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dracowars · 6 months ago
LOVED YOUR TOM RIDDLE. Can I please request a arranged marriage au where yn is in love with him but he hates her so when she decides to let him go or someone else wants to marry her, Tom finally realises he’s in love with her. happ ending :))))
my heart belongs to you | tom riddle
pairing: tom x black!reader
word count: 3,3k
summary: where tom and y/n are in an arranged marriage
a/n: i'm so sorry for being so inactive recently, uni is taking its toll on me.. i had to do a bit of research for this one and also tom is a pureblood here!
warnings: toxic relationship, violence
universe: harry potter
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“Get out of my sight, will you?”, he angrily snaps at you out of nowhere, for the third time already on this still very early day. Furiously, he stomps past you, pushing you to the side harshly, the filled glasses on your tray swaying dangerously. Knowing that you should just leave him alone, you stand there completely frozen at the door, still feeling the breeze on your skin after he stormed past you.
The glasses clink on the serving tray as you try to keep your trembling hands under control, but you terribly fail while tears shoot into your eyes. A lump forms in your throat and you gasp in desperation, losing your composure after hearing the front door slam shut.
Slowly, you slump down and therefore with a loud rattle let happen what could have been foreseen already: a thousand shattered pieces of glass scattered across the floor around you while you cower against the wall, your elegant dress pulled over your knees, your forehead leaning against it. Heavy sobs rock through your body and tears find their way down your cheeks, dripping from your chin onto the expensive fabric of your dress.
You just wanted to spend some time with him. Together, in the house of your parents, who went on a daily trip with their close friends early in the morning, all part of the most notorious popular pureblood families in the wizarding world – the Nott’s, the Macmillan’s, the Malfoy’s, the Lestrange’s. And if his parents were still alive, probably with the Riddle’s as well.
This is primarily the reason why you even are in this position right now; crying and huddled in the living room because your fiancé hates you profoundly.
After graduating from Hogwarts last year, the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you, descendant of the pureblood Black family, got engaged to Tom Marvolo Riddle, the last living heir of the Riddle’s. He would offer you a good future, they said, and you would never have to worry about anything again.
But nobody knows that in reality, your own beloved fiancé really does not want to have anything to do with you. He does not even want to stay in the same room as you.
You can’t explain why he acts like this towards you. You do not know why he harbors such an abysmal hatred for you and any clear-headed, rational person would have done something about it long ago. Unfortunately for you, you feel the exact opposite for him.
Your heart belongs to him and only to him.
You have liked him since you first met him at Hogwarts, back in 1938, when the two of you were sorted into the Slytherin house. This initial friendly liking has quickly evolved into something more than that over the years and lead you to where you are now, at a point where you would have never seen yourself back then.
You have already tried everything to convince him that you are not as bad as he seems to think. Every morning you bring him his breakfast, you give him everything he needs. Even when you were still at Hogwarts, you always looked after him, finished his homework for him when he was too busy to do it by himself, and helped him pass all of his exams.
And not once did you hear a thank you. Not then and not now either.
Slowly gathering your thoughts together again, you rub the long sleeves of your velvet dress over your damp face, wiping away all of your tears before you get up on shaky legs and begin to clean up the mess that you have created. After you went back to the kitchen with the broken pieces and some injuries on your hands, your gaze longingly slides out the window.
Outside, the sun stands high over the magnificent garden of the mansion, making the clear water in the fountain shimmer in its bright light. A gentle breeze blows through the air and rustles through the perfectly cut trees that line a small path through the garden.
The loud, excited voices that suddenly roar through the house snap you out of your daydream and you quickly wipe the blood from your fingers before you step into the huge marble entrance hall. You arrive at the front door just in time to open it for your parents, who, to your surprise, did not come back alone. You are amazed to find not too familiar faces in front of you as they climb up the stairs to the door where you are still standing.
“And that has to be Y/N. Oh, how you have grown!”, an older man smiles friendly at you and you return his smile with a certain uncertainty in your face.
“Darling, we brought guests over for dinner today. You surely remember the Lestranges?”, your father announces happily and only now do the faces that you have seen at numerous balls and celebrations seem familiar again. Especially one.
“Reinhard?”, you ask in amazement when you spot him standing behind his parents, a big smile on his face when he sees you.
“Y/N, how nice to see you again”, he grins, carefully pushing his way past your parents in order to slightly bow venerably to you, taking your hand in his to place a kiss on the back of it. “It has been some time.”
“I am sure you have a lot to tell each other”, your mother mentions in a sweet voice, but before she can continue, she watches how your facial expression changes from one second to the other as you look past them, out into the yard.
Next to the carriage with which they have returned, Tom is standing now, petting one of the splendid noble white horses before he joins all of you.
“Tom! There you are, I was already wondering where you went”, your father says, visibly pleased when he too spotted his future son-in-law, drawing everyone’s attention to him.
Within a few seconds, the two former best friends lay in each other’s arms, obviously happy to finally see the other again.
“Let us go inside. We want to show you our newest masterpiece of art in our wonderful collection, come on”, your mother announces happily and leads the Lestranges inside, but not without turning around to you once more. “The children can catch up on what they have missed.”
“I can’t believe it! You are really here, Tom. Man, you look even better than at Hogwarts”, Reinhard laughs, playfully pushing Tom to the side while you watch them in silence. “What are you doing here with the Blacks?”
“They kindly took me in”, Tom lies to him and for a moment you think he threw you a glance out of the corner of his eyes after uttering these words. His statement makes Reinhard realize that you were still there with them, who had apparently completely forgotten that you were even there.
“I am so happy to see you again, Y/N!”, he grins and takes a step closer to you, probably to be able to take a closer look at you. “Still just as beautiful as I imagined. And just as smart, I guess?”
Reinhard’s sudden compliments make you blush and your cheeks glow, which is why you nervously avert your gaze from him, directly falling on Tom, who looks at the scene in front of him with incredible resentment.
Unlike Tom, Reinhard was always there for you. You spent a lot of time together in your school days and if your parents had known about your close friendship, you are sure that he would have been your fiancé by now. Which, to be honest, does not sound bad anymore right now.
And yet your heart still belongs to Tom.
When you all sit together at dinner later in the evening, where your parents are talking about irrelevant things like Ministry of Magic, you keep making eye contact with Reinhard, who seems to be staring at you.
“Is there something on my face?”, you ask uncertainly and put your glass back on the table when you can no longer bear his piercing gaze.
“No, no, not at all. I was just wondering how a beautiful witch like you could have become so much more stunning”, Reinhard winks at you, causing you to swallow hard. You are not used to getting compliments, especially not from a handsome young man like him. Before you can answer to him, however, there is a loud clink and you startle, your eyes immediately fixed on the cause of the noise.
The glass, which you have certainly placed far away from the edge, is now lying in your lap, the little liquid that was still inside now spread over your elegant evening gown. You move your chair back in shock when, in the corner of your eye, you see how Tom puts away his wand. And not only did you notice Tom just now, but the rest of them follow your gaze.
“Tom, darling, how about you tell our guests how you and our daughter got to know each other”, your mother suddenly prompts him, not even realizing that he has just deliberately spilled your drink on you. But why did he in the first place?
„I would love to“, Tom puts on a really believable smile that no one but you questions and starts telling them how you met and fell in love with each other. He tells one lie after another, explaining the web of lies that you have spun around you over time to make your relationship as credible as possible, at least in front of other people. And suddenly nobody cares about you or your still soaking wet dress anymore.
“What a wonderful story”, Mrs. Lestrange applauds and everyone else seems to be completely enthusiastic about Tom’s fairytale. To top it off, he then reaches across the table to take your hand in his, just like a real affectionate couple would do.
You lower your gaze as he gently strokes the back of your hand with his thumb, trying your best to not show how uncomfortable you are. Oh, how much you wish that this were real, that Tom would actually treat you like this when you are alone, the same way as he does in front of your parents.
But he does not and deep down you know that he will never do.
“So, you are engaged?”, Reinhard scrutinizes the statement of his former best friend, his eyes focused on you suspiciously, as if he is expecting an answer from you and not from Tom. A slight pressure on your hand makes you flinch and look up.
“Y-Yes”, you force a smile onto your lips, whereupon Tom seems satisfied with your answer, letting go of your hand again with a - what seemed to you like a – disgusted expression on his face.
An uncomfortable silence spreads between the three of you, which is drowned out by the loud conversation of the adults on the other side of the table. Finally, making up your mind, you clear your throat loudly and get up from your chair, gaining everyone’s attention in a matter of seconds.
“Excuse me, I have to go freshen up for a moment”, you explain with a slight polite bow before turning away to leave the dining room.
“Reinhard, would you be so kind and help Y/N”, Mr. Lestrange asks his son, who stands up with furrowed brows, apparently just as surprised about this sudden request as you, but then follows you out into the hallway with no further objection.
“I really do not need any help, thank you”, you try to get rid of him as you walk up the large staircase leading to the first floor together, only wanting to be alone.
“Dinner like these are totally boring anyway”, he chuckles softly and shows no intentions of leaving your side any time soon, which is why you do not even try to search for further arguments. He follows you to your room where you are able to tear yourself away from him to put on a new dress while he waits outside in front of the door.
With an equally elegant burgundy red dress you step out of your room after a few minutes, Reinhard’s eyes greeting you with a sparkle.
“Wow”, he breathes out barely audible and takes you hand without asking to swirl you around, causing your dress to fly around gorgeously. Unintentionally, warmth rises in your face again and your hearts makes a barely noticeable jump inside your chest when he looks deep into your eyes after catching you back in his arms.
The loud clearing of a throat behind you makes you turn around in shock, only to see that Tom himself is now standing at the end of the corridor, not seeming very enthusiastic.
“We did not see you there, Tom”, Reinhard disguises his obvious nervousness with a laugh, acting like Tom had just caught you in doing something he should not have seen. Tom, however, does not even react to his words, but looks past Reinhard at you, his eyebrows raised meaningfully.
But when you do not move under his piercing gaze, his facial expression changes and he quickly approaches you, Reinhard instinctively pushing you behind him so that you can only see Tom approaching further over his shoulder. Before neither you nor Reinhard can say or do anything, Tom has already pulled out his wand and aims it directly at Reinhard, who flies back through the air only a few seconds later, hitting the hard marble floor at the end of the corridor with a thud.
“What the-?!”
“Come with me”, Tom orders, now standing directly in front of you. When you stubbornly refuse, he suddenly grabs your wrist to pull you away from there. No matter how much you fight against his firm grip, you cannot tear yourself away from him as he pulls you into the closest room, which turns out to be the library.
Once there, you can finally free yourself from his tight grip, but before you can reach for the doorknob to leave immediately, he locks the door with a spell. Angrily, you turn to him, despair written all over your stunning face.
“What is this supposed to be, Tom? Let me out of here, now!”, you command him in a loud voice, not caring if anybody can hear.
“What did he want from you?”, he asks you urgently and steps closer to you. Since the door is in your back, every possible escape route is blocked, and you are caught.
“We just talked to each other, you know. Like normal people do”, you answer irritably and cross your arms in front of your chest, not in the mood to justify yourself, especially not in front of someone who does not care about you at all and not after what he has done.
“But that did not look like it.”
“Tom, stop it.”
“You belong to me and nobody else!”
These words coming out of his mouth echo loudly through the dark library, his face wrapped in an eerie candlelight. Before you can even control yourself and fully process what he said, you severely slap him.
Frightened by your own horrible deed, you immediately pull your hand away, your gaze filled with fear, but the anger that keeps building up inside of you winning the upper hand after all.
“How dare you call me your property?!”, you scream in rage and tears form in your eyes because of your uncontrollable anger. However, Tom needs a moment to collect his thoughts after your heavy smack before he can answer you.
“You are my fiancé”, he spits out coldly, a touch of shock in his voice, apparently not expecting you to react like this.
“And that does not make me nowhere near your property! You never treat me like your fiancé anyway, so why now all of a sudden?!”, you bicker at him, your voice loud and constant, even though you would like to flee from this situation right away if you were able to.
But Tom does not have an answer.
“Fine, okay. If you have nothing to say to me, like you never have, then I will go back now and ask my parents to end this damn failed engagement and engage me with someone else who truly cares for me!”
Suddenly, without letting you time to catch your breath after your outburst, he presses you with your back against the door completely, his hands tightly grabbing your wrists, a little too tight for your personal liking.
“You mustn’t do that”, he softly whispers, his head lowered as if he does not dare to look you in the eyes.
“What is stopping me?”, you hiss, still full of anger and – probably for the very first time – hatred towards him.
But when you feel his lips on yours all of a sudden, all of these emotions evaporate and all that remains is your racing heartbeat, which is being repaired at this very moment. You never would have thought that at some point in your life the moment would come when Tom Marvolo Riddle, who absolutely loathes his fiancé, kisses you.
After kissing you, he looks straight into your eyes, and the Tom you met in 1938 is standing in front of you again. The Tom you fell so deeply in love with.
“I can’t explain it to you”, he finally breaks the silence, his gaze directed to the floor as he moves away from you, giving you enough space to breathe regularly again. You, however, do not say anything but just stare at him.
“I was not aware that I am capable of feeling such feelings for someone. I am unfamiliar with this feeling and I did not know how to deal with it, Y/N. I treated you badly because I did not want it to be true, I did not want to accept it. I could not imagine having feelings for the little nuisance that has always been running after me”, Tom explains, choosing each and every single word very carefully, trying to put his emotions into words which does not really work the way he would like it to. But that is how you know him. You know that this confession must be extremely difficult for him, but you can’t help but feel a sense of relief inside of you.
“When?”, you ask and manage, with this tiny little word, to make him look up at you. “When did you know?”
“Since I have been here. You served me every day and took care of me, even though I wanted to push you away from me with all of my might. You have already helped me so many times in the past without me even asking, you have always accepted me for who I am”, he desperately tries to but his feelings into words, asking himself what he is even doing right now.
“No, I have to sincerely apologize to you. I had no right to treat you the way I did. And also today.. when I saw you with him and how well you got along, it finally became clear to me. Reinhard has felt something for you since our school days, I know that even though I could never understand, but now I do. I understand why he fell in love with you”, Tom continues without breathing, pouring out all of his feelings that he has hidden for so long.
“I understand if you want to dissolve this engagement and I will not stop you if that is what you want”, he quickly adds, looking at you with desperation in his eyes. He already prepares himself for the worst when you are the one getting closer to him this time.
“Idiot”, you smile slightly and place a gentle kiss on his lips while he looks at you puzzled. “I love you, I thought you knew that.”
“I know, but-“
“But nothing”, you interrupt him and take his hand to lead it to your fast pounding heart. “It always belonged to you.”
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studyofawearymind · 2 months ago
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gif by @pajamasecrets
the thief x f!reader
summary: the mysterious man you've been seeing is away all day for work, making it the perfect time to meet up with an old friend.
word count: 1.2k+
warnings: 18+ sexual themes [some sensual touching, allusions to sex and oral (f), mention of food and drinks
a/n: we are all fools. this isn't necessarily @honestly-shite's fault but i do blame them for enabling me <3 this is part one of a potential little series if people are interested!
masterlist | series masterlist | next
Your eyes flutter open, blinking slowly as they adjust to the morning light filtering through the curtains. You roll over, eyes falling onto the sleeping form next to you. You reach out to smooth his unruly brown curls before slipping out from under the pristine, ivory duvet. A breeze passes through the open window, sending a shiver down your unclothed body. You dress yourself in the silk robe he gifted you a few months ago and head downstairs to the kitchen to make yourself a cup of tea.
While you wait for the kettle to boil, you take in the view surrounding you, remembering the first time he brought you here — his penthouse. It's magnificent. The sculptures by the main entrance, the exquisite art adorning the walls, a collection of artifacts decorating each room. It felt like you were in a museum. You're still not used to it — the extravagance of it all, though he assures you one day you will feel at home.
Once the water is ready, you pour it into a mug and let it steep. You watch as the water slowly darkens, the tea leaves releasing its flavour and nutrients into the clear liquid. You contemplate letting it sit a little while longer, allowing the rich colour to match that of the eyes of the man sleeping upstairs; but decide against it, not wanting it to end up too bitter.
You remove the tea bag and place it in the sink to deal with later. Just as you're about to pick up the cup for your first sip, a pair of strong, bare arms wrap around your middle.
“Good morning, beautiful girl,” he says, burying his face in the crook of your neck and inhaling deeply when he is met with your scent.
“Good morning.” You rest your arms on top of his and lean your head back onto his shoulder, giving him more access to the exposed skin on your neck.
“I was disappointed when I woke up to an empty bed,” he mumbles into your neck. “Thought after last would surely be too tired to be awake at this hour.” He moves the fabric covering your shoulder out of the way to place a few kisses there. “I guess I was wrong,” he chuckles deeply.
“Mmm...was too cold. I made tea to warm me up,” you tell him.
He dips his hands underneath the silk fabric covering your chest, your breath hitching as his fingers gently brush your nipples before cupping your breasts.
“I see that. I may know another way we can warm you up, my love,” he whispers, his hot breath fans your ear and a wave of arousal floods your body as he begins to massage your breasts.
“Oh yeah?” you tease, knowing fully well what his intentions are. “What might that be?”
He growls and turns you around, hands dropping between the two of you to undo the tie on your robe. Gripping your waist, he helps you onto the marble countertop and drags you to the edge, leaving kisses down your body until he’s kneeling on the ground between your thighs.
You never do end up drinking that tea.
He showers and is dressed for the day before you, the three orgasms he managed to pull from you earlier strips you of your energy, leaving you sprawled out on the couch and flipping through the channels on the tv.
“I will be back late this evening,” he says to you, gathering his things for work. “I have a couple meetings and then a late dinner with,” he pauses, carefully deciding his next words, “an old associate.”
You prop yourself up on your elbow as he walks towards you.
“What will you do today?” he asks, taking a seat on the table across from you.
“I have a few errands to run.” You smile sweetly at him. “And since you aren't here for dinner I made plans to go out with Mary from book club. We're going to try the new Italian restaurant that just opened.”
“That sounds lovely,” he says, cupping your cheek. “I'm glad you won't be spending the day cooped up here all by your lonesome.”
“Would that be such a bad thing?” you joke, eyes roaming the spacious penthouse.
He laughs and leans in, allowing you to taste the minty remnants of his mouth wash as he kisses you goodbye.
“Don't feel like you need to wait up for me tonight,” he calls out to you as he approaches the door. “Like I said, I will be home very late,” he reiterates.
You nod and say goodbye as he disappears behind the door. Letting a moment pass, you take a deep breath before getting up to shower and start your day.
The weather is pleasant today. The cool chill in the morning disappears by the afternoon, resulting in a warm, sunny day. You manage to get your errands done fairly quickly, leaving enough time to pop into one of your favourite boutiques. The second you see the red matching lingerie set on the mannequin, you know you have to have it. You figure you can surprise him with it sometime later this week, he was a sucker for lace after all.
Your meal with Mary is wonderful. You gab about the book you’re reading and how she heard Susanna — one of the other women in your club — found out her husband was having an affair with his secretary. The food is excellent, too.
After the meal, you wait outside the restaurant with her until her driver pulls up.
“Are you sure we can't drop you off? You're on the way,” she states.
You thank her for the offer, but wave her off. “I'm okay. It’s a nice night for a walk.”
“Okay. Well, text me when you get back so I know you haven't been murdered,” she says through the open backseat window.
“I will,” you laugh and wave goodbye as the car pulls away.
You check the time on your phone to see it's 8:42pm.
Eighteen minutes.
You walk at a fast pace, dodging people as they stagger out of bars and restaurants and onto the sidewalk. You can see the apartment building where the penthouse is a couple blocks away, but instead of going straight you cross the street to head towards the park.
You check the time again.
Four minutes.
You enter the park and follow along the bike path — it's too dark for anyone to be using it now anyways. You spot a couple benches that are sitting back to back and approach slowly to ensure no one is nearby. Tree branches block the closest street lamp, making the area not well lit.
You check your phone one last time.
Less than a minute.
You take the last few steps needed to settle yourself on the bench, placing your purse beside you.
The hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you feel a presence appear behind you. The bench creaks as they sit down, but you keep staring into the darkness ahead.
“The sky looks beautiful tonight.” You hear the voice of the man behind you speak.
“Yes, the stars are so clear,” you reply.
After a beat of silence, he utters your name and you smile.
“Hi Dave.”
permanent tags: @girlwithanewplan @shaqbutt @you-got-me-starry-eyed @ezrasbirdie @its--fandom--darling @yourbucky084 @julieteagk @niki-xie @honestly-shite @jedi-mando @phoenixhalliwell @i-neverasktwice @klaine-92 @salome-c @the-ginger-hedge-witch @waywardimpalawriter @h-hxgirl @dihra-vesa @runic-belova
also tagging @green-socks & @writeforfandoms
let me know if you'd like to be added/removed, or you can add yourself here!
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cazzyimagines · 7 months ago
Perfectly Exasperating - Chapter 3
Synopsis: While you have been unknowingly kidnapped Zemo is determined to make the time he spends with you the best that he can
Word count: 5.4k
Author’s note: Hey all! This is sorta a one-month celebration of my account and for all the love you guys have shown this series and my other series 'A Freudian Slip' I can't thank you enough! My editing program decided to screw me over though so if you can see a difference grammatically in the first half and the second half that's why
(Please check out my master list to see what I will be writing next and if requests are open or closed)
Cross-posted to ao3 under the same username
Part 1 Part 2 Part 4
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Your eyes slowly flutter open as the warmth from the sun shining through the curtains touching your skin waking you up. Yawning and stretching, feeling the soft duvet move on top of you, you sighed in content, closing your eyes again as you embraced the happiness which had been foreign to you for so long. You reach out to seize the end of the duvet and gradually slide out of the bed; you feel the slight chill of the morning breeze brush against your exposed legs. Crossing over to the wardrobe your hand reaches out to flick through the many dresses, shirts, trousers that hung in there, all belonging to shops such as Gucci, Prada, Valentino. There were clothes appropriate for any event, but today you choose comfortably as you pull out a maroon knitted sweater and dark blue jeans. Though appearing to be rather cheap clothes, you knew Zemo would never have spent less than $100 on them.
When Zemo said he would take care of you, he meant it in every aspect. It was a culture shock going from the relatively poor life you lived, surviving off the small amount of money they paid you for being an Avenger to being treated like royalty by Zemo. Not that you were complaining. It was a guilty pleasure of yours enjoying this luxury, a part of you hoping it would never end. If you had told yourself just a few weeks ago, you would have enjoyed living with Zemo you would have laughed in your face but that man had certainly turned on the charm and you couldn’t help but feel the slightest big thankful for him for everything he has done for you.
You finally leave the confines of your room, something you had only been allowed to do a few times until today. You convinced Zemo yesterday that you weren’t concussed from when John had hit you with the shield and that you would be fine getting up and walking around. He was still hesitant but knew he couldn’t keep you confined in your bed forever.
You close your eyes as you inhale the sweet smell of cooking pancakes, making your stomach grumble greedily. Following the scent, you work your way down through the interior design living room into the lavish kitchen where Zemo currently had his back turned to you as he attempted to flip the pancake he had in the frying pan. His purple turtleneck sleeves were pulled up, exposing his forearms as they tensed, trying to get the timing right to flip the pancake. He does so with perfect accuracy, the golden brownness of the pancake soaring up into the air and landing back down in the frying pan, sizzling.
Zemo giggles to himself, celebrating his minor achievement as he waves the frying pan, his body swaying along slightly with it.
“That smells heavenly,”
Zemo whips around at hearing your voice pierce the air. “Ah y/n! Please, take a seat while I make breakfast,”
His eyes follow you as you take a seat down at the table he had prepared for this morning, then focus back on the breakfast at hand. You pour out some orange juice Zemo had left on the table, then your gaze flickers back to him as he finishes cooking. He stacks the pancakes onto two plates and grabs some sugar, maple syrup, and lemons out of the shelves, giving you a choice of toppings.
You scoff as he turns around, seeing on the apron he had tied around himself the words ‘kiss the chef’ on it.
“Really?” you ask, raising the glass to your lips as you watch him glance down to his apron and then back up to you offended.
“You don’t like?”
“It’s embarrassing to look at!” you exclaim as he places the plates down on the table and sits down opposite you.
Zemo’s eyebrows twitch as he scoffs back at you, “I think it suits me, plus a kiss is expected after I worked so hard on breakfast” he says, tapping his cheek with his finger.
You raise an eyebrow, letting a breath out as you laugh, “Yeah, in your dreams,”
You two settle into a comfortable silence as you readily eat the breakfast he made. The pancakes were soft but delicious, sickeningly sweet but you have always had a sweet tooth and so it seems, does Zemo.
“I thought you would have one of your staff make breakfast, you never struck me as the person to do something yourself when you can make others do it,” you say breaking the silence as you finish the last of your pancakes.
Zemo glances up to you, tilting his head, “Why do you think that? Because I grew up rich?”
You nod, not attempting to make yourself sound nicer, “Yes. It’s common knowledge the rich are always spoilt”
His lips twitch up into a smile at your bluntness. He sighs, leaning back in his chair, crossing his legs as he addresses you.
“You’re right. Even though Sokovia was a rather small country, I grew up with more riches than most people could dream of. But at least I acknowledge my privilege. That counts for something, doesn’t it?”
“Depending on what you use your privilege for. Blowing up the UN isn’t exactly putting it to good use now stop avoiding my original question,”
Zemo bites the inside of his mouth as you see through his attempts at trying to dodge the question. His admiration for you however outweighed any annoyance he might have felt at being called out for it. Leaning forward again to rest his arms on the table he says,
“It’s only me, you and my Butler who occasionally comes in. After I was arrested, there was no work for my staff so they all left and I can’t exactly hire anyone else,”
You nod, satisfied, then dab the napkin that Zemo has set out beside you, on your lips to get rid of any leftover sugar. You place your hands on the table and push yourself up from it.
“Well, thank you for breakfast, and thank you for looking after me this last week… that was nice of you, but I better be going. Do you know where my phone is?”
Zemo’s eyes furrow and he immediately stands up as you walk away from the table. He rushes past you, stepping in front of you to stop you from walking.
“You can’t leave y/n,”
Your head jilts back in confusion, “Why not?”
“We ruined Karli’s plans, so she is trying to find us. That’s why Sam and James are out hiding and why we must remain here,”
“I can handle Karli,” you tell Zemo, trying to step past him, but his hand reaches out and grasps your arm firmly.
“Not a super-soldier y/n. It’s too dangerous, especially after your recovery. James and Sam will reach out to me once it is clear to leave, but for now, we stay.”
You huff in frustration, shaking Zemo’s hand off your arm as you cross them. “Well, at least get me a phone so I can keep in contact with them too,”
“I’m afraid I can’t get you a phone currently, but you are welcomed to use mine. Alas, James and Sam have my number but I don’t have theirs’s so unless you remember their numbers we have to wait till they message first to reach out to them,”
You let out a melodramatic sigh, rolling your head looking to the side of the room then back to Zemo.
“So what the hell am I to do to keep occupied?”
Zemo tilts his head, his eyes flicker to the side in thought as he opens his mouth wordlessly and his eyes move back to yours, his eyebrows raising as he frowns thinking over the idea that has just entered his head.
With his fingers, Zemo, gazing at you eagerly, beckoned you down the corridor, towards a giant door that was at the end.
“I’m not a dog Zemo” you complain as you follow him
“Have you ever heard of dramatic effect?”
Zemo had taken off his apron and replaced it with that coat he loved to wear so much. You firmly believed it gave him a power complex. He strutted to the end of the hallway and placed his hands on the door. His face turns to you smirking, enjoying this dramatic pause as you roll your eyes at him. He pushes the door open and stands to the side, sweeping his arm across the space to let you in.
You walk past him and your eyes widen in amazement as you walk into the most magnificent library you had ever seen. The room itself stretched out almost further than you could see, seeming to go on and on. The shelves looked like they reached up to the sky, each one stacked with thousands of beautiful hardback books. The design of it looked like you had just stepped into heaven, with white and gold being the main colour scheme. On the ceiling was a painted sky with the gods on, looking down at you. On the pillars separating the shelves were little cherubs, their bows positioned to pierce your heart. Everything about this library was beautiful. It felt like a library that should belong to a museum not kept in this private mansion.
“You see why the dramatic effect was necessary?” Zemo says stepping up beside you, looking out at the shelves before you.
“Zemo this is… this is beautiful,”
His eyes flicker to you then back to the library, a smile appearing on his lips, “Yes, I suppose it is. When I was younger, I had always taken things like this for granted, but after my time in prison I believe it’s made me more humble,”
You walk over to the nearest bookshelf, letting your fingers brush over the colourful hardbacks. You pull one book out, stroking the golden platted side. “You must have every practically every book in existence here”
“I have more books than I could ever get round to reading. You can find anything you want to read here,”
After ten minutes you had gathered a rather sizable book pile you were determined to read, full of fictional and non-fictional books, some of your favorites and some you had never read before.
Zemo chuckled as you tried to hold all of them in your grasp. As you picked one up, the book on the very top of your pile slipped and fell to the floor. Panic surged in you, worried you would damage something so expensive, but Zemo’s hand appears and catches it before it could hit the ground.
Straightening up, he gave you an amused smile, “Maybe you should let me help carry them”
Accepting his help, he takes half the book pile off you and guides you over to a place deep in the library where you two could read. There were two light green armchairs facing each other, with a fireplace just behind them. To the side of the chairs were small tables which contained bookmarks, a goblet, and an ashtray, and to the side of one chair was a globe which could be opened, and inside it held a decanter full of whiskey.
Zemo places the books in his arms on the table then walks over to one shelf, browsing till he finally finds the book he was looking for. He returns to find you getting comfortable in your chair, opening the first book.
“Whisky?” he asks, opening up the globe beside him.
A few days ago you would have said ‘no, no way,’ but today you smile and nod your head, reaching out with the glass beside you to gracefully accept the drink.
The next couple of days were spent similarly with you and Zemo spending much of your time reading in the library together. Occasionally you two would even read to each other as he had first done with you when you had woken up here. Though you would never admit it to him, his smokey voice made you very comfortable. If he tried, he could lull you to sleep with that accent of his.
You couldn’t help but try to separate the Zemo you know now as the one you used to hate. Yes, he had torn apart your family, but he had all the reason for what happened to Sokovia, what happened to his family. Plus, this Zemo seemed to try hard to make it up to you. Almost too hard. He was trying everything to keep you entertained while you were stuck here, make your life as comfortable as he could. It was nice.
You strolled into the kitchen hearing the quiet buzz of the radio playing the latest top hits and the sound of someone humming along to the music. In there you find Zemo by the counter, fixated on the bowl he held in his arm and the spoon in his hand as he delicately tries to put the mixture into the cupcake trays before him. You had offered to make food, feeling like he always did too much for you but every day he insisted he would, even on days where it Butler would come around.
“Need help?” you ask, walking over to stand beside him.
He glances at you, then back to the tray he has laid out before him. “I’ve got a handle on this,” he replies just as he spills some mixtures onto the counter, making him swear under his breath.
“Uh-huh, sure,” you say, looking down at the spilled mixture. You turn to face him, letting out a chuff as you place a hand on his arm, “Zemo stop being so prideful and let me help”
As soon as your hand comes in contact with his arm, he freezes. He glances down at the ground, swallowing then his eyes flicker to yours and he smiles gently, his usual arrogance disappearing. “Okay,”
You grab a spoon from the draw and help Zemo scrap off what he puts into his spoon into the cake tray with accuracy. You two stand together, your shoulders brushing up against each other till you finish and put it into the oven.
“We have 30 minutes until we need to get them out. Why don’t you read for a bit while I clean up,”
“I can help clean up,” You tell him already going over to the sink to turn the water on, “You’re not my servant Zemo,”
“Helmut” he suddenly says
You turn back to look at him, confused at the seriousness of his face, “Please y/n, call me Helmut,”
Your mouth moves wordlessly for a moment, then you say, “Helmut,” trying the name out on your tongue. You were so used to calling him Zemo, you had forgotten that that wasn’t his first name.
“Thank you” he whispers, glancing away from you bashfully.
He takes a towel off the side of the rail and dries up everything you washed as you two settled into a peculiar silence.
Attempting to liven the atmosphere again, you put a cup just at the right angle of the running tap that the water splashed into Zemo’s coat. He steps back shocked, glancing down at his coat then back to you. He lets out a laugh, his mouth open in surprise that you would do that. “Oh, if that is how it is”
Zemo quickly grabs a mug, running it under the following water. Realizing what he was going to do you let out a squeal and rush for the door but you don’t get far enough till you feel the water hit your back, soaking your t-shirt.
“Helmut!” you gasp as he chuckles at you. You run forward to grab the nearest thing in front of you to chuck it at him, a piece of bread in this case but he ducks as it flies over him. He fills the cup up again and runs towards you but you get to the table and hide on the other side till you were both poised opposite each other waiting for one of you to make the first move.
“This isn’t fair!” you whine, feeling the coldness of your t-shirt cling to your back. “Who said anything about fairness!” Zemo shouted back, grinning at you.
Eventually, you two called a truce when the oven chimes letting you two know the cupcakes were finished baking. After that day, Zemo always asked if you wanted to help him make meals.
“Is the popcorn ready?” you shout as you jump up from the floor where you were placing the DVD into the DVD player.
“Almost done” Zemo calls out.
While waiting, you settle yourself down on the middle of the red sofa, twisting your back to get that perfect spot as you stared up at the giant screen in front of you.
Zemo emerges from the kitchen holding the popcorn and places the bowl onto the table in front of you. He settles down beside you, instantly positioning his arms on the top of the sofa, resting behind your head.
He leans forward to pick up some of the popcorn, tossing it in his mouth as he asks you what you have chosen to watch tonight.
“Beauty and the Beast,” you say excitingly and Zemo coughs, leaning forward as he accidentally inhaled the popcorn in his mouth.
He wipes the tear from his eye as he leans back and you give him a confused look, “Do you not like the film?”
“No-no, it’s not that. W-why do you want to watch the film?”
“It’s my favorite Disney film,”
He nods his head slightly looking down at the popcorn, “I see…” he then glances back to you, looking you in the eyes, “Why is it your favorite Disney film?”
You lean back sighing as you think the movie over, “Well, I’ve loved it since I was a kid. I always wanted to be like Bell and I found the beast so sweet and gentle”
“Even though he imprisoned her?”
“He let her go in the end, and she came back to him”
Zemo opened his mouth wanting to say more, but you sushed him as the movie started, wanting to concentrate only on it.
Zemo turned down the lights to make the experience feel as cinematic as he could of you. Grabbing the bowel he offered you some of the popcorn and you smiled at him in thanks. He tried to enjoy the movie, but his eyes kept wandering back to you, watching your expressions as you watched the movie. His heart skipped a beat every time you laughed at it when that gorgeous smile would grace your face, even in the sad moments where it looked like you were about to cry. He loved seeing how you reacted to everything. There were so many things he had taken for granted, and it felt like he was discovering them all over again with you. It fascinated him to find out the beauty and the beast was your favorite film. It was almost ironic given your current situation, one of which you remained painfully unaware of. He knew he couldn’t keep you in the dark forever. Sam and James were bound to discover where you two were eventually, which is why he wanted to enjoy every moment he had with you to the fullest before it was over.
As the movie went on, Zemo could feel your body moving closer and closer to him. The heat that radiated from your body made him want to wrap his arms around you, but he didn’t know if that would go too far. Roughly by the end of the movie, your head rested against his chest, moving slightly up and down as he breathed. He could tell by your shallow breathing you had entered the realm of dreams.
Looking down at you, he couldn’t help but admire how peaceful you looked. When on the mission with Sam and James you had always appeared tense, prepared to fight your way out of a situation as soon as possible, but at this moment you were relaxed and it made his heart flutter. He could look at you forever like this and never tire of it.
He had found himself in the past comparing you to his wife. He felt conflicted feeling this way about another woman, but how he felt about you differed from how he felt about his wife. It was new, exciting, addicting. Slowly raising his hand, he brushes a piece of hair that had fallen over your face while you slept. Your skin was smooth against his fingers and so soft. His fingers lingered on your skin before finally, he let his arm rest around your body, holding you close as you slept against his chest.
Your arms were raised, feeling the walls on either side of you as you tried to figure out if you were going and if you were about to bump into anything while Zemo’s hands were clasped around your eyes tightly.
“Don’t you trust me y/n” he whispers in your year, snickering.
“Do you want a pleasant lie or the harsh truth?” you ask, turning your head slightly but Zemo tuts and moves your head back with his hands
“Not long now, just a few more steps,”
“Till what!” you whine
“Be patient y/n!”
Zemo lifts one hand of your eyes telling you to keep them close and you hear the creak of a door open ahead of you. His hand returns to your face and with slightly pushing his body against yours, he urges you forward into this new room.
“Can I finally look now?”
Zemo removes his hands and steps back from you, “Okay y/n, open your eyes”
Opening them you gasped in shock seeing what was before you. On a stand was a replica of Belle’s dress in Beauty and the Beast. Its honey yellow colour shone out, the top of it tightly clung to the mannequin it was on while the bottom poofed out, it hung with no shoulder straps and came with yellow gloves. Everything about it was perfect.
“Helmut I- I’m, stunned,”
“You like it?” he asks anxiously
You turn to him grinning, “Of course I do!”
You hug him tightly, ecstatic, then rushed over to the dress, brushing your fingers along it. “It’s beautiful” you whisper.
“I think I got the sizes right,” Zemo says coming up beside you, a pink tinge to his cheeks, “There’s only one way to know for you,” he adds on, turning to you giving you a gentle smile
He helps you take the dress off and chuckles as he watches you rush off with it to get changed, then leaves to get changed himself.
The dress fitted perfectly on you. Everything from the bust down to the waist. Even the gloves fitted perfectly. When you entered the bathroom, you found Zemo had even found some make-up in case you wanted to use any. He thought of everything.
Finally looking at yourself in the mirror, you couldn’t wipe the smile off your face. You truly felt like a Disney princess. Slowly you walked back down the stairs and enter the room Zemo had to lead you in, to begin with. As you walked in, let out a merry laugh as you saw Zemo, dressed up in a blue jacket, embroidered with yellow roses on the sleeves, just like the beast. He was standing by a record player, putting a disk in as you walked in. He turns to look at you, his mouth opening in wonder.
“Y/n… you look glorious,”
His sincere comment makes your cheeks heat up and you hold your arms out to him, squeezing your hands letting him know you want to hold his hands.
He turns the record on and your favorite song from Beauty and the Beast floats out, making your cells light up with excitement.
“Helmut” you start to say as he walks over to you, holding his hand out, “Why are you doing this?”
He gently takes your gloved hand, bending over to kiss it. “I know it isn’t easy being stuck in here all the time and you said you loved ‘Beauty and the Beast’ so I thought it would make a pleasant treat,”
His arms hesitantly touch your waist as he looks into your eyes as if asking it was okay. You nod and step closer to him, taking his hand in yours holding it up. Getting into the waltz position you two start to move along the dance floor, swaying to the music.
You two slide along the ballroom floor, picking up speed. As you look up to him, he breathes out smiling back down at you happily. His hand on his waist spins your around as your dress flutters out. You squeal in delight as you grasp back onto his hand as you felt dizzy.
You two turn around the floor looking each other deep in the eyes. You could feel his breath on your face as you two were barely inches apart from each other. Zemo pulls you in even closer as your arm goes around his neck, your body pulled into his. He dips you as you cling to him tightly for dear life as the music fades.
He holds you into that position, panting as he looks at you, his eyes flickering from your eyes to your lips. You could feel that pull towards him, your eyes starting to flutter shut. He leans towards you but suddenly you feel your fingers slip and you almost let go of him. His other hand quickly wraps around making sure you don’t fall to the floor.
He helps you back on your feet and you two steps apart. You look away feeling your cheeks burn up again.
“Helmut, thank you. Thank you so much” you tell him earnestly
He looks deep into your eyes, smiling in bliss, “Anything for you y/n”
“Y/n, are you awake?”
You groan as you hear Zemo whisper beside you, waking you from your sleep.
“Ugh, Helmut what time is it,” you moan turning over with your eyes are closed.
“It’s 8, time to wake up”
“Nooooo” you whine screwing up your eyelids.
You hear him chuckle and then you feel something push against your lips. You open your eyes confused to see Zemo beside you, holding a strawberry to your lips.
You smile and take a bite out of it, moaning in delight as you taste its sweetness as you sit up. He sits up beside you and holds out some melted chocolate for you to dip the strawberry in.
“Helmut, you spoil me”
“Not enough,” he whispers back as he puts the chocolate-covered strawberry to your lips letting you take another bite.
“I’m not even surprised anymore to see you in my bed when I wake up,” you tell him
“Technically this is my bed”
“You know what I mean!”
He chuckles as he pushes his head back into the headboard, “I thought it would be a nice way for you to wake up,”
“Consider me impressed,” you tell him, looking over at him smiling. He glances back to you, his lips twitching up. You lean into his side, not caring at the moment you were in a simple nightdress. You close your eyes inhaling his cologne and picking up a strawberry to feed to him.
“I could get used to this,” you whisper to him
You scan the piano music book before looking back down to the notes before you. It had been a while since you had last played so you thought you might as well pick it up while you were stuck in Zemo’s mansion.
You press the notes but every time you tried to play one of the chords you always missed one. You were trying to play your favorite song 'Comptine d'un autre été' but to no avail.
“You need to flow with the music and not worry about hitting the right notes”
You turn around and smile as you see Zemo approach you from behind. “Isn’t the whole point of music to play the right notes?” you say sarcastically
Zemo lets out a huff chuckling, “Well yes but you’ll hit the notes when you stop trying so hard. Now try again”
You turn back around and attempt the music again but hit the wrong notes making you slam the piano in annoyance.
“Don’t damage the piano”
“I’m sorry,” you mutter, “I should give up,”
“No don’t do that” Zemo says, brushing his fingers over your waist, “Here let me help you”
He puts his hands on top of yours guiding them, “Let’s try again,”
You look to the music then back down to your hands which had Zemo’s resting on and attempt to start playing again. His hands moved in time with yours as they guided along with the piano, pressing down on your fingers when you needed to. You got every note. Well, Zemo got every note.
“See, easy,” he says as he pulls back from you. “Now try again”
You attempt to play again but feeling his eyes stare into your back you couldn’t concentrate and messed up the notes again.
“We just went through this!”
“It’s hard to concentrate with you staring at me!” you exclaim turning around to him. Your eyes widen as what you just said as he tilts his head, a smug smile appearing on his lips.
“Oh, I make it hard for you to concentrate do I?”
You groan at his cockiness, looking away from him so he doesn’t see your glistening red cheeks.
He walks up behind you again, his fingers grazing your jawline, stopping at your chin as he raises your head to look up at him. Seeing him look down at you made a knot in your stomach tighten.
“You are awfully red y/n”
“Shut up”
He chuckles and leans down, placing a kiss on your forehead, “I like it when you blush”
The breath gets caught in your lungs as you feel his lips on your forehead, their softness cooling your burning skin.
For the first time in your life, you were rendered speechless, by Helmut Zemo no less.
His teeth flash in his smile as he looks down at you, “Come let’s practice this again” he says, leaning over as his back pressed into yours, putting his hands back on top of yours.
“Zemo do you mind if I borrow your phone briefly to see if that new video has been released?” you call out picking up Zemo’s phone that he had left on your seat.
“Go ahead! Just don’t check anything else on there” he yells back
“Worried I will find your nudes?” you call out as you unlock the phone. Pressing onto the youtube app you sigh in annoyance seeing no new video and so you were about to put the phone back down when a message appeared from a contact simply labeled ‘S’
It read, ‘S: Look just tell us where you have taken her. Whatever you are doing with her it isn’t worth it”
Your eyebrows furrow in confusion at what the hell could that message mean. You click onto the message stream just to see a ton of messages from this ‘S’ contact but with no reply from Zemo.
You hesitate for a moment, knowing Zemo wouldn’t want you to do what you were about to do, but your curiosity got the best of you and you pressed the call button.
It rang for a few seconds and then the line picked up.
“Zemo” Sam’s voice rang out through the phone
“Sam?” you ask back
“W-what, YN/!? Are you okay? Where are you?”
“Woah Woah Sam, calm down, I’m fine! I’m with Helmut-Sam what is going on?”
“What has he done to you?”
“What do you mean he's done nothing, Sam I thought me and Helmut were hiding out here till Karli was done with her plan?”
You hear a sigh down the phone and then the muffled voices of what you could make out as Bucky and Sharon down the line.
Sam picked the phone back up and spoke directly, “Y/n you need to get out of there now. Zemo, he's kidnapped you”
The phone slips from your hand and lands on the floor with a loud crash.
Tag list: @sinister-sleep @cable-kenobi @faustlyaccused @chipster-21 @icarusinstatic @yallgotkik @montypythonsholysnail @bunniwritesx @checkurwindow @huntheimpossible @jayxkelsi @avgravy @prestigious-tea @aloyssiac @hannahbal-the-fannibal @alainabooks143 @jokerprettyprincess @plumsandkiwis @latenightartist-author @e-barba @flutterskies @loonylunalovegood77 @lieutenantn @wonderwoman292 @there-goes-thefighter @multiyfandomgirl40 @freyjasamael @ineffablebean @arianalilyblack @mandowhatnow @scullys-alienpussy @felicityofbakerstreet @babayaga67 @spookycereal-s
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yoongsisbae · 7 months ago
Handshakes of a Lifetime - Chapter 3
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Whoa chapter two has over 100 notes, I can't believe it! I'm so happy, thank you. This chapter ended up being longer that the first two combined, I think because I am actively trying to remember things rather than writing off the cuff with JK's and Jimin’s handshakes, let me know if you like this writing style better, I still don’t know what I’m doing :D
BTS Soulmate AU / OT7 x Reader / Hoseok x Reader in this chapter.
Trigger warnings: death, car accident, paralyzed characters, drug use and alcohol use and oral sex you know just normal college things. Angst - imagine quirky highschool/college au...FULL OF PAIN.
Word count: 5.9k
You stand in front of Jung Hoseok, who radiates every bit of sunshine and cheerfulness you’ve only experienced from computer screens. His eyes look a bit worried but he easily masks it behind his bright smile. He gives you a playful shrug of his shoulders making a friendly sound waiting for you to grasp his hand.
You pause, as crazy as it sounds, now you’re not so sure you want to grab his hand.
But you have a special place in your heart for J-hope, it still bothers you to this day how fans used to ignore him and make him feel anything less than the magnificent human being he is deserving of all the love in the world. So gathering up what's left of your nerve you grab his hand firmly.
Hoseok’s grip on your hand is comforting as he leads you away from the playground. You sniffle, keeping your head down. Your bully, who sits in the sand holding a growing black eye stares at the two of you walking away.
“What’s your name?” Hoseok asks. “Y/n,” you whimper.
He looks over his shoulder and yells, “And if you touch my friend y/n again, I’ll punch you in the other eye!” The two of you keep walking together, he doesn’t let go.
You sit with Hoseok’s parents in the waiting room of a hospital. Your face feels tight with dried tears. The moment you heard of Hoseok’s accident you came. The doctors begin to explain to his parents that although the surgery was successful, he most likely will never walk again. You watch as his mother breaks down in her husband’s arms. Your own body shakes as you hold in your tears.
You're waiting outside the building where Hoseok has his support group meeting once every month. You look at your watch for the time and frown, he’s thirty minutes late. It’s a school night and you’re going to miss curfew if you have to wait any longer. Balancing between the balls and soles of your feet, you think on what to do and decide to go inside. When you peek your head into the meeting room, the participants are dispersed in groups making idle chit chat as the group conversation comes to an end.
You step in and stand next to a table littered with pastries and coffee, taking the opportunity to steal a donut. An older man and woman make their way to you, the man whom you notice has a larger, more cushioned wheelchair than the one that you’re so used to seeing Hoseok use. The three of you exchange greetings.
“Are you his sister?” The two of them make eye contact and laugh. You backtrack quickly, “Oh sorry, friends? Caretaker-”
“No, he’s my husband.” The woman runs her fingers through the man’s hair affectionately, he closes his eyes enjoying the feeling.
Your eyes go wide. “I’m so sorry!” You feel like an idiot. “I didn’t mean to assume-” You watch the way they look at each other like the only two people in the world, of course they would be together, you think.
“It’s alright, I get it all the time.” The woman hushes you, not seeming to be bothered in the slightest. “People aren’t used to our kind of relationship, you know...they can’t see all the things he does that made me fall in love with him, only the thing’s he can’t do...” She grips her husband’s hand, and even though the man can’t feel it, the gesture warms his heart.
Your best friend’s face flashes through your mind. You sour at the idea that someone wouldn’t appreciate Hoseok over something he has no control over.
“Everyone deserves a chance at love. Those people...are so shallow” You think out loud, “What’s love to them anyways? People’s bodies change all the time. You don’t fall in love with someone because they have perfect hair, or straight teeth, or clear skin-” You realize you’re ranting, but you can’t stop yourself. “People get old and grow wrinkles, gain weight...and break bones...does that mean no one should love them anymore?” You stew in anger.
You see Hoseok making his way to you, already offering his apologies. “Sorry! The meeting started late tonight-”
“Oh, so this is the famous y/n! I get it now. This boy never stops talking about you.” The man chides. You feel your face go hot, and Hoseok starts stuttering a retort. “T-That’s only because she’s always around me, I can’t get rid of her!”
You bring a hand to your chest like you've been shot, affronted.
“So bold of you to say that of your ride out of here, buddy.”
Hoseok is already making his way to the door, wanting to get out of the situation. “Yeah yeah, let’s go.”
You pull up to his parents house, jump out of the driver’s seat and circle your car, grabbing his chair out of your cargo and head to the passenger’s side. The two of you work together in comfortable silence, an old practiced routine you’ve both perfected to maximum efficiency. Though the van you received on your 15th birthday doesn’t give you any cool points, it was a no-brainer for you when your parents asked you what kind of car you had wanted.
You make sure he gets to the front of his door and you scream from your car window.
“Hey!” Hoseok spins around.
“What!” he yells back.
You shoot him your best most saccharine smile and put your hands above your head in a giant heart. “I love you!”
Hoseok rolls his eyes, “Me too!” giving you a big wave to shoo you away.
Your chuckle, sighing as you put the car into drive. You’re used to it by now, he never says I love you back, since the two of you were kids. You wish at least once you could hear him say it, if he did, you’d replay those words over and over in your mind for all the moments with him you held in your heart until you were satisfied.
The two of you stare at the broken elevator sign. Hoseok groans. “They need to fix that already, how many times do I have to complain to HR?” Hoseok curses under his breath. You hum in agreement as the two of you make your way to the back of the building to another much older service elevator, but you really don’t mind the extra time you get to spend with him.
The elevator dings to the top floor of the radio room. Your best friend has become a pretty popular DJ. His bright personality and smooth voice are a ‘killer combo’ as they say. And he was able to get you a part time job as an office assistant. You start organizing disks while watching Hoseok work, admiring how focused he is in his element, how he charms his callers. You catch his eye as he keys up the next track and you stick out your tongue at him. He gives you a dazzling smile.
When you first went with Hoseok to physical therapy you had to bite back tears watching him fail again and again to retrain his muscles. You would choke your own sobs down hearing him cry in frustration. Now the grown man before you excels, he’s building muscle on his once lean frame. He laughs and jokes with his trainer, bringing encouragement to others healing themselves. You try to distract yourself from his beaming presence, but you can’t help but stare.
A nurse sits down next to you bumping you with her hip to get your attention. She feels like a sister now, the amount of times you two have spent together while you wait for Hoseok.
“How’s your boyfriend today?” the nurse asks you.
“Ugh can you stop calling him that? You know he’s not!”
“Uh huh, could have fooled me.” She’s eyeing you up and down, making you feel self conscious, did she notice your stares?
“We’ve just known each other for forever, that’s all. You know-”
“-I know! So you’re telling me, the two of you-” she says motioning at you and then pointing at your best friend occupied on the pull up bars, “-have never, EVER, done anything, ever?” She places her chin on the back of her hand and stares at you like you're a bear caught in a trap.
The awkward silence grows making you more and more uncomfortable.
“Well..” The ceiling suddenly becomes the most interesting in the world. “I mean, there was this one time back in college.”
“Haha what!” She sounds absolutely scandalized. “I was kidding, but please tell me more!” You cover your face in embarrassment.
“It was barely anything,” you look around before you say your next thought, “We were high, okay?” She looks like she doesn’t believe you. “I literally grew up with him, he treats me like a sister.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to have sex with your sister even just once.”
“Ew! Fine, we’re like really close distant cousins. Like where one of us is adopted. The other is from a previous marriage, and their mom married into the family, and-”
“Okay, Alabama!” She cuts off your rambling. You glare at the nurse. Hoseok is coming over to you now, you clumsily gather your things and run up to meet him, steering a confused Hoseok in the other direction and away from the nurse you don’t trust to not embarrass you even further.
You sit on the steps of a fraternity house mindlessly counting the stars when you hear an all too familiar buzzing and sound of wheels dragging along the pavement.
“What’re you doin’ here?”
“You called me, dummy.” Hoseok retorts.
“Nooooooo,” you yell back, the alcohol cursing through you is muddling your sense pitch. “I called Amy!”
“Does your friend Amy normally sound like a man?”
“But why you are here?” your slur as your head lolls to the side.
Hoseok feels the heat rise in his face at your question. Why is he here? He could have called a mutual friend to come get you instead. Someone more capable than him. The thought makes his chest tighten. No, the mere thought of someone else seeing you so vulnerable and rescuing you from your own drunkenness instead of him is what brought him out of bed at 2 in the morning.
“I just had to see for myself how drunk you are!”
“I’m not drink! I mean, I’m not drankin'.” Hoseok gives you a boisterous laugh. Why is your best friend so hot?
“My dorm is only five minutes away, you can crash there. Get up!”
“I’m not drunk!” You whine.
“Why do you have a loaf of bread in your lap?”
You look down at the plastic bag full of bread and suddenly remember! “Oh! I found it in their kitchen...I wanted to feed the ducks.” You look up at him like it’s the most obvious answer in the world.
“Uh, okay. Well get on,” he motions to his lap. You balk, “Get on WHAT?!”
“ON MY LAP, YOU IDIOT. How else am I going to get you home?”
