Chapter 1: The South
The gardens were glistening in the sunlight, bathing the roses and flowers with a warmth. Soft feet padded against the ground in a rhythm conducted by the strings of the boy’s heart. He was told it was dancing and was the only outlet that he could embrace, where his soul was elated. The golden glow of sun outlined the small prince in a shimmer, a small glimmering hope as his body moved like it was art itself. His feelings could leave his body when he danced. Those feelings that called him to the outside, to the nature that surrounded his every step.
He should never say that he felt something in his blood, something telling him that he was meant to be outside.
But he expressed his confusion, his restraint through the movement of his arms, the way he arched his back as he raised them towards the sky. The way he leapt around the rose bushes, spinning and catching himself before he fell down. It was as if he was a different person. He wanted to reach out and embrace the flowers that were watching him, but he danced around them instead, so close but out of reach. It was in those moments he wasn’t the small fourteen-year-old prince who wasn’t seen by the public, but merely Jimin. Jimin who liked to bathe in the sun as he jumped and ran. The boy who had never seen outside his castle walls.
The last thing he remembered before the shouting was the sweat that dripped from his forehead because of the heat, beaming down at him with ferocity. He looked up at the blue sky, it’s vast clear expanse, the way it had never fallen cold.
And then it was utter chaos.
There was shouting, screaming coming from all directions. The noises were different than what he usually heard and it made him realise that The South was in trouble. He hadn’t learnt much about battles or war tactics but the one thing he knew since he could talk was that The North and The South were at war. Which meant the shouts were one of panic. They were invading. The castle walls had somehow been breached, and the North was coming for them.
Jimin stopped dancing immediately, running towards the rose bushes that were granting him protection. He didn’t want to risk running inside the castle, not knowing what waited for him there. He had heard tales of what The North men and women were like. They weren’t pure souls like them. They kept their powers, which was dangerous. They had more power than any human should, it created a sense of advocacy and uncontrolled stature. Jimin wasn’t dangerous like them, so he hid.
His breathing was heavy as the shouting become worse. He was ducking, ignoring the light jabs of the thorns that were pricking his skin. He watched in between the flowers, hoping his honey-toned hair wouldn’t give him away against the blood-red of the roses. He just hoped he would remain unseen.
The gardens were sparse of knights and people, so Jimin had hoped that he would be safe without anyone around him. Who would want to invade the gardens? So he remained where he was, watching. His heart was beating out of his chest as he heard the colliding metal of swords, the sounds of abilities beyond his imagination. His small hands clenched at his skin, digging crescents into his palms. Sweat dripped from his forehead and small tears fell from his eyes. The silence was his only safety.
But his luck had been short-lived. He had heard footsteps softly padding over the grass and heavy breathing accompanied it. Jimin shot down, hiding even further as he peeked through the gaps, looking at the pair of feet that came into his view. They were clad in large leather boots, nothing like the light slippers that his own people wore. They dragged themselves over the grass violently. The person was lingering by his rose bush, breathing over his flowers as their accomplices ruined his home and people. Jimin wanted to cry as he tried to fight the urge to shout at the intruder, knowing it would lead to his death.
But then the bush started to shake, and that’s when he had enough. Something inside of him hated the way the man was touching the flowers, breathing near them. It made him flinch, take a sharp intake of breath. The man stopped in what he was doing, a deadly silence. This was it, he was going to die-
“If you’re hiding, come out. I won’t hurt you,” The man’s voice wasn’t as gruff as he thought it would be. It was rather gentle sounding and held a grace to it. Jimin didn’t want to abide by the invader in his own home. He wanted to remain in the bush unseen and untouched. But he thought of the men who were losing their lives protecting the castle and the people. Hiding would be cowardly in the face of their valiant efforts. So with shaky breaths, he stood up among the roses. The thorns grazed against his skin and caused his ruby-red blood to seep from small breaks in the tissues. He held his breath, remaining in the bush as he presented himself to the man.
He wasn’t the kind of Northmen that his father had described. There was no long wire beard or rough scarred skin. The man was muscular, yes, but he held an aura of delicacy. His hair was a dark brown and skin pale, paler than what Jimin would see in the South. His clothing was thick, shoulders clad in leather and fur that would cause anyone in the South to implode from heat. He was like him, yet so different. He wasn’t hurting the flowers either, just holding them.
“Are you the young prince?”
He didn’t answer. He watched as the Northman held the flower a little tighter. The commotion behind him only intensified but he was ignoring it. He was staring at Jimin with a gaze he wasn’t used to. Did he feel pity for the boy stood in the rose bush?
“You don’t have to stay here you know, we can get you out.”
He didn’t answer once more. How could he leave his home? Leave the sun, the garden and his father? Who was ‘we’? The Northmen? How could he leave with men he was told were dangerous? He would never leave, he would stay here, become eighteen, and be purged of the magical ability inside of him. That was the way he should live.
“We will let you be who you want to be, look-,” The Northman then opened up his palm, showing Jimin the now crumpled up flower. The rose’s petals were dishevelled and ripped and its very core was destroyed. Something in his heart broke. He blinked when a soft warm yellow glow emitted from the man’s fingertips, weaving around the rose and slowly nourishing it back into its blooming state.
Jimin’s mouth flew open.
“You see, it isn’t a
There was shouting from inside the castle, and the man looked behind him a subtle panic. He seemed to be having an internal battle in his mind as he turned back to Jimin, who was looking at him in a weird sense of awe, still in the rose bush. He must have had a petal in his hair and scratches all over his body but he had no care. He had seen something amazing. Or awful. He had no clue. He was fourteen, he wasn’t the most intellectual prince that had graced The South but he knew that anyone who saw what he had seen would be conflicted.
“Little Prince, do you want to come with me?” He asked quickly, holding his shining out towards him.
Jimin’s eyes fluttered towards the outreached hand. He was too young to realise the choice he had, to young to understand the change and the possibility. All he knew was what he was taught, he had no room for adjustment. The yellow glow was tempting, but he couldn’t leave the south.
“Little Prince-,” The man tried once more before Jimin shook his head. He shook his head because he couldn’t bring himself to take the hand he had been taught to hate.
That was the only time Jimin had an escape.
He let it go.
The South, Three Years Later.
An orange glow settled over the market stools, glistening around the venders and creating a warmth so unlike the heat they experienced during the peak of the day. When the sun started to hide behind the hills it’s heat was mellowed, and the streets of The South became bearable.
Jimin wandered around slowly, following the dull footsteps of his tutor who was rushing in front of him, determined to get to the market stool they needed before the sun had officially gone into its sleep. They had to leave the endeavour until as late as possible so the sight of the cloaked boy wasn’t odd. The prince found himself watching the way his cloak glistened a soft silver around him, the dips and crevices of the material glowing in the setting sun. He was trying to ignore the impending doom of tomorrow, the way the strings were all slowly tying together. He would be revealed to his kingdom, as The Purged Prince, finally ridiculed of all his existing powers that dwelled in his organs and heart. But in the remaining hours that he was still unknown, he cherished the darkness under his cloak, the way his features and face was just another face in the crowd. If he lived in the moment that he was allowed, then he didn’t feel guilty about wanting to run away from the moments that loomed before him. His excuse was that he didn’t know what the future held, only what the presence was.
His tutor, Beomseok, came to a sudden stop. His whole body went rigid and his cloak swept up around him in a flourish that made Jimin scrunch up his nose. Beomseok had always been rather pretentious when it came to Jimin, he felt an air of superiority towards his lack of motivation. The prince wasn’t a pure soul, he still remained powerful, therefore Beomseok had something the royal prince did not have. It had annoyed the younger ever since he was young. The man was obnoxious.
“Can you smell that Prince? The subtle aroma of spices that will underline your ceremony, it is the foundation of your journey to be purged. Can you smell it?” Beomseok turned to him, sharp on his heal, one dark eyebrow raised as he observed Jimin. The prince saw that the man was waiting for a response, for him to humour his comment.
He made an unnecessary sniffing noise, closing his eyes to mimic the man, before opening them once more and looking at him square in the face.
“No,” He said bluntly.
Beomseok’s perfectly smug face turned sour, his thin lips curving into a scoff that resembled his distaste. Jimin’s constant snide commentary and teasing towards Beomseok was his only solace in his boredom and worry. It amused the prince thoroughly and he was rather chirpy as his tutor sighed loudly spinning back around and beginning his movements once more towards the market stool a couple of steps away. If Jimin wasn’t a man of royalty he would most likely avoid someone like Beomseok, the way he found himself better than everyone else. He wore clothes that were silk, rings and necklaces that gave him a higher status than he had. Jimin would never associate himself with someone like that. But he was the Prince and had no choice.
“Ah, Beomseok, back again?” An older voice called, different, which snapped Jimin out of his stupor. The man stood behind his stool, elderly and smiling. In front of him were six wooden bowls of spices, all finely grounded and sprinkled. Up close he could smell the seasonings, an overwhelming amount simultaneously. Jimin shrivelled up closer into his cloak, hiding his soft features behind the hood that covered his hair.
“Another student to purge Donghae, another day,” The man laughed, looking at Jimin before looking back at the spices.
The Spices. Important, apparently. To officially become rid or ‘ purged’ of the magical abilities that dwelled inside of a person, they must pick one out of six spices to be the base of the drink they have during the ceremony. It had to be picked by the subject, or it remained useless. Jimin knew he couldn’t be indifferent about the process but abiding by Beomseok was always difficult.
“Ah well, you know what to do.”
Beomseok nodded before he placed a large unwelcomed hand on Jimin’s back and pushed him forward towards the vendor. He wanted to bite at him, telling him not to touch him but he didn’t want to become entitled. So instead Jimin looked up, looked at the old man who gave him a small nod, one of acceptance. Then he looked back down at the six spices.
One was an icy blue, when Jimin got closer he could smell something fresh. It was like the cracking of ice. Jimin wasn’t attracted to its cold nature and turned his attention to the one next to it. That one was blood-red and it emitted a burning scent. Jimin didn’t really like any of them until he turned his attention to the last one. The last spice was green, emerald green, and it smelt like the garden he had grown up in. His hands outstretched towards the powder, uncovering itself from under his cloak. There was an urge in his veins, one he couldn’t embrace and he knew that would be the spice.
“The green one.” Was all he said.
Beomseok nodded, and the old man was still looking at him eyes sparkling with curiosity.
“You know the trade,” Donghae told his tutor, nodding at him as he collected a handful of the green spice and sprinkled it in a small wooden box. Beomseok placed a gold coin on the surface, ushering Jimin away from the spotlight and back in the shadows where his identity wasn’t a question.
Jimin didn’t watch the rest of the deal and instead turned around to look at the village. The way the sun hit the villas, the sound of small merchants packing away their small stools. It was foreign to him the domestic bliss of his kingdom, but he was soon to adopt. This was his destiny after all.
“Prince we must get back before the sun sets,” Beomseok whispered his status as the hand on his back pushed him towards the route of the castle. He hated the way the man touched him like he was manhandling him. Beomseok had been harsh with him ever since he was young. In public, he seemed to be mellow, tamer. Jimin still didn’t like him, not one bit.
Beomseok liked being the King’s advisor, his tutor, the one he relied on to Purge his son. Perhaps that’s why Jimin has always hated him because he knew the man would eventually be the reason for his pain. Because it was no secret that the purge was painful. But the pain was worth it for the feeling of being free of his powers.
His unknown abilities.
It was his last night on the restraints and he felt empty inside.
The restraints were the temporary solution for pushing away the powers, building a wall around them and trapping them in. It was in the form of a small white pill created by the apothecary’s themselves. Jimin had been on them since he could remember, and the thought of never having to swallow one again was a feeling he didn’t understand. He had consumed the pill, letting its influences wash over his body and fill him to the brim with a blank sense of self. The night was now black, littered with a few stars in the canvas. The moon was a distant figure in their sky, barely visible. It made the night lonelier, scarier and more isolated.
Jimin sighed, looking out onto the balcony. He was alone in his chamber, no servants of lords, no tutor. It was his. He felt so weak without protection, so dependent on others with no faith in himself. He barely knew himself if he was honest. There was an invisible barrier that divided himself in two. He was so pathetic, so fragile. He prided himself on the way he verbally defended, sarcastic commentary that provided comfort. But he was always wary, always scared that if he was attacked he couldn’t defend himself.
It was awful if he was honest.
And it was as if the God’s had heard his fear, and decided to immerse him in a tank full of it.
As he was about to lie on his back to try and forget, there was a rustling coming from his balcony. It was a small subtle noise that shouldn’t have meant anything, but Jimin felt his heart tug, and his instinct telling him to investigate the noise. He got up and softly padded towards glass panels of the doors, placing his small hands on the handles and opening the night sky to him.
The silence he was greeted with was almost deafening. He felt slightly absurd, standing on his balcony thinking that the silence was too silent. He felt exposed, stood before his kingdom in nothing more than his nightwear, the long gown stopping at his ankles. He blinked, letting out a small shaky breath before shaking his head in denial. He was being stupid, there was nothing on his balcony-
Then there was a shout.
There was shouting, someone was shouting orders before he was panicking. He wanted to run back inside but there was a gust of wind, and the doors slammed shut. Jimin shouted, turning around and yanking at the door handles. There was movement behind him but he pulled on the handles for dear life. Then suddenly there was a tugging on his nightgown causing him to stumble back. What was happening?
He started to shout, scream for any knights or any lords or servants who could hear him. He wasn’t ready to fight by himself, for himself. His captor was grunting against his struggle, latching at any material he could. Jimin could feel the tears prickle against his eyes as he realised that he was getting kidnapped.
With the panic that settled in, he elbowed wherever he could and managed to wriggle himself free. With his sudden release, he tumbled forward into the doors which swung open. The floor was beneath him in seconds, causing his to wince in pain. Jimin turned onto his back watching in horror as two men made their way towards him. Their boots dragged against the floor and the sound brought back the memory from his past. These were Northmen. They were here for him.
His eyes found one of them, the one who was clad in a large coat that hid most of his face. But his eyes were dark and they made him quiver.
“Is this him? The so-called Little Prince?” He asked the other.
There was silence and he found himself frozen.
“If what Chinhae said is correct, it must be. It’s the only description we have, and he fits the bill. It’s been three years, not too much has changed.”
Jimin was about to scream before everything went black.
Chapter 2: The Peace Treaty
Jimin had never been so cold in his whole life. He had never experienced such temperature, the south had never witnessed cold, or ‘a winter’. His arms were covered in goosebumps and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He was shivering intensely, his teeth chattering and clattering against one another. He wanted to cry but feared his tears would turn into ice.
The prince had woken up in a tent, small and cold, in his nightgown still, with a small bruise on his elbow. He was terrified and perplexed and curled further into himself every time voices from outside came closer to the place he was being held captive. He had no clue how long his small body had been lying in the tent but he didn’t want to move. He knew that eventually, he would have to get up if his captors didn’t get to him first. But there was a sinking feeling in his chest, one that debilitated him from taking action. It was the same feeling that made him weak, unsure of himself. He whimpered, thinking about what the day should have been like.
It was his birthday. It was his eighteenth birthday, the day he was meant to be shown to his people and Purged. He wondered what his father thought, waking up to the alarms and realising his only son and heir was missing. The whole kingdom slowly losing their faith in a Prince unable to protect himself. He was meant to be presented to them, finally after eighteen years. But instead, he was curled up in an unknown tent, cold and alone. It caused Jimin’s heart to constrict and before he could help himself, he was crying. Small sniffles that soon turned into sobs, he was shaking with despair as he brought his legs to his chest.
His crying had become too loud, because the shadow that had been standing outside the tent moved, turning his posture.
“I think he’s awake!” The shadow shouted, voice loud and booming. The prince immediately flinched, jolting his position into a sitting one and started scurrying away from the entrance. There was more conversion from outside, more shouting that Jimin tried to block out. The hustle that surrounded him wasn’t busy, but he knew there were people out there. With the temperatures and the unrecognisable voices, Jimin could conclude one thing.
They were Northmen.
The North had been quiet for a while, and it had stirred The South. Jimin was unsure of his own people’s tactics but he knew the sudden silence from their sworn enemies was a bad sign. But now they had taken him, from his own chamber, right before his Purging. Jimin wondered if his father was fuming where he stood, ordering his men to go find the prince. He was a harsh man, but Jimin knew it was with good intention.
“ Little Prince?-,”
That name again, the same one the Northman had uttered when he saw him in the garden, years ago. It was as if he had a name for himself in The North, a name that made him feel like he was everything he thought he was. Weak. It was foreign to him, he hadn’t heard it again until those men took him.
“-if you’re awake, I have some cloaks for you, you must be cold. Once you’ve put them on I will escort you to meet our leader,” The voice was slightly softer than before now he was speaking through the tent but Jimin remained silent. He couldn’t find his voice, not even to cry anymore. The tears on his cheeks were starting to dry up and he watched with bated breath as a hand that held clothing slowly emerged. It placed the cloaks down on the ground rather clumsily before extracting itself.
“I’ll give you a couple of minutes,” The voice said again before going silent.
Jimin brought his hand to his nose, wiping the snot away from his face before eyeing the pathetic pile on the floor. He knew the man would take him out of the tent whether he liked it or not, so he found himself slowly standing up on shaking legs. He was careful as he made his way towards the cloaks before he picked them up with an exhale of breath. There was a large ratty beige overshirt that he tugged on over his nightgown and a large fur cloak. The prince had never worn such clothing and found the weight of the furs a struggle as they fell onto his shoulders.
As he finished the change, the entrance of the tent flapped open, a bitter gust of wind surrounding him and making him realise he needed the uncomfortable material. The light was also brighter than what he had woken up to and he found himself squinting.
A man ( boy?) walked into his tent, the same who gave him the cloak. He wasn’t as he expected. He wasn’t a brute. He was large, sure, with muscles that bulge and shamed Jimin’s narrow posture, his height looming over him. But his face was youthful and soft, and it stared at Jimin in an almost sheepish manner. He reminded the young prince of a rabbit. His looks had made him so output and confused he had almost forgotten the circumstances in which they were meeting.
“Little Prince, please follow me,” He then spoke smoothly offering him a small smile that made Jimin feel uneasy. Not from the man himself but from how odd and unexpected the situation was. He was taken by these men, taken from his home yet they acted apologetic about their actions. From his knowledge, he was meant to be treated as an enemy. He was the enemy. So he kept his judgement to himself but also didn’t show his confusion. Silence was the best idea for that moment. He watched the man turn his back on him so Jimin could only see the pelts and coats that covered him. He padded out the tent and beckoned for Jimin to follow.
With a gulp that stuck in his throat with nerves, he left the tent that had become his unknown sanctuary for those small minutes. The confinements of the tent were much more preferable than the exposure of what lies beyond.
If the prince had found it cold in there, then he wasn’t prepared for the feeling outside.
The ground was fractured with patches of white powdered substance, and the remaining patches was a bland brown, muddy and squelchy. A vast and barren field surrounded the small cluster of tents and in the distance, not too far, was a thicket of trees, perhaps even a forest. Jimin’s nose immediately started to go red and the end of his fingers was channelling the same colour. He shivered and brought the fur cloak further into himself. How could anyone live in such conditions? Where was the sun, its golden glow that basked the land? The sky was grey, not the crisp blue he had seen all his life. How could anyone aspire to live in life so dull?
In the middle of the muted field, were about six tents all huddled together and a fire crackling in the middle. He couldn’t see anyone else around but he could hear their chatter. He started to crave the heat that came from the fire but he couldn’t go near it. He had no time to scurry towards it because they were moving towards one of the tents. The largest one.
He found that his shoes were too thin for his surroundings and they were beginning to stain with moisture. Jimin could feel the bitter cold start to seep into his shoes and layer his feet. He knew what the white powder was now. It was snow. He had heard of snow but The South had never experienced such weather. He didn’t know it was so painful to walk on.
They stopped outside the entrance of the biggest tent.
The man then turned to him, rather awkwardly before shifting his eyesight and speaking. “I’ll, uh, wait for you out here.” He then lifted the material of the entrance and stood there, waiting for the prince to go in and meet his doom most likely. Jimin stared at it, stared at what would be inside. By this point all he could do was comply, to make it all easier. He had resisted all he could when he was taken, but he had failed. Now he had to take what he was going to get through his own weakness. With silence, he walked in and left the cold outside.
This tent was less hollow than his own. There was a desk in the middle, full of parchment and ink. The bed that was tucked into the corner radiated the warmth that he was craving. There was also a warm glow thanks to the oil lanterns that were scattered all around the interior. But the thing that caught his attention was the stubborn presence of the black and blue North flag that covered the tent walls.
Behind the desk was a man who did represent what he had always been taught. With a large wiry beard and a figure that could devour Jimin, he sat there with masculinity that scared the prince to his core. The smile he aimed in the latter’s direction did not calm his nerves, only heightened them.
“Little Prince, please do sit.”
