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Daybreak

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Excitement.

Hyejoo doesn’t think she’s ever been this excited before in all fourteen years of her life.

Dear Ms. Son,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

She’s barely had a chance to reach the end of the letter before it’s snatched away by her sister.

“Finally!” Siyeon crows. She looks even more excited than Hyejoo, if that’s even possible. “School’s gonna be even more fun with you here! You better be in Slytherin or else,” she adds, grinning as she pulls Hyejoo closer with an arm around her neck.

On the grass next to her, a tiny brown dog gives a displeased yap.

Kim Hyunjin blinks from her seat on top of the stone walls surrounding the Son manor. 

“Yoohyeon-unnie says Hyejoo should join Hufflepuff,” she translates. “And no offense, but I really don’t see that happening.”

“Yeah, don’t be ridiculous.” Siyeon crouches down to stick her tongue out at her friend. “Hyejoo belongs with me and Hyunjin. You should ditch Hufflepuff and join us.”

The pomeranian gives another unhappy bark before its features begin to morph, its fluffy body giving way to that of a human. It’s a fast transformation, and Siyeon doesn’t even have time to pull back when she’s headbutted so hard that she loses balance and falls back onto her butt.

“Ow,” Kim Yoohyeon whines, rubbing her own forehead. “What was that for?”

“What was that for?” Siyeon repeats, incredulous. “What was that for? Don’t transform so suddenly and blame me!”

“But it’s your fault for suggesting that I betray Hufflepuff,” Yoohyeon argues. “How could I ever do that?”

“Don’t lie, it’s the kitchen that you’re attached to,” Siyeon accuses, and that just sets off an endless round of meaningless bickering.

Hyejoo chuckles as she takes this chance to snatch her acceptance letter back from her distracted sister.

“Are they like this the entire school year?” she asks.

“Pretty much,” Hyunjin says with her own amused smile. “They’re loud.”

“How do you even deal with them?”

Hyunjin’s grin widens for a second before it’s replaced by a sharp, calculating look.

“Like this,” she says before leaping off the wall with a yell.

Halfway through her descent, her war cry transforms into the distinct screech of a cat which is soon joined by the surprised yelps of Siyeon and Yoohyeon as a mass of fur and claws lands squarely on top of their heads.

“Yah! Kim Hyunjin! Why do you always do this!?”

“Ah, Hyejoo, save me! Bark!”

As Hyejoo scoops up the dog making a beeline straight for her, Siyeon continues wrestling with an orange cat. She’s still shouting, and at this point Hyejoo doesn’t know if she’s on the verge of tears or laughter. She eventually settles for crouching on the ground in surrender, Hyunjin still using her like a jungle gym, and Hyejoo laughs into Yoohyeon’s fur at the sight.

Excitement.

Hyejoo is really excited to be starting school with her sister and friends.


“Where’s your sister?”

“W– What?”

Hyejoo hardly has time to rub the sleep out of her eyes when her father shakes her shoulders roughly.

“Where’s Siyeon!?” he demands angrily. There’s a frenzied look in his eyes, matching the violent way he continues to jerk her about. “Tell me where she is!”

“I haven’t seen her,” Hyejoo manages to blurt out. “Isn’t she in bed?”

Without giving her an answer, her father whirls around. He leaves her bedroom in a flurry, panic evident in his every step, and Hyejoo has no idea what’s going on. She’s left in the dark, staring at the outline of the doorway he left open with a familiar sense of emptiness in her chest.

She ignores it.

Hyejoo climbs out of bed to shut her door again when there’s a loud crash. She’s immediately on high alert, retreating back to the safety of her room, but a hand grabs her door before she can shut it.

“Hyejoo, come with me!”

It’s Siyeon.

“Unnie, what’s going on?” Hyejoo asks. “Father was looking for you–”

“Let’s go,” Siyeon orders, and Hyejoo has never seen her look so serious. “Someone broke in. You’re not safe here.”

Hyejoo nods wordlessly, automatically following her sister as she leads her down the hall. 

“Are we going to the basement?” 

“If it’s safe,” Siyeon mutters. 

Her hold on Hyejoo’s hand is almost painfully tight, and even from behind her, Hyejoo can see how white her knuckles are as she grips her wand tightly. The light it casts on the various statues lining the hallways of the Son manor is cold, adding to the eerie silence surrounding them. 

Even through the darkness, Hyejoo knows that the hallway they’re in leads to the foyer. There’s a giant window some ways before them that leaks in a few strands of moonlight, but the path before them is still shrouded in a blackness that has never seemed so threatening to Hyejoo before.

Siyeon suddenly freezes and snuffs out the light.

Hyejoo holds her breath, listening.

For a moment, there’s silence.

And then Hyejoo hears a terrible growl, one that rattles each and every bone of her ribcage.

“Hyejoo, run!” Siyeon shouts, and there’s no time to even think about what direction as a monstrous creature leaps out from the treacherous shadows of the night. 

Fangs, Hyejoo thinks. Wolves have such terrifying fangs.

That’s the final thing she remembers before the screaming starts.


Hyejoo can easily recall the first time Hyunjin visited.

It was mere months ago, back during Hogwarts’ spring break.

Hyunjin is only a year older than her, but that year felt like eons when she stepped out of the fireplace with a Slytherin scarf around her neck.

“Welcome to our humble abode!” Siyeon says grandly from the oversized, elaborately ornamented chair resembling a throne that she brought into the room for the express purpose of greeting Hyunjin.

“Damn.” Hyunjin gives an appreciative whistle as she glances around the living room with it’s dark tapestries and silver-etched walls. “You guys really are rich rich, huh?” Her eyes meet Hyejoo’s. “Hey.”

“Hi,” Hyejoo says quietly.

Hyunjin fumbles with her pockets for a second before pulling out a small, colorful bag and tossing it over.

“This is for you,” she says. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Hyejoo glances down at the watermelon-flavored candies. It’s not hard to figure out how Hyunjin knows what she likes, and Hyejoo can feel the shyness surrounding her melt away especially when Siyeon gives her an encouraging grin from their grandfather’s armchair.

“Unnie says you already know how to transform into a cat,” Hyejoo says. “Can I see…?”

Hyunjin’s smile widens, and it’s not hard for Hyejoo to imagine why she turns into a cat of all things.

“Sure.”

A tiny pomeranian stumbles out of the fireplace not long after, coughing pathetically as it wobbles onto the carpet with ashy pawprints. Siyeon and Hyunjin don’t look remotely bothered at all by this new guest, and for some reason they actually look expectantly at Hyejoo.

Hyejoo squints, observing the puppy closely as it bounces over to her, its tongue lolling out happily. 

“... Yoohyeon-unnie? Is that you?”

“Yes!” Siyeon shouts loud enough for Hyejoo to wince, and she throws up both her arms in celebration before high fiving Hyunjin. 

“I didn’t know Yoohyeon-unnie was an animagus too,” Hyejoo says, impressed. She suddenly whirls around, turning to her sister. “Wait, are you also…?”

“No,” Siyeon pouts. “Well, not yet. It’s my turn to learn next. Right, Aeongie?”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if Siyeon-unnie becomes a cockroach or something?” Yoohyeon asks, her voice suddenly coming from above Hyejoo’s shoulder. She doesn’t even wait before pulling the younger girl into a hug. “I’m so glad you recognized me though! That’s our smart Hyejoo.”

“Stop it,” Hyejoo mumbles, embarrassed when Yoohyeon starts ruffling her hair. 

Siyeon grimaces.

“I am not going to go through all that trouble to become a bug,” she declares. “I refuse to accept anything but a dragon.”

“Sorry to break it to you,” Hyunjin says dryly. “But I guarantee you you’re going to be disappointed.”

“Shoot for the stars and land on the moon!”

“Unnie, you’ll probably just get lost in space,” Hyejoo calls out.

Yoohyeon laughs. “She’ll be fine!” she insists as she begins rocking Hyejoo back and forth.

“You’ll be fine,” Yoohyeon says as soon as she runs into the manor and flings her arms around Hyejoo. “You’ll be fine.”

She keeps repeating those three words, and Hyejoo figures she’s trying to convince herself more than anyone else. It’s not like Hyejoo can believe her right now anyways, but she doesn’t have the heart to tell Yoohyeon that her words are being wasted.

Hyunjin arrives by Floo not long after, giving Hyejoo a vague sense of deja vu as the green flames surrounding her disappear. She stands in the hearth for a moment before abruptly shoving her way forward. Yoohyeon quickly steps aside as Hyunjin pulls Hyejoo into a bear hug. Unlike Yoohyeon, she’s completely silent save for the small sniff that Hyejoo hears on her shoulder.

There’s a crash from upstairs, and the sounds of the Son matriarch starting another round of hysterical screaming travels all too easily into the living room.

“I will not accept this! I will not accept this!”

Her mother’s voice suddenly becomes muffled, Hyejoo glancing up to see Yoohyeon covering her ears for her. The older girl gives her a teary smile, and Hyejoo is free to cling to Hyunjin as she finally lets herself cry.


“There she is…”

“Remember, stay away from the Sons, okay? Especially the younger one.”

“God, I can’t believe they’re letting their kid attend school.”

“I’m going to sue if anything happens to my child!”

The whispers started as soon as Hyejoo set foot on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. They’re honestly not even whispers at this point, people hardly bothering to hide the way they’re pointing and staring at Hyejoo and her sister.

This isn’t entirely new. Hyejoo knows her family is notoriously powerful, with Yoohyeon’s family being tainted by association for working under them. Yoohyeon and Siyeon don’t talk about it a lot, but Hyunjin has confirmed that most students give the two a wide berth at school. Hyejoo’s witnessed it before too, the way crowds parted like the sea when she went to pick up or send off her sister at Kings Cross Station.

The sheer disgust on some faces is new though. Hyejoo is familiar with fear, distrust, awe, and respect, but the outright revulsion and hatred some adults are shooting her way is enough to make her want to curl on the ground and pray to disappear.

Hyunjin and Yoohyeon are flanking her closely as they make their way down the platform, but not even the image of Siyeon’s back is enough to suppress the desire to vomit as Hyejoo fully realizes what she’s about to face during the rest of the school year. The stinging at the back of her throat only abates when they finally make it into the safety of a compartment aboard the Hogwarts Express.

“Here,” Siyeon mumbles as she hands Hyejoo a mountain of chocolate frogs. “Eat.”

She slumps back into her seat after that, opting to stare out the window as Yoohyeon and Hyunjin take advantage of their seats next to the hallway to glare at intrusive passerbys. 

Well, Yoohyeon tries to glare while Hyunjin just gives everyone an unnerving stare. Hyejoo thinks Hyunjin is more effective.

At some point during the trip, Siyeon falls asleep, her head occasionally bouncing against the window as the train rattles along towards its destination. She looks haggard, understandably so, and Hyunjin and Hyejoo do their best to keep it down as they flick Every Flavored Beans at each other. They smile at each other when a stray missile hits Yoohyeon squarely right between the eyes, the fourth year pouting as she looks up from her textbook.

This momentary respite only lasts so long though, and Hyejoo can feel her heart withdrawing back inside its shell as the Hogwarts Express pulls into Hogsmeade Station. As the train crawls to a stop, Siyeon awakens, her eyes automatically fixing on Hyejoo.

“C’mere,” she says softly, and Hyejoo shuffles across the compartment to squeeze between her and Hyunjin. Siyeon plants a kiss on Hyejoo’s temple. “Be careful out there, okay?”

“If anyone’s mean to you, push them in the water,” Hyunjin interjects.

“Yeah,” Yoohyeon grins. “The giant squid will discipline them.”

Siyeon lets out a ghost of a chuckle. 

“We’ll be waiting for you at the Great Hall,” she says. “I’ll go sit with you if you get put in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.”

“Is that even allowed?” Hyejoo frowns.

Siyeon pulls back, fixing Hyejoo with a heavy gaze, a familiar one that speaks of unmeasurable love and devotion.

“You’re my sister,” is all she needs to say.

Hyejoo carries those words and her friends’ encouragement in her chest as she makes her way down to the shores of the lake with the rest of the first years. Unpredictably, most kids scurry away from her as she approaches, but even a cursory glance at the boats lined up make it clear that there’s no way Hyejoo will be sitting alone.

“Hi!”

Hyejoo turns to face a beaming girl who’s almost trembling with visible excitement. Hyejoo’s almost envious of her high spirits, but she sets those thoughts aside quickly.

“Can I sit with you?” the girl asks. “Oh, and I’m Choi Yerim, by the way!”

“Son Hyejoo.”

Yerim makes no reaction to her name, and Hyejoo quickly surmises that she’s a muggleborn, ignorant of the darkness that dogs the Sons’ reputations.

“I’m so glad to be here,” Yerim chatters happily. “I wonder what house I’ll get sorted into.”

“Hufflepuff, probably?”

“Oh, that would be so cool,” Yerim nods with enough enthusiasm to make it clear that any house would be cool to her. “What about you? Where do you think you’re going?”

“Of course Son would be in Slytherin,” another voice sneers.

Hyejoo looks up to see a crowd forming around them. Her stomach drops.

“You shouldn’t get close to her,” the stranger continues. “Son’s a freakin’ werewolf, didn’t you know?”

“A werewolf?” Yerim blinks and Hyejoo waits for her to recoil. The girl suddenly gasps instead. “Oh my god, that’s so amazing! You’re just like Jacob from Twilight!”

Hyejoo stares. Evidently, she’s not the only one who doesn’t understand what Yerim just referenced considering the confused whispers traveling around the first years. There’s also a few muffled giggles, but before the mystery is fully solved, Hogwarts’ groundskeeper begins urging them aboard their boats.

“Wait,” a voice calls out as Yerim and Hyejoo settle into a boat together. “Let me sit with you guys.”

Hyejoo squints as a short girl with buns atop her head jogs over to them. She skids to a halt before them, shoes kicking up dirt that she thankfully shakes off before climbing in next to Yerim.

“Hi, I’m Choi Yerim!” Yerim greets, her voice still as cheerful as ever.

“Jo Yeojin,” the newcomer introduces. She doesn’t wait before turning to Hyejoo. “You’re Son Hyejoo.”

“Yeah.”

Yeojin clears her throat.

“I’m here to make sure you don’t try any funny business,” she says sternly, but she’s nowhere near intimidating even with her hands placed at her hips. 

“I won’t,” Hyejoo says quietly, casting her eyes to the bottom of the boat. 

“Well…” 

Hyejoo looks up when Yeojin’s voice trails off only to be greeted by a smile she won’t ever forget. 

For all her prior bravado, Yeojin’s expression is nothing but kind now as she grins almost apologetically at Hyejoo. It’s sympathy, Hyejoo realizes. Yeojin is showing her sympathy, and she’s the first to do so outside of Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and Hyunjin.

The thought almost makes Hyejoo want to cry.

“I just feel like two people in a boat is too lonely,” Yeojin says loudly.

“The more the merrier!” Yerim cheers.

“Yeah,” Hyejoo nods. “The more the merrier.”


Hogwarts is every bit as magical as Hyejoo expected.

She’s almost able to forget her worries for a bit as she gazes up at the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall. It’s adorned with countless stars glimmering down at her as she follows the rest of the first years making their way past older students. Everyone in her year is silent with awe as their schoolmates cheer their entrance, and Hyejoo tears her eyes from the ceiling to look for her friends.

Yoohyeon is grinning proudly at her from the Hufflepuff table, and she almost elbows someone in the face as she waves at Hyejoo. It takes Hyejoo longer to find Hyunjin and Siyeon, but she soon spies them near the front, Hyunjin conversing with a small blonde next to her. Hyejoo actually has the luck to come to a stop near her as the first years converge near a stool with a hat placed utop it.

“Oh my god,” Yerim whispers. “That’s the Sorting Hat, isn’t it?”

“I guess so,” Hyejoo murmurs.

Yerim lets out a squeal before schooling her features. “By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask…”

“Yeah?”

“Since werewolves are real, are vampires? Do they sparkle?”

“... Do they what.”

The student next to Hyunjin lets out an elegant snort. 

Before Hyejoo can decide if Yerim is okay or not, Headmistress Kwon stands up.

“Welcome to Hogwarts!” she announces. “Now, I know everyone would rather we skip straight to the sorting and eating, but I am contractually obligated to give you all a speech.”

Students giggle when the headmistress turns around to wink at the staff, some of whom whoop in agreement while others just sigh and shake their heads. 

“So,” Headmistress Kwon says, turning back to the sea of black before her. “Let me just remind you all of a few things. First, I know explosions are pretty, but they’re really not a good idea especially if you like your hair.”

Hyejoo watches with mild interest as Hyunjin elbows the blonde next to her, who elbows Hyunjin back even harder.

“Secondly,” Headmistress Kwon continues. “The Forbidden Forest is not a good place to have a tryst, no matter how pretty the stars are.”

“Kwon Boa!” one of the professors hiss. “There are children here!”

The headmistress clearly ignores her.

“Lastly...” 

Headmistress Kwon pauses for a moment, and if Hyejoo didn’t know better, she would think it was purely for dramatic effect. There’s a serious look in her eyes though, and the hall goes silent as everyone gives her their complete attention.

“Each and every one of you is fighting a battle,” Headmistress Kwon says. “If you’re not now, you will be. Some of your battles are small, and some of your battles are large. But we are all dealing with things that nobody else can see. Remember this.” She smiles. “Be kind to each other.”

The Great Hall bursts into applause, and Headmistress Kwon returns to her seat, though not before meeting eyes with Hyejoo for a split second.

The sorting begins.

To Hyejoo’s absolute lack of surprise, Yerim is put into Hufflepuff the instant the hat touches her head. She’s immediately engulfed in a sea of hugs before she even fully reaches the table, Yoohyeon and another Hufflepuff hooting and hollering excessively loudly.

Yeojin’s sorting takes a bit longer, but the Sorting Hat ultimately decides on Gryffindor. The screeching from the table of red eclipses Hufflepuff’s and is bound to cause ear damage, but even they are outdone by the lone Ravenclaw screaming from across the hall. 

“I’m so proud of you, Yeojinnie!”

The procession continues, the line of first years growing shorter and shorter. Hyejoo almost wonders why nobody has lost their voice or lost their hearing with all the constant celebrating.

And then her own name is called.

“Son Hyejoo!”

Hyejoo clenches her fist as the Great Hall’s volume drops at once. It almost goes completely silent before the inevitable whispering starts up again, resembling the furious buzzing of a nest of wasps as Hyejoo makes her way to the Sorting Hat. She sees it all, the scandalized looks, the horrified staring, the blatant ignoring… It’s a sort of mercy when the hat is dropped on her head, obscuring her view.

Ah,” a voice says in her head. “You’ve made your choice already, haven’t you?

Hyejoo remains silent, scrunching her eyes shut as she grips the edge of the stool with her fingers.

But it wasn’t much of a choice, was it?”

Hyejoo ignores the howling that always plays in her ears whenever darkness descends and it’s far too silent for her mind. She tries to focus on her sister, on their two friends, on anything but the storm brewing inside and the vultures awaiting her outside.

Be brave, little one… Slytherin!”

Hyejoo lets out a gasp of relief as the hat is whisked off her head. She’s sure that conversation was a lot shorter than it felt, and she keeps her head down when there’s no cheering to be heard as she slips off the stool.

And then Hyunjin stands up, clapping furiously as Siyeon opens her arms wide. Behind her, Hyejoo hears a distinctive “That’s our Hyejoo!” from the Hufflepuff table before a muted applause spreads to the rest of her own house.

“Welcome to Slytherin,” Slytherin’s head girl says before ushering her into Siyeon’s arms. 

“Welcome,” the pretty blonde next to Hyunjin says with a small smile. Others echo the sentiment, and even if it’s out of nothing but politeness, Hyejoo is more than willing to take it.

But the whispers don’t stop.

“How lucky for us, huh? Wolf girl is in Slytherin.”

“Yeah, hopefully the elder Son is strong enough to muzzle her when she goes bananas.”

“Ugh, I’m glad I’m not a first year.”

Hyejoo has the misfortune of meeting the eyes of the Slytherin who uttered that last statement. They look away quickly in shame, but not before Hyejoo is able to identify them as a significantly older student. Possibly a sixth year, like her sister.

How ironic, Hyejoo thinks.

Chapter Text

A flash of fur, a flash of fangs, and a flash of fury.

Then screaming. So much screaming.

Hyejoo wakes to an unfamiliar ceiling. 

The shade of green in the Slytherin dorms is different from the one at home, and that slight change is enough to bring a small comfort to Hyejoo as she checks for stray tears before rising out of bed for her first day of class. Her roommates that are awake are clearly excited, chitchatting with each other about their schedules. They blatantly ignore Hyejoo, flinching and turning away when she accidentally steps too close, but she tells herself not to mind as she makes her way to the Slytherin common room.

She’s early, she quickly realizes upon seeing the lack of bodies present. Siyeon is nowhere to be found, probably too tired to be awake for at least another half hour, although Hyunjin can be seen sitting on top of the backrest of a couch as she talks to her blonde friend.

“Hyejoo!”

Hyunjin beckons her over as soon as she spies the first year, waving quickly without losing her balance from her precarious perch. 

“Hi,” Hyejoo greets the two quietly. She glances around, relieved to see no eyes judging her this early in the morning for talking to someone.

“Hi,” the blonde echoes. She doesn’t say more, but there’s no particular hostility or fear in the way she observes Hyejoo quietly.

“This is Park Chaewon,” Hyunjin introduces. “She’s in my year. She’s cool. Mostly.”

“Okay…?” Hyejoo purses her lips when Hyunjin, to no one’s surprise, doesn’t elaborate.

“I set her hair on fire last year,” Chaewon explains. “That’s where the ‘mostly’ comes from.”

“Ah…” Hyejoo takes a small step backwards. “Nice to meet you. Again, I guess.”

Chaewon nods before turning back to a strange, flat-looking device in her lap as Hyunjin jumps off of the couch.

“She’s a muggleborn,” Hyunjin says as she leads Hyejoo away by the shoulder, presumably to give Chaewon some peace with whatever she’s tinkering with. “She wasn’t raised in our world so there’s stuff she doesn’t know about. Stuff she doesn’t care about.”

“Makes sense,” Hyejoo agrees, thinking back to Yerim of Hufflepuff. “Is she your friend? I don’t remember you mentioning her before.”

“We’re classmates,” Hyunjin says before frowning. “She doesn’t give me food.”

Hyejoo’s lips twitch. She knows the tale of how Yoohyeon and Siyeon bribed their way into Hyunjin’s good graces by smuggling her bread from the kitchens. 

“Anyways, she’s not like the rest of them,” Hyunjin continues, her eyes flicking to the rest of the common room before focusing back on Hyejoo. “So if Siyeon-unnie and I aren’t around and you need a Slytherin…”

“Okay.”

Hyejoo grimaces when Hyunjin pats her roughly on the head, the older girl deliberately messing up her hair before steering her towards the dungeon exit. She glances back to Chaewon, etching the girl’s concentrated expression in her mind.

Hyejoo hasn’t known Hyunjin as long as Yoohyeon and Siyeon have, but she likes to think she at least understands her more than the average person. Her sister has mentioned Hyunjin’s general penchant to gravitate away from people she deems unworthy of her time, and although classmates isn’t a title that would normally inspire much confidence, Hyejoo figures it actually bears some weight considering how Hyunjin actually talks to this girl. She even went out of her way to point her out to Hyejoo, so that has to be worth something.

Chaewon suddenly raises her head, looking at the entrance to the common room just in time for her eyes to meet Hyejoo’s. She gives the first year a small, almost imperceptible smile before the stone wall slides shut and Hyejoo can’t see her anymore.


Siyeon is most certainly not a morning person.

Hyejoo watches, amused with a mouth full of scrambled eggs, as her sister all but stumbles into the Great Hall. Siyeon actually bumps into someone on her way in, and the Gryffindor she crashed into falls dramatically to the floor. Hyejoo is about to rise out of her seat with a frown when Siyeon just rolls her eyes and helps the Gryffindor up.

“Who was that?” Hyejoo asks when Siyeon finally makes their way to the table.

“Kim Bora,” Siyeon says. “Gryffindor, my year. We’ve had some classes together. I know you think Yoohyeon and I are loud, but Bora is… something else.”

“Hey!” Yoohyeon protests… loudly from next to Hyunjin. 

“Hi!” another voice chirps up.

Hyejoo glances over her shoulder only to nearly fall out of her seat when there’s a person right next to her.

Yerim smiles widely as she rocks on the balls of her feet, waving at Hyejoo’s friends. “Hi, uh, Yoohyeon-unnie! And hi, Hyejoo! And hi, friends!”

“H– Hi,” Hyejoo chokes out, quickly swallowing the eggs still in her mouth. “Uh, this is my sister Siyeon and this is Hyunjin,” she introduces. “And I guess you already know Yoohyeon-unnie.”

“We’re in the same house!” Yerim confirms proudly. “Anyways, I was wondering if I could look at your schedule… Please?”

Hyejoo wonders if she imagined the hint of hesitancy in Yerim’s voice at the end of her question. Regardless, she pulls out the desired sheet of paper and hands it over, smiling to herself when Yerim immediately lights up.

“We have so many classes together!” Yerim says excitedly. “Hey, do you want to go to Charms together after breakfast?”

Hyejoo glances at her friends, all three pairs of eyes watching her expectantly. She turns back to Yerim with a nod. “Sure, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all!” Yerim is physically incapable of not smiling, it seems. “I’m glad you’re okay with it. People have been looking at me funny… Is it because my parents are normal– I mean not magic?”

“No, no,” Yoohyeon says quickly. “People don’t care about that here. Well, some Slytherins might be jerks—not these guys, they’re nice,” she clarifies, pointing her fork and knife at Siyeon and Hyunjin respectively.

Yerim tilts her head thoughtfully.

“I wonder why then,” she muses out loud.

Hyejoo clears her throat.

“It’s probably because of me,” she mumbles.

“Oh, the werewolf thing?” Yerim says loud enough to turn a few heads. She smiles sheepishly before lowering her voice. “I mean you’re not going to rip off your shirt and transform in the middle of class or anything, are you?”

“No???” Hyejoo replies, alarmed that Yerim even considers that a possibility. 

“Then I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Yerim concludes with a snap of her fingers. “Hey, do you want to see if Yeojin has any classes with us? She was put in Gryffindor, right?”

“You should go with her,” Siyeon speaks up, almost spraying a chunk of chewed up sausage at Hyunjin. She gives her sister an encouraging smile. “Go on, see if you can make some friends. We can meet up for lunch.”

Hyejoo takes a deep breath.

“Okay,” she decides. She gives her friends a wave before collecting her things and following after Yerim.

They find Yeojin pretty quickly despite her rather short stature. It helps that they follow the sounds of yelling rather than looking for her visually, for it’s almost impossible to see their fellow first year thanks to the group of older Ravenclaws surrounding her.

“Here,” the shortest one insists as she shoves a glass under Yeojin’s face. “You have to drink more milk, Yeojinnie!”

“I drank two cups already, unnie!” Yeojin complains as she leans away only to be trapped by the blonde Ravenclaw behind her.

“Did you have an apple yet?” she says. She practically starts force feeding the poor child without even waiting for an answer. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

The tallest student pats Yeojin on the head. “You know they’re not going to let you leave until you eat more, right? Well, I’m not.”

“I’m not a baby,” Yeojin whines. “And I ate plenty before you three even got here!”

“Should we, uh… help her?” Hyejoo suggests to Yerim when the Ravenclaws start squabbling over Yeojin again. 

Yerim nods before taking a huge step forward. 

“Hi!”

The four wrestling students freeze and turn to the newcomer.

“Yerim!” Yeojin calls, her eyes sparkling with profound relief. “My hero– I mean my friend! She’s my friend,” she says to the flock clinging to her.

“I’m Choi Yerim,” Yerim says, and Hyejoo wonders if she practiced introductions in front of a mirror or something. “I was wondering if we could see Yeojin’s schedule? It would be cool if we had some classes together.”

One of the Ravenclaws reaches into a bag, pulling out a sheet of paper.

“I’m Jo Haseul, Yeojin’s sister,” she says as she hands it over. Her eyes flick over to Hyejoo, who’s standing a few feet behind Yerim. “You’re Son Hyejoo, aren’t you?”

“Y– Yeah.” Hyejoo clears her throat. “I am.”

“Don’t worry, unnie!” Yeojin says quickly. “Hyejoo doesn’t bite.” The person in question tries not to flinch at that choice of words. “We were on the boat ride together with Yerim and she didn’t push us in or anything.”

“Um… Isn’t that bar kind of low?” the blonde comments. “I’m Jung Jinsol, by the way,” she adds when Yerim tilts her head inquisitively. 

“Ha Sooyoung,” the tallest one says. She stands up, properly showing her true height as she peers intently at Hyejoo. 

Hyejoo ignores Sooyoung’s thoughtful but piercing gaze, opting instead to step closer to Yerim to take a peek at Yeojin’s schedule. She’s almost smacked in the face when Yerim suddenly throws her arms up.

“We have so many classes in common!” the Hufflepuff exclaims before turning to Hyejoo. “You too! We actually all have Charms together first thing in the morning!”

“Really?” Yeojin says quickly. “Sweet, let’s go!”

“Ah, Yeojinnie…” Haseul pouts. “Be careful, okay? Don’t use magic unless a teacher tells you to.”

“And don’t touch any funny looking statues,” Jinsol adds. “Shortcuts aren’t shortcuts if you don’t know where you’re going.”

“Watch out for the fifth step on the fourth foor’s east staircase,” Sooyoung warns. “I think you’re small enough to fall all the way through.”

“Yeah, yeah.” It’s not clear if Yeojin is actually listening or not as she hoists her bag onto her shoulder. It looks oversized compared to her body, but she clearly has no qualms about that as she quickly grabs both Hyejoo and Yerim by their elbows. “See you later, unnies!”

She leads them outside in record time, stopping only when they reach the Grand Staircase.

“Oh my god, I’m finally free,” Yeojin says with a sigh. “Those three have been babying me this entire morning and I don’t even know why! Haseul-unnie isn’t this bad at home.”

“It’s the first day of school,” Hyejoo offers. “And they seem to care about you. A lot.”

“Yeah,” Yeojin grimaces. “I guess they’re worried, but boy am I glad that I didn’t get put into Ravenclaw with them.”

“Ooh, ooh, how’s Gryffindor tower?” Yerim asks. “Is the view as pretty as it looks?”

“Yeah!” Yeojin nods enthusiastically, her energy visibly returning. “You can see so much of the school grounds! Kinda wish I could see the giant squid up close though…”

Hyejoo frowns.

“It’s ugly,” she says. “It just goes all… fwoom at our window.”

Yerim and Yeojin almost look like twins with the awestruck way they’re looking at Hyejoo. 

“Is it really that big?” 

“Is it true that it drags around dead bodies?”

“What.” Hyejoo blinks. “I don’t know how to answer that. And no, it doesn’t.”

“Boo,” Yeojin says. “By the way, now that we’re out here… where is the Charms classroom?”

The trio stare at each other.

“You can not pay me to go back in there and ask,” Yeojin says, pointing at the Great Hall. “They’re going to escort us there if we do and we don’t want to be known as babies.”

There are worse things to be known as, Hyejoo thinks, but she’s glad that neither of the girls before her seem to pay her reputation much heed. They’re arguing now, Yerim pleading and making an important case for not getting lost in a magical castle as Yeojin stubbornly refuses to budge. Hyejoo would suggest asking her own friends, but the threat of being intercepted by the Ravenclaw trio is too high to risk.

“Um… are you three okay?”

Yerim jumps in fright and Yeojin nearly falls over from the sudden interruption.

“Oh, Kahei-unnie!” Yerim cheers when she recognizes who it is. “These are my friends, Yeojin and Hyejoo.”

“Just Vivi’s fine,” the Hufflepuff prefect says. “Are you guys lost?”

“Oh, we’re saved,” Yeojin says, wiping her brow dramatically.

“We don’t know where the Charms classroom is,” Hyejoo explains.

Vivi produces several maps seemingly out of thin air.

“Here,” she says with a gentle smile as she passes them out. “There’s still plenty of time before class starts, so don’t rush yourselves.”

“Thank you, Vivi-unnie!” Yerim shouts when Vivi takes her leave. “Man, I wish everyone was as nice as her.”

“You too, huh?” Yeojin pouts. “People are being so mean over a boat ride.”

“Sorry,” Hyejoo mumbles. “You know, maybe you guys should go on–”

“Nope!” Yerim says at the same time that Yeojin goes “Nuh uh.”

“Friends don’t leave friends behind,” Yerim declares.

“Yeah,” Yeojin agrees as she links her arm around Hyejoo’s. “Still no funny business though!”

Hyejoo lets herself be pulled along.

“What funny business would I even get into?”

“I can answer that,” Yerim says gravely. “Whatever you do, Hyejoo, please don’t imprint on a fetus.”

“What on a what.”


Classes with Yerim and Yeojin are, contrary to Hyejoo’s prior expectations, fun.

She wasn’t expecting much stepping off the Hogwarts Express, all things considered, but it seems the powers that be decided to throw her a bone in the shape of a Gryffindor with ceaseless energy and a Hufflepuff who’s the physical embodiment of optimism. Yerim is unsurprisingly a diligent student, more than eager to learn, and with her help, Hyejoo is able to wrangle Yeojin whenever she’s either too bored or too excited to focus properly.

Still, it was funny as hell when Yeojin somehow blasted herself across an entire classroom by jokingly saying “abracadabra” while waving her wand around.

It’s only been a week, but Hyejoo has found herself smiling far more than she ever thought was possible at the start of the school year. Her sister and friends are clearly happy for her, easily welcoming Yerim into the fold when they come together for meals. Yeojin still opts to sit with the overbearing Ravenclaw trio, but even from a distance away, Hyejoo can hear her talking her head off about whatever mess they caused in class.

It’s not all fun and games though, not when it seems like the rest of the first years have decided to collectively shun the three of them.

Yerim has admitted that the Hufflepuff firsties are rather distant with her. They wave and smile and greet her every morning, but they don’t seem to desire getting any closer than polite “hello”s in the hallway. Hyejoo is glad Yoohyeon is in the same house as her, but it still leaves a bitter taste in her mouth when she thinks about all the people rejecting Yerim before they even have a chance to know her.

Meanwhile, Yeojin had the guts to get into a fight the other night. The way she tells it, Hyejoo almost thinks it was a full on physical brawl, but a hovering Haseul quickly clarifies that it was just a bunch of teenagers yelling at each other in the Gryffindor common room.

“I believe some older Gryffindors stepped in,” she says. “And when I showed up with Jinsol outside their door… Well, I don’t think those first years are going to say what they said to Yeojinnie again.”

“I’m sorry,” Hyejoo says, her head bowed. 

“Don’t be,” Haseul smiles. “If there’s one thing I want Yeojinnie to be when she grows up, it’s kind. And she’s been doing a wonderful job so far.”

“You’re embarrassing me,” Yeojin complains. She shoves her sister away, only to pull her back for a hug before Haseul heads off to her next class.

“You think she’d be so brave without her older sister around?”

Hyejoo immediately whirls around on her heel, but she’s unable to pinpoint whoever said that.

“What’s up?” Yeojin asks.

“Nothing,” Hyejoo answers, turning back to her. It’s better if she doesn’t know. “I thought Yerim finally showed up. By the way, did you study for the quiz?”

“Of course not!” Yeojin says, way too proudly. “History is too boring.”

Hyejoo agrees with a sigh. “I hope you don’t fail.”

Hyejoo herself never finishes the quiz.

She does try her best to concentrate on the piece of paper before her, but her lack of interest in this class makes the task infinitely harder. It’s even worse when she hears Yerim fidgeting next to her, the Hufflepuff actually turning to look behind her several times for some reason.

“What are you doing?” Hyejoo hisses under her breath.

“N- Nothing.”

Hyejoo frowns and takes a peek over at their professor before sneaking a glance to whatever keeps distracting Yerim. She looks over just in time to see a Ravenclaw from the back row flick a scrap of paper at the back of Yerim’s head.

Yerim flinches.

Hyejoo clenches her fist.

She tries to ignore the “do it again!” she hears from behind them. She closes her eyes, hoping they’ll cut it out after this shot. Unfortunately, they don’t seem like they’re done.

“Hey, use a pencil this time.”

Hyejoo stands up and turns around.

“Cut it out!” she snarls. “What did she ever do to you!?”

There’s a twisted sense of satisfaction from seeing the fear upon the Ravenclaws’ eyes as they realize who’s talking to them. One of them even whimpers as Hyejoo glares at them, and for once she’s almost pleased to realize why they’re so terrified. 

“What’s going on?” 

It seems their professor is finally awake, and everyone is quick to duck their heads and pretend to continue taking their quiz. Only Hyejoo is left standing alone as Yerim desperately tugs at her robes.

“Is something the matter, Miss Son?” their teacher says slowly.

“No,” Hyejoo snaps before taking her seat.

7. When was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry founded? 

Hyejoo clenches her jaw. She tries to recall whatever she skimmed last night, but everything is caught up in a fog of red that refuses to dissipate. It’s like a thick and virulent mist, one that seeps into her very veins from all the unresolved anger still sitting in her heart.

Hyejoo hastily scribbles down ‘a very long time ago’ before snatching her quiz off the table. She all but throws it at her professor before leaving the classroom with the slam of the door.

The anger fades the further she gets from the classroom, only to be replaced by guilt and frustration. Hyejoo hopes Yerim isn’t blaming herself in there, and she can only pray her outburst doesn’t cause much trouble for Siyeon. If she’s lucky, their lazy professor won’t say anything to the rest of the staff, but she knows the chances of her classmates not saying a word are near nonexistent.

Hyejoo sighs as she quickly descends a series of staircases before jogging over to the Clocktower Courtyard. Nobody’s present to stop her on her way out, and she decides to see how close she can get to the forest before her next class starts in half an hour. She’s a quarter of the way across the Wooden Bridge when she comes to a sudden halt, realizing she’s not alone.

There’s a Slytherin relaxing in the middle of the bridge, her blonde hair flowing in the wind as she gazes out at the sky before her. She seems to be lost in thought considering how she doesn’t even notice Hyejoo until she’s right next to her.

“Ah!” Park Chaewon leaps back, clutching her chest before pouting at Hyejoo. “You scared me.”

Hyejoo chuckles humorlessly. 

“Yeah, I do that to people.”

“Stop sneaking up on them then,” Chaewon says before returning to her original spot. 

Hyejoo tilts her head.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in class?”

“Aren’t you?” Chaewon counters. There’s a slight rise at the corner of her lips that takes the bite out of her words. “I finished my Charms exam early. It was too easy.”

“I finished my History quiz early too,” Hyejoo says. She doesn’t repeat Chaewon’s last sentence.

Chaewon gazes at Hyejoo for a few more seconds before turning wordlessly back to the sky. The ensuing silence that falls upon them is a comfortable one, but Hyejoo feels like breaking it for some reason.

“You know Hyunjin, right?” she asks out of the blue. “What do you think of her?”

“She’s a weirdo.”

Hyejoo snorts.

“You’re not wrong there.”

Chaewon chuckles. 

“She’s a nice weirdo though,” she says. “Unlike some of the other people in this school.”

“I know what you mean,” Hyejoo says darkly before shaking her head to stave off the frustration creeping back in. “What are people giving you a hard time for? You look harmless.”

She’s not sure if she’s allowed to joke with an almost stranger yet, but Hyejoo gives it a shot anyways. She figures she can always blame Hyunjin for a false appraisal if things go south. Fortunately, Chaewon’s peeved look is more annoyed than offended.

“For the record, I’m pretty good with a wand,” Chaewon states firmly. “And Hyunjin probably told you this, but I’m a muggleborn. And I’m in Slytherin.”

“Ah…” Hyejoo glances to the side awkwardly. “I thought people were over that kind of thing.”

“Most people are,” Chaewon shrugs. “Some Slytherins aren’t. Especially the billionaire ones. Or whatever the magic equivalent of a billionaire is.”

“I’m not like that,” Hyejoo feels compelled to say. “Neither is my sister Siyeon.”

“I know,” Chaewon says simply. “Hyunjin mentions you guys a lot. When she’s not busy annoying me or Heejin in class, that is.”

“Heejin?”

“Jeon Heejin. Gryffindor, second year, probably going to be Head Girl some day. I think Hyunjin might have a thing for her,” Chaewon adds. “She definitely has a thing for bothering her.”

Hyejoo grins. 

“You might be on to something. Hyunjin only ever bothers people she likes. I would know.”

Chaewon laughs freely at this before stepping back from the bridge’s rail.

“Speaking of which, it’s almost time for me to get bothered in Transfiguration,” she laments with a dramatic sigh. “I’ll see you around?”

“Definitely,” Hyejoo nods. 

She watches as Chaewon walks away, giving a few more minutes before she follows behind to head to her own following class.

She almost wishes she didn’t.

There’s tension in the room as soon as she takes her lone seat in Potions. 

This is the only class that Hyejoo has without Yerim or Yeojin present, and it was par for the course when everyone grouped up, deliberately leaving Hyejoo alone. She’s more than fine with that, content to perform well on her own without anybody dragging her down. Professor Hwang has also accepted this arrangement, begrudgingly believing Hyejoo’s words after their first class when the first year said she preferred things this way.

Today’s different though.

Her own fellow Slytherins are practically shooting daggers at her for some reason as students from other houses seem to pull away from her as much as physically possible. One of the Ravenclaws from History of Magic is here, and Hyejoo has a bad feeling when the student leans over to whisper to one of Hyejoo’s own bed neighbors. 

“Huh, so much for the mad dog being under control, huh?” the Slytherin sneers loudly. It’s clear she intends for Hyejoo to hear as she continues her rant. “Can’t believe she snapped at someone in the middle of class.”

A wave of murmurs travels through the classroom, and Hyejoo really wishes she had the foresight to show up to class on time rather than early. Professor Hwang hasn’t arrived yet, and her fellow students are more than eager to take this opportunity while they can.

“I have to share a dorm with a monster, can you believe it?

“So brave,” a Gryffindor jeers. “My parents almost pulled me out of school when they heard a werewolf might end up being in the same house as me.”

“I almost wish mine did,” a different Slytherin says. “I mean how am I supposed to sleep at night?”

“Right? Should never have let her into Hogwarts.” 

Hyejoo’s roommate locks eyes with her. Hyejoo quickly turns away, knowing this is nothing short of a bad omen. She closes her eyes in a futile attempt to will the rage away, red dripping into her vision once again, this time in the form of a viscous, crimson liquid that refuses to retreat.

“Hey, aren’t you supposed to put down wild animals before they hurt anyone?”

Hyejoo’s entire body freezes.

“Yeah. They should have just let her die.”

In one smooth motion, Hyejoo grabs the tray of vials on the table before her and turns around, hurling it at the students behind her. It hits her dormmate squarely in the chest, the vials shattering upon impact, and the entire class descends into chaos as the panicked shrieking begins.

The door suddenly bursts open.

Professor Hwang steps in with Headmistress Kwon right behind her.

“Son Hyejoo,” Headmistress Kwon shouts. “To my office. Now.”

Chapter Text

“‘It wasn’t my fault.’”

Hyejoo blinks, confused.

“Excuse me… What?” she asks.

“Isn’t that what you’re going to say?” Headmistress Kwon gives a tsk when Hyejoo quickly shakes her head. “How about ‘they started it’?”

“I… I guess?”

If Hyejoo wasn’t thrown off by the mountain of donuts offered to her as soon as she set foot in the headmistress’ office, she sure is thrown off now by this bizarre interrogation method.

Headmistress Kwon leans back in her plush armchair as she appraises the student before her. There’s a wry smile on her face as she gives a sigh.

“Let me guess, they said or did something to provoke you since I don’t think you’re dumb enough to cause trouble on your own.”

“Um… Pretty much,” Hyejoo says before tentatively stuffing the last chunk of donut into her mouth.

“Are you going to tell me what exactly they did?”

Hyejoo chews slowly. 

“... They said something about monsters being allowed in school. Stuff like that,” she answers once her mouth is clear.

“Hm.” Headmistress Kwon narrows her eyes as she scrutinizes Hyejoo closely. “It was a little worse than that, wasn’t it? Because it would be foolish to start a fight over something you’d expect to hear.”

Hyejoo sucks in a breath before choosing not to answer. Her silence is enough though, and Headmistress Kwon leans back yet again with another sigh. 

“Please don’t tell Siyeon-unnie,” Hyejoo says quietly. “I don’t want her to know.”

“There’s not much I can do if your fellow students talk,” Headmistress Kwon says, smiling apologetically. “But I won’t bring it up with her. I’m sure you have enough on your plate as is, considering these… circumstances.”

Headmistress Kwon turns her chair around to face a record player sitting against the wall. She flicks her wand and the needle drops, soft yet pulsing music drifting through the room. 

“It’s funny,” she says. “I was just in Professor Hwang’s office talking to her about your little argument during History of Magic, and the next thing I know…”

Hyejoo shrinks in her seat.

“I’m sorry, but some students were picking on Yerim and–”

“I know,” Headmistress Kwon interrupts her. “I spoke to Miss Choi myself after I heard about what happened.”

She slowly turns back to Hyejoo, all signs of a smile on her face gone.

“Be careful, Miss Son,” she says seriously. “I understand that these two incidents are hardly your fault, but I’m also sure you know what’s at stake here. Your parents went to great lengths to–”

“I know,” Hyejoo cuts in, gritting her teeth. “I know.”

Headmistress Kwon nods.

“Be careful,” she repeats. “As the staff, we’re trying to look out for you, but there’s only so many of us. There’s only so much we can do in the face of all this fear… and ignorance. And Hyejoo?”

Hyejoo looks up.

“I’m sorry,” Headmistress Kwon says sincerely. “Please do your best.”

Hyejoo opens her mouth but then shuts it. There’s a bitter taste in the back of her throat that not even the donuts can cover up, but she tries to ignore it in favor of asking the question that’s been on her mind.

“Am I… going to get detention?”

“No, though I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know Miss Baek will. She did start it, after all,” Headmistress Kwon says with a wink. “This is an official warning though: no more throwing colored water at people.”

“I won’t,” Hyejoo says, mildly relieved that Professor Hwang doesn’t use anything particularly lethal as desk decoration. “I promise.”

“Good, now– Do you hear barking?”

Hyejoo frowns, straining her ears. It takes a second, but surely enough she hears a distinct yapping coming from the direction of the circular staircase leading to the headmistress’s office. The barking turns into a whine, and there’s some wailing before the barking resumes again.

Hyejoo and Headmistress Kwon glance at each other before the adult stands up and heads down the stairs, leaving Hyejoo to wonder where this unfamiliar barking is coming from. It can’t be Yoohyeon, for her barks sound completely different and she’s not foolish enough to draw so much attention to her animagus form like this. Probably.

Headmistress Kwon returns with Siyeon of all people in tow.

“Miss Son, ahem, Hyejoo,” she calls out. “Are you aware that Miss Kim Hyunjin is capable of imitating a dog? And Miss Siyeon…”

“Yes?” Siyeon smiles innocently.

“You are a prefect of Slytherin house. Why weren’t you stopping Miss Hyunjin and Miss Yoohyeon from making a ruckus right outside my door?”

“Ah… Good question!”

Headmistress Kwon sighs.

“I really had hoped that giving you a badge would make you more responsible especially when it comes to your friends,” she mutters. “But evidently not.”

“Sorry,” Siyeon says. “Anyways, uh… You done talking to Hyejoo?”

“Yes, although–”

“Sweet, so she’s free to go?”

“Yes, but–”

“Alright, sorry for the trouble. Seeya!”

Hyejoo is almost floored by the astounding audacity that her sister is displaying even as she’s pushed to the exit. She then quickly realizes that Siyeon’s probably no strange to this office, a hunch that’s confirmed when Siyeon actually winks at Headmistress Kwon before beginning her descent.

Hyejoo hastily bows in farewell before she’s tugged away by her sister.

Headmistress Kwon sighs.

“Ten points from Slytherin! And five from Hufflepuff!”

Hyejoo almost crashes into Siyeon’s back when her sister abruptly comes to a stop in the middle of the staircase. She barely has time to regain her balance so she doesn’t roll down the rest of the steps, knowing Hyunjin and Yoohyeon would never let her live that down.

“Hyejoo.”

“What is it?”

Hyejoo catches only a glimpse of how upset Siyeon’s face is when she’s suddenly pulled into a bone-crushing hug. Siyeon clings to her, and Hyejoo carefully returns the embrace.

“Yerim told me what happened,” Siyeon says into Hyejoo’s shoulder. “And then Hyunjin heard Professor Hwang yelling at some kids, and…”

“It’s okay, unnie,” Hyejoo says. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“You don’t have to pretend to be tough around me.”

“I– I’m not,” Hyejoo forces out. “I mean I did lose my temper a bit, but I’m okay now.”

The arms around her tighten.

“What did they even say to make you so angry?”

“Nothing in particular,” Hyejoo says quickly. “Just a whole lot of stupid crap. A whole fountain of stupidity.”

Siyeon pulls back, her lower lip jutting out as she looks at Hyejoo sadly. She cups her sister’s face in her hands and gives Hyejoo’s cheeks a good squeeze.

“I’m your sister,” she says. “No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, I’m on your side, okay?”

“‘Kay,” Hyejoo manages to get out despite how hard her cheeks are being squished. “Unnie, let go already.”

“No.”

“Unnie–”

A bark travels up the stairwell, and Hyejoo is impressed by how an animal sound can come out like a question.

“We’re coming!” Siyeon yells back. “C’mon,” she says to Hyejoo. She grabs her sister’s hand before pulling her down the rest of the stairs just in time to bump into Yoohyeon at the bottom few steps.

“Hyejoooo,” the Hufflepuff calls out. She shoves Siyeon aside as she hugs the first year. “You didn’t get detention, did you? I’ll join you if you did.”

“Unnie, don’t be ridiculous,” Hyejoo chastises the older girl. “And I didn’t, so don’t do anything dumb.”

“That’s a lot to ask,” Hyunjin says, ignoring the pout Yoohyeon throws her way. “By the way, Hyejoo, names.”

“What?”

“Gimme names,” Hyunjin says, and she actually holds out her hand.

“No,” Hyejoo frowns. “I don’t want to make this a big deal.”

“They made it a big deal first,” Hyunjin argues, crossing her arms. “I just want to return the favor.

Siyeon places a hand on her shoulder.

“I do too,” she says with a displeased expression. “I really do, but it’s probably best if we don’t.”

Hyunjin blinks once before turning away.

“Fine.”

Yoohyeon glances between the three Slytherins before grinning all of a sudden. 

“Let’s go,” she says. “I heard tonight’s dinner special is… uh, an experience, and Yeojin and Yerim are waiting there for us, so let’s go!”

“Are… Are they okay?” Hyejoo asks. She’s well aware that the last time she saw them was right before ditching History of Magic.

“Find out for yourself– I mean yeah, they’re fine,” Hyunjin says, rubbing where Yoohyeon elbowed her a bit too hard.

Although Hyejoo isn’t hungry in the slightest (donut overload does that to you), she goes with her crew as they make their way to the Great Hall. It’s a bit hard walking when three people insist on gluing themselves to her, but their presence is a comforting shield against all the eyes watching her warily. 

Yeojin joins the pile of bodies not even a minute after Hyejoo makes it past the doors of the Great Hall. 

“I thought I said no funny business,” she complains with an ineffective shove of Hyejoo’s shoulder. “If you want to fight mean people, wait for me! Sooyoung-unnie taught me a good spell.”

“You can’t even do wingardium leviosa properly yet,” Hyejoo points out.

“I’m getting there!”

Over Yeojin’s head, Hyejoo sees Yerim standing in the middle of the walkway between two tables. She gives Hyejoo a small wave when their eyes meet, but her smile is far too fragile for Hyejoo’s liking, the Hufflepuff looking way too muted and subdued compared to her usual self.

“Hey,” Hyejoo says as she pulls away from her older friends. “You okay?”

Yerim plays with her fingers before suddenly blurting out, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! Because of me–”

“Stop,” Hyejoo says sharply. She swallows, forcing herself to take a kinder tone when Yerim visibly shrinks back. “You don’t have to apologize,” she says. “It’s their fault for being jerks, not yours.”

“Are you in trouble?” Yerim asks.

“Nope,” Hyejoo smiles in what she hopes is a reassuring manner. “Just got a warning. And a whole lot of donuts. Did you guys know that Headmistress Kwon really likes donuts? Like really, really likes them?”

Yeojin gasps.

“Oooh, I want donuts,” she says. “Hey, if I throw orange juice at someone, do you think–”

“Jo Yeojin, you put that thought out of your mind right this instant!”

“Yikes,” Yeojin mutters. “How does Haseul-unnie have such good hearing?”

Yerim giggles at this, the light returning to her eyes, and Hyejoo inwardly sighs in relief seeing normalcy reestablished. 

Everyone moves to sit next to Haseul and her friends, the Ravenclaws having presumably looked after Yerim while she waited for Hyejoo to be released. Hyejoo remains at the fringe of the group, sitting a fair distance away from Jinsol and Sooyoung, though she remembers to shoot a polite nod their way. Sooyoung nods back, and Jinsol gives a peace sign before Yeojin somehow launches a tater tot right between her fingers.

Some things never change.


“Oi, get up.”

Hyejoo growls as a pillow is shoved into her face before she can even open her eyes.

“What the– Hyunjin?”

“Get up already,” the second year insists, jabbing Hyejoo’s stomach violently.

“Why?” Hyejoo whines. She uses another pillow to cover her head as she curls up defensively. “It’s Sunday!”

“I know,” Hyunjin says. “Now get up before I jump on you.”

Hyejoo scrambles out of bed in record time, not wanting to see that threat completed. She grumbles and begins pulling on the clothes Hyunjin tosses at her.

“What do I need three socks for?” Hyejoo hisses. “And what are we even doing on a Sunday morning?”

“It’s noon already,” Hyunjin corrects. “Yoohyeon-unnie says she wants to take us flying. Now hurry up and finish getting dressed while I go get Siyeon-unnie.”

“I hate you guys,” Hyejoo grumbles at Hyunjin’s retreating back. Nonetheless, she obeys and obediently lets herself get dragged to the Great Hall before being shepherded over to the Quidditch pitch.

Yoohyeon and Yerim are already there, the fourth year trying to teach Yerim how to summon her broom.

“It’s okay, just try again!”

“U– Up?”

“More feeling! And conviction!”

“UUUUUP!”

“Uh… a little less feeling than that.”

“Up….?”

“Tell it ‘up’ like you’d tell a dog!”

“Up, Sparky!”

Siyeon squints through the sunlight and she raises a hand to shield her eyes. “Um, does Yoohyeon know that you guys are going to have Flying Class in like… a few days?”

Hyejoo shrugs. 

“She figured we could all have some fun,” Hyunjin explains as she appears out of nowhere with three broomsticks. She tosses them at the Son siblings, smirking when Siyeon fails to catch hers and is smacked right in the face.

Hyejoo examines the practice broom in her hand. “Where did you get this?”

“Hufflepuff team’s lockers. Yoohyeon-unnie gave me the key. Don’t worry,” she adds when Hyejoo grimaces. “We have a prefect here in case anything goes wrong.”

Said prefect shoots Hyunjin a completely unamused look yet mounts the pilfered broom anyways. She begins a slow ascent, and Hyejoo quickly climbs her own broom to follow after her sister.

Hyejoo barely lifts off the ground when there’s a shout from afar.

“Hey, wait for me!”

Yeojin runs across the grass, holding a broomstick that is clearly taller than she is. 

“You should have seen her face when I woke her up earlier,” Hyunjin whispers as she floats over to Hyejoo. “Priceless.”

“How did you even get into Gryffindor Tower?” Hyejoo whispers back.

“Jeon Heejin let me in,” Hyunjin says with a wink that means no, Heejin did not. She raises a finger to her lips in the universal sign for shh before zooming upwards directly at Siyeon.

Hyejoo rolls her eyes at the subsequent scream and laughter that comes when the two have a near mid-air collision.

Meanwhile, Yeojin wises up and mounts her broom instead of wasting her energy by jogging across the field. She zips past Hyejoo with a “Hey!” before changing course toward Yerim, flying over to her with a loud “Good morning, Yerim!”

She narrowly avoids Yerim’s errant broomstick that decides to greet her in Yerim’s stead.

Hyejoo sighs fondly as she chases after the stray broomstick. She’s not sure how Yerim managed to get it to fly off on its own, but it’s not too hard to recognize that the Hufflepuff does not have an innate talent for flying. She’s just about to grab the broomstick with one hand when someone else snatches it out of the air before her.

“Too slow!” Jung Jinsol says with a grin before speeding back to the ground.

Hyejoo follows with a shout of protest, careful to slow down as she approaches her friends.

“What are you three doing here?” Yoohyeon asks as Jinsol deposits the broom before flying up to join Haseul and Sooyoung as they circle above Yerim.

“Just hanging out,” Jinsol says with an easygoing shrug.

“Nah, we’re gathering intel,” Sooyoung jokes.

“We’re chaperoning,” Haseul clarifies with a pointed look at Yeojin. “Though I guess we are indeed hanging out.”

“I don’t trust any of you,” Yoohyeon says grumpily. “Except for Ha Sooyoung. I bet you’re telling the truth.”

“Well, if you want the truth…” Sooyoung suddenly dives straight at a yelping Yoohyeon before flying away with a teasing grin. “We don’t need intel to beat Hufflepuff’s so-called prized seeker. Again.”

“Hey!” Yoohyeon gives an indignant huff before taking to the skies, chasing after the three Ravenclaws as they disperse across the field. “We beat you guys before too, you know!”

“Here, I’ll help you,” Hyejoo offers as she lands next to Yerim, who is still struggling to command her broom. Yeojin is clearly out of commission, too busy watching her high-flying sister with stars in her eyes to concentrate on teaching Yerim.

“I’m gonna become a chaser like Haseul-unnie,” Yeojin suddenly declares. She turns back to her friends. “Man, why couldn’t you two be in Gryffindor? We could have been like the younger, cooler version of Ravenclaw’s Chaser Trinity of Awesomeness.”

“Is that what they’re called?” Hyejoo asks, squinting up at where the Ravenclaws are literally flying circles around a corralled Siyeon while Hyunjin and Yoohyeon try to break their formation.

“Well, I added the awesomeness part because they’re awesome, but still,” Yeojin insists. “We could have been like… The Great Gryffindor Trinity! The Gryffindor Golden Trinity?”

Yerim’s broom suddenly stands up completely vertically before flopping back to the grass lifelessly.

“... Nevermind.”

Half an hour later, Hyejoo is cruising high above in the sky next to Siyeon. Yeojin is somewhere below them with Yerim clinging to her tightly as she sits behind her. Hyunjin is (poorly) moderating a debate between Haseul and Yoohyeon about which international Quidditch team is better as Jinsol and Sooyoung serve as the audience with absolutely useless comments. 

Siyeon gradually slows down, Hyejoo braking as well to keep pace with her sister. Siyeon doesn’t say anything, her gaze fixed on a distant point, and Hyejoo traces her line of sight to see what has Siyeon’s attention.

There, hanging in the afternoon sky an infinite distance away is a sliver of the moon. It floats like a beacon, a harbinger of the inevitable and a stark reminder of what’s destined to come. The pale crescent almost looks like a sickle or a scythe, but to Hyejoo it’s like the giant clock that sits in the Son manor’s study, ticking relentlessly to mark the passing of time.

Hyejoo turns around and flies away.


The next week and a half flies by quietly, though Hyejoo isn’t fooled. She knows it’s the calm before the storm, the tempest that’s been brewing from the day she first stepped into Hogwarts. 

As the moon grows fuller and fuller, her fellow students grow colder and harsher. Not many bother to hide their fear and resentment anymore, and she’s lost count of how many people look at her with open loathing in the halls. It’s a small comfort that the majority of students opt to simply avoid acknowledging her existence whenever possible, but there are still those whose stares make Hyejoo’s skin crawl.

A bigger consolation is the fact that the so-called Ravenclaw Chaser Trinity have all but adopted Yerim. Haseul’s policy for kindness doesn’t seem to have any limits, and Jinsol appoints herself as Yerim’s second teacher after Flying Class does nothing but further prove the muggleborn’s lack of affinity for broomsticks. Sooyoung has spent the past two dinners arguing with Hyunjin over custody, the two finally agreeing to a ceasefire as soon as Yerim casually mentions how everyone feels like one big family to her.

“I just think it’s so cool how I came to Hogwarts not knowing anybody,” Yerim says excitedly. “And now look at all these friends I have!”

“Very cool,” Hyunjin agrees, strangely stone-faced as Sooyoung fails to hide a sniff from across her.

Hyejoo doesn’t think she’s just imagining those three warming up to her as well. Haseul and Jinsol never fail to greet her cheerily regardless of bystanders, and although Sooyoung continues to look as though she’s constantly evaluating Hyejoo, Hyejoo’s starting to wonder if that’s just how Sooyoung looks in general by default. 

If only everyone else could be like those three.

Hyejoo has taken to sleeping later and later while waking up earlier and earlier. It’s easier than having to face her roommates. Although Baek whatever and her cronies haven’t spoken to Hyejoo since their clash in Potions, they still all fall squarely in the category of people who want the world to know how much they detest Hyejoo’s existence. Head Girl Bae has been called into their dorm multiple times to address baseless complaints about suspicious activity at night, and while Hyejoo is grateful when their Slytherin leader takes her side each time, she can tell that the situation is starting to grate on the older girl’s nerves.

“I understand your concerns,” she says as patiently as possible to a small group that includes more than just the first years out for Hyejoo. “But Headmistress Kwon would not subject anyone to needless danger. Son Hyejoo has been admitted to our school and has been selected to be in our house, and you all will treat her like how you would treat any other Slytherin.”

As the group slinks away, Hyejoo can only hope that she mishears one of her roommates saying “Adults are so damn useless.”

It doesn’t even take a day for her hopes to be dashed.

Despite it being her best subject by far, Hyejoo has grown to dread attending Potions. Not even the normally cheery and upbeat Professor Hwang can salvage the morale of the class, a strained pressure forming in the dungeons almost every afternoon. Hyejoo quickly becomes practiced at keeping her head down and focusing on her work, but it’s more than unpleasant having the constant feeling of needing to watch her own back.

It only takes her getting up to turn in a sample to Professor Hwang for her guard to be lowered enough for her classmates to strike. 

As soon as she returns to her seat and sits back down, a sharp pain runs through the back of her thigh. Hyejoo jumps up, already feeling the distinct wetness of blood dripping down her leg. She looks down, seeing an object embedded in her chair, red slowly creeping down its edges.

A jagged piece of sliver.

Chapter Text

Hyejoo wants to run.

There’s nothing she wants more than to take off right now, to escape and run away from everyone and everything.

To run away from fate itself.

Blood continues trickling down her leg. It doesn’t feel like a particularly deep wound, its sting inconsequential compared to the boiling rage threatening to erupt from her lungs as she stares at the piece of metal planted in her chair.

Silver.

They chose to hurt her with silver.

“Miss Son? Is something wrong?”

Hyejoo doesn’t answer, afraid of what she’ll do once she unclenches her jaw and unclenches her fists.

Professor Hwang furrows her brow before standing up and approaching the first year. She looks down to see what Hyejoo is glaring at, and then her face hardens.

“None of you are leaving this classroom until I say so,” Professor Hwang says sharply to the class. She places a hand on Hyejoo’s shoulder. “Head on to the Hospital Wing,” she says softly. “And… I’m sorry.”

Hyejoo shrugs off her teacher’s hand. She doesn’t care about how rude that may be, doesn’t care about gathering her stuff, doesn’t care about her classmates already pointing fingers at each other, doesn’t care about anything as she all but throws herself out the Potions classroom. She uses her shoulder to shove the door open before kicking it shut behind her with her good leg.

For a moment, Hyejoo considers making her way out of this accursed castle. Unfortunately, the pain in her leg only sharpens now that she’s no longer in the vicinity of those scum. Taking a deep breath to try to calm herself, Hyejoo turns around and forces herself up the stairs leading to the rest of Hogwarts.

She barely reaches the first floor when a figure standing outside the Transfiguration classroom catches her eye.

Park Chaewon.

Her fellow Slytherin is pouting as she sits on the ground, idly waving her wand around. She looks up at the sound of footsteps, standing up in surprise when she sees Hyejoo.

“Hey, can you tell Hyunjin to stop–” Chaewon blinks. “Are you limping?”

“No,” Hyejoo answers coldly, pulling her robes closer around herself when Chaewon narrows her eyes.

“Why aren’t you in class?”

“Why aren’t you?”

Hyejoo’s retort comes out harsher than she intended, Chaewon actually taking a step back in shock. Hyejoo sighs, and she’s just about to give a polite apology and find an excuse to quickly leave when Chaewon speaks up first.

“Look, if you’re hurt, I can help. I know from experience it’s not fun walking all the way to the fourth floor,” she says quietly. “If you’re okay though, that’s fine too. I won’t bother you.”

Hyejoo slowly exhales.

“I just have a cut,” she finally mutters. She doesn’t elaborate, but she lets Chaewon get closer, not missing the irony of how the older girl moves cautiously as though she’s examining a wild animal. Hyejoo’s glad the hallway is deserted as she reveals the gash on her leg.

“Hm… This might feel funny,” Chaewon warns as she crouches in front of Hyejoo, wand out. “Episkey.”

Hyejoo frowns at the warm, tingly feeling traveling up her leg. It’s gone just as quickly as it came, replacing the pain on her thigh with a barely noticeable soreness.

“There,” Chaewon says, her voice soft. “You should still go see Madam Lee though, just in case.”

“I will,” Hyejoo nods. “And, uh, thanks.”

“No problem.”

Hyejoo stays rooted in her spot. Chaewon tilts her head, but it’s not until the Transfiguration classroom opens with a second year peeking out that Hyejoo takes her leave.

She’s not surprised when Hyunjin shows up at the Hospital Wing first. 

Hyejoo barely has a chance to explain what happened to Lee Jieun, Hogwarts’ matron, when her friend comes zooming in, practically sliding on the wooden floors.

And then Hyunjin suddenly runs into an invisible wall.

Madam Lee lowers her wand with her other hand on her hip.

“Hold your hippogriffs, Miss Hyunjin,” she says sternly. “Wait until after I’ve examined the patient, please.

“Okay,” Hyunjin nods, unusually obedient. Hyejoo figures she knows better than to irk the leading healer of the school. 

Yerim and Yeojin pile in not long after, and Hyejoo ignores the twist in her gut as she wonders how far the rumors have spread already. She hopes that the finer details don’t get passed on, but she doesn’t cross her fingers as Madam Lee finishes her diagnosis.

“Your wound is completely fine, no damage or scarring left at all,” Madam Lee says, smiling until her face falls. “Still, I can’t imagine what those children were thinking… What were they expecting to happen if silver really could hurt werewolves?”

Hyejoo grabs the bed sheets she’s sitting on top of in a viselike grip.

Before she has to answer, there’s a loud yell from outside.

“What the hell?

“Siyeon-unnie, wait–”

“Miss Son, calm yourself–”

“No!”

The door to the Hospital Wing flies open and in storms Siyeon, eyes ablaze with a wrath Hyejoo has never seen before. The bags under her eyes are more pronounced than ever, and she looks even paler than usual as she almost bares her teeth in pure rage. It’s clear that she’s absolutely furious as she whirls around to face Headmistress Kwon. She rips her sleeve out of a desperate Yoohyeon’s grip, ignoring how the Hufflepuff flinches back.

“They tried to hurt her!” Siyeon shouts, pointing her finger at Hyejoo. “You want me to calm down when they tried to kill Hyejoo?”

Headmistress Kwon sighs patiently.

“Miss Siyeon, I assure you–”

“Assure me what? That they didn’t mean it? That kids will be kids?”

“Absolutely not,” Headmistress Kwon says firmly, her eyes flashing. “The perpetrators will be punished appropriately.”

“How did this even happen in the first place?” Siyeon hisses, almost stepping into Headmistress Kwon’s personal space. “How could you let this happen to her!?”

“How could you let this happen to her!?” Hyejoo’s father roars. Spit flies out of his mouth as he shouts right into an employee’s face. “I pay all of you rats to keep my family safe and look what happened!”

“Sir, it was an unprecedented attack–”

“Excuses!” her father screams. “I am sick of hearing all these pathetic excuses! I want someone to pay! Pay for what they did to my daughter!”

“Someone has to pay for what they did to my sister!”

Hyejoo screws her eyes shut. She bites her lip almost hard enough to draw blood as she tries to fight the urge to cover her ears, well aware of all of her friends anxiously watching either her or Siyeon.

“You are disturbing the patient!” Madam Lee suddenly says loudly when even Headmistress Kwon’s replies to Siyeon begin rising in volume. “Please take this discussion elsewhere.”

“I–”

Siyeon stops abruptly, and it’s like the wind is taken out of her sails when she turns to look at Hyejoo for the first time in the past few minutes. A stricken look crosses her face when Hyejoo can barely meet her eyes. 

“Hyejoo, I...”

“Siyeon,” Headmistress Kwon says gently. “Let’s talk about this in my office, alright?”

Siyeon balls her fists at her side before nodding once and striding off wordlessly.

Hyejoo doesn’t look up when Madam Lee gives her friends the all clear to approach her. Her eyes are closed again, and it takes all her effort to just focus on breathing evenly. 

“It was that stupid Baek girl, wasn’t it?” Yeojin blurts out. “She tried to trip me yesterday. Right in front of Haseul-unnie too!”

Hyunjin cracks her knuckles. “I’ll hold her,” she tells Yeojin. “And you punch.”

“Oooh, sounds good!” Yeojin agrees just as Yerim protests with a “No, no violence!”

“Just a little bit of violence?”

“No, Yeojinnie!”

“Let’s do it the old fashioned way then,” Hyunjin says. 

“There’s an old fashioned way?” Yoohyeon asks. “I thought violence was the old fashioned way.”

“Let’s hex her into tomorrow,” Hyunjin declares, and Yeojin immediately starts cheering as Yerim continues objecting with desperate arm waving.

“We’re going to get detention if we do that!”

“We? Thanks for agreeing to join us!”

“Wait, that’s not what I meant–”

“Friends don’t leave friends behind, right?”

“I mean yeah, but–”

“Stop!” Hyejoo calls out hoarsely. “Just stop.”

The room goes silent.

“S– Sorry,” Yeojin whispers. “We were just joking, I promise.”

Yerim nods. “We were just trying to–”

“I know what you were trying to do,” Hyejoo snaps before her voice loses its last vestiges of strength. “I know what you’re trying to do.”

“Sorry,” Hyunjin mumbles.

“Hyejoo.” Yoohyeon places a hand on her shoulder. “Do you want to be alone right now?”