You stare directly at his crotch. Peach schnapps took away your shame a while ago. Hoseok tries not to think about the way you’re biting your lip.
“I can walk.”
“Let me see.”
You steady yourself, take a step down and feel the world turn over on itself. You groan, “Wait! Give me a minute!”
You sit sideways on Hoseok’s lap bobbing up and down a little too much for his sanity. Your arm is draped over his neck, you grab at his chin awkwardly moving his head up and down trying to get him to sing with you. He can’t help but find your happiness infectious. “ are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” you both sing off key.
Hoseok is resting his arm over your legs, fingertips graze the skin of your calves while he pushes the mechanical knob accelerating his wheelchair. As you two travel down the pavement, you have taken to balling up slices of bread and chucking them at poor unsuspecting college students that cross your path.
They turn to the two of you, ready to start a confrontation, and see Hoseok and their expression changes to one you're all too familiar with when being in Hoseok’s presence. They annoy you. You throw even more bread at them while Hoseok mumbles his sorrys, fruitlessly trying to stop you. You’re laughing like a woman possessed.
When you stumble off his lap into the comfort of his dorm room, you’re already pulling off your dress unceremoniously before he can tell you to wait. Hoseok watches you silently as you rummage in the corners of his drawers, finding an old pair of your pajamas. He steadies his breathing so you don’t notice him, stealing glances at your exposed skin. Yawning, you jump on his bed and snuggle into his pillow, content with breathing in his scent.
You lift your head to look at him. “Do you need help?”
He gives you a pointed look, and scoffs, “I got it, don’t worry.”
At his words you turn your back to him and wait patiently until you feel his bed dip as he settles himself beside you. Turning back around you snuggle into Hoseok’s side, his comforting smell lulling you to sleep. There was no place you’d rather be than next to him right now.
“I love you,” you murmur into his shoulder.
“Me too.” Hoseok whispers into the top of your hair.
You take a bite of your double cheeseburger and extend your arm. placing the burger in front of your best friend’s waiting mouth. Hoseok takes a bite so big it prompts you to hit him on the head. He laughs and motions his head to the soda by your side and you lift the straw up to his mouth, his cheeks suck in so much liquid you’re sure half your drink is gone and you feel like hitting him again. Instead, you dunk a fry in ketchup and purposely miss his mouth. “Yah! You ass.” You laugh together as you wipe the ketchup off his cheek with your thumb and pop it in your mouth.
You sit listening to Hoseok voice his troubles as you both talk about your undecided futures. His parents worry about sending him off to college now, he says bitterly. He has gotten motor function in his arms, but it's still hard for him to grip things. He says they want to get him a caretaker.
At his words an idea pops into your mind, “I can be your caretaker!”
“What! Are you insane? You can barely take care of yourself,” he laughs.
“I’m always with you anyways! Do you really want a stranger taking care of you? We were planning on going to the same college anyways, it would be perfect!” You clasp your hands together. What could go wrong?
“I don’t think you understand what you’d be signing up for.” Hoseok counters.
“I could TOTALLY do it.” Hoseok looks at you carefully. Your idea is absolutely crazy, and something only you would come up with. Hoseok lets his mind wander through the possibilities, it scares him because he does want to choose you, but not in this way. It stings his heart to think that the only way he could get closer to you is through such an arrangement. Waves of inadequacy course through him, he was the one supposed to be taking care of you. No, he likes you as you are now, the way you look at him for approval, reminds him of the girl who’d come to him crying, to the days when he could still wipe away your tears.
“You know, I heard caretakers are supposed to give you sponge baths.” Your eyes go wide at his words.
“I could do that.” You look at the ground and pull at the flare of your bell bottoms.
“Ahh I didn’t know you’d be so eager to undress me.” He wiggles his eyebrows at you teasingly.
“Ew! And it’s not like I haven’t seen it all before.” It’s true, he thinks, you’ve seen him at his worst, bared through all the ugliness of his recovery and remained his loyal and closest friend.
“Sorry, but I think they want an actual professional.”
You pause, “What if I become a professional?”
“What do you mean?”
“The university has a nursing program…” Hoseok watches the way your eyes brighten as you already start to formulate together the pieces of your master plan.
“Now you’ve really lost it!” You give him a whine and shake your body like a child throwing a tantrum. He relents, “If you actually become a nurse, actually make it through nursing school, then sure, you can become my caretaker.”
You look up from your math homework. Among the painful monotony of clinical buzzes and beeps you had noticed the growing labored breaths of your best friend.
Hoseok stares down at his broken and bruised body. He feels like a prisoner, his legs confined in wires and metal. His last moments were a blur to him, tire screeches and bones crunching and the sirens of an ambulance.
You can hear his accelerating heartbeat on the hospital monitor. You speak softly, “Do you want me to get a nurse?”
“Leave.” Hoseok’s trying to hold in his tears. When you grab his hand, the faint foreign sensation brings another bout of anger upon him. Hoseok speaks harshly at you, wanting to push you away, save you from having to deal with his shattered spirit.
You don’t let go of him, instead you sit as still as a mouse, quietly waiting as he cries and throws all his anger and pain your way.
You don’t leave when he tells you to, or when he calls you obscenities. You just let your tears fall silently, crying with him.
Hoseok tries to steady his breathing, he stops resisting the calmness of your presence.
“Can you help me with question 8?” you hiccup. He can’t believe you, hollowly laughing through his tears. He closes his eyes, biting his bottom lip, the pain grounds him. “Read it to me.”
You lift the joint over your head to hand it over to Hobi. He leans forward in his wheelchair to grab it out of your hand, your fingers momentarily brushing together. You stretch and put your elbows on the tops of his knees, you’re sitting on the floor in between the legs of his wheelchair.
“Can I ask you something?” you start.
“Does it work?”
You wait for his answer as you listen to the groove of music that plays quietly on his record player.
“How high are you?”
You snort. “Have you had sex before?”
Hoseok takes another drag and blows the smoke out slowly. “Hmm yes, but as charming as I am, not many women see me in that kind of way, you know. I don’t get many opportunities.”
“Oh,” You lean your head back, the fabric of his chair digs into the back of your neck as you take in his face. His glowing honey skin, his sharp jawline, your best friend is hot. You don’t feel bad for him, you feel bad for all the women who look past him.
“It does work,” he smirks down at you, “for the record.”
“So how do you...uhhh.”
He looks down at his weak arms, “I’ve tried before, to uhh-but it’s umm, not finish.”
Hoseok laughs at you. “You’re offering to give me a handjob.” He says the words slowly, making sure he understood you correctly.
“Yeah, why not?” You turn your torso around, cross your arms on one of his knees and lean your chin into him, the action making his legs open slightly wider. He lets out a slow breath, realizing the intimacy of your position. He was always so used to you in his personal space, he never thought twice about your touch, now that’s all he’s thinking about.
You continue, “I mean,” You let your eyes wander to the corners of his dorm room, “it would be beneficial for both of us.” He quirks his eyebrow at you.
“And how is you giving me a handjob beneficial to you?”
You huff. “I just feel so inexperienced, I thought college would be different. I’ve never even…” You try not to go off in a rant. “I just feel like everybody is having crazy mind blowing sex except for us! So, I can, uhh practice…and’re telling me you're opposed to getting a free hand job?”
Hoseok looks down at the way your miniskirt hitches up your thighs, your cleavage on display to him at his angle. Dragging his eyes down your body, Hoseok takes in your feminine curves, your glassy eyes full of want, want for him, and he knows he would forever regret denying you even if finally learning the sounds of you in pleasure tortures him for the rest of his existence.
He makes up his mind and hands you back the joint after another long puff, “Okay.”
You beam at him.
You take another quick hit before putting what’s left away. Hoseok watches you shuffle in between his legs. “What should I-do you want me to-” your hands hover over his belt.
When you look into Hoseok’s eyes you notice the shift in his demeanor. His pupils are blown dark in his intoxication and surging desire. “Do you want me to help you, baby, do you want me to tell you what to do?”
You clench your thighs together, you’ve seen so many different sides of Hoseok, but never such a quiet intensity. You can only nod up at him, shrinking under his intense gaze. His tongue runs along the inside of his lower lip as he watches you. “Go ahead.”
His eyes burn through your skin as you pull his belt from the loops of his pants and undo his buttons. You pull out his hardening length and start working your hands over him. Hoseok closes his eyes and throws his head back, the picture of you on your knees for him too much for him to handle. “Yes baby, just like that.”
Your own arousal ignites inside of you as you listen to him moan in pleasure at your actions.
“Your mouth. Fuck I want to feel it.” You immediately wrap your lips around the head of his cock at his words, the taste of him making you ache between your legs.
“Touch yourself.” Hoseok’s tone is low and commanding.
You suck him into your mouth as your hands travel to the ground. Pulling off your underwear hastily, you bring a hand to your center.
“Good girl.”
You rock into your hand at his praises, your skin prickles with heat and desire. “Keep playing with yourself, imagine it’s me playing with your pretty pussy.” You imagine Hoseok’s fingers inside you, pumping into you. You whimper around his length and he moans loudly from the vibrations.
“You look so sexy right now, baby. Fuck keep going.”
You move up and down his length more vigorously, lost in pleasure. Hoseok's groans and pants spur your fingers on as you bring yourself closer and closer to release. You push yourself down his length, letting every inch of him penetrate your throat. The flames of your arousal consume you, his low whispers of encouragement wind you up tighter than you’ve ever been before. You feel like you're burning from the inside out. Fire reaches your core and explodes.
Hoseok watches you shudder and gasp around him. He’s trying so hard to draw out the moment, keep you to him longer, but his resolve slips away at the sight of your fucked out face buried in his lap. Your messy hair, smudged makeup on your tear streaked face, god, he wants to do so many things to you that he knows he can’t. “Stop!”
You whine against his hardness, breathing through your nose.
“Let me taste you.” he rasps out through harsh breaths.
Hoseok tries to hold himself together as you let your wet tongue run up his length as you remove yourself from him. You let your body drag up his, bringing your face so close to his you can feel the warmth of his breath against your cheeks. You drag your fingers over the smooth skin of lips, enjoying how he groans for you, and push your fingers into his opening mouth, shuddering as he works his wet muscle around your fingers. You can feel yourself gush with wetness from his actions. God, all the things you want to do to him, but you don’t even have the courage to kiss him.
“Fuck. In my lap. Now.” You move your shaky legs over him, straddle him as best you can in the confines of his chair. Hoseok buries his head in between your breasts, marking any place he finds skin. You help him undo the buttons of your blouse, hold him close as he bites and sucks every inch of your neck.
You want him closer, you need him closer. Your actions betray your thoughts as you pull away from him. Hoseok’s eyes give you the briefest pause of trepidation. Your forehead meets his as you try to steady the turbulence in your heart. You want him to kiss you.
Burying your thoughts back into the deep recesses of your heart you reach between the two of you. You grip him again, bringing the tip of his member to your center, and you rut into his erection, letting your oversensitivity unravel into intensifying pleasure. Gasps escape your lips as you press against him, letting him slide between your folds, your wetness coating his member and making a mess of you both. Your noses bump together as Hoseok lets go under you, panting into your open mouth.
“I’m so close. Fuck, you feel so good baby. Are you close too? Can you come again for me?” You chase your high with him, rolling your hips against the base of his dick while your hands pull out his release. You love the way he groans for you, stares at your body, closes his eyes and hisses in pleasure at your ministrations.
You curl your fingers into the hair at the base of his neck and throw your head back, you feel his release hit your thighs as you reach your own high. His own sensitivity becomes overwhelming as he watches you lose yourself in the heat of your bodies, the roughness of his moans, the dirty words he uses to tip you over the edge.
You lie your head on his shoulder as you catch your breath. Hoseok holds you to him loosely. You sit there in his arms, the lines you crossed weighing heavily on your mind. You can’t believe you just did that. Now what. “Now what?”
Hoseok chuckles lightly and gives your forehead a quick kiss as he tries to steady his own breathing. He doesn’t know what to tell you.
“Oh, you look nice.” Hoseok teases. “What’s the occasion?”
“I have a date!” he watches as you run around the apartment, looking for your coat.
“Oh.” Hoseok deflates. “Exciting!” He tries his best to sound supportive.
“Yeah, you remember that pianist you interviewed last week? He’s taking me to that new fancy pants restaurant that just opened in town.” Although, It’s not your usual style (you would much rather get tacos at the local taqueria stand) your date was so sweet when he asked you to join him, you didn't have the heart to refuse him.
“Hey, before you go, can you help me make brownies?” Hoseok is already in the kitchen, pulling eggs from the fridge.
“Right now? Can we do it after I get back?” You’re grabbing the only pair of heels you own from the hall closet. Hoseok looks at you like he wants to tell you something, but then decides against it. “Fine, I’ll do it myself, but don’t blame me if I burn the house down.”
You stumble on one heel remembering you left your purse in your room, “Ahh just wait until I get home please! I’ll skip dessert!” You yell as you run to the bathroom to grab your lipstick.
“Who says I’m saving you any.” You peak out the bathroom door to give him your best puppy dog eyes.
Hoseok scoffs, he looks for a mixing bowl, wondering if he even had the correct ingredients for the brownies he hadn’t planned on making.
You walk into the kitchen putting on your other heel. “You’re not on fire, are you?” You tease.
“No, but I am hot.”
You giggle, “Well, I can’t argue with that!” Hoseok watches as you adjust your coat and struggle to buckle the straps of your shoes.
“Here sit down, I’ll help.” You take a seat at the kitchen counter as he moves closer to you. You lift your leg into his lap, feeling shy from his attention. You stay silent as he grabs your calf and runs his hand down the length of your leg until he meets your shoe. You sit patiently as his fingers work to buckle the strap around your ankle. It’s okay, you’ll be late.
You walk back to work with the tacos you bought for you and Hoseok. When you get closer you notice a large crowd forming outside the radio station. You notice some of them are your colleagues.
“What’s going on?”
“There’s a fire in the building.”
“What?” Your attention moves to the station building. Dark clouds of smoke billow out from the 3rd floor and reach all the way to the top floor. No.
You look around the faces in the crowd and you start to panic. The front elevator was still broken, and you don’t see him. You feel your world go still. The concerns of your colleagues go unheard by you, because you don’t see him, you don’t see him, and you just feel it, the wrongness you need to correct as cold dread seeps into you, because Hoseok is not there.
You heave yourself up each flight of stairs, as fast as your legs can carry you. When you reach the top floor you grab the hot door handle and yank it open, smoke rushes out all at once making you drop to the floor. Choking on the hot air around you, you crawl on your hands and knees to search for him. Bright red flames cut through the blanket of black smoke, you crawl away from years of memories burning into ash.
You hope you don’t find him, you hope your best friend has made it out of the building already and is safe outside. When you run into the metal of his empty wheelchair, you start screaming.
You hear someone yell back over the ringing of the fire alarm and roaring fire.
And that’s when you see him, your best friend sitting under an open window, drenched in sweat, pain and fear etched upon his features. He notices you and looks back with scared wide eyes.
“What are you doing here? Leave!” Hoseok calls out to you desperately.
You crawl to him faster, “No! I’m not leaving you.” You grab onto his shoulders to make sure he’s real and tears well up in your eyes when your worst fears are confirmed.
Hoseok grabs your face in his hands and shakes you, “You’re going to die. GO!”
“I’m not leaving you!” You cling to him.
He holds you to him, protecting you from the heat. Hoseok hits his head against the wall in frustration. He had been too lost in the music filling his headphones to notice the unfolding emergency until it was too late, with only one of three exits at his disposal, confined to the height of his chair, breathing in smoke pulled oxygen from his lungs and slowed his movements.
This is all his fault, he thinks, he only wanted to see you one more time. That’s why once he realized he wouldn’t be able to leave, he crawled to the window, in hopes to see your face in the crowd below. If he had known it would be like this, he never would have wished to see you one last time.
You hold each other crying in each other's arms. You feel the heat from the fire closing in on you.
Your throat burns with ash. Fire crackles around you. “Thank you.”
“For what” Hoseok coughs out.
“For protecting me all these years.” Hoseok is shaking his head at your words, his eyes sting from the smoke and his own tears.
“I love you.”
He pulls you to him and kisses you with blazing intensity that rivals the fires licking around you. “I love you too.”
It’s J-hope who recoils from your grasp, taking several steps back until he comes into contact with the wall of the meeting room. He puts his hands on his thighs to steady himself, his feet tingle like he’s been sitting cross legged for too long. His face feels hot like he's been slapped. When Jin reaches out to see what’s wrong, the presence of his hand on the rapper’s shoulder shakes him out of his stupor.
“Sorry, my fault!” Hoseok turns to one of the security guards who had started advancing on the scene, shooing him away.
You stand on shaky legs, your hands covering your face, not wanting to confront all the stares you are undoubtedly getting. Instead, you try to make sense of your muddled visions behind the darkness of your hands, reliving all at once the laughs, the tears, the pain, the love...
With your eyes covered, you don’t notice when Jungkook starts to advance towards you, or how Jimin grabs him back in place, giving him a side eye to the two excited teary eyed fans they need to attend to.
Jungkook presses his tongue to the corner of his mouth and tries to rein in the anger he’s feeling, wait, why is he angry? All he wants to do is get you in front of him again, question you, touch you again to prove himself right. Even if the moment lasted a mere breath, it felt like he lived an entire lifetime, and you, a girl he has never met before, was at the center of it.
Jungkook feels like he’s going to combust at any moment, trapped because he knows he can’t just go to you, and dread fills him at the thought of watching you leave before any of his questions can be answered.
“Sorry, sorry.” Hoseok’s words pull you from your cocoon. He reaches out to you, but you flinch and he flinches back in response.
You give him a weak smile, the look he gives you confirms it, you know whatever crazy hallucinations you're experiencing, you’re not the only one. You can’t decide if that makes everything better or much much worse.
Jin waits for you to move in front of him. Jin has kept half his attention on you from the first moment you entered. You looked so familiar he wondered if you had been at a previous fanmeet, trying to rack his mind on something you might have done to make your face so memorable to him. And then he watched as you jolted away from Jungkook and the subsequent odd reactions you had with his bandmates and now he didn’t know what to think. You looked like a frightened deer, he thought, and that’s the last thing he wanted one of his fans to feel.
“Hi, I’m Jin.” He tries to think of easy English phrases to say to you. “Nice to meet you. Are you okay?”
Whew I did not expect this chapter to be twice as long. Writing Hobi like this PAINED ME, but I like to think there’s something poetic in someone who lost the ability to walk becoming one of the best dancers in the world in his next life. Do you prefer longer chapters? Tell me what you think! Or tell me about your day, did this chapter make it better or worse? lol
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minniepetals · a year ago
love poem
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— summary: for years you’ve suffered for the longest time and for years they’ve hurt without understanding the true meaning behind it all. soulmates connected through the hearts, soulmates connected through the slightest touches, and when they finally meet their last soulmate, the seven gods vowed to themselves that they will love and protect you for the rest of their immortal lives
— pairing: bts x reader
— genre: fluff, angst, soulmates!au, poly!au, gods!au, god of knowledge!namjoon, god of stars!seokjin, god of music!yoongi, god of sun!hoseok, god of spring!jimin, god of ocean!taehyung, god of hearth!jungkook
— word count: 29.0K
— warnings: mentions of death, mentions of war, minor character deaths
— prompt: "It won't be easy you know...trying to love me"
— a/n: i hope you guys haven’t forgotten the dear; sweet bubbies project. sorry i’ve been so slow on these requests but here is the second installment! for you bubs @hope122598​
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Soft crispy crunches follow your footsteps as you walk among the snowy path, the wind seeming more restless than ever this morning. Little bits of snowflakes descend from the sky, falling and falling in an endless cycle for the snowy mountains will never come to understand what Spring looks like.
For days upon days and years upon years, you have always prayed to see what it will be like to live with warmth, in a home of hearth, in a shelter that can provide comfort and heat to your body and mind. But you know that as you walk up the path of the mountain, stairway long ruined since over many years ago, with the hood of your cloak constantly hoping to leave your head and the wind howling all around, wishing alone will only get you so far.
The morning sun brings no heat for you, icy particles kissing your cheeks from time to time and leaving you bright red from how cold it is.
But you're used to this.
It's okay. 
Fog escapes your lips as you huff to catch your breath once you make it up, basket of firewood covered with a blanket safely secured in one hand, and you are met with a wooden archway that is so close to toppling over. But it remains firm as ever, as if its fragile looks is only just a façade and that it should look this way.
You walk under it, paying no mind with no fear of it collapsing, and follow the path that flows into your village. White blankets cover the wooden roofs of the abandoned homes and you hear something falling off and hitting the ground with a thud.
Another wooden platform destroyed.
Everything is silent saved for the song of the wind and the crunches of the snow under your footsteps. But you hear the distant sound of the children's voices echoing in your memories. They laugh and shout at one another, giggling about as they jump into piles of snow or slide down a hill on a wooden sled that their fathers have made them. You hear the distant chiding of their mothers who is angry they aren't bundled up for warmth, missing a hat, missing a glove or scarf. You hear the aunties and uncles speaking to one another in cheery voices as you pass along each house, empty and left alone.
They ask each other upon how their days are, whether they have wood to spare, whether their homes are warm enough for their families, whether they have any heated water to share. The young adults complain about the howling wind, grunting and grumbling as they open their doors only to quickly shut it as they tighten the strings around their hood to keep it firm upon their heads. They huff as they stuff their hands into their pockets, frowning and pouting with baskets hanging upon their arms because they had been asked to gather woods from down the mountain.
You don't see the elderlies in your memories but you know they're here, in their homes, tucked in safe and warm and telling old tales of stories upon stories whether real or folktales. The little ones will gather at their feet near the fireplace, excited and anxious about what stories they will hear today.
You see the smoke from chimneys, you see the homes in good shape, and as you stand in the middle of the village's center where festivals, celebrations, and gatherings are often met at, you turn around to take a good look at the village that used to be so lively and filled of energy.
Now gone.
Replaced with broken houses, torn roofs, shattered windows, doors left ajar and broken. The shadows of the villagers, the ghost of the children who runs around in front of you, shouting at one another, the adults laughing and conversing, the teens rebelling and pranking, and the elderlies telling stories where the big bonfire should be...dissolves away from your memories.
Left only with the distant sounds of their laughter. Echoing and echoing in your ears.
As if it is still there, their precious lives, only for you to be reminded all over again that no, you are alone. No one else survived the horrid attack that came unexpected and terrifying.
The memories are still so clear in your head, the shouting, the screams and cries for mercy, the parents begging for the lives of their children to be spared, the howling dogs that would bark nonstop, and the blood that spilled so much that fateful day. Your mother kept you safe in your own home, ran out there pretending she has no daughter while you remained under the basement, muffling your cries as you watched from the window of the slaughtering of your tribe.
You heard loud footsteps then, the crashing and trashing of things, and had shattered a window in order to pick up its shard to stab yourself near your stomach, at a place you know will not bleed out too much and will not kill you.
You laid on the floor, hiding the shard away when the man kicked the door out of its hinges with a wild dog running in. He found you there, laid as if someone had already came to stab you to your death, with you only in your harsh breathing to pretend as if you have indeed just died. But the dog came over to you, sniffing, and you knew that he knew that you were still alive. That you were only pretending.
The quickening of your rapid heartbeat tells him so and it only grows worse so he barks at the owner and you prayed so hard that the man could not understand him.
And he didn't, so he left you, believing someone had already taken care of you and demanded for the dog to follow him out. You held your breath even as they both left the scene.
And even then you remained where you were, knowing there was no other place to run to and just letting fate decide what to do with you. If someone else barges in and finds that you have only faked your death then you would accept his sword at your neck, your heart, wherever he desires.
So here you stand in the middle of a village, a tribe that was once so alive and filled of beautiful people and the warmth of a lovely fire.
Now all locked in the memories of the wind. Gone for you to never see again.
The God of Spring stands a few feet away from the wisteria that lays in the center of the celestial palace, watching as its colors of lilac, blush, and the skies, are only growing a bit weaker as the years pass by and by. It hasn't been in its full bloom and glow since the moment Jimin had grown it hundreds of years ago. Throughout the many years upon finding his fated ones, he's seen the tree grow taller and bigger, so very close to reaching its maximum goal if only he could find one more thing it needs.
It's gotten so magnificent one would think this is its full bloom but the God of Spring knows that there is something missing.
Many leaves have fallen, scattering about like little petals all around the tree but the wisteria remains tall and firm. Yet time is running out and he knows that it will only last a few more years before the bloom will disperse and he himself will weaken.
"Jimin." The Spring God turns at the gentle call of his name and finds the God of Ocean by his side. He watches the tree with awe and wonder, a sight he has gotten used to throughout the years of his immortality. Although Taehyung finds the tree that represent their love so very beautiful, he also understands that something is not quite right. Not yet at least. "What is on your mind, my love?"
He can easily read the God's mind without needing to voice out the question but he feels the need to listen to his soulmate's sweet voice that always calms his waters down.
Jimin shifts slightly, brows creased as he catches a small petal falling from the vines and fluttering down to the marble floor, meeting its fate with the other petals that have already fallen. A breeze passes by from the opening circle that gives sunlight and rain for the tree to grow and he breathes in the fresh air, closing his eyes for a moment. "We must hurry, Taehyung," he tells his lover.
When Jimin takes his hand into his hold, Taehyung understands exactly what his soulmate is feeling at the touch. Jimin has allowed him to read his mind with the touch alone and he knows, he knows that Jimin is beginning to feel restless. The wisteria is only now beginning to wither in a slow passing of time but it will fall to its roots if nothing is done about it.
Taehyung understands that Jimin is afraid, worried, because he knows that there is still a missing piece of their puzzle that has yet to be discovered; their missing soulmate. A soulmate whom they have no idea of, a soulmate they know they must not have met yet because otherwise the wisteria wouldn't look so weak in Jimin's eyes. They must not be an immortal, a god or a goddess, they must not live up here where they are in the realm of the Gods.
But they have searched and searched and searched for years yet no village, town, nor kingdom holds the answer they are seeking for.
"Why must they be so hidden?" The Spring God questions with a deep sigh that makes him so tired. "It was so easy finding you all."
"Fate is not always the easiest," his soulmate reminds him and he nods, sighing again as he turns from the wisteria. "Seokjin has not found a solution yet," Taehyung answers his question before it is spoken aloud while they walk away from the celestial tree. "Jungkook has been feeling very cold recently."
"It must relate to Jungkook." The God of Hearth should not be shivering and feeling the cold get to him in such strong waves. He is meant to be a fireplace, warming up all that is around him, giving fire to the mortals down below.
"But we have searched the land of the mortals," Taehyung says, knowing how long both Seokjin and Namjoon, the Stars and Knowledge Gods, have worked to try and piece everything together.
"Perhaps we are overlooking something."
"And what do you suppose that is?"
Jimin doesn't know. All he understands is that they must find their last soulmate and they must find them soon. So he continues walking on past the door that leads out the center of the palace, brows still creased. "We must return to Earth again, Taehyung. They have to be there."
"How are you sure?"
He shakes his head, not truly understand the logic behind his thoughts. "I just have this feeling." Jimin stops walking and turns to look at the Ocean God with a conflicted gaze resting in his eyes. He takes his lover's hands and press them to his heart to let him feel his heartbeat. "Will you trust me, my love?"
Taehyung smiles. "With all that I have."
It is freezing when you walk into a home that had once been so lovely. Everything is dark now, windows no long a thing because they had all been shattered and thrown out when the raid happened several years ago. You have no money for yourself, knowing how wrong it'd feel for you if you took your mother's money or any of the villagers.
Sure they're gone but for you they are still living inside your heart, their souls roaming around in the village, watching over you, spending their wonderful lives all around the tribe.
You miss them all, you miss everything that had once belonged to the tribe, a small little village where no one should have been able to find. Yet fate is cruel and left you alone to live in a village that is ghosted and no longer in blossom. Sometimes you wonder how you are still alive, and why. Why you? Why not your mother? Or another adult? Or another teen? Maybe a child.
A child would have not been able to survive and neither an elderly.
You heave out a deep sigh that fogs up, relieved for at least the walls of your house keeping the howling wind from freezing you further. You stare down at your fingers and take off the wet gloves.
You have to sew up a new one again. After all, wet clothes in the snowy mountains can never dry warm again, not with the situation you are living in.
You wonder whether given the ability to hunt would have made things easier for you. You'd be able to get your own food, wouldn't you? Instead of living off on herbs and vegetables that are so very hard to grow and find in the endless winter you have been placed in? You don't remember the last time you've had a proper meal, you don't remember the last time you've ever bathed in warm water, or was wrapped up in soft fury blankets, or seen the fire from a lamp.
There are no animals that roams around your village, not even the falcons or eagles fly up here. You are alone. Truly, truly alone.
A tribe that is kept hidden from the other humans, isolated, kept for no one to know it exists because that is how you all live. Everything was going well, a tribe built upon your ancestors for years upon years, only to be washed down by a raid no one was prepared for. Hence you cannot leave this place to try and find your own happiness, to try and find your own Spring. You are the only one left to keep its memories and traditions alive.
Though it is hard, it has been years. You aren't sure how many years you have left. You haven't spoken to anyone in years, haven't felt the touch of anyone since the last time being from the cruel wild dog.
You want to hold someone's hand, wrap your arms around them, have their arms wrapped around you. You want to be loved and you want to love. You want warmth from another man, you want to be touched, just...touched. Whether a small sensation from the tip of a finger or have it held around you. You miss having the advantage to just wake up and greet your mother, jumping her from the back and having her scold you for surprising her every time even though you know more than anyone that she doesn't truly mind it.
You miss her so much. You miss her smile, her gentle fingers brushing your hair away, her kind gaze as she'd look upon you, the crease in her brows as she'd worry for your health when you'd catch even the slightest cold. Your mother was only growing older by the day. You can still remember her falling ill, a turn of events on you to take care of her instead.
So you did.
You bathed her, brushed her soft hair, woke up early to cook her breakfast in the morning before she woke up, sewing both yours and her coats up, went out to collect firewood and herbs, made remedies to keep her health steady, did everything that you could to be a good obedient daughter.
She always worried you wouldn't have time to yourself, urging you to go to festivals or leave the house in general, telling you to go spend some time with your friends, maybe even find someone that has interest in you because she apparently knew there were a few boys in line waiting. You'd always laugh it off and shake your head, not caring about it because you were still so young. But your mother would insist, telling you she'd want you to be with someone that will take care of you well as you were taking care of her.
But you told her that all you needed was her and no one else.
She always frowned at your stubbornness but you weren't going to care for someone who just wanted you because of your face. You want someone to love you for you, past your flaws, to understand everything about you but still loving every part of it.
Mother called you a romantic, you told her that was how father was too and she'd laugh, saying "like mother like daughter."
Because when the raid came in, you asked her to go hide in the basement but she told you otherwise, screaming at your stubborn self, telling you that this is her dying wish. She doesn't care whether you will wed or not, whether you can be a good wife or not, doesn't care about anything except for your safety and protection. You told her you just wanted to spend her last moments with you.
So she held you in her arms, tears endlessly falling, kissing you on the head and whispered "I am here. Always."
And then, she pushed you into the basement and locked the doors.
After hours passed since you last heard the wild dogs fading away, you finally stood up on your feet to bravely leave your basement doors, clutching onto your abdomen with hissing pain.
You found your mother's dead body lying at the entrance, door left ajar, and sobbed and sobbed endlessly because she was no longer breathing and just laid lifeless. You took her into your arms, tears rolling, begging for someone to just make it all better even though you knew more than anyone that that will never happen. You rocked her in your arms for the longest times, forgetting about your own health with blood that still slowly oozes from your body.
Her precious bracelet that your father made for her lied on the floor beside her body, snapped into one single string with beads spread out. You went on to collect it and put it in your pocket, carrying your mother up away from the entrance door and laid her on the couch.
You left her to grab the herbs and remedies to treat your wound and took your cloak half an hour later, leaving the door of your house, and is met by the sight of blood and dead bodies laid on the floor of your village. You ran around, calling, shouting, for anyone to hear you. You barged into homes, rooms, basements, one after the other, calling uselessly for anyone. You walked a few miles away, calling and calling, screaming from the top of your lunges, wondering whether anyone had been dragged away and left there alone.
But there was no one.
No lives were spared.
The children, the poor children, laid alone and in the arms of their loving parents who tried to protect them. Couples held onto each other's hands in their last moments, the grandparents laid by the fireside that no longer runs with fire.
No one was spared. All, everyone, laid on the floor of your village. All of them left dead.
The traumatizing experience spares you no mercy because in the end, it is you that has to carry the bodies of your tribe, digging holes after holes in order to bury every single one of them. You had no wink of sleep, fingers cold and numb yet still forced to work hard and carry their heavy bodies. Your mother was the last of them all, body left spent after all that work, crying and crying endlessly because you could do nothing to protect them, not even one of them, and now they all lie dead under the ground.
All except you who was only seventeen years of age.
"Jungkook?" The God of Music is quick to hold the youngest God whose legs can't keep him steady on his foot. He shivers in Yoongi's arms, shaking, and tears are escaping his eyes before he can try to stop it.
"H-hyung.." Jungkook shudders, breath leaving fogs although the room itself is nowhere near cold. Yoongi can understand him without needing to hear words, a touch alone letting him read his thoughts in an instant. Jungkook tells him what today is, the same day that repeats every year and makes him extra cold though he has no reason why. His heart aches, fingers going numb, and head begins to pound.
The God of Hearth should never feel this way, he has always been powerful just as his soulmates, but this day, this particular day always comes around every year and as he comes close, he feels the shivers until the morning sun appears again and January 24 is here, making him the weakest at this day.
He believes that it relates to their last soulmate, a soulmate hidden from the world and no where to be found with no information except that they are still alive. Alive yet hurt.
"It hurts," Jungkook cries. It is not his pain that he is feeling, it is not his tears that are crying. These do not belong to the God of Hearth but to someone else. "It hurts so much, hyung." Yoongi holds him safe and steady in his arms but this time Jungkook cries his real tears as he leans into the touch of his soulmate, crying because he hurts knowing their last soulmate cannot feel this comfort and warmth for themselves. He begins to beat himself up, angry and frustrated that he can understand these feelings but cannot do anything to make his soulmate feel better.
"We'll find them," the God of Music promises as he presses a kiss to the youngest's head. "We'll find them."
He lets Jungkook know that Jimin believes they must be on Earth and Jungkook begins to think so too. He lets him know that Jimin and Taehyung are preparing to leave when Hoseok raises the morning sun in the mortal realm, that Seokjin and Namjoon will follow. And Jungkook lets him know that he wishes to go to.
He has to know, he has to finally find them, wherever they are.
When the morning sun awakes you, you sit up heavily from the cold, cold bed, shivering and letting out a deep sigh. Yesterday may be over but the memories still lies so vividly in your mind. You drag yourself out of bed, brushing your teeth, washing your face that makes you shiver again because everything is so cold. The kitchen greets you with an empty refrigerator that makes your brows furrow because your stomach growls and you are so hungry.
You sigh again as you head back into your bedroom to grab your cloak and wrap it around yourself, taking a straw basket that you weaved years ago with the help of a loving mother's hand, and put the hood on your head as you step out of your home.
The little children greets you in your memories, the ghost of the adults waving you good morning as you walk down through the memories of their lovely smiles, a few asking you to fetch them certain herbs and chicken eggs as well. You nod at their souls, smiling faintly and saying "Of course, I will be back with them."
A small little boy tugs at the sleeve of your dress and you stop to look down at the ghost of little Mingyu. He wishes to travel down with you but you shake your head, telling him you will be back soon to play with him. He pouts but upon your words, Mingyu doesn't go against you because he loves you like his own older sister.
When you pick up your feet again after bidding him goodbye to continue walking, your face falls as you walk past the wooden archway, chest tightening for a moment and nose thickening because you miss them all. You miss little Mingyu.
But you blink away the tears before it can freeze upon the cold wind, greeting the bright sun that shines above with a tight smile and walk down the little broken stairway made of leveled down snow that leads to the foot of the mountain.
"Maybe if I pray unto the God of Sun, he'll warm the mountain up," you sigh, "or the God of Hearth."
You look down at the empty basket that hasn't been filled for over an hour while your feet numbs from walking so long. No firewood, herbs, or food. You're starving and tired and it hasn't it gotten to noon yet. The slow passing of time makes you sigh at the growling of your stomach. You just want to eat and fall into a warm bed made of soft comfortable mattress and never have to know what the cold means.
But this is your life and although years passed, you still wonder how you're living on. Will you ever find another human to talk with for the rest of your life? The town almost a mile away has a few friendly smiles but it isn't the same as your village. After all, everyone knows everyone there, and you lived by taking care of one another.
You're just so, so tired.
They stare at the wooden archway that leads into a village of homes that look as if no one has been here in ages. An abandoned ghost village. Yet they follow Hoseok in as he walks forward, eyes grazing over the broken windows and roofs, a few doors left open and off its hinges, and nothing but the sound of the howling wind and their footsteps are heard.
It's strange but no matter how empty this village is, they can still feel how beautiful life had once been to these mortals. It is a village that has been abandoned for years, no signs of life whatsoever.
"Why are we here, Hoseok?" Namjoon asks as he steps over some broken wood, his brows furrowing at the eerie echoing of the dead souls who had once lived here. It is never easy passing by a place that lets them know something horrible had occurred. They can easily hold the ground and watch the memories of what had happened with their powers but it feels too much to invade such intimate memories.
"I don't know," the God of Sun admits as he continues walking carefully with slow steps, his gaze soft and sad as he looks over everything. "The Sun told me there is still life here and we've visited many places already but we've never come here."
"It's abandoned."
"But you can still feel the life," he tells Taehyung. He knows they believe that perhaps he had only sensed life because a life did used to be here but Hoseok thinks otherwise. "There is a living soul here," he speaks, looking up at the sun for a moment, "she's seen it."
There is something so strange about this village, this tribe. Hoseok cannot understand it and he knows that he can easily retrace the past lives of this village but it feels wrong for some reason. He may be a God who has the ability to know and understand everything but this...this doesn't feel right at all. Not yet at least, and he cannot pinpoint what is it that draws him to this place, a feeling he's never felt with the places they've visited before.
When Jungkook looks around, the coldness lies in his heart, a feeling he has gotten used to since years prior ever since the first January 24th had hurt him. He takes slow steps with his hyungs behind him, carefully watching him and the village and wondering what thoughts are going on in his head. "It's strange but..." his eyes fall to the snow below him, footsteps hidden under the endless snow that continues falling and falling. He feels as if there are fresh footsteps just under the snow but even then he cannot erase the blanket to see it. "There is a life here," he says in a soft whisper.
"If our soulmate is really here," Jimin's eyes fall sad as it wanders all around at the snowy mountain of an abandoned village, his chest tightening with a heart that begins to ache, "they must have been oh so alone."
"Whatever happened here," the God of Music steps up to the center of the village that seems to hold the most memories of them all, sounds of music falling so distant to his ears, something he knows only lies in the past, "there are souls that have yet to be released."
A gasp leaves someone's lips and they are quick to turn around at the foreign voice, a sight that comes with a girl dressed in a dark blue cloak that they know must not be keeping her warm. Her eyes shake with fear, a basket that had fallen to the foot of her dress, hands pressed against her chest as she trembles at the sight of them. Her face pales, mouth drying, and they can hear the mortal's heart beating oh so rapidly.
"Forgive us," Seokjin announces as soon as he can before you can go into a panic. "We did not mean to intrude, is this your home?"
Your heart relaxes for a moment at his voice but you are still filled with fear. You haven't seen anyone in your village for such a long time, not since the raid, and you fear that they must be one of them. "I..I-If you wish to kill me, please do it quickly."
Oh no.
Tears fall from your precious eyes and it hurts Jungkook as he shudders at the same time as you. Your eyes fall to him, a little intrigued, but still so, so fearful and he knows, he knows that you must have gone through so much with a heart that beats so rapidly at just the sight of men.
But he isn't a man, he is a God, a high and powerful God that can bend the Earth to its core if he simply wishes to do so. Those eyes of yours look so painful it hurts his own heart. The God of Hearth may have felt coldness before, just as the day before always being the worst of it all, but this...this feeling is a little more strange...foreign yet familiar at the same time.
"We are not here to kill you," he says. "We are Gods."
He isn't supposed to say so to hide their identity but it just feels right.
He steps up and the others follow a few feet behind. "I am the God of Hearth and we are looking for our last soulmate. We believe it to be a mortal."
You can tell they aren't normal humans. You can tell they aren't humans at all with the glowing aura all around them and how he calms your heart to a steadier beat at his voice alone. A celestial being. A God. Seven Gods right in front of you.
"No one else lives here," you tell the God of Hearth while his eyes never seem to leave yours as he continues walking forward. You don't step back for some reason, probably because you are too afraid to just leave and run away from a God. "I am the only one who lives here."
He hums. "I see that."
"There is a village about a mile away if you wish to check there."
"Have you not considered another option, dear one?" He asks you, snow crunching under his steps as he continues forward.
You shake your head slowly. "I highly doubt someone like me can even be worthy to be considered a soulmate to the Gods."
Jungkook steps up to you but he doesn't go any further to make sure you feel safe at a good distance. He holds his hands out for you and you watch, confusion displayed in your eyes before you look up at him again with a questioning gaze. "May I?" He simply asks.
You hesitate but this is a God asking you for something so you know you will offend him if you do not do as he asks. So you hold your hand out slowly with him so patient, just watching until you are ready to touch him. He hears the beat of your heart beating rapidly again but remains patient. When you finally allow him to hold your hand, the instant your skin meets him in a delicate touch, a vision falls into his mind.
He sees everything.
He sees the life of a little girl that had been born into a beautiful village and your sweet parents naming you Y/N. The village celebrates the birth of a child just as its always done, a tradition that will never fall away for as long as they are alive. He sees the cute pigtails on your head when you had enough hair for your mother to decorate it. He sees your loving parents that will do everything just to have their little daughter grow into someone precious and kind for the world to meet.
He sees you when you cried with your mother after your father's death, a little girl just twelve years of mortal age who should have never felt such responsibilities hanging off her shoulders at such a young age. But with time and your mother beginning to grow old, you have to step up to be the good daughter and tend to her, missing your own childhood despite how many times your mother tells you to go play while she sleeps. Sometimes she will pretend to have fallen into a dream just to see whether you have listened to her.
But you never leave your mother's side, only worrying for her in case you do leave and do not hear when she coughs and needs your help.
He sees you grow older and maturing to seventeen years old. You'll roll your eyes when your mother tells you to go out and find someone for yourself, telling her that you are too young to even think of marriage and laughing it all off though he can understand that deep inside, you do wish that in the future, not now, someone will come by to love and cherish you as you will love and cherish them.
The days are spent well with you occasionally leaving your home only for errands upon finding herbs, food, and fresh new firewood for your home. Jungkook sees a little boy named Mingyu who will try to sneak away behind your back, following you close behind when you'd walk down the mountain but you'll always catch him in the act. Some days you will allow him to accompany you, some days you will ask him to return home because it is too cold for him to be out.
Your village is lively and lovely, so different from how things look now. They will greet you when you come out and bid you goodbye when you return home. Everyone knows everyone, a tribe built up on a loving family. You rarely attend festivals and celebrations, however, always too busy tending to your sick mother.
But then he sees the one memory that you hate most of all.
He hears the loud barking of wild dogs in the distant, sees how you're begging your mother to hide in the basement and crying because she's telling you otherwise. She wants you to go in instead, knowing her life isn't worth fighting for anymore but that fighting this one last time will be her last mission in life. You cried in her arms when she held you, kissing you on the head, whispering soft words before pushing you into the basement and slamming the doors shut.
He sees your memories then, watching from the small window as your heart aches and numbs at the sight of the slaughtering. He sees you breaking a window, grabbing a shard and stabbing yourself for a pretend death when one of the men barges in with a dog beside him. He feels your fear, scared for your life, afraid of the dog. But you are left alone when the owner doesn't understand the barking of the wild dog.
He sees you as you're running around, screaming and shouting, calling for any survivors but no one, not even a soul, along with your mother and little Mingyu dead on the floors of your village. You're traumatized yet you still dig up holes after holes to bury your tribe in order for them to rest peacefully and not in vain. Your fingers go numb from the hard work and the freezing cold yet you never stop, going past days with no rest in between, tears endlessly falling and freezing under the cold snowy weather.
You haven't eaten a good meal in years, just seventeen years old having to carry the last remaining memories of your tribe, having to survive all on your own with no one by your side. Just seventeen years old having to become dependent on yourself. You learned to make your own clothes instead of just sewing to patch things up. Though it doesn't go well in the beginning, you learn the skills eventually as time passes. The water is always the coldest for you to wash and bathe in, your bed on a hard wood, no pillows, no warmth to keep you safe and secure.
Yet when Jungkook opens his eyes again, you have no hatred and vengeance in your heart, no sign of wanting revenge. The only thing he feels is your fear of your future and how you will continue surviving, questions swarming in your head as to why and how you are still alive after ten years of isolation. He has never met a human so selfless and kind with just the slight light of hope still left in her despite everything. You are afraid but you try not to show it and his heart hurts.
Jungkook turns to his soulmates behind him and they step up, surrounding you. They stand in a circle, fluttering their eyes closed and telling you silently that you must do so as well. Hands are placed upon your arms, soft, delicate and warm touches, and something strange and unfamiliar occurs.
You feel warmth surging through your body, a heat so warm you aren't sure whether this is real or not anymore. But it isn't just the warmth you are feeling, it's the feeling of walking on clouds, euphoria, head spinning with fairy lights and soft, soft ecstasy. It's so much more than the festivities of your tribe that celebrates many traditions, so much more than when you'd play around with little Mingyu who loves you to no end. It is sweet and delicate, fragile yet so strong and firm, not like the promise of your village that will one day be buried under the snow.
You see so many things, a beautiful celestial palace made of heaven lights. You see stars in one room, a whole room filled of the planets and galaxies of universes all around. You see a room filled with books upon books, a room of music, the soft blue tide of the vast ocean that stretches so wide and falls into the horizon, a sun that glows so bright in the sky, a home of warmth and hearth, and Spring. You see Spring for the first time in the life of a wisteria tree. It's petals flutters to the ground though the vines still holds firm and powerful, swaying gently and dancing to the soft whisper of the wind.
You see the life of the Gods before you. Meeting one another as if destiny has placed them in each other's paths. Soft smiles, soft hellos and goodnights, soft touches and soft kisses pressed against one another. A soft, soft love that whispers in their ears each passing day. When one is away they will feel empty, already missing one's presence the second they leave the palace grounds. Together they make each other stronger than any other Gods. Everyone around them looks up to them, bowing their ways, worshipping their presence for seven soulmates is much stronger than two souls.
Yet no matter how happy they are, there is still something missing. The wisteria may look divine but it is not in its full bloom, it is not as strong as it should be. The petals that falls off the vines hangs in vain and sadness, fluttering to the floor, still wishing and needing one last puzzle that is missing.
A missing soulmate.
You feel the aching in the God of Hearth's heart, how he will shiver on some occasions, the way he hurts the most on January 24th. And you think you understand what the means. January 24th is not a day that is happy for you, a day that is filled with grief and pain, a day that is the coldest out of any other day. You think you understand because the flame of the Hearth is a light that gives warmth to the mortals. But you have not been the warmest in the years that passed by since the raid. You understand.
"Do you understand?" You open your eyes to find them staring into your soul, and they can feel that you understand but have some doubts. "You are the one, my sweet precious mortal," the God of Knowledge holds your face in his hand and you find yourself consciously leaning into the touch. The warmth is nice. You love it so much you wish to cry. "You are our last soulmate."
"Will you accept us?" The God of Ocean asks. "Will you come home to us? Allow us to give you an endless warmth that shall never disappear?"
"To live an immortal life? Become an immortal yourself?"
"To never have to know what pain and hurting feels like ever again. To never feel afraid anymore."
"Will you let us protect you from now on? Give you a home, a safe, warm home."
"And let you meet the one thing you have always been waiting for. To let you see Spring."
They can feel the way your heart skips a beat at the sound and Jimin smiles softly. You have always wished to see what Spring looks like, when the Winter will melt away and the birds will chirp and flowers will grow, blooming to their fullest and giving off such sweet scents. You want to smell the flowers, to feel the rain kissing your body, to see a rainbow, to go barefoot and feel the grass poking through the gaps of your toes. You want to lie on the ground, run around freely without heavy coats on you, to feel a breeze that will not make you shiver and have your nose growing red.
You want to be kissed by Spring, greeted with a beautiful welcome and never have to leave its warmth. You want it, you want to meet Spring.
But they can also feel the hesitation in your heart. You do not wish to leave your village like this, you're the only one left to hold its memories after all, the only one left of your tribe. They feel hatred and anger for the ones that have made you suffer for so long, to live alone in isolation and miss the feeling of someone touching you for a whole ten years. They want to hunt those humans down, their selfishness and greed for blood making them boil to serve them justice.
"I.." you speak up timidly, a little fearful that it won't be right to do so but Yoongi places a gentle hand on your head, soothing it gently.
"It's alright, little one. You will never offend us if you ever wish to speak."
You pick up your courage to look at the village before you. "I don't want to leave my home like this."
"There are souls of your tribe that is still roaming around, little one," Namjoon informs you and your head snaps to him, eyes brimming with tears and making him sad to see them.
"You can see them?" You ask, breath shaky.
He shakes his head lightly. "We can feel them. They are here, sweet one." He takes your hand into his hold as he gently brings you to the middle of the village before turning you so that you can face the grounds. "Their souls have been left broken and shattered but they've never given up hope because of you."
"Because of me?"
The God of Knowledge hums. "You've survived for so long trying to keep this place alive." He's seen the way you pretend everyone was still here, watching their ghosts through your memories and speaking to them as if they were still alive.
"They haven't been able to rest in peace," you realize with sad eyes.
"Don't worry," Seokjin steps up as he places a hand on your shoulder and watches the memories with you, "I can send them off now for you."
"You can do that?"
He nods, humming. "All they've ever wanted was for you to live as if you are living again. And now they see hope." Through him. "They can go on now because their little Y/N can find something worth living for."
A tear falls from your eye and Namjoon squeezes your hand in a gentle manner.
"It will be alright," he tells you softly. "You can bid your goodbyes now."
All your ten years of living alone you thought that your tribe would wish for you to keep the tradition in your memories, to never let it die. You never knew that what they truly wanted, what they all wanted, was for you to live again. So a few more tears escape your eyes as your chest tightens and a hand reaches out into the open. You pretend that someone has taken your hand, your mother, with little Mingyu just beside you and the rest of the village behind them. You pretend that they are smiling down at you, softly bidding their goodbyes.
You can hear your mother whispering for you to be happy now and you can hear little Mingyu telling you to smile again.
You nod at them, closing your hand into a small fist. "Goodbye," you say and when Seokjin, the God that holds the galaxies, close his eyes, you can feel the souls leaving one by one, drifting off to the skies with little waves made at you.
They can finally rest in peace at last.
"Come here," the Sun God holds a hand out for you a few seconds later and you go to him with no hesitation, letting him take your hand. "You are hurt, my dear. Can you close your eyes?" You do as he asks and feel soft lips pressing against your forehead seconds later.
Hoseok releases his magic to transfer into your body, letting you feel a warmth rising, a warmth that makes you feel so light on your feet. It runs through your veins, healing the numbness of your fingers and toes, collecting the water from where your body stays cold, lifting the freezing feeling from you and replacing it with the warmth of the sun. Wherever there had been scars on your body, he heals as well. The scar that rests near your stomach is lifted as if it had never been there before and when he leans away, you still feel so light on your feet.
"Thank you," you say with a slight blush forming on your soft cheeks when you lift your eyes to find him so close.
Hoseok smiles, understanding through the touch that you find him attractive, an information he finds convenient because you yourself is so beautiful he can hardly believe his eyes. You have the beauty not meant for a human, a beauty that glows so delicately he doesn't believe anyone can be worthy to look upon you. "Of course, dear one," he tells you and presses another kiss to your forehead, this one being actually meant to be a kiss.
Your cheeks warm a little more at the gesture and he chuckles, loving your reactions to every little thing.
"Are you ready, my love?"
My love.
You red at the soft name from the God of Music and think that perhaps you will have to get used to such things. So you nod at him and Yoongi takes your hand. "Close your eyes," he tells you and you do so with no question.
Something shifts under your feet and you can feel your surrounding changing despite not actually seeing. When Yoongi tells you you can open your eyes again, you are met with a bright world just in front of you. The memories that belongs to them rushes back to you and you realize this is their home, their palace. It is so divine you can hardly believe your eyes. The castle stands so tall with a magnificent garden that surrounds its grounds.
You breathe in the wonderful scent and almost sway on your feet.
Spring. It smells like Spring.
You rush forward to walk up the steps of the castle and look back as you skip in, sounds of giggles escaping your lips and making their own hearts so warm. The sight of you so happy at the little things alone makes them smile as they walk in, following the curious little mortal who wishes to see everything. But they know that you will have time to see everything later. Right now you're tired and need to rest.
"My love." You turn at the call of Taehyung's voice and skip back to him, ears attentive. The God of Ocean gaze fondly at you as he lifts his hand to tuck your hair behind your ears. "You are tired, my sweet angel." He hears your thoughts, the embarrassment of how you must look with your damp clothes and messy hair from the strong wind of the Winter mountain and pets you on your head. "You can wash first," he says and your eyes widen a little with a little moment of confusion before he feels you understand that you are soulmates now and they can read your thoughts through just simple touches.
"Okay," you say with your sweet voice. He doesn't think he will ever get over such music to his ears.
"Come now." He takes your hand and leads you down the grand hall of the castle where you will be spending the rest of your life in.
The water is so different from the freezing cold back on the mountain. It is so warm and gentle you almost feel like falling asleep in the bath. It's grand, a bathtub so large and you think that perhaps the Gods share their bath times together. You blush at the thought of possibly needing to do that as well, not yet ready at the moment but knowing that in the near future you will one day bathe with them.
You giggle to yourself thinking of it and submerge your head into the water as if you should not have thought of such things. But you know that it's fine, you are soulmates after all, connecting in ways simple relationships of the mortals will never come to feel and understand. It's a nice thing you know you will love to get used to as you swoop up a few rose petals in your hand, breathing in the rose scent bath and laying your head back.
What a lovely life you know you will never get tired of.