Sitting in the old rickety chair Jimin found himself in a situation he would have never dreamed of being in. The man opposite him had introduced himself as Hye and welcomed him to the temporary camp of his group of bandits. It was all ironic and crass because they had kidnapped him, it wasn’t as if he had walked in on his own volition. So once again, he remained silent.
“I understand you are confused and scared. We have taken you to a place you do not know and have never seen and for that I am sorry-,”
There was anger bubbling inside of him but he tried to keep it at bay.
“-We did this not only for the good of our people but the good of your people. This was the last resort. We did not want it to come to this but we found we had no other way, forgive me, Little Prince-,”
Jimin couldn’t help the outburst, he couldn’t help the way he felt. He was angry, rageful. These men had taken him, against his will, and wanted to apologise? He was away from the only home he has ever known, how could he act so nonchalant about such matters?
“Do not ask for forgiveness, how
You have taken me, taken me from my home for your gain. Do not act like this was a hardship
. This was nothing but an advantage for your side of the war. I have remained unseen all my life and now you subject me-,”
During his rant he found himself coming to a realisation. He had hidden his whole life. How could these men be so sure he was the prince? Maybe if he acted like someone else, if he tried and take back anything that was telling toward what he said, he would be safe-
“I can see you head spinning with ideas Little Prince. I know who you are. You claim you are ‘unseen’ by the world, but one of our men met you in our invasion on your castle years ago. His description of you was all we had. And again, I am sorry. But we have not taken you for war,” Hye cleared his throat, gesturing for him to sit down. He hadn’t even realised he had stood up. Tentative he sat back down, eyes still twinkling with confusion and distrust.
“Then what is it for?”
Jimin had to blink twice. Peace? That was absurd. The North and The South had been at war since he could remember, it was painted in the castle walls. It was what built the two regions into what they are. The North kept their powers, The South purged theirs. Peace wasn’t just absurd it was impossible . Yet Hye didn’t sway, he didn’t flicker with hesitation. It was something that he seemed to be certain about.
“Peace?” He whispered.
“For years now, The North have been debating. Our battle, it was at a loss. The South does not want to be made free of its restraints. Your people are just as invested in your beliefs as we are. We might disagree with your ways of life, but we have realised that you don’t want to be saved. All the fighting, it was for nothing. So, we needed a plan to get The South to concede, to stop invading our land. To try and bargain with a sworn enemy is not easy. That’s where you come in-,” Jimin felt his insides turn.
“-you are their jewel right now. They keep you hidden. We thought if we took you, they would do anything to get you back. Including a peace treaty.”
It made more sense now.
The men were using him for peace. That was preferable than war, he assumed. He was their ticket to safety in their own land. Jimin could see it’s value, it meant his own people were safe. If he were to lead one day he knew that decisions like this would be in his own hands.
“So please, Little Prince, don’t run away. We’ll keep you safe and once you’re father replies we will start to move and get you home.”
He still got to go home. He got to go back to his castle walls where he wasn’t in fear of what he didn’t know, only what he knew. The hollow nature inside of his chest would be back.
Fuck. Shit, Jimin was in deep water now. His mouth dropped open and he snapped his head up to Hye.
“There is one problem. A rather large one,” Jimin whispered into the air as his eyes begin to tear up.
“What is that?”
“You’re timing is rather inconvenient. You took me before I was 18. Which means I remained unpurged. And without my pills-,”
“You have powers,” Hye finished off. He looks regretful about that which calms Jimin. His brown eyes welled with sorrow as he observed the prince who was now shaking. He had never had access to his powers. He didn’t know what they were or what they could do.
“Well, that is most inconvenient I do agree. And after tonight I must travel up north due to political matters. But I am leaving you in trustworthy hands. I will introduce you to one of them and he will aid you and your powers until we get you home.”
He had powers. He wasn’t listening to Hye to closely anymore, to scared to comprehend anything. He nodded anyway.
“Let get you some help.”
He had realised that even after being in the North camp, he hadn’t seen anyone use their powers. He had seen a Northman use his abilities once and that was during the invasion. But Hye hadn’t used his, the man who gave him the cloaks didn’t use his either.
And neither did Kim Taehyung.
This was the boy that was meant to help him with his powers. He was introduced to him shortly after his conversation with Hye. Kim Taehyung was broad and tall, with shaggy brown hair that fell into his eyes when he started to talk. His pelts were white, and the fur was silky. He smiled warmly and it was the first smile he had received that didn’t make him feel uneasy with himself. He had beckoned Jimin over warmly and asked him to take a seat as he inspected him for injuries. His tent was also much nicer than the one he had woken up in, with two beds and a warm red material as its walls. There was also a large pile of clothing, different furs, even some silks that glimmered in there.
The prince tried to remain silent, but the way Taehyung looked over his arms and carefully held his face, he wanted to ask questions.
“Are you a healer?” He asked into the silence. The other man let out a breathless laugh, looking at his face with an amused smile. Jimin felt slightly stupid. He knew nothing about how these men lived and everything he was told so far had been wrong other than their climate. He blushed with shame and looked away from him.
“By profession, yes. But if you’re referring to abilities, no. I can manipulate air, that's my power.” Taehyung spoke softly, and he moved away from inspecting Jimin to look at him fully. He felt like he was on display. Taehyung had patched up the small cut on his wrist he hadn’t noticed and through that small gesture, he felt safe with him. Well, safer.
“You’ll find yours out soon.”
The thought terrified him.
“Anyway, Little Prince-,”
“Can you stop calling me that? As much as I like the sentiment, I am not little-,” Taehyung raised his eyebrows at that. He certainly was. “-I am eighteen. Please just call me Jimin.”
The man snorted and nodded, looking at him as he stood up, towering over him.
“Jimin it is. I must say it is an honour to meet you. Considering you were an enigma not only to The North but to The South too. I feel special to have seen you,” Taehyung carried on speaking as he walked over to the piles of clothes near one of the beds. Jimin watched his back. He could run now if he wanted. But he knew he would most likely die in the cold.
“You feel special to see a prince with no abilities? That’s concerning.”
His sarcastic nature was starting to shine through and he knew he must be careful with his words. Even if Taehyung laughed at his comment and ignored the self-deprecating tone, didn’t mean he would like what he had to say. Jimin liked to think he was a nice person, but that side that he had developed through his years of isolation could make him unlikable and grate people. Like Beomseok. Ah, what Jimin would pay to see his face, all worried and angry at his disappearance.
“I feel special because the tale was right,” His answer was cryptic.
“Ah! Found it, a perfect fit!” Taehyung exclaimed before Jimin could question him, ruffling through the materials until he dragged out an emerald green tunic that stood out against the monochrome furs and pleats.
Taehyung walked back over to him holding the garment up against Jimin and smiling like he had found the treasure. But in reality, the tunic was much too big for Jimin’s narrow shoulders. He was going to make a comment about his talents as a designer, how didn’t have the aptitude to dress another person for a living. However, he realised that the man didn’t deserve all his snide comments especially if he was clothing him.
“Okay, so it’s not a perfect fit. But it’s all we have,” Taehyung smiles slightly, collecting more clothes from the pile that Jimin could sense were warm. It was then he realised he was cold and he craved for the furs that he held. As he handled the bundle of clothing, feeling the unknown material between his fingers, Jimin came back to the realisation that he was in a completely different place.
“Will it hurt?” His voice was small when he asked, as Taehyung was on his out of the tent to let him change. He didn’t elaborate when he asked because he knew that Taehyung understood his nerves. It was about how he would change. With his powers.
“It won’t be easy. You have been separated from that side of your self for so long, it could be deadly. But, with our help, you will be fine.”
He gulped. He sure hoped so.
Chapter 3: Flowers in the Snow
He had slept for the rest of the day. Getting kidnapped and coming to the realisation he would soon have to deal with abilities he built a wall around took the energy out of him. He had put on all of the clothes Taehyung had given him, which did create a certain amount of warmth he begrudgingly needed. Despite being too big and drowning him in material he knew there was no room for complaint. He would take what he could get.
It was now dark out, the wind was howling rather than a subtle whisper. The night’s up north were much darker than theirs, and to no one's surprise, much colder. He was hungry, he hadn't eaten in so long and his stomach rumbled as soon as he stirred from his slumber. It caused an uncomfortable feeling to nestle in his chest and he felt in need of food, any food. But the tent was empty, Taehyung must have left after he permitted him to sleep on his bed. His bed was a small bundle of blankets and despite their lack of intricacy, he was grateful. It was slightly jarring to be in a space all alone and suddenly he found himself craving the company of men he didn’t know.
As if he heard his plea for help, the entrance of the tent ruffled open and in with the wind came Taehyung, holding a pair of leather boots and a reassuring smile. He was now clad in even more clothing than before and his cheeks were rosy. Twinkling with mirth, his eyes found Jimin’s and he took a step closer into the room.
“Ah, you’re awake. Perfect timing, we’re just about to have dinner,” He spoke softly, running a hand through his mud-coloured hair and taking off the gloves he seemed to be sporting. Jimin took note of his hands, the way they were delicate yet covered in scars, rough from wear.
“These are for you. They’re probably too big but they’re better than those slippers that you wear on your feet,” Taehyung places the boots down by his own, where his shoes were torn apart from the ground and practically useless. He felt grateful and smiled at Taehyung, small but sure.
As he made his way to put on the heavy shoes, a sudden yelp from outside shouted, making Jimin jump. He forgot about the others, the more people he had to meet that he didn’t know. It was slightly scary to meet so many unknown Northmen in one sitting, he had no clue how to properly converse with any of them. But, Taehyung was nice, nice enough that Jimin didn’t mind his presence, so if they were anything like him, he would be okay.
Taehyung must have noticed his nerves, the way his hands started to shake as he laced up the boots, attempting to try and keep the shoes on his feet when he walked. The man walked over to him, offering his hand and gesturing to it with a small nod. Jimin looked at it and it felt like something he had witnessed before. He had a choice, a choice if he could leave. The hand in his memories was glowing and even scarier than before, but this hand was calm and inviting. He knew, in reality, he had no choice of where he was taken. But he wanted to take his hand. The invisible support he had through staying with Taehyung was what he wanted.
Besides, the North wasn’t going to hurt him.
He took his hand, letting him be jolted into a standing position from the contact. Unlike the weather, Taehyung was warm. Jimin clung onto his hand and gave him an uneasy look.
“The others are fine. Perhaps a little bubbly and bold but they’re nice. Stay with me if you want,” The taller then gave his hand a little tug, dragging him towards the entrance. The boots were heavy and he found himself lifting his feet with much more effort than necessary. His heart was pounding as they got closer to the slow chatter from the outside. He wondered what they would say when they saw him if they would ask him questions about his life in The South.
When they emerged he was hit by a swirl of wind that made his whole body shiver. There was a warm orange glow that emitted from the fire and the smell of roasting meat drifted through the air and wafted under his nose. His stomach rumbled again and Taehyung laughed, moving them closer to the fire and guiding him to the small huddle of people conversing.
“Taehyung, we tried to save you as much as we could but Gukkie ate most of it,” A foreign voice called over once they sat on the ground, the snow melting around him.
There were three other men sat around the fire, all holding tin containers of food, the steam floating up to their faces and creating a flush over their nose and cheeks. One was the boy who was stood outside his tent when he first woke up, the same bunny smile acting all sheepish as he ate his meal. The other two were huddled close together, mischievous smirks plastered to both their faces. One had longer legs which told Jimin he was taller, had darker hair parted in the middle that fell flat on his head with a sheen. He wore grey furs and when he smiled a dimple engraved his cheek. The man next to him had auburn hair, a little kinkier and out of place, stray pieces sticking up. His eyes were warmer and he laughed with his whole body. He was also wearing a grey fur, just like the man next to him. They seemed close, like brothers maybe but Jimin wasn’t going to ask.
“It doesn’t matter, do we have enough for Jimin?” He sent a glare towards the rabbit smiling boy who cowers away with a laugh. He could feel his nerves slowly fading away as Taehyung grabbed the last two containers of food, passing the prince one. The tin was warm and immediately brought the heat to Jimin’s palms as he began to eat the meat with a spoon. The beef was stringy and tough but it was food, and he was grateful.
“Is the food good?” Taehyung asked him as he began to eat, which he nodded his head. He could feel three sets of eyes watching him eat and started to blush from the attention. He wished they would just ask what they were thinking so he didn’t feel their gaze on his skin, crawling around him and making him wish he was back in the tent.
“They’re staring,” He whispered to Taehyung. It sounded petty to say out loud but he rather tells Taehyung that sit in the awkward tension for the rest of the night. He didn’t look up from his food as the boy sighed, snapping his head to his friends.
“Stop staring at him, you’re making him uncomfortable,” the taller bite out, glaring at the three.
“Well, you could at least introduce us instead of hogging him all to yourself!” The auburn-haired man commented and Jimin could practically feel his pout. Hogging him? He wasn’t an object, and besides who would want to hang about with a pathetic weak sarcastic prince who hasn’t experienced anything outside his own castle walls?
“Fine you imbeciles, I’ll introduce you. Jimin-,” He turned to him and slightly shook his arm which meant he had to look up and acknowledge the others. Was that worse, having to accept he was among them? He wasn't sure.
“-This is Jeongguk,” He pointed to the rabbit smiling boy who gave him a small wave and he nodded in his direction. The embers of the fire swooned up in his face and the yellow light bounced off his jaw and reflected in his eyes. In the night where he wasn’t patrolling his tent, he seemed less scary and looming. More like a boy and less like a warrior.
“Gukkie is young and immature so don’t mind anything he says-,”
“-he just spouts nonsense more often than not.” Taehyung was reciting this as if he had rehearsed having to introduce his friends and the way Jeongguk looked thoroughly offended almost made Jimin laugh. Almost. Taehyung stuck his tongue out at the sulking boy and moved on rather quickly.
“I’m kidding. Those two imbeciles over there are Hoseok-,” He pointed to the auburn-haired man who warmly smiled at him. “-and Namjoon. Both as annoying as each other.”
Neither of them rejected their description and took it in their pride, beaming at Jimin from across the fire.
“Guys, this is Jimin, Prince of The South. Don’t call him Little Prince, he doesn’t like that,” Taehyung patted him on the shoulder and he felt at peace now that there wasn’t a wall between him and the Northmen. Eating his meat was a much more pleasant activity when the men weren’t staring at him, instead of speaking among themselves and treating Jimin as their own. They respected his silence and his space which also made Jimin respect them. It was odd how accepting he was of his sworn enemy, the men who took him.
“Where are Seokjin and Yoongi?” Hoseok had asked with a mouthful of beef which crumbled down his chin. Namjoon scoffed at his eating habits and pushed him, which the latter then whined loudly as he gulped his food. The two felt close, especially the way they bickered like siblings.
“Speaking with Hye. They’re in charge when he leaves so he is giving them the run down,” Taehyung told them as he scooped a large portion of meat into his mouth and gestured to Hye’s tent behind them. There were more. More Northmen named Seokjin and Yoongi who he would have to meet. He tried not to get overwhelmed and nervous about more meetings so he pushed the thought aside and carried on eating. The meat started to taste flavoursome after a while.
“Oh, fun,” Jeongguk said sarcastically as he finished off the container and placed it on the ground, leaning back on both his hands. He sent a small pointed glare towards Hoseok and Namjoon who looked thoroughly offended at the accusation that wasn’t aimed at themselves.
“Hey, Seokjin will be an amazing leader and will make sure we’re all safe,” Hoseok argued as he jammed his finger in Jeongguk’s face. This didn’t seem to matter to the younger and he rolled his eyes as he removed Hoseok’s finger and shoved it back at him.
The bickering continued for a while and it started to give Jimin an idea of what the dynamic was like in their small group. It seemed to be constantly arguing that didn’t mean much and affection for people that was ‘biased’. He started to wonder if Hoseok liked this Seokjin. But he wasn’t sure. Maybe Seokjin was just adored by the two men because Namjoon seemed to be agreeing with Hoseok.
“Seokjin will make a great leader,” Namjoon agreed with Hoseok. This conversation carried on until the fire dwindled and Jimin could feel his eyes starting to fall shut and his body feel heavier.
“Jimin, you can share with me and Jeongguk’s, come on,” Taehyung made his presence known again and tugged on his arm. With a belated nod and small yawn he stood up and waved at the three men he now knew, who were to busy debating to notice their absence. He was too tired to care either way and merely followed Taehyung back to his tent. The healer must have shared with Jeongguk as he said and that’s who the other bed is for.
The tent was warm once again and he could feel his eyes falling shut. He let Taehyung sort out the blankets and set Jimin up a bed next to his, close enough he could feel his presence but further away than friends. He was happy that he could find any semblance of trust in someone in the camp. He knew by this point he should make the most of his situation. At the end of it, he would go home and his people would be safe. He was appreciative of Taehyung’s kindness.
As soon as the man was done with his bed he made way for Jimin to fall onto it, his body relaxing into the soft materials and releasing their tension. He could hear Taehyung pottering around as his eyes remained shut. Yet as the day drew to an end, he found himself curious. Just slightly.
“How old are you Taehyung?” He whispered into the darkness of the tent. He heard the man freeze for two seconds before answering. He wondered if he was pressured at a young age.
He was his age. His age. He was Jimin’s age yet he was so much more self-assured and developed. He had been calling him a man when he had only just graduated to that. It made him wonder how old the others were.
“What about everyone else?”
“Well, Jeongguk is the youngest, he’s seventeen-,”
“Seventeen!?” He yelled slightly, surprised at how young he was. He didn't look young, he looked like a man, older than Jimin. How was he out on such a journey so young? It was a mystery to Jimin.
“He’s young but experienced. Hoseok and Namjoon are both nineteen, they’re non-identical twins.” he continued. Hoseok and Namjoon being brothers, twins, made complete sense after meeting them, they were super close even after one encounter. He made his wish he had a brother or sister to rely on but he repressed the thought.
“Yoongi is twenty and Seokjin is twenty-one.”
“You’re all so young,” Was Jimin’s last thoughts before unconsciousness finally took over his brain and he fell asleep.
He woke up to the howling of wind rattling the tent walls.
For a second he forgot where he was and his brain was swimming in confusion, but then the bitter cold nipped at his nose and he remembered rather bluntly where he was. The North. Or somewhere near that anyway.
He whined, feeling slightly odd that morning as his palms itched and his brain felt heavy with an unknown force pressing against his heart. It was off-putting and he sat up with a frown, the blankets swimming around his waist and covering his legs with a secured amount of heat. He noticed he had tossed his fur pelt during the night and quickly reached for the warm material to wrap around his shoulders. He blinked away the blurred sleep resting in his eyes and turned to look at the two other men ( one boy) that were still sleeping.
Taehyung was a peaceful sleeper, arms wrested by his side and legs tucked up to his chest. When his eyes travelled over to Jeongguk he could not say the same. The boy was snoring loudly, mouth agape and arms spread around him like he was an eagle. If Jimin knew him more he would laugh, but he found himself remaining monotonous.
He was hungry, he knew that much. His body was aching for him to move so with much reluctance he stood up, slowly on shaky legs. When he fell asleep Taehyung had taken off his shoes and left him a change of clothes by his feet, another tunic and breeches. This tunic was ruby red instead and reminded him of his clothes in The South. He got changed rather quick but took a while to put on the large boots and lace them up. Once he was ready in much too large clothes he started to make his way towards the entrance.
He could do this. They weren’t going to hurt him.
With his pained palms, he tugged open the tent and stepped outside, letting the cold embrace him. At first, it seemed fine, Namjoon and Hoseok were both standing there, together. He wasn’t too surprised by their presence until he saw the shocked look on their faces. They were staring at him with their mouths agape, confused and monotonous. Jimin didn’t understand what they were staring at until the tingling in his palms became unbearable and he finally looked down.
Jimin felt his heart drop.
Not just drop but crash, destroy itself and scream. His face resembled the twins and he couldn’t believe his eyes. Surrounding him in a large elaborate circle of flowers that had somehow bloomed from the sodden muddy ground. They were an alarming shade of red and orange, their petals so vibrant they almost seemed extraordinary. It was a wonder to Jimin how they sprouted from snow, in such a climate. He found himself kneeling, feeling undeniably close to the flowers that had grown around the tent.
The world around him didn’t seem to matter, not when he was nearing closer to the flowers, his hand outstretched towards their petals as they called for him. He then grabbed the nearest one, and it wasn’t moments later that he yelped in pain, realising the flower and cradling his hand by his chest. He could feel the blood seep out of him, from where the flower had torn at his skin and made him feel weak. It was then that the world slowly came back to him in its dull hues and cold landscape, and he could hear the rushed hustle of the men inside the tent, trying to get out quicker. Jimin’s worried and confused eyes found Namjoon’s and Hoseok’s once more and this time they looked more alert, less caught off guard.
“Jimin are you-,” Taehyung had startled as he clambered out of the tent, arm around his still kneeling figure. His sentence trailed off as he took in his surroundings. Jimin just shook his head, glaring at the pretty but evil flowers.