That’s a question Hyejoo’s heard before. Yoohyeon used to ask her that ever so often when they were kids, when she visited the Son manor after Hyejoo’s parents just finished a tirade and Hyejoo was in no state to play with her sister or friend. She’s never taken offense to Hyejoo needing her own space, and Hyejoo is even more grateful to her now, knowing that Yoohyeon will take care of Yerim and Yeojin when Hyejoo answers with a nod.

“Can we– Can we at least give you a hug?” Yerim asks tentatively. “I mean it’s okay if you don’t want to–”

“Come here,” Hyejoo says gruffly, letting Yeojin and Yerim tackle her before she heads out.

The sun is low in the sky as Hyejoo makes her way to the Wooden Bridge. She heeds its warning, deciding to forgo dinner as she begins the trek across it. Somehow, she’s not surprised at all when she sees Chaewon once again in the middle of the bridge. The blonde is seated this time, munching on something as she observes a familiar, flat object on her lap.

“Hey.”

“Wah!”

Hyejoo snorts as Chaewon nearly falls over in fright, the second year nearly flinging her sandwich into the abyss as she throws her arms in the air. The blonde quickly catches her meal, though she gives Hyejoo a baleful look as she does so.

“Can you stop sneaking up on me?”

“I said hey for a reason,” Hyejoo points out. “Not my fault you’re so chicken.”

“I am not a chicken,” Chaewon argues. “You need to like… walk louder or something. Or stop surprising me when I’m working on something.”

“What is that?” Hyejoo squints at the small device in Chaewon’s lap. It almost resembles a picture frame, though the photo is dark with blankness and placed at the border of the frame, rather than nestled within.

“It’s called a Nintendo Switch,” Chaewon explains as she practically stabs the thing with her wand.

“An intended switch? Intended for what?”

“A Nin-ten-do Switch,” Chaewon enunciates slowly. “It’s a gaming console, a muggle device. Doesn’t work here though.”

“Ah,” Hyejoo nods. “That, uh, sucks.”

“It does,” Chaewon grumbles. “I’ll make it work before I graduate Hogwarts if that’s the last thing I do.”

“Good luck.”

Chaewon squints up at Hyejoo.

“How’s your leg?” she asks. She hesitates for a second before quietly adding, “I heard about what happened.”

Hyejoo sighs.

“It’s fine. Madam Lee said there won’t even be a scar.”

“Good,” Chaewon nods. “Good.”

“Hey, can I sit?” Hyejoo asks bluntly.

“Of course. You don’t even need to ask.”

Hyejoo flops down with yet another sigh, resting the back of her head on the side of the bridge. She closes her eyes, feeling a light breeze surrounding her as small, sporadic flashes of light slip past her eyelids. The sounds of Chaewon eating are interspersed with muttered spells, and Hyejoo chuckles when she hears the occasional curse.

“Hey,” she calls out. “Why were you sitting outside of Transfiguration earlier?”

Chaewon scowls, throwing down her wand. 

“I was messing around with Hyunjin and somehow accidentally turned her into a cat,” she grumbles. “I didn’t know how to turn her back and Professor Kim kicked me out for a bit to ‘reflect on the consequences of uncontrolled magic.’” She draws air quotes before her pout deepens. “I think she just wanted to kick me out because Hyunjin’s her daughter.”

Hyejoo’s lip twitches. “Was the cat orange, by any chance?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Nothing,” she chuckles. “Just seems like a very… Hyunjin color.”

“You’re right...” Chaewon nods thoughtfully before peering closely at Hyejoo. “Um… I know this is a touchy subject, but isn’t tonight a full moon…?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you have dinner yet?”

“Nope.”

“Here,” Chaewon says, pulling out another sandwich from her robes. “I don’t know how real werewolves work, but all the muggle stories say werewolves tend to eat, like, a lot.”

“Thanks,” Hyejoo says. She scarfs down the sandwich, stowing away its wrapper before closing her eyes again to rest for a bit longer.

Apparently, Chaewon has given up on her attempts to charm the Switch object, for she’s completely silent next to Hyejoo. Her warmth is still there though, a steady presence that lets Hyejoo know she’s not alone. It’s peaceful, and Hyejoo wishes this ephemeral, fleeting moment could last longer.

Meow.

Hyejoo opens her eyes just in time to see Chaewon look around, confused. 

“Did you hear a cat?” Chaewon asks.

Hyejoo shrugs. 

“Not sure,” she answers. “Uh, it’s getting late. You should probably head back inside.”

“What about you?”

Hyejoo smiles humorlessly. 

Chaewon slowly stands up, tucking her Nin-ten-do inside her robes. She dusts off any stray crumbs before turning to Hyejoo.

“Um… Good luck,” she says. “And… I’ll see you around?”

“Seeya.”

Hyejoo gets that strange feeling of déjà vu as, once again, she watches as Chaewon walks away. This time, however, she doesn’t follow behind. She heads the opposite direction instead, unsurprised when a cat leaps onto her shoulder as she exits the bridge. 

“Hey,” she greets. “Are Yerim and Yeojin okay?”

The orange tabby meows in affirmation.

Hyunjin momentarily transforms back when they’re almost to the Whomping Willow.

“Headmistress Kwon wants to speak to you tomorrow afternoon,” she says. “She wants you to report to her office instead of going to Potions.”

Hyejoo purses her lips. “Okay.”

“Yerim and Yeojin are more worried about you, by the way,” Hyunjin mentions. She nudges Hyejoo with her elbow. “They haven’t forgotten what tonight is.”

Without waiting for a reply, she transforms back into a cat. She runs ahead of Hyejoo, approaching the Whomping Willow. It makes a few cursory swings, one of them getting too close to Hyunjin for Hyejoo’s liking, but the orange cat deftly reaches a knot at the base of the tree. As soon as her paw touches it, the entire tree freezes.

Hyejoo takes a deep breath and begins descending into the secret passage underneath it.

Hyunjin leads the way forward at first, occasionally stopping to make sure Hyejoo is keeping up. At some point, she returns to her spot on Hyejoo’s shoulder, forcing Hyejoo to duck her head a bit more as she traverses down the dismal, dirty tunnel. It’s dark, and the light from her wand highlights not just the way forward but also the numerous spiderwebs and insects crawling along the walls.

Hyejoo forces herself forward.

She only has to do this about eight more times this school year, right?

Hyunjin jumps off her shoulder as they reach their destination: the interior of the Shrieking Shack. 

Hyunjin’s whiskers twitch and Hyejoo scrunches her nose too from all the dust floating about. There’s broken furniture scattered everywhere, and some new pieces have been placed possibly as a gift to the Shack’s newest guest. The windows are boarded up, probably magically reinforced, and the last few strands of sunset peeking through the planks are sure to disappear soon. It’s quite frankly a bleak and discouraging sight, though nothing compares to the twist in Hyejoo’s heart when she sees the person standing alone in the middle of what’s probably the living room.

Hyejoo takes a step forward, the floorboards creaking loudly.

Siyeon turns around. 

She’s cuddling Yoohyeon in her dog form to her chest, the tiny Pomeranian springing out of her arms to bump noses with Hyunjin. She makes her way to Hyejoo, nudging her foot and pushing her towards her sister.

“Hi, unnie–”

“I’m sorry,” Siyeon blurts out. “I’m so sorry for how I acted earlier.”

“It’s fine–”

“No, it’s not,” Siyeon says, grabbing Hyejoo’s hands. “I should have known better. I know how much you hate when Father acts like that.”

“I’ve never seen you that mad before,” Hyejoo admits.

Siyeon looks pained.

“Are you scared of me?”

“No,” Hyejoo states with conviction. “Never. I could never be scared of you, unnie.”

“I’m sorry,” Siyeon says again, pulling Hyejoo into a hug. “I’ll do better, I promise.”

“We’ll do better,” Hyejoo vows. “Together.”

“Together,” Siyeon echoes. She steps back. “It’s almost time. Are you ready?”

Hyejoo nods.

Siyeon mimics the action, turning away. “I’ll… I’ll be in the other room. Yoohyeon and Hyunjin should probably wait upstairs.”

A small yip and meow answers her, and Siyeon shoots the trio one last smile before they all go their separate ways.

The door closes behind her.

Hyejoo glances at one of the boarded windows. It almost looks pitch black outside for a second, but then she sees it.

Moonlight.

Hyejoo closes her eyes.

Then it begins.

Hyejoo feels as all her limbs elongate, her fingers vanishing to form curved, cruel claws. Her face changes shape from her skin to her skull, her mouth and nose turning into a snout as her entire body multiplies in mass and muscle. The air sounds different, smells different, feels different as Hyejoo’s senses sharpen, and when she finally opens her eyes, her view is that of a predator, of a beast that towers over her human form.

A loud crash draws Hyejoo’s attention, her ears flicking in the direction of the room her sister went in. Her fur rises, dark as night, as she braces herself and listens carefully.

There’s a thud.

Hyejoo waits.

There’s another thud.

Hyejoo waits.

And then a creature comes bursting out of the door. 

It’s a wolf.

It’s slightly smaller than Hyejoo, but by no means any less dangerous as moonlight glints off of its fangs, a vivid reminder of how their fates changed months ago. Its eyes are devoid of humanity, a hungry, almost crazed look in its amber gaze. It’s feral and wild and animalistic.

It’s Siyeon.

Chapter Text

Paints Mixed With Too Many Colors

It’s funny, Siyeon thinks.

She was thirteen when she first discovered the secret dungeon hidden under the Son manor’s basement. She had almost passed out with fright, quickly shoving a clueless Hyejoo back up the stairs when she realized what she was looking at. Her parents were quick to reassure her that the dungeon hasn’t been used for a long, long time (though they refused to clarify what it was used for), and they even accompanied her downstairs to verify that it was indeed unoccupied.

How funny that the first captive in decades becomes none other than the Son’s own heir.

Siyeon tugs lightly at the chains surrounding her. There’s some leeway to the shackles around her wrists and legs, but she knows there won’t be room later. Still, she can’t help but worry and wonder if she should have restrained herself further.

The door opens, and Siyeon looks up in a panic.

“What–”

“Get in there,” her father orders before shoving someone inside the prison roughly. “Do whatever it takes to get her under control, you hear me?”

“Y– Yes.”

Siyeon’s heart breaks at how small Hyejoo looks, her sister staring at the ground as their father moves to close and lock the door.

“Wait!” Siyeon calls out. “What’s going on? Get Hyejoo out of here, it’s not safe!”

Her father’s expression softens through the barred window. 

“This is for your own good, my dear,” he says to Siyeon.

“What about Hyejoo!?”

He doesn’t answer and walks away after the telltale sounds of a click and a muttered spell.

Siyeon pulls desperately at her chains, knowing it’s futile. 

“Hyejoo,” she calls out. “Hyejoo, you have to get out of here. Do you have my wand? Try alohomora–”

“It’s fine, unnie,” Hyejoo interrupts her, looking up with a weak smile. “I did it. It’s done.”

“Y– You’re…”

“Yeah,” Hyejoo confirms, her smile widening. “I’m an animagus now. I can help you.”

“I…” 

Siyeon wants so badly to be proud of her sister—she is , she knows this is beyond an extraordinary feat especially for an untrained witch—but it hurts . It hurts thinking about why Hyejoo has to go through such an ordeal, why she was all but forced to do so by their parents. A part of her wishes Hyejoo didn’t succeed; Hyejoo wouldn’t be locked in here with a monster if she didn’t. Even worse is the part of her that’s glad, that’s guilty for being glad, that’s relieved that Hyejoo’s triumph means Siyeon won’t be alone.

“I’m so proud of you, Hyejoo,” she says hoarsely. “I love–”

A strange crick in her neck cuts her off. She strains her head to the left, trying to dislodge that uncomfortable knot. She grimaces as it only intensifies, a growl escaping her in frustration and pain.

The last thing she sees is Hyejoo’s panicked, fearful look.

And then everything goes black.

Siyeon slowly opens her eyes. 

The ceiling above her is decrepit and old, and it takes her a moment to realize that she’s in the Shrieking Shack. There’s a familiar weight on her chest, probably Yoohyeon, and there’s a cat stretched across her neck like a scarf.

Siyeon turns her head to the side, almost jumping out of her skin in terror when she sees a giant wolf’s head right next to her face. She catches herself, remembering who it is and who it isn’t, and her relieved exhale wakes the creature.

The wolf’s grey eyes open.

It gets up from where it’s curved around Siyeon, shaking its fur out before nudging Siyeon with its nose.

“Stop,” Siyeon protests, dislodging her other friends as she bats the wolf’s snout away. “Your nose is cold!”

The wolf gives her a quick, slimy lick along the side of her face before it sticks its tongue out in distaste.

“Your own fault,” Siyeon chuckles. She carefully pats the animal, ruffling the fur on top of its head. She glances down at the cat and dog sitting at her feet. “I... I didn’t hurt any of you guys, did I?”

Yoohyeon’s bark is a happy one, and Siyeon lets out a long breath in gratitude. 

“Thank you guys,” she murmurs. “Ready to go back?”

“Let’s go,” Hyejoo agrees, now back in her human form as she stretches her arms above her.

Siyeon barely gets to appreciate the few beams of sunlight peeking through the boarded windows when she’s shrouded in darkness again upon entering the tunnel leading to the Whomping Willow. She carefully shifts tiny Yoohyeon to her left arm as she lights up her wand with her right, the sounds of Hyejoo’s footsteps following close behind.

The sun is still barely peeking over Hogwarts’ forest when they make it out into the open. Several golden-orange rays shine through the canopy of trees, and Siyeon allows herself to enjoy the morning breeze for a brief moment. Hyunjin doesn’t seem as keen to rest; she’s quick to leap off of Hyejoo’s shoulders, stretching luxuriously before letting out a meow and heading up the path leading towards the Sundial Garden and the Wooden Bridge. 

“Be careful, okay?” Siyeon calls out. Hyejoo simply raises her hand in acknowledgement as she follows after Hyunjin.

Yoohyeon squirms a bit in Siyeon’s hands.

“Okay, okay,” Siyeon says, patting her friend as they head towards a nearby line of trees. She stops at the one marked with a rune, tapping it with her wand and muttering the password three times until the trunk opens to reveal a dimly lit passageway.

Headmistress Kwon and Madam Lee are both waiting for her when she emerges on the other side and steps out into a storage room in the Hospital Wing. The journey wasn’t that long, but Siyeon tries not to think too hard about when exactly she was warped into the castle from the grounds. 

She’s too tired anyways.

“Did everything go well last night?” Headmistress Kwon asks gently.

“Yeah– whoa!” Yoohyeon nearly trips as she transforms back, Siyeon quickly grabbing her elbow to balance her. “Siyeon-unnie was pretty calm so we just chilled and napped the whole night.”

“Nobody was hurt,” Siyeon reports. 

“Good!” Madam Lee says with a smile. “You two should go rest and take it easy for the rest of the day.”

Siyeon shakes her head. 

“I’m supposed to be on patrol, remember?” she reminds them. “I’ll rest after.”

Siyeon and Yoohyeon split off as soon as they leave the Hospital Wing with Yoohyeon scurrying away on stubby legs to sneak back into her dorm. Siyeon has no need to be as stealthy, and she nods in greeting as she passes Head Girl Bae in one of the hallways.

She makes her way to the Clocktower Courtyard, knowing Hyejoo should reach it soon. Evidently, she’s not the only one thinking the same thing; a small handful of other prefects are already there, hovering around the edges of the courtyard as they watch the exit. People are gossiping, shooting Siyeon curious and sympathetic looks that she ignores.

“Let’s go,” someone off to the side says. “We don’t need to be here for this.”

Siyeon glances out of the corner of her eye to see a pair of Gryffindors talking. One of them is a classmate of hers, Kim Minji, and the other is a younger student she doesn’t recognize. 

“I want to see,” the younger Gryffindor argues, and Minji gives a sigh before shooting Siyeon an apologetic smile.

Siyeon turns away.

She’s really too tired for this.

Just in time, Hyejoo emerges from the Wooden Bridge. She’s sleepily rubbing an eye when the collective gasps and whispers from around the courtyard signal that she’s not alone.

She looks up and sees the small crowd.

For a second, Hyejoo almost seems to shrink back under the weight of all that scrutiny.

And then her gaze hardens.

Hyejoo raises her chin, looking each and every prefect in the eye. She passes quickly over Siyeon, but not before Siyeon sees the hard set to her jaw as she squares her shoulders almost defiantly. It’s like a silent challenge, and it’s clear Hyejoo is not backing down even as she begins to walk away.

Siyeon wants to cry.


“Well done, Miss Son.”

Hyejoo holds back a yawn in front of Headmistress Kwon, taking another offered donut instead.

“Your sister and Yoohyeon said everything went well,” Headmistress Kwon continues. “I’m proud of everyone, especially you.”

“It was nothing,” Hyejoo mumbles. “Nothing really happened.”

“But you’re ready if something does,” Headmistress Kwon points out before changing the subject. “By the way, you know you didn’t have to attend morning classes, right? Your professors all know about what’s going on.”

“I wanted to go,” Hyejoo says. 

She remembers how overjoyed Yeojin and Yerim were to see her, the two causing her to trip over one of the Great Hall’s benches from the force of their hug. They both started prattling on and on about wolf packs or something, Hyejoo too hungry and tired to process what they were saying, until Haseul and Sooyoung peeled them off so Hyejoo could have breakfast in relative peace.

It was still really loud.

Really, really loud.

Hyejoo snaps back to the present when Headmistress Kwon clears her throat.

“Speaking of classes, I have a proposition for you,” the woman says. “Professor Hwang says your Potions performance is outstanding, far ahead of all of your peers already.”

“Ah, yeah, I studied over the summer,” Hyejoo explains. 

Headmistress Kwon nods. 

“Miss Baek has been sent back home for a month-long suspension,” she says. “Although silver may not actually be particularly harmful towards werewolves, her intent was clear enough and Hogwarts does not tolerate such threats to the safety of its students.” 

Hyejoo clenches her fist on her lap.

“Did she… Was she really trying to kill me?” She tries not to think about how it could have been Siyeon instead.

Headmistress Kwon rubs her temples, suddenly looking as though she aged several years in the span of seconds.

“She swore up and down yesterday that she only wanted to weaken you just in case anything happened during the full moon,” she reveals. “Her parents were actually here last night, pleading about how their daughter would never commit, ah, murder. Anyways, Professor Hwang has confirmed that Miss Baek is telling the truth.”

“Did she use a truth potion?” Hyejoo wonders.

“It’s better if you don’t know,” Headmistress Kwon says seriously, and Hyejoo feels a chill go down her spine. “Ahem. Now, although Miss Baek is currently not in Hogwarts, we feel it would be foolish to leave you two in each other’s presence once she returns. Thus, we decided on a special arrangement for you.”

“Um, what’s the special arrangement?” Hyejoo asks when Headmistress Kwon looks at her expectantly.

“I thought you’d never ask!” Headmistress Kwon says, clapping her hands. Hyejoo tries not to facepalm. “In light of recent events, and to more efficiently enrich your academic career, we have decided to move you to Second Year Potions.”

“What?” Hyejoo blinks. “I mean, uh, great. Cool. That’s cool.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Headmistress Kwon looks extremely proud of herself as she grabs a donut. “We’ve also decided to have you swap beds with the older Miss Baek. You won’t be rooming with the Slytherins in your current Potions class anymore. Instead, you’ll be with Miss Hyunjin and other second years who hopefully have more maturity than Miss Baek and friends.”

Although ‘maturity’ isn’t a word Hyejoo commonly associates with Hyunjin, she gets the gist of what Headmistress Kwon is saying. She grins as Headmistress Kwon enchants a piece of paper, Hyejoo’s new schedule appearing on it as it floats over to her.

“You’ll start attending Second Year Potions tomorrow,” Headmistress Kwon says. “You will also be moving dorms tomorrow afternoon. For tonight, just rest. You’ve earned it.”

“Thank you,” Hyejoo says, bowing her head. 

“It was nothing,” Headmistress Kwon echoes Hyejoo’s earlier words. She levitates another donut over to the first year before dismissing her. “As always, Miss Son… Please do your best.”

Hyejoo doesn’t mention her schedule switch to her friends just yet. Siyeon already knows, judging from the way she wiggles her eyebrows at Hyejoo during dinner. Hyejoo gives her a pointed look though, and Siyeon quickly schools her features.

“Why are we keeping it a secret?” Siyeon says, leaning closer to Hyejoo as she grabs another slice of steak.

“I want to surprise Hyunjin in Potions.”

“Oh, that’ll be fun,” Siyeon grins. “Wish I could be there to see it.”

“I’ll tell you about it,” Hyejoo promises. 

She looks over to their resident cat animagus, who clears her throat loudly and raises her goblet before all their friends.

“A toast!” Hyunjin calls out grandly. “To the suspension of Baek… Baek… What was her name again?”

“Hear, hear!” Sooyoung and Yeojin both cheer, clearly not caring about the details. 

“Sit down,” Haseul hisses as she quite literally yanks Yeojin’s hood to force her down. “Kim Hyunjin, you’re making a scene!”

Sure enough, many eyes are watching them, though they all hastily turn away once they realize Hyejoo’s attention is on them. Some even shoot her appeasing, polite smiles, and Hyejoo figures it’s one of the side benefits of Baek whatever-her-name-is’s (Hyejoo hasn't bothered learning either) quite public suspension. 

“It’s what she deserves,” Chaewon says, appearing out of nowhere to sit next to Sooyoung of all people. “Her sister is such a bitch.”

Jinsol gasps dramatically. “Who taught you to say that!?”

Chaewon merely grins cheekily, turning to Hyunjin instead of answering. “Hey, do you know why Miss ‘My Blood Is the Purest in All the Land’ was packing her stuff this morning? Did she somehow get suspended too?”

“No clue,” Hyunjin replies with a mouth full of croissants. “I hope she did.”

Siyeon elbows Hyejoo.

Hyejoo elbows her back.

Siyeon elbows Hyejoo harder.

Hyejoo shoves her with her shoulder.

Dinner promptly descends into chaos when Siyeon loses her balance and falls over, crashing into Yoohyeon who spits her juice all over Haseul, who starts shrieking and flailing her arms, hitting Yerim in the face, who lets out a squeal and upends her plate, sending her spaghetti cascading over Jinsol’s head. Chaewon wisely vanishes when Yeojin starts yelling “Food fight!” and shoves a carrot up Sooyoung’s nostril, who retaliates by shooting out a spell and missing, hitting Hyunjin’s hand instead, causing her arm to fly up and her drink to be launched like a catapult. A Gryffindor third year is doused in purple, and for some reason she decides that Jinsol is at fault when she leaps at the poor Ravenclaw with a screech.

Hyejoo decides that today truly is a blessed day when somehow, miraculously, against all odds, none of them get detention.


“Rest in peace.”

Those were not the words Hyejoo was expecting to come out from Hyunjin when she walks into Second Year Potions.

To make matters worse, Hyunjin actually looks genuinely, sincerely sympathetic for once as Hyejoo scowls at her.

“What does that even mean?”

A Gryffindor next to Hyunjin has a similar expression as she points at the only empty seat in the classroom. It’s actually also next to Hyunjin, though at a separate desk that’s already half-occupied by someone Hyejoo recognizes.

Park Chaewon.

Hyejoo deposits her bag next to the blonde with a loud thud.

“Oh my GOD,” Chaewon yelps, hand clutching her chest. “What the– Son Hyejoo! I told you to stop doing that!”

“Sorry,” Hyejoo smirks, not sorry at all. It’s easy to ignore the rest of the class staring at her as she focuses on Chaewon’s disgruntled frown. “Looks like I’m your new partner.”

“She didn’t have a partner before,” Hyunjin says. “For good reason.”

“Be quiet, Kim Hyunjin,” Chaewon hisses. 

The Gryffindor next to Hyunjin chuckles before standing up and making her way over to Hyejoo. She holds her hand out.

“Hi, I’m Jeon Heejin,” she introduces with a friendly grin. “I’ve heard quite a bit about you.”

Hyejoo shakes the offered hand, though she peers around Heejin to glare at Hyunjin.

“Ah, not just from Hyunjin,” Heejin clarifies. “Jo Yeojin, she’s in my house and she likes to talk about you and Yerim of Hufflepuff quite a bit.”

“Oh,” Hyejoo relaxes, knowing she doesn’t have to worry as much about whatever lies Hyunjin’s probably spreading. “I’ve heard about you a bit too, from these two.”

Heejin also turns to Hyunjin with narrowed eyes, the Slytherin raising her hands innocently. Hyejoo can tell they’re about to start bickering when her ears are saved by the sounds of Professor Hwang’s heels clicking into the Potions classroom.

“Ah, Miss Son! Looks like you’ve found a partner already,” Professor Hwang says, stopping in front of her and Chaewon. “Miss Park, a quick word, if I may?”

“Um, yes?” Chaewon sits up in her seat.

Professor Hwang lowers her voice.

“I’m sure you’re well aware of the… troubles that Miss Son has faced recently.”

Chaewon nods, Hyejoo watching her closely.

“If you have any… concerns about her condition–”

“Oh, no, I don’t care what she is,” Chaewon says quickly. “I’ll even give her my firstborn child or whatever as long as she saves me from having to take Remedial Potions over the summer. Again.”

Hyejoo does the math.

“You had to do Remedial Potions… for First Year Potions?”

“Yes,” Chaewon pouts. “I could barely go home for the summer… My island was infested with weeds when I finally got back.”

Hyejoo stares, wondering if perhaps Chaewon herself is one of those… billionaires, was it? Though maybe not, if she can’t hire anyone to maintain her private island.

Meanwhile, Professor Hwang seems to have found something amusing about their exchange. She straightens back up, smiling widely as she nods at the pair.

“I’m glad you two seem to know each other already,” she says. “Miss Son here seems to have a natural aptitude for potions, which is why she was put in this class. You’re in good hands, Miss Park. Erm… I think.”

Hyejoo raises her eyebrow warily at how even their teacher seems to be casting doubt on Chaewon’s ability to survive this course. Hyunjin’s earlier words suddenly become significantly more ominous, but Hyejoo tries to set aside her worries and borrows a bit of Yerim’s optimism.

“How hard could it be?” she mutters. “I mean a lot of this is just… reading instructions and following them.”

“Right?” Chaewon says from next to her. “We’ll be fine.”

“Famous last words,” Heejin warns. 

Sadly, Heejin’s right.

A realization hits Hyejoo as she tries to put out the bizarre, blue-colored fire that starts as soon as Chaewon throws in her first ingredient.

“So this is why you know what it’s like to go to the Hospital Wing all the time, huh?”

“Shut up.”

Chapter Text

Far Side of the Moon

Chaewon wakes to the sound of a whimper.

It’s faint, feeble, and Chaewon wouldn’t have noticed were she not on the bridge between the waking world and the world of dreams, the half-lucidness that comes with being on the cusp of slipping into a different nightmare.

The last remnants of whatever fantasy her brain decided to play during bedtime fade into forgottenness as Chaewon tries to force her senses to work, drowsiness dragging down her eyelids as she stares blearily at the ceiling. Sleep is just about to lull her back into its grasp when she hears it again.

Another whimper.

It’s actually a series of them this time, and Chaewon frowns before throwing her legs off the side of her bed and making the rest of her body follow suit. She glances over at Hyunjin, her fellow second year seemingly dead to the world, before padding over to the bed to her right where her newest roommate lay. 

Son Hyejoo.

Chaewon steps past a few down feathers scattered on the ground, the last few pieces of evidence from a scuffle that occurred mere hours ago. Hyejoo had shown up at the doorway with her belongings and a “surprise” and Hyunjin thought it fitting to welcome her with a pillow to the face. Chaewon learned the hard way that both Hyunjin and Hyejoo are strong when she accidentally wandered into the line of fire and got promptly knocked flat on the floor.

She also learned that Hyejoo’s full laughter comes out more like a cackle, higher and brighter than she imagined.

The memory of Hyejoo’s glee when Hyunjin rolled backwards off her bed is a sharp contrast to Hyejoo’s expression now, her face scrunched up with a pain Chaewon knows she can’t fathom. The first year is curled up on her side, like she’s trying to withdraw into herself, and another whimper escapes her before Chaewon gently taps her shoulder.

Hyejoo is awake in a flash, her eyes flying open and her lips curled into a snarl. 

“Who–” She blinks, the alarmed look in her eyes vanishing almost instantly as she recognizes Chaewon by her bedside. It’s replaced by a confused grogginess, and she yawns before asking, “Chaewon? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Chaewon bites her lip. “You were just... sleep talking.”

“I didn’t know I sleep talk” Hyejoo frowns. “Did I say anything specific?”

“Nothing I could make out, don’t worry,” Chaewon says softly. “Sorry for waking you.”

“It’s fine,” Hyejoo mumbles. “I’m glad you did, actually.”

“Bad dream?”

Hyejoo gives a noncommittal hum. 

“You should go back to sleep,” she says.

“Yeah,” Chaewon agrees, already making her way back to her own bed. “Goodnight, Hyejoo.”

“Goodnight, Chaewon.”

The next time Chaewon wakes, it’s just past noon and the dorm is deserted. It’s the weekend, so she's content with lazing about a bit before getting up and heading to the Great Hall for her first meal of the day. Hogwarts’ giant clock chimes for two in the afternoon by the time she makes her way to the library for her weekly scheduled meeting.

“Good morning, sleepyhead!” Jinsol greets her brightly before she even sets her book bag down.

“Hey,” Chaewon protests. “I got here earlier than I usually do.”

“And I’ve been here since the morning.”

“That’s because you’re a nerd.”

Jinsol laughs, throwing her head back, and that’s when Chaewon notices someone sitting a few tables behind Jinsol. She’s staring at them—staring at Chaewon—and she only looks away when she realizes Chaewon’s watching her.

“Jinsol-unnie,” Chaewon calls out, her voice lowered. “Don’t turn around but– I said don’t turn around!”

“Sorry,” Jinsol says sheepishly when Chaewon quickly yanks the front of her robes. “Is someone there?”

“A Ravenclaw,” Chaewon confirms. “Like… two tables behind you.”

“Oh!” Jinsol snaps her fingers. “Is she sitting to the left? Well, my left, your right?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s probably Kim Gahyeon,” Jinsol says. “She’s a third year, always sits in that spot. I think one of your housemates usually sits with her… Handong, I think her name is?”

Chaewon nods, having spoken with the fifth year Slytherin a very small handful of times. “Um, do you know what’s up with Gahyeon? She keeps staring at me– Unnie, don’t turn around!”

She nearly knocks one of Jinsols’ pile of books askew when she lunges across the table to grab her yet again. She pouts when she sits back down, not amused by Jinsol’s playful grin.

“I don’t know,” Jinsol says. “She’s a nice kid, pretty polite. She gets loud when her sister comes around though. Gryffindors, I tell you.”

“Oh, like you whenever you’re around Jungeun-unnie?”

“Hey,” Jinsol scolds her. “It’s not my fault she has some sort of grudge against me.”

“I think I’d be a little mad too if someone tried flirting with me while shoving Quaffles through my hoops,” Chaewon points out. She quickly changes the topic before they start squabbling over Jinsol’s sportsmanship and lack thereof. “By the way, where’s Sooyoung-unnie?”

“She’s helping Wheein-unnie today,” Jinsol says. “Quidditch tryouts are starting soon. Speaking of which, you should try out for Slytherin!”

“Me?” Chaewon blinks. “Me?”

“Yeah!” Jinsol says enthusiastically. “Didn’t you say flying was fun before?”

“Yeah, but flying as a sport?” Chaewon grimaces.

“It’s fun!” Jinsol insists. “Who knows, you might have a natural talent for Quidditch. You’re small–”

“Hey!”

“–So you’re probably pretty fast,” Jinsol continues, ignoring the interruption. “Assuming Captain Byulyi doesn't swap out any old players, she still needs new Beaters and a new Seeker. That could be you! Besides…”

“Yes…?” Chaewon asks cautiously.

Jinsol grins.

“We Quidditch players get some academic leeway. Just sayin’.”

Chaewon’s jaw drops.

“Are you saying… that if I join the Quidditch team… I can have an easier time in Potions?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“I’m in,” Chaewon declares. “Anything to make Potions easier.”

Jinsol laughs before her smile fades to a more curious look. “By the way…”

“Hm?”

Chaewon looks up from where she’s pulling her most hated textbook out of her bag.

“I heard about your new Potions partner,” Jinsol says. “What do you think of her?”

“What do I think of her?” Chaewon repeats. “Son Hyejoo? Haven’t you and Sooyoung-unnie been hanging out with her?”

“Yeah, but I wanted to hear your opinion,” Jinsol says. “You see her more than we do.”

“Oh yeah, she switched into our dorm last night,” Chaewon remembers to mention. She tilts her head thoughtfully. “What do I think of her… I mean she’s been pretty nice to me so far. A bit grumpy sometimes, but I don’t blame her.”

“Understandable,” Jinsol nods in agreement. “Anything else?”

“What do you think of her?” 

Jinsol shrugs.

“She seems like a good kid, to be honest,” she says. “I mean Yeojinnie and Yerim adore her, so she has to be, right?”

“I suppose so,” Chaewon says, not particularly familiar with those two yet. “Why are you asking?”

“Just curious,” Jinsol says casually. “You don’t think she’s… scary or anything?”

“Should I?”

Jinsol lets out an uncharacteristically troubled sigh. 

“I don’t know,” she admits. “Like growing up as a witch, I’ve heard quite a bit about werewolves, you know? About how dangerous they are, how they have an appetite for death and destruction, stuff like that.”

Chaewon stares.

“Their reputation doesn’t come from nowhere,” Jinsol says seriously. “My dad said there used to be an island off the coast of Ireland that had to be wiped from all maps and sealed off because one werewolf went there and infected most of the population. The rest were killed. And just years ago a group of kids were attacked by a werewolf who later said that he ‘wanted to share the misery.’”

“That’s messed up,” Chaewon says, frowning deeply. “Like really messed up. He went for kids on purpose?”

“Yeah,” Jinsol sighs again. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but people kept saying that he was their neighbor. My parents wouldn’t let me out of their sight for the longest time after that.”

“No wonder,” Chaewon murmurs. She figures her parents would be equally paranoid if such a thing happened in their community.

But then she thinks of Hyejoo.

She thinks of the lost kid she keeps bumping into, the one that likes to sneak up on her with a smirk, the one who patiently cooperated with her during all of Potions, the one that rushed to help her off the ground last night with a gentle “Hey, you okay?”

“Hyejoo’s not like that,” Chaewon decides. “I really don’t think she ever could be that heartless. Or cruel. Or selfish.” 

“... You know what? I think so too,” Jinsol agrees, and Chaewon lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “Besides…”

“Hm?”

Jinsol winks.

“Anyone who can work once with you in Potions and not get blown up or insist on a partner change has to be some sort of saint.”

“... I’m not letting you tutor me anymore if you’re just going to bully me.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Jinsol laughs. “Enough gossip. Let’s get to work, yeah?”

“If we must,” Chaewon laments.

“Okay, what’s the first ingredient of the Wiggenweld Potion?”

“How am I supposed to know?”

“... Chaewon, I taught you this three times last year.”

“Oh.”

The sun has nearly set by the time Chaewon finally, finally escapes the library. She admires Jinsol and appreciates all that the older girl has done for her, but she doesn’t have a shred of affection for Potions and spends the last ten minutes of her study session whining until Jinsol takes pity on her. As soon as the Ravenclaw gives her half a nod, Chaewon packs her books and flees out the door as fast as possible.

She heads into the Great Hall, searching for a familiar face and listening for a familiar voice, but she comes up empty. Undeterred, she finds an unoccupied seat at the end of one of the tables and begins to eat her dinner in silence.

“Ahem... Hey.”

Chaewon tries to hold in the urge to jump this time, she really does, but for some reason she can’t muffle the squeak of surprise that slips out.

“Hey, Hyejoo,” she says as she quickly wipes at the soup that leaped out of her spoon.

The first year looks torn between pity and amusement.

“I really don’t know how I’m supposed to talk to you without scaring you,” Hyejoo says wryly.

“It’s okay, I don’t know how either,” Chaewon sighs. “What’s up?”

“Are you alone?”

“Um, yeah?”

“Do you always sit alone?” Hyejoo asks, her eyes strangely intent before they soften a bit. “I see you eating on the Bridge a lot.”

“Oh, that’s because I figure it might be easier to charm a muggle object away from the castle,” Chaewon explains quickly. “And I sometimes eat with my cousin, but she’s been busy lately for some reason.”

“I see,” Hyejoo nods. Her face seems impassive, but Chaewon notices how she shifts from foot to foot. “Um…”

“What is it?” Chaewon prompts, smiling in what she hopes is a welcoming manner.

“You should sit with us,” Hyejoo blurts out. “You already know Hyunjin–”

“Unfortunately.”

Hyejoo’s lip twitches.

“Um, Hyunjin aside, Yoohyeon-unnie and Siyeon-unnie are nice people. I think they’d like to get to know you more. Same with Yeojin. And Yerim… I think she would appreciate having more muggleborn friends. If that’s okay with you,” Hyejoo adds hastily. 

“I… think that could be fun, actually,” Chaewon says. 

They both turn to look at where Hyejoo’s friends are sitting. The Ravenclaw Trinity is nowhere to be seen, presumably still out on the Quidditch pitch based on what Jinsol had been saying before Chaewon up and left. This means Yeojin is relatively unsupervised, and true to form she seems to be conspiring with Yerim over something. They’re huddled together, whispering amongst themselves when there’s a loud snapping noise. Some white object flies out from between them, sailing across the table to land with a splat on Siyeon’s forehead.

It’s an egg.

Chaewon has never seen such dread on first years’ face before, and she wishes she could use her cellphone to take a picture of Yeojin’s frozen expression of terror. Yerim doesn’t look much better, though she does get some credit for how she tentatively offers Siyeon a napkin.

Siyeon stands up.

And then she falls over into Yoohyeon and Hyunjin’s arms.

“I’m DYING!” she wails, every dramatic syllable loud and clear even from a distance.

Chaewon and Hyejoo glance at each other.

“Maybe next time,” they both say, and Chaewon giggles.

“Time for me to go make fun of my sister,” Hyejoo chuckles. “I’ll see you around?”

“See you later.”

Chaewon watches as Hyejoo walks away, the first year turning back briefly to give her a wide smile. She stands a bit straighter now, a bit taller, Chaewon notes when Hyejoo resumes her trek back to her friends. She stops to give Yeojin a high five before smearing the yolk on Siyeon’s face.

As the Son siblings begin to tussle with each other, Chaewon rewinds to her earlier conversation with Jinsol.

It’s impossible, she thinks. No matter what form Hyejoo’s body may take, Chaewon thinks it’s impossible for Hyejoo to be a monster at heart.


While Hyejoo would never want to go back to the first year Slytherin dorms, it doesn’t take her long to realize that there are certain… side effects of rooming with second years.

More specifically, there are side effects that come with rooming with Hyunjin. 

Hyejoo all but kicks an orange cat off her bed for the second weekend in a row, grumbling to herself as she begrudgingly gets up. She doesn’t need to look at her watch to know that it’s earlier than she’d like it to be, much like how she knows it’ll be futile to try to go back to sleep. 

Hyunjin has been insistent on waking her up every Saturday and Sunday, claws out if Hyejoo doesn’t comply. Last Saturday, she enlisted Hyejoo in pranking Yeojin by jumping out from behind statues the entire morning. The following Sunday was more of a group activity, Yoohyeon leading the way as everyone roamed the grounds. Yesterday was an interior excursion that ended with Yerim’s eyes sparkling as they toured various advanced classrooms. Hyejoo’s not sure what today’s activity is, but she knows Hyunjin isn’t going to let her miss out.

Hyejoo’s actually grateful for that, despite all the potential sleep she’s missing out on. Not that she’ll ever admit it out loud.

“What are you doing?” Hyejoo whispers once she’s fully dressed. She quickly scoops Hyunjin up from where she’s walking all over Chaewon. Hyunjin lets out a meow, but Hyejoo ignores her as she checks the hallway before bowling Hyunjin out the door.

Chaewon doesn’t stir.

Hyejoo lets out a relieved breath before closing their dorm door shut behind her. Hyunjin’s waiting for her in human form, arms crossed.

“You know she’s supposed to be up, right? Ah, nevermind,” Hyunjin says with a dismissive wave when Hyejoo freezes and makes to turn back inside. “I’m pretty sure she set her own alarm.”

“What are we doing today?” Hyejoo asks as they head to the Great Hall. 

“Quidditch tryouts. You’re going to be my cheerleader.”

“... I’m going back to bed.”

She doesn't actually, though fortunately she also doesn’t have to play the role of Hyunjin’s hypewoman when Yerim shows up. 

“Are you allowed to be here?” Hyejoo asks. “Like… you’re from another house and all.”

“I don’t know,” Yerim says cheerily. “But nobody’s told me to go away, so…”

Yerim smiles brightly, and Hyejoo figures it’s more likely that nobody has the heart to shoo her away than anything else. 

Hyejoo refuses to let her spirits be dampened when a small gaggle of regrettably familiar first years show up. Luckily for her, they make it a point to not meet her eyes, and they choose a bench a fair distance away from where Hyejoo is seated. On the other hand, Hyejoo grins as Chaewon scurries in just a few seconds before Team Captain Moon Byulyi and Head Girl Bae show up.

“Kim Hyunjin,” Chaewon hisses as she takes a seat next to Hyejoo. “Didn’t I tell you to wake me up?”

Hyunjin points at Hyejoo.

“Sorry,” Hyejoo apologizes. “I didn’t know you were trying out. I thought Hyunjin was bothering you.”

Chaewon’s reply is cut off when Head Girl Bae steps onto the field.

“Ahem,” she says, and all Slytherins go dead silent.

“She’s so pretty,” Yerim whispers.

“As all of you know,” Head Girl Bae says. “This is Captain Byulyi and my last year at Hogwarts.”

Nobody dares move an inch.

“Therefore, it is of utmost importance that Slytherin wins the house cup,” Head Girl Bae continues. “Failure will not be tolerated.”

“As they say,” Captain Byulyi grins. “Head Girl Bae wants victory, so victory we must claim!”

Hyejoo winces internally, already feeling for Hyunjin and Chaewon if they make it onto the team. 

“Now, some of you may have already heard this announcement,” Head Girl Bae says as she begins walking past the benches to examine the potential trainees. “But for those of you that haven’t: in order to ensure that we create the most optimal team for Slytherin, Headmistress Kwon has allowed first years to try out this year.”

Hyejoo’s ex-roommates start tittering excitably in their seats, though a quick look from Head Girl Bae shuts them up. 

“Good luck, everyone,” Head Girl Bae says, and Hyejoo wonders how in the world someone can make that sound like a threat.

Fortunately, Captain Byulyi seems to take charge of the tryouts while Head Girl Bae remains on the sidelines observing. An older Ravenclaw joins her on her private bench not too long after, and Hyejoo does a double take.

“What’s my cousin doing here…?” 

“You have a cousin?” Yerim and Chaewon both ask at the same time.

“Yeah,” Hyejoo nods. “Seungwan-unnie. I think she’s a sixth year like Siyeon-unnie? I haven’t seen her since I was a kid. Her branch of the family was exiled. Siyeon-unnie isn’t even allowed to talk to her publicly.”

Yerim gasps. “Exiled? Witches and wizards do exiling?”

“Only powerful, ancient families do that these days. The Sons are super traditional,” Hyunjin explains. She glances at Chaewon. “So are the Baeks, for that matter. Some families like to stick to tradition and punish anyone who doesn’t.”

“Which is stupid,” Hyejoo mutters. “The Baes get by just fine without being assholes.”

Yerim gasps again. “Bae? As in Head Girl Bae? She’s from a powerful family too? No wonder…”

“She’s from the most powerful family,” Hyunjin says. “Like unimaginable power kind of power. And she’s their sole heir.”

“Whoa, so Head Girl Bae is like super young and super rich and super pretty and super powerful?” Yerim says with awe. “She could give Edward Cullen a run for his money.”

“Edward who?” Hyejoo asks as Chaewon snorts.

There’s no time for an explanation when Head Girl Bae herself suddenly materializes in front of the four. Hyejoo gets a taste of what Chaewon experiences half the time when they all jump in surprise and Yerim actually falls off the bench with a squeal.

“Son Hyejoo.”

“Ye– Yes?” Hyejoo asks, her voice cracking. She clears her throat. “Yes?”

“Are you trying out for the team?” Head Girl Bae asks. 

“Um, no,” Hyejoo swallows. “I probably shouldn’t considering how I’m–”

“It doesn’t matter what you are,” Head Girl Bae says, her voice surprisingly gentle. And then her usual tone returns. “What matters is that you win.”

“I guess so,” Hyejoo agrees without any real option to disagree. 

“So you’re trying out. Aren’t you.”

“I am?” Hyejoo says weakly. “I mean yes, I am. I definitely am.”

“Good,” is all Head Girl Bae says before walking off.

Yerim peeks over the edge of the bench. 

“Wow… I wanna grow up to be like her.”

“Please don’t,” Chaewon whines. “I think I nearly had a heart attack just now.”

“She broke Hyunjin,” Hyejoo reports, ignoring her own rapid heartbeat. She waves her hand in front of her friend who looks nothing short of petrified.

“By the way, Hyejoo,” Chaewon calls out. “Since you’re trying out now…”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have any talent as a Seeker?”

“Uh, no?” Hyejoo frowns. She knows she doesn’t have the patience to sit around and scour the field for a teeny tiny, itty bitty golden ball.

“Assa!” Chaewon cheers. “Zero competition!”

It turns out that Chaewon is completely accurate in her assessment of her rivals. Yerim shouts in delight the entire time Chaewon takes to the field, and even Hyejoo has to work to keep her mouth shut as Chaewon outshines the other contenders with surprising ease. There’s no indication that she’s relatively new to flying compared to students who have grown up with broomsticks; Chaewon is adept at pulling speed out of her broom while demonstrating sharp reflexes and keen focus, a picture perfect example of a Seeker.

“Take that, you stupid Baek bitch!” Hyunjin shouts when Chaewon zooms past their old roommate.

“Kim Hyunjin,” Head Girl Bae calls out warningly.

“Sorry,” Hyunjin mumbles. 

“How was that?” Chaewon asks breathlessly when she lands. 

“You were so coooooool!” Yerim says, jumping up and down. “I can’t wait to see you play in a real game!”

“Yeah,” Hyunjin agrees. “They’d be stupid to not pick you. Man, I should learn some tricks from Jung Jinsol too…”

Chaewon turns to Hyejoo.

“You were amazing,” Hyejoo says. “Just… amazing.”

The image of blonde zooming through the sky doesn’t leave her even when it’s her turn to give an obligatory audition. At Hyunjin’s behest, Hyejoo opts to be her partner for the Beater tryouts, figuring that hitting things around for a bit could be fun. Hyejoo doesn’t intend to try all that hard at first, but when she looks down at the sidelines to see a smiling Yerim and Chaewon, she decides that she might as well.

“Let’s go, Hyunjin, let’s go! Let’s go, Hyejoo, let’s go!” the two muggleborns chant together.

“We better not disappoint them,” Hyunjin says with a wink.

When they accidentally break Team Captain Byulyi’s arm with a coordinated attack, Hyejoo thinks that maybe they tried a bit too hard.

Chapter Text

“I did it! I can’t believe I did it! But I did it!”

Hyejoo leans away from Yeojin, the young Gryffindor bouncing up and down excitedly in the Entrance Hall. Covering her ears, she moves her mouth close to Yeojin’s ear.

“Congrats!” she shouts. “I knew you could do it!”

“Thanks!” Yeojin yells back, not the least bothered by Hyejoo’s attack on her eardrums.

“Son Hyejoo!”

Hyejoo turns around to see a flash of black and green before she’s tackled.

“Why didn’t you tell me you joined the Slytherin team!?” Siyeon asks as she squeezes her arms around her sister.

“I didn’t mean to! It was an accident!”

“I’m still proud of you!”

“Hyejoooooo! Our Hyejoo! And Yeojinnie!” Yoohyeon appears next. She grabs Yeojin with her arm as she charges into the Son siblings. “I’m so excited we get to play together!!!”

“Hey! What about me?” Hyunjin calls out. “I made it too!”

“Of course you did!” Siyeon says. “Congrats, Hyunjin!”

“C’mon, Hyunjin-unnie!” Yerim cheers. “Group hug!”

Hyejoo yelps as two more bodies join their pile, her and Yeojin squished under the weight of their older friends.

“Stop pushing me!”

“I’m not pushing you!”

“Ah, I’m so happy!”

“Ow, that was my foot!”

“I really am a chaser like Haseul-unnie!”

“Congrats!!!”

“Ack, my leg!”

“Why are we yelling!?”

“What was that???”

“KIM YOOHYEON!”

The tangle of legs and limbs separate almost instantly when a booming voice somehow cuts through all their noise and chaos. Hyejoo tumbles out of the pile, tripping over Hyunjin as she falls to the floor with a grunt. She looks up to the top of the Entrance Hall stairs, where a Gryffindor stands imperiously, face contorted with displeasure as she points an accusing finger straight at Yoohyeon.

“Kim Yoohyeon!” the girl bellows again. “No sabotaging my secret weapon!”

Yeojin immediately jumps to her feet, waving enthusiastically. “Captain Bora!”

“Hey, kiddo!” Kim Bora grins before turning her attention back to Yoohyeon. “Watch your back, Kim Yoohyeon! If so much of a hair is hurt on my secret weapon…”

She draws a finger across her neck. 

Yerim tilts her head. “Secret weapon? Aha! You mean Yeojin?”

“Shh!” Bora says loudly. 

“Some secret this is,” Hyejoo mutters, glancing around to see people shooting them dirty looks for disrupting the peace.

“Anyways!” Bora continues noisily. “We shall unlock her hidden potential and show you all the power of Gryffindor!”

“What power of Gryffindor?” Yoohyeon sticks out her tongue. “We beat you twice last year!”

“The second match doesn’t count!” Bora declares, and she even stomps her foot as she continues pointing at her target. “I’m going to have revenge for you getting in the way of my game-saving score!”

“Oh, that was an accident,” Yoohyeon says. “But don’t worry, I’ll make sure to do it again this year!”

Hyejoo cringes as Bora lets out an actual war cry before storming down the stairs. She turns to her sister, about to make a comment about loud classmates when she realizes that Siyeon is… quiet. Too quiet.

“Unnie?”

“H– huh?” Siyeon blinks several times, a dazed look in her eyes as she turns away from where Bora is basically strangling Yoohyeon. “What’s up?”

Hyejoo narrows her eyes. 

“Nothing,” she says, though she continues watching Siyeon out of the corner of her eyes even as she returns her attention to a potential murder playing out before their very eyes.

“Go, Captain Bora, go!” Yeojin shouts.

“Yoohyeon-unnie, please don’t die!” Yerim calls out. 

“Who needs to go to Hogsmeade when we can have this much fun in Hogwarts?” Hyunjin says, munching on a bag of chips she pulled out from who knows where.

“Wow, your friends are loud.”

Hyejoo turns to see Chaewon standing at her shoulder, Slytherin’s newest Seeker raising her eyebrow at all the ruckus. 

“Sorry,” Hyejoo says. “You’ll get used to it. Or you’ll go partially deaf, whichever comes first.”

“I think I’m already going deaf,” Chaewon sighs. “I grew up with my cousin, and she’s–”

Right on cue, an ear-splitting screech rings across the hall.

“CHAEWON! PARK CHAEWON!!!”

“Speak of the devil,” Chaewon winces. 

“CHAEWONNIE!!! I’M SO PROUD OF YOUUUUU!”

Something comes shooting out of the Great Hall, and Hyejoo barely has time to realize that it’s a student when she blinks and Chaewon just vanishes from next to her, leaving a light breeze in her wake.

“Ah, Hyejoo, help me!”

Hyejoo turns around to see Chaewon being smothered by a Hufflepuff. The older student has her lips puckered as she keeps a seemingly iron hold on Chaewon’s face, the poor Slytherin’s attempts to push her away proving futile.

“Let me kiss youuu!”

“No! Hyejoo, help!”

“I, uh, I’ll pass,” Hyejoo says. “Have fun.”

“So you’re just going to abandon her?”

Hyejoo whirls around to see yet another student here to join the fray. Kim Jungeun, she recognizes from Food Fight Incident No. 1 a short while back. The Gryffindor has a slight smirk on her face, and she doesn’t break eye contact with Hyejoo even as she says, “Hey, Jiwooming!”

“Yeah?”

“Your crush is here!”

The Hufflepuff freezes a mere centimeter away from Chaewon’s disgusted face. Her eyes widen and she practically drops Chaewon as she flies backward with an undignified squawk. 

“Where? Where?” she says, her hands desperately smoothing down her robes.

“Just kidding.” Jungeun ignores the Hufflepuff’s pout as she turns to Hyejoo. “Hey. Heard you’re Slytherin’s new Beater. Congrats.”

“Thanks.” Hyejoo ducks a stray chip from the other ongoing battle. “You’re still Gryffindor’s Keeper?”

“Yep– oof!” Jungeun stumbles to the side as she’s shoved away roughly.

“Hi! I’m Kim Jiwoo!” the Hufflepuff introduces cheerily, holding out a hand. “I’m a Beater just like you!”

“Hi, nice to meet you,” Hyejoo says, fighting off her awkwardness to shake Jiwoo’s hand. She has a surprisingly strong grip, Hyejoo notes.

Jiwoo’s grin widens somehow, and Hyejoo wonders if her mouth ever hurts from all her smiling. 

“I’ve heard so much about you from Chaewon,” Jiwoo says. “Thanks for taking care of my cousin!”

“Ah, no,” Hyejoo quickly denies. “She’s the one taking care of me, usually.”

“Our baby Chaewon is growing up?” Jungeun asks. She elbows the blonde, easily dodging the return strike.

Chaewon rolls her eyes.

“So here’s my least favorite cousin and her bestie,” Chaewon says to Hyejoo. “I’ve had the misfortune of knowing them both since I could walk and talk.”

“Hey!” Jiwoo protests. “I’m your only cousin!”

“Ah...” Jungeun places a hand on her forehead. “Chaewon, you used to be such a sweet kid. What happened to you?”

“Life happened,” Chaewon deadpans, and Hyejoo chuckles.

“You guys going to Hogsmeade later?" Hyejoo asks.

“Yep,” Chaewon nods. “Are you?”

“Yeah, as soon as Gryffindor’s captain is done killing Yoohyeon-unnie.”

They both look to where Bora and Yoohyeon are still wrestling with a crowd of onlookers egging them on. A Gryffindor prefect steps out of the ring, and even without casting a spell, Yoohyeon all but turns into a statue. Hyejoo doesn’t hear what the prefect says, but Yoohyeon nods rapidly and the prefect easily plucks Bora away by the collar.

“See you later, Siyeon!” Bora shouts as she’s dragged away. 

When Siyeon waves back but then abruptly looks down, taking special interest in her shoes, Hyejoo narrows her eyes again.

Something’s fishy.


Whoever decided that all the houses should celebrate their new teams in the same place at the same time deserves a solid jinx or two up the butt. No less than three, Hyejoo settles on as she sulks in a corner of the Three Broomsticks while carefully cradling her butterbeer. 

In what’s more likely coincidence than anything else, dozens of Hogwarts students have poured into the pub this afternoon. The place is packed with bodies, and for the first time, Hyejoo is actually grateful for her reputation when most strangers leave her be in her little safe space. It suddenly strikes her how many people she knows though, Hyejoo easily picking out familiar faces as she scans the crowd.

Yeojin is sitting on a barstool near the counter, chatting animatedly to Yerim as she clutches a bag of ice to her forehead. Yerim insisted on it despite Haseul already having healed the bruise that formed when Yeojin smacked into the doorway, courtesy of Jinsol and Sooyoung trying to carry her in on top of their shoulders. Haseul herself is nowhere to be seen, though Hyejoo spots Jinsol talking to Jiwoo as a disgruntled Jungeun stands nearby and occasionally interjects.

Sooyoung, meanwhile, is speaking to a group of older students Hyejoo doesn’t recognize. She guesses they’re other members of the Ravenclaw team, and Hyejoo spies her own team captain amongst them for some reason. They all seem quite friendly, contrary to Head Girl Bae’s statement the other day that “the enemy must be destroyed at all costs.”

Hyunjin is also clearly neglecting that notion considering how she currently has an arm around Heejin. She’s probably pestering Gryffindor’s Seeker as usual, judging by the way she keeps stealing sips of Heejin’s pink-colored drink. Hyejoo snorts when Heejin loses her patience and jabs Hyunjin with her wand.

Unfortunately, Hyejoo’s amusement quickly fades when she sees her sister.

More accurately, all fun vanishes into the void when Hyejoo sees the person talking to her sister.

Kim Bora.

The sixth year is speaking quite robustly, arms moving about as she stands closely to Siyeon. Hyejoo can only see the back of her sister’s head, but she’s not fond of the way several abandoned chairs seem to leave Siyeon trapped where she’s standing.

Bora suddenly makes a flexing gesture, and Hyejoo hastily abandons her personal corner in favor of walking over to the two.

“Unnie,” she says loudly as she elbows past two Hufflepuffs to stand next to her sister. 

“Hyejoo?” Siyeon seems to come out of a stupor as she turns to the first year. “Something wrong?”

“No,” Hyejoo says even as she shoots a look at Bora. Her eyes narrow further when the Gryffindor has the gall to look clueless and confused. “Can I talk to you for a sec though?”

“Sure,” Siyeon says. She gives Bora a small smile. “Please excuse me.”

“No problem, take your time,” Bora says with a grin. “I’ll be here all day.” 

Hyejoo tries not to be too forceful as she tugs Siyeon into her precious nook. 

“What’s going on between you and Kim Bora?” she asks as soon as she makes sure that Bora didn’t follow behind.

“Me and Bora?” Siyeon blinks. “N– Nothing! Nothing at all!”

“Doesn’t look like nothing to me,” Hyejoo frowns. 

“We’re just classmates,” Siyeon says. “Honestly,” she adds when Hyejoo doesn’t look convinced. “I mean I guess we’re kind of friends? We’ve been in the same classes since first year.”

Hyejoo puffs out her cheeks.

“You don’t have to lie to me, unnie.”

“I’m not, I swear!” Siyeon insists. “We really are just classmates. Nothing more…”

Hyejoo stares.

Siyeon stares back.

Hyejoo narrows her eyes.

Siyeon widens hers.

Hyejoo sighs.

“There’s really nothing… unique going on between you two?” 

“Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Nothing at all!” Siyeon lets out a pretty phony laugh. “Haha, I don’t even know what gives you the idea that there’s something going on between us.”

Hyejoo purses her lips. She’s just about to point out that Siyeon’s whole demeanor is one big red flag, but she gives up when Siyeon pulls that puppy face that she always uses when she wants Hyejoo to capitulate to her.

“Fine,” Hyejoo mutters. “But be careful, okay?”

“Of course,” Siyeon says. Hyejoo doesn’t miss how her eyes dart to where Bora is waiting. “I’m always careful.”

“Yeah, right,” Hyejoo grumbles. She watches Siyeon over the rim of her butterbeer as she takes a swig, her frown deepening when her sister returns directly to Bora.

“Why do you look so constipated?”

Hyejoo almost chokes on her butterbeer at the sudden voice from her left. Coughing into her mug, Hyejoo winces as she looks up to see Chaewon with her eyebrow raised.

“Not so fun when it’s your turn to have the living daylights scared out of you, huh?” Chaewon smirks, though she still pats Hyejoo’s back soothingly. 

“I didn’t see you coming,” Hyejoo says, wiping her mouth. “Because you’re too short.”

The hand on her back turns into a solid smack. 

“Don’t be mean,” Chaewon scolds. “Anyways, I was wondering if you wanted to get out of here.”

“Is that a muggle pick up line?”

Chaewon hits her again.

“Alright, alright,” Hyejoo chuckles. “Let’s go. Wait, where are we going?”

“No clue,” Chaewon says shamelessly. “Jiwoo-unnie says she wants to get some fresh air, and I don’t trust her to not get us lost, so…”

“You know you have to pay me if you want me to be your tour guide, right?” 

Chaewon pouts.

“If you don’t want to come, you can just say so–”

“No, I was kidding,” Hyejoo says, setting down her empty mug. “Let’s go. There are way too many people here.”

Chaewon’s smile is gentle as she takes Hyejoo’s hand. 

“I figured you might think so,” she says as she leads them to the exit.

Hyejoo glances back into the Three Broomsticks one last time on her way out. She’s pleased to see that Siyeon is now talking to Yoohyeon with Bora nowhere in sight. As she steps into the sunlit streets of Hogsmeade, Hyejoo silently hopes that Yoohyeon will continue to stick by Siyeon for the remainder of the trip.

After all, if their fight earlier was any proof, Yoohyeon definitely has the guts to stand up to a bully like Kim Bora.


“Oh my god, Jiwoo-unnie! I can’t believe you’re a muggleborn too!”

“Me too! How come I never knew that you are a muggleborn!?”

Hyejoo rubs at her temples while Chaewon puts her face in her hands next to her.

“Ah, this is so amazing!” Yerim says, clapping in delight. “I’m so glad to have another muggleborn friend!”

“Me too, me too!” Jiwoo exclaims. “And we’re in the same house! This is wonderful!”

“Aaah!”

“Aaaaaah!”

Apparently, the two Hufflepuffs’ sheer joy has finally hit critical mass when they both squeal and throw their arms around each other. Hyejoo is mildly impressed when Jiwoo actually lifts Yerim into the air with her hug.

“Chaewon!” Jiwoo calls out. “How come you never told me that Yerim is a muggleborn?”

“I didn’t know you didn’t know,” Chaewon sighs. “You two are the ones in the same house. Man, I hope Heejin doesn’t find out.”

“What’s wrong with Heejin?” Hyejoo asks.

“What isn’t?” Chaewon sighs yet again. “She’s obsessed with muggle culture. Especially this one muggle band.”

“Oh!” Yerim says, now clapping again. “Tell me it’s Sol. Is it Sol?”

“... Yes.”

“Yes!” Yerim cheers as Jiwoo gives a big thumbs up. 

“... What’s Sol?” Hyejoo asks cautiously.

“Only the greatest K-pop group in the world!” Jiwoo gushes. “They have twelve members, and they’re all so pretty and talented and aah!”

“Aaaah!” Yerim squees in agreement.

Hyejoo feels a headache coming on. 

“What happened to a Hogsmeade tour?” she asks Chaewon.

“I don’t know,” Chaewon sighs for a third time. “Jiwoo-unnie was supposed to be waiting for us right outside the Three Broomsticks. Who let her loose in Honeydukes?”

“Chaewon-unnie, Chaewon-unnie,” Yerim says. “I have an idea!”

“Yes…?”

“Let’s introduce Heejin-unnie to stan twitter!”

“Absolutely NOT.”

“... Chaewon,” Hyejoo says. “Who’s Stan?”

“Argh!” Chaewon lets out a frustrated whine, and she actually stamps her feet a few times. “Okay! Jiwoo-unnie, didn’t you say you wanted to see the Shrieking Shack?”

“Oh, yes!” Jiwoo nods furiously. “Jungie refuses to go there with me no matter how much I beg.”

“The Shrieking Shack?” Yerim gasps, stars in her eyes. “Wasn’t that featured in an episode of Unsolved Enigmas?”

“Yes, it was!” Jiwoo says, grabbing both of Yerim’s hands in her own. “We have to go see it! By the way, which episode was your fave?”

“Hyejoo, let’s go,” Chaewon says urgently. She starts pushing Hyejoo from behind. “If she starts talking about The Haunting of Mountain Manor, I don’t think she’s going to stop.”

“... You’re pushing me the wrong way.”

“Oops.”

Twenty chatter-filled minutes later and the group of four finally make it to the fences surrounding the Shrieking Shack. Hyejoo stands behind the trio of muggleborns as they ooh and aah over it, Jiwoo lamenting about not bringing some… cell thing. Hyejoo has no idea how or why she’d bring a jail, but the third year quickly returns to her regular cheery mood as she pretends to pose in front of the dilapidated building.

Hyejoo lets out a slow breath as she looks out at the Shack. It looks just as she imagined it would from the inside, dark and imposing, somber and oppressive. Despite being made almost entirely out of wood, Hyejoo knows it’s a lot more sturdy and enduring than its appearance.

“Ya kiddos here for the ghosties, huh?”

Hyejoo jumps in surprise as an eldery wizard hobbles up to her and her friends. He eyes them warily though not suspiciously as he also moves up to the fences.

“Do you live near here, sir?” Jiwoo asks.

“Indeed I do. Been here for the past fifty or so years,” the man says. 

Jiwoo and Yerim shoot each other an excited look.

“So, um…  is it true?” Jiwoo asks. “Like… is the Shrieking Shack really haunted?”

“It might just be,” the wizard says, tapping his cane against one of the wooden posts. “My wife thought it was hogwash when she moved here after the Shrieking Shack went silent, but when we heard it start up again…”

Yerim lowers her hand from her mouth. “You mean… it’s back? Whatever used to haunt the Shrieking Shack has come back?”

“Heard it myself,” the old man nods. “Just a few weeks ago, in fact. I don’t think it’s ghosts though…”

“Why?” Jiwoo asks, her voice coming out in a whisper. 

“No way a ghost be making those terrible sounds,” the wizard says gravely. “If there’s anything in there, it must be a monster.”

Hyejoo forces herself to stop grinding her teeth and unclenches her fists. She clears her throat.

“Guys,” she says loudly. “We should be heading back.”

“Aww,” Jiwoo pouts. “I wish we could go inside or something. Then we could find out more!”

“Yeah,” Yerim nods. “We could turn this Unsolved Enigma into a solved one!”

“Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” Chaewon says dryly. “Who knows what’s in there?”

Hyejoo frowns but says nothing.

As her friends bid the old man goodbye, Hyejoo already starts making her way back to the rest of Hogsmeade. A heaviness drags her every step down, but she does her best to shrug it off by focusing on the path ahead while brushing aside thoughts about the building behind.

She doesn’t notice how Chaewon gives her a contemplative look behind her back.

Chapter Text

“Jinsol-unnie is a scammer.”

Hyejoo doesn’t move from where she’s sprawled face down on one of the changing room benches. There’s no will, there’s no desire, there’s no ability to do anything but rot in place now.

Hyunjin seems to agree, judging from how she hasn’t budged an inch from where she slumped against a locker as soon as she set foot into the changing room. Her head hangs low, and there’s no indication that she hears a word of Chaewon’s rant.

“‘Quidditch players get academic leeway…’ But at what cost?”

Hyejoo grunts. A finger pokes her, and she doesn’t even have the strength to bat it away. 

“You two really had it worse than me, huh?” Chaewon’s voice is a lot closer now, and Hyejoo can feel her crouched next to Hyejoo’s bench.

“All I wanted…” Hyunjin rasps out. “Was to hit a ball at people. I didn’t ask to join some muggle boot camp.”

“I didn’t ask for any of this,” Hyejoo growls into the wooden bench. “This is your fault.”

“There, there,” Chaewon says soothingly. “Too bad Head Girl Bae showed up right when Captain Byulyi was about to let you two off easy, huh?”

Hyejoo still remembers it as clearly as the soreness in her arms.

She and Hyunjin had just dropped their enchanted weights onto the ground in exhaustion when Captain Byulyi flew over to them with sympathetic smiles.

“Sorry,” she said. “Gotta whip you both into top shape. You can take it easy for now though, you’ve earned a break–”

And then Head Girl Bae, for some damnable reason, appeared at the edge of the field.

“Well then,” Captain Byulyi immediately backtracked. “Nevermind. Sorry, kids, I don’t feel like dying today. Back to work!”

Hyejoo has no idea how she survived the next half hour.

She is going to be pissed if they don’t win the first match against Gryffindor after all this suffering.

“I have an idea,” Hyunjin announces once Chaewon has successfully thrown them both into the showers with some solid wandwork.

Hyejoo grunts.

“Let’s spike Heejin’s meal next week,” Hyunjin says. “Then Chaewon won’t have any competition and we’ll have less work to do.”

Hyejoo grunts again.

“I’m glad you agree.”

“Why don’t you just poison the entire Gryffindor team while you’re at it?” Chaewon says snarkily from where she’s waiting outside.

“Good idea. Let’s do it.”

Hyejoo snorts. There’s definitely a Gryffindor Chaser she won’t mind sabotaging. She knows her teammates are just joking though (probably…), and so takes her sweet time before staggering out of the changing rooms with a defeated sigh.

The trek back to the castle is a long and arduous one, Hyejoo’s every muscle protesting each step she takes. The allure of food is powerful though, and Hyejoo feels her soul return to life when she finally makes it to the Great Hall. It’s still fairly early in the evening so the hall is relatively deserted, though Hyejoo spots Siyeon sitting alone and poking at her food.

“Hey, unnie,” Hyejoo says as she plops next to her.

“Hey.”

“Where’s Yoohyeon-unnie? Wasn’t she hanging out with you earlier?”

“No idea.”

Siyeon’s answer is curt and blunt, and Hyejoo pauses in the middle of grabbing a drumstick to look at her sister. Siyeon’s makeup is heavier today, but even then it doesn’t fully hide the gauntness of her cheeks and the pallidness of her skin. Her eyes are unfocused, and it seems her appetite isn’t all that great either from how she keeps pushing a carrot back and forth on her plate.

Hyejoo hides a sigh and gently pats her sister’s shoulder.

“You should go to bed early today,” Hyejoo urges quietly. “You don’t look so good.”

“I don’t feel so good,” Siyeon mutters. “God, I hate this.”

“Me too,” Hyejoo mumbles. She glances around, suddenly hyper aware of a few pairs of eyes on them as she moves to grab a slice of rare steak. 

“Goodnight, Hyejoo,” Siyeon says abruptly as she rises from the table. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Definitely,” Hyejoo promises before forcing a chunk of meat into her mouth. 

She watches Siyeon walk away, her eyes narrowing when Kim Bora of all people intercepts Siyeon’s departure. The Gryffindor’s expression is serious, and she’s frowning as she talks to Siyeon. Hyejoo briefly considers flinging her knife at the older girl when Bora actually grabs Siyeon’s arm, but she soon lets go and allows Siyeon to leave.

Hyejoo finishes the rest of her meal in silence, chewing with a vengeance as she keeps an eye on Bora. The potential threat to her sister’s wellbeing (Hyejoo hasn’t fully decided how high her danger level is yet) is now seated next to that one prefect that she’s often hanging around, laughing merrily with some Ravenclaw on her other side.

Wait a second.

Hyejoo rubs her eyes.

Was that puppy Yoohyeon peeking out from inside the prefect’s robes...?

Hyejoo quickly decides that she doesn’t want to know.


Secret Love Song

Kim Yoohyeon is pretty sure she’s dying.

