guys were Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle,” Namjoon sighed. “They wanted to use you to get us to leave Jeongguk because he wasn’t joining them.”

 

“You should’ve stayed away from him.”

 

“Children without parents never grow up well.”

 

“Why would you even become friends with the Jeon heir in the first place?”

 

“Because he’s not the Jeon heir. He’s Jeongguk. A child who had suffered sixteen years of physical, psychological and magical abuse.”

 

Ten gasps from the ten parents interrupted Yoongi before they turned silent again and allowed him to continue. They were all angry angry but they controlled their emotions behind their heavy breaths. The parents were judging Jeongguk with the same prejudiced thoughts everyone else had and they weren’t going to let it slide. Not when Jeongguk had literally just saved them from death.

 

“Jeongguk’s eighteen. Eighteen! But you can’t even count the amount of scars he has on his body with five hands,” Yoongi whispered, having to remember all the unpleasant details.

 

“He’s the purest, sweetest person we’ve ever met and he deserves so much more than anyone can ever give him but the world has been unkind to him. He’s survived until now because he’s strong but there is a limit to tolerance and everyone has a breaking point.”

 

“When they threatened my family to join them, guess what Jeongguk did? He used himself as a hostage so that my parents could escape even if it meant getting in trouble with his aunt and uncle. He stopped them from killing my mother but do you know how we thanked him?”

 

“We tore him down. When we went to his aunt and uncle, we all agreed to leave Jeongguk in return for your lives. We told him everything necessary for him to hate us. We hated ourselves for it but there was nothing else we could do. He looked so broken when we left, we will never be able to forget his face.”

 

“At the War today, we tried to talk with him since you guys are all safely hidden away from his aunt and uncle but a lot of students attacked us because they thought we were on the Jeons’ side. Jeongguk tried to push us away because they wanted to capture him to use as a hostage. Again. But we weren’t going to let him battle twenty students on his own.”

 

“We ended up getting separated and only found him at the end. Everyone was fighting in the Great Hall and it was complete chaos. There were so many spells just thrown around everywhere but then we saw Jeongguk. He was severely injured at that point but he kept battling against seven, eight students so we went to help him. We couldn’t keep all the students away but his parents came later and helped us. Jeongguk looked so comfortable with them and we heard he was going to leave with his parents after the War so we agreed to let them take him away but that’s when his aunt and uncle attacked us.”

 

“T-They were meant to kill us but Jeongguk jumped in between.”

 

“Oh my god.”

 

“Yeah, that fool.”

 

“But how did he live? They used the Killing Curse, didn’t they?” Jimin’s mother frowned.

 

“I… I think I know,” Namjoon nodded. “I read about it last year. Do you know why Harry didn’t die when he got hit by the Killing Curse?”

 

“Sacrificial Protection. But what does that have to do with Jeongguk?” Yoongi’s mother asked.

 

“His brother,” Taehyung gasped while everyone else remained confused.

 

“Sacrificial Protection is an ancient, powerful, and long-lasting counter-charm that is endowed when one person ultimately sacrifices his or her own life willingly and out of deep and pure love to strongly save the life of one or more people. When the person to make the sacrifice dies, the counter-charm is so powerful that the murderer cannot kill the intended victim, as the protection lives on in their veins. That’s why Jeongguk didn’t die. Because his brother’s sacrifice still lived in him and thus, Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle cannot murder him.”

 

“So you’re saying…”

 

“The only spells that affected Jeongguk were ours, yes.”

 

“Then i-if we didn’t attack his aunt and uncle, J-Jeongguk wouldn’t have suffered this badly. Is that what you’re saying?”

 

“…Yes.”

 

“Wait, Jeongguk had a brother?” Yoongi’s mother frowned.

 

Jeongguk’s friends looked between each other because they had truly forgotten the rest of the world didn’t know of Jeonghyun’s existence. Everyone thought the Jeons only had one heir and immediately believed it to be Jeongguk since his brother died at an early age.

 

“You know how we said he was abused? His aunt and uncle loved Jeongguk’s older brother because he was a prodigy and the true heir to the Jeon family so they didn’t touch him. They nearly killed Jeongguk five years ago but his brother sacrificed himself and passed away.”

 

The parents sat silently, trying to interpret the overload of information and Jeongguk’s friends also didn’t speak, giving the elders time.

 

“I’m… I’m sorry for saying all of that before,” Namjoon’s mother said, breaking the silence.

 

“We’re not the ones you should be apologising to,” Namjoon whispered softly.

 

“Why did he jump in between you and his aunt and uncle? I thought you said you guys made him hate you.”

 

“Because… because he still trusts us when he shouldn’t.”

 

“We told him we only became his friends because we pitied him and that the only person who would ever love him was his brother.”

 

“And that we never wanted to see him again because he meant nothing to us.”

 

“I… I told him I never should have saved him five years ago,” Yoongi whispered.

 

“That’s… that’s awful. He… you…”

 

“We know.”

 

“We tried to apologise earlier at the War today but… he thought we were lying.”

 

“Then when we met his parents, they seemed genuinely nice to him so we thought that maybe it was better that he didn’t know everything. His parents were going to take him away. Forever. They were going to escape this life and start afresh so we didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. We thought it would be best for Jeongguk to get as far away from this life… this misery as possible.”

 

“But when we saw him jump in front of the Killing Curse, we realised how much we regretted our choices.”

 

“We’re going to tell him the truth when he wakes up. We need to show him that we weren’t lying.”

 

“Of course he would think you’re lying again,” Yoongi’s mother sighed. “But he believes you even if he doesn’t know it himself. I don’t know about the friendship the seven of you had before all of this but I think the bond you have with Jeongguk is much stronger than you think. He trusted you and he still does even though he doesn’t want to accept it. He’s trying to push you away because he doesn’t want to be hurt again. Jeongguk’s just protecting himself so make sure to not lie to him again. After everything he’s been through, he won’t be able to take anymore if you keep pushing him.”

 

“We won’t.”

 

It hurt. Everywhere hurt. Jeongguk had never been in this much pain before. It lanced around his arms, his legs, his upper body and his head, hugging every bit of his body it could reach. The dark monster cruelly clawed his insides, not wanting to stop until it destroyed everything.

 

As he glanced down at his body, he realised his torso was completely bandaged, only a few glimpses of skin peeking through at his shoulders and chest. He could taste the lingering potions on the tip of his tongue but still couldn’t decipher anything.

 

Where am I? Why am I still alive? Where is everyone? Are they ok?

 

He moved to support himself on his elbows. It wasn’t his best idea but it was by far not his worst either. The pain intensified across his body and he fell back onto the bed. Groaning from the unbearable pain, he rolled over to get off the bed in an ungraceful manner. As he tried to stand, he gripped the edge of the bed so tightly, his fingertips faded to a white shade. His rapid, shallow breaths burned his lungs with every intake of oxygen and he collapsed onto the floor.

 

Jeongguk could hear distant voices outside the door but he had no strength to call out to them. He had to see his parents. He had to see his friends but where was he? The grey walls were unfamiliar, the white bed, stained with his blood, even more so. But as Jeongguk took another glimpse of the room, he suddenly panicked. Am I dead? Is this the afterlife? Why am I still hurting?

 

It was a struggle but Jeongguk made it to the door without falling again. Opening the door, he carried himself down the hallway, towards the voices of his friends. There were other people but the voices sounded foreign. He caught his name a few times but apart from that, every other sound rushed past him before he could grasp it. The wall didn’t offer a lot of support but it was better than none and he found himself leaning most of his weight on it.

 

He heard a woman apologise. Why was she apologising?

 

But then his breath hitched and he stopped in his tracks when he heard the next few words.

 

“…We only became his friends because we pitied him… the only person who would ever love him was his brother.”

 

No. No. He’s heard enough. He didn’t want to relive the emotional pain.

 

“…He meant nothing to us.”

 

Jeongguk knows. He does but to hear it again stung his heart more than it should have. It was like they were pouring salt over his wounds. He thought he was over it but how come their words still slapped him in the face?

 

Whoever said ‘time heals all wounds’ lied because they remained. The pain lingers.

 

It wasn’t just scars on his bodies anymore. It was scars all over his broken heart.

 

“…I never should have saved him five years ago.”

 

Yoongi.

 

“We’re going to tell him the truth when he wakes up. We need to show him that we weren’t lying.”

 

He heard Yoongi’s mother but he drowned out her voice. The shattered fragments of his heart were only starting to get repaired by his parents but Jeongguk was still vulnerable to their words. He felt agonisingly heavy as he took another step closer. His mood hung above him in the form of a black cloud, shadowing him from all happiness. Although Jeongguk had made countless mistakes in his lifetime, he decided right then and there that trusting too easily was his biggest mistake.

 

His feet were still walking him closer to the family room despite his brain and heart telling it otherwise. What was love? What was trust? He was playing a dangerous game by himself even though they had already won.

 

It hurts but it’s ok because he’s used to it.

 

“We don’t want to regret again.”

 

Neither do I.

 

Chapter Text

“J-Jeongguk?”

 

Yoongi and Namjoon rushed forward to support the younger who was holding onto the wall, breathing heavily.

 

“What’re you doing out of bed? You need to rest.”

 

“Are you feeling ok? Does it hurt a lot?”

 

“My parents,” Jeongguk said through his deep breaths. “ Where’re they?”

 

“You aunt and uncle dragged them away, I think. They- we all thought you-“

 

“I was dead? Why… why am I still alive?”