“One of you two go get Seokjin and Yoongi,” Taehyung told the two men standing still, who quickly rose to action and ran off to the two remaining tents. If he wasn’t so busy focusing on the pain in his hand he would be nervous about meeting the two temporary leaders, but instead, he let the healer ease him back inside the tent where he could patch him up.
The only thought on his mind now was that flowers didn’t sprout in the snow.
Chapter 4: Finally Acquainted
I want to start a small question at the beginning of some chapters so I can get a better feel of my fiction and what you guys want more of!
Who is your favourite character so far?
And aside from Yoongi (Sorry) who do you want to see more off?
Please answer in the comments if you have time!
Thank you, happy reading!
Taehyung patched him up in silence, the mere sound of rattling wind the only thing filling in their silence. The flower had cut at his fingertips and drawn blood, but not enough to slice his finger off or make him faint from the pain. It was startling to see so many small flowers surrounding him and him only. He was drawn to them despite seeing flowers every day in The South, so why their potent red petals created a chain of shock within him was odd. It was also unsettling how Namjoon and Hoseok had frozen, as if fearful of Jimin. He was nothing to be feared, he couldn’t do anything.
The heavyweight in his head and heart had subsided and the tingling in his palms had left him but the curiosity in his head was still buzzing. He watched Taehyung’s head as he applied the salve to Jimin’s finger, heavy breathing and stubbornly not looking in his direction. His hair was still sticking up from his sleep and his cotton white nightgown hadn’t been changed. He must have been cold, and Jimin felt slightly guilty for causing such a commotion in the early hours of the morning. He had been in the camp for less than three days, and he felt like a burden despite them taking him. He had almost forgotten about his father and how he would respond.
“Taehyung, what happened,” He asked him after the healer cleaned up the small cut, closing the lid to the slave he had been using. He finally moved his head to look up at the prince's face, slightly guilty and slightly sorrowful. His eyebrows were furrowed and he still held onto Jimin’s hand as if he needed to ground himself. Jimin wondered if he and Taehyung had met under different circumstances maybe they would have become lifelong friends.
“Jimin, I’m so sorry about this. I should have told you more about the outcome of your powers when you got here yesterday but we were so unsure of what would happen,” Taehyung spoke. He gripped his hand harder, giving him a certain degree of comfort. Jimin could feel his sincerity through the way he held Jimin and sat close, looking at him as if he regretted many things. Jimin had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the last couple of days. First, he was angry and upset, outraged he had been taken. Then he was understanding, he could see the merit behind his kidnapping that would benefit both their kingdoms. He was annoyed, sure, he was out in the cold with people he hadn’t known, but The North believed they had no other way.
Then he was scared, scared for meeting others unlike him, for meeting his powers and for witnessing what had happened that morning. He was appreciative of how the Northmen were accommodating to him despite him being a hostage. It wasn’t like he was a captive but a guest.
“It’s not your fault,” He told him, but it was their fault. If they hadn’t taken him none of this would be happening. But once again Jimin had to remind himself it was for the greater good.
“But it is. We didn’t want to take you but we felt like it was our last choice. The South kept attacking us and taking our people, and all we want now is peace. We promise we will deliver you back home safe Jimin,” He spoke in a small voice. Jimin said nothing to his statement. They barely knew each other yet Taehyung wanted to help him and care for him.
The silence barely had a chance to stretch between them before the tent opened and one of the two remaining faces who he hadn’t met walked in, looking at both Taehyung and Jimin.
This man was tall and broad, he had a complexion that even women in The South would swoon over. His furs were a basic grey and he wore simple white tunics and pelts under the layers. His hair was the lightest of the bunch, lighter than Taehyung’s chocolate hair but still darker than Jimin’s. He held an aura of delicacy but a brooding nature and Jimin automatically felt slightly warmed to him. He nodded over in Taehyung’s direction and then directed his gaze at the young prince.
“I’ve heard you don’t like being called Little Prince?” Was his first sentence and then he smiled, closed and sweet but his eyes twinkled and Jimin found himself in awe. These men were so different than what he had been taught he was starting to understand why they wanted peace.
“No,” He breathed simply.
The man continued to smile and ruffled a hand through his light brown hair.
“I’m Kim Seokjin, it’s lovely to meet you Jimin. Please, would you join me in a walk?” He asked Jimin and he suddenly felt much more willing than he had before. Seokjin was kind-hearted from the outside and he hoped that his assumption would remain correct. The prince nodded, waving Taehyung goodbye and standing up to join Seokjin. Up close he was even taller, much to his dismay but he hid all feelings and kept them on the inside.
The morning was less daunting now and he merely followed Seokjin until they were a slight distance away from the camp, walking on the crispy snow which was less trodden on away from camp. He wondered what snow looked like when it covered the whole ground like a blanket instead of the sloshy brown mud that had transpired on the field.
Jimin side-eyed Seokjin as the man let out a long sign, slowly coming to a stop and turned back to the small huddle of tents in the middle of the barren landscape.
“I’m sure you’ve heard this many times since being here, but I'm sorry about how this happened and I hope you understand our reasoning,” Seokjin finally spoke, turning to him fully and looking down at him with his gentle demeanour.
“I do, to some extent.” He did understand but he was still petulant about the circumstances.
“And as the future king of The South, I hope spending time with our people will straighten up any mistakes or misinterpretations and set a strong good-willed path in the future,” Seokjin recited. It was as if all of this was a formality like Hye had briefed him beforehand on how to handle him. Jimin wanted to snort at how formal it all sounded but he just nodded.
“Yes, taking me against my will really basked you guys in a positive light,” Jimin commented sarcastically before he realised his mistake. But Seokjin did the unexpected, and laughed, a loud noise that echoed into the distance. His smile seemed genuine and bright and it made him think about how if they were in another life maybe Jimin would have grown up with these men and had a chance to get along with them. But that was speculation for a different life.
“It was a bit of an aggressive move, I do agree. But these men, boys even, they’re the same as you. I hope you understand us by the end of this trip,” He ended on a more serious note, before bending down and plucking a small flower which then brought him back to the peculiar situation that morning. The sight of the ruby-red flowers that surrounded him and felt like a maze for his heart.
“And despite the unwilling circumstances, we’re here to help you, it is our fault after all,” Seokjin held the small baby flower in his hand, holding it out for Jimin to see before something very familiar happened before his very eyes. In the middle of the field dressed in furs and boots, Jimin watched as the golden glow emitted from Seokjin’s palm, surrounding the small flower and slowly making the petals bloom and grow in the dip of his palm. The flower itself resembled a carnation, just as intricate and fragile but its stem was thinner and shorter. He found himself just staring at it with a mild sense of disbelief. Just like before it left Jimin breathless and confused. Everything he was taught to hate, right in front of him.
“This is what you can do Jimin,” He then said, the glow fading away and leaving his hand. He handed the small pink flower to Jimin, letting him feel the weight between his fingers. The prince stared at it, how colourful it was despite being enclosed before. It didn’t feel any different to a normal flower which abided with the rules of nature but the way Jimin saw it grow made him know there was a magical feel to it. Surely this wasn’t what Jimin could do. He couldn’t do anything, let alone create life itself.
“This morning, the flowers were a product of your ability. You’re a ‘spirit of nature’.”
A spirit of nature.
Was that what the constant pull towards the outside and flowers came from, how he felt connected among the greenery. He use to dance around the rose bushes, he hid in the rose bushes when there was an invasion, it made him feel safe and secure. It was a realisation that made him feel empty and broken but he just blinked and looked back up at Seokjin who was gazing at him softly and with an understanding face.
“But why did it hurt me? ” He finally asked with a sad frown. This flower was fine, it didn’t cut him and it just laid there, blooming quietly. Roses tugged at him, but they had thorns. Those flowers were innocent, or they looked it yet one touch towards their soft petals made him bleed. If that was his powers why did it hurt?
Seokjin sighed again and turned his gaze out back towards the tents.
“We can’t be sure of the exact reason, but your powers have never been harnessed before. They’ve been rejected and neglected their whole life, so the one chance they get to escape, they’re untamed and unprepared. It’s a defence mechanism,” The elder spoke to him wisely and his logic made sense and believing something he was told was better than questioning everything and trying to detect the problem.
The silence between them was slightly awkward and Jimin wanted to try and fill the void as best as he could. The flower in his palms suddenly felt more soothing than anything Jimin had held in his life.
“So are you the same as me?” He asked, but he knew he must have been. Seokjin showed him his power, the first he had seen since he had arrived at the camp. It meant he wasn’t alone in his power, he had someone who understood. But then Seokjin laughed again, doubling back and holding his chest, a little exaggerated which made Jimin less sure.
“I wish Jimin. I do harness your power, but not as strong as you do. I’m a rarity, I have the ability of all powers.”
The young prince blinked and had to look at Seokjin once more. All powers? Jimin had never been taught about that growing up, he had just been told that people are born with one power and some nations, The North, decided to keep theirs. But all of them? He hadn’t even known that was possible. He wondered how difficult it must have been for Seokjin, trying to juggle and control all of them when Jimin could barely understand his one. In The South, he would be considered dangerous, and if Taehyung had told him about Seokjin beforehand he would have been wary about travelling alone with him. But he didn’t know and he had trusted Seokjin through his friendly aura and welcoming demeanour.
With Jimin’s lack of response to his confession the man could feel their introduction drawing to an end, and he started to move along once more which prompted Jimin to start walking again. They started to circle back to the camp, leaving Jimin somehow less reassured about himself but more confident in the people surrounding him.
It took longer than the others, but he finally meets Yoongi.
The last of the small group that he hadn’t been introduced to, the last member he would be travelling with once his father replied. After being pleasantly surprised by all the men so far by how young and inoffensive they were so far he was prepared to meet the temporary leader without any prejudgements that weren’t justified. After all, since being in the camp all of the boys had been kind to him and treated him with respect despite being held there.
So when he left Taehyung’s tent with the man beside him, holding his hand once more, he was ready to meet him. He had seen the unknown figure hunched by the fire next to Seokjin he could feel in his blood that it was the last man, and despite the nerves that settled there he had to remind himself that they wouldn’t hurt him. That’s not why they kidnapped him. They took him for the greater good, and once he returned home safely he would relay to his people of the Northmen’s kindness and the peace they desired. Their kingdom would finally be at peace.
He followed Taehyung to the fire and sat down next to him, in between the former and Jeongguk who gave him a small smile and passed him the container of food. That night the meat was white and drier, but there was a small herb sauce glazed over the pulled meat in attempts of giving it moisture. He said a small and quiet ‘thank you’ to the younger fighter and picked up one of the rusty spoons that Taehyung had offered him. There was a weight in the silence that had graced the fire and Jimin knew it was because of him.
He huddled further into his fur and tried to make himself as small as possible.
“Seokjin should we introduce Jimin?” Taehyung finally spoke up, looking towards their joint leader. Jimin continued to stare at his food and heard the man hum in response. Taehyung then nudged his arm to get his attention and he slowly looked up over the fire and saw Yoongi.
He saw two dark eyes already staring at him, without a word. Jimin found himself staring at him in silence, in awe.
Yoongi was dark and brooding, that was certain. His fur pelts were as black as night, which matched his hair. He sat in the shadows and dwelled his large aura in the darkness. His shoulders were broad and his jaw was clenched but despite the scary aura the man held a quality of softness about him, in those dark eyes, Jimin swore he saw something deeper, nicer looming in the iris. It made him shiver, and he just blamed it on the cold.
“Jimin, this is Yoongi. Yoongi this is Jimin, Prince of the South.” Seokjin gave him a brief introduction. The man still didn’t say a thing, merely staring at him with intensity. Jimin found it unnerving so he nodded and him and offered a smile.
But he still stayed quiet before turning his head down and eating his food. He didn’t claim it was an honour to meet him and he didn’t even offer him a smile of reassurance or hope. He just remained silent like Jimin was meant to understand what he felt. Feeling confused and slightly embarrassed from Yoongi’s lack of communication he was grateful for Hoseok and Namjoon who provided a significant distraction from Yoongi. The two had arrived at dinner slightly late and dumped themselves by Seokjin, Hoseok closer than Namjoon who seemed annoyed at his brother’s attempt to get close to elder.
“Good evening Seokjin, you’re looking swell,” Hoseok spoke formally, leaning his chin on his hand and fluttering his eyelashes up at the older. The man seemed unaffected and rolled his eyes, sending him an unamused stare. Jimin watched in amusement as he tried to brush of Yoongi’s presence.
“Since when do you use words like ‘ swell’? ,” He raised his eyebrow as the man acted affronted. As Hoseok was about to answer it seemed Namjoon wanted to disturb their speech and started to loudly collect his tin container with an unneeded cough.
“Who cooked tonight it looks awful-,” Namjoon began as an interruption to the others conversation, picking up a container of food and peering into it like it had grown a head and started to talk to him.
“I did,” Seokjin turned to him.
“-Awfully delicious! What I was going to say if you let me finish was that it looks awfully delicious, right Hoseok?” The taller of the two said louder than necessary, immediately turning his disgusted look into one of wonder and happiness, stuffing his face with the meal that most certainly wasn’t worth the hype Namjoon was creating. Jimin watched as Seokjin just stared at the twins blankly, the way Hoseok suddenly created a big deal around the meal and Namjoon ate every single bite. The dynamic between the three of them was odd and Jimin made a mental note to ask Taehyung about it later.
“You two are ridiculous.” Was all Seokjin claimed before he stood up swiftly, placing his container on the ground and wishing them all a goodnight. This then prompted the man in black to finish eating, sending them a small wave before standing up in all his glory. When Yoongi stood up Jimin saw he had a sword sheathed to his waist and his hands were pale and scarred. But he quickly averted his attention and looked at the fire, not wanting to get caught staring at the man.
“Goodnight Yoongi!” Jeongguk yelled as he began to walk away which earned him a soft grunt. Jimin couldn’t help watching his back in curiosity. He walked into the night and camouflaged into his surroundings so much so that Jimin had no choice but to drift back into the present in front of him.
Then there were five. Hoseok and Namjoon both looked slightly deflated and saddened, flushed red from the fire. It was that moment that Jimin saw their similarities. He knew they were non-identical twins, that their looks were completely different and so were their personalities. But at the moment where they were sulking in front of the fire, he saw two boys, boys who relied on one another but also clashed in unexpected circumstances.
“That was smooth,” Jeongguk spoke up. Jimin saw the youngest sat there with a smug face, looking at the twins.
“It would have been fine if Joonie didn’t start offending his food! Awfully delicious! That’s barely a compliment!” Hoseok shot out as he looked at his brother who was glaring at Jeongguk. He wasn’t eating at all anymore, the show for Seokjin over as soon as it started.
“Oh, because your conversation was going swimmingly!-,”
“It was better than yours-,”
“It was unbelievable that you would use a word such as swell -,”
“Because you’re so much better just because you read! You know what, good luck sleeping without a tent tonight!” Hoseok rushed out in anger, throwing his food down and standing up with heavy breaths. Namjoon scoffed rather loudly and cocked his head to the side.
“Oh yeah? Well, it’s both our tent so you can’t kick me out!” Namjoon seethed. Hoseok raised his eyebrow and his smile grew evil.
“Not if I get there first,” The auburn-haired man yelled before he ran off with a clumsy stumble. Namjoon barely sent them a look before he had run off, running after his twin brother with annoyed yells and curses. Jimin blinked and finally let out a long breath he had been holding before turning to Taehyung and Jeongguk who looked unaffected by the bickering.
“What was that about?” He questioned.
Taehyung and Jeongguk both let out a small laugh before sharing a look. Jimin was so confused at the dynamic of the group but let them take their time.
“Hoseok and Namjoon are both very smitten with Seokjin. Both of them,” The healer said as he gave Jimin look and he let out a noise of understanding. Of course, they both liked the eldest of the group and it explained their competition and anger towards each other.
The last three sat in comfortable silence, finishing their food with the cracking of the fire to keep them company.
Chapter 5: Brooding Silence
He hadn’t danced in a while, that was the thought that crossed his head the next morning.
He was sitting by a small lake not far from the camp, legs tucked into his chest and chin resting on his knees as he observed the two men fighting in front of him, grunts of effort emitting from their colliding bodies. It was extremely cold that morning, the sun had barely risen from behind the tree’s and the grass was crunchy with frost and reminiscence of snowfall overnight. He was shivering under his large fur cloak but he remained silent on the ground.
The twins and Jeongguk were going to train away from the camp early in the morning, and Taehyung was going to make more slaves. Jimin found himself wanting to stretch his legs and walk and was interested in what training consisted off, so he willingly decided to leave Taehyung and join the three men on their training journey. It was brave for him to leave any sense of security he had but was a tad… bored. They hadn’t heard anything from his father yet so he wanted to occupy himself. And as Jimin sat there shivering beyond belief, watching Hoseok and Jeongguk practise physical combat he found it similar to dance. Or maybe he was clutching at strings that weren’t there, just trying to find an excuse towards dancing once more.
Hoseok let out a yell, swinging a punch at Jeongguk who caught it with ease, gripping his fist and pushing him backwards and away from him. Despite the older man having his back towards Jimin, he could practically feel his frustration and anger, the way his whole body breathed heavily and his hands shook by his sides. Jeongguk, however, looked barely out of breath, he was standing in a guarded position with his hands in front of him.
In spite of the cold air, the two fighters had grown warm and now their fur’s were lying on the grass, taunting Jimin with their potential warmth. If he knew the boys' longer he would just take their pelts and hoard them all to themselves. However, they remained on the ground, uselessly.
“Concentrate Hoseok,” Namjoon said from beside the young prince, his eyes concentrating on the book he was reading and not on the fight itself. Namjoon had got to training after promising Seokjin he would and then proceeded to sit down and get out a book hidden in his clothes. No one else had blinked at his behaviour. It seemed to Jimin that Namjoon had never planned on training.
“Easy for you to say, you’re not fighting,” His other half whined, using up his last remnants of efforts and swinging his leg up in a swift and perfect kick that would have hit Jeongguk in the shoulder if the younger hadn't caught it and caused the latter to lose his balance. Hoseok fell to the ground with a dull thump, a loud shout and a smug Jeongguk on top of him. Jeongguk was straddling his hips and staring down at him with an amused smirk, relishing in his victory. Jimin was slightly drawn in by their dance of violence. They had been fighting for half an hour straight without any progression so the sight of Hoseok on the floor must have been a blessing in disguise.
“That’s cheating, and you know it,” Hoseok said up to him, attempting to get the boy of him but to no success. Jimin wondered how he simply could not defeat Jeongguk even when the boy wasn’t trying. He was lying on the grass with the attitude of someone who had given up.
“It’s not cheating, my power is just better than yours,” Jeongguk concluded. Jimin stopped his smiling and wondered when Jeongguk had used his powers to defeat Hoseok because he must have missed it. The two don't seem like they had used anything extraordinary.
“Better? You really think that?-” And as Hoseok began to argue a large bubble of icy cold water emerged from the lake making Jimin gasp. The bubble was floating in the air, defying gravity and looming over the squabbling pair. The prince watched in awe and terror as the bubble came down and threatened to cover Jeongguk, drench him in what would feel like blades of ice.
Jeongguk leaned in closer to Hoseok before saying, “Yes.”
Then the bubble popped, and the water came exploding out of the barrier and covering Jeongguk, just as Hoseok raised his hands in a shelter of protection. The water didn’t even touch anyone else, it only drenched the youngest man there who shrieked in shock and jolted off Hoseok. The latter took this as an opportunity to get up off the ground, moving closer to his brother who had been watching the scene unfold. The twins were laughing at his horror and pain, watching as Jeongguk stood up and ran a hand through his now soaked hair, the brown strands dripping with fluid. Jimin was speechless and turned to them.
“How did you do that?” He asked. Namjoon gave him a warm dimpled smile and raised his own hand, directing it towards the lake.
“Through the power of water manipulation,” He spoke, lifting his own bubble of terror but letting it settle back into the lake instead of attacking Jeongguk.
He looked at the twins with amazement before asking, “Do you both have the same power?”
They both nodded, ignoring Jeongguk slowly freezing to death.
“Yes, born with a power attached to one another. It’s twice as powerful as a regular person but it doesn’t work when we’re apart. It’s a double-edged sword,” Hoseok shrugged before walking over to Jeongguk and holding his shaking hand, closing his eyes and uttering a small sentence that started to make him steam. The teenager was beginning to shiver less and the water was leaving his clothing and hair. He was evaporating the moisture from him.
Jimin was unaware of the different aspects of having power, he was just taught about everyone having one. But now he was here he saw the complicated nature of these powers, how they adapted to the different circumstances of each human. He had no clue about the real-life and culture of The North.
“What about Jeongguk? What power do you have?” Jimin couldn’t help the curiosity that plagued him when he asked the question. Jeongguk was now dry, still cold but dry. He collected his fur and sat down next to Jimin, cheeks a bright red.
“I have inhuman strength. When I was younger it was a problem as I broke everything I touched but now I know only to use it in battle and combat.”
Jimin nodded and thought the ability suited him.
