Son Siyeon is not perfect.
Hyejoo knows this better than anyone, having spent over fifteen years of life with her. She’s seen her sister go in circles in the woods behind their house, she’s seen her try and fail to cook while servants watched from the kitchen doorway fearfully, she’s seen her hold her wand backwards while trying to impress Hyejoo with new magic… the list goes on. It’s kind of funny, actually, how most people at Hogwarts seem to fear her based off of the Sons’ reputation and Siyeon’s looks when in reality, Hyejoo thinks of her sister as a dork.
Sometimes a useless dork.
“Siyeon-unnie, do something!” Hyejoo shouts as she takes cover behind a tree. Several balls of white whiz past her, going splat against the ground when they miss their intended target.
“Go Hyejoo, go Hyejoo!” Siyeon cheers from an adjacent tree.
“Don’t ‘go Hyejoo’ me! Do something!” Hyejoo growls.
“Okay, okay…” Siyeon bends down to scoop some snow into a lump while pouting and muttering about ‘physical exertion’ and ‘I didn’t sign up for this’. Straightening up, she takes a deep breath before she steps out from behind her tree and throws.
Her snowball doesn’t even make it halfway across the clearing.
Hyejoo sighs as she watches Siyeon squawk in fright when a flurry of projectiles begin flying at her from two directions at once. One of them nearly hits her right in the face, but she manages to duck back behind her tree with a whimper.
“Yah! Kim Hyunjin,” Siyeon yells once she’s regained her bearings. “Are you trying to murder me?”
Her only reply is a loud laugh from afar.
Hyejoo sighs again.
She loves her sister, she really does, but she can’t help but feel like Siyeon is a bit of a liability as a Snowball Showdown teammate. It’s not entirely her fault considering how they’re up against the Jo siblings, plus Hyunjin participating as a solo contender, but still. Hyejoo was expecting results a little better than… that.
“C’mon, unnie,” Hyejoo pleads with a pout, opting to appeal to Siyeon’s big sister senses. “Help me take out Yeojin and Haseul at least?”
“Hyejoo,” Siyeon says seriously. “There are many, many things I’d do for you, but I can’t do the impossible. In case you forgot, they’re both Chasers and I… I die every time I have to climb up the Astronomy Tower for class.”
“Okay, relatable,” she concedes. “But we have to do something. Your title of Best Sister is on the line!”
“Best sister?” Siyeon blinks before breaking out into a smile. “That title belongs to you.”
Hyejoo lobs a wad of snow at Siyeon.
“Stop being cheesy and help me out already!”
Perhaps Siyeon’s true calling is being bait, Hyejoo decides after she manages to land a few good hits on all three of her nemeses while they pelt a slow-reacting Siyeon with their own snowballs. As expected, Yeojin and Haseul have formidable aim along with their admittedly impressive teamwork, while Hyunjin holds her own with high speed pitches that send both sibling pairs screaming whenever she targets them. Hyejoo is pretty sure she hears a rather unsavory word come out of Yeojin's mouth at some point, but a scandalized objection from Haseul quickly puts an end to that.
Of course, nothing tops the tangle of noises that comes from a certain Hufflepuff when she accidentally walks right into the line of fire.
“Hey, Hyunjin! I need– WUARGHUOARG!”
“Oh, I hit someone?” Siyeon gasps excitedly as she peeks past her tree. “Wait, Yoohyeon!?”
“Oh my god, Yoohyeon! We are so sorry!” Haseul apologizes in a flurry, abandoning her own cover to rush up to their friend. She quickly pulls the taller student back onto her feet with a sympathetic grimace. “None of us meant to hit you, I swear.”
Hyunjin snickers as she steps into the clearing and nearly blinds everyone with her new yellow sweater.
“Siyeon-unnie definitely didn’t mean to,” she says. “Amazing how all five of us got you though.”
“Right? Blargh.” Yoohyeon spits out some snow before stating, “I’m impressed too! Like bam, all at once!”
“It’s because you’re a big target,” Hyejoo points out. “Even Siyeon-unnie could hit you.”
Siyeon wipes a tear from her eye.