 

“We’ll explain when you’ve healed. Let’s get you back in bed.”

 

Jeongguk shook in head and stared past Yoongi and Namjoon to his friends and their parents, making eye contact with Yoongi’s mother.

 

“Thank you for healing me Mrs. Min. I’m… I’m glad to see that you’re ok.”

 

Yoongi’s mother did her best to give Jeongguk a smile but it carried more sorrow than she intended.

 

“I’m really sorry about Mr. Min. I should’ve tried harder.”

 

“His death wasn’t your fault, Jeongguk. I know you stopped your aunt and uncle from killing me so thank you. You saved me.”

 

“It’s the least I could do,” Jeongguk said with a sad smile.

 

He glanced at Yoongi and Namjoon before nodding at the side of the sofa where all of his friends were sitting on. The two elders understood and gently carried him over, placing him down in the space the others had hastily created for him. No regrets, Jeongguk. Say everything you need to say. No running this time.

 

“Are… are you guys ok?” he murmured, having done a full body scan of his friends and noticing their bandaged wounds.

 

“Jeongguk,” Jimin whispered while the rest of them tried to blink back their tears. “We’re ok.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t.”

 

“I should’ve stayed away from you from the very start. I knew they would hurt you,” he whispered, eyes only meeting his own hands. “I’m really sorry.”

 

“We’re the ones who should be apologising, Jeongguk.”

 

“No, you have nothing to apologise for. This… everything is my fault. I know you guys never wanted to be my friend but you guys meant everything to me. What I went through, you’ll never understand but I’m still sorry you got dragged into this.”

 

“Jeongguk, don’t say that. Everything we said that day were lies. We didn’t mean any of it.” Stop lying to me. I heard everything.

 

“We love you. We always had and we always will.” No you don’t.

 

“At the War today, you asked how I knew you saved my mum, remember?”

 

“Yeah,” Jeongguk whispered as he tried to fight his mental exhaustion.

 

“Your aunt and uncle told us when they threatened us.”

 

“What?”

 

Jeongguk sat up abruptly from the surprise but a sudden wave of nausea washed over his mind causing him to bring his hands up and support his head. Although he was unsure whether he was ready to hear the rest, he lifted his head again and looked at his friends to continue.

 

“The day after Yoongi’s father… passed away, your aunt and uncle kidnapped all of our families and they said that if we didn’t leave you, they wouldn’t give our families back. So we said whatever we needed to and that’s why all of them are living here now. We weren’t sure if your aunt and uncle were going to come after us again so we hid our families here just in case.”

 

Jeongguk’s eyes moved to the parents, who were sitting there quietly and not denying anything, before quickly retreating to his own hands. He felt weighed down again. Not by his injuries but by guilt. It was crushing him and he realised how much he had failed. Failed his brother. Failed his parents. Failed his friends.

 

“That’s the only reason we lied, Jeongguk. We’re sorry.”

 

They waited for Jeongguk to say something. For him to say anything. But he didn’t. They could hear his breathing falter and Taehyung moved to kneel in front of him. The elder slowly reached one of his hands towards Jeongguk’s and held it gently in his long, slender fingers.

 

“Jeongguk? Jeongguk, are you ok? Hey, look at me. We’re right here.”

 

The younger obediently listened to the order and allowed Taehyung to cup his face, quickly blinking the tears away.

 

“Are you ok? Do you want to go back to bed?”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Y-You’re what? What’re you sorry for? We’re the ones who should be apologising for lying to you.”

 

“But that was my fault. I… my aunt and uncle, they… I put all of your families in danger. I’m so-“

 

“No, this war of self blame, you cannot win. What your aunt and uncle did was beyond your control so you don’t need to apologise for something you didn’t do.”

 

“But if I-“

 

“No. It wasn’t your fault. We shouldn’t have said all those things to you. We’re really really sorry. Please know that we never meant any of those hurtful words. You shouldn’t even be trusting us right now after everything we’ve done.”

 

“W-Wait, you… you said it was the day after Yoongi’s father died?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“My… my parents. Were they there too?” Jeongguk asked, voice turning into a mere whisper again. “That’s… that’s what they were trying to tell me today. That’s what you guys were talking about earlier at the War before my aunt and uncle interrupted us. I-“

 

Jeongguk breathed heavily and put both of his hands over his face. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him but he was too tired to be dealing with all of this. He felt Hoseok’s arms wrap around his waist while Jin combed his hair with his fingers, helping him relax. Taehuyng was still kneeling in front of him and he was sure the remaining three were in close vicinity.

 

He wanted to cry but he didn’t. He held it inside himself because that was the safest place to hide everything.

 

I definitely did not deserve them.

 

Wouldn’t this world be better if I didn’t exist?

 

Why can’t I just disappear?

 

If Jeongguk didn’t become friends with them, none of their families would need to be hiding here. If Jeongguk hadn’t been weak and collapsed in front of the graveyard that day, maybe everything would be different. If Jeongguk had been strong, his brother would have still been alive and happy. If Jeongguk was not born, this world would be a better place.

 

He tried to smile at his friends and reassure that he was fine but they saw straight through it. Behind Jeongguk’s eyes, he was breaking inside and they knew. They didn’t ask if he was ok because they knew he wasn’t.

 

Jeongguk was an eccedentesiast but that didn’t fool his friends.

 

“Guk,” Namjoon’s voice murmured as he bent down to kneel next to Taehyung. “Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’ve been strong for too long. But you don’t always have to be strong. You don’t always have to fight the tears. Sometimes it’s good to let it out and not bottle it all up inside yourself.”

 

Because the prettiest smile hid the deepest secrets, the prettiest eyes cried the most tears and the kindest hearts felt the most pain.

 

Jeongguk wasn’t invincible.

 

The words left an ache in his chest but it was the nickname that broke the spell.

 

“I can’t do this anymore.”

 

Jeongguk let Taehyung pull him in and cried on his shoulder. The sobs were stifled at first but a wave of emotions overcame his defences and there was no stopping the tears. The words his heart weren’t brave enough to say were hidden amongst the teardrops. Jeongguk knows. He knows that his tears were the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love. The elder’s hold tightened around him when his whole body trembled and Jeongguk curled his hands into a fist, desperately clutching onto the soft fabric of Taehyung’s shirt. His other five friends were around him as well, holding him, giving him strength.

 

He was tired. Tired of pretending. Jeongguk had pretended to be fine for so long, he feared that he would start believing it himself. But now, he wanted to stop. Stop this façade. He didn’t want to convince people with a fake smile and an “I’m fine” anymore. He didn’t want to hide from himself anymore.

 

The walls which he built as a mechanism for self defence finally fell. Collapsed.

 

His imaginary walls were replaced with his six friends.

 

Guarding him.

 

Shielding him.

 

Protecting him.

 

For once he felt safe exposing his vulnerability.

 

His emotions were like the ocean and he was scared of admitting them before because if he dived too deep, he’d get lost in the depths and drown. But now there were six pairs of hands to drag him out. To save him.

 

They were his hope. His light when he was being consumed by darkness of his shattered memories. They were his strength, not his weakness.

 

He wasn’t afraid anymore because he wasn’t alone.

 

They never gave up on him.

 

He won’t either.

 

Seconds turned into minutes but still, no one spoke.

 

In this moment, he could hear his own heartbeat and realised that he hadn’t felt this calm in a long time. They were hugging all his broken pieces back together. Their arms reminded him, assured him that everything was going to be ok and he believed them.

 

This was love.

 

When Jeongguk finally pulled away, he glanced at the six elders. All of their faces were tainted a rosy pink and their eyes glistened with tears which showered down like snowflakes. Jeongguk couldn’t control the small but genuine laugh that left his mouth as they hastily tried to erase the evidence.

 

“Are you guys ok?”

 

“Shouldn’t we be the ones asking that?” Taehyung chuckled quietly. “Are… are you ok?”

 

“I don’t know,” Jeongguk admitted.

 

“That’s ok. It’s ok not to have everything figured out because we’ll do this. Together.”

 

Jeongguk nodded and there was a short pause before he opened his mouth again.

 

“I missed you guys.”

 

There was only silence so Jeongguk looked up hesitantly to meet six pairs of eyes, the size of the moon. He frowned but before he could say anything, they buried him. Gently though because they didn’t want to exacerbate his injuries. But not too gently because they had missed hugging the younger and time always proved to be an obstacle. A hand ruffled his hair as he became trapped in six pairs of arms. There were more tears but Jeongguk didn’t mind getting covered in saltwater because he wouldn’t have wanted this to go any other way.

 

“We missed you more,” they said.

 

“This isn’t a competition,” Jeongguk laughed.

 

Yoongi was the first to reluctantly pull away before dragging the others off him as well because Jeongguk was injured and they were squashing his wounds. Taehyung was the hardest to pull off but he finally relented when Jeongguk promised he wasn’t going to disappear.

 

“We have something of yours,” Hoseok smiled.

 

He reached into his pocket and took Jeongguk’s bracelet out, dangling it on his index finger. Jeongguk could only smile as Hoseok took his left arm and put the bracelet on his wrist for him.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“I’m sorry to break this reunion but Jeongguk, do you mind if I quickly check your injuries? Hopefully the boys didn’t do too much damage,” Yoongi’s mother smiled.