Scratch that, she’s probably already dead and this is heaven.

After all, how else is she able to hitch a ride inside the robes of her secret crush of three years?

Even the tiny chunk of bread Minji sneaks her tastes better than anything Yoohyeon has ever eaten, and she quickly ducks back into Minji’s robes when she hears Bora directing a question at Minji. Boy, is that girl loud... Yoohyeon tunes out their conversation because it’s not polite to eavesdrop on your crush, and besides, she’s more content with curling up and enjoying the warmth Minji offers.

Heaven knows she needs it right now.

She tries not to dwell on the… disagreement she had earlier with Siyeon, but it’s hard to put it out of her mind. It’s made worse by the fact that they weren’t even arguing over anything. In fact, their whole encounter could be summed up as just a conversation were it not for the negative feelings it gave birth to that are still stirring around inside her heart.

“Hey, you want to go watch Hyunjin and Hyejoo practice?”

“No,” Siyeon says shortly. She’s holding up a book as they both sit in the library, but it’s clear that she’s hardly reading it; she hasn’t flipped a single page for the past five minutes. “I don’t want to bother them.”

Yoohyeon tilts her head. 

“I’m sure they’d be more excited to see you than anything else,” Yoohyeon points out. “Hyejoo would probably want to show off in front of her precious big sis–”

“No,” Siyeon says again, this time more harshly. 

Yoohyeon physically pulls back a bit.

Siyeon sighs.

“Sorry, I just really don’t want to go outside today, okay?” Siyeon says. “I’m really tired.”

“I understand,” Yoohyeon says. She’s glad Siyeon still hasn’t looked up from her book.

That way she can’t see how Yoohyeon’s smile doesn’t meet her eyes.

The next few minutes pass in silence, Yoohyeon trying to focus on her own studies until a rustling sound catches her attention instead. She looks up to see Siyeon gripping her textbook far too tightly, her fingers fretfully crinkling and un-crinkling one of the corners of the page that she probably still hasn’t flipped.

“Siyeon-unnie, let’s–”

“I said no,” Siyeon cuts in, slamming her book down. “What part of ‘I don’t want to go outside’ don’t you get?”

“Sorry,” Yoohyeon says, her voice quiet. “I just noticed you weren’t reading and figured maybe you’d want to get out of the library at least.”

Siyeon doesn’t answer for a while, her brows still furrowed in anger until she lets out another sigh.

“Fine. Where are we going?”

“Uh…” Yoohyeon wracks her brains for something that won’t take them outdoors. 

“... You don’t know?” 

“I’m thinking!”

Siyeon suddenly stands up.

“You know what? I’ll just go wander around on my own,” she says, roughly pushing in her chair. “Sorry for disrupting your study session.”

“What? Unnie, no, that’s not what I meant,” Yoohyeon says quickly. “I just wanted to relax and have some fun with you, but it doesn’t look like you’re having fun at all.”

Siyeon’s irritable expression is replaced by a sad one, and Yoohyeon hates how that pained emotion seems more like the old Siyeon.

The Siyeon she was before she was bitten.

“I’m not,” Siyeon confesses. “I’m just so tired today and I don’t even know how I’m going to get through classes tomorrow. But I have to.”

“I know,” Yoohyeon says, her voice small. “I know how hard it is.”

For a second, it looks as though Siyeon is about to make another cutting comment, and Yoohyeon braces herself for the consequences of saying something wrong again. 

Instead, Siyeon exhales slowly.

“I’m just going to go get dinner,” she says. “I’ll be going to sleep early today, so don’t bother looking for me.”

Yoohyeon nods. “Okay, unnie.”

Siyeon stares at her for another moment.

“Sorry,” she says, and then she’s gone.

Yoohyeon slowly lets her head drop onto her book. It’s probably terrible for the book’s spine, but Yoohyeon can’t be bothered to care. She can always fix it with magic after all.

Unlike relationships.

Yoohyeon takes a deep breath before blowing it out loudly. She feels like she just made it past a field full of gnome holes without getting her ankles chewed on, and she’s even more relieved that Hyejoo and Hyunjin weren’t here for this exchange. Knowing those two, they probably wouldn’t have taken Siyeon’s snippiness all that well and who knows what would result from that?

Yoohyeon tries not to think about the way Hyejoo looked last month when Siyeon lost her temper.

She tries not to think about much at all as she quickly returns her books and hunts down a secluded alcove out of everyone’s line of sight. A quick shake later and the world suddenly becomes much larger, Yoohyeon peeking around the corner as a dog. As soon as the coast is clear, she waddles out of hiding and heads for a nearby shortcut that takes her straight to Hogwarts’ ground floor.

Yoohyeon almost reaches her intended destination, a tree near the shores of the lake, when a pair of familiar hands suddenly scoop her up. 

“Pie! There you are!”

Minji is all smiles as she holds Yoohyeon up in the air, her glasses reflecting the afternoon sun. 

“I was looking for you,” she coos, and Yoohyeon’s glad that her face as a dog doesn’t give away how she’s freaking out on the inside.

Why is Kim Minji so gorgeous?

Yoohyeon is more than happy to let the older student carry her towards the tree, though Minji stops an ample distance away. 

“Huh, she’s not here today either…” Minji says, and Yoohyeon’s ears twitch. “Oh, maybe she’ll show up later?”

Yoohyeon is left wondering who Minji is talking about as the Gryffindor brings her back into the castle. Just as she’s debating if she should take a leaf out of Hyunjin’s book and perhaps jinx whoever dares stand up Minji at Yoohyeon’s favorite tree, she’s unceremoniously shoved into Minji’s robes and darkness surrounds her.

“Hey, Gahyeon!” Minji says.

“Hi, Minji-unnie,” the Ravenclaw greets. “Where’s Bora-unnie?”

“Probably already inside,” Minji answers.

And thus, Yoohyeon is smuggled inside the Great Hall.

A shift in gravity breaks Yoohyeon out of her musing. She stays quiet as Minji presumably stands up, bidding farewell to Bora and Gahyeon before taking Yoohyeon to who knows where.

The sky is dark outside by the time Minji finally lets Yoohyeon out of her robes. Yoohyeon shakes out her fur before looking around and realizing that they’re back at the tree.

“She’s still not here, hm…” Minji murmurs. “Sorry for kidnapping you, Pie. There’s someone I’ve been wanting you to meet.”

Yoohyeon barks.

“Her name is Yoohyeon,” Minji says with a soft smile. “She’s a… friend of mine. The one I’ve mentioned a couple times, remember?”

Yoohyeon barks again, and she hopes her tail isn’t wagging too hard.

Minji crouches in front of Yoohyeon and scratches the back of her ears affectionately.

“I was hoping you could cheer her up,” she says. “She’s been looking kind of down lately, not that I blame her.”

Yoohyeon lets out a whine this time, nuzzling Minji’s hand.

“Well, I’m still glad I got to see you today,” Minji says, smiling again as she stands up. “I have to head back now, but stay safe out here, okay? Or wherever it is you go.”

Yoohyeon pushes Minji’s leg with her head, pleased when the girl laughs in reply. She takes the biscuit Minji offers her as a farewell gift before quickly darting to the other side of the tree and transforming back.

“Oh, what a nice nap!” Yoohyeon says loudly as she walks out from behind the tree, stretching her arms above her.

“Yoohyeon?” Minji blinks before removing her glasses to wipe them. “Were you on the other side of the tree this whole time?”

It takes Yoohyeon a second before she remembers to answer, too starstruck by those precious few seconds where she got to witness Minji’s bare face. 

“Uh… Uh! I mean, uh… yes! I was sleeping very peacefully until just now. Didn’t hear a thing, didn’t notice a thing.”

Minji’s pout is lethal, Yoohyeon notes.

“So you didn’t see a little dog run by?”

“Nope, not at all!”

“Ah, what a shame,” Minji says wistfully. “And I finally got a hold of her too. I was hoping to introduce you two.”

“M– Me?” Yoohyeon points at herself. 

Minji nods.

“You seem a little… worn out lately,” she explains. “Which is understandable. Bora mentioned how Siyeon doesn’t look so great these days either.”

“Yeah.” Yoohyeon casts her eyes to the ground, kicking the first pebble she sees. “She and I are a little… stressed, I guess.”

Minji doesn’t reply, and Yoohyeon looks up to see a smile so kind she could cry. 

“I’m sorry,” Minji says, genuine sympathy clear in every syllable. “I can only imagine how difficult it must be, what happened to Son Hyejoo. I don’t know how I would react if something like that happened to Gahyeon.”

Yoohyeon swallows to clear the buildup in her throat. 

“We’ll get by,” she says. In a stronger voice, she adds, “We always do.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Minji agrees. “It’s a shame Pie got away though. Just seeing her always brings me so much happiness, and I was hoping she could do that for you.”

Yoohyeon really hopes her blush isn’t as obvious as it feels right now. She’s pretty sure she could cook an egg with how warm her face suddenly feels. 

“M– M– Maybe n– next time?” she stammers. 

Minji beams. 

“Next time it is.”


It doesn’t get easier, going to the Shrieking Shack. 

It’s a bit more bearable now that it’s the second time, but knowing what awaits her there, Hyejoo doesn’t think it’s ever going to be easier

She leaves Hogwarts around sunset again, this time making sure to eat a proper meal in the Great Hall first. None of her friends mention the state of the moon tonight, but Hyejoo knows they’re cheering her on from all the gentle smiles she keeps receiving. Yerim and Yeojin insist on giving her a hug, and Jiwoo also joins in after telling off a gossiping student. 

“Good luck,” Chaewon says softly when Hyejoo walks by her. 

Hyejoo hopes she doesn’t need it. 

Yoohyeon is the one waiting for her this time as she closes in on the Whomping Willow. She loses sight of the tiny Pomeranian several times as it dodges the tree’s assault, surprisingly agile despite its short legs. The Whomping Willow eventually freezes, leaving open the path leading onwards. 

The door Siyeon broke last time has been fixed, and Siyeon gives Hyejoo a quick hug before bending down to give Hyunjin and Yoohyeon head rubs. 

“Thank you all for coming,” she says before vanishing behind the door. 

Hyejoo closes her eyes. 

And then she opens them as a wolf. 

Siyeon once again breaks out of her self-assigned room in a storm of snarls and growls. Hyejoo can easily tell she’s not as docile as she was last time, the werewolf snapping its jaws at Hyejoo several times. It doesn’t attack though, and Hyejoo watches her sister carefully as she begins to pace back and forth. 

She doesn’t know when Yoohyeon and Hyunjin slipped downstairs, but they’re also clearly aware of Siyeon’s agitated state. Yoohyeon’s repeated attempts to get closer to Siyeon are cautious and careful, and Hyunjin’s claws are out as she slowly circles Siyeon.

Hyejoo herself remains at the side of the living room, blocking the only exit should Siyeon try to escape. Her head moves left and right as she watches her sister move to and fro, her eyes gleaming in the darkness. 

Out of the blue, Siyeon lets out a drawn-out howl.

It’s going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Know My Heart

“Hey, you’re Kim Hyunjin, right? Professor Kim’s daughter–”

Hyunjin doesn’t even wait for the Ravenclaw to finish their sentence before standing up and leaving the Great Hall. Her schoolmate gives a shout of surprise, but Hyunjin ignores it as she makes a beeline for a hopefully deserted corner of Hogwarts.

She’s seen it before, that exact same expression of polite but feigned interest. It’s sure to be followed with a quick “Oh, that’s so cool!” and then perhaps some of the usual questions such as “What’s it like, being raised by Professor Kim? How is it, being the daughter of the great Kim Taeyeon?” Hyunjin considers it lucky if the conversation ends there, but she is also sadly familiar with cheap flattery and blatant favor-seeking.

So annoying.

To make matters worse, one of Hyunjin’s favorite alcoves to escape through is currently occupied. There’s a pair of students blocking the open window as they chat loudly, and just as Hyunjin is about to walk by, one of them sees her and jumps straight into her path.

“Hey, Kim Hyunjin.”

It’s an older Slytherin, and she doesn’t seem to want to let Hyunjin go based on her assertive stance. 

“Yes?” Hyunjin says calmly. 

“We spoke last week,” the older student says. “Remember? About putting in a good word to your mom?”

Speaking of blatant favor-seeking…

“I don’t remember,” Hyunjin answers, and it’s not even a lie. She’s used to dumping these kinds of requests out of her mind. 

The Slytherin doesn’t look too pleased, and their friend gives a scoff next to them. 

“Just let it be,” the Hufflepuff says. “Even the firsties in my house say it’s impossible to communicate with Kim Hyunjin.”

“Man, I feel bad for Professor Kim, having such a creepy kid,” the Slytherin sneers. 

Hyunjin bites back a laugh. She hasn’t heard that one before. Unfortunately, her humor quickly fades when the older student continues running her mouth. 

“No wonder she talks to that mudblood that got sorted into our house.”

“Hey now, don’t be rude,” the Hufflepuff scolds, putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder, but Hyunjin doesn’t care. 

She abruptly whirls around on her heel, not even bothering to say anything. There’s no point in dealing with people like this, and Hyunjin doesn’t want to waste any more time. 

So annoying. 

“Hey, where you going?” the Slytherin calls out. “We’re not done talking!”

“Yes, we are,” Hyunjin mutters under her breath. 

A hand grabs her shoulder. 

Hyunjin reaches for her wand. 

“Heeeeey, Hyunjin!”

All three students turn to see a pair of students approaching them. By some stroke of fate, it’s another Slytherin and Hufflepuff pair, and the Hufflepuff is waving enthusiastically at Hyunjin. 

“Hyunjinnie, where have you been?” she says, throwing an arm around Hyunjin and pulling her away from the others. “Siyeon-unnie and I were looking for you!”

Now that’s a name Hyunjin recognizes, and so does the other Slytherin judging from her reaction.

“Siyeon-unnie!” the jerk says, her voice cloyingly sweet. “I didn’t know you were friends with Kim Hyunjin.”

“The more you know, huh?” Siyeon crosses her arms. “I hope you weren’t bothering her or anything.”

“Oh no, absolutely not, we would never do such a thing, unnie!”

“Glad to hear it,” Siyeon nods. “Now, if you don’t mind…”

The two students take the hint, bowing in an exaggeratedly subservient manner before scurrying away. 

Siyeon’s Hufflepuff friend lets go of Hyunjin. 

“Sorry about that,” she says. “It looked like they were bothering you, so we stepped in.”

“They were,” Hyunjin says. “Thanks, I guess.”

“Oh, let me introduce myself!” the Hufflepuff suddenly says before smiling brightly. “I’m Kim Yoohyeon, Hufflepuff third year. And this is Son Siyeon, as you probably already know.”

Who doesn’t, Hyunjin thinks. The Sons are notoriously famous, more so than Hyunjin’s own legendary mother thanks to their long established lineage, and Hyunjin’s housemates all pointed out the Son heir the very first day Hyunjin set foot in the Slytherin dorm. 

Said heir turns away from where she was watching the other students run away, her previously impassive and haughty expression melting into one of disgust. She even sticks her tongue out as though she just ate a booger-flavored bean, and Hyunjin stifles a snort. 

“Suck ups,” Siyeon mutters with a pout. “So fake.”

“I agree,” Hyunjin says. “Anyways, thanks again for the save, but–”

Yoohyeon and Siyeon shoot each other a look before turning back to Hyunjin. 

“Actually…” Siyeon starts.

“We were hoping to ask you a question,” Yoohyeon finishes.

Hyunjin blinks. 

“I’m not into older women, sorry.”

This time, Hyunjin allows herself a smirk when Siyeon starts sputtering nonsense and Yoohyeon somehow trips while standing still. 

“That’s not– We’d never– Merlin’s beard…” Siyeon sighs. “That was NOT what we were going to ask.”

Yoohyeon, sense of balance now reestablished, takes a step towards Hyunjin. 

Here it comes, Hyunjin thinks. Something about her mom–

“You’re a cat animagus, aren’t you?”

Or not. 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Hyunjin says flatly. 

“You can turn into a cat, can’t you?” Siyeon asks, her voice low as she glances around the corridor. 

“Have you been reading too many muggle stories?” Hyunjin crosses her arms. “Just because I’m a witch doesn’t mean I turn into a cat.”

Yoohyeon frowns, her lower lip jutting out. 

“I’m like ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine percent sure I saw you transform last Friday,” she says. “You jumped out of the Transfiguration classroom.”

Hyunjin curses inside her head. 

“You must have seen wrong,” she says. “There’s always all sorts of animals escaping Mom– Professor Kim’s classroom. And what makes you think a first year could be an animagus?”

“Well, I saw you transform like two days ago. Right from this window, in fact,” Siyeon says, jerking her thumb at the alcove. “And the fact that you’re so young is why we want to ask you…”

“Teach us how to become animagi!” Yoohyeon says, her eyes shining with excitement. “In return, we’ll teach you some top secret castle shortcuts!”

“Yeah,” Siyeon nods. “It’ll help make your getaways easier.”

Hyunjin stares. 

“I also know a good way to sneak into the kitchens,” Yoohyeon adds, wiggling her eyebrows for emphasis. 

“Very tempting,” Hyunjin says, and it’s almost amusing how the two older students visibly light up. “Too bad I’m really not an animagus.”

Just like that, Siyeon and Yoohyeon deflate. 

“We understand,” Siyeon says after an awkward silence. “We’re, uh, sorry for bothering you.”

“Wait,” Yoohyeon says quickly. “How about I show you a shortcut anyways?”

“I told you, I’m not–”

“No, no, not like that.” Yoohyeon raises her hands apologetically. “I mean like… free on the house. Just in case you don’t want to run into people you don’t like.”

“Might run into us though,” Siyeon grins. “We also like going poof from Hogwarts from time to time.”

Hyunjin purses her lips, thinking. 

“Lead the way,” she says after a minute.

After all, free’s free, right?

Hyunjin squints against the sunlight when the three of them emerge into a secluded section of one of Hogwarts’ courtyards, well hidden by shrubbery. Like Siyeon promised, the path Yoohyeon provides does indeed make escaping crowds easier, and Hyunjin begrudgingly admits to herself that she can see herself using it in the days to come. 

“Saturday at four,” she says, turning to the two older students. 

“Huh?” they both say at the same time. 

Hyunjin squints. 

“Are you two twins or something? Anyways, be here on Saturday at four in the afternoon,” she says. “Bring fresh bread too. No bread, no nothing.”

When Siyeon and Yoohyeon both scream in delight and tackle Hyunjin, the first year can’t help but hope that she doesn’t regret this. 

Hyunjin still doesn’t regret it. 

It’s honestly too late for regret, and even if it wasn’t, Hyunjin knows that at this point she’s pretty much already stuck with Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and even Hyejoo. She hasn’t known Hyejoo as long as the other two, but she’d still risk life and limb for her. 

It’s only fair, considering how Hyejoo is currently doing the same.

Hyunjin is currently crouched under her in her cat form, Hyejoo positively dwarfing her as a wolf. Hyunjin was almost envious of her size and strength at some point, but now, especially when reminded of why they need it, Hyunjin is grateful for the creature Hyejoo’s inner spirit manifested as. She’s even more grateful for the younger girl’s protective streak as she shields Hyunjin and Yoohyeon from the werewolf facing them.

Siyeon lets out a low, frustrated whine. She’s been antsy the entire night, restless and worked up. The last hour has been filled with her clawing at the windows and even throwing her entire body at them. She’s also made several dashes for the tunnel leading to the Whomping Willow, nearly trampling tiny Yoohyeon in the process. 

Hyejoo is now parked firmly in front of the exit, sending warning growls whenever Siyeon comes too near. Hyunjin already misses the previous month, when Siyeon was significantly… tamer, so to speak. She’s sure her friends do as well, Yoohyeon whimpering slightly as she hides behind Hyejoo’s rear legs.

After what feels like far too long, Siyeon finally, finally settles down. She lays down on the floor, resting her head on her forearms as her golden eyes stare into nothingness. Yoohyeon makes a new attempt at approaching the werewolf, Hyunjin and Hyejoo following closely behind, and Hyunjin’s sure they all want to let out a sigh of relief when Siyeon doesn’t lash out.

Siyeon lets out another whine as she lets her friends sit near her. Yoohyeon chooses a spot to the right of her head as Hyunjin opts for the left with Hyejoo mirroring Siyeon directly in front of her. Hyunjin has no idea what Siyeon’s current thought processes are, but she hopes seeing her friends can bring the human side of her at least some comfort, no matter how small that side is right now.

Siyeon gives an uneasy huff, whatever invisible ache still ailing her.

It’s okay, Hyunjin wants to say. It’s okay, she wants to say despite knowing that Siyeon can’t understand her. It’s okay, she wants to say even though she knows it’s not okay.

Well, it doesn’t matter.

Hyunjin is going to be here for her all the same.


“Wow, you look even worse than Hyunjin.”

Hyejoo scowls as she pulls out her copy of Magical Drafts and Potions

“Gee, I wonder why,” she says, sarcasm dripping out of every word as she glares at Heejin. 

“Sorry, sorry,” Heejin apologizes with a sympathetic smile. “I forgot about… y’know. It’s easy to forget ‘cause you’re not very… y’know.”

“I don’t know,” Hyejoo deadpans. 

“How very specific,” Hyunjin chimes in as she slides into her seat next to Heejin. 

“Hey,” the Gryffindor protests. “You know exactly what I’m talking about, so don’t pretend otherwise, Kim Hyunjin.”

“I did say you were very specific.”

“But you were being– Ah, why are you like this?” Heejin groans, putting her head down on her desk in despair. “I can’t believe I gave you my grilled cheese in Herbology.”

“It was a very good grilled cheese sandwich,” Hyunjin comments. 

Heejin lifts her head, glowering at her Potions partner. 

“Next time, bring your own food when you’re too tired from working out all night,” she grumbles. “I was saving that for Garfield. She’s much nicer than you.”

“Garfield?” Hyejoo asks. 

“Ah, she’s one of the cats roaming around Hogwarts,” Heejin explains. “I named her after this muggle illustration, but honestly she’s nothing like it. She’s really pretty and so sweet if she feels like letting you get close.”

Hyejoo lifts an eyebrow. 

“Is she orange, by any chance?”

“How did you know?” Heejin gasps. “Oh, is it because you’ve seen her around? There’s really something different about her, huh?”

Out of the corner of her eye, Hyejoo sees Hyunjin wink.

“She’s definitely… unique,” Hyejoo answers, pulling a face. 

“Why do you make that sound like a not-compliment…?”

“Because it’s not a compliment,” Hyejoo says before quickly changing the topic. “Anyways, how's your Quidditch training going? Is Kim Bora torturing you all?”

“For the record, Garfield is a wonderful cat,” Heejin says with an assertive point of her finger. “And to answer your question, no. Captain Bora is pretty cool, actually! Practice has been fun.”

“Lucky you,” Hyejoo and Hyunjin both say at the same time. 

Hyejoo can already feel her soul leaving her body as she thinks of the next few afternoons. The military drills, as Chaewon called them, have fortunately ended, though they’ve been replaced with such intense practice matches that Hyejoo is sure her arm will fall off one of these days. 

“This is your fault,” she reminds her fellow Beater. 

“What is?” Hyunjin blinks. 

“The pain. The suffering,” Hyejoo laments. 

She subconsciously turns to her right, where she’s been waiting for a witty quip or retort or even words of comfort without realizing it. 

There’s silence. 

Hyejoo frowns. 

“Where’s Chaewon?”

Heejin and Hyunjin look at each other. 

“I think she said she was going to the library real quick?” Heejin says. “But she said she’d be back before class starts.”

“There’s still some time,” Hyunjin adds. 

Hyejoo stands up. 

“I’m going to go look for her,” she announces. 

Hyejoo tries to ignore the sense of dread building in her gut as she leaves the dungeons and heads for the Grand Staircase. Things have been relatively… peaceful as of late, not counting how exhausting last night was, but Hyejoo can’t ignore the feeling that things are going to blow up in her face sooner or later. She forces herself to not rush as she starts climbing the stairs leading to the first floor, swallowing down the odd sense of fear tickling the back of her neck. 

And then she crashes into someone. 

It’s Chaewon. 

“There you are,” Hyejoo sighs, unable to hold back her relieved exasperation. 

Chaewon dusts off her robes before looking up at Hyejoo. 

“Were you looking for me?”

“Of course I was.”

“Didn’t Heejin or Hyunjin say anything?” Chaewon frowns. “I told them I was going to the library.”

“They did,” Hyejoo says. “But I– You were taking too long.”

Chaewon puffs out her cheeks. 

“The stupid library didn’t have a thing I was looking for,” she complains as she starts leading the way back to Potions. “Everything was either missing or checked out with a long waiting list.”

“What were you even looking for?” Hyejoo asks. 

“Just some magical research I was curious about,” Chaewon replies nonchalantly. She tosses a look at Hyejoo over her shoulder. “Worried about me, hm?” she says with a small grin. 

Normally, Hyejoo would be quick to shoot down this kind of teasing with denial in the form of a barbed riposte. Something holds her back this time though, and it roots her in her spot as she looks to the floor. 

“I was, actually.”

Chaewon immediately turns around. 

“Hyejoo?”

Hyejoo gives a half-hearted shrug. 

“I dunno why, but I just… I just thought maybe something happened to you on the way or something,” she says. “I mean Baek Bitch One is back in school and Hyunjin says Baek Bitch Two has never liked you, so… And who knows, maybe you have a terrible sense of time or something.”

“I do not! I can keep track of the time perfectly fine,” Chaewon protests. “Mornings don’t count. Also, you switched the Baek Bitches’ numbers. Baek Bitch One got to Hogwarts first.”

“My bad,” Hyejoo says with a light chuckle. That foreboding feeling from before is long gone now, and she’s about to resume walking back to their classroom when Chaewon suddenly grabs her hand. 

“Thank you,” Chaewon says with a small but no less sincere smile. “Thanks for caring.”

“No problem.” Hyejoo clears her throat. “Now c’mon, we don’t want to be late.”

“Hm… Do you think we can make something that’ll knock out the Gryffindors on game day?”

“It’s worth a shot.”

It turns out that Hyejoo’s sixth sense was right on the money when their cauldron explodes forty minutes later.


“Are you ready, kids?”

“Aye-aye, Captain!”

“I can’t hear you!”

“AYE-AYE, CAPTAIN!”

“What’s so funny?” Hyejoo whispers to Chaewon as she adjusts the straps on her Quidditch gloves. The blonde’s lips are pursed, and she’s very clearly trying to bite back a laugh.

“It’s a muggle thing, don’t worry,” Chaewon answers before quickly snapping to attention when Captain Byulyi clears her throat. 

“Alright, so… Today’s the first match of the year,” Captain Byulyi says. “We’ve all prepared very hard for this day, some more than others.”

Hyejoo’s eye twitches at the reminder of all the pushups she was ordered to do just thirty minutes ago. 

“It would be a waste to throw all that effort away,” Captain Byulyi continues. “So let’s get out there and show those oversized house cats what Slytherin is about.”

“Oversized house cats,” Chaewon murmurs. “I’m calling Heejin that the next time we speak.”

“Now,” Captain Byulyi says with a strange twinkle in her eyes. “Who wants to sleep in their bed tonight?” 

There’s an awkward silence as the rest of the team all glance at each other, confused by the strange question. Only one person looks unbothered, and she raises her hand in the air to answer. 

“Me!” Hyunjin says loudly. 

“Good,” Captain Byulyi nods. “Because if we lose, we’re gonna be locked out of the dorms.”

“Wait, really?” Chaser Kim Dahyun asks. She turns to her fellow Chaser. “Hey, you’re friends with Head Girl Bae, right? Would she really kick us out?”

“Do you want to risk it?” Kim Jennie folds her arms. “I don’t.”

“We won’t have to,” the final Chaser Miyawaki Sakura says firmly. “Because we're going to win.”

“That’s the spirit,” Captain Byulyi says with a smile of approval. “Defeat is not an option!”

“Defeat is not an option,” Hyejoo chants monotonously with the rest of her team. 

“Show no mercy!”

“Show no mercy.”

“Head Girl Bae wants victory, so victory we must get!”

“Head Girl Bae wants victory, so victory we must get.”

With a final group shout of varying intensity, the Slytherin team all grab their broomsticks and start making their way towards the field. 

“Scared?” Hyunjin asks. 

“No,” Hyejoo scoffs. “I didn’t go through training from hell to be scared. People should be scared of us.”

Hyunjin smirks and raises a fist for Hyejoo to bump. 

“Gryffindor’s not going to know what hit them,” she says, winking. 

“Literally,” Chaewon adds. “I almost feel bad for them, actually.”

“You can feel bad for them after they lose,” Jennie says over her shoulder. 

“This is gonna be so great!” Dahyun cheers. 

“Win for Head Girl Bae. Win for Head Girl Bae,” Sakura chants under her breath. 

As the team lines up at the entrance to the pitch, Hyejoo glances at Chaewon. The Seeker appears calm and at ease, though her tight grip on her broom gives away the truth. 

“Hey,” Hyejoo calls out quietly. “You’ll be fine. You got this.”

For a second, it seems as though Chaewon didn’t hear her, but then she turns to Hyejoo with a small smile. 

We got this,” Chaewon says with conviction. She even raises a determined fist. “You’ll be watching my back, won’t you?”

Hyejoo grins. 

“Of course.”

A trumpet blares, and together, they walk out into the sun.

Chapter Text

Far Side of the Moon

Chaewon doesn’t think she’ll ever really be able to get over being able to fly. It’s something kids only ever dream of, something that only happens in fantasies and fairy tales, not something you could actually do outside of imagination. 

And then Chaewon found out about the world of magic.

She still remembers the first time she touched a broomstick. Nothing will ever live up to when she first received her wand, but there was still something incredible, something breathtaking about an inanimate object jumping into her hands and the realization that she could really use it to touch the skies above. She used to envy birds and butterflies for being able to go wherever they wanted to go, unburdened by the chains of gravity, but now she’s just as free as them, free to fly.

Chaewon almost can’t hear the wind whistling past her ears over all the screaming. She circles around the Quidditch pitch as is customary before the start of the match, eyes scanning all her schoolmates in the stands. To nobody’s surprise, there’s more people rooting for Gryffindor than Slytherin, but Chaewon doesn’t mind as she searches for specific faces in the crowd.

It’s almost hard to recognize Jiwoo with how she has half her face painted red and the other half painted green like some sort of bizarre Christmas decoration. She’s almost indistinguishable from Yerim next to her, the two cheering equally loudly for both teams. 

Chaewon’s glad Jiwoo doesn’t realize Sooyoung is only sitting two rows behind her. Haseul and Jinsol are, as expected, right next to Sooyoung and all three are sporting Gryffindor flags in honor of Yeojin, though they jump and holler as Chaewon cruises past them. 

“Good luck!” Jinsol shouts.

“But not too much luck!” Sooyoung adds with a wink.

Chaewon rolls her eyes goodnaturedly before zooming to her designated position over the center of the field. The rest of her team hovers below her, and Chaewon looks down just in time to see both Hyunjin and Hyejoo grinning up at her. While Hyejoo merely smiles at her, Hyunjin makes some sort of violent gesture before pointing at Heejin.

“You guys are up to something, aren’t you?” Heejin says as she floats across Chaewon in crimson robes. 

“Of course not,” Chaewon says. It’s the truth, but she bats her eyelashes to throw Heejin off. Sure enough, Heejin’s eyes narrow, but she’s cut off before she can make a retort.

“Alright, everyone. Welcome to the first game of the season!” a magically amplified voice booms across the field. “This is Handong, your announcer for the year. Today’s match is Gryffindor versus Slytherin, and I hope for Slytherin’s sake that they don’t embarrass themselves.”

Laughter rings throughout the pitch, everyone clearly in high spirits. The cheering renews as a short figure levitates a trunk to the center of the field, plopping it down in the middle of the field with a loud thunk.

“Professor Takahashi has brought out the balls,” Handong reports. “We’re about to start shortly, and of course Captains Bora and Byulyi can’t resist blowing kisses at each other.”

“Always a pleasure to see your fine ass,” Captain Byulyi says loudly. 

“You’ll get an even better view when we walk away with the trophy,” Captain Bora shoots back even louder.

“And now they’re flirting,” Handong says dryly. “Byulyi-unnie, here’s a reminder that your girlfriend is watching.”

Byulyi lifts her head and cups her mouth.

“Don’t worry, Yongsun! Your ass is still the best!”

Even though they’re sitting a fair distance away from Handong’s microphone, Chaewon still hears Head Girl Bae and another seventh year next to her sigh.

“Fortunately, Professor Takahashi looks ready to start the game,” Handong says. “And there it is: the Bludgers and the Golden Snitch have been released.”

As two weighty-looking iron balls launch themselves into the distance, a significantly smaller gold object flies before Chaewon, flapping its wings at high speed as it circles around her. It zooms over to Heejin and dances in front of her face before taking off high above, well out of Chaewon’s line of sight. 

On the ground, Hogwarts’ flight instructor grabs the final, red ball. With a sharp look at all her students above, Professor Takahashi flings the ball into the air.

“And the game begins!” Handong announces. “Chaser Bora immediately takes possession of the Quaffle– Nevermind, Chaser Jennie just stole it. Pathetic.”

Chaewon takes a deep breath as she makes a dash for higher altitudes. She’s keen to get away from the chaos erupting below as the other players start fighting over the Quaffle. Her rival Seeker Heejin has done the same, the two of them flying above the rest of the game as they scan for the Snitch while keeping an eye on each other.

“Chaser Dahyun chucks the Quaffle at the goal and… she’s blocked by Keeper Jungeun,” Handong says. “I’m supposed to be neutral here, but if I was allowed to boo, I would be booing right now.”

“Ahem!” Headmistress Kwon clears her throat.

“Anyways,” Handong continues. “Chaser Yuqi passes to Chaser Bora, almost getting intercepted by Chaser Dahyun there.”

Still tracking Heejin out of the corner of her eye, Chaewon starts scouring the field below for any glint of gold. She doesn’t see a thing, though she doesn’t expect to this early into the match. She does see Hyejoo though, the Beater closing in on a Bludger with her bat raised. Even from this far away, Chaewon hears Hyejoo let out a cry before swinging with impressive might.

“Homewrecker!” Hyejoo yells as she aims directly at Chaser Bora.

“Okay, I think Chaser Bora nearly lost an arm there,” Handong says. “She just barely avoided a high speed Bludger courtesy of Beater Hyejoo, but at the cost of dropping the Quaffle into Chaser Sakura’s hands. Chaser Yeojin has begun the chase, but oh! Another dangerous hit from Beater Hyunjin this time.”

Chaewon grins as she hears a loud “Hey!” from the Gryffindor first year. Hyunjin and Hyejoo don’t let up though, relentlessly seeking stray Bludgers to smack them at the opposing team. Gyrffindor’s own Beaters try to defend their team, but they’re clearly thrown off by how intensely aggressive the opposition is.

“What did Head Girl Bae feed these kids?” Handong wonders out loud. “Beater Jihyo looks like she’s about to lose it. Anyways, Chaser Dahyun has taken this chance to try to score again and… she does! Ten to zero, Slytherin takes the first point of the game!”

Cheers and jeering alike fill the stadium as Chaewon moves from one side of the field to the other. Heejin is doing the same on the opposite end, both Seekers still quietly searching for their quarry despite the excitement going on around them. 

“Chaser Yuqi makes a pass to Chaser Yeojin, the newest addition to the Gryffindor team. She heads for the hoops, about to face off against Keeper Byulyi. Let’s see what this kid is about– what.”

Chaewon rubs her eyes, not sure what she just witnessed. Handong likewise seems to be confused as she fumbles for the microphone.

“Um, okay, did we all just see that?” Handong asks. “Chaser Yeojin, uh… jumped off her broom? And threw the Quaffle?? And somehow landed back on her broom??? Anyways, she scored and I’m not even mad. Ten to ten.”

“That’s my Yeojinnie!” a fan screams. 

“Sometimes I wonder if our team captains have gotten hit by a Bludger in the head one too many times,” Handong says. “They really know how to choose the weird players… Chaser Sakura is currently flying upside down for some reason, a mystery that remains unsolved from last year. She has the Quaffle in her possession as she closes in on the hoops and– Nope, blocked and stolen by Chaser Bora, who’s finally being useful at last.”

Chaewon is inclined to agree with her fellow Slytherin when she checks on Heejin to see her flying with both arms extended behind her. Her eye twitches since she knows exactly what orange-jumpsuit wearing fictional character the self-certified “muggle art connoisseur” is imitating. Her desire to beat Heejin reignited, Chaewon speeds up in her search of the pitch with a strong refusal to lose to a ninja-flyer.

The game continues around her, both teams scoring back and forth. As Slytherin team was warned, Chaser Bora is quite the formidable player with Chaser Yuqi and Yeojin’s unorthodox tactics (Chaewon’s pretty sure she saw her hanging from her broom like a monkey at some point) backing her up. Hyunjin and Hyejoo aren’t slacking though; per Captain Byulyi’s new strategy for the year, the two continue to persistently harass the Gryffindor team without pause, and the constant pressure has allowed Slytherin to build a slight lead. 

“ARGH,” Chaewon hears Captain Bora yell in frustration and not for the first time.

“Once again, Chaser Bora has to pull back from the scoring area thanks to Beater Hyejoo. Beater Hyejoo really seems to have something against her, and I think we all know why,” Handong says. “See, Chaser Bora? This is what happens when you flirt too much. And the Quaffle just got stolen by Chaser Jennie again. That’s karma.”

Right as Chaewon is about to giggle at the mental image of Hyejoo as an overprotective and jealous little sister, something catches her eye. 

A glint of gold near the ground.

Chaewon immediately dashes off after the Snitch, but it’s clear that she’s not alone in finally spotting it.

“Omae wa mou shindeiru!” Heejin declares in a deeper voice than usual as she enters a steep dive.

“Nani!?” Chaewon replies on reflex. She immediately curses herself for hanging around on meme twitter so much during her far too short summer break. Annoyance at her classmate fueling her, Chaewon presses closer to her broom as she picks up speed with an arm outstretched.

Heejin is right next to her, similarly reaching out as they level themselves to fly parallel against the ground. An inch lower and Chaewon’s toes would be touching the grass, but she pays that no heed. Announcer Handong’s voice and the excited screams of the crowd likewise fade into the back of her mind as Chaewon focuses solely on going forward, forward, and forward.

“Heejin!” Chaewon suddenly calls out. “Move, you overgrown house cat!”

“Overgrown what?”

That split second of distraction is enough.

A loud thwacking sound fills the air as not one but two Bludgers hurtle at the Seekers. Chaewon’s memories of Captain Byulyi forcing her to be Hyunjin and Hyejoo’s target practice creep up again as she reminds herself to stay calm. Trusting in her teammates, Chaewon makes only the slightest of turns as one of the Bludgers just barely brush against her robes.

Heejin, on the other hand, very clearly panics as she veers sharply away to avoid being hit. She curses as she tries to correct course back to their target, but it’s too late. 

Chaewon’s fingers curve around that elusive little ball of gold, and the game is over.

“Seeker Chaewon has caught the Snitch!” Handong shouts. “With a score of one hundred sixty to eighty, Slytherin wins!”

The roar of the crowd is deafening, and Chaewon hardly has time to land properly before she’s promptly attacked by several blurs of green all eager to swarm her. 

“Well done, kiddo!” Captain Byulyi says proudly as she reaches over to ruffle Chaewon’s hair, laughing when Chaewon ducks away with a squeal. Captain Byulyi is soon pushed back as the rest of the team rushes to hug Chaewon in glee, and Chaewon feels like her back is going to break with how hard Hyunjin keeps patting her.

There’s one person missing though, and Chaewon peeks past everyone to see Hyejoo standing to the side. The Beater is smiling, but although her grin widens when their eyes meet, she doesn’t move to join the rest of the team. Instead, she just gives a small wave of her bat in acknowledgement of their victory.

Chaewon isn’t having any of that.

She reaches out.

Before Hyejoo can respond, one of the weights on Chaewon’s back suddenly disappears as Hyunjin runs over to her fellow Beater. She grabs her rather roughly before tugging her over to everyone else.

“You’re welcome, everyone!” Hyunjin says cheekily as she practically strangles Hyejoo with her arm around her neck. “I think it’s safe to say Hyejoo and I are the MVPs of today.”

The rest of the team immediately starts arguing, making their own pitches for who was the true champion of this game. Chaewon’s tempted to boast about how she was the one who snatched victory out of Heejin’s hands, but she has no chance as the rest of Slytherin house and supporters make it onto the field and the team is promptly dogpiled. Chaewon has the good fortune to be forced to the side instead of getting crushed in the middle of the crowd, and just as she’s about to lose balance, a hand grabs hers.

“Congrats,” Hyejoo says, her voice coming clear despite the clamor surrounding them. “You did great.”

“Thanks,” Chaewon replies. “You were amazing yourself.”

Hyejoo’s reply is lost to the wind as Jiwoo finds Chaewon with a loud squeal of happiness. The Hufflepuff’s voice is deafening and she actually lifts Chaewon into the air while she screams praise at the Seeker. Hyejoo is likewise swept away by Siyeon and Yoohyeon, though not before she gives Chaewon one last grin.

Chaewon doesn’t see Hyejoo again until much later when the celebratory and consolation parties in the Great Hall are finally winding down. Chaewon is left to her own devices as Jiwoo has accompanied Jungeun, who finally decided to stop sulking, outside for some fresh air. Many students have already dispersed, most returning to their dorms, and Chaewon decides to do so as well. 

“You heading back?”

Chaewon tenses up before slowly turning around with a glare.

“Son. Hyejoo,” she says sternly. “Stop sneaking up on me!”

“Sorry, not sorry,” Hyejoo smirks. “You had some pretty sharp reflexes back at the game. What happened to them?”

“They retired for the night,” Chaewon answers blithely. “And I’m about to too. Are you coming?”

“Sure.” Hyejoo shrugs. “I don’t feel like nerding it up with Siyeon-unnie and Yoohyeon-unnie in the library.”

Chaewon scrunches her nose. “Studying on a Saturday night? Eww.”

“Right?”

They fall into a peaceful silence as they make their way out of the Great Hall. Unfortunately, it’s interrupted when they pass by a table of their housemates just in time to hear Chaewon being mentioned.

“Who knew a mudblood could fly so well? It’s quite astounding, actually.”

Chaewon pretends she doesn’t hear, though she’s definitely rolling her eyes on the inside. She keeps her head up as she’s about to walk by that cluster of eyesores, but she quickly realizes that her companion isn’t with her. Sure enough, Chaewon looks back to see Hyejoo standing still, hands balled into fists.

Hyejoo opens her mouth.

Chaewon quickly grabs her arm and yanks her forward.

“Hey,” Hyejoo protests, nearly tripping over Chaewon. “What are you doing?”

“Keeping you out of trouble,” Chaewon says. “No picking fights, okay?”

“I wasn’t going to,” Hyejoo grumbles. She allows Chaewon to lead her out of the Great Hall, though not before shooting a dirty look at the other Slytherins who thankfully don’t notice. “I was just going to… talk to them. Did you hear what they said?”

“I did.”

“So you heard what they called you?”

“I did,” Chaewon confirms as she comes to a stop in the middle of the Entrance Hall, turning to Hyejoo. “I heard, and I don’t care.”

“But they called you–”

“A mudblood, I know,” Chaewon interrupts. She tries not to laugh at the scandalized look on Hyejoo’s face. “Hyunjin already told me what it means and how… not nice it is.”

“Then why aren’t you upset?” Hyejoo frowns. “I mean I’m glad you aren’t, but like…”

“Like I said,” Chaewon says casually. “I don’t care. The cool thing about growing up a muggle is that you don’t learn about certain things. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like they’re calling me a doo doo head or something when they’re the doo doo heads themselves.”

Son Hyejoo really makes funny expressions, Chaewon notes as the younger girl’s face twists in reluctant amusement. She stifles a giggle, figuring that Hyejoo wouldn’t appreciate it. Her efforts are for naught though, for all mirth vanishes the instant those Slytherin “doo doo heads” walk out of the Great Hall and spot the two. 

“Oh,” one of them, a fourth year, says smarmily. “So the rumors are true after all. Birds of a feather flock together.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hyejoo says sharply before Chaewon can stop her.

“You know very well what it means,” someone else says. Their tone is harsh, and they don’t bother hiding their distaste for the first year before turning to Chaewon. “Be careful, mud– muggleborn. Witches and wizards have a saying about hanging around with beasts for too long.”

It might be hypocritical, but Chaewon suddenly has the desire to pull out her wand and set some robes on fire. The feeling only intensifies when she notices how quiet Hyejoo has gone next to her. She’s staring intently at the floor instead of at their housemates, and the sight sends a sharp pang of sympathy through Chaewon.

“You know what?” Chaewon says, trying to keep her voice even. “I have a suggestion–”

“Is there a problem here?”

Chaewon quickly clamps her jaw shut this new voice. She turns to see an older Hufflepuff watching everyone closely, her eyes flicking over Hyejoo twice. There’s a prefect badge pinned to her robes, and Chaewon quickly pushes aside all thoughts of secretly jinxing people no matter how tempting the idea is right now.

“There’s absolutely no problem,” Doo Doo Head #1 says. “Just… giving some advice to some juniors.”

“I really hope that’s the case,” the Hufflepuff says slowly. “Because I thought I heard someone say something… questionable.”

“I– We–” Chaewon cheers inside her head as Doo Doo Head #2 blanches before glancing at their friends nervously. 

“You know, I think we’re all at the age where we can learn to be polite to each other even if we disagree on certain topics. I’m sure Head Girl Bae would agree,” the prefect says. Her tone is soft, but her warning is clear as the Doo Doo Head Squad all hastily nod and flee the scene.

Chaewon lets out a breath of relief.

“Thanks, um… Vivi-unnie, right?” Hyejoo says. 

“That’s me,” Vivi smiles gently. “Are you guys okay?”

Chaewon glances at Hyejoo before answering. 

“We’re fine,” she says. “Thank you for stepping in.”

“It was the right thing to do,” Vivi says firmly before frowning. “I hope you don’t have to deal with this kind of thing too much.”

“It comes and goes,” Hyejoo shrugs. “Thanks again.”

“It was nothing. Congratulations on winning the game,” Vivi says, her smile back on her face as she bids them goodnight and heads back up the Grand Staircase.

“So,” Hyejoo clears her throat once they’re alone again.

“Yes?”

“What happened to no picking fights?”

“I didn’t do anything,” Chaewon defends herself.

“You were gonna,” Hyejoo points out. “And don’t bother pretending otherwise.”

“I didn’t know werewolves could read minds,” Chaewon grumbles.

The joke earns a laugh, and Chaewon’s glad she didn’t have to resort to getting detention to bring Hyejoo’s smile back.


Hyejoo almost finds it… weird having so many people being so nice to her. Nice might be an overstatement, but she’s sure she’s never seen this many people smiling politely at her in the Slytherin common room. There’s still a couple sour faces, not to mention yesterday’s gaggle of jerks, but a few people actually greet and congratulate Hyejoo again for her contribution towards the first Quidditch victory of the year. She makes sure to reply in kind, albeit awkwardly, before making her way out of the Slytherin dorms to go grab lunch. 

Hyejoo’s barely halfway through her meal when Yeojin skids into the Hall, making a beeline for her friend. 

“Hyejoo!” she calls out. “Where have you been this whole time?”

“Here,” Hyejoo deadpans. “What’s going on?” she asks, taking in Yeojin’s rather anxious appearance. The Gryffindor looks like she just ran a mile, and she wrings her hands nervously as she shifts uneasily from foot to foot. 

“I need your help with something,” Yeojin says quietly. “And you can’t tell anyone, especially Haseul-unnie.”

Hyejoo narrows her eyes. 

“Look, if this is some sort of prank as revenge for yesterday–”

“It’s not,” Yeojin says more seriously than Hyejoo has ever seen her. 

Hyejoo sighs and grabs a piece of toast to take with her. 

“Lead the way.”

“I actually had a lot of fun yesterday even if we lost,” Yeojin informs Hyejoo as they make their way up the Grand Staircase. “And Yerim is already waiting for us in case you still don’t trust me.”

“I trust you. Don’t make me regret it,” Hyejoo warns. “Where are we going anyways?”

“Seventh floor,” Yeojin says. “I found something yesterday after the game and… well, I need your help checking it out.”

“Aren’t the unnies better for this?”

Yeojin puffs her cheeks out in thought. 

“Not this time,” she finally says, deflating as they turn down a corridor. “I really don’t want Haseul-unnie to find out yet.”

Hyejoo lifts an eyebrow warily, but she says nothing as they stop outside what looks to be an abandoned storage room. It’s propped open by a fragile, dusty chair, and the rest of the room is in no better state as Hyejoo steps inside. 

Yerim is already waiting within, and she beams as soon as she spies her friends. 

“You made it!” she says to Hyejoo before turning to Yeojin. “So what are we here to see?”

Yeojin, uncharacteristically silent, walks up to a cloth covered object tucked away in a corner. It’s significantly taller than all three of them, and Hyejoo feels a strange anticipation building in her gut as Yeojin grabs one side of the cloth. She gives a strong pull, and dust flies into the air as the fabric crumples to the floor to reveal what it has been hiding. 

A large, old mirror. 

“Can you guys come here and tell me what you see?” Yeojin asks. “One at a time?”

Yerim and Hyejoo glance at each other before Yerim raises her hand. 

“I’ll go first,” she volunteers, and Hyejoo assents with a nod. 

Yerim walks directly in front of the mirror’s foggy pane. It’s hardly reflective at the angle Hyejoo is standing at, so she jumps in surprise when Yerim suddenly lets out a gasp. 

“What is it?” Hyejoo asks worriedly. “Are you okay?”

“She’s fine,” Yeojin reassures her. 

“I’m more than fine!” Yerim exclaims, clasping her hands over her mouth in joy. “I see myself! And my parents! And all the people in my neighborhood!”

“What?”

“Go on,” Yeojin says, fixating on Yerim as she ignores Hyejoo’s confused outburst. “What are they doing? What’s going on?”

“They’re, um…” Yerim tilts her head. “Oh, they’re thanking me! The mayor’s handing me a plaque that says I’m the hero of the town for saving everyone with my awesome magic!”

“Uh…” Hyejoo winces. “You know the Ministry would never let that happen, right? Muggles aren’t supposed to find out about magic.”

“Aw, man,” Yerim pouts. “It would be so nice though, being able to help all those grandmas and grandpas and teeny tiny kids with magic.”

“Yeah,” Yeojin nods, but her mind seems to be elsewhere as she looks at the mirror with an unhappy expression for some reason. 

Yerim peers closely at her friend before taking a respectful step back. 

“What do you see?” Yerim asks kindly. 

Yeojin visibly swallows. 

“I see myself… and Haseul-unnie. And our mom,” she says quietly. “She left us years ago.”

“Oh…” Yerim says sadly as Hyejoo frowns in sympathy. 

“Yeah,” Yeojin sighs. “I was kinda hoping that this mirror shows the future, but it doesn’t seem like it does, huh?”

“What does it say up there?” Hyejoo asks. She points at the faded letters running across the top of the mirror. 

Yerim and Yeojin both crane their necks to see, Yeojin tiptoeing to compensate for her lack of height. 

“Erised… straw? Stra? E-R-H–”

“Wait,” Yerim says, interrupting Yeojin as she tilts her head to the right. “I think it’s backwards… From here it says… I show no– I mean not. I show not your face…”

“But your heart’s desire,” Yeojin finishes slowly before her entire body sags in disappointment. “Well. I guess that’s that.”

Hyejoo briskly walks up to Yeojin and drops her hand on her head affectionately while Yerim throws her arms around her in a hug. 

“What are you guys doing?” Yeojin says, voice muffled. She makes a halfhearted, futile attempt to dislodge Hyejoo’s hand. “I’m not sad or anything.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Hyejoo says. 

“Really!” Yeojin insists. “Okay, I’m a little sad, but c’mon, guys. You don’t have to baby me.”

“We’re not,” Yerim says, squeezing tighter. “Babying you is Haseul-unnie and Jinsol-unnie and Sooyoung-unnie’s job. We’re just being good friends.”

Yeojin lets out a suspiciously loud sniff. 

“For the record,” she declares as she pulls away. “You two are great friends. Anyways, Hyejoo, do you want to take a look?”

Hyejoo hesitates. 

The mirror is right there in front of her, Hyejoo having approached it in her rush to comfort Yeojin. All she has to do is look up and she’ll see into it, see whatever wish she has inside her heart. There’s something terrifying about that, something that makes her want to say no. 

But there’s also something equally alluring that makes her know that her answer is yes. 

Yerim and Yeojin take her silence as an affirmative, and they step away as Hyejoo steels herself. Hyejoo closes her eyes, raises her head, and takes a deep breath. 

She opens her eyes, and she sees.

“... Let’s get out of here,” Hyejoo says abruptly. 

Neither of her friends object, and the three of them wordlessly cover up the mirror again. They quickly leave the storage room, the door shutting behind them with a nearly inaudible click. Hyejoo glances behind her, noting how nondescript the door is as Yeojin clears her throat. 

“So!” she says loudly. “You guys wanna go flying for a bit?”

“Sure,” Hyejoo quickly agrees. 

“You guys have to help me,” Yerim reminds them. “I’m still no good at using a broom.”

“No good” is sadly a fair assessment of Yerim’s continued lack of skill in flying. It takes her a solid ten minutes to properly get off the ground, and she accidentally does a barrel roll several times, screaming the entire way. By the time she’s finally stabilized, Yeojin is wiping tears of joy out of her eyes as Hyejoo clutches her stomach. 

“Not funny!” Yerim whines. “I’d like to see you two drive a car or something.”

“No thanks,” Yeojin replies, shaking her head rapidly. 

“Yeah, I don’t want to die,” Hyejoo grimaces. 

The rest of their afternoon is spent in merriment, laughter filling the air as they play some modified version of “baseball” or whatever muggle game it was that Yerim mentioned. Time passes quickly each time Yerim tosses a practice ball at Hyejoo, who swings with her bat and leaves Yeojin to catch the stray object. They’re eventually joined by Jiwoo and Jungeun for some reason, and the ensuing noise and chaos is more than enough to push aside all further thoughts of that mirror of desire.

Chapter Text

“Hey, I need your help with something later. And you can’t tell anyone, especially Haseul-unnie.”

Hyejoo ducks as a Knockback Jinx sails over her head before sending one back.

Flipendo!” she says. “Didn’t you ask me this same exact thing like a couple days ago?”

“Yep!” Yeojin acknowledges cheerily as she pirouettes to the side. “Flipendo! I need your help again.”

Hyejoo doesn’t even need to move this time as Yeojin’s spell completely misses her by a long shot. It hits the magical barrier erected by Professor Hyo, as she asked her students to call her, and dissipates into the air. Shouts from their fellow Defense Against the Dark Arts classmates constantly echo throughout the room as Hyejoo takes careful aim.

Flipendo!” Hyejoo casts, a little disappointed when Yeojin jumps into the air like a frog to avoid the jinx. “What do I get out of this?”

“My undying love and appreciation? Flipendo!”

“Pass. Flipendo!”

“Oh, c’mon,” Yeojin pouts. She stops practicing and clasps her hands together instead. “Please? Yerim already agreed!”

“Do you always ask her first so you can peer pressure me second?” Hyejoo questions, eyebrows raised. “Flipendo!”

“Hey!” Yeojin yelps as she quickly leaps away. “It was my turn! Flipendo!”

Flipendo!”

Flipendo!”

Flipendo! So where are we meeting up this time?” Hyejoo asks. 

“Oh, you’re in? Sweet– Oof!”

Yeojin immediately flies backward as Hyejoo’s jinx connects with her torso, the Gryffindor landing on her rear end. Hyejoo snickers as her friend groans on the floor, though she makes her way over with her hand extended. 

“My butt!” Yeojin shouts. “My poor butt!”

“That wasn’t even that bad,” Hyejoo says as she pulls Yeojin back onto her feet. 

Yeojin’s pout deepens. “Why don’t you try getting hit then? Flipendo!”

It’s Hyejoo’s turn to yell in surprise, a blast of magic narrowly hitting her from close range. She swiftly retaliates, and a rather intense duel for first years’ standards begins as neither she nor Yeojin are willing to surrender and claim defeat. The notion of taking turns has flown out the window, but Hyejoo doesn’t think Professor Hyo minds. The goal of today’s lesson is to “hit and not be hit,” after all, and it’s safe to say that Hyejoo succeeds by the time class ends. 

“I’ll get you next time,” Yeojin huffs as they pack up their bags. “Anyways, I need your help spying on Haseul-unnie.”

“Uh…” Hyejoo suddenly feels a lot more apprehensive than the other day. She doesn’t quite want to turn her back on Yeojin yet though, so she asks, “Why…?”

“She’s up to something,” Yeojin says seriously, planting her hands on her hips. “I heard Captain Wheein asking her why she keeps showing up to practice late, and Haseul-unnie is never late.”

“Suspicious,” Hyejoo agrees, thinking of how strict Haseul is in making sure that none of the first year trio are ever tardy. A few weeks ago, she actually levitated Yerim down two stories in the Grand Staircase when the stairway Yerim was on moved unexpectedly and nearly trapped her in an endless loop. 

And then Yeojin makes a declaration that has Hyejoo nearly tripping over her feet as she leaves Defense Against the Dark Arts.

“You know, I think Haseul-unnie has a girlfriend!”

“What? Why?”

“Why are you so surprised?” Yeojin looks vaguely offended as she narrows her eyes. “Are you saying Haseul-unnie can’t get a girlfriend? Because for your information, she is amazing and awesome and epic and–”

“That wasn’t what I meant,” Hyejoo says quickly. “I mean like… Why do you think she has a girlfriend?”

“Because! Like I said, she’s awesome and wonderful–”

Hyejoo gives Yeojin a look.

“And it makes sense,” Yeojin continues. “I haven’t seen her around as much these past few days. Just imagine it: Haseul-unnie, spending her free time sneaking around to make out with someone.”

“I’d rather not, thanks,” Hyejoo says dryly. “Do you have any… uh, proof?”

“Nope!”

“... How about a name? A description?”

“Nope!”

Hyejoo stops in the middle of the hallway, grabbing Yeojin by the strap of her bag as she continues walking forward obliviously. 

“Yeojin,” Hyejoo says with as much patience as she can muster. “Do you have anything to go on besides your intuition or whatever you want to call it?”

“My gut is usually correct when it comes to Haseul-unnie,” Yeojin says firmly. “Trust me, she’s up to something, which is why I need your help to find out what!”

“Fine, fine,” Hyejoo sighs. “I bet you ten galleons it’s not a secret girlfriend.”

“Deal!”

They make it all the way to History of Magic before a belated realization hits Yeojin.

“Wait, I don’t have ten galleons.”

“Too late.”

Thankfully, Yerim shows up before Hyejoo and Yeojin can resume their Flipendo Showdown. The trio make their way into their classroom, glad that today is one of those “read Chapter 15 to whatever, just don’t get into trouble while the professor naps” kind of days. Only Yerim bothers trying to read while Yeojin and Hyejoo conspire next to her, and even then it’s clear that her attention is on the Haseul Mystery.

“Okay, one of us has to find a reason to go to the Hospital Wing after classes end for the day,” Yeojin whispers as the three huddle together. “She went there yesterday and the day before instead of going straight to dinner for some reason.”

“You didn’t ask her?” Yerim wonders, not lifting her head as she takes notes. “Ah, I accidentally wrote what I said down!”

Yeojin hands over an eraser as she frowns. “All she said was something about paper cuts when I asked. And I know she’s lying. Maybe she’s meeting up with her secret girlfriend there.”

“Well…” Hyejoo says slowly. “I can always push you down some stairs if you’d like.”

“No, no!” Yerim objects as she looks up in panic. “What if she breaks too many bones for Madam Lee to fix?”

“What counts as too many? Five? Ten? Fifteen?”

“How about one?” Yeojin suggests. “These are my bones you’re talking about.”

“How else are you going to find an excuse to go to the Hospital Wing without breaking something?” Hyejoo points out, leaning back in her chair.

“Well, you can always break something.”

“Yeah, no,” Hyejoo says flatly. “You want to find out, so you have to pay the price.”

“Um…” Yerim cautiously raises her hand. “I want to find out too, actually.”

Yeojin and Hyejoo glance at each other.

“No bone breaking it is,” Yeojin declares as Hyejoo nods. “Okay, anyone here sneaky enough to just… sneak in and see what Haseul-unnie is up to?”

“Not you,” Hyejoo scoffs. “Honestly, I don’t think any of us could pull it off with Madam Lee around.”

“Then what do we do?” Yeojin whines. She sprawls flat on the desk, arms covering the textbooks all three of them are ignoring at this point. “Hyejoo, you’re the smart one here, figure something out!”

“Wait, why is she the smart one?” Yerim cuts in. “I study more than her.”

“You’re the kind one,” Yeojin says matter-of-factly. “And I’m the cool one– Don’t laugh! I’m the cool one, so that makes Hyejoo the smart one.”

“Aren’t you just stereotyping?” Hyejoo mutters. Even so, a lightbulb goes off in her head. “Tell you what,” she says to Yeojin. “If you’re lucky and I’m unlucky, I’ll find a reason to go to the Hospital Wing during Potions.”

Yerim tilts her head.

“Don’t you have a practical exam today?”

“Exactly.”

Hyejoo appreciates how Yerim actually seems mildly concerned, unlike Yeojin who looks way too excited at the prospect of something going awry and harming her friend. 

“Great! You handle that then, and Yerim and I will try to find out where Haseul-unnie is if she’s not in the Hospital Wing,” Yeojin says, rubbing her hands together. “No secret girlfriend is going to slip under my nose.”

“Don’t worry,” Yerim says to Hyejoo when she lifts an eyebrow in apprehension. “I’ll make sure we don’t get caught. Don’t be suspicious~”

Yerim starts chanting her last sentence under her breath like some sort of strange song. Yeojin makes an attempt to join in, but it only winds up sounding like a cacophony of noise rather than anything with a discernible tune. As much as she’d like to think herself above this, Hyejoo also finds herself chiming in as she tries and fails to concentrate on their assigned reading. The three of them end class mumble-singing to each other about utter nonsense, and Hyejoo knows she’ll have to make up for lost reading time later as she heads to Potions. 

“Chaewon,” she says as soon as she spots her partner. “I have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?” Chaewon tilts her head, and Hyejoo feels a little guilty for what she’s about to say. 

“Listen, can you… help me fail today’s exam?”

Huh?”

“I need an explosion,” Hyejoo says. “It’s for, um, research purposes.”

“You want us to fail… for research.” Chaewon narrows her eyes dubiously. “What kind of research?”

Now, Yeojin did say not to tell anyone, but Hyejoo doesn’t think she can convince Chaewon to risk her grade through blind trust alone. She crosses her fingers behind her back as she gambles on Chaewon keeping her mouth shut. 

“Did you know that Haseul-unnie might have a secret girlfriend?”

As Hyejoo half-predicted, half-hoped, Chaewon’s eyebrows fly up in surprise and interest. 

“Really?” she says, her head tilting even more. “That’s news to me… Do Jinsol-unnie and Sooyoung-unnie know?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone does,” Hyejoo admits. “Yeojin has a… hunch that Haseul-unnie has been spending, uh, private time with someone in the Hospital Wing.”

“... And you want us to get blown up so we can get sent there.”

“Pretty much. Though only I have to get blown up,” Hyejoo clarifies. “Here, you have full permission to set me on fire today. Once in a lifetime deal.”

“What an honor,” Chaewon says sarcastically. “Except my barely passing grade is also going to go up flames.”

“I’ll write your essay for the ‘emergency extra credit’ Professor Hwang promised us,” Hyejoo offers. Chaewon’s eyes flash, and Hyejoo quickly tries to seal the deal. “And I’ll pay you. Ten galleons.”

“Fine,” Chaewon says with a dramatic sigh. “I shall do my best to get you hospitalized. Your crazy rich parents better not sue me.”

“They won’t,” Hyejoo promises as she silently begins planning ways to make Yeojin pay for the noble sacrifice she’s about to make. 

As Professor Hwang starts the timer and Heejin whispers a quiet “good luck!” while Hyunjin just snorts, Hyejoo braces herself. 

She waits. 

And waits. 

And waits

“What are you doing?” Hyejoo hisses to Chaewon when thirty minutes pass and there’s no sign of Chaewon’s usual mayhem. 

“I don’t know!” Chaewon whispers back. She squeezes out several drops of salamander blood into their Fire Prevention Potion, and Hyejoo isn’t sure who’s more surprised when it turns the color it’s supposed to for once. 

“What happened to lighting me up?”

“I don’t know!”

“Just do it like you usually do!”

“I don’t know how I usually do it!”

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake…”

Pressured by Hyejoo’s insistence, Chaewon grabs a random ingredient on their table and throws it in just as Professor Hwang walks by. 

“Oh, marvelous!” Professor Hwang exclaims, clapping her hands in delight. “You’re doing so well, Miss Park! It seems you’ve finally found the right partner to unlock your true potential.”

Chaewon gives a fake laugh as Professor Hwang peers closely at their cauldron before walking away with a satisfied nod. 

“We still have time,” Hyejoo says. “C’mon, just… do whatever it is you normally do!”

“I am!” Chaewon says through gritted teeth. “Look, I want to get paid too, okay? So either help me, or just shh!”

As they say, too many witches ruin the brew, so Hyejoo whips out her wand and starts tapping their cauldron randomly. She keeps an eye out for Professor Hwang as she does so, not keen on getting busted for deliberate sabotage. The sand in the hourglass on Professor Hwang’s desk continues falling, counting down the seconds until the end of the exam. 

Hyejoo and Chaewon pass with flying colors. 

“Okay, how did you two get a better grade than us?” Heejin asks as they clean their stations and pack up their belongings. 

“Good question,” Hyejoo grumbles. 

“I don’t know,” Chaewon answers tersely. 

Heejin glances at her own partner in confusion at this complete lack of enthusiasm. Hyunjin simply shrugs, also in the dark about Chaewon’s failure to fail. 

“A miracle happened,” Hyunjin says. “Let’s go celebrate at dinner.”

“Wait,” Chaewon suddenly says, grabbing Hyejoo by the wrist. “Hyejoo and I have something to do first.”

A suspicious look passes between Heejin and Hyunjin, one that makes Hyejoo want to raise her guard. 

“I guess we’ll go on without you guys then,” Heejin says, oddly pleased for some reason. 

Hyunjin, on the other hand, smirks as she waves in farewell. 

“Have fun, you two.”

“... What are we doing?” Hyejoo asks when Chaewon begins leading her up the Grand Staircase.

“Going to the Hospital Wing.”

“I’m not paying you anymore, you know.”

“I know,” Chaewon pouts. “But now I really have to know after going through all that trouble for nothing.”

“You know what? You’re right,” Hyejoo agrees. “Of all the times to not screw something up…”

“Shush, you.”

To Hyejoo’s immense disappointment, the Hospital Wing is devoid of their target when they get there. Instead, Hyejoo sees a pair of familiar faces that she’s never seen together.

“Yoohyeon-unnie? Vivi-unnie?” she calls out. “Did something happen? Why are you two here?”

Yoohyeon grins from one of the beds as she waves with her good arm, the other one wrapped in a temporary cast. 

“I’m a regular here,” she says way too proudly. “I missed an invisible step earlier so… here I am.”

“I thought you said you grew out of being so clumsy,” Hyejoo sighs.

“I did!” Yoohyeon insists. “I’m only here like twice a week!”

“Wow, that’s worse than me,” Chaewon murmurs. 

“You really should be more careful,” Vivi says to Yoohyeon gently before turning towards the Slytherins. “I volunteer here sometimes,” she explains. “And I’m pretty sure this is the third time I’ve seen Yoohyeon this week.”

“Hey! What happened to patient confidentiality?” Yoohyeon pretends to complain, crossing her one arm until she switches to a more worried expression. “Anyways, what brings you two here? Is everything okay?”

“We’re fine,” Hyejoo says. “We’re just looking for Haseul-unnie.”

“She’s not here today,” Vivi responds, and Hyejoo quickly picks up the hint. 

“She was here yesterday, right?” she asks. “Was she with anyone?”

“Not that I saw.”

Hyejoo lets out a grunt of frustration at this dead end, and Vivi blinks. The Hufflepuff looks as though she’s about to say something, but Chaewon beats her to the punch. 

“Thanks for answering,” she says abruptly. She smiles politely as she takes hold of Hyejoo’s wrist again. “We’ll be going now.”

“Uh… Should we tell Haseul you were looking for her?” Yoohyeon asks. 

“Nah,” Hyejoo says dismissively. “We were just… looking for Yeojin. I’m sure we’ll find her soon.”

“Okay then…” Yoohyeon says. 

Despite her words, it’s clear that she’s harboring some doubts as she purses her lips and narrows her eyes. Hyejoo quickly jerks her thumb in a silent signal of “I’ll tell you later” before she and Chaewon bid the older students goodbye and leave the Hospital Wing. 

“So that turned out to be nothing,” Hyejoo frowns. “What a waste of time.”

“Not quite,” Chaewon says with a mischievous grin. “Are you close to Vivi-unnie?”

“Not really, why?”

“Do you know how she knows Haseul-unnie?”

“... No, actually,” Hyejoo answers, furrowing her brows in thought. “I didn’t realize they knew each other in the first place.”

“Exactly,” Chaewon says, excitement slipping into her voice. “You asked if Haseul-unnie was with anyone, and she said no. But doesn't that only mean that Haseul-unnie wasn’t with anyone else?”

“Huh. Huh… Oh. Crap,” Hyejoo suddenly groans. “I might owe Yeojin ten galleons.”

Chaewon giggles as she tugs Hyejoo back down the Grand Staircase. By some stroke of luck, they run into Yerim and Yeojin on the very next floor. 

“Did you find anything?” Yeojin immediately asks. “We’ve gone through all the floors and we haven’t seen her, so she must be in the Hos–”

“Nope, she wasn’t there,” Hyejoo interrupts. “However…”

“Yes?” Yerim asks, eyes shining in anticipation. 

Hyejoo turns to Chaewon, who clears her throat for dramatic effect. 

“We may have a lead on a potential suspect,” she says gravely. “My partner and I will have to follow up–”

“Wait, Hyejoo told you?” Yeojin’s eyes slowly widen. “Oh my god, that’s actually really smart! Leave it to the smart one to recruit someone even smarter!”

Hyejoo bites her lips to stop herself from exposing Chaewon’s Potions grades. 

“Who is it? Who is it?” Yerim asks. “Is it someone we know? Is she older than Haseul-unnie? Younger? Oh my gosh, is she pretty?”

“Uh… My partner and I shall have to do more reconnaissance before we can provide an official analysis,” Chaewon says as Hyejoo nods her approval. “Please remain on standby in the meantime.”