Just hours prior you were freezing cold as you wandered the grounds of the mountain, trying to collect herbs and firewood, trying to find food. Nothing comes easy living in the mountain especially while living in isolation so some days you would have to go to sleep shivering so hard, some days you would have to suffer through fevers and other health risks, and some days you would have to starve for a few days until you can find food to eat.
Looking back on the memory not far back yet, you feel a rushing fear crawling down your spine as you think that perhaps this can all be a dream, just a wishful thinking, a daydream, and you'd wake up to the coldness of your lonely home all over again.
You've had dreams before, of living with warmth, living in Spring, and woke up only to fall sad all over again as you realize it had all been a dream. But right now this feels too real to be a dream yet at the same time, too true to be true, and you hate how you're so frightened of having to go back to your old life. Will that ever go away as time passes? Or will you wake up thinking time did passed when this had indeed all been a dream?
You let out a soft sigh as you think about the possibilities, brows furrowing with a sadness that hurts your heart.
But then you hear soft music playing, the sound of a beautiful harp as if the God of Music had just heard your thoughts and wishes to ease you from it. Your heart flutters as you look around, face brightening all over again wondering if Yoongi is thinking of you right now. He must be, right? A few butterflies untangle themselves in your tummy and begin to flutter freely.
Oh how you hope this is all a reality and not just a wishful dream.
The harp continues on and on, softly wanting to lure you to sleep but you know that you must get out first and not fall asleep in the bath.
When you open the doors to the bedroom timidly, head poking out shyly because you know they're in there, they smile at the sight of you and silently welcome you in. You have on a sheepish smile as you walk in dressed in a white bathrobe with wet hair and looking so pretty and clean.
Your skin glows with a fresh flowery scent and they almost fall breathless at the sight of your beauty right before them. They knew you were beautiful the moment they laid eyes on you but now that you're fresh and out of the bath, they can't believe you can look even more beautiful.
Jimin walks up to you and runs a towel along your head to dry your wet hair, fearing that you may catch a cold if it isn't dried right away. Sure you may be used to the cold but they still feel overprotective of you and wish for nothing to happen to you. You're their precious girl now, after all, and they will never let anything bad happen to you again. You've suffered for far too long living all alone and just trying to survive through the cruel reality of life.
When he sees the soft pink on your cheeks, Jimin smiles as he realizes you must have read his thoughts. "You are so beautiful, my love." Your heart flutters under his gaze and words and Jimin can't believe they have gotten such a precious soul to be their last piece of the puzzle. "We have to get you your own clothes but for now will you fit mine?"
You nod at his offer and suddenly feel a flutter of the wind before you lightly gasp down at yourself, a sight of the God of Spring's royal robe wrapped around your body to replace the white bathrobe. "Wow," you say in awe and they chuckle at how easily you are astonished. It's a little big on you, the robe falling to the floor and hiding your feet, sleeves a little too long and sliding off just slightly from your shoulders. But it is a sight that makes Jimin excited seeing you in his clothes.
He takes your chin in his hand for you to look up at him and presses a kiss right on the tip of your nose. "You must be hungry." Right on time your stomach growls and you lick your lips, causing him to grin.
They feed you a meal that is laid out on a tray, not allowing you to use your hands for one second and insisting to do the job instead. They spoil you with so many things that in the end, you become so full and have to push their hands away before they can feed you some more. But you let Namjoon hand you a fruit before you fall back into Jungkook's chest.
"Sleepy?" He senses your energy, watching as your eyes flutter drowsily and runs a finger down to the tip of your nose. "Sleep, my dear, you've had such a long day."
You take ahold of his hand, small fist wrapping around his forefinger after grabbing the courage to snuggle in close and the God of Hearth chuckles as they all coo. "But what if I wake up back on the mountain?" You worry and he understands that you have been thinking of it back in your alone moment in the bathtub. Jungkook knows then that it is not a good idea to leave you alone for long, not when you'll begin to question whether it is right for you to truly be happy because he knows that you deserve all of this.
A happy life, to be loved and cherished.
"I'm scared," you whimper though your eyes are drowsy and you let out a yawn soon after.
"Trust me, my love, we will be right here when you wake up."
"Promise?" You ask in a small voice.
He hums. "I promise."
"Kiss me goodnight?" They chuckle and does as you ask, placing soft kisses upon your face and head, missing the one spot that leaves your lips. But you're fine with it. Not yet, it will come with time when you are a little more comfortable.
You hear the morning birds chirping for the first time and that is what excites you awake.
It comes out so soft to your ears at first, you lying on your side with someone holding you from behind and Yoongi right in front of you. The bed is large enough to hold many people and you blush under their closeness before you fall distracted by the song of the birds. A light gasp leaves you when you continue to hear it, its chirping falling so gentle and sweet so you sit up and take Seokjin's arm off you to crawl off the bed.
Your light footsteps leaves you past the curtains and onto the large balcony that greets you with the kisses of the gentle breeze. You grin brilliantly as you lean onto the railing, back arching forward as you breath in the sweet smell of the warm air. Before you lies the crystal ocean that goes on and on past the horizon where the sun lies up above. It shimmers under the light of the morning sun, sparkling like gemstones and you realize that no, you haven't woken up to a freezing cold and damp blanket with the howling wind of the mountain greeting you awake.
You have no need to prepare yourself to head out into the cold, trying to find herbs and firewood, trying to find food. You have no need to worry about that anymore because this is your life now. Greeted by the lovely breeze, greeted by Spring, greeted by love.
Someone comes up behind you and you jump for a moment before feeling his arms wrap around you from behind, his familiar hands welcoming you in with a head nuzzling into your neck before simply resting right on your shoulder. "Good morning, sweet love," he greets in a low husky voice to tell you that he had just woken up. A smile curls along his lips as he reads your thoughts of how much you love his deep voice.
"You kept your promise."
"Of course," Jungkook chuckles. "This feels nice, does it not?"
You hum, leaning back closer to his hold. "It's so different. So warm."
"I feel better too," he admits and reminds you through his thoughts of how the God of Hearth also had to suffer a bit because his heart connects to you in a way more special compared to the rest. The Hearth's flame is meant for the mortals after all.
"I'm sorry," you tell him and Jungkook frowns.
"No, my love, you have no need to apologize. This was never your doing."
"But it must have been difficult hurting and not knowing why."
He turns you in his hold so that you can face him, face leaning in close with a pout. "You suffered so much more than I," he reminds you as he brushes your hair away to the side. "I knew you were suffering, we all did, but it took so long to finally find you."
"That isn't your fault. I lived in isolation in a village that should have never been found."
"I only wish we had found you sooner."
You shake your head lightly. "Nothing can be done to turn back time now."
Oh how Jungkook loves you already. You have such a kind soul, a selfless soul, with no darkness in sight despite all that had happened to you. He wonders how you were able to do this, held onto hope for so long, to spend ten years all alone in a place that kept you so cold and freezing, lacking the ability to touch another being, visited by no one but the knocking of the restless wind outside your home.
He wants to make it all better, to help you heal and grow, and to only hold onto precious happy memories from now on.
When you look back at him with a sweet gaze, he knows that you can understand him despite no words said. You can read him too and Jungkook smiles as he rest his forehead against yours, just holding you there as the two of you revel in the soft breeze that passes by. You can feel cold no longer, nothing but a soft warmth that the God of Hearth holds with him.
When the afternoon comes, you're wandering around the castle, watching through the memories of your Gods to remember what room lies where. You've ran through the magnificent garden barefoot, smelling the scent of all the flowers that were grown, touching the petals and feeling how soft it is under your touch. The grass tickles your feet, the stone paths rubbing you gently. A fountain sits at the center of the garden, hedges displayed all around sort of like a maze.
Everything is green and colorful with the robe of Jimin's dragging behind you as you become the curious little fella who runs around everywhere because everything fascinates you. You travel down to the ocean next, feeling the white sand under your bare feet and giggling as you touch and run from the water that comes and goes. Seashells are found all around the beach, little crabs running around and crawling into your palm when you let it. It does you no harm though you have heard stories of all crabs being able to pinch anyone that touches them.
Perhaps the humans really do not know much. But then again, maybe you should not have trust a tribe that only knows what Winter looks like. You laugh to yourself thinking about it and then become a little more curious as you recall the library you saw in your memories. It must belong to Namjoon, the God of Knowledge.
You stand up from the beach, letting the little crabs crawl back down onto the sand and wave them goodbye before you leave for the castle again. You run through a path with trees at two sides, reminding you that you should check out the wisteria as well after the library. You retrace your steps as you look into your memories to understand where the books are, skipping around the halls of the castle care freely with shoes now on, staring at the tall ceiling up above, the beautiful crystal glass windows in designs of each God or of plants and simple objects.
When you open the familiar looking doors from your memories, you gasp at the sight of the thousands of books placed on shelves upon shelves, leading into the room and looking like an endless hall. It looks so much more enchanting than what you had seen in the memories just as the garden and the ocean. You cannot believe there are so many books, almost every one of them you know you have never read.
"Well hello there my dear." You jump at the voice before understanding that it belongs to the God of Knowledge as he emerges from a shelf that had hidden him. He holds an open book in hand with a sweet smile resting on his face, charming dimples displayed upon his cheeks and making your heart skip a beat.
"Namjoon," you sigh as you skip up to him. "The gardens are so beautiful! Jimin created it, didn't he? And the ocean, it's so vast and magnificent I cannot believe such beauty exists in this universe. I know there are so many other places to visit but I don't know how I can look at them all before growing exhausted by running all over."
He laughs as he holds your face, fingers tracing down your temple and down your jaw. "My love you have all the time in the world to explore. You must remember to not exhaust yourself so fast."
"There's just so much to see," you beam before letting out a gasp as if you had just recalled something. "I want to read!"
He chuckles fondly. "Do you now?"
"Come here." He takes your hand, not needing to voice out what books you would like to read because he can already read your mind. So he leads you down to the center of the library where lays a circle of shelves. He walks you to the middle, holding onto your waist steady as you bite against your lower lip with anticipation, already understanding even before the floor lifts into the air upwards because you have seen it in the memories.
The lift brings the two of you up to where a flooring hovers in the air, supported by fluffy white clouds that falls past your hands but will support your weight when you step onto it. You giggle as you feel the clouds on your feet before letting Namjoon sit you upon a comfortable chair shaped in a ball and made of clouds. He hands you a book taken out of thin air.
"If there is anything else you need, just call me."
You nod eagerly before leaning your back into the chair and open up to the first page of the book.
You're addicted in no time and spend hours upon hours forgetting about everything else as you dive into the world of imaginations created on pieces of paper.
"My love?" You hear him when you are on your fifth book, humming softly to indicate that you hear him but your eyes remain on the little words displayed on the pages of the book. Namjoon sighs. "Come now." You pout. "It is time for dinner, sweetheart."
" more chapter."
He knows what that sounds like and shakes his head as he walks up to you, taking the book away and having you whining after it. The God of Knowledge chuckles at how adorable you are and mark the page you are on before closing it shut. You pout again but he presses a kiss to your head and makes you blush. Namjoon loves your little reactions to simple romantic gestures. "Come now," he repeats and holds his hand out.
This time you do not protest.
"Go on, try them on."
You collect the dresses in hand and they watch as you head for the bathroom only to pause in your steps and turn back with a sheepish smile.
"What is it?" Hoseok asks.
"Will you dress me instead?" Heat blooms upon your face when their eyes widen and you realize what they think you mean by that and is quick to stutter through. "N-not like that! I meant will you..uh...u-use your powers? You know, like how Jimin dressed me in his robe?"
You are so adorable when you're flustered and a blushing mess because you aren't used to relationships like this. The only thing you've been exposed to in this life is a beautiful love of a village and the parents that had raised you. You've known nothing about loving a man, was never able to be given that privilege because your tribe had gone before anything could truly happen, before you could even think about trying to find another who could protect and love you. So of course you are shy when you're around them but they know more than anyone that this is alright, you're okay, and they will love and cherish you in place of the loneliness that had bloomed over the past ten years.
So when Taehyung stands before you and you shy away, he does not mind it, knowing one day you will come around to it. He caresses your face for a moment, reading your thoughts filled of embarrassment and letting you read him to let you know that this is fine, this is alright and he does not mind anything. You are soulmates after all, meant for one another and written under the stars. You have no need to shy away under their gaze, free to speak your mind, and that even if you did mean what they had initially thought, they would dress you still.
But he tells you that he understands you are not ready just yet and lets you know that this is fine, this is alright. You can take as much time as you need, as much as you want, and none of them will ever mind.
His feelings allow you to calm, blush slowly falling away and Taehyung smiles at the sight of your shoulders falling back down to your sides. He snaps his fingers and you feel the flutter of the familiar wind just as the first time it was done to you and they watch as the dress falls onto your skin. It hugs you perfectly, soft golden shimmers falling all the way to the floor with beautiful yellow petals decorated almost all around.
You are a sight they have been blessed with, a beauty too perfect for the eyes to even dare see. They find themselves so lucky to have someone like you as their last soulmate, a lovely pretty lady with such a gentle heart too pure for the world.
"You are truly beautiful, my love." You blush again at Seokjin's words who holds a fond gaze upon your face.
"Mmn," Hoseok hums, "but as much as we'd like to stay and just stare at you all day, we must leave."
Your brows crease slightly as you look up at him. "You're all leaving?"
"Hoseok and I," Seokjin tells you as he strokes your cheek to ease your little worries, "the rest will be here."
"Where are you going?" You ask.
He looks at the Gods for a brief moment before gifting you a small smile. "To give justice to the ones that were the cause to your pain and suffering."
"Oh." You shiver and he can feel your fear and the slight aching that reaches your heart.
"Do not worry, my love," Hoseok says as he walks up to your other side to take your hand and kiss the back of it. "We will take care of everything from now on, alright?"
They let you know that they do not love violence, that they would much rather deal with things with words but when time comes, some things are meant to play out with violence if needed. They tell you that they will deal with this logically and not of blind anger and you nod at their unspoken words, head leaning against Seokjin's touch and squeezing Hoseok's hand lightly to let them know that you trust them to make the right decisions.
"We will be right back," the eldest tells you and you nod.
When they disappear to transport themselves away, you're still slightly conflicted as the memories begin returning. "Come here," Yoongi encourages with soft words as he holds out a hand to you. "When was the last time you've heard music?"
Besides that time in the bathtub it has truly been far too long. So you let him whisk you away from the bedroom and into a room that you had once seen in the memories.
Yoongi's grand music room is divine. Instruments are displayed in perfect order, harps and pianos and the violins and all sorts of musical instruments, even some you have never seen before in your life. You are from the mountain after all, and your tribe hasn't really come to understand and seen much but you've seen a few common instruments in the picture books the elderlies would tell stories upon.
He takes you up a flight of stairs made of glass, spiraling up towards what looks like the ceiling but you know that he is bringing you to some place a little more special as you have seen in the memories. The stairs lead up to the roof where you walk onto the platform of the tower made of pillars that circles the floor and lets you see down the grounds of the palace and past it, a sight much more than the balcony in the bedroom.
You are so high up you feel like you might fall but with Yoongi behind you as you hold onto a pillar and look down, you know that you are safe. You can see almost everything. The ocean, the outline of the gorgeous garden surrounding the castle, how enormous the castle is, and an enchanting forest that surrounds the palace grounds.
"The more I visit these memories in real life, the more speechless I become because everything is just so...breathless!"
The God of Music chuckles as you spin around to feel the wind rush around you, flaring your dress out and making you look like a fairy. He sits on a little stool, fingers beginning to pluck the strings on the harp and you fall silent as you sit down to watch Yoongi, eyes fluttering close after a moment just to hear the sound of the beautiful music playing as the wind carries it from room to room and over the ocean and forest that surrounds the palace grounds.
It's magical, every note perfectly played and echoing out into the world for all to hear.
This is the music of the Gods.
Yoongi has to go somewhere after a while so you are left alone to yourself, happily skipping down the halls again in trying to see where your feet will lead you first; the wisteria or the galaxy room that belongs to Seokjin. Both rooms you truly want to see and knowing you have plenty of time yet too excited to wait.
You walk into a grand open space before blindly taking a right without looking back into the memories to know where you are going. Sometimes being lost is the best way to discover new things, your curiosity only getting the best of you as you giggle about in the halls. But then you feel a presence and stop walking, brows furrowed slightly with confusion and curiosity, wondering whether it is one of the Gods.
Until you hear a bark and fear crawls down your back as you turn and see a sight that fears you most of all.
When they hear the scream, they are quick to transport themselves to you in an instant with Jimin wrapping his arms around you and holding your face against his chest. You shake in fear, crying into his protective hold as Jungkook steps up to the guard dog whom they have simply forgotten was still around. You're afraid of dogs after those wild ones had been the ones to track your village down and almost kill you along the rest of your tribe. So he signals for it to leave as quickly as possible, the dog a little confused he had scared someone but disappearing at his master's order.
He turns back to you when it's finally gone for you to finally relax but as they watch you shaking in Jimin's arms and refusing to look up, their heart breaks at the sight. Jimin can understand your thoughts, mind retracing back to the memories on the day it all crashed down for you. He sees you reminded of when you were down in your basement, bleeding out, faking your death as the dog walked over and sniffed at you.
You can hear the continuous barking as it tries to tell its owner that you are still alive, that you're just faking your death. It growls your way when its owner shouts at it to follow him and you can still feel its eyes on you even as it leaves.
Jimin runs his hand up and down along your back, whispering soft soothing words to help you calm, to remind you that you are alright now, that they are here and nothing can harm you ever again. You know, he understands that you know, but you're still afraid of everything being just a dream and that one day you will indeed wake up from this beautiful world. Jimin holds you tightly in his arms, brows furrowed, meeting the gaze of Taehyung, Jungkook, and Namjoon who shares the same conflicted thoughts and anger for what you had to go through.
Their precious girl, their precious soulmate who suffered so much because of human greed and the inability to feel as they do not hesitate one tiny bit upon killing a whole tribe made of small warriors, children, women, and elderlies who never hoped to ever fight in wars.
They can only pray for Seokjin and Hoseok to hear their anger and do well upon punishing the people that had done this to you.
You asked them to leave you be so that you can remain alone for a while. Of course the Gods weren't going to allow you without complaint, trying to convince you otherwise as they worry for you and although you felt touched, you shook your head then, too tired to argue and just wanting to be left alone because you are so used to dealing with everything by yourself. So you walk around the castle again, footsteps now heavy and slow, just letting your feet carry you to wherever. It's isolating and lonely, a feeling you hadn't felt for a few days, returning with melancholy and fear.
You don't know what to do, how this will all work out, why you have even become a soulmate of seven powerful and loving Gods too sweet for their own goods. You don't deserve this, you deserve to remain where you were, back on the mountain, trying to survive on your own.
You can still feel the numbness of your fingers, your aching feet as it walks and walks, trying to find just simple things in order to live on each day. You can still hear the howling of the wind as it passes by and by, the snowflakes that falls endlessly from the ongoing Winter skies, the ghost of a village that had once been so lovely and full of life. Everything was so wrong then, to grow old as a seventeen years old mortal, crying and crying yet having the need to pick yourself up because you knew crying wasn't going to bring anyone back. You had to stand up, to pick up the shovels, to dig and bury, to wipe your tears away and suck it all up because of the humans that knew no difference between love and hate.
Still you never felt any vengeance towards them, just fear and pain because they could not understand to care or have a heart. The world is a scary placed filled with scary people and frightening things that will visit your sleep and taint your lovely dreams.
You know this is wrong, to run away and try to face your problems alone when you have soulmates, Gods who just wants to make it all better. You know it is wrong to take that away from them, to shut them out, and to put up a wall. But you are afraid to feel happy, knowing it will never last forever and that one day, even if this is all true, perhaps this will all end. You are afraid to give into the love, to let them take care of you. What if they find something within you that they do not particularly like? Would you have to change? Do you have to be perfect? They are Gods after all and you are just a lone human walking in the heavens.
Why are you here? Why have you tried to be happy when you know you cannot?
Something falls onto the foot of your dress, a flutter, a fluttering petal, then another. You look up, eyes trailing the path of the little petals that the wind has carried to your feet and there, right in front of you lies the one beautiful thing that had struck hard in the memories the Gods had given onto you.
A wisteria.
You remember how the Gods will visit this room of the celestial tree lying in the center of the palace, a circle opening roof lying on the top to give it its sunlight and rain when it needs it. Its leaves and petals fall around the foot of it, the wind carrying it to flutter a few feet away. When the Gods come, they will reach out and give it the power it needs in order to grow strong, the God of Spring being the most frequent guest since he had been the one to grow it in the first place. But you know how their love have made the tree stronger with just one simple touch. As each new soulmate is found, they will visit the tree and touch its vine, releasing their energy to the tree and helping it to grow to its max.
And you are the last one, the remaining soulmate that will make it grow into its full blossom.
A hand reaches out hesitantly, head tilted slightly to the side with wonder, and you see the way a vine begins to reach out as well. But just as you're about to let it wrap around your hand, you take your hand back to fall behind you.
"Why do you falter?" You hear the God of Spring from behind you, knowing it is him without needing to look back. His footsteps walk towards you but stops halfway. "I know you asked us to leave you alone but I cannot, my love. I know you are still frightened."
You do not say a thing for a while, just staring at the tree before you with thoughts running all over. He wishes he can read your mind but he will need to touch you for that and right now he isn't sure if he is welcomed to do so or not. So Jimin remains where he is, giving you a safe distance in case you absolutely do not want him around. Perhaps he should leave, let you be, but Jimin worries that the horrible thing your mind may lead you to think will only hurt you more and he does not wish to see you in any more pain.
"It won't be easy you know..." you say in a soft, soft whisper.
His brows furrow, wondering what you mean.
"...trying to love me."
Jimin cannot take it no longer so he steps up in front of you to look you straight in the eyes, his gaze serious and filled with pain. Not because you said he couldn't love you but because you think it will take so much effort just to love you. You, the sweetest most kindest and selfless soul he has ever met, someone who doesn't wish death upon the ones that made you suffer for so long, someone who only wishes the enemy could learn to love rather than getting vengeance on them. You who was only a teen when her tribe was murdered. You who was forced to grow old and pick yourself up when you were hurting the most, seeing the dead bodies of your family, carrying their bodies, burying them into the grounds of the mountain.
Jimin hurts because you do not see worth within yourself, he hurts because you cannot see yourself living a happily ever after, you who is too afraid to love and be happy because you are afraid it will backfire and your story will end with pain and suffering.
He takes your hand, pressing it against his chest to let you understand all the emotions he is feeling. He lets you understand his pain, his frustration and anger towards the ones that have made you see yourself in such darkness, and lets you understand that no, no it will not be difficult. It will be the easiest thing in the world.
"Do you know why?" He asks you. "Do you know why it will be the easiest thing in the world?" He feels that you don't so Jimin continues with tears the prick in his eyes and falls before he can blink them away. Your heart hurts at the sight and begin to cry yourself but Jimin is going to tell you. "Because I have already fallen in love from the moment I laid my eyes on you."
You fall perplexed. " didn't know I was your soulmate then."
"I knew," he tells you. "I knew from the first moment you looked at me with fear. I knew since I stepped foot into your village. I loved you then, Y/N, whether you believe me or not. I loved you and I love you still. It may have only been just a few days but I love you so much."
"I do too."
The two of you look at the voice of the God of Hearth who had lean against the entrance way, picking himself up when you meet his gaze and begins to walk your way.
"I loved you before we even met," he says, "loved you from the first moment I was hurting because of the pain that connects us. My flame comes from Earth and the only way it can truly grow strong is if you are safe and warm. I have never felt stronger in my entire lifetime, I have never felt such flame burning in my heart. But even before I knew who you were, I knew I wanted to protect you, to keep you safe, give you a home, give you my hearth."
"There is no ocean vast enough, no ocean deep enough to compare our love." The God of Ocean walks in from another entrance, voice deep and serious.
"There are so many chapters left for us to unfold," says the God of Knowledge. "There are so many more stories to come, for us to explore, for us to learn and understand one another."
"But as we've said before," Seokjin stands beside Jimin, "we have all the time in the universe to get to know one another."
"You do not have to love us now, you do not have to feel the same," Hoseok tells you.
"But just know," Yoongi says, "just know that we love you."
They see the tears in your eyes, how it descends, the way it escapes and trails down your precious cheeks, hanging along your chin before eventually dripping down. You sob as they hold onto you, soft touches to let you know that they are not lying, that everything is true and that they will make it better, they will make it right. If you'd let them, they will stop at nothing just to see that precious smile on your face, to hear your beautiful giggles echoing into the halls and rooms. They will love you like how a man can never love, like a God's immortal love that has no ending even as they may one day lose their immortality.
For years in your life you always wondered whether you will be blessed with another by your side or not, and wondering how it will ever happen. Even before the raid came in, a daughter who only cared for her mother through her times of sickness, never once spending time to look at another in the light of attraction and love. You've only seen your tribe as a family. It was never easy growing up alone after the raid, never easy to know that there was a possibility of you dying alone and the world will have no idea.
Yet they come in like a soft blanket, the exact thing you needed, giving you warmth and closure, providing you food and endless love. You are unsure of how you can ever be enough but they tell you that you need not to trust your own thoughts but to trust theirs instead.
Because they love you and find no faults in your flaws, no fault in you whatsoever. To them you are more than enough, more than the love of the world itself and they will never stop to help you realize that.
So when Jimin holds your face to gently brush away your remaining tears, you thank them through your thoughts. He leans in to press a kiss to your forehead, whispering, "You have no need to thank us from now on. No Gods nor universe can ever stop us for wanting to love you."
Your cheeks blossom with roses at his soft words and you tell him, "I think I'm ready."
He understands.
So the Gods step back to allow you room for the wisteria who stands tall with patience no matter its slow withering. You reach out a little more confidently than before, watching as it joins you in the middle and feel it wrapping its vine around your hand and wrist. You close your eyes, letting it take your love and energy that flows from your body to heal the wisteria. It holds onto you firmly but does not ever hurt you in any way. It is gentle in his taking and you know that the wisteria will give back for the love you are providing it.
Giving you immortality for you to spend all of your life with the Gods who will never fall out of love with you.
When the wisteria unwraps itself from your hand, you know that it is done and let your hand fall back to your side. The eight of you watch as the tree glows of a thousand starlight, blooming to its max capacity with its shade of colors growing stronger than the years before it. Your eyes sparkle as you stare at the celestial tree who gives back light to not just you but your Gods who stands beside you.
You feel full and anew and smile gently when the glowing begins to fade while it remains tall with its blossoming vines.
When your head spins with dizzy and drowsiness, the Gods are right there to hold you. "You must rest now, my dear," the God of Spring whispers to you as your eyes begin to haze and fall closed.
"I'm tired," you say as darkness begins to consume your world. But they are right here beside you to let you know that you are alright. You know you are, this happens when one gives their love and energy to the wisteria, you've seen it in the memories.
"Mmn," you hear the voice again. So soft, so soothing, and your body falls to rest as you are held up into someone's arms. "Rest now, my sweet love."
The birds chirp again, soft and melodic, sweetly singing you a morning lullaby. When you open your eyes and yawn awake, the God of Stars lays right before you while a hand from someone else holds onto you from behind. You look back to find the God of Knowledge who grips you a little more, nose nuzzling against the nape of your neck and letting you give out a soft giggle.
Seokjin brushes your hair from your face as he watches you with a gentle gaze. "Good morning, dear one."
"Good morning," you sigh.
"Have you slept well?" You nod and he can feel your energy through the touch, relieved at the answer before kissing you on your forehead. "The others have yet to wake, it is quite early after all, and they've had a long night." You tilt your head to the side and he answers you before you can ask the question aloud. "No need to worry, sweetheart, we just had to deal with a few things in order to make this place more safer for you."
"Oh." You frown and he can already feel the guilt rushing in. "I'm so sorry."
"No, my dear," Seokjin is quick to say, "you have no need to apologize."
"I-I didn't mean for the dog to go or anyone else, I-I just-"
"You were frightened, my love, and no fear of yours will ever be taken lightly," he tells you as he take ahold of your hand. "You have no need to be sorry for something that is not yours to control. Those wild ones were at fault, it is not in your hands to choose what will frighten you and what will not."
Going through drastic measures just to make sure you are safe and protected, just to make sure you are comfortable at a place that will be your home for the rest of your life. You are touched by their actions, touched by everything they do for you and your eyes begin to tear up. Seokjin smiles softly at the sight of you, understanding what you mean through the touches and goes on to brush away your small tears.
"Come on," he whispers as he takes Taehyung's hand off him to sit up, "I know you have been curious to see my stars."
Right, you are.
You grow excited as you gently untangle Namjoon from you and take Seokjin's hand. The two of you giggle as both Taehyung and Namjoon whine for someone to hold in their arms, finding the both of you gone so they reach for one another instead. "Let's go," the God of Stars whispers in your ears and the two of you run off hand in hand as if you are on a little adventure.
You remember the familiar walls into some place you had never actually gone before. The castle is huge after all, but it all comes to you as you look back on the memories that they had shared with you, watching and growing excited as Seokjin himself cannot wait to show you his own room that is filled with stars. You anticipate this moment most of all, knowing exactly where you will go yet also understanding that seeing it in person will be so much more incredible just as you have seen all the other rooms.
He comes to a grand set of golden doors that is designed with wreaths and vines with a star right in the center. "Ready?" He asks and you nod eagerly.
When Seokjin holds a palm between the two doors, it isn't long before it glows brightly and magically opens all on its own. You are met by a portal just on the other side and squeeze the Star God his hand to tell him that you cannot believe you are finally getting to see this. He chuckles at your enthusiasm and the two of you walk right into the portal that transports you onto a platform with the galaxy all around you.
Your heart beats rapidly at the sight of the stars, constellations amongst constellations, stars connecting one another, milky ways, and everything else you do not know the exact names to. Seokjin allows you to run towards the balcony, your body lurching forward as you hold onto the white railing and look down. The small island you are on hovers in the galaxy where the night surrounds it all as if you are floating in the universe.
The Gods only surprises you more and more no matter how much you have seen in their memories.
"This is so beautiful!" You breathe as you close your eyes for a moment to take it all in. "I cannot believe I am soulmates to not just one but seven Gods who holds so much power and have the privilege to see all of your worlds."
Seokjin smile when he walks up to you with a hand rounding your back protectively so that you do not fall from the small island. "We are the most lucky of them all to be able to share our worlds with you." He listens to the beat of your heart as it flutters and loves the way you lean back to curl up along his side. It is still a wonder how he was able to be fated with seven; six Gods and a beautiful mortal. No matter how the world may see it, the God of Stars understands more than anyone that names that have been written in the stars will never fall out of place.
He loves you so much just as he loves the six Gods and when he feels that you've heard his thoughts and feel the heat of your body rising, Seokjin lets you hide your face against his chest, a chuckle escaping him because he knows you must be blushing red. Oh how sweet their little mortal is with a gentle heart that is the most purest of them all.
He watches you from afar, the sight of you in a new day under the bright sun that has become his whole life. The Sun God does not know how such beauty can exist. He has seen it in through the other Gods, always feeling such blessing falling upon him from the first moments he had first met them and even now as he stands years after, he still falls hard for the beauty that befalls each of his soulmates.
And now it is your turn, once just a mortal who now has immortality given by the wisteria. He watches you with a fond gaze as you look out the balcony that leads down to the garden unlike the one in your shared room. You have no idea he is there, your beauty only stunning him further. It almost looks as if you are glowing under the Sun, whom, he knows, has also become fond of you. He has her to thank, for leading him to your mountain, for letting them finally meet you. She has been through your worst days, watched you time and time again as you grew into the person you have become, hoping to give you as much light as she can.
He has read the Sun's thoughts, how she always felt guilty for not being able to give you warmth, but Hoseok knows not to blame her and he knows you would never as well. That is how kind he knows you are, a heart made of gold, and he knows that from now on, the Sun will always watch over you and protect you from anything that will ever dare to do you harm. He smiles graciously at her before returning his gaze to look upon you again.
"My love?"
You jump slightly at his voice but immediately relax when you know that it is Hoseok. You look away from the view to bless him with a sweet smile and he finds his heart fluttering. Oh how Hoseok loves being in love.
"Hello, Hoseok."
He smiles gently when you walk up to him and lean against his soft touches when he holds your face. You are happy right now, so happy, and it makes him proud of how far you have come. "Do you sometimes miss the cold, sweet Y/N?" He asks you, knowing that your whole life you have been surrounded by the winter cold.
You giggle at his question and allows his heart to burst. "Our tribe has always wanted to meet Spring," you tell him as you let him look back on your memories. Your village always speaks of the beautiful season, how they wish that even if it will last just one day, they would take it in a heartbeat. The young children will dream about it, the young adults complaining about how tired they are of the cold, the elderlies knowing they will see it one day when they lay on their death beds.
"And you?" He asks.
"I am happy things are the way they are," you tell him and he sees how you think of your first meeting with them, how frightened you had been at first, but also how relieved you were to find out you would not die that day but to live on and on. "I am so, so happy. After all, I met Spring the moment we met."
He wants to hide the fact that he wishes to kiss you but how can the Sun God ever hide anything from his soulmate? Not especially when the two of you are touching and you both can hear each other's very thoughts. So he slides his hand away from yours, clearing his throat a little awkwardly as he looks away, not before noticing the little blush that has made it onto your cheeks. He knows you are not ready yet and knows it is not the time just yet, understanding that you need a little more time. He will be ready when you are, when you can give yourself to them, not when he wishes for it to just happen.
Because Hoseok is a gentleman. He will not force something upon you and let you know his little wishes to grow closer to you because he does not want you to think that you must do something if he so wishes. He is still a powerful God, knowing fully well how you see yourself below his level and may sometimes feel self conscious because they are so high and mighty. He doesn't want you to feel as if you are obligated to reciprocate his wishes so he lets out a sigh.
"Forgive me, little one, I did not mean-"
You take his hand again to rest his palm right against your cheek and his eyes widen at the blush on your face and the understanding of what it is you are too shy to speak aloud of, feelings hidden inside, something only he and the rest can read.
You wish to kiss him as well, to feel his soft lips against yours, to understand what it is like to kiss for the first time, to kiss a God.
"My love," he worries, "you do not have to-"
"I understand, Hoseok," you've read his worries but still you are determined to do this, to let him know that it is not because he wishes to kiss you but the fact that you want this all on your own. You wish to kiss him. "Please?" You ask and he does not know how anyone can say no to those precious eyes of yours that looks up at him, reflecting that of a puppy.
He feels a slight shift in you and realizes right, you are not fond of the animal. "Forgive me." You shake your head in response to him, smiling to let him understand that you know he means well.
So the God of Sun beams softly. You are ready for him when he holds you with both hands, heart drumming hard against your chest with rosy cheeks adorning your face to let him know that you are also nervous. Nervous but excited. He leans in to rest his forehead against yours, breaths gently grazing against one another, and you close your eyes. He watches you through a hooded gaze before his eyes flutter shut the instant his lips meet yours in a gentle, gentle kiss.
Your lips are softer than what he has imagined them to be, softer and sweeter than any dreams that have invaded his mind. You sigh against his lips and he holds you a little more firm, the euphoric feeling both bursting within your bodies. Hoseok is used to this feeling as he is reminded of the countless times he has kissed his other soulmates.
But for you this is your first time, your first kiss, and the first time kissing another who was born to be yours from the beginning of time. Your head spins and when he pulls away, you are standing almost limping against his hold, feeling so breathless as you try to catch your breath.
"I should have gone easy on you," he worries but you shake your head, cheeks still caught aflame as you look up at him with glistening lips. You liked it, you tell him from your thoughts as you tiptoe up to press a little peck on his cheek. Hoseok chuckles as he feels his stomach bursting with butterflies.
But as much as he wants to swoop you up and carry you to the bedroom, his eyes catches the Sun behind you and frowns. He hasn't gotten more time to spend with you and when you hear his thoughts, you let him go gently. But he knows you are feeling a little sad knowing he has to leave right now so Hoseok gives you a small smile with a hand stroking your cheek. "I will be back in no time, alright?" He promises. Your cheeks never cools down, making him chuckle when you nod at him shyly. "Wait for me."
When he disappears to transport himself elsewhere, your thoughts are in shambles as you walk back slowly to the bedroom. It takes a while with how slow you are going as you try not to think back on the kiss but how can you not?
Once you make it into the room again, the door closes behind you as you lean your back into it, eyes still widened, cheeks still red, and a finger comes up to press against your lips. You kissed him, you kissed Hoseok. Well, he kissed you but same thing. He gave you the first kiss you had once dreamt of, never knowing exactly whether you would ever receive such a delicate touch and now here you are in a palace made for your Gods, a life for you to live in forever.
You gasp at the sound, not realizing someone was in the bedroom but when you look up, it isn't just the God of Knowledge. Yoongi has joined him on the bed as well and you blush some more, embarrassed for the fact that they have seen you thinking back on your kiss with Hoseok.
You don't know what to do as they look at you quizzically and knowing how bad it will be if they were to stand up and come your way. Ever since you've met them you never minded being able to share thoughts with just simple touches, but now? Now you really understand how intimate this soulmate thing really is and you aren't sure whether it is a good thing at this moment.
"Are you alright?" The God of Music calls and you are quick to shake your head vehemently to rid of the thoughts.
"Y-yeah." If your face doesn't give it away then it would be the shaking of your voice. Gosh you wish you could easily hide your feelings without someone being able to read it so easily with how it is written on your face. When you look up at them, your eyes instantly falls to their lips and you don't know how you will ever survive this.
Perhaps it would be easier if Hoseok was here to explain things, perhaps then you wouldn't find yourself so pressed to the doors and shrink back timidly as Namjoon and Yoongi leave the bed to walk up to you.
"Do you have a fever?" Namjoon frowns and his hand goes to fall against your forehead before you can stop him.
Oh crap.
"Oh." His eyes dilates when the touch allows him to read your thoughts and Namjoon sees the vision of you and Hoseok kissing just moments ago. Yoongi watches the two of you in confusion, how the corner of Namjoon's lips begin to curl and the way your face refuses to cool. So he touches your face out of curiosity and chuckles when he understands.
"Why are you embarrassed, hm?" The God of Music queries. "We are lovers, after all, kissing is just a sign of declaration."
Oh how you wish someone could just bury you alive. But of course the Gods were never going to allow that, but they understand what you mean. "I-It isn't just that," you say and when your thoughts are given to them, the two of them grins.
"Ah," says the God of Knowledge, "you wish to kiss us as well."
He didn't have to say that out loud.
They chuckle amusingly before Yoongi falls a little more serious as he brush your hair to the side. "My love," he calls, "you have no need to shy away. We are lovers now, soulmates, and if there is anything that you wish to do, it is alright for you to think such thoughts. Sleep with us, bathe with us, kissing us." You wonder how he has such bravery to say such things but is reminded all over again that they've done it all, done everything together. Images of them fill your memories and it makes your heart drum louder against your chest.
"I.." you trail off, eyes falling away from his out of embarrassment, "I-I know."
"Will you look at me?" He asks of you. You hesitate, of course you do, but Yoongi remains patient as he waits for your head to lift up and finally meet his gaze again. When you do just that, he gives you his precious gummy smile. "Look at you," the Music God praises, "I am so proud of you, dear one." He leans down to press a kiss on your cheeks, lifts his head a bit to kiss you on the forehead before his lips trail down, following the line between your brows and down to the tip of your nose.
"It's alright," Namjoon coaxes as he falls at your side, peppering soft kissing upon your shoulder.
You do not mind it so they go further. Namjoon continues his ministrations while Yoongi's lips hover above yours. When you give no refusal, he captures your lips and your heart grows rapidly against your chest. Soft lips nibble upon yours with gently wet sounds as he changes the angle and your mind becomes so hazy. Your fingers cling onto his royal robe, clutching it tightly as a small whimper falls from your lips.
When Yoongi falls away, Namjoon replaces his position. Your heart swoons, tummy filled with dancing butterflies all around, with thoughts filled with just them and them alone. His lips are sweet and gentle against yours, pressing upon them in a manner that has your head spinning all over again.
The moment they both finally release you, you fall against Namjoon's chest who holds you up because you have no strength to do so. One day you will get used to this strong burst of emotions, to the soulmate bond, but right now your eyes droop as you lean against Namjoon's hold who walks to the bed to lay you down gently. "It's okay," he whispers to you when Yoongi falls to your other side. They hold you gently, arms wrapped around your body. "Sleep now, my sweet dove."
You love them and they hear it but you want to say it aloud. Yet your sleepy brain does not let you utter a sound, too tired to even open your lips to mouth it. But they know and that is all you need for now.
You can tell them tomorrow.
"Yes, love?"
"Do you...know?"
He doesn't have to read your mind to know what you mean by that. All the Star God has to do is look at the blooming pink rose adorning your cheeks to understand it all. He chuckles at the pretty sight and nods. "Of course."
Right, of course, meaning that the other Gods know as well. You avoid his eyes for your head to point towards the floor, fingers playing with one another as you gulp, trying to pick up the courage to ask him something else. Seokjin remains patient from where he stands, watching the stars as he always does, watching over everything. You aren't even sure if it is right to bother him with this but he has told you plenty of times that you are never a bother to him. If you wish to ask him things, he only encourages you to speak up.
"Why does..why does the soulmate bond, um..." you try to find the right words. Perhaps he will understand better if he touches you but you feel you are already bothering him enough. "Why does it" Is that the right word? "Is it for the reason that we are made of eight souls and not two?"
The God of Stars hum. "That is part of it, yes," he tells you. "Soulmate bonds are very powerful, my sweet, so it only grows stronger when it is declared through intimacy. When there is more than one partner, the bond is even stronger than that of two souls because this is not common amongst lovers to love more than one, especially being able to share that love equally. The world happens for a reason, many grows jealous for our love, many despise us for how strong this bond makes us. And because of how powerful it makes us, there is a little drawback to how much energy it can give."
"That's why...that's why..-" you clear your throat and he grins at how shy you can be just saying the word, "that's why, kissing..u-um...that's why it makes me so tired?"
He chuckles. "Precisely."
"Oh." You frown slightly. "I can't imagine how it will be when we—" You gasp, catching yourself almost immediately as you fold your hands over your mouth and Seokjin turns his gaze from the stars to look at you with amusement. There is no mockery in his gaze, however, just pure fondness that makes your heart skip a beat because even though he does not say it and even though you are not reading his mind, his gaze alone lets you know that he truly loves you.
You cannot believe you have been so blessed to be given these Gods as your soulmates. Everyone dreams of a love such as this, to have another watching them with pure fondness and amazement, with a pure love. For them to feel safe and protected. For them to know where home lies the second they meet eyes with their fated ones.
Your God walks on over to you with slow steps, eyes never leaving yours as you look up to him when he holds a hand up to stroke your soft cheeks. "You will be alright when that happens," he whispers.
You don't know how he can say that so casually but then again, you aren't his first time and you aren't the only soulmate he has. There are six more, six wonderful Gods who loves you just as much as they love one another.
"Will I?"
Seokjin nods, humming. "We will take care of you, my love. Will you trust us when the time comes?"
To make love. Gosh you cannot think about it without being a blushing mess so you stumble back from his touch, embarrassed to let him read your thoughts because with him being so close to you, it only makes things more dangerous for the good of your heart. It beats rapidly against your chest and you are quick to turn, knowing you cannot look at him straight in the eyes when you are like this. One day you will have to come face this bravely but one day is not here yet and you still cannot even speak right with just the word kiss.
So you awkwardly clear your throat as he watches you nod from the back. "Y-yes," you stutter, "I will trust you then. But..but, um...I-I'm already a bother so should, should get back to your stars. Goodbye."
You can hear him letting out a soft chuckle when you run back into the portal to transport back to the castle.
"Ah, there you are."
You turn at the voice with a hand pressed onto the floor and a head looking over your shoulder to find the God of Ocean and Hearth walking into the room of the wisteria. You gift them a smile as they walk closer, wondering why they have been looking for you.
"There is a banquet tomorrow evening, will you join us to meet the other Gods and Goddesses?" Jungkook asks and your eyes widen a little at the invitation.
"A banquet?" You echo.
He hums. "Everyone knows we have found our last soulmate and are very intrigued on why we have been keeping you hidden in the palace."
"There have been a few banquets prior to your arrival here but we know you hadn't felt too comfortable leaving the grounds just yet," Taehyung says. "And besides, we wanted you to get used to this life first and get used to us. Gods can be quite invading and we were too protective of you to just let you go while you had yet to know of everything."
You giggle softly at the God of Ocean's words. "You were afraid of me wanting to live elsewhere and not here with you?" You interpret and they pout cutely when you caught them. You shake your head lightly as you grin. "That will never happen. You are the ones who saved me after all. Soulmates or nor, I would have stayed with you."
"Well that's relieving," Jungkook chuckles as he scratch the back of his head. "So will you join us? We have no need to go if you are not comfortable, we can just stay here if you'd like."
You shake your head again. "I would love to go."
Their faces brightens with soft smiles before the God of Ocean takes a hand out to offer to you. "Supper is served," he says. You reach out to take his hand but stop in midair as you realize what that means, suddenly retracing sheepishly because right now you cannot afford any of them to hear your thoughts just yet. It is all over the place and you absolutely cannot let Taehyung hear this. His smile falters when he puts his hand back at his side at your rejection and you are quick to jump onto your feet.
"I-I did not mean it in that way, I promise!" You declare. "I"
"I understand," he tells you otherwise with a small smile that does not hide his moment of hurt. "It's okay, little one. Come on, the rest are waiting."
As you follow them from behind, your hands tug at your dress uncomfortably, suddenly feeling bad for letting him misunderstand you in this way. Taehyung thinks you've rejected him and when Jungkook shoots you a small smile just the same, you know you've messed up. After all, they know you've kissed three of their hyungs and maybe, perhaps, very likely, they were hoping you were ready to kiss them as well.
But now you've only made things worse because you wouldn't allow them to read your thoughts that is filled with everything about them, just them. You can't just reach for his hand to make him feel better because then he will be able to read your thoughts and right now you cannot let him do so. Not yet.
Oh how you wish you were braver.
Dinner goes think. But it is when you are left alone to your thoughts in the bath do you not feel so great again.
It isn't right for you to be so silent when they have declared their love to you plentifully. You know you've told Namjoon and Yoongi but that was all in your head. You haven't said it aloud and the rest of them haven't heard it said to them yet. So perhaps that is why Taehyung and Jungkook had been a little more hurt by your rejection, believing you love only two of the Gods and not everyone.
But that is so untrue yet you aren't sure how to do it, if you are brave enough to do it. But then again, you ask yourself why aren't you brave enough? They have declared their love for you, showed you how much they care, always looking out for you and doing what is best to keep you safe and warm. What is it that you have to be frightened of? They love you and you love them and you know that soulmates written under the stars shall never break apart even through death.
So why are you not brave enough? Why must you keep silent and hurt them further? Making them believe you love some of them more than the rest?
It is untrue and you have to let them know, you have to let them understand. But as much as you want to hide with the fact that they can easily read your thoughts to understand it all, even though you know that will be so much easier, you also know that it will be best to say it aloud first, to declare it aloud before you let them see into your heart. You have to tell them first before you let your heart tell them the details of it.
When you step out of the bath and wrap yourself in a white robe, your eyes fall at the evening robe that hangs on a hook and the long mirror that lets you see yourself. You watch those eyes looking back at you, fingers falling upon your wet hair, tracing the outline of your face, your brows, your eyes, nose and lips.
And it makes you wonder why they love you.
They are Gods, such powerful Gods, possibly the most powerful Gods to ever exist all due to the soulmate bonds that keeps them connected. Your hand strokes your soft cheeks, lips staying pressed together with brows that creases just a bit. You are loved by seven Gods and here you are, now an immortal yourself, still trying to get the courage to speak your heart aloud.
It should not be this hard, right?
Maybe if you hadn't been forced to grow up so alone then perhaps things could have gone a lot easier. But as Seokjin had said before, the world happens for a reason. Your tribe being attacked, you being left to live alone for ten years, saved by these precious seven souls, and now loved by them all all because you are you. A kind, sweet soul who cares so much about the world.
Perhaps you indeed deserve such a love, perhaps you indeed deserved to live on.
Their love lets you reflect on everything and the longer you look at yourself, you begin to see tears brimming along your waterline as your heart cries for how much they have given you. They've showed you that you deserve anything and everything and now you must pick up the courage to let them know that you appreciate everything and has fallen so hard. You know it must not be easy for them either but they've always been so strong for you, keeping you safe, loving you when you had yet to accept the new life and know that you deserve such wonderful things.
They've done so much for you and you know you cannot let them think that one is more than the other. You have to let them know.
"Y/N?" You turn at the call of Jimin's concerning voice and gasp at the sudden intrusion.
They've heard you crying and now here they are again, always trying to make sure that you are alright. Knowing this, more tears well up and falls away before you can stop them, making your heart ache a little more. Their brows knit together, eyes filled with worry at the sight and they try rushing to you but you step back with hands held up to stop them. "W-wait!" You cannot allow them to touch you.
Not yet. Not just yet.
Questions fall upon their faces and you close your eyes, letting a few tears fall freely, taking in a deep breath before releasing it shakily. When you open your eyes again, your lips curl into a soft, soft smile that confuses them even more. They think that perhaps you are trying to let them go, a pain shooting at their hearts, but when you open your mouth to speak, the tightness in their chest releases.
"I love you," you say. "I love you all so much and I just wanted to thank you," you wipe a tear away though more falls and you sniff, "for loving me while I was still at a loss and couldn't understand why." The lump in your throat tries to hinder you from speaking but you swallow it to push through. "I love you for all that you've done, being patient with me, keeping me safe, always thinking of me and doing all that is best for me. I am still so, so shy, and I'm not sure if I will ever find the courage to say these things out aloud again but just know, just know that as you are holding me and reading my thoughts, know that I will always be wishing to say everything out aloud.
"I'm sorry for not being able to say this before. I'm so, so sorry if I ever caused any misinformation to let you to believe I was rejecting you by not allowing you to touch me. Truth is I was just afraid to let my heart speak before I could do it myself. Because I know that the heart understands the inner conflicted feelings before I myself can say anything out loud. And I was scared because I didn't know whether I truly deserve this or not, whether I truly deserve your love. But I understand. I understand that soulmates that have been written in the stars shall never fall, I understand that, that our love is meant to be. I'm so sorry I've just realized it. I'm sorry."
"Oh, love." Jimin wipes his own tears away as they come to surround you. "My sweet one, you have no need to apologize."
"You've just been so patient and, and I..-"
"We know," Yoongi promises. "We know so hush, it's okay. You're alright now."
Jungkook cradles your head as Taehyung brushes your tears away. Seokjin holds your face and you feel a rush of the wind at your sides, drying your hair and replacing your bathrobe with the evening gown.
"We are so proud of you," Namjoon vows. "It is never easy to speak your feelings aloud but it's okay now. We understand, dear one, we know."
"I love you," you declare again, sniffling, and they smile, smile so softly.
"Oh, love. We love you so, so much. We love you more than the universe itself."
When they hear the familiar footsteps of the last soulmate to meet them by the entrance door of the castle, their heads turn your way for the world to slow down and fall away, nothing else falling into their line of vision except you as you walk down gracefully with a sheepish smile their way.
The dress you have on is a soft color in golden champagne, flowing freely down to the floor as it drags when you walk, decorated with shimmering golden vines that curls all around the dress. Soft pink roses connect together at the waist of your dress and falls atop your shoulder where the lace cape drags down your back. You also have on a beautiful crown designed in pink florals and golden butterflies, matching all that you are wearing. They do not know how you can impress them even further and show that your beauty comes different with certain occasions; when you wake up, the moment after you bathe, the night before you head to sleep, your casual dresses when you walk around the castle, and now here for a banquet.
You are ethereal, more beautiful than anyone they have seen before and their hearts beats rapidly just knowing that you are theirs.
Everything about you is beautiful and they already know for sure how some of the Goddesses will grow jealous of this beauty of yours once they set eyes on you, and how the other Gods may try to catch your attention. They shake their heads at the images, mentally scoffing and rolling their eyes because you are theirs, you belong to them just as they belong to you.
"Wow," your eyes dilate at the sight of them and a little soft pink reaches your cheeks before you avert your gaze to the floor shyly. "You are handsome," you tell them and their hearts swoon.
"And you are more beautiful than Spring itself," Jimin says as he holds your chin for you to look up. You smile sheepishly at him and he chuckles, taking your hand into his. "Are you ready?"
When you arrive at the banquet, you stick to their sides, never releasing your hands that holds onto Jimin's arm because everything becomes unfamiliar and it is not the same garden you are used to back at the palace.
This one is large and gorgeous but it can never compare to the one the God of Spring has made on his own. Pretty flowers round the stoned paths in roses, pansies, lilies, and many more. The lampposts that station around the garden are wrapped in green vines that curls all the way to the tip, and pretty fairy lights shine everyone's paths. You look around like a curious little kitten, blinking surprised at all that surrounds you. The realm of the immortals is definitely more beautiful than Earth can ever be.
Ah, but then again, you've only been in one place and that would be your mountain and the snowy grounds that surrounds it. Yet you are sure Earth is still less beautiful.
Beside you, Jimin laughs softly as he's read your thoughts and you are reminded all over again that soulmates are given such ability, making you giggle yourself.
"So this must be your last soulmate." You shrink into Jimin's hold as you are met by a Goddess who smiles so beautifully your way. She is gorgeous and you find yourself shying away at her stare. "Oh she is so cute," the Goddess practically squeal when she coos, making your cheeks catch aflame and allowing your Gods to chuckle.
"She is, isn't she?" Hoseok beams proudly as he pets your head.
"Tell me, how in the world did you all manage to find yourselves another beauty?"
Catching the sight of the familiar seven Gods, more comes on by upon hearing the Goddess going on about you, curiosity filling their minds and you shrink further back at the sudden attention. Many comments upon your pure, gentle soul who looks too cute and beautiful for anything and it makes you even more flustered by everyone. Eventually (and thankfully) the crowd falls away when your Gods ask them to give you space and not horde around you. They do not say it allowed but you can feel their protective selves becoming more visible and you giggle, allowing Taehyung to playfully pinch your nose because he is not particularly fond of you calling them cute when they feel such way.
You are theirs after all, and no one should continue looking at you for much longer than a few minutes. You should be only for their eyes to see especially when you look particularly beautiful tonight. Perhaps you like this side to them, and when they hear your thoughts, it is your turn to huff and shy away all over again, making them laugh aloud.