 

They finally realised the eleven parents sitting on the opposite side of the room and Jeongguk rubbed the back of head awkwardly. He had completely forgotten their presence, as did his friends. Taehyung’s chuckle broke the silence and the six of them moved to give space to Yoongi’s mother but seating themselves not far from Jeongguk.

 

Jeongguk leaned back and allowed Yoongi’s mother to unwrap the bandages and he was shocked, himself, when he noticed the number of wounds that have joined his collection. No wonder it hurt so much. From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the horrified expressions of his friends’ parents and wondered how much of the truth they knew. Yoongi’s mother nodded at the wounds and handed Jeongguk two vials which the younger complaisantly took without question before emptying the potions. When he gave the vials back, Yoongi’s mother waved her wand and wrapped his body with a new set of bandages and allowed his friends to move back to his side, smiling fondly at their eagerness.

 

“Why didn’t I die?” Jeongguk finally asked.

 

After a moment of exchanging looks, Yoongi nodded and decided it was best if the younger knew. It wouldn’t make a difference if he knew now as compared to later so he moved the sit next to Jeongguk.

 

“Do you know what Sacrificial Protection is?”

 

Jeongguk shook his head and Yoongi gestured for Namjoon to explain again.

 

“It’s a powerful, long-lasting counter-charm that is endowed when one person ultimately sacrifices his or her own life willingly and out of deep and pure. When the person to make the sacrifice dies, the counter-charm is so powerful that the murderer cannot kill the intended victim, as the protection lives on in their veins.”

 

“Your brother’s sacrifice lives in you and so, your aunt and uncle cannot murder you,” Yoongi murmured.

 

“Oh,” he whispered and they gave him a moment.

 

“Are… are you ok? Maybe we should’ve told you later.”

 

“No, it’s fine. Thank you. I just… he wasn’t meant to die but now he’s saved me twice.”

 

“But his death isn’t your fault, ok?”

 

“Yeah… yeah, I think I’m ready to move on from that.”

 

“Good,” Yoongi whispered, offering a gentle smile.

 

“I’m sorry though for saying those things before.”

 

“Don’t apologise for trying to protect yourself. We’re sorry for hurting you and saying worse things.”

 

“I don’t think I’m ready to move on from this yet though.”

 

“That’s fine. We’ll be here every step of the way this time.”

 

“But… I need to get back to my parents. They’re probably devastated right now if they think I’m dead and I’m worried they’ll do something they’d regret.”

 

“You’re… you’re not mad at them?”

 

“No,” Jeongguk said firmly, shaking his head. “I know them well enough. When you guys left that day, I thought I had lost everything but then they came to me and I surprisingly felt like I wasn’t alone again. They genuinely cared for me and I love them. My aunt and uncle definitely talked them into doing it and they’re not going to stop now. I can bet that they’re going to use my death to make my parents do something else and I can’t let that happen.”

 

“But you’re injured really severely. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be moving around now.”

 

“No, I have to go. My parents don’t deserve to have their name tainted. After the second War, they took the blame for my aunt and uncle so that there was someone to look after Jeonghyun and I.”

 

“What?” the three Ministry of Magic employees shouted at the same time before regaining their composure and asking, “They did what?”

 

“My aunt and uncle told them to admit that they killed the students and my parents listened. This War was their idea too. They’ve been manipulating my parents this whole time and I can’t let them get what they want again. I have to stop them before it’s too late.”

 

“But-“

 

“Please let me do this at least. My parents, they’ve never killed anyone but they also feel at fault for Jeonghyun and I can’t let them live thinking I’m dead too.”

 

“Fine but can we go with you this time?” Yoongi asked and the others nodded even though their parents were frowning at them.

 

“Are you sure you want to?”

 

“We’re sure.”

 

“Ok,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“We’ll leave tomorrow though. Rest for tonight.”

 

“The… the Ministry is looking for your parents and your aunt and uncle,” Namjoon’s mother stated before whispering, “You should hurry. The Dementors won’t give mercy.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The Ministry told the Dementors to use the Dementor’s Kiss if they encounter anyone from your family.”

 

Jeongguk frowned before taking a sharp intake of breath and stood up immediately but pain strung through his body and he would’ve collapsed if not for the dozen arms around him. Doubling over, he coughed sporadically until he tasted blood. Everything started to spin and the high-pitched ringing in his ears drowned out his friends’ calls. It felt as if his lungs were drowning in water and his whole body went limp. His brain was panicking, not just for air and a rush a fear enveloped him. Jeongguk didn’t even realise he was being lowered back onto the sofa, only feeling the numbing pain. The darkness was closing in again but he didn’t let it conquer his senses, choosing to focus on the two hands holding each of his.

 

He vaguely noticed another hand tipping his head backwards and felt the cool glass of a vial touch his lips. There was liquid running down his throat and he didn’t resist it.

 

The hands didn’t leave him as his breathing evened and as his mind spun back to reality.

 

“-Guk? Jeongguk? Can you hear me? Can you see me?”

 

Jeongguk squinted his eyes as Yoongi and his mother’s face came into view and the elders sighed in relief. Yoongi’s mother held up a finger and when Jeongguk followed it back and forth, she nodded and moved back.

 

“How’re you?”

 

“I have to go. My parents need me,” Jeongguk struggled to whisper, too frail and exhausted.

 

“No. You’re in no condition to go help your parents, Jeongguk. If they see you like this, they’ll worry more. Let my mum heal you first. Please,” Yoongi begged.

 

“But-“

 

“Jeongguk, it’s ok. My mother already left to go back to the Ministry and sort things out. She works with the Minister. They believe you. We believe you,” Namjoon said.

 

“For once, just put yourself first, ok? It’s not selfish to take care of yourself and make your health a priority. If you don’t want to do this for yourself, at least do it for us,” Jimin pleaded.

 

“But-“

 

“Jeongguk, please don’t make us go through that again,” Jin implored.

 

“I… ok. Ok fine,” he sighed.

 

“Now let’s get you back in there.”

 

Jeongguk nodded and his friends moved to support him. It wasn’t hard to manoeuvre him to the room and back into the bed. Yoongi had the honour of seeing Jeongguk’s nose scrunch as he tucked him into the bed, making sure the younger was completely covered from neck to toe with the blanket.

 

“Can you guys stay?”

 

“Wasn’t planning on leaving,” Yoongi smiled.

 

“Good,” Jeongguk grinned.

 

“Jeongguk, we really didn’t mean any of that.”

 

“I know. Neither did I.”

 

“We… we good?”

 

“Yeah,” he smiled. “We’re good.”

 

“Ok,” they sighed in relief.

 

“So how’re your parents?” Jin asked, changing the direction of the conversation before it got too depressing again.

 

“The best,” Jeongguk said as his smile widened. “They were actually why I couldn’t let go of you. Everything… everything they did just reminded me of you guys. When they joked, when they ruffled my hair, when they worried about me, even when they called me brat, it was just too similar.”

 

“I’m glad to know we mattered,” Taehyung smiled.

 

“And I’m sorry for wishing you didn’t.”

 

“If you apologise again, I’m not going to return you to your parents,” Yoongi warned and Jeongguk laughed.

 

“I’d like to see you try take me from them,” he quipped back. “Wait, I had a thought.”

 

“Yeah?” Hoseok nodded.

 

“You said because of Sacrificial Protection, my aunt and uncle can’t ever kill me, right?

 

“…Yeah,” Namjoon answered hesitantly.

 

“Ok.”

 

“Guk, what’re you thinking?” Jimin frowned.

 

“…Nothing.”

 

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi said in a scolding tone.

 

He liked this. He liked this a lot. They weren’t treating him like glass. They weren’t treating him like he was broken. Everything was still the same.

 

“Fine. Do you know why I agreed that you guys could come?”

 

“Why?”

 

“I was thinking that if my aunt and uncle attack you, I could just… jump in front again. I mean… they can’t kill me.”

 

“No. They can’t kill you but they can still injure you.”

 

“But I won’t die.”

 

“Jeongguk,” Jin sighed.

 

“Ok ok ok. I won’t do anything stupid.”

 

“Or dangerous.”

 

“Or dangerous,” Jeongguk nodded. “But no promises.”

 

“Why’re you-“

 

“Still a brat?” Jeongguk laughed and Yoongi chuckled before reaching over to ruffle his hair.

 

“Yeah… thank god you haven’t change.”

 

“Neither have you. Still grumpy on the outside but soft on the inside.”

 

“Ok shut up and go to sleep. You need rest for your injuries to heal.”

 

Jeongguk pouted and all of their hearts cried at this display of cuteness that they had dearly missed but Yoongi was not going to let the younger win.

 

“Sleep,” he ordered.

 

“But I’m not tired anymore. I’m not you. I don’t need to sleep twenty hours a day,” Jeongguk giggled.

 

“You, my child, have a death wish,” Taehyung laughed.

 

“And you don’t?”

 

“I pull pranks on people who can’t kill me. Yoongi, on the other hand is not a force to be reckoned with- ow! What was that for?” Taehyung pouted, rubbing his the area of his arm that Yoongi had pinched.

 

When Jeongguk tried to laugh, he winced at the overexertion he placed on his chest. Hoseok, always the meticulous one who was paying more attention to Jeongguk than the others, immediately lifted the blanket off the younger and helped rub his chest gently. He scolded Yoongi and Taehyung and Jeongguk had the stop the laugh bubbling inside him again.

 

“I’m ok, thank you,” Jeongguk smiled and Hoseok eyed him suspiciously before covering the younger back up with the blanket.