“I’m so proud of myself,” she pretends to sniff.
“I’m proud of you too, unnie!” Yeojin chimes in with genuine earnesty. “Your first point today!”
Hyejoo’s eye twitches.
“Anyways!” she says loudly, not keen to be further reminded of how she’s been the only one carrying this team for the past thirty minutes. “Yoohyeon-unnie, what are you doing?”
“I came here to find Hyunjin,” Yoohyeon explains. “I need help with something.”
“Oh, lemme help, lemme help!” Yeojin interrupts, her hand shooting into the air as though she’s in class. She even bounces up and down to get Yoohyeon’s attention, except she winds up stepping on her own sister in her excitement.
“Ow! Yeojinnie, calm down,” Haseul hisses with a wince. She shoots an apologetic smile at everyone else as she grabs Yeojin’s shoulders to physically hold her still. “You don’t even know what she needs help with.”
“Actually…” Yoohyeon rubs her chin thoughtfully and takes a step back to appraise her volunteer. “I think you’re small enough… Hey, Yeojin, what do you say about crawling into a teeny tiny tunnel even if you don’t know what’s on the other side?”
Yeojin falters a little at that, lowering her hand in apprehension. She glances at Haseul, who merely raises her eyebrow in the universal big sister signal of ‘I told you so’, but before the young Gryffindor can fully retract her offer, Hyunjin slings her arms around her shoulders.
“C’mon, what’s the worst that could happen?” Hyunjin asks with a suspiciously calm expression that immediately begins to darken. “It’s not like Yoohyeon-unnie will make you go into a slug-infested hole or anything. Right, unnie?”
Hyejoo pulls a face at the mental image her dormmate just conjured. It definitely explains why Hyunjin took so long in the showers the other day after vanishing with Yoohyeon on some dungeon mapping expedition, and Hyejoo silently thanks her animagus form for being way too large to be used as a shortcut-searching guinea pig. She’s already been forced to tap every brick of a wall on the fourth floor with her wand the other day, and she’s played lookout more times than she can count over the past two weeks. At least she had Siyeon for company while Yoohyeon and Hyunjin tried to squeeze into nooks and crannies that ultimately led nowhere, but still…
Hyejoo thinks she’d be more enthused about this whole thing if they actually managed to find something.
On the other hand, Yoohyeon’s explorer spirit isn’t dampened in the slightest. She merely laughs at poor, disgruntled Hyunjin before pulling her and Yeojin into a hug.
“It’ll be fun!” Yoohyeon smiles as she drapes herself over the two younger students, and Hyejoo snorts inside her head. “This tunnel is slug-free, I promise.”
“I don’t mind slugs,” Yeojin says. “What about spiders though? I don’t like spiders.”
“Nope! No spiders either! I checked myself,” Yoohyeon nods eagerly. A sudden realization hits her when Haseul tilts her head at her last sentence. “I mean I checked with my eyes! Just by looking. I didn’t actually go inside or anything, haha. No way I would fit, right? Haha…”
Her attempt to mask her potential slip up is met with mixed reactions. Yeojin, for one, tilts her head at the same angle as Haseul except the first year is clearly more confused by Yoohyeon’s follow-up than her initial statement. Hyunjin purses her lips to not burst into laughter, Siyeon grins shamelessly with amusement, and Hyejoo can only sigh in wonder at how Yoohyeon hasn’t blown her cover in front of the entire school yet.
Yoohyeon is saved by the loud snapping of a twig coming from Siyeon’s direction.
“Uh… that… wasn’t me,” Siyeon offers oh-so-helpfully. Her grin has turned nervous, and she doesn’t seem to want to turn around and see who or what is behind her.
Hyunjin ignores those warning signs to stomp up to Siyeon with her eyes narrowed.
“There’s nobody out here,” she points out. “It could only have been you.”
“Oh no, it definitely wasn’t me,” Siyeon insists. “I didn’t move or anything.”
Hyejoo squints and looks into the woods behind Siyeon. There’s nothing but trees and snow out there, and she’s just about ready to chalk it up to the wind when there’s another loud snap.
“Yoohyeon,” Haseul suddenly calls out. “Don’t move.”