After moments of walking around to personally meet a few Gods and Goddesses along your soulmates' sides, you are left alone to freely explore on your own. The curious side to you walks around to make little conversations with a few immortals on your own though you are still a little shy when it comes to talking to strangers.
You walk around the maze garden that falls a bit deserted while everyone mingles around the large center. You follow the fireflies that blinks like little flashlights, feet bouncing lightly as it trails away from the brightness of the garden banquet. Your dress trails behind you as you stray away from the center, running from right to left with just the fireflies as your source of light, getting yourself lost in the maze. But you know that you will be alright. After all, if your Gods need you, they can easily find you with no difficulties.
"Hello there."
Your breath hitches, jumping at the sudden sound because you hadn't expected anyone else to stray from the garden and walk in the maze. When you turn to the source of the voice, it is the sight of a God you think you have seen before while reading some of Namjoon's books. It must be the God of the Underworld, Hades. He watches you with a sly smile that falls lopsided against his lips, body leaned against a hedge before standing straight to approach you with light steps.
"I have never seen you before," he says, voice deep as a brow raises before snapping his fingers as if he's just realized something. "You must be their last soulmate then. Y/N."
It is a bit surprising even the God of the Underworld knows of you but you decide to pay it no mind, only nodding as you hope your voice does not come out too cowardly. "Yes, I am."
It doesn't work because Hades chuckles knowingly. "You have no need to fear me," he tells you but it isn't really him you become so frightful of. No, your eyes only dilates as your breath is caught up in your throat when you watch in horror at the sight of the animal that walks up from behind him. Hades' brows furrow as he falls at a loss at your trembling figure and the way your body turns from him, hands clasped around your lips while your eyes shut tight.
Cerberus. Three headed dog.
You are too frightened to scream. One because you do not wish to disturb the peacefulness of the evening banquet and two because you can't. Tears brim along your eyes while you try to hide the whimper that begins to fall from your lips behind your hands. But it doesn't really help. Hades can hear it muffled out of you.
He has no idea what you are frightened of. Surely he isn't that scary, is he? "Is something the matter?"
"P...please get it...g-get it..a..away."
A laugh falls from him as he realizes what is happening. "You're afraid of dogs? I knew mortals were quite weak but I had no idea they were this weak."
Someone wraps their arms around you, pulling you in close to their chest and you don't have to look up to know who it must be just by their scent and the touch alone. "Leave, Hades," the God of Stars command in a grave voice as Jungkook silently tells you that all will be alright, that they are here now and you have nothing to be afraid of anymore. But you can still feel the presence of the dog and it only reminds you of the cruel memories that has terrorized you plenty of times. Jungkook understands, of course he does, because no matter how connected you are with the Gods, the God of Hearth shares something a little deeper as his hearth comes from Earth.
So a hand comes behind your head as the other remains on your back, his touches whispering soft gentle words to soothe your pain and comfort you through the memories.
"This is a banquet, is it not?" You hear Hades saying and through the feeling of Jungkook's protective and caring self, anger burns his body so immensely you are surprised this is him. You're used to your Gods being so kind and gentle, never have you actually ever witnessed their angry sides.
"I will not repeat myself, Hades." You do not have to touch Namjoon to understand his anger as well. They are all angry as you hear growls from the back of their throats all hinted towards Hades who does not fall back even when asked to. The pride within him restricts him from doing as he is told even though the God of the Underworld knows he cannot go up against the seven Gods who are the most powerful especially when together. Your Gods are fuming with wrath, not fond of anyone threatening their soulmate's safety which in this case would be you and you can hear the thoughts of Jungkook as he holds you, knowing he will burn the whole garden down if it means Hades will leave.
But their anger towards the God of the Underworld elicits growling from his loyal dog who does not like anyone trying to go up against his Lord and it makes you whimper, body shrinking more towards Jungkook who hears your thoughts.
You don't care about Hades or anything anymore, you just wish to go home. So he lets out a sigh though he is still riled with anger and turns to the God of Knowledge. "Let's go, Namjoon."
You feel their eyes turning to you at those words before sighs leave their own lips and you are brought back not a moment too soon.
"We're home now, little one. You're alright now."
But you don't leave Jungkook's arms, still so, so afraid because the horrible memories of that Winter day will not go away despite Cerberus now nowhere to be seen. His eyes fall with pain and worry as he holds you, meeting the Gods with an understanding gaze and just letting you cry it all out. Your heart hurts, body still trembling, and when you feel you cannot hold your body up for much longer, Jungkook picks you up to walk on over to the bed and have you sitting right on his lap.
"Shh, it's okay, my love, it's okay." He continues whispering soft words to your ears, rocking your body gently against him while pressing soft kisses upon your head. The others come to surround you, hands holding yours, pressing kisses upon your shoulders while you sob and sob.
"You're okay, you're alright. Everything will be alright. We're right here. We'll always be here."
"..Scary..." You whimper.
"I know, I know. We'll make it all okay again, alright? You have no need to be afraid anymore."
"We'll always be here. We'll protect you from all that threatens to harm you."
"You're our precious mate and we will never let anything happen to you again."
"We'll make it better."
You awake at the feeling of gentle fingertips running along your face, stroking it with soft touches, and small incoherent whispers beside you. They fall into a comfortable silence when they feel your mind drifting out of unconsciousness. Once your eyes finally releases from the haze, you see both the God of Ocean and Spring looking down at you as they prop themselves up against their elbows.
"Good morning," Taehyung greets with a gentle smile.
"We are here, love," Jimin says when your mind is reminded of the nightmare you had before, blurring your vision and feeling so thankful that they are here right now. The God of Spring leans down to press a soft kiss to your head and almost instantly you feel your tense body relaxing once more, mind now clear of anything that would harm you.
"Thank you," you whisper, voice still trying to adjust to the waking world. He nods at you and you feel another kiss placed upon your temple. Taehyung brushes away the tear that fell when you blinked and kiss the fingertip that held onto the salty water droplet.
"Feeling better?" You nod and he smiles, relieved. Your brows knit just slightly when you realize no one else is in bed because you do not feel anymore presence to fill up the empty spaces. Usually when you have woken, all of your Gods would still be around before breakfast is served and they'll run off to their own duties. The God of Ocean hears your thoughts and returns to stroking your soft cheek. "You slept in this morning, my love. It is almost noon," he explains. "We have agreed on two of us staying here until you awake so that you would not have to be greeted by the emptiness of the room."
"Oh," you frown. "I'm sorry."
Jimin shakes his head. "No need, my little flower, you had a rough night after all. Now come," he helps you sit up as Taehyung uses his powers to wheel a tray of food forward, "you must be hungry."
There are plates of fresh toast and sweet biscuits along with two eggs, a cup of milk, and a bowl of sliced fruits set onto the tray that is placed onto your lap. Your two Gods do not allow you to use your energy as they feed you on their own, letting you bite slowly and taking your sweet time. It comes to no surprise that the food is delicious because everything you you've had will always be the best. This is the house of Gods after all, and they will have nothing fall below standard.
When you grow full, they let you run off to the bathroom to get ready for the new day though help you with brushing your hair. You sit in between them on the bed as Taehyung runs a brush through your soft hair and face Jimin who plays with the soft delicate touches of your fingers. You see his subtle smile when the God of Spring stares at them, his thoughts echoing to you with nothing kept a secret. It is odd to him how small you are, hands a tinier size than his despite how small his is compared to the rest of the Gods and especially the one behind you who has the largest of them all.
Everyone's hands engulfs his and yours and he is proud to be able to engulf your own. You giggle as his thoughts passes onto you and Jimin looks up, grinning sweetly. "Little rose, I have heard the mortals spreading myths of how the size of how hands reflects the size of our hearts but I say that is preposterous."
Taehyung laughs. "I say the myth is fair."
"Fair?" Jimin scoffs. "That's only because your hands are ginormous."
"And so is my heart," he hums.
"Maybe so but look at us," the God of Spring clasp your hands together and holds it up for the God of Ocean to see, "our hands may be small but our hearts are much bigger than it."
"Hmm...perhaps you're right."
"Perhaps?" Jimin echoes, scoffing again and this time with huff. "My heart is big and you know it."
Taehyung shakes with a choral of laughter before he releases the brush to sit it on the soft mattress and reaches for Jimin's hands that had fallen out of yours. "Love, you know I was only playing." With you in between, the God of Ocean pulls Jimin forward just slightly so that when he leans in, his lips can meet Jimin's cheek.
"You missed." The God of Spring still feigns to be upset so Taehyung chuckles at his lover, leaning in again to capture Jimin's lips.
Your heart skips a beat and perhaps they hear it, perhaps they feel it because their kiss does not last long and now their heads are turned your way. You grow petals pink after being caught and the two of them looks at one another with a sly grin curling at their lips before they return the attention on you again. You swallow, heart beating hard against your chest as your eyes fall away shakily because you know they can hear your thoughts.
"Hmm..does the little one want a kiss too?"
You shrink at the question, feeling your face heating up even more because they know, they can hear your thoughts yet Jimin asks that.
"I want to hear you, little one," the God explains. "After all, you said it yourself, did you not? Your heart understands what you want before you can try to say anything out loud."
Taehyung hums. "And that whatever is said in your heart, you want to say them all out loud but you are far too shy."
"Can we hear it, love?" He holds your chin and lifts it easily, lips curled upward to a side as he looks down at you and your heart only burns some more. His thumb delicately traces along your lips as Taehyung's fingers gathers your hair to put it a side so that your neck is exposed for him to softly graze against. Jimin leans in at your distracted mind filled of both him and the Ocean God, forehead resting against yours with his nose just centimeters away from yours, breath hitting you as he speaks. "Hm, love? Can you do us this little favor?" He smells like soft petals and peaches perfectly combined. "I want to hear your sweet voice."
You hesitate but you can never take your eyes off him no matter how bold Jimin's gaze is, feeling the need to just give him all that he wants. He grins knowingly at your thoughts, feeling his ego boosted and your eyes fall away shyly again. He pouts and you almost want to giggle at how desperate he is for your attention so you give it to him again, cheeks still flushed. "I..." You gulp, brows furrowed and not knowing whether you are brave enough but their touches encourages you on, telling you to go on, that they'll take care of you. So you let out a soft sigh. "Jimin.."
He's excited. "Hm?"
You look away for a brief moment before meeting his eyes again. "Can you..can you kiss me?"
Jimin's heart flutters as he grins brilliantly. Oh, what a sweet little soul, he thinks. "With pleasure."
When he captures your lips, it is so soft and delicate. Jimin's hand wraps around your waist as he pulls you in towards him closer as if you are not close enough, lips dancing with yours as he effortlessly takes the lead. Taehyung's fingers circles your neck and down your exposed collarbones and you are sent to heaven, an eternal bliss, a mind that is filled of them and just them. Jimin kisses you like you are a precious gem, like you are so fragile and he cannot bear to break you.
When his lips pull away, another hand comes to your face to turn you and your lips are captured by another, barely given any time to take a breather. " sweet," Taehyung whispers against your lips and you feel Jimin's hands flicking your hair down back behind your neck again. He peppers kisses to your neck and you make a little sound into Taehyung's lips. It all feels so sweet and blissful but the familiar overwhelming feeling returns and your head spins.
When the God of Ocean leans away, he chuckles at the way your strength had left you and holds you up to have your body resting against his chest instead of falling back onto the mattress. "Dizzy?" Jimin observes after leaving your neck, his fingers coming up to brush your hair behind your ears. You nod weakly. "Don't worry love, the more these moments happen, the dizziness will no longer return and you'll come to embrace this overwhelming feeling."
"That's not fair, you already tired her out before I could get a chance." When another voice comes in, the three of you look up to find the God of Hearth near the doors as he tsks lightly, arms crossed against his chest while he pouts cutely.
Taehyung laughs. "You are to blame for not taking up the chance to remain here with our little love."
Jungkook huffs. "I had business down on Earth."
"You went to Earth?" Your brows raise, mouth forming into a little 'o.'
He nods as he walks forward to reach the bed. "I go there pretty often. The Earth needs my hearth after all, but I am usually disguised as a mortal."
"Where do you usually go?"
He sits in front of you while you're still using Taehyung for support and he takes a hand, smiling as he greets it with a kiss on the back. "The north and southern poles or anyplace near it." He pauses for a second before speaking again. "You know, I have not found any other hidden tribes who resides on mountains."
"We had a sister tribe," you tell him and he sees through your memories of the stories the elders would go on and go about back when you lived on the mountain. "I assume they were possibly raided as well and no one survived. Perhaps the snow buried their homes."
"Mortals can be quite cruel," Jimin sighs.
"But it's okay," Taehyung says as he plays with your hair, "Hoseok and Seokjin has condemned the murderers."
"How are you feeling, my love?" Jungkook asks as he looks at you with some concern. He isn't just asking about the aftermath of the soulmate bond but of the night before as well, wanting to know if you really are alright again. They're still so protective of you, hating any pain and affliction to fall upon you and would do anything just to relieve you from them. You are reminded of that moment at the garden and your eyes fall to the hands that holds your own. "What is it?"
"You are all so sweet and kind," you say, squeezing his hand as you turn to look at Jimin and Taehyung before returning your gaze to the one before you, "and after last night, I know I would never want to get on your angry sides. It was scary."
They chuckle, knowing you mean well and Jungkook holds your palm up to press a kiss there. "You will never have to fear of our wrath pointing your way," the God of Hearth vows. "How can we ever get upset with you? You are our lovely little flower."
"The seven of us alone does not fight very often," Jimin says. "After all, we are soulmates, we're all soulmates, so we understand each other more than anything and anyone. There is no reason to hold secrets, no reason for misunderstandings to ignite."
You are reminded of that moment back at the wisteria, refusing to let Taehyung hold you and allowing him to look and feel hurt. The God takes your hands from Jungkook and presses a gentle kiss to your head after hearing your thoughts. "Moments like that can happen, though," he tells you and lets you see the memories of that time he and Yoongi almost went to bed upset and hurt. They of course resolved the problem in the end before anything could get worse. "As long as we communicate, love, there is no need for anyone to lose their temper."
He hum. "Okay?"
You nod as you look up at him with a loving gaze before it falls and you're looking back at Jungkook. The dizziness has gone away and your mind isn't so hazy in blindness anymore. You'll get used to this, you know you will. After all, kissing them is rewarding and quite lovely so you'd be glad to getting used to the strong soulmate bond. The God of Spring and Ocean chuckles knowingly at your thoughts, leaving Jungkook in question when you look down with a blooming blush because he isn't touching you.
The God of Hearth doesn't go on to touch you though, because he feels you will tell him if you want or place your own hands on his skin. The moment lasts a few long seconds more before you're letting out a sigh and deciding to be brave about it. You want to kiss the youngest one of the Gods so you will and you can feel Jimin and Taehyung both waiting with anticipation and excitement.
"May I?" You ask. His brows furrow with confusion and he's about to reach up to touch you but you hold your palm up to stop him, causing him to blink but place his hand back onto his lap, respecting your wishes.
"Go on," he tells you though is unsure of what you mean.
You take a deep breath again, hearing the two Gods beside you silently cheering you on as you step up to your knees and watching Jungkook with an intense gaze. He waits, anticipating what will happen, when you place your hands on his shoulders and lean in to press a quick peck right on his lips.
His eyes widen at the sudden and unexpected kiss that was honestly way too quick to him to truly enjoy. So he chuckles at the way your cheeks roses even more because you are so shy and he's proud of you taking that courage to take the first step on telling him what you want without him needing to touch you. He hears your thoughts now, ones that whispers soft i love you's to him and Jungkook's eyes crinkle as he shows you that boyish smile. He puts his hands on both sides of your waist and pull you onto his lap, lips pecking right upon your own.
You're beet red and he laughs, pressing another quick kiss before he leans in again for it to last longer. His kisses are playful and sweet and it makes you chuckle out sweet giggles that echoes into the large room, sounding like music to their ears as it mixes with the smacking sounds of kisses and your Gods' soft laughs.
Your morning that day is filled with the soft ringing of laughter echoing into the room with the wind carrying it out the open windows that leads to the balcony.
The garden is even more beautiful than the one you had seen at the banquet, walking down a lone path under the starry night skies. You cannot sleep that night but your thoughts are filled with only pleasant thoughts. The purple blossoms that follows the path you walk on is divine, a type of flower you know must not exist on Earth with how ethereal it looks. It glows only at night, light sparkles glittering and falling out into the skies from the center of its petals. You close your eyes, welcoming the night breeze as it passes along your side, thankful for the fact that one of your soulmate is the God of Spring.
The stars above shines brightly, creating a blooming milky way that is entirely different from the view on Earth. How did you fall so lucky to be written under the stars with wonderful Gods whose hearts are made of gold? You are so lucky to be blessed with loving Gods who will not hesitate to do anything for you.
"It isn't fair, you know." You jump a little at the sound and turn to find the God of Stars standing a few feet away as he leans against a pillar with a slight frown.
"Jin," you sigh, greeting him with a smile before pouting at the sight of his furrowed brows. "What isn't fair?"
"I am the oldest," he says, making you even more confused. "Do you not believe that I should have been the first one, or one of the firsts, to claim your lips?"
He sulks at the fact that you have kissed all the Gods saved for him, an underlying insecurity falling upon him though he hides it behind a pout and a playful tone. But you can understand your God of Stars without him needing to explain or you needing to touch him. Seokjin is a patient God, one who will never rush anything if you are not ready just as the rest, but you know that it must confuse him to come to know that you have already shared lips with the others.
"I'm sorry," you say sincerely as you come to walk towards him. Seokjin stands straight from the pillar and takes a small step back at your approach. You stop, frowning.
"No, my love," he tells you with a small smile that is all too painful. "You do not have to force yourself if you do not wish for it."
"Oh Seokjin," your heart falls for him. He worries for you, not wanting anything to be forced no matter how much he wants it because he is a gentleman. Seokjin is afraid, you can see it in his sad smile, and if these past months has taught you anything, it'd be that you have come to understand them a little better without having to feel. "I promise you I am not feeling forced to do anything," you say as you start walking again and falling silently relieved when he does not move this time. "I'm sorry, I hadn't meant for this to happen when I kissed them."
"No," he sighs, "I know you did not. You have no need to apologize, I just-"
You take his hand once you come close enough and let your face sweetly nuzzle against his palm. You let him know that you want this, you truly do, and that you aren't afraid of it anymore. Perhaps another step further is still further in the future but right now, as you're taking things step by step, you want this, you want to share kisses with them. With all of them.
"I want this," you say it aloud as you gaze up at him with a sincere gaze.
He falls silent for a moment, just watching you as if he is mesmerized, as if he is entranced, and it only makes your heart flutter because you can hear his thoughts. "Really?" He asks though he can feel you. You respond with a small nod. "Hm," he hums softly, thinking. You want to laugh at how he's deciding to play hard to get with this and roll your eyes.
"Do you want it?"
"Do I?"
"I'll give it to you."
"Will you?"
It is even more hilarious when the two of you can understand the confirmed feelings by the touches so you chuckle and he follows along to the amusement, echoing your gentle laugh. "But just know," you hold up a finger, "I am no expert just because I have kissed the six of you already."
He hums. "I know."
But he makes no move and it leaves you standing flustered. "You..y-you can't," you stutter, "you cannot expect me to make the first move?"
Seokjin shrugs. "You did it with Jungkook."
"But that was just a little-"
"No excuses, my dear." he tells you, pouting. "Do you not believe that you owe me a little something? Hm?"
You mirror his pout and let out a small sigh. "Alright," you decide and take a deep breath. You don't know how you will ever get used to this when just one little peck gets you so flustered but because Seokjin is still a bit upset, you know you cannot refuse his request. You have to do this for him. So you place your hands on his shoulders, mimicking the action you had done with Jungkook and close your eyes shut with feet tip toeing up because he is tall, and press a kiss right on his lips before letting out a little crying sound as your head buries against his chest out of embarrassment.
The God of Stars laughs. "It's not funny," you chide with a pout and can still feel the lingering sensation of his lips.
"My sweet galaxy, do you really believe that I will accept a little peck as a kiss?" You huff and leave his arms with flushed cheeks, your pout deepening. He grins at the way your eyes refuses to meet his, knowing the exact reasons why. But he understands so he lets out a sigh. "Alright, I'll let this one slide since I love you and you're my shy little star."
He backs you up against the pillar, taking your face into a hand and squishing your cheeks. You don't know how he can act in such a way that makes your heart skip a beat but also be so playful about it. So you let out a soft whine, cheeks puffed out with your lips turned into a duck because of the way he holds your face. "Seokjin~"
He laughs that cute laugh that only makes things worse for your heart and you huff again. "Alright, alright," he says, calming down. At least he's feeling better so you know you aren't exactly upset with him. Seokjin smirks at the thought though there is an underlying soft fondness in his gaze as he feels thankful for you, only reminded of how much he loves you. Seokjin pulls your face forward and leans in, pressing a soft kiss but leaving too fast just like you had done.
You're about to say something when he leans in again, this time slower and more sensual. The grip upon your face releases and is replaced by both hands that holds you in a gentle manner as he presses you up further against the pillar. Your heart skips a beat, beating rapidly against your chest at how skillful and sweet he is. Your mind retraces back to those memories that belongs to him, knowing the God of Stars has the most experience in such field. He's had experience even before meeting his soulmates but who can blame him? His face alone will make anyone drop to the floor and it makes you a bit at a loss on how you should feel. He's yours now, so you won't have to worry about anyone else, right?
"Focus on me, sweet one," the God of Stars whispers against your lips to let you take a little breather for just a split second before he's capturing your lips and heart again. "I'm yours, my dear," he vows and nibbles along your lower lip. "I'm yours."
Your thoughts are filled with nothing but him while your heart continues to race on and on into the starry night.
The God of Sun watches you from the doorway while you sit in a comfortable armchair near the center of the room with a piece of clothing on your lap, thread and needle in a hand as you sew through something white and fuzzy onto the golden fabric. He smiles at the sight of peace and serene, knowing how you like to keep yourself busy and use some time to do things you like.
Most days you will read in Namjoon's library, or walk around tending to the garden, or becoming friendly with their elements; the wisteria, the sun, the stars, and the fishes in the ocean. Today you are in your own element, sewing something that looks like something they have gotten for you. You like to redesign a few things if you can, giving your own touches along their spoiled gifts because it makes you feel closer to them. He smiles at the sight, loving all that belongs to you. Your heart and thoughts are the most gentle out of everything.
Thunder rolls outside, causing your head to perk up and look on over towards the opening balcony where the windows instantly falls closed on their own upon the sound of rain beginning to fall from the clouds. It has been cloudy this whole day so it wasn't a surprise to Hoseok that it's beginning to rain but you look a little surprised, eyes probably too focused inside to notice the weather.
But you don't mind the rain because anything aside from the constant winter you had been used to back on the mountain is beautiful. Sunny days are gorgeous, rainy days are pretty.
A gasp that falls from your lips leaves him to quickly revert his attention back on you and he sees the way you whine as you hold up your forefinger, whimpering. Hoseok is by your side in an instant as he surprises you by picking you up and moving you towards the sofa where he sits you on his lap, a hand coming up to hold your pricked finger and hold it to his lips. One kiss alone is enough to heal the pain and take the blood away.
"Did you not tell me once that a seamstress must never fall distracted?" He reminds you as he brings his lips to greet you on the temple.
"It was the thunder's fault," you pout and he erupts with a laugh before another voice walks in.
"You cannot blame mother nature for your moment of recklessness," Taehyung says.
At the sight of the rest of your Gods arriving, your heart flutters with excitement and Hoseok chuckles knowingly. "I have a question," you say clapping your hands together.
Jungkook takes the seat you had sat in before, Taehyung, Seokjin, and Jimin sitting on the sofa directly from you and Hoseok, while Namjoon sits across Jungkook and Yoongi comes on to settle himself beside you and Hoseok. "What is it?" The God of Knowledge prompts.
"Does it ever snow here?"
Jungkook raises a brow. "That sounds like you want for it to happen."
You shrug lightly as your eyes fall back on the work in your lap, returning to pick up your needle to begin threading through again. "I was just thinking," you say with a soft smile, "I don't think the snow will bring back bad memories anymore. After all, I was born on a snowy day and grew up with it my whole life. I just want to be reminded of the good times back on that mountain, be reminded of everyone there."
They watch you with a soft gaze, fondness falling upon them as they smile because of how much you've grown. Yoongi brushes your hair to the side, a hand stroking your cheek in a gentle manner. "We're so proud of you, little one."
You look up, beaming.
"Well, anything can happen," Jimin tells you. "We'll just have to wait for December to come."
"I came here around January," you remember, confused. "Shouldn't it have snowed then?"
Hoseok props his chin up against your shoulder, arms wrapped around your waist as he nuzzles into your neck. "You wanted to meet Spring, remember? So we had to make it happen, because our sweet soulmate could not take the cold anymore and we didn't want you to continue suffering." Your heart blossoms with a thousand heartbeats that escalates, fingers pausing on the needle as you look up at Hoseok. He hears your thought and squeezes your side. "When it comes to you, love, we will do all the impossible just to make you smile."
You fall silent for a moment and can feel the tears beginning to brim as you look through his thoughts. "You were going to make it Spring  all year round?"
"Of course."
You have heard that Summer can grow very overheated, the sun becoming overwhelming from time to time that no mortal likes to leave the house just as Winter can get quite cold. But it's already been months, somewhere around July, and the heat has yet to come. This place is paradise because of them, being able to control the weather in however way they'd like, being able to make it Spring all year round just for you. Because you wanted to meet Spring. Because you liked Spring.
Your lips quiver as you drop your needle and turn to wrap your arms around the God of Sun. "Thank you," you whisper when the rest almost has a heart attack at your tears. It's soft, so much softer than the storm that falls outside. It doesn't scare you so you're fine, knowing the plants need their water from the clouds. And you know that no matter how quiet you may be, they hear you, they always hear you.
"Oh love," Hoseok sighs contently as the Gods come to surround the two of you.
They love you so much and everyday when you think you're already at the end, you end up falling deeper and deeper in love. Perhaps as the years passes on and on, the love will grow even more than it is at this moment. You are so blessed to have them in your life, to be saved by them, your soulmates. No other love will ever come to compare with theirs. "I'm so happy," you sniffle.
Yoongi sends you a gentle smile when you look up again to look at them all. His hands reaches out to cup your face, fingers brushing away the tears that have fallen. "We are too, my sweet muse." Namjoon hums softly in agreement while Jimin takes your little work to set it aside on the coffee table inside the circle of furniture so that the needle doesn't accidentally hurt you again.
"You may look pretty when you cry, my love, but we prefer your beautiful face when you smile instead," Taehyung says.
"Sorry," you giggle.
He beams, sighing. "There it is."
Seokjin takes a hand of yours. "We can make Winter return if you'd like. It will definitely not grow as cold as it was on the mountain, however, because we would never want you to freeze and see you in pain."
"Thank you." You squeeze his hand.
"I have another good news." You look on over at Jungkook with anticipation, head tilted just slightly to the side as you blink, wondering what he wants to say. He takes a second, pulling something out from his pocket then shows you his fist before opening it right in front of you. Your breath hitches at the sight, eyes widening and tearing up all over again when you catch sight of the nostalgic memory hidden on the object he holds out to you alone.
"My mother's bracelet..." you breathe when a tear falls and another comes. You had lost it one day traveling through the snow and because the strings were too frail to even hold together after you tried fixing it, it snapped and slipped right out of your wrist when you weren't paying attention. You tried to look for it when you realized it was no longer there but it had been impossible to do so under all that snow. "How..?"
"I saw it in your memories," the God of Hearth says as he smiles and gently goes to brush your tears, "so I retraced the steps back when I returned to the mountain. I know how much it means to you." The bracelet is in a much better condition, strings now strong and firm along with the colors of the beads looking as bright and new as it had been firstly given to your mother. You have no words, too touched that saying thank you again sounds too worthless to say so. But he hears you. He understands. The God of Hearth takes the bracelet to roll it onto your wrist with a smile.
While the rain continues falling and falling, dropping against the windowsill constantly, your heart is warmed with delight and love that you have no words that can perfectly describe how you feel. But that's okay because as long as your Gods are here, touching you, they can understand all that cannot be described with words. "I love you," you tell them instead, sniffling.
Namjoon chuckles. "No more tears, okay?"
You nod, wiping away the remaining tears on your own before showing them the smile that they love so much.
"That's right," Jimin muses, "you are the most beautiful when you smile."
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gureishi · 6 months ago
Oof I'm so sorry, I wasn't aware of your rules. How about 15 with Jumin x MC? Domestic fluff, perhaps :)
Hehehe oh dear, I read "domestic fluff" and really ran with it. I hope you enjoy this, darling! <3
little things you do that make me weak
Jumin X Reader, T, Words: 2048
It is three o’clock on Sunday afternoon and Jumin is standing in the walk-in closet, staring at the racks of nearly identical shirts as if he is lost in a maze of neatly-pressed fabric.
You stifle a laugh, startled to have found him like this: he looks as though he has gone too far into a haunted house and can’t find the exit.
“What are you doing, baby?” You lean on the door frame and watch his back; he turns at the sound of your voice, and his expression is anxious.
“I am trying to make a decision,” he says. He gestures aimlessly at the rows upon rows of shirts and you don’t remind him, as you have in the past, that they are all essentially the same. Why would I buy identical shirts? he has asked, puzzled, when you have brought up the matter. Of course they are different.
“You usually wear that one with the really small gray stripes on Mondays,” you say, surprised that he seems to have forgotten this. Your fiancé is, after all, a creature of habit. It’s not that there is anything particularly Monday about that shirt—it’s just that it is the shirt he wears on Mondays.
“Yes, and—you remembered that?” He pivots on the spot and you are fixed with his dark, penetrating gaze. His eyes are a little bit wide. You grin.
“Never think I don’t pay attention." You go to his side and slip both arms around his waist; automatically, he drapes an arm around your shoulders. It is almost as if you are standing together to watch something wonderful, like a firework show—rather than staring up at the rows of white and gray dress shirts.
“I am glad you’re here, darling,” he says, pressing his lips to the very top of your head. “What do you think I should wear tomorrow?”
You hum thoughtfully, eyeing the rack of clothes.
“What’s wrong with the Monday shirt?” you ask. It really is unlike him to deviate from his routine unless he absolutely has to.
“Ah,” he says. “Apparently Ms. Park called in sick today, so the laundry hasn’t gone out yet.”
He says it as if it is the most obvious thing in the world—and you always think you have grown accustomed to his lifestyle, but sometimes he still manages to catch you off guard.
“The laundry’s still here?” you ask. Jumin nods, uncomprehending. “So let’s wash it.”
He arches his eyebrows.
“What do you mean?”
You look up into his bemused eyes. You look at the row of shirts. You laugh—you can’t help it.
Because he is one of the most powerful men in the world. He is intelligent and cunning and discerning. But—
“Jumin,” you say, giggling, one hand clasped over your mouth. “Have you ever done laundry before?”
He cocks his head to the side.
“No,” he says slowly. “Why?”
Ah, and you have found it: another one of the delightfully charming gaps in this magnificent man’s understanding of the world. Smiling broadly, you grab him by the collar of his shirt and pull him closer. You hear his breath hitch.
“Well,” you purr, thrilled by the lovelorn look in his eyes as you lean in, your lips almost brushing his cheek. “There’s no time like the present.”
“Oh,” he says. “But I—”
It is too late. You take his large hand in yours and pull him behind you—out of the closet, across the spacious bedroom, down the hall.
“If you are going to marry me, you’re going to have to learn how to do laundry,” you sing. You lead him past the kitchen, through the living room—into the spacious laundry room with its bright white walls and vague scent of detergent. You are pretty sure he’s never set foot in this room—not even once.
“I wasn’t planning to fire my entire staff when we get married, darling.” He lingers in the doorway and you turn on your heel, beaming up into his perplexed face.
“Nobody said you had to fire anyone,” you tell him firmly. “But an adult man should know how to do things like this. Don’t you think?” Your fingers catch at the bottom of his shirt—untucked (only because it is a weekend)—and you don’t miss his shiver of anticipation.
“Things like…?” His voice is low now, and smooth as melted chocolate. You stand on tiptoe and give him a brisk kiss before pulling away. He groans.
“Like laundry,” you say. You turn; there is a neat bag in the corner, bound at the top with a ribbon. You tug the ribbon off unceremoniously and he makes a noise as though he was going to stop you, but thought better of it.
“It is even possible to wash a shirt like that one at home?” he asks weakly, taking a few more hesitant steps into the laundry room. “I was under the impression that…”
“If it’s cotton,” you say—rifling through the laundry now, tossing clothes haphazardly on the floor around you, “then this is actually better than dry cleaning.”
“Impossible.” He stands over you, looking down at the mess that’s forming on the floor. His posture is awkward—uncomfortable. It makes you smile.
“Sit, honey,” you command, gesturing at the little wooden stool in the corner. He obeys, somewhat stiffly. It is strange to see him sitting close to the floor like this, his long legs tucked up almost to his chest.
Most of the time, Jumin radiates a sort of energy that makes people bend to his will. When he is working, he is in charge (and everyone knows it). And it’s captivating; it’s sexy. But you are the only one who sees him like this: out of his element; quiet and bewildered. This version of your fiancé—the side of him who is weak, and small, and unsure of himself—belongs to you and you alone.
“Found it!” you trill, triumphantly pulling the shirt out of the pile of laundry (now spread across your lap). “Here.” You throw him the shirt and he catches it, cradling it nervously in his arms.
“What, ah…” He glances back and forth between your delighted face and the hulking white washing machine. He looks concerned. “What should I do with it?”
You love him so much you could burst.
“Hold onto it, sweetheart. Let me find some other things we can wash, since we’re doing it.”
“But…” Again, he tries to protest; again, he trails off. You are rifling through the pile with purpose, digging out socks and pajamas and some of your own shirts—things that really can be safely washed at home. He sits very still. You can feel his eyes on your back, but he is patient. This commanding man around whom everyone else in his life orbits—for you, he is a willing disciple.
“Here,” you say at last, when you have gathered an armful of machine washable clothes. He gets to his feet—a little too quickly, as if he is eager to comply—and you deposit the dirty clothes in his arms. He stands still, shifting his weight back and forth—and you shake your head, amused by his uncertainty. “Like this,” you tell him.
You go to the washing machine—and it is much fancier, of course, than any washing machine you have ever seen before, but a washing machine is a washing machine. You open the top; Jumin, his arms full of laundry, doesn’t move.
“Put the clothes in here,” you tell him gently. He flushes (oh, and you love to see him blush); then he comes to you, depositing the clothes into the machine with unnecessary caution. “Now put a few pumps of the detergent in,” you instruct. You hand him the bottle—a very nice brand, of course, with a scent that’s somewhere between newly-carved wood and clouds (somehow). Again, he hesitates.
“How do you know how much of this to…?” He eyes the bottle suspiciously. You bump your hip against his.
“Eyeball it,” you tell him. “A couple of pumps.”
“A couple of…” He looks deep into your eyes. “Tell me how much to use,” he says. And it is so simple, so menial, so meaningless—but his expression is dead serious.
He wants to do it right.
“Two pumps,” you say. He nods, businesslike.
“Thank you.”
Jumin pumps the detergent, and then you close the lid of the machine. It makes a satisfying thud, echoing in the perfect quietness of the penthouse.
“Why,” he murmurs thoughtfully, watching as you turn the knobs, “are all of the clothes the same color?”
You set the machine to “delicate,” just in case.
“Because everything you own is gray, baby,” you say. “But also we separate colors when we wash them.”
“Oh,” he says. He looks like he is taking notes in his mind; he is, you think—he always is. “Why?”
“So the colors don’t bleed together,” you tell him. “So nothing stains.”
He is watching you closely, his head tilted, his hands frozen, as though you are imparting some great wisdom about the workings of the universe. You put a hand on his cheek.
“I understand,” he says. His tone is almost formal—it’s low and quiet and makes your heart beat faster.
“Press the button,” you tell him. You point at it and he does as he’s told—almost reverently, like he has been granted a great privilege. The machine starts and he jumps. You giggle; his dark eyes are on you again, alert and adoring.
“Good job,” you tell him. He gives you a sort of proud half-smile, so you throw your arms around his neck and press your forehead to the tip of his nose. “But I have a question.”
“Anything,” he murmurs. His hands fall to your hips; you can feel his breath ruffling your hair.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
The machine rumbles. The air smells almost painfully clean.
“I don’t think I am looking at you in any particular way,” he says. You feel his grip on your hips tightening—he pulls you in, and you let him. You peer up at him, and there it is again: that sort of worshipful expression, like he sees a secret in your eyes.
“You know what I mean,” you murmur. You tilt your head up and kiss his jaw; he makes a sort of low rumbling sound.
“You…” he tries. “You…” And it is rare that he is lost for words, but he seems unable to articulate whatever it is he wants to say. “You know so much,” he says at last—but shakes his head. “That isn’t what I mean.”
You think you understand.
“There’s something about watching the person you love doing ordinary things,” you say, reaching up to comb a hand through his hair. “Don’t you think?”
He smiles, and his smile is the very first sip of a sweet drink on a summer evening.
“Yes,” he murmurs. “Yes, there is something, indeed.”
And then he kisses you, and it is gentle and longing and somehow full of all of his radiant energy and all of his tender softness. You lean into him and he supports you; you deepen the kiss and he wraps both of his arms around your waist and holds you tight.
You break away, breathless, and he is left looking dizzy and desperate.
“So,” he pants. “What do we do now?”
He tilts his head at the washing machine, which is rumbling away, and you grin.
“We wait,” you say.
“Ah.” His dark eyes trail from your face—to the washing machine—back to your face. They twinkle. “Is there anything specific we are supposed to do while we wait?”
“Not really,” you tell him. “Did you have something in mind?”
His hands are on your waist again—inching down to your hips, grasping you with a sort of bruising intensity. You are finding it difficult to breathe.
He leans in, his lips a hair’s breadth from yours. He smiles.
“I have,” he whispers (sweet as the scent of clean laundry on the air), “a few ideas."
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nioxuntitled1 · 10 months ago
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Types of Love
{ Albedo x reader } (1523 words)
Even though your position within the Knights of Favonius isn’t one with a bright title as your job was merely to gather the needed ingredients for various investigational needs, you were nevertheless happy to be a part of it. 
Since your tasks are greatly around gathering and exploration, it isn’t anything too surprising for your relationship with the chief alchemist and captain of the investigation team to be close. It was common for him to drag you along to the magnificent yet deadly temperatured white scene of Dragonspine on a perfect Thursday. 
“Say, what is the ingredient you need this time?” 
“The scarlet quartz. It’s ability to maintain warms despite it being a crystal is truly interesting. A little further in investigation and we might turn it into something to help our future journeys here.” He said it with his usual tone while walking up the mountain to our camp. Surely it will be a lie if you say you aren’t taking a liking to this popular alchemist, but at the same time, something kept interrupting those words from revealing themselves. 
The sky had started to turn dark yet the camp was at least still ten minutes away, despite making numerous runs around this area and fully prepared for each, the cold still manages to slip through jackets, sending a shiver down your body. 
The boy had noticed your reaction to the sharp climate and decided to silently place his coat over yours. 
“I’ll be fine. You seem a little tired from your tasks previously, ignoring human temperature maintenance at this state will cause sickness.” And you could only nod to his statement. 
“Actually, I...have a certain matter that I hope you would help me with.” 
“Sure, what’s it about?” 
“Emotions, various distinguishing between emotions to be exact. I admit I might not be the most professional when it comes to human feelings, so I do have some questions on some reactions I have when I meet a certain few.” “Hm, I might not be the best to ask though.” 
“I understand, though I would like to know your opinion on these cases.” 
“...Okay then.” After finally reaching the camp, managed to gather some of the quartz that he needed, cooked up some soup as he started his experiment once more. 
“Should we start?” 
“Here’s your jacket-” 
He only stepped closer and held your hand within his. After knowing that your body has still yet to recover from the freezing coldness, his eyes expressed worry before grabbing his coat and placing it on you once more. 
“I should make a potion for you, just in case…” You could hear him talking to himself as he walked back to his table. Before you could stop him, he had already finished the creation. 
“Here, take this warming bottle, it should provide enough heat for your body to regain maintenance under the weather. And here’s a potion, you should drink it if you feel any uncomforts.”
“T-Thanks, you don’t have to do too much for me though.” 
“I wanted to.” 
There was a silence between the two before you decided to continue the previous topic. “Let’s start?” 
“Alright.” He sat down beside you, somewhere not too close and somewhere not too far, just the enough distance for you to tense up and him to laugh at your reaction. “This first subject, whenever I meet them I get a very warm feeling. The feeling of the need to protect them and to make them smile even if it was to act out of...order and control. And when they made the right decision, I’ll feel glad for the troubles that they didn’t cause-, um, the peacefulness that we get to keep.” 
You thought for a while before answering. “Hm, that’, I think. I’m not so sure, but it could be connected to the caring that you have for the one and how you might feel proud if she grows in her decision making.” 
He hm in response, slightly amused at you taking seriously the emotional words he used which yet so confusing, “You certainly do possess a skill that’s worth investigating.” 
“Indeed, what you’ve said was quite the fact. I do care and would be proud to watch Klee grow,” he said. “And this word, love, is a complicated one, isn’t it?”
“It is, so to be more specific, your love for Klee is the family kind of love.” 
“Hm, interesting.” He replied while taking a few notes from your explanation before continuing. “Then what about the second subject? Whenever I meet them, I feel as if I was being understood in the field of alchemy. The work that they’ve done is not quite yet at an extraordinary level, but the determination they have for the topic is admirable. I enjoy researching alchemy with their help and the progression they’ve made to where they are today was nevertheless impressive. Even off work, their suggestion for taking a leave was...amusing. I recall once they suggested investigating the crabs near the Falcon Coast.” 
You can’t help but giggle at the fact that observing crabs is a good way to relax, which gives the chance of the slight blush on the boy, upon hearing your soft sounds echoing the area, to go unnoticed. 
“Friendship,” you said, trying to take a pause from laughing. “The feeling you feel is probably the friendship, which you could also classify it as a kind of love I suppose. The feeling of being understood through the same interest, the respect you have for one another, and the carefree side that you tend to present to them is a form of trust. I’d say you are good friends with them, am I correct?” 
“Precisely, but the usage of the word friend still confuses me. But in this case,Sucrose...then I guess we’re good friends, huh.” 
“Sucrose?! Was she the one who made that suggestion-” And you couldn’t help but started to laugh again, it really was nothing new for the alchemists to misunderstand the definition of ‘relaxing.’ 
“What do you think about it though?” 
“About what?” 
“That plan, the crab and Falcon Coast one.” 
“Oh, I think it was worth investigating, since crabs themselves might have some connections to a few recipes that I want to improve.” And you could only sigh at the boy who relates everything to work. 
“...You did mention you feel confused by the word friendship?” 
“Ah yes,” He said before glancing away, “I feel like there’s something more to this feeling.” 
“...Is that so.” 
It made your mood die down a little as your grips tighten around your knees, embracing for whatever he had to say. It was perhaps, Sucrose, the one he adores and not you. The thought of them being together, walking onward for a future that’s made for them was indeed an warming sight. But this bittersweet feeling just won’t go away. 
Your focus landed on a plant beside some documents on the desk, a slight unusualness of it being present on this specific place as if it was something special, given from someone important. You shake your thoughts away, however, clearly he views you less than her.
Your admiration for him had already lasted for some time, but will the bud bloom when the spring comes?
“Does the emotion of friendship include an increase of heart rate?” 
“, not usually.” 
“Hm,” he said, continuing to record it down. “Then does it include the desire to hold them close?” 
“Or signs of redness across ears and cheeks?” 
“Or the desire to protect them, be with them, and spend time with t-them till the end?” 
“no, no, and no.” 
He silently put down his pen and the paper before turning back to you. You could feel his sight, but you weren’t brave enough to maintain any sort of connections at the moment. 
“Is it not friendship that I’m feeling?” 
“...No.” And you started to explain. “It’s love, romantically. Your hope to be sharing the same future with the one you adore the most, the desire to be by their side whenever and wherever, the need of protecting and the signs of blushing shows how you treat them differently from the rest.” It hurts every inch of your heart to explain, but it was still done for his sake. “It’s love, the romantical kind of reaction.” 
“I see.” he said before standing up, giving his hand to you. “Then I suppose I’m in love with you, (Y/n).” 
“Is it not Sucrose that you love? But I thought-” 
“You even said it yourself. It was only friendship between her. That description of emotion made me wonder about my feelings toward you. Turns out, it was as expected.”
“So you planned this all along just to-”
“Yes.” He looked at you with his shimmering teal eyes gazing into yours, as you see his smile that’s not noticeable, but compared to his usual expression was too shocking to be ignored. 
“I planned this all along just to confess to you, correct.” 
In the end, the flower did bloom in the coming spring.
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wavesmp3 · 12 months ago
[hyunjae] the sea is yours to take
pairing: lee jaehyun x (female) reader genre: fantasy, royalty au, romance, slow burn warnings: mentions of death, some violence wc: 36k
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synopsis: The Seven Sins and the Seven Gifts of the Spirit are warriors, exceptionally skilled in fighting, and they’re all dead. That is, all except you, The Gift of Fortitude. It’s an uneasy time in the kingdom with eastern Lords and northern bandits threatening a rebellion. You feel that it’s your duty to try and maintain peace within the kingdom. But when the King sends you away for an act of treason, you aren’t sure how much you can do so far from home. And it certainly doesn’t help that Jaehyun, the southern Lord of the estate you’ve been sent to, seems to hate your guts. 
a/n: and here i present another reposted fic because yolo. the original work version is here if you’re interested. this fic contains a very odd mix of tbz members and ocs so beware. also the line breaks indicate a new chapter (sort of). anyways enjoy but warning the beginning is very slow.  
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“Lady Gift,” the words rush out of the servant’s mouth, you hum allowing him to continue, “The King asks of your presence.”
“Very well then. Tell him I’m him coming,”
And as soon as the servant had entered the equipment room, he leaves as well. Out of fear. Out of urgency. Perhaps out of both. You had assumed it was only a matter of time until the King would call for you. Afterall, murdering one of his most trusted lords who’s also a member of his council is not a crime that goes undiscussed.
You look around the training room. The walls are adorned with swords, daggers and knives. Some of your own and some of belonging to the Golden Palace. You grab a dagger off the wall and push it in your boot. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared in the case anything was to happen.
You walk along the walls, dragging out the time before your presence with the King. Your eyes and feet stop when you come across a sword, one that was gifted to you by the youngest prince himself. You take it off the wall, testing the balance of the sword in your hand. The sword is beautiful, a gold blade that shines with the brightness of the Zalazar River. The hilt of the sword is a piece of art more than it’s a handle. You think that the hilt should be gawked at in a museum instead of collecting dust at the end of a sword. Two figures emerge from the black stone of the hilt. As if they were trapped inside the stone before the maker carved them out. As if they would have been lost in the fog of the black stone if the maker hadn’t given them air to breathe. You turn the hilt and study it carefully. Prince Orindell had requested the maker carve out one of the Seven Gifts of the Spirit and one of the Seven Sins. Specifically, Prince Orindell asked for you, the Gift of Fortitude. As for the Sin, the maker chose to bring the Sin of Greed to life. You aren’t exactly sure how he did considering there are no pictures or paintings of the Sins and Gifts apart from the sculptures in the southern temples. Even then, you’re sure most of the sanctuaries that housed the sculptures were destroyed long ago. Nonetheless, the Sin of Greed emerges from the other side of the stone, and in some way the Sin of Greed looks familiar to you despite having never known Greed. Prince Orindell had excitedly gifted this to you and explained in great detail the trouble he went through to get it done. At the time, Orindell had been much younger and things had been so much simpler. You wonder what Orindell would say to you now. The thought tastes bitter in your mind.
“Did you hear that the King is waiting for you?” The familiar tones of his voice crash over you like a wave. The corners of your mouth lift.
You put the sword back carefully. “Yes, it has come to my attention,” you say as if it’s an afterthought, in a sense it is.
“Well,” he chuckles, “I guess the King will have to wait his turn.”
You rush to Juyeon and embrace him in a long hug. You can feel the longing in his arms. It warms your heart.
“I’ve missed you dearly, Juyeon.”
He grins. “I as well.”
“So much has changed since you’ve been gone.” You tell him seriously, reminded of the King you’ve kept waiting.
“I’ve heard.”
“About everything?”
“Yes, everything,” he says into your hair. The next part he whispers. “So, tell me, what warrants you murdering Lord Seth.”
Instead of answering, you pull away. “I’m afraid I must go. The King has asked for my presence.”
Juyeon’s eyes flash with a certain color of betrayal that prods at the tender parts of your heart. It pains you to see the tired bags under his eyes and the droop of his lips. You assume your face mirrors something close to his.
“Like I said, a lot has changed here Juyeon.”
“It’s actually…” he pauses, a small smile appearing on his face, “it’s actually Captain Juyeon now.”
“Oh.” You say simply. “Well congratulations Captain Juyeon. The Knights of the Holy Order are lucky to have someone as gifted as you.”
“Thank you. I learned from the best.” He smiles boyishly.
“That you did.”
You’re reminded of the lifetime before his enrollment in the army, the Knights of the Holy Order. The memory makes you sad. Despite the bleached shade to his brown hair and the dimness in his usually light eyes, it hadn’t occurred to you that perhaps a lot had changed for him too.
You’re both quiet for a moment. Until he asks, “Now about Orindell-”
You shut the door in his face.
Jaehyun rolls out the knots in his neck and tries to stretch out the ones forming in his back. The two day journey north to the King’s City was taking longer than expected. Unlike his father, Jaehyun was not one for traveling. To Jaehyun nothing seemed particularly glamorous about the reality of riding on horseback for days and nights on end. Jaehyun was much too content with staying by the sea at the estate which Jaehyun called home. There, at his estate, the town was self-governed and quiet. There Jaehyun felt peace. Here, on his horse's saddle finally reaching a clearing in the woods, Jaehyun feels most notably irritable (although boredom and tire are a close second). Here, faced with the reality of traveling, Jaehyun understands even less why his father and Captain Younghoon put up with it. 
“We are approaching the Zalazar River," the first guard calls from the front of the party. 
"Lord Jaehyun," Younghoon says riding up from the rear, "I think you'll like this." 
And of course, Younghoon is right. Jaehyun has heard the tales about the Zalazar River. Tales of a river so deep that submarines could easily ride along the current without ever being detected. Tales of a river whose color is so magnificent it changes with the seasons. Tales of a river which seems to take flight and disappear into the eastern mountains. And although Jaehyun has yet to see the latter tale, Younghoon is right; Jaehyun loves the abyss that is the Zalazar River. 
"It's beautiful," is the only thing Jaehyun can think to say at the sight of the deep purple river. 
"Yes," Younghoon hums, "it's wonderful isn't it. I myself am partial to the yellows and dark reds of late fall. But you'll come to see how blissful the King's City looks even during this season." 
"Ah, the Golden Palace," Jaehyun mutters, gripping the reins of his horse tightly, "I'm sure spring does the city well." 
"It does." Younghoon says simply looking out towards the river as the horses step onto the Bronze Bridge. Younghoon must sense Jaehyun's discomfort because the next part he says with hesitation. "Lord Jaehyun, I think this trip will be good for you. It's time you come to see the King's City and the Golden Palace as more than just the place your father died. It's time you stop resenting it."  
And with that, the rest of the Zalazar River is crossed in silence. 
You approach the doors to the throne room alone and with heavy footsteps. You stop in front of the door, a feeing resembling fear crawling up your spine and wrapping around your neck. You shake the feeling away and remind yourself that you are the Gift of Fortitude with abilities and powers unmatched by even the best among the Knights of the Holy Order. The King and his council were only one of many regimes you have seen, that you have lived through. Without you, the King was nothing. You have nothing to fret. Yet still, something about the air in the corridor and the dagger in your boot makes you nervous. Something about the life of a Lord who was only following orders from the King makes you shiver. 
Regardless, you nod at the guard of the throne room, and he opens the door, announcing your presence to the room anyways. As you enter the room, you think the King has outdone himself this time. Archers line the perimeter of the room, tucked away in the balconies and presumably safe from you. The throne room usually hosts a party of six guards, but today, you count twenty swordsmen lined along the carpet, and skilled ones at that. You swallow a laugh at the dagger clinking against your ankles. Perhaps you should’ve slipped a knife under your skirt as well. But either way, you’re confident in your skills. If this broke out into a fight, you against the guards and archers, you would prevail. But to spare the boys and girls who stand around you, shaking in their armor, you would do everything in your power to avoid that.
“Gift,” the King calls to you from across the throne room, “do you know why you’re here?” The King has a smile as he asks it, knowing that for the first time in his rule, he has the upper hand over you. Hell, this is the first time since the rule of King Avi that any King has had power over you.
You nod, observing the assembly the King has gathered for your presence, apart from the soldiers. On the first platform at the end of the throne room, six seats are laid out for the six men and women of the King’s council. Two of the council seats remain empty while the other four house council members sitting still fear. Fear directed towards you. You assume that if they weren’t so scared of you and your ability, they would slouch in their seats with indifference. You’ve never taken a liking to the King’s council anyways. On the next raised platform behind the council seats, are the thrones of the King and his Princes. Prince Peter’s throne, to the left of the King’s, is empty. The sight makes you worry. As the inner court likes to say, the eldest son had ‘left’ the Golden Palace and the King’s City at the end of winter. You have yet to hear any word from Peter and can only pray to the Gods that his plans are going well. Prince Roen, the second prince, sits on the right of his father. The prince had only just returned from his campaign in the east that previous night, but despite the tire evident in Roen’s face, he smiles sympathetically at you. Next to Roen is Prince Orindell who avoids your eyes so easily, in a way only the youngest prince is capable of. His lips are all but a tight line on his face, and he grips the arm of his throne hard, his knuckles turning white. And just for the slightest of moments, Orindell meets your eyes, but as quickly as they're brought up to you face, he rips his gaze away. Despite that, you still manage to catch the dark shade of hurt and heartbreak that swims within his eyes. And it manages to replace all of your previous nerves with a familiar shade of hurt and a different one of guilt. Guilt for hurting Orindell the way you did, the way you had to. You push away the thoughts and memories and refocus on the problem at hand.