He looked at Jeongguk, noticed now that his hair was washed and clean, not greasy like his own honey-toned hair was. He was envious of his newly cleansed self and found that he wanted to be drenched in water. If his father could see his thoughts now, he would be horrified. Jimin, however, was starting to see a different light and side to what they had been taught. Things were going to change when he got back.
“Namjoon,” He asked, standing up from the frosty grass and walking over to him. The taller was just beginning to fight with Hoseok but turned his head to Jimin with a reassuring and welcoming look.
“Would you do that for me? What Hoseok did to Jeongguk? My hair needs a wash,” He spoke truthfully, picking at a clump of hair that didn’t resemble his usual soft and silky look but one of a darker dirtier self. Namjoon blinked, turned to Hoseok who just shrugged and agreed to his wish. They must be confused at his compliance with their powers but he found his priorities lie with wanting a wash.
“Are you sure?” Namjoon asked as he started to create the same bubble Hoseok had formed not moments before, hovering over the lake and creeping closer to Jimin. He knew that the man was just being careful, he didn’t want to expose Jimin to powers he had been hidden from, but he knew that it wouldn’t hurt him. He would be cold, but not for long.
He nodded and watched as Namjoon stepped closer to him, his tall body looming over him as he made a signal with his hands. Jimin braced himself, closing his eyes and holding his breath. It was a sudden feeling, the way the icy water suddenly covered him from head to toe, drenching his hair and soaking his body. He let out a yelp of displeasure and jolted from where he stood, not used to the sharp pain that the water gave him. He went to shiver and wish for a coat, but before he knew it someone was grabbing his wet hand and holding it tight, just like with Jeongguk’s. He was feeling many different emotions but he only felt relief when the water started to evaporate from his body and regain his warmth.
He sighed in content and opened his eyes, looking at Namjoon who continued to smile at him. He was still holding his hand and it was in that silent moment that Jimin saw beyond these boy’s upbringing, how they were taught and their beliefs. He saw people like him, wishing to live their life like him. How had Jimin hated them for so long? How had The South and The North not managed to live in peace with one another after so many decades? Jimin knew that when he returned home he would make it his choice and mission to agree to peace, and start a reformation for The South. Acceptance.
“Better?” Namjoon asked him sweetly, letting go of his hand and stepping back. Jimin found himself smiling, which felt foreign but he enjoyed it.
He looked at Jeongguk, young but strong, still sulking on the ground. Hoseok who was laughing at his pain, and Namjoon who was looking at him softly. These men were boys, and these boys weren’t evil. Despite their differences, Jimin hoped they would become friends.
When they arrive back at the tents, Seokjin is waiting for them with one hand on his hip.
Jimin started to get a motherly scolding vibe from the man who immediately stopped them at the edge of the tents, hand in front of Jeongguk to stop them from proceeding into their camp. Jimin remained at the back, waving a Taehyung who was standing behind Seokjin and smiling broadly. Yoongi was nowhere to be seen which confused yet calmed Jimin. He was comfortable with the men that surrounded him at that moment, and he wasn’t sure how that would differ if Yoongi was suddenly in his eyesight.
“What took you so long?” Seokjin asked the twins and Jeongguk, giving them a look that reeked of disappointment and mostly worries. Considering they left before the sun had even fully risen Jimin understood that they were gone for a long period and therefore Seokjin had been left pondering their whereabouts for a while. It was nice to see people care so much about each other, even if it resolved in bickering most nights. Back in his castle, he had no one, no one that truly cared. Beomseok cared about his reputation, but not Jimin himself. His father was barely about, he was too busy focusing on war.
Hoseok beamed at the elder, moving in front of Namjoon and giving him a bright smile.
“Namjoon helped clean Jimin,” Hosoek told him with an innocent smile, fluttering his eyelashes and pointing at Jimin who was still loitering in the back. He didn’t understand why the taller of the twins suddenly choked on his breath, or why Seokjin raised an eyebrow and looked at the prince with a questioning gaze. He didn’t understand why Jeongguk was now laughing to himself or why it was such a funny statement.
“What-no! I didn’t help like that! I just used my powers to clean his hair!” Namjoon defended himself, pushing Hoseok out of the way who was now smiling smugly. It then hit Jimin in a horrid fashion what the man was implying when he said that and he immediately flushed a bright red that covered him from head to toe. God, these men were immature and crude.
Seokjin merely rolled his eyes at them, ushering them in the circle of tents with an exhausted sigh. He believed he heard the man whispered something about how Hye could deal with all of them daily but he didn’t comment on it, instead of making his way over to Taehyung who was waiting for him. The healer peered at his fresh hair and moved his hand to tug on a honey-toned strand, which surprised him. The gesture was almost loving, like friendship and it caught Jimin off-guard.
“Your hair looks nice,” Taehyung then commented, smiling at him as he let go of his hair. Jimin was grateful for what he said and could feel his red blush from before remaining on his face.
“Do you want to stay with me or go with them?” The healer asked again, turning his head to the twins who were arguing once more, Jeongguk tagging along and teasing both of them. Despite his independence in the morning, he didn’t fancy spending the whole day with those three, their loud and obnoxious conversations are often overwhelming for a guest. So he turned to the healer who was much calmer and nodded towards him.
“Okay, I need to go back to the tent and finish some salves,” Taehyung grabbed his hand and they walked back to the tent, the one Jimin had slept in for a couple of nights and grown to enjoy. He was content with just relaxing in Taehyung’s presence for the rest of the afternoon, but that idea was completely shattered when they walked in and the person he wasn’t keen on was sitting there.
Yoongi was sitting in the same chair Jimin was in on his first day, sleeves rolled up to his elbow which made Jimin gulp. He looked tired with his black hair ruffled and his posture sagging and Jimin still found his heart uncomfortable around his silent presence. He had known Seokjin for the same amount of time yet he was more comfortable with the older man. Perhaps it was Yoongi’s brooding silence and lack of introduction.
“Ah Yoongi, I’ll be done with your salve in a minute, let me just go grab my herbs from outside,” Taehyung seemed to remember the man was still in there and quickly made the move to leave, but Jimin grabbed his arm out of a small dwelling of fear.
The taller looked down at his small hand grasping his clothing and gave him a sympathetic look, leaning into his ear to whisper, “It will be fine, he won’t do anything.” Before quickly leaving the tent once more and leaving Jimin alone with a man who hasn’t spoken a word to him.
Yoongi looked at him for a couple of seconds, eyes drifting over his body which made him shudder before turning away and looking down. Jimin realised he had just been standing there, and quickly scurried over to his makeshift bed, the small bundle of blankets that he had been sleeping with. Jimin was hyper-aware of hearing the other man’s breathing and he sat down with a shaky sigh. His curious eyes drifted to the man’s figure and he found himself just watching. Yoongi didn’t have his fur, his white tunic was thin, and the muscles of his back were tensed through the material. Jimin didn’t know what enticed him to Yoongi but he assumed it was the mystery.
He didn’t have much time to creepily watch the man from behind because Taehyung tumbled back into the tent with a basket of herbs and smiled at the older man who had been waiting patiently. He quickly sat down opposite Yoongi and collected his herbs, starting to ground the small leaves and add them to the paste he had already been making. Jimin felt like an intruder, watching their interaction from afar but neither of them seemed to mind.
He watched as Taehyung started to take the slave he had created and start to apply it to something on Yoongi’s arm and Jimin listened as the man hissed in pain, but didn’t say anything. Why was he so silent? Was it a trait of his or was it because of Jimin? Did he find it uncomfortable to be around someone from The South just as much as Jimin had found being around the Northmen before? He suddenly felt guilty.
The pair interacted in silence and it was tense to watch as Taehyung finished applying the salve to Yoongi’s arm. The man nodded in the healer’s direction, putting his fur’s over his other arm and keeping the treated arm away from the materials. He didn’t even glance in Jimin’s direction when he left, which was probably for the best.
When it was just he and Taehyung left Jimin felt like he could breathe finally, letting out a long-awaited sigh and relaxing in the blankets. He watched Taehyung put away his ingredients and couldn’t help but ask the question.
“Does Yoongi not like me?” His voice was quiet, he didn’t want to seem like he was affected by it. After all, he barely knew any of them. But he knew that he would be spending time with them until he returned home and the thought of his silence continuing was uncomfortable. The others were so understanding and accommodating.
Taehyung snapped his head up at his question, tilting his head to the side and looking at him with confusion glinting in his eyes.
“Yoongi? Why do you think that?” He asked like it was genuine, leaving him perplexed. Jimin thought it was obvious.
“He doesn’t speak-,”
“Oh! Well, that’s not about you Jimin, that’s about Yoongi. The man rarely talks if he has to, he’s reflective. It’s quite intense I know, but he’s always been that way. I should have warned you about that before you met him, that’s my fault,” Taehyung explained, putting away his materials again and locking it in his small brass box. Jimin felt slightly better now, but it still left him curious.
“So he never speaks?” The thought of never hearing his voice was odd.
“He speaks, I’ve heard him speak. But Yoongi is his own person and how he reacts to things is up to him.”
Jimin didn’t continue the conversation after that, he didn’t want to indulge himself on facts of a man he didn’t know. It was because the man was so different from anyone in The South because everyone was so open about who they were, or who they weren’t. Even The Northmen he had met are all open and loud, but the stark difference in Yoongi was what made him interested. But he stopped his train of thought quick before he asked the wrong thing.
He had much bigger things to worry about for now.
He awoke in the night gasping for breath.
His lungs had constricted and his heart was pounding out of his chest. His whole body had jolted up from his slumber, making his head pound uncontrollably. The sudden disturbance from his sleep confused him, he had never startled so easily before. He started to regain the breath that had left his body in a bout of unknown panic, hand placed to his heart. His eyes had barely adjusted to the darkness and his body didn’t have much time to react to the bitter cold that surrounded him. For the first time since being away from The South, he was warm. His whole face was heated, red and blotchy and the blankets wrapped around his hips burnt his skin. Out of discomfort, he shook the blankets away from him, standing up on shaky legs to regain a semblance of reality. He had no clue why his body had awoken him in a rush, why he had sat up and immediately felt like something was wrong, something swimming in his veins.
Taehyung and Jeongguk were sleeping soundly in their beds, the latter graceless as always. They didn’t seem to stir like Jimin did, still wrapped up warm in the thick materials. Even in the dark Jimin could see them, feel their calm presence. He let out a long breath, wondering why he was so confused until he heard it again.
It was a subtle noise, tickling his ear and making him flinch. It wasn’t saying anything coherent yet Jimin heard it, as clear as The South’s summer day. It was calling for him in the middle of the night, amidst the darkness and the shadows it wanted him. It was calling for Jimin in his dreams, causing him to leave the land of the unconscious and enter reality. There wasn’t a distinct tone to the whispering either but Jimin somehow understood what it wanted. He found that his heart was being tugged towards the whispers, and his feet started to travel towards the entrance of the tent. There was a sudden feeling that washed over him, causing his body to react in a way he couldn’t control, making him compliant and complacent.
He didn’t have control over how he felt or his actions. His eyes were glazed over as he stepped outside, bare feet crunching over the frost. But the wind and the cold didn’t deteriorate him, it only made him feel refreshed, bathing his body in a new sense of wonderment. There was no pain or cold, only the noise in his ears. He basked in the silence of the outdoors, closing his eyes and smiling. But the whispering only got louder, beckoning him to discover it.
Jimin immediately started to walk away from the cluster of tents, his whole body content on the surroundings. He could barely see in the night, the shadows occupied too much of the landscape but he trusted the whispers. They would lead him home. Whatever was calling him was calling him home. He kept walking, out of the camp and towards The North. In the distance, he could see it, what was asking for him. The forest. The forest that he had seen in the distance, just out of reach. The silhouettes of the trees were swaying, waiting for him. The thicket was far away, but if he kept listening to the whispers he would make it by sunrise. He kept travelling, further onto the snow and frost. But he was numbed, he couldn’t feel any of it.
As he strayed further away from safety, his whole body continued to shut down in obedience.
He had to keep going, he was almost there-
“ Little Prince!” A voice suddenly called from beyond the fog he had been controlled by. It was as if someone had flicked a switch, and reality came rushing back to him in a blazing ball of fire. He snapped out of whatever trance he had been under and stopped walking, eyes widening as he took in his surroundings. The feeling was as if he had just woken up, that everything before him was a dream and now he was finally conscious.
He wanted to scream when he realised that the only thing surrounding him was pitch black night. His feet were screaming in pain and his whole body raked with cold as it came back to his senses. He had just walked out of the tent, wandering about? What had possessed him to do such a thing? In just a white tunic and breeches that left him barely dressed he could feel his body shutting down on him. He went to yell but felt the heavyweight that was on his shoulder that had drawn him out of his trance. Someone who had called to him.
He turned quickly and almost gasped at the sight of Yoongi standing in the middle of the barren field, looking at him with concern. Jimin slowly realised that it was Yoongi’s voice that pulled him from the mist, that it was his hand on his shoulder in attempts to gain his attention. The idea that it was Yoongi out here, and not someone he felt safer with helping him, like Taehyung or even Hoseok or Namjoon. But it was Yoongi, the man he hadn’t said a word to. Until now.
“Y-Yoongi?” He whispered, forgetting about how much pain he was in for a moment as he stared at the man. His hand wasn’t on his shoulder anymore, he was just standing there, dark hair mixing it in with night itself. Even now in the confusion, he was silent and an enigma.
Instead of a response, he held out the fur that Jimin had been borrowing, and a pair of boots that were too big for Jimin but was better than going out bare and cold. He hadn’t even realised that he was holding those things, his mind was all over the place and in the midst of his fear he was too concentrated on the man himself rather than what he was holding.
“Oh, thank you,” He was still quiet, slightly confused as he took the fur cloak and layered himself in it before taking the boots and putting his pained feet in the leather and blessing whatever higher power sent Yoongi after him because he could have died without him. He felt awkward as he finished dressing in the clothes the other man brought. He didn’t know what to do, not when the man just blinked at him, before turning his gaze back to the tents. They weren’t too far, but any further out and Jimin would struggle to get back on his own.
They stood in silence, and Jimin felt a weird sense of laughter overcome him. It was just so awkward. He had never felt so awkward. He had just wandered out into the cold at night, alone and in nightwear, and was saved by a man who he didn’t know and still didn’t speak. He said two words, and that was Little Prince, something Jimin barely comprehended in his mind as he came back from his trance. He giggled, all of a sudden, and Yoongi snapped his head towards him, eyebrow raised in confusion. It was a product of their situation, he couldn’t help but laugh.
Suddenly he was laughing, head tilted back. It was all just so odd. He was laughing not only because he was in a field in the middle of the night, but that he was even in a field in the first place, that he was experiencing the cold and the snow, the powers and The North. It was all so mind-numbing that he couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’m sorry, this is just crazy. How have I ended up here?” He was laughing but he could feel the break down on the horizon, the one that had been looming ever since he had been taken. It was like he hadn’t fully understood what was happening until then. He must have looked crazy, out of his mind as he laughed into the night, holding his stomach as if he was dying from happiness. But in reality, his mind was starting to break down.
Yoongi didn’t say anything, of course, he didn’t.
“I’m cold, my heart hurts. My brain hurts, everything hurts-,” The laughing was now crying, there were tears like ice running down his cheeks, and he could feel his legs give up on him, landing on the grass with a thud that resounded in his ears. His eyes were stinging, and his hands shook so much he had to grasp the clothing that clung to his body to ground himself.
“-I don’t understand myself, how the world works, I’m just useless, weak and pathetic. You guys took me and made me vulnerable, made me a ransom. You had no consideration for what I would have to deal with, the shock. And you know what the worst bit is? I can’t hate any of you. Because you’re all so nice, and even when I want to hate you I can’t. It’s so ridiculous, I-,” He was ranting through his tears, but he couldn’t help it. His arms encircled his bent knees and he felt like a child, a defenceless child. Maybe it was the intimidation that all these men, some boys, were more capable of themselves and their surroundings, and he was just Jimin.
“Little Prince,” The voice said once more. It was rough around the edges, deep and brooding and it made Jimin stop, body frozen as he looked up at Yoongi. In front of him was a pale hand, stretched out to him waiting. Just like before, he remembers the time when he was offered a way out, a choice he didn’t take. His eyes flickered to the fingertips and back to his face.
Jimin wiped his tears and sniffled, before reaching out himself and grasping the hand, cold but secure. Yoongi helped him up, letting go as soon he was standing. Jimin felt stupid having his rant, but Yoongi wasn’t going to say anything about it, so he just sniffed once more. The man then nodded his head towards the camp before he continued to walk. Jimin startled into movement and began to follow after him, confused.
As they walked the field in silence Jimin and watched Yoongi’s back, he realised that the man called him Little Prince.
“Jimin, are you okay!” Taehyung shouted as soon as they re-entered the camp, darkness still encapsulating the land. Everyone was up, blankets placed over their shoulders and curled into their hands. Hoseok was practically sleeping on Namjoon’s shoulder, head nestled in between his neck and chin. The other half of the pair was dozing off on top of the auburn hair, eyes barely open. There was almost no point in them being awake, they were no use this sleepy. Hoseok even let out a snoring sound. Jeongguk was a little bit more awake, starting to put on boots in attempts to find him. But his eyes were still squinted and his tunic was on backwards. Seokjin was calmer and more awake, hair a mess but seemed to be in control.
Taehyung, however, was pacing the ground, looking like a mad man. As soon as Yoongi and Jimin were in eyesight, he had ran towards them, taking Jimin’s hands into his own and examining him. His eyes were darting all over his body, not minding Yoongi who just stood there, besides Jimin instead of in front of him.
“I’m fine Taehyung,” He smiled at him and tried not to notice Yoongi walk away towards Seokjin.
“Are you sure, what happened?” He asked him, still holding both of his hands and staring deep into his eyes.
Jimin thought about the rant, about how he couldn’t hate them, and thought about Taehyung standing in front of him, worried and caring. He cared for him, and he didn’t know him. Barely knew him. What could they be if they had more time, were born different? Friends?
“I heard something-,”
“Is that Jimin? Can we go back to sleep now?” Hoseok yawned, drooling onto Namjoon who was too out of it to realise or protest. Seokjin rolled his eyes, giving Jimin a small smile that said we’ll talk about it later, before ushering the twins away to their tents once more. Jeongguk looked at Jimin, back down at his boots which were now laced up and sighed, before heading back into the tent without taking them off. He smiled slightly.
“Come on, let’s talk.”
Taehyung dragged him to the fire which had been lit in his absence, both of them sitting down close. Taehyung was staring at him, softly and kind.
“What happened?” He asked once more but without the interruption, the crackling embers of the fire floating up into the atmosphere and painting Taehyung in a warm orange glow. Jimin felt his hands shake a little before he sighed and began his experience.
“I woke up, and I heard something. Like whispering, something was calling for me. I was awake but it was like I was under a spell, I wasn’t in control. My body was seeking something, out in the field. That had never happened before,” Jimin explained how he felt, looking down as if ashamed.
“I don’t want to give you a reason why that happened without being correct, but if I were to assume, I would say it was your powers calling for you,” Taehyung said to him after. The healer scooted closer to him, offering him his body heat that the fire couldn’t give him. Jimin sighed, the night had been overcome with different emotions.
“But why didn’t I have control over it?”
“Maybe it’s because your power has had no control over itself since you could walk, so it’s overwhelmed. Do you remember what was calling for you?” Taehyung asked him, grabbing his hand in a platonic and soothing gesture.
“The forest, the one in the distance,” The prince admitted.
“Your power would feel more at home surrounded by nature, and a forest is the perfect place. Try not to worry about your power, we’ll talk to Seokjin in the morning and see if there’s anything we can do,” Taehyung gave him a small reassurance, patting his back a couple of times. Jimin nodded, knowing there wasn’t much that could be explained while everyone was tired and confused.
“Okay. Did anything like this happen to you while growing up?” He couldn’t help but ask, he didn’t know much about how they lived back in their home.
Taehyung seemed to consider this for a couple of seconds, looking into the fire before laughing slightly and turning to Jimin. Instead of sitting side by side he sat opposite him, legs crossed and bright smile plastered to his face. His hair was still ruffled from sleep and his tunic was slipping off his shoulder but the red blanket that he uses to sleep was draped over him upper half, keeping him warm.
“Not really, we never repressed our powers. But as a child it’s difficult to control your powers, so more often than not I get ‘ swept’ away with the wind,” He laughed slightly, seemingly remembering his childhood. The thought intrigued Jimin.
“What’s it like growing up in The North?” He couldn’t help but ask, their life was so different.
“Well, I grew up in the capital, but small villages are surrounding us. But the capital isn’t like yours, we don’t have a castle. I live in a windmill, my parents used to own it but after they moved away Jeongguk moved in. I guess a windmill is pretty convenient for someone who can harness air. I use to sit on the roof a lot and stargaze, but we’ve been so busy planning our peace treaty I barely had time,” Taehyung babbled on, thinking about his home which he seemed to love so much. It was weird how Taehyung spoke about his home, because Jimin didn’t quite have the same affection for his castle, it was always cold and empty.