“Aye-aye, ma’am!” Yerim salutes. 

Their investigation is short-lived, for the true solution to the mystery is revealed in just two days. 

“Happy Birthday!” Haseul yells as she pulls Yeojin into a smothering embrace in the middle of breakfast in the Great Hall. 

“Happy Birthday!” Jinsol and Sooyoung chorus behind her. 

The three Ravenclaws launch into the traditional birthday song, and Hyejoo and the rest of her friends join in despite being blindsided by the event. A cake is produced out of nowhere, and a good chunk of it vanishes only to be smeared across Yeojin’s face. 

“I didn’t know it was your birthday,” Yerim says sadly after everyone has calmed down. “I would have gotten you something!”

“That’s okay,” Yeojin says as she wipes cream off her nose. “It’s about the people, not the things! Haseul and I couldn’t get each other gifts growing up, so we’re used to it.”

“About that,” Haseul says somewhat nervously. “We’re finally at Hogwarts together, so I got you a little something this year.”

“What?” Yeojin immediately leaps out of her seat. “But unnie, the money–”

“Don’t worry,” Haseul says with a gentle smile. “This didn’t cost me anything, just some time. There was some yarn laying around Ravenclaw Tower that nobody claimed, so…”

Haseul pulls a scarf out of her bag. It’s a mishmash of different colors, Hyejoo counting at least ten, and although it looks lumpy and uneven in a few places, there’s no doubt that it’s filled with a warmth that no amount of money could ever buy. 

“I knitted this by hand,” Haseul explains. “It didn’t feel quite right, using magic, though I did have to get some help to finish on time especially since I kept stabbing myself.” She chuckles as she wraps the scarf around Yeojin. “How is it?”

Yeojin suddenly pulls the scarf up to cover her entire face. 

“It’s the best,” she says, and although she’s hiding her tears, everyone still hears her sniff. “It’s the bestest scarf in the whole wide world.”

“I’m glad,” Haseul says softly, her smile looking a little wobbly. “You know, I’m really proud to be your sister, Yeojinnie.”

“Me too,” Yeojin says, throwing her arms around Haseul’s waist. “I’m super proud of you too.”

The two sisters continue to cling to each other as everyone else watches over them fondly, some people (like Jinsol) actually dabbing at their own eyes thanks to the touching scene. At some point, Vivi passes by to congratulate the two Jos. 

“Happy Birthday,” she says. “November 11th… Eleven eleven.”

“What a coincidence,” Siyeon hums as she slings her arm across Hyejoo’s shoulders. “I’m pretty sure someone's birthday is in just two days. And someone else’s birthday is two days after that.”

“Wait, really?” Yerim gasps. “That’s so cool! Who is it?”

“Me first,” Hyejoo says. “Then Hyunjin.”

“Ah!” Yerim screams, clutching her head. “How am I supposed to get you all–”

“Weren’t you listening?” Yoohyeon laughs. “It’s about the people, not the things! I’m sure neither of them will mind, right?”

“Yep,” Hyunjin nods. “I’ve lowered my expectations after not receiving a single knut from any of these rich kids.”

“Hey,” Siyeon protests loudly. “This is gonna be your first birthday with us! And you never got anything for us either!”

“It’s about the people, not the things,” Hyunjin recites with a grin. “By the way, someone’s birthday is four days after mine.”

“Another?” Yerim gasps again. “Who is it? Wait, let me guess… Siyeon-unnie?”

“Nope, already passed,” Siyeon says. 

“Why does nobody tell me these things?” Yerim sighs. “Happy Belated Birthday! And uh… is it Yoohyeon-unnie?”

“Wrooonng!” Yoohyeon sings before confessing, “Actually, I don’t know who it is either.”

“It’s Chaewon,” Hyunjin reveals. “I found out last year when her parents sent her a card.”

Hyejoo quietly notes the date as she searches around the Great Hall for the person in question. Chaewon was still in bed the last Hyejoo saw, and she hopes that the second year isn’t still fast asleep and dead to the world. 

Her train of thought is interrupted by a loud clamor of hooting and flapping. Countless owls descend from the ceiling, all carrying envelopes and packages of varying size. There’s one poor creature trying to hoist a delivery larger than its own body, and Hyejoo laughs at the sight until she sees a familiar, black owl. It makes a circle in the air before flying straight for Hyejoo’s table.

It lands right in front of Siyeon, leg extended with a letter attached. There’s a familiar wax seal on it, an ornate S, and Hyejoo clenches her fists. 

Siyeon’s expression seems neutral as she takes the message, though Hyejoo doesn’t miss the faint hesitancy in her sister’s movements. There’s a practically unnoticeable tremor in her fingers as she opens the envelope and quickly reads the contents within. An entire minute passes before she puts the letter down. 

“Hyejoo,” Siyeon says quietly. 

“Yeah?”

“That was Mother,” Siyeon informs her. “She…”

“She?” Hyejoo prompts, ignoring the unpleasant twist in her stomach.

Her sister turns to look at her directly in the eye.

“She’s coming,” Siyeon says. “Mother will be visiting Hogwarts in two days.”

Chapter Text

Paints Mixed With Too Many Colors

Siyeon doesn’t know when that seed of resentment towards her parents was first planted. Perhaps it was when she was but eight, when little three year old Hyejoo ran up to her with a rather abstract drawing of a dog that resembled a puddle more than a discernible animal. Hyejoo had been so enthralled by Siyeon’s compliments, hanging onto every word of praise Siyeon gave her before offhandedly mentioning that their mother had refused to take even a single look at her work.

Perhaps it was a little later than that, when Hyejoo first displayed her inclination towards magic by setting a tapestry on fire at the age of five. Their father was apoplectic with rage, and he berated Hyejoo endlessly no matter how many times she insisted it was an accident. At some point, she gave up and just stood there, staring at the floor while Siyeon could only watch from behind a corner while thinking of how her parents had celebrated the day she inadvertently caused her great-great-great-great grandfather’s prized goblin-smithed goblet to explode.

Or maybe there isn’t a clear cut beginning, an obvious spot in the timeline of her past that she could point to and say that that was when the cracks in her mental image of her parents started to form. Things probably aren’t that simple, and all Siyeon knows is that at some point she realized that for all the care and affection her parents give to her, they spare none for Hyejoo.

Which is why Siyeon has sworn to love Hyejoo with all that she can muster in her heart.

It’s on days like this that Siyeon wishes she has the courage and strength to do something. She’s not sure what could possibly be done after so many years, and maybe that’s why it hurts so much to see Hyejoo lose the light in her eyes as the day goes on.

Her sister had woken up in relatively good spirits when Siyeon tackled her awake with Hyunjin’s help, the two of them screaming “Happy Birthday!” at a groggy Hyejoo. A similarly drowsy Park Chaewon also passed on her greetings before falling back asleep, and Hyunjin ‘convinced’ Hyejoo to get up early so that everyone else could see the birthday girl. Breakfast was as loud as Yeojin’s birthday celebration the other day, though Hyejoo successfully deflected any cake smearing by using Yoohyeon as an unwilling shield. Hyejoo cackled loudly with glee when Yoohyeon’s attempt to retaliate completely missed and Siyeon got a mouthful of cake instead.

Unfortunately, by the time lunch rolls around, the merriment of before has already faded into memory as Hyejoo quietly takes a seat next to Siyeon.

“When’s Mother arriving?” she asks, and even her actions are muted as she spears a lone sausage onto her otherwise empty plate.

“Around six, I think? She used to eat dinner with me whenever she visited,” Siyeon answers. She pats Hyejoo’s knee. “Don’t look so worried, she’s probably just checking in as usual.”

“Other parents don’t do that,” Hyejoo mumbles.

“Other parents aren’t part of the Son family,” Siyeon reminds her. “Guess where Mother always asks to meet?”

“Where?”

“Headmistress Kwon’s office,” Siyeon says with a grin at Hyejoo’s shocked expression. “And Headmistress Kwon always lets her! It’s one of the perks of being a Son.”

Siyeon cheers internally as Hyejoo lets out a snort of amusement, the corners of her mouth lifting a little. The younger Slytherin finishes her sausage, and Siyeon is glad that she doesn’t have to prompt her to grab more food. 

“Don’t worry,” Siyeon says again when they part ways for their next class. “I’ll meet you outside Headmistress Kwon’s office when we get called, okay?”

“Okay,” Hyejoo nods with a little more conviction than she had before.

Hours later, Siyeon is pleasantly surprised to see that little spark of determination still there when she finds Hyejoo outside of the spiral staircase leading to their destination. Although Hyejoo shifts nervously from foot to foot as she waits for Siyeon, her eyes are clear and sharp and she doesn’t let her head hang low. She even gives Siyeon a small smile as they begin climbing the stairs upwards to Headmistress Kwon’s office.

“Guess what? Yeojin nearly killed me today,” Hyejoo says casually. 

“Oh, Hyejoo…” Siyeon sighs. “You can’t go around calling people goblins for being shorter than you.”

“Hey!” Hyejoo lightly punches her sister’s arm. “All I did was try Lumos a bit too close to her scarf.”

“She’s still wearing it?”

“I don’t think she’s planning on taking it off for the next few months,” Hyejoo says seriously. “Anyways, she said I was trying to set it on fire—which I wasn’t—and she tried to jinx me. But you know what’s really unfair?”

“What?”

“Yerim did the same thing five minutes later and Yeojin was all ‘Oh, it’s okay, I forgive you!’” Hyejoo gives a derisive snort. “What kind of double standard is this?”

“Let me guess,” Siyeon grins. “Yerim actually apologized, whereas you…”

“Why should I apologize when I didn’t even do anything wrong?”

“Oh, Hyejoo…” Siyeon sighs again. She pats her sister on the head, ignoring the hand trying to swat her away. “You’re never going to get a girlfriend like this, you know.”

“Who says I even want a girlfriend?” Hyejoo grumbles. “Besides, what about you? You’re in your sixth year and you’re still hopelessly single.”

“I’m not hopeless!” Siyeon protests. She’s briefly reminded of today’s Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson, where a certain Gryffindor decided that practicing nonverbal spells involved suggestively wiggling her eyebrows for some reason. She doesn’t think Hyejoo would appreciate this tidbit of information though, considering how she’s not a fan of Bora for whatever reason, so Siyeon merely says, “People flirt with me sometimes!”

“Those people need new eyes,” Hyejoo deadpans, and Siyeon only has time to flick her cheek before they reach the door.

“Well?” Siyeon asks, gesturing towards the knob.

Hyejoo frowns.

“Why don’t you open it?”

“Why don’t you?”

“You’re older.”

“You’re younger.”

Hyejoo plants her hands on her hips before glaring at Siyeon, who just laughs at the sight.

“Alright, alright,” Siyeon concedes easily. She gives her sister a reassuring smile. “It’s going to be okay.”

“Of course it is,” Hyejoo scoffs, though she can’t hide the flicker of apprehension in her eyes.

Siyeon pushes the door open, and it’s not even a second before a delighted cry fills the room.

“Siyeon, sweetie!” her mother greets, pulling her into the office and shoving her into a seat. Headmistress Kwon is nowhere to be found as Hyejoo silently takes the chair next to her. “How have you been? You look skinnier… Are you eating enough these days?”

“I’m fine,” Siyeon says. “A little stressed, but… well, you know how it is.”

“Ah, yes…” Their mother's eyes flit over to Hyejoo. “Hyejoo, are you helping your sister out properly?”

“Yes,” Hyejoo nods, briefly meeting her mother's gaze before focusing on Headmistress Kwon’s desk instead. “I’m doing what I can.”

“I sure hope so,” their mother says. “I suppose you still haven’t found a way to get Siyeon’s… condition under total control.”

Hyejoo swallows before shaking her head. 

“Hyejoo’s presence helps me a ton though,” Siyeon says quickly, grabbing her sister’s hand. “I’m a lot more stable when she’s around.”

“That’s good.” Her mother gives her a smile before turning back to Hyejoo. “You’re covering for her appropriately, yes?”

“Yes,” Hyejoo nods again. “Nobody suspects a thing.”

“Good. Make sure it stays that way,” her mother says curtly. “Any other updates?”

“Um…” Hyejoo hesitates, and Siyeon gives her what she hopes is an encouraging squeeze. “I… I joined the Slytherin Quidditch team. We won our first game the other day.”

Their mother’s eyes narrow, and Siyeon can feel Hyejoo tensing under her hand. 

“Don’t embarrass the Son family,” their mother finally says after a pause. “And do not expose your cover. Siyeon is the priority here, you understand?”

“Yes, Mother.”

“Good. You’re dismissed.”

Hyejoo immediately pulls away from Siyeon as she stands up. A sharp pain shoots through Siyeon when she sees how Hyejoo’s line of sight is all but glued to the floor, the earlier sparkle in her eyes completely extinguished. 

“Hyejoo–”

“I’ll see you later, unnie,” Hyejoo says without looking in Siyeon’s direction. She gives a quick bow to their mother before vanishing out the door.

Anger.

It’s an emotion Siyeon isn’t really acquainted with, but one that she’s grown more and more used to thanks to the fog that always clouds her mind with the approach of the full moon. It scares her sometimes, especially when she knows she’s being far too irritable towards people who haven’t done anything to earn her ire. There’s not much she can do to control her emotions though, and she finds that she doesn’t even want to this time as she turns to stare at the woman before her.

“Mother,” she calls out in a calm voice that belies the indignation stirring in her gut. “Please tell me you didn’t forget your own daughter’s birthday.”

“What are you talking about?” Her mother blinks. “Did you not receive the golden chess set we sent–”

“I’m talking about Hyejoo,” Siyeon interrupts harshly. “Your other daughter, remember?”

“Ah, that’s right,” her mother says with an airy, dismissive wave. She reaches into her robes and pulls out a small bag. It lands with a thud on Headmistress Kwon’s desk. “Here, give her a couple galleons to buy whatever she wants as long as it’s not something unscrupulous. You can keep the rest.”

“What–” Siyeon takes in a shaky breath, her hands clutching her robes tightly. “Is it… Is it that hard to treat her the way you treat me?”

“She isn’t you, dear,” her mother replies with an indulgent smile. “You are our treasure, our pride. You are the Son's legacy, so it’s only right to treat you differently from someone who isn’t.”

“But she’s your daughter,” Siyeon insists. “Why–”

“Siyeon.” Her mother’s smile no longer reaches her eyes. “We’ve been over this. Don’t fall into the trap of needless sentimentality. Sons have no need for that.”

“... I just wonder,” Siyeon states loudly. She leans forward in her chair, ignoring the side of her that’s questioning if her current bravery is coming off as arrogance or if she’s just arrogant enough to be brave for once. “If I was the second born child, would you be treating me the way you treat Hyejoo? She’d be the prized heir, right? Which would make me the expendable scapegoat–”

“Son Siyeon. Watch your tone.”

The Son matriarch’s judgmental gaze is as cold as ice, just as biting and cutting as a winter snowstorm. There’s no pretense of a smile on her face anymore, and it’s been replaced by an unnervingly blank expression that’s surely masking the wrath within. 

Siyeon, against her own hopes, falters. 

“I–”

“Is your sister the one putting these thoughts in your head? I would expect such unruly drivel from her, not you. Perhaps it was a mistake to let her attend Hogwarts with you.”

“No, Mother. I misspoke. I’m sorry.”

“Son Siyeon.” The weight of her mother’s scrutiny is heavy, relentless, crushing. “Allow me to remind you that your father and forefathers did not bring our family to where it is today by indulging in weakness. The world of magic is filled with power, and it is our duty and right to claim it all with our own hands.”

Siyeon exhales slowly. 

“I understand, Mother. I was just trying to–”

“I have another reminder for you, one that you’d do well to remember if you find yourself still straying about like a lost lamb.”

“... I’m listening.”

“You wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the Son family,” her mother says, either uncaring or unaware of the cruelty of her words. Siyeon tries to think of it as the latter. “Instead, you’d be locked up in the basement of some forgotten wing of the Ministry while Ministry dogs poke and prod at you for their own enjoyment like you’re some common garden rat.”

“I understand.”

“Your father and I only want the best for you, you understand?”

“Yes, Mother.”

“It’s not easy, doing what’s right. But we will raise you to be worthy of the glory you will inherit someday.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t look so down, dear,” the Son matriarch says as she reaches out to cup her daughter’s cheek. Her voice has returned to its usual maternal tone, and her smile is one that demands that the past few minutes didn’t just happen. “Your father and I love you very much. We know that you are going through a difficult time, and we will support you through this. You just have to trust us. We’re family.”

“Right,” Siyeon says, feeling mildly nauseous. “Of course we are.”

To her immense relief, her mother doesn’t stay for dinner this time. She claims she has an appointment with some alchemist, but regardless of if that’s the truth or not, Siyeon is just glad that they don’t have to remain in each other’s presence for much longer. Her mother’s hug is tighter than usual as they part ways, and Siyeon knows it’s a warning, not any sort of consolation.

Siyeon practically flies down the stairs from Headmistress Kwon’s office in her haste to get away and in her rush to see her sister. She wants to find her, to hold her, to apologize to her, and she’s so focused on that task that she almost doesn’t notice a strange door creaking open slightly from where it was left ajar. Siyeon pauses; the darkness within calls to her for some reason, and with a resigned sigh, she follows its beckon.

The room she enters looks to be some sort of hardly used storage room, a layer of dust covering everything within in a coat of grey. A stray beam of the fading sun leaks in through the sole window of the room, and Siyeon follows that dying line of light with her eyes to see a person standing before a mirror.

Hyejoo.

“There you are,” Siyeon murmurs. Little ashen-colored clouds rise next to her feet with every step she takes into the dirty room, but she pays that no heed as she makes her way to the only person that matters right now.

“Unnie,” Hyejoo calls out quietly. She doesn’t spare a single glance away from the oversized mirror as she asks, “Unnie, what do you see in this mirror?”

Siyeon peers at Hyejoo in concern before directing her attention to where it was requested. She warily steps closer to the mirror as she hears Hyejoo move aside, and she takes a deep breath before looking within.

“What the…” 

Siyeon subconsciously raises a hand towards the looking glass before her. Her reflection does the same, but it’s not quite her own face looking back. Instead, it’s a younger Siyeon, shining and full of dreams that haven’t been snuffed out yet. She beams brightly without any burdens on her shoulders as a smaller Hyejoo rides on her back with a smile of equal delight. 

“I see… us,” Siyeon says slowly. She doesn’t remove her finger from where it’s connected to her alternate self, separated only by a pane of silver and reality itself. “I think I’m eleven, twelve, maybe? I’m younger than I am now, and so are you. I’m giving you a piggyback ride, and you look… You look happy. ”

Siyeon’s vision suddenly blurs, and she blinks furiously before turning to fifteen year old Hyejoo. 

“What do you see?” she asks her.

Hyejoo takes a step forward to stand next to Siyeon.

“I see our parents,” she says, her voice coming out as a whisper. “They’re hugging me, smiling at me, telling me things. ‘We’re so proud of you. You’re doing so well.’”

Siyeon almost feels like her heart is being cleaved into two miserable pieces as she watches her sister mouth words they both know she’s never received. Hyejoo didn’t even get to hear them today despite all that’s happened these past few months, and the thought just makes Siyeon want to cry.

“Hey, unnie.”

“Y– Yeah?”

“How come our parents don’t love me?”

“You know we didn’t plan for this, right?”

“Of course. Don’t worry, we can take care of it.”

Four year old Siyeon peeks around the corner of her father’s study as her parents speak with hushed words. They’re standing closely together, heads pressed together as they discuss something by the fireplace. Their faces are hidden by shadows from this angle, and Siyeon’s curiosity gets the better of her as she tries to sneak even closer. The thrill of what she’s doing excites her childhood mind only to be replaced by panic as she sees her mother holding her stomach.

“Mommy!” Siyeon screams into the room. “Mommy, are you sick? Are you dying!?”

“What?” Her mother blinks in surprise before letting out a laugh. “Oh, sweetheart. Mommy’s not dying. I could never leave you behind like that, could I?”

“What about me?” her father grumbles before scooping Siyeon into his arms. “Don’t worry, dear. Your mother is just pregnant.”

“Preg… nant?”

“It means there is a baby in her tummy.”

“That’s so cool!” Siyeon gasps. “I want to be pregnant too!”

Her father blanches. 

“Um, Siyeon, my dear, how about we wait another thirty years for that?”

“But a baby!” Siyeon says excitedly. “I haven’t seen a baby since Mr. and Mrs. Kim brought their baby here!”

“Ah, that’s right,” her mother nods. “Didn’t you say babies were ‘icky’ after meeting her?”

Young Siyeon grimaces at the reminder.

“Yooyon wouldn’t stop crying! And drooling!” she complains. “All I wanted was to show her my toy wand…”

“Well, I think she’s grown out of that,” her father says kindly. “I think she’s old enough to try playing with you soon.”

“Yay! But what about Mommy’s baby? I want to play with Mommy’s baby too!”

Siyeon doesn’t notice how her parents glance at each other.

“Wait,” she gasps loudly. “I’m Mommy’s baby!”

“That you are, sweetie,” her mother nods.

“If I’m Mommy’s baby and Mommy’s tummy has another baby, doesn’t that mean that baby is going to be my… my…”

“Sibling?” her father offers. 

“Yes!” Siyeon claps loudly in front of her father’s face. “Oh, can she be a girl? I want a sister! A baby sister!”

Her father clears his throat. 

“Siyeon, dear, we’re not–”

“We can go on adventures together!” Siyeon says, wiggling in excitement. “We can explore our house together and go find monsters in the woods with Yooyon and we can have tea parties and I can tell her stories and we can have sleepovers and, and, and–”

“Siyeon,” her mother says sharply. Her face softens when Siyeon ceases her rambling. “Siyeon, sweetie, I know you’re very excited, but raising another child is not an easy task.”

“I’ll help!” Siyeon immediately volunteers. She does briefly consider icky, drooly ‘Yooyon’ and her nonstop wailing, but she’s sure it’ll be different when it’s her own precious sister. “Please, Mommy? Please, Daddy?”

“Come on now,” her father chuckles. “Don’t give me those eyes.”

“Pleeease? I really, really, really want a baby sister! Pretty, pretty, pretty please?”

“Maybe we should consider it,” her father says to her mother. “Look how excited she is.”

“I am, I am!” Siyeon nods with as much enthusiasm as she can show, nearly falling out of her father’s arms in the process.

“Hush, child,” her mother says affectionately before sighing. “I suppose I could think a little more on the matter…”

Tiny, innocent Siyeon doesn’t hear the reluctance in her mother’s voice.

She doesn't want to.

“I don’t know,” Siyeon answers hoarsely. She discreetly tries to clear her throat by swallowing. “Hyejoo, I…”

“Hm?”

“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

For a second, Hyejoo doesn’t seem to hear. She’s still transfixed on that fantasy that Siyeon can’t see, on that wish that may never be granted, on that dream that will probably never come true.

And then she falls apart.

A sob escapes Hyejoo’s chest as she crumbles under the weight of all that she’s been forced to carry. She sinks to the floor like she’s lost the strength to keep herself standing, looking like a child lost in an endless forest that she’ll never escape from as she hugs her knees to herself. Her cries are muffled yet desperate, and they increase in volume when Siyeon gently cradles her in her arms, all her despair leaking out in a ceaseless tide of pain.

Siyeon forces away her own tears as Hyejoo clings to her and begins sobbing into her shoulder. She’s sure that her sister’s unhappiness far eclipses her own, a fact further proven by how tight Hyejoo’s grip on her robes is. It’s almost like Hyejoo is afraid to let go, afraid of being left alone, a fear Siyeon refuses to let come to pass.

Softly, in this room far from the rest of the world, Siyeon starts to hum. It’s a tune familiar to both of them, a song Siyeon often used as comfort for Hyejoo when they were kids. Siyeon thinks of this lullaby as one of the things tying them together no matter how far apart they are, a thought she tries to impart to her sister along with her feelings as she quietly begins to sing.

Run away, to a place where you can breathe,
Run away, to a place without painful tears...


Hyejoo’s sure that the powers that be have a twisted sense of humor. There’s no other explanation for the sheer irony that is her animagus transformation. On some days, she just wants to laugh at how she had the luck to turn into the very creature that threw her life into disarray, though on other days she’s willing to admit that being a wolf does have its benefits.

Siyeon screams from atop her back as Hyejoo runs through the woods surrounding Hogwarts. Hyejoo ignores the sharp tug of her fur from where Siyeon tries to keep a frantic grip on her, for she knows Siyeon has it worse as she holds puppy Yoohyeon in one arm while Hyunjin’s claws have made Siyeon’s shoulders their lifeline. The cat lets out a disgruntled yowl as Hyejoo jumps over a fallen log, Siyeon shouting in unison before going “oof” as Hyejoo lands back onto the ground.

Taking pity on her friends, Hyejoo slows to a stop in a clearing just in time for everyone to slide off her back in a worn out heap. 

“Never. Again,” Hyunjin grumbles as she sprawls face up on the dirt. “My nails hurt.”

“We still have to get back to the castle before they close all the doors,” Siyeon reminds her as she leans against a tree for support, panting in exhaustion.

“Crap.”

Hyejoo’s woof of amusement turns into a human’s chuckle as she changes into a form more convenient for communication. Her eyes scan the forest floor, and she snorts when she sees a dog with all four paws in the air, its tongue lolling out as it lays there unmoving. 

“Unnie?” Hyejoo prods Yoohyeon with her toe. “C’mon, I know you’re not dead. Siyeon-unnie only dropped you once.”

The Pomeranian opens an eye before letting out a huff and changing back as well.

“One time was once too many,” Yoohyeon declares, stumbling as she climbs to her feet. “I saw my life flash before my eyes!”

“You get what you pay for,” Hyejoo says with a smirk. “And none of you paid for this ride, so…”

“I almost died from this ride!” Yoohyeon whines. “Siyeon-unnie nearly squeezed the life out of me!”

“Would you rather get dropped again?” Siyeon shoots back. “I did my best, okay?”

“No offense, but your best is pretty bad,” Hyunjin says. “I’m glad I can hang on on my own.”

“My clothes aren’t glad,” Siyeon mutters. She pulls her robe off, holding it up so everyone can see the various symmetrical holes now adorning it. “Whose idea was this again?”

Hyunjin and Hyejoo both point to Yoohyeon.

“What?” Yoohyeon pouts. “I just thought it would be nice for Hyejoo to get some fresh air and stretch her legs while the rest of us tagged along.”

Hyejoo’s face almost falls at the reminder of what transpired earlier. Shoving aside thoughts of her mother in favor of focusing on her friends, she schools her features as she crosses her arms.

“Well?” she asks. “Didn’t you say you wanted to do something out here, unnie?”

“Oh, that’s right!” Yoohyeon claps her hands excitedly. “Hyunjin, get up! Didn’t you call dibs on going first?”

“Alright, alright,” Hyunjin groans as she stretches like a starfish before walking over to Hyejoo. Wordlessly, she takes Hyejoo’s hand and deposits an item in her palm.

Hyejoo squints as she holds up a tiny, copper-colored cat ornament under the moonlight. It must be enchanted, for its tail waves slightly as Hyejoo pokes it with a finger.

“It’s a cat,” Hyunjin says as if that wasn’t obvious. “I’m a cat. So now you can be reminded of how awesome I am no matter where you go.”

“Who says I’m going to bring it with me?” Hyejoo retorts.

“I do!” Yoohyeon says cheerly as she grabs Hyejoo’s other hand. She slaps a black leather bracelet around her wrist, and Hyejoo finds herself smiling at how it fits her perfectly.

“This one is you, isn’t it?” Hyejoo says as she flicks a bronze dog already dangling from the bracelet. It soundlessly barks at her.

“Of course,” Yoohyeon grins. “Don’t leave me lonely there.”

Hyejoo rolls her eyes as she attaches Hyunjin’s gift on one of the free loops connected to the bracelet. She’s not surprised when it fits there like a glove, and she turns her wrist to see two more empty spaces. 

“Here,” Siyeon says, and Hyejoo looks up just in time to see two metal objects glinting in Siyeon’s palm. It’s a pair of wolves, one silver and one gold, and it’s not hard to realize who they represent.

Hyejoo puts on the golden one first, fumbling slightly when she gets to the silver one. Yoohyeon is immediately there to hold her hand steady, helping her connect the final trinket symbolizing herself. The Hufflepuff doesn’t let go once they’re done, and instead she throws her arms around Hyejoo in a bone crushing hug.

“Happy Birthday again!” she yells right next to Hyejoo’s ear.

“Happy Birthday,” Hyunjin says just as loudly as she tackles Hyejoo’s other side.

“Happy Birthday,” Siyeon echoes, smiling under the night sky. “Thank you for being born.”

The four of them huddle there in the forest, Hyejoo embraced by a warmth that she imagines is being transferred to the gift around her wrist. For all her jokes about Yeojin wearing her scarf 24/7, Hyejoo knows she’ll be doing the same without a single drop of shame. The presence of her friends and sister surrounding her is calming, grounding, and she can’t help but feel like the hole that was punched in her heart earlier today is slowly but steadily being filled up.

“By the way,” Hyunjin says causally. “I’m expecting something of equal or greater value in two days, just letting you all know.”

Hyejoo glances at her older friends, the three exchanging a nonverbal message that they know Hyunjin won’t understand. Yoohyeon purses her lips, as bad an actress as ever, while Siyeon opts to grab Hyunjin by the shoulders as a distraction.

“I got you two cans of specially imported cat food,” Siyeon informs her. “One for you to try as a human, and another for you to try as a cat.”

She yelps when Hyunjin whips out her wand, scurrying away as sparks begin flying.

“You do have it, right?” Yoohyeon whispers to Hyejoo. “The necklace?”

“Of course,” Hyejoo whispers back. 

She glances to where Yoohyeon has a silver band around one of her fingers. It’s rather ornate and probably worth quite a bit of money, though Hyejoo knows its true value lies in its meaning. Yoohyeon must be thinking along the same lines as she rubs it absentmindedly, no doubt thinking back to the day she received it.

“Kim Yoohyeon,” a younger Siyeon says seriously. “Are you prepared to receive the highest honor in all the lands?”

“I am,” Yoohyeon replies just as seriously. “I am prepared to lay down my life, my soul, my every fiber–”

“Aren’t you two being a little dramatic?” Hyejoo sighs as she holds up a small pillow with a ring plopped in the center. “Can you hurry it up? My arms are getting sore.”

“Okay, okay,” Siyeon chuckles as she leaps off of the Son manor’s stone fence. “Here, Yoohyeon,” she says, taking the pillow from Hyejoo. “This is for you.”

Yoohyeon gasps in delight. 

“It’s so pretty!” she exclaims, though she doesn’t pick up the ring even as she admires it from various angles. “Are you sure I can have this?”

“We’re sure,” Hyejoo and Siyeon say at the same time.

“We’ve known each other for so long,” Siyeon explains. “So it’s only fitting that you receive one of the Son’s treasures in honor of our timeless bond, our comradeship, our long-lived friendship, our–”

“It means you’re like family to us,” Hyejoo cuts her sister off. “Only those most ‘trusted and treasured by the illustrious Son family’ can have one of these.”

Yoohyeon gasps again.

“Even my parents haven’t gotten one,” she says, awe in every word she says. “Are you two absolutely sure–”

“We are absolutely, one hundred percent, completely, totally sure,” Siyeon says. “Now hurry up and take it. My arms are getting sore too.”

Hyejoo should have seen it coming when Yoohyeon blunders as she touches the ring, the object slipping out of her fingers. Siyeon tries to grab it on instinct, but she only makes matters worse as she accidentally punches the ring in Hyejoo’s direction, who also fails to catch it. Somehow, the three of them inadvertently juggle the ring in the air for an entire minute until it falls and disappears into a sea of excessively long grass.

The three of them spend an hour searching before they finally find it.

“We’re giving it to her in a classroom,” Hyejoo decides. “In case someone drops it or something.”

“Works for me,” Yoohyeon grins.

The two of them relax as they watch Hyunjin chase Siyeon around the clearing for another several minutes until it’s time to return to the castle. The journey back fortunately isn’t as disastrous as the first time, and they’re all able to walk back inside Hogwarts without looking like messes while using Siyeon’s prefect status as an anti-detention shield for staying out so late. They all split up soon after that, Yoohyeon heading for the kitchens, Siyeon turning in early, and Hyunjin off doing Hyunjin things.

Hyejoo walks into her own bedroom just in time to hear a familiar, exasperated voice.

“There you are,” Chaewon says. “Here, this is for you. Happy Birthday.”

She practically chucks a large, pink object at Hyejoo. It’s round and squishy, and Hyejoo turns it around to see that it has a face.

“What… is this…” Hyejoo says slowly.

“That’s Kirby,” Chaewon says, the name not ringing any bells for Hyejoo at all. “He’s a video game character.”

“Uh huh.”

Chaewon suddenly seems a little bit shyer, interlocking her fingers in nervousness for some reason.

“I noticed that you like to cling to things when you sleep,” she explains. “So I figured it might be nice to have a plushy to hold at night.”

This Kirby fellow seems cut out for the job, Hyejoo notes. The stuffed… creature is the right size for her to cuddle, though a wave of embarrassment washes over Hyejoo as she quickly realizes that she will probably indeed cuddle it whether she wants to or not.

“Giving me your old toys, huh?” she blurts out as she tugs at Kirby’s stubby limbs. 

“He’s not old,” Chaewon protests, puffing out her cheeks. “My parents ordered him just last week, and Gowon flew him into Hogwarts like two days ago. He’s brand new.”

“You… You didn’t have to do all that, you know.”

“I know,” Chaewon says softly. “I wanted to.”

Hyejoo looks down at Kirby’s smiling face before clearing her throat.

“So you watch me while I sleep… Isn’t that a little creepy?”

“What? No! I just see you torturing your poor pillow when I wake up in the middle of the night.”

“Mhm. Not creepy at all.”

“Oh my god, Son Hyejoo,” Chaewon sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “If you don’t want him, just give him back.”

“Nope,” Hyejoo says with a grin. She holds Kirby high in the air when Chaewon makes an attempt to snatch him away. “He’s mine now, no take backs.”

“Take care of him. Or else,” Chaewon threatens, even pulling out her wand to point it in Hyejoo’s direction.

That night, Hyejoo sleeps without falling into a single nightmare. There’s no gnashing of beastly jaws, no screams of fury, no other horrors chasing her into the morning. Instead, she wakes feeling more rested than she has in a long time, Kirby secure in her arms as predicted. She doesn’t know if it’s just coincidence or if he maybe has some magical powers of his own, but Hyejoo is grateful all the same as she rises to meet the new day.

Chaewon, as usual, doesn’t stir when Hyejoo looks over to her bed. Still, Hyejoo silently wishes her nothing but sweet dreams as she prepares for today’s classes. She stops by Chaewon’s bed one more time before leaving for breakfast, smiling as she notices Chaewon’s peaceful expression.

“Hey,” she calls out.

There’s no response, as expected.

“See you later.”

Chapter Text

“Just put it in.”

“It won’t fit!”

“Look, Yerim, I’ve done this before. Just trust me.”

“But Hyunjin-unnie, it’s too big!”

“We’ll take it slow, okay? Now just stick it in.”

“Hey,” Hyejoo calls out. “Can you two please, please use different words? Or better yet, can you two just not talk?”

She glances around Honeydukes, well aware of all the other students crowding the candy shop. In another setting, she’d probably be laughing at this situation, but with all these people surrounding them…  Hyejoo winces as she catches Jinsol standing not too far away, clearly scandalized by what she overhead judging from how wide her eyes have gone as she refuses to look at anything in particular.

Hyunjin, of course, proceeds like there’s absolutely no problem with her word choice.

“C’mon, Yerim. Just shove it in,” she says as she tries to jam a rather large bag of Every Flavored Beans inside Yerim’s overflowing robes.

“Unnie, it’s too much,” Yerim whines. “I can’t take it anymore…”

“I don’t know these people,” Hyejoo announces to a pair of Hogsmeade residents passing by.

“Excuse me, we’re doing this specifically for you, in case you forgot,” Hyunjin states without looking up. She roughly pushes and pulls at Yerim’s clothes to make the bag of beans fit, only stopping when the Hufflepuff lets out a yelp.

“Watch out for the Exploding Bonbons!”

“I thought those were in your other pocket?”

“No, those are for the Licorice Wands!”

“Shh!” Hyejoo suddenly hisses when she catches a glimpse of blonde hair. Her friends instantly turn into statues, not even daring to breathe until they exhale in unison when Hyejoo realizes, “Wait, sorry, that’s not Chaewon.”

“Thanks for the heart attack,” Hyunjin says dryly as she resumes trying to force that last bag of candy inside Yerim’s robes.

There’s a loud ripping sound.

Hyunjin blinks.

“Nobody heard that.”

“I did,” Yerim pouts as she holds up one of her sleeves to reveal a very clear hole at her armpit. 

“I’ll buy you a new set of robes,” Hyejoo offers quickly before they get distracted by this new development. “Look, nothing’s falling out, right?”

“I think we’re good,” Yerim nods, jumping up and down to double check. “All clear, Captain!”

“Roger,” Hyunjin confirms with a salute. “Let’s begin Operation Don’t Let Chaewon Find Out.”

“Hold on,” Hyejoo frowns. “Why are you the captain? I thought I was in charge.”

“I’m the oldest here.”

“Yeah, but all this is my idea.” 

“Which you won’t pull off without my help.”

“Doesn’t make you the captain. I enlisted you, so I’m the captain!”

The two Slytherins begin bickering, Yerim following their argument back and forth with her head. At some point though, even she runs out patience as she clears her throat.

“Guys? Can we please get going?” she pleads. “I feel like Santa Claus right now… Wait, is Santa Claus real?”

“Yep,” Hyunjin and Hyejoo both confirm.

“Oh my gosh!” Yerim gasps, looking as though Christmas has come early with this news. Her eyes are positively sparkling in delight as she claps her hands and bounces up and down in glee, all the loot in her robes rustling with her movements. “That’s amazing! So my parents lied to me about lying to me! Wait, does that mean Rudolph is real? And Dancer and Prancer and–”

“I have no idea who you’re talking about,” Hyejoo cuts in forcefully, putting a stop to what she’s sure would otherwise be a very long list of names she does not recognize. “Anyways, you’re right. Let’s get going before Chaewon shows up or something.”

Moving as a well coordinated team of teenagers up to no good, the three of them make their way to Honeydukes’ exit. Yerim hides behind a Fizzing Whizzbees display while Hyunjin and Hyejoo proceed towards the door instead. Shooting Hyunjin a nod, Hyejoo watches the older girl slowly push open the door and poke her head out. Hyejoo mimics the action, checking the other direction for any sign of their target.

“All clear,” she says to Hyunjin.

“All clear,” Hyunjin repeats to Yerim. 

The Hufflepuff carefully tiptoes out of Honeydukes with her hand around her stomach to steady all the candy stashed away there. A different thought pops into Hyejoo’s head at the sight, and she snorts before shoving it away and glancing down the path leading back to Hogwarts. 

“Man, I wish we had Walkie Talkies,” Yerim whispers as she sneaks past Hyejoo to take cover behind a nearby fence. “This would be so much fun with those!”

“What’s so hard about walking and talking?” Hyejoo asks, joining Yerim behind the fence before peering over it.

“I’m talking about– Ah, never mind,” Yerim sighs. “Do you see Chaewon-unnie anywhere?”

“Nope,” Hyunjin answers as she takes a seat next to the two first years. “Which is weird. She said she would be coming to Hogsmeade today, but I haven’t seen her like… at all.”

“Same,” Hyejoo mutters, peeking over the wall. She quickly ducks back down when she accidentally makes eye contact with some random Gryffindor. “This would be so much easier if we knew where she was.”

“Isn’t she hanging with Jiwoo-unnie and Jungeun-unnie?” Hyunjin asks. “I haven’t heard either of them all day, which is even weirder.”

“Suspicious~” Yerim sings. “Anyways, is the coast clear?”

Hyejoo risks another peek over the fence. 

“All clear,” she reports. “I’ll stay on this side while you two cross the street, okay?”

“Aye-aye, Captain,” Hyunjin says with a sarcastic salute before unceremoniously yanking Yerim up by her elbow. The two make a mad dash for the other side of the road, somehow not dropping a single item along the way. 

Hyejoo carefully moves along the fence, still scanning Hogsmeade for any sign of Chaewon. She idly wonders if this is what the Seeker has to deal with during Quidditch games, a fruitless search for something tiny with no idea where it is. The fence soon ends, leaving Hyejoo to find another place to lie low. Her years of playing hide-and-seek with Siyeon and Yoohyeon in the Son manor have clearly paid off when she makes a smooth slide behind a rather large trash can.

There’s a sudden shout from across the street. Slapping a hand onto her face, Hyejoo sighs before taking a look past the trash can. She squints, somewhat impressed when she doesn’t see anything aside from a hasty thumbs up from behind a bush. She retreats back into the shadows with a relieved huff only to bump into someone.

She freezes.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, Hyejoo looks over her shoulder. She has no idea what to say when she turns to see a dumbstruck Kim Jungeun doing the exact same thing behind her, mirrored expression and all. The two stare wordlessly at each other, plenty of thoughts running through their heads, half of which Hyejoo is pretty sure are curses. After all, how do you explain hiding behind a trash can like a creep to another creep?

A second passes.

Hyejoo and Jungeun lunge at each other.

Hyejoo tries not to make too much noise as she attempts to smother Jungeun’s mouth while defending herself at the same time. She leans back to avoid the older student’s sharp nails (seriously, why does a Keeper have nails that long?), well aware that if she causes too much of a commotion, her plan will be tossed out the window. Fortunately, Jungeun has her own agenda to protect judging from how silent she is for once, not even a grunt escaping from her.

Out of the blue, another hand clamps over Hyejoo’s mouth. She desperately grabs at Jungeun’s robes as she’s yanked backwards, the Gryffindor letting out a muted yell as she falls forward in response. 

“Please stop struggling!” a voice next to Hyejoo’s ear begs, and that only makes Hyejoo fight back even harder. She refuses to let go of Jungeun as she uses her free hand to swing randomly behind her, earning a shriek for her efforts. It’s vaguely familiar, but Hyejoo has no time to spend on figuring out who’s trying to kidnap her. Whoever it is, they have an iron grip that Hyejoo can’t seem to dislodge no matter how hard she shakes her head left and right. She nearly kicks Jungeun in the stomach at one point, and that’s when she hears the voice of the last person she wants to see. 

“Oh my god, what are you guys doing!?”

The situation just went from bad to worse, Hyejoo thinks as she sees Chaewon running up to them out of the corner of her eye. The hand still covering her mouth slackens just a bit, and Hyejoo doesn’t waste the opportunity to do something that she may very well regret in a minute.

She sticks out her tongue.

“Ew! Oh my gosh! She licked me!” the person behind her screams, immediately letting go.

Hyejoo wasn’t expecting that to be so effective, and so her whole body pitches forward with the abrupt release of her head. Naturally, this results in her accidentally headbutting Jungeun as she falls forward, the two of them tumbling onto the ground in a jumbled mess of pained groans. Hyejoo clutches her forehead as footsteps approach her, and she looks up just in time to see Chaewon gazing at her with an expression that’s equal parts concerned and confused.

“I can’t believe she licked me!” Jiwoo wails as she runs up to Chaewon. She holds her hand away from her like it’s some disgusting insect before reaching over to wipe it on Chaewon’s shoulder.

“Ew! What the heck!” Chaewon protests. She brushes off her shoulder and bends down to rub her own hand on Jungeun’s arm.

“Hey!” Jungeun grabs her sleeve and presses it to Hyejoo’s robes. “Here, this is yours.”

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” Hyejoo growls. She glances over to the other side of the street, glaring when she sees Hyunjin not even bothering to hide anymore. She just stands there, out in the open, completely amused by the scene playing out before her. She’s clearly distracted from the mission when Yerim suddenly appears behind her and Hyunjin’s reaction is to all but jump into the air in surprise. 

Hyejoo snorts internally. It’s what Hyunjin deserves.

“Okay, what’s going on?” she asks the three schoolmates standing before her.

“I was wondering that myself,” Chaewon says, crossing her arms. “I went to stake out Madam Sunmi’s Tea Shop like someone insisted, and the next thing I know, my cousin and childhood friend are over here fighting with my roommate.”

“She started it,” Jungeun automatically tosses out with an accusing finger pointed at Hyejoo. “I was just minding my business–”

“Excuse me?” Hyejoo interrupts with a scowl. “I was minding my own business when I was attacked by you two.”

“Oi, I found that trash can first,” Jungeun argues. 

“No, I did.”

“No, I did–”

“Actually, you both got there at the same time,” Jiwoo says with a smile that quickly vanishes when Jungeun and Hyejoo both round on her. “What? It’s the truth! I was watching!”

“And you didn’t help?” Jungeun demands.

“I did! I tried to pull her off of you!” 

“You mean you assaulted me,” Hyejoo grumbles.

“I don’t know these people,” Chaewon says to a small family rushing past them, the words filling Hyejoo with a shameful sense of déjà vu.

Jungeun gives a sheepish grimace, rubbing her neck awkwardly.

“So…” she says. “Why were you hiding behind a trash can?”

“Why were you?” Hyejoo counters, not eager to hold this conversation at all.

“We’re trying to find someone,” Chaewon answers with a peeved pout before everyone starts going in circles again. “What about you?”

“I was, uh… avoiding Yeojin,” Hyejoo lies, silently apologizing to her friend for the slander. “She’s up to something. As usual.”

“Ah, yeah,” Jungeun nods. She’s probably thinking back on some Gryffindor common room hijinks Hyejoo isn’t privy to as she says, “That kid’s an… interesting one, isn’t she?”

“Yep,” Hyejoo agrees. “Never a boring moment with her around. Anyways, who are you guys looking for?”

Jiwoo immediately perks up, grabbing Hyejoo’s hands in a burst of energy. 

“We’re looking for Ha Sooyoung!” she exclaims. “Have you seen her around?”

“No?” Hyejoo feels strangely wary of the borderline manic passion visible in the Hufflepuff’s eyes. “Do you want me to pass on a message if I run into her?”

“No need,” Chaewon says with a roll of her eyes. “Someone here just wants to spy on her crush.”

Hyejoo turns to Jiwoo.

“You… have a crush on Ha Sooyoung?” Hyejoo asks slowly. 

“No taste,” Jungeun comments. “Absolutely no taste at all.”

“Hey! I have plenty of taste!” Jiwoo objects with a harmless glare. “Sooyoung-unnie is soooo beautiful and soooo talented and soooo smart. And she’s nice enough to help Chaewon with Potions!”

“Don’t bring me into this,” Chaewon complains. “I’m so tired of listening to you thirst after one of my tutors, ugh.”

Jiwoo lets out a dreamy sigh.

“Man, I wish she’d tutor me, if you know what I mean,” she says, wiggling her eyebrows.

“Blocked.”

“We’re talking in person though???”

“See?” Jungeun says to Hyejoo. “No taste. You know what makes this worse? Jiwoo broke Sooyoung-unnie’s nose last year. Sooyoung-unnie’s fangirls wouldn’t stop crying for weeks.”

“Those fangirls are the ones with no taste,” Jiwoo proclaims, vehemently planting her hands on her hips. “Sooyoung-unnie is still pretty even with a crooked nose!”

Jungeun gives Hyejoo a pointed look, and Hyejoo nods in silent agreement, the two finally united over the fact that Kim Jiwoo is probably a hopeless case when it comes to the realm of romance. 

The Hufflepuff soon tries to recruit Hyejoo into her spying operation, but Hyejoo declines out of self-preservation and the need to return to her own undertaking. Using the excuse of needing to find Haseul, Hyejoo bids the three goodbye before escaping in the direction of Hogwarts. Hyunjin and Yerim should have almost made it back by now, and Hyejoo just hopes that Hyunjin hasn’t pilfered too much of Hyejoo’s purchases in her absence. 

Sure enough, Hyunjin is munching on a headless chocolate frog on the Grand Staircase with Yerim sitting next to her. They’ve long since unloaded all the candy Yerim carried in, a sizable mountain placed between the two as they await Hyejoo’s return. 

“That's the only thing you’re getting as payment from me,” Hyejoo says to Hyunjin as she begins sorting through all the different kinds of candy, handing some over to Yerim.

Hyunjin frowns, and her displeasure only deepens when she checks which Famous Witches and Wizards card she received from the chocolate frog.

“Here,” she says, tossing the card at Yerim. “Have my mom. I have like fifteen copies of her already.”

Contrary to her words, Hyejoo does eventually give Hyunjin a couple more things in appreciation for helping her bring everything back to the Slytherin dorms. Yerim was given her own set of candy while also being entrusted with Yeojin’s belated share before they went their separate ways, though by far the largest pile of sweets is the one dumped on Chaewon’s bed. 

“You think she’ll like this as a birthday gift?” Hyejoo asks, a small wave of uncertainty ambushing her out of the blue. 

“There’s no way she won’t,” Hyunjin says from where she’s lounging on her own bed. She waves a Licorice Wand in Hyejoo’s direction. “Didn’t you see how happy Yerim was earlier? Muggleborns love this kinda stuff, and Chaewon’s bound to find at least something she’ll enjoy since you bought, like what, the entire store?”

“I skipped the Cockroach Clusters,” Hyejoo says. “I’d be worried if she somehow liked those.”

“Should have bought some anyways,” Hyunjin says, idly twirling her fake wand. “Then we could have given them to Yoohyeon-unnie. Or Heejin.”

Hyejoo chuckles before flopping facedown onto her own bed. 

“Thanks for helping me out today,” she mumbles into her blanket, the urge to nap before dinner overtaking her. She blindly gropes around for Kirby, lifting her head to visually locate him when her hands come up empty. She spots her quarry and rolls onto her back as she grabs him with a yawn. 

“No prob,” Hyunjin replies as she does a stretch. 

Light shimmers through the window of their dorm, refracted by the waters of the lake on the other side of the glass. Hyejoo still doesn’t know if it’s genius or madness that inspired the founder of their house to build the Slytherin quarters basically underwater, but she appreciates the ambiance all the same as fractals of illumination dance throughout the room. Her thoughts begin to wander with drowsiness and she casts her gaze over to Hyunjin. 

The second year is now playing with the necklace she received the other day. True to her animagus form, Hyunjin dangles it in front of herself with one hand while batting at it like a cat with the other. 

Hyejoo smiles at the memory of how she, Siyeon, and Yoohyeon gave that to Hyunjin. She’s pretty sure Hyunjin was considering hexing all three of them when they first handed her a golden cat bowl and kitty collar as her birthday gifts. Her eyes had narrowed and she was actually about to walk out of the borrowed Transfiguration classroom until Yoohyeon lured her back with an entire basket of bread. Siyeon and Hyejoo then presented her with her true present, the pendant she now wears around her neck. 

“Whoa, a Son family treasure?” Hyunjin had said. “I could sell this and be set for life.”

She didn’t fool anyone with her words, her small sniffle giving her away less than a minute later. Siyeon had promptly tackled her into a hug, Yoohyeon and Hyejoo joining in right after, and with that memory of everyone’s laughter replaying in her mind, Hyejoo soon drifts off into sleep. 

She wakes to a pillow smacking her face. 

“Hyejoo, get up!”

“Whuh?” she says dumbly. 

“What is all this?” Chaewon whines. She tugs at Hyejoo’s hand only to give up and point indignantly at her bed. “Don’t just dump all your stuff in my space.”

“Oh yeah,” Hyejoo yawns, rubbing at her eye. She doesn’t miss the flash of orange disappearing out the door. “All that’s yours now. Happy Early Birthday.”

“What.”

“Happy Early Birthday,” Hyejoo repeats, smirking at Chaewon’s gobsmacked expression. 

Chaewon blinks. 

And then she sighs. 

“If I say you didn’t have to do this, you’ll just say you wanted to, right?” 

“Right on the money,” Hyejoo grins. 

Chaewon sighs again, but that little display of exasperation fails to conceal the fond smile playing at her lips. She picks up a few of the items that have fallen off the hill taking up the center of her bed before looking back at Hyejoo. 

“Thank you,” she says. “This is very… sweet of you.”

“... That’s a pun, isn’t it?”

“I wonder,” Chaewon says innocently. 

She turns back to her bed, and Hyejoo watches, alarmed when genuine annoyance starts to appear on Chaewon’s face for some reason. For a second, Hyejoo wonders if she made a buying blunder somewhere, but then the true problem hits her a few seconds later as Hyejoo realizes, perhaps a bit too late, that someone is going to have to figure out where to stash all this candy. 

“I’m going to go eat dinner now,” Hyejoo says quickly. “Enjoy, see you later, bye!”

“Wait a sec–”

Hyejoo wisely elects to ignore the voice calling after her as she books it out of the Slytherin common room. It’s not like she’s lying anyways, for she heads straight for the Great Hall where Siyeon and Hyunjin are already eating. 

“Hey, did your friend like your gift?” Siyeon asks as soon as Hyejoo sits down.

“I think so,” Hyejoo nods, declining to mention how she abandoned said friend mere minutes ago. “Where’s Yoohyeon-unnie, by the way?”

“There,” Hyunjin says through a mouthful of rice. 

Hyejoo looks up at the entrance to the Great Hall just in time to see Yoohyeon sauntering in. She has on her typical sunny disposition, oblivious to her surroundings as she makes her way towards their usual spot. She grins when she catches sight of Hyejoo and even sends a wave. 

And then she trips. 

Fate can be cruel, Hyejoo mourns in her head when Yoohyeon goes tumbling right into Head Girl Bae of all people. The height difference between the two students is no trivial matter, and Hyejoo silently says a prayer for her longtime friend when the two nearly go crashing into the ground. 

“Oh no,” Siyeon groans into her hands. “Well, it was nice knowing Yoohyeon.”

“Rest in pieces,” Hyunjin says solemnly. 

Hyejoo can’t hear what Head Girl Bae says to Yoohyeon, who’s somehow bowing her head nonstop at high speed without getting whiplash, but apparently the seventh year is in a charitable mood when Yoohyeon is allowed to leave unscathed. The fact that Seungwan is there probably has something to do with it, plus Captain Seulgi showing up to apologize for her clumsy Seeker. 

“Guys! Guys! Guess what?” Yoohyeon beams as she finally makes it to their table intact. 

“Yes, Yoohyeon-unnie,” Hyejoo replies in a dry tone. “We all saw you trip over your shoelaces and smash into Head Girl Bae. I think half the school saw, actually.”

“Okay, listen,” Yoohyeon says sternly, wagging a finger in Hyejoo’s face. “I may now be marked for death, but! I’m pretty sure I saw Minji-unnie laughing in my general direction, so guess who’s winning at life? This puppy is!” she declares, jabbing her thumb at her own chest proudly. 

“Just sit down and eat your salad already,” Siyeon says. “I’m worried you’ll somehow become another safety hazard if you keep standing around.”

“Who’s Minji anyways?” Hyejoo mutters. 

Yoohyeon lets out the most offended gasp Hyejoo has ever heard in all fifteen years of knowing this girl. 

“Who’s Minji?” Yoohyeon repeats, not even fully seated as she gapes at Hyejoo. “Who’s Minji? Allow me to show you!”

She whips out a scroll and slaps it dramatically onto the table between the four of them. 

“Kim Minji, born May 17th,” Yoohyeon recites as Hyunjin absentmindedly pulls her down so she’s seated properly. “She’s a sixth year, one of the prefects of Gryffindor house, descended from a noble lineage, widely regarded as a princess of Hogwarts–”

“Oh, is this the Kim our parents keep telling you to hang out with?” Hyejoo asks Siyeon, tuning out Yoohyeon’s voice. 

“Yep,” Siyeon confirms. “We’re actually on pretty good terms. She’s in a lot of my classes.”

“Wait…” Hyejoo pulls a face as she connects the dots. “This Minji is also Yoohyeon’s mystery crush that she keeps talking about every summer?”

“Yep,” Siyeon winks. “Honestly though, like half of the student body has a crush on her or something. Yoohyeon isn’t special.”

Hyejoo slightly disagrees with that statement when Yoohyeon launches straight into a report about Kim Minji’s various hobbies. Being this knowledgeable about the target of her affections has to make her kind of special, right? Then again, this isn’t the first stalker Hyejoo has run into today… 

“Hold on,” Hyejoo says. “Does that mean you have a crush on her too, Siyeon-unnie?”

Yoohyeon immediately pauses her rant, and Hyunjin likewise stops pretending to listen to Yoohyeon as all eyes turn to Siyeon. 

“Hm…” Siyeon says thoughtfully. She places a finger on her chin. “I mean she is very pretty, isn’t she? Plus, like all her fans say, she does have very attractive hands. I know that for a fact.”

Hyejoo stares. 

Hyunjin stares. 

And Yoohyeon lets out a gasp that surpasses her previous record by a long shot. 

“Siyeon-unnie!” she wails. “How could you? I mean you’re not wrong… In fact, you’re very right, but how could you? Minji-unnie is my crush!”

Siyeon cackles before reaching across the table to pat Yoohyeon’s head. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” she says soothingly. “I know you’ve liked her since day one.”

“Day six, actually! I kept track.”

Hyejoo takes a moment to squint down at Yoohyeon’s roll of parchment filled with scribbles that she probably doesn’t want to read. There’s a surprisingly detailed sketch of their current topic in the middle of it, and Hyejoo begrudgingly admits that Kim Minji isn’t bad looking, though she’s more preoccupied with trying to pinpoint where she’s seen her before. 

“Wait a minute,” Hyejoo says sharply. “She’s the student in charge of keeping Kim Bora in line, isn’t she?”

“I guess you can put it that way,” Siyeon answers with a chuckle. “They’re friends. Best friends, actually.”

That’s a point off of Minji’s total score. Multiple points, Hyejoo decides. 

“At least Yoohyeon-unnie isn’t crushing on Kim Bora,” she grumbles, still not wanting that menace anywhere near her friends and family. 

“Ahaha…” Siyeon scratches her cheek. “Crushing on Bora would be a bad thing, huh?”

“She’s mean,” Hyejoo states flatly. “I don’t know how mean yet, but I don’t like mean people.”

Siyeon tilts her head. 

“Did she do something to you?”

“No,” Hyejoo says shortly. She opts to not elaborate, reluctant to bring up Bora’s questionable actions towards her sister if Siyeon herself is still unwilling or unable to talk about it. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to when Yoohyeon pipes up again.

“You know what Bora-unnie once said about mini-me?” she scowls as she puffs out her cheeks. “She said to Minji-unnie, ‘Why is there a piece of toast following you around?’”

“A piece of–” Hyunjin coughs into her goblet before setting it down to applaud. “A piece of toast. I love it.”

“What? No!” Yoohyeon slaps Hyunjin’s arms. “Stop being so happy about that.”

“Toast, Yoohyeon-unnie. She called you toast!”

“That’s exactly the problem!”

“Kids these days,” Siyeon says affectionately as the cat and dog start fighting over dinner. 

“Yeah,” Hyejoo sighs as she resumes eating. “By the way…”

“Hm?”

“Didn’t you once call Yoohyeon-unnie a ‘walking loaf of bread’ yourself?”

“Shh.”

Chapter Text

Know My Heart

“Hey, can I ask you for a favor?”

Here we go again, Hyunjin thinks. Here’s yet another brown-noser, here to cash in on the kindness spent on Hyunjin like she’s some teller at Gringotts; fake friendship in, connections to Kim Taeyeon out.

It’s a bit of a shame, really. Hyunjin can’t help the disappointment filling her this time, for she really had thought Jeon Heejin was different from everyone else. She had been getting along quite well with the first year Gryffindor even by her own standards, so it’s quite the blow to realize that Heejin just wants to use her like everyone else.

“What do you want?” Hyunjin replies, her tone blunt.

Heejin hesitates for a bit, chewing the bottom of her lip as if she’s suddenly too shy to make her request. Hyunjin wishes she would drop the goody two shoes act already.

“Sorry if this is a weird thing to ask, but like…”

“Out with it,” Hyunjin says impatiently.

Heejin takes in a deep breath.

“Can you introduce me to Park Chaewon?”

Huh?

“Huh?” Hyunjin blinks.

“Can you introduce me to Park Chaewon?” Heejin repeats. “You know, the muggleborn in your house? Your classmate?”

“She’s your classmate too,” Hyunjin points out. She keeps her face neutral, though internally she’s busy trying to untangle this spontaneous knot of confusion.

“Yeah, but you’re closer to her,” Heejin argues, her lip jutting out in a pout. “I’ve barely spoken to her so like… Could you introduce us? Please?”

“Why do you even want to talk to her in the first place…?”

“Oh, it’s nothing bad,” Heejin says. “It’s just… she’s a muggleborn, you know?” 

“And?” Hyunjin crosses her arms. “Don’t tell me you’re a blood supremacist or something.”

“What? No, no, no, no! Not at all!” Heejin is immediately flustered by the words, shaking her head quickly as she raises her hands in a show of innocence. “That’s not what I meant, I swear!”

Hyunjin smirks to herself, amused by the panicked reaction. 

“So what do you mean then?” 

“I just… Look, I just think it would be cool to talk to someone from the muggle world,” Heejin explains rather hastily. “So please, can you introduce us?”

“Fine, let’s go.”

“Huh? Right now?”

“No time like the present,” Hyunjin calls over her shoulder. She doesn’t bother waiting for Heejin as she makes her way to the Great Hall despite not actually knowing if her roommate is there or not.

Her gamble pays off. It’s not hard to pick out Park Chaewon sitting by herself at the corner of a table, a book spread open before her. She almost looks constipated with concentration, her eyebrows scrunched up as her spoon hovers halfway to her mouth, eating evidently forgotten in favor of studying. 

Target located, Hyunjin comes to an abrupt stop, and Heejin bumps into her from behind. 

“What are you– Hey!”

Hyunjin unceremoniously turns around to grab Heejin by the shoulders. She leaves no room for the Gryffindor to escape as she steers her towards Chaewon. 

“Hey, slow down! Wait!” Heejin protests. 

“Nope,” Hyunjin says, and with one last forceful shove, she plops Heejin down right in front of Chaewon before sitting next to her. 

“Um…”  Chaewon looks appropriately apprehensive, maybe even scared as she looks from Heejin to Hyunjin. “Hi?”

“Park Chaewon, this is Jeon Heejin. She wants to talk to you,” Hyunjin introduces as promised. Task completed, she crosses her arms and waits to see whatever is about to unfold. 

“So, uh… Hi!” Heejin greets with an awkward wave. “I’m Hyunjin’s friend.” Debatable. “I share some classes with you too.”

“I know,” Chaewon says, and the conversation fizzles out there. 

Hyunjin nudges Heejin with her elbow. 

“Ow! Okay, so…” Heejin coughs into her hand. “You’re a muggleborn, right?”

“Yes,” Chaewon answers, her voice quiet. 

“Okay, okay.” Heejin sits up straighter, muttering something to herself, and Hyunjin finds her need to hype herself up as entertaining as it is weird. “Okay. So. I have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?” 

“Please introduce me to Sol!”

“Huh?” Hyunjin and Chaewon say at the same time. 

“Please!” Heejin begs, clasping her hands together in desperation. “I came across their music on the World Wide Web last year and I just need to meet them to tell them how great they are.”

“What makes you think I know them?” Chaewon questions. She looks even more confused than when she was studying, and Hyunjin doesn’t blame her. 

“You’re a muggleborn, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, but just because I know of them doesn’t mean I personally know them.”

“It doesn’t?”

Heejin, bless her soul, seems genuinely mind blown by this revelation. Hyunjin herself has no idea what goes on in the muggle realm of things nor does she know who this “Sol” is, so she can only shrug when Chaewon turns to her with borderline despair. 

“Okay, look, do you personally know–” Chaewon flips her textbook back to its cover. “–Arsenius Jigger?”

“No,” Heejin frowns. “But I think my mom’s cousin’s relative’s friend knows an alchemist who once ran into a bartender who–”

“Point is,” Chaewon interrupts at a volume Hyunjin didn’t know she could reach. “You don’t know every famous magical person, right?” Heejin gives a sad nod. “Muggles don’t know all famous muggles either.”

“But… but… Sol said that all their fans are their friends,” Heejin whispers in dejection, her defeated demeanor strongly resembling a bunny left out in the rain. 

Chaewon smiles sympathetically. 

“Welcome to idol stan life.”

To this day, Hyunjin still wonders if Chaewon regrets getting to know Heejin. She sure acts like she does, often complaining and pulling faces whenever Heejin makes a reference to muggle culture. 

“Ignorance is bliss,” she’s said to Hyunjin on multiple occasions when it’s clear that Hyunjin doesn’t understand what’s going on. 

At the same time, however, Chaewon seems to indulge Heejin and her obsessions. Every month, Chaewon’s owl flies in carrying novels filled with drawings instead of words (“Manga!” Heejin insisted. “They’re called manga!”), and she always lends them to the Gryffindor. She also passes on updates about “Sol”, much to Hyunjin’s chagrin when Heejin once burst into tears during Charms over some news about a “comeback.” 

Fortunately, Heejin is more than her craze for muggle entertainment. Much more, as Hyunjin is learning day by day. 

Apparently, her fellow second year has taken on the title of Yeojin Wrangler within Gryffindor Tower. It’s a surprisingly wholesome pairing, with Yeojin often praising Heejin for helping her out with homework, getting her out of the snag of the week, and just looking after her in general. It turns out Heejin was amongst the group of students who stopped Yeojin from brawling with other first years a while back. This isn’t entirely surprising, as Hyunjin recalls Heejin standing up for Chaewon several times last year when a pack of imbeciles decided to disparage her non-pureblood status.

“You sure like to look out for the small folks, huh?” Hyunjin comments as she watches Heejin feed a pair of baby owlets nestled in one of the nooks of Hogwarts’ Owlery.

“What was that?” Heejin says absentmindedly, her focus nailed to the tiny creatures demanding food and care. 

“Nothing.”

Speaking from experience, Hyunjin knows it’s not worth the effort trying to hold a conversation with Heejin once she’s dedicated herself to a singular matter like this. Heejin, she’s noticed, isn’t exactly the best at splitting her attention. On multiple occasions she has accidentally ignored Hyunjin or Chaewon during study sessions, and even now it’s clear that her only concern is dropping chunks of meat into the owls’ little beaks, unaware of the fact that her stool is wobbling under her weight.

Hyunjin sticks out her own foot to steady the stool. As amusing as it would be to see Heejin fall, it’s probably not worth the hassle of having to help her back to the Hospital Wing from this far. Besides, it’s still pretty fun to watch Heejin as she works, tongue poking out in concentration and all. 

“You know, my sister says we have another owl at home now,” Heejin suddenly says.

“Another one?” Hyunjin blinks. “Don’t you already have like… three?”

“Yeah,” Heejin nods. It takes her a whole minute to resume speaking. “But my dad found this owl abandoned in some witch’s home… It was locked in its cage, trapped there and practically starving to death.”

Hyunjin frowns. 

“That’s horrible.”

“It is,” Heejins agrees, her voice soft. “Mom says its wing hasn’t fully healed from when it broke it trying to escape.”

“Maybe it should have stayed put,” Hyunjin muses. “Then it wouldn’t have been both starving and in pain.”

“True… but I don’t really blame it,” Heejin says as she finally jumps down from the stool. She flashes Hyunjin a quick, grateful smile before it falls away to reveal a more rueful expression. “After all, can you really expect an animal to live in a cage forever?”

“I suppose not.”

“Humans are the same too, you know,” Heejin says, now grinning as she makes her way towards the exit. Hyunjin follows her. “I saw your mom kick someone’s ass for trying to escape detention the other day. I hope that one second of freedom was worth getting hexed by Kim Taeyeon.”

Hyunjin snorts.

“Believe me, it’s not,” she says. “Nothing is worth pissing off my mom. I would know.”

Heejin laughs, and Hyunjin finds herself smiling as she steps out of the Owlery. She casts her gaze upwards, raising a hand to block out the sun. Right on cue, an owl flies by, wings flapping as it takes off into the sky. 

Freedom, huh?


“I have an idea.”

Hyejoo narrows her eyes at Hyunjin before returning her attention to where Siyeon is skipping stones over the lake.

“Dangerous,” she says. “But go on.”

Hyunjin stands up from where she was seated on the shore. For a second, she doesn’t say anything, and all Hyejoo hears is the plopping of stones over water and the sounds of Yoohyeon scribbling on a piece of parchment behind her.

And then she speaks.

“We should let Siyeon-unnie out of the Shrieking Shack tomorrow night.”

There’s a loud splash.

“What did you say?” Siyeon’s still clenching a rock in her fist as she strides up to the rest of the group. “Kim Hyunjin, are you being serious right now?”

“I am,” Hyunjin says. Siyeon’s expression darkens, and Hyunjin quickly raises her hands in a show of appeasement. “Hey, just hear me out, okay?”

Hyejoo pulls at Siyeon’s robes.

“Unnie,” she urges gently, hoping to stamp out this flare of irritation before it gets too big.

Siyeon takes a deep breath, eyes closed before she opens them and drops the pebble in her hand.

“Sorry,” she mumbles. “Go on.”

“Look,” Hyunjin says calmly, though Hyejoo doesn’t miss how she shifts her weight from one foot to the other and back. “Let’s be honest here. Last month wasn’t great, and I have a feeling this month won’t be either.”

“Why?” Siyeon asks, her voice bitter. “Is it because I’m becoming too much of a grouch these days? Too unhappy? Too much to deal with?”

“No, of course not,” Hyunjin says quietly. “You’ll never be too much to deal with. But you feel it too, don’t you? We all do.”

“It’s not my fault!” Siyeon abruptly snaps, and Hyejoo tries to hide her flinch but to no avail. She feels Yoohyeon’s hands on her shoulders as Siyeon continues to lash out. “I didn’t ask for this! I hate being like this, feeling like I’m about to lose my goddamn mind every time the full moon shows up. It gets worse and worse every month, and–”

“Exactly,” Hyunjin interrupts forcefully, stubborn determination burning in her eyes. “It’s getting worse. So maybe we’re doing something wrong.”

“Please, unnie,” Yoohyeon calls out beseechingly. “None of us blame you for any of this. We just want to help.”

Siyeon’s lips curl back in a snarl, and Hyejoo braces herself for another rant. Their eyes suddenly meet, however, Siyeon glancing down at Hyejoo, and all at once the older Son seems to deflate. 

“I’m sorry,” Siyeon mumbles, sinking to the ground. She buries her face in her hands. “I don’t mean to be so… I’m just– I’m just so tired . I’m so tired that I don’t even feel like myself anymore. I know I’m not myself anymore.”

Hyejoo silently scoots forward on the grass, moving so that she’s right in front of her sister. She reaches out carefully before grabbing a hold of Siyeon’s sleeves. She takes a breath, and then she gives a tug. 