The King, differently from the others in the room, sits up straight and attentive. His smile taunts you like a dog, holding your freedom above your nose as you jump through hoops for him. You hate the man that sits before you. His throne is flashier, his rings are bigger, and his profits are lower. He is reckless and foolish. He doesn't understand the teetering balance of his own kingdom, of his entire world. He seeks out matters he doesn't understand and toys with those that should not be disturbed. And above all, the man seated before you should have never inherited the crown.
"Yes Lord King," you say, finally answering his question. "I know why you have asked for me today. Although, you need not ask such useless questions." You pause for a moment, your next words simmering on the tip of your tongue. "I miss your father for that reason, he wasn't so persistently foolish." 
The King scowls, and the council members roll their eyes while both of the present princes hide snickers. 
"You should be more mindful of the treason that leaves your mouth, Gift." The King tells you, his confidence dented but his smile as evil as ever. "The blood of one of my most trusted Lords stains your hands, and if you continue such pathetic, pointless defiance, your blood will stain the floors of this room."
You hum. "Perhaps, but you underestimate me, Lord King, greatly. And if you think you know the extent of my skill, then let me say that for the entirety of your small life, you have never seen me fight with the intention to kill. If the men and women you have assembled for me attack, you will be sitting over their dead bodies."
“And then what? You’ll have taken the lives of even more innocent people.” And at this you falter. At this, you’re forced to give the King credit because he knows where to land his blows. He knows how to keep your freedom so close you can smell it, but still far enough so that you can’t have it. But you gulp down your guilt and continue regardless.
"I have killed more men in my life then you know in yours. I will live just as I do now." And despite the conviction with which you say it, you know the King is not fooled by your empty words. You meet Roen's eyes, and he nods. You take it as a vote of confidence. "Either way Lord King, I pay you no debt. I owe you nothing. My own disdain for traveling is the only thing keeping me at your court." 
"Yes, that may be the case," the King chuckles rubbing his ring clad knuckles against his chin, "so then leave, Gift. Leave this court and never return." 
The breath is knocked out of your lungs. This, you did not expect. 
"Father, you can't-" Orindell blurts, standing up from his throne staring sadly at you. He shakes his head, attempting to cover his own selfish intent with reason. "Father, we need the Gift of Fortitude. Your hold on this kingdom is weak without her power. If you lose Fortitude, you risk losing the kingdom." 
“Eh,” one of the female council members speaks up, looking less afraid of you now, “let the Gift of Fortitude go. A monster like her has no business in a King’s court.”
The words strike you across the cheek, specifically the word ‘monster’. 
“You!” Orindell shouts at the council member, rage contorting his face. “How dare—"
Roen cuts Orindell off, before he can rampage further. "Father, Orindell is right. I've met with the Lords in the far east. The failure of the west harvest this season has made them restless. If it weren't for Fortitude, a rebellion from the east would be an even more pressing issue than it already is." Roen's eyes are in a panic, the previous tire eradicated from his face. "Think rationally father."
"I am thinking rationally!" The King booms, sending your gut straight to your throat and the princes back to their thrones. The council members sit motionless once again. Perhaps out of fear of the King this time as well. "But if the Gift of Fortitude does not wish to be banished from this court, then so be it." You exhale. "However, I will not have you and your treason-filled mouth infiltrating my court." The King spares a seething glare at Peter's empty throne. "You will still be a member of this court, but you will not stay at the Golden Palace until I permit your return. Lord Jaehyun and Captain Younghoon from the southern lands are on their way to the Golden Palace as we speak. They are to arrive later today."  The name Jaehyun sounds familiar, but you can't quite recall where you’ve heard it before. "You will live out your sentence there, at his estate." And then it hits you. You had heard of Lord Jaehyun’s name before. Jaehyun’s father was a regular visitor to the Golden Palace before he fell sick and died in the palace infirmaries several years ago. 
 “But—” Orindell begins before his father cuts him off.
"And if you refuse, then I will personally see to the completion of the act you murdered Lord Seth to prevent."
You know now, with the King’s final threat, that you must hold out on your freedom. Even if the King’s threat is a bluff, the risk of it alone takes priority. With one last deep exhale, you conform.
You spare the princes’ thrones one last glance before reaching into your boot and dropping the dagger you had tucked inside. The dagger hits the stone floor with an obnoxious clatter. The sound of your acceptance echoes throughout the walls hauntingly. You exit the throne room and head straight to your personal quarters without another word.
You weep for hours and hours. You weep for this kingdom. You weep for Orindell, for Juyeon, for Roen, for Peter. You weep for the King and his foolishness. You weep for the power of the Gifts that had been bestowed upon you all those years ago, and for the sheer fact that you are a Gift despite never asking for it. But most of all, you weep for the freedom you can’t have as long as the current king lives.
You weep until you’re sure you can’t have any tears left to shed. You weep until you feel dead.
 That night, you have dinner in your dining room with Prince Roen. He tells you about his recent campaigns, his successes and losses. He spends a little too long telling you about the daughter of one of the better eastern lords. He smiles as he mentions her, playing absentmindedly with his food. 
"I was starting to wonder why you were taking so many trips to the east." You say with a playful smile that feels foreign on your lips. "Do you intend to marry her Roen?" 
 A blush creeps onto his cheeks as his eyes meet yours in shock. "No, no," he shakes his head vigorously, "it isn't like that." But then as he pokes a carrot with his fork, Roen's lips turn down in a frown. "I can't imagine someone who distrusts the monarchy so much even considering a prince anyways."
You hum, recognizing the lingering in his movements and the longing in his voice as something particular to youth, something hidden in your own memories, and something you beg to forget. You swallow your thoughts down and focus on comforting the boy in front of you.
"I'm sure that's not something a few more trips to the east can't change, Roen. Afterall, you are known for your persuasive nature." He snorts. "It also helps that no one distrusts the monarchy more than the members of it. Perhaps if the lady were to know of your true intentions, then you wouldn't think it so bizarre to ask for her hand. I'm afraid you underestimate how many women would love to be a princess, even to a palace like this." 
He smiles again, “Thank you."  He pushes the carrot into his mouth.
Dinner continues in a comfortable silence, the only ambiance being the crackling of torches along the wall and the fire in the hearth. Roen pauses for a second swallowing his food carefully. Then he looks over at you tentatively before opening his mouth to speak. You cut him off before he gets the chance.
"Roen please, I don't need your pity." 
He chuckles and murmurs something you don't exactly catch. "I was just going to say that I've been to Lord Jaehyun's holding. You'll come to see just how beautiful and picturesque the south is, and I think you'll take a liking to Captain Younghoon." You vaguely knew of Captain Younghoon. He was the youngest ever Captain of the Knights of the Holy Order, second only to the Commander, but retired at a young age. Lord Jaehyun on the other hand was a complete mystery to you. You knew nothing of him only that he was from the south and that he was his father’s son. 
"Have you ever seen the sea?" Roen asks. You shake your head. "Well if you're standing by the shore, the water of the sea continues on into the horizon for what seems like forever. The water stretches so far out and in all directions. From the shore, it appears like if you travelled far out enough, you'd fall off the edge of the world-"
"I've seen paintings." You snipe.
"Yes, but it doesn't compare to the real thing. The sea," he trails off, a dazed off look in his eyes, "is something else entirely." 
You can’t help but smile at the bliss Roen radiates at the mere thought of the sea. “I guess I’ll be seeing for myself soon enough.” You think the world could use a few more like Roen. Even in the darkest of moments, he remains a ray of light. “You remind me so much of your grandfather, Roen.”
His eyebrows rise, and then a saddened look crosses his eyes. "He's always talked to highly of, even by the eastern Lords. But what was he like?" 
You hesitate, thinking back to the times before you had returned to the Golden Palace. "Perhaps not as clever as your father. But kind and empathetic. He possessed a certain understanding of this kingdom although at times, he could be impulsive. At the end of the day, your grandfather was a good king, and you've managed to inherit all his best traits." 
"Were you close to him?" 
"No, not while he was king. At that time, I wasn't closely involved with the King's court. I only returned because of your mother." There's another silence. You spend it immersed in your memories.
Finally, Roen speaks. “Do me a favor and enjoy the sea.”
He stands up and presses a kiss to your forehead in goodbye. Then he leaves the dining rooms, sending in a servant to clean up your dinner. 
There’s a knock on your bedroom doors later that night. You’re sitting in front of the fire with your knees pulled up against your chest when it happens.
“Who is it?” You ask tiredly.
"It's me." You recognize his voice immediately. And if it weren't for the hours you spent weeping this morning, you probably would've cried at the sound of his voice alone. You didn’t expect Orindell to come and bid you farewell, but somehow the fact that he does makes it all the more real. 
You push yourself off the rug and move towards the door. Your hand hovers over the doorknob, but after another thought, you drop your hand, deciding to make due with conversation through the door.
“Yes, Orindell,” you call through the door, “what is it?”
You listen as he stumbles over his words for a second before falling silent. When his voice resurfaces, it’s small and scattered. “Do you hate me so much as to not open the door?”
You sigh. In a loud and exaggerated way so that you know he hears it. Orindell means well. Deep down, you know so much. But his words are a paint brush coloring a lousy shade of blame all over you; as if any of the issues that have come between you two is your fault. You suppose if you tried confronting him again, he would try to tell you that it is. “Prince Orindell, have at least enough dignity to recognize that I’m doing this for you.”
He exhales harshly in acceptance. You settle for it. There’s more silence, and after a few minutes, you begin to think that he’s left. But when he speaks up again, he proves you wrong. “Roen was saying how he reminds you of our grandfather.”
You inhale sharply. Conversing with Orindell had come to this point. To the point where you both had to speak lightly and with low voices as to not anger each  other. To the point where you both had to tiptoe around topics as to not bring up something the other did not wish to speak of. To the point where you couldn't even talk about what mattered. 
“Indeed, he does.” 
“Then…” Orindell hesitates. You hear a small tap on the door, “do I remind you of anyone?”
You smile. His question reminded you of a time before his confession, of a time when conversation with Orindell was simple and delightful, of a time when Orindell was a child. You let the question sit in the air for a second despite knowing exactly who Orindell reminds you of. You think of it every time he smiles or laughs or does anything at all, for all his mannerisms and all his traits remind you exactly of her. He reminds you of her in an obvious almost flashy way, in a way you couldn’t possibly ignore. In a way that’s not as subtle as Roen. In a way, that makes Orindell so dear to you. “You remind me of your mother, Orindell.” Your voice softens. “You are so very much like your mother.” 
He hums, satisfied with your response despite already knowing it. “Do you miss her?”
“I wish I knew her.”
There is no pain in his voice as he says it, and yet you feel so much pain when he does. “She would’ve loved you.” Then you pause before saying the next part with a laugh dancing under your voice.  “In fact—well don’t tell the other two—but she probably would’ve loved you the most.” 
Orindell laughs. You relish in the sound. Then after a moment, he asks: “How about Peter then? Who does he remind you of?”
You falter, not quite able to put your finger on who Peter reminds you of. If not someone, then there is something the eldest prince reminds you of. Something like a memory, but there’s a fog in your mind that halts you from knowing any more. And right now, with Peter long gone, the memory seems so faint; you aren’t even sure it’s real.
“I’m not sure,” is all you can say. Orindell hums as if he wasn’t really waiting for your answer anyways. You are quick to push down the annoyance that bubbles from it.
“Do you wish to leave?” He asks, in a voice that makes you believe he was scared to do so.
“Of course not.” You deny, perhaps a little more harshly than necessary. You try not to think too much about your upcoming departure from the Golden Palace. You fail.
Orindell waits a long moment. But when he speaks again, the words come falling out of his mouth. “We could get married. And then you won’t have to leave. It’ll fix everything, and father won’t be able to send you away.” 
“Orindell,” you hiss, but you want to rage. And in this moment, you hate how much he reminds you of his mother. Because just like her, his love makes him stupid. His love clouds his judgement. And in this moment, you want to yell at him and scream because you do not need someone you care for as much as you do Orindell telling you the same foolish things the people you think so lowly of do. You do not need Orindell persisting that a marriage will fix everything. You do not need Orindell, even less do you need his romantic interest in you. But you want Orindell, as a friend. And you have no wish to leave the Golden Palace in yet another argument with him. So, for that reason, and that one alone, you swallow your rage, and it burns all the way down your throat.
“Leave Orindell.”
“Not until-”
“Just go,” you seethe, the anger seeping from between your teeth. You don't wait for a response, storming to the other side of the room, near the fire. You stand by it for a second, the heat only adding to the flame burning inside you. And when you’ve had enough, your anger bursting from its seams, you kick the neat stack of firewood beside you. All seven logs go flying, one of them dents the wall. You focus on your breathing.
There’s another knock at the door. “Orindell, I said go!” You yell whipping the door open to come face to face with a wide-eyed Juyeon. “Oh, Juyeon,” you say in shock. 
“Bad time?” He asks with raised shoulders and the faintest hint of a smile. 
You huff, ignoring the urge to hit him over the head. “Just come in.”
“Roen told me about your sentence.” He begins, sitting down in an armchair while you go back to kneeling by the fire. 
“Roen sure is talking plenty tonight.” You mutter into the orange glow.
“Roen always talks plenty,” Juyeon hums, amused but calm.
Juyeon, in himself, is an epitome to his upbringing. He was only a young boy and a palace servant when you took him in and taught him how to fight. To your surprise, Juyeon turned out to be an excellent fighter. Before you had relieved the orphan boy of his petty debts to the King, Juyeon was constantly riled up. Always looking for a fight but losing once he did. He was angry at the world, and for good reason, but looking at him now, Juyeon contains none of the anger that consumed him as a boy. You suppose you can thank him joining the Knights of the Holy Order for that. You knew firsthand how fighting in the way that the Knights do, even when there is no war, changes a person. Afterall, fighting in the Holy Wars despite your age and disinterest in conflict, had changed you in such a way that when you visited your father afterwards, he didn’t even recognize you. But you think Juyeon, unlike what your father thought of you, has changed for the better. He had come back on his breaks more mature and grown. He had become a friend to you despite the manner in which your relationship had begun. Juyeon was the first true friend you had since the princes' late mother. 
And after a while of you glaring at the fire and Juyeon crossing and uncrossing his legs, he finally speaks up again. "Don't blame yourself for Orindell's inability to control himself and his emotions." 
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you to be speaking ill of your friend and more importantly the prince." You bite back, stubbornly refusing his comfort. 
He scoffs. "Don't be so dense. You're my friend too." 
There's a silence and you reach your hand out to hover over the fire. "Did you know?"
"About Orindell and you?" 
You nod although there is no 'Orindell and you'. There is only Orindell's foolishness and your reason. 
He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees and holding his chin in his palm. "Yes," he says with such simplicity it irks you. "In my defense, I thought you knew." 
"You'd think after all these years of living, I would be more in tune with these things, but no," you say rather lamely, "I'm still just as clueless as I was." 
"It appears even time can't change that." Juyeon jokes. You laugh for the first time that day, and it feels like you can finally breathe again. 
"Have you heard any word from Peter?" The question seems to bring you both back to reality. And the question, or perhaps reality, drags Juyeon's lips down and draws his gaze towards the flames. 
He scratches a spot behind his head. "Not a word.”
“I’ve been sending him Risals.” 
“And…?” Juyeon asks, hopeful.
“They come back empty. He doesn’t send me anything back.” 
Juyeon sighs, and you can’t decide if it sounds more tired or sad. “But if he's following his plan then he should be at the Nomads' Land by now." 
"That's only if he was able to find the Nomads' Land.”  You rub your temple thinking and overthinking all the aspects of Peter's plan. On a hunch and a forgotten memory, you had advised Peter to head north to the Giant Forest. Specifically, you had advised Peter to find the Nomads’ Land within the Giant Forest. The Nomads have always been very private people but even more so after the rule of King Avi, who ruled over the kingdom during the Holy Wars. No one has even seen a Nomad since let alone their Lands. There are no maps, no stories, nothing. On top of that, the Nomads’ have never been known for their kindness to strangers. "I feel as if I've let him go on an impossible quest."
Juyeon shakes his head, a crease running through his forehead. “Peter decided to go himself. He sketched up the plans himself. If he thought he could do it, there must be something he knows that we don’t.”
You nod even though Juyeon sounds as if he’s convincing himself of it as much as he’s convincing you. But you know, there is some truth to Juyeon's words. Peter is more than competent to do what he set out to do. As he grew, the eldest prince always found new ways to surprise you with his skill. After the Holy Wars and the deaths of all the Sins and Gifts apart from yourself, your fighting skill went unmatched. That was until Peter. Peter trained under you by the request of his mother and to the disdain of his father, and as Peter grew, so did his skill. By the time Peter had aged into a man, he became a better opponent than you had seen in ages. His brute strength making up for what he lacked in skill. But there’s something else about Peter as well, perhaps the same quality that puts a fog in your mind and reminds you of a memory you can’t remember. That part of him makes you wonder if there is something else that eases your worries. Whatever quality of Peter that perplexes you, is the same one that proves Peter is capable of completing his task to overthrow the King, to overthrow his father. You can only hope your advice to ask the Nomads gets him far enough to do it.
"You're right," you admit, "Peter is capable. I'm just worried. It all..." you hesitate struggling to find the right words, "It all makes my head ache." 
Juyeon sits back in the armchair, his brows furrowed and appearing to be deep in thought. He opens his mouth suddenly as if to speak, yet nothing comes out. He seems to be overcome with the same loss of words as you.
“I hate to ask this—”
“Then don’t.” 
“—but why did you send Peter to the Nomads’ Land?”
You still. The same fog from before overcoming your mind once again. “I can’t even begin to explain, Juyeon, I—”
“Try,” you meet his eyes, they look darker in this light or perhaps it’s his own confusion and hopeless need to understand that makes his eyes turn to the color of bark after a thunderstorm, “please.”
You do.
“I’ve told you before, Juyeon. I  struggle to remember life before the Holy Wars.” You pause, taking a moment to collect and retrieve your thoughts from the thick fog consuming your mind. You come back empty handed.
“It’s almost as if life never existed before the Holy Wars.” You say slowly. “I’ve forgotten the way life was before that. The way life was before I was the Gift of Fortitude. But sometimes, just barely, I get a sense of a memory. As if whatever made me forget is wearing off. As if it’s weakening.” You take another break, dropping your head in your hands. You can feel a headache coming. “These memories, they come and go, lasting only for the moment they appear. But when I was speaking with Peter that night, something about him or something about our conversation brought this memory to me. And I…” You trail off, struggling to remember the conversation you had with Peter before he took off.
Juyeon stands up from the armchair and joins you on the floor. His movements are frantic, but the message they send is clear: they scream desperation. “I know it’s difficult to remember, but please try as best you can. We were so close last time.”
This makes you stop. You release your head from your hands and look back at Juyeon quizzingly. “Last time?” You repeat in disbelief.
He grabs your face in his hands, forcing you to look at him. “Focus. You talk of a memory. A memory to do with the Nomads and your life before the Holy Wars. What did you remember that day with Peter? Why did you send him to the Nomads’ Lands?”
You don’t even hear him, your head suddenly splitting with pain. “When did we speak about this before?” You ask, helplessly wondering how you possibly could have forgotten an entire conversation.
“The memory,” Juyeon emphasizes once more, “what was the memory?”
“Juyeon, please,” you beg, feeling a tear you hadn’t even noticed roll down your chin, “let it go. I don’t remember.”
His entire body seems to sigh in defeat. “I’m sorry,” he mutters before letting go of your face. Your mind turns white with fog the moment he lets go. You  immediately drop your head into your hands again. The pain in your head so intense you have to bite your lip to stop yourself from crying out. Eventually, you taste blood.
“I’m sorry.” Juyeon mumbles into your hair. You hadn’t even realized he was embracing you. “I wish it didn’t have to hurt so much to remember.”
You try to tell him it’s like a curse but the words get swallowed by another surge of pain.
He helps you into your bed, and it makes you feel as old as you are. He whispers another apology before leaving your room. 
And like a spell, the fog in your mind devours your entire body in a deep sleep.
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"In the name of the Gods, we offer this prayer. Bestow upon us the knowledge of the Elders to live in harmony with our neighbors. By bathing in your everlasting light and glory, may we go in peace.” Jaehyun prays although his mind is far from the memorized passages that leaves from his lips. The palace temple is modern and beautiful, but different compared to the traditional southern temples he’s used to. But even that, Jaehyun can’t focus on. No, instead, Jaehyun troubles himself with the events of this morning. He awoke exhausted and aching after a long day of riding. But despite his tire, he was to meet the Gift of Fortitude this morning with breakfast in your personal dining room. It was awkward to say the least, with Jaehyun and Younghoon unsure and timid and you holding your head in your hands, complaining of a headache to a servant in hushed tones. Yet, Jaehyun sits in the palace temple thinking and overthinking how you, the Gift of Fortitude, looked so undeniably human. 
Jaehyun sneaks a glance. You’re seated next to him, but you look as if you’re somewhere else altogether. Your eyes are sewn shut and your lips are held tightly in a line. He wouldn’t have thought you to be so religious. Hell, Jaehyun wouldn’t have thought anyone north of the Zalazar River to be religious, but with the way you sit, concentrated on the prayers, religious is the only thing Jaehyun can think of to describe you. 
The King had sent a message to Jaehyun’s southern estate at the beginning of the week asking for Jaehyun’s and Captain Younghoon’s presence at the Golden Palace immediately. The King didn’t bother including any details. Jaehyun and Younghoon were left to speculate what business he could possibly have with them. With Jaehyun, a southern Lord who never involved himself with the politics of the kingdom, and with Younghoon, a retired Captain of the Knights of the Holy Order. It certainly doesn’t help that Lord Jaehyun is known to harbor a dislike towards the King. 
But now, as Jaehyun and Younghoon walk the ornate halls of the undeniably breathtaking Golden Palace alongside the Gift of Fortitude, Jaehyun wonders even more why the King has asked for them.
“Lord King I present to you Lady Gift of Fortitude, Lord Jaehyun, and Captain Younghoon." The guard announces to the King's throne room as the three of you enter. The throne room, Jaehyun notices, is just as lavish as the rest of the palace, if not more. Five of the six counsel seats are filled. Prince Roen and Prince Orindell sit attentively at their thrones, but Prince Peter's throne is empty. Jaehyun finds the sight odd, especially since the heir to the throne is known to be closely involved with the King's affairs and even more because Prince Peter is a close friend of you, as are all the Princes. 
Despite that, the King wastes no time. He says that you wish to visit the southern lands, and offers Jaehyun's estate as a place for you to stay. Jaehyun assumes there is more to the request than the King lets on but accepts nonetheless, and the three of you are ushered out of the throne room almost as soon as you’re brought in. 
Jaehyun, Younghoon, and you walk the halls aimlessly after the dreaded presence with the King which admittedly was briefer and more passive than Jaehyun had imagined. 
“I apologize for the circumstances, Lord Jaehyun and Captain Younghoon. I’m afraid I had little choice in the matter. I just wished the King hadn’t handled matters so hurriedly.” You tell them. 
“It’s quite alright, Lady Gift,” Younghoon affirms, glancing at Jaehyun as if expecting him to say something, but Jaehyun stays silent. “I find it a shame although,” Younghoon says to cover Jaehyun’s silence, “that there were so many missing in the King’s close court this morning.” 
“Yes.” You respond simply. 
“If I may, where is Prince Peter? I’ve heard you’re close to all three Princes.”
“You heard correctly, Captain Younghoon.” Then you pause. Jaehyun closely observes the way you carefully choose your next words. “Prince Peter had some personal matters to take care of. He’s taken a sabbatical of sorts.” 
"Odd that there was no royal notice of his sabbatical," Younghoon says in an even but skeptical tone. 
"Yes, Prince Peter is nearly as impulsive as his father," you cringe slightly when you say it, as if the words hurt.
And it's evident in the way you deflect the question, that there's something more to Prince Peter's absence. Something the King's court has chosen to cover up and ignore. Jaehyun knew just how impulsive the King could be, and for that reason, Jaehyun suspects that Prince Peter has snuck out of the palace, but then with another look at your scornful face, Jaehyun suspects something different. Prince Peter must have been sent away by his father himself. The realization takes a moment to sink in. 
Younghoon clears his throat. “And then what about Lord Seth, the sixth member of the King’s court?”
You stop walking altogether, looking down at your feet with furrowed brows. You look as if you’ve forgotten something. Jaehyun and Younghoon stop walking as well.
“You haven’t heard?” You question so quietly that Jaehyun barely hears it.
Younghoon tilts his head, “Heard what?”
You bite your lip, and look off to the side. You open your mouth once, but then close it again after. Jaehyun thinks, as mad as it sounds, that you, a Gift of the Spirit, look a little nervous.
Jaehyun takes a step forward. “What is it Lady Gift?” He asks, breaking his silence.
You shake your head once and then look up at Lord Jaehyun and Captain Younghoon with steady eyes. “Lord Seth was murdered.” You state with an eerie simplicity. You hesitate before adding the next part. “And I was the one who killed him.”
Jaehyun was wrong. It was not nerves that made you hesitate. It was guilt.  
“Well then, I just need to take care of a few more things before we leave. I’ll meet you both at the stables.”
And you’re off before Jaehyun and Younghoon can even comprehend what you just said.
Jaehyun waits for you and Younghoon in the stables. He tends to his horse deep in thought. 
Jaehyun hadn't been sure of the nature of your prospective visit to his estate. But now with your murder confession, it's clear you are being sent away as a punishment. You’re more akin to the stories and rumors than Jaehyun had wanted to believe. A monster lurking on the palace grounds as one of the Seven Gifts of the Spirit under the pretense that you mysteriously switched sides and fought with the Seven Sins during the Holy Wars. A monster lurking within a human body with an uncontrollable power that should be stopped, contained. 
Jaehyun doesn’t agree with all of it, but he’s not above some of the notions either. Before the Holy Wars, the Seven Gifts of the Spirit were praised as highly as the Seven Sins. The two groups worked in harmony as protectors of humanity. However, for reasons unknown to the people, the Seven Sins and Seven Gifts of the Spirit began fighting which escalated into the Holy Wars. The kingdom took the side of the Sins making the Gifts an enemy to the nation. After the war, the Gifts were not praised as highly as they once were. In fact, the Seven Gifts of the Spirit were not praised at all. All seven Sins and six of the Gifts perished in the Holy Wars. You, the only one who had survived, shouldered the blame of the Holy Wars. You, the Gift of Fortitude, became a pariah.
Although Jaehyun hates himself for doing so, he can’t help but think that perhaps you do have too much power. Power that is unmatched without another living Sin or Gift. Power that goes unchecked. If the Gift of Fortitude set out to kill, Jaehyun doubts there is much that could stop you. Lord Seth’s murder had gone unannounced and relatively unpunished. Jaehyun wonders if Lord Seth was an isolated example or just another among the many whose lives were put in your hands. 
But then when Jaehyun thinks back to the figure praying diligently beside him in the temple just hours ago and the person who complained of something as mundane as a headache this morning, it doesn’t appear to make much sense. If Jaehyun had not known you to be the Gift of Fortitude, he would’ve never fathomed that you’d even hurt a fly.  
“That’s a very beautiful horse you have there, Lord Jaehyun,” you say suddenly, bringing to Jaehyun’s attention your presence in the stables. 
 Jaehyun nods with a polite yet strained smile. “Yes, he was gifted to me by my father.” 
“Ah,” you mutter. And for a second, Jaehyun thinks he sees your face turn to a frown. But before he can look any further, you continue. “Mines is a river horse.” You brush through the mane of the horse in the stall next to Jaehyun’s. “I found him a while back by the Zalazar River.” 
Jaehyun doesn’t say anything in response. He begins attaching his saddles and bags to his horse instead. He watches the affection with which you care for your horse. He wonders how you’re able to act so calmly after admitting to murder not too long ago. Jaehyun thinks your dismissal and nonchalance negates any trust he might’ve held for you.  
He clears his throat. He makes sure it’s loud and obtrusive. He makes sure the I don’t trust you is clear. 
“Lord Jaehyun,” you begin, not even bothering to take your eyes off your horse, “I understand you may be upsetted by and skeptical of my actions, but I kindly ask that you respect them nonetheless. I hope you come to see that I had my reasons. Good reasons. Ones that I am unable to share with you.” You pause for a second as a servant brings in a bird Jaehyun doesn’t recognize and sets it by your feet. You continue as soon as the servant disappears behind the stable doors. “I am no stranger to fear and hate directed towards me. But seeing as I am to be staying at your estate for the foreseeable future, I ask that you wait and get to know me before you make any rash assumptions concerning me.” You take a step past Jaehyun so that you stand beside him facing the opposite stable door. You turn your head, and Jaehyun shivers at the way your breath hits his neck. You speak directly into his ear, voice no louder than a whisper. “It’s best you realize sooner rather than later that we have the same enemy here.” 
Jaehyun understands what you are implicating, the notion alone bringing a sudden heat to his cheeks. He doesn’t dare to meet your eyes. But you stare at Jaehyun until he makes some acknowledgment of your speech. You’re gone the moment he does, leaving a cloud of dust and dirt in the space you used to occupy. 
Jaehyun is left stunned. He can’t even acknowledge the palace servant that re enters the stable to finish preparing your horse. He’s only brought out of mind when a familiar heavy hand rests upon his shoulder. 
“We’re ready when you are Jaehyun,” Younghoon says, a laugh dancing under his words. 
Jaehyun groans. “How much of that did you hear?” 
Younghoon releases Jaehyun’s shoulder. “Enough,” he hums with an enthusiastic nod. 
“So you think it’s excusable then?” Jaehyun questions, hurt that Younghoon seems to be taking your side over his. “Are you willing to excuse murder too?” 
Younghoon’s quiet for a moment, but when he does speak again, he does so seriously. Jaehyun listens intently. “It’s not that I’m excusing murder Jaehyun. It’s that I’m willing to believe there is more to this story than we are hearing. I’m willing to trust the Gift of Fortitude over the King.” 
Jaehyun shakes his head. “I just can’t understand how everyone is looking past the life that has been lost. How can you accept a crime as grave as murder?”
Younghoon chuckles darkly. “I spent the better part of my life making murderers out of men and women. I made a murderer out of myself as Captain of the Knights of the Holy Order. I stay sane because I believe that I led knights to their deaths for good reason. If I did not accept the murders I’ve committed, I would have gone mad a long time ago. Sometimes Jaehyun, a crime is only as grave as its motivation.”
Jaehyun is silent, taking his time to understand what Younghoon means. He returns his attention to his horse. 
“What have you been doing all morning?” Jaehyun asks, deciding he needs more time to process than the moment allows. Younghoon isn’t bothered by the shift in conversation. 
“Ah, I had many things to discuss with Prince Orindell. You know, former Captain of the Knights to current Commander.”
“Anything worth sharing?” 
Younghoon hums. “Not much, although he is an excellent Commander, Prince Orindell,” Younghoon clarifies, “even despite his young age. What they say is true, he possesses a gift for...”
Jaehyun nods, listening half-heartedly to Younghoon for Jaehyun has no interest in the subjects of armies and battles. 
Eventually, Younghoon wears himself out with talk of the current state of the Knights, the supply chain routes, their management of northern bandits and uneasy eastern Lords, and whatever else Younghoon can think to comment on. And by the time he does, the horses are prepped and ready to go. The small, mismatched party of Lord Jaehyun, Captain Younghoon, and the Gift of Fortitude begin the two day journey south. 
The journey is quiet and tense. The only conversation coming from Younghoon and you making small talk about the weather and the shameful fail of the western harvest. They take rest at the Bronze Bridge. 
The Zalazar River is now a blood red color. Younghoon comments on how it’s a little early for the river to take such a dark color. He also mentions that this color is one of his favorites. 
“My favorite,” you begin, leaning over the edge to stare at the water, “is the blue that appears during the transition from winter to spring.”
They all, including the guards, stare at you, dumbfounded. You notice a second too late and turn your head towards them slowly. 
“What?” You breathe, and Jaehyun laughs when he realizes you’re being serious. He laughs at the notion that your favorite color of an ever-changing river is the color of all bodies of water.   
“In that case, Lady Gift,” Younghoon chuckles, “I think you’ll take a great liking to the sea.” 
They mount their horses and cross the rest of the Bronze Bridge and blood red river a little less tensely. 
They take rest at an inn for the night. Jaehyun finds how empty the inn is odd considering it is at the center of this town off the main road. Even if most of the rooms were unoccupied, the dining rooms of inns were always full at nights with the town’s people engrossed in conversation over a pint of beer. But tonight, with the guards resting upstairs, the inn’s dining room is mostly empty. Three tables are occupied and one of those three are occupied by Jaehyun, Younghoon, and you. Jaehyun remembers what you said about fear and hate being directed towards you. He starts to wonder how often you empty a room with fear, intentional or not.
You feel bad. It’s been so long since you’ve left the King’s City, that you’ve forgotten how the people outside the Golden Palace react to you. You have forgotten that most people don’t want to eat dinner and play drinking games with a Gift of the Spirit near. You make a mental note to cover up more next time you’re out. Then after a quick glance at the innkeeper behind the bar, you make another note to reimburse her for the money she must’ve lost thanks to you.  
You’re aware of the way Jaehyun squints at you, untrusting. The southern Lord hadn’t appeared to be so headstrong and stubborn when you met him this morning. But as Lord Jaehyun stares daggers at you, you guess that your first impression of him was wrong. Still, you’re tired of petty conflict. You want to help Jaehyun understand your motives without involving him in the palace’s politics. You want to make peace. 
You exhale sharply. 
“Lord Jaehyun,” his eyes widen when you address him, “Captain Younghoon, I know you must have many reasons to distrust me.” Jaehyun scoffs. You ignore it. “But I’d like to make peace with you both. I’m afraid I might not be able to answer all of your questions but perhaps there’s some that I can.” 
You feel uneasy. You aren’t one to make an effort to get someone to like you or trust you. And yet, you find yourself in front of Lord Jaehyun and Captain Younghoon nearly begging for their acceptance. 
“I have a question,” Younghoon begins, sitting up slightly. You nod. “What kind of bird do you travel with? I’ve never seen a bird like that before.” 
“Oh, the bird. It’s my personal Risal.” You say simply. You aren’t surprised to see the shock on their faces. Risals were extremely rare and even more expensive. They’re said to have been blessed by the Gods as messenger birds. That of course is the only explanation for how Risals are able to send any message anywhere and to anyone in no more than a day even if the one sending the message does not know where to find the one receiving. 
“My Gods, how in the world did you get your hands on a Risal?” Younghoon exclaims, like a little kid waiting for sweets. 
You smile. “It was a gift from the princes’ late mother, Roe.” The reminder makes your smile turn sad. Lord Jaehyun notices. 
“Are they as untraceable as they say?” 
You nod. “Tracking a Risal is impossible. It’s almost as if they disappear into thin air when they take flight.” 
“You’re very lucky.” Younghoon tells you with a laugh, and you let yourself believe that you’ve made some progress. Lord Jaehyun, however, doesn’t let you believe so for long. 
“I have a question.” Lord Jaehyun implores, bringing himself out of his silence. His voice is stern and a little cold. Younghoon looks uneasy. You beckon for him to continue anyways. “What exactly do you possess as a Gift of the Spirit?” His voice is filled with distrust, but when you meet his eyes, you're surprised to find that they aren’t as cold as his voice. 
“Jaehyun—“ Younghoon starts. 
“How do you mean?” You encourage him to continue. You know what he wants to hear. He wants to hear how you’re a killer by nature. He wants you to explain just how deadly you are. He wants you to prove his distrust. 
“What are your powers, Gift?” 
You flinch at the name. You flinch at the question. Both of which you hate. And yet, you’re no stranger to either. But you’ve already decided to make peace, and so peace you’ll make. 
“As you know, in ancient times Maratelli the archangel gave 14 roles to humans. The Seven Sins: Greed, Anger, Pride, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, and Envy. And the Seven Gifts of the Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fear, and,” you pause to look at Lord Jaehyun directly, “Fortitude. The Sins and Gifts were given to the people as protectors. As humanity’s fighters. To answer your question Lord Jaehyun, I am an exceptionally skilled fighter. I was made and crafted by the Gods to fight for humans and protect them in ways they cannot. But the power is not almighty, the Seven Sins and Gifts are slow healers. Even small injuries can leave us bedridden for weeks.” 
Lord Jaehyun wastes no time, jumping into the next question. “Are you immortal?” 
“So you can die?” 
“By old age?” 
“Then how?” 
You wait a beat. “By giving up.” You don't explain any further. 
You had hoped to make peace with Lord Jaehyun tonight. Perhaps you had hoped for too much. 
--LORD JAEHYUN-- There’s a familiar tense silence while riding the next day. They reach Jaehyun’s estate by late afternoon, earlier than expected. 
You request to be taken straight to your quarters. 
“You’re acting strange.” Younghoon mutters, watching Jaehyun with a careful eye as he takes a spoonful of his soup. It’s only Jaehyun and Younghoon at dinner tonight. You decided you were too tired to attend. 
“How so?” Jaehyun questions, swirling his spoon around the bowl. 
“The cook made your favorite soup, and you’ve had only two spoons of it so far.”
“I ate earlier.” 
“It’s not just that Jaehyun.” Younghoon adds, and Jaehyun holds back a groan, dreading the coming conversation. “What’s gotten into you?” Jaehyun shrugs. And he can’t help but notice how sad Younghoon sounds when he says: “You aren’t yourself around her.” 
Jaehyun drops his spoon, placing his hands on his knees. “I just don’t trust her Younghoon. Something about her unsettles me.” 
Younghoon takes another sip of his soup. “You’re entitled to your judgement, but that does not mean you’re entitled to treat her so rudely. I just want the two of you to make peace. And believe it or not, she wants to make peace too.” 
Jaehyun huffs; he doesn’t feel like giving in easily tonight. “If the Gift wants to make peace, then let her make it.” 
“She’s already tried. And if you must call her something, she prefers Fortitude.” 
“Fortitude isn’t a name—”
“Neither is Gift.”
“— it’s a title, Younghoon.” 
“And what would you do if a title was the only name you had?” 
Jaehyun bites the inside of his cheek, mumbling, “but what if it’s not the only name she has?”
Younghoon shakes his head in frustration. “Jaehyun, I can only advise you to make peace. It’s up to you whether you do or not.” 
And with that Younghoon leaves from the dining room. Jaehyun finishes the rest of his dinner alone. 
You were unhappy. You didn’t want to be at Lord Jaehyun’s estate in these strange southern lands. You did not want to be somewhere you were unwelcome. Even before your return to the Golden Palace, you never traveled too far away from the King’s City. The thought of being so far away from the lands you’re used to calling home makes your skin itch. 
There’s a knock on your door. You open it to a young servant girl. “Lady Gift, Lord Jaehyun is asking if you would like to accompany him on a walk to the beach.” 
You wonder for a second if this is some sort of joke. You can’t imagine Jaehyun waking up and deciding he wants to spend time with you willingly. Then you suspect if Younghoon put him up to it. 
“You can tell him I’m coming and that I’ll meet him by the back gates.” 
You get dressed quickly and walk down the estate to the gates. When you arrive, Lord Jaehyun is already waiting, facing away from the estate and towards the grassy path. 
“Lord Jaehyun.” 
He nods at your greeting, and the walk begins in silence. 
“You seem to already know your way around the estate.” Jaehyun mentions by the time the grass and sand have begun to mix under your feet. 
“Younghoon gave me a very thorough tour this morning.” 
Jaehyun laughs but it sounds small and strained. “Yes, Younghoon is not the type to spare any details.” 
You settle back into a silence. You’re surprised with how civil the walk has been so far, and you duly note how this might be the first time Jaehyun hasn’t stared at you hatefully. With another look at the boy, you find that his eyes—when they aren’t filled with anger—are actually quite kind. You also find beauty in the way the sunlight bounces off them. You smile. 
“Lord Jaehyun,” you address softly, “did Younghoon put you up to this?” 
He chuckles, and instead of answering your question, he says: “Lady Gift, I would like to apologize for how I treated you these past couple days. I am not used to the happenings of the Golden Palace. I was shocked. But that’s no excuse for how I acted. I’m sorry. I truly am.”
For the second time that day, you’re surprised, and not only because Jaehyun is apologizing but also because of how sincerely he sounds saying it. 
“Thank you, Lord Jaehyun.” 
He shakes his head. “It’s the least I could do, Lady Gift. But I hope you accept this as an apology for my behavior as well, and that you find it in you to forgive me.” 
You nod. “I’ll forgive you if you agree to drop the formalities.” 
Jaehyun claps his hands. “Doesn’t seem like you’re getting nearly as much out of this arrangement as I am, but I accept nonetheless.” He stops walking and holds out his hand. “Do we have an agreement?” 
You shake his outstretched hand. “I suppose we do.” 
He smiles, and you’re shocked for the third time that day. Shocked that the man before you is the same one you met at the Golden Palace. The same man whose hatred for you was so strong you could have sensed it across a room. The same man who is taking you on this walk and no longer calling you Gift. Shocked that Jaehyun is the one to make the peace you wanted so badly. 
You find yourself to be smiling too. 
“Come on,” Jaehyun says, continuing the walk, “I think it’s about time you saw the sea.” 
You both continue down the now sandy path. You admire the way Jaehyun so easily walks in the sand. You, on the other hand, struggle to adapt to your feet sinking and shifting in the ground beneath you. 
Jaehyun tells you that walking in the sand will get easier with time. It takes a moment for you to register the fact that he noticed. 
“Wow,” is all you can say at the blue expanse before you. You think Roen was right. The paintings do not do justice to the sea. The paintings were unable to capture the real thing. 
“You said that blue is your favorite shade of the Zalazar River right?” 
Your smile widens. “Yes, but this…” you motion to the water, “this is even better.” 
Jaehyun hums triumphantly. “Accept this as a peace offering.” 
“Oh Jaehyun, we have already bargained and made peace.” 
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re actually terrible at bargaining.” He laughs. “That deal was far too uneven for me to accept with dignity. So please, accept this instead.” 
“I was not aware you knew how to make a joke.” You tease. 
“Please,” he repeats, sounding suddenly serious. 
You tilt your head. “I also was not aware the sea was yours to give as peace offerings.” 
“It’s not.” He bites back a smile. “But it is yours to take.” 
You think for a moment. And when the next wave crashes into the shore, you nod.
You send a message with the Risal to Roen that night. 
Dear Roen, I hope things at the palace are doing well. You were right. The sea is so much more than I thought. The sea is something else entirely. Give everyone my love. -Fortitude 
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Jaehyun is sitting at his desk. He has piles of papers to sort through, file, fill out, and sign, and yet he can’t seem to focus on the small amount of work he’s obliged to do as a Lord. Instead he’s focused on the view outside the window of his office which overlooks the courtyard. More specifically, he focuses on the way you sit at the edge of the fountain teasing a stray cat with a loose string. Suddenly, you look towards the sky and stick your arm out. A bird swoops down from nowhere and perches itself on your extended forearm. Jaehyun wonders if your abilities as a Gift include an inclination towards animals. The bird drops an envelope in your lap; you read the cover before setting it down beside you. Jaehyun squints at the scene and recognizes the bird as your Risal. This piques his interest. 
“Younghoon,” Jaehyun calls out. Younghoon tends to keep Jaehyun company while he works, reading a book in the corner armchair. But when Jaehyun is met with silence, he looks over to find the book closed on his lap and Younghoon fast asleep. Jaehyun covers Younghoon with a blanket and exits his office silently. He figures he might as well go for a walk if he isn’t going to get any work done. 
When he finds you in the courtyard, the cat has settled down in your lap, and the Risal sits on the stretch of fountain ledge next to you. You seem to sense Jaehyun behind you before he bothers to make his presence known. 
“Have you already finished your work Jaehyun?” You ask, not turning around to face him. He walks the circumference of the fountain before stopping a little before you and answering. 
“Not exactly.” He sits down on the fountain ledge next to the Risal. 
“Well,” you mumble scratching a place behind the cat’s ear, “I suppose now is as good a time for a break as any.” 
“Yes, I thought so too.” Jaehyun responds, more focused on the bird in front of him. “Can I pet it?”
You nod. You advise him to start at the beak until the bird trusts him. It doesn’t take long for the bird to nuzzle under his palm. 
“It likes you.” you say, sounding a little shocked. “Winning a Risal’s trust usually takes much longer.” 
Jaehyun smiles shyly. The two of you settle into a silence. You scratching the stray cat to sleep and Jaehyun running his hand along the bird in awe. It had become like that between you two. There was never much conversation and yet somehow the silences you shared never felt empty or weird. Jaehyun isn’t sure if he can truly trust you, but he does know he was wrong about you. You’re no monster. In fact, you’re just as human as him and Younghoon. 
“How do they work?” Jaehyun wonders, looking up from the bird. “The Risals.”
You sit up slightly. “Would you like to see?” 
He nods. You set the cat down on the ground and beckon for Jaehyun to stand up as well. 
You collect the Risal on your arm and start walking away from him. “Move farther away.” You tell him. “It won’t work if we’re too close.” 
Once you are the entire length of the courtyard apart, you nod in approval and say something Jaehyun can’t hear to the bird. The bird suddenly launches itself from your arm and soars into the sky. Jaehyun closely watches how the Risal disappears behind the clouds. 
You cup your hands around your mouth and shout from across the courtyard: “When you hear a bird’s screech, hold out your arm.” 
Jaehyun waits a moment. Eventually the screech comes, and Jaehyun thinks how you forgot to mention how loud it would be. The screech makes him jump and clasp his arms over his ears. You don't even flinch. Jaehyun looks to see if the cat is spooked and finds that the cat is still peacefully asleep on the ground. Out of the corner his eye, he sees you pointing wildly at his arm. Jaehyun quickly sticks it out. He looks up at the sky only to see the Risal already swooping down and landing neatly on his arm. His mouth opens in shock. 
“Now,” you yell, “tell it to go to me.” 
Jaehyun looks the Risal in the eye. He wonders if this is all some elaborate joke. The bird couldn’t possibly understand him if he were to speak to it, right? Then he wonders if he’s mad for believing that it can. He inhales. 
“Go to the Gift of Fortitude.” 
And Jaehyun swears the Risal seems to nod before leaping off his arm and flying straight up into the sky once more. He watches the sky keenly, and then also covers his ears with his hands in anticipation of the screech. It never comes. Instead, the bird dives down from the sky, calming landing on your outstretched arm. Jaehyun runs to you immediately.  
“How come there was no screech this time?” Jaehyun asks breathlessly, meeting you at your end of the courtyard. 
“There was.” You say simply, petting the bird. Jaehyun furrows his brows. “The screech is only heard by the one who the Risal is meant for.” It clicks for Jaehyun then why you didn’t flinch and why the cat is still in a ball by the fountain. 
“So,” Jaehyun says slowly, “how does the Risal understand the name you tell it?”
You shrug. 
“What if you get the name wrong? Or there’s multiple people with that name?”
You shrug again. “They’re never wrong though, in my experiences at least. It’s almost as if they understand the intent more than the name itself.”
“And the way it just disappears into the sky?” 
“Remarkable isn’t it?”
Jaehyun smiles at the child-like excitement in your voice. He nods. “They must be incredibly smart creatures.” 
“They’re not just smart.” You begin scratching a spot under the Risal’s beak. The bird melts under your touch. “They’re magical.”
Dear Fortitude, I thought you’d like the sea. Things at the palace are as fine as can be. Orindell misses you dearly. I’ll keep you updated on Father and other palace occurrings. Although in all honesty, things have been quiet since your departure. I hope you’re resting well and enjoying the southern scenery despite the circumstances. Give my regards to Captain Younghoon and Lord Jaehyun. -Roen 
“The service was long today.” Jaehyun states exiting the temple with Younghoon and you. The southern temples, unlike the palace temple, were old and traditionally built. This temple in particular had been built long before the Holy Wars. 
“I didn’t think so.” Younghoon says, swatting a hand around his face to shoo away a bug. “What did you think?” 
But when they look over at you, you appear to be somewhere else altogether. Suddenly, you still. 
 “Is that a…” you begin, your voice small, unbelieving. 
Jaehyun follows your gaze to a building at the top of the hill behind the temple. He follows your gaze to the sanctuary. You start walking towards the hill before Jaehyun and Younghoon can stop you. 
The sanctuary hasn’t been used in years, and the state of it shocks Jaehyun. In fact, the sanctuary itself shocks Jaehyun. He’s never been inside one. His knowledge of them was limited to what he had seen and read in textbooks growing up. Before the Holy Wars, all temples used to have sanctuaries nearby. They were built in honor of the Seven Sins and Seven Gifts of the Spirit. Sculptures were meant to line the walls of the sanctuaries, seven on the left for the Sins and seven on the right for the Gifts. And at the front of the sanctuaries, a sculpture of Maratelli the archangel was meant to stand tall. However after the Holy Wars, most sanctuaries were destroyed by mobs. People no longer felt the need to pay their respects to the beings who started the war that nearly destroyed the kingdom. The few sanctuaries that weren’t burned to the ground were left vandalized, most of the sculptures reduced to rubble. 
The sanctuary Jaehyun, Younghoon, and you stand in is no exception. Cobwebs cover all the walls and a thick layer of dust clouds everything in sight. The sanctuary is hauntingly cold and damp. Only two sculptures are left standing: Maratelli’s, whose arms and wings have been broken off, and one of the Gifts. Upon closer examination, Jaehyun finds that the other standing sculpture is the one dedicated to you, the Gift of Fortitude. The face of the sculpture is gone as if someone chipped away at the stone until the contours of the face disappeared. And on top of the blank stone where the face should be, die is written in black paint and monster is written on the torso. The sight makes Jaehyun sick to the stomach. 
But that’s not where Jaehyun finds you. Instead, Jaehyun and Younghoon find you kneeling on the floor next to the broken stone of what once was a sculpture dedicated to the Sin of Pride. Jaehyun helplessly realizes the tragedy that must litter your past in the way that everyone you once knew died before your eyes. You bow your head to the floor and sob. Jaehyun feels like an intruder in this moment, as if he’s watching something personal and private, something not meant for his eyes. The broken marble you bury your face into does little to conceal the pain in your sobs, and Jaehyun can’t help the way his heart aches at the sheer amount of heartbreak that rings from your cries. 
Jaehyun and Younghoon decide to wait for you outside. 
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“If I may ask, when was the last time you had a worthy opponent?” Younghoon asks, breaking the silence of your lunch. Only you and Younghoon were present today. 
You think it over for a moment. It's been a while since you’ve fought anyone. Even while training Juyeon and the Princes, you never fought them yourself. “The Holy Wars most likely.” 
Younghoon nods, placing a hand under his chin. “Not that I would make one, but one of these days could we fight?”
You suck in a breath. Younghoon’s question feels foreign in your mind. “I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.”
“Just a friendly scuffle?” 
“I don’t—“ 
“Or perhaps a sword fight?”
“I’m afraid I’ll hurt you.”
“We could set up rules to prevent such, and I can take a little pain. I might be retired but—”
“No, Younghoon.” You cut him off. “I don’t want to fight you.” 
He shrinks back into his seat. “Forgive me. But…” he hesitates, “can I ask why not?” 
You sigh. “I don’t fight for pleasure anymore.” 
The sea is quieter than usual and the waves crash in whispers the day you and Younghoon go for a walk along the shore. You had quickly adapted to the way your feet sink in the sand; and today, you find comfort in it.  
It’s also the day that Younghoon reveals his plans to head home soon. You hadn’t even considered the possibility that this wasn’t Younghoon’s home. He explains how his family lives farther east and how he splits his time between Jaehyun’s estate and his own home, travelling back and forth frequently. And when you question why he even bothers returning to Jaehyun’s estate, why he bothers leaving home, Younghoon laughs loudly and explains that Jaehyun pays him good money to stay and keep him company. You also hadn’t realized that this was Younghoon’s job. 
“Don’t you think it’s a little desperate to pay Younghoon to leave his family and keep you company?” You tease as you and Jaehyun wave goodbye to Younghoon.
Jaehyun scoffs, side eyeing Younghoon’s retreating figure. “Is that what he told you?” You nod. “I’ll have you know he was staying for free before I insisted on him accepting the money.” 
You laugh, and Jaehyun notices the way your eyes crinkle. “Yes, yes. I figured as much.”   
The young servant girl appears then, asking Jaehyun if anything more is needed. Jaehyun tells her she can go home for the day, and she flushes a dark red. Jaehyun notices how you notice. 
And when the servant girl leaves, Jaehyun watches the way you smile, your lips concealing a secret.
“Fortitude,” he blurts, “would you like to go on a walk with me?” 
“What’s her name? The young servant girl?” You ask as you both start along the path towards the beach. 
“And how old is she?”
“15 come winter I believe.”
You nod slowly, a smile similar to the one before growing on your face. “It’s cute, how smitten she is by you.” 
Jaehyun bites his bottom lip. “I don’t mean to make her…” He trails off, unable to find the right words. 
“Smile less.” 
Jaehyun quirks his head, looking up at you. “My smile…?”
You nod. “It’s your smile she falls for.” 
Jaehyun lets the statement sink, and the wind seems to pick up while he does. A sound faintly resembling a growl comes from you. He looks over to find you struggling to keep your hair at bay, the dark locks flying wildly in the wind. 
You huff, annoyed. “I didn’t bring anything to tie it back with.” 
“You could braid it.” Jaehyun suggests.
You run a hand through your hair in another attempt to push it back. “How terrible is it that I never learned how to braid it myself?” 
Jaehyun blinks at you. You pick at a spot below your chin. 
“Don’t laugh.” you stutter, but it’s too late because Jaehyun is already chuckling behind his hand. You shove him, hard. 
“Would you like me to braid it for you?” 
You look at him, your hair unattractively covering your face. You push it back, determining whether Jaehyun’s offer is genuine or not. 
Your shoulders drop. “Yes please.” 
Jaehyun moves behind you, gathering your hair in his hands and beginning to braid it. 
“Where’d you learn how to braid anyways?” You ask, voice raised to be heard against the wind. 
“My sister, Insia, would make me braid her hair sometimes.” 
You shove a loose strand behind your ear. “I didn’t know you had a sister.” 
“She’s illegitime. Technically, we both are. My father never married.” 
“Where is she?” You wonder aloud as Jaehyun finishes the braid off. 