 

“Guk… are you still going to leave after this is all over?” Jimin asked the question that had been weighing on his mind for quite some time.

 

“No. I want to stay,” Jeongguk said without hesitation. “You guys would miss me too much.”

 

“Cheeky,” Jimin laughed as he reached for Jeongguk’s hand and grasped it tightly in his. “Thank you for believing us.”

 

“Thank you for not leaving me.”

 

“I can’t wait for this to all be over.”

 

“Me too,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“Do you think they’ll let us return to Hogwarts?” Taehyung frowned.

 

“If they don’t let even one of us, none of us are gracing them with our presence.”

 

“Gracing,” the youngest chuckled softly.

 

“Jeongguk… what happened with the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and the Headmaster?”

 

He decided that sitting up was a better position to discuss this issue so Jeongguk pushed himself up with the help of Hoseok and Namjoon. The two made sure to cushion his back with several pillows before letting him lean back.

 

“My uncle humiliated the professor before killing him and…” Deep breaths, Jeongguk. Your uncle isn’t here. He can’t hear you. He can’t touch you. You’re safe.

 

“It’s fine. Don’t think about it if you don’t want to. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

 

“No, its ok. He… um… tortured the Headmaster but I don’t think he killed him. He just left him insane…”

 

“Oh my god,” they whispered.

 

“Yeah. I ran away,” Jeongguk admitted. “I couldn’t watch anymore. It brought back too many memories.”

 

“Don’t tell me… he’s- he’s used it on you?”

 

“I… yeah. A few times but I only vividly remember three of them because I… I blacked out during the rest. One of them when I was eleven and the second a few days after Jeonghyun died and the last one I remember was a bit before I moved out two years ago.”

 

“I’m going to kill him,” Yoongi hissed.

 

“You’re going to have to line up for that,” Jeongguk smiled sadly.

 

“How can anyone that cruel exist?” Taehyung seethed.

 

“Are you going to tell your parents everything tomorrow?” Namjoon asked.

 

“Yeah, I will. They saw my scars last night and I promised I would tell them after the War… My dad, he already found out a month ago when we went to attack the boy who choked me. They used Antonin Dolohov’s Curse and I had a panic attack because my uncle had used it on me when I was eight. He also noticed that I flinched whenever I was near my aunt and uncle so I told him a bit about the past but not about the Imperius and Cruciatus Curse or Jeonghyun… I thought maybe everything would be ok once my parents returned and my aunt and uncle wouldn’t be a problem anymore but I was wrong. Everything my parents did was to protect me. My aunt and uncle told them to attack that boy because he would keep hurting me and my parents listened. They said after this War, people would fear us again and leave them alone… I knew they were wrong but I didn’t say anything. I wanted to leave everything behind and I didn’t want to get in the way of my aunt and uncle… so I just let them. I let them kill all those students. I was too afraid to do anything.”

 

They listened quietly while Jeongguk poured out everything he had buried inside him. The words he was too afraid to voice until now. The monsters he locked inside himself.

 

“I thought I could leave everything behind and just be happy but I wasn’t. At least not fully. Is a simple, happy life too much to ask for? I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be powerful… I just want to stay with the people I love most but they always seem to leave because of me. Every time I’m around you guys, I get worried and paranoid that you might leave too and that it’s going to be my fault that you do. When I think I’m happy, there’s this voice at the back of my mind screaming that I don’t deserve it and I can’t help but believe it… I don’t want to look back but it’s hard when the past keeps coming back to me. I can’t do this anymore… I- I’m scared.”

 

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon said calmly, placing a hand on the younger’s shoulder. “Being happy doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is perfect. It just means we’ve learnt to look past our troubles. Happiness depends on ourselves. It’s a choice. There’s always going to be troubles, hardships that we endure but the difference is whether we let that affect us.”

 

“It’s ok to be scared to move on but just remember that you have six brothers and two great parents who will always be here for you. You don’t have to fight by yourself. Let us fight for you too. We’re not perfect either. None of us are. We all make mistakes but we move on.”

 

“Believe in yourself and believe in us. We’ll get through this together.”

 

It wasn’t strength he needed to let go of his past, it was understanding. But now he understood. The past didn’t define who he was. His identity and future was chosen by himself and the first step to healing is forgiving. And the person he must forgive is himself.

 

“Do you trust us?”

 

“I do.”

 

I do.

 

Chapter Text

Jeongguk tried to move but the blankets were pinned down by who knows what. He then attempted to move his arms out from under the blankets but there wasn’t much room so he drowsily opened his eyes to find two piles of bodies on either side of him. Although he was trapped, Jeongguk couldn’t help smiling at the peaceful and defenceless expressions adorned on his friends’ faces. He wondered how the seven of them managed to fit on this miniature bed but that thought quickly disintegrated when someone’s leg moved over his body. Jeongguk groaned as he felt the pain coming back but quickly shut his mouth when another person stirred in their sleep.

 

He sighed helplessly and looked up at the ceiling, momentarily forgetting the events of the previous few days. If he weren’t so injured, he wouldn’t mind waking up like this everyday. A rustle on the opposite side of the door interrupted his thoughts and then a knock sounded. Before Jeongguk could come up with a reply, Yoongi’s mother entered the room but froze when she saw the tangle of seven bodies and limbs sprawled out on Jeongguk’s bed.

 

“So that’s where they were,” she smiled.

 

“They’re sleeping like rocks,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“Yoongi wants to be a rock. Anyways, how’re you feeling?”

 

“Still hurts but definitely healing,” he answered truthfully as she considerately moved the leg off Jeongguk’s torso.

 

“I think I’m going to have to wake them up. I can’t check your injuries like this.”

 

“I would help but I’m kind of stuck,” Jeongguk grinned and Yoongi’s mother chuckled as she started with waking up her son.

 

Yoongi rolled over and ignored the hand shaking his shoulder. At least he didn’t curse. Yoongi’s mother rolled her eyes before pinching her son’s cheeks. Yoongi immediately opened his eyes and pushed his mother’s hands off his face.

 

“I’m not five anymore. Stop doing that,” he grumbled, making both his mother and Jeongguk laugh.

 

“Help me wake the others. I need to check Jeongguk and their injuries,” she ordered.

 

Yoongi freshened up at his mother’s words and looked back to see the blankets trapping Jeongguk’s whole body. He immediately reached over and started shaking the others a little more aggressively than he had planned in his mind. When they refused to get up, Yoongi sighed and looked at Jeongguk, suddenly getting an idea from the younger’s amused face.

 

“Get up! You’re hurting Jeongguk!” Yoongi exclaimed.

 

At those three words, the five of them scrambled up, Jin, Namjoon and Taehyung falling off the bed, Hoseok and Jimin barely managing to retain their balance. Yoongi and Jeongguk shared a laugh at their friends’ alarmed expressions and the younger was quick to assure them that he was fine. Yoongi’s mother smiled warmly as they made room for her, still confused and unable to grasp the situation.

 

She unwrapped the bandages and scrutinised the burns and cuts before carefully applying another layer of dittany to his wounds and sitting back to rewrap his torso.

 

“How is he?” Yoongi asked.

 

“The injuries are healing faster than I had expected, which is a good sign, but I still wouldn’t recommend strenuous activities right now. I know you need to go see your parents today and I’m not going to stop you but you should be careful. None of the cuts are fully healed and your burns may still sting at times so just don’t push past your limits, ok?”

 

“Don’t worry. We’ll make sure he doesn’t.”

 

“It would be best if you came back after so I can finish treating your injuries,” Yoongi’s mother murmured.

 

“I will. Thank you Mrs. Min.”

 

“That’s ok, sweetie.”

 

She moved to check the rest of them and made sure that they were healing properly too before packing up all her potions.

 

“You guys should come out and have some food before you leave.”

 

They nodded at that idea and followed her out of the bedroom. Jin and Hoseok stood guard on either side of Jeongguk to make sure someone was there to support the younger if he ever needed it. However as soon as they stepped into the hallway, Taehyung nearly lost his balance when a young girl tackled his legs from behind.

 

“Eonjin! Be careful, you’ll get hurt,” Taehyung scolded as he picked up the child and situated her on his waist whilst she stared shyly at his friends. She smiled a box smile before quickly turning back to grab Taehyung’s face.

 

“You’re hurt,” she frowned. “Who hurt you? I’ll go fight them. Eonjin will protect you!”

 

“It was an accident. I tripped over my own legs and fell,” he chuckled.

 

“Oh, you’re so clumsy,” Eonjin giggled as the rest of them watched her with heart eyes.

 

“Where’s Jeonggyu?”

 

“Sleeping?” Eonjin asked back and Taehyung laughed.

 

“This is my sister by the way.”

 

“She looks just like you,” Jeongguk smiled.

 

“That’s not a compliment,” Yoongi snorted, earning himself Taehyung’s fist on the arm.

 

“Let’s go eat breakfast,” Taehyung said while trying to fix Eonjin’s bed hair.

 

Eonjin nodded enthusiastically and the seven of them trailed after Yoongi into the dining room where his mother was laying out plates of food. Jeongguk took a seat as his stomach kindly reminded him that he forgot to feed it yesterday after breakfast.

 

Halfway through their breakfast banter, Namjoon’s mother walked into the kitchen and Jeongguk immediately placed down his knife and fork at her entrance. Taehyung shooed his younger sister to the adjacent room so they could talk and when they were all sure Eonjin was out of earshot, Namjoon turned to his mother.