Yoohyeon’s voice comes out at a much higher pitch than usual, and she clings to Yeojin’s head like it’s her lifeline as she glances around the clearing. Likewise, Hyunjin and Siyeon have shuffled closer together, and Hyejoo quietly slides in her sister’s direction as well. She immediately regrets that one second later when a large, invisible something makes an indent in the snow, and Hyunjin and Siyeon let out the loudest scream Hyejoo has ever heard.
“Shh!” Haseul hushes them, and to everyone’s relief the two Slytherins comply. “Don’t yell, you might scare them.”
“Scare them?” Yeojin repeats, her voice muffled by Yoohyeon’s hold on her. “Unnie, we’re the scared ones here.”
“And th– them?” Hyejoo swallows. “There’s more than one…?”
“There’s two,” Haseul explains. “One’s in the trees behind Siyeon-unnie and one’s approaching Yoohyeon.”
Sure enough, more footprints appear in the snow and head straight for the Hufflepuff. They’re slow, measured steps and Hyejoo is able to count four separate limbs until the invisible creature comes to a stop right next to a trembling Yoohyeon.
“Unnie, don’t die,” Hyunjin whimpers as she clings to Siyeon. “I haven’t gotten revenge on you yet.”
“I’m so sorry for the one time I ate the Valentine’s chocolate you made for Minji and told you that Bora ate it instead it was an accident I swear,” Siyeon blabbers in a rush.
“Please don’t leave me alone with these two,” Hyejoo pleads. “I don’t want to be stuck with just them.”
“If you’re going to get eaten, can you let go of me first?” Yeojin asks, wiggling in Yoohyeon’s arms. “Pretty please?”
“Stop trying to kill me off!” Yoohyeon complains. “Haseul would say something if I had to run for my life or something. R– Right, Haseulie?”
“I don’t recommend running,” Haseul says seriously. “They love it when their prey run.”
Yoohyeon visibly pales.
“Well.” Siyeon clears her throat. “Shi–”
“Just kidding!” Haseul laughs, clapping her hands. She walks over to Yoohyeon and pats the seemingly empty air next to her. “Hi, Peanut. Come to play?”
Yeojin frees herself from Yoohyeon’s grasp just in time to bump into nothing.
“Ow,” the Gryffindor groans as she rubs her forehead. “Why are there giant invisible peanuts on Hogwarts grounds?”
“It’s not really a peanut,” Haseul says with a fond smile. “Peanut and Butter are thestrals. Bony winged horses, I guess?”
“Are they harmless? They’re harmless, right?” Hyunjin asks, peeking around Siyeon cautiously.
“The ones living at Hogwarts are,” Haseul confirms. “They won’t hurt us.”
Hyunjin promptly shoves Siyeon away. Dusting off her sweater, she clears her throat and looks around at everyone with an air of unaffected nonchalance. She even examines her nails for a second before turning back to the group.
“Geez, what were you guys so scared for?” Hyunjin scoffs. “Chickens.”
“You screamed louder than Siyeon-unnie did,” Hyejoo says flatly.
“I did not– AAAH!”
Hyunjin makes yet another complete turnaround in attitude when something, presumably ‘Butter’, nudges her from behind. The cat animagus practically flies across the clearing as she leaps aside, and Hyejoo is pretty sure she would have climbed up the tree she’s now hugging if she had a little less self awareness. It’s still hilarious even if she didn’t, and Hyejoo allows herself to burst into laughter when everyone else does as well.
“So how come only Haseul-unnie can see these… thestrals?” Yeojin asks once everyone is done making fun of Hyunjin.
Haseul’s smile fades almost imperceptibly.
For whatever reason, Haseul hesitates to answer. She buys time by focusing her attention on gently stroking either Peanut or Butter (Hyejoo lost track), and in the end it’s Siyeon that comes to her rescue.
“It’s an age thing,” says the oldest student present. “You'll be able to see thestrals when you’re older.”
“Right,” Haseul agrees quickly, turning around with a renewed smile. “There’s no specific age though, so that’s why I can see them but Yoohyeon and Siyeon–”
“Wait, I figured out the truth!” Yeojin declares abruptly. “You can see them and Siyeon-unnie can’t because you’re the better big sister!”