“She married an islander, gave up her ladyship to do so, and now lives there with him.” Jaehyun allows his eyes to drift towards the sea. Islands were peppered all along the coast, and the island Insia and her husband and kids lived on was only a couple hours from here by boat. Jaehyun made sure they visited each other often enough, and wrote to each other even more frequently. 
“It must be nice.” You mutter, focused on knotting the end of your braid. “To have a sibling.” 
And Jaehyun swears he’s never heard anyone sound so lonely. 
The walks along the shore had become a daily activity for you and Jaehyun, but today Jaehyun was busy which left you helplessly bored and laying in your bed staring at the ceiling. Your mind had begun to wander to Peter and his impossible journey, to Juyeon and your forgotten conversation, to the King and his future plans, and to Lord Seth. Maybe the King was smart to send you here after all, being far away from the Golden Palace made you forget why you were sent here to begin with. It was easy to ignore the gravity of the palace issues here at Jaehyun’s estate. It was easy to push aside the fog in your mind when you thought about your past. It was almost too easy to throw your worries into the sea and watch them crash against the rocks. 
So when Vina walks in with a fresh load of laundry, you don't hesitate to ask if the young girl would care to accompany you on a walk. And when Vina agrees, you’re grateful that you’ve found a distraction. 
When you ask why Vina works, you learn that she is the oldest of seven. You frown at the thought of Vina's wages going all to her family, but she’s quick to tell you not to worry. Apparently Jaehyun pays the estate staff well. The thought makes you smile. A question arises at the faint blush appearing on Vina’s cheeks. You hesitate a little. 
“Vina, do you happen to have a crush on Lord Jaehyun?” 
Vina freezes like a deer. “Oh Lady Gift, it isn’t like that please don’t misunderstand.” She shakes her head vigorously. “It’s just that… Lord Jaehyun has shown me nothing but kindness and I-“ She cuts herself off, fidgeting with her fingers. You assure her that it’s okay. Vina continues unsurely. “It’s just that it’s hard to not direct my feeling of gratitude in that way.” 
“And,” you hum, nudging her shoulder, “I’m sure it doesn’t help how handsome Lord Jaehyun is.” 
An embarrassed smile emerges on Vina’s face, and it turns almost mischievous when she says: “I would like it to go on record that I was not the one who said it.” 
You erupt in laughter. 
If you knew Vina wasn’t skilled in the art of keeping things to herself, you wouldn’t have admitted to the young girl your thoughts of Jaehyun’s face. But alas, you had, and there was nothing you could do to stop the gossiping of a young girl. It was just your luck that Jaehyun took it upon himself to tease you for the admission endlessly. 
The day the teasing stops is the day you want nothing more than to shoot an arrow. 
To your dismay, Jaehyun’s estate does not house an archery gallery. But when Jaehyun learns of your desire, he offers an alternative. So with the bow and arrow you brought from the Golden Palace and wooden plates acting as targets held up by Jaehyun himself, your wish is granted. 
You notch an arrow and breathe, taking note of the wind shift before letting the arrow fly. It hits the plate exactly where you had sent it. 
“So is it safe to assume that archery is another gift you have as a Gift?” Jaehyun shouts to you from across the beach, pulling the arrow from out the plate and dropping it in a pile. 
“Yes, it is.” You respond, grabbing another arrow from beside you. You take notice of how nonchalantly Jaehyun stands. “Are you not frightened by me shooting arrows towards a target that lies in your hand?” 
He shrugs. “Well, are you scared?” 
You’re taken aback by the question, but you aren’t scared. The arrow would land only where you wanted it to. 
“Then why should I be.” Jaehyun says easily, holding the target back up. “Also, I know you’d never purposely hurt me.” He adds with a coy smile. “You think I’m too handsome.” 
You string the arrow in less than a second, aiming straight for Jaehyun’s face. “What was that?” 
A giggling Jaehyun cowers behind the target and runs. 
Sleep doesn’t come to you that night. Your mind runs wild with thoughts of the Golden Palace. You think and overthink the events that led up to Peter being sent away and then again the ones that led up to Lord Seth’s untimely death. You find that the memories slip past your fingers, a fog encompassing them. The same fog that clouds your memories of the past. It appears that your mind houses more fog than actual memories.  It appears that the fog is driving you mad. 
You elect to think of something new. Your eyes land on the Risal from Roen you have yet to respond to. You would’ve sent one back sooner if the line about Orindell didn’t make you so upset. You reluctantly recall your last conversation with him. He was still the same foolish little boy you have always known. You suppose that’s what makes your falling out so heartbreaking. You have known all three princes from the moment they were born. You raised them alongside Roe, their mother and your dearest friend, and when Roe passed, you raised them like they were your own family. Not exactly like a mother, but something more akin to a cousin or an aunt. The three princes were the closest thing you had to a family, and the thought that Orindell could love you romantically repulsed you. You were mad at Orindell, disappointed in him, and yet, you still miss him as much as you miss Roen and Peter. You long to talk with the three princes like you once did, before Orindell loved you and before they were old enough to concern themselves with the state of the kingdom and the state of their own father. And this time, the longing is what drives you mad.   
You decide that thinking will only lead to misery tonight, and with a glance at the full moon outside your window, you also decide a walk must be better than lying here, drowning in your own thoughts. You pull on a pair slippers before silently exiting your room. 
The beach is quiet tonight. The waves tease and kiss the shore and then disappear back into the sea. While you walk, you think about all the ways the sea has shown itself to you. You only realize how far you’ve walked when you reach the rocks. 
You were told about the rocky cliffs that laid a little to the west of Jaehyun’s estate by Jaehyun, Younghoon, and Vina. But you had never walked so far with either of them to see them yourself. 
The waves don’t seem larger here, but they crash against the rocks as if they are. The waves and the rocks clash like two forces in battle. Somehow the image and the sound bring a bit of comfort to the battle raging in your mind. 
Where you stand, the rocks are scattered, but further along the beach, the rocks multiply and gather until they completely cover the sand. The rocks start flat and then pile on top of each other until you’re staring at the rocky cliffs you have heard so much about. You think you like this rocky beach more than the sandy one you’ve grown accustomed to. 
You stiffen when you notice a figure sitting on one of the flat rocks. The person looks tired in the way they sit with their shoulders dropped and dragging, and yet the person is so captivated by the sea they don’t even notice you coming. Upon closer examination, you realize that you recognize the figure sitting alone on the rocks. Your guard drops when you realize the person is Jaehyun. 
“Jaehyun,” you say, appearing behind him, carefully walking towards where he sits on the rocks.
“Ah, Fortitude.” He doesn’t flinch at your appearance. He doesn’t even bother taking his eyes off the water. “Couldn’t sleep?”
You hum. “And you?” 
He shakes his head. “Younghoon calls this spot the insomniac's bed.” 
“Do you come here often then?”
“Nearly every night.” He looks away from the sea and stares at you still standing behind him.“Please,” he stutters, patting a dry patch of rock next to him, “sit.” You do.
“Is it safe to jump into the water from there?” You ask suddenly. 
You wait for Jaehyun to follow your eyes. “Ah, from the cliff?” You nod. “It isn’t safe to jump from most cliffs. There could be rocks in the water, or if the waves are too strong they could push you back against the base of the cliff.” 
“Yes, but what about this cliff?” 
Jaehyun sighs, although he doesn’t sound tired or frustrated. “They call that cliff Angel’s Peak.” 
He raises an eyebrow. “Because you’ll need the wings of an angel to survive it.” 
“Oh.” You don't think about it any further. 
The two of you don’t speak, the waves that crash against the rocks do that for you. You let the sound overwhelm you, feeling more peace and more clarity than you’ve felt in years. 
As a Gift of the Spirit, you lived longer than most, and part of your powers allow you to stay young. You could though, grow old. You could wake up one day and decide to start aging again. You could let herself wrinkle and grey like everyone else. But after King Avi died, after the last person who knew you as more than just a Gift stopped aging, you did too. You have been told that even though your face doesn’t show your age, your eyes do. It’s been said that your eyes tell the story of all the years you’ve endured. 
You study Jaehyun. This must be it, you think. This must be what people see when they look at your eyes because when you look at Jaehyun’s, you can see the life he’s endured behind them. You can see the age behind the brown. You wonder what Jaehyun must be thinking in this moment to make his life appear so long and sad. You wonder how Jaehyun manages to feel like an equal to you despite your life being so much longer. You wonder—
“How old are you?”
If Jaehyun’s shocked by the sudden question, he doesn’t show it. “As old as Peter,” then with a sigh he adds, “but I feel as old as you.” 
And with the way Jaehyun says it, as if he holds mountains on his shoulders, you believe him. 
“Well, maybe not as old as you,” Jaehyun continues, talking quickly as if he misspoke. “I just meant that I feel old. Or at least older than I am.” 
“No,” you mumble, picking at a loose strand, “I think I understand.”
“Can I ask you a question then?” 
Jaehyun waits a beat as if he’s testing the words on his tongue first. “How old are you?”
You inhale. “Too old, Jaehyun.” 
He doesn’t ask you to explain any further, but when you think about the years behind Jaehyun’s eyes, something in you yearns to tell him more anyways. 
“It’s a lonely thing to do,” you continue, eyes trained on the water, “to get old but not grow old.” 
“So then why don’t you?” 
“These days, I’m not so sure.” You meet Jaehyun’s gaze, and suddenly you feel as tired as you do old. 
“Good night, Jaehyun,” you tell him, standing up, “I hope sleep comes to you soon.” 
Dear Roen, I miss the old days. Why did you boys have to grow so old? Why did things have to get so difficult? Keep me updated on palace news, but spare me the court’s gossip. I worry about Peter too much for my own good. Tell me if you hear anything from him. Tell Orindell that I miss him too, but that I’ve missed him long before I left the Golden Palace. -Fortitude
The wind was softer and the sun hid behind the clouds more often after that night at the rocks. It was hard for Jaehyun to explain, but after that day, something had changed. You let him in, and suddenly, things were different. You would ask Jaehyun to braid your hair again, and he’d do it with a smile. He found himself craving more.
So when he asks you if you were born as a Gift of the Spirit, he knows he’s been thinking about the question long before he felt comfortable enough to ask it. 
“No.” You tell him, kicking your feet in the sand. “I was born normal. Just like anyone else.” 
“Oh,” Jaehyun says softly. 
“It happened when I was six.” You continue. “The other six Gifts came to my village, told me I was destined to be Fortitude, and that was that.” 
“Six?” Jaehyun repeats, saddened by how young you were. You nod. “You never got to be a kid.” 
Your mouth twitches. “Yeah.”
And when the frown that appears on your lips pulls at a certain part of Jaehyun, he decides he wants to help you take back a little piece of your stolen past. “Tell me something you wish you could’ve done.” 
You squint at him. 
“As a child, what’s one thing you wish you could’ve done?” 
You exhale deeply. “Oh, I don’t know.” You pause, then laugh a little. “I guess, run.” 
It was Jaehyun’s turn to squint. “Run?”
“I mean to run like a child. Barefoot and wild and mad.” 
Jaehyun starts pulling his shoes off. 
“Well,” Jaehyun states when you give him a blank stare, “are you going to run with me or what?”
Slowly, you begin pulling your boots off too. Then once you’re both barefoot, feet sinking in the cold sand, Jaehyun nods, and 
you run. 
By the time you stop, the air has emptied itself from Jaehyun’s lungs. You, on the other hand, glow with something Jaehyun can’t put his finger on, but you glow and smile so brightly Jaehyun thinks the numbness in his legs is worth it. 
Jaehyun only realizes you’ve run as far as the rocks when you start climbing up to the top of Angel’s Peak. Jaehyun begrudgingly climbs up the cliff behind you. 
When you finally reach the top, Jaehyun sits, exhausted and lets his legs dangle over the edge. He inhales, refilling his lungs with the sea’s salty mist. 
Jaehyun loves the sea. He loves the water. It’s almost as if the water is a part of him, as if the salty sea carries his heart between the waves. And somehow the water loves Jaehyun back. Insia used to call him a mermaid because of how well he swims, and at one point, Jaehyun had convinced himself he was. Jaehyun feels at home by the sea. He feels peace listening to the seagulls and the lapping water. If time allowed it, Jaehyun would spend years staring at the blue water. 
Today however, sitting on top of the rocky cliffs with the Gift of Fortitude, Jaehyun doesn’t watch the sun dip into the ocean and disappear beyond the horizon. Today Jaehyun watches you. He watches how you seem to be smiling without a smile. He watches the water spray on your forehead and the scrunch of your nose when it does. He watches stories of a kingdom before his birth and of people he will never meet unfold behind your eyes. He wonders how much time he could spend staring at you. 
You meet his eyes, and Jaehyun doesn’t think he’s ever seen you look so happy. Yet for some reason, when your lips do turn up in a smile, all he can think of is the image of you at the sanctuary. How you knelt on the floor and clutched the crushed marble belonging to the Sin of Pride. All he can think of is the soul-crushing amount of hurt in your cries. 
Jaehyun hesitates. 
“Who was the Sin of Pride to you?” 
In that moment, the seagulls seem to turn quiet, and the waves seem to pause a second away from hitting the rocks. Jaehyun thinks he’s gone too far or that he’s asked you too much. In that moment, Jaehyun wants to swallow the words back. But before he can, the seagulls break their silence, screeching somewhere in the clouds. And the waves don’t just hit the rocks, they slam and bang and beat against them. Jaehyun coughs the words up before he can take them back. Your lips part, and Jaehyun’s forced to watch as a new story unfolds behind your eyes, one of youth, loss, hurt, and hate. And then you surprise him by smiling. 
“The Sin of Pride,” you start tucking your knees under your chin, “was my best friend before I was a Gift and he was a Sin. His name was Sunwoo, and we grew up in the same village. He was announced as the Sin of Pride a week before I was.” 
Jaehyun repeats the name in his mind. Then once outloud. You blink as if it’s weird to hear it said by someone else. It sparks Jaehyun’s curiosity, and he wonders aloud if you had a name before Fortitude. 
“I did, but I’m no longer the person that name was given to.” You say, voice low and cold. 
“Forgive me if I intruded.” 
You shake your head. “You asked. There’s a difference.” 
He turns his eyes to the water. “Is it hard to remember?” 
“Usually.” You tell him with a small pout. Then after a pause you add: “When I think about the past, there’s this fog, and that fog makes remembering painful. In fact the headache I had the morning we first met was caused by trying to remember something the night before. But right now, the fog in my mind isn’t so thick; right now, I’m not struggling to remember.” 
Jaehyun listens to you speak intently. He doesn’t want to push you, but he can’t help his own curiosity. So when Jaehyun hears an invitation laced within the tone of your voice. Jaehyun realizes that some part of you wants to remember as much as Jaehyun wants to know. 
And so, he says: “Tell me about your past.”
And you do. 
You tell Jaehyun about the village you grew up in and your parents. You describe to him how different and peaceful the kingdom was under the reign of the Queen Raffa who ruled when you were young. You tell him about Sunwoo and the week he was taken. Then, you tell him about the week you were taken yourself. 
“Back then, all the Sins and Gifts were adored by the people, they were loved.” You recall, and Jaehyun can’t help but notice the jealousy that seeps between the crack in your voice. “They rode with such confidence and were respected by the people. So respected that my mother didn’t even hesitate to let them take me away.” This time sadness is what seeps through the crack.  
“Where’d they take you?” 
You halt at Jaehyun’s question. “I don’t remember,” you say slowly as if you aren’t sure of the words leaving your own mouth. “The next thing I do remember is arriving at the Golden Palace, but by then, they had already made me the Gift of Fortitude.”
“How do you mean?”
“I’m not sure.” You scratch at your chin. “And now that I think about it, it must’ve been at least a year between when I left my family to when I was taken to the Golden Palace.” 
Jaehyun turns to you, wondering how you could possibly lose an entire year of memory, and then wondering how terrible it must be for you knowing that you have. 
“Did you get to see your family again?” 
You shake your head. “My mother fought and died in the Holy Wars. I saw my father once, after it was all over, but he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He wanted nothing to do with the person who was on the side of the war his wife died fighting against.” 
“But what about the fact that you're his daughter?”
You bite your bottom lip. “At that point, he no longer saw me as his daughter.”
Jaehyun can’t imagine how much it must hurt to admit, especially considering how much it hurts Jaehyun to even hear. 
“But it was okay, because I never really knew my father and because I had Sunwoo and later Avi too.” You tell Jaehyun with a smile. “By the time Sunwoo and I became Sins and Gifts, the two groups were already fighting; they just hadn’t made it into a war yet. Raffa went as far as having the Gifts and Sins stay in opposite wings of the Golden Palace to avoid confrontation. Sunwoo and I used to sneak out to the palace roof at nights just to talk. But then,” your smile turns down, “Raffa was killed.”
Jaehyun knows this part although you repeat the story written in textbooks anyways. The Queen was murdered under an order from the Gifts, and by the time her son, Avi, took the throne, the Seven Gifts had fled from the palace, marking the start of the Holy Wars.
“I didn’t see Sunwoo much after that. The next and last time I saw him was right before he died.” You continue. 
“Is that why you switched sides?” 
You nod. “As Sins and Gifts, we’re gifted with fighting skill, but our injuries are fatal. That’s how most of the Sins and Gifts died during the Holy Wars. So when I heard news that Sunwoo had been injured, I knew it was only a matter of time until he would be dead too. He was being nursed inside the Golden Palace, and as a Gift, I wasn’t allowed in. So King Avi struck me a deal. Avi said that if I protected him and stayed loyal to him until his death, he would allow me to come to the palace and see Sunwoo.”
You stop to breathe. Jaehyun doesn’t say anything, but you watch him as if you’re waiting for him too. Jaehyun thinks it’s wrong, what King Avi did. Jaehyun thinks he had no right to make you indebted to him. Somehow, you seem to sense what Jaehyun’s thinking. 
“It’s easy to point blame, but in reality, the line between right and wrong and between good intentions and bad ones are more blurred than they appear. Avi wasn’t much older than me. Avi watched his mother die in the wake of this conflict between the Sins and Gifts, a conflict he had nothing to do with. Avi was as young and as desperate and as scared as I was, only he was the King. By then, I was only 13. I didn’t know much better. I was desperate and more scared of losing my best friend over the trust of the last remaining Gift so… I accepted. I sacrificed everything to watch Sunwoo take his dying breath.” 
Through the memories you share with him, Jaehyun begins to understand. He learns more about the Holy Wars through your pain and fear than he ever did in his history lessons. But most of all, Jaehyun understands that you were too young to shoulder the weight of war. 
“When the last remaining Gift other than me died, I gave up the war. I ended five years of wasted blood and pointless death just like that.” You pick at the sand under your nail. “I never liked the war. I was never even told what we were fighting for until the war was over.” You say, and if you can tell how surprised Jaehyun is to hear that you didn't even know the reason for the Holy Wars, you ignore it. “I fought blindly, and I surrendered blindly too.” 
Jaehyun stays silent, but his mind runs wild. How many days did you spend on a battlefield? How many lives did you take? How much blood did you allow to shed for a cause you didn’t even know? 
“Do you regret it?” He asks, focused on the water because at that moment Jaehyun can’t trust himself to look at you. 
You’re quiet. 
“I regret it all.” 
The image of you weeping in the sanctuary appears in Jaehyun’s mind again. He hears something new in his memory of your cries. He hears regret. 
The small part of Jaehyun that’s upset with you dissolves the moment he looks over and sees the regret that darkens your eyes. In that moment, Jaehyun can’t manage to feel anything but pity towards the person next to him. 
“It's terrible what I did.” You say solemnly. “I sat idly by while half the kingdom died before my eyes. I know that people call me a monster, and how can I say that I’m not when I’m responsible for the deaths of so many?” You look at him, but Jaehyun feels frozen because he can’t seem to let go of the fact that you were only 13 when this all happened. 
“Fortitude,” Jaehyun says gently with all the love he can muster. Love to make up for the hate you so deeply feel. Not towards anyone, not towards the world. But the shocking amount of hate you feel towards yourself. “No part of you is a monster. Because the Holy Wars were not your fault. And because it never will be.” 
Jaehyun can see something in you come apart. Jaehyun can see the deep-rooted hate you have harbored for yourself escape from the corners of your eyes. 
And when Jaehyun says, “The sins of your predecessors are not yours to suffer,” he swears he hears something within you break.
You both stare at the sea in a deafening silence. It’s a long time before anyone speaks again. But by the time Jaehyun does say something, the heavy air has been taken away by the current. 
“Although I’m still curious,” you motion for Jaehyun to continue, “what did the Holy Wars turn out to be about?” 
You close your eyes and keep them closed for longer than Jaehyun can call normal. When you do open your eyes again, they’re angry, and there’s just a hint of venom in your voice when you say: “I can’t remember.” 
You throw your hands up. “Oh Jaehyun, there’s so much I don’t know. About this kingdom and its history. About me and what it means to be a Gift of the Spirit. I don’t even know if there was a Gift of Fortitude before me. All of these things I was supposed to learn from the other Gifts. They were meant to teach me and mentor me, but they were too concerned with their own conflict. They left me with so many unanswered questions and unsolved mysteries. Half of which concern myself. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as it is if Avi didn’t have all the libraries burned to the ground and all of the historic scrolls and teachings from the Elders reduced to ashes with it. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel so lost.”
Jaehyun halts. “It was King Avi?” He questions in disbelief, remembering the mysterious burnings of all the libraries in the kingdom except for the one residing in the Golden Palace. “King Avi was the one who set fires to the libraries?”
“Oh, right,” you sigh, “I forgot that was a secret.” And in the next moment, you’re nearly laughing. “You know Jaehyun, I’ve never told anyone these things before.”
Jaehyun tilts his head to the side. “Why not?”
“No one’s ever asked.”
Jaehyun watches the waves. He finds a picture of himself in the waves and one of you in the rocks. For he appears and is tall, grand, rolling, and proud, but then he crashes and disappears back into the murky waters. And the rocky cliffs watch it all happen. You are the cliff, still and unyielding; while Jaehyun is just another wave, there in the moment and gone in the next.
“Did you love him?” Jaehyun asks then, the image of the wave crashing against the rock replaying in his mind. 
Jaehyun nods, and you look up to the sky. 
“I was too young to even know what love looked like.”
It’s then that Jaehyun tastes the salt on his lips. 
After that day, you’re bedridden for some time with a migraine. You spend so long locked in your room with the lights off, Jaehyun tries sending you a nurse. You refuse the help stubbornly but politely. The next time he sees you is when you feel well enough to join him for dinner. 
“I hope you’re feeling better.” He says as Vina brings out plates with your meals. 
“I am, thank you Jaehyun.” You take a bite of your food. 
“Was it remembering that day that caused it?” 
You nod. “I’ve never been able to recall that much before.” The statement sounds sad to Jaehyun, and yet, you say it happily. “The pain of the headache was worth how good it felt to remember.”  
“Have you forgotten what you remembered?” Jaehyun asks, thinking back to when you said you usually forget again after. 
“Oddly enough, I have not.” You smile. Jaehyun feels a little hot; he thinks the fire must’ve grown in the hearth.   
“Jaehyun, do you know what Fortitude means?” Jaehyun shakes his head at your question as your dinner comes near an end. “I was told it meant courage.” You continue, clinking your fork against the plate.”And it feels like such a burden. To carry this responsibility. And to carry this name.” 
Jaehyun stares at you. He watches the way your arms dangle by your side as if they would fall off at the drop of a hat. He watches how you keep your eyes on your now empty plate. He watches you keep a smile on your face despite the way your voice sounds so sad. 
“I’m afraid I don’t understand.” 
“That’s alright Jaehyun.” The corner of your lip quirks. “Sometimes it’s more important to be heard than to be understood.” 
You stand up and excuse yourself from dinner. Jaehyun watches you go. 
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When Younghoon finally returns to Jaehyun’s estate, it feels like he’s been gone for an eternity. You’re out in the market with Vina when he comes riding down the street on horseback. You call his name until he turns towards you. You have to unwrap the scarp you have fitted around your head and face before he recognizes you. 
Later that day, you and Younghoon ride on horseback through a forest trail. You wonder aloud why he isn’t tired after sitting on a saddle for the better part of the day. He shrugs and says something about not minding the pain of riding in exchange for the scenery. 
“Actually, I also wanted to talk to you about something.” You can hear the concern in Younghoon’s voice. You sit up on your horse. “Jaehyun’s father’s death anniversary is approaching.”
“He tends to get very…” Younghoon trails off, scratching the stubble growing on his chin. “He just isn’t himself during this part of the year. I thought you might appreciate a warning.” 
“Thank you, Younghoon.” You wait a beat. “Are you taking care of yourself?” 
“How do you mean?” 
“I heard you were close to Jaehyun’s father.”
“Oh,” he chuckles darkly, “I’ll be fine. It’s Jaehyun I worry about.” 
“And who’s here to worry about you?” 
Younghoon sighs. “Thank you for the concern.” 
The day of the anniversary itself, Younghoon spends the entire day in his room and Jaehyun disappears somewhere on the beach, only returning to the estate to ready himself for the temple service that night. You think that the whole estate, not just the residents, but the walls, the stone, the furniture, the rugs; the whole estate seems to be in mourning. You find yourself wanting to mourn too. 
There’s a knock on your door later that day while you’re reading a Risal from Roen. 
“Come in.” 
“Lady Gift, it’s time for the memorial service.” 
You hum. “Give my peace to Lord Jaehyun and Captain Younghoon.” 
“Uh, no, Lady Gift.” Vina shifts her weight. You look over to where she stands by the door. “It’s time for you to get dressed for the service.” You stare at Vina. “Lord Jaehyun requested that you attend the service as well.” 
“Oh,” you’re taken aback. You hadn’t realized you were wanted. 
You come down dressed in the traditional red color worn during burials and memorials. You do your best to find a red scarf to match. You meet Jaehyun downstairs, and he tells you that you’re still waiting for Younghoon. 
You chew on your bottom lip, unsure and timid. Suddenly the clothes feel itchy on your skin. “Jaehyun, are you sure you want me to come?”
Jaehyun looks confused. “Why shouldn’t you” 
“I mean I… I never really knew him.”     
Jaehyun pouts. “There's a dock on the east side of the beach my father used to take me to. I went there today. While I was there, I was thinking about the service tonight, and I found myself thinking about you.” You swallow. “I thought about all that you shared with me the other day and about all the death you’ve seen. It’s probably better that you never knew my father. You have enough fires to light and people to mourn as it is. Remember one of them instead.”
Younghoon appears then before you can say anything back, and you all, including Vina, head to the temple in a solemn silence. 
The temple is a sea of red. Younghoon whispers to you that Jaehyun’s father was loved by the people. You think that loved is an understatement; nearly the entire town has come out for the memorial service. 
You watch the fire rage. It was tradition to light fires for the dead. Years ago, fires were only lit 30 days after the death itself, but somewhere along the line, it had been normalized to light fires on the death anniversaries as well. The fire the temple has lit tonight burns bright and tall, as tall as the temple itself. The air around the temple is more smoke and flames than oxygen. You almost feel as if you’re suffocating, not from the smoke, but from the strife of an entire town which burns in the fire and contaminates the air. You choke on the sadness saturating your lungs and lingering in your veins. Your heart empties in tune with the mourning of the people for their beloved Lord. 
You inhale. 
You watch as Jaehyun and Younghoon throw burning logs into the flames. Soon after, others follow, throwing their own burning logs into the growing fire. You have to take a step back from the flame. Or rather Vina pulls you back muttering something about how the flying embers are dangerous. But you could care less. All you can manage to do is stare at the service unfolding before you, stunned. You have never seen a memorial service quite like this one. At the palace, the services were kept small and formal, limited to few guests and even smaller fires. But here, in these southern lands that you’re coming to love, even little children throw in twigs picked up from the nearby forest. The entire town throws in something. The entire town gets to remember the lost soul. You think that in some twisted way, it's beautiful. It’s beautiful how no one is left to mourn alone. 
You listen in on a group nearby, enough to hear that the group is sharing memories and stories of Jaehyun’s father. The group erupts in laughter. It seems out of place almost, such loud laughter in the midst of a memorial service, but when you look around the crowd you see a similar image in every corner. The people laugh and smile. They remember with joy. You recall that day on Angel’s Peak with Jaehyun and how good it felt to recall a part of your past. You think this must be like that. Loss was painful, but forgetting was worse. And through remembering, these people have made their pain their own to mend, bend, and break. 
It dawns on you then that the people are throwing in the love they can’t give as much as they’re throwing in their sadness for the loss. You learn that the fire before you doesn’t just rage, but that it cries and laughs as well. You learn that the wild warmth is more than just a fire; it’s an image of their love and loss. 
Jaehyun appears beside you then. He doesn’t look as happy as the others, but he looks less sad than he did before. He hands you a log and lights it with a match. You watch the fire eat up the wood in your hand before throwing it into the orange flames. Normally, only direct family members are allowed to throw things in the fire. So when Jaehyun hands you the log to throw, it’s actually the first time you've ever been allowed to do so. 
The last memorial you attended was for the princes’ mother, Roe. It was also the last time their father, the King, looked human to you. 30 days after her death a fire was lit by the palace temple. Orindell had just been born, still only an infant held in his father's arms. Peter and Roen were young as well, and the two boys clung to their father’s legs crying more out of confusion than anything else. You watched it all happen from a corner. You watched as the four boys, the King and his sons, weeped for their lost love. You watched as they threw in burning logs. And you watched it all behind a blur of your own tears. 
Before Roe, the last funeral you can remember attending was Avi’s, the young king who understood your grief and more importantly your guilt. But unlike the princes’ mother, who left an entire family behind, Avi had no living relatives. At his funeral, not a single log was thrown. For so long it had been you and Avi against the world, so when Avi died, it left you feeling inexplicably alone. 
You had burned a fire for Avi, and you had burned a fire Roe. But you never even lit a match for Sunwoo; and worse than that, you never bothered to mourn the loss of your mother and father. 
Jaehyun was right. You have plenty of fires to burn and logs to throw. So when a child passes by with a wagon of sticks in tow, you don’t hesitate to grab a handful. You throw one in for the Roe, the friend that made you feel human again. You throw one in for Avi, the tortured teen who understood. You throw a stick for Sunwoo who you sacrificed everything for. You throw two in for your mother and father who you lost long before their hearts stopped beating. You throw in several for the other Sins and Gifts who created that pointless war and left you lost in your own immortal soul. You throw in the rest for Lord Seth and all the lives that have been taken by your hands. You throw your regret into the fire and mourn. 
You forget Jaehyun’s next to you, until he puts a comforting hand on your shoulder. You lean into his touch, and the two of you mourn together.
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You spend another sleepless night in bed thinking of Peter, thinking of the King, thinking of this kingdom. And when sunlight peaks from behind your curtains, you decide you’re tired of waiting. You send a hopeful Risal to Prince Peter. 
The Risal returns while you’re shooting arrows alone. When Younghoon came back and learned how you were using plates as targets and Jaehyun as a stand, he had crafted targets hanging from the tree branches for you to use instead. You were thankful for Younghoon’s generosity, but now, as you notch another arrow through your bowstring, you feel Jaehyun’s absence like a gaping hole, you feel it greatly. 
The arrow hits the wooden target with a sharp thud. 
It’s while you’re pulling the arrows from the target and placing them back in your quiver that you hear the Risal’s screech. You hold your arm out and wait for the bird to swoop down. 
No message, you think when the Risal comes back empty. You aren’t surprised that Peter received your message but didn’t bother to send one back. You have been sending the eldest Prince Risals since he departed from the Golden Palace at the start of spring, and every single one of your Risals came back with no reply. So no, you aren’t surprised, but that doesn’t stop the way your shoulders sag and your lips dip in a repetitive, dull dissapointment. 
You spend the rest of the day drowning in your own worries. 
And when your thoughts somehow travel to Younghoon’s handcrafted hanging targets. And to Jaehyun and how he opened up his home to you, and how he listens. You decide it’s time to tell Captain Younghoon and Lord Jaehyun the truth; the truth you owe them. 
“Did Peter respond to your Risal?” Jaehyun asks at dinner that night. You answer his questions with a tired sigh and a small no. 
You recognize that it’s time to repay their kindness with honesty. So when Jaehyun and Younghoon share a look and ask you timidly why exactly Prince Peter was sent away to begin with, you know. This is your chance. So you take it by the neck and run. 
You recall to Jaehyun and Younghoon the day things started changing within the Golden Palace. The day Peter came to you sad and betrayed and alone. 
“This isn’t right,” Peter muttered to you on that cold winter day. He sat in your sitting room, his hands holding up his head from falling off his shoulders altogether. You took a long sip of your tea. This was no surprise to you. From the day Peter had turned old enough to understand the workings of this kingdom and sit in on council meetings, he had been meeting with you like this. Letting you in on his doubts about the policies being put in order. About this kingdom. Doubts about his place as a Prince and other ones about his own father. Eventually, Roen joined these meetings. Then Orindell did too. It had become custom, for the four of them, a Gift of the Spirit and three Princes, to sit in your sitting room, to talk about and worry for your kingdom, that was slipping into disorder and that you all loved so much.
On that cold winter day, however, only Peter sat with you. Roen was on a northern campaign, and Orindell travelled with the Knights of the Holy Order leading his knights as their Commander, and all too young for the responsibility and the role. But an amazing Commander nonetheless. 
“He can’t do this,” Peter had groaned, “and I’m not sure how much longer I can sit by and watch.” 
You halted, your teacup moments away from reaching your lips. You set it back down. 
“Prince Peter, what are you suggesting?” 
He huffed and shook his head. You had thought he looked wild and angry and unhinged. “He’s set himself on a course to drive this kingdom into the dirt. Father hasn’t been himself for some time now. Something is wrong. Something that we can’t see. And the longer we wait, the worse he’ll get.”
“Peter,” you said again, the name sounding like a plea. 
“He is no longer fit to be king!” Peter slammed his hand down on the table. 
You clicked your tongue, unaffected by Peter’s sudden outburst. “So it’s a coup you’re suggesting then?” 
He sighed. “I’ve already decided. He has to be stopped.” He paused, looking at you with eyes that reminded you of the days he and his brothers would run around the palace courtyard. Your heart ached at the memory. “I want you to help me. But I’ll do this without your help too.”
And so you started planning Peter’s eventual overthrow of the King and of his father. 
“We kept it a secret, Peter and I,” you continue. Jaehyun and Younghoon listen silently but intently. “We didn’t even tell his brothers. The only other person we told was Juyeon. And while we plotted against the King, I started remembering things. For some reason, being around Peter so much, helped me remember. The memories are broken and blurry, but in them I saw flashes of my past and found forgotten conversations with the King. He would speak with me privately quite often as a consultant of sorts. And it was in recovering those shared words, that things really started to change for Peter and me. Because in my memories, the King sounds as insane as the rebellious eastern Lords make him out to be. In one moment, he’s crying about how alone he feels in this world and how he longs to go home. And in the next, he’s asking me how he can talk to Angels. It was clear to Peter and I that his father wasn’t himself anymore. The King had gone mad. 
“We started hearing about his experiments at the start of summer. The King insisted that these experiments would allow him to talk to an Angel and that they’d make him less lonely. And you must understand, all of this was hard for Peter. It was difficult for him to watch his own father spiral into insanity. So when Peter got evidence of the King’s experiments, he took matters into his own hands. He openly defied his father, in front of the council, and so the King sent him away.
“They’re both so impulsive it’s almost laughable how the whole thing played out. But either way, the night before he left Peter came to me and told me how he wasn’t giving up. He told me that when he returned to the Golden Palace it’d be as the King. So I told him…” You trail off, searching for the best way to say this next part without making yourself sound as mad as the King. 
It’s Younghoon who asks, leaning off the edge of his seat like he can’t stand the suspense of it. “What did you tell Prince Peter?” 
“I told him to go to the Nomads’ Lands.” 
Jaehyun chokes on his water. 
You continue on with the story, unbothered. 
“Although the King was the one to send him away, I think he was also the saddest to watch Peter go. I know it must be hard to believe, but the King wasn’t always as crazy as he is now. He’s always been impulsive, yes, but he used to be strong, charming, kingly. And he was devastated by his son’s absence in their home. Ultimately, I think that’s what drove him over the edge. That’s what made him so desperate to stop feeling so alone. So desperate he injected Lord Seth with one of his experiments, and he made me watch. But I knew as well as the King that the experiment had gone wrong. Yet he insisted on it working. He was so desperate he convinced himself that if we just waited everything would work out. Lord Seth was locked in the palace prisons that night, and no one but the King and I knew.
“I told you,” you look at Jaehyun, “that I had my reasons. I didn’t want to kill him. I take no pleasure in murder. But the experiment had gone wrong, and Lord Seth was in pain. If you had heard the way he cried and screamed and the way it echoed throughout the prison walls and the way—” 
You break. No, you don’t just break. You shatter. It’s been so long since you’ve made yourself feel the shame of your crimes. But now looking straight into the eyes of the sins you’ve committed. You crack and break and shatter into a million pieces. Each of your infinite shards tainted with a cruel shade of guilt. 
Jaehyun reaches over and covers your hand that rests atop of the table with his own. And although he’s only touching one small part of you, you feel his warmth in every part of your soul.
And when he says, “You took him out of his misery. If I were half as brave as you, I’d do the same,” you feel as if he’s lending you his strength. 
He squeezes your hands once, then pulls away. You feel suddenly, foolishly cold. 
“So that’s why Peter was sent away,” you finish, looking up at Younghoon and Jaehyun. “And that’s why I was sent away too.” You feel tired and drained. Like you’ve fought off an entire army of men. Like you’ve been swimming against the current of the Zalazar River for years. You wonder helplessly and hopelessly why it’s so exhausting to remember yet so easy to forget. 
It’s Younghoon who speaks again at last. “Thank you Lady Gift for entrusting us with such sensitive information. I think you know as well as I do that it’s time you tell Prince Roen and Prince Orindell the truth too.” 
“Yes,” you mutter, already dreading the lengthy Risal you would have to write before bed, “I do.” 
“I’m still curious about one thing,” Jaehyun says with a hand under his chin, “why did you send Peter to the Nomads?”
Suddenly, you’re reminded of your last conversation with Juyeon, and how he held your face and begged you to remember and how your head hurt too much to see straight by the end of the night. Yet when Jaehyun asks the same question, his voice bouncing off the walls of your mind, an answer appears as clear as day and as white as snow. When Jaehyun asks, you know. 
“The Nomads weren’t always as they are now. They weren’t as hostile or private. That night, I remembered that the Nomads were known to be bridges between Humans and the Elders. I sent him to the Nomads’ Lands in the hopes that they’d share with him the knowledge of the Elders.” 
Jaehyun only nods. And you’re glad for the silence that emerges, because you need a moment to process what you’ve just said yourself. The Elders were known to be channels for the Gods to spout their wisdom and hear the prayers of the people. All historic scrolls and religious teachings were based on the knowledge of the Elders. Another purpose of the Seven Sins and Seven Gifts was to be a bridge between the Elders and the Humans similar to the way the Nomads were a bridge. Perhaps that’s another reason why this kingdom feels so lost. You never learned how to communicate with the Elders. Thanks to Avi and his act of arson, the kingdom has none of the previous teachings from the Elders, and thanks to you, the kingdom has no new ones. 
But still, knowing that doesn’t calm the questions that arise in your mind. What knowledge from the Elders could the Nomads possibly have that would make you send Peter to them? 
The dinner ends abruptly when Younghoon stands up exclaiming how he’s tired from all that he’s just learned and bids you goodnight. You and Jaehyun do the same soon after. 
You write to Roen that night. And in your Risal, you tell him everything. You tell him about Peter, the experiments, Lord Seth, his father, your memories, the Nomads, and more. In the last line you ask Roen to extend this information to Orindell as well. You seal the letter and climb into bed with aching fingers. 
The response from Roen comes a few days later. 
Dear Fortitude, I didn’t know about Lord Seth. Thank you for doing what you did. Not even he deserved to be kept alive in pain and hurting. But everything else, Orindell and I, we already knew. Peter told us everything the night before he left. But thank you nonetheless. -Roen 
That sounds right to you. Those three boys, those brothers, they were like that. At each other’s throats one day and hugging each other the next. Chasing Orindell around the palace grounds. Playing pranks on Peter. And setting silly traps for Roen. Tackling each other to the ground and then spilling all their secrets. They’re each other's best friend as much as they’re brothers. It was only natural Peter told them the truth. And you’re glad he did. 
You sleep wonderfully that night
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Jaehyun hopes you never learn how to braid your own hair.  Your hair was so soft and it smelled nice too. Jaehyun took some sort of pleasure in being the one to braid your hair back every time the wind was too strong and you forgot a hair tie which happened more often than not. 
“It must be hard,” you say as Jaehyun sections your hair into three parts, “for Younghoon to spend so much time away from his family.” 
His hand lingers by the nape of your neck. 
“Yes, it must.” 
The next day Jaehyun tells Younghoon to go back home. 
“You can’t get rid of me that easily.” Younghoon laughs, although the laugh sounds hesitant and it sounds lonely. 
“Go home, Younghoon.” Jaehyun insists. “Paid leave.” 
Younghoon packs up his things that very night. 
You have been quiet for some time now. Not just quiet in sound, but also quiet in the way you walk and eat. You silently send Risals back and forth with Roen, and then quietly accept the lack of response from Peter. You quietly begin taking more walks and then silently start taking them alone. You have been quiet since Younghoon left, but looking back, it appears that this quiet has been looming in the air for some time now. It’s been teetering up behind Jaehyun, taunting him back and forth since the night you told him and Younghoon everything. Jaehyun isn’t so sure what to make of it. But he does know that he misses you even though you spend every second under the same roof. 
He hates the quiet. 
“Lord Jaehyun! Come quick!” Vina screams from somewhere in the estate. Jaehyun bolts out of his room and finds her running towards him in the halls. “It’s Lady Gift,” she says breathless, eyes wide with worry and fear, “I think she plans to jump.” 
Jaehyun runs. 
He runs past Vina, out of the estate, onto the grassy path, towards the beach, and then westward. He runs and runs and runs. 
And there you are. Standing on top of Angel’s Peak, ready to jump. Silently. Jaehyun’s heart stops. 
“Don’t try to stop me!” You yell at Jaehyun and Vina watching you frozen in the sand. “I’ll jump, and I’ll survive.” 
“Lady Gift!” Vina yells back. “You’ll die. Come down. It’s not—“ 
Jaehyun puts a hand on Vina’s shoulder. Asking, pleading her to stop. 
“Lady Gift,” he doesn’t yell or scream, and yet he speaks loud enough for you to hear over the wind and waves. Jaehyun surprises himself with how calm his voice sounds. “Do you know how to swim?” 
You falter, grasping your sleeves as if they hold the answer.
“I might.” You finally respond. 
Jaehyun sighs. “I won’t try to stop you.” You look surprised. “But just wait a moment before you jump.” 
He starts pulling off his shoes, and then also his shirt. He can feel Vina stiffen beside him. 
“Lord Jaehyun, what are you doing?” Vina asks frantically. 
“I just wanna make sure the water’s safe,” he says before diving into the ocean. 
The water is cold. But he pushes himself through the water, swimming to the base of Angel’s Peak and feeling the strength of the sea with each movement of his arms. The waves are loud and crashing, but they aren’t strong. 
“Jaehyun!” He hears you scream from the cliff above. It sounds like you’re asking him to stop. He does not. 
He reaches the base of the cliff, his body now acclimated to the cold temperature of the water. He dives under the water and looks for something, anything that could hit you in your fall. The water is empty and clear. 
“The water is safe.” He calls back up swimming to a safer spot, away from where you will fall. “Run and jump, or you won’t make it past the ledge.” 
You nod looking up past the horizon, eyes closed. 
“And remember,” you open one eye to look down on him, “feet first.” 
You smirk. Then disappear from Jaehyun’s view. You run up to the edge. And jump. 
Except that you don’t just jump. You fling your body off the cliff. You fling your entire lifespan into the sky. And you fall. 
Jaehyun swears that time stops when you do. As if you aren’t falling but descending. As if the air is holding you up by the arms. You drop from the sky as if you’ve been preparing to do so your entire life. As if every second, minute, day, and year has amounted to this jump, this dive. And you fall and fall and fall. For longer than is humanly possible. Feet first, like Jaehyun had said. But you don’t crash into the water. No, the waves rise up to meet you. As if the sea has been waiting for you since forever. You disappear into the ocean. Jaehyun watches. Amazed. 
It’s when Vina screams his name that he’s pulled out of his trance. It’s then he realizes that you have yet to re-emerge from under the water. 
He panics. Fear coursing, shooting through him. He sucks in a breath. 
And dives. 
He lets the current take him to you. And there you are. Submerged in the water between the tides. Your eyes closed. Alive but unconscious. Alive but not fighting. He had asked you once what it took to kill you, and you had answered: giving up. And Jaehyun thinks that this must be it. Your body floating, sinking, falling in the water. This must be what it meant to give up. 
But Jaehyun isn’t going to let you give up so easily. He grabs you in his arms and throws back the water until you’re both above the surface. He fights and swims like he’s never done before. He rips through the current with a frightening amount of adrenaline. Vina pulls you both out of the water. And Jaehyun bangs at your chest and blows life into your lungs until you are choking and breathing and alive. Jaehyun falls into the sand beside you. 
“I’ll go get towels, and clean clothes.” Vina says scurrying away in the sand. 
Jaehyun and you lay side by side, wet hair and clothes sticking to your bodies. Exhausted. 
“It looked like you were dying,” Jaehyun mumbles the moment he can spare enough breath to do so, “there, under the water.” He turns his head. “Were you trying to?” 
“I don’t want to die, Jaehyun.” Your voice comes out as breathless as his.
“Did you want to feel like you’re dying?” 
You shake your head. 
“Then what?” 
“I wanted to feel mortal.” 
He looks away from you, and they watch the clouds in a shattering silence.
“I want to do it again.” 
Jaehyun laughs, amused by your desire to fling yourself off cliffs. “Oh I beg you, at least learn how to swim first.” 
You look at him then. Forehead creased and utterly confused. 
And later that night in the darkness of your bedroom and comfort of your covers. You think and overthink and think again how Jaehyun didn’t try to stop you. How he let you jump and made sure the water was safe. How he carried you back to shore. And how unbelievably good it felt to be in his arms. 
The quiet is gone. It’s like you jumped off Angel’s Peak and dropped the silence in the water. Jaehyun is glad because, above all things, the quiet made him worry. 
You only wait a day before you’re asking Jaehyun to teach you how to swim. And when you do, excitement gushing from your voice, it’s obvious he doesn’t have much of a choice. Not that it matters, Jaehyun would have agreed to teach you regardless, his choice or not. 
Jaehyun’s father taught him how to swim. He taught him how to paddle and tread the water. He taught him about the currents, the waves, the seaweed, and the fish. 
Jaehyun extends everything he knows to you. 
You struggle at first. Even with the little things, like not losing your balance against the waves and floating in the water. But you’re stubborn. You struggle and fight with the sea until it’s bowing at your feet. By the end of the first week, you glide through the water and body surf the waves as if you’ve been doing it for years. And two days after that, you swim even better than Jaehyun. You race him to the rocks and back. You win everytime. Though Jaehyun takes pride in the way he doesn’t end far behind. Jaehyun also takes pride in how he was the one to teach you, and how good you’ve become in such little time. 
You smile at him, ducking your head under the water, and Jaehyun feels an unreal sort of elation. It’s then that he takes his pride and shoves it into the ocean. 
“I lied,” you confess the night you both can’t sleep and meet for the second time at the rocks. Jaehyun immediately assumes the worst, his mind racing with possibilities. “A while ago, Younghoon asked me if I would fight him. I told him I don’t like to fight anymore. But it was a lie. I do.” 
He exhales, so relieved it comes out as a laugh. “Next time don’t make it sound so grave.” 
You shove his propped knee, and he topples over dramatically. You snicker at the display. 
When you continue, your voice is tainted with an odd shade of guilt. “And I don’t just like fighting. I enjoy it too.” 
Jaehyun smiles a bit. “How so?” 
You hesitate, looking at Jaehyun like he holds the answer in his palms, but frown when you notice his smile. “Why are you smiling?” 
He shrugs. “It’s nice to hear you talking again.” 
“Oh.” You look down at your feet. Jaehyun feels suddenly warm. 
He shakes the feeling. “You say you like fighting as if it’s a bad thing.” 
“Is it?” 
Jaehyun expects it to be rhetorical, but you meet his eyes sincerely. Jaehyun realizes, in what feels like a moment too late, that you genuinely don't know. “It doesn’t have to be.” 
“I suppose.” You tap your foot against the rock. The beat feels familiar to Jaehyun. 
“So then,” he says when the tapping comes to stop, “why don’t you fight?” 
You bring your knees impossibly closer to your chest. “After Avi died, I felt so lost. He was the last person to know me for me. And so, after a fire was lit in his memorial, I left the Golden Palace and I…” 
You stop there as if the story has come to a sudden end. 
This time the tapping comes from Jaehyun’s foot. “Is it the fog again?” 
“No.” You tell him confidently. “I can’t remember well. But it’s not because of some fog. It’s like my memories of those years have been blacked out. Erased from my mind. By choice.” Jaehyun watches the way you unsurely picks at your nails and the way your hair billows in the wind. “All I know is that after Avi died, I was so angry. At the world. At myself. I went on a rampage. I was in this state of so much pain and hurt and loss that nothing mattered anymore. I didn’t care who I hurt along the way, and only the Gods know how many I must’ve hurt.”
Jaehyun listens. He lets your words travel and touch every part of his body and soul until he feels the pain and anger himself. Until he wants to sob at the tear that rolls down the side of your face. 
“I remember the fire that was lit for Avi, and then I remember running from the Golden Palace. After that, it's all black and blur. But then one day I woke up and the anger was gone. Like it had dissolved overnight. The next week I met Roe.”
You pause, and in the silence Jaehyun yearns to take the years you spent in suffering and carry them in his arms. He wants to hide the years you spent angry and alone in the pockets of his largest coat. 
“I’m scared, Jaehyun.” You whisper, voice wavering in the salty wind. “I’m scared that if I let myself fight again, I won’t come back from it. How can I carry the name Fortitude when I don’t even have enough courage to face myself?”
The words hit him like a punch to gut. He recoils under the weight. A gust of wind blows then, pushing and pulling the hairs that have escaped from your braid. He wants to reach his hand out and tuck the hair away. He only realizes a second after that he hasn’t swallowed down the impulse fast enough. He’s surprised to see you soften the teeniest bit when his fingers graze your forehead. He feels suddenly, impossibly weightless.
“You aren’t the person you were then.” He says. “You’ve learned. You’ve grown. But the biggest difference is that now you aren’t alone.” You let out a breath as if you’ve been holding it for years. For all Jaehyun knows, that might be the truth. He continues. “The day you jumped off Angel’s Peak, you fell into the water and you sank. For the smallest of seconds, I lost you between the waves. But I found you and pulled you to shore.” He pauses, reminded of the terror he felt for the second that you were gone. “What I mean is that if you lose yourself in the waves of a fight, you have people to pull you out from the riptide. You have me, Younghoon, Juyeon, Peter, Roen, Orindell; hell even Vina would pull you out if she had the chance.” You manage a small, sad laugh, and the sound of it alone fills Jaehyun with an indescribable warmth. “You're not alone anymore. Even if you do get lost, you’ll find a way back, with or without our help. If you want to fight, fight. You have nothing to be scared of. Not anymore.”
You lay back suddenly, arms extended above your head and eyes closed. You smile. Like you’re free. As if you’ve been granted freedom from the ropes tied by your own doing. You yawn. 
“Oh how happy Younghoon will be to hear all this.” 
Jaehyun chuckles. “He’ll be jumping at the chance to spar with you.” 
You stand up and say, “thank you for listening,” before walking away. 
“And Jaehyun,” you stop, your back still facing him, “it feels nice to talk with you again too.” 
Jaehyun is the Zalazar River in the fall. Bright red and burning. 
Jaehyun floats on his back in the waveless water watching you above him who’s grown to love cliff jumping from Angel’s Peak.
You jump like you did before except that this time you don’t fling your life into the water. You jump and fall from the sky. Then you sink and sink and sink. And emerge from the water, alive. 
“Are there any other cliffs?” You ask as you swim around each other. 
“What, are you bored of Angel’s Peak already?” 
Jaehyun laughs, and you splash him with water. He dives and chases you back to shore. 
“Aren’t you close to Captain Juyeon?” Jaehyun wonders aloud when a Risal swoops down from the sky the day you and Jaehyun are sitting in the courtyard. 
“He’s like a brother to me.” You say while you send the bird away, keeping the letter sealed and in your lap. 
“Then, why haven’t you been exchanging Risals with him as well?” 
You scoff. “I wish I could, but he’s scared of the bird.” Jaehyun giggles, and it spreads like wildfire in the breeze.
“You must miss him.” He mutters, and you hum a yes, opening the letter wordlessly. 
The letter you receive however is not the one you expect. And it certainly isn’t the letter you want. 
You read and then reread the letter from Orindell. It was an apology of sorts, though the words seem scattered and unsure. You huff, dropping the letter in your lap. Jaehyun notices but doesn’t say anything, focusing instead on that cat that’s climbed in his lap.
You think about Orindell, the boy who you’ve known his entire life, and how well he grew up. Orindell never let his brothers get the best of him despite being the youngest. Wherever they beat him in strength and size, he countered with wit and skill. It proved useful for Orindell; he was quick to take interest in matters of battle strategy and war efficiency. Orindell climbed the administrative ranks of the Knights of the Holy Order faster than anyone you had seen before, and in a blink of an eye, he became the youngest ever Commander of the Knights. You had felt swollen with pride for the youngest Prince. 
And maybe that’s why it hurt so much when he confessed to you in the winter. And yet here Orindell is, apologizing for pushing his love on you and for asking your hand in marriage. Here he is taking back his wrongdoings in writing. You sigh helplessly.  
“Is something wrong?” Jaehyun asks from across the table not taking his eyes off the cat still curled up in his lap. You slide the letter over to him. He reads it slowly. Then laughs. “I was not aware you carried Prince Orindell’s heart in your bags.” 
You narrow your eyes. “I. Do. Not.” You snatch the letter back. 
“I take it you don’t harbor similar feelings for Prince Orindell then?” The question sounds hopeful. 
“No, not at all.” You deny. “Orindell is like a child to me.” 