 

“How did it go?” Namjoon started.

 

“It took a bit of convincing but the Ministry believe me. They’re still after your aunt and uncle, Jeongguk, and they want to bring your parents in for questioning but no harm shall come to them now. I promise. If your parents cooperate with the Ministry and help us with locating your aunt and uncle, they won’t have to return to Azkaban.”

 

Jeongguk looked at Namjoon for reassurance and when the elder nodded at him, he smiled softly.

 

“Thank you so much.”

 

“It’s no problem,” Namjoon’s mother smiled but lingered on the spot.

 

“Is something wrong?” Jeongguk asked slowly.

 

“I… yesterday, I said some rude things about you when you were unconscious and for that, I want to apologise. I shouldn’t have judged you before meeting you and I should have trusted my son’s judgement. I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s ok,” Jeongguk said with a small smile. “I probably would’ve said the same things if I was in the same position.”

 

“I don’t believe you would’ve. You would have listened… but thank you,” Namjoon’s mother smiled back.

 

With that, she walked out again and Jeongguk turned to face Namjoon inquisitively.

 

“What did she mean by that?”

 

“We… uh-“

 

“We told all of our parents about your past,” Yoongi interrupted.

 

“Oh.”

 

“I know we shouldn’t have done that. We’re sorry.”

 

“It’s ok,” Jeongguk shrugged. “If it was necessary to make them believe everything then I really don’t mind. I’m moving on, remember?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi smiled.

 

“But just let me tell my parents myself. It’s not going to be as calm as your parents.”

 

“Definitely,” they all nodded in agreement.

 

They quickly finished the rest of their breakfast before readying themselves and letting Yoongi’s mother guide them to the fireplace with the rest of the ten parents in tow. Jeongguk gave his friends time with their own family but what he didn’t expect was to be pulled into a hug with Yoongi and his mother.

 

“Stay safe.”

 

“We will,” Yoongi reassured her.

 

“I don’t know what I’m going to do if anything happens to you as well,” she whispered.

 

“I’ll make sure nothing happens to him, Mrs. Min. My aunt and uncle aren’t his responsibility, I won’t put him in danger’s way.”

 

“He’s not the only one I’m worried about,” she sighed. “I don’t want any of you to get hurt.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t know how to reply because he didn’t want to lie. He couldn’t promise her that he wasn’t going to get hurt. In his current condition, it would be a miracle if he didn’t aggravate his injuries but to not receive more injuries might be asking for too much. Jeongguk knew that if there were to be a fight, his parents would do anything to protect him but that didn’t mean he was going to let them.

 

“We’ll be back,” he smiled gently.

 

“We’ll be waiting.”

 

Jeongguk and Yoongi detached themselves from her arms and waited for her to retrieve the Floo Powder. When she returned, their other five friends were ready to leave as well, goodbyes and safe wishes said. Jeongguk reached for the powder first and took a handful of the brownish substance before taking a deep breath and walking to the fireplace.

 

“Be careful,” Yoongi’s mother said.

 

“We’ll be right behind you,” Namjoon nodded.

 

Jeongguk smiled before saying the address of his parents’ house and dropping the powder. A familiar sensation whizzed through him as he travelled to his destination. It didn’t take long for him to arrive and be greeted with the repainted cream walls. It was the place that he had used to escape from his aunt and uncle grasps. It was the place he had left to attend Hogwarts, in hopes he would never come back. But then it was home. His parents made it his home and he couldn’t bring himself to hate it anymore for the house didn’t hold his childhood nightmares and scars. It didn’t carry the weight of his unhappiness and loneliness. Jeongguk could only remember the pleasant memories he had made with his parents behind the safe walls of home.

 

After the noise of the fire declaring his arrival, he heard two sets of footsteps running into the room. Jeongguk looked up just in time to see both of his parents enter, faces painted with no sleep, sorrow, regret and heartache. It broke his heart to see his parents in this state because of him and when they lowered their wands in surprise at seeing their son alive, everything next happened in slow motion.

 

He reached for them as they ran forward, almost tackling him back into the fireplace.

 

“J-Jeongguk? You’re… you’re alive?” his mother whimpered as she cupped his face.

 

“Son? You- how?” Jeongguk’s father whispered as he, too, went to hold his son’s face.

 

“Yes, I’m alive. Are you guys ok?” Jeongguk murmured, letting his head fall onto his mother’s shoulder.

 

Neither of his parents replied but Jeongguk could feel them trembling uncontrollably in his hold. He gave them all the time they needed because the thought of losing someone you loved was never easy to accept and although Jeongguk couldn’t understand the relief they were feeling, it didn’t stop him from letting out his tears as well.

 

In the background, he could vaguely hear the arrival of his six friends and he was thankful all of them remained silent.

 

As the cries gradually dulled down after several minutes, Jeongguk hesitantly pulled away from them. He took one of each of his parents’ hand and held it tightly in his.

 

“Are you ok?” his mother asked before he could open his mouth.

 

“I’m recovering,” Jeongguk whispered truthfully.

 

“How bad?”

 

“I’ll show you later but first, we need to talk.”

 

Both his parents nodded through their sniffs before finally noticing the presence of six extra bodies in the room. They smiled and nodded at Jeongguk’s friends who returned the friendly gesture and followed the three into the family room, which was still littered with a fort and a mess of blankets and pillows.

 

Jeongguk sat, squashed in between his parents, while his friends sat in a semicircle in front of him. He didn’t let go of his parents’ hands and they didn’t loosen their hold on his.

 

“We didn’t have the heart to pack up everything,” Jeongguk’s mother whispered when they were all settled down.

 

“Neither of us wanted to accept that you were gone.”

 

“Your aunt and uncle dragged us away from Hogwarts because the Ministry was coming but we went back for your body. When we couldn’t find you, we almost tore the place down. We were so devastated, we weren’t thinking as we blasted down the walls but then we realised that your friends were there too so we knew they had to have taken you.”

 

“We were out trying to find the Mins the whole night but we couldn’t. After…” Jeongguk’s father paused, glancing at Jeongguk’s friends. “…what happened, I guess they went into hiding and I can’t blame them. Jeongguk, yesterday at the War, when we were trying to talk to you before we got separated, we-”

 

“Dad, I know what happened. They told me,” Jeongguk said gently while his parents viewed him with shock and guilt.

 

“We’re sorry. We’re so sorry. We never wanted to take them out of your life. We didn’t know how much they mean to you and how much you mean to them and we’re… we’re sorry, Jeongguk. We understand if you hate us after everything but we just want you to know that not a day has passed where we haven’t regretted that decision.”

 

Jeongguk didn’t interrupt his mother because he wanted her to let it all out. He could tell his parents have been wanting to say those words for a long time so it would just be better for them to just tell him everything they wanted to say.

 

“I don’t hate you. I told you I never will, didn’t I? And I don’t blame you for anything.”

 

“You- you don’t?”

 

“Not even a single bit.”

 

“But-“

 

“You’ll understand after you hear my story,” Jeongguk smiled, squeezing both of his parents’ hands as a gesture, asking for a chance. He glanced briefly at his group of friends and saw they were all giving him encouraging but gentle smiles. When his parents nodded for him to continue, he turned to face his mother. “I told a bit of the past to Dad but I never told you anything because I didn’t want to hurt you. The truth isn’t pretty but when I tell you two, you have to promise me that you will remain calm.”

 

“We will,” his mother answered although she hesitated slightly.

 

“Two nights ago, do you remember all the scars you saw?” he asked and his mother gave a nod of affirmation. “Those were from aunt and uncle.”

 

“What?” his mother frowned.

 

“They… they’ve been hurting me since… before I can remember.”

 

“Jeongguk… wait, what? What about Jeonghyun? They… no,” his mother whispered.

 

“They never touched Jeonghyun because they believed he was the true heir to our family. He always tried to protect me from aunt and uncle but he couldn’t.”

 

“What did they do?” Jeongguk’s mother practically whimpered, backing away slightly because she feared the answer.

 

“……”

 

“Jeongguk, please,” his mother pleaded.

 

“Do you remember my panic attack from Antonin Dolohov’s Curse? That was them. They’ve used basically every curse on me because they said it was the only way I was going to properly learn the spells.”

 

“Even the Cruciatus Curse and the Imperius Curse?” Jeongguk’s father gasped.

 

“Yeah. They starved me a lot and when I didn’t listen, they would throw me in a well overnight. They would sometimes beat me without magic, hitting and kicking until I passed out or until I begged them to stop,” Jeongguk said, wincing at the increasing pressure his parents were putting into their hold on his hand. “But they would never touch Jeonghyun. He always stopped them before they could… injure me to the extent that threatened my life but…”

 

“You never ran away,” Jeongguk’s father frowned, realisation finally hitting him.

 

“He didn’t die trying to save you when you ‘ran away’,” Jeongguk’s mother seethed.

 

“Yeah… he put himself in between aunt and uncle and me. I’m sorry,” Jeongguk whispered.

 

“Jeongguk, it’s not your fault,” his parents whispered back.

 

“I know,” he said, glancing at his friends. “They made me realise it wasn’t my fault and after yesterday, I understood that I had no choice over his actions like they didn’t have any over mine. I’m just sorry I couldn’t do more for him and I’m sorry he had to leave like that.”

 

“No, we’re sorry we left you two with those monsters,” Jeongguk mother said, rage flowing out of her in strong pulses.