“It’s okay, unnie,” Hyejoo says softly. “We know this isn’t the normal you. And we know this isn’t your fault.”

Siyeon lowers her arms to reveal the pain written all over her face. 

“What do I do, Hyejoo?” she whispers. “Am I supposed to be like this for the rest of my life?”

“No,” Hyejoo answers firmly, her grip on Siyeon’s robes tightening. “I won’t let you. I’ll figure it out—the Wolfsbane Potion—I promise. And until then–”

“Until then, you have us,” Hyunjin says, walking up right next to Siyeon. 

“All of us,” Yoohyeon adds. “You’re stuck with us, remember?”

“Yeah,” Siyeon says hoarsely. “Yeah.”

“Ahem!” Yoohyeon clears her throat out of the blue in such an obvious attempt to change the subject that Hyejoo facepalms while Hyunjin snorts. “So what’s the plan, Hyunjinnie? Why do you want to let Siyeon-unnie out?”

“I think the wolf inside her can’t stand being cooped up,” Hyunjin explains. “Like can we really expect a wild animal to be okay with being stuck in a tiny little shack? No offense, Siyeon-unnie.”

“None taken,” Siyeon sighs, probably too exhausted to kick up another fuss. She flops backward to lay on the ground instead. “So what, you’re suggesting we let a werewolf loose on Hogwarts grounds?”

“It’s worth trying, don’t you think?” Hyunjin crosses her arms. “It’s better than you hurting yourself trying to escape.”

“Or hurting one of you guys,” Siyeon says with a humorless, resentful chuckle. She randomly grabs another pebble within arms reach before flinging it in the direction of the lake. It sinks into the depths before Hyejoo can spot it. 

“It might be worth a shot,” Yoohyeon says slowly. “I mean nobody’s supposed to be outside of Hogwarts at night anyways, so what’s the danger?”

On a whim, Hyejoo glances down at the papers in Yoohyeon’s possession. They’re meant to be maps, she realizes, her eyes picking out an incomplete sketch of a part of Hogwarts’ first floor.

“Gimme,” she says, and she snatches the maps away without waiting for permission. 

“Hey! I’m not done with those!”

Hyejoo ignores Yoohyeon as she flips through the pages for the portion of Hogwarts most relevant to their current discussion.

“Here,” Hyejoo says, tapping at the parchment when Yoohyeon peers over. “We can go to the Forbidden Forest. It’s not far from the Whomping Willow, and there definitely won’t be anybody there at night.”

“Perfect.” Hyunjin claps her hands once. “See, Siyeon-unnie? It’ll be fine.”

Siyeon lets out another sigh, but she doesn’t move.

“Hyejoo,” she calls out. “What do you think?”

“I mean if everyone’s down–”

“No,” Siyeon interrupts her as she sits back up. “I want to know how you specifically feel about this. If anything happens, if anything goes wrong… You know you’re the only one that can really stop me.”

Hyejoo swallows.

“I know,” she says. “And… I want to do whatever I can to help you, unnie.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to,” Hyejoo repeats. 

A flicker of something complex and convoluted passes across Siyeon’s face, but before Hyejoo can even begin to guess what’s going on in her sister’s mind, Siyeon suddenly smiles. It’s not a particularly big one, and it seems more of a shadow of a smile than anything, but it’s there, and that’s more than enough for now. 

“Well, here’s to hoping nobody’s out there having a tryst when we show up.”

As planned, the four of them spend the next night holed up in the Shrieking Shack for as long as possible. True to Hyunjin’s prediction, Siyeon’s werewolf temperament tonight is indeed worse than last month’s. Her attempts to tear down the boarded windows are more aggressive, more frenzied, and she snaps her jaws at Hyejoo whenever Hyejoo tries to nudge her away. At some point, she makes it to the upper floor only to trash all the furniture and come crashing back down the stairs with unanswered fury in her golden eyes. 

Eventually, Siyeon is somehow distracted by Hyunjin, who’s sitting high up on a dusty chandelier and slowly waving her tail. Siyeon gazes at the cat, unmoving, and Hyejoo tenses her muscles in case the unthinkable occurs. 

Next to Hyejoo’s foot, Yoohyeon gives a whine. She yips twice, their previously agreed upon signal, and then she patters away towards the entrance and disappears down the tunnel leading out. 

Many long minutes pass. 

Woof!”

Hyejoo huffs in relief at the excited bark. She’s sure Hyunjin is glad to hear Yoohyeon return as well, for Siyeon immediately forgets about her and turns towards the tunnel instead. The werewolf tilts her head almost curiously, and then she makes a break for it, dashing towards Yoohyeon. 

For once, Hyejoo doesn’t intercept Siyeon. She follows her sister as they run down the tunnel, Hyunjin hot on her heels in a rather peculiar line up. Fortunately for Yoohyeon, the tunnel is too narrow for two large wolves to brashly charge through, and Siyeon is forced to pace herself in her pursuit of the small dog. Hyejoo also takes care to give warning nudges whenever Siyeon goes too fast, and in some miracle, her sister seems to actually understand. 

Hyejoo feels her fur on her back stand up anxiously when they start nearing the base of the Whomping Willow. A part of her wants to stop, to slow down and reconsider one last time in case this isn’t the right course of action after all, but there’s no chance. There never was, and Hyejoo can only go forward so she’s not left behind.

Siyeon bursts out into the open, and the first thing she does is howl.

It’s such a different cry from all the times before that Hyejoo is taken aback. She’s used to hearing roars of desperation and pain, yowls of suffering and anguish; this is nothing like that. Siyeon’s new howl is jubilant, triumphant, and Hyejoo almost wants to join her in this celebration of freedom. 

Yoohyeon barks loudly from the treeline, and it doesn’t take long for Siyeon to go bounding after her. Hyunjin hops onto Hyejoo as she continues to chase her sister, the feline’s claws thankfully not digging in enough to hurt. For a tiny creature with tiny legs, Yoohyeon covers an impressive distance in an impressive amount of time with Siyeon trailing behind her, though Hyejoo also suspects that Siyeon is treating this as a game of “follow the fluffball” instead of a race. 

The rest of the night passes in a blur. Admittedly, they only spend an hour at most outside, none of them daring to risk staying out longer, but that magical hour is one that Hyejoo will never forget. She silently thanks Hyunjin multiple times when she sees Siyeon romping about, frolicking happily for once amongst the trees and under the stars. She even pushes Hyejoo several times with her nose, eager to play, and Hyejoo doesn’t have the heart or ability to turn her down. 

Eventually, the sun rises, breaking the spell. They all knew it would, as it was their timed safeguard in case Siyeon somehow got away from them all, but for some reason Hyejoo is just a bit wistful when she sees Siyeon freeze in the middle of batting Hyunjin with her paw. The black wolf collapses to the ground so abruptly that Hyejoo would have panicked had she not experienced this before. It’s a familiar sight, however, and so Hyejoo sits down next to her sister and waits. 

Sure enough, the wolf next to her is soon replaced by a human. 

“Guys?” Siyeon rubs her eyes. “Wha… Where are we?”

“The Forbidden Forest,” Hyunjin answers from a fallen log. “You’re not gonna tell on us, are you, Prefect Son?”

Yoohyeon gives an amused bark. 

“I…”

“How do you feel, unnie?” Hyejoo asks, gently taking Siyeon’s hand in hers. 

“I feel… good, actually,” Siyeon says. She looks confused, bewildered as though she can hardly believe her own words and trust her own thoughts. “I feel like I’ve finally, finally been able to get a good night’s sleep after so long.”

Puppy Yoohyeon leaps at Siyeon before transforming midair and tackling her into a hug. 

“I’m so glad!” Yoohyeon’s voice is muffled as she clings to the older girl, but Hyejoo is willing to bet that at least one tear is being shed. “I’m so happy for you, Siyeon-unnie.”

Siyeon returns the embrace with equal strength, and she looks at both Hyunjin and Hyejoo with unfathomable gratitude shining in her eyes. 

“Thank you,” she whispers. “Thank you all.”

The trek back to the castle takes Hyejoo longer than usual. They did get fairly far into the woods, after all, and Hyejoo is in too good a mood to rush herself no matter how much she misses the comfort of her bed. It’s not like there’s anyone to judge her tardiness anyways, for most of Hogwarts’ prefects don’t bother watching for her return anymore. Hyejoo does pass by Kim Minji, but the older student only waves and lets her go on her way. 

Hyejoo doesn’t expect to see someone awake when she finally makes it back to the Slytherin dorms. 

“Chaewon?” Hyejoo blinks. “Why are you up?”

Chaewon appears surprisingly alert as she holds Hyejoo’s Kirby on her lap, a slight frown on her features. 

“I was waiting for you,” she says, glancing over to Hyejoo’s undisturbed bed. “You were gone a lot longer than last time.”

“Uh, yeah, that happens,” Hyejoo says evasively. “You didn’t have to stay up all night for me though.”

“I didn’t,” Chaewon murmurs. “I woke up an hour ago, and you weren’t here. So I waited.”

“You really didn’t have to,” Hyejoo insists. “I mean I appreciate it, but you could have gone back to bed.”

Chaewon slowly stands up. She’s no longer frowning, a kind smile on her face as she hands Kirby back to his owner. Their hands brush during the exchange, and Hyejoo isn’t prepared for the warm tingle that travels up her fingers, through her arms, and into her chest from that simple touch. 

“How could I be asleep?” Chaewon asks, and the question makes Hyejoo’s heart pound harder. 

Something tickles the back of Hyejoo’s throat. She tries to grasp it, hang onto it so she can decipher what it is, figure out what it means. She really is too tired though, she realizes with dismay when she can only stare back at Chaewon. 

In the end, Hyejoo settles for doing what her sister did earlier by summing up her feelings in two sincere words. 

“Thank you,” she says, and she carries the rest of Chaewon’s lingering warmth with her into the land of dreams.

Chapter Text

“Son Hyejoo, I challenge thee!”

Hyejoo jumps in her seat in the Great Hall as Yeojin slams down a heavy box in front of her. Her mug rattles on the table next to her, and she quickly steadies it before coffee spills everywhere. Just in case, Hyejoo pulls the book she was reading closer to her, eyeing Yeojin warily as she does so.

“What do you want?”

“I want to play a game,” Yeojin says seriously. 

She places her thumbs on the clasps of the box, deliberately waiting a second before flipping them open with a loud snap. She doesn’t open the lid, however, instead keeping her hand on top of it as she eagerly looks at Hyejoo, clearly awaiting a reaction.

Hyejoo stares.

And then she goes back to her book.

“Hey, don’t just ignore me!”

“I’m busy,” Hyejoo says flatly. 

“Oh, c’mon,” Yeojin whines, and Hyejoo can hear her stomp her foot. “It’s a Saturday morning, why are you studying so hard for?”

“Personal reasons.”

Yeojin lets out a shudder. 

“Ugh, you’re starting to sound like Jinsol-unnie whenever she finds something to nerd out over.”

Hyejoo’s eye twitches at the comparison, but she does her best to focus on Records of Irrecoverable Recipesin lieu of being baited into whatever Yeojin is up to. It’s hard to concentrate when there’s very clearly a pair of eyes on her though, and Hyejoo’s ears perk up when Yeojin gives a very, very heavy sigh. 

“I guess it can’t be helped,” Yeojin laments. “I better go find someone who’s not scared of little ol’ me to play with.”

Don’t respond, Hyejoo tells herself. Don’t respond.

She responds.

“Me? Scared of you? You wish.”

“I don’t need to wish,” Yeojin retorts. “I know. You won’t accept my challenge because you’re scared.”

“I’m not scared of you,” Hyejoo snorts. “Why would I be scared of a garden gnome?”

“Because you’re scared of losing,” Yeojin says, far too self-reassured for her own good. “Son Hyejoo is scared of losing to Jo Yeojin.”

“I’m not– Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” Hyejoo growls. She sets aside her book and chugs down the rest of her coffee before slamming her mug on the table viciously. “Okay, fine! Challenge accepted. Don’t go crying to Haseul-unnie when I kick your ass.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Yeojin grins, and Hyejoo can almost imagine a pair of devil horns sprouting out of her head. “I won’t.”

This time, Hyejoo devotes her entire attention to Yeojin’s box. She’s aware that she’s walking right into a scheme, but Hyejoo figures she’s long overdue for a research break anyways, not to mention her curiosity about whatever Yeojin is carrying.

Plus, no matter what that Gryffindor goblin says, Hyejoo is not scared.

Said Gryffindor takes a very long minute to open the box, a minute in which Hyejoo is very tempted to just reach over and snatch it out of Yeojin’s hands. Before they can start an inevitable tug of war battle though, Yeojin finally opens the lid with a flourish.

Inside sits what are unmistakably chess pieces.

Hyejoo stares.

And then she bursts into laughter.

You want to play chess with me ?” Hyejoo cackles. “You want to play chess with me?”

“Hey!” Yeojin puffs out her cheeks and even plants her hands on her hips. “Stop laughing! I’m not as dumb as you think!”

“Sure, sure,” Hyejoo continues chuckling. “I mean who is it that can’t go two weeks in Charms without blasting herself across the room?”

“I’m inventing broomless flying! Unintentionally,” Yeojin admits with a pout. “We all have our weak subjects, okay? And I bet I can still beat you at chess.”

“Oh yeah?” Hyejoo taunts. She places her elbow on the table in a show of aggression. “Wanna put your money where your mouth is?”

Yeojin pulls out a paltry sickle. 

“You’re on!” she says proudly, slapping it on the table. 

Hyejoo rolls her eyes. 

“A sickle for wasting my time,” she says before shrugging. “Well, how hard can this be?”

The answer: very.

Ten minutes into their match and Hyejoo already feels vaguely duped and betrayed by herself. It’s an annoying feeling that only gets worse as her fourth pawn in a row is knocked off the board, exacerbated by the fact that Hyejoo dug herself into this mess. She can’t blame Yeojin, who made it clear she wasn’t to be underestimated; Hyejoo can only curse her own hubris and stupidity. 

Squinting at the board, Hyejoo tries to rid her mind of excess thinking. She hones in on the task at hand in hopes of turning this game around. At the very least, she’ll take as many of Yeojin’s pieces as possible, with one of her bishops currently sitting there like a prime target. 

“Queen to E4,” Hyejoo calls out. 

Her piece advances, dispatching its foe quickly. 

Not even a second passes for Yeojin to say, “Rook to E4.”

“Oh no,” Hyejoo groans, realizing far too late that this was a trap. “Oh no,” she says again as her most powerful unit is destroyed in the blink of an eye. 

“‘How hard could it be?’” Yeojin says mockingly from across the table, a gleeful, smug look on her face. 

Hyejoo briefly considers sending all her remaining chess pieces to attack Yeojin directly.

“Knight to E4,” Hyejoo orders through gritted teeth.

She watches as her black horse moves as commanded, sliding across the board before striking out and breaking Yeojin’s rook into pieces. There’s something gratifying about the sight, and Hyejoo feels a bit better as she clears off the broken remains of enchanted ivory.

“There,” Hyejoo says, a little vindicated. “Revenge for my queen.”

Yeojin doesn’t look the least bit bothered. In fact, she tosses her hair over her shoulder, that self-satisfied smirk still on her face.

“Bishop to H5,” Yeojin says. “Check.”

Hyejoo squints at the board, cursing under her breath when she sees that her king has indeed been exposed to the line of danger thanks to her knight leaving an opening for Yeojin to exploit.

“Whoops,” Hyejoo mutters under her breath. “King to… uh… E7?”

“Are you sure about that?”

“... Yes?”

“Are you really, really sure about that?”

“Probably?”

“You sure you don’t want to rethink that?”

“No???”

“If I were you, I’d reconsider.”

“You know what?” Hyejoo slams both hands on the table, a deep scowl on her face as some pieces jump into the air. “I bet you’re just messing with me. King to E7! I don’t care.”

“Ah,” Yeojin sighs dramatically. “I tried to warn you, I really did…”

“For Merlin’s sake,” Hyejoo grumbles. She covers her face with her sleeves so she doesn’t have to look at the carnage before her. “Just get on with it so I don’t have to play with you anymore.”

Yeojin clicks her tongue and holds out her hand.

“Queen to A3,” she declares. “Checkmate.”

There’s a clatter as Hyejoo’s king keels over and falls to the board. Hyejoo doesn’t need to look that it’s laying face down in defeat, a position she would very much like to imitate. Alas, they’re still smack in the middle of the Great Hall, and flopping to the floor like a sore loser in front of so many people would be a bigger disgrace than losing to Yeojin. 

The reality of what just happened slowly sinks in. 

Son Hyejoo was just defeated, trounced, utterly decimated by Jo Yeojin in a game of chess. 

“You must have cheated,” Hyejoo ultimately decides, crossing her arms as she turns to denial to cope. “There’s no way you’re this good at chess.”

“Excuse me!?” Yeojin throws a pawn at Hyejoo in protest. “Are you calling me dumb?”

“Maybe I am!” Hyejoo easily swats the projectile out of the air, and she silently vows to not pick it up no matter where it rolls.

Yeojin gives a huff, one that is as intimidating as she is tall.

“I’ll have you know that I trained under Haseul the Great for ten years straight!” 

“What– Why you little– You didn’t say that earlier!” Hyejoo complains loudly. “I wouldn’t have bet against you if I knew that!”

“Not my problem!” the con artist says. “Now pay up!”

Hyejoo flings a galleon across the table, completely unapologetic when it hits Yeojin’s forehead with a dull thud. 

Someone gasps. 

“Are you two fighting?” Yerim asks as she walks up to her friends. Her hair is messier than usual, windswept and unkept, and Hyejoo remembers that she went for a (futile, Hyejoo thinks) flying lesson with Jiwoo this morning. 

“We’re not,” Yeojin answers right as Hyejoo says, “We are.”

“Ah,” Yerim nods in understanding. “So just the usual then.”

“Don’t mind Hyejoo. She’s just being a sore loser,” Yeojin says dismissively, patting the spot next to her for Yerim to sit down. 

“Don’t listen to her,” Hyejoo argues. “She’s the one who didn’t mention being a pro before we started playing.”

“It’s not my fault you suck at chess!”

“Suck? I don’t suck!”

“You have the foresight and planning of a toad!”

“And you have the personality and brains of a frog!”

“You take that back!”

“You first!”

“Hey, can I try playing?” Yerim asks, her bright, curious voice easily cutting through the bickering like butter. “I’ve never played magical chess before.”

“Uh…” Yeojin and Hyejoo glance at each other. 

“The pieces kinda kill each other, just so you know,” Yeojin says. “Sometimes very… violently.”

“Oh,” Yerim frowns. “That’s a bit mean of them, isn’t it?”

“They’re just toys,” Hyejoo points out. She taps the rubble near the board with her wand, and all the broken pieces they were playing with fly back together. “See? Good as new.”

Yerim gasps again. 

“That’s so cool…” she says. “I’m not that good at chess, but can I still try?”

“Of course,” Yeojin grins before sticking her tongue out at Hyejoo. “Can’t be worse than Ms. Grumpy Pants here.”

“Excuse me!”

“You know I’m right!”

Sadly, Yeojin is indeed very right. 

For all her self-proclaimed inexperience, Yerim is actually rather solid at chess, and her skill level only seems to rise the more invested she gets into the game. As the turns pass, it becomes more and more disconcerting to see Yerim take on the role of some overlord commanding her peons. Her usual, bubbly smile never leaves her face, but she seems to derive an almost sadistic level of fun in directing the decimation of Hyejoo’s side of the board. At some point, she lets out a rather loud, imperious laugh that makes even Yeojin look worried. 

“Ohohoho! Your rook is mine!” Yerim crows in victory, her hand raised to her mouth in a manner reminiscent of some haughty duchess Hyejoo once met as a child. Fortunately, Yerim still has the presence of mind to be self-aware as she sheepishly lowers her hand. “Sorry, was that too much?”

“A bit,” Yeojin grimaces. “Just a bit.”

Much to Hyejoo’s horror, this game also results in her shameful defeat. She’s left staring at the evidence of her foolishness, hands clamped to her head in despair. 

“How can this be?” she whispers. “How could I lose to both of you this badly?”

“Have you considered the fact that you just suck?” Yeojin suggests. 

“Don’t be mean!” Yerim chastises her before turning to Hyejoo with a sympathetic smile. “Really though… I don’t think chess is your thing.”

Hyejoo feels her soul wither away at this double assault. She’s not sure which is worse, Yeojin’s brutal appraisal or Yerim’s honest agreement. Even her chess pieces seem to be judging her, their blank faces gazing up at Hyejoo as they lie in a pile like a grave. 

Hyejoo stares. 

And then she drops her face onto the chessboard. 

It takes Hyejoo an hour to accept reality and then another hour to recover from the sheer dishonor of what just transpired. By that point, Yeojin has gone off to the Quidditch pitch with Yerim in another attempt to get the muggleborn properly airborne, and Hyejoo is left to wallow in self-pity all by her lonesome self. Mentally running through the list of people she knows, Hyejoo quickly pinpoints the one person that might just be her only hope of chess salvation.

“Hey, do you know how to play chess?”

Hyejoo drops Yeojin’s set in front of Chaewon without waiting for an answer, withholding a smirk when Chaewon jumps in surprise. A couple other students in the library glance in their direction at the noise, but Hyejoo ignores them all as she takes a seat across her fellow Slytherin.

“What are you doing?” Chaewon hisses. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“This is an important matter,” Hyejoo says seriously. “I need someone to teach me how to get better at chess.”

“... Teaching you chess is an important matter?”

“Very important,” Hyejoo emphasizes. “It’s a matter of life and death.”

“A matter of life and death,” Chaewon repeats, her eyes narrowing with every word. She slowly leans over her desk, pushing aside her current assignment to closely scrutinize Hyejoo. “Are you going to explain?”

Hyejoo purses her lips. She really doesn’t want to, but… Chaewon lifts an eyebrow, and it’s pretty clear that she’s not going to budge. Hyejoo briefly considers her options: one, she can just forgo this endeavor and live with a stain on her reputation for the rest of her life, or two, she can suck it up and endure the mortification of letting Park Chaewon know that she is, as they say, a loser.

Hyejoo closes her eyes and braces herself.

“IlosttobothYeojinandYerimbadlyandIneedtogetbetter.”

“What was that?”

“I lost. TobothYeojinandYerim. Badly. And I need someone to teach me how to get better.”

“Can you repeat that middle part? But slower?”

“I. Lost. To. Yeojin. And. Yerim.”

“One more time?”

Hyejoo glares and grabs one of Chaewon’s notebooks, raising it over her head. Alas, all Chaewon does is laugh, not the least bit bothered by the threat.

“Sorry,” she giggles. “I just find this whole situation too funny. Who knew Son Hyejoo is super bad at chess?”

“I’m not super bad! Just…” Hyejoo fumbles in the air for a word. “My skills could use improvement.”

Chaewon snorts.

“That’s one way of putting it…” she says. “Too bad I don’t know how to play chess.”

“What,” Hyejoo says flatly. “Are you for real?”

“No,” Chaewon replies, her face completely straight.

Hyejoo throws the notebook at her.

“Okay, okay,” Chaewon laughs as she successfully catches it. “Luckily for you, I’m actually pretty good. Jungeun-unnie hates playing with me.”

“Thank goodness,” Hyejoo mutters. “So? Will you teach me?”

“Sure, though I’m curious… Why me?” Chaewon asks.

“Let’s see.” Hyejoo holds up her fingers and begins ticking them off. “Yeojin and Yerim are a no-no. Can’t ask the Ravenclaw Trinity because Yeojin will find out. Hyunjin… Yeah, no, I’d rather die. Yoohyeon-unnie… pass. And Siyeon-unnie was the one who got me in this mess in the first place.”

“Siyeon-unnie…?” Chaewon tilts her head curiously. “What, did she trick you into playing against Yeojin and Yerim or something?”

“No,” Hyejoo pouts. “That was all me. But…”

“But…?”

Hyejoo sighs.

“She was the one who taught me to play the summer before she left for Hogwarts,” she explains. “Every holiday break since, we’d play together… and I always won. Every single time.”

“Oh no,” Chaewon gasps, her eyes widening as the realization dawns upon her. “She let you win this whole time, didn’t she?”

“She did,” Hyejoo says gravely. “And now I have the skills of a child that doesn’t know any better.”

“You poor thing,” Chaewon coos. “Well, I was taught by an app on my phone that was a pain in the butt to me the whole time, so–”

“A what?”

“An application,” Chaewon clarifies. “A program, a game on my phone.”

 Hyejoo blinks.

“I didn’t know telly-phones could do that,” she muses out loud. “Muggle technology is really something else…”

“Well, the telephones you’re probably thinking of can’t,” Chaewon explains. “I’m talking about cell phones, which have screens like my Nintendo Switch.”

“Huh.” Hyejoo hums thoughtfully. “So you can play games and talk to people from far away with these… cell phone things?”

“Yep! You can even send text messages that get delivered instantly. Muggle technology is pretty handy,” Chaewon nods before suddenly scowling. “Which is why it’s so dumb that nothing works at Hogwarts.”

“That does suck,” Hyejoo agrees. “It would have been nice to be able to send instant mail to Siyeon-unnie and Yoohyeon-unnie instead of having to write a hundred letters back and forth.”

“Oh, but being pen pals is pretty awesome too,” Chaewon says, an excited glint in her eyes. “And owls! I still find it super cool how witches and wizards use owls to deliver letters.”

“Try telling that to Olivia,” Hyejoo chuckles, thinking of the poor creature she shares with her sister. “She tried to peck me the one time I made her fly to Hogwarts and back three days in a row.”

“No offense, but I’d definitely peck you too if that was me.”

Hyejoo grins, but an indignant shout disrupts the relative peace of the library and interrupts the formation of her reply. 

“What do you mean there’s absolutely no other books on werewolves!?”

Hyejoo peers over Chaewon’s shoulder to see who’s causing a commotion over by the front desk. Distaste immediately creeps into her mouth when it’s none other than Kim Bora harassing the poor student volunteer in charge of handling the library. 

“I mean exactly what I said,” Lee Yubin says with considerable patience, her name plate sitting right between her and her current guests like a small buffer. There’s another Ravenclaw standing next to Bora, and Yubin’s eyes flick over to her before she focuses back on the library’s current volume hazard. “There are no other texts on werewolves aside from the one you borrowed.”

“But there has to be more!” Bora insists. “Don’t tell me this one book is the only source of information on werewolves in this whole library.”

For once Hyejoo is glad that the sixth year is so loud, not to mention the fact that Chaewon’s chosen seat is so close to the conversation at hand. Hyejoo gives a quick glance at her friend, and a small nod tells her Chaewon is also eavesdropping. 

“Sadly, it is,” Yubin says dryly. She almost looks bored as if she’s had this conversation before. “Why else do you think the waiting list for it is so long?”

“But unnie,” the other Ravenclaw speaks up. “I remember there being more last year.”

Yubin shrugs. 

“I was told they cleaned out the library over the summer,” she says. “I guess those other books were tossed out too.”

“Or… they weren’t,” the Ravenclaw counters. “What are the chances that the only book left is one filled with superstitions and rumors instead of concrete, factual information on werewolves?”

Hyejoo tries not to wince with the knowledge that this student is right on the money with her hunch. Speaking of money, she briefly wonders how much wealth and influence her parents threw around to strongarm Hogwarts into surrendering pretty much all research and references to Siyeon’s condition so they could hoard it all. 

“Sorry, Gahyeon,” Yubin sighs, and Hyejoo suspects that she’s also at least partly aware of the truth from the way she reaches over to pat her housemate’s head. “All I can tell you is that this is it. There’s currently no other books in the library on werewolves.”

“Even in the restricted section?” Bora tries again. 

“Even there.”

Bora and Gahyeon both sigh at the same time.

“Alright, thanks for your help,” Bora says. 

“And thanks for letting us cut through the waiting list,” Gahyeon adds. “Saved us some time.”

Chaewon suddenly flings her notebook at Hyejoo, and Hyejoo catches it just in time to flip to a random page and hold it up to her face as Bora and Gahyeon walk by. She pretends to be engrossed, almost going cross-eyed from examining Chaewon’s handwriting as footsteps make their way past her. She finally risks a glance when her two targets seem sufficiently far enough, and she looks up just in time to see Bora disappear around a corner. 

Gahyeon, on the other hand, is still there. 

She’s come to a stop at the end of an aisle, and Hyejoo freezes when she realizes the Ravenclaw is looking right at her with an intense emotion blazing in her eyes. 

Hatred. 

“Hyejoo.”

Chaewon’s voice snaps Hyejoo out of her stupor, and she blinks rapidly before turning back to her friend. 

“Y– Yeah?”

“Don’t mind her,” Chaewon says softly. 

“You know her?” Hyejoo frowns. 

“Not really,” Chaewon admits. “I just catch her staring at me every now and then, ever since you joined our Potions class.”

“Oh. Sorry,” Hyejoo mumbles. “It’s probably because of me–”

“That doesn’t matter,” Chaewon cuts in with surprising firmness. “She doesn’t know you. So her opinion doesn’t count.”

“I guess you’re right,” Hyejoo says, and before she realizes it, there’s a small smile on her face.

“I’m always right,” Chaewon states flippantly, even lifting her chin in a display of confidence. 

“Your Potions grade says otherwise,” Hyejoo fires back. “Anyways, I wonder why Kim Bora is so interested in werewolves.”

“Everyone is,” Chaewon points out sympathetically. “And she probably has a personal investment here too.”

“What makes you say that?” Hyejoo frowns, now back to being concerned for Siyeon’s safety.

Chaewon gives a noncommittal shrug. 

“Some older kids say she’s been interested in Siyeon-unnie since the dawn of time, and you’re her sister, so…”

“Hold on,” Hyejoo raises her hand. “She’s been what.”

“What?” Chaewon asks, confused by Hyejoo’s confusion. 

“She’s– She’s... Huh???”

“What? What’s the matter?”

“I don’t– What?”

“Complete sentences, Son Hyejoo! Use them!”

“You know what? Never mind,” Hyejoo says, tossing this growing headache out the proverbial window. She doesn't currently have the brain power to process whatever blasphemous nonsense of a rumor Chaewon just divulged. “Let’s get back to business.”

“Ah, that’s right… Someone sucks at chess still.”

Hyejoo chucks Chaewon’s notebook back to its owner. 

“Hey! You two Slytherins over there! No fighting in the library!”


Paints Mixed With Too Many Colors

Siyeon was never really an outdoors kind of person. She used to prefer staying out of the sun, remaining within the cool walls of the Son manor or lingering in the ancient hallways of Hogwarts. It’s not as though she found nature repelling or anything, she just had no particular inclination towards going outside unless Yoohyeon, Hyunjin, or Hyejoo asked her to. It was never really on her own volition, not until now. 

Siyeon doesn’t know if she finally opened her eyes to the beauty of the world around her or if there’s another, more sinister reason as to why she’s drawn to the open air these days. The possibility of the latter being the truth is too daunting to face, so Siyeon simply casts her gaze skyward as she relaxes on one of the benches in the Clocktower Courtyard. 

Calm. That’s a feeling Siyeon hasn’t felt in a long, long time. Of course, the second that thought crosses her mind, something, someone shows up to trample all over the peace and quiet. 

“Heeey~ What’s a cutie like you doing here all alone?”

Siyeon doesn’t even need to turn and look to see who it is. There’s only one person this endearingly loud with a penchant for teasing her like this, and Siyeon smiles wryly to herself as a pair of hands cover her eyes. 

“Guess who!”

“Give it up already. You’ve been doing this for years, Kim Bora.”

Bora lets out a disgruntled grunt of a squawk. 

“I’ll get you one day, mark my words,” she says sternly as she invites herself to the empty space next to Siyeon. She even tosses her arm unceremoniously over her shoulders like some armrest. 

Siyeon doesn’t shake her off. She does reconsider when Bora randomly jabs her waist, however. 

“What?” Siyeon yelps in surprise, squirming away though not getting particularly far thanks to the hold on her. 

“I heard a first year kicked your ass in chess,” Bora mentions with a grin as she wiggles her eyebrows.

“Who told you that?” Siyeon asks, crossing her arms defensively.

“A little birdy told me,” Bora says, and her grin grows more devious by the second. “The same little birdy that, y’know, kicked your ass.”

“Ah, I forgot that you’re her captain… But come on,” Siyeon whines. “How was I supposed to know that Yeojin is super good at chess?” She quickly nudges Bora. “You know what? You should play her.”

“Nah, I don’t know how to play,” Bora says, not even a modicum of shame in her declaration as she gives a lazy wave of the hand. “Besides, I’d rather not lose to a first year.”

“This is Hyejoo’s fault,” Siyeon mumbles petulantly, back to her pout as she tightens her arms around herself. “‘Play some chess with Yeojin,’ she said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ she said. Yeah, right.”

“What, all she did was ask and you did it?”

“Yeah?”

Bora lets out a low whistle. 

“Man, and here I thought I was the overly doting big sis,” she snickers. 

“Uh, excuse me,” Siyeon says, elbowing her classmate for emphasis. “You're still the overly doting big sis. Who always ditches me at the end of Care of Magical Creatures to go make sure her little sister is being fed properly?”

“Technically speaking, Gahyeon is a magical creature and I’m taking care of her, so…” Bora winks, and Siyeon does her best to not react to the action. 

“... S– So,” Siyeon clears her throat. “What brings you here?”

“I dunno, just felt like hanging out with you,” Bora says with an easygoing smile until her face slowly falls with concern and she retracts her arm. “Wait, am I bothering you?”

“No, no, not at all!” Siyeon replies hastily. She tries to ignore how cold she suddenly feels; it must be the winter weather settling in. “I was just wondering, that’s all. You can stay. You’re more than welcome to stay.”

“Thank you,” Bora says, and for some reason, her tone is much more gentle than Siyeon is used to hearing, so much to the point that Siyeon reflexively turns to look at her. 

Bad idea. Very bad idea, Siyeon thinks as her face heats up like a furnace from the sight of Bora’s kind smile. 

“By the way,” Bora continues casually, completely ignorant of Siyeon’s inner struggle. “I noticed you’ve, um, been in a good mood these past few days.”

“Huh?” Siyeon blinks at the abrupt statement. “I mean I guess I am…” 

The full moon is gone now, after all, and it won’t be coming back for a while. Plus, her last transformation went better than expected with her little outdoor excursion, not that she can express any of this to her current companion. 

“Good,” Bora nods. “Great. Uh… Things going okay with your sister?”

“She’s fine,” Siyeon says quietly. “She’s stronger than she looks.”

“She looks plenty strong already,” Bora says with another smile. “You must be very proud of how brave she is.”

“I am,” Siyeon acknowledges. “Which is why I’m willing to do things for her such as…”

“... Such as getting destroyed by a first year in chess.”

Siyeon lets herself laugh at her plight this time. It’s easier to do so with Bora laughing right beside her, the Gryffindor’s merriment as contagious as usual. That’s something that hasn’t really changed over the years, unlike Siyeon herself, something that’s stayed the same despite Siyeon being unable to do so. 

Out of the blue, Bora drapes her arm back around Siyeon. 

“By the way,” she says again, this time a tad bit louder than the first time. “Just so you know… If you ever need help with anything, just say the word and I’ll be there.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Siyeon tells her. She wishes it could be a promise, but she knows some battles are best fought alone. Still, she tries to brush off that thought in favor of enjoying this current moment. 

Bora coughs conspicuously into her hand. 

“By the way…”

“Are you just going to keep saying ‘by the way’?”

“Hey, I wasn’t put in Ravenclaw for a good reason, okay?” Bora jokes, pushing Siyeon playfully. “Anyways, Minji tells me the lake is super pretty around this time of the day. Wanna go check it out?”

Siyeon glances up at the sky, the sun out of view from this courtyard as it continues its steady descent towards the horizon. The air is a bit chilly and it’s almost dinner time, but Siyeon finds herself considering the offer. 

“Lead the way,” she finally says, her heart eager to continue basking in Bora’s warmth. 

“Sweet. It’s a date!”

“Wait, what? Stop messing around!”

Bora throws her head back with her laughter this time, and off they go together to chase the sunset.

Chapter Text

Secret Love Song

Yoohyeon never really expected that she’d turn into a Pomeranian out of all animals in the world. Sure, Siyeon and Hyunjin did joke about her maybe becoming a snail or an ant just to tease her, but truth be told, they were all expecting her to be a golden retriever or something along those lines, maybe even a giraffe.

But a tiny brown cotton ball?

Yoohyeon still remembers that very first transformation. It had been weird, to say the least, her whole body contorting and shrinking faster than she could realize. Her perception of the world had also shifted so suddenly that all she could do was stumble about in a daze for the first few seconds. As her disorientation faded to be replaced by exhilaration, Yoohyeon looked up excitedly to see her friends’ reactions only to become increasingly miffed as she watched Hyunjin search cluelessly left and right while Siyeon floundered around in a panic.

It took them five minutes to realize they had to look down.

Well, at least being small has its advantages.

It had been a sad day when Yoohyeon realized she outgrew Siyeon. Siyeon being sour about it aside, Yoohyeon figured it was the day she’d stop getting piggyback rides from the older girl. It wasn’t, Siyeon enduring through the burden of carrying someone taller than her just to see Yoohyeon smile, but it was a weight off both their shoulders when Yoohyeon unlocked a much lighter animagus form. Her smaller size also made it easier for Hyejoo to cuddle her during sleepovers at the Son manor, not that Hyejoo would ever admit that out loud. Plus, it’s a lot easier to sneak around Hogwarts when you’re not a student that stands heads above almost everyone else.

The convenience of being puny aside, there are still some downsides to being a puppy.

Case in point: the fact that she strongly resembles a rodent.

Yoohyeon pants loudly as she dashes across the Hogwarts grounds, an owl hot on her tail. Every step she takes kicks up snow into the air as she refuses to slow for even a second, glad that she still has decent running speed despite her significantly shorter legs. Although the snow isn’t deep, Yoohyeon’s lack of height doesn’t make things easier as she struggles to keep her head high enough so that she can actually see where she’s going.

Somewhere to her right, Yoohyeon hears a bunch of students laughing. She wishes they could go away so she could transform back and stop looking like a meal, but alas, she has no choice but to keep running. There’s no time to even bark as she literally flees for her life, the ominous flapping of wings never too far behind.

Of course, Yoohyeon trips.

She lets out a yip as she stumbles into a patch of snow deeper than expected, her little body vanishing into the snowbank. A sense of dread fills her as she desperately clambers out, and she can’t stop the shivers that come from both the sudden cold and the fact that she might very well be eaten in the next minute.

There’s a swoosh.

And suddenly Yoohyeon is scooped up.

“Go away!” Minji says loudly to the owl as she holds ‘Pie’ protectively to her chest. 

Yoohyeon is pretty sure she’s about to faint in sheer relief (and because Kim Minji), though she remembers to stick her tongue out at the owl as it circles away with an unhappy hoot. She’s promptly met with the taste of fabric as Minji begins using her winter cloak to rub Pie all over.

“You poor thing… You’re not hurt, are you?” Minji murmurs, her beautiful brows furrowed in worry. She brushes off one last bit of snow on top of Pie’s head before lifting her up to examine her closely. 

If Yoohyeon were an actual dog, she’d probably be slobbering all over Minji’s wonderful face right about now. Fortunately, she has more taste and class and respect than that, so she settles for what she hopes is the doggy equivalent of a grateful smile.

Minji smiles back, and Yoohyeon quickly forgets that she was prey just mere minutes ago.

“Who left you out here in the cold?” Minji asks, gently bumping her nose to Pie’s snout.

Yoohyeon barks, a bit grateful that Minji doesn’t understand so she can’t see how Yoohyeon’s own stupidity is at fault.

“Well…” Minji tilts her head thoughtfully, and Yoohyeon instinctively mirrors the action. “How about I take you with me to Hogsmeade today? I would hate for you to become another owl’s snack.”

There’s a niggling feeling at the back of Yoohyeon’s head, one that tells her she’s forgetting something. It’s so hard to think with Minji so close though, her eyes shining entreatingly like two dark jewels glimmering under the sun. It’s hard to think with Minji around, period, so Yoohyeon simply surrenders and gives an affirmative bark.

Winter has nothing on Kim Minji, Yoohyeon thinks as she’s shoved into the older girl’s robes. She instinctively snuggles into the warmth she finds there, letting out a huff of contentment with how safe and secure she feels. Of course, a part of her is screaming nonstop at the situation, but she puts that section of her brain on mute in lieu of listening to Minji hum as the Gryffindor takes her down the well worn path to Hogsmeade.

At some point, Yoohyeon finds herself being lulled to sleep by the soft music surrounding her. She doesn’t know if Minji just magically walks like this or if she’s being extra careful with her cargo, but the older student’s pace is steady and smooth, Yoohyeon not being jostled a single time despite the uneven road. Minji’s movements are almost like the gentle rocking of a cradle, and it’s all too easy to drift away. 

Yoohyeon jerks to full awakeness when she suddenly realizes that Minji has gone silent and still. Carefully, she noses her way out of Minji’s robes to get a look at what’s going on.

Oh. Okay.

“Huh, I don’t normally see those two together outside of class,” Minji says to herself, voicing Yoohyeon’s thoughts as she catches sight of Siyeon and Bora standing together. “Interesting…”

Very, Yoohyeon agrees inside her head. She squirms a bit to get a better view, invisible doggy eyebrows rising when she sees Siyeon’s unhappy expression. Good thing Hyejoo isn’t here, considering her apparent dislike of Bora. 

Yoohyeon’s ears also jump aboard the Anti Kim Bora Train when the Gryffindor lets out a yell upon spotting Minji.

“Minji!” Bora shouts. “Have you seen Yoohyeon around? You know, that annoying Hufflepuff Seeker? Siyeon’s looking for her.”

Yoohyeon lets out a growl in Bora’s direction only to freeze when Siyeon suddenly clears her throat in a very deliberate manner. Her ears flattening against her head, Yoohyeon looks to the Slytherin only to be faced with a very menacing stare.

“I was supposed to meet her here,” Siyeon explains, speaking quite slowly and emphatically. “Half an hour ago, in fact.”

Oh. Right. That’s what Yoohyeon forgot. Oops.

Siyeon continues to look very unamused and when she crosses her arms, Yoohyeon figures it’s time to retreat. She quickly ducks back into the safety of Minji’s cloak while trying to telepathically send all the apologies she can to her friend. Too bad Siyeon doesn’t know Legilimency, Yoohyeon laments as she comes across a random biscuit in Minji’s pockets.

“Let me help you find her,” Minji volunteers like the Princess of Kindness she is, and Yoohyeon winces at the impossibility of that task. Fortunately, Siyeon comes to her merciful rescue. 

“It’s fine,” she says. “I’m sure she just got distracted by something… or someone.”

“If you say so,” Minji says a bit doubtfully. 

“Thanks for the offer though,” Siyeon adds, and Yoohyeon’s ears perk up when she hears a slight stutter. “A– And thanks to Bora too, of course.”

Bora lets out a laugh.

“How could I ever leave a fair maiden in distress?” she asks, and Yoohyeon can just picture her haughty expression. “Just say the word, and I’ll be there~”

“Funny, I didn’t see you around when a bunch of our housemates were trying to turn our common room purple yesterday,” Minji points out. 

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little change of pace– Hold on a sec.”

Yoohyeon quickly pokes her head out again, her curiosity over what has gotten Bora’s attention easily winning out over her fear of Siyeon’s glare. Her risk pays off, for she sees Bora pulling at Siyeon while pointing off into the distance. 

“Hey, isn’t that your sister? And that annoying Slytherin Seeker?”

“You can’t just call everyone who beats you annoying,” Minji sighs as she absentmindedly rubs Pie’s head. Out of both habit and duty, she follows behind Bora. 

“Wait,” Siyeon says as she comes to a halt, her voice sharp enough to put Yoohyeon on guard. “Isn’t that Madam Sunmi’s Tea Shop?”

Yoohyeon nearly falls out of Minji’s arms in her attempt to crane her ridiculously short neck to get a glimpse of this groundbreaking event. True to Siyeon’s words, Hyejoo is indeed standing in front of a bright pink cafe decorated with hearts and rainbows as far as the eye can see. Chaewon is right next to her, and Yoohyeon yelps in shock as the two take each others’ hand and walk inside. 

“Oh my god,” Bora gasps, her hand flying up to her mouth. 

“Oh my GOD,” Siyeon shouts, her jaw dropping to the ground. 

“Aw, how cute,” Minji smiles as though this is a regular, everyday occurrence. “I didn’t know they were dating.”

“I didn’t know either!” Siyeon exclaims, her eyes darting over to Yoohyeon in surprised confusion.

Yoohyeon woofs in agreement. 

“Hey, hey, I have an idea,” Bora suddenly suggests, eyebrows going haywire with mischievousness as she elbows Siyeon rough enough for the Slytherin to grimace in pain. “What if… you and I… pretended to be girlfriends… so we could sneak in and see what they’re doing?”

“Wh– What? G– Girlfriends?” Siyeon stammers before clearing her throat. “Ahem, I’m not so sure about that.”

“Yeah,” Minji frowns. “What about me? How am I going to get inside?”

“Oh, such a shame that Yoohyeon isn’t here right now,” Siyeon says with another wide-eyed, pointed look at Pie. Yoohyeon tries not to combust from the mental image she’s providing.

“I do have two hands,” Bora states, and she holds them up and wiggles her fingers in the direction of her two friends.

Minji and Siyeon ignore her.

“The two of us could go together,” Siyeon suggests before sighing. “Feels kind of wrong though.”

“I actually agree,” Minji admits. “As curious as I am, it is a bit unbecoming to spy on someone like that.”

“Boo,” Bora frowns. “Party poopers.”

“Don’t worry,” Siyeon says firmly, cracking her knuckles. “I’ll get all the details out of Hyejoo later. That’s a promise.”

Yoohyeon grins to herself, glad that she won’t be running an interrogation alone. She’s sure Hyunjin will be eager to join their team once she hears the news, and they can always call in Yerim and Yeojin as back up. There’s no way Hyejoo will be able to hide even an ounce of the truth from this line up, and Yoohyeon is also glad that Siyeon’s energies have been directed towards this endeavor and away from Yoohyeon herself. 

“By the way, Minji, that’s a cute dog you have there,” Siyeon calls out with a smirk. “Mind if I hold her?”

Uh oh. 

“Not at all!” Minji says brightly. “Pie is super sweet, don’t worry.”

Oh no, I’m worrying, Yoohyeon barks, but as expected, her message does not get across. 

“I’ll take care of her,” Siyeon promises, eyes flashing dangerously despite her smile. 

Needless to say, Yoohyeon learns a bit more about the consequences of ditching friends that day.


Never has Hyejoo seen so much pink in her entire life. 

The rosy color practically assaults her, and she almost wants to find the nearest fountain so she can rinse out her eyeballs. She’s probably going to do that after this ‘date’ anyways, the urge to puke rising with every couple she spots making out in this little cafe. 

“I didn’t know tongues could do that,” Chaewon says next to her, equally nauseated judging by her pale pallor. “Man, I hate Jiwoo-unnie sometimes.”

“Me too,” Hyejoo grumbles. “Where the hell is she?”

“I think she said she’d try to get a seat in the back? One with a good view of everyone else, of course.”

Hyejoo sighs, wondering how she got roped into today’s volume of Spy on Ha Sooyoung. Jiwoo had accosted her this morning with some pitch about fake double dating to get inside “a highly exclusive establishment.” It sounded suspicious right off the bat, Jiwoo speaking far too quickly for Hyejoo to catch the details, but at some point between “I’ll pay for your food, I promise!” and “C’mon, you don’t want to make Chaewonnie look like she got stood up, do you?” Hyejoo found herself not disagreeing, which apparently means agreement in Kim Jiwoo’s world.

“I can’t help but feel like this is a little… shady,” Hyejoo murmurs as she steps closer to Chaewon to evade a couple making disgusting faces at each other.

“Don’t worry,” Chaewon replies. “It is.”

“How did Jiwoo-unnie talk you into this?” 

“She didn’t. Jungeun-unnie bribed me. She said she’ll pay for two tickets to see Sol over the summer.”

Hyejoo grimaces.

“I hope it’s worth it,” she says before nudging Chaewon and pointing to a corner. “Uh… is that them?”

Hyejoo kind of hopes she’s wrong, because she really doesn’t want to sit with two people holding up their menus to their face in a manner that just screams “Look at us! We’re suspicious!” Unfortunately, these two fishy fellows are seated at a table that’s very clearly laid out for four, a pair of untouched drinks awaiting two more guests.

“I regret this already,” Chaewon grumbles, and Hyejoo agrees even as she takes a seat.

A neon pink drink greets her, bubbling merrily, and Hyejoo briefly wonders if she’ll contract some sort of sugar overload disease if she so much as touches it. There’s an equally bright heart-shaped straw sitting in it, and Hyejoo eyes it cautiously before taking a tentative sip. To her surprise, its fruity taste actually isn’t too saccharine, and Hyejoo starts to think that maybe being paid in food from this cafe might actually be a pretty good deal after all.

“So,” Chaewon says, setting down her own drink. “Find your precious target yet?”

The person sitting across from Hyejoo puts down her menu, and Hyejoo promptly chokes.

Nothing in the world could have ever prepared her for coming face-to-face with a giant plastic nose, a pair of glasses with swirls as the lens, and the most ugly fake mustache Hyejoo has ever seen in her entire life. Not even the bushy eyebrows attached to the glasses can distract from the monstrosity going on down south, and Hyejoo can only look on in horror as the mustache moves when Kim Jiwoo starts talking.

“Okay, so, Sooyoung-unnie definitely came in here,” Jiwoo reports, the demented caterpillar under her nose bobbing up and down with every syllable. “Except we haven’t seen her anywhere.”

“I didn’t see her go to the restroom, and she hasn’t come out either,” Jungeun adds. She lowers her own menu to reveal a fake goatee, and this time Chaewon is the one to choke.

“Oh my god,” she coughs, and Hyejoo quickly rubs her back. “Oh my god, you two. What are you wearing?”

“Disguises!” Jiwoo says proudly. “Now nobody will know who we are.”

“Sorry to burst your bubble, but we know exactly who you are,” Hyejoo states. “Even if we don’t want to.”

“Don’t be rude,” Jungeun scolds the first year. “We spent a lot of time and money preparing for this.”

“Well, get a refund,” Chaewon argues. “Because you two just look dumb.”

“Yeah, you both look ridiculous,” Hyejoo nods. “No offense.”

“Full offense, actually,” Chaewon corrects as she crosses her arms. “We’re supposed to be blending in, remember? Not sticking out like a pair of creeps.”

“The only reason we’re sticking out is because you two—” Jiwoo points at the Slytherins, and she’s probably pouting except Hyejoo can’t see past the disaster she’s still wearing. “—aren’t acting like a proper couple!”

“I’m pretty sure that’s not it,” Hyejoo mutters. Still, she drops her hand palm up on the table and it doesn’t even take a second for Chaewon to slide her fingers between hers. “There, happy?”

“Thank you,” Jiwoo says. “Now, help us keep an eye out for Sooyoung-unnie without being suspicious.”

Easier said than done, Hyejoo thinks considering her current company. As she scans Madam Sunmi’s Tea Shop for a familiar face while trying to avoid anything particularly mentally scarring, Hyejoo is pretty sure she spots several couples who have abandoned their partners in favor of staring at Jiwoo. Even their waitress pauses upon reaching their table, and she stares openly at Jiwoo and Jungeun before deliberately turning to Hyejoo and Chaewon. 

“How may I help you two?” the older woman asks. 

“One of every pastry on this page, please,” Hyejoo says, ignoring Jiwoo’s indignant shout.

“Make that two,” Chaewon chimes in with an innocent smile directed at her cousin. “Two of everything, please.”

“Jiwoo’s gonna kill us all if we don’t find Sooyoung-unnie after all this,” Jungeun warns when the waitress scurries away before their order can be changed. 

“I won’t!” Jiwoo’s mustache sags. “But I’m going to be very sad. And so is my wallet.”

“You’re in luck,” Hyejoo says as she gazes past Jiwoo’s shoulder. “Look who’s behind you.”

Jiwoo freezes. 

And then she turns around so swiftly that everyone hears a crack. 

There stands Ha Sooyoung, her hair blowing behind her despite there being no wind inside this little shop. She’s wearing a bright pink apron as she steps out from behind a counter, and she stops to wave at several patrons before turning her attention to Hyejoo’s table. With a gentle, welcoming smile, she begins walking their way. 

“Here we go,” Jungeun mutters before covering her ears. 

“Hi, Sooyoung-unnie!!!” Jiwoo squeals at a pitch so high that Hyejoo worries for her glass for a second. 

“Jiwoo?” Sooyoung blinks. “Is that you? I almost didn’t recognize you there.”

Jiwoo gasps. 

“You know who I am?” she asks almost reverently. 

“Sure I do,” Sooyoung chuckles. “I mean you did once hit a Bludger straight at my face and all.”

“I didn’t mean to! I swear! I promise!”

“I know, I know,” Sooyoung laughs, and from where she’s seated behind Jiwoo, Hyejoo can see the Hufflepuff’s ears turn red. “Nice costume, by the way. It’s cute.”

Jiwoo hits a new high note at that last word, and Jungeun cringes as she leans away from her best friend. Chaewon doesn’t seem to be faring any better, the small girl shrinking into her chair with a displeased grimace as she pulls Hyejoo’s hand closer to herself. 

“Anyways,” Sooyoung continues. “I just wanted to see who ordered so much so suddenly. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see you four.”

Hyejoo takes a noisy sip of her juice, preferring to stay out of this entire conversation. After all, Jiwoo got them into this mess, so she should be the one to get them out. 

The culprit in question lets out a nervous giggle. 

“Well, you see…” Jiwoo scratches her cheek. “Hyejoo here is a growing kid! And Chaewonnie needs all the help she can get in the height department.”

“Hey!” Chaewon lets go of Hyejoo’s hand to cross her arms, but before she can make a rebuttal, Sooyoung speaks up first. 

“You know, she’s not wrong there,” she says solemnly. “I don’t know what’s closer to the ground, you or your Potions test scores.”

“Unnie!” Chaewon whines. “Why does everyone always pick on my Potions grade? It’s getting old!”

“It’s just too easy,” Hyejoo smirks.

“Like low hanging fruit,” Jungeun snickers. “Ow! She kicked me!”

“Because you suck,” Chaewon sulks. “You all do.”

“Sorry,” Sooyoung grins. “As an apology, I’m here to offer you all a ten percent discount on today’s tab.”

Jiwoo gasps again, this time loud enough for Hyejoo to be a bit concerned for her lungs. 

“Really?” Jiwoo squees, and it’s not too hard to imagine sparkles and hearts shooting out of her eyes.

“Seriously. My aunt says it’s only fair after you guys ordered so much. Besides…” Sooyoung winks, and Hyejoo is pretty sure she hears several other tables in their vicinity swoon at the action. “Cute girls always deserve discounts.”

Jiwoo faints. 

Sooyoung blinks.

“Um…” 

“Don’t worry about it,” Jungeun says dismissively as she holds onto her friend’s limp body. “Jiwoo sometimes… gets a little overwhelmed by things.”

“Okay…” Sooyoung says slowly. “Uh, does she need anything? A towel, maybe? Hot water?”

“She’ll be fine, unnie,” Chaewon reassures the older student. “Trust me, I’ve seen this before.”

“Okay then,” Sooyoung concedes with a wry smile. “I should probably get back to work anyways. Thanks for coming though! It’s always nice to see friends hanging out here instead of all these couples.”

Hyejoo feels both her companions turn to stone. They all bid Sooyoung a rather stiff goodbye before looking at each other with storm clouds brewing over her head. 

“Did you two hear what I just heard?” Jungeun asks calmly. “Because I think I just heard Sooyoung-unnie mention that you don’t have to be a couple to be here.”

“I heard,” Hyejoo confirms. 

“So did I,” Chaewon nods. 

The three of them turn to look at the silly disguise still covering Jiwoo’s face. Jungeun then shoves her away, leaving the Hufflepuff to flop onto their table like a fish. 

“Hey!” Jungeun calls out to a passing waitress. “Can you double our order?”

Jiwoo wakes up in time to pay for everything as promised, and luckily for them she’s in too good a mood to complain about the bill. 

“I found out so much about Sooyoung-unnie today!” she gushes. “I didn’t know she was related to Madam Sunmi. It’s so kind of her to help out! Plus, she’s so hot whenever she–”

“Okay, that’s enough of that,” Hyejoo interrupts loudly, snatching up several bags filled with their unfinished food. “I’m getting out of here before my eyes and ears both rot.”

“Thanks for suffering with me,” Chaewon sighs. “For no good reason too…”

“It was for a good cause!” Jiwoo insists. 

Jungeun jams a forkful of cake into Jiwoo’s mouth. 

“Go on,” the Gryffindor says to Hyejoo. “We’ll handle her. Thanks for coming.”

Taking this chance while she can, Hyejoo flees with her spoils of war. She doesn’t even make it ten steps down the street before she’s snatched off the road and pushed against a wall. 

“Spill it,” Hyunjin says, pointing her wand right under Hyejoo’s chin. “What’s going on?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Hyejoo scowls, glaring at her friend. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Interrogating you,” Yoohyeon answers for Hyunjin. She steps out of the shadows to Hyejoo’s right, a serious expression on her face that’s ruined every time her lips twitch in amusement. 

“We saw something very suspicious today,” Siyeon says ominously as she approaches from the left. “And we’d like to know the truth.”

“Uh…” Hyejoo doesn’t feel the least bit threatened as she looks between the trio. In fact, she’s more confused than anything, and she expresses that with a single word: “What?”

“Hyejoo and Chaewon, sitting in a tree~” Yerim sings. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

“Wait, what?”

“Don’t lie!” Yeojin yells from next to Yerim. “Siyeon-unnie and Haseul-unnie and I all saw you go into Madam Sunmi’s with Chaewon-unnie.”

“That doesn’t mean I kissed her,” Hyejoo retorts, still bewildered. “We weren’t sitting in a tree either.”

“It’s a muggle metaphor,” Yerim explains. “For two people secretly dating.”

“Yeah,” Siyeon adds sharply. If Hyejoo didn’t know any better, she’d think that her sister is genuinely upset, but Hyejoo hears the petulance in her voice as she continues, “Can you imagine? My own sister? Secretly dating behind my back?”

Hyejoo snorts. 

“We’re not dating,” she announces to the group. “You don’t have to be a couple to go inside Madam Sunmi’s, you know.”

“Wait, really?” Yerim gasps. “So I don’t have to find a pretend girlfriend so I can try out those cute cakes?”

“Really,” Hyejoo confirms. “Like I said, Chaewon and I aren’t dating. So you can let go of me now,” she says with a meaningful look at Hyunjin. 

“Aww, and here I thought our baby was finally growing up,” Yoohyeon pouts. 

“No!” Siyeon wails. “It’s too early for that! I haven’t even gotten a girlfriend yet.”

“I dunno, that sounds like a you problem,” Hyunjin says dryly as she takes a step back from Hyejoo. Her eyes drop to the loot the younger girl is carrying. “What’s all this?”

“Nothing,” Hyejoo says quickly. “Just some leftovers.”

“Some?” Yoohyeon tilts her head. “This looks like way more than some.”

“Sharing is caring!” Yeojin declares, fist raised in a declaration of war. 

Thus, Hyejoo is robbed by her own closest friends in broad daylight. 

She’s never helping Kim Jiwoo ever again.

Chapter Text

It’s strange, being back in the Son manor. 

For someone who has lived here virtually her entire life, Hyejoo feels more like an intruder than anything as she wanders through halls that seem longer and more labyrinthine than they were a quarter of a year ago. The lights are on, bathing the walls with a cold illumination that does nothing to make her feel more at home. Even so, Hyejoo dutifully puts one foot in front of the other despite having no particular destination.

The sounds of her own footsteps echo around her. They resonate emptily like a silent reminder that she’s alone, and Hyejoo shivers against her will. Tree branches outside a nearby window whip back and forth violently, but for some reason Hyejoo can’t hear the howling of the wind. 

There’s only herself. 

Hyejoo sucks in a breath as she makes her way to her sister’s bedroom. It’s her sanctuary, a safer place than her own room, and Hyejoo knows she can find salvation from fear as long as Siyeon is there. The Son manor works against her, however, and Hyejoo finds herself walking and walking down that familiar corridor yet never reaching the door at the end of it. 

The lights suddenly go out. 

Hyejoo freezes, stomach-churning dread already nibbling it’s way into her gut. The walls around her narrow and constrict, and the ceiling above her vanishes into darkness as it rises out of view. Feeling as though she’s trapped at the bottom of an abyss pressuring her from all sides, it takes Hyejoo all the strength that she can muster to look for a way out. 

Lightning flashes, illuminating the way forward, and Hyejoo runs. 

Like a rat lost in a maze, Hyejoo presses onwards in a singular direction. She can’t see Siyeon’s door anymore through the blackness obscuring her vision, and the thought frightens her more than she expects. 

“Unnie!” she calls out. “Unnie! Where are you?”

There’s no answer. 

Hyejoo slows to a stop, panic simmering under her skin. She clenches and unclenches her hands several times to shake that feeling off, but it continues to gnaw at her, eating away at her will and spirit. She almost misses the mirror right next to her due to this haze of despair, but another burst of lightning highlights the reflective pane, and Hyejoo turns to look at it while this brightness lasts. 

A terrible beast stares back at her. It bares its fangs and opens its jaws, and Hyejoo has no time to scream when it leaps forward as darkness descends once more. 

Hyejoo jerks awake. 

She stares blankly at the ceiling of the Slytherin dorms as she tries to recollect herself, the pieces of her conscience scattered by her nightmare. It takes her a few minutes to gather her bearings, and during that time her heart rate returns to its normal speed while a weary frustration trickles into her lungs.

It’s been a while since she had a dream of that magnitude, Hyejoo thinks. She gives a resigned huff as she covers her eyes with an arm. Her free hand clutches one of Kirby’s feet, and she gives the plush toy a squeeze before checking the time on her bedside table.

7:10 a.m.

Hyejoo swings her legs off the side of her bed with a grunt. There are no classes today, but she figures it’s not worth sleeping in and risking another nightmare. Unlike her, Hyunjin and Chaewon both appear to be sleeping peacefully, Hyunjin’s mouth hanging wide open in an unflattering manner, and so Hyejoo disturbs neither of them as she makes her way to breakfast alone.

“Oh, hey there,” Jinsol greets as she sits by herself at a table. She waves Hyejoo over. “Good morning! What’s got you up so early on a Sunday?”

Hyejoo shrugs and takes the offered seat. 

“Just woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep,” she answers. “You?”

“Same, honestly,” Jinsol sighs. “I’m too excited for today’s game. At least I’m not Sooyoung though… She couldn’t fall asleep last night so she’s probably out like a rock right now.”

“I hope she doesn’t oversleep and completely miss the game,” Hyejoo mutters, and Jinsol laughs. 

“Don’t worry,” the older student says. “Haseul knows exactly how to wake her up in less than five seconds. She says she learned how from living with Yeojin.”

Hyejoo chuckles and shakes her head as she grabs a pitcher of juice. 

“You all sound really close,” she comments. “The three of you have been friends since first year, right?”

“Hmm… Not quite,” Jinsol admits with a nostalgic smile. “I mean Haseul was friends with both of us, but Sooyoung and I spent quite some time competing over who’s the smarter Ravenclaw.”

“Nerds.”

“Hey, friendly competition can be fun and beneficial,” Jinsol defends with a wave of her fork. “We still like to compete. We’re just actually friends now instead of rivals. Joining the same Quidditch team does that, I guess.”

Hyejoo snorts. 

“The way Yeojin tells it, you three were born on the same team from day one,” she says. “She’s been dying to see you guys finally play.”

“Well, to be fair,” Jinsol winks. “We are the reigning champions from last year.”

“Too bad that’s not going to last,” Hyejoo shoots back. “We’re going to enjoy taking your trophy.”

“You’re welcome to try,” Jinsol taunts before chuckling. “I do kind of regret telling Chaewon to try out though. Kid’s a lot better than I expected considering this is her first year playing.”

“She has an innate talent,” Hyejoo explains proudly. “Plus, she works really hard during practice.”

“All in the name of academic leeway.”

“Exactly.”

Jinsol laughs again before turning to Hyejoo with a dangerously playful grin. 

“Speaking of Chaewon…” she says slowly. “I heard you two are going out.”

“Ugh, not you too,” Hyejoo groans, rolling her eyes. “Whoever told you that was wrong.”

“But you went into Madam Sunmi’s together,” Jinsol points out. 

“Which you can do without being a couple,” Hyejoo counters. “Shouldn’t you know this as Sooyoung-unnie’s friend?”

Jinsol’s grin widens. 

“I do know,” she says smugly. “But most people don’t. And that should include Chaewon.”

Hyejoo sighs in defeat. She knows there’s no point trying to play this off, especially when she doesn’t want to use her brain so early in the morning. There isn’t much point in covering up the truth anyways, not after she was already interrogated once.

“We were pretending,” she says emphatically. “Faking. Whatever. We’re not actually dating.”

“Are suuuure?”

“Very sure.”

“A hundred percent sure?”

“A thousand,” Hyejoo snaps. “I think I’d know if I was dating someone, thank you very much.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Jinsol chortles with an apologetic pat on Hyejoo’s shoulder. “Just messing with you. I already grilled Chaewon.”

“I hope you miss all your shots today,” Hyejoo grumbles. 

“Oh, you wound me,” Jinsol says, clutching her chest for a second. “By the way, um… Sooyoung said you were with Jungeun and Jiwoo that day.”

“Yeah? What about it?”

Hyejoo raises an eyebrow as Jinsol visibly fidgets in her seat. The Ravenclaw seems to be waging some inner war, her features scrunching in concentration before smoothing out and then frowning again.

“Were you guys really there for the food?” Jinsol finally asks after a long internal debate. “Or like… were you there for Sooyoung?”

“Uh… What makes you ask?” Hyejoo says. She shovels some scrambled eggs into her mouth to buy her some time. 

“I know a lot of Sooyoung’s fangirls like to follow her around so…” Jinsol trails off and looks at Hyejoo expectantly. 

Hyejoo chews very carefully.

I was definitely there for the food,” she responds after her mouth is cleared. Her still remaining ire towards Jiwoo aside, it doesn’t seem quite right to sell out the Hufflepuff’s crush, not when Chaewon apparently hasn’t either. “The cakes in particular are really good. You’ve been there, right?”

“I have,” Jinsol says. “But… hm. Can you answer one question if I swear not to tell anyone?”

“Depends on the question,” Hyejoo grimaces.

“Okay.” Jinsol takes a deep breath. “Do you think Jungeun was there to see Sooyoung?”

“Pfft, no,” Hyejoo immediately scoffs, recalling how equally annoyed Jungeun was at the situation. She hopes the Gryffindor learns how to say no to Jiwoo’s future schemes. “I’m pretty sure she wanted to be elsewhere, actually.” 

I know I did, Hyejoo leaves unsaid. She glances over at Jinsol to see a wide smile spreading over her face. Strange. 

“Thanks for letting me know,” Jinsol says brightly. “I promise I won’t tell.”

“Uh, great. I guess.”

“Hey, you wanna join me on the pitch after we’re done eating?”

“As long as you don’t throw up or something, sure.”

The two of them spend the rest of the early morning chilling in the sky. Although Hyejoo wouldn’t say she’s particularly close to Jinsol or anything, it’s still nice to have a familiar, trusted face to hang out with. The older girl has been nothing but kind to her, Hyejoo regarding her as a friend, and her company is much appreciated as they take it easy and go on a quick sightseeing loop around Hogwarts. 

The castle is blanketed in white, December making its presence clear through all the snow. Hyejoo’s glad that her own first game was during a warmer season since she wouldn’t have to worry about freezing if the game dragged on for too long. The icy air is refreshing as she circles around a tower with Jinsol before returning to the Quidditch field, but Hyejoo sure wouldn’t want extended exposure to the cold. 

Chaewon seems to agree, judging by her pout as they make their way towards the game later in the day. 

“Can’t they pick a warmer day to play?” she complains. “Yoohyeon-unnie or Captain Wheein better hurry up and catch the Snitch before we all turn into popsicles in the stands.”

“I’m betting on Yoohyeon-unnie,” Hyunjin speaks, sporting a yellow hat. “And no, it’s not because you’re rooting for Ravenclaw,” she says to Heejin. 

“I’m not rooting for Ravenclaw,” Heejin denies with a shake of her head. She’s not wearing any particular team color other than her usual red-tinted robes under her cloak. “I just think they’re more likely to win. Even Captain Bora says their Chaser trio is still really good.”

“But Hufflepuff has Jiwoo-unnie,” Chaewon argues. “She took out Sooyoung-unnie last year.”

“But Ravenclaw still won,” Heejin reminds her. “They built a lead that Hufflepuff just couldn’t catch up to.”

“If Yoohyeon-unnie is fast enough, Ravenclaw won’t get that chance,” Hyejoo says. “But I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

The four of them soon reach their seats in the stands, Yeojin and Yerim already present. To nobody’s surprise, Yeojin is decked out in Ravenclaw gear with a banner that says “HASEUL-UNNIE BEST UNNIE” whereas Yerim is still donning dual house colors. 

“I don’t know who to root for,” Yerim says, looking like a bumblebee with blue instead of black stripes. “I like everybody!”

“May you never lose your pureness,” Jungeun sighs wistfully as she waves her own Hufflepuff flag.

“I hope she doesn’t,” Vivi chimes in from a row up. “I think it’s cute.”

Hyejoo finds a spare seat to sit in, searching their stand for any sign of her sister. There’s still time before the game starts, and Hyejoo hopes Siyeon didn’t forget their promise to sit together. 

She nearly falls out of her chair when Siyeon shows up with Kim Bora in tow. 

“Hello, everybody!” Bora greets loudly. “The best captain is here to grace you with her wondrous presence.”

“Yay!” Yeojin and Heejin cheer while Jungeun and Siyeon sigh. 

“Just sit down,” Siyeon mumbles, shoving Bora into the empty seat right next to Hyejoo. 

Okay then. Hyejoo can deal with this. She knows how not to make a scene. 

“Hey, kiddo,” Bora says to her. “How you doing?”

“Fine,” Hyejoo replies tersely. 

“Good. Great, actually. Wonderful!” Bora beams. 

Chaewon leans around Hyunjin to give Hyejoo a side-eye at this awkward exchange, and Hyejoo is glad this conversation doesn’t have to continue when there’s a loud blast of a horn. 

Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw’s Quidditch teams take off into the air. 

As usual, the players start flying along the edge of the field to wave to their friends before the game officially starts. The Ravenclaw Chaser Trinity are clearly quite popular among their peers, with Sooyoung in particular getting plenty of fangirl screams when she tosses her hair over her shoulder. Jinsol isn’t far behind either, squeals erupting when she clicks her tongue and points at the crowd with a wink. Still, neither of them are a match for the sonic boom that is Jo Yeojin when Haseul flies by her. 