Hyejoo’s temper immediately flares back up.
“You take that back,” she spits at Yeojin, already bending down to scoop up some snow.
Yeojin sticks out her tongue.
And thus, Snowball Showdown Part Two begins.
Hyejoo and Yeojin finally agree to a truce hours later after everyone has properly warmed up in the baths and all the cobwebs have been removed from Yeojin’s hair. Luckily for her, the weavers of those webs have long vacated the dead end she was sent to check, and she’s in a generous mood as she welcomes everyone into the Gryffindor common room.
“Come in, come in!” Yeojin says majestically, ushering her friends in with a sweeping bow. “Welcome to my humble abode.”
“Why is everything so… red in here?” she mutters. “I mean I know why, but wow is this overkill.”
“I dunno, I kinda like this aesthetic,” Siyeon smiles. “Nice change from the green we always see.”
“You sure you're not saying that just because of a certain someone?” Yoohyeon suggests, her innocent tone betrayed by the way her eyebrows fly up and down.
Hyejoo sighs when Siyeon proceeds to trip over her tongue in a poor attempt to defend herself. This has become a regular sight as of late especially once Hyunjin heard the news about the love letter, and Siyeon has learned absolutely nothing about lying with a straight face despite facing so many sudden attacks on her love life. Even Haseul has joined in on the fun, and Siyeon refuses to set foot in the library anymore lest she run into Yubin.
“Say, unnie,” Yeojin calls out. “Want me to show you Captain Bora’s dorm? I can show you her bed!”
“Sure– Wait– I mean–” Siyeon barely catches herself in time and chokes, her face turning a shade befitting tonight’s sleepover location. “Why would I need to know that!?”
“I think at this point it might be easier to just admit your feelings,” Haseul says with a sage nod. A sparkle of excitement glimmers in her eyes as she adds, “Who knows? Maybe something will come out of it.”
“Pfft, no,” Siyeon immediately scoffs. “Even if I did like Bora– Which I don’t! I absolutely do not! And even if I did, it’s not like she likes me back.”
“Unnie,” Hyejoo calls out with as much patience as she can muster in regards to this topic. “Bora… unnie cares a lot about you. And she flirts with you. Just saying.”
A complicated expression crosses Siyeon’s face. It’s both tender and pained, the two almost contradictory feelings merging rather than conflicting. They ultimately take the form of a wry smile that Siyeon presents to her sister when she looks back up.
“She is like that, isn’t she?” Siyeon chuckles. “Caring… And loves to flirt. She’s a good friend too. But I know I’m not her type.”
Hyejoo puffs out her cheeks in indignation as Hyunjin grumbles something under her breath. She’s about to speak up for the both of them, risking potentially saying more than she should, but a gentle hand on her shoulder stops her.
Hyejoo turns to see Yoohyeon shake her head with a soft smile.
“Take it easy,” Yoohyeon murmurs. In a louder voice, she says, “Hey, maybe something will happen this Valentine’s Day, you never know! Like how I never knew Siyeon-unnie was the one who ate my chocolate.”
“It was an accident!” Siyeon whines, her prior stormier air giving way to a pout. “I really didn’t know you made those for Minji, really.”
“Speaking of Minji-unnie,” Yeojin pipes up. “Did you guys know that some Gryffindor unnies think she’s secretly dating Captain Bora?”
Yoohyeon’s ensuing shriek winds up summoning Professor Hyo to the dorms to check on her well-being, and the liveliness of winter break continues on into the rest of the night.
“Minji, dear, are you sure there’s nothing going on between you and Kim Bora?”
Kim Minji lets out a slow exhale. She takes a sip from her teacup before carefully setting it down with an almost inaudible clink.
“I’m sure, Mom,” she says with a patient smile. “Bora and I are very good friends, nothing more.”
“Heard that one before,” her father snorts. “Did you know that your grandmothers–”
“Yes, Dad, I know about how Grandma and Granny refused to admit they were in love with each other for decades,” Minji chuckles. “Really though, Bora and I aren’t like that.”