“He’s only a few years younger than myself.” Jaehyun says looking up, his eyes strangely dark. “Do you see me as a child too?” 
You flick the letter. “I’ve known Orindell since he was born. I watched him grow. He feels like family to me. But I met you at this age, so it doesn’t feel like you’re much younger than I am. It’s odd how age seems to work in my head. I know I’m older than you and Younghoon by ages, and yet I see you both as equals.” You take a sip of your drink. “Plus, Orindell still acts like a child.” Jaehyun smiles at that. 
“Oddly enough,” Jaehyun mumbles, bringing the full glass to his lips, “that makes sense.” 
You think back to the letter, and sense fondness in Orindell’s apology. Something in your mind clicks. 
“I was so mad at him,” You say to the air around you, “at Orindell. For months. I wanted him to tell me he never felt that way, that he fooled himself into something deeper than a platonic love. But I realize now that he can’t take it back even if he wanted to. Orindell can’t help how he feels.” You look up and find Jaehyun watching you. “He’s apologized for what he can. But he can’t apologize for falling in love.”
Jaehyun smiles sweetly. The kind of smile that makes your heart numb. “Oh Fortitude, I could’ve told you that months ago.” 
“I fear,” you begin, leaning forward in your seat, “that in rejecting Orindell, I’ll lose him as well.”
Jaehyun points to the letter. “He’s apologized. He doesn’t want to lose you either.” 
You repeat it in your mind. 
He doesn’t want to lose you either. 
It makes you feel suddenly, inexplicably upset and confused. Why is it so easy to love yet so hard to accept? How can love be so strong but still fleeting like everything else? You know Orindell’s feelings for you will pass, and yet knowing it doesn’t make you feel much better. Love waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon, but does it ever fade? You think of how Orindell feels towards you. How you have felt towards others in the past. And today sitting in the courtyard, the picture your shoved down feelings create finally starts to make sense. You find the image to be startling but unsurprising all the same. Finally, you understand the pain of poets, the pain Orindell must feel, and the pain you once felt yourself. 
Love is a burden. A burden you’re only now learning how to accept. 
You want to welcome the warm weight with open arms. 
That night you send a Risal to the Golden Palace addressed for Prince Orindell. 
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Jaehyun sorts through his papers and files through responsibilities mindlessly on the day a letter for him comes. He pushes it to the side of his mind when you come into his office sputtering something about the latest news from the Golden Palace and how things have been so much better between you and Prince Orindell. 
He waits a moment once you’ve finished. “Do you remember me telling you about my sister, Insia?” You nod at his question, falling into the armchair near him. “Well, I just got this from her.” Jaehyun holds up the letter. “It’s her son’s birthday, and they’ve invited me to celebrate.” 
“Oh how sweet!” You gush, although your voice sounds a bit higher than normal. You pull at your sleeves. “How long will you be gone?” 
“Actually,” Jaehyun hesitates, his next question teetering on the tip of his tongue, “I was wondering if you’d like to come as well?” 
The boat ride to the island Insia lives on is pleasant. Jaehyun humors you with stories of his childhood and of Insia, and you listen to Jaehyun talk as if your life depends on it. When they dock, Jaehyun drags you to a bakery to buy candy and sweets for Insia’s children and then some more for yourselves. 
By late afternoon they reach Insia and her husband Cyrin’s house. Jaehyun always liked their house. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was comfortable and somehow perfect. They lived right on the beach. The back door leading to a sandy shore and sparkling blue waters. 
“Hold on,” Jaehyun says abruptly, taking your hand in his, “before we go in, I want to show you something.” 
He leads you around the house and beyond the white fence that separates the streets from the beach. You take off your shoes before proceeding in the sand. It takes one more turn and another second of walking on your already aching feet before it’s visible. 
The sea. 
The water that surrounds the island is bluer and clearer than the waters back home. The waves shine in the last bit of the light from the setting sun. Jaehyun feels at home despite being hours away from it. 
He looks over at you. And you smile so brightly the sun seems to dim in that moment. The awe in your eyes and lightness in your sigh reminds Jaehyun of the first time he took you to see the sea. He’s reminded of how his chest wanted to burst at the sight of your smile. He finds himself in a similar predicament today, except that now the bursting chest was something he had grown quite used to. It was something he had grown to adore. Jaehyun loved the sea. But looking at you and the wonder in each one of your bones, he thinks you might love it more. 
“Uncle Jaehyun!” A voice yells from behind them. Jaehyun whips around only to be tackled by the weight of a 7 year old clinging onto his body and legs. A second later he’s tackled by another child. He pulls them both into his arms and smothers them with as much love as he can fit into a hug. 
You kneel down in the sand, and introduce yourself to the children. “You must be Elia.” You say to the older girl who’s detached herself from Jaehyun. Elia nods enthusiastically. “And you,” you point to the younger boy, shyly hiding behind Jaehyun’s legs, “must be the birthday boy.” 
“That’s my brother Herschel, and he’s turning five years old tomorrow.” Elia jumps in before Herschel can answer. Jaehyun plops down himself and the children follow. The four of you sitting in a circle in the warm sand. 
“Or so I’ve heard.” you say, pulling the box of sweets from a bag. “Well, to celebrate your Uncle Jaehyun and I brought you some sweets—“
The children pounce on the box before you can finish. Jaehyun clutches his stomach in laughter. 
“Jaehyun!” Insia yells from the back deck of her home. Although the yell sounds more like she’s about to nag him instead of welcoming her only brother to her home. “Those sweets will rot their teeth!” 
“You’re torturing them Insia!” He yells back, getting up from the sand to greet his sister. “Children need sweets.” 
Insia scrunches her nose. “You spoil them too much.” She says before pulling Jaehyun into a hug.
Jaehyun leads Insia to where you and the children sit in the sand, and asks about the whereabouts of his youngest niece, Devi, who is still less than a year old. Insia resposds that she’s napping and that Cyrin’s watching her. 
You stand up to greet Insia. 
“Lady Gift, it’s such an honor that you’ve come to visit. We’re humbled to have you stay in our home.” 
“Oh please, no. I’m the one who’s humbled that you’ve opened up your home to me. And please call me Fortitude. I despise formalities.” 
“Well, in that case,” Insia coos, looping her arm with yours, “please come inside. Jaehyun’s told me so much about you. I think we’ll get along wonderfully this weekend.” 
Insia, like always, is right. You and her get along wonderfully. After the kids are put to bed, you and Insia begin talking in the sitting area, and in the span of your conversation, Jaehyun and Cyrin are able to finish not one but two card games at the kitchen table. Cyrin puts up the cards while Jaehyun watches you and Insia converse. He finds it almost surprising that the two of you still have something to talk about considering how different you both are. But the surprise is a pleasant one, for Jaehyun takes much pleasure in watching two people he cares for so deeply talk and laugh together comfortably. 
“Jaehyun, you must stay here longer.” Cyrin insists. “If not for the whole weekend, then at least for the day after Herschel’s party.” 
Jaehyun hesitates. “I don’t know. Younghoon is already coming back the day before we’re supposed to, and I’d hate to make him wait for us longer than he already will be.” 
“Oh please,” Insia dismisses, you and her approaching the table, “Younghoon sees you everyday; he’ll be fine. I barely see you anymore, especially after Devi was born. The least you could do is give me the pleasure of celebrating your birthday with you.” 
“Your birthday?” You mutter from your side of the table. You meet Jaehyun’s eyes. “Forgive me Jaehyun. I had no idea.” Jaehyun dismisses the apology.                     
Cyrin and Insia share a look. The kind of look that only couples who know each other in and out could share. The kind of look that holds entire conversations in one glance. They share another look after that too. Insia scoffs, turning dramatically to you. 
“Would you mind humouring Cyrin with an arm wrestle? He wants to see how well he can hold up against a Gift of the Spirit.”
Jaehyun’s reminded of how a similar conversation between Younghoon and you went. Jaehyun inhales sharply, watching your reaction carefully. You surprise him by laughing. 
“I’m no joke.” Cyrin defends in response to your laughter. “There’s yet a person on this island to beat me.” 
You lean towards him. “Ah, but no person on this island is me.” You ready your arm up. Cyrin takes it eagerly. 
Jaehyun likes this. How you tease Cyrin. How you’re not afraid of your powers anymore. How you beam with confidence. 
“You do know who I am right?” You say, before the back of hand slams down on the table. Cyrin yelps in shock, and Insia hides snickers behind her hand while you laugh loudly and freely. You turn towards Jaehyun, and the two of you share a look of your own. 
And through the silent conversation, Jaehyun knows. Younghoon would have to wait a bit longer for your return. 
The next morning you send a Risal to Younghoon telling him that you and Jaehyun would be staying for the entire weekend. He responds with a simple tell Herschel and Jaehyun I said happy birthday. You do. 
Later that day, Insia requests you and Jaehyun to take the children outside while she prepares the house for the part that night. 
You pick up Devi and rock the child in your arms, following Jaehyun and the other two children out of the house, onto the back deck, and then to the beach. You carefully take a seat in the sand. 
You learned back when the Princes were young that you had an inexplicable knack with babies. So when Devi softens and presses herself against your body, it appears the knack has not yet been lost. You turn into mush when Devi stops crying, reaching for you. You give her a finger to hold onto and Devi takes it at once. 
You look away from the adorable baby cradled between your arms, and your eyes land on Jaehyun. Jaehyun plays with Elia and Herschel, really plays with them. Running and rolling around in the sand. Splashing them with water and pouting when the two siblings get mad at each other. You wonder for a moment what it would be like if this was your family. Married, with children, and living far away on this island. You wonder for a moment how it would feel to be normal and to be mortal. And the thought strikes you with an odd sort of sadness. One that grabs at your heart and shakes it until the blood is gone. One that makes your ribs disappear and your body feel hollow and numb. 
But then Jaehyun lifts Herschel onto his shoulders, and your sadness vanishes the second he does. He smiles at you. Giggles. Calls you twice with something you can’t quite place lingering on his tongue. 
Your chest starts to hum. He smiles at you again, and the humming grows and shifts into a song. A song that’s breathtakingly beautiful. One with chords so delightfully articulated that you don’t want to go a day without hearing them. You want your chest to hum and sing this song for the rest of your life.
Suddenly, Devi squeezes the fingers she’s been holding onto, and in that moment, while watching Jaehyun play with his sister’s children and while carrying Jaehyun’s niece in your own two arms, you feel impossibly, shatteringly happy. 
The birthday party had been a smash, with children appearing from every crevice of the house and cake smothered on Herschel’s face. Insia and Cyrin seemed happy with it. You seemed happy with it. The children seemed happy with it. And their happiness made Jaehyun happy as well. 
Tonight is another sleepless night for Jaehyun, but since he isn’t home with a familiar rock to sit on, he heads to a balcony in Insia’s home that overlooks the coast. He brings an extra coat; the balcony would be cold. Still, he shivers in the howling wind, letting the crashing waves ease his mind slowly and methodically. You join him at some point, and Jaehyun smiles when he hears the balcony door open. He doesn’t have to turn around to know it’s you. His smile turns into a frown when he notices you dressed plainly, no scarf and no coat. 
“Are you immune to coldness then?”
You shiver, wrapping your arms around your torso. “Unfortunately, no.” 
“Here.” Jaehyun hands you the extra coat. 
You take it and stare at the cloth before wrapping it around your shoulders. “Do you always bring extra coats?” 
“No.” He leans against the wall. “But if you insist on not dressing properly, I suppose I’ll have to start.” 
You look down, smiling. You walk to the edge of the balcony and rest your elbows on the railing. The two of you are quiet together for some time. 
“I wish you told me earlier that your birthday is approaching, Jaehyun.” You say. “I could’ve prepared something for you.” 
He bites the inside of his cheek. “It hadn’t seemed important enough to bring up before.”
“Why wouldn’t it be important?”
“It’s just one day.” 
“It should still be celebrated.” You insist, sounding suddenly mad. As if Jaehyun not telling you was an insult. Jaehyun positions himself closer. 
“Is something wrong?” He asks as softly as possible. 
And at his words, your head drops, like you couldn’t bear to hold it up any longer. You cry silently, face hidden from Jaehyun by your own body, stammering over your own sniffles. He takes your hand in his and holds it to his heart. “Please,” he begs because the sight of you in so much silent pain hurts him more than he can admit, “tell me what’s happened.”
And so you do. You tell him how you’ve become rotten with jealousy for Insia and her perfect family. And how you want nothing more than to be normal. You tell Jaehyun how much you wish you could take back being the Gift of Fortitude. And with each word that leaves from your lips, Jaehyun comes to realize that what you tell him  now isn’t like anything you’ve told him before. What keeps you up tonight isn’t a forgotten memory or worry for someone else. No, tonight, you allow sleep to stay out of reach and let tears fall down the side of your cheek because of a wound that’s still fresh and bleeding and new. Tonight, your pain is not one Jaehyun can take away. No matter how badly he wants to. 
He stares at you, frozen. And Jaehyun thinks, not for the first time, about all the people you’ve lost. Sunwoo, Avi, your parents, Roe. He thinks about all the years behind your eyes, and all the scars in your mind. He thinks about how you’ve given everything you have to give, and how you gave it all from the heart. You sacrificed your entire life for this kingdom. And this sadness, this never-ending pain, you did not deserve. He stares at you, the Gift of Fortitude, and thinks about all that you’ve endured. 
Finally, he speaks. “A while ago, you told me that Fortitude meant courage, and that the name alone was such a burden. But later, with Younghoon, I looked up the meaning of Fortitude. It means more than just courage. It means to be brave and stand tall in the midst of pain. It means to endure. And oh, only the Gods know how much in this life you’ve endured.” 
Your voice breaks, and at last, your cries are no longer silent. He holds you close, and you shake, sobbing, under the arms he has around you. When he pulls away, he finds that he’s no longer looking at you, but instead the face of a God. Or rather, his God. And Jaehyun isn’t sure what to do or how to act because suddenly he sees his God in you. He says your name like a prayer. Like a religious verse spilling from his lips. 
And because he can’t think of anything more to say, he squeezes your hand, brings it to his lips, and presses a kiss to each one of your knuckles. 
You are a ball of flames. Hot and burning in hues of orange, red, and blue. The song in your chest from earlier erupts into a symphony. But it’s a sad and dramatic orchestra so you continue to weep and cry until the flames have been reduced to scorch marks on your knuckles. Jaehyun’s coat suddenly feels heavy on your shoulders. 
Jaehyun did it on instinct. He kissed your hand because in the moment it felt like the most natural thing to do. 
He doesn’t regret it.
He kisses it again. He lets his lips linger. And when Jaehyun lowers your hand back to his heart, he wonders if you can feel how wildly it beats and bangs from inside him.  
You feel it. You feel the wildness of your own heart as well.
You stand like that for so long. You crying. Jaehyun looking into the eyes of God. Your hand against Jaehyun’s restless heart. 
You stand like that until you rip your hand away. He lets it fall from his grip. “Leave me be Jaehyun.” You say, tears still fleeing down your face.
He takes a step back from. “You’ve endured enough. Please, don’t make yourself endure this unhappiness too.”   
With that, he bids you goodnight, leaving you alone on the balcony with nothing but yourself, the sea, and Jaehyun’s coat. 
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That night is long and slow, but the sun welcomes you with a new day of warmth. A new day that also happens to be Jaehyun’s birthday. You do your best to ignore the sadness inside of you. A sadness caused by more than just your want for normalcy. You look down at the hand Jaehyun held in his the night before. You look at your scorched knuckles. You don’t want to look into it any further. 
It storms the entire day, so you spend Jaehyun’s birthday inside playing cards, playing chess, and playing with the children. Insia announces she’ll be preparing a feast for dinner. Jaehyun thanks her then smiles, and to you, it looks sad.
There’s a knock on the door while you’re preparing yourself for dinner. You open it to Insia who looks you up and down, shakes her head, and mutters a small ‘that won’t do’ before disappearing down the hall. She returns moments later with a collection of her own dresses and lays them out on your bed. 
“How about this?” Insia offers holding up a red dress. 
You look down at the blue dress you already put on. “What’s wrong with this one?” 
“Nothing, I just thought you might want to dress up tonight.” 
“And why would I want to do that?” 
“For Jaehyun.” Insia says it blandly. 
You feel like the wind’s been knocked out of you. “For Jaehyun?” You echo. 
“Nevermind then,” Insia sighs, as if she’s talking to a child who won’t cooperate. She puts the dress down, and comes over, taking your hands in hers. What is it with these siblings and holding your hands? And why does it hurt so much when they do? “I was only giving you options. This dress is lovely too. I’m sure Jaehyun will be delighted no matter which dress you come to dinner in.” Insia leaves, and you ponder why in the world it would matter to Jaehyun which dress you came down in? Then you wonder why Jaehyun should take any delight in your appearance? The questions bring back a familiar sadness. 
The bodice of the dress Insia brought is fitting, and the skirt was made to flow beautifully. It’s a newer style, one of the many fashion trends that went over your head. But it is indeed a pretty dress, so you change into it anyways. 
Insia was right. Jaehyun looks delighted when you do eventually come down. Even you can’t look past the way his eyes seem to sparkle. “You look stunning.” He tells you as you make your way over to the dining room. “How come you’ve never worn this dress before?” 
“It isn’t mine.” You confess. “Insia lent it to me for the night.” 
“Ah,” Jaehyun exhales, “that makes much more sense. I wouldn’t have thought this dress to fit your style.” Jaehyun takes his seat, and you ponder yet again how Jaehyun has come acquainted with what is your style and what isn’t? 
The dinner is a feast like Insia had said, but still, you can’t bring yourself to enjoy it. Your mind feels heavy and restless. You desperately want to rid your brain of the thoughts that plague it, and so your eyes land mindlessly on Jaehyun. You watch the way he cares for his nieces and nephews and the way he listens when they talk. You watch him eat and the way he smiles and throws his head back in laughter. You watch and notice all these little things about Jaehyun and find that you care for each one of them. You care for them deeply. It makes your heart feel as heavy as your head. You stand up abruptly and excuse yourself from dinner early, unable to continue silently suffering the pain of your heavy heart and heavy head. You don’t hear Jaehyun follow you out. 
It’s when you’re halfway up the stairs that he catches up. 
“Please, Jaehyun. Go back.” You continue, not looking back. 
“No. Tell me what’s happened.” 
You turn a corner, your room now near. “Don’t let me ruin your birthday. Go back to the dinner your sister prepared for you.” 
You push your door open, and Jaehyun follows you inside. “Please, just tell me if you’re alright.” Jaehyun asks you so softly, so sweetly, it makes you feel impossibly frustrated. You wish Jaehyun wasn’t so gentle with you. It made it impossible to ignore the way your heart warms whenever he is near. 
“Why do you care?” You ask hashly, gathering fistfulls of Insia’s red dress in your hands. 
“I’ve always cared.” He sounds hurt, like the words have cut him.
“No Jaehyun, why? Why do you care?” If your words before cut him, this was you digging your fingers into the wound. 
“I care…” he falters, searching for something in your face. You wish he didn’t look at you the way he does. “I care because I worry for you.” 
“Well,” you huff, “why do you worry then?” Your words come out as more of an accusation than a question, although you yourself aren’t sure what it’s an accusation of. 
Jaehyun searches your face again, and his eyes, his beautiful eyes, burn over every spot they touch. He must find what he’s looking for because in an instant his face, no, his entire body softens and he crumples into the chair behind him. Head bowed before you. 
“I’m sorry,” he utters, “I’m sorry. I can’t hide this any longer. I can’t help it. I—“
You cut him off, crying. “Oh, please Jaehyun, don’t say it please.” You beg because you aren’t sure if you can bear to hear him say it aloud. And because you can’t ignore the desperation in Jaehyun’s voice. 
“I won’t hide it from you. I can’t hide it, not anymore, not now that you know because I do. I love you. And I’ve loved you for so long now.” 
You aren’t sure what makes you do it. Perhaps it’s the sadness in his voice or the love on his tongue. Perhaps you go towards Jaehyun because of your own will. But no matter the reason, you stand near where he sits and brushes the hair away from his eyes. He grabs your hand when you do and holds it against his head, bowing before it. As if he wouldn’t be able to stand it if your hand was doing anything but touching his face. As if he is offering his entire self to you. And you hate how much comfort you take in this. In having the back of your palm pressed against Jaehyun’s head. But you do, you take comfort in this little action. In this little declaration of love. 
You fling your hand out of Jaehyun’s grip and stumble to your bed, which you fall onto, burying your face into the soft sheets, weeping. You weep because you don’t like love. And because love will always lead to loss. And because you’re tired of losing. You weep because you don’t want to lose Jaehyun. 
And suddenly, Jaehyun is standing next to you. You can sense that Jaehyun is crying too. He caresses your hair gently. 
“I don’t mean to push my love on you. I just can’t bear to hide it anymore. Because hiding it feels like a lie, and I don’t wish to lie to you.” He pauses, his hand lingering behind your ear. “Please, don’t push me away. The last thing I want is for things to change.” And you know Jaehyun is smarter than to think this won’t change anything. Love had a way of forging its own path in life. He continues. “I can’t bear to lose you. I can’t fathom a life where I lose you. I love you but I don’t expect you to love me too. I never will. Don’t push me away. Please.” He presses a silent kiss to your hair, and it only makes you weep harder. 
“Leave me be, Jaehyun.” You say for the second time this weekend. And it hurts to say as much as it did before, because in actuality the last thing you want is for Jaehyun to be anywhere but by your side. But you send him away regardless because when he is near, your heart beats too fast for your mind to think of anything but him and his smile and his laugh. Jaehyun shuts the door quietly. 
You think how unfair it is that you should take so much pleasure in the kisses he presses to your hands and hair. And pleasure in his company and in every single innocent touch. You think how unfair it is that Jaehyun must love you. You think it’s unfair and cruel and mean and wrong. You cry for the unfairness of the world, and then you cry yourself to sleep as well. 
You spend the next day, your last day on this island, in your room. They bring you meals, but you aren’t able to eat a single one. You spend the whole day in your head. 
It’s evening when you do eventually leave your room. You go straight to Jaehyun’s, and slip a letter under the door.
Jaehyun spends most of the day on the beach, throwing his worries into the reef and watching them roll away with the waves. When he returns to his room, he finds a letter from you. His heart stops. 
Dear Jaehyun, Last night, you said that you couldn’t bear to lose me. That you couldn’t fathom a life where you lose me. But the thing is, love has always led to loss, and I will always be the one losing. Because one day, you’ll die and I won’t. I don’t have to fathom a life without you. I just have to wait for it. I’m tired of loving and losing. One day, I’ll lose you as a friend, don’t make me lose you as a lover too. -Fortitude
When he finishes reading the letter, his heart starts beating again. Except that it doesn’t beat, it breaks. He had been reckless with his words. He isn’t going to make that mistake again. He writes you a letter of his own. 
—THE GIFT OF FORTITUDE— Dear Fortitude, Forgive me. I was careless and stupid with my words, and I can’t pretend to understand your specific pain. You told me once, long ago, that you aren’t immortal. Which means your pain is not forever either.  But even then, you are not alone in loss. We all love. We all lose. Everyone is bound for that sadness, including me and you. We know that and yet still, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and fall in love again and again, over and over. Don’t let the pain of loss keep you from the joy of love. Please.  -Jaehyun
You find yourself thinking of the time after the death of Avi. The time where you lived without love. The period of time that you’ve blocked from memory. Perhaps, Jaehyun is right. Perhaps there is no life without love. And not just romantic love, but platonic love, familial love, and love in all its forms. The thought feels heavy in your mind. 
You’re walking through the halls of the house at night when you find Jaehyun. He’s on the same balcony as two nights ago, staring at the sea. You stand in the hall and watch him. 
You recall how strong the wind was that night and how Jaehyun had an extra coat. You remember how warm it felt to have something of his draped over your shoulders. And looking back, it seems so simple. It seems obvious that when Jaehyun gave you his coat, it was more than just a kind gesture. It was a declaration of his love. It hits you then, how many times Jaehyun has told you, or rather showed you his love. He showed you when he held your hand against his beating heart and when he pressed kisses to your knuckles. He said ‘I love you’ every single time he listened to you talk and all those days he spent teaching you how to swim. He showed you when he let you jump from Angel’s Peak, when he didn’t let you sink, and when he carried you back to the beach. He told you that he loved you when he gave you a burning log to throw in the fire at his father’s memorial. He told you that day he ran in the sand with you, like the child you never got to be, and he said it each time he braided your hair. And like a wave crashing over, you realize that Jaehyun has been declaring his love in a million different ways since the day he offered the sea as yours to take. Your heart carries each one of these confessions, each one of Jaehyun’s silent declarations, until it sinks and sinks and sinks within your own body. 
In all your years, through all your loss, you’ve grown to dislike romantic love. But looking at him now, you realize Jaehyun’s love for you is more than just romantic. His love for you is one of respect and admiration. His love for you is one of understanding. His love for you is pure. Purer than any love you have known before. You look at Jaehyun again, really look at Jaehyun. You look at the way the moonlight bounces off his skin and hair, and the way he rests his elbows over the railing. You look at the way he bends one knee. You look at Jaehyun and see more than you’ve ever seen in him before. You look at Jaehyun and see a God. But not just any God, you see your God. And you have no idea what to do. 
It’s while staring at his figure on the balcony that you realize you love Jaehyun too. It’s then that you realize you have been falling in love with the little things since the day he took you to see the sea. But oh, how the little things were everywhere and everything. 
And suddenly the realization is bursting through the balcony doors and into the arms of the man you love. The realization pours out from your eyes and heart. The realization spills from your lips and paints itself across the night sky. The realization is screaming, breaking itself free. In your head, you chant. I love you. I love you. I love you. Out loud, you say, “And you must know, I’ll love you for a very long time.”
And Jaehyun’s laughing, holding you in his arms, blissfully, as if there’s nothing that could have made him happier. As if there’s no place he'd rather be than right here with you on this balcony overlooking the sea. He laughs and then leans his forehead against yours. “I love you too, and you must know that right now, I want to kiss you quite terribly.”
And because he loves you. And because you love him. And because he made you laugh after a weekend spent crying, you tilt up your chin and close the distance. For a moment, everything fits perfectly, and you, once again, feel shatteringly happy. 
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Jaehyun imagines the feeling fluttering in his chest that morning can only be described as bliss. But to him it is more. It’s more than blissful to wake up to you sleeping in his shirt on his bed tangled in his sheets and limbs. But alas, bliss would do for now. 
He takes his bliss and presses it to your shoulder then neck then jaw then cheek. He presses a number of blissful kisses to the infinite spots on your face he’s yet to kiss until you’re awake pushing at Jaehyun’s face.  
“I’m not ready to wake up,” you groan, turning your body flush against Jaehyun. 
“We’ll miss the boat back if we don’t get up soon.” He reminds, tracing mindless shapes against the curve of your hips. 
You sigh and bury your face deeper into his chest. “I’ve ruined our weekend haven’t I?” 
He pulls you impossibly closer. “You haven’t ruined anything.” 
The boat ride from the island back to the mainland is long and slow, and the entire time, Jaehyun is jumping in his seat, ready to return home. 
“You must miss him.” You mutter from next to him. Jaehyun doesn’t have to ask to know you’re talking about Younghoon. He nods, turning to you. 
“And how about you, what do you miss?” 
You look up at the sky, smiling. “I miss,” you tap on Jaehyun’s knee, “jumping from Angel’s Peak.” Jaehyun laughs, capturing the moment and capturing your hand in his.
When you do eventually dock, Jaehyun leads you away from the road home and towards the beach. He surprises himself with the gesture as much as he does you. By the time you reach the sand, you’re running. And you run and run and run. Past the estate. Whipping off your coats and shoes. Discarding your worries in the sand. Running. Wild. In love. You both run until you reach the rocks. And you’re climbing Angel’s Peak while Jaehyun’s diving, piercing his body into the water. You climb then run then jump, piercing the sea yourself moments later. And you both swim around each other ducking and diving in the water. 
Suddenly it’s a contest: who can hold their breath the longest. Jaehyun counts the seconds.  One. Two. (You kiss him) Three. Four. 
Five. (He kisses you) Six. 
You return to the estate finally, greeting Younghoon drenched and swollen with love. 
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It’s the day after you and Jaehyun return from Insia and Cyrin’s home that you and Younghoon fight for the first time. In all honesty, you have been itching to fight with someone again ever since your talk with Jaehyun. And when you told Younghoon at dinner the night before, that you would be willing to fight him, he was itching to fight with you as well. 
For the first couple days, you start simple. A few rehearsed drills and fighting moves. Jaehyun usually watches, sitting in a corner of the courtyard with a book. And when you feel comfortable enough to do so, you advance to Younghoon attacking with jabs and punches here and there and you blocking them while also studying his technique. You learn that Younghoon is a good fighter, but his movements are choppy and slow as if he hasn’t fought in a while which in his defense, he hasn’t. You imagine Younghoon would be better equipped in a sword fight rather than the hand to hand combat you were drilling now. By the end of the first week, Younghoon gets restless, wanting to do more. You reluctantly agree. It’s fine at first, you focus mainly on deflecting his attacks and blocking his moves. When you sidestep from an attack, you see your chance and take it, punching Younghoon in the gut. You only realize after the fact that you’ve done it too hard. Nothing fatal, but a punch hard enough that if you had hit him an inch higher, his rib would’ve broken from the impact. You refuse to fight Younghoon for a while after that. When you do return to fighting, a whole week later back to the basic drills and blocking, you no longer allow Jaehyun to watch. 
The days that follow are some of the happiest for Jaehyun. Jaehyun and you spend whole days in each other's bedrooms and under the sheets. Younghoon catches on to the two of you almost immediately. Perhaps he caught on before you realized anything yourselves. 
The other days you spend walking along the shore or drinking tea in the courtyard. And on the days Jaehyun must do work in his office, Younghoon and you play chess in the corner. You continue to send Risals: to Roen and Orindell and another unanswered one to Peter. 
You and Younghoon continue training without Jaehyun in attendance. Once you get the hang of controlling the strength of your blows and kicks with an almost frightening amount of precision, you let Jaehyun return to his spot in the corner. And even Jaehyun, who knows nothing about fighting, is amazed by your skill. Skill that is far too good to be fighting with Younghoon, who looks ready to die from exhaustion after every single one of your fights. And yet, despite the way you barely break a sweat, you look unbelievably happy after each and every fight. 
Word gets out eventually, likely thanks to Vina’s gossiping, that the Gift of Fortitude has fighting shows in the courtyard of Lord Jaehyun’s estate. And soon enough, every afternoon a flock of young boys, guards, and locally stationed Knights arrive at the courtyard to watch you fight. You no longer mind the crowd. A few brave Knights and guards even try challenging you. You go especially easy for the sake of their bodies, but spare no care when it comes to attacking their egos. But still, even those fights make you happy. 
The happiest you look, however, is when Vina asks you to teach her something. You make Vina begin immediately. And as it turns out you’re a wonderful teacher, although when Jaehyun mentions this, you deny it telling Jaehyun it’s only because you taught Juyeon and the Princes. Nonetheless, you teach Vina moves and tricks that would be useful to her like how to use the weight of her opponent against her and how to properly hold a knife and attack with it. It doesn’t take long for Jaehyun’s courtyard to be filled with young boys and girls alike all learning how to defend themselves and fight from you.
And every second that you aren’t teaching and Jaehyun isn’t working, you spend in the water, wading between the waves and floating on your backs. You jump from Angel’s Peak until you feel that you've outgrown it, beginning to search for higher cliffs in the horizon. You race each other from the docks to the rocks and hold numerous contests to see who can hold their breath for longer. You win everything every time, and Jaehyun has never been so happy. 
You’re sitting in the courtyard alone playing with the stray cats, when you hear the Risal’s call signaling the return of the letter you sent to the Golden Palace and to Price Orindell. 
Dear Fortitude, I regret to inform you that father has been acting oddly again. Roen and I suspect that he might be preparing to try another ‘experiment’. Roen fears what’s to come if we don’t hear from Peter soon. I take it you haven’t heard from him yourself. I’ve begun to worry for Peter as you do. Do you think he’s okay? Father wants me to cut the pay for the Knights, but how does he expect me to keep an army loyal to this kingdom if we don’t pay them properly? Honestly, Fortitude, I worry for father too. I know he must be taken off the throne, but I worry for him beyond the crown. I worry for his health. He’s getting sicker by the days. It’s difficult to see one’s own father spiral into madness. I’m already saddened with thoughts of how all this will turn out. I’m afraid I’ve made this letter into a collection of my worries. Do you think I worry too much? I hope you’re taking care of yourself. In better news, Captain Juyeon and his squadron have been stationed near Lord Jaehyun’s estate by the Commander himself. Consider it a gift from me to you. He should be arriving in a day or two. And please, give Juyeon a punch for me. - Orindell 
You think a visit from Juyeon might be the first piece of good news you’ve received from the palace in weeks. You jump up and run back into the estate to tell Younghoon and Jaehyun. 
You’re in the kitchen with Vina eating fruit when Juyeon arrives. 
“He’s here.” Jaehyun tells you, popping his head in the kitchen.
You snap up and look at Jaehyun as if waiting for him to admit he’s joking. He only nods. 
So you grab his hand and run. 
The first thing you do when you see Juyeon is punch him, as hard as Orindell would. 
“Ow!” He yelps, then tilts his head, confused. “Did your punches get weaker?” 
You finally hug him, and exhale into his shoulder. “That punch was from Orindell.” You pull away from the embrace. “And this one,” you punch his other arm, much harder than before but not any harder than he’s already used to, “is from me.” 
He winces, clutching both arms. “You could’ve just said no.”
You smile. “But where’s the fun in that.”
Once Juyeon, Jaehyun, and Younghoon have all been properly introduced, the other two give you and Juyeon some time to catch up. You take him to the beach for a walk. 
“How long are you staying?” 
Juyeon sighs. “Not long. We leave in two days.” 
You sigh as well. “That’s much too soon.” 
“Yes, but in lighter news,” Juyeon says, jostling you with his shoulder, “Orindell told me you two made peace.” 
“We did.” You hum with a smile. 
And so you continue to walk and talk along the shore. Juyeon tells you about all his travels in the time you’ve been apart. And you tell him about the time you’ve spent here, at Jaehyun’s estate. You tell him about jumping from Angel’s Peak and learning how to swim. You tell him about Jaehyun, Younghoon, Vina, Insia, Cyrin, and the kids. You tell him about how the fog in your mind is so much weaker than it was when you left from the Golden Palace, and how much you’ve been able to learn about your past and about yourself. Although you decide to wait to tell Juyeon the specifics. 
Juyeon listens closely, nodding his head along. Once you’re done, he smiles mischievously, a new question on his tongue. “And so how long did it take you to realize you’re in love with Lord Jaehyun?” 
Your mouth drops, and you look at Juyeon shocked. “Well, longer than it took you to put it together.” 
“Ah, well, not everyone is as clueless as you when it comes to matters of the heart.” He tells you with a laugh. “If the King knew how much you’re enjoying the southern sea, I think he’d whisk you back to the palace immediately. You look happy.” 
You turn your head towards the water and wait for a wave to crash before responding. “I am.” The admission seems to make Juyeon happy as well. “Also, I’ve been meaning to say, but I think it’s about time we fought each other, Captain Juyeon.” 
He stops in his tracks. “Really?” 
You nod. And then you tell him about how you’ve outgrown your fear of fighting and losing yourself in it. And how you’ve come to control your own strength against your opponent. “Every afternoon, either I’m teaching the local children how to fight or I’m fighting Captain Younghoon and one of the guards. But now that you’re here, I think it’s time I put all those years I spent teaching you how to fight to use.” You pause, waiting for his response. 
He grips your shoulders and smiles excitedly. “You should know, I have been waiting for this day since I was 17 years old.” 
“Please don’t beat the life out of me.” Juyeon jokes that afternoon as you face each other in the courtyard ready to fight. 
“I won’t. Although, I wish I could beat out of you your fear of Risals.” At that, Juyeon laughs. The courtyard is filled with Jaehyun, Younghoon, mina, the guards, Juyeon’s squadron, the other Knights, and your students all awaiting the match between Captain Juyeon, one of the best fighters in the Knights of the Holy Order, and the Gift of Fortitude. You find you’re also excited for this match. Juyeon is a good fighter. You trained him for over five years, and in that time, you taught him all your moves. He knows the way you pick your fights and plot your moves. And perhaps, after his training with the Knights, Juyeon will surprise you with some new moves that you have yet to see. That being said, you don't doubt your ability to win. You might struggle a bit more than you do when fighting with Younghoon, but the thought makes your blood jump with excitement more than anything. 
You circle each other for a second, and when Juyeon does charge towards you fist clenched, it takes you a moment to register that he’s moved before you dodge the punch. You block his arm with yours and use the momentum to twirl around him, bringing your knee up to jam into his side. He lunges at you again. And then once more. You let the second blow hit your stomach just to see how strong Juyeon is and regret it the moment you do. He’s strong, and your own tolerance for pain is low. You sidestep from his next kick and use the imbalance to tackle him to the ground. And in the few seconds it takes for him to react, you pummel into his stomach with the same force that he punched you with and slap him on the face once, although the slap is petty and harmless. He clutches his cheek with fake shock before pushing you off him and to the ground, your back on the grass. He pins down your arms. “Don’t blame me for your own decision to take the hit.” He teases while also landing punches to your stomach for the small second he has you caged under his own body weight. You exhale dramatically heaving your legs up to throw him off. It’s only once you’re up that you feel the pain of his blows, although the pain does not feel as bad as it did before. You’re both on your feet again. Circling each other. Punching and kicking faster than you’ve seen in a while and faster than you’ve had to do yourself in years. You’re tackling each other to the ground in one moment and back on your feet in the next. Juyeon is fast. And you feel rusty fighting him. He’s punching and lunging at you with no rest even managing to hit you on some occasions but not in the way he wants for you’re always able to duck or twist your body just in time for the impact. You swipe your leg under his and it takes almost all your strength for the move to topple him onto his back. You find yourself thinking that you’ve instilled in Juyeon the importance of a good stance too well. But once he’s on his back, you kick him onto this stomach and quickly pounce onto him, trapping his hands behind his back with one hand and using your other hand to push his face into the grass. You use one foot to pin down both of his legs by the ankle and shove your other knee into the small of his back. 
“Surrender.” You pant. 
You lift his head up out of the grass by his hair. You’re surprised to hear that he’s laughing although it comes out ragged behind his heavy breathing. “I surrender.” 
And you fall onto your back in the grass next to him, clutching your stomach that’s beginning to ache with your own laughs. You are exhausted and jumping within your own body from the excitement all at the same time. You lay on the grass utterly delighted with the fight.
And once the people in the courtyard realize it’s ended, they erupt in an applause. 
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It’s at dinner with everyone that you tell Juyeon all that you’ve remembered in the past months. You tell him about the Holy Wars and Lord Seth’s death. At last, you give him an answer to the question about the Nomads he asked that night back at the Golden Palace. He seems satisfied with all that you’ve told him, as if the pieces are finally coming together and in a sense, they are.  
“So then there’s just one more question left to ask.” He muses, sitting back in his chair. “Do you remember what else you told Peter the night before he left?” 
You suck in a breath. Had you told him something else? Perhaps whatever else you told Peter that night had something to do with why you advised him to go to the Nomads’ Land specifically, beyond their connection with the Elders. Perhaps it had something to do with—
Suddenly your head splits into two, and in the chasm that emerges, you remember. 
“I do.” You breathe, cradling your head in your hands and unbelieving of your own memories. “Who told you?” 
“Peter told Roen and Orindell before he left. Orindell told me. We all had questions for you. But Roen was always on some eastern campaign, and you and Orindell weren’t even talking. I tried asking you, but you denied it every time I brought it up. You could barely remember before, but today you said that you’re remembering more now. You said the fog in your mind is clearing. Is it clear enough to tell me more? Do you remember enough to explain why you said what you did?” 
You’re silent, trying to make sense of your own foggy memories. It’s Jaehyun who eventually asks it. He leans towards you, and the hand he places on your hunched back feels like a vote of confidence and another of comfort, “are you alright?” You nod. He waits a beat. “What did you tell Peter that night?”
You look at Jaehyun. Then Younghoon. Then Juyeon; he nods. All three watch you carefully. 
“I told him that…” you gulp, picking at the table and then your shirt as well, “I told him one of the Seven Sins is still alive. I sent him to the Nomads’ Lands because I think they’ll know how to find the Sin” 
Jaehyun and Younghoon look at you insanely, almost as insanely as you feel. 
Juyeon starts laughing at the madness of it all. 
It’s a hard thing for you to explain, but you try anyway. “I know it’s difficult to believe. But I know it in my gut, and I think I’ve known it for quite some time now.” You tell them how when the Gifts arrived at your village and pronounced you the Gift of Fortitude, it was like you had been relieved of this lump in your throat or like they had reached into your stomach and pulled out a rock sitting at the bottom. It was only after the Holy Wars ended, with the signing of a treaty by you and Avi, that you realized the lump in your throat and the rock in your gut had returned. But you lived with the lump for so long and learned to tolerate the rock so well that you almost forgot about it entirely. That was until one day you woke in your rooms at the Golden Palace to a clear throat and empty stomach. You didn’t even realize what it meant until the week you told Peter.
And somewhere in the midst of recounting everything to Jaehyun, Juyeon, and Younghoon, your mind feels suddenly, blissfully clear. That night, you do more than just remember.
You shoot up from your seat, startling all three of them. You find paper in the next room and begin to write to Peter. Because in your clarity, you see more than you’ve ever seen before. You know how to help Peter find the Sin. Your hand flies across the paper, clarity leading the pen with a mind of its own. And by the time you’re done, Jaehyun, Younghoon, and Juyeon have followed you into the kitchen. All four of them stare at your scribblings. 
“What is that?” 
“I think it’s supposed to be a letter.” 
“No, no. It’s a drawing.” 
“Actually,” you cut all three of them off, “I think it’s meant to be a map.” 
The three boys share a look. 
“What do you mean you think?” 
“You’re the one who drew it, how can you not know?” 
“I still think it’s a drawing.”
“Please.” You spit at the boys, grinding your teeth at the bubbling pain in your head. “It’s a map. And it’s for Peter.” You retrieve your Risal, and pray silently that your message finds him, and that he’ll be able to make sense of your muddled clarity. “Peter will know.” You add before whispering his name to the Risal and watching the bird disappear into the night sky. 
Juyeon shifts his weight between his feet. The question that leaves his lips sounds painfully hopeful. “You really can’t remember?”
Then, all at once, your pain returns. Blurring your vision, making you feel nauseous and unsure. Your body, your mind, your limbs feel weak. Weaker than after you swim for miles with Jaehyun. Weaker than after your fight with Juyeon. This pain is more than physical. This pain consumes you. It infiltrates your entire being. But this is a pain you know. This is how you feel every time the fog in your mind reclaims its territory. 
You fall to your knees, Jaehyun catching you in his arms before you hit the ground completely. You grimace into his shoulder. He says something to Younghoon who shuffles away hurriedly before carrying you in his arms away from the kitchen and back to your bedroom. The last thing you remember before everything turns black is the pain in your head and Jaehyun’s voice in your ear. 
Jaehyun can’t sleep that night. He sits by your bedside instead and waits for you to wake up, unable to erase the look on your face moments before you passed out. Jaehyun is no stranger to the fog in your mind, but at dinner something was different, off. When you first started telling Jaehyun about your past, you suffered from headaches often, but as time passed and as your past became a familiar topic of conversation, the headaches faded away. Jaehyun can’t even remember the last time you requested the migraine medicine from Vina. And more than that, you never seemed to forget what you remembered with Jaehyun. But last night was nothing like what Jaehyun had seen before. In one moment, you knew everything with a startling amount of certainty, and then in the next, you were kneeling on the floor, crying in pain. Jaehyun can’t seem to rid his mind of the look on your face, a look that expressed more than just your pain, a look that screamed confusion. Jaehyun can’t forget how lost you looked in your own mind and how hard you were trying to claw your way out. Jaehyun tries to think of something else. 
He hears rustling beside him, and you’re up, attempting to sit up in the bed. He coaxes you into laying back down. And once you’re really awake, rubbing circles to your temples, Jaehyun asks if you’re feeling any better. 
“Not by much.” You groan, dropping your hands on the bed. 
Jaehyun takes a seat on the bed, leaning his back against the headboard. He takes your free hand in his and squeezes. “Tell me what you remember.”
And so you do. “Was it a map that I sent to Peter?” You ask once you’ve reached the end. Jaehyun nods, and you sigh an ‘oh’ turning your head away. 
A silence engulfs the room, and there’s something in your voice when you whisper, “why is it that I can’t remember why I sent it?” that makes a piece of Jaehyun break. He doesn’t know what to say. So you stare at the ceiling until you silently slip back into sleep. 
—THE GIFT OF FORTITUDE— The Risal returns the next day while you and Jaehyun are sitting at the rocks alone. It’s been months since anyone has heard from Peter, so when the Risal lands on your arm dropping a letter in your lap, you’re more than just shocked. You read it silently. 
Dear Fortitude,  Firstly, I presume I should apologize for not answering any of your previous Risals. I had no good news to share. That is, until now. We’ve deciphered your code. We know exactly what to do now. I’m not sure how you knew this was what we needed to finish. Meet us at my castle. From there, we’ll go together. The end is near.  -Peter
“What’s it say?” Jaehyun questions. You look at him softly before handing him the letter to read for himself. 
He’s quiet then, “oh.” He folds the letter, placing it back in your lap. “I thought you said it was a map.” 
“Jaehyun.” You whisper, not letting him ignore the thoughts and worries that plague both your minds. 
He pouts and looks out towards the sea. When he speaks at last, he does it so softly, it makes a part of you burn. “You should go.” 
You hurl a small rock into the water. “What if I don’t want to?” 
“I hate to say it, but you—“ 
“I know.” You take a shallow breath. “I have to.” 
Things are put into place quietly after that. All of the Princes have their own castle although none of them spend much time at them. Peter’s castle is northwest of King’s City, a day's worth of riding with a strong horse. You would ride with Juyeon’s squadron to King’s City, and from there you would ride to Peter castle which was built right into the side of the western mountains alone. It would take you three days of riding if you’re lucky. Five days if you’re not. In truth, you don’t want to leave Jaehyun's estate, and you most certainly don’t want to bid goodbye to the sea. 
This is what you want: to throw yourself off of Angel’s Peak like a sack of flour. You want to swim in the cold, freezing water. You want to swim away from the kingdom. From the King. From your worries. From your fears. You want to swim far far away to some remote, undiscovered island where you no longer have to be the Gift of Fortitude. And you want to do it all with Jaehyun. 
But you pack your bags instead, send Peter a Risal telling him you’ll arrive at his castle soon. You say goodbye to Jaehyun and Younghoon that night. You and Juyeon would be leaving before they wake. And later that night, you go to Jaehyun’s room and sleep in his bed and cry into his pillow because you don’t want to leave. But more than that, you don’t want to leave him. You say goodbye again. 
Jaehyun jolts out of bed. He feels disgustingly cold when he realizes that he’s woken up alone. That you’re already gone. But then he hears shouting and horseshoes against pavement from out of his window. He looks behind the curtains and makes out six figures on horseback, just beginning to ride away from the estate. He’s running out of his room, slipping on shoes and a shirt, and dragging his horse out of the stables, desperately trying to catch up to Juyeon’s squadron and needing to catch up to you. 
He’s riding faster than wind through the town roads, screaming your name. And when he finally catches up to you, in the forest path, he leaps off his horse and runs to you. You see him at the same time he sees you, jumping off your horse as well and flinging yourself into Jaehyun’s arm. Only once he’s embracing you in his arms does Jaehyun realize he’s crying. Juyeon leads his squadron further down the path, slowly so that you can catch up afterwards, but away to give you privacy. 
“You didn’t say goodbye.” He cries into your hair. 
“I didn’t want to wake you.” 
“You should’ve. I barely sleep as it is.” 
“All the more reason not to, Jaehyun.” 
He squeezes his arms around you. 
“Ask me to stay.” You whisper into his neck, sad and lonely. 
“I can’t.” He whispers back. You pull away and look at his face. Swiping your thumbs across his cheeks. 
“Tell me you hate me then.” You weep. “And that you want me to go. Tell me you want me far away from here.“
“Tell me something to make me hate you.” 
“—I can’t.” 
You inhale sharply, grabbing fitfulls of his shirt in your hands. “Then tell me something that will make it easier to bear the pain of leaving you.” 
He pushes a strand of hair behind your ear, noticing that your hair is in a braid. Jaehyun hesitates. “Did you do your hair yourself? When did you learn how to braid it?”
You slap his chest. “You dummy. I’ve known how to braid since the first time you showed me.” And then you’re crying again, burying your face into his chest. Jaehyun’s laughing and crying, stroking your braided hair because how foolish is it you both should have wanted nothing more than to be near each other since the very beginning. And how foolish is it that it took you so long to admit, to yourselves and to each other. 
“I love you.”
“Not that,” you bawl, “tell me anything but that.” 
“I love you.” He repeats. “And one day, when all this is over, we’ll go west. To where the mountains meet the sea. So that you’ll have an infinite number of cliffs to throw yourself off of.” You nod, laughing through the tears. Jaehyun kisses you. Once. Twice. Again. And over. 
“I’ll come back, Jaehyun.” You promise. “I’ll come back here, to you.” 
“Well, yeah, you have to.” You look at him confused but amused. He continues softly. “Because the sea is still yours to take.” 
You laugh once. Kiss him twice. Then mount your horse riding down the path again. And Jaehyun watches you go, holding your last I love you to his chest.
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a/n: i feel a little odd and scared to be reposting this piece... again. but i’ve been flirting with the idea of reposting it for tbz for too long for me to not lol. also i didn’t edit or proofread this very thoroughly so if the names got mixed up somewhere within this monster then thats why my bad
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terrifictomholland · a year ago
catch me, catch you - T.H x reader
So today is a special day - it’s @howdyho-harrystyles birthday! So I spent all night (and today) writing this for her lmao, happy birthday I hope you’ll like this! ❤
word count: 3.4K of sheer smut
warning: SMUT! derogatory language, oral sex (male and female) spanking, choking, dirty talk. Lotsa fun stuff really!
You saw him slouched over the bar, twirling his glass of whiskey in his hands. A grin pulled at the corner of your mouth. 
An easy target. 
“Fancy seeing you here,” You sidled up beside him, taking a seat on the barstool and crossing your leg over the other. His eyes gave you a once over.
“Why’re you here?” He asked, instantly on alert as to what trick you had up your sleeve. 
You tsked, “Oh relax, no gimmicks, no tricks. Just wanted to see the man himself up close,” You giggled as the bartender came up to you asking what you wanted.
“I’ll have a dirty passion, please,” You smirked as you looked over at the formidable Tom Holland as you said those words. 
The one and only man who had been hunting you for the past year and a half but never managed to catch you for your “alleged” counterfeiting. 
You loved the chase, you loved outsmarting him and watch as he tried to put it together every time you put him on your tail, only for you to disappear into thin air.
He coughed, trying to conceal it and  you threw your head back laughing.
“Do you even know the hardship and grief you’ve caused me by the shit you pulled earlier?” His tone rose in frustration, but there was something else there. Admiration perhaps?
“Mmh, I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about- oh thank you,” You smiled your most charming smile to the bartender as the drink was placed in front of you.
“My arse you don’t,” Tom scoffed. You peeked around him, not-so-subtly, giving him an appraising hum.
“Delectable arse,” He countered with an unamused look and you giggled.
“Loosen up, you’re drinking so clearly you’re off duty now,” 
“I came here to enjoy a drink in peace and get my mind off of you - alas, here we are,” He motioned between the two of you. Your eyebrow shot up,
“I’ve been on your mind?” You could almost see him blanching at the admission and you smiled, placing a hand on his leg. As the rest of you moved closer to him, chest pressing up against his arm.
“You’ve been on my mind too,” You whispered in his ear. Placing a kiss on his earlobe, feeling the shiver run through him.
After that, it didn’t take long for you to wind up at his flat. Your eyes roaming around inside, remembering the details and cataloging them.
A smirk gracing your face once again seeing some very familiar postcards featured on his fridge.
“I see you’re a fan,” You licked your lips motioning to said fridge, his eyes moved over to them and he shook his head.
“You’ve been the cause of many restless nights,” He admitted as his eyes roamed your body. A surge of confidence rolled through you as you sauntered over to him. “Well, now that you have me for the night, why don’t you use me?” 
His nostrils flared as he inhaled a sharp breath. “You sure you know what you’re asking for?” 
“I wouldn’t have asked if I couldn’t handle you,” Your fingers gripped the lapels of his shirt and he searched your face. His eyes darting down to your lips and you subconsciously licked your own. Your heart raced when he got close enough to invade all of your senses. His hands resting on your waist and your skin burned where he touched you. Your eyes shut on their own accord when his breath fell on your face and seconds later you felt his lips on yours. 
Eager and plush lips slanting over your own, his lips catching your bottom one and sucked on it, giving it a nibble. At once you opened up letting him have all the access he wanted. A small sigh escaped when you felt him lift you up, your legs wrapped around his waist immediately. His large hands holding the back of your thighs as he moved you to his bedroom. 
His lips were divine, kissing you with just enough eagerness and passion. He was a magnificent kisser that you easily could get lost in. In fact, you did because the next thing you knew he had you on your back on his bed. 
Pulling away ever so slightly, both out of breath and lust swirling in your eyes. You bit your swollen lip feeling his body pressing against yours and you decided then and there that you were both wearing too much clothes. 
“Take it off,” You demanded, sitting up and he followed suit, both of you stripping, until you were just in your underwear. 
“Fuck,” You whispered sucking your bottom lip between your teeth seeing the impressive physique he had. He was ripped but not overly so, he was just right. Very defined abs and arms that made you wanna grind your cunt all over them. 
A cocky grin crossed his face. “Seeing something you like?” 
You propped yourself up on your elbows, “Mmh, fuck you’re gorgeous,”
His eyes moved over your half-naked body, eyes zeroing on your bra-clad tits. “So are you,” warmth filled you to hear him say that. Considering you two were on opposite sides, getting a compliment from him still meant a lot to you. You held a lot of respect for him, he was an incredible FBI agent and not one to mess with. Yet here you were, about to mess with him. 