“Is it colder up there than here?” Jimin pondered. Taehyung snorted and nodded his head.
“In winter it snows non-stop, all day, all night. In summer it’s like this, so overall, it’s cold.”
“In The South, we just have constant sunshine. It meant the flowers are always blooming, they were my favourite bit of the castle,” Jimin admitted as he thought back to the rose bushes and the daisies that he use to caress, just sit among the flowers for hours.
Taehyung watched him, smiling still and squeezed his hand he had still been holding.
“What’s it like to grow up in The South?” His question was recycled back to himself, making him think back to his home land.
“It’s warm, but lonely. No one knew me, other than my father and my dreaded tutor Beomseok. I barely know my people, what they want, how they feel. That’s why when you propose this peace treaty to my father, I hope it succeeds. I want to keep them safe for I have done nothing for them so far.”
“Your people will love you Jimin, you’re going to make them happy.”
Taehyung didn’t know how to rule a kingdom, but neither did Jimin. He appreciated the sentiment, the way he tried to reassure him. He was the first to do so.
“Come on, let’s get some sleep, we have plenty of time to talk,” Taehyung stood up, ushering Jimin to do the same and started to walk towards their tent. Jimin, after having a weird and emotional night, felt overwhelmed as he watched Taehyung, already building a connection to him despite their indisputable difference of where they came from.
“Taehyung,” The young prince whispered. The healer turned to him, head tilted in question before Jimin came towards him, and embraced him before he could question it.
The taller exhaled a confused breath, arms tentatively coming around Jimin and hugging him back in a warm gesture.
“-For caring. Thank you,” He spoke, shuddering as he pressed closer.
Jimin never thought he would hug an Northeman. He never thought a Northman would care. If anyone would care.
ah, vmin love.
as a jin bias i wanted to give him an unnecessary heroic action scene but i'm restraining myself.
Chapter 7: Conversations In Fire
I don't really like this chapter, but we're finally getting into the journey now!
“There’s a letter! Wake up you lazy uncultured twigs, there’s a letter!” A voice shouted first thing the next morning, making Jimin wake up with a small groan. Jimin had fallen asleep as soon as he and Taehyung had gone inside, head swimming with exhaustion. Now he was awake, cold once more and confused as someone barreled into the tent, shouting at the top of their lungs in excitement.
The prince sat up, eyes barely open as Taehyung and Jeongguk did the same, glaring at the intruder for the interruption to their sleep. Jimin yawned, looking at the man who had fallen over in his shouting, scrambling up of the tented floor to look at all of them. It was Hoseok, much more awake than they were, dressed and ready with a large sunshine smile stretched across his face. He went over to Jeongguk and started to drag him by the arm, to which the younger hissed at him and batted his hand away.
“The letter! It’s here, wake up!” Hoseok continued to say, stomping his feet on the ground as he sighed, slowly getting frustrated at the lack of response from the three men. What letter?
“Hoseok what are you on about-,”
“ The South! Their response you imbeciles!”
The sound of the words ‘ The South’ made him snap his eyes fully open, more awake than before. Taehyung and Jeongguk had similar reactions, quick to stand up and rush towards their furs, forcing themselves to be more awake and engaging. Jimin followed suit, not bothering to rub sleepy from his eyes or freshen up his face, merely shoving on his pelts and layers before his boots.
It was a letter from The South, his home. His father's words were going to be inscribed on the parchment, his future would be rolled up into a scroll. He could feel his heart beating in nerve. These words would create a mural within the castle walls, and Jimin couldn’t tell what the paint would succumb to. If the mural would be based around the ‘The Prince who Returned with Peace.’, an oil canvas hung up in the castle displaying the change Jimin brought The South, painted with light and dreamy colours that looked like an illusion. Or if the mural would be ‘The Prince who never Returned.’ a tale about an unseen prince who disappeared from their land.
Jimin shook of his negative thinking quickly joining Jeongguk and Taehyung in their rush, all of them tumbling out of the tent simultaneously. It was clumsy and uncoordinated but they were up and blinked owlishly at the other men sitting by the unlit fire, the grey ash clumped over the frost. Jimin tried not to let his throat swell up, and instead made his way over to where everyone was sitting, forcing himself to lower to the floor and take a seat besides Namjoon.
Everyone was tense, he could feel it. Seokjin didn’t look up from the parchment in his hand, the seal unmistakably The South’s. Their seal was orange like the sun and the tracings of a rose that was carved into his father’s ring. Not only was this a moment of dread for Jimin, but for the men who travelled and planned all these years to try and get peace. He hoped his father came through, saw the greater good in giving up years of hatred and war.
“The messenger came in the night, while I was on watch. After the note we left in Jimin’s chambers, I am glad they did not take to war immediately,” Seokjin explained slightly rolling the parchment in his hands as he let out a deep and shaky breath. Jimin wanted to close in on himself.
No one said anything as they sat in silence for a few more minutes, heads lowered in fear. God, the tension was eating him alive, burning his insides and asking for a way out. He wanted to rip the scroll out of Seokjin’s hands, read the news and then bask in the relief of whatever was beyond the seal. Only, he was not so brave and he was not the leader, so he waited.
Seokjin finally snapped out of it, shaking himself and tearing open the seal, breaking its silence and kept promise. He unravelled the paper and out of pure fear Jimin instantly grabbed Taehyung’s hand, gasping for another human touch to remind him of the mortal realm he dwelled in. The healer said nothing but held back tighter, waiting. Seokjin started to read, and his face gave away nothing, no sign as to what mural would be painted on his castle walls.
He then coughed, and a smile crept upon his face. “The South has agreed to meet us in No Man’s Land as soon as possible, and will discuss a means of peace if the heir to the throne Prince Jimin is remained unharmed.”
There was silence once more before the men around him burst into happiness, all laughing and cheering the good news. Jimin briefly glanced at Yoongi, who had a ghost of a smile hovering over his lips but remained silent nevertheless. Jimin could feel his dread evaporate, for his father wanted him back, and it meant he was worth something to The South.
“We did it, we can start travelling to get our peace!” Seokjin practically roared, hugging both Hoseok and Namjoon in his glory as they both froze on the spot. Too happy to care about formalities and actions, Jeongguk leapt into the hug as he plastered himself to the huddle of bodies, bunny-like features an array of joy. It was nice, seeing everyone so happy. Taehyung gave him a pat on the back and a bubbly laugh before joining the hug, leaving Jimin to smile and watch. Their friendship was nice, and he liked to admire it.
The young prince couldn’t help but look at Yoongi, who was also watching the five men hug, hands laced together. But he must have sensed a gaze on his own and looked towards Jimin, who subtly and embarrassingly, snapped his head back in the other direction and let out a string of curses in his brain.
“Okay, this is too much contact now please disperse immediately.” Seokjin’s muffled voice called from the hug, pushing his way out with a red face. Namjoon and Hoseok took their order seriously and spread out far from Seokjin, euphoric feelings washed over both of them.
“Okay we must prepare to leave, do not worry about the intricacies of the journey, I and Yoongi have that under control. For now, we head North to the woods, and continue west from there.” Seokjin then continued about how he needed to pack everything away and summon something that he didn’t have the energy more and it made Jimin think.
How were they meant to put everything away and carry it? They had large tents with desks and blankets as well as clothing and rugs. There were so many items, heavy things they would need to deconstruct, how would it be possible to move all of it? He asked Taehyung that exact question as they were folding away clothes, Jeongguk holding up tunics and scrunching up his nose. He noticed whenever the younger attempted to fold anything, it ended up getting refolded by Taehyung anyway.
“Seokjin does everything for us,” He shrugged, moaning again as Jeongguk passed him a tunic that was folded into a ball, his face sheepish as Taehyung unfolds all of his mistakes.
“You know Seokjin is rare right? He told you that, I think. Well, because he can harness every power possible, he uses allusion and a small amount of expansion to make everything, and I mean everything fits into like, three sacks. And using his telepathic ability with animals, he summons horses to take us,” Taehyung spoke as if it were nothing, finding Seokjin’s amazing mind normal. Jimin hated the idea of all powers, his mind and brain must be so noisy all the time, full of chaos and unpredictability. He could barely comprehend his one. He didn’t know how many powers were out there, but the concept of ‘all of them’ was large.
“Does that make him invincible? Surely if you can harness all those powers you could never be defeated?” Jimin questioned. He couldn’t see a way in which anyone could surprise Seokjin because surely all his senses and extra abilities made him ten times stronger than the average man.
Jeongguk snorted at his thought process, giving up with his folding by that point and leaning back on both hands.
“No, Seokjin is not invincible. He can harness all those powers, but weakly. He doesn’t have a connection to them like everyone else, they’re all segmented and fractured. He has to call them out to use them, and can only use them in bouts. It’s like a switch, most of the time turned off. It drains him usually,” Jeongguk told him as Taehyung was too busy straightening out his mess, muttering profanities under his breath. Too overwhelmed with the domestics of folding to contribute to the conversation so he had to settle with Jeongguk’s explanation.
“Oh, is he okay afterwards?” The thought of Seokjin being in pain was not a nice one and it surprised Jimin how much he cared that the man was okay with being emotionally drained.
“He’s fine after he gets some rest. Something I need,” Jeongguk whined, throwing himself down and trying to get rest, to which Taehyung slapped him in anger, still dealing with his awful folding technique.
“You don’t need any more sleep Jeon Jeongguk, you’re just lazy!” Taehyung seethed, throwing sapphire silk-like tunic that Jimin hadn’t seen before at him, making the boy throw it back in equal anger, mimicking Taehyung’s voice in a high pitched voice. Jimin grabbed the sapphire garment they had tossed, admiring how deep and rich it’s colour was and how soft it felt. Their bickering was mere background hustle, white noise.
“Who’s tunic is this?” He asked. It wasn’t so much of a tunic but a blouse, more airy and silky than a scratchy white tunic. He had been wearing some more blouse like tops since he arrived aside from his nightwear, and due to what everyone else wore he had no clue where they came from.
“Oh, that would be mine. My mother sends me loads of clothes like that, assuming I would like them. But I prefer to stick to white, black or grey,” Jeongguk told him, looking at the blue material covering Jimin’s hands.
Jeongguk wear colour, he’s too manly for that,” Taehyung commented sarcastically, earning a heated glare from his roommate and what Jimin is still assuming despite the arguing, friends.
“You can have them if you want, I won’t wear them.” Jeongguk then decided to get up, pushing Taehyung in the process in attempts to just be plain annoying, to which the latter yells, but before he can retaliate Jeongguk is gone running out the tent in a childish manner.
Everyone, including Yoongi, had to leave the camp for Seokjin to concentrate, he needed isolation to be able to harness that much power. That left the remaining six men to wander around the field, all silent as they decided to rest by the small lake, relaxing until the sun started to dwindle below the distant hills and making the night sky darker. Hoseok and Jeongguk had taken to training once more in their boredom, their muffled grunts and trails of effort echoing through the air. Jimin’s gaze kept landing on the forest that waited up north, knowing he would be travelling to the thicket as soon as they got back to Seokjin, and it made his insides turn. That forest was the subject of his trance that dreadful night and it made him feel things that he was foreign to. But his concentration on the black tree’s was always broken by the soft communication of Taehyung and Jeongguk and the looming presence of Yoongi.
Finally, after many days, Jimin had discovered the man’s power, and oddly it suited him. Jimin didn’t know what to call it, no one had explained the older man’s ability to him or what it entailed. For as long as Jimin had been among the Northmen he’s come to realise that powers are not simple, they are different than what he had been taught. He didn’t know the complications of his power but he saw what it could do, and he could connect the dots.
The night was getting darker and Taehyung had turned to Yoongi who had been brooding in the background, shadows encompassing his face as the day was drawing to an end. He had asked if he could provide them with some light, and at first, Jimin thought Yoongi could harness the power of light, which would have been incredibly ironic considering he looked like he would be a vacuum of anything bright. But then the man grunted, waiting for Taehyung to venture into his sack and pull out a small but sturdy oil lamp, unlit and cold to touch. Jimin was silent as he watched Yoongi take the lamp, and start to rub his fingers against each other to create friction. The prince was confused, before the black-haired man’s face was lit up, and a small flame was flaring from his fingertips, lighting the oil lantern and creating a warm orange glow around them. He felt entranced, so much so that his eyes hadn’t wavered from the man’s face, just watching the way he concentrated, how his jaw clenched and his eyes sparkled from the light he had just created.
And once again their eyes met, and he felt like he should have turned away. His cheeks were heating up and his insides were melting for unknown reasons but he said nothing and he didn’t turn away. Whatever Yoongi was making him feel was one of the most confusing aspects of what he had been going through all together. He blinked, and at that moment Yoongi was not looking at him anymore, making Jimin look down to the ground and take a deep, shaky breath.
The group was quiet, which Jimin wasn’t use to as the men were in constant conversation and bickering which had become white noise to the young prince now. Jeongguk’s head was pillowed in Taehyung’s lap, who had promptly decided to lie down, staring at the stars. The twins had taken inspiration from the healer and were now curled into themselves, furs supporting their heads. It took Jimin a while to realise that all four of them had fallen asleep while waiting and that it left only him and Yoongi awake, in the silence.
He suddenly coughed out of impulse, the realisation that he and Yoongi were in each other’s presence once more extremely awkward. Taehyung and Jeongguk were like a small wall between them and it was the only thing that was soothing him at that moment. The young prince wrapped the borrowed fur’s around him once more and glanced over at the older man. He was flicking his fingers, producing a small flame before it disappeared. Jimin was watching, and he knew that Yoongi could feel his gaze.
“Does it hurt?” He was surprised by his confidence to ask and regretted it as soon as he asked. Yoongi snapped his head towards him, meeting once more. Despite the initial confusion, he shook his head, flickering his fingers together again as if to emphasise the lack of pain. Jimin nodded, looking away before continuing.
“You would think that fire would hurt, or burn, but I guess because it’s your power, it doesn’t.”
Well done Jimin. What an amazing observation you buffoon. That comment holds absolute bearing onto anything that has any meaning. He felt like slapping himself, and the awkward silence that covered them after he spoke was confirmation of his stupid sentence and he wanted to just implode. But his mouth was still rambling on, even though his brain was screaming at him to just be quiet.
“Although I’m not assuming anything, because if it did hurt you I wouldn’t want to underestimate your feelings. So what I’m trying to say is that your powers are cool, and-,”
“Little prince.” There it was again. His gruff voice that made Jimin shiver, and the phrase everyone was told not to use. Jimin turned to him, red cheeks on display.
“Come here,” His voice was still weird to listen to and Jimin was shaking when he heard his words. He didn’t want to object to his command, no when he was terrified of what it could mean. Jimin moved clumsily over to the taller man, manoeuvring around the two sleeping men and settling himself next to Yoongi.
He had never sat this close to Yoongi, not since he came to the camp. The warmth he radiated made Jimin feel warm in respect and his heart was beating much too quickly to be considered normal. His whole face must have been cherry red, blossoming under his skin and fleshing out all over him to make his face hot to touch. He looked at the man’s face, the way the fire from the lantern bounced of his jaw and crept in the ruffles of his hair. He shouldn’t be staring. But he was.
“Give me your hand.” Was the man trying to make Jimin combust for unknown reasons? He hadn’t heard him speak so much.
Jimin lifted his hand, slowly and with caution until Yoongi took hold of his wrist, carefully, guiding him towards his other hand. His hand was large and pale and scarred in a reflection of his lifestyle. Jimin’s skin was heating up under the contact but he ignored it. Without warning a flame emitted from the palm of the elder’s hand, crackling. Jimin gasped, his hand flinching away in instinct, but Yoongi’s grasp kept his place. He then made Jimin get closer to the flame before his hand was touching it. And it didn’t burn.
“Woah,” He breathed. His father would be horrified at what he was doing at that moment, but he couldn’t find it in him to care.
“It doesn’t hurt anyone if I don’t want it to. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt me,” Yoongi whispered. His face turning to him which made them closer.
Jimin wanted to carry on the conversation, but the others were beginning to stir and there was a mission they had, a journey to face. Trivial things like the Northmen who didn’t speak should not be on Jimin’s mind.
Chapter 8: The Forest
Hi, so I really hate this chapter and it's shorter than usual due to lack of motivation. but there are good chapters coming up, so don't worry.
Jimin had never ridden a horse before and had never felt the looming presence of the animal so intimidating before. They looked docile, and compliant towards the saddles that had been hoisted upon them and the sacks draped across the back but Jimin didn’t trust those obsidian eyes. The south had horses, but only for market vendors to deliver their goods and other such activities. The prince had never attempted to ride one, and the sudden prospect of getting onto the brown horse was daunting.
All their tents were gone, everything in three sacks. Seokjin was pale and his body seemed too heavy for himself, but he was still awake and moving, perched upon the dotted horse he had called for himself. His eyes were barely open but he still managed to give Jimin a small wave and a kind smile. Jimin had been trying to hide his nerves and uselessness towards the horse and had been fiddling with the saddle for too long. But the others were starting to get ready to leave and Jimin was running out of time. Through a moment of weakness he whispered Taehyung’s name.
Taehyung was just about to mount his own brown horse but the sound of Jimin’s panicked whisper made him stop, and he turned to him with an raised eyebrow. The young prince gave a small subtle look at all the others who were all occupied with one another before he beckoned the man over with a gesture of his hands. The healer seemed slightly amused by his actions and a smile was growing on his face but he came over to him anyway.
“Yes?” He asked, peering at him from the other side of his white horse.
“I need some help,” He whispered again, glancing over at where the twins were about to get on their own horses.
“I-uh-I’ve never been on a horse before. I don’t know how to get on.” Admitting it out loud sounded just as stupid as it did in his head, because being surrounded by fully able men who knew what they were doing was intimidating and he felt so useless when he had to say things like that. But at least he was learning.
“Oh okay, do you want me to help you up-,”
“No! I mean, no thank you. I don’t want to look stupid, so can you just, guide me into getting on the horse? Without looking obvious?” He spoke under his breath so he was less suspicious. He didn’t know where his sudden displeasure for looking embarrassed in front of these people came from but he couldn’t bear the thought of anyone, Jeongguk, Hoseok or god forbid, Yoongi see him in such an undermining state.
“Okay, well-,” Taehyung started to explain to him the mechanics of getting on a horse and his efforts felt futal for no matter how much strength he put into mounting the horse he couldn’t get the strength to pull himself fully up, always so close to sitting on the saddle but never fully there. It was beginning to overwhelm his brain and heart, because soon he would have to ask for help outright, and that would be awful-
Before he could huff in annoyance and start to rethink all of his life choices there was a gust of wind, one that was strong he felt his feet to stumble from where he stood, rushing through his hair and causing him to shiver under all of his pelts and borrowed furs. He gasped, and looked at Taehyung, expecting him to be confused and in a similar position of thought to him. Only, the man was smiling widely and he winked at him. Here was another breeze, smaller, and he raised his eyebrow at Jimin until what was happening hit him. Taehyung could harness air.
They didn’t need to speak again, and Jimin attempted to mount the horse, this time with transparent help. As he pulled up, the wind returned and it felt like hands, helping him gather the last remaining strength to pull himself up and finally mount the horse.
He felt triumphant when he was sitting on the horse, just in time for the others to turn back to him, nodding and asking if he was alright, asking if he was ready to go. His gesture of help from Taehyung was small, but it still bloomed in his heart all the same because Taehyung helped him not look like a young pampered prince and someone with a little bit of dignity. He was smiling, a broad smile that hadn’t been welcomed on his face in a while, not even when he was in The South and he was basked in the sun and warmth. It was odd, feeling so euphoric over such a tedious task, but it was how he felt. Accomplished. That was how he felt. Yoongi looked back at everyone, catching Jimin’s smile and even when their eyes met his smile didn’t falter, it only grew. But mounting the horse was only one challenge to overcome that day.
“Follow my lead, we’re heading North,” Yoongi recited, which was a blessing for his ears that early in the morning. The others started to move, but Jimin remained stationary, stuck in the mud with his horse. He forgot in his midst of panic to get on the horse he didn’t know how to ride one. He wanted to scream, shout and cry all at once. How was he so useless that he couldn’t even move a horse?
He was about to shout to someone, anyone, to wait but they had already noticed and had all stopped, looking at him with confused barren faces. He gave them a sheepish glance, one of guilt and sorrow when he looked down and admitted that he didn’t know how to ride a horse. There was a pregnant silence and he felt tears start to well up in his eyes.
“Jimin can ride with me,” Jeongguk spoke up in the silence, and the prince’s head snapped up, a sniffle emitting from his nose.
“No he can ride with me!” Taehyung pouted, jumping of his horse before the younger could beat him to it and got closer to Jimin, warm and inviting.
He had never felt so useless. So resentful of his enclosed upbringing.
With the humiliating experience of sitting behind Taehyung as they rode North, Jimin had time to think. When he got back to The South, he would speak to his father about his role and duties, about how he wanted to be less dependent on others and more dependent on himself. It might have taken him a kidnapping and alteration to a new environment, but he knew now, that he wanted more. Being waited on hand and foot made him compliant, even towards people who had taken him. Granted, these people were not evil, they didn’t hurt him, and they wanted something better in return. But they still took him, and Jimin couldn’t fight back.