“HASEUL-UNNIE! I LOVE YOU!” Yeojin yells, and Hyejoo thinks she’s about to go deaf. 

Hyunjin seems to have taken Yeojin’s declaration as a challenge, for she lets out an incredibly noisy hoot as Yoohyeon approaches, one that makes both Chaewon and Heejin cover their ears. 

“Go Yoohyeon!” Siyeon chants. “Go Yoohyeon!”

Caught up in the spirit of the moment, Hyejoo tosses in her own two knuts. 

“Don’t fall off your broom, unnie!” she jokes, cupping her mouth to make sure she’s heard. 

“Yeah!” Bora chimes in. “Don’t crash into anyone!”

Hyejoo immediately scowls, turning to glare at an oblivious Bora. There’s not much time for Hyejoo to make her annoyance known, however, for Handong’s magically amplified voice begins speaking. 

“Welcome to the second game of the year!” she announces to great applause. “Today we have Hufflepuff versus last year’s champion Ravenclaw! Today also marks the return of our ever popular Secret Submissions Corner, where you can send in anonymous messages to be read out.”

“Oh, this was a mess last year,” Hyunjin smirks. “Let’s see how it goes this time.”

“Our first message here is from A Concerned Citizen that says ‘Hogwarts is no place for a monst–’ Yeah, no, I’m tossing this out.”

Hyejoo purses her lips to keep from frowning, but her spirits are quickly lifted when she sees Headmistress Kwon lighting up a piece of paper over in Handong’s stand. 

“Anyways,” Handong continues. “Professor Takahashi has brought out the balls. I don’t know how Captain Seulgi and Captain Wheein haven’t grown tired of smiling at each other yet, but we’re about to start… And off we go! Chaser Momo has taken possession of the Quaffle.”

Hyejoo watches the game with marked interest, keeping an eye on the famed Chaser trio. None of them seem the least bit bothered as they fly in formation, Haseul leading them as they casually trail behind Momo. 

“A quick second note from Winnie the Pooh says ‘Kang Seulgi please marry me,’” Handong reads. “I’m willing to bet the answer is no. Anyways, Chaser Momo passes the Quaffle to the lady in question and Chaser Seulgi approaches the scoring area uncontested.”

“Wonder what they’re up to,” Hyejoo mutters to herself as she leans forward, scrutinizing the Ravenclaw players. Haseul, Jinsol, and Sooyoung still seem to be taking it easy, none of them making a move to stop Seulgi. 

“They’re giving her a free shot probably,” Bora says. “They did this a lot last year too, not bothering to fight over that first possession.”

“That makes no sense,” Hyejoo frowns. “Why give them a freebie?”

“Just watch,” Bora says wisely, and Hyejoo feels her eye twitch. 

“Chaser Seulgi scores!” Handong calls out. “Hufflepuff takes the lead at ten to nothing, but here’s where the real game starts.”

Ravenclaw’s Keeper tosses the Quaffle to Haseul, who bounces it once in her palm. Then, like some switch has been flipped, Haseul’s entire posture changes. Even from afar, Hyejoo can see how her gaze hardens, and then she’s gone. 

Ravenclaw’s Chaser Trinity suddenly break apart from each other, zooming in separate directions at an incredible speed. Hufflepuff’s own Chasers follow behind, but they can’t quite seem to catch up. Haseul is soon rejoined by Jinsol and Sooyoung only for them all to quickly split off again. 

“Chaser Haseul makes a quick pass to Chaser Jinsol,” Handong reports, and Hyejoo is impressed by how she nearly missed where the Quaffle went due to the swiftness of their actions. “Beater Sana sends a Bludger at Chaser Jinsol, but nope! Another sharp pass to Chaser Sooyou— she passes to Chaser Ha— Nope, back to Sooyoung— Jinsol— Sooyoung— Haseul— Okay, you all have eyes. Figure it out.”

Hyejoo doesn’t blame Handong for giving up. It’s so easy to see why the Trinity is so revered, their teamwork impeccable as they evade their opponents. To Hufflepuff’s credit, they do get quite close to intercepting Ravenclaw several times, but Haseul still makes it close enough to the goalposts to cinch the first score for their team. 

“Ravenclaw scores! Ten to ten,” Handong says. “And now, a message from ChuuChuuTrain: ‘Sooyoung-unnie, your beauty is like the sun, blinding and eternal. Your laughter is like the stars, twinkling and effervescent. You yourself are like the moon, gentle in its radiance and forever out of my reach. Even so, I yearn for you and you alone.’ Wow, that was gay.”

Seulgi seems to agree, as she lets out an audible “Oh my gosh, that’s so sweet!” while rolling sideways to avoid Bludgers from both of Ravenclaw’s Beaters, Jisoo and Mina. A flare of pride rises in Hyejoo’s chest as she notices how proactive both teams’ Beaters are compared to Gryffindor’s, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff’s captains no doubt telling their players to step it up after her and Hyunjin’s display of power. 

“Chaser Seulgi passes to Chaser Yuna who avoids a steal from Chaser Haseul. She shoots and… blocked by Keeper Yewon. Chaser Jinsol takes the Quaffle.”

Jinsol flies up the pitch, this time with Haseul, Sooyoung, Mina, and Jisoo circling her defensively. She makes it to the scoring area in no time, and she makes a feint before tossing the Quaffle over to Haseul. 

“Yeehaw!” Jiwoo suddenly screams before swinging her bat with both arms. 

“Yikes, we almost had a repeat of last year,” Handong says. “Fortunately, Chaser Haseul has saved her nose at the expense of losing the Quaffle to Chaser Momo.”

“Boo!” Yeojin yells. “Leave Haseul-unnie’s face alone!”

“Sorry!” Jiwoo apologizes as she passes by their stand. 

“Fruit Loops wonders ‘Is Sana gay?’, a question that nobody should be asking by this point,” Handong says dryly. “Seriously, guys. Beater Mina makes a hit at Chaser Momo, allowing Chaser Haseul to steal the Quaffle back. A long range pass to Chaser Sooyoung… and she scores! Ravenclaw takes the lead, twenty to ten.”

That appears to be the turning point of the game. As skilled as Hufflepuff’s players are, they can’t seem to change the tide in their favor, Ravenclaw slowly building a gap between their points as both teams score back and forth. Hufflepuff doesn’t give up though; they seem to actually enjoy the challenge, and Hyejoo is mildly awed as Jiwoo and Sana continue to smack Bludgers at the other team with happy smiles on their face the entire way. 

And then a miracle or a disaster happens, depending on which team’s perspective it is. 

A stray scarf, blown by the winter winds, flies onto the field. It drifts through the air like some lost little bird, flapping about until it finds its nest over Ha Sooyoung’s eyes. 

It’s like one of Ravenclaw’s star players has gone both blind and dumb. Hyejoo doesn’t expect Sooyoung to magically see through the fabric of that scarf, but she certainly thought the older student would do more than just freeze in the air, stick her arms out, and feel around blindly. Surely, all she’d need to do is take the damn scarf off, but somehow that’s not something she’s capable of as her broom slowly drifts away from the center of the game. 

“Um, I guess Chaser Sooyoung is having some… technical difficulties…” Handong says slowly. “She’s currently preoccupied, and Chaser Yuna has taken this chance to score. Ravenclaw still leads at ninety to fifty.”

“Wow, this is sad,” Jungeun sighs, voicing what everybody’s thinking. “Ha Sooyoung, defeated by a blindfold.”

“Embarrassing,” Chaewon says under her breath as she covers her eyes. “So embarrassing.”

Hyejoo is inclined to agree. Hufflepuff has managed to score twice while Sooyoung remains indisposed and unable to help her team. She’s still grabbing at the air fruitlessly while cowering at the edge of the pitch, avoiding all the other players around her. Out of the blue, a blur of yellow speeds past her, and Hyejoo hears Sooyoung scream. 

“Oh, it looks like Seeker Yoohyeon has spotted the gold,” Handong says excitedly. “Seeker Wheein is right behind her, but she hasn’t caught up yet… They’re getting closer… closer…”

“C’mon, unnie!” Hyejoo hollers at the top of her lungs. “Go!”

“Faster! Faster!” Siyeon shouts. 

“Go, doggie, go! Fetch!” Hyunjin orders. 

As if she can hear her friends, Yoohyeon applies a burst of speed while keeping her arm outstretched. It’s clear that she has only one thing on her mind as she reaches for her target with precision focus. 

Yoohyeon crashes. 

She vanishes into the tapestries covering one of the stands, the whole stadium going quiet as they wait with bated breath. Wheein has stopped her pursuit as well, and she joins in with everyone else anticipating what may be the final outcome. 

A figure stumbles out onto the grass, disheveled and disoriented. She holds her thankfully intact broomstick in one hand and nearly trips as she makes her way forward. 

And then she lifts her other hand in the air. 

“Seeker Yoohyeon has caught the Snitch!” Handong declares. “At one hundred twenty to ninety, Hufflepuff wins!”

The crowd’s volume instantly goes from dead silent to deafening. Fans all around the pitch rise out of their seats in a clamor to get down to where the players are landing, and Hyejoo is pretty sure she hears a lot of crying in the midst of all the cheering. She wastes no time in pushing her way past everyone else, and Hyejoo is the first to reach Yoohyeon, beating Hyunjin to the punch by shoving her out of the way as they race across the Quidditch field.

“Congrats, unnie!” she manages to yell before everyone else starts dogpiling onto them.

Hyejoo leaves Yoohyeon to the wolves as she escapes the horde rushing her. She knows Yoohyeon won’t mind, not when Minji is one of the many to go up to her. It takes only a second for Yoohyeon to turn to a stammering mess, and Hyejoo snickers to herself until she catches Chaewon standing at the edge of the crowd.

She says something, and Hyejoo can only squint in noncomprehension when Jungeun’s loud “Jiwooming! Good job!” covers up the Slytherin’s tiny voice.

“What?” Hyejoo asks, doubting if Chaewon can hear her.

“Wanna go?” Chaewon mouths, and she points her thumb at the exit of the arena.

Hyejoo accompanies her away from the increasing chaos. They begin their trek back to the castle only for Hyejoo to get an idea as they trudge through the snow.

“Hey, Chaewon?”

“Hm?”

Hyejoo lobs a snowball right in her face. 

Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest idea to start a fight when your goal was to get away from a mess, but Hyejoo doesn’t care when Chaewon falls over with a hilarious squeak. The blonde is quick to retaliate, sending a fistfull of snow back at Hyejoo. She’s all whines and laughter as their duel intensifies, and their plan to escape into Hogwarts early is further derailed when Siyeon appears out of nowhere to dump snow directly into Hyejoo’s robes.

The following days are filled with plenty of skirmishes like this. Hyejoo grows used to watching her back whenever she goes outside with her friends, and at some point she just opts to attack first, defend later. It doesn’t work as well the one time she accidentally hits Professor Kim, but it’s all too easy to pass the blame onto Hyunjin instead.

“I’m not letting you into the Whomping Willow tomorrow,” Hyunjin hisses at her once she successfully placates her mother.

True to her word, she does indeed ditch Hyejoo outside for several tense minutes when it comes time to head back into the Shrieking Shack. The magical tree takes multiple angry swings at Hyejoo and she’s just about ready to start throwing rocks at it when cat Hyunjin reemerges from the roots to freeze it. 

“You suck,” Hyejoo says as she makes her way down the usual tunnel.

Hyunjin meows and sticks out her tongue.

The subsequent hours are peaceful, Hyunjin and Hyejoo putting aside their spat to keep an eye on Siyeon and her werewolf form. Hyejoo is grateful that her sister is relatively calm on this final full moon before Winter Break begins; she’s no longer agitated and unsettled with pent up energy, though it’s still clear that she’s becoming more and more restless as the night goes on, constantly prodding Hyejoo to play with her.

Like last month, Yoohyeon eventually sneaks out to check that the coast is clear before the four of them lead Siyeon out. Hyejoo isn’t as anxious this time since she has a better idea of what to expect, but she continues to stick closely to her sister as she and her friends head into the forest on the edge of Hogwarts grounds.

Eventually Siyeon slows to a stop. She turns her head to look at Hyejoo with her tongue lolling out, and Hyejoo wonders what would happen if her sister finds a pole or something to lick. The thought amuses her, and she gives the canine equivalent of a chuckle before the wind abruptly shifts.

A distinct scent is carried on that breeze, and Hyejoo has only a split second to realize what it is before an ominous growling fills the air. There’s no time to waste when Siyeon abandons the depths of the forest to bolt for the edge of the trees, Hyunjin and Hyejoo hot on her heels. Yoohyeon is nowhere to be found, but Hyejoo has no time to worry about her when she sees Siyeon aiming for a solitary figure standing all alone in the snow.

Kim Bora.

Chapter Text

Scarlet, It Seeps In

Son Siyeon is beautiful.

It’s not the first time Bora has had that thought, and it certainly won’t be the last. She can only thank all the sapphic goddesses in the universe for letting her be born close enough to Siyeon and for letting them share so many classes for the past six years. Headmistress Kwon is probably more responsible for the latter though, and Bora silently gives her her thanks as well.

Bora grins to herself as she watches Siyeon snooze on top of her Transfiguration textbook. A part of her wants to wake her up with a classic smooch, but she doesn’t really want to cross that line and get slapped or something for being a creep. Instead, she settles for calling out her classmate’s name.

“Siyeon?” 

The Slytherin barely stirs.

“Oi, Son Siyeon.”

Still nothing.

“Son Siyeon, love of my life, cutie pie, sweetheart, hottie, uh… Dear? Cupcake? Muffin? Sausage? Potato?”

The increasingly long list of pet names does nothing to rouse Siyeon, and in the end Bora settles for doing what Minji always says she’s best at: being loud.

“SON SIYEON! GET UP!”

“Wh– What?”

Siyeon blinks cluelessly as she glances around her in a daze. She gives her head a quick shake to clear her mind before looking over at her deskmate.

“Bora? What do you want?”

“Class is going to start soon,” Bora says. “You wouldn’t want Professor Kim to walk in on you sleeping, would you?”

Siyeon chuckles. 

“I guess not. Thanks.”

Her smile falls away far too quickly for Bora’s liking, a more troubled expression appearing instead. Concern immediately fills Bora, and that’s an emotion that she’s been growing accustomed to ever since Siyeon returned to Hogwarts this year. Bora doesn’t blame her though, not after hearing about how Son Hyejoo had been bitten by a werewolf. 

“Why the long face?” Bora asks. 

“Mm…” Siyeon purses her lips before answering. “My mother is visiting tonight.”

“Oh, yikes.” Bora tries not to pull a face but she probably fails, all too familiar with Minji’s mentions of how overbearing her parents can be. Bora figures Siyeon’s parents aren’t too different, especially considering Siyeon’s worried frown. Still, she tries to steer the conversation in a more positive direction. “Wait, isn’t today your sister’s birthday? I saw you holding a cake earlier during breakfast.”

“Yep,” Siyeon confirms, and the corners of her mouth lift just a bit. “Though I’m pretty sure only half of it was eaten. The rest got… lost.”

“Ah,” Bora nods in comprehension. “A casualty of war, I suppose.”

“A noble sacrifice in the name of food fights,” Siyeon says solemnly. “The cake will be missed.”

“Too bad you didn’t save me a piece,” Bora jokes, nudging Siyeon with her elbow. “Anyways, I wonder what gift your mom will bring Hyejoo.”

Siyeon gives a humorless laugh. 

“I don’t have high expectations, honestly.”

“Why not? It’s Hyejoo’s first year at Hogwarts and all, and she’s coming all this way, so–”

“We’ll see,” Siyeon shrugs, and Bora can tell that this conversation is closed. 

She switches to a different topic, one not involving Siyeon’s entire family and whatever strife is going on there. 

“You know, I’m still impressed by how strong your sister is. I keep having nightmares of her hitting Bludgers at me,” Bora says with a dramatic sigh. 

This seems to do the trick, Siyeon’s eyes immediately lighting up with pride. 

“She’s awesome, isn’t she?” Siyeon brags. “I heard she trained super hard for this first game. I know I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of her hits.”

“I saw my life flash before my eyes a couple times!” Bora complains. “Tell your sis to find some chill.”

“No can do,” Siyeon smirks devilishly. She rests her elbow on her desk and places her chin in her hand. Who told her she could be so attractive…? “I’m here to encourage Hyejoo to live her best life, and if that includes collateral damage… well, so be it.”

“Nice to see where your priorities are,” Bora pouts, slumping into her seat with her arms crossed. 

“Sorry,” Siyeon says in a tone that’s not even the least bit apologetic. “Hyejoo’s more important than the rest of the world. That’s just how it is.”

Bora slowly opens her eyes. For a second, all she sees is an endless sea of crimson until she rolls over to lay on her side instead of facedown on her bed. She squints in drowsiness as she muses over the memory that replayed in her head while she slept. 

“Sorry, did I wake you?”

Bora looks over at her long time best friend before shaking her head. 

“You’re fine,” she tells Minji. “I keep waking up tonight for some reason.”

“Something on your mind?” Minji asks as she pulls on her robes. “You seem a bit preoccupied lately.”

“Hmm… I’m not sure,” Bora replies, and she feels a twinge of guilt. She knows what– who’s constantly been in her thoughts as of late, but it doesn’t seem right to drag Minji into the situation. “I’ll figure it out, don’t worry.”

“If you say so,” Minji murmurs. “Goodnight then?”

“Wait,” Bora calls out hastily. “Quick question, is Siyeon also patrolling tonight?”

Minji tilts her head. 

“Yeah, why?”

“Are you going to see her?”

“Probably not,” Minji says. “Our routes never really cross, so…”

“I see,” Bora mutters. She clears her throat conspicuously before Minji can start probing. “Anyways, goodnight!” She waves. “Good luck on your patrol.”

Minji gives her a thoughtful look, but she soon disappears down the spiral staircase leading to the Gryffindor Common Room, leaving Bora alone with her musings. Inevitably, her brain wanders back to the day she just dreamed of, the day she is unable to forget. 

Sometimes, Bora wishes she was in Slytherin or Hufflepuff just for the sole reason of not having to climb all the way to the seventh floor to reach Gryffindor Tower. It’s literally such a pain sometimes, especially after a long training session, and today is one of those days where Bora dreads every step she takes as she makes her way back to the dorms. 

Too bad neither Minji nor Gahyeon are here to hear her whine. Bora is reduced to grumbling to herself as she forces herself to keep her feet moving forward. She almost falls to the floor in relief when she reaches the seventh floor’s landing, but she resists the temptation knowing that she’ll never get back up if she collapses now. 

Alas, her body refuses to cooperate. Bora can practically hear it yell at her, her muscles rebelling at the thought of having to climb up the stairs to her bedroom. The prospect isn’t pretty, and neither is the idea of everyone catching Captain Kim Bora the Great slumped over a couch in the common room like some idiot loser who didn’t pace herself while practicing today. 

Curse Slytherin for winning that last match. 

With a huff and a puff, Bora finds herself slinking off to some deserted corridor where she can sit down and catch her breath at least. Hopefully nobody will find her, and if they do… oh well.

Bora soon finds a wall to slide down, and her every fiber sighs in relief. She closes her eyes to give herself a break while hoping she doesn’t fall asleep. 

And then she hears a voice. 

She hears the voice. 

She hears that song she’s been searching for for the past few years, the melody that’s been stuck in her heart since the moment she chanced upon it as a second year student. That was the only time she ever heard it, but it’s been seared into her soul ever since, and Bora has finally, finally found it again. 

“Run away, to a place where you can breathe.”

Bora scrambles to her feet. She nearly trips over her own tired legs in the process, but she sets aside her own suffering for the express purpose of tracking down this mystery singer. She never managed to catch even a glimpse of their face years ago, a fact that she’s sorely regretted since, and she’s not about to let this opportunity slip away. 

“Run away, to a place without painful tears.”

Bora comes to a halt in front of a wooden door that’s been left just barely ajar. She’s either never seen this room before or never paid much attention to it, for it looks incredibly plain and ordinary like something easily dismissed. That precious song she’s been seeking clearly reverberates from inside, however, and Bora carefully peeks around the door to see who lies within. 

Oh. 

It’s Siyeon. 

A part of Bora feels like she should have known all along. She’s never heard Siyeon sing, but her speaking voice has a unique, captivating timbre that has Bora hanging on to every word. She’s enchanted even now, leaning closer to hear better and get a better look at the person Siyeon’s with. 

Bora isn’t surprised when she realizes that it’s Hyejoo. What she doesn’t expect is to see the first year crying. The young girl sobs weakly as she clutches onto Siyeon like a lifeline, and Bora feels her own heart begin to weep. It hurts, thinking about how much Hyejoo must be going through, how much pressure and pain is bearing down on her to the point where her emotions have leaked out like this. Silently whispering her support to the two siblings, Bora retreats. 

And she begins to think. 

Bora is done with thinking. 

Perhaps it’s a bit reckless and intrusive of her, but she’s already made up her mind: she’s going to help Siyeon and Hyejoo no matter the cost. She’s tired of seeing Siyeon so stressed every month, and she hates the thought of Hyejoo being so tormented by something that’s out of her control. Bora’s research attempts have so far come up empty, but she’s fed up with feeling useless as she climbs out of bed and gets dressed. 

Outside her window, the full moon shines brightly. 

It lights up quite a bit of the way as Bora proceeds to sneak out of Hogwarts castle. Doing so is easier than she expects, many hallways and staircases deserted when she comes upon them. At one point she catches sight of Minji patrolling not too far away and she’s tempted to go and tap her on the shoulder or something, but Bora knows now is not the time for pranks that may very well backfire. Instead, she continues her journey and soon makes it out into the night air. 

Snow is crushed underneath her shoes as she starts heading for the Forbidden Forest. Bora doesn’t know exactly where the Sons are right now, but she figures the best place to hide a big wolf is in its natural habitat. There’s no need for her to take out her wand for extra light as she begins walking amongst the trees, searching for any sign of Siyeon. The moon is still company enough, illuminating Bora’s path as she takes care to not get too deep amongst the trees lest she get lost. 

She searches for what feels like at least hours. Cold, confused, and frustrated, Bora knows she can only blame herself for this half-cooked idea. She was hoping she’d somehow stumble upon Siyeon and help her keep Hyejoo under control with whatever method she’s using, but it’s quite apparent that Bora is only wasting her own time with this fruitless endeavor. 

Seriously, how hard is it to find a werewolf?

Complaining to herself about herself, Bora brushes her hair out of her eyes as a gust of wind blows from behind her. 

And then she hears it. 

It almost sounds like some sort of muggle machinery grinding to life, a menacing rumble that makes Bora’s blood run colder than a blizzard ever could. Every inch of her body screams at her to just run, but at the same time she finds herself stunned with shock and frozen with fear. 

Out of the blue, she catches sight of a familiar, tiny brown dog running up to her through the snow. 

“Wha–”

Loud thuds begin to fill the air, and Bora quickly looks up just in time to see a ginormous, pitch black wolf charging straight at her. 

Oh. 

Oops. 

So maybe your life doesn’t flash in front of you in your last moments, Bora thinks. Her hand automatically flies to her wand, but she figures it’s too late as the massive creature approaches her at a terrifying speed. Even so, Bora refuses to go down without a fight and she whips out her wand, bracing herself. 

Another black wolf bursts from the trees, smashing into the first one with incredible might. 

“What the–”

“Unnie!” someone screams. 

Bora turns her head to see Yoohyeon pulling at her desperately. 

“Unnie, run!” Yoohyeon pleads. “You have to get out of here!”

“Yoohyeon? What– How–” Bora struggles to collect her thoughts. “Why are you here!?”

“There’s no time, just go–”

A furious roar splits through the night sky, and Bora snaps her attention back to the wolves. They’re still fighting each other, and Bora catches a glimpse of a cat clinging to one of them. It’s quickly shaken off, however, and the wolf it was hanging onto swipes at its counterpart with large claws, forcing it away. It takes this chance to break free and return to targeting the two present humans. 

“Unnie!”

Operating on almost pure instinct, Bora shoves Yoohyeon behind her. Adrenaline pumping through her veins and drowning out virtually everything else, Bora aims her wand and fires. 

Stupefy!

The wolf immediately reels back from the jet of red that comes shooting out, but Bora’s relief is only momentary. Not even a second passes before it continues its attack, and Bora nearly lets out her own scream of panic as it lunges. 

Once again, the other wolf comes to her rescue, barreling into its foe to knock it aside. 

“Unnie, please!” Yoohyeon resumes frantically yanking on Bora’s arm while they have this chance. “Just run!”

“But– Siyeon! Where’s Siyeon?”

“I’ll explain later, just–”

This time, there’s a feline yowl of pain. Bora watches in horror as the cat is nearly trampled by one of the wolves, and for the first time she really processes how truly terrifying Hyejoo is as a werewolf. There is nothing humane in her golden eyes, and every single part of her body is in feral pursuit of one thing and one thing alone: human blood. 

Bora sends another stronger version of the Stunning Spell at Hyejoo, this one pushing her back a good distance. It buys enough time for the cat to get back on its feet and it rejoins the other wolf as they press the advantage. 

Bora is dimly aware that Yoohyeon has given up trying to get her to run. The younger student has also pulled out her wand, and the two of them work together as long range support in subduing Hyejoo. It’s no easy task, and Bora notices with dismay that there’s several dark splotches scattered all over the disturbed snow. Several times, Hyejoo nearly breaks free yet again, and with a heart heavy with remorse, Bora summons even more power before blasting Hyejoo one last time with all her might.

Stupefy Duo!

It’s an empty victory when the werewolf soars through the air and smashes into a tree. It lays at the roots, unmoving, and Bora’s hands shake as she sinks to her knees. She feels Yoohyeon do the same next to her, and the remaining wolf and cat likewise collapse, everyone evidently worn out by this ordeal. 

Eventually, Bora stumbles forward, almost crawling through the snow to reach the wolf with silver eyes. Vaguely remembering something Gahyeon once said about werewolves supposedly being no particular hazard towards other animals, Bora can only apologize to her allies for the danger she put them in. 

“I’m sorry,” she says to them all. “I’m so sorry.”

The wolf growls at Bora when she extends her hand towards it. 

“It’s okay,” Yoohyeon says softly, picking up the cat to cradle it in her arms. “It’s okay. You can trust her.”

The wolf’s ears flick once, and Bora takes this as a sign to proceed. Gently, slowly, she places her hand on top of its head.

“Siyeon?” Bora whispers. 

The wolf looks at her with its grey gaze, and Bora’s heart breaks even further when she sees the sorrow swimming within those eyes. As faint sunlight begins to peek through the trees, the wolf turns its head towards its fallen sibling. 

Bora follows its gaze, and then she realizes

There’s only been a small handful of times when words have failed to come to Bora. She knows she has a penchant for being noisy, so to speak, and she usually has no trouble finding something to say even when she shouldn’t. 

Now, Bora finds herself completely speechless as the werewolf transforms back into a human. 

Never could she have imagined that it was Siyeon all along.


Pain, pain, and more pain. 

Hyejoo’s entire body aches, and she knows she’s bleeding as she lays on the forest ground. The place where Siyeon clawed her burns, but even that doesn’t compare to what she feels when she sees her sister battered and unconscious at the bottom of a tree. Siyeon is covered in scratches, and her face is twisted in agony while she lays there like a corpse. Thankfully, the repeated rise and fall of her chest indicates that she is indeed alive. 

Bora jumps to her feet. Hyejoo doesn’t really have the energy to stop her, and all she can do is watch as the Gryffindor makes her way over to Siyeon. She musters what paltry strength she has left, preparing herself to attack in case Bora does something to harm her sister. 

Harm her even more, that is. 

Fortunately, Bora seems genuinely concerned as she carefully takes Siyeon’s head into her lap. She presses two fingers to Siyeon’s wrist while examining the rest of her body. A few minutes pass, and Hyejoo lets out a huge exhale when Bora finally gives a nod. 

“She’s okay,” Bora reports. “Just knocked out. She should be fine once we get her to the Hospital Wing.”

“We’ll take her,” Yoohyeon says. “You should get back to the castle, unnie.”

“What? Don’t be ridiculous,” Bora frowns, and Hyejoo doesn’t miss how she holds Siyeon closer to her. “I’ll carry Siyeon–”

“No,” Hyunjin cuts in sharply as she abruptly transforms back into her human form. Bora lets out a yelp of surprise, but Hyunjin ignores it as she glares at the intruder. “You made this mess, so get out of here before you make things even worse.”

“I didn’t mean to– I–” Bora lets out a frustrated sigh. “I just wanted to help, honestly. I still do.”

“You’ve done enough,” Hyunjin snaps before suddenly bending over to clutch at her leg. “Ah, dammit.”

Yoohyeon is by her side in a flash, supporting Hyunjin with her shoulder. 

“Are you okay?” she asks worriedly. When Hyunjin gives a stubborn nod, Yoohyeon turns to Bora. “Look, unnie, we know you mean well, but you’re not supposed to be out here–”

“I’ll take the blame,” Bora says quickly. “All of it. It is my fault, after all.”

Yoohyeon shakes her head. 

“We’re not supposed to be out here either,” she says. “If Headmistress Kwon finds out that we were out here and you were out here too…”

“We’d be screwed,” Hyunjin finishes for her. “Siyeon-unnie would be even more screwed, so just go.”

“But…” Bora runs a hand through her hair, visibly discouraged and discontent. Her eyes dart between the three animagi, and her attention lingers the most on Hyejoo. 

Hyejoo bares her teeth. 

“C’mon, unnie,” Yoohyeon urges. She helps Hyunjin steady herself against a tree before walking over to Bora and tugging at her robes. “Go. We can take care of Siyeon-unnie.”

“Okay, fine,” Bora surrenders. She allows Yoohyeon to pull her into a standing position, though her eyes never leave Siyeon. “Isn’t Hyejoo supposed to be the werewolf though…?”

“We’ll explain later,” Yoohyeon promises as she begins pushing Bora towards the direction of Hogwarts. 

“Wait.” 

Bora doubles back, walking purposefully towards Hyunjin.

“What?” Hyunjin asks impatiently. 

“Let me help you with your leg at least.” Bora pulls out her wand. “I can bandage it up.”

“... Fine.”

One muttered spell later and Hyunjin is able to stand on her own, though she’s still favoring one foot over the other. She doesn’t stop glowering at Bora though, not until the Gryffindor finally leaves and is long out of sight.

“Okay, we have to hurry before Madam Lee sends the staff to come looking for us,” Hyunjin says. “Man, what are we even going to tell them?”

“We can just say Siyeon was out of control in the Shack,” Yoohyeon suggests. “I’m not sure what to do if the school finds out that she’s in the Hospital Wing though…”

“Siyeon-unnie and I got into a fight,” Hyunjin says, eyes flashing. “She lost, of course.”

A flicker of a smile passes across Yoohyeon’s face. She turns to look at Hyejoo, crouching down so that she’s face to face with the wolf.

“Are you okay, Hyejoo?” she asks. 

Hyejoo quickly bobs her head up and down. 

“You’re going to have to go back to Hogwarts on your own, like usual,” Yoohyeon murmurs. She gently pats Hyejoo’s head. “Are you okay with that?”

Hyejoo gives an affirmative woof. 

“We’ll see you later then, okay?” Yoohyeon smiles sadly. “You did good today.”

“What about me?” Hyunjin interjects. 

“Help me carry Siyeon in, then your job is done,” Yoohyeon jokes, though she reaches over to ruffle Hyunjin’s hair before moving to hoist Siyeon onto her shoulders. “Oof, she’s heavier than I remember.”

“Oi, watch out,” Hyunjin says, alarmed when Yoohyeon nearly smacks Siyeon’s face into a low hanging branch. “You be careful too,” she calls out to Hyejoo, and she then departs with Yoohyeon in the direction of the secret shortcut into the Hospital Wing.

Alone at last, Hyejoo closes her eyes. 

Everything still hurts.

Maybe it wasn’t the wisest choice to cover up how wounded she is, but Hyejoo is just glad that Siyeon and Hyunjin are going to get treatment soon. She feels a bit guilty for what happened to the latter, recalling how her hesitance to use full force on Siyeon led to Hyunjin almost breaking a bone during their clash. She feels even worse thinking about how many Stunning Spells Siyeon took before finally going down. Hyejoo kind of wants to thank Bora for finally putting a stop to Siyeon’s rampage, but her gratitude is easily tempered by the fact that this wouldn’t have happened if Bora hadn’t been there in the first place.

As Hyunjin said minutes ago: dammit.

Luckily for Bora, Hyejoo is too exhausted at this point to be upset the way Hyunjin was earlier. All she wants to do is curl up into a ball and nap preferably for the rest of the day, if not the rest of the month. It’s cold out here though, and fresh flakes of snow begin falling down as she lays there on the ground. A particularly large snowflake lands right on her nose, and she crinkles her snout as it melts into icy water right on her.

Hyejoo makes an attempt to get up. Unfortunately, she has underestimated her injury, and she finds herself wobbling on her paws before dizziness suddenly assaults her and compels her to sink back down. 

Perhaps a quick snooze wouldn’t be so bad after all, Hyejoo tells herself. She could definitely use a break, and her wolf constitution should be strong enough to withstand the weather. It’s certainly a better idea than turning back into a human and passing out in the middle of nowhere. Hyejoo doesn’t want to imagine Yoohyeon or Hyunjin finding her like that, and so she hunkers down and watches the snow continue to fall.

Tiny frozen crystals drift around her as a breeze blows through the trees. They twinkle like miniature diamonds, sparkling and dazzling as they refract the rays of the barely risen sun. It’s actually quite the beautiful sight despite what just transpired not so long ago, and Hyejoo finds herself oddly at peace in this winterscape.

Just as she’s about to doze off, Hyejoo yet again catches a distinct smell on the wind. It’s a bit different from Bora’s, but it’s still the unmistakable scent of a human. 

Hyejoo stays motionless. She’s not experienced enough with her lupine senses to be able to pinpoint this newcomer’s exact location, and so she hopes that they’re far enough to not accidentally wander across an injured black wolf just sitting here.

Her hopes remain unanswered.

Footsteps crunch across the freshly fallen snow, each tread getting closer than the last. They’re rhythmic and steady, constant and persistent as they continue to head towards Hyejoo’s general vicinity. Soon enough, they’re just a few meters away, and Hyejoo prepares her heart for being seen.

Day breaks through the trees, and out steps Chaewon.

Chapter Text

Of all the myriad emotions in the world and all the innumerable feelings swirling within Hyejoo’s heart, there’s one word that eclipses everything else when it comes to Park Chaewon. 

Safe. 

In all the months she’s known her, not once has Chaewon made Hyejoo feel less than, feel unwanted, feel reviled. From the very first moment they set eyes on each other, Chaewon has shown her nothing but kindness, never judging and never scorning. Even when things go south in Potions, Chaewon is always quick to pull Hyejoo out of harm's way, wand out and ready to defend. Chaewon tends to do that, Hyejoo thinks, protecting her. Be it soft-spoken but sincere words shielding Hyejoo from the contempt of others or that peculiar but precious gift bolstering her spirit through the nights, Chaewon is constantly helping Hyejoo, strengthening her as she faces each day. 

Perhaps that is why it’s oh-so-easy to forget that Chaewon is not supposed to be here right now.

Hyejoo just barely remembers to growl when Chaewon takes a step towards her. The noise stops Chaewon in her tracks but only for a second, the shorter girl pushing onwards with a determination that both inspires and worries Hyejoo. There’s barely a hint of fear in Chaewon’s eyes as she approaches the wolf sitting in the snow. Instead, her gaze is filled with awe, curiosity, and, most importantly, concern. 

Hyejoo snarls louder, hoping to scare Chaewon away. 

It doesn’t work. 

“It’s okay,” Chaewon says softly, a hand raised in the air. “I won’t hurt you.”

The rumbling in Hyejoo’s chest intensifies. She bares her teeth and exposes her fangs both in hopes of intimidating her friend and also as a statement that Chaewon is being completely foolish and backwards right now. After all, it should be pretty clear who the true threat is between a small second year student and a giant maybe-werewolf. 

Almost as if she can read Hyejoo’s mind, Chaewon gives a gentle smile. 

“It’s okay,” she repeats. “I know you won’t hurt me either. Right, Hyejoo?”

Hearing her own name makes Hyejoo go silent. 

How does she know?

Hyejoo realizes a little belatedly that her reaction was more a confirmation than anything, Chaewon letting out a relieved exhale as she continues getting closer. Figuring there’s no point in chasing her off now, Hyejoo lowers her head and shuts her eyes at the sensation of a warm hand touching her. 

Safe. 

“... Amazing,” Chaewon murmurs. Her fingers gently rub one of Hyejoo’s ears. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

Hyejoo opens an eye. 

“I wasn’t sure what to look for when I came out here,” Chaewon admits, now running her hand along the side of Hyejoo’s neck at a comforting rhythm. “I wasn’t really expecting, y’know, a freakin’ huge wolf.”

Hyejoo gives a proud huff. 

Chaewon’s hand suddenly stops at Hyejoo’s shoulder. 

“I’m glad I found you though,” Chaewon says quietly. “I was so worried when neither you nor Hyunjin came back. So I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Hyejoo lets out a low whine before slowly rising to her feet. Another wave of vertigo attacks her, but it’s not as strong as it was earlier, and Hyejoo is soon able to stand at her full height. Already taller than Chaewon as a human, Hyejoo positively towers over her as a wolf, and it’s not hard to let Chaewon see the slashes on her stomach. 

“Oh…” Chaewon gasps, her face falling. “Did… Did Siyeon-unnie do this?”

Hyejoo tilts her head. 

“Let me see what I can do,” Chaewon says, and Hyejoo’s unspoken question is left unanswered as her friend pulls out her wand and sets to work. 

The familiarity of the moment isn’t lost upon Hyejoo. It’s been quite a while, but she can still recall the warmth of Chaewon’s magic as she thinks back to the first time Chaewon healed her. The damage she bears now is a far cry from the injury she had then, however, and Hyejoo doubts this wound can be closed just like that. 

Chaewon soon reaches the same conclusion as she stows away her wand with a frown. 

“I did my best, but… Well, at least you’re not bleeding anymore,” she sighs. “You still need to get this checked out by Madam Lee.”

Hyejoo bumps Chaewon with her snout in what she hopes is a grateful, reassuring manner. She does it once, twice, and then three times when Chaewon continues pouting, only to stop when Chaewon finally gives her a small smile in return.

“Geez, okay, stop pushing me,” Chaewon giggles. 

Hyejoo gives a short howl before tilting her head inquisitively. 

“What?” Chaewon blinks. 

Hyejoo howls again. 

“I don’t… Wait, are you stuck like this!?”

Quickly shaking her head, Hyejoo howls once more, this time pointing her nose at where the moon is fading. 

“Oh!” Chaewon claps once in comprehension. “Are you asking me how I know about Siyeon-unnie?”

Hyejoo nods. 

“Well, I had a hunch,” Chaewon explains with a wry smile. “I mean, for starters, the sun is out and you’re still a wolf, so… More importantly, I’m sure you’ve noticed how Siyeon-unnie… kinda changes around the full moon?”

Hyejoo’s tail wags sadly, and Chaewon reaches out to pat her head. 

“She changes,” Chaewon says again. “But you don’t really seem to. You’re always you. You’re always Hyejoo.”

And you’re always Chaewon, Hyejoo thinks before an abrupt wave of embarrassment washes over her out of nowhere. She nudges Chaewon again, this time urging her to turn around. Satisfied when the other girl isn’t looking, Hyejoo transforms back. 

“Aw, crap,” Hyejoo mutters, her stomach stinging with pain as she almost loses her balance and gets a taste of Yoohyeon’s clumsy lifestyle. Fortunately, she manages to steady herself just in time for Chaewon to rush up to her. 

“Are you okay?” Chaewon asks, her eyebrows scrunched up anxiously as she grabs Hyejoo’s arm. “Can you make it to the Hospital Wing like this?”

“I’ll be fine,” Hyejoo promises her. “I was just dizzy for a sec. It’s gone now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Very,” Hyejoo says firmly. “Anyways, you need to get back to the castle without being seen.”

“What? But what about you?”

“I’ll go in by myself, as usual.”

“But–”

“Please,” Hyejoo begs, scrunching her eyes shut in exhaustion as the events of the night catch up to her again. “Please. It’s for Siyeon-unnie’s sake.”

“... I understand,” Chaewon nods. “Just make sure you go to the Hospital Wing, okay?”

“I will,” Hyejoo promises. “Come by later and we can talk.”

The hand on her forearm slowly moves up to her elbow, giving her a meaningful squeeze before gradually pulling away.

Chaewon takes a step back, her eyes regarding Hyejoo carefully. She appears though as she’s about to say something, but she then reconsiders with a shake of her head.

“See you later?” is all she ultimately asks.

“See you later,” Hyejoo answers. “And thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Chaewon says before she turns around, small clouds of white drifting into the air next to her feet from the motion. More snowflakes continue to fall from the sky, and they descend like tiny feathers on the wind coming to rest on Chaewon’s shoulders.

Pretty, Hyejoo thinks.

“Wait,” her mouth suddenly blurts out before she can stop herself.

Chaewon immediately pauses and turns to look over her shoulder.

Hyejoo clears her throat.

“How did you recognize me?”

Chaewon smiles.

“Like I said, you’re Hyejoo. You’re always Hyejoo.”

Chaewon eventually sets off, leaving Hyejoo alone in the woods. Hyejoo doesn’t feel lonely though, not when she knows there are people waiting for her back at Hogwarts. Chaewon’s final words still linger too, sitting inside Hyejoo’s chest like a hearth keeping the cold away as she walks alongside the footprints her friend left behind. Her return feels faster than it really is, and Hyejoo is glad she kept up the ruse when she passes by a prefect patrolling just inside the Clocktower Courtyard’s entrance. 

“Hey,” Park Sooyoung calls out as soon as she spots Hyejoo. “Joohyun-unnie says your sister and Kim Hyunjin just got into a fight or something? They’re in the Hospital Wing. Thought you’d like to know.”

“Oh. Uh, thanks,” Hyejoo mumbles. She bows her head in gratitude for both the false information and the fact that she now has a valid excuse to head over to the Hospital Wing that doesn’t give herself away. Silently praising Chaewon’s wandwork for keeping her from dripping blood all over the place, Hyejoo quickly makes her way to the fourth floor. 

Madam Lee bustles over to her as soon as she steps inside the medical ward. She wastes no time in ushering Hyejoo into a bed, and Hyejoo barely has time to see Hyunjin laying next to her with Siyeon two beds down when a screen blocks her view. 

“How–”

“They’re fine,” Madam Lee informs her as she sets about examining Hyejoo. “They’re just asleep. No lasting damage to either of them. Now you, on the other hand…”

“What?” Hyejoo asks nervously. 

Madam Lee squints at her torso. 

“Miss Yoohyeon told me you might be more injured than you look,” she says thoughtfully, tilting her head left and right as she observes her patient. “She said you’d probably try to put up a brave front or something, but your wound actually seems… relatively okay.”

“Uh, yeah, I used a healing spell,” Hyejoo half-lies. She probably wouldn’t get away with downplaying the original damage and masking the use of magic from Hogwarts’ best healer, so she opts instead to cover up Chaewon’s direct involvement. “My Potions partner taught me a basic one.”

“Ah, yes, Miss Park Chaewon,” Madam Lee chuckles. “I taught her Episkey myself after seeing her so often last year. Thanks to you, I don’t think she comes by as much.”

“I’m glad,” Hyejoo replies, and she finds herself also smiling until her examination is finished.

“Looks like you’ll be okay too,” Madam Lee reports. She hands over a vial with a crimson red liquid inside. “Drink this and sleep. You’ll be completely healed when you wake up.”

“Thank you,” Hyejoo says, accepting the potion. Eager to pass out and rest, she chugs it down in one hasty gulp that doesn’t leave room for its taste to take ahold of her tongue. Drowsiness hits her almost immediately, and Hyejoo’s head instinctively falls back onto her pillow. 

“Rest well,” Madam Lee says kindly. She pats Hyejoo’s shoulder and then tucks her blanket under her chin. “You’ve worked very hard. We’re proud of you, Son Hyejoo.”

That display of compassion flows over Hyejoo like the undeniable pull of an ebbing tide. It tugs at her, beckoning her into the depths of her mind as darkness surrounds her, and sleep finally arrives. 

Hyejoo awakens to someone humming. The sound is gentle and lilting, every note adorning the air like little bluebirds flitting through a summer sky. It’s calming, soothing, and Hyejoo almost falls back asleep at this familiar melody. There’s something off about it though, and it doesn’t take Hyejoo long to realize that this isn’t Siyeon’s voice.

Hyejoo turns her head.

The first thing she sees is Yoohyeon slumped in a chair quite ungracefully, eyes shut and neck bent back in a manner that’s sure to leave her feeling sore later. Her arms are spread out like a scarecrow, hands placed on both Hyunjin and Hyejoo’s beds like a bridge connecting the two. Glancing over at Hyunjin to make sure she’s still asleep, Hyejoo snorts to herself before looking over to Siyeon.

There sits Kim Bora, singing to her sister.

Hyejoo automatically scowls.

“Stealing lullabies now, are we?” she hisses as quietly as possible to the Gryffindor troublemaker. 

Hyejoo half-expects the older girl to make some loud exclamation as she has the tendency to do, so she’s taken aback when all Bora does is smile and gaze at Siyeon with surprising tenderness in her eyes. She feels a sudden compulsion to puke when Bora even reaches over to undo a knot in Siyeon’s hair before sitting back in her chair.

“Sorry,” Bora says after she reaches the end of her current verse. “I should have figured this was your song, though I didn’t even know who sang it for the longest time.”

For a second, Hyejoo is tempted to fling a barb at her, pointing out how there’s clearly a lot Bora doesn’t know, but her curiosity wins out over her desire to be petty.

“What do you mean?”

“I once heard someone singing this song in a classroom back when I was a second year student,” Bora explains. “I didn’t find out it was Siyeon until like super recently… I guess it only makes sense though. After all…”

“What?” Hyejoo asks impatiently, mildly annoyed by the distant, far-off look on Bora’s face.

Bora chuckles.

“It’s kind of poetic, isn’t it? The voice I once fell in love with belongs to the person that I like.”

Hyejoo’s brain shuts down.

“What.”

“What?” Bora blinks. “Don’t you of all people know how nice she is? Plus, she’s actually really cute and funny. And wow, did she get hot over the summer before fourth–”

“What? No! Stop!” Hyejoo yells, covering her ears. “Ew!”

Bora lets out a noisy, turkey-like laugh that surely must be what wakes up two of the other Hospital Wing occupants, not Hyejoo’s own outburst.

“Whuz goin’ on?” Yoohyeon asks sleepily before suddenly grabbing her neck. “Ouch!”

“What’s happening? Hyejoo, what are you being so loud for?” Hyunjin complains as she sits up.

Hyejoo points.

Three heads turn to Bora.

“Oh. It’s you,” Hyunjin says, her confusion sharpening into a glare. 

“Ahaha…” Bora has the sense to look sheepish as she scratches her cheek. “Good morning, everyone!”

Hyejoo doubts Yoohyeon could ever hurt anyone other than herself, but she’s pretty sure Hyunjin is joining her in secretly plotting Bora’s demise. The bomb she just dropped on Hyejoo aside (Bora likes Siyeon???), Hyejoo hasn’t forgotten what happened earlier, and the more she thinks about it the more riled up she gets.

Before Hyejoo can decide whether it would be more satisfying to kick Bora off the Astronomy Tower or to use her as a Bludger with sound effects during her next practice session, the door opens.

Chaewon peeks around the corner.

“Um, I can come back later,” she says with a dubious look on her face as she scans the room and the assorted people within. She pauses upon meeting Hyejoo’s gaze, and Hyejoo abruptly forgets her previous, more violent train of thought.

“Stay,” Hyejoo finds herself calling out. Vaguely aware of everyone’s eyes on her, she clears her throat. “You’re relevant to the conversion we’re about to have, so…”

“She is?” Yoohyeon tilts her head.

“She is,” Hyejoo answers, shooting her a look that says “don’t ask”.

Yoohyeon’s mouth forms a perfect ‘o’ as she glances between Hyejoo and Chaewon, the latter shifting awkwardly from foot to foot by the door. The wheels in Yoohyeon’s head turn, and Hyejoo grimaces at the thought that the Hufflepuff is about to arrive at some incorrect conclusion or cook up some ridiculous conspiracy theory in that brain of hers.

Fortunately, all Yoohyeon winds up doing is pulling up a chair next to her.

“Come in, sit!” she says, beaming when Chaewon complies albeit reluctantly.

“What’s she doing here?” Chaewon whispers to Hyejoo as she points over at Bora.

Hyejoo’s scowl returns to her face.

“She’s the one who caused this mess.”

“... Oh.”

If Hyunjin’s rare display of actual anger is something to behold, it’s nothing compared to Chaewon’s wrath. Hyejoo has never seen her Potions partner upset beyond the usual annoyance she displays towards her friends and the occasional vexation directed at those disparaging Hyejoo, so it’s a completely brand new experience for her to see Chaewon absolutely pissed.

The small student is practically shooting daggers out of her eyes as she stares at Bora with her arms crossed. Hyejoo never thought she’d consider Chaewon menacing, but that’s really the only way to describe the cold, calculating expression on her features. Even Hyunjin looks impressed, and Hyejoo doesn’t blame Bora when the Gryffindor lets out a scared squawk as Chaewon’s hand moves in the direction of her wand.

“So it’s your fault Hyejoo got hurt,” Chaewon states, ice coating every syllable.

“I didn’t mean to, I swear!” Bora says hastily, and Hyejoo would be more amused by her fear if she didn’t have to genuinely worry about the sixth year’s safety. “It was an accident!”

“She was bleeding,” Chaewon snaps. “She was bleeding out in the middle of the woods, and it’s all thanks to you.”

“Wait, you were that hurt?” Bora’s face crumples with guilt. “I wouldn’t have left if I knew.”

“Never thought I’d agree with Bora-unnie, but…” Yoohyeon frowns sadly at Hyejoo. 

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Hyejoo defends herself. “Honestly,” she adds when Chaewon turns her scathing gaze on her instead. “I, uh, made a miscalculation. But hey, at least Chaewon saved the day?”

“So that’s why she’s here,” Yoohyeon pouts, looking oddly disappointed for some reason. “Well, thank you for helping our Hyejoo.”

“Wait.” Hyunjin holds up a hand. “Chaewon, do you… know?”

“Know that Hyejoo is a wolf?” Chaewon shrugs. “Yeah.”

“What?” Yoohyeon yelps, leaning away from the blonde Slytherin.

“How?” Bora exclaims. 

“When?” Hyunjin demands. 

“Why isn’t Siyeon-unnie awake?” Hyejoo cuts into the storm of questions. “Shouldn’t she be a part of this?”

“One sec,” Hyunjin says. 

She then hurls her pillow at Siyeon’s face like a catapult.

“Oof!”

“Rise and shine, unnie!” Yoohyeon greets cheerily.

“What the… Where the…” Siyeon will probably never be a morning person, Hyejoo thinks as her sister swats away Hyunjin’s projectile. Siyeon can barely keep her eyes open, squinting blindly at her surroundings until she finally notices the person sitting next to her. “Who the… Bora!?”

“The one and only,” Bora declares with way too much pride, and she laughs when Siyeon nearly falls off the bed in surprise.

Hyejoo’s eye twitches.

“What– What’s going on?” Siyeon asks, desperately lost. She shuffles around on her bed to build distance between her and her own classmate. “Is this the Hospital Wing? Why are we here?”

“So,” Bora clears her throat. “Last night, I made a… how do you say… a big booboo.”

Hyunjin snorts. 

“That’s one way of putting it,” Hyejoo mutters.

“What kind of booboo?” Siyeon furrows her brow. “And why are Hyunjin and Hyejoo in bed? Are you guys hurt…?”

A hush descends upon the Hospital Wing, everyone in the room grasping the gravity of the discussion they’re about to have. Nobody seems willing to actually start the conversation though, so Hyejoo takes a deep breath and clings onto the edge of her blanket as if it was an anchor capable of mooring her down as she walks into the storm. 

Yoohyeon beats her to the punch. 

“Siyeon-unnie,” she calls out gently. “Before we get you caught up on what went down, just remember that it’s not your fault, okay? Nobody blames you for what happened last night.”

“What happened last night…” Siyeon echoes before she suddenly goes pale. “No. No. Oh god, please no.”

“Calm down,” Hyunjin says, voice firm in an attempt to get through to Siyeon. “Nobody was bitten or anything like that.”

“But–” Siyeon buries her face in her hands, still clearly distraught. “Please tell me I wasn’t the one who hurt you two. Please.”

“Unnie…” Hyejoo makes to get up and hug her sister, but Bora easily gets to her first. 

“Hey, look at me,” Bora says. She grabs Siyeon’s arms and tugs lightly, smiling when Siyeon relents. “Every single person in this room knows that if you had a choice, you would never harm those dear to you. Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that. Heck, even Minji without her glasses can see that.”

Yoohyeon makes a strangled sound that Hyejoo ignores in favor of watching her sister more closely. Siyeon still looks to be on the verge of tears, but none slip out as she stares at Bora. On the other hand, Bora continues to smile at her so patiently, so kindly that Hyejoo is forced to acknowledge that yes, Kim Bora likes Son Siyeon. 

It’s so obvious now, in retrospect. The way Bora likes to hover around Siyeon at times, the special attention she devotes to her… Hyejoo still doesn’t quite understand some of Siyeon’s reactions to Bora, but at least this is one mystery finally solved. 

Evidently, Hyejoo isn’t the only one to come to this realization. Chaewon keeps her face schooled in a neutral expression, but Hyejoo doesn’t miss her sidelong glance and the twitch of her lips. Meanwhile, Hyunjin seems to be waging an inner war between continuing to be angry and just bursting out into laughter. Yoohyeon is the most obvious, her jaw basically sitting on the ground in disbelief. 

“... You’re right,” Siyeon whispers at last, and Hyejoo feels all the tension seep out of her shoulders. “I would never willingly hurt them, any of them.”

“Exactly,” Bora nods before cringing. “And as your Slytherin pals have been reminding me…” She lets out a nervous chuckle. “Well, I was the one who screwed up. By showing up, actually. I screwed up by showing up.”

“What?” Siyeon blinks. 

“We took you out of the Shrieking Shack, like last time,” Yoohyeon explains. “And suddenly Bora-unnie was there and… yeah.”

“I’m fine!” Bora says quickly when Siyeon turns to her, alarmed. “Honestly, you probably had the worst of it. Sorry for hitting your pretty face with so many Stunning Spells.”

Hyejoo’s eye twitches again. 

“So why were you out there in the first place?” she asks roughly. 

“I wanted to help,” Bora confesses. She looks down at her hands. “You’ve been looking so stressed lately, Siyeon. Especially around the full moon. I thought maybe you were in charge of…  handling Hyejoo somehow. So I wanted to help. I didn’t know about all of this,” she finishes, gesturing at the rest of the group. 

“So you went outside of Hogwarts on a full moon knowing there was a werewolf on the loose?” Hyunjin scoffs. “Are all Gryffindors this crazy?”

“I hope not,” Bora jokes before returning to a serious frown. “But you know, I didn’t exactly think of it as ‘a werewolf’ out there. I thought of it as Hyejoo.” She looks up, meeting Hyejoo’s eyes. “I… heard about what you’ve been going through. I guess it’s even worse now that I know you’re not even an actual werewolf, but last night… I just wanted to find some way to help you. I– I didn’t know I would make things worse.”

“... Well, crap.” Hyunjin throws her arms in the air. “How am I supposed to stay mad at that?”

“Yeah,” Yoohyeon sighs. “Bora-unnie can be dumb, but she means well.”

“Hey!”

“Thank you,” Siyeon murmurs. “Thank you for caring about me, and thank you for caring about Hyejoo.”

“It's only natural to worry about a pair of cute girls, right?” Bora winks. 

“Ugh,” Chaewon gives a disgusted shudder. “Is she always like this?”

“I hope not,” Hyejoo grimaces. “Anyways, how did you figure everything out when a certain someone couldn’t?”

“Hey!” Bora protests again. 

Everyone ignores her. 

“Wait, Chaewon knows?” Siyeon gasps. 

“Oh yeah, you were asleep for that part,” Yoohyeon recalls. “Um, basically Hyejoo was a bit more hurt than she thought, right?”

“Yeah,” Hyejoo agrees quickly. “Chaewon found me in my wolf form and helped me. The end.”

“Pause!” Hyunjin orders. “Park Chaewon also went looking for a freakin’ wolf in the woods? Damn.”

“Oooh, you wanna transfer to Gryffindor?” Bora offers. “You sound like you’d be a perfect fit.”

“No thanks,” Chaewon says with an offended huff. “And for the record, I didn’t know that Hyejoo is a wolf. I know Hyunjin’s a cat, but–”

“You do!?” Hyunjin’s eyes look as though they’re about to pop out of her skull, and Hyejoo purses her lips to keep from bursting out into a cackle. “Merlin’s beard…”

“You’re not as subtle as you think, you know,” Chaewon shoots back with a smug smirk. “Did you really think you could keep pranking me in Transfiguration and get away with it?”

“Damn,” Hyunjin grumbles. “Wait, does Heejin know?”

“Hm, probably not. She’s in Gryffindor, after all,” Chaewon answers dismissively.

“Heeeey,” Bora whines.

“Um, can we get back on topic?” Siyeon asks. “Because I’m confused. Very confused. You say you didn’t know Hyejoo is a wolf but you found her as a wolf? And you know that she’s not a werewolf?”

“I wasn’t sure until I actually found her, but I guessed a while ago,” Chaewon says. She sounds calm, but Hyejoo notices how she starts to play with the hem of her robes. Hyejoo wants to reach over and maybe give her a reassuring pat or something, but it’s hard to do when all eyes are on the shorter Slytherin. “I don’t really know much about werewolves, but I always found it a little strange how Siyeon-unnie is the one who gets kind of…”

“Grouchy?” Yoohyeon supplies when Chaewon hesitates over her word choice.

“Yeah,” Chaewon bites her lip before continuing. “Siyeon-unnie gets grouchy around the full moon, but Hyejoo doesn’t. And I noticed that Hyunjin is never in the dorm during a full moon either, so I figured something was up.”

“Wow,” Yoohyeon comments, leaning over to nudge Hyunjin with her elbow. “And you say I’m bad at sneaking around.”

“Not my fault someone wakes up at the weirdest hours of the night,” Hyunjin argues as she shoves Yoohyeon away. “She’s been doing that since first year, and there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Chaewon sticks her tongue out.

“Maybe if you stopped snoring, I’d be able to sleep through the night.”

“I don’t snore.”

“Yes, you do!”

“You actually do sometimes,” Hyejoo pipes up. “I’ve heard you snore at least twice this past month alone.”

“Lies!” Hyunjin proclaims defiantly. “Deception! Disgrace!”

“Settle down, kiddos,” Bora calls out only to wither when three incensed Slytherins turn their attention back to her. “Never mind! Sorry!”

“Ahem,” Siyeon clears her throat. “So Chaewon, you figured out that Hyunjin is an animagus and leaves the dorm every full moon?”

“Yes,” Chaewon confirms. “And I don’t really see you around during the full moon either, so… It’s not too hard to guess that Yoohyeon-unnie is also involved somehow.”

“Hyejoo,” Yoohyeon whispers loudly behind Chaewon’s back. “You sure this girl isn’t supposed to be in Ravenclaw?”

“Either way,” Chaewon continues after side-eying Yoohyeon. “I figured this was your business so I didn’t say anything, but neither Hyunjin nor Hyejoo came back at dawn today, so I went looking for them.”

“And you found a big, bad wolf in the woods,” Hyunjin concludes. 

“A big, badly hurt wolf, yes.” Chaewon emphasizes with another glare at a certain Gryffindor.

“Thank you,” Siyeon says with sincere gratitude as Bora hides behind her. “I’m glad you were there to help her.”

“Me too,” Chaewon murmurs. She flashes a quick smile at Hyejoo, one that sends a warm tingle straight into her chest.

Hyejoo coughs into her hand.

“So what now?” she asks the group at large. “I mean nothing’s really changed, right? It’s just that Chaewon and Kim Bora know now.”

“Oh!” Yoohyeon claps several times in a sudden burst of excitement. “Should we make an oath of secrecy? Isn’t there some spell for that? Some unbreakable promise thing?”

“Yeah,” Siyeon confirms. “Except anyone who breaks that vow will die.”

“Okay, so I haven’t told anyone and I don’t plan to either,” Bora says. “But I’d really rather not, y’know, have the threat of death hanging over my head.”

“Same here,” Chaewon nods. “That spell sounds a little… extreme.”

“Don’t worry,” Hyejoo reassures her. “I’m pretty sure Yoohyeon-unnie is just being… Yoohyeon-unnie and not thinking things through.”

“Speaking of thinking things through,” Hyunjin cuts in. “I like how we all just talked about Siyeon-unnie getting loose and students sneaking out of Hogwarts right here in the Hospital Wing with Madam Lee’s office right there.”

Siyeon, Hyejoo, and Yoohyeon all freeze. 

“It’s okay,” Chaewon says with an amused smile. “I passed her on my way here. She’s at her lunch break right now.”

“And I cast Muffliato on this room earlier,” Bora grins. “No eavesdroppers allowed.”

“Huh…” Siyeon gives an amazed nod. “So you do know how to plan ahead and use that brain of yours.”

“Aw, c’mon, not you too!”

Bora’s spell turned out to be quite handy in the end. 

After making sure that Hyejoo’s wound had indeed healed and that Hyunjin’s leg was fine, everyone made their way out of the Hospital Wing just to run into a pile of people right outside the exit. Apparently, they were all leaning on each other for support, so as soon as Siyeon pushed open the door, they all came tumbling down like a tower of blocks. 

“Ow! Jung Jinsol, move your foot!” Jungeun screeches as she tries to detach herself from the mass of bodies. 

“Yeojinnie, since when did you get this big and heavy?” Haseul whines from the bottom of the pile. 

“Are you calling me fat!?” Yeojin yells as she jumps off of Jiwoo’s back, the Hufflepuff letting out a loud scream in response.

Out of the corner of her eye, Hyejoo sees Bora drag Siyeon away from the disaster unfolding before them. There’s no time to call her out, however, for a hand suddenly sticks out of the tangle of limbs to grab Chaewon’s foot. 

“Help,” Heejin wheezes, shoving Sooyoung’s face away from her. “Help me!”

“What are you all doing?” A worried Vivi comes rushing out from around a corner. “What happened…?”

“Hi, Vivi-unnie!” Yerim greets, somehow becoming the first to escape out of that heap of idiots with a hop and her usual sunny smile. “We heard that Siyeon-unnie and Hyunjin-unnie got beat up by Chaewon-unnie, so we came by to visit!”

“Wait, I got what by who?” Hyunjin asks before turning to Yoohyeon and hissing under her breath, “I thought you said you told people that I was the one who beat up Siyeon-unnie?”

“I did!” Yoohyeon insists. “I don’t know how Chaewon got involved.”

“Oh, about that…” Chaewon lets out a self-conscious laugh. “Um, so Kim Yerim might have caught me sneaking back inside our dorm? So yeah.”

“I still can’t believe the Son heir and Kim Taeyeon’s daughter got their butts kicked by a muggleborn,” Jinsol says while hoisting a protesting Jungeun to her feet. “That’s all Slytherin house has been talking about this entire morning.”

“What?” Hyunjin snorts derisively. “Do you guys really think this pipsqueak can beat a sixth year in a fight, let alone me?”

“We can test that right now,” Chaewon suggests in a dangerously casual tone, her eyes flashing at the insult to her height. 

“No, no fighting!” Yeojin shouts. “I came here to tell you guys that! No fighting! Not even if Siyeon-unnie tries to ban you from eating bread!”

“Why would she do that?” Hyejoo asks.

“I said if!”

“Hypotheticals aside, we’re all friends, right?” Haseul speaks up. “So talk out your problems next time, okay?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they do,” Yoohyeon grins, slinging her arms around both Hyunjin and Chaewon’s necks. “You hear that, kids? Fighting bad. Look at all the people you made worry.”

Hyunjin and Chaewon glance at each other, no doubt transmitting a silent message with their eyes. They both give a simultaneous nod before suddenly ducking and slipping out of Yoohyeon’s grasp.

Yoohyeon falls flat on her face.

The rest of the day is filled with joy and merriment, a suitable distraction to help Hyejoo put last night’s events out of her mind. The memory of a rabid, bloodthirsty wolf is never too far from the edge of her thoughts, lurking like a specter in the woods ready to latch onto her as soon as she lets down her guard. It’s easier to fight it off when she’s surrounded by her friends though, and so Hyejoo does her best to stay afloat in this sea of emotions by focusing on everyone else’s antics instead.

Everyone is in high spirits thanks to the oncoming break from schooling. Only Hyunjin seems unhappy, though that probably has to do with how their fellow students keep whispering about how she was “crushed by Park Chaewon before she could even utter a spell.” The tale gets taller and taller with each iteration, and at some point Sooyoung can barely stop laughing to recount a version of events where Chaewon turned Siyeon into a tap dancing ferret. 

The highlight of the day still has to be when Yeojin and Yerim corner Siyeon to lecture her. Hyejoo leaves her sister to her fate, content with watching as the two first years point their fingers at Siyeon while she sits there silently like an obedient dog being chastised. She plays the part well too, pouting in shame, though Hyejoo sees the entertained twinkle in her eyes. 

“Your friends are really nice people, you know,” Siyeon comments when she’s finally dismissed ten minutes and a whole seminar about “being a responsible unnie” later.

“And yours are weird,” Hyejoo says, easily catching sight of Bora and Minji peeking around a corner. 

Siyeon chuckles when she spots them as well, but she turns her attention back to Hyejoo.

“You know, I didn’t really get a chance to say this earlier, but… I’m sor–”

“Don’t,” Hyejoo interrupts firmly. She grabs Siyeon’s hand when her sister pulls back with a frown. “Don’t apologize, unnie. What happened wasn’t your fault.”

“But you were hurt because of me,” Siyeon argues. “I hurt you.”

“You didn’t mean to,” Hyejoo reasons. “And it was just a scratch. I’m fine now.”

“But–”

“Unnie. When I said I’d do anything to help you, I meant it. Even if I get hurt, that’s okay.”

Siyeon abruptly pulls Hyejoo into a hug.

“I’d do anything for you too, okay?” she whispers. “I’ll put my life on the line if I have to.”

Hyejoo smiles.

You already did, she thinks. 

“I know,” she says.

Chapter Text

Paints Mixed With Too Many Colors

Sometimes, just sometimes, Siyeon wonders how different things would have been if Hyejoo had been the one who was turned. It’s not as though she wishes this fate on her younger sister; on the contrary, if they were somehow forced to rewind back to that fateful, calamitous night, Siyeon would still push aside Hyejoo each and every single time.

Siyeon will never regret protecting Hyejoo. Ever. 

This is probably for the best anyways. For all her ponderings on alternate universes where things are flipped, Siyeon doubts she has the inner strength Hyejoo has shown time and time again. It wouldn’t surprise her if Hyejoo would have more self-control as a werewolf around the full moon, the younger Son often showing impressive willpower when it’s needed most. Meanwhile, Siyeon would and does balk at the idea of having to fight her sister. The thought of unwittingly harming Hyejoo a few nights ago continues to haunt Siyeon, and she doesn’t know what she would do in a different reality where she would have to be the one to consciously attack her sister. 

As cowardly as it is, in some ways, Siyeon is glad that she doesn’t have to make that choice. Of course, that twisted peace of mind doesn’t come alone. It’s accompanied by an old friend, guilt, and that all too familiar, bitter feeling sits inside of Siyeon like a stone weighing down her selfish, feeble heart. 

Perhaps a stone isn’t the most apt label for what lurks inside Siyeon’s chest. It’s more like a parasite, a living creature that has latched itself to Siyeon’s core, pulsing and beating at the same tempo as the organ that houses it. 

If only, if only, if only. 

“Mrow.”

An impatient meow cuts into Siyeon’s spiraling thoughts. She looks down at her lap where cat Hyunjin lays, the orange tabby staring up at her with doleful eyes. 

“Sorry,” Siyeon chuckles as she resumes giving her friend belly rubs. 

They’ve been at it for almost half an hour, Hyunjin claiming Siyeon’s lap as her territory as soon as the older Slytherin sat down next to the fireplace in their common room. Siyeon had been itching to go outside instead, but if there’s one thing the Son siblings have in common, it’s their dislike for the cold. It might have something to do with the fact that they both grew up within the dark walls of the Son manor, a building far from the rest of society, tucked away behind a shadowy forest as it sits in a desolate field. Winters there weren’t pleasant, Siyeon never quite shaking off the chill that crept into her bones at the onset of December. Not even magic was able to keep her truly warm, though a smaller Hyejoo sneaking into her bed at night for cuddles would help. 

Well, at least neither of them will be going back this winter break. 

Siyeon glances at the discarded letter she tossed aside a while ago. It’s rather short and succinct, her father’s words clipped and concise the way he tends to be when it comes to written correspondence or whenever he speaks to Hyejoo. He makes no mention of the younger Son, simply wishing Siyeon happy holidays before replying to Siyeon’s prior message indicating that she would be remaining at Hogwarts this year. 

I may miss you, he writes, but it’s for the best that you do not return for now. The imbeciles I’ve hired to secure our home are beyond incompetent, and I will not risk your safety over their stupidity. I will not let that occur a second time. 

Take care. 

Siyeon sighs. She quickly pats Hyunjin when the cat looks up at the sound, a few scratches behind the ear easily putting her at ease. Siyeon then flicks her father’s letter in the general direction of the fireplace, though she’s not surprised when it falls short of its target and lands on the ground. A quick swish of her wand sends it to its proper, fiery destination, and it soon dissipates into ashes. 

Hyunjin nudges Siyeon’s hand with her head. 

“Don’t worry,” Siyeon tells her. “He’s not mad or anything. I don’t think he even realizes I’m staying only because Hyejoo is.”

Is it possible for cats to roll their eyes? Because Siyeon is pretty sure Hyunjin just rolled her eyes. She understands the sentiment though, and she smiles as she continues with her friend’s free massage. 

Siyeon does owe Hyunjin, after all. 

Their session is interrupted when a fifth year student steps into the common room with a displeased expression. 

“Siyeon-unnie,” Handong calls out, clearly exasperated as she covers one of her ears. “Captain Bora is looking for you— Actually, she’s screaming for you. Has been for the past five minutes.”

Okay, Hyunjin definitely just rolled her eyes. 