“You don’t have to hide, dear,” her mother says gently. “I saw her blow a kiss at you when we picked you up at King’s Cross.”
“Except she also did that to Seungyeon, Seulgi, Hyejin, and a bunch of people,” Minji points out.
“Someone who’s that… ah, free with affection might not be such a good idea after all, huh,” her father says as he rubs his mustache in thought. “How about Son Siyeon?”
“Shame what happened to her sister…” Minji’s mother clicks her tongue sympathetically. “At least it wasn’t her though. She’s still a viable candidate, even if no longer ideal.”
Minji reminds herself to not show her frown.
“Siyeon is also just a friend,” she says. “And I don’t think she’s even open to finding a partner with what happened.”
“Hm…” Her father has now moved on to stroking his beard. “What about Bae Joohyun?”
“She’s spoken for, last I heard, and I’m not sure if she’s even my type–”
“Minji, dear, you never say anyone’s your type,” her mother cuts in with a chiding tone. “You have less than two years left at Hogwarts, and you haven’t found a single person you’re interested in. You have to find someone eventually.”
“Right,” her father nods. “We’re hosting one more gala tonight before you return to school. A couple foreign dignitaries will be bringing their heirs along. Maybe you’ll find a match there.”
This time, Minji lets out the sigh that’s been building up ever since her family began discussing this matter. It’s not the first time and Minji knows it won’t be the last, which makes everything all the more taxing as she shoves her smile back onto her face.
“Mom, Dad, I know you two are worried for my future and I appreciate that,” she says sincerely. “But right now my focus is school. There’s much to do as a prefect, especially with Head Girl Bae graduating this year.”
“That’s true,” her mother concedes. “You will be replacing her next year, won’t you?”
Minji’s eyes flick to her teacup.
“That’s what I’m trying to do, yes.”
“That’s my girl!” her father grins proudly. “I’d expect nothing less from you.”
Minji keeps smiling.
She is a princess of Hogwarts, after all.
Minji isn’t sure when she first got that nickname. Maybe it was sometime around her third or fourth year, when her fellow students had already pegged her as a future prefect thanks to her gentle aura and impeccable conduct. Being one of the few people able to trace their lineage back to the original Kims of yore probably helped too. Either way, at some point, Minji was graced with such a lofty title, and she now bears this invisible crown and all the weight that comes with it.
Sometimes, she thinks about putting it down even for just a little bit.
At least she’s able to get a breath of fresh air when her parents leave the sitting room. They’re off to oversee the rest of the preparations for tonight’s gala, and Minji has a moment of peace all to herself before she’ll have to join them later in the evening. Were this Hogwarts, she’d likely be interrupted by some frazzled student needing her assistance or some troublemakers giving her a mess to clean, but here in the privacy of her home, Minji finds this rare chance to relax and promptly indulges in it. She leans back in her cushy armchair, takes a nice, long sip of her mother’s tea, and nearly spits it out when there’s a loud whooshing sound.
“Hello, Other Kim Residence!” Bora greets grandly as she steps out of the fireplace with her arms raised like she’s walking into an arena. “I have arrived!”
“B– Bora!?” Minji coughs into her handkerchief before dabbing at the corners of her mouth. “What are you doing here?”
“Visiting you, duh!” Bora grins. She saunters over to Minji, swiping a cookie off the table next to her. “Haven’t seen you all winter break.”
“Sorry about that,” Minji sighs. “Mom and Dad decided that this holiday season would be the one of endless social gatherings.”
“Ugh, pass,” Bora shakes her head and scrunches her nose. “Don’t your parents ever get sick of all that… networking?”
“I think they thrive off of it,” Minji admits. “Anyways, thanks for coming–”
“But you’re very busy, right?” Bora interrupts.
“I’m sure you’re very busy,” Bora insists, already heading for the exit. “You are definitely busy, so I will see myself to your library. Bye!”
“Wait, the library!?”
The door slams shut before Minji receives an answer, leaving her to stare blankly at the ornate designs etched onto dark wood.
She takes a deep breath.
And then she lets it out in yet another sigh.