 

“It’s our fault for not being able to look after you two. For not being there for you and Jeonghyun. We’ve failed as you parents.”

 

‘It’s not your fault,” Jeongguk said firmly, squeezing his parents’ hands tighter.

 

“Wait,” his father interrupted. “You never told us how you survived the Killing Curse.”

 

“Because of Jeonghyun,” he whispered.

 

“Jeonghyun?”

 

“Sacrificial Protection. Jeonghyun willingly sacrificed himself for me that day out of pure and deep love, they call it. After… after his death, a counter-charm was endowed upon me and it’s so powerful that aunt and uncle cannot kill me because the protection lives in my veins. He saved me twice.”

 

“Oh my god.”

 

“Jeongguk, we’re so sorry,” his mother cried.

 

“Don’t blame yourself for what they did and what’s happened has already happened. We should focus on what to do now. We can’t let them get away again so-“

 

“We’re going to kill them,” Jeongguk’s mother seethed through her tears.

 

“Mum, please listen to me first,” Jeongguk pleaded. “Namjoon’s mother works in the Ministry and I told them everything yesterday. They believe me and said that they’re no longer searching for you two. They’re not going to lock you back in Azkaban but they just want our cooperation in finding aunt and uncle. You’ve never killed anyone. Don’t let that change today.”

 

“Jeongguk, after what they’ve done, they deserve to die.”

 

“They didn’t just rob you of your childhood but now they’ve robbed so many parents of their children.”

 

“I know and I’ll never forgive them or forget that but I want to try and let it go now. I want to live with you two. I want to live like a family and move on from the past but I can’t do that with you two in Azkaban so please… please, hand them to the Ministry.”

 

“Jeongguk… are you sure about this?”

 

“Yes. Trust me, please?”

 

His parents sighed, anger and pain still boiling inside of them but they relented. How could they not? They would do anything for Jeongguk and they didn’t want to make any more decisions which they would regret later. Just as long as Jeongguk was safe and happy now, that’s all they needed. They would trust the Ministry to bring justice to Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle and they would be free. They could be a family. Finally.

 

“Anything for you, sweetie,” Jeongguk’s parents tried to smile.

 

Although the smile was painful to receive, Jeongguk couldn’t help but smile back at his parents.

 

”Let’s go find them,” Jeongguk father said, already getting to his feet.

 

Jeongguk and his mother rose too, followed by his friends, and soon they were all standing by the fireplace again, Floo Powder ready in their hands.

 

Let’s end this.

 

Chapter Text

Scared.

 

Was that the right word?

 

Probably not.

 

Weak.

 

Definitely not. Not anymore.

 

Nervous.

 

Yes.

 

Anxious.

 

That too.

 

Fear of the future. Yes. Fear of a world without his parents. Yes. Fear of a world without his friends. Yes. Fear of a future with no family. Yes.

 

Jeongguk wanted to keep all of them away from harm. Away from the hands of his aunt and uncle but this must come to an end or there shall be no peace. No safety. No freedom. And that was not the world Jeongguk wanted to live in anymore.

 

Someone’s holding his hand and he was grateful for the comfort even if he did know whom it was, rather choosing to focus on trying to sort out the thoughts in his head. His parents had insisted that they should take the lead and Jeongguk didn’t protest because honestly, he was never ready to face the two people who had fed off his fear and pain for the past sixteen years. He was going to emerge as a ‘surprise’, his parents had told him. Now, the look on his aunt and uncle’s face was something Jeongguk didn’t want to miss.

 

He inhaled sharply, trying to level his breathing and another body came up to his vacant side and held onto his other hand. Jeongguk unintentionally squeezed the hand and leaned slightly into the touch. He could feel the elder’s warmth and it kept him steady and composed. Apparently everyone in the room could sense his unease though because his parents turned around and looked at him with concern.

 

“Sweetie, we can really handle this. Are you sure you want to come?”

 

A fierce nod from Jeongguk had his friends fretting over his injuries.

 

“No overexertion,” Seokjin had scolded.

 

“No sudden or exaggerated movement,” Yoongi frowned.

 

Jeongguk’s parents chuckled at their son’s two oldest friends and the rest of the words his friends had planned to say died at the tip of their tongue. The youngest, on the other hand, whined childishly at their overwhelming care and he increased the volume even more when his parents nodded approvingly at his friends. Jeongguk muttered to himself as the eight people around him laughed light-heartedly at his reaction, a complete contradiction to the heaviness of the situation.

 

“I love you,” Jeongguk whispered when they stopped.

 

“We love you more.”

 

“I love you most.”

 

His parents laughed at his words and then hugged him. Tight and warm. Full of hope. Love. And promises. ‘It’s ok’. ‘We’ll be fine.’ ‘Don’t worry.’

 

They pulled back and Jeongguk felt cold and empty but not completely as their hands lingered around him. His parents said nothing but just looked at their son like they memorising every wrinkle, every curve, every detail. He did the same.

 

“We should go now.”

 

Jeongguk nodded but sighed as he quietly watched his parents take the Floo Powder and beckon him and his friends to step away from the fireplace. When they were sure that everyone was a safe distance away, Jeongguk’s mother grabbed a handful of powder before stepping in and uttering the address of her brother’s house. Jeongguk’s father followed seconds after but not before embracing his son tightly one more time like he was terrified that once he left, Jeongguk would disappear. He reassuringly patted his father’s back and waited for the elder to disappear with the fire.

 

“Yes, we’re sure, Guk,” Yoongi said before Jeongguk even opened his mouth.

 

“I wasn’t going to ask.”

 

“Sure,” Seokjin smiled.

 

“Namjoon, I know this is kind of late but could you let your mother know my uncle’s address. I want to Ministry there before my parents- no, before any of us do something we regret.”

 

“I will, don’t worry. You should go now.”

 

“We’ll be right behind you,” Jimin whispered.

 

Jeongguk nodded, confidence wavering as he approached the fireplace with a handful of Floo Powder. Once he had sent a slight smile to his friends, he clearly enunciated the address and dropped the powder. He shut his eyes and allowed himself to travel to his spoken destination, arriving sooner than he would have preferred.

 

When he stepped out of the fireplace, he heard shouting upstairs where all of the bedrooms were located along with a few other rooms and old portraits and paintings. Jeongguk hurried through the corridors and then up the familiar flight of stairs before finally finding the room his parents were currently in. His old bedroom.

 

Jeongguk hesitated as he approached the horrid room. The room he had grown up in. The room which held no safety for him. The room Jeonghyun died in. All the memories he had momentarily forgot resurfaced and he froze at the doorway.

 

It looked like a heated argument was already taking place judging from the expressions of anger and annoyance on his aunt and uncle’s face however, as soon as they caught sight of him, their eyes widened and jaw hung slack. It took them more than a moment to recover from seeing their alive nephew that they had supposedly killed the day before.

 

“Jeongguk?” his uncle had gasped.

 

It was the first time Jeongguk had heard his uncle say his name without his voice being drowned in absolute hatred and disgust.

 

“How dare you say his name,” Jeongguk’s mother seethed.

 

“You’re alive?” his aunt scoffed and Jeongguk remained cowered behind his parents, not daring to actually step into the room.

 

“How?” Jeongguk’s uncle regarded him in discontent.

 

“You don’t deserve to know,” his father laughed cynically.

 

“No,” his mother spat, not at her husband but at her brother. “Maybe a reminder would do them some good. Do you remember how Jeonghyun died?”

 

Jeongguk saw panic. He felt it. He even tasted it.

 

“W-What?”

 

“Jeonghyun. How did he die?”

 

“Whatever that ungrateful, useless fool told you was a lie. Don’t believe him.”

 

“Answer me,” Jeongguk’s mother ordered harshly.

 

“We already told you.”

 

“Then tell me again. I don’t think I remember clearly.”

 

“Jeonghyun died while trying to save Jeongguk.”

 

“Why did he need to save Jeongguk?” his father hissed.

 

“But lil Guk here ran away from home after throwing a tantrum,” his aunt deadpanned.

 

“Shut your mouth.”

 

“Since you’re intent on not admitting the truth, we’ll tell you,” Jeongguk’s mother spat. “You’ve tortured Jeongguk his whole life. Does that sound familiar? No? Let me continue. You robbed his childhood. You abused him because he was second to Jeonghyun. You stole his happiness, no- their happiness. You took away his home, his safety. You took away everything. And you lied to me. You used us.”

 

“Are you listening to yourself? Do you really believe that?” Jeongguk’s uncle laughed as he continued to feign innocence.

 

“You were the ones who killed Jeonghyun. Everything you did was for your own sake. You’re just a manipulative pair who deserve nothing more than to rot in hell for the next few centuries.”

 

“Oh and how is Jeongguk alive?” Jeongguk’s father added in a mocking tone. “Well, when you tried to kill Jeongguk and Jeonghyun sacrificed himself, a charm was formed so you can never kill Jeongguk.”

 

“Ok, fine. We may have been a bit harsh in the ways of our teachings but our intentions were just to help Jeongguk improve. We only wanted the best for him. You have to believe us.”

 

“Don’t make this harder for yourself.”

 

“Are you really going to trust your son over us? You’ve only known him for what? About a month? But look at us. We’ve grown up together. We fought by Lord Voldemort’s side together. We’re allies for life.”

 

“No, we’re not. My trust and faith in you were destroyed sixteen years ago when you convinced us to take the blame for the two of you just so you wouldn’t have to go to Azkaban. You made us lose everything that day. You have deceived me over and over again. The decision I regret most is being a gullible fool but a fool, I will be no more.”