“Sorry,” Siyeon apologizes on behalf of her classmate. She stands up, Hyunjin slinking into her robes. “I’ll go see what she wants.”

“Please do,” Handong suddenly smirks. “If seeing you doesn’t shut her up, I suggest kissing her.”

“What–”

Siyeon trips on her way out of their dormitory, and the purr she hears tells her that her gaff didn’t go unnoticed. Nevertheless, Siyeon proceeds onwards only to be assaulted by noise not even ten feet away from the Slytherin Dungeons. 

“I MISS YOU RIGHT NOW~ I WANT TO SEE YOU IN THIS MOMENT~”

“I’m here!” Siyeon yells down the corridor in an attempt to make the excessively loud singing stop. 

It does work for a few blissful seconds, and then a delighted shout disrupts that far too short-lived peace. 

“There you are!” Bora grins as she runs up to Siyeon. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“So I heard,” Siyeon says wryly. “I’m surprised nobody has come to hit you with a silencing spell yet.”

“Pssh, as if people don’t appreciate my top tier vocals,” Bora scoffs. “My voice is a blessing, second only to one.”

“And who would that be?”

“You, duh.”

Siyeon smiles at this flattery despite herself. 

“So what brings you here?” she asks.

“I just wanted to hang for a bit before break officially starts,” Bora says. “Gahyeon and I are going back home tomorrow. By the way…”

“Hm?”

Bora wiggles her eyebrows. 

“Is there something in your clothes, or are you just happy to see me?”

“I– What–”

Siyeon is saved from trying to answer by Hyunjin, her friend popping her head out to hiss at Bora.

“Hey, Hyuuunyou,” Bora corrects herself just in time for Kim Jennie to walk by with an eyebrow raised. “Ahem. Hey, kitty, kitty!”

Hyunjin hisses again. 

“Oh, c’mon,” Bora whines. “I brought you a friend! Look who I caught wandering around outside Gryffindor Tower.”

She reaches into her robes and fishes out a very, very, very unhappy puppy. 

“Tada!”

“Watch out for your fingers,” Siyeon warns mildly as Yoohyeon tries to turn her head to bite her abductor. Unlike the tiny Pomeranian that Bora can hold with just a single hand, Hyunjin is notably weightier and Siyeon takes care to not drop her friend as she cradles her in one arm while pushing Bora towards the Entrance Hall with the other. “Let’s go before Head Girl Bae or someone shows up.”

“You know, I still find it funny how you were the muffin following Minji around all along,” Bora whispers to Yoohyeon loudly.

Yoohyeon retaliates by barking as close to Bora’s ear as possible. 

“A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do,” Siyeon says before clearing her throat. “Um, you haven’t said anything to Minji, right?”

“Of course not,” Bora answers, immediately donning a more serious look on her face. “I know how important this is to you. And it’s not my secret to tell.”

“Even if she’s your best friend?” Siyeon frowns. She trusts Bora, but once again that feeling rears its ugly head, this time in the form of doubt and uncertainty. 

Guilt. It always comes back to the guilt. 

Laughter pulls Siyeon out of the rising tide. 

“Hey, I still haven’t told her it was you who accidentally turned her blonde that one time in our third year,” Bora grins. “If I can keep that a secret, I sure as hell can keep this a secret.”

Yoohyeon lets out a peculiar yelp, and Hyunjin rolls her eyes yet again. Luckily for the latter, salvation arrives in the form of Jeon Heejin. 

“Hi, Captain Bora! Hi, Siyeon-unnie!” the Gryffindor greets as politely as ever. “Sorry if this is a weird request, but… can I see that cat?”

“Huh?” Siyeon blinks. “Hyu– You mean this one?”

“Yeah,” Heejin gives an awkward smile. “I’ve been looking for a specific cat, and the one you’re holding kinda looks like her.”

“Um…” Siyeon glances at Bora, who looks equally clueless about how to proceed. “Here you go,” she decides quickly, holding Hyunjin out and away from her. “Be careful, she can be… feisty.”

“Meow.”

Whether that’s an agreement, a threat, words of praise, or commentary on the weather, Siyeon has no idea. She’s never been attuned to animal communication the way Hyunjin is, and so all she can do is quickly hand off the second year before she decides to pull out the claws. 

“Garfield!” Heejin exclaims. She beams as she holds Hyunjin up in the air. “It is you! I haven’t seen you in days! I was so worried, I thought you froze in the snow or something.”

“Meow.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Heejin coos. “I’m just glad you’re safe. And I’m glad I got to see you before I go home.”

Gryffindor’s Seeker proceeds to snuggle up to Hyunjin, burying her face in orange fur while speaking gibberish as pet owners have a tendency to do. She only stops to make bizarre, kissy faces at ‘Garfield’, though by far the most curious thing is how Hyunjin just sits there and accepts it all, even allowing Heejin to carry her away.

“You sure that’s Kim Hyunjin?” Bora leans closer to Siyeon to ask. “I bet if I did all that, she’d be attacking me.”

“Well, that’s because it’s you,” Siyeon points out. “She’s fine when I do it. I didn’t know she and Heejin were this close though.”

Bora gasps dramatically.

“Consorting with the enemy!”

“They’re classmates.”

“On opposing Quidditch teams!”

“Is Quidditch the only thing that’s ever on your mind?”

“Nope,” Bora denies before breaking out into a suspicious smirk. “There’s also you~”

Siyeon blinks before hastily punching Bora’s shoulder. 

“C– Cut it out,” she mumbles, her ears feeling strangely hot. “Why do I feel like you’re even flirtier than last year?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Bora snickers. “It’s hard to resist around you. Anyways…” She casually tosses Yoohyeon from one hand to the other. “Wanna go chill in the library?”

It’s Siyeon’s turn to gasp, and she makes sure to do it in the most scandalized way possible. 

“Do my ears deceive me? Kim Bora, asking to go to the library!?”

“Ha, nobody said I was going there to study,” Bora says smugly. “I just figured nobody would be there and we can just hang. You could teach me chess or something.”

Yoohyeon gives a derisive huff, and Bora doesn’t hesitate to bonk her on the nose. 

“Eh, why not?” Siyeon chuckles. “Just don’t scream whenever you get confused, okay?”

Contrary to her reputation, Bora is actually capable of being quiet when she needs to be. She’s also quite the attentive student, diligently listening to Siyeon’s explanations with an adorable frown of concentration. More than once, Siyeon catches herself observing Bora instead of focusing on the game as her friend takes her time in figuring out what to do. It’s no surprise when Yoohyeon escapes right under their noses, no doubt off to find Minji before the Gryffindor prefect also leaves for the upcoming holiday break. 

“Okay, why is the King so useless?” Bora complains after a while. “The Queen should be the most important piece.”

“I mean it would be hard to trap the King if he could travel all the way across the board,” Siyeon reasons. “I guess he’s weak because he’s so important.”

“Hmph. Yoohyeon— I mean Pawn to A5.”

“Wait, you can only move a pawn two spaces if it’s in its starting position,” Siyeon corrects. “And why is Yoohyeon the pawn? Tiny?”

“Yep,” Bora nods. “Pawn to A4 then. Hyunjin’s probably the Knight, huh?”

“Yeah, she sure likes jumping all over the place,” Siyeon agrees with a fond smile. “What’s Hyejoo then?”

“The Rook,” Bora says before lowering her voice despite the library being deserted as anticipated. “She might as well be a moving castle with how large she is.”

“You’re right,” Siyeon murmurs, hiding a shudder as she remembers the first time she saw Hyejoo’s animagus form. It had taken all her strength to fight the instinct to scream, and even nowadays Siyeon has to remind herself that this massive, black wolf is her own sister. 

“Park Chaewon is definitely the Bishop,” Bora continues, unaware of Siyeon’s inner musings. “I still feel like she’s going to come out of nowhere to hex me.”

“Hopefully she’ll cool down over winter break,” Siyeon jokes. She can hear Hyejoo and Hyunjin booing inside her head, so it’s a pleasant surprise when Bora laughs at the lame pun. 

That’s actually a great description for Bora, Siyeon thinks. Pleasant surprise… She certainly never anticipated being drawn to this loudmouth of a classmate, but it’s impossible to complain when Bora has lit up her life like fireworks illuminating a midsummer night. After all that has happened this past half year, Siyeon is beyond grateful to have another person at her side that helps her to just breathe.

Said person suddenly reaches across the table to pinch both of Siyeon’s cheeks.

“Cut it out,” Bora says sternly.

“Cuh wuh ow?” Siyeon manages to utter.

“You have on that… thinky frowny face,” Bora says before her expression softens. “You can talk to me, you know. Like I said, I won’t tell anyone about… that.”

“Issokay,” Siyeon says, voice muffled as Bora starts to squish her cheeks. “Really,” she insists when the Gryffindor looks unconvinced. “I’m fine.”

Bora’s brows furrow, and for a second it looks as though she’s about to continue pressing Siyeon on the matter. She scrutinizes Siyeon closely, and Siyeon starts to feel a little too warm around the collar under the intensity of Bora’s gaze. 

“Well,” Bora finally says. “You’re not wrong about that.”

“H– Huh?”

Bora winks.

“You’ve got fine written all over you.”


“I still can’t believe that Kim Bora likes my sister.”

“And I still can’t believe you thought Captain Bora was bullying her,” Chaewon snorts as she and Hyejoo make their way into the woods on the outskirts of Hogwarts castle. “Seriously, Son Hyejoo.”

“They act weird around each other, okay?” Hyejoo protests. She pushes a branch out of Chaewon’s way, though there definitely is the temptation to just let it swing and smack the shorter girl. “I once saw Bora-un… ugh. I once saw Kim Bora steal all of Siyeon-unnie’s books, and Siyeon-unnie just stood there.”

“You mean she was helping Siyeon-unnie hold her stuff,” Chaewon says dryly. “It’s a classic move, how come you don’t know this?”

“I do know,” Hyejoo argues. She tries not to stomp her way through the snow as she glances behind her to make sure Chaewon is keeping up. “But Siyeon-unnie just stood there. Like a statue. What was I supposed to think?”

“Maybe she was panicking?” Chaewon suggests. “Gay panicking.”

Hyejoo scoffs. 

“Gay panicking implies that Siyeon-unnie also has feelings for Kim Bora,” she says. “And that can’t be true.”

The footsteps behind her stop. 

Hyejoo turns around. 

“What’s wrong–” Hyejoo freezes upon seeing the most unimpressed eyebrow lift she’s seen in a long time. She can feel Chaewon judging her, and she gets the distinct notion that an unwanted revelation is about to hit her. 

“Son Hyejoo,” Chaewon says very patiently. “If it looks like a rainbow, talks like a rainbow, and acts like a rainbow, maybe it is a rainbow.”

“... Nah,” Hyejoo decides. She spins on her heels and walks deeper into the forest, away from the truth that Chaewon just unleashed. Denial isn’t exactly the most healthy coping mechanism out there, but it’s all Hyejoo has right now as she tries to put the thought of Siyeon and Bora together out of her mind. 

Ugh. 

She hears Chaewon giggle behind her, the second year fortunately not saying any more as she follows Hyejoo. The two lapse into a silence, the peaceful kind Hyejoo is used to when it comes to Chaewon. Suddenly reminded of their first real conversation all those weeks ago at the Wooden Bridge, Hyejoo smiles to herself as she looks over her shoulder at her friend once more. 

Hyejoo meets Chaewon’s eyes, and the older student smiles back before abruptly tripping over a rather large tree root. 

“Wah!”

“Hey, be careful,” Hyejoo calls out. She reaches out and grabs Chaewon’s hands to steady her, supporting her until she’s able to regain her balance. 

“Thanks,” Chaewon murmurs. “Hey, do all animagi have really warm hands? Or is it like a wolf thing?”

“Uh, I don’t think it’s either of those options.” Hyejoo scratches her cheek. “Maybe it’s a me thing?”

Chaewon tilts her head before she gives a single nod. 

“Maybe,” she says. “Anyways, your parents suck.”

Hyejoo snorts at this change of topic. 

“I don’t disagree, but what brought this on?”

“I was just thinking about how Hyunjin said it’s really hard to become an animagus,” Chaewon explains, a scowl gradually forming on her face. “She’s the type to do it just for fun, but… you were pushed into it, weren’t you?”

“... Yeah,” Hyejoo admits quietly. “A book claimed that animal companions are good for werewolves, so my parents told me to become one.”

“Even though Hyunjin and Yoohyeon-unnie could already transform into animals?”

“They’re small,” Hyejoo points out. “Not much they can do against a werewolf.”

“And what if your animagus form was just as small?” Chaewon asks, crossing her arms. 

Hyejoo shrugs. 

“My parents would probably tell me to try controlling Siyeon-unnie anyways,” she surmises. “Not that she can even be controlled in the first place.”

“... Like I said, they suck.”

Hyejoo was about to kick a random pebble in frustration at this topic, but she instead finds herself chuckling at Chaewon’s matter-of-fact, I-told-you-so tone. 

“I don’t regret it though,” Hyejoo says, slowing her pace to walk next to her friend. “I’m glad I’m an animagus. I can’t control Siyeon-unnie, but at least I can help.”

“I’d like to help too, but that’s what Captain Bora wanted to do, and look what happened,” Chaewon mutters. 

“Yeah, that was… a mess,” Hyejoo huffs at the memory. “By the way, are people still saying that you hexed Siyeon-unnie into the new year?”

“Not to my face, no,” Chaewon says, now pouting. “I feel like half the school is too scared to even talk to me.”

“Pfft, chickens. You’re like the second least scary person I’ve ever met next to Yerim,” Hyejoo teases with a smirk. Elbowing her friend for good measure, she hastily jumps aside when Chaewon immediately tries to shove her into the snow. 

“I might not have actually hexed Siyeon-unnie, but I sure can hex you,” Chaewon threatens. “Nobody will find your body out here.”

“Oh, I’m so scared– Okay, okay.” Hyejoo raises her hands in surrender when Chaewon gives her an absolutely peeved look. “Anyways, speaking of being out here, I think we’re far enough from Hogwarts now.”

Indeed, the pair are surrounded by trees as far as the eye can see, Hogwarts castle obscured by thick trunks and what foliage remains in spite of winter’s bite. Several branches sway as a breeze sweeps through the clearing they’ve stopped at, and tufts of snow fall to the ground like confetti. If Hyejoo concentrates hard enough, she can probably hear the distant chittering of birds enduring the cold season, but she focuses her attention on Chaewon instead.

“... You know, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” Chaewon says softly, her words leaving her mouth in a cloud of white. 

“We walked all this way in the stupid snow, and now you say that?”

“Well–”

“I’m kidding,” Hyejoo laughs. Heartened as always by Chaewon’s thoughtful concern, she says, “I’m fine with showing you. I want to show you.”

Chaewon slowly reaches her hand towards Hyejoo’s direction. She does nothing though, leaving it suspended in the air until she finally lowers it again. 

“If you’re sure…” she says. 

“I am,” Hyejoo states firmly. “Now, any last questions before I can’t talk?”

Chaewon frowns in contemplation.

“It doesn’t… hurt, does it?” she asks after a minute.

“Not at all,” Hyejoo answers easily. “It’s like… waving your arm, I guess? I think, and I do, and it happens. No pain.”

“Okay then,” Chaewon nods. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other. “Ready when you are.”

Hyejoo takes a single step forward.

“Boo,” she says.

And then she transforms.

To Chaewon’s credit, she doesn’t even flinch. She just stands there, steadfast and stalwart without a trace of fear as she looks directly into the eyes of a colossal predator. 

She extends a finger.

“Boop,” she says as she taps Hyejoo’s nose.

Hyejoo pushes her with her snout.

“Hey!” Chaewon’s protest turns into a stream of giggles as she hugs Hyejoo’s head to not fall over. She doesn’t let go when Hyejoo stops, and her embrace actually grows tighter when she begins speaking into Hyejoo’s fur. “I know I already said this before, but… you really are amazing, Son Hyejoo.”

Hyejoo closes her eyes.

“You’re so brave,” Chaewon whispers. “You’ve been through so much– you’re going through so much, and I hate how people aren’t able to see that.”

It’s okay, Hyejoo thinks. You see.

Eventually, Chaewon pulls away and takes a step back to regard Hyejoo’s wolf form in its entirety. She moves her head up and down several times, even walking circles around Hyejoo until she comes to a stop at her side.

“Now that I think about it, there’s something that’s been on my mind for quite some time,” Chaewon says in a surprisingly serious voice. “Hyejoo, what do you have to be so tall for?”

Hyejoo woofs and exposes her teeth in what would be a smirk were she human, but it probably doesn’t translate so well when Chaewon merely raises an eyebrow in response. 

“Wait,” Chaewon gasps out of the blue. “Is Siyeon-unnie also this big…?”

Hyejoo shakes her head and lifts one of her front paws to indicate werewolf Siyeon’s height. It’s a bit of an awkward maneuver, and Chaewon giggles as she grabs Hyejoo’s foot.

“You look like a big doggie asking for a handshake,” she comments. “But that’s pretty much what you are, isn’t it? A giant dog.”

Hyejoo growls.

“You don’t scare me,” Chaewon says smugly even as Hyejoo practically stands over her. “What was it you said? ‘You’re the second least scary person I’ve ever met next to Yerim.’”

This time, Hyejoo holds nothing back as she shoves Chaewon. As expected, the smaller girl is no match for the strength of a wolf, and she flops over into a pile of snow with a yelp of surprise. Hyejoo doesn’t relent, bounding over to Chaewon before encircling her friend with her body and effectively trapping her as she sits down on the ground.

“Mooove,” Chaewon whines, pushing uselessly at Hyejoo’s torso. “Move, you jumbo furball!”

Hyejoo ignores her.

Chaewon makes a couple more attempts to budge Hyejoo, all to no avail. Realizing the futility of her actions, she settles for cuddling against Hyejoo with a sigh of defeat.

“At least you’re warm,” Chaewon grumbles, her pout easy to hear.

Nah, Hyejoo says inside her head. You’re warmer.

Hyejoo sees Chaewon off the next morning in the Entrance Hall. There’s a horde of people congregating there, all awaiting the horseless carriages that will take them to the Hogwarts Express’ platform. Easily over half the student body is ready to leave, and Hyejoo can easily guess why. She doesn’t let it bother her though, and she entertains herself instead with the view of Yoohyeon stuttering and stumbling her way through her goodbye to Minji. 

Even Yoohyeon can’t top Jiwoo, who looks to be on the verge of passing out again when Sooyoung specifically goes up to her to bid her farewell. Her overly giddy smile is a sharp contrast to Jungeun’s scowl when Jinsol walks up to her, though Hyejoo doesn’t miss the suspicious redness on Jungeun’s cheeks as she allows Jinsol to give her a quick hug. 

Jiwoo and Jungeun soon leave with Chaewon, Hyejoo waving to the trio as they board their carriage. Yerim also joins them after finally peeling herself away from Yeojin.

“I’ll see you guys soon!” Yerim yells as she climbs aboard. “I’ll miss you!”

“Stay safe out there!” Yeojin shouts back. “No funny business!”

Hyejoo snorts, well aware of who’s the most likely to get into funny business between the three first years. Speaking of funny business, Hyejoo tries not to react when she sees Bora conversing with Siyeon not too far away. 

“I kinda wish I didn’t have to go home after… all that,” Bora says with a grimace. “But I already promised my parents and Gahyeon and all, so…” 

“It’s okay, I understand,” Siyeon nods, echoing a similar exchange Hyejoo had with Chaewon in which the second year lamented making prior arrangements with her own family over the winter break. “We’ll be fine here. It’s only two weeks.”

“Don’t miss me too much, okay?” Bora winks. 

Siyeon smiles gently. 

“I’ll try,” she says, and Hyejoo shudders. 

Ugh.

Chapter Text

From A to Z

Sometimes, Choi Yerim wishes she could fly. 

Scratch that, she constantly wishes she could fly. It was one of the first things she thought of when Headmistress Kwon had shown up at her front door and said, “You’re a witch, Miss Choi.”

“A witch?” Yerim stared in confusion, torn between wanting to laugh and wanting to run and call the police. “Like a person with green skin who rides on broomsticks?”

“We generally have perfectly normal skin color unless something... very unusual happens, which, well…” Headmistress Kwon clears her throat before smiling. “Yes to the broomsticks though, we like to fly on those.”

“Oh my god,” Yerim gasped. “I’m in!”

All doubts and suspicions about this Hogwarts place being some sort of kidnapping ring or an elaborate boarding school scam were tossed out the window when Headmistress Kwon waved her wand to summon a colony of bats right in the middle of the living room. Yerim’s parents were too shocked to complain about the sudden infestation of animals, and they were almost more excited than Yerim herself when Headmistress Kwon made the bats vanish with another flick. Ever the fans of their daughter’s happiness and growth, they were quick to agree to her admission into Hogwarts. That summer couldn’t pass quickly enough, but after weeks of impatient waiting, Yerim finally found herself at Platform Nine and Three Quarters, ready to take her first step in learning about the world of magic. 

Little did she know that broomstick riding would remain out of her reach. 

It’s been months and Yerim still can’t fly. Team members from literally all four Hogwarts houses have made attempts to teach her, all with very varied instructional styles and methods of motivation. Some focus on gentle praises and endless optimism (Jiwoo and Yoohyeon) while others forcefully use the volume of their voices as encouragement (Jungeun). Funnier still is those that have taken to mathematically analyzing the magic behind flying (Jinsol), a sharp contrast to the people just trying anything that comes to mind (Heejin, Hyunjin, Haseul, Sooyoung, and Chaewon). Nothing tops Yeojin and Hyejoo though, the first years having resorted to simply threatening Yerim’s broomsticks for not cooperating. 

And yet none of it works. 

Yerim is still unable to stay airborne and steady no matter what she does. Even with all this help, she always winds up spinning in some random direction on any axis (sometimes multiple) if she does successfully lift off the ground long enough. It gets more and more disappointing with each failure she faces, not that Yerim is going to admit that to any of her friends. They’re all working so hard for her sake, after all. 

Still, Yerim wishes she could fly. 

Then she could at least fly away from this moment in time.

“Dude, I’m telling you, it’s Yanny!”

“What the hell is a Yanny? It’s definitely Laurel!”

“Are your ears broken? How the hell are you hearing Laurel???”

“Hajoon says it’s Laurel!”

“And Hajoon came out of the same womb as you so he’s just as dumb as you!”

“Hey, I’m standing right here!”

Yerim swallows a sigh as a quartet of teenagers walking in front of her continue fighting as they have been for the entire afternoon. She supposes it’s not reallyfighting; it’s just the usual playful bickering shared by middle-school-turned-high-school friends. There’s something less fun about it when they’re fighting over an unfamiliar topic though, a feeling worsened by the fact that this current debate is only the latest in a long line of subjects Yerim isn’t privy to. 

It’s sad, Yerim thinks, how mere months can create a seemingly insurmountable wall. She saw her muggle friends prior to leaving for Hogwarts, and although she knew that there would be much to catch up on during winter break, Yerim never realized she had fallen so far behind. From the hottest schoolyard gossip to the latest fashion trends to the freshest internet memes, there’s just way too much that she doesn’t know about, way too much that she missed out on. 

Outsider. Yerim feels like an outsider. 

Considering how she’s a witch and all now, maybe she is. 

“Yerim!” Hearing her name jerks Yerim out of her musings. She looks up to see one of the girls ahead of her calling for her attention. “Hey, what do the people at your school say they hear? Yanny or Laurel?”

“Ah…” Yerim gives a wry smile. Bless Jian for still trying, even when it seems like the other three have already given up. She doesn’t blame them exactly, not when she can only answer with the same thing she’s said the past few hours: “No internet at my school, remember?”

Hajoon stops punching his twin sister’s stomach to squint at Yerim. 

“No internet, no computers… Seriously, what kind of school are you attending?”

“It’s a special boarding school,” Yerim explains, not for the first time. “They like to foster, uh, unique learning opportunities away from technology.”

“Uh huh…” says Hayoon, the elder twin. “Sounds like hell to me.”

“It’s not that bad, actually!” A few memories of sparks and explosions quickly flash inside Yerim’s mind, making it easier for her to pull up a grin as she says, “The things that I’m learning are really… enlightening. World-changing, even!”

Seoyun, Hajoon’s girlfriend, gives a derisive snort. 

“You almost sound like you joined some cult, Yerimmie.”

“Or,” Hajoon whispers loudly. “Maybe her parents really did send her to one of those special academies to… straighten her out.”

“Dude!” Hayoon elbows her brother roughly. 

“It was a joke!”

“It wasn’t funny!”

“Some things never change, huh?” Jian smiles as she slows down to walk next to Yerim. “Don’t mind Hajoon, you know how he is. Always talking before thinking.”

“Yeah, I met a few people like that at my new school,” Yerim chuckles. “They usually mean well though.”

She doesn’t miss the way Jian glances at her out of the corner of her eye. 

“Hajoon means well too, you know,” Jian says in a politely casual tone. “We were all super shocked when you suddenly said you were transferring. And then we didn’t hear from you for months.”

“Yeah, it’s like you vanished off the face of the earth!” Seoyun yells over her shoulder. “No tweets, no snaps, no nothing. Poof!”

Yerim’s hand drifts towards the cellphone in her pocket. A sad exhale escapes her at the memory of bringing it to Hogwarts despite being warned that it wouldn’t work. Perhaps some part of her had hoped Headmistress Kwon was mistaken or exaggerating, but alas, she was not, and the magic permeating the castle rendered her method of communicating with her friends absolutely useless. 

“Sorry,” Yerim half grins, half grimaces. “No WiFi and poor reception and all, so…”

“Damn, is your school some cabin in the woods?” Hajoon scoffs. “What do they teach you there, witchcraft?”

Yerim stumbles over a pebble on the pavement, but before she can properly stifle her surprised laugh, Hayoon cuts in first. 

“Wait, didn’t Mr. Jeong find some haunted cabin in the woods on one of his camping trips?” she asks, grabbing her brother by the elbow. 

“Oh, that’s right!” Seoyun gasps. “He said there was something painted on the door, right?”

The three proceed to delve into the details of the incident, the truth no doubt warped by their secondhand retelling. Yerim once again is forgotten, but she supposes it’s for the better. After all, the less she has to lie about Hogwarts, the better, right?

Jian, picking up on the shift in conversation, offers Yerim another kind smile. 

“Mr. Jeong’s camping adventures are a hot topic for us sophomores,” she explains. “He always comes back with some amazing tale, even if some are scary. Oh, and he’s our calculus teacher, by the way.”

“Yes,” Yerim nods. “You mentioned that already.”

Twice, she leaves unsaid. 

“Oh, I guess I did…” 

Jian turns away, scratching her cheek, and Yerim is spared having to deal with this awkward lull in their conversation when they finally reach their destination. 

“Not a lot of people riding the Zimzalabim today, huh?” Yerim comments. She squints up at the massive roller coaster, excitement filling her at the thought of being carried through the air in one of its carts. 

“Yes! No waiting!” Hajoon hoots as he rushes forward, dragging Seoyun with him. 

Contrary to his words, there are quite a few people waiting in line, but it clearly won’t be long before it’s their turn since a good number of passengers board the next round. Yerim and her friends shuffle forward as the roller coaster operator sends those strangers off, but as she counts the people remaining in the queue, Yerim notices a problem. 

“Huh, there’s only room for four of us in one car...” Hayoon points out. “Who wants to take one for the team?”

Yerim and her friends all glance at each other, nobody stepping forward. When the twins glance at each other and Seoyun takes Hajoon’s hand though, Yerim lets out the tiniest of sighs and reluctantly prepares to raise her hand. 

“Yerim? Choi Yerim? Is that you?”

“Oh my god, Yerim!? WHERE?”

“Jiwoo-unnie, you don’t have to scream...”

“Wait, Yerim is here? In this park of amusement?”

Yerim doesn’t have to look into a mirror to know that she’s smiling before she even turns around. She’s not sure if she’s ever fully appreciated how loud some of her newer friends are, but she’s definitely grateful for them now. She’s glad that they exist, glad that they’re here as she lifts her head to see none other than Kim Jungeun, Kim Jiwoo, Park Chaewon, and Jeon Heejin. 

“Hi, unnie!” Yerim greets, pleased surprise breaking across her face. “And unnie, and unnie, and– oof!”

She’s cut off by a tackle-hug courtesy of Jiwoo, her fellow Hufflepuff practically squeezing her to death with her arms. It’s hard to mind when Jiwoo is so warm though, and so Yerim does her best to return the embrace with what strength she has.

“Oh my gosh, Yerim!” Jiwoo exclaims right next to Yerim’s ear. “I didn’t expect to see you here!”

“I didn’t expect to see you guys either,” Yerim admits after pulling back a bit. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Jungeun looking strangely stone-faced for some reason, but before she can ask, someone else speaks up first.

“Um… Hellooo?” Hajoon calls out. 

“Ah, right!” Yerim pulls back to gesture at the two groups she’s standing in between. “So here’s Jian, Seoyun, Hayoon, and Hajoon, friends from my old school. They’re all sophomores. And this is Jiwoo-unnie, Jungeun-unnie, Chaewon-unnie, and Heejin-unnie from my new school.”

“‘Unnie’?” Hayoon repeats. “All older than us, huh? Are you guys juniors?”

Heejin opens her mouth, but a quick elbow from the blonde standing next to her silences the Gryffindor.

“Heejin and I are the juniors,” Chaewon says smoothly. “Jiwoo-unnie and Jungeun-unnie are seniors.”

“Whoa,” Seoyun gasps, her eyes widening. “Seniors… Are you two getting ready for university then?”

“Yes, we are!” Jiwoo answers with excessive enthusiasm. “University, yes! So fun! I can’t wait to go!”

“It’s going to be great,” Jungeun says through gritted teeth. “College. Fun.”

The contrast between the two third years is jarring with one looking like the angel of brightness she usually is while the other looks like a borderline zombie. The end result doesn’t sell the lie all that well, and Yerim can hear the muggle pack shuffling awkwardly behind her. 

Of course, Hajoon, with his lack of filter, has to open his mouth.

“Yo, Yerim, your new friends are kinda odd, huh?”

Jungeun squints. 

“What was that?”

“Oh, look, our ride is here!” Jian says quickly as a bunch of people stumble off the Zimzalabim in varying shades of green. “Let’s go, everyone!”

“Wait, who’s sitting out?” Hayoon asks. “There’s only room left for four.”

A hand grabs Yerim by the wrist. 

“Sit with us!” Jiwoo urges, tugging the first year towards the other witches. “Now that we’ve met up here, we have to go on at least one ride together.”

“But you’re already a group of four,” Yerim points out. “I don’t want to–”

“Don’t worry, Jungeun-unnie’s not going,” Chaewon interrupts. Her eyes flash before she adds, “I mean unless you don’t come…”

Jungeun latches onto Yerim’s other wrist. 

“Come,” she orders. “Please. I’m begging you.”

“O– Okay,” Yerim agrees hastily, not used to seeing the older student so… desperate. “See you guys later then?” she calls out to the rest of her friends. 

“Catch you in a bit! If Hajoon doesn’t die, that is,” Seoyun snickers. “Ten bucks on him passing out.”

“Make that twenty,” Hayoon smirks. 

“I’m right here!”

“We’ll wait for you after our ride,” Jian promises before boarding alongside everyone else. 

Yerim lets out a breath right as someone else does as well.

“Whew, can I talk now?” Heejin asks. “Now that the muggles are gone?”

“Yes, you may,” Chaewon says graciously. 

“Cool. So Yerim.” Heejin clears her throat with an air of seriousness. “Why did you call your friends more soft? They don’t seem soft at all to me.”

“Why did I let you come here?” Chaewon mumbles. “Okay, so, remember what I told you about muggle high schools?”

Yerim smiles. 

“It’s cute how Chaewon-unnie is always so nice to Heejin-unnie,” she comments to the “seniors”  as she watches the Slytherin lecture Heejin, who’s nodding along attentively. “Is she the one who invited Heejin-unnie here today?”

“Actually, it was Jungie’s idea,” Jiwoo says, patting her friend on the shoulder. “Jungeun mentioned roller coasters to Heejin during practice one day, and here we are!”

Yerim waits for a reply from Jungeun, but when none comes, she turns to see the older student staring into the distance, practically glaring at where her muggle friends had shot off into the sky. Jungeun’s brows are furrowed, and Yerim’s stomach drops in shame when she realizes why. 

“I’m sorry, unnie,” Yerim apologizes. “Please don’t mind what Hajoon said earlier, he… he’s…”

Yerim struggles to find her voice, searching for a way to explain his usual brash behavior without dismissing or excusing it. The words fail to come to her, however, and she’s left staring at her shoes sadly until something touches the top of her head. 

“It’s okay,” Jiwoo says, gently patting Yerim. “We are an odd bunch, aren’t we? Just look at those two.”

She uses her free hand to point at Heejin, who is now holding what is presumably Chaewon’s phone. She cradles it carefully like some long lost relic, letting out a yelp when the screen goes black. 

“I broke it!?”

“No, it’s fine, don’t worry– Heejin, don’t punch my phone!”

“I thought muggles recommend hitting malfunctioning technology?”

“Heejin. No.” 

“See? We’re surrounded by weirdos,” Jiwoo concludes happily. 

Yerim allows herself to relax a bit, a giggle escaping her at Jiwoo’s toothy grin.

“Still,” she insists. “I don’t want Jungeun-unnie to be mad.”

Jungeun’s frown somehow deepens. 

“Mad? I’m not mad.”

“You don’t look not-mad…” Yerim points out with a sheepish wince. “You look like you want to set the Zimzalabim on fire.”

“That’s because I do–”

“Ah, don’t mind Jungie,” Jiwoo says dismissively. “That’s just her I–want-to-kill-Jiwoo-and-Chaewon face. And her I-might-throw-up-any-second-now face.”

Yerim takes a step back.

“Umm…”

“Jungeun-unnie is scared of heights,” Chaewon explains as she tugs Heejin back to the rest of the group by her collar. Sol’s music plays from her phone, and Yerim is strongly reminded of children being babysat when she sees Heejin utterly engrossed by whatever video is being played. 

As ‘Hi High’ blasts into the air, Yerim blinks and turns back to Jungeun.

“Wait, unnie, you play Quidditch,” she says. “But you’re scared of heights?”

“Amazing, right?” Jiwoo claps. “She was somehow okay with flying during flying classes in our first year, so we tried out during second year, and tada! Keeper Kim Jungeun!”

“I had hoped that you had gotten over your acrophobia,” Chaewon says with a dramatic, disappointed sigh as she places her hand on Jungeun’s shoulder. “Alas, the Fly High Tower Drop has proven that wrong.”

“You little liar,” Jungeun hisses. “You just wanted to see me suffer.”

Chaewon bats her eyelashes.

“Maybe so~”

“Hold on a second,” Jungeun says to Yerim.

And then she lunges at Chaewon.

Yerim lets out her first full, proper laugh of the day when Jungeun tries to grab her target only to pause halfway and make a strange retching sound. Nothing comes out of her mouth, fortunately, but Chaewon’s panicked shriek rivals the high note that Heejin belts out as she continues watching her music video. Jiwoo also lets out a noisy yell (“Oh no! I should have recorded that!”), and the ensuing chaos lifts Yerim’s spirits the entire way onto their ‘ticket to hell’, as Jungeun dubbed the Zimzalabim. Even getting a mouthful of Heejin’s hair during the roller coaster ride itself can’t dampen Yerim’s cheer as she’s carried through the air, and Yerim’s heart is filled with exhilaration as she pretends that this is what flying on a broom is like.

Alas, all dreams must end, and Yerim’s euphoria fades when she returns to her original group of friends. They all wait politely enough while she bids farewell to her upperclassmen, Hajoon thankfully making no more dumb comments. 

“I’ll see you guys soon,” Yerim says with a wave. 

“See you back at Hog– Ow! School! See you back at school!” Heejin replies, rubbing her arm.

“Stay safe!” Jiwoo shouts. “Don’t die!”

And then they’re gone. 

The rest of the afternoon passes by quickly, Yerim eventually parting ways with everyone else  when it’s time to go home. She’s dropped off first, and a strange feeling rises inside her chest as she watches Jian’s mother drive away with the rest of her friends squabbling merrily in the backseats of her van. She shoves that emotion aside; she’ll be hanging out with Jian and Hayoon again in a few days. Whatever this funky feeling is, it’ll pass. 

It has to. 

And yet it only worsens as the night goes on. 

Yerim scrolls aimlessly through her abandoned social media feeds, her eyes hardly processing anything as she passes picture after picture, story after story of things she wasn’t a part of, things she wasn’t around for. She does catch glimpses of the newborn baby her favorite Biology teacher finally had, updates on the pool that her high school had promised to build for years, and news about random community ongoings, but it all retreats into the recesses of her mind as she tries not to think too hard about what else will change in the coming months while she’s away. 

Seriously, how did Yerim overlook leaving an entire world behind?

Before she can berate herself further, a tap on the window cuts into Yerim’s musings. She jumps in her chair and is about to reach for her Sol lightstick when she realizes that her visitor isn’t some creep that somehow climbed to the second floor. 

It’s an owl. 

The sleek, black bird of prey holds up one of its feet, where a rather thick envelope is attached. Yerim hastily opens her window to retrieve the package, stopping only to rub the owl’s head, and the owl gently nuzzles her hand in return. It gives a small hoot before flapping its wings and taking back off into the night sky, leaving Yerim with its delivery. 

Yerim opens the envelope. 

To the awesome, amazing, astonishing, astounding, awe-inspiring Choi Yerim, <— Yeojin used a thesaurus for this.

Son Hyejoo and Jo Yeojin would like to extend their greetings and hope you are having a wonderful winter vacation. <— Why is Hyejoo listed first??? <— It’s my turn to write so it’s my rules.

How is the muggle world doing? I hope they didn’t miss you too much because I miss you already. Hyejoo picks on me when you’re not here. Can’t wait for you to come back so she’ll stop. <— Slander. <— It’s my turn to write so my rules!!!

The rest of the letter continues just as haphazardly as its opening is with two conflicting writers dueling each other every single paragraph. Additional footnotes make it in, courtesy of Siyeon, Yoohyeon, Haseul, and Hyunjin, and every single handwritten word is like the tides of an ocean, taking away Yerim’s worries piece by piece. She giggles when she comes across what looks like a set of paw prints trekking across one of the pages, and she chuckles when she reaches the bulk of the letter: two entire essays on Who Is The Best Big Sis, Siyeon or Haseul. 

“Are you guys bored or something?” Yerim wonders out loud. She then shakes her head, smiling fondly as she continues reading on. 

Anyways, be careful out there. I don’t want to be stuck with only Yeojin for seven years, so you better come back to us in one piece. 

What Hyejoo said! No funny business! You promised! And don’t forget about us, okay? 

Impossible, Yerim thinks as she clutches the letter to her chest. There’s no way she’d forget two of her dearest friends. She might not have known them all that long, relatively speaking, but she gets the feeling that the three of them will remain close in the years to come. Regardless of if that’s a genuine prediction or just hopeful thinking, Yerim tucks that wish inside her heart as she looks outside the window. 

“I wonder what they’re up to right now...” she murmurs to the stars. They twinkle back at her, shining and bright but unaswering.

Yerim smiles all the same.

Whatever Yeojin and Hyejoo are doing, she’s sure they’ll be fine.


“Oh my god, Yeojin. Are you dead? Please don’t be dead.”

There’s no response. 

“Yeojin? Yeojin! Get the hell up!”

There’s still no response. 

Hyejoo curses under her breath before prodding her friend one more time with her shoe. As expected, Yeojin doesn’t move from her position on the floor. She remains face up and expressionless, and Hyejoo feels a cold sweat break out. 

How did a simple argument result in this?

Granted, the simple argument in question has been an ongoing debate ever since winter break began, but Hyejoo honestly didn’t expect to duel Yeojin after dinner when they resumed their squabble over who has the better sister. Sure, there might have been some pushing and shoving and name calling, but Hyejoo didn’t plan for wands to come out. And she certainly didn’t plan on maybe accidentally-except-kind-of-on-purpose hitting Yeojin with a curse that she had only learned the other day. 

“Crap,” Hyejoo mutters as she stares down at her unintended victim. She sucks in a breath, thinking of the one person who always comes to her rescue before nodding once with determination. “Oi, Yeojin. Stay put, okay? I’m gonna go get help. Don’t move.”

Yeojin’s body doesn’t answer. 

Hyejoo immediately dashes for the Slytherin dorms, abandoning Yeojin in a deserted corner of the Entrance Hall where hopefully nobody will stumble upon her. Fortunately, the Slytherin dungeon isn’t too far from where she was, and Hyejoo bursts into the sixth year bedrooms in just a matter of minutes. 

“Siyeon-unnie, help!” she yells. 

“Hyejoo!?”

Siyeon visibly starts from where she’s digging through her bedside cabinet. She’s holding a stack of notebooks in one hand and, strangely enough, a bunch of socks in the other, all of which she deposits onto her bed as soon as she sees her sister. 

“What’s wrong?” Siyeon asks, concern etched all over her face.

“It’s Yeojin, she– Whoa!” 

Hyejoo nearly kisses the carpet when she trips over a random cloak laying on the ground. As she kicks it off her foot with a grumble, she looks around to see various other garments scattered all over the place. 

“Sorry, that’s mine,” Siyeon says hastily, waving her wand. The cloak immediately leaps into the air before hopping into her wardrobe. Another flick sends the rest of her belongings back to where they belong, and Siyeon pulls up a weird, toothy smile before asking again, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Yeojin,” Hyejoo explains. She doesn’t miss the way Siyeon shuffles from foot to foot, but she files that suspicious behavior away for the sake of her current priority. “We were, uh, talking and uh… I might have cursed her? And I don’t know how to undo it.”

Siyeon’s smile turns into her usual, doting sister's smile. 

“What curse was it?” she asks as she follows Hyejoo back to the Entrance Hall.

Petrificus Totalus. Hyunjin taught me the other day.” Hyejoo scowls. “She didn’t tell me how to remove it.”

Siyeon suddenly stops walking, causing Hyejoo to do the same in front of her. 

“Hyejoo,” she calls out, her voice serious. “Are you sure that’s what you used?”

“Uh, yeah…?”

“Hyejoo. You can’t.”

“C– Can’t what?”

Siyeon places her hand on Hyejoo’s shoulder. The weight of it is heavy, and a sinking feeling takes root in Hyejoo’s stomach when Siyeon shakes her head sadly. 

“Hyejoo, I’m sorry, but… you can’t undo Petrificus Totalus.”

Hyejoo stares. 

Siyeon stares back. 

And then the corners of her lip twitch. 

Hyejoo punches her. 

“Unnie!” she whines as Siyeon doubles over either from the blow to her shoulder or from her laughter. Hyejoo pretends it’s the former. “That’s not funny! I almost believed you for a second.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Siyeon chuckles as they resume their rescue of a certain immobilized first year. “You should have seen your face! Too good.”

“You suck,” Hyejoo mutters, elbowing Siyeon one more time for good measure. “... It can be fixed though, right? Like Yeojin won’t be stuck like this forever?”

“Nah, she’ll be fine in a minute.”

“Good,” Hyejoo says. “I don’t want Haseul-unnie to kill me.”

“Son Hyejoo, you are so stupid!” are the first words out of Yeojin’s mouth as soon as she’s freed from the Full Body-Bind Curse. She jumps to her feet, dusting off her sweater before mimicking her assailant’s voice. “‘Stay put, don’t move.’ No duh! I couldn’t move, you dummy!”

“I panicked, okay?” Hyejoo retorts, all concepts of apologizing thrown out the window as she defends herself. “I didn’t want to go get help and find out that you had been kidnapped or something.”

“And what was I supposed to do if someone really tried to kidnap me? I couldn’t move,” Yeojin points out with a glare. “Seriously, Son Hyejoo…”

Hyejoo pouts and glances at Siyeon, who gives her a meaningful look. 

Hyejoo sighs.

“Sorry,” she finally says after a pause. “I shouldn’t have done that. My bad.”

“Hmph.” Yeojin sticks out her tongue before turning to the elder Son. “Thanks for the help, unnie.”

“No problem,” Siyeon replies. She pats both first years on the head, deliberately making a mess of Hyejoo’s hair until her sister swats her away. “No more cursing each other, okay? Or else no sleepover in our common room tonight.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Hyejoo says dismissively. She’s not fussed by the threat, knowing how easy it would be to veto Siyeon’s ban with Yoohyeon and Hyunjin on her side. She probably wouldn’t even need their help; a bit of pleading and puppy eyes is usually all it takes to make Siyeon give in. 

Haseul, on the other hand, seems a bit stricter judging from the way Yeojin breaks into a frown. 

“Did I clean my room yet today?” she wonders aloud. “Haseul-unnie said I can’t go until I do…”

“Wait, speaking of rooms, what happened to yours?” Hyejoo asks, turning to Siyeon. “Why did it look like Hyunjin raided the place?”

“Ah, that’s… I’m just looking for something I misplaced,” Siyeon says with a casual shrug. “That’s all.”

“Oh, oh!” Yeojin bounces on the balls of her feet and raises her hand. “Let me help!”

“Me too,” Hyejoo chimes in. “It’s the least we can do–”

“No!” Siyeon suddenly shouts, shocking both first years into silence. She’s quick to pull on a poker face, and she coughs conspicuously before saying, “I got this, don’t worry! You guys don’t need to help.”

“We want to help though,” Yeojin insists earnestly.

“Yeah, we want to help,” Hyejoo echoes as she takes a step forward. “What are you even looking for?”

“N– Nothing! I mean something,” Siyeon corrects herself. “It’s something very important and, uh… dangerous! It’s very dangerous, so it’s best if kids like you stay away.”

“Dangerous, you say?” Yeojin’s eyes light up, and Hyejoo can’t help but think that the Sorting Hat was a little too accurate with her placement. 

“Super dangerous,” Siyeon nods emphatically as if she really thinks this will dissuade anyone. “So dangerous you won’t even believe it.”

Yeojin and Hyejoo glance at each other.

“Good luck finding it, unnie,” Hyejoo says. “Just don’t make a mess of the dorms, okay?”

“I promise to pick up after myself,” Siyeon vows, and she vanishes with a salute.

Yeojin waits until the sixth year is out of view before sliding next to Hyejoo.

“So,” she says, deepening her voice for dramatic effect. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I’m thinking what you’re thinking,” Hyejoo confirms. 

Hyejoo cracks her knuckles one by one, the sound traveling through the deserted Entrance Hall. Although Yeojin tries to follow suit, all she manages to do is make a face while pushing at her fingers uselessly, and in the end, she settles for pouting before the duo begin their search for Siyeon’s Very Dangerous Object.

They start by retracing Siyeon’s steps and returning to the Great Hall where they just had dinner. The place is empty save for two of their professors arguing over some crossword puzzle at the head table, and both Yeojin and Hyejoo quickly give up when neither want to bother scouring such a large room for an unknown item. Nothing stands out there, so they proceed up another floor towards the Transfiguration classroom, where they had to rescue Hyunjin from earlier. To Hyejoo’s amusement, Professor Kim is still in the area, and she calls out to Hyejoo and Yeojin as soon as she sees them.

“Have either of you seen my daughter?” she asks as she holds a ridiculously bright, yellow Christmas-themed sweater in one hand. It’s not visually appealing in the least, and Hyejoo actually feels a pang of pity for the orange cat peeking out from next to a suit of armor some ways behind Professor Kim. Said cat shakes its head furiously in a very human-like manner, and Hyejoo takes mercy on her friend in the name of holiday generosity.

“I haven’t seen her in a while,” Hyejoo lies. “She might have gone to the Owlery with Haseul-unnie? I think she was writing a letter to, uh… Jeon Heejin.”

“Ah, this girl…” 

Professor Kim sighs and turns away. Her new direction happens to be the direction Hyunjin is, and Hyejoo has to suppress a snort when Hyunjin’s eyes widen comically, her fur standing up in alarm. Fortunately, her reflexes are quick, and she stealthily clambers up the suit of armor, pushes open its visor with a paw, and dives inside the helm to hide.

Leaving Hyunjin to her fate, Hyejoo follows Yeojin to their next destination, the library. The place is darker than normal, its usual lighting dimmed due to the lack of visitors during this break in schooling, but a familiar voice greets Hyejoo’s eardrums before she makes it all that far inside. 

“Let me in! Let me iiiinnn!”

“Nope.”

“Pretty please with a cherry on top?”

“Nope.”

“What if I pay you? My friends are rich!”

“Yoohyeon-unnie!” Hyejoo shouts sternly into the rows of books. “That better not be my money you’re offering to someone else!”

“Ahaha…”

Hyejoo and Yeojin round the corner just in time to see Yoohyeon sheepishly walking away from the Restricted Section of the library. She doesn’t seem to have much choice, considering how she’s almost being hoisted by her collar like a puppy being picked up by its scruff. The whole image is made funnier by the fact that the person kicking Yoohyeon out is shorter than her. 

“I have rich friends of my own, thanks,” says the library assistant, Lee Yubin as Hyejoo recalls. “Nice try though, I considered it for a second.”

“Aww.” Yoohyeon frowns petulantly before immediately perking up again with another idea. “What if I did your homework for you?”

“Nooope,” Yubin smirks. “I actually enjoy my homework.”

“How about as a personal favor then?” Yoohyeon pleads. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“We’re classmates.”

“Ouch,” Yeojin whispers to Hyejoo. “That’s gotta sting.”

“Indeed, Classmate Jo,” Hyejoo says solemnly. 

Yeojin elbows her. 

Yubin chuckles at the sight until she reaches up to flick Yoohyeon’s forehead. It’s a friendlier act than Hyejoo expected, and it takes the bite out of her previous denial. 

“Sorry, but I can’t bend the rules for you,” Yubin says to her fellow fourth year. “No Restricted Section access without staff permission.”

“... Fine,” Yoohyeon surrenders at last with a sigh. “Maybe I can go ask Professor Kim, like if Hyunjin is technically kind of sort of basically my sister…”

“Good luck,” Yubin says. She then turns to Hyejoo with a sharp gaze. “You’re Son Hyejoo, right?”

“Uh, yes," Hyejoo nods, standing up straighter from the sudden attention. 

Yubin pulls out an envelope from her pocket and holds it out.

“Your sister left this here earlier,” she explains. “Mind bringing it back to her?”

“Oh!” Yeojin gasps, her hands flying to her mouth. “Maybe this is what she was looking for!”

“Tch, ‘super dangerous’ my butt,” Hyejoo scoffs.

She takes the envelope, and to her surprise it’s a somewhat old one. Its surface is a bit creased here and there unlike fresh parchment, and its seal has already lost any adhesion it once had. Hyejoo is about to flip it over to see what names are listed as the sender and recipient when a terrible cry tears into the air. 

“NOOOO!” Siyeon screeches as she barrels into the library. She bumps her hip against a chair in her rush to reach Hyejoo, and the younger Son winces in sympathy even as she tries to back away. Alas, Siyeon is smarter than that, not to mention desperate, and so she pulls out her wand and points it at Hyejoo. “Accio!”

“Noooo!” 

It’s Hyejoo’s turn to let out a whine of despair as the envelope is magically torn out of her hands. She barely catches the name Son Siyeonwritten on the center of it before it flies out of her line of sight, Siyeon snatching it out of the air and tucking it away. 

“That’s mine,” Siyeon pants, probably having sprinted to the library. Her eyes flick over to Yubin. “Thanks for finding it for me.”

Yubin nods, her smirk back on her face. 

“No problem–”

“Wait!” Yeojin interrupts. “Was that really what you were looking for this whole time, unnie?”

“Um– Uh– Ah–” Siyeon sputters like a fish for a few seconds. “Maybe?”

This time, Yoohyeon is the one to let out a gasp. 

“Oooooh,” she says excitedly. “Is that a love letter, unnie? Are you finally going to confess to someone?"

“No, unnie’s the recipient,” Hyejoo interjects, the gears in her head spinning faster and faster. “Someone gave that to her.”

Yeojin gasps again before looking up at Yubin. 

“Library-unnie! Did you see whose name was on it?”

“I did,” Yubin confirms, and her smirk widens as she glances at Siyeon, who’s growing paler by the second. “I can’t say anything though. Client privacy and all.”

“What if I pay you?” Yoohyeon suggests again. “Like I said, my friends are rich!”

Yubin pretends to consider the offer, placing a finger on her chin.

“Let me think about it… Nope.”

Siyeon clears her throat before Yoohyeon and Yeojin can start pouting again. 

“I gotta go,” she says loudly, and without waiting for a reply, she vanishes.

“Boo,” Yoohyeon grumbles, her lips turned down and her arms crossed in defeat.

“Boo,” Yeojin agrees, mirroring Yoohyeon’s pose. This only serves to highlight the height difference between the two, and Hyejoo resists the urge to snicker. Yubin is clearly doing the same as well, the Ravenclaw’s eyes narrowed in amusement. 

“It’s probably not that hard to guess who it is,” Yubin says, throwing the group a bone. “I wasn’t surprised when I saw their name.”

A gear clicks into place. 

“Ah, crap,” Hyejoo groans as she slaps her hand over her face. “It’s her, isn’t it?”

“Who?” Yeojin and Yoohyeon chorus like a pair of owls. 

“Her,” Hyejoo repeats. “That person. She who must not be named.”

“Oh!” Yoohyeon exclaims, snapping her fingers. “Her!”

Who?” Yeojin asks again. Yoohyeon leans down to whisper in her ear, and the young Gryffindor nearly headbutts Yoohyeon when she jumps in realization. “Oh, her!”

“Yes, her,” Hyejoo growls before sighing. “Why is it always her?”

“Oh c’mon, she’s not that bad,” Yeojin insists. 

“That’s what you think.”

Somewhere far, far away, Kim Bora sneezes.

Chapter Text

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. 

Useless. 

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.”

Hyejoo groans. 

“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!”

“Okay, sheesh…”

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.”

Hyunjin blinks. 

“What–”

“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?”

“Uh…”

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. 

Everyone freezes. 

“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.”

“H– Huh?” 

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. 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA–”

“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. 

“Um…” 

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. 

“Make me!”

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.”

Hyejoo squints.

“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.”

“Hmph!”

“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.


Picture Perfect

“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. 

“Of course.”

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. 

“No, actual–”

“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.”

“Bora, wait–”

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. 

“UNNIE!”

“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…”

Minji shrugs. 

“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.

Chapter Text

Far Side of the Moon

“Hey, do you think Hyunjin will like the gift I got her?”

Chaewon glances up from her dead Nintendo Switch to look over at her fellow second year. 

“Why wouldn’t she?” she asks, her body swaying to the motion of the carriage carrying them back to Hogwarts castle. 

Heejin fiddles with her fingers in her seat next to Chaewon. The Gryffindor seems uncharacteristically unsure of herself with a slight downturn to her lips, and she stares out the window in thought before turning back to Chaewon.

“I don’t… get Hyunjin sometimes,” Heejin admits. “We’ve known each other for over a year now, but I don’t really feel like I know her, you know? Like I just realized I don’t even know her favorite color.”

“You don’t need to know her favorite color to know her though,” Chaewon points out. “You don’t know mine, do you?”

“Didn’t you tell Hyejoo it was lavender before we went on break?”

“... Anyways,” Chaewon continues. “Point is, Hyunjin talks to you. Hangs out with you. That’s better than ninety-nine percent of the student body. That has to count for something.”

“I suppose you’re right. It’s just…” Heejin sighs and casts her gaze back out to the trees passing by. “I’m just not sure how she’s going to react.”

“Isn’t that part of the fun? Besides, if she doesn’t like it, we can get you a refund,” Chaewon shrugs. “Or you can give it to Jiwoo-unnie, I’m sure she’d love it.”

On the other side of the carriage, the person in question sneezes. She doesn’t stir from her sleep though; Jiwoo’s head remains firmly tucked between a dozing Jungeun’s head and shoulder, and Yerim snoozes quietly while hugging Jungeun’s other arm. The three of them must have gotten too into their debate about unidentified Every Flavored Beans flavors during the Hogwarts Express ride earlier, and the gentle rocking of this horseless carriage subsequently knocked the trio out. 

Peace and quiet, Chaewon nods to herself before turning back to Heejin. 

“Why are you so worried all of a sudden?” she asks.

Heejin frowns. 

“I dunno, I just… really want to cheer her up, I guess? She seems kinda preoccupied this year, probably because of the whole…” Heejin gestures in the air. “You know, the whole Hyejoo thing.”

“Mhm,” Chaewon hums in agreement. Her mind briefly wanders to a memory of a black wolf standing alone in the snow until she diverts her train of thought back to Heejin’s concern. “So now you’re worried she won’t be happy about your gift?”

“It seemed a good idea at the time, but… argh,” Heejin groans before sinking into the plush seat of the carriage. “I don’t get Hyunjin. I don’t know what she likes.”

“It’s the thought that counts,” Chaewon says wisely, patting Heejin’s shoulder. “She’ll appreciate it. She’d better, like you spent a whole evening on E-buy picking one.”

“I still can’t believe there’s entire store catalogues on the World Wide Web!” Heejin exclaims, her usual spirit finally coming back. “I wish I had the money to purchase all of those muggle things.”

“Don’t we all,” Chaewon chuckles. “Hey, since Professor Kim is like super famous, does that mean Hyunjin is super rich…?”

“Hm, maybe… So both our Potions partners are loaded, huh?”

Chaewon and Heejin (and their slumbering friends) arrive at Hogwarts before they manage to really delve into the mystery of Kim Hyunjin’s finances. In a turn of events from last week’s visit to ReveLand, Heejin is the one explaining things this time, and she’s only just started detailing Professor Kim’s long list of magical achievements when their carriage comes to a halt.

Chaewon nudges Jiwoo’s shin with her foot. 

“Oh!” Jiwoo gasps, bolting upright. “We’re here! Jungie, get up!”

“I’m up, I’m up,” Jungeun groans. She rubs her neck with a wince, no doubt sore from how Jiwoo’s sudden awakening pushed her head from one direction to the other. Jungeun doesn’t complain though, and instead she gently shakes Yerim until she wakes. 

The young first year is the last one out of the carriage. Chaewon watches with amusement as Yerim disembarks rather slowly, her eyes wide as she stares up at the massive castle before them. 

“Still not used to all this?” Chaewon asks. 

“Yeah,” Yerim breathes out before giving a small smile. “Something like that. It feels like a dream, being here. Or maybe this is reality and I’m finally waking up…?”

“Hm…”

Chaewon purses her lips in contemplation at the two possibilities. Although she’s never thought of it in those exact terms, Chaewon is no stranger to the feeling Yerim is trying to describe. It’s something she’s discussed with her cousin before, how jarring the juxtaposition is between a world surrounded by technology and one enveloped by magic, and now that she’s in her second year at Hogwarts, Chaewon wonders how far the latter has gone in terms of replacing the former as ‘reality’ for her. 

Out of the blue, someone bumps into Yerim rather roughly. The force of this stranger’s actions sends Yerim stumbling into Chaewon, snapping the Slytherin out of her musings, and she looks over with narrowed eyes until she realizes who it is. 

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” Ha Sooyoung apologizes. “I didn’t see you two there. Are you guys okay?”

“We’re good!” Yerim reports. “Are you okay, unnie?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Sooyoung answers with a reassuring grin. Her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes, however, and she seems to be in a bit of a hurry as she quickly says, “I’ll see you guys around!” before rushing into Hogwarts. 

Chaewon blinks.

“Okay then…” she says slowly. She glances around to see what Sooyoung had been running from, but the only thing she sees nearby is a small flock of Ravenclaws milling about and chatting with each other. There’s nothing particularly suspicious about that, so Chaewon shrugs and turns back to Yerim. “Wanna go inside before we get run over by someone else?”

“Let’s go,” Yerim nods firmly. “I can’t wait to see Hyejoo and Yeojin and everyone else again!”

Unfortunately, not everyone is present in the Entrance Hall to welcome their fellow students back from winter break. 

Try as she might, Chaewon can’t find the one specific face she’s looking for. She even stands on her tiptoes to try to see past all the people gathered, but a part of her knows it’s a moot point with how crowded and clamorous the Entrance Hall already is. Still more bodies continue to pile in as more and more carriages arrive with their passengers, and Chaewon doesn’t blame anyone opting to avoid this horde. Swallowing her disappointment, she glances around to see if there are any other friends she’d like to greet.

In contrast, Heejin’s despondency is clear to see as she continues to search for Hyunjin. Even from afar, Chaewon can see Heejin’s frown, though it quickly gives way to a more pleasant expression when several of their other classmates call for her attention. They surround Heejin, and it’s not too hard to guess what she’s talking about when she begins gesturing animatedly while moving her hand up and down in a wavy pattern. 

“What are you staring at?”

“Wah!”

Chaewon nearly drops her bag on her toes from the sudden voice coming from her right. She fumbles with the straps, grasping at them, but for some reason she doesn’t feel as annoyed as she’d expect when she hears a familiar snicker. 

“Some things never change, huh?” Son Hyejoo smirks as she steps in front of Chaewon. 

“It’s only been two weeks,” Chaewon points out, pretending to be peeved. That act doesn’t last long, and she soon switches to a more coy tone while batting her eyelashes. “Did you miss me?”

“Nope.”

Chaewon punches Hyejoo. 

Hyejoo lets out another, heartier laugh at the ineffective action. Chaewon momentarily considers hitting her a little harder, but then her friend’s expression softens. 

“Welcome back,” Hyejoo says gently. 

Chaewon smiles. 

“I’m back.”

“Did you have a good winter break?” Hyejoo asks.

“It was pretty fun! Got to see my favorite aunt and uncle—Jiwoo-unnie’s parents—and we even smuggled Heejin into ReveLand with Jungeun-unnie’s help,” Chaewon recounts with a grin.

“Smuggled Heejin where?” Hyejoo asks, looking mildly concerned. 

“ReveLand, it’s an amusement park,” Chaewon explains. 

“What’s so amusing about parks…?”

“They’re… You know what? Never mind,” Chaewon sighs when Hyejoo just stares at her with innocently confused eyes. “Speaking of Heejin though, is Hyunjin around? Heejin bought her a muggle gift.”

Chaewon giggles when she hears Hyejoo give a muttered ‘uh oh’. 

“She should be around here somewhere,” Hyejoo says at her normal volume before grimacing. “Honestly, we planned on just hiding out for a few hours, but Yoohyeon-unnie insisted that we get out here and, ugh, socialize.” She pauses to scowl. “I think she just wanted to see Kim Minji.”

Chaewon turns her head to look, and sure enough, there’s a swarm of people gathered around Prefect Minji. The Gryffindor stands out thanks to her height, and Chaewon silently commends her for having the patience to kindly speak to each and every person seeking her attention. Chaewon doesn’t spot Yoohyeon amongst those fangirls just yet, but her search is cut short anyway when she catches sight of a certain pair of people. 

“Oh, look! Heejin’s giving Hyunjin her gift!” Chaewon exclaims, excitedly tugging on Hyejoo’s sleeve with one hand and pointing with the other. Hyejoo turns to look right away, and Chaewon’s hand drifts down to grip Hyejoo’s fingers instead. 

Although she can’t hear what’s being said, Chaewon is relieved to see that none of Heejin’s prior apprehension is present when she reaches into her bag and pulls out an object. It’s an elaborately wrapped box, and the magical candles illuminating the Entrance Hall play their part in letting glitter covered gold shine. The silver ribbon holding the box shut is no less beautiful, like stardust woven into fabric, and Chaewon almost envies Hyunjin for a second. There’s no uncertainty in Heejin’s actions as she unties the ribbon with a careful hand, and she actually seems a bit proud of herself as she hands over her gift with a flourish. 

“What the…” Hyejoo squints. “Is that… a headband with cat ears…?”

“Yep,” Chaewon confirms while biting back a laugh. “Heejin insisted on getting Hyunjin one because ‘it fits her’ and because it’s ‘culturally significant.’”

“Muggle culture is so weird,” Hyejoo says, and she almost sounds kind of impressed.

“I think it’s just Heejin.” Chaewon shakes her head. “She spent forever picking the perfect one when I’m pretty sure most of them look exactly the same. Kept asking me to choose between three ‘different’ shades of black.”

“Well, at least Hyunjin’s happy about it,” Hyejoo snorts. 

Indeed, Hyunjin’s eyes have lit up despite her face remaining relatively neutral. It’s not unlike a cat finding a new toy to play with, and it’s extra fitting considering how Hyunjin immediately dons the headband. She raises one hand with her wrist bent, and Chaewon very clearly sees her mouth the word ‘Aeong’. 

Hyejoo immediately turns away.

“I don’t know her,” she says loudly. 

Chaewon is inclined to agree when Hyunjin mimes rubbing her face with her ‘paw’. She even bats at her fake ears in a rather feline way, leaving Chaewon to wonder why it took her so long to realize that her dormmate was the orange cat she saw half the time. When Hyunjin goes ‘aeong’ again and Heejin lets out an audible squeal of delight, Chaewon promptly decides to join in on disowning their friend with a casual “Kim Hyunjin who?”

The sound of amusement Hyejoo makes and the way the left side of her mouth quirks upwards fills Chaewon with a satisfaction she didn’t know she was missing. It’s comforting, the familiarity of Hyejoo’s smile, and Chaewon is glad that their time apart, even if relatively brief, felt like hardly any time at all. 

“You know what? You’re right,” Chaewon finds herself saying out of the blue. 

“Hm?”

“Some things never change.”

Hyejoo’s smile widens at this, and Chaewon pretends her friend knows exactly what she’s referring to with her words. It’s probably not too far-fetched an idea considering how Hyejoo takes a sudden step closer. 

“Chaewon,” she calls out.

“Yeah?”

“I’m suing you if that’s all Hyunjin says for the next few days.”

“... Hey!”

Unfortunately, Hyejoo’s prediction comes true, and Hyunjin proceeds to communicate strictly in  aeongs for the entirety of their first day back in class. By the afternoon, even Heejin has run out of patience and admits that she should have reconsidered her choice of gift. Meanwhile, Chaewon has to fight the temptation to just steal the headband and stash it away somewhere, maybe in a fireplace. 

Hyejoo’s first reaction upon walking into Potions is to cackle. The sight of Hyunjin wearing her headband proudly while her friends look like their souls have departed isn’t as funny when you’re one of said friends, and Chaewon says as much to her partner to prepare her for the upcoming hour. 

“Pssh, Hyunjin’s not that bad,” Hyejoo scoffs. “Besides, Heejin’s the one who has to deal with her.”

“I warned you,” Chaewon says while scooting as far away as possible from the other table. 

That winds up being the right choice not only for the sake of her sanity, but also for when Hyejoo finally snaps and flings a porcupine quill across the aisle halfway into the lesson. Hyunjin’s reflexes are fast, however, and poor Heejin is the one to get poked while Hyunjin dodges and launches another quill in retaliation. Chaewon is too exasperated to bother participating when her dormmates begin to engage in a surreptitious artillery war, and although her potion for today winds up evaporating into the air for no apparent reason, at least she doesn’t have to write an extra long essay when Hyunjin and Hyejoo get busted. 

“Aeong,” Hyunjin meows sadly as they slink out of the classroom. 

Hyejoo lets out a growl. 

“If you say that one more time–”

“Aeong.”

Another fight breaks out between the pair as expected, leaving Chaewon and Heejin to sidestep them on their way to the Great Hall for dinner. 

“I regret my life choices,” Chaewon grumbles. 

“Same,” Heejin sighs. “Can’t believe I forgot to tell Hyunjin not to go aeong. Should have told her to say the sacred word instead.”

Chaewon stops walking as dread fills her body. She powers through it though, her morbid curiosity winning out and forcing her to ask, “What sacred word?”

Heejin clears her throat, places her hand over her chest, and takes a deep breath. She closes her eyes, and a strange serenity falls over her. When she opens them again, her gaze is filled with a clarity that infuses her next word with the most resounding reverence and determination Chaewon has ever heard in her entire life.

“Nya!” Heejin says with all her heart. 

“Jeon. Hee. Jin.”

“Yes?”

No.”


Something’s wrong with Yerim. 

Hyejoo is sure of it. 

She wasn’t so sure a week ago when Yerim had just returned from vacation. Truth be told, Hyejoo didn’t even notice it at first. She missed how Yerim had seemed a little lost as she searched for Hyejoo and Yeojin in the Entrance Hall, chalking it up to the usual “where are my friends?” confusion instead of something deeper. Hyejoo also overlooked the earnest conviction that Yerim had spoken with when she said, “I missed you guys more.” She figured that was just Yerim being… well, Yerim, and Hyejoo didn’t put more thought into the matter.

Except there’s been something off about Yerim as of late, and by now Hyejoo is sure of it. 

There’s no doubt about the matter, not when Yerim accidentally jabs a poor mouse in the eye during Transfiguration. She’s normally vying with Yeojin over who takes care of their magical subjects the best, Yeojin having this natural affinity towards rodents for some reason while Yerim handles them with utmost caution and compassion, so it’s quite shocking to hear poor “Jerry” squeak in pain before squirming out of Yerim’s clutches.

“Are you okay?” Hyejoo asks after ten minutes of listening to Yerim apologize profusely. 

“I’m fine! It’s fine,” Yerim laughs, though the sound isn’t as genuine as it usually is. “Just a little distracted.”

“Distracted,” Hyejoo repeats. “Right.”

Yeojin leans back in her seat on Yerim’s other side. Behind the Hufflepuff’s back, she mouths something, and Hyejoo squints in an attempt to read her lips. She angles her head left and right when she can’t discern a single word Yeojin is silently saying, and when that doesn’t work, she resorts to mimicking the movements of Yeojin’s mouth in the hopes of figuring out what secret message she’s trying to convey. 

Eee, eee, aaa, ooo– What the heck,” Hyejoo mutters under her breath. Shaking her head, she gives her own try at expressing herself without alerting Yerim. “I. Don’t. Get. It.

Yeojin sighs, and Hyejoo thinks she sees the word ‘stupid’, though she’s not sure. The Gryffindor then moves on to very bad charades, pointing furiously at the back of Yerim’s head before making a wild set of gestures that include flapping her hand, windmilling her arm, and pulling several questionable faces. It’s quite impressive actually, almost as impressive as the fact that Professor Kim hasn’t noticed anything yet. The loud yells of their classmates as they try to transform their own mice into matchboxes might have something to do with that, and a corner of Hyejoo’s brain reminds her that she should be focusing on the assignment at hand instead of messing around with Yeojin. 

A mouse suddenly flies at Hyejoo, and she catches it while looking at where it came from. Of course, it’s Yeojin, and she holds out a hand as if to say, “Well?”

Hyejoo tosses the mouse back and shrugs. 

I don’t get it,” she mouths again. 

Yeojin throws her hands up in the air, and this time Hyejoo is sure she’s silently going “ARGH”. Finally giving up on all forms of quiet conversation, she leans around Yerim to whisper to Hyejoo. 