Minji loves Bora, she really does. But sometimes it just astounds her how she managed to befriend someone who’s so loud and exuberant that her parents covered their ears the first time they met. Of course, Bora is very capable of being polite and presentable when she wants to, but the amount of awkward laughter that day was record-breaking. That was a couple years ago, and now Bora is well-accustomed to treating the ‘Other Kim Residence’ like her second home so long as she stays out of the way of any other guests. Minji generally doesn’t mind; Bora’s penchant for taking things in stride and becoming comfortable with anything anywhere is one of the reasons they’re best friends now, after all.
Except Minji can’t help but feel troubled by how Bora just brushed her off just like that. It’s not like her, and Minji’s discontent only worsens as she recalls the last time Bora was so dismissive and closed off.
“Bora, is that you?”
Minji watches with concern as her friend stumbles inside their dorm in a daze. The bronze light of dawn peeks into the room, and it’s just enough for Minji to see how Bora’s eyes are distant and unfocused, like she’s been caught in some trance. She might actually be, considering how she gives no reaction to her name being called.
“Bora?” Minji tries again. “Hey, you’re not sleepwalking or something, are you?”
Bora visibly starts as she finally registers Minji’s presence.
“Minji? Why are you awake?” she asks.
“I was on patrol, remember? I just got back,” Minji says. She tilts her head. “What about you?”
“Ah… Bathroom. I just got back from the bathroom.”
Minji’s known Bora long enough for her to catch the way her friend’s gaze flickers shiftily for a second. It immediately gets her attention, and she steps forward to observe Bora more closely. Unfortunately, Bora has known her just as long, and perhaps in anticipation of a drawn out conversation, she turns away and heads straight for her bed.
“We should go to sleep,” Bora suggests. “You’ve probably had a long night.”
“... It was okay, nothing really happened,” Minji says slowly, still scanning Bora intently. Something’s off, she can tell, and her hunch is confirmed when she sees a strangely large tear in Bora’s cloak.
Minji’s brain immediately jumps into prefect mode.
“Hey, are you sure you went to the bathroom?”
Bora stiffens before turning back around.
“Of course that’s where I went,” she scoffs. “Where else could I have gone?”
Minji freezes for a second, taken aback by the sudden edge to Bora’s words. She then narrows her eyes, brows furrowed.
“That’s what I want to know–”
Minji cuts herself off the instant she sees the cut on Bora’s cheek. It’s not significantly deep, but it’s enough to be visible even in the dim lighting of their shared bedroom. As Minji takes another step closer in concern, she’s able to see that the cut is only one out of several scratches lining Bora’s face and clothes.
“Bora, are you okay?” Minji gasps. “What happened to you?”
“Huh?” Bora blinks, absentmindedly touching her cheek as though she forgot she was injured. She winces when her fingers brush her wound, but then she shakes her head. “I’m fine. This is nothing. I can heal it in a sec.”
“What happened though?” Minji presses. “Did you run into someone or something…?”
“No, no, nothing of the sort!” Bora denies hastily. “I just, uh, walked into a door. Clumsy me!”
Minji narrows her eyes.
“Look, if something happened–”
“Nothing happened,” Bora interrupts quite forcefully. “Nothing happened, seriously. I’m fine.”
“Hey, I’m asking you as your friend, okay?” Minji lowers her voice. “Did you go somewhere tonight or something?”
For a second, she thinks she’s finally gotten through to Bora. The younger Gryffindor hesitates for several moments, something moving in her eyes as she regards Minji contemplatively. Bora almost looks torn about something, but then she blinks and the gathering clouds inside her are tucked away behind a wall of exhausted resignation.
“I can’t tell you, Minji. I really can’t. So please stop asking.” Bora turns away again, shrugging off her cloak. “I’m going to bed. Goodnight.”
The curtains drawing shut on Bora’s four poster bed bring that inconclusive discussion to a close.
A twist forming in her chest, Minji eventually returns to her own bed. She figures it’ll be hard to coax anything out of Bora when she’s being this stubborn. All she can do for now is wait for a better chance to pry, all while hoping nothing serious happened.
Best case scenario, Bora tripped up some stairs while sneaking around Hogwarts and is too ashamed to admit it.