No one seemed annoyed or found amusement in his lack of skills, they said nothing and barely paid attention to him behind Taehyung, too busy riding their horse. Jimin looked at everyone. Seokjin was slouching, tired, but he was still capable as he shivered every now and then, waking up and galloping quicker. He found Seokjin was a good leader, but he felt sorry for him.
Namjoon and Hoseok were riding next to each other, conversing every now and then, bickering like always. The twins had become a constant in Jimin’s time with the Northmen, their presence was so overwhelming it filled the capacity of every space they entered, but their bubbly nature and flamboyant attitude was something Jimin didn’t see much in The South. However, he didn’t hate it.
Jeongguk was out by Seokjin, probably there to make sure he didn’t suddenly slip of his horse. Jeongguk was the youngest, Jimin knew this, and after getting past the bulging muscles and looming height he could see the youth in his features, his optimism and naivety. Taehyung wasn’t that much older, just like him, but he held more reasoning. The healer was the one Jimin trusted the most, he was nice and friendly and had himself together unlike the prince.
Last was Yoongi, brooding even as he rode, silence surrounding him. It was odd to Jimin how he found the man so intriguing even though he had no reason to, why he was so much more interesting to Jimin than the others. There was something in his heart that made it much harder to be around Yoongi.
Jimin’s head started to feel fuzzy, tingling with an unknown feeling that jabbed at his brain. It was hurting him, and out of exhaustion he closed his eyes and relaxed on Taehyung’s chest, deciding that he would just rest his mind so he was more aware when they stopped. But, the notion of him resting against Taehyung, almost going slack raised an signal he had fallen asleep, which he had not.
“I think he’s fallen asleep,” Taehyung said as the horse started to slow down slightly to just a leisurely canter, his body stopping the abrupt movement and just hovering through the air. It felt nicer. He could have protested there and then, that he was just closing his eyes, but he found his voice protested to speak up, and he just listened instead.
“Yeah, he’s asleep,” Hoseok said. Jimin remained still, just listening to their voices.
“Poor kid, he must be embarrassed,” Seokjin said, his sentence drawn out more due to being tired. Jimin tried to hide his cheeks from going red. Did they think it’s embarrassing?
“It’s not his fault, he couldn't decide how he was brought up,” Taehyung defended him. He wanted to smile or thank him but remembered he was feigning sleep instead.
“We know Tae, we’re not bashing him,” Jeongguk huffed.
There was a stretched silence before anyone spoke again.
“I feel like I know him. Is that weird?” Taehyung said and it caught Jimin by surprise. Taehyung and him had been the closest since he arrived even under their circumstances and he likes Taehyung. He would have been friends with him if he was from The South.
“No, it’s not.”
Jimin didn’t want to listen anymore, and genuinely fell asleep.
When they stopped, Jimin stirred from his sleep and he felt a different sense of peace wash over him as he opened his eyes, flickering and adjusting to his surroundings. As he took in what he was looking at, his brain comprehended where they were and his eyes widened in shock and his mouth dropped open.
It was dark, but the silver moonlight shimmered over the tree’s, all over the high canopy of leaves and over the mossy dirt trodden ground. Tree’s surrounded them everywhere, and a small path weaved in and out of the thicket. They were in the forest, and Jimin felt complete in a way he hadn’t before. His feelings of when he was in the garden back home were heightened, his senses were overwhelmed.
“We’re stopping here for the night,” Seokjin called to them, getting off his horse and yawning loudly. He must have been exhausted if what Taehyung and Jeongguk told him was true. Jimin followed Taehyung’s lead as he slowly and carefully got off the horse, feeling sated as he felt the forest floor beneath his feet.
The others tied the horses to the trees, but Jimin didn’t care much for their presence at that moment. He was feeling relaxed, more so than he had in a long time, and after everything that had happened to him in the past week he just wanted to dwell in his surroundings. If the others were talking to him, he couldn’t hear them, because he was now at one with the forest, and separating himself from them for two minutes was much more important than obeying their commands.
Jimin walked towards the largest tree he could see, the thick trunk that grew from the ground. Shrouding all of them of light as it’s leaves swayed in the breeze. It was beautiful.
“Jimin!” The calling of his name was suddenly prominent in his ear causing him to jolt from his trance and turn to the owner of the voice. The young prince had to blink and readjust his vision and put the pieces back together. Seokjin and Taehyung were standing behind him, looks of worry in their eyes as Jimin blankly observed them.
“Are you okay? We’ve been calling you for ages,” Seokjin asked, coming closer to him to inspect his face. Now Jimin was pulled from his trance he was just tired, he wasn’t hungry or in need of anything, he just wanted to sleep.
“I guess it’s just a lot to take in,” He shrugged, making his way over to the two men, smiling slightly to give them reassurance.
“Do you want something to eat?”
“You should eat,” Taehyung had asked him a question but given him no choice, tugging on his arm until they were rejoined with the small group, all huddled by a fire and conversing quietly. Now Jimin could smell the cooking of meat wafting under his nose his stomach rumbled slightly in response. Maybe he was a little hungry.
Him and Taehyung sat down next to Jeongguk like usual, and Seokjin sat next to Yoongi instead of taking a seat next to the pestering twins.
“So, from now on, we must hunt our food, and we should take it in turns to do so,” Seokjin started to tell them as he dished up some of the leftover meat from their dinner yesterday, handing it to Jimin with a smile.
Jeongguk looked excited by this prospect and looked up eagerly.
“Hunting? Really?” He asked like a young boy excited for his birthday.
“Yes, and I think we should always head out in pairs. Jeongguk you can pair up with me if you like-,”
“I think Jeongguk should go with Hoseok!” Namjoon quickly interrupted, perking up and earning a slap from the latter who had been eating contently before that. The taller of the two was trying to pair himself with Seokjin by throwing his twin under the bus.
“You think it would be a good idea to separate yourself from your literal other half, meaning you have no means of protection in the middle of unknown woods?” Seokjin was blunt as he stared directly at Namjoon. The man was quiet for a minute, seemingly contemplating the idea in his head. He turned to Hoseok who was watching him with amusement before answering.
“Fuck you, you’re useless without me!” Hoseok then exclaimed which then resulted in more arguing. Jimin let the bickering lull his brain to a relaxed state, thinking about sleep and trees.
Chapter 9: Of Vines and Branches
hi! sorry for the slow update, i've just been to paris and have gone back to school recently with a lot of work to catch up on! but here is a chapter!
Jimin did not awake to the sound of chirping larks and the soft swaying of the wind. He did not wake up to the soft snores of Taehyung or Jeongguk, there was no harmony around him.
No, instead he awoke to the most frightening experience he had yet. He had woken up from his sleep with a terrifying jolt, enough to set his brain into alarm as he blinked his eyes open. He had woken up because he was in pain, he was in pain and he had no clue as to what was going on. As he started to take in everything around him, he looked down and saw that his arms were tied to the tree, but not with rope, with large thick branches that were tightening around him, slowly. He slowly remembered he had fallen asleep under a tree, feeling closer to it that way. Now he was waking up to it slowly suffocating him.
Out of instinct, he went to remove his legs, stand up, but the branches quickly grabbed his knees from the ground, tugging him down so he was in restraints. The panic was rising in his lungs, he was finding it hard to breathe. The tree was trapping him, trying to make him submerged by bark. As he felt and saw a branch start to make its way to his neck, he did the one last thing he could do before he was killed, and screamed. He screamed as loud as he could, piercing through the air.
His screaming was cut off when the leaves interacted with the bark and covered his mouth, leaving him to only breathe out of his nose in shaky exhales. Jimin didn’t know why the tree had reacted this way, or why it was trying to kill him but he had no time to think about that. Instead, he darted his eyes around the woods, until he saw the others were scattered up in a panic, looking at him with sleep still laced in their eyes.
It was when Taehyung yelled at them that he was trapped that the tree reacted badly, branches and roots penetrating the surface of the ground and soaring through the air, one at a time. He watched as Jeongguk quickly reacted, running forward to try and reach Jimin before the branches held him captive and no one could get in or out. Jimin had never wanted to run into anyone's arms as much as he did then but felt horror as Jeongguk was pushed back by a rather large root.
Why are you doing this to me? Jimin pleaded to himself before carnage let loose, and the vines burst through the ground at a rapid pace. All he could see was the mossy interior of branches and leaves, trapped in a dome made of dirt.
“Jimin! Jimin can you hear me?” Someone shouted to him beyond his cage, but it was obvious he couldn’t reply. He tried, screams muffled by the leaves that stopped him speaking.
“Seokjin, try and do something! Use your natural ability.”
He was crying now, tears falling onto his caged body. Despite the roaring chaos going on in his ears and mind, he could hear them scurrying around outside of the branches he was stuck behind. They were trying, and maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough. But he had no idea how to persuade his power to just stop.
But then, there was loosening on his wrists and knees, the leave from his mouth flew away and landed on the ground. His limbs screamed in pain and pleasure at the release. It made them feel light, and he was quick to scramble away from the tree. The sudden release must have been Seokjin using his small sliver of natural ability to control the roots and vines, causing them to become lifeless. He felt himself panic again once he realised he was trapped in this odd-looking dome that had sprouted from the ground in violence. His throat was scratchy and he let out a few strangled coughs before he remembered he now had a voice.
“I can speak, I can move,” He said hoarsely. He got close to the solid oak which encased him, knocking against it in attempts to break free. But as per usual, he was too weak to help himself.
“Okay, Jimin we’re trying our hardest okay? Move back for a second,” Taehyung was being calm and soothing, and Jimin did as he was told. He moved back, just in time. A large silver sword stabbed through the angered forestry, and he could hear a grunt on the other side. The weapon started to twist where it was, and the force alone opened up a small, tiny section of the intertwined roots. As quick as it was there, it was gone, and Jimin gasped as he saw two hands move their way into the hole, and started to pull at it. The hands were veiny and strong and he thought it must have been Jeongguk, for only he could break apart something supernatural with his bare hands. They were helping him. They were breaking it apart.
As well as the sheer force of the hand, the branches themselves started to fall faint, like the ones that were around him. They were trying their hardest, but it wasn’t enough.
“All of you, grab on and pull!” Someone different, lower, shouted, and the prince saw more hands grab onto the roots, pulling with all their strength. He could hear how hard they were trying and it hurt Jimin to know they were exhausting themselves because of him. But the gap was getting bigger, big enough for him to have hope.
Then, a large pale hand extended through the gap they had made, and Jimin didn’t think before he grabbed onto it. He felt warm when he grabbed it, but clung it for dear life.
“Little Prince, hold on,” The voice said, and he took both his hands onto the man’s one and squeezed his eyes shut as he was being pulled. He could feel himself becoming free of his trap, more hands taking hold of his body to help him escape, even with the branches trying to close up the gap once more. With one last harsh tug, he fell out of his small prison and landed on top of someone. Whoever it was was broad and tough, and Jimin leant on them as he wept into their tunic, shaking too much to move.
“Jimin, you’re okay now,” He heard Taehyung whisper before he was being removed from someone’s chest and pulled into the healers so that he could comfort him.
“I-I-don’t-,” He tried to babble something but he came up short, instead of speaking nonsense.
“Shh, it’s okay.” Taehyung was soothing him with a hand running up his back, and all he could do was cry. Cry because the thing he felt comfort towards had tried to kill him, and the people he was meant to hate had helped him out. He felt completely useless in helping himself. Why did it attack him? Why was it so awful to him? Yes, he was cut off from his powers ever since he could think coherently, but he was never malicious towards it. He was just distant.
“Is he going to be okay?” It was Hoseok who asked, and hearing the worry in his voice softened something that he couldn’t place in himself.
“He should be, but I think we should give him space,” Seokjin commented, and out of fear he gripped onto Taehyung tighter, incase he left him alone again in the forest that had become alive in his presence and tied him to the trunk. The man hushed him again and remained by his side.
“I’ll stay here with him.” Taehyung wasn’t going anywhere.
When he heard the others begrudgingly leave them alone he felt his eyes beginning to close slowly, fluttering shut as the exhaustion of waking up caught up on him finally. The darkness of his mind slowly took over and his thoughts drifted off into unconsciousness.
When he awoke again, his head was on something soft, much more comfortable than the tree that had enclosed him before. It took him a couple of minutes to remember what had happened and where he was, and he groaned from horror and how tired he felt because of it.
“Oh, you’re up,” The deep voice of Taehyung murmured, vibrating around his body which made him acknowledge how he had been sleeping. He scrunched his nose up in confusion before he saw he was looking directly up at the leafy canopy and that his head must have been pillowed in Taehyung’s lap. It was warm and familiar and Jimin didn’t feel disgusted by doing it. He hummed in response to the healer before reluctantly sitting up. His hair must have been sticking up all over the place and his eyes were red.
He shifted so he was facing Taehyung and was surprised that Seokjin was also there, slightly further away from them but there, leaning against a tree and watching him with a careful smile.
“Are you feeling better?” Seokjin asked him, eyebrows furrowing with worry.
“Better than being tied to a tree,” He told them sarcastically, earning a giggle from Taehyung who was still practically glued to his side.
There was silence, washing over them in a wave that crashed into the shore. Jimin felt awkward but also curious, curious because he was so confused why all of the odd things were happening.
“Why? Why is this happening to me?” The question was spoken barely over a whisper but it was heard.
The others were nowhere else to be seen, the fire was out and it was silent, and Jimin wondered if they were all told to go hunting until they sorted out the issue. Either way, he ignored their absence for now.
“We don’t have definite proof, but I and Taehyung think we understand what is happening now,” Seokjin gazed at him. Jimin nodded, eager to understand more about himself and the world around him he must live in until he got home.
“Well, what’s happening?”
Seokjin and Taehyung gazed at each other, and Jimin sensed a feeling of unease lingering in the air. The birds chirped in their silence and Jimin felt somehow, like he could hear the tree’s swaying, the leaves brushing against one another and humming in thought. But maybe that was his imagination.
“Your powers, they’re free now. No restraints. In their new-found freedom, they're rebelling against their host. They know you don’t want them, therefore their instinct is to harm, kill, whatever is keeping them locked away. They don’t know love or hope. In The North, you’re taught that your powers are attached to, and they bloom like a flower. If you don’t water it, they die. So we think that your powers are hurting you because you’re still trying to reject them, even after being let free,” Seokjin explained, looking at him and now moving away. It was intense but the information leaked into his brain and he started to understand. It was scary, but he understood more. Knowledge is power.
“So, my powers are rebelling?”
“Essentially, yes. It comes in bouts because they have no way of being controlled, you’ve haven’t been taught,” Taehyung told him, but added a comforting smile at the end to try and make him feel better.
“Is there a solution?” Jimin desperately needed to know if he could do anything to protect himself. It was the thing he struggled with the most. He was weak, always so weak.
“Well, there could be. We think that if you learn to nurture your powers, they will be tamer.”
“We know your whole ideology is against that idea. But it will be what saves you,” Seokjin coughed, finally gazing away and looking somewhat guilty. Jimin blinked, looking down at his lap, and his hands folded against his legs. He had power flowing through his veins, powers trying to kill him, yet he was told to nurture them. For eighteen years he had been told that they were dangerous, and Jimin knows that. However, as he sat there he knew that they were dangerous because that's what they were telling themselves. He wanted to cry again, but not from sadness. From being purely overwhelmed.
“Do you mind if I take a walk? Just to clear my head?” He nodded towards the two men who were looking at him, and Taehyung gave him a nod in agreement, moving away from him to give him space to get up. The young prince stood up on shaky legs, breathing in heavily before casting Taehyung and Seokjin one last look as he turned around.
He didn’t know quite where he was going, but he wouldn’t go far he didn’t know the woods enough for that. But space away from others was good for his head, giving him time to think. His feet crunched on the dirt and soil and squashed the already dead leaves. He was weaving around the tree’s in a circle hoping he would come back to the temporary camp they had set up.
When he got home, many changes had to be made. The region needed to rethink their education about The North, and they need to go over their differences and decide on peace. There was a small side that wanted to counteract the reasoning behind being powerless, being pure. But he knew he held no power in that argument, so he would just remain silent.
During his thoughts, there was a loud yelp along with a whimper, and Jimin’s head snapped to the right. There was a clearing right next to him, and he hadn’t seen the others lingering there through his thoughts. He could see Jeongguk smiling up at a large tree, hands-on-hips. Namjoon was next to him, scoffing but with joy laced in his features. Yoongi was sitting on a rock slightly away, glancing up from cleaning his sword.
But Hoseok was nowhere to be seen.
“Stop being such a baby, this is your forfeit,” Jeongguk was laughing. Out of curiosity, he made his way towards the men, slowly making an appearance. The others acknowledged his presence as he came into light, offering a wave. They looked more cautious around him but remained where they were, letting him sit down a little bit in front of Yoongi, and just observe them.
“This is really high!” Hoseok’s voice suddenly shouted from somewhere. Jimin’s eyes widened and he looked up, almost laughing as he saw Hoseok up in the tree, clutching to the branch in fear for his own life.
“Stop complaining and come down!” Namjoon whined, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’m going to die-,”
“Don’t you ‘ bloody hell ’ me you oversized teenager. This is scary!” Hoseok looked terrified as he sat on a rather flimsy looking branch, peering down at the forest floor which was rather a distance away from him. Jimin was smiling now and had the urge to lie back on the rock, only to remember Yoongi was sitting there in silence. Aware of his presence all of a sudden, he felt himself going red from how close they were, but cleared his throat and tried to remain unaffected.
“You’re embarrassing yourself, and as your other half, you’re embarrassing me,” Namjoon was complaining, watching his twin brother make an utter fool of himself.
“I don’t care about your ego Namjoon, I could die,” The man in the tree shouted, whining as the branch creaked under his weight. He heard a loud and low huff from behind him before the person was standing up, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Jimin cast him a quick and subtle glance, noticing the sword was back on his hip. They shared a glance, and there was a feeling in his chest. During the chaos of his capture that morning, he didn’t take in much of his surroundings. He was trying to think about what had happened and how he was saved.
“Just listen to my instructions you buffoon,” Jeongguk was now guiding Hoseok down, who shrieked the whole way until he was slightly closer to where they were. Yoongi stretched from where he was, bones popping and making Jimin flinch slightly. What was his brain trying to make him remember?
“Namjoon you have to catch me,” Hoseok was blubbering, looking at his twin for help. He saw the taller man’s eyes widen, shaking his head automatically as he watched Hoseok start to slip from where he was climbing.
“Not a chance, Jeongguk has super strength!”
“But he’s not my twin, is he? We’re meant to be a team so man up and catch me!”
“Being a man does not consist of strength, and being a twin does not consist of catching your idiot brother from a tree!”
Their bickering became distant as Jimin watched Yoongi walk away, only seeing his back.
Hoseok then screamed, fully screamed, before he fell from the tree and landed on Namjoon, who attempted to catch the former, only to collapse under his weight. They both landed on the floor in a crumpled heap, groaning and muttering about broken limbs and forgotten dignity. Jeongguk laughed at them, hand on his stomach as Hoseok glared at the younger.
“That was a disaster.” Jeongguk could barely breathe.
Jimin watched as the two pulled away from each other, sitting on the ground looking like little children being told off. For well abled strong men, they were sure goofy. The prince had no words for the scene he just witnessed, why Hoseok had been sent up the tree in the first place, and why it had been such a struggle to get down. Watching the poor auburn-haired man fall from the tree and land on his brother was a sight he would never forget and he could almost place it with memories that had an association with happiness and a sense of fondness.
With that thought in mind, he came back to that morning, the fear that had taken over him so clearly. And that was when his brain remembered why Yoongi was important that morning.
Yoongi was the only man out of the six who still called him Little Prince, the nickname he had hated when he was taken. But uttered out the older man’s mouth was different and he found he couldn’t tell him he didn’t like it. With that in mind, he thought back to when they were calling for him, and when someone had said ‘ Little Prince’ so clearly. The same man who held his hands and dragged him out.
Jimin didn’t understand the butterflies that swirled around his chest when he thought about it, even if it was a dire emergency that required no feelings or emotions, just action.
Chapter 10: Drunken Nights and Lavender Soap
Hi, sorry it's been a while again, I have a lot of school work at the moment :)
But here's a chapter, and soon enough Yoonmin will be on the rise, don't worry.
Jimin wasn’t used to seeing civilisation in recent days, especially not a Northern community. He remembered Taehyung saying that there were smaller villages outside their main capital, but he wasn’t expecting to encounter one on their journey. They had seen smoke as they rode their horses, and the sound of chattering people and laughing children filled their silence. Seokjin declared they would rest at the local village for the night, for it was safer than the open space of the forest.