“Yerim is not okay!” Yeojin hisses behind one hand while pointing with the other. “She’s not just ‘a little distracted’ either.”

“You don’t say,” Hyejoo says sarcastically. 

“I’m serious,” Yeojin insists. “She hasn’t been paying attention in any of her classes for the past few days, and she forgot to do our History homework.”

“We had History homework? Wait, Yerim forgot her homework?” Hyejoo blinks, taken aback by this new piece of information. “Choi Yerim forgot homework!?”

“Right?” Yeojin frowns. “Sounds crazy, but she did… Something must be seriously wrong.”

“Definitely,” Hyejoo agrees. “Like we’re literally talking behind her back right now and she hasn’t noticed a thing.”

Indeed, Yerim’s attention is once again who knows where as she stares out the painted glass windows of the Transfiguration classroom. The sounds coming from her vicinity haven’t phased her at all, the Hufflepuff ignoring everything while absentmindedly stroking Jerry’s head with a finger. 

Hyejoo and Yeojin turn back to each other. 

“We’ll talk about this later,” Yeojin decides. 

“We’ll figure it out,” Hyejoo promises. 

“Good, because none of you have figured out how to transform your mice,” Professor Kim states as she practically teleports in front of the trio.

“Whoa!”

“Wha–”

“Ah!”

All three first years jump in surprise at the sudden ambush. Yerim in particular snaps out of her thoughts with a violent jerk, her arms flying up. Unfortunately, she was still holding Jerry when that happened, and so the poor mouse, bless its tiny heart, is catapulted through the air and towards a chandelier at high speed. Professor Kim does come to its rescue with swift wandwork, but the price of her assistance and the punishment for chit-chatting in the first place winds up being the ever dreaded extra homework. 

“I haven’t even finished Professor Hwang’s essay from the other day yet,” Hyejoo whines to Siyeon over dinner. The sun is low in the sky, turning the Great Hall red with a gloom that Hyejoo feels in her heart. “Why do I keep getting in trouble?”

Siyeon laughs and pats Hyejoo’s head.

“Such is the price of having friends in your class,” she says, briefly imitating the wise-but-not-actually tone their grandfather used to speak with. “If we were all somehow put in one class together, I’d bet we’d be thrown into detention in a matter of minutes.”

“True,” Hyejoo concedes. She smiles as she imagines sharing a class with Siyeon and Yoohyeon and all the potential hijinks they could get into. 

“Luckily for me, I only have to deal with Bora,” Siyeon continues. “Minji’s good at keeping her leashed though, so…”

“So all your detention comes from the dumb stuff you do with Yoohyeon-unnie,” Hyejoo concludes. 

“Hey! It’s not my fault she likes to make me sneak around Hogwarts with her.”

“Also not your fault that you wanted to try dyeing other people’s pets pink, right?”

“I needed to practice! Olivia needs more color in her life.”

Hyejoo shakes her head fondly and silently promises to keep her owl safe from her menace of a sister. 

“By the way,” she says casually. “Speaking of Bora-unnie, are you going to admit it yet?”

“Haha, nope!” Siyeon answers in a flash, breaking eye contact to spear a sausage with her fork. “Nothing to admit here.”

That answer doesn’t come as a surprise, and Hyejoo chuckles to herself while watching Siyeon put on a nonchalant, unaffected air. She keeps her head high as she cuts her sausage into unnecessarily tiny pieces and Hyejoo snickers out loud when she realizes Siyeon is now imitating their mother’s imperious, haughty attitude. 

“Well, at least you’re not freaking out,” Hyejoo says, and she genuinely is glad that Siyeon seems to have taken a step forward in coming to terms with her feelings. The panic was funny, but Hyejoo won’t miss it if it means Siyeon is being more honest with herself. 

Unfortunately, Hyejoo spoke too soon. 

“Aha! My favorite Sons are here!” a voice booms from far too close. 

Siyeon immediately jumps in her seat, and several of her sausage crumbs go sailing across the table when Kim Bora slides into the spot next to her completely uninvited. 

Hyejoo exhales through her nose. 

“Hello, unnie,” she greets as politely as possible through gritted teeth. 

“Hey! How are you two?” Bora asks, slinging her arms around a wide-eyed Siyeon. 

“Ack– Ahem.” Siyeon clears her throat. “Good! I’m good. We’re good. Food is good.”

“Good!” Bora exclaims, and Hyejoo has to resist the urge to facepalm. “Mind if I join you guys?”

“Not at all,” Siyeon says, her expression back to normal. “Avoiding Minji again?”

Hyejoo’s interest is piqued when Bora grimaces. The sixth year’s cheery demeanor becomes a bit more troubled, and Hyejoo wonders why she’d react that way regarding her so-called best friend. 

“She’s still trying to get me alone,” Bora confirms with a sigh. Locking eyes with Hyejoo, she explains, “I think she’s trying to ask me about… that night.”

Hyejoo grips her spoon tightly. 

“She… found out?” 

“I don’t think so.” Bora shakes her head. “But she also doesn’t believe my excuse for why I was out of bed that night.”

“She caught you?” Siyeon asks. 

“She saw me coming back in the morning. Stupid prefect patrols…” Bora sighs again before sucking in a breath and squaring her shoulders. “But don’t worry!” she declares, pulling Siyeon closer to her. “These lips are sealed.”

They better be, Hyejoo thinks. 

“Thank you,” Siyeon says softly. “I know this isn’t easy for you, but… she can’t find out.”

“I know,” Bora nods, her voice equally gentle. “There’s a lot on the line for you—both of you—so I won’t let this get out to a single soul, not even Minji.”

An unspoken exchange passes between Siyeon and Bora, likely a silent affirmation of where their wills stand. Hyejoo looks down at her soup to give the pair some privacy, counts to five, and then takes a very noisy slurp to remind the pair of her presence. 

“S– So!” Bora finally peels herself away from Siyeon to grab a plate. She beams across the table. “Hyejoo! When are you guys starting practice again?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Hyejoo glares before reconsidering. “Wait. Help me with History of Magic and I’ll tell you.”

“Yeeeeah, no, sorry,” Bora winces. “I’m worse than Siyeon in History. I think I got the lowest grade in our first year.”

“You did,” Siyeon grins. “I remember Headmistress Kwon asking if you were deliberately aiming for the lowest passing score.”

“At least I passed! No remedial lessons!”

Hyejoo smirks to herself, suddenly reminded of someone who wasn’t so lucky in another subject. Alas, her thoughts drift back to her unfinished coursework, and she finds herself hoping that Yoohyeon will return from her lake excursion soon so she can ask her for help with History. Potions will be a cinch, and if Hyejoo gets stuck on Transfiguration, she can always ask Hyunjin. She’s pretty sure the rest of her classes are set, and so Hyejoo turns her focus back to more important matters while idly listening to Siyeon and Bora chat. 

Now that she thinks about it, Hyejoo wonders if Yerim is in a similar situation to Bora. Yeojin already pulled the “you can tell us anything” card, but that was met with just a smile and no actual confiding. Hyejoo furrows her brows at the possibility that maybe Yerim can’t tell them what’s going on for whatever reason. 

“Hyejoo? You okay?”

Hyejoo looks back up to meet Siyeon’s concerned gaze. Her sister tilts her head in worry, and Hyejoo quickly flashes a smile to reassure her. 

“I’m fine,” she says, and it’s not really a lie. 

After all, like she said to Yeojin, they’ll figure it out.

Chapter Text

From A to Z

Sunset in the suburbs.

Laughter rings through the air. A trio of kids run down the sidewalk, two boys and a girl, and they all keep their arms raised with paper planes in their hands. They fly them at top speed, carefree as can be as they race each other to the cul-de-sac marking the end of this street. 

The taller boy gets there first. Turning around with a triumphant grin, he throws his plane down like a football player scoring a touchdown. The nose instantly crumples against the pavement and he lets out a gasp of regret, but his woes are quickly forgotten when his friends catch up to him. They push him affectionately, point back at the street, and the three of them take off again. The last two remaining planes are accidentally crushed in their excitement, but such props are just afterthoughts for kids who have no worries in the world so long as they have each other. 

Yerim used to be one of them. 

It feels simultaneously like lifetimes ago and yet not so long ago when she was the one running down this very same street with her friends. The twins were always the fastest, Hayoon usually beating Hajoon by a hair, while Jian would lag behind and Yerim would slow down to keep pace with her. It wasn’t really about who was first for Yerim; she just enjoyed spending time with everyone. Afternoons were the highlight of her days, and Yerim remembers once thinking it would be nice if they could last forever. 

But they didn’t. 

Yerim sighs as she sits on the curb outside the twins’ house. Loud music blares from inside, but it’s too muddled for Yerim to tell what song is playing. She tries straining her ears, but the shrieking of the kids at play cuts through her concentration, and so she resigns herself to watching over them as they start chasing each other in circles. They almost look like giant marshmallows with their padded jackets, and Yerim laughs to herself as she imagines candy running about. 

A door opens somewhere behind Yerim, and she briefly hears someone poorly trying to belt Nightmare Chaser’s Deja Vu. Whoever it is, their voice is painfully off tune, and Yerim is grateful when the door shuts again to put the singer on mute. 

“Yerim?”

She turns around to see Jian walking towards her. 

“Hey,” Yerim greets. She scoots over on the sidewalk to make room for Jian to sit with her. “Got sick of karaoke?”

Jian gives a small smile and takes the offered seat. 

“Something like that,” she says. “It’s not as fun when you don’t know half the people there.”

“I feel you,” Yerim murmurs. “I didn’t know Hajoon knew so many juniors and seniors.”

“Actually, I think they’re mostly Seoyun’s friends? I’m not sure though.”

“Ah…” 

There’s a comment dancing on the tip of Yerim’s tongue, something or another about how Seoyun’s fashion change over the summer seems to have come with an increase in the average age of the people she associates with. Yerim wonders if maybe she’s trying to reach for a taste of adulthood as some high school kids are wont to do, but then a voice in the back of her head gives her pause. It gently nudges her and asks, “Is it really your place anymore?”

It’s not. 

Yerim knows it’s not. She wasn’t here and she won’t be here, so she smothers her thoughts and let them drift away in the winter air. Fortunately, Jian seems fine with the lack of conversation and even seems to embrace it. She hums quietly to herself as she hugs her knees, and Yerim mirrors the pose next to her. 

The lulling buzz of a distant freeway fades back into the backdrop when Jian speaks up again. 

“I kind of wish you didn’t have to go to a different school.”

Yerim breathes out slowly. 

“I wasn’t expecting to transfer,” she says with a smile she doesn’t really feel. “But a really good opportunity came up, like this would be really good for my future, so–”

“Wait, I’m sorry!” Jian blurts out. “I didn’t mean– I understand, like… I just mean…”

She fumbles with how to express herself, and Yerim is reminded of the little fifth grader awkwardly introducing herself to Yerim’s class halfway into the school year. Unlike Seoyun, Jian hasn’t really changed, and the nostalgic memory warms Yerim’s smile. 

“It’s okay,” Yerim chuckles, gently knocking her knee against Jian’s. “I know you’re not trying to be unsupportive or anything.”

“Right, I was just…” Jian sighs. “I miss you, Yerim. Things are different without you.”

“Different isn’t always bad,” Yerim tries to encourage her friend, but the words ring empty in her own ears. Still, she tries again by stating, “Changes make room for growth, and growth is what we need to grow up!”

The redundancy of her last phrase doesn’t go unnoticed, Jian letting out a tiny giggle. It’s a momentary break from the gloominess though, and Yerim searches her brains for something else to say that would keep the mood here on an upward trend. 

Jian gets to the punch faster. 

“Hey, um… Can I tell you something?”

“Sure!”

Jian sucks in a lungful of air before exhaling slowly, the cold taking her breath and turning it into a puff of white. It floats in Yerim’s direction, inches away from mingling with Yerim’s own respiration, but it begins to fade before reaching far enough, and in the end, it disappears without going anywhere. 

“Yerim, I… For the past year, I–”

An approaching car interrupts Jian, and Yerim jumps to her feet in recognition. 

“Mom!” she calls out, waving at the minivan. Recalling her friend, Yerim quickly turns back to Jian. “Wait, what were you about to say?”

“It’s nothing,” Jian says with a sharp shake of her head. “Um, are you coming back for spring break?”

“Ah…” Yerim scratches her cheek. “I’m not sure yet… but you’ll be the first to know if I do.”

“Okay,” Jian says quietly. A smile is back on her face, but it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to interpret it as a bittersweet one. This is goodbye again, after all, and Yerim is sure her own smile is tainted by separation as well. 

“You know you can stay out longer, right?” her mom says as soon as she’s buckled up in the passenger seat. “It’s not even six yet, and I know you want to hang out with your friends.”

Yerim internally winces. She tells the lie she told her earlier: “I have stuff I haven’t packed yet.”

Her voice comes out smaller than she’d like, so it’s no surprise when her mother sees right through her. Her mom actually looks away from the road for a moment to stare right at Yerim, the young teenager squirming under the scrutiny.

“Yerim. Did something happen at the party?”

“No, no!” Yerim denies hastily. “Nothing happened. I just… got tired and wanted to go home.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Yerim sees her mom frown in sympathy. She carefully reaches over and grabs Yerim’s hand, giving it a small squeeze that’s instinctively reciprocated. 

“Still not having fun, huh?” her mom guesses as she returns her grip to the steering wheel. 

“Nope,” Yerim confirms after a sigh of defeat. “It was even worse today because I don’t know most of the people there, and they don’t know me. And when they ask me about myself, I can’t even say anything because of the whole…” She gestures out the window in a random direction. “Y’know, the whole magic-is-top-secret thing.”

A minute of silence passes before her mom speaks up again. 

“You know you don’t have to attend Hogwarts, right?”

“... Wait, huh?”

Yerim stares at the side of her mom’s face, and she watches in confusion as the corner of her mom’s mouth lifts. 

“Your dad and I have been talking,” her mother explains rather gently. “You said the other day that you feel kind of out of place these days, right?”

“Y– Yeah,” Yerim confirms with a withdrawn nod. 

“We were thinking… maybe it would help if you came back to the normal world. You know, spend some quality time bonding with your friends again and live with the rest of us m… muh… What was that word again?”

“Muggle,” Yerim says. “You want me to come back to the muggle world?”

“I want you to be happy,” her mother states, punctuating the last word with a glance at her daughter. “If quitting Hogwarts and re-enrolling in high school is what makes you happy, then that’s what we’ll do. If you’d rather stay at Hogwarts, that’s okay too.”

Yerim turns to face the window just in time to see an airplane coast by, high up and out of her reach. Its pinpricks of light twinkle in the orange-red of the sky, but like a falling star that grants no wishes, it provides no answer for the choice her mother just proposed. 

“So you’re saying I can just… forget about Hogwarts and go back to my original life?” Yerim murmurs. “Just pretend it never happened and go back to normal?”

Her mom reaches over again, this time to pat her on the head. 

“Whatever makes you happy, honey,” she says. “Take your time. But think about it, okay?”

By this point, Yerim thinks she’s thought about this whole thing about too much. She’s lost sleep over the matter, and she knows she’s been spending her waking hours in a daze just mulling over this decision. It’s literally life-changing, after all, and Yerim finds it far harder than expected to commit to one side or the other. 

And that’s what sucks the most. 

It shouldn’t be a difficult choice; being able to attend Hogwarts and learning that magic is real in the first place is like every child’s fantasy come to life. The regular world feels mundane in comparison, like a film with no color or a song without a melody. And yet…

Yerim sighs as she peers out over the grounds from the Astronomy Tower. She’s on her own today, having asked for some time to herself after butchering her Herbology quiz earlier. Yeojin and Hyejoo were downright thunderstruck when Yerim had handed in an incomplete worksheet, and after sheepishly explaining that she had blanked out, Yerim decided to go for some fresh air to clear her head. Alone. 

She nearly flings herself off the tower in fright when something unexpected brushes against her leg.

“AH!?” Yerim screams before looking down and letting out a gasp of relief when an orange cat stares up at her. 

“Meow,” it meows.

Yerim plants her hands on her hips.

“You scared me,” she chides the cat, but her ire is gone just as quickly as it came. She bends down to pet her new furry friend, smiling when it closes its eyes and lets her rub its head. For a moment, all of her worries are forgotten thanks to the warm fluffiness underneath her hand, but it’s only a matter of time before they come back again. 

“Meow?”

Yerim blinks when she realizes she’s been staring off into space for the past few seconds. Her hand hovers in the air, unmoving, and the cat bats at it with a paw before tilting its head. 

What’s up? it seems to ask, though Yerim knows cats can’t really communicate with humans. 

“Say…” Yerim begins. “What do you do if you’re trapped between two worlds and you don’t really belong in either?”

Of course, the cat doesn’t answer. It just sits there, tail wrapped neatly around its paws as it stares at Yerim. It blinks once, twice, and then it slowly tilts its head the other direction. It doesn’t flee or anything though, and Yerim takes this chance to launch into a hypothetical line of questioning that finally gives voice to the conundrum that’s been silently brewing inside her for far too long. 

“I wonder what you would do if you were suddenly turned into a human,” Yerim says. “Would you want to stay human? Or would you want to go back to being a cat?”

“Meow?”

“The humans know you used to be a cat, by the way. Some of them are really nice, and some…” Yerim swallows down a few memories of snide comments and strange looks before continuing. “Well, you’re a little different because you used to be a cat. And people can see that.”

“Meow.”

“I guess there are other cat-people... But they came in like a litter, you know? So they know each other. But you came here alone.”

“Meow…”

“It would probably be easier to go back to being a cat,” Yerim reasons. “You’ve been a cat your whole life. But it’s not like you can just forget the time you’ve spent as a human, right?”

“Meow.”

“So what do you do? What do I do?” 

Yerim’s voice quivers on that last sentence. A twist of shame forms in her gut because really, this shouldn’t be this hard, and yet the thought of abandoning Hogwarts and retreating back to the banal yet comfortable familiarity of muggle life has a hold on her that she can’t seem to break. She can’t even bring it up to Yeojin or Hyejoo or any of their older friends lest she inadvertently hurt them with her indecision. 

If only there was a way to find out what she truly wants–

Yerim abruptly jumps to her feet, and it’s the cat’s turn to leap away in surprise at the sudden action. 

“Sorry,” Yerim apologizes to it, its ears flicking in acknowledgement. She bends down to give it one last pat as thanks for its companionship before picking up her bag. “I gotta go find some friends, but you be careful up here, okay?”

“Meow,” the cat says, and it waves its tail goodbye. 

Yerim soon makes her way to the Astronomy Tower’s exit, stopping only to marvel at the closed door blocking her path. She spends a second wondering how a cat could open it to get inside, but then she shrugs before resuming the long journey down. 

She eventually comes across Yeojin and Hyejoo studying in a quiet corner of the library. Studying is a bit of a stretch, Yerim notes with amusement. Their books are out but unopened, and they’re clearly as preoccupied as she is with non-academic business. 

“Does Jiwoo-unnie know anything? They’re in the same house.”

“I don’t think so. Yoohyeon-unnie is Hufflepuff too, and she said she doesn’t know.”

“Ahem.” Yerim clears her throat, giggling inside when her favorite classmates freeze on the spot. Like two conspirators caught on the scene, they turn their heads in synch, eyes wide with guilt.

“Y– Yerim!” Yeojin exclaims loudly. She remembers to lower her voice when Hyejoo shushes her. “You here to study for History too?”

“Actually, no,” Yerim says. “I was hoping you guys could help me out with something, actually?”

“Of course,” Hyejoo immediately agrees. She’s already packing her belongings, and she shoves Yeojin’s books at the Gryffindor before standing up. “Let’s go. What do you need?”

Yerim hesitates for a second before making her request.

“Can you guys take me back to that magic mirror again?”

Yeojin and Hyejoo turn to each other. They don’t say anything, Hyejoo frowning while Yeojin wiggles her eyebrows. Yerim waits patiently as they communicate– try to communicate without words, and it becomes harder and harder to resist the urge to giggle when Hyejoo visibly becomes increasingly confused while Yeojin grows more and more frustrated.

Their standstill is broken when Yeojin elbows Hyejoo with defeated exasperation and looks back at Yerim.

“I’ll lead the way,” she states firmly.

The trio is forced to climb several flights of stairs to reach their destination, and Yeojin nearly gets separated from the other two when one of the staircases shifts without warning. She makes an impressive leap to return to her friends’ side before guiding them onwards again. 

“Why… is… Hogwarts… so… big?” Yerim pants upon reaching the seventh floor landing. This is the second time today she’s had to walk all the way up here, and her legs feel like they’re about to fall off. 

“Take your time,” Hyejoo says as she and Yeojin wait for Yerim to catch her breath. 

The phrases “thank you” and “I’m sorry” begin to war in Yerim’s chest. They both duel each other for a chance to be spoken, fighting for the opportunity to be expressed. The two contrasting feelings form a bittersweet swirl in her heart, and Yerim ends up voicing neither when Yeojin silently offers her hand as support. Yerim takes it, of course, and all she can give her friends is a smile as they continue onwards. 

Unfortunately, the trio’s march to the enchanted mirror winds up being impeded at the very end by the age old obstacle: a lock. 

“Oi, open,” Hyejoo demands as she tugs on the doorknob. It jiggles, but it doesn’t give, and Yeojin’s kick to the door doesn’t do anything to make it budge. 

“Um, isn’t there a spell for unlocking things?” Yerim asks. “Do either of you know it?”

“I don’t,” Yeojin grumbles. “Haseul-unnie specifically stopped Jinsol-unnie from teaching me.”

Hyejoo rolls up her sleeve with a confident glint in her eye. 

“I got this,” she drawls. “Siyeon-unnie, the best unnie, has my back. Alohomora!”

Five seconds pass. 

Nothing happens. 

Yeojin and Hyejoo proceed to fight the door both verbally and physically. They punch it a few times in between threats and deliberations about the likelihood of getting detention for starting an indoor fire. They do stop for a moment when Yerim warns them of an approaching Gryffindor prefect, but they soon return to analyzing how difficult lockpicking would be. 

They really do care about her, Yerim thinks as she watches them struggle. Of course, she’s always known that, but the fact is reinforced by this display of determination and how neither Yeojin nor Hyejoo have even bothered asking why Yerim wants to see the mirror in the first place. All they know is that she does, and for them, that’s enough to make them try. 

“Oh?” Yeojin suddenly gasps when the door gives a strange rattle after her own Alohomora attempt. 

“What the…” Hyejoo looks torn between being impressed and being miffed. “Why didn’t that work when I tried it!?”

“Guess I’m a better witch than you,” Yeojin states smugly before turning to Yerim. “Come on, let’s go.”

Faced with the reality that she’s about to be confronted by her heart’s true wishes, Yerim hesitates. An unidentified emotion creeps inside her, taking the form of fear of all things, and her mouth reacts by panicking and blurting out, “Wait!”

Yeojin lets go of the doorknob. 

“Eh?”

“What’s up?” Hyejoo frowns. 

“I…” Yerim clenches her fist and stares down at her shoes. “I need a moment, if that’s okay? I’m not sure I’m going to like what I’ll see.”

“In the mirror, you mean?” Yeojin places her hand under her chin. “It shows us what we desire, right?”

“Yeah,” Hyejoo confirms. “So why wouldn’t you like it?”

“Because I’m scared that– Hold on.”

Yerim pauses, an epiphany hitting her. It comes to her slowly, then all at once as understanding descends upon her and begins scrubbing away at the uncertainty that had been clogging her mind. 

“Oh,” she says. “Oh. So I guess that saying about flipping a coin is true, huh?”

Yeojin and Hyejoo glance at each other. They do that staring thing again, except this time Hyejoo just outright declares, “I don’t get it.”

“People say that if you’re not sure about a decision, flip a coin,” Yerim explains. “You’ll know what your heart really wants when the coin is in the air.”

“... Ah. That’s the moment you realize what you’re secretly hoping for,” Hyejoo nods in comprehension. 

“Oh,” Yeojin gasps. “Oh. That makes a lot of sense, actually. So the mirror is your coin flip?”

“Something like that,” Yerim says, chuckling lightly. “I mean it’s kinda backwards because I realized what result I didn’t want to get, but yeah. I don’t need the mirror anymore. I know what I want now.” 

“Which is…?” Hyejoo prompts carefully. 

Yerim beams.

“I want to stay here at Hogwarts with you guys,” she says. “Even if a lot of things are new to me and people think I’m weird. And even if I have to leave a lot of memories behind.”

Yeojin’s lower lip trembles for a fraction of a second before the Gryffindor launches herself at Yerim.

“We’ll make lots of new memories with you! Good memories, I swear!” she promises as she practically squeezes Yerim to death in a bear hug. “Right, Hyejoo?”

Hyejoo scoffs. 

“Duh,” she says, rolling her eyes. She crosses her arms with a smirk. “Friends don’t leave friends behind, isn’t that right?”

Yerim’s grin widens upon hearing those five familiar words. It stings a little, her first recollection of that phrase coming from Hajoon of all people, but to hear Hyejoo say it with Yeojin’s vehement endorsement is refreshing in a way. Like a soft rain shower heralding the start of spring, it feels like hope, feels like trust that things will work out in the end. 

With these two by her side, Yerim knows they will.

“Hey, can I borrow Olivia later?” Yerim asks as they head back down to the Great Hall. 

Hyejoo grimaces. 

“Sure, if you feel like climbing all the way up the Owlery.”

“... Maybe tomorrow,” Yerim amends. “I think I’m done with stairs for the day.”

“Same,” Yeojin grunts before suddenly letting out an even louder groan. “Argh, I have to climb back up to Gryffindor Tower after dinner!”

“Can’t relate. Slytherin dorms go down.”

“Just like Slytherin’s ranking once we kick Ravenclaw’s butt at the next game!”

“Ooooh, what if Slytherin loses to Hufflepuff too?”

“Oi, stop jinxing my house!”

The trio bicker and laugh all the way to dinner, the mirror reflecting their desires already forgotten. A more astute student might have thought to re-lock the door to mask any attempts at intrusion, but it’s all the same in the end; Yeojin never actually managed to unlock the door.


“Hey, Yoohyeon-unnie.”

“Yes, Hyejoo?”

“Thanks for still being here after so long.”

Hyejoo has never seen someone decelerate so swiftly and abruptly on a broomstick before. Yoohyeon’s entire body actually pitches forward due the sudden lack of momentum beneath her, and Hyejoo is forced to reach out and grab the Hufflepuff by the hood before she accidentally launches herself face-first back down to the ground. 

“Whew, good save,” Yoohyeon says, grinning in relief once she’s safely seated again. “Now. Hyejooooo! Are you being sooooft?”

Hyejoo pulls a face when Yoohyeon leans over quite precariously to pull her into a side hug. It’s an awkward maneuver considering how they’re both hundreds of feet in the air, but she tolerates it. It’s Yoohyeon-unnie, after all. 

“I’m not being soft, I’m just saying.” Hyejoo gingerly pries Yoohyeon off of her when they start drifting to where her teammate Sakura and Hufflepuff’s Keeper Yena are chasing each other in circles. “Yerim has been telling us about her muggle friends—who kinda suck, by the way—and I was thinking… You’ve been with Siyeon-unnie and me for a really long time.”

“My entire life,” Yoohyeon states, puffing out her chest in pride. “Your entire life too!”

“Right,” Hyejoo nods. “You’ve been with us for years and years and years, and aside from growing freakishly tall–”

“Hey!”

“You haven’t really changed,” Hyejoo continues. She snickers at Yoohyeon’s exaggerated pout before bumping their shoulders together in fondness. “You’re still here, by our side. Even after… what happened over the summer.”

“Aww, Hyejoo…” Yoohyeon’s lower lip juts out, and she looks at Hyejoo with shining eyes until she can’t resist any longer and pulls her into another hug. “C’mon, you two are my family! Where else would I go? And I know if it happened to me, you guys would have my back. Right?”

“Of course,” Hyejoo affirms, returning the embrace. “Really though, thanks. I feel like we don’t say that to you enough.”

For a confusing but terrifying second, Hyejoo thinks she might have said the wrong thing somehow. Yoohyeon stiffens in her embrace and almost makes to pull back, but then the moment passes and Hyejoo is nearly crushed to death instead.

“Aww!” Yoohyeon lets out a loud sniff. “Having all these new friends has made our Hyejoo soft!”

“I told you, I’m just saying– Hey! Don’t wipe your nose on my hood!”

“I’m not! Something just got in my eye. Seriously!”

Hyejoo rolls her eyes. 

“Anyways,” she says loudly as she pulls away, checking her robe for any mucus. “I’m only going to say this one more time: thank you.”

Yoohyeon smiles, and it’s not one of her usual, goofier grins. Though no less warm, it’s exceedingly tender to the point where Hyejoo finds herself thinking that being born the second Son was worth it just to meet Yoohyeon. 

“Thank you,” Yoohyeon says sincerely. She pats Hyejoo’s head before backing away. “Now come on, let’s see how many laps we can do before the sun sets!”

“I don’t need speed training,” Hyejoo points out. “Speaking of which, why are you guys even practicing while we are?”

Yoohyeon pouts. 

“Weren’t you just saying how glad you are that I’m here?”

“I’m just asking.”

“Hmph.” Yoohyeon feigns discontent for a whole two seconds before dropping the act. “If you must know, Ravenclaw has been hogging the pitch the entire week, and we figured we had to get some practice in one way or another. Neither of our captains seem to mind, so…”

Indeed, even from afar Hyejoo can hear the sounds of Captain Seulgi and Captain Byulyi chatting away merrily. Any thoughts of practice have evidently long since vacated the two, and Hyejoo watches with amusement as they laugh uproariously over something, Byulyi doubling over while Seulgi wipes her eyes. Nearly all of their other teammates are messing around as well, and hardly anyone seems to be making the effort to hone their skills. 

Hyunjin is one of the few exceptions. After a “hey, you remind me of a friend of mine!” from fellow Beater Sana, Hyunjin got roped into some sort of competition in which the two use their bats to exchange high speed volleys of a Bludger. They’re still at it even now, and Chaewon seems to have gotten bored of watching their ‘tennis match,’ as the muggleborn had dubbed it. Hyejoo doesn’t see her partner anywhere on the field, so she figures Chaewon went off to find a strangely absent Jiwoo. 

Hyejoo is forced to update that hypothesis to “Chaewon ditched” when the shorter Slytherin still hasn’t returned by the time their captain calls it quits. Wishing she had the foresight to slip away too, Hyejoo slinks back into the castle and grabs a quick dinner with Yoohyeon and Hyunjin before the three of them head over to the Transfiguration classroom. 

Siyeon gets there last. 

She shuts the door behind her with a yawn, her eyes tired and unfocused until she plops into one of the front row seats next to Yoohyeon.

“How was practice?” Siyeon asks as she leans over to rest her head on Yoohyeon’s shoulder.  

“I had fun today! It was cool to hang out with Slytherin’s team,” Yoohyeon grins. “Even if Hyunjin almost broke my broom.”

“You mean you almost broke your own broom,” Hyunjin argues from her spot on her mother’s desk. “You were the one who flew in front of me while I was swinging.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t hit Yoohyeon-unnie,” Hyejoo chimes in. “You could have knocked her out.”

“Or broken a few bones.”

“Or given her amnesia.”

“You guys are mean,” Yoohyeon whines. She clings to Siyeon’s arm, pouting at the two younger students. “Man, and Hyejoo was being so cute earlier… Hey, you guys wanna know what she said–”

“Stop,” Hyejoo interrupts with a scowl. “If you even think about saying anything, I’m really giving you amnesia when we play each other.”

“Moooom, someone’s threatening people!” Hyunjin yells in a random direction right as Siyeon whispers, “Yikes.”

Yoohyeon mimes zipping her mouth shut and throwing away the key before immediately opening her mouth again. 

“So now that we’re all here,” she says. “Have we decided what we’re going to do this coming full moon?”

A somber look crosses Siyeon’s face. Hyejoo is sure everyone has noticed it, and perhaps that’s why Hyunjin speaks up before there’s too long of a silence. 

“I don’t think we have to change much,” Hyunjin says calmly. “What are the chances that someone would sneak out two full moons in a row?”

“I agree,” Hyejoo murmurs. “Most people are too scared to even want to go outside, Bora-unnie aside.”

“And she had her reasons,” Yoohyeon supplies with a contemplative nod.“Can’t imagine anyone else who’d want to go say hi to a werewolf.”

A flicker of a smile dances across Siyeon’s lips before she lets out a sigh.

“Is it worth it though?” she mutters. “The risk of someone being out there…”

“It makes you feel a lot better, doesn’t it?” Hyejoo reminds her. “I think that’s worth it.”

“Hm…” Siyeon stares down at the desk for a few seconds, her expression uneasy but otherwise unreadable. It clears up when she lifts her head again, decision made. “If you three are fine with it, I’m fine with it too. Just don’t let me outside for too long.”

“We’ll be careful,” Yoohyeon promises. She then claps her hands brightly. “Now then, who wants to join me on a quick kitchen run?”

“Me!” Hyunjin immediately volunteers, hopping off Professor Kim’s desk. 

“I could do with a bedtime snack,” Siyeon says, and Hyejoo is glad to see that the prospect of food has her smiling properly again. “What about you, Hyejoo?”

“I’ll pass,” Hyejoo grimaces. “I ate too much during dinner.”

She makes her way to the door to the tune of Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and Hyunjin debating if pancakes or waffles are safer to eat at this time of the night. She figures they’ll take a while to come to agreement on toppings as well, so she feels no guilt in leaving them to their increasingly detailed discussion. Sure enough, Hyunjin begins rattling off the nutritional value of the different types of flour the kitchen uses, and Hyejoo snorts as she exits the room.

The first thing she sees upon shutting the door behind her is Ha Sooyoung lurking behind a statue just a few feet away. 

Their eyes meet, and Hyejoo blanches. 

“Hey, Hyejoo.”

“H– Hi, Sooyoung-unnie,” Hyejoo greets, her mouth dry. Hoping her body language isn’t as stiff as it feels, she casually stuffs her hands in her pockets. “What brings you here?”

“Well… Not much, actually,” Sooyoung says. Her gaze shifts to the left momentarily before locking back on to Hyejoo. “What about you?”

“Just hanging out with Yoohyeon-unnie after practice,” Hyejoo answers, keeping her tone steady even while her brain struggles to rewind the past few minutes to figure out what Sooyoung could have overheard.

It soon becomes clear that her worries are unnecessary, for there’s nothing suspicious or accusatory in Sooyoung’s eyes as she regards Hyejoo in a rather composed manner. Unfortunately, Hyejoo’s relief is marred by the fact that Sooyoung is lacking her usual warmth and friendliness. There’s the distinct absence of corny, eye-roll-worthy jokes, and there just isn’t any talking at all with how Sooyoung seems to have forgotten to reply. Not missing the familiarity of the situation, Hyejoo clears her throat before cautiously inquiring after Sooyoung’s well being.

“Hey, uh… Unnie. Are you okay?”

“Hm?” Sooyoun blinks. “Ah, yeah, I’m fine.”

I’ve heard that one before, Hyejoo thinks to herself. Just as she’s deciding whether or not to push the issue, the reason for Sooyoung’s well-masked distress makes itself known.

“You’re seriously still betting on our house after the fiasco that was our last match?”

“Seriously, Jinsol and Haseul are good, but they’re not that good. They can’t go two versus three.”

“Hey, I’m banking on Sooyoung getting her crap together. Or at least not be a liability until Captain Wheein gets the Snitch.”

“Wait, you’re right… That’s how they won the championship last year, wasn’t it?”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about how Kim Jiwoo broke Sooyoung’s nose. Thank goodness Captain Wheein came to the rescue.” 

“Okay, so as long as Sooyoung doesn’t fold too early, Captain Wheein should be able to beat Gryffindor’s newbie Seeker, right? What about the Beaters though?”

The chattering group of students don’t even spare a glance at Hyejoo as they pass by Sooyoung’s statue. Hyejoo counts at least five people present, and to her consternation, over half of them are wearing blue robes. It’s not hard to understand why Sooyoung would choose to hide rather than be seen by her fellow housemates, and sympathy shoots through Hyejoo as she waits for the crowd to leave.

“Well, time for me to go practice!” Sooyoung says in a falsely chipper tone once they’re out of earshot. 

“At this time of the night?” Hyejoo frowns before a realization hits her. “Wait, are you the one who’s been booking the Quidditch pitch this entire week?”

Sooyoung’s face falls.

“I need to practice more so I’m not the Trinity’s weakest link,” she says quietly. “Like people have been saying, this isn’t the first time I’ve screwed up.”

“Mistakes happen,” Hyejoo points out. “You’re still a really good player. I know you’ll be a pain in the ass to deal with when we have to play against you.”

“I sure hope that’ll be the case.” Sooyoung gives a chuckle that weakens into a weary exhale. “I’d better get going. They’ll be closing the castle soon.”

“Wait,” Hyejoo calls out before she can stop herself. Sooyoung pauses, and Hyejoo quickly says what’s on her mind while she still has the chance. “Don’t mind them, unnie. People… They like to act like they know everything. Like they know you. But they don’t. Your friends are the ones who know you. And you know you.”

“... And that’s what matters, isn’t it?”

“Exactly.”

“Thank you,” Sooyoung says after a brief moment of silence, her lips no longer sagging downwards. “It means a lot, coming from you.”

“I know,” Hyejoo says, smirking to take the edge off of their conversation. 

Sooyoung pushes Hyejoo’s shoulder playfully and gives her a grateful squeeze before going on her way. She disappears around the corner just in time for the Transfiguration classroom to open again. 

“Hyejoo!” Yoohyeon exclaims. “What are you still doing here? Did you change your mind?”

“I ran into Sooyoung-unnie just now,” Hyejoo explains. An errant thought comes to her, and she narrows her eyes in wonder. “Hey, is it me or does having more friends mean more people to worry about?”

“Yep,” Hyunjin nods. “I don’t mind though.”

“It’s more people to worry about, but it’s also more people who worry about you,” Siyeon says. She gently places her hand on Hyejoo’s head. “It’s a good thing, don’t worry.”

“I wasn’t worrying,” Hyejoo pouts. “Anyways, did you guys decide what you’re eating?”

“Yep! We’re getting ice cream,” Yoohyeon announces happily. 

“Ice cream? In January? At night?” Hyejoo scrunches her nose. “You weirdos… I’m in.”

To nobody’s surprise, Yoohyeon is the first to get brain freeze. Siyeon soon follows after, and although Hyejoo should know better, she points and laughs with Hyunjin while eating her own ice cream. Not even ten seconds later and she’s the one cringing in pain, but oh well. 

Everyone’s laughter is worth any price.

Chapter Text

Know My Heart

“You know, some students are concerned that you’re showing favoritism to your daughter.”

Professor Hwang’s calm, unassuming voice floats through the window of the Transfiguration classroom, loud and clear to Hyunjin’s feline ears. At the mention of herself, Hyunjin lifts her head from where she had been reclining on the outside windowsill. She takes great care to make sure her ears can’t be seen by her mother or her coworker while listening closely. 

“Is this about Hyunjin’s grades in my class?”

“I believe so. She’s doing well in all her classes, but exceptionally so in yours.”

Even without looking, Hyunjin knows her mom is smirking proudly. 

“It’s not my fault she’s so talented and smart. I grade her performance as I see it.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Professor Hwang chuckles. “Just keeping an eye out for you two.”

“And I appreciate that.”

Hyunjin flattens her ears against her head to peek inside the classroom. As suspected, Professor Hwang and her mom are standing quite closely together, a bit too close for “just someone I work with,” if you asked Hyunjin. The grateful smile on her mom’s face is another dead giveaway, and it quickly changes to a more platonic one when the Charms and Divination teachers show up to hang out as well. 

Hyunjin makes her getaway when they all start gossiping about their older students and making bets on who’s dating who. She hops over to the next window, then the next, then around a corner before leaping over to a tree. For a second, Hyunjin nearly slips due to misjudging the distance, but her claws manage to get a solid grip on a branch so she can safely clamber down the trunk and reach the ground without a gravitational crisis. 

Note to self: you’re still small, Hyunjin reminds herself before warping back into the form she uses most often. On two legs now, she casually walks over to a quiet corner of Hogwart’s exterior.

To her lack of surprise, someone is already there. 

“Hey there!” Siyeon greets with a wave as she sits on a courtyard rail. She swings her legs under her as she gestures for Hyunjin to come closer. “How was your day?”

“Not bad,” Hyunjin says. “Where’s Yoohyeon-unnie?”

“She’ll probably be late today,” Siyeon answers apologetically. “She’s so stoked about finally taking Ancient Runes that I had to drag her away from Professor Yoon’s office a few days ago.”

“What a nerd,” Hyunjin says. She glances out of the corner of her eye to gauge Siyeon’s reaction, relieved when the fifth year just laughs. 

“I keep telling her, maybe she should go transfer to Ravenclaw,” Siyeon says. “But no, having the kitchens so close to your dorm is too good of a perk to pass up on.”

“Hm…” Hyunjin narrows her eyes in thought. “Maybe I should transfer to Hufflepuff.”

“I mean we can always smuggle you in,” Siyeon stage whispers. “Nobody ever questions the Hufflepuffs bringing in a bajillion Hogwarts animals into their dorms. What’s one more cat?”

“Would be fun,” Hyunjin nods. “How would you get in though?”

“Ah…” Siyeon snaps her fingers. “I’ll get back to you on that!”

“You always can pretend to be a cat,” Hyunjin suggests, her face completely straight. 

“Um. I don’t think that would work.”

“Just say ‘aeong’ and everybody will be fooled.”

“I really don’t think that’s how it works.”

“Have you tried it before?”

“N– No, but…” 

“Then how can you be so sure that it doesn’t work?”

“I mean–” Siyeon’s eyes widen before she breaks into a scowl. “Jeez, would it kill you to smile while joking around?” she scolds. “I thought you were being serious for a second.”

Hyunjin finally lets out the snicker she had been holding in. It seems to have built up while she was messing with Siyeon, and it ultimately comes out as a guffaw. 

“Kids these days,” Siyeon mutters. “Can’t wait until I become some badass, giant snake or something. Then I’ll show you.”

“You’ll get there,” Hyunjin grins. Eventually.”

“Speaking of which, I’ve been wondering…” Siyeon tilts her head in curiosity. “Why did you want to become an animagus in the first place?”

“… I was bored.”

“I see, I see.”

Siyeon nods, completely accepting of Hyunjin’s answer. Her friendly smile has never left her face, not even once, and all things considered, Hyunjin doesn’t think she’s faking it. Aside from their animagus-snacks arrangement, Siyeon has nothing else to gain from being so nice to Hyunjin, and so Hyunjin decides to go out on a limb and divulge a bit more. 

“It gets lonely at home when Mom isn’t there,” Hyunjin says quietly, thinking back to their modest little cottage. “She sometimes would let me come to Hogwarts if I stayed in her office, but she’d never let me go on her research trips. She said they were too dangerous.”

Siyeon’s eyes soften in immediate understanding. 

“I get you,” she says. “I spent most of my life at home too, minus annoying galas and parties. My parents aren’t always around either, but well… At least I have Yoohyeon and Hyejoo.”

“Hyejoo’s a year younger than me, right?” Hyunjin recalls. 

“Yep! And funny that you mentioned being bored, because a few years back our Hyejoo also got bored and wanted to try wandless magic.”

“... How did that go?”

“I mean she didn’t quite succeed in getting the statue to walk… but it wouldn’t stop singing really loudly for a really long time, so there’s that.” Siyeon leans forward on the railing to whisper behind her hand. “It was terribly out of tune, worse than Yoohyeon when she’s trying to go off key.”

Hyunjin chortles at the mental image. 

“How did your parents react?” she asks.

“Ah… we fixed the statues before they got back,” Siyeon explains, her expression turning a tad bitter for a fleeting second. “Yoohyeon’s mom was really impressed though! Couldn’t stop laughing either.”

“I bet,” Hyunjin snorts before a sigh escapes her. “It must be nice, having siblings…”

“It is pretty awesome, if I may say so myself,” Siyeon declares, puffing out her chest with a fond grin until her gusto fades into something more rueful. “Except when you miss them so much you think about quitting Hogwarts and coming back a year later.”

Hyunjin stares. 

“Oh, you’re being serious?” she realizes when Siyeon stares back. 

“Very,” Siyeon admits with a self-conscious chuckle. “I… actually had a kinda hard time my first year here. Kept on getting lost, hardly knew anyone even though they all knew me… and you know, the whole people-only-talk-to-me-if-they-want-something deal.”

“Yeah…”

“Now, I’m not saying our fellow students are only after my gold, but…” Siyeon clicks her tongue. “First year wasn’t so great. Good thing I found a few people I could rely on.”

“Like that new Gryffindor prefect?” Hyunjin guesses. “Everyone says to find Kim Minji if we ever need help.”

“I don't know how she keeps up with everything that’s going on,” Siyeon sighs. “I envy her people skills sometimes.”

“Same,” Hyunjin nods. “Don’t envy her workload though.”

“Oh, definitely not,” Siyeon agrees furiously. “My prefect badge is just for show. Can’t imagine being obligated to use it.”

Hyunjin shakes her head in amusement, and the action nearly breaks her neck when someone crashes into her from behind. Whoever it is, they were moving extremely fast; Hyunjin stumbles forward at the impact and accidentally grabs Siyeon’s arm to steady herself, which disrupts the older Slytherin’s sense of balance. Siyeon nearly falls backwards off the rail, and the noise that leaves her mouth as she struggles to remain upright is so ridiculous that Hyunjin has no choice but to burst into loud laughter. 

“Sorry!” Yoohyeon apologizes once everyone is safe and secure again. “I didn’t mean to run into you, Hyunjin!”

“It’s fine,” Hyunjin says. “That was funny.”

“Glad my life flashing before my eyes was funny to you,” Siyeon mutters.

“I also didn’t mean to be this late,” Yoohyeon continues. “I was planning on being just a few minutes late, I promise!”

Hyunjin crosses her arms. 

“So you planned on keeping us waiting from the start, huh?”

“I brought croissants today!”

“Apology accepted.”

Siyeon chuckles at this exchange, pushing Yoohyeon’s shoulder before her hand abruptly moves towards Hyunjin. Hyunjin wasn’t expecting such an action, and so she instinctively steps back when Siyeon’s fingers brush the top of her head.

“Oh,” Siyeon blinks. “I’m sorry. I’m too used to doing that.”

“It’s fine,” Hyunjin murmurs, fixing her hair. “Hyejoo?”

“Yep,” Siyeon says with a gentle smile. “She does like her head pats.”

Hyunjin frowns as she considers the matter. After all, she’s already let these two quite far inside her heart… What harm could additional physical contact do?

“I suppose I wouldn’t mind them,” she ultimately decides. “Could be nice.”

“Aww,” Yoohyeon coos. “Don’t worry, we’ll give you all the nicest head pats.”

It turns out she wasn’t joking, for once they finish their bonus afternoon meal, Siyeon and Yoohyeon promptly begin assaulting Hyunjin with endless physical affection. Whatever plans they had for today are long forgotten as Hyunjin transforms back into a cat to maximize comfort. She lays on Siyeon’s lap while Yoohyeon and Siyeon prattle on about their day, Yoohyeon being surprisingly adept at translating Hyunjin’s meowed interjections, and as kind hands rub her ears, Hyunjin thinks that her first year will probably turn out better than Siyeon’s. 

Hyunjin stretches her arms above her as she sits where Siyeon once sat. The sky is free of clouds today, the sun unobscured and bright, making for a particularly warm morning for this time of the year. It’s almost like an early taste of spring, and Hyunjin basks in the coziness while she can. 

She hops off her ledge a few moments later when someone she’s been meaning to talk to shows up like a stroke of serendipity.

“Hey, Yoohyeon-unnie,” Hyunjin calls out.

Yoohyeon gives no reaction.

“Yoohyeon-unnie?”

Hyunjin furrows her brows as, once again, she’s completely ignored. Yoohyeon doesn’t even seem to realize Hyunjin is there as she rushes from one side of the courtyard to the other. This single-minded dedication to getting somewhere mixed with a general obliviousness towards her surroundings is probably why Yoohyeon is such a walking hazard, Hyunjin notes. Sure enough, Yoohyeon nearly trips over a pebble the very next second, but she quickly recovers and continues on her merry way.

Hyunjin shakes her head in amusement. She then sucks in a deep breath, taking in a lungful of air as she raises her hands to cup her mouth. Silently apologizing to anyone else in their vicinity, Hyunjin prepares to bellow the loudest “KIM YOOHYEON” she’s ever shouted in her entire life.

“Minji-unnie!”

Hyunjin blinks as Yoohyeon suddenly zooms away, sprinting into the distance. A leaf or two is kicked into the air thanks to her speed, and Hyunjin remembers to exhale just as they flutter back down to the ground. Lowering her hands as well, she surreptitiously steps behind a pillar before peering around it to watch as Yoohyeon dashes up to the target of her affections. 

Yoohyeon winds up almost smacking straight into said target of affections. 

Congrats, Hyunjin telepathically tells Yoohyeon as Minji grabs her by the shoulders to steady her. Hyunjin wishes she had a better angle to see what shade of red Yoohyeon has become, but she settles for laughing inside her head when Yoohyeon jumps backwards as though she’s been electrified. She then launches into what’s probably a long-winded apology, but alas, Hyunjin is too far away to hear anything more than indistinguishable murmurs. 

Yoohyeon’s posture eventually changes to a more relaxed one. She raises her head to look Minji in the eye, though there’s still some traces of hesitation in her actions as she pulls out a small bundle wrapped in cloth and hands it over. It’s food, Hyunjin realizes, and knowing firsthand how skilled Yoohyeon is at picking the cream of the kitchen’s crop, she doesn’t blame Minji for letting out a delighted gasp. The Gryffindor practically glows with gratitude, and although she’s not one of Minji’s diehard fans, even Hyunjin has to admit that she does have quite the dazzling smile. 

Unfortunately, that sweet moment is interrupted by a very random explosion. 

Hyunjin jumps in her skin, and she turns back to Hogwarts castle just in time to see a second-floor window shatter. A stream of rainbow birds come pouring out of it in a torrent, all squawking in some foreign language. As a small mercy, they turn back and re-enter Hogwarts by breaking through an adjacent window, though Hyunjin still wouldn’t want to be the poor student responsible for cleaning up that messy, magical flock. Could be more than one student, of course, and Hyunjin just hopes that Slytherin house isn’t involved. 

“Take care, okay?”

Minji’s voice suddenly comes a lot closer than it was before. For a brief second, Hyunjin considers diving to the ground to prevent herself from being seen, but then she recalls a better method of hiding. She smoothly transforms into a cat, leaps onto the railing, and begins casually grooming her fur right as Minji walks by.

No rest for the Princess of Hogwarts, Hyunjin thinks. 

In a contrast from before, Minji is all business now, moving with purpose as she presumably heads towards the disturbance. Her wand is out, and she flicks it to conjure up a small, colored piece of paper. A pencil flies out as well, and it jots down something for Minji as she makes her way back inside the castle. 

Hyunjin waits until she’s safely out of view before shifting back to her human form. 

“Hey, Yoohyeon-unnie.”

Yoohyeon gives a start upon hearing her name being called this time. She glances around the courtyard, smiling when she finally spots Hyunjin. 

“Hyunjinnie! What brings you here?” she asks. 

“I was looking for you,” Hyunjin says. “Congrats on confessing, by the way.”

“Congrats on–” Yoohyeon chokes on air. “Congrats on what!?”

“Confessing,” Hyunjin repeats, calm as can be. “Didn’t you just confess to Prefect Minji?”

“What? No! I would never– How could I possibly– Me? Confess?? To Kim Minji??? What in the world–” 

Yoohyeon continues sputtering her way through her denial, gesturing vehemently in the direction Minji left in. It’s funny, watching her struggle, and Hyunjin lets the show go on for a bit before changing tactics. 

“Sorry, I think I was mistaken,” Hyunjin interrupts, cutting into some spiel about food and friendship. “She was bullying you, wasn’t she?”

“… Hyunjin. Are you okay?”

“What? You bumped into her and had to give up your food as a sacrifice for your safety. That’s what Hyejoo would say, right?”

“Pfft.” Yoohyeon lets out a laugh against her will. “Don’t be mean! You know our Hyejoo means well.”

“She does,” Hyunjin agrees. “She’d be totally down to fight Prefect Minji for you if she had to.”

“Good thing she doesn’t,” Yoohyeon states firmly. She pinches Hyunjin’s cheek for emphasis, letting go when Hyunjin pouts. “As I was saying, Minji-unnie has been extra stressed lately, so I just wanted to cheer her on with some snacks. That’s all.”

“Extra stressed?” Hyunjin frowns. “So more than usual?”

“Yeah,” Yoohyeon confirms with a sad sigh. “I think the situation with Bora-unnie is getting to her? She says they haven’t had the chance to have a proper talk and clear the air between them. She didn’t say what they were ‘disagreeing’ about, but y’know…”

Yoohyeon makes a vague gesture, but Hyunjin knows exactly what she means. 

“Sounds rough,” Hyunjin says sympathetically. “I’m glad Siyeon and Hyejoo told us right away what happened. Or it would have been us trying to figure out what they’re hiding.”

“Right?” Yoohyeon shudders before sighing again. “Well, here’s to hoping Minji-unnie lets this one slide. It’s sad, seeing her and Bora-unnie be all not-best-friend-y.”

“And here I thought you and Bora-unnie disliked each other,” Hyunjin comments, though she keeps her tone light to make it clear that she’s joking. 

“Hey, if someone likes to blame you for their Quidditch losses and likes to pick fights with you and likes to pick on you and likes to pick you up without even asking–”

“I mean you did fly right into her that one game,” Hyunjin points out. “But anyways, I need your help with something,” she says when Yoohyeon opens her mouth to protest. “Know any nice Hufflepuff muggleborns? Asking for a friend.”

Yoohyeon blinks at the change in topic before tilting her head in thought. 

“Well, there’s obviously Yerim–”

“Not her,” Hyunjin shakes her head. “Not Jiwoo-unnie either, has to be someone who came to Hogwarts by themselves. And they have to be nice.”

“A very nice Hufflepuff muggleborn who came to Hogwarts by themselves...” Yoohyeon snaps her fingers when the answer hits her. “Vivi-unnie fits the bill perfectly!”

Hyunjin actually takes a step back in surprise. 

“Wait, Vivi-unnie was a muggleborn this whole time?”

“Always has been,” Yoohyeon says solemnly. “I don’t think she mentions it much? But I hurt my wrist one time in my second year and she was saying something about getting an X-ray thingy.”

“You don’t have an ex though??”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Yoohyeon shrugs. “But she’s a muggleborn and she’s definitely super nice, so…”

“I’ll go look for her then,” Hyunjin decides. “Thanks for the help, unnie.”

She leaves Yoohyeon to her own devices, the older student morphing into a dog and waddling away in the direction of the lake. Hyunjin too opts for her stealthier form as she climbs back into Hogwarts all while thinking what a shame it is that Hyejoo can’t use her animagus powers as freely as they do. It’s just so handy, being able to slip under people’s notice and take alternate routes to places. 

Hyunjin arrives at the Hospital Wing in no time thanks to some conveniently placed vines crawling along the Hospital Wing’s exterior. It does take a bit of exertion to reach some of them, but Hyunjin soon makes it to one of the windows without any mishaps. To her good fortune, it happens to be open, and a familiar voice can be heard from within. 

It’s Haseul, Hyunjin recognizes, and she checks inside to see the Ravenclaw sitting on a chair near Madam Lee’s desk, chatting away about something as Vivi arranges some potions on a cart next to her. They’re both sufficiently distracted, so Hyunjin takes the invitation to hop into the Hospital Ward and dart under a bed before she’s spotted.

“–And then Lisa tripped over Jinsol’s frog! I didn’t even have time to tell Jinsol ‘I told you so’ because Lisa was about to smack into our table, you know? But then wow, Park Chaeyoung… I don’t know how she moved so fast, but she grabbed Lisa by the waist, and gosh, it was just so romantic the way she–”

Hyunjin tunes out the rest of Haseul’s recounting of events. She’s never heard the fourth year speak so animatedly, and while a part of her is curious as to why Haseul’s even here in the first place, Hyunjin has a mission to complete, and she knows there’s a limit to how much eavesdropping is socially acceptable for a cat shapeshifter. 

It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, but Hyunjin swiftly changes back to human for a second. She winces when her nose bumps the bottom of the bed, and she has to fight the urge to sneeze from all the dust surrounding her. Not wanting to waste any time, Hyunjin pulls out a scrap of paper and a pilfered yellow scarf before switching back to being a cat. Silently, skillfully, and with all the subtlety that none of her friends have, she deposits her items on top of the bed and slips back out the window in one fluid chain of movement. 

Hyunjin pauses just before climbing back down the vines. Using a paw, she taps the window, whiskers twitching in irritation when the only noise she makes is a small, barely noticeable thud. She unsheathes her claws, and those make a much sharper rattle on the glass. Haseul stops speaking for a second, and Hyunjin takes that as her cue to fully exit the stage and wait for the main players to make their move. 

“Hey, it looks like someone left a scarf here…”

“Is that a note too?”

“Oh, it has your name on it. ‘Please return this to Choi Yerim, first year. P.S. She could use a friend like you.’”

“Choi Yerim… Didn’t Yeojin ask you for advice about her not too long ago?”

“Yep! So what do you say, unnie? Want to befriend my sister’s friend?”

Hyunjin doesn’t quite catch Vivi’s reply, but she does hear a laugh, gentle and warm. It’s joined by Haseul’s own laughter, bright and comforting, and although that’s not definitive proof that her mission has been accomplished, Hyunjin chooses to trust in her friends and the people they trust. 

Hyunjin trusts that Yerim will have a better first year than Siyeon did. 

They’ll all make sure she does.


Sundown.

Hyejoo thinks she’d like that transient period of the day more if it wasn’t followed by night. 

She exhales slowly as she leans over the side of the Wooden Bridge, the sky presenting an array of colors before her. Vermillion dances with gold as they meld together into a sea of dark amber, and indigo isn’t too far away as it encroaches upon them ever so steadily alongside the marching of time. It’s like watching flames burn against the darkness, defiant until the inevitable end. 

The moon is somewhere behind Hyejoo, but she doesn’t want to look at it. She doesn’t want to see it in its entirety; knowledge of its presence alone is enough to weigh her down, considering what’s coming tonight. 

And to think that Hyejoo used to love gazing upon the full moon back at home while imagining Siyeon and Yoohyeon doing the same. 

Hyejoo blows a strand of hair away from her face. Slouching over, she rests her chin on her arms and closes her eyes to listen to the wind. It whispers to her, soothing in its wordlessness, and it almost makes Hyejoo miss the sound of someone’s approach.

“Hyejoo?”

Chaewon’s voice comes as soft as the breeze that carries it, lilting and light. Her footsteps are just as gentle, considerate even, and Hyejoo finds her frown disappearing as she turns towards her friend. 

“Hey.”

“Hey,” Chaewon greets. “I had a feeling you’d be here.”

“And I had a feeling you’d stop by,” Hyejoo returns. “This feels kind of familiar, actually.”

She remembers why, of course: they had met here under similar circumstances during the first full moon of the school year. Hyejoo still remembers the apprehension from back then, exacerbated by the actions of her crueler peers. She’s glad they’ve backed off since then, but the dread that comes with dealing with a lycanthrope has made a return thanks to the events of the previous month. 

Hyejoo really hopes nothing bad happens this time. 

A sandwich suddenly appears in front of her, breaking her out of her worries. 

“Have you eaten?” Chaewon asks. “I didn’t see you at dinner earlier.”

“I did,” Hyejoo says, though she still takes the offered food. She knows the deja vu of the moment isn’t lost upon Chaewon, the quirk in her smile giving her away, and the echoed memory does ease Hyejoo just a bit. “Not working on your Nin-ten-do Change this time?”

“Switch,” Chaewon corrects with a giggle. “Nintendo Switch. And no, just wanted to hang out here for a bit… Unless you’d rather be alone?”

“Nah.” Hyejoo shakes her head despite having originally come out here for some time to herself. “Don’t stay out too late though.”

“I know,” Chaewon murmurs, her smile now tinged with sympathy. 

Slowly, thoughtfully like how she’s always been towards Hyejoo, Chaewon places her hand on the Wooden Bridge’s railing just mere centimeters away from Hyejoo’s arm. One of the bridge’s many posts holding up its roof keeps them separated, but it’s easy to pretend that distance isn’t there at all. Chaewon doesn’t say anything, but Hyejoo understands that her gesture is her own quiet way of expressing “be careful” and “stay safe.”

“By the way,” Chaewon says after a minute has passed. “Is Siyeon-unnie… allergic to garlic? I saw her give a pile of them to Yoohyeon-unnie earlier.”

“No?” Hyejoo frowns. “She just doesn’t like them.”

“Oh, so that was a lie,” Chaewon mutters. “I thought she couldn’t eat them.”

Hyejoo stares at her friend before suddenly snorting when comprehension dawns upon her. 

“You’re thinking of vampires, aren’t you?” she snickers. 

“... Oh wait, that’s right,” Chaewon sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I was googling all sorts of supernatural creatures that time–”

“I’m sorry, you were what.”

“Researching,” Chaewon clarifies. Hyejoo can tell she’s trying not to laugh at the disturbed expression on Hyejoo’s face as she explains, “Google is a search engine. You can look up practically anything in the world with it.”

Anything anything?”

“Anything and everything.”

Hyejoo lets out an impressed huff. 

“What I would give to have something like that in the library,” she says as she thinks of this week’s assignments. “Wait, is it super big?”

“Big?” It’s Chaewon’s turn to stare in confusion. “Like… physically?”

“Yeah. It’s an engine, isn’t it? Doesn’t it have to be pretty big to be able to find anything?” Hyejoo shrugs. “I don’t really know how engines work.”

“It’s not– Well, okay, the servers are probably huge,” Chaewon says more to herself than to Hyejoo. “But Google itself is digital, so there’s no physical… engine. But you need a smartphone or a computer or something to access it. Wait, do you even know what a computer is?”

“K– Kind of?” Hyejoo winces, and it’s obvious that neither of them are buying her words. “Anyways, did your research come up with anything?”

“I don’t think so,” Chaewon sighs again, her face falling. “Most places talked about how to exterminate werewolves, which isn’t what we want. And they didn’t really list any cures aside from like… calling the werewolf’s name three times.”

“That doesn’t work,” Hyejoo mumbles, recalling how many times she and her parents cried for Siyeon to return to her senses. She shakes her head quickly. “Do muggles believe in the silver myth too?”

“Yep,” Chaewon confirms. “Silver is the number one recommendation for dealing with all sorts of magical creatures. But I guess it’s just a scam in the end, hmph.”

“It’s not a complete scam. It still has its uses,” Hyejoo chuckles humorlessly. “We needed it to stop Siyeon-unnie from bleeding to death that night.”

That particular moment remains a scarred blur whenever Hyejoo looks back upon it. There was too much going on, from her father’s screaming to her mother’s sobbing to the frantic rushing of what few servants were present. Hyejoo doesn’t remember what she was doing as they tried to tend to Siyeon; everything had been drowned out by the stench of terror and torment, the air tainted with rust as her sister’s life hung in the balance.

Hyejoo can still smell the blood.

On a desperate whim, she leans out over the Wooden Bridge to look down at the trees far below. The vertigo that comes with that action is a sufficient distraction in preventing her from sinking too deep into the past until a gentle but firm grip on her shoulder pulls her back to reality.

“I’m sorry,” Chaewon says softly, her eyes shining in the sunset. “I didn’t mean to bring up such unpleasant memories.”

“It’s… It’s fine,” Hyejoo breathes out. She clears her throat loudly when it looks as though Chaewon is about to apologize again. “Anyways, thank you for trying to help.”

“It’s the least I could do,” Chaewon murmurs, her hand still on Hyejoo’s shoulder. She gives a small squeeze. “Sorry I couldn’t find anything. There’s a lot muggles don’t know about the magical world.”

“Hey, there’s a lot we don’t know about the muggle world either,” Hyejoo points out with a small smile. “Yeojin and I have decided to take Muggle Studies down the line so we can understand you and Yerim better.”

“I’m considering that for my next year,” Chaewon says with mock seriousness. “That’s one class I’ll definitely pass.”

Hyejoo grins in amusement.  

“Imagine if you didn’t.”

“Don’t jinx me,” Chaewon scolds, poking Hyejoo’s arm. “Speaking of Yerim though, I’m glad she’s back to normal. We spoke a bit earlier.”

“Oh?”

“Now that I think about it, I kind of take Jiwoo-unnie and Jungeun-unnie for granted,” Chaewon shares. “I never considered how hard it would be to come to Hogwarts by yourself because, well, Jiwoo-unnie and Jungeun-unnie got here first, and they’ve always been here for me.”

Hyejoo turns to look at Chaewon. She tries to imagine another life where her friend had arrived at  Hogwarts alone. Would she have been as outgoing and sociable as Yerim was on day one? Or would she have taken more time to come into herself? Would she have been comfortable getting close to Heejin and Hyunjin her first year? Or would that have taken a longer time?

Would she still have befriended Hyejoo?

Hyejoo’s musing is interrupted by tiny, rhythmic pit-pats sounding across the bridge like a staccato drumbeat. They’re not particularly loud, but they do cut through the serenity of the bridge. Chaewon has noticed as well, for she turns around and immediately lets out a squeal. 

“Oh, a puppy!” she gasps, clasping her hands together in delight. “It’s so cuuuute– Wait.”

“Yep,” Hyejoo smirks. “That’s Yoohyeon-unnie.”

“Ahem. Hello, unnie,” Chaewon greets politely. It’s funny, watching her restrain herself, her body visibly trembling when Yoohyeon runs right up to her and places a paw on her leg. She actually pouts when Yoohyeon gives her a bright, open-mouthed smile, and Hyejoo decides to take pity on her by scooping Yoohyeon away. 

“It’s time to go, isn’t it?” Hyejoo asks as she holds the Pomeranian up to her face. She grimaces when Yoohyeon’s tongue darts out and comes a little too close for comfort. “Ew, stop! I know you ate garlic earlier.”

Yoohyeon growls lightly but otherwise makes no argument. She points in the direction of the Whomping Willow with a paw, and Hyejoo nods at the nonverbal message. 

“We’ll be going now,” Hyejoo tells Chaewon. “You should head inside. And stay inside.”

“You don’t have to tell me that. I’m not Bora-unnie,” Chaewon says with a miffed sniff before dropping the annoyed act. “Take care, you two.”

Keeping her friend’s well-wishes inside her heart, Hyejoo heads into the Shrieking Shack. With every step she takes, the darkness grows, and soon enough there’s hardly any remnants left of the dying sun. The last ray of daylight feebly shines through a gap between two wooden boards to illuminate a sliver of Siyeon’s face. 

“I almost thought you weren’t coming,” she says to Hyejoo with a faint smile. 

It’s a joke, Hyejoo knows, but something about it stabs her in the back of her throat. 

“How could I not be here?” she says hoarsely. “You’re my sister.”

Siyeon doesn’t reply. Instead, she lifts an arm to pat Hyejoo on the head. Normally, such a thing would be comforting, but something about today has Hyejoo raw and vulnerable, fragile and susceptible to the fear that’s been silently gnawing on her for who knows how long. It’s worsened by the fact that Hyejoo had thought she was past this, thought she was used to this, thought she was moving on. 

Hyejoo clenches her fists. 

“Unnie,” she calls out, her voice small. 

“What’s wrong?” Siyeon frowns. Next to her, Hyunjin has returned to her human form, her expression a mirror of Siyeon’s concern. 

“I… I’m…” Hyejoo hugs Yoohyeon tightly to her body as she struggles to speak. 

“Hey, you okay?” Hyunjin asks, taking a step forward.  

Now, Hyejoo could just swallow down everything. She could very well just bottle it all up, push it away, suppress it, and worry about it another day. Better yet, she could just pretend that none of these feelings even exist, and she’d never have to talk about them. She wouldn’t have to bog down her sister and friends like this, she wouldn’t have to be so weak and pathetic–

“Hyejoo,” Siyeon says. “You can tell us anything. We’re here with you.”

Hyejoo closes her eyes and tries to breath. 

“… I’m scared,” she finally confesses. “I’m scared, unnie.”

Yoohyeon vanishes from Hyejoo’s hold partway through her sentence. In the time it takes for Siyeon to pull Hyejoo into a secure embrace, Yoohyeon has reappeared, towering over everyone as she joins with Hyunjin in hugging the two sisters in between them. 

“You’re not alone, Hyejoo,” Yoohyeon says, pressing a reassuring kiss to Hyejoo’s forehead. “Honestly, I’m kind of scared too. We all are.”

“But we’re together,” Hyunjin states resolutely. “And that’s what makes the difference.”

“She’s right,” Siyeon murmurs as she pulls back a bit to look Hyejoo in the eye. “After all that we’ve been through… You’re all still here. With me. And that’s what gives me the strength to keep going.”

Hyejoo is bewildered for a second as she reads between the lines of her sister’s words. Her teasing hinted at it earlier, but now it really does seem like there’s a part of Siyeon that almost expects to be abandoned or something, like it’s not a given that Hyejoo at least would stay by her side. Such a thing is inconceivable to Hyejoo, and the thought of Siyeon dealing with everything on her own is downright preposterous to the point where it physically hurts. 

“I won’t leave you,” Hyejoo says firmly, her need to assuage Siyeon’s unspoken insecurities superseding her own worries. “I won’t leave any of you.”

Hyejoo realizes then what her sister and friends are trying to impart: a reminder that the road ahead may be shrouded in shadows and unimaginable frights, but the fact that they’re together and would do anything to remain together will light the way forward and keep them moving even if it’s still too dark. 

Her comprehension comes just in the nick of time, for this moment of mutual reassurance draws to an abrupt close. Siyeon suddenly tears herself away from the group, her entire body cringing in pain, and she staggers towards the room she always uses. Hyejoo swears she hears the cracking of bones underneath Siyeon’s whimpers, but then the door slams shut and muffles any further sounds of suffering. 

Someone squeezes Hyejoo’s shoulder one last time before the two human presences behind her disappear. Taking that as her cue, Hyejoo closes her eyes and transforms. All sensations warp as her body mutates and expands, and by the time that’s over, there’s a banging as Siyeon rams into the door and claws at it. 

It finally breaks open on her seventh bash, and Hyejoo fights the urge to flinch when a giant wolf comes barreling at her. Despite the wounded part of her that wants nothing more than to cower in a corner and hide, Hyejoo holds her ground. Yoohyeon and Hyunjin are behind her, after all, and she’ll do whatever it takes to protect them. 

Fear or not, Hyejoo will protect them all.