Worst case scenario, Bora somehow left the castle on a night with a full moon.
Minji snorts elegantly inside her head at that last thought while sliding under her blanket.
There’s no way Bora’s that crazy. Right?
Perhaps now is a good time to get answers, Minji decides. She wishes she could spend her only afternoon off casually hanging out with Bora and actually having fun, but the need to resolve this mystery takes precedence. It’s not exactly enjoyable having to be so responsible all the time, but someone has to be, and Minji is used to being that someone.
She suddenly thinks of a little brown dog, a comforting smile, and a tree by the lake where it’s easier to breathe.
Minji shakes her head to clear away that stray memory.
Sighing once more, she stares forlornly at the pile of cookies sitting next to her. She hesitates for a second before grabbing one and stuffing it into her mouth, chewing quickly before she has to go track down her fellow Gryffindor.
Minji half-chokes yet again when the fireplace spontaneously ignites with green magic for a second time.
“Gahyeon!?” Minji coughs delicately into her hand. “Gahyeon, is that you?”
“Unnie!” Gahyeon exclaims brightly, her voice a lot happier than the exasperated outburst she appeared with. “It’s good to see you!”
She immediately rushes for Minji, throwing her arms around the taller student.
“What brings you here?” Minji questions as she returns the embrace. “Wait, let me guess… You’re looking for Bora.”
Gahyeon pulls away with a scowl.
“We were supposed to meet up with Handong-unnie today,” she explains with a pout. “But then she suddenly grabbed a bunch of Floo powder and poofed. Didn’t even tell me where she was going!”
“Ah, sorry about that,” Minji apologizes. “She might have gotten my letter mentioning how today’s meeting with the Minister’s family was cancelled.”
“Oh, so you’re free right now?” Gahyeon lights up again, her vexation at her sister momentarily forgotten. “You should come with us then! Handong-unnie did say she wants to get to know you better.”
“That would be lovely,” Minji smiles. She glances over at the cookies still waiting to be eaten. “Actually, do you want to invite her over here? You guys can stay for dinner too, if you don’t mind keeping out of the ballroom.”
“Free fancy food?” Gahyeon asks.
“Free fancy food,” Minji confirms.
“I’m in,” Gahyeon declares before her scowl returns to her face. “Now, where is Bora-unnie hiding…”
“She said she was going to the library.”
“The library!?” Gahyeon’s eyes almost look as though they’re about to pop out until she shuts them with a groan. “Again? Seriously…”
“‘Again’?” Minji echoes, confused. “I didn’t know going to libraries was a thing for her in the first place.”
“Neither did I,” Gahyeon snorts. “I actually thought she hit her head too hard during practice or something when she asked me to help her find some books, but no. She’s just obsessed.”
“... With what?” Minji asks casually. “What could possibly have Kim Bora’s interest to the point where she’s willingly reading?”
Gahyeon’s face hardens. It nearly catches Minji off guard, that abrupt shift from sisterly annoyance to a grimmer expression. Minji’s never seen Gahyeon look like that, not even when she’s reached the limits of her patience with Bora, and it’s actually quite worrying.
“Werewolves,” Gahyeon answers curtly after a tense pause. “She’s been obsessed with werewolves recently.”
“... I see,” Minji says softly. Using what she hopes is a calming tone, she changes the subject. “Well, why don’t I go find her while you go fetch Handong? I’ll have some more snacks ready by the time you return.”
“You’re the best, unnie,” Gahyeon says with a small smile. That borderline haunted look still hasn’t fully left her, but enough of her usual energy has returned, enough for Minji to know that she’ll probably be okay.
Unfortunately, Minji winds up having to abandon her plan to interrogate Bora. Although she’s able to quickly track down her friend thanks to someone throwing a fit over having to use her brain and “the utter lack of information here!”, Minji is delayed by her parents inquiring about her surprise visitors. By the time she manages to drag Bora back into the sitting room, Handong and Gahyeon are already present, and Minji isn’t foolish enough to bring up the topic of werewolves again.
All she can do is pray that whatever happened that night and Bora’s newest fixation aren’t related.