 

“Touching,” he scoffed.

 

“Do you still not admit to everything? Maybe-”

 

“We’ve done nothing wrong.”

 

“Then we have nothing more to say.”

 

“So are you going to kill us now?”

 

“We wish,” Jeongguk’s mother hissed.

 

“We’re handing you to the Ministry of Magic,” Jeongguk’s father seethed. “Only because Jeongguk here wants us to spare you. If it were up to us, you would’ve been dead long ago.”

 

“Again… such a weak decision,” his uncle tutted at Jeongguk.

 

“Don’t speak to him,” Jeongguk’s parents spat. “Don’t touch him. Don’t even look at him.”

 

“Or what?”

 

“I’ll make it my lifelong goal to make the rest of your living days hell. Until you can see no more. Until you can feel no more. Until you can breathe no more.”

 

“You can’t take us on.”

 

“I beg to differ.”

 

“We saw you two at the War yesterday. Still weak. Just like your pathetic, useless son. Never killing your victims. I don’t think you two deserve to be called the strongest witch and wizard anymore. That title belongs to us,” Jeongguk’s aunt taunted.

 

With that, it seemed the talking had ended because the by the next second, all four wands were out and pointed at each other. There was no hesitance as Jeongguk’s uncle started the fight with one of the most relentless curses.

 

“Crucio!”

 

Both of his parents dodged to the two sides while Jeongguk, himself, jumped back behind the wall, accidentally knocking into Taehyung who was hiding there too. He was too preoccupied with the haunting memories and his family’s fight that he completely forgot the rest of his friends were standing there too. Jeongguk glanced around while he heard another spell go off and saw the remaining five of his friends with their wands at the ready even though their eyes were not as much.

 

Jeongguk stayed hidden because he hadn’t been taught the Unforgivable Curses but he knew there was no counter spell or charm for those three curses. He would very much not like to get into his parent’s way as the only two curses he’s heard so far from his aunt and uncle is the Cruciatus Curse and the Imperius Curse. He also assumed his father’s spell must have hit its target as his aunt cussed in pain. Jeongguk could also distinctly hear his mother screaming spells and hexes at her brother while he fought back to kill. His face must have still showed his nervousness because Taehyung gently gripped his wrist with his spare hand. When the younger faced him, he received a firm nod and a squeeze to his wrist.

 

Those two silent gestures of comfort were all he was able to experience before he heard the agonising cries of his mother and he was back inside the room in a blink of an eye. She was squirming around on the floor, her brother’s wand held mercilessly at her while Jeongguk’s father was attacking his aunt.

 

He wanted to move towards his mother and help her, he did.

 

But it was ‘the room’.

 

Jeongguk never wanted to go back inside.

 

Never.

 

His father, who also noticed his wife in distress, wasted no time distracting Jeongguk’s aunt by throwing whatever available furniture he could cast a spell upon at her before sending a curse at Jeongguk’s uncle. After the blast of blue hit its target, Jeongguk’s mother stopped writhing on the floor but lay unmoving. The fear in Jeongguk’s heart pulsated through his body, reaching every limb, muscle and nerve.

 

He gasped and didn’t hesitate running towards his mother, despite the dozen arms grabbing him. The memories were long forgotten. His parents’ and friends’ safety were all that mattered.

 

No, no, no. Please no. Please don’t leave me.

 

This was all his fault. He shouldn’t have told his parents to hand them over to the Ministry. It was all because he told them to spare their lives that they didn’t fight with all their strength. If his parents were fighting to kill, his aunt and uncle would no longer be standing there. There was no spell, no charm, no curse to defend oneself from the Unforgivable Curses so the only way is to fight fire with fire.

 

Jeongguk shouldn’t have held them back.

 

While he knelt and carefully held her in his arms trying to feel for her pulse, Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle had recovered from the attack and were fighting with his father once again. Two on one. Hardly seemed fair but Jeongguk’s father was standing his ground. Dodging the curses and expelling some of his own. When Jeongguk felt the small palpitations on her wrist he sighed a brief breath of relief but it was quickly washed over with anger. Unrestrained, pure anger.

 

Jeongguk picked up his discarded wand and pointed it in the direction of the door first, casting a quick but strong Shield Charm to prevent his friends from entering. Then he aimed at his unsuspecting aunt and yelled ‘Expulso’, sending her across the room. She hit the wall with an astonishing amount of force and landed in a pile on the floor. Even Jeongguk was surprised at the power of his spell as it had never once fully knocked out its target but the shock was short-lived as Jeongguk’s father was send into his arms two seconds later. He turned his attention to his advancing uncle and with his parents in his arms, all his mind could conjure was the thought of protecting them.

 

After sending the Scorching Spell at his uncle and having it deflected, he tried the Stinging Jinx then the Mutation Hex but all of them were blocked with a Shield Charm. He felt helpless because no matter what spell he sent, it seemed so easily diverted. From his peripheral vision, he noticed his friends fighting his Shield Charm, trying to break it down and enter the room.

 

His uncle approached him slowly and dramatically. Jeongguk didn’t give into the tension and continued his relentless attack although none of them were hitting their target. He was confused as to why his uncle wasn’t attacking but only defending but understanding him like a tank when he was caught off guard with a Disarming Charm and out of his hand flew Jeongguk’s wand. He was completely and utterly defenceless.

 

So there, on the floor, lay Jeongguk and his unconscious but alive parents while his uncle loomed above.

 

Déjà vu.

 

He saw his uncle’s trademark smile.

 

Trouble.

 

That cynical smile always appeared before his abuse.

 

No matter how many times Jeongguk saw it, he always shuddered at the curve of those lips.

 

“Little Jeongguk here… always causing trouble. How many people must die for you before you learn your lesson to just take what you’ve been given? You’re always going to be insistent on being the problem, aren’t you? Maybe another lesson should do you some good…”

 

Of course his previous prediction was confirmed when his uncle smirked the Cruciatus Curse at them but at least, you could say, he was prepared. Quickly he pushed his parents’ body off of him so the curse hit him and only him directly. He screamed and screamed and clawed desperately at the floor. His breath was stuck in his throat and there was nothing he could do that would ease the suffocated feeling. It was like a thousand searing hot blades were piercing into every inch of his body. Jeongguk knew that if he suffered from the curse for long enough, he’d never recover mentally. His uncle could never kill him, they all knew, but he could torture his soul until it vanished.

 

But if that were to happen, he’d just have one request for the world.

 

One wish for the gods and spirits of life and death.

 

To keep his parents and friends safe.

 

Forever.

 

He had never experienced the curse for this long because Jeonghyun was always there to stop it before it got out of hand. But now, his parents were unconscious and he had blocked his friends from potential harm but also from saving him. So he had no one.

 

But he regretted nothing.

 

He stopped fighting the curse.

 

He was too tired.

 

He let go.

 

He gave up.

 

He accepted the pain.

 

The internal splitting of his head. The fire inside of him. The cracking and breaking of bones beneath the surface of his skin. Jeongguk felt himself being levitated. He felt his soul drifting away like smoke. Roaming further and further away from life.

 

Until he could feel no more.

 

I’m sorry.

 

Chapter Text

They watched as Jeongguk stopped moving.

 

Their eyes widened when their friend fell helplessly to the floor.

 

There were only frozen stares.

 

But lifeless Jeongguk also seemed to unleash the beast within all of them.

 

No one knew who but as soon as Jeongguk fell, someone, most likely Yoongi, broke through his Shield Charm. They didn’t hesitate storming into the room and starting their attack on his uncle. Blinded by fury, they were fighting to kill.

 

Although they weren’t using the three Unforgivable Curses, their accumulated power, along with the element of surprise, overpowered Jeongguk’s uncle unlike yesterday, at the War. Their rage was probably palpable from kilometres away as they unrelentingly fired an array of spells, curses, hexes and jinxes, giving Jeongguk’s uncle a hard time defending himself.

 

It was six to one but really, they lost the idea of fairness the day they all met Jeongguk.

 

Seokjin was finally the one who disarmed the middle aged male. There was a short pause when Jeongguk’s uncle had frowned, confused as to what just happened, before he realised the situation he was in. They laughed cruelly as the powerless male backed to the other side of the room, vulnerability written all over his face.

 

“You won’t kill me,” he challenged.

 

“Because we’re weak?” Yoongi snorted.

 

While Yoongi, Namjoon and Jimin kept the man cornered, Seokjin, Hoseok and Taehyung quickly moved to check up on Jeongguk and his parents. Jeongguk’s parents’ pulse seemed regular and there were no notable signs of external bleeding or damage but Jeongguk’s, on the other hand, was fading fast though he had no obvious injuries.

 

“You caused Jeongguk pain for so many years-“

 

“He brought that on himself.“

 

“By being the second born?”

 

“And pathetic and weak.”

 

“You-“

 

“Look at him.”

 

“Yoongi,” Jimin whispered as he approached the elder and tugged his arm gently. “Don’t let him provoke you.”

 

“I want to kill him,” he seethed.

 

“Yoongi, Jeongguk wouldn’t want that.”

 

“We should hand him to the Ministry, my mother will be here soon,” Namjoon added.

 

“Our priority right now should be getting Jeongguk to the hospital,” Jimin said, glancing at the group of six on the floor.

 

“Yeah, go save that weak ass princess,” Jeongguk’s uncle taunted.