The village was small, with quaint cottages that had stout chimneys as well as a wishing well directed in the middle of the community. Some of the villagers gave them odd looks, wondering what seven men were doing wandering into their home at such a late time. The stars were beginning to twinkle in the darkening night and the moon shone down on their adventures. The lights of the cottages lit up their path and people holding oil lanterns helped direct them to the stable. Jimin sat behind Taehyung, watching the way the people communicate with one another, smiling and bright. Once again the image The South had provided of their enemies was false. There was no brutality beneath their kind gestures, the way the mother wiped dirt of her tiring child, nagging at him for getting messy before bedtime. It was all-loving.
He saw little children chasing after one another, laughing loudly as they attempted to catch one another. He didn’t have much time to watch when they arrived at the stable, listening to Seokjin talk to the owner who was confused by their presence. He heard the words ‘ peace treaty’ and ‘ prince’ before the man’s frown had turned jolly, and he was beckoning them off their horses with a kind hand. This group of men were known across The North for the work they were doing because as soon as the people of the village knew who they were, they were more than happy to help. He was guided off the horse with a helping hand, and their belongings and horses were taken into the stable the man owned, free of charge before he told them where the inn was.
“The Inn is also a tavern, and I’m sure you boys will appreciate a drink,” The owner had told them with a wink, which led most of the men to smile out of excitement to have a ‘ drink’. Jimin and Taehyung walked next to each other as they followed the owner’s directions, the others walking in front of them. The healer was practically jumping where he stood, nodding at the swooning village folks who now knew who they were. Married couples stood outside their doors as they passed and their curious children were peaking between their legs. Jimin wondered if any of them knew who he was. They must be trying to work out which of the seven was from The South. Who was a prince?
“I haven’t had a drink in ages Jimin. Honestly, when you’re training, getting drunk is forbidden, but tonight, no one will stop me,” Taehyung was telling him, and Jimin remained silent because he had never been drunk. It was just never something that crossed his mind. He wasn’t particularly fond of the pretentious red wine that his father got intoxicated on, so it was never an activity he indulged in.
When they arrived at the Inn, news had already spread. It was the biggest building in the village, furnished with a large crackling fireplace and many bookcases. The lady who ran the Inn smiled and told them they could stay the night without paying, and that there were three rooms available for them. But the men went straight to the tavern attached to the building, settling in on the large oak table, ignoring the stares from people around them.
“I understand everyone is excited about alcohol but we have to be sensible, so one drink each,” Seokjin said as he stood up, smiling at all of them. The soft yellow of lights of the tavern made his eyes sparkle, and the warmth it provided flushed his cheeks. The rest of the men cheered, rattling their hands on the table and smiling. Jimin watched as he walked away and towards the bar, leaving them alone for a couple of minutes.
“Do you think we’re getting drinks for free as well?” Jeongguk smiled widely, seemingly giddy over the prospect of letting loose for one night.
“Hopefully” Taehyung muttered, watching as Seokjin came back with seven large pints of cider, all frothing at the top as Seokjin placed the beverages on the table, sitting himself down by Yoongi. Jimin looked at the drink placed before him, looking at the golden liquid and the way it fizzed.
The others had already begun drinking, the froth covering their upper lips as they did so. Jimin picked up the metal pint carefully, slowly bringing it to his mouth and taking a small sip. His reaction was instant, he coughed at the burning sensation that scorched his throat, the fizz making him feel dizzy. He placed the drink down, wiping at his mouth. He did not like whatever form of alcohol that was. He peered up to see if anyone had seen, and in a brief second, he thought he saw Yoongi, Yoongi, smiling slightly at him before he blinked and it was gone. He wasn't looking at him, he was watching Jeongguk chug down his first pint as Seokjin told him to slow down, warning the youngest that this was their only drink.
Jimin would leave his drink, for now, he had no idea how it would affect him.
Instead, he watched as the other slowly let go, one pint at a time. He watched as Seokjin’s rule was tossed away.
After a while, most of them had flushed cheeks and dilated pupils, and Jimin found that he was amused watching all of them. He had only ever seen his father get intoxicated, and he was aggressive when he was. So to watch the Northmen get all giggly and smiley was nice. That was until Hoseok started tearing up, turning to his twin and placing both hands on his cheeks.
“Namjoonie, I k-know I don’t say this e-enough but, I love you. I w-want you to always be by my side,” Hoseok whispered, already crying as he squished Namjoon’s face scooting close to him as he sobbed. Jimin was bewildered by the behaviour, especially when Namjoon started crying back, grabbing the other's cheeks and mimicking his twin’s actions.
Namjoon and Hoseok ended up crying on each other’s shoulders, ignoring their surroundings with their loud blubbering. Some of the remaining men in the tavern glanced over in their direction but otherwise remained unfazed. Jimin’s eyes then turned to Taehyung, who was watching the scene with wide eyes. It was almost slow motion how the healer turned to Jeongguk, who was also watching the twins, and the pair made eye contact. After a couple of seconds of seeming contemplation, the two shrugged and proceeded to wrap their arms around one another, hugging. It wasn’t long before tears were shed. Jimin wanted to laugh, he was finding the exaggerated amount of affection laughable.
“Don’t even think about it,” A voice growled from opposite him, which caught his attention. Seokjin was trying to hug Yoongi, hands raised in mid-air, and a pout plastered to his face. Jimin was thoroughly amused by his attempts of hugging like the others and started to whine. The prince hadn’t seen Seokjin like that, all vulnerable and childlike.
There was a sudden bang, and Jimin startled as he watched Seokjin, who had pressed his head against the table and groaned. It was then that Yoongi moved, letting out a sigh. Jimin looked at the man, who seemed much more in control than everyone else. He only had one drink, and for reasons that were more clear to him now.
“Little prince,” His low voice spoke, making Jimin feel red as he looked up at Yoongi who had stood up, taking Seokjin’s arm and wrapping it around his neck. The older man started babbling on about how Yoongi was his best friend, to which the other man didn’t respond. Seokjin was practically leaning all of his weight on him. Jimin wondered what it was like to trust someone so much that you loved them, platonically or otherwise.
“I’ll take care of Seokjin and the twins, will you be able to get those two idiots up to the room?” He slid a dusty key over to him, and the trust in his eyes made Jimin nod despite his lack of confidence he could do that. The older man nodded in his direction before altering his attention to the twins who were still crying on each other.
“Seokjin is hurt and I need help-,”
That caught their inebriated attention span immediately, both of them stumbling away from the table to help Seokjin. Yoongi looked back at Jimin with a reassuring gaze before the four of them made their way out of the tavern and towards the rooms. Jimin gulped, turning to the other two remaining men who were huddled together, not crying anymore. Taehyung was trying to balance a pint on his fingertips, and Jeongguk was knocking it off every time he attempted to do it.
“Hey guys, do you want to head up to the room now?” Jimin asked, standing up and offering a hand to Taehyung. The healer’s eyes slowly looked up at him, before he gasped and clutched the young prince’s hand. The pint rattled to the floor.
“ Jiminie? I’m so glad you’re here!” Taehyung beamed, using a name for him he hadn’t heard before. Jimin stared at him, trying to pull him up but he remained seated.
“Ah, thank you Taehyung. But we should get back to our room now,” Jimin tried again, pulling the healer up this time. It was almost as if he was a ragdoll, letting himself be dragged by Jimin. The next mission was Jeongguk, who was flexing his bicep and admiring his arm. Jimin smiled a little.
“Jeongguk, wouldn’t it be a shame if we beat you to the room-,”
“Not a chance!” The youngest shouted at the sudden competition, pushing past them both and up the stairs. This prompted Taehyung to run after him, almost falling onto his face. Jimin rushed after the pair, running out of the tavern and towards the narrow and dark stairs that they were running up. Jimin was panicking they would hurt themselves and would hurt anyone who happened to be around them, but he was right behind them.
“I won! I won!” Taehyung yelled as they slammed into the door, locked because Jimin had the key. Jeongguk hit his arm, pouting like a child.
“No you did not, I did!” Jeongguk whined, leaning all his weight against the wood.
Jimin was out of breath as he finally caught up, putting the key through the lock and yanking it open. The two men fell into the room and Jimin shut the door, remaining on the outside as he leant against it. He squeezed his eyes shut and felt a wave of accomplishment wash over him. It was small, but he got two intoxicated men, both taller than him, to the room safely.
“You okay?” The same voice from earlier called, and Jimin opened his eyes and turned his head, looking at Yoongi who was standing in the dingy hall of the inn, looking at him with his head tilted. He seemed less intimidating in the shadows. His sword wasn’t attached to his hip and the furs weren’t bulked upon his shoulders. He was more human.
“Yeah,” He replied slightly breathlessly. There was a weighted silence lingering between them before the older answered.
“If you can get those two imbeciles in there, then you can do a lot more than you think,” His brief words of wisdom made Jimin’s heart beat faster, his cheeks flush red and his breathing became heavy. The man was still so mysterious. He was about to answer when a loud whine emitted from Seokjin and Yoongi’s room, what sounded like the eldest shouting about being cold. Yoongi rolled his eyes and gave Jimin a look. This was the most he had communicated with the fighter.
“Goodnight Little Prince,” He breathed before going into his room. Jimin felt himself smiling as he opened the door to his shared room.
He kept smiling when he saw Taehyung and Jeongguk huddled up on a single bed, snoring.
The aftermath of drinking was worse than Jimin could have imagined. He woke up earlier than everyone else, his body feeling energised and relaxed after sleeping on an actual bed. The bed itself wasn’t as extravagant as his canopy back in The South, no wispy white curtains were surrounding where he slept, but it was more than the solid forest floor he had gotten used to, and his body appreciated the warmth. So he woke up feeling refreshed, feeling better than before.
Taehyung and Jeongguk were snoring loudly on the other bed, the body’s wrapped around one another. The healer was almost falling out of the bed, but the leg and arm that was tucked underneath Jeongguk’s body stopped him from falling to the ground. Lying on his stomach, the latter took up most of the bed, his arm draped over Taehyung’s stomach. Jimin found himself looking over at the boy’s rather fondly, his heart growing attached to the figures. He didn’t know how to deal or cope with the feelings of happiness or love for others. He didn’t feel overwhelming amounts of love for his father, for the man had always been distant and cold when he grew up. He knew nothing of his mother, as she died when he was born. People like Beomseok and maids were all there, surrounding him, but no one truly liked him, therefore he had no one to care for. It was the first time he had people who found he cared for. Even if he barely knew Taehyung and Jeongguk, he cared. Although, maybe he knew more than he thought.
Jimin turned his head away from the sleeping men, looking around at the small room of the Inn. In the corner was another door, slightly agar. Through the power of curiosity Jimin slowly made his way over, trying not to creak the wooden floorboards underneath him in attempts to not wake up the pair. With bated breath, he opened the door and was surprised with what he saw, but happy. A medium-sized wash basin sat in the corner of the room, a basket of ointments and soap next to the metal tub. He could wash, with soaps. God, it had been days since he had a nice clean wash.
So Jimin’s morning was spent walking down to ask the lady where he could fetch water from, only for her to go get it for him, boiling and emitting steam. He had lugged the bucket of water up the stairs, filled up the basin and returned the empty bucket to the lady. He felt productive as he stripped off his borrowed nightgown, the white undergarment tossed to the floor. He spent a while just boiling away in the tub, lathering himself with the lavender-scented ointment. Jimin lifted a bed as he washed his arms, wiggling his toes.
He had gotten paler since he left The South. Not as much as the others, he was still rather tanned compared to them, but Jimin could see the difference in himself. He wondered if his hair had grown darker, he hoped not. He liked his honey-toned roots and light aura, he wouldn’t suit the brooding image of The North. The others worked well with dark hair and pale skin, but not him, not Jimin. He submerged himself deeper into the water, the bubbles from the ointment covering his mouth and washing the strands of his hair. He felt relaxed, finally.
The water was starting to get cold, so he got out of the basin and dried himself with the soft line provided on the wall. He had already taken his clothes to the small room, changing into the sapphire tunic he had taken from Jeongguk many moons ago. The material was soft, and he wished that it wasn’t so cold in The North, for he had to cover the beautiful blouse with furs and pelts. He felt good that morning, clean and fresh, and when he made his way out of the small basin room and back into the beds, that was when Jeongguk and Taehyung woke up themselves.
He watched as Jeongguk groaned, moving his body to try and get more comfortable, which in turn made Taehyung finally fall off the bed, giving him a rather rude awakening. The healer yelped, landing on the ground in a heap. Jeongguk didn’t flinch at his fall and carried on to groan about his head.
“Good morning,” Jimin whispered as the two were coming to terms with their surroundings.
“I’m so hungry,” Was the first thing Jeongguk said, voice hoarse from lack of use and pain.
“Please don’t talk about food,” Taehyung whispered, who seemed to be feeling the opposite need that Jeongguk had. Jimin shook his head at their actions and let out a small laugh, almost an exhale of air, barely audible. Taehyung still moved his head to see him anyway, eyes peeking over the blanket that had fallen with him.
“Did you not drink last night Jimin?” He asked. Apparently, with drinking, came memory loss.
“No, didn’t feel like it.”
“That’s probably a good thing.”
Jimin wanted to laugh at how dramatic they were being but knew his mirth wouldn’t help their state, so instead, he got up, heaving on the fur’s that he had been wearing recently and piling them on his shoulders. It’s odd how quickly he got used to small pieces of The North’s culture, the furs, the cold. Of course, the cold still bothered him to no end, but it didn’t surprise him anymore.
The Inn was still quiet, it was still early, so Jimin made his way outside into the chilly morning air, where he sat down on the small bench that overlooked some of the houses of the village. Some families were up like him, wandering out of their homes and towards the well with their pales. There was a rolling mist that lingered on the ground, and despite the fluffy white clouds, a small slithered of sunlight lit up the day. Jimin remained silent as he observed where he was, all the travelling and learning he had done in the last couple of days more than he had done in his life. The prince looked down at his hands that were covered in the furs, and back at the village.
“Are you okay Jimin?” A rough voice called, making him turn his head.
Seokjin stood there, changed and smiling, bags under his eyes and face paler than usual. He was coping much better than Taehyung and Jeongguk, and his smile was waning but there. The younger man nodded slightly.
“I’m good. How are you doing?” He asked, scooting over so the older could sit next to him. Seokjin collapsed into the chair, placing his hand to his head and shutting his eyes.
“Regretting a lot of decisions. A lot. Too many,” Seokjin admitted as he sunk lower in the seat. Jimin wondered at what exact point he had felt comfortable around Seokjin, or any of them.
There was silence between them once more.
“What do you think of The North so far?” Seokjin asked, opening his eyes and turning to look at him. Jimin stared out at the village.
Seokjin let out a snort.
“But the people are warm. Warmer than I could have imagined,” Jimin admitted, voice teetering into whispering at the end. He didn’t see Seokjin’s response but he heard him hum in agreement.
Chapter 11: Watching Angel
Hi, I like this chapter. There's a long author's note at the end!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The clouds were grey and looming once they started moving again, and Jimin feared there would be rainfall. He could count on one hand how many times he had seen the rain, it was a rare occurrence in The South. But he knew that it was cold and numbing if it were to belt down, so he hoped they found shelter before it started to pour. It was colder than usual, and even the large and heavy pelts couldn’t protect him from the chilly wind.
The others were silent as they rode, which was a rarity, especially with Hoseok and Namjoon, who nattered on for days about the same thing. Perhaps it was the effect of the weather, the gloomy atmosphere reflecting on the riders who were growing tired. They had been out in the forest since early dawn and hadn’t stopped all day. The day would slowly come to an end soon and the sky would darken. Jimin sighed from behind Taehyung, leaning in slightly closer in efforts to steal his body warmth. The forestry surrounded them in silence, and it would be enough to lull himself to sleep. But before he could close his eyes and drift off, the horse came to a sudden stop, jolting him. He gasped quietly, moving his head from behind the healer so he could see what occurred at the stop in their movement. The others looked confused too, but what had caused the problem was Jeongguk, who was out at the front. He was staring in front, stiff, unmoving.
“Why have we stopped?” Namjoon asked from behind Jimin and Taehyung, trying to shout so his voice had travelled to the front. But instead, they got a silent response, one full of uncertainty and an intensity Jimin hadn’t seen from the younger before. Taehyung huffed, obviously confused with why they had stopped and no one was saying anything and moved to get off the horse. Jimin watched as he climbed down, leaving him alone on the mammal. He was reluctant to admit that he held onto the reins tight when he saw them resting on the horse.
“Jeongguk why have we- oh,” Taehyung walked towards his friend where he was still mounted on his horse, rigid. The healer turned to Seokjin and Yoongi with a concerned face, his eyebrows furrowed as he gulped. Jimin was confused as to what was going on and tried to get a peek at what they were seeing.
“It’s a Watching Angel,” Taehyung whispered, looking at the two leaders whose faces lit up in recognition. It seemed that the annoyance in their faces drained as the realisation dawned upon them and they shared a look, silent but understanding before they both got off their horses.
“Everyone stop, we’ll camp here for tonight,” Seokjin spoke out, looking at the twins who were about to make some sort of snarky comment. The look was a warning, and it set the tone for the rest of the day. Hoseok looked down in self-pity and stayed close to Namjoon as soon as the two got off of their horses. Jimin watched everyone dismount and was still ashamed he had to wait for Taehyung to help him, grabbing the healer's hand and leaning onto his strength as support until his feet hit the ground.
They tied their horses to the trees that surrounded them, and it was then that he saw what had caused Jeongguk to stop in his path.
Sitting in a small alcove ahead, underneath shrouding branches that created a small archway, was a small stone statue. The top was covered in moss, a fuzzy layer that dwindled away at the middle. It was grey and round, small details such as a cape and a smile etched into the stone, and a carving of hands, praying. Around it sat a small circle of white daisies, all perfect and pristine. The way there were no flaws on their petals told him they were of unnatural growth, but they were beautiful all the same. Jeongguk stood in front of it, silent. Jimin wanted to ask someone what was happening, why the atmosphere had changed from dreary to charged and upsetting, but he found he couldn’t bring himself to do so.
Instead, he watched as Seokjin walked over to Jeongguk, tentative, placing a hand on his shoulder. The young prince watched their backs as the younger relaxed slightly and snapped out of his trance.
Jimin jumped when a large and cold raindrop hit his forehead, making him shiver. The rain had started, but he didn’t seem to care. Not when Jeongguk fell to his knees, in the dirt and leaves, in front of the statue. His head bent down, as if in defeat, and the rain started to pour down harder. Seokjin looked down at him, and then lowered himself to the forest floor. Jimin’s hair started to plaster to his forehead in large clusters, rain dripping down his cheeks and starting to drench his clothes. But the interest in what was happening in front of him was more important and numbed his other senses. The sight of their backs, hunched and vulnerable was hard to look at yet he couldn’t bring himself to look away.
Slowly, the others came forwards to join Seokjin and Jeongguk, and despite not knowing what he should do, Jimin walked forward, sloshing through the dirt that was now slush, and falling onto his knees. He had copied the others, whose heads were bent with closed eyes, and followed suit. He didn’t know what to do in the silence and darkness of his mind, what to do with the sound of pouring rain around him, hitting his skin like tiny daggers. The cold was starting to seep into his skin and the mud beneath his knee was making him uncomfortable. But he remained still until he heard movement from around him. Opening his eyes, Jimin saw that Namjoon and Hoseok were beginning to move, which prompted the others to leave, other than Jeongguk.
Jimin watched as the others walked away, towards a large tree. But, Joengguk remained where he was, eyes now open as he merely stared at the statue in front of him. His face was pale from the rain and Jimin knew if he didn’t move soon he would grow ill. So he tried his best for a young prince was nothing to offer.
“May I ask something about Jeongguk?” He spoke quietly, turning his head to the boy who seemed very much like a boy at that moment. He was innocent and he needed comfort.
Jeongguk nodded but didn’t look at him.
“What is the significance of what we’re doing? I’m not quite sure,” He wanted to ask so he could do whatever they were doing again, and mean it. If he could do this for Jeongguk, it would be enough. The youngest bandit sighed, blinking away at what Jimin assumed was tears. He took a deep shaky breath.
“This statue is called a Watching Angel. Northern folk law claims they were here before we were, before The North and South, before everything. They’re scattered all over the land. It’s said the Watching Angel was placed here so people from the beyond can watch you, a place where the living's thoughts can connect with the dead’s, where there is no barrier to stop them. When you see a Watching Angel you should kneel and pray, pray for ones you’ve lost,” He explained, and his head didn’t move. Jimin suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of sadness, for if Jeongguk had reacted this way he was thinking of someone he had lost. Jimin didn’t want to pry, but he found himself asking.
“Who are you praying to?”
“My older brother. Jun-woo. He died fighting,” Was all he said, quiet and moving. That was when Jimin closed his eyes, and the meaning of the statue became so much more meaningful than before. He thought about Jeongguk’s older brother, the way he would have died without saying goodbye. He told him that he would change the future for all families, no one would have to worry about war. Once he was done he opened his eyes and saw Jeongguk was still in the rain, kneeling.
“Jeongguk, I’m sorry your brother died.”
“It’s not your fault,” The boy was quiet.
“I hope you know what you’re doing now is valliant, and your brother would be proud.”
He watched as Jeongguk started to come back, head-turning to him for the first time since coming across the statue. His eyes were bloodshot and his hands shook. In a moment of weakness for how sad the boy looked and Jimin scooted forward on the muddy ground and grasped Jeongguk’s hands, feeling his heartbreak from his sadness.
“I miss him.”
“That’s okay, it’s okay to miss him Jeongguk,” and with that tiny reassurance, Jeongguk broke down into tears, launching himself over Jimin and pulling him close, hugging him as he wept. Jimin wanted to cry too, but he needed to be strong for the boy. He was just a boy in reality. He might have superhuman strength and be more mature than most boys his age, but in moments like those, Jimin saw him as a boy who just needed support.
After a couple of minutes, the boy started shivering so Jimin took it upon himself to urge him to stand up so they could somehow get out of the rain. Jeongguk noticed this and pulled away from Jimin, face blotchy and nose runny. He looked sheepish, just like the first time Jimin had woken up in The North.
“Thank you Jimin,” He said before looking down. The prince was filled with warmth, a warmth he didn’t feel in The South. He had helped him, and he hoped his usual teasing self would soon. The two walked over to the others, who were somehow dry and had been watching them the whole time. Jimin looked over at them and grew red from all their wide eyes, and stepped towards them and was surprised to find the rain stopped.
He looked behind him and found the downpour continued, and then back at the others who were all dry.
“The twins have cast a protective bubble around us,” Taehyung explained when he saw Jimin and tugged on his wet arm. Jimin looked over at Hoseok and Namjoon, who were huddled together to make their power stronger. Jimin felt the cold now, the way his skin was prickling in pain. But the look on Jeongguk’s face when Seokjin pulled him away was reassuring, and the pain from the rain was worth it.
He let Taehyung change his clothes into dry ones, rubbing another garment on his hair to try and get it to try quicker. All why he thought of Jeongguk’s older brother, and how many other people had been in a similar situation.
“You did well Jiminie,” Taehyung mumbled.
He did well.
In the morning, he had heard a sentence that made his heartbeat unknowingly and his face flush pink.
“ Yoongi could you take Jimin hunting? I think you would be a good pair.”
Jimin had just woken up, honey-toned hair sticking up in several different places, defying gravity. He had sluggishly blinked at the mention, yawning as he pulled the pelts further over himself. His brain was foggy due to the early hours and he had found it took a couple of minutes to compute what Seokjin had said. His eyes drifted to the silent fighter who was ominously leaning against a tree. It was hard to forget that the last couple of days had led the two to talk more. Yoongi looked at him, as indifferent as always.
Hunting. Hunting with Yoongi. His heart then understood what had been said, and he was too aware of his sleep ridden state, the way his eyes were red from just waking up and his whole face were patchy from how he slept that night. The others talking were drowned out by his panic, and he quickly tried to fix himself up before he had to go hunting with Yoongi. Jimin cursed the God’s as he quickly changed his sleep top into the sapphire one had been wearing recently, layering the brown fur’s he was still borrowing, onto his shoulder. He combed his hands through his hair and used the small amount of water left in his jar to wash his face.
He was thinking about what could happen while someone went hunting, and Jimin couldn’t help but think that with Yoongi it would be dull. Not that he found the man dull his heart seemed to bounce up and down at anything he did, it was just that Yoongi didn’t talk much. Without the twins nattering or Jeongguk and Taehyung’s bickering, the fighter’s presence became brooding. More so than usual.
So when they had endeavoured out into the forest, just the two of them, he found he was incredibly nervous. He didn’t see the point in him accompanying Yoongi, the man was perfectly capable of hunting animals himself. The prince watched his back, the way the muscles tensed under his furs and his arms holding onto the bow and arrow with his large hands-
Woah. Calm down Jimin. He shook his head and looked away from Yoongi, finding himself feeling hotter than usual. He kept trailing behind the man like a lost puppy, feeling useless and worthless. He just wanted to help, in any small way he could without coming across as pampered and sheltered.
As he was thinking, he tripped over a small branch, yelping as he fumbled to keep himself upright. The twig snapped a loud ringing through the forest. Yoongi stopped in his tracks, turning to him with an unamused expression that was laced with annoyance. Jimin gave him a shy smile, looking down after a while.
“Watch where you’re going,” He grumbled, moving back to searching for animals to hunt. Jimin felt embarrassed at his clumsiness and resorted to his only defence mechanism. Sarcasm.
“I’m sorry, wouldn’t want to disturb all of this constant chatter we’re having,” He said before he realised his mistake, bringing his small hand to cover his mouth in shock. The tree’s around them loomed and the sound of Yoongi’s footsteps crunching the soil and leaves stopped. Jimin thought he made a mistake, wondering if the older would just leave him to find his way back to the camp. But, instead, he smiled, mouth wide and eyes sparkling with something Jimin couldn’t place. It made him feel on edge yet relaxed.
“Instead of trailing behind me, you could join me, Little Prince,” Yoongi then muttered, turning back around but still unmoving. Jimin froze, blinking as he soaked in his words. You could join me, Little Prince. His heart was beating so fast he could hear the blood in his ears. What was happening?
The prince made his way to Yoongi’s side, lingering in the space between as he cast a sideways glance to the fighter who wasn’t looking in his direction. They were both silent, awkward, shy.
The bow and arrow in his hand were interesting Jimin, he found the weapon oddly elegant, with it’s carved wooden handles and the delicate yet sturdy nature of the bowstring sitting between them both. The arrows in the quiver on his back were all feathered and done to perfection. He wanted to know how to hunt, how to be of use to people who were being so kind to him, despite the circumstances.
“Can I try?” He asked, playing with the stray fur on his sleeve. He felt Yoongi’s gaze before his answer.
“Can you use a bow and arrow?”
“How is anybody meant to learn if you answer like that? I would like to learn, please,” He didn’t want to sound desperate but, the more he went on this trip, the more useless he felt.
Yoongi sighed, looking down at his bow and arrow and back at Jimin who was looking down shyly.
Jimin felt elated, jumping up once and turning to the older man beaming, ready to hold a weapon for the first time and experience the feeling of being used, being something worthy of an adventure. It was thrilling, especially when he handed the prince the bow, the weight surprising him.
“Okay, see that tree down there?” Yoongi pointed towards the large oak about seven metres in front of them, basking in fragmented sunlight. Jimin nodded, smiling.
Yoongi told him who to stand, the posture in which he should hold the bow, how he should draw the string back until it reached his cheek, using all his strength. He mirrored the man’s actions, never having this level of responsibility in his life. The wood felt amazing under his fingertips, and the way the string grazed his cheek as he drew back was euphoric. Yet despite Yoongi’s instructions, he let the arrow fly through the air, only for it to land measly three steps in front of him. His heart deflated.
“Oh,” He breathed.
He turned to Yoongi who was looking at him, his face oddly passive yet a sparkle in his eyes that Jimin couldn’t place. He gulped, looking down at his failure, hoping he wouldn’t laugh, or think he was pathetic. The arrow, which wasn’t even embedded into the ground, laid limp on the dirt, a representation of Jimin and how he felt.
“No one gets it right the first time, here-”
It was then Jimin combusted where he stood. He felt a pressure on his back, an unmistakable warmth that belonged to humans. Yoongi was behind him, pressed against him, and it wasn’t stopping there. His arms came to hold his own, hands lapping over his on the bow. The prince’s whole hand was on fire, his cheeks were melting and his brain was fried. The man was pressed against him, and he continued to do so as he held Jimin’s hand and pulled the string back, right to his cheek. Jimin’s breathing became ragged, and he could feel Yoongi’s breath on his ear. Holy shit.
They both released the arrow together, and Jimin watched with delight as it zipped through the air, not landing on the tree, but not far from it either. He broke into a wide smile. This was what achievement felt like. Wonderful. In a burst of cathartic energy, he turned to Yoongi, only for his breath to be cut short at how close the older was. They were both shocked, eyes widening at how close they were. With a second’s delay, they jumped apart.
Jimin was on fire.
Hi, I hope you're all doing well! I know times like this is scary but you have to stay positive and stay safe. My exams have been cancelled and I'm now in self-isolation, so I guess this might be updated more regularly depending on how the next couple of weeks go. This book is slowly getting to its peak, where there will be more to write about. I'm loving writing Namjoon and Hoseok's relationship at the moment and developing characters. If there's anything that wouldn't change the plot too much but you would like to see, please don't be afraid to comment.
Happy reading, stay safe, stay home.
Chapter 12: Moonlight Walks
so lockdown is boring.
Jeongguk had felt better by the next day, back to his usual teasing self. Jimin was happy to see it, see the youngest smiling again, and that thought alone made him feel weird. He didn’t have a connection to anyone back home, not in the way he would feel the need to make them feel better. Beomseok was the only person he had a remote connection to, and that connection was of hatred and superiority. Yet as Jimin sat in front of the fire, flames bouncing off his face, he smiled as he watched the younger tease the twins, finding an ember of warmth bloom in his heart.
“What do you expect will come from this?” Jeongguk snorted from where he was lounging opposite Jimin, hands placed in the dirt behind him, biceps bulging and flexing from the position. His bunny smile was even more prominent in the glow of the fire.
“A kiss on the cheek, and an appreciative smile,” Hoseok said as he glared from his standing position, readjusting the flowers in his hand that he had picked out himself. The sound of an amused chuckle sounded from behind him, where he knew Yoongi was sitting, back against a tree as he watched the group from a distance. The remainder of his presence made him stiffen up, cheeks blushing a light pink. It was from the heat of the fire that made him so warm.
“It might work if one of you were giving him flowers, and that one person wasn’t either of you two,” Jeongguk continued to laugh, watching how Namjoon scrunched his face up in disagreement and kicked a small cloud of dirt at Jeongguk. The latter flinched away, still smiling, and brushed the particles of himself.
“Shut up, you know nothing of romance,” Namjoon pouted, holding the small bouquet of daisies closer to himself.
“Sure, I know nothing,” The younger was smug, glancing at Jimin and raising his eyebrows in a mocking gesture to the twins, a look which made Jimin exhale a laugh, something he never did in The South. Hoseok and Namjoon turned their heads to Jimin with mock betrayal laced into their features.
“Look what you’ve done! You’ve turned Jimin against us!” Hoseok looked annoyed, but he let a sneaky smile embrace his face. Like he was happy Jimin was happy, enjoying the happiness that had been seeping through his body since he had been with the group. But that moment quickly passed when Jeongguk let out another snort, shaking his head. The auburn-haired twin always seemed to get irked by the youngest the most, protective of his crush.
“Jimin can think for himself, and what he’s thinking is that those guys are idiots.”
Yoongi laughed again from behind him, the most he had spoken that whole day, and it wasn’t even a word, it was an intake of breath. But the sound of the elder being happy, amused by the younger members' antics gave Jimin a sense of peace he couldn’t explain.
There was a movement from the trees that surrounded them, making Hoseok and Namjoon stand up straight and send Jeongguk a warning stare that told him to shut his mouth and be quiet. Seokjin and Taehyung had gone hunting for their dinner that night, leaving the others to wait for their return with anticipation. At that time, the twins thought it was a good idea to go pick flowers in the dark, and give them to Seokjin when he returned. Their love for the leader had not dimmed in their days of travel and neither had their bubby personalities.
“This should be fun,” Jeongguk muttered to Jimin, eyeing him with a smirk. Jimin nodded and stayed quiet as he watched Seokjin and Taehyung emerge from the tree’s, the healer holding a dead rabbit. Jimin noted that Taehyung placed the rabbit down and then was immediately at his side, gathering himself closer to him for warmth.
“Jeongguk can you start skinning the-,” Seokjin’s instructions were cut short when the twins shoved two different bunches of flowers in his face. The elder’s eyes widened and he stumbled back confused, looking over at Yoongi and then Jeongguk with a plea for help. His eyes drifted back to the twins who were staring at him with a sliver of hope. Jimin sniggered and Taehyung groaned from his left.
“Oh god, who let them do this?” Taehyung whispered to him.
“Yoongi,” Saying his name made him want to shiver, made his tongue tingle.
“Are these for me?” Seokjin asked them, looking down at the flowers which were drooping in their tight hold, offering them a small smile. He looked tired, and maybe that's why his usual venomous response towards them was absent from the conversation. It was odd how used to the dynamic Jimin was now.
“Of course, we picked them just for you,” Namjoon fluttered his eyelashes at Seokjin, earning a fake gagging noise from Taehyung. The taller of the twins turned to them and glared like he usually did.
“Well, uh, thank you,” Seokjin was awkward, probably wondering what he was going to do with floppy daisies and drooping pansies. But Jimin gave him credit, Seokjin saw they had gone through the effort and didn’t shoot them down. He was nice about their futile efforts, but he didn’t kiss them on the cheek as the twins had planned. The brown-haired man took the flowers, glancing at the others and walked away to put them somewhere.
Hoseok and Namjoon looked elated that their efforts were worthwhile and turned to Jeongguk.
“Well, would you look at that? Who’s laughing now?” Hoseok sat down next to the younger, grabbing his cheek and squeezing it. He batted the hand away, but the smugness was still etched upon his face.
“You’re right, he looked awkward and said thank you. Score.”
The bickering continued between them as Jeongguk started to skin the rabbit for dinner, and that atmosphere was normal once more, making Jimin feel more relaxed. He watched as Jeongguk used his strength to skin their dinner, as Taehyung used his manipulation of the air to create a warmer night. When the fire started to burn out, Yoongi would set it alight once more. Jimin looked down at his palms, how they tingled with hope.
He woke up that morning with a headache he couldn’t explain. When he stood up the leaves that were scattered on the forest floor were all surrounded him in a circle. He didn’t tell anyone about his burst of power because he was embarrassed about the lack of control he had. If only he could gain some sort of semblance of control while he was travelling, so he felt less scared when he woke up.
“What’s the matter Jiminie,” Taehyung whispered to him, pulling him out of the trance he was in. The healer must have noticed his cold expression or he was perceptive. They were talking in hushed whispers so that their conversation wasn’t picked up by the others, something Jimin was appreciative of.
“Nothing,” He lied through his teeth.
“Sure, that’s why you’re staring into the fire all broodingly. Come on let’s take a walk,” He laughed, standing up and offering the boy his hand with a reassuring smile. The others didn’t pay attention to their sudden departure, Hoseok was too busy squabbling with Jeongguk to notice and Namjoon was still in euphoria from Seokjin’s reaction. As they left the warmth of their makeshift camp into the shadows of the tree’s they could still hear Jeongguk laughing at Hoseok’s annoyed sighs.
“Honestly, you think Gukkie would have realised what he’s doing by this point,” Taehyung rolled his eyes as they got further away, the fire a mere blurry glow that lingered in between the trees. Jimin shuffled closer to him as the cold settled upon their shoulders once more. The white silk of Taehyung’s furs have become a new norm for him now, and he liked the comfort they brought him.
“What do you mean?” Jimin questioned, for he had no clue what Taehyung was talking about.
“His teasing, constantly. Most of it is in his nature, but with Hoseok it’s different. Ah, nevermind it’s just me conspiring,” Taehyung turned his head to Jimin and gave him that wide boxy smile that was always radiating joy.
He had noticed that one of Jeongguk’s favourite pastimes was teasing the twins of their crush, or anything. But he had always thought that it was just their friendship. Jeongguk did enjoy gaining Hoseok’s attention but he wasn’t sure what Taehyung was getting at.
They remained silent as Jimin pondered, the silver moonlight drawing the forest in an illuminated glow. All that could be heard was the crunching of their footsteps and the occasional chattering of their teeth when a gust of wind would drift by.
“What’s on your mind Jiminie?” The nickname had drifted into normal conversation habits.
“Don’t say that. All of your thoughts are valid,” Taehyung chastised him, but instead of hitting him or moving away, he linked their arms together. Jimin used to see small girls and boys do this when he watched from his balcony as a child, the way they skipped down the streets together with small giggles. Best friends, they were called. Jimin had read about them but never had one. Taehyung was the closest he had.
“I was just thinking, about uh, my powers. And what you and Seokjin said the other day,” He admitted quietly.
“I thought, while we travel, it would be nice to have some control over it, so I’m not completely useless.”
Taehyung stopped walking, making Jimin stop too. Jimin looked at him, noticing the way the moon glistened over his hair which looked softer than ever. His eyes twinkled and he was just so welcoming and soft, from the start, Jimin had an overwhelming amount of affection for him that he couldn’t place. The healer took hold of his hands, both of them, and held them tight.
“You’re not useless Jimin. I know that we didn’t meet under the best of circumstances. But, over the past weeks, you’ve had to adapt and that alone has gained my respect. You’ve been chucked into the deep end yet you’re still swimming. You’re so lovely, so kind and strong . You’re my friend now, and I want you to be happy. But please don’t label yourself useless or any other bad words, I can’t bear it,” Taehyung was so raw in his statement, eyes watering as he ended his admission. Jimin felt his eyes well up with sadness, and he started to cry.
He pulled Taehyung close to him, wrapping his arms around his friend, and crying onto his shoulder. His first friend. When he was King, he would make sure there was peace, and he would stay in touch with Taehyung.
“Thank you,” He sobbed as his tears drenched the letters white furs.
“Now, if you want to gain some training we can get you some so you’re more comfortable. Yoongi is the best at that, I’ll ask him for you.” Taehyung pulled away from him, still holding him tight as his cold hand came up to wipe away some of Jimin’s stray tears. He couldn’t help but smile. He had a friend.
The sun had barely woken up from its slumber, it’s rays just caressing the top of the tree’s in an amber shine only the morning could harness. Jimin was the first to wake up in their small tent, Taehyung and Jeongguk still sound asleep. His hands were burning, they were begging to be in use but Jimin just didn’t know-how. He had sat up, staring down at palms which were red and itchy. He groaned silently, putting on some furs over his nightgown and left the small walls of the tent to see what mess he had caused.
It was eerily quiet when he stepped out and was thankful when he saw that his powers hadn’t disturbed the forest, everything was still the same. Yet his palms hurt more than before, painful as he rubbed them on the scratchy material of the nightgown. He was unsure of what to do if he should just wait by the fire until someone eventually stirs, or try to be helpful and start to pack things away. His dilemma was answered when someone spoke.
“They hurt don’t they?” The voice was deep with sleep, and it was the only person Jimin knew gave him weird goosebumps. He turned his head towards Yoongi, who was already dressed in large pelts and furs, eyes bleary and hair a little unkempt from being asleep. He made his way over to Jimin, stern and silent. As always.
The prince nodded because he couldn’t speak properly without embarrassing himself.
When Yoongi was settled in front of him, he took both of Jimin’s hands, surprising the younger. His large hands were rough against Jimin’s but the cold nature of them soothed some of the heat that Jimin was feeling, subsiding the pain. He caged Jimin’s fingers and his eyes flickering to their hands before looking back up at his face.
“Close your eyes, and think about a memory that brings you comfort-,”
“Close your eyes.” The elder didn’t give any room for questions. Jimin gulped but closed his eyes, letting them flutter shut as the void welcomed him. All he could feel was Yoongi’s hands holding his, senses heightened.
“Think of a memory that comforts you,” His voice was deeper when his eyes were closed, echoed in his black abyss. Jimin tried to think of a place which brought him comfort, and he thought about the palace gardens which he adored, the first time he danced in them, alone. The memory of the roses watching him learn how to spin for the first time made him relaxed, and that was what prompted the first bout of his powers.
He felt a tingle in his hands, and it made him gasp. It was different than what he usually felt, a much nicer feeling, less agitated. Yoongi’s hands tightened around his own.
“Let it happen, Little Prince, remain in that positive mindset,” His voice was steady unlike Jimin’s hands but he did as he was told, trying to think about the garden. The tingling got worse, it became more powerful as the memory carried on, and soon enough the feeling reached its peak before it left his body and his hands felt free. He felt free.
“You can open your eyes now.”
Jimin opened them rather quickly, still aware that Yoongi is still holding his hands. The latter was standing before him with a smile that made Jimin feel so much more at peace than he had been before. Jimin’s breath was knocked from him in an unattractive manner but he kept his posture in attempts to gain some semblance of clarity. They were so close and the elder was staring at him with a gaze Jimin couldn’t describe, hands loosening their hold but still caressing them.
“Look around you,” He whispered. Jimin was so entranced by his face he almost missed what the older had said, and quickly jolted his head to look. All around his feet were small flowers, much like the day when he woke up to flowers in the snow, but these were white, pure and happy. Yoongi finally let go of his hands, which now felt much colder than before. The prince knelt and plucked something he made, something that was now soft to touch, didn’t burn him like the first time. He was in awe, he had done something under his control. It was freeing.
“I’m going to train you.”
Before Jimin could ask for more details, the others were waking up, proclaiming loudly at all the flowers. He believed he heard Namjoon and Hoseok proclaim loudly that the flowers would be perfect for Seokjin. But it was all white noise to him. His hands still felt warm but unlike before.