 

“That’s it,” Yoongi growled.

 

Namjoon and Jimin winced as he had just successfully aggravated the indignant Yoongi. They watched helplessly as the Slytherin shoved his wand into his pocket and marched over to the elder, stopping only when their faces were nearly touching.

 

Before Jeongguk’s uncle could open his mouth to let out another snarky remark, Yoongi aggressively pushed him so that his body was thrown against the wall, head rebounding off with a clean crack. Yoongi didn’t give him a chance to recover before aiming straight at the right cheek, subsequently punching away the arrogant look in his eyes. Yoongi scoffed when Jeongguk’s uncle had the nerve to whimper.

 

He could only describe the punch with one word.

 

Satisfying.

 

Yoongi pounced on the elder male again but this time, Namjoon and Jimin ran forward to try to pry them away from each other. The Slytherin had landed one punch on the other cheek, one punch straight in the gut and one kick to his thigh. Pulling his limbs out of his friends’ grasps he continued his assault even when they heard a frenzy of noises and footsteps announcing the arrival of the Ministry.

 

It was eventually one of the higher-ranked Aurors who managed to separate Yoongi and the barely conscious criminal. He couldn’t find a single part of him which regretted his actions and neither could the rest of them. They let a few Ministry witches and wizards Apparate Jeongguk and his parents to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries before watching the rest take away Jeongguk’s aunt and uncle.

 

The Ministry asked them a few questions before realising the group of students were too distracted to answer their questions properly so Namjoon’s mother asked a few Aurors to take her son and his friends to the St Mungo’s as well. Namjoon briefly thanked his mother before pairing up with an Auror and Apparating to the hospital.

 

When they arrived, they ran to the reception desk and asked for their location. They hurried down the corridors, bumping into a few Healers along the way and quickly muttering an apology before continuing on their path. Finally, they came to the room where their friend and his parents were laying in. All of them hesitated when they were about to enter, noticing that two Healers were still tending to Jeongguk.

 

They chose to pace outside the room instead. Restless and worried.

 

Another pair of Healers excused themselves and made their way into the room, joining the other pair. They waited. And waited. Only Namjoon dared to peek inside but he instantly regretted it when he saw the two frowns on the two Healers facing him. He instinctively flinched back and when the rest of the group looked at him, all he could answer with was a shake of his head.

 

As the four Healers left the room, they were met with a barricade of six bodies. From the look on the Healer’s faces, they knew it couldn’t mean any good news.

 

The Healers told them the three patient’s conditions with no sugar-coated words.

 

Then they left.

 

Yoongi’s hand trembled when he reached to open the door. Hoseok’s shaking hand covered his though it wasn’t doing much to help steady the elder’s. Together, they pushed the door ajar and saw Jeongguk’s parents lying in the two beds closest to the corridor while Jeongguk lay, lifeless, on the end.

 

Stumbling over to the youngest occupant of the room, the six of them tried their best to be strong but as soon as one person broke, the others followed. They gathered around the bed, drowning the sheets with tears until no more came out. They gripped Jeongguk’s arms tightly, pleading… begging.

 

Jeongguk didn’t move.

 

The covers of the bed were soaked by the time they calmed down. No one moved. No one talked. No one even blinked as they stared at the youngest. How they wished for Jeongguk to be more selfish.

 

They heard a groan and remembered that Jeongguk shared a room with his parents. Seokjin and Namjoon dragged their feet over to Jeongguk’s father’s bed and pulled open the curtain before helping the elder sit up against the headboard. He frowned in confusion and forced a smile at his son’s two friends.

 

“Where am I?”

 

“St Mungo’s.”

 

“What-“

 

Jeongguk’s mother was heard shifting on the bed and he realised the presence of his wife beside him and quickly shuffled to her, Seokjin and Namjoon trailing behind. Jeongguk’s father slowly sat down on the bed to not startle her and she groaned in pain as she propped herself up onto her elbows.

 

“What happened?” she frowned. “Where am I?”

 

“St Mungo’s,” her husband answered.

 

“How did we end up here? All I remember was being in pain.”

 

“I don’t know. I remember distracting your brother and Jeongguk ran to help you… then I don’t really remember… I got knocked out after that too-“

 

“Where’s Jeongguk?” his mother panicked before noticing their son on the other side of the room.

 

They both gasped and ran over to Jeongguk kneeling beside the bed.

 

“What happened?”

 

“He… he was hit by the Cruciatus Curse…”

 

“By my brother?” Jeongguk’s mother seethed.

 

They nodded.

 

“How is he?” Jeongguk’s father whispered as if his friends’ bloodshot and puffy eyes weren’t enough of an answer.

 

“……”

 

“Please tell us the truth,” they begged.

 

“Jeongguk… the Healers said they did their best already but… he may never recover. They can’t help him anymore… the rest is up to him now.”

 

“No,” Jeongguk’s mother cried.

 

She clutched Jeongguk’s shoulders and squeezed hard as she buried her face into the blankets covering her son. She cried harder when she realised he hadn’t responded, even in the slightest. Meanwhile, Jeongguk’s father grasped his hand tightly in his, unconsciously applying pressure in hopes he would give them a sign he was still with them.

 

But there were none.

 

Jeongguk’s friends watched helplessly as the parents stayed in the same position for what seemed like hours. When they finally pulled away, Seokjin pulled up another two chairs and placed them beside Jeongguk’s bed so his parents could sit too. And so they sat quietly for the next few minutes, just absorbing the situation. ‘It’s not possible’ was all that ran through their minds.

 

“What happened after Jeongguk…” she whispered.

 

“He cast a Shield Charm so we couldn’t enter the room but when we saw him, we managed to break through the spell,” Jimin said softly. “We fought against him for a while before we disarmed him. The Ministry got here and brought us here and took them away.”

 

Might as well exclude the part about Jeongguk’s uncle and Yoongi’s brawl.

 

“What’re the Ministry going to do with them?”

 

“My mother said… they would probably receive the Dementor’s Kiss.”

 

The Dementor’s Kiss, considered a fate worse than death. An individual is unable to resist as a Dementor sucks the soul out of your mouth. But even then, was it enough of a punishment for all the crimes they had committed? There would never be a right or wrong answer to that question. To Jeongguk, it probably would’ve been enough because that was the gentle and forgiving soul he was but to his parents, to his friends, they all wished the aunt and uncle would die a slow death in their hands. That’s the only solution that would satisfy them.

 

Jeongguk’s parents didn’t react, merely sending them a small nod.

 

“We… we want to apologise to you again for threatening your families-“

 

“Don’t apologise to us. We hurt Jeongguk far too much to deserve an apology.”

 

“That was our fault. If we hadn’t kidnapped your families, you wouldn’t have said those things to Jeongguk… we took away the only people he considered family. Thank you for being there for Jeongguk when no one else was. We failed him as parents.”

 

“No, you didn’t. You were just a victim to his aunt and uncle’s manipulation.”

 

“If we had been wiser, we would’ve known to never trust them. We ruined Jeonghyun and Jeongguk’s life.”

 

“I don’t think so,” Yoongi finally whispered. “No matter how wise you could have been at that time, you would’ve had to spend time in Azkaban. If his aunt and uncle were in Azkaban too, then Jeonghyun and him would’ve probably been separated and sent to different orphanages where they will grow up with an entire life of prejudice opinions. Your choice caused them to stay together. Even though it was under worse guardians, they at least had each other.”

 

“Thank you for saying that,” Jeongguk’s parents smiled sadly. “But that doesn’t make us regret our choices any less.”

 

“I understand. It’s ok.”

 

“Before, we would have done anything to go back and change the past but right now, we would do anything for him to just wake up.”

 

“We would too.”

 

Jeongguk’s mother ran a hand over her son’s cheeks. He looked so young and innocent. So so young. His features were at peace but they just wished for him to open his eyes and greet them with his reassuring doe eyes.

 

“If you’re listening somewhere inside, Jeongguk, just know that we love you so much.”

 

“We’re sorry for everything. We’ve been horrible parents and the few weeks we had together were the best few of our lives. So please, if you can hear us, wake up. Wake up for us.”

 

“Don’t leave us, Jeongguk. Please.”

 

“You were strong your whole life, don’t give up now.”

 

“We want you here. We need you.”

 

A slight movement attracted all of their attention and the talking completely ceased as they looked at the stirring figure in the bed beneath them. A single, lonesome tear escaped his shut eyelids but it gave no warning to the ones that followed. They left a wet trail down the side of face and there was a slight tremble in his lips. Barely there but still noticed.

 

“Jeongguk?” they whispered.

 

He forced open his teary eyes.

 

“Oh my god.”

 

“Jeongguk… sweetie, you’re awake,” his parents whimpered.

 

He blinked a few times, body too sore to make any more movements. His parents cried again. His friends cried again.

 

Jeongguk didn’t say anything as his eyes adjusted to the bright light before moving to scan the relieved people around him.

 

“Thank you. Thank you so much, Jeongguk.”

 

All he did was smile. They were safe.

 

Everything will be okay now.

 

Chapter Text

“Be careful!”

 

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.

 

“They’re beautiful.”

 

“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.”

 

“Woah.”

 

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.

 

“So you?”

 

“Hey.”

 

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.

 

“Fine, fine.”

 

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.”

 

“Oh…”

 

“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.

 

“Tae?”

 

“Mhm.”

 

“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.

 

Thank you.