“Thank you,” You reached behind you, unclasping your bra and his jaw dropped slightly and you grinned getting up on your knees on his bed. Shuffling closer to where he stood. Your hands going to his thighs, rubbing them as you placed kisses all over his pecs and abs. 
You felt him growing in his boxers when you sucked and marked his torso up. Small groans leaving his lips and you fed off of them.
You let your fingernails scrape across his abs down to the front of his boxers, feeling his cock twitch when you palmed him. You glanced up at him with a wicked grin seeing his brown eyes darken as he licked his lips.
“May I?” He gave a jerky nod which was enough for you to push his boxers off him. 
His cock sprung free and curved up toward his tummy. Red and leaking at the tip that made your mouth water, it was a glorious cock. Just thick and long enough.
“God you’re perfect,” You mumbled as your hand wrapped around him and he hissed at the touch at first, which was soon enough replaced by a string of moans as you jerked him off. 
You licked your lips getting them nice and wet before wrapping your mouth around the head, letting your tongue tease him. His fingers tangled in your hair and tugged on it making you moan around his cock.
You let one of your hands move to his balls, taking him deeper in your mouth, relaxing your jaw and breathing through your nose, tears gathered in your eyes as you deepthroated him hearing his low growls and moans. The grip tightened on your hair. 
“Fucking hell,” He stuttered and you could tell he was refraining from bucking his hips, which you were grateful for. You bobbed your head up and down increasing in speed hearing his breathing get faster and shorter.
“That’s it,” He moaned and you opened your eyes, looking up to see him throw his head back letting out a string of moans. The veins in his arms protrude and it was a sight for sore eyes to see him so lost in pleasure. 
You pulled off him with a pop and he looked down at you confused,  before you started kissing all over his length, letting your teeth graze his frenulum and he let out a loud moan and without warning he came, painting your face and chest white. You smirked pumping him as he kept shooting off, hearing those delicious moans fill the room. 
“Fuck you’re such a good cockslut,” He panted and you bit your lip, scooping up his cum and licking it all up.
“You taste delicious baby,” You smirked
You let go of him, just admiring him and the way he looked as he came. Face and chest flushed, laboured breathing and beads of sweat pooling at his temples. 
“You’re incredible,” He breathed, making your cheeks grow hot under the praise.
“Thank you,” You smiled watching as he got closer to you giving you a lust-filled kiss which you eagerly kissed back, wrapping your arms around his neck. His body pressing against yours and he got situated between your legs, the friction from his knee pressed against your dripping core made you moan into his mouth.
“What do you want?” He murmured, his lips kissing a trail to your neck, exploring the delicate skin there and leaving marks that would be there for days to come. A souvenir to remember him by.
“Eat me,” You gasped arching your upper body when he found your sweet spot and you tilted your head sideways. He chuckled against your neck, soothing the bite with his tongue.
“What’s that?” He was turning the tables on you now. Cheeky bugger.
“Want you to eat my pussy,” You huffed at having to repeat yourself, placing a hand on his head, pushing him down to your throbbing core. 
“Bossy,” He teased, sucking a harsh bite into your hip bone causing you to let out a whine. His face finally came face to face with your dripping cunt.
“Needy little thing aren’t you?” He hummed seeing the wet patch on your panties and you threw your head back feeling him rub your sensitive bud through the thin and soaked material. 
“Fuck,” You breathed feeling him remove your panties and you propped yourself up on your elbows. 
The first lick of his tongue had spots of white appear behind your eyelids. His warm tongue spreading your wet folds, licking up to your clit, giving that a few flicks before he moved back to your entrance. A moan filled the room when you felt his tongue push inside of you.
You took fistfulls of his hair, letting out high-pitched whines as he ate you out like a champion. Your hips gyrated against his face when he moved up to shower your clit with attention. Practically making out with it and it was one of the hottest things you’d ever seen. Your lower stomach started burning like it did when you were going to cum. 
“Fingers,” You gasped laying down flat on the bed so that you could twist and tweak your nipples as he eased a finger in you, making you sigh in pleasure.
“So good,” 
“So fucking wet for me,” He pulled away from your clit for a moment, watching you play with your nipples.
“You’ll be the death of me,” He grunted adding a second finger without difficulty and you let out a moan feeling his mouth back on your clit.
“Fuck, fuck,” You wanted to squeeze your legs together but you couldn’t seeing as how he had them spread wide. 
“‘m close Tom,” Your breath came out choppy as the pleasure built and built in your stomach, 
“C’mon cum for me baby, show me what you can do. Make a mess on my face,” He rasped and you came with a cry chanting his name, your legs trembling when you came. 
You felt him kissing your stomach up to your tits, giving them all the attention you could’ve possibly wanted. You arched your back, feeling your clit throb again.
 You loved nipple play, so much, it was an instant turn-on.
“Want you to fuck me now,” You breathed splaying yourself out there on the bed, feeling him climb on top of you. 
“I think you can do better than that,” He smirked, sitting back on his hunches and stroked his cock leisurely. You let out a whimper at the sight of his cock hardening with each stroke, you just wanted his cock. 
“C’mon Tom, fuck me - don’t you want to? Take my cunt and make it yours?” You taunted, grinning when you noticed the fire in his eyes knowing he’d take the bait.
“You’re damn right about that - your cunt is mine,” To prove his point, he gave your cunt a hard slap causing a loud moan to leave your lips. “In fact, to keep your cunt mine I might just tie you up,”  He winked and your throat went dry.
“Go ahead, it’s the only time you’ll have me cuffed,” You shot back and he laughed heartily. 
“Are you sure about that?” His eyes twinkled as he gave your cunt another slap. You bit your lip feeling your wetness seep from your cunt and you knew he felt it.
“Yeah I am,” You gave him a cheeky grin, “So get to it,” You wiggled your hips and he reached over to the bedside drawer, procuring a condom and rolled it over his length.
“Get up on all fours,” 
You quickly got up on all four, feeling your heart thrum in your chest from excitement. You turned your neck over your shoulder seeing Tom admire your body from behind. His hand reached out taking a handful of your ass before releasing it and giving it a good and hard slap, jolting you forward. 
“Fucking gorgeous,” He grunted pushing your face down and you gripped the sheets feeling him run the tip of his cock along your entrance before he pushed forward, entering you in one fluid motion. 
“Go-fuck,” You shakily exhaled feeling so full of him, squeezing his cock like a vice as you adjusted to the size of him. 
“Such a tight little cunt,” 
“Fuck, move,” You pushed back taking him deeper and he groaned, gripping your hips in both hands using them for balance as he started pounding into you. Sending you straight to nirvana. 
You loved the raw passion and lust as he fucked you seven ways to Sunday. He grabbed the back of your hair yanking on it roughly and you gasped, back arching as he smacked your ass with his other hand.
“My little slut,” He growled in your ear and you whined feeling dizzy with pleasure. His dirty talk only enforced that.
“Yes, fuck,” You breathed grasping the sheets harder as his hips slammed into you over and over. You moaned when his cock nudged your g-spot, stars exploding behind your eyelids and your skin prickling. 
“Taking my cock like such a good cockslut,” His hand slid to your front and your eyes rolled back when he started slapping your clit repeatedly. 
“Hrngh,” You whimpered, the noise getting cut off when he moved his hand from your ass to your tits. giving each of them a slap before his hand wrapped around your throat. Squeezing it and you cried out starting to feel like you were floating from all the pleasure he gave you.
“F-fuck can I cum?” You gasped trying valiantly to keep your eyes open, but all you wanted to do was close your eyes and ride this wave of overstimulation. 
“I don’t know - can you?” He taunted fucking into you even harder. The pressure in the pit of your stomach intensified with each thrust and you fell closer and closer to the edge. 
“Please...daddy,” The words just tumbled out in the haze you were currently in. 
“Daddy huh?” 
“Yes, fuck - let me cum all around your cock daddy,” You moaned, making a point to squeeze his cock and he let out a loud groan. 
“Be a good slut and cum for daddy, wanna feel your cunt gushing all around my cock,” He whispered in your ear and you cried out one more time before you tipped over the edge. Your orgasm rocking you through your core, your walls clenching down around him and that way, setting off his orgasm. Hearing his moans and cries as he came. His hand still on your throat, giving a tighter squeeze. 
“Oh fuck, fuck fuck,” You let out a high pitched cry, bordering on screaming his name as he fucked you both through your  orgasms. 
“Oh my god,” He panted letting go of your throat and removing his hand from your clit. Slowly, he pulled out of you and you whined at the loss, glancing over at him seeing the small smirk on his face. 
“Can’t get enough of me?” You rolled your eyes collapsing on his comfortable bed, face down against his plush pillows, hugging one close to you. 
“You wish,” You smiled lazily, watching him clean himself up before he got in beside you. Both of you fumbling for a bit, exchanging tiny giggles as you recovered, still feeling a little lightheaded and floaty. 
“Do you uh, want anything?” He asked scratching the back of his neck and his other free hand gently stroked your back, comforting and soothing you. He could sense that you weren’t fully there with him yet, and he was so sweet. You felt the energy shift into something uncertain and awkward now.
 Suddenly, it felt far too vulnerable and intimate being in the same bed as the man who had just made you cum harder than anyone had ever been able to in the past. And was trying to get you behind bars. Yet, you didn’t want to leave either. You knew that this was all you’d get with him - one night. You planned on making the most of it.
“Maybe a cuppa,” You said timidly reaching for his comforter, wrapping it around you. 
“Milk? Sugar?” He was already up from the bed and you shook your head. He left the room giving you some room for your thoughts and you tried to clear them, but everything was blurred together and you couldn’t make sense of them. So many conflicting emotions running through you.
 You knew you had a golden opportunity now to snoop and find his weaknesses. But, you didn’t find it in you to do that. Not anymore, you let your heart rule over your mind in this instance. 
He came back with two cups, handing one over to you. “Here you go,” You took it and carefully sipped the hot liquid.
“Didn’t peg you for a Yorkshire man,” You mused, watching him over the rim as he sat down and put the comforter over him too. He let out a small laugh.
“It’s the one and only way of drinking tea that,” He affirmed and you grinned.
“Well I feel so much more relieved now that you’re the one who’s chasing me when you’re a Yorkshire tea-drinker - you’re worthy,” You teased, enjoying the lighthearted atmosphere you had going on.
His smile dimmed a little and a frown took place in his beautiful face. “What happens after tonight?” You felt your own smile fade too when he asked. You both knew, yet you couldn’t bring yourself to say it.
“I’m not gonna see you again am I?” He rephrased and you looked down at the mug in your hand so you wouldn’t have to see the look on his face.
“No..You won’t Thomas,” You said quietly hearing the inhale from the man across you. 
“Well...then we should make the most of the night then,” He said slowly, trying to lighten the mood and for that you were grateful. You were quick to jump on the subject change. “What do you suggest we do?” 
“ are you with knitting?” He smirked when you snorted.
“Haven’t you learned anything about me? I’m a fucking pro at everything I do, why stop at knitting? What about crocheting?” You lifted your eyebrow up.
His eyes twinkled with amusement before putting his mug away. “Come here you,” He patted his lap, taking the mug from you and you smirked, climbing into his lap. His hands coming to rest on your ass as you straddled him, kissing him deeply. 
The next morning when Tom started waking up. He dragged an arm over your shape only to feel the cool sheets. He cracked an eye open and lifted his head from his pillow seeing an empty space where he was sure you had laid before you both fell asleep. Or had you only pretended and left the moment Tom conked out? 
A note was left on the pillow you had slept on. He sat up so he could read the note, his eyes scanning it and a laugh fell from his lips.
There, in your neat and cursive handwriting was a single sentence. 
Catch me if you can ;)
I’m just gonna tag some people I might think will find this interesting because of a recent drop in feedback - if you do (still) want to be on my taglist let me know! - @worldoftom @angelic-holland @londonspidey @greenorangevioletgrass @rebekkah4766 @farfromparker @evilhag47 @underoosjae @hazmyheart @imanativeofswlondondahling @stillholland @thirsttrapholland @selfcarecap @the-professional-procastinator @awesomelupe @tetralea @t-lostinworlds @fallinfortom @duskholland @parkerpeter24 @hollandcreep @lovelytholland if you don’t wanna be tagged lmk! 
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mieohmy · 11 months ago
𝗌𝗐𝖾𝖾𝗍 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗌𝗈𝗎𝗋 | 𝗉𝖺𝗋𝗍 𝗍𝗐𝗈
 original fic  → here (i recommend you read it first if you haven’t already to understand the story better!) 
PAIRING: CEO boss! jeon wonwoo x secretary! reader
GENRE: fluff, angst, humor, office au
WC: 3k 
update: final part can be found here !
“Seungkwan that’s not it!!! I swear I looked through the whole desk, and I can’t find it.” You rub your face in frustration. 
It was an earring. Not that big of a deal since you weren’t really wearing it, but it was a gift from your father. So was kind of a big deal. You may or may not have panicked for about 10 minutes before calling seungkwan over to help your search. 
“Did you drop it then? Maybe it’s on the ground or something,” seungkwan suggests. You both share a glance before dropping to the floor.
“I can’t believe we’re crawling on the ground like babies for an earring.” You huff from under your desk. “It’s a special earring. Please, just- ow!” Hissing in pain, you stumble out from under your desk where you just hit your head. 
Seungkwan looks over at you, unimpressed. “Now that’s funny.” “I just- Seungkwan, seriously?!” You scrunch your face in pain after gently touching your forehead. “Can you check if there’s a mark?” 
Seungkwan rolls his eyes, muttering something under his breath before making his way to you. He leans in over you, inspecting your forehead. 
“Where? Here?” he presses on a spot. “Ouch! You idiot, don’t press on it,” you say, slapping his hand away. He’s about to respond when you hear someone call your name. 
Turning, you spot wonwoo. “CEO Jeon!!” seungkwan blurts out, bowing hastily. Wonwoo doesn’t say anything, standing there with a weird look on his face. You frown, is this deja vu or something? “Secretary y/n, what are you two doing?” The tone in his voice telling you he was clearly jealous. 
You had reassured him that you liked him and only him, but it was still funny endearing to you how jealous wonwoo could get. 
Fighting back a smile, you explain. “Wonwoo, we were just-“ 
“Wonwoo?!?!” seungkwan bursts out incredulously. “You call our CEO wonwoo now?” Cringing, you forgot how wonwoo insisted a million times for you to call him his regular name. You both decided on an agreement. Outside of work, you would call him his normal name but at the office, you firmly persisted in calling him formally, it just accidentally slipped out this time. 
You look at wonwoo, panicked, but he just shrugs and opens his mouth to speak. You being wilding gesturing behind seungkwan’s back to be quiet and mouthing don’t-! but it’s too late. “I guess you don’t know, Mr. Boo. Y/n and I are in a relationship.” 
Seungkwan lets out an incredulous gasp as you slap your face in defeat. He turns to you, and you prepare yourself, bracing. “You didn’t tell me ANYTHING?!?! This whole time I thought we were best friends, and you go and do this?!?” He inhales, about to go off again when wonwoo clears his throat. 
“Mr. Boo.” seungkwan freezes. “I’d rather you not blame y/n. We both decided to keep quiet for the sake of our jobs and us as well. You’d understand, right?” 
Seungkwan stiffly nods and bows, leaving but not before shooting you a dirty look that screams we’ll talk about this later.
You eventually explain everything to him, forcing him to keep it a secret that ended in you keeping seungkwan in a headlock until he promised. 
It’s about a week after finally revealing the secret to seungkwan when you’re finishing up a document, the workday almost ending.
Once you finally close your laptop, a smile makes its way onto your face as you quickly pack up and make your way over to a familiar door.
Knocking, you push through the door, spotting him. Wonwoo gives you a small smile before looking back at his papers. You make your way over, resting your hands on his desk. “I’m about to go home. When are you leaving?” you say.
He furrows his eyebrows, looking outside. “You’re going now? In this weather?” Your eyes follow his out the window, rain pouring down outside. You didn’t even notice the weather.
“It’s ok,” you reassure. “I’ll just run quickly.” Wonwoo knew you didn’t have a vehicle and took the bus home. He offered to drive you every day, but sometimes he would stay at the office super late -plus, you didn’t want people noticing and saying more things. 
“Why don’t I just drive you home?” he suggests. You’re about to protest, but a crash of thunder causes you to jump slightly. wonwoo gives you that look. “Y/n, it’ll be way faster and more convenient for me to take you. And don’t worry, I’ll drive instead of my chauffeur. He can go home early.” 
You sigh reluctantly before nodding. “Alright, let me just get my stuff.” You walk out to your desk, gathering your stuff before you walk back into his office, looking sad and defeated.
Wonwoo can’t help but smile-he found you adorable. You slowly shuffle over to him. He takes your hand, asking, “what’s wrong?”
“I might’ve left my apartment keys at home..” You squeeze your eyes shut, stupid!! How could you leave your keys at home? What are you gonna do now?
“You can stay at my house. If, that’s okay with you?” You open your eyes, glancing at wonwoo in surprise. You bite your lip, contemplating. You really didn’t have a choice. 
“I-I have a spare room, and my maids can get clothes for you too..” he adds. “I guess, If it’s not too much of a bother..” you say hesitantly. Wonwoo grins, “Alright, Let’s go.”
It wasn’t your first time in a car with your boss, but it was the first time you saw him drive. You liked the sight a lot more than you would admit. 
Arriving at his house, you’d seen the outside plenty of times when picking him up, but you were definitely more awestruck than you thought. It was different going to his house as his partner, not his secretary.
Once he parks, he gets out and opens your car door for you. You smile at the action. Strolling up the walkway, you spot a servant waiting at the entrance.
She bows to both of you, smiling and saying, “welcome home, Mr. jeon,” before turning to you. “You must be y/l/n y/n. I’ve heard a lot about you,” she says before winking.  You shoot wonwoo a surprised and confused look, and he returns it with a smile. 
“You think I wouldn’t at least brag about you to my servants?”
Entering his house, you’re in awe, eyes unable to focus on one thing. It was a lot cleaner and simpler than you thought, but still magnificent (plus a lot more kitten accessories than you ever could’ve imagined). His servants did a great job keeping the whole place clean. 
“What do you think? It’s your first time inside, isn’t it?” You nod, suddenly feeling more awkward as you realized you were staying overnight in a man’s house, specifically your boyfriend’s. 
He continues. “All the workers leave to go home at this time. I don’t like to keep them long. Except for one though, she’ll be assisting you before leaving.” You gulp, you’re gonna be alone in a house with jeon wonwoo? 
Wonwoo leads you to another worker, waiting outside a room that you figured was the one you were gonna be staying in. “She’ll help you get adjusted.  I’ll be going to my room-it’s just down the hall. If you need anything, call me. Well uh, goodnight, y/n.”
“goodnight.. wonwoo.” He gives you one last smile before walking off, and the maid guides you into your room. 
It’s a nice guest room. Not too big or small. Plus, you had your own bathroom. The maid gives you a pile of clothes. “I hope these are fine., and everything else needed should be here.” You nod gratefully, “yes, thank you.” 
The maid walks to the door before stopping in front. You glance at her, confused.
“Mr. jeon... he always seemed so lonely living in this big house by himself, It’s nice to see him with someone, especially you who really knows him. Thank you for staying by his side for so long. There are not many who can. He always speaks so highly of you, I can tell you make him really happy.” 
You aren’t able to speak, just softly smiling and nodding, too full of emotion. 
You space out, thinking of wonwoo before remembering to get ready for bed. You enter the bathroom, it’s way better than yours at home nice.
You frown, there’s no towel. You remember all the workers left, so you have no choice but to ask wonwoo. Preparing yourself, you exhale before leaving your room. Walking through his nice hallway to his room, you notice his door is cracked. 
Softly pushing through, the door widens and you’re able to look around before spotting him coming from another room, presumably his bathroom. Except, he was naked. From the waist up. Thank goodness for that towel.
Let’s just say his body was a lot more toned than you thought. 
You inhale, staying frozen for a second before your body finally listens to you, and you scramble out, running back to the guest room. 
Shutting the door, you fall back against it, letting out a silent scream. AKFJGNE WHAT DID YOU JUST SEE?!?
You try to collect yourself, taking in a deep breath, but the image of him pops into your brain. and you crumple to the ground, face hot. 
I guess no washing up tonight...
You didn’t get much sleep that night. 
Your eyes flit open. Squinting, you glance around. This isn’t your room... Ah, that’s right. You spent a night at wonwoo‘s house. 
Exhausted, you somehow manage to get ready before timidly and quietly exiting your room. Walking to the kitchen, you’re stopped by the view of a full table. 
And, wonwoo of course.“Uh, hi,” he says. 
“Hi,” you respond, taking in all the food. “I-I asked the servants to cook breakfast. I didn’t know they would make this much... How was your sleep?” wonwoo asks.
You awkwardly nod, “it was nice,“ trying extremely hard to stop a sudden oncoming yawn. “are you sure?” he asks, “you look really tired. Maybe you shouldn’t work today..” You protest. “No! It’s fine- I’m fine.” Your eyes meet his for a second, quickly averting down to your chair. 
You promptly sit down, shyly watching as wonwoo gets food for you- your favorites. 
You mutter thanks, refusing to look him in the eye as you drink your water.
“Are you okay y/n?? You look like you’re seeing me naked or something,” wonwoo jokes. 
You immediately choke, coughing and gasping as you almost drop the cup.
“Y/n!! Are you alright?” wonwoo helps you clean up. You nod, quickly excusing yourself to the bathroom. 
You splash water on your face, groaning. This is gonna be a long day.
He drives you to work, and you quickly go up before him. Once you get to your desk, Seungkwan and Dokyeom ambush you. 
“Why are you so late? We were getting pretty worried about you. Also, you look horrible.” seungkwan says. You rub your face, sighing as you mutter, “well, that’s what happens when you stay over at Jeon Wonwoo’s house...” Immediately you clamp your hand over your mouth. Curse exhaustion for you not being able to think straight and running your mouth. 
“You stayed at Boss’s house overnight?!” Dokyeom furrows his eyebrows in thought. “Wait, does that mean-“ 
You fly over to him, roughly slapping a hand over his mouth-er, face. Dokyeom shrieks from underneath you. “I swear to god- if you say anything- you’ll no longer have a home to go to,” you mutter into his ear. He gives you a tiny nod. 
Finally, you release him and shoot seungkwan a deathly look, dragging your thumb across your neck as a threat. He gulps, nodding hastily. 
You turn around, walking before stopping and calling out, “and no! Nothing happened!” You hear seungkwan and dokyeom mutter from behind you. 
Sighing, you brush yourself off and continue to the drink station-you needed energy-ignoring others giving you weird stares.
Sometime that afternoon, wonwoo calls you into his office. “What is it?” “Sir?” you add. He only grins, “would you like to come with me to an opening party tonight? You’re free right?”
You nod slowly- you haven’t been to one in a while. Sometimes you would accompany wonwoo to events, dressing up nicely even though you were only there to stay at his side, like a pet. You actually didn’t particularly enjoy them- it was boring talking to random people and escaping strangers who acted a little too flirty for comfort. 
But after everything changed- your feelings, specifically, you kinda liked going with him. Wonwoo was still busy interacting with other guests, but he always made time for you and scared off other people.
“Alright, don’t forget to dress up nice,” he winks. You laugh, bowing. “Yes, sir.”
Surprisingly, you were able to control yourself- by that you meant your thoughts. You give credit to your lunch, it gave you energy, and you were able to focus better. 
Wonwoo allowed you to go home early and get ready, and you were also able to obtain spare keys to get into your apartment. 
Immediately once you opened the door, you flew to your closet, throwing out clothes. What were you gonna wear? No, you already wore that one before.  Ugh, that’s too old fashioned. 
Before when you used to go to events with wonwoo, you would complain while dressing up. It took you a long time to get ready since wonwoo would insult your look until you looked good enough to join him. It was strange, now, how you actually wanted to dress up and look all nice for him. 
Finally, you were ready. A honk outside alerts you. Grabbing your stuff, you quickly walk over to the car. Uncomfortably getting in, you try not to wrinkle your outfit. “You look amazing y/n,” the chauffeur says. You smile, “thank you. It took a while.” 
Once you’re almost to wonwoo’s house to pick him up, you quickly take out your phone camera, checking your appearance, smoothing your hair, confirming everything looks okay. You miss the chauffeur’s quiet laugh. 
When the driver stops in front, you prepare yourself. Exhaling, you walk out and up to his door, knocking. After a few seconds, a servant opens it. Wonwoo stands there, handsome as ever. “You look beautiful,” he breathes. Blushing, you respond, “you too.” 
“Me? Beautiful?” he asks.“Yep,” you respond, looping your arm through his. Wonwoo chuckles, the two of you walking down together. He opens the door for you, and you quickly remark, “what a gentleman..”, causing wonwoo to poke your side. 
Throughout the drive, you two chat along the way. “You know,” you muse, “I used to hate coming to these events. It took forever to get ready, and it wasn’t even fun to go to! I mostly agreed for the food. But..” 
“But what?” Wonwoo prompts. You look out the window, not catching his eye. “But ... now, I kinda like going, ...with you.” You fidget with your hands, a bashful smile on your face. 
The driver chuckles at the two of you, both too shy to look each other in the eye. You suddenly feel something warm move on top of your hand. Your eyes flick down, finding wonwoo‘s hand resting over yours. You smile, a comfortable silence between the two of you as the ride continues on.
“We’re pulling up,” the driver informs you. You brace yourself, preparing for the onslaught of bright flashes and putting on your camera face (even if they weren’t necessarily taking pictures of you).
“Are you ready, sir?” You ask, fingers hovering over the door handle. Wonwoo nods, and you open the door.
Immediately the familiar flashes blind you as you step out, patiently waiting for wonwoo. Once he gets out, you follow behind him, entering the venue.
It’s an extravagant bustling place, filled with other fancy guests. Wonwoo secretly squeezes your hand from behind, before letting go and you leave him to interact with other important people. 
You sigh, making your way over to where the food and drinks were. 
It feels like hours and hours pass of you avoiding speaking to random people before wonwoo finally approaches you, a sparkle in his eye. 
“Are you ready to leave?” You ask. He nods, grinning. “Yes, but I want to show you somewhere first.” You look at him questioningly as he guides you past all the commotion, out through a door.
You gasp. it’s an empty balcony overlooking the city. “How did you find this place?” You breathe. “Well, I wanted some fresh air and happened to find this place.” The two of you stand at the railing, staring over the edge at the beautiful city. 
“It’s so pretty at night,” you murmur. Wonwoo suddenly taps your shoulder. Turning, you watch as he fumbles with something in his pocket. No way, he isn’t gonna-?
Wonwoo finally gets it out with an aha! and you squint at what’s in his palm. It’s an..... earring?
Specifically, your earring! You look up at him in shock and delight. “Woo, how did you find this?” He blushes at your nickname for him. “Well, I might’ve asked seungkwan about it, and he told me what happened. It uh, took a little while to find, but I finally got the chance to give it to you.”
“Thank you. It was a gift from my dad,” you whisper. Leaning up, you press a quick kiss to his lips. “Now can we go?” 
He laughs, “yeah, we can go home now.” 
You crashed into bed that night, immediately falling asleep. But what you didn’t expect was to be woken up by what seemed to be a bazillion phone notifications. Groaning, you reach for your phone, checking the time.
Then you see it. A bunch of texts from Seungkwan and your other close co-workers. As well as even more from people you didn’t even know. 
You launch yourself up in bed, clicking on a message sent from Seungkwan.
 Oh my god.
You’re screwed.   
A/N: uhhh i didn’t plan on making this into three parts but it kinda got long... so here’s part two? :]  (also i apologize if there was anyone waiting for this- school just started for me so..🤮🤮)
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undertaker1827 · a year ago
I watched book of circus and was thinking of headcanons about each of Sebastian and Claude, how would they take care of their sick S/O who caught a nasty cold? In this version both queen's gaurd dog and Spider handles the lost children's case. And before they have to leave, the demons' S/O is the one who gets sick instead of Ciel.
Will do!! Sorry this took so long, hope you enjoy!
You had been feeling worse and worse all day. What started as a simple sniffle has progressed into a particularly severe cold. You finally had to admit defeat when a violent coughing fit had you collapsed to the floor and unable to draw breath, eyes misted over with tears. Sebastian was on his knees next to you in moments, and a hand pressed to your back and eyes glinting crimson as he tried to work out what was wrong.
“Y/N,” the demon murmured, catching your arms as you fell forward once again and tried to even out your breathing. “I thought you were sickening earlier on,” he continued, then leaned down to gather you into his arms. Sebastian stood, cradling your body to his then starting to walk further into the maze of circus tents. “Come, lets get you to the medical tent.”
Time seemed to skip by in strange blocks from then on. The demon found the troupe’s doctor in no time, the man looking more than concerned at your state. The next you knew you had been laid in a bed, a glass of water on the bedside table that you couldn’t bare to drink. You remembered the doctor commenting lightly on the tattoos decorating your neck, the silver one Sebastian’s and the golden one belonging to Claude. Your heart jumped even in your weakened state, but all he said was how unusual they were - Sebastian managed to direct the conversation elsewhere. When you woke up properly, albeit only for a few moments, he was sat next next to you. He explained that the investigation needed to continue and he would be exploring further with Ciel, that you just needed to rest and Claude would probably drop by soon to check on you.
The other demon did go to see you, though you couldn’t decide how soon it was after Sebastian left. You drifted in and out a few times while he was there, seeing him press his wrist to your forehead and tut at the temperature of your skin, then hearing Alois complaining that at this rate, Ciel and Sebastian would uncover the truth about the circus first and they would lose. By the time morning came you had improved somewhat, though you were decidedly below par. You were also aware, thanks to the idle chatter of a performer injured during practice, of Sebastian’s rather choice method of gaining information. No doubt Claude was looking forward to your reaction, but you were fairly certain he would be expecting something different.
You woken, it turned out, by Sebastian’s gentle lips against your forehead, softly whispering you back into the world. He trailed his fingertips over cheek, smiling just a little when he saw you open your eyes blearily.
“We can go home now my darling,” he told you, “our business here is done.” You just nodded, finally reaching over for the glass of water.
“I’m feeling better today,” you told him, recieiving a confirmation that you looked it in return. When you mentioned he wasn’t wearing his gloves though, he paused.
“About that, Y/N, I must tell you-”
You held up a hand to prevent him from talking.
“I know about her,” you started to his great surprise, “but I know why you did what you did. It was for information, nothing more. Right?” Your concern showed through only at the very end, whereupon he took your hand.
“As you say, that is all. Thank you, my dear. You are uncommonly understanding.” With that, he picked you up and walked out of the medical tent, leaving a soft kiss on your hair and heading to the carriage which would take you home.
Claude had watched your condition worsen throughout the day. Ending up caught in a heavy downpour and then having to stay in a freezing tent overnight had given you the worst cold you’d ever had and you suddenly found you could continue the investigation no longer. You were with Claude when you finally fell into a coughing fit that brought you to your knees. A critical gaze running over your form, Claude crouched down next to you until it finished. You looked up at the demon as he ran a thumb under your jaw.
“We need to take you the medical tent,” he told you, putting an arm under your knees and around your back to pick you up. You found the doctor a few minutes later, who ushered you both quickly into the medical tent. In a few short minutes you were in a bed with Claude holding an ice pack to your forehead and the doctor going through his supplies to find the medicine you needed.
From then on, things started to get hazy. You saw the doctor leave then come back in again, followed closely - or at least you thought so - by Alois. He made enough noise to wake the dead and you must have made some noise of discomfort, for soon after that he left again, this time with Claude. The next you knew, Sebastian arrived to give you an update on the case and offer his words of comfort. He gently ran his hand up and down your arm then seemed to disappear in the next moment, leaving you alone once more.
You seemed to be suspended in space for a while, woken eventually by Claude’s gentle hold on your wrist and his thumb running over the back of your hand. As you returned to the waking world however, it was not as peaceful as you initially expected. Alois was standing just behind the demon, taunting him about something. You blinked uncomprehendingly, hearing Sebastian’s name and wondering where he was as well.
“Drink this,” Claude told you softly, handing you the glass of water you were yet to touch. You found yourself finally able to do so, even if it did make you cough once more. By this point, you were fully awake and thus able to listen to what exactly the Earl of Trancy was talking about.
“Who do you think they’ll pick, Claude?” The demon in question just huffed and turned back to you, doing his utmost to ignore his contractor. “Well? Do you think it’s you they ant to go with? Or will they pick Sebastian?” The boy then started laughing as if he had heard a magnificent joke, to the point where he doubled over to clutch at his sides. “What’ll it feel like, huh? If they pick Sebastian when it was you who insisted on staying here the whole time-!” He broke off into giggles once more, Claude restraining himself from rolling his eyes. His contractor had a point though - it would be quite the distressing turn of events if it turned out you wanted to go home with Sebastian rather than him. He didn’t need to have worried though as it turned out - much to Alois’ disappointment - as you quietly reassured him you wanted to go back to the Trancy manor, rather than with Sebastian.
Claude wasted no time after that, picking you up and holding you close to him once more, Alois walking by his side as he made to leave the medical tent for good. He pressed a gentle kiss to your hair as he walked outside, smirking lightly as you curled further into him in the frigid morning air.
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durmstrange · a year ago
Foolish - Newt Scamander
Hello and happy Monday!  Enjoy a lil Newt fic.
Word count: 2,452
Newt stood in line in Diagon Alley, in the Potions shop, waiting patiently for the customers in front of him to finish their purchases so he could be on his was with his Niffler, that just insisted on joining him in the excursion he was going on. Normally, Newt would cross the line and not allow him to go under any circumstances, but there was an odd feeling in the air that distracted him and allowed the Niffler to join him, in his jacket pocket.
As he stood in like, mildly distracted by the cloudy feeling he had in his head that he was unable to shake, Newt failed to notice his Niffler sneak from his extended pocket, and down onto the floor, scurrying away quicker than ever.  Newt gripped the new cauldron and various supplies in his hands and his eyes searched for nothing in particular.  
With much stealth, the Niffler moved about the shop, dodging the eyes of others as it dashed between legs, snatching low hanging bracelets and necklaces without notice.  It wasn’t until he crawled up the wrong tree, well, actually, person, and he was caught by the scruff of his neck, and shoved into a bag, zippered tight.  
A soft smile played upon your lips as you moved through the store, holding your bag shut and walking nonchalantly, until you reached the stranger in which the creature came from.  With a quick look, you took the stranger’s hand and led him through the shop, half-dragging him.  
“Ah, p-pardon me?” he stuttered out, confused and struggling to hold his supplies in his one hand and pull his other hand from your grip.  
You glanced at him, slightly irritated at him fighting with you, and you yanked his hand a little harder.  “Hush up and follow me,” you told him and led him to an old broom closet, pulling him inside and shutting the door behind you two.  By the time that Newt found his wand and lit the end of it, you were holding his Niffler up, smiling gently behind him.  “I believe he belongs to you, yeah?” you asked him with excitement riddled in your eyes.  
Newt licked his lips, kind of flustered, as he set down the cauldron he held previously, filling it with the other supplies, and taking the Niffler from your hands.  “I reckon so.  ‘Knew I shouldn’t have let you come today, you mug,” he muttered to the Niffler, looking stern and unhappy.  
With a small smile, you shook your head.  “Now, now.  No need to be mean to the little guy.  After all, it is in his nature,” you winked and held your hand out to Newt.  “I am (Y/N) (Y/L/N), potions master.”  You smile as you introduced yourself with bright, shimmering eyes.  
Pocketing his Niffler away quickly, Newt shook your hand hastily, as if he were in a rush.  “Wonderful to meet you.  I am Newt Scamander, magizoologist,” he introduced himself just as quick as he shook your hand.  “Sorry to be rude, but you said potions master, correct?  As in you can brew just about any potion?”  Newt questioned you quickly, anxious to know the answer.  
You nodded lightly.  “That is correct, why?  Does it have something to do with why you are so jittery, or with the Niffler?” you asked him curiously, motioning to where he stored his little friend away.  
Newt turned an odd shade of red, and you were unable to hide your smile at this.  “Er-something like that.  Sorry to ask you of this, but I do have a very ill creature at my-my home who is in need of a particular potion in which I have doubts I can brew.  Would it be too much of a hassle to ask of your help with the potion?  I am more than willing to pay you.” Newt asked you as he picked up his ingredients and cauldron once more, motioning to it as if it solved your dilemma. 
You glanced down at the ingredients in his hands, looking at each root and bug, and odd thing alike and tilted your head to the side.  “I am more than willing to help an ill creature.  I was planning on becoming the Care for Magical Creatures professor at Hogwarts prior to finding my love for potions.  What did you say it was?” you questioned Newt further.  He blushed at your questions and interest and in the dull wand light, it was rather adorable.  
“Ah, yes, about that.  I have a Demiguise who is quite shy, but needs this antidote as soon as humanly possible,” Newt explained to you with his eyes low, trying to avoid eye contact with you.  “I understand if you are unable to help him, or if you do not deem it to be worth it, but even a few pointers would be wond-” Newt began rambling, and you kicked the door of the brook closet open.  
“Hush, now and let’s go!  Your Demiguise needs us, Mr. Scamander!”  You shamed him and moved from the closet, motioning for him to exit.  “Judging by your ingredients, I assume your Demiguise consumed something highly poisonous to him, am I correct?”  Your voice was curious as you took the cauldron from Newt’s hand and set it on a shelf as you walked by.  
Surprised, Newt nodded.  “Correct,” he confirmed as he watched you in complete awe.  You were magnificent, to say the absolute least.  
You nodded and moved through the partially empty Diagon Alley.  Given that school was in session once more, the Alley was far less crowded than usual.  “Wonderful.  Nothing a little Antidote to Uncommon Poisons can’t handle.  Let me just stop by my home quickly, and then we can set off to yours, yeah?”  You asked Newt as you linked your arm with his, causing his face to redden even further.  He nodded, unable to form words, and you disapparated the two of you to your home and shop in London.  You lived above your shop, but had just as many ingredients and potions where you lived than worked.  
Hastily, you moved about your home, gathering ingredients and a collapsible cauldron into your brown leather briefcase as Newt stood in your living room, watching your every move with an odd sense of adoration.  You were so put together and so open with who you were, and you apartment was so neat, but so cluttered with bottles and ingredients at the same time.  But, you knew were every single thing was to a point.  Before long, you shut your brief case and clasped it, looking back at the awestruck Newt.  
“Sorry it is such a mess in here.  I have been meaning to clean out my home and move everything back down to the shop, where my apprentice and sister is now, but I just have a hard time doing it,” you explained with a light blush playing at your cheeks.  The light dusting on your cheeks was the prettiest thing Newt had ever seen.  
Newt shook his head quickly, gazing about the room, craving to see the rest, if he weren’t in such a hurry and on such an important mission.  “No, it is brilliant,” Newt told you with a small smile, and you took his arm once more.  
In a snap, you were in a very messy, contemporary apartment not far from Diagon Alley.  Your eyes wandered around the room, taking in the torn papers, some even scorched, and the overall scattered feel of the room.  It was comforting, in a way, and you enjoyed it greatly.  “Please, do not think this is odd,” Newt pleaded with you as he grabbed a briefcase from his coffee table, setting it onto the floor and unclasping the gold clasps.  “They are in here.”  His voice was hesitant as he stood straight, and stepped one foot into the briefcase with one glance back to you.  
You knitted your eyebrows together, confused, but approached the briefcase with caution as Newt begin to step down further and further in it until you were no longer able to see him.  You peered down into it, and laughed lightly when you saw his gazing up at you.  “You are simply amazing, Mr. Scamander,” you told him as you handed your briefcase down to him, sideways, and began climbing down skillfully and quickly.
He blushed madly, taking your hand to help you down the final steps. “That is very kind of you.  Please, be cautious of the creatures around.  Some of them are rather shy, but I think you should be fine.  If you are uncomfortable at any point, please let me know.”  Newt was insistent and sweet as he set your briefcase down on a large work table in the small half-shack you were in.  
You nodded, opening your briefcase and beginning to work hastily.  “Mr. Scamander, get me a strand of the Demiguise’s hair, please,” you instructed as he watched you intently, chopping and cutting and pouring all kinds of things into your collapsible cauldron.
Without much hesitation, he dashed off at the sound of your instruction and you began brewing your potion skillfully.  You mixed and stirred and added all sorts of things, including the hair that Newt brought back punctually, until almost two hours later, the potion was a light pink-red color and cooling in a glass tube.  You turned to Newt, who had yet to sit down this entire time, and he looked at you with bright, curious eyes.  “Is it finished?”  He asked you before you even had the chance to speak.  
“It is,” you answered with a gentle smile.  “If you go get your Demiguise-” you began, but Newt interrupted you quickly.  
“Dougal.  His name is Dougal,” he told you and your cheeks reddened at the interruption.  
You nodded.  “Right, if you go get Dougal, I will administer the potion, if you don’t mind.  Or, if Dougal does not mind, I suppose,” you corrected yourself and gave Newt a small smile.  The sweet but concerned look on your face made Newt’s heart race in his chest.
Newt nodded and scurried off once more, only to return with his arms wide, but nothing appeared to be in his arms.  You smiled widely at the scene before you, knowing perfectly well that Dougal was invisible in his arms, and it made you giggle softly.  Newt approached you carefully, setting Dougal onto the counter next to you.  
You weren’t quite sure where to look, but you looked in the general direction of Dougal.  “Hello, Dougal, my name is (Y/N).  I am not going to hurt you, I promise; I am only trying to help you,” you explained to the creature as you grabbed the cooled potion and showed it to him.  You held it up in Dougal’s direction and smiled softly, trying to be as comforting as possible.  
What you hadn’t noticed was Newt’s watchful eyes observing every little move you made, from the movement in your eyes to the slight shake in your hands.  It was beautiful, and you were beautiful, and it made his heart lurch in an unfamiliar way.  He bit his lip, watching you so closely that he failed to notice Dougal fading into reality once more.  His eyes widened, surprised that he opened up to allow you to see his true form.  
The wide smile that formed on your face was indescribable as you grabbed the plastic syringe you had brought with you, drawing some of the colored potion from the beaker into the syringe and showing it to the wide-eyed creature.  “See?  I’ll just put this in your mouth, okay?” you continued to ask Dougal and moved to him slowly, opening his mouth with your thumb and shooting the potion down his throat.  “All done,” you  announced with a fond smile on your face.  You glanced up at Newt as Dougal made a funny face, and you were unable to cover the giggle that slipped from your lips.  
Dougal crawled up to his feet on the table, jumping onto Newt, and wrapping his arms and legs around him like a small child.  This made the smile on your face refuse to fade.  With a nervous look on his face, Newt looked towards Dougal, and kept his eyes on anything but you.  “I can never thank you enough.  I don’t know what I would ever do if I lost my Dougal.”  Newt’s voice faltered and you felt your heart pang at his sincerity.  
“It is my pleasure,” you told him and began bottling up the rest of the potion you made.  “I am going to leave this with you.  Obviously, you need it far more than I do,” you teased him and gave a subtle wink.
Newt’s face only reddened at your words, and he set Dougal down to scurry off into they endless territory within Newt’s briefcase. He glanced back at you and his nervousness was so evident. He shifted lightly, trying to form words that were not there, and finally his mouth fell open. “C-can I make you a cup of coffee, or tea?” Newt asked you, and you glanced up from packing your belongings.  Before you could say any words, Newt continued, rambling as he looked at the floor in front of him. “If you’d like, of course. Otherwise, you are more than welcome to go, I do not want you to think I am keeping you here after you’ve already done so much for me, which is so very kind, given I am a stranger and it could have been unsafe for you. Although I am not going to do anything to hurt you, not ever-”  Newt rambled, causing the small smile on your face to grow incredibly wide.
“Mr. Scamander! I would love to have coffee, or tea, with you.” you interrupted with a laugh, causing his already reddened face to grow darker. You giggled at this, unable to hide the joy he brought you.  
There was a nervous smile on his lips as he nodded and bit his lip slightly.  “Wonderful.  If you’d like, we can have coffee, or tea, down here and I can show you around, and all the creatures,” he offered to you as he moved towards the small stove in the small shed you were in.  
You nodded, clasping your briefcase shut.  “That would be wonderful, Mr. Scamander.”  You said and moved to a tall stool, sitting on the edge.  
“You can call me Newt.”  He told you as he busied himself preparing an array of coffee and tea.  
You nodded.  “Newt.”  You murmured to yourself.  He was not quite sure why, but Newt loved the sound of his name rolling off your tongue.
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mrs-han · a year ago
Here With Me
Heeey could i request an scenario where the mc is stood up by Jumin , like she waits for him at the restaurant but he doesnt arrive bc he forgot since he has been stressed out with work all week and suddenly Jaehee lets him know and its all angsty but with a happy ending pleasee♡♡♡♡
Sure thing! Thank you for your submission!
"Madam, would you like to come inside?"
"No, no. My husband should be coming shortly, and I'd like to be here when he shows," you smiled, securing your scarf over your shoulders.
As the valet entered the building that chilly august evening, the thought of Jumin kept you warm, even gave you the strength to stay outside and wait for a little while longer. It had been over a month, and you two had finally scheduled a date night—no work, no distractions - just he before your eyes and you before his.
You fiddled with your lace gloves and primped your hair, glancing at the glass window as it acted as your mirror. You were fully decked out in the most delicate lavender twill dress, six-inch stiletto pumps, and fastened in your hair was a pin Jumin had picked out himself for you to don. You always wanted to look your best for this man, and frankly, you were excited to see how he would react.
Cars passed by the grand venue - you straightened and eventually slouched as you noticed a few of them stop, but none of the occupants were Jumin. Snow began to drizzle over you, and, with a faint shiver, you checked your watch.
You blinked and tapped the watch - that wasn't right. You had only been waiting for half an hour, not an hour and a half... right? You dug your phone from your purse and tapped his icon.
"This is Jumin Han, Director of C&R. Thank you for your call, but I am away -"
You ended the call quickly and called him again. And again. You were greeted with the same voice message, and your heart sunk in your stomach.
He didn't forget... did he?
"Mr. Han, it's getting late," Jaehee smiled forcefully, gripping her pen in one hand and her travel mug in the other. "This is a good stopping point, don't you agree?"
"Not quite," Jumin sighed, pushing his hair back and tapping his diamond pen against his desk. "We're missing something... something important."
"A meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden is no small feat," Jaehee huffed, pressing her back against the chair. "But I assure you, we've covered everything we need to cover. You know everything about him, perhaps too much."
Jumin examined his notes and furrowed his brows. "No... no, something is missing."
Jaehee raised a brow and crossed her arms. "I assure you, Mr. Han. This missing artifact has nothing to do with the prime minister."
"I don't see what your hurry is. Tomorrow is Saturday, you have plenty of time to rest then."
"Until you call me in to do something," Jaehee muttered under her breath. "Listen, Mr. Han, with all due respect. It is going on twenty-two hundred hours and fifteen minutes, and I would like to go home."
Jumin looked dubiously shocked. It had gotten that late so quickly... his eyes widened. "Today is Friday."
"Yes, today is Friday," Jaehee nodded.
"No, no, no." Jumin slammed his folders closed and adjusted his tie, a frantic air about him.
"What is it?" Jaehee asked, observing his facial expression turn to one of confusion to one of realization.
Jumin dashed past his chief assistant, muttering slurs under his breath and heading towards the penthouse's front door. "I don't have time to explain."
"Mr. Han, if you're heading outdoors, you'll need your coat -"
Jumin flung the door open... and there you stood, shivering and dripping wet from the melted snow. You lifted your eyes and met his apologetic gaze.
"My... my love... I -"
You shoved your way past him, wrapping your scarf around your reddened face. There was no way you were about to let him see you cry.
Jumin stumbled back and tried to reach for you, but you were too fast. You ran down the hall and into the guest bedroom, slamming the door behind you.
"MC!" Jumin called while chasing you, slamming against the door as it closed. He pressed his palms against the wood, then his forehead. "MC, please."
Jaehee quietly gathered her coat and murmured, "I will see you on Monday, Mr. Han."
Jumin, too distracted by you, didn't care to hear her. "MC? MC, may I come in? Darling?"
He placed his hand over the doorknob and gripped it, ready to turn the handle - when he heard your sobs. Every sniffle, every sad moan, he listened to, desperate to soothe you.
"My love... my love -"
"Go away! Get away from me!" You hollered, throwing several objects at the door. "I don't want to see you, I don't want to talk to you!"
Jumin closed his eyes, your words piercing all parts of his heart. He waited for more words to come from you; he wanted to hear from you, even if your words had the potential to kill him from the inside out.
But you didn't say anything. Instead, you wailed and sobbed... and those sounds alone did more damage to him than any insult.
Jumin pressed himself against the door and sank slowly, his hand still on the doorknob. He would respect your wish and leave you alone, but he refused to be too far away. When you were ready to talk, he would be there.
His determination did not falter after an hour had passed, and another. He sat patiently outside of the guest bedroom and began to nod off when he realized - there was no sound coming from the other side of the door. It was utterly silent.
"MC? I'm opening the door," Jumin cooed, pressing the door open slowly.
He peeked in and saw you, not sound asleep as he had imagined. No, your back was facing him. Your gown, gloves, shoes, and jewels had been thrown onto the floor, a thick blanket the only thing covering you. You sat erect, like a graceful statue, gazing at the city below.
Jumin waited for you to throw him out with your words again, but no such thing happened. You were completely silent. He wasn't much of a risk-taker, and he didn't pride himself on being one. But for you, he was willing to do anything.
Jumin stepped into the room and closed the door behind him, his eyes squarely on your figure.
You didn't make a sound.
He walked towards you, slightly shier than his naturally confident stride.
You didn't make a sound.
He sat down beside you and, without hesitation, wrapped an arm around your body.
Your statuesque figure faltered, and you crumbled at his touch.
"My love -"
"How could you," you trembled, covering your face with your hands. "We had planned this date for a long, long time now! How could you forget!"
Jumin didn't say a word. He hung his head shamefully and pulled you closer to him, grateful you didn't draw away.
"I looked like such a fool, waiting for you out in the snow!" You sniffed. "I, I watched cars come and go, and I thought, that's him! In that car there! But it was never you, Jumin, you never showed up!"
Jumin looked at you, sorrow and regret the only legible expression on his face.
"I'm so embarrassed, and so... I'm so disappointed, Jumin... and I've never felt so much... anger towards you before..."
You wiped at your tears many times over, but they continued to bombard you, and your vision blurred. "I'm so angry," you sobbed. "So, so angry..."
Your emotions pounded within you, overtaking you; you curled into yourself and trembled vigorously.
A soft thump. That's what you heard. He's gone, you thought, moving your hands away from your eyes.
But no. Jumin was still there with you, now on his knees.
"What... what are you -"
Jumin grabbed your bare foot delicately and kissed your arch once, twice, three times over. "Forgive me," he whispered fiercely, pressing his forehead against your cold skin. "Forgive me, MC. I was a careless man, a thoughtless man, and my foolishness meant leaving you out in the cold, waiting for me..."
Your lower lip trembled, and, as much as you tried to stop it, more tears came flooding down your cheeks.
"I hurt you," Jumin whispered, kissing your ankle, your calf, your knee. "I hurt you terribly, my angel... and I beg you to forgive me."
"I'm so sorry." His hot breath created goosebumps through your bare legs and up to your bare arms. "I'm so sorry."
You fell to the floor and tried to wrap your arms around him, but he was much faster than you. Jumin pressed you to his body, engulfing you entirely. You sobbed against his chest as feelings of anger turned into feelings of complete and utter devotion towards this man, your husband - your Jumin.
In his arms, you stayed until exhaustion overcame you. Jumin glanced down at you, lifting your chin to meet his eyes - you were fast asleep. Many thoughts ran through his mind - you needed a warm bath and a warm bed, who knows how long you had been standing in the cold. He needed to snap to it and make you as comfortable as possible.
But as he moved to pick you up, you pressed your head to his chest and let out a small groan. You were no longer crying, no longer in a state of despondency... no, you seemed to be in a place of peace. Perhaps he could treat you to a nice, warm bath, luxurious bedding, delicious food, and an enjoyable movie - whatever you wanted. For now, he wanted to watch you sleep. Indeed, he wanted to etch the peaceful expression in your face into both his brain and heart.
Besides - he was in an extremely uncomfortable position, his legs falling asleep and his back steadily aching. Yes, this well deserved, self-inflicted punishment would work magnificently.
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daredevil-1910 · 3 months ago
I've been trying something in the HP Fandom,
Lyrics of the song aren't mine. Clearly.
Song used is "Say you won't let go" by James Arthur.
There's quite a story behind this writing, f this does ok ill post more on it.
I Will Never Let Go
Hermione x oc
Walking out of the rent to catch my breath, j realized how beautiful the night was. I looked up to the sky and decided to talk to mom.
"Hey, I know its been a while and I haven't really had the guts to talk to you, but I found her mom, I just wish you could be here to see how happy we are, its Hermione by the way, remember the smart girl I would talk to you about. Anyway, love you, miss you a lot and tell lily I miss her too" my eyes started to tear up.
"Ben, come in, you are going to catch a cold!" A cold, seriously I chuckled at the thought of how small a cold sounded next to whats going on.
"Hey, you with me" her arms wrapped around my waist.
"Yeah, im here" I smiled and kissed her forehead.
"You two are going to get sick!" Molly yelled from under the tarp.
Apparently everyone thinks we are going to get sick.
We walked back to the tarp and the temperature difference was immense.
"Stay here, ill go get some drinks" she walked off.
Ginny came up to me, but I didn't notice her until she sat down.
"Are you ready?" She asked excitedly
"I don't think you can ever be ready for this" my voice sounded nervous and short of breath.
"Well, if its what she would say, you can be sure that she'll say yes" I looked up to her Icy blue eyes.
"You think so?" Ginny looked at me like I was an idiot.
"I know so, and even more after yesterday she thought you were going to die you should've seen her" my mind travels to what happened the day before. How I dropped from the sky had a big wound on my body.
"She really cares about you Benny, you two are like a perfect match. It'll turn out OK, you'll see" she stood up and went to Harry.
My eyes settle back on Hermione from across the room. Her bright smile stunning me before she leaves with a small group of girls.
"Hey, if you are gonna do it, no would be a great time" Bill exclaimed and went back to his wife.
Well, time to put all the chips in the table.
I picked up my glass and a fork that was on a table.
"Gather Around everyone, I have something to say" my metal fork clicking against the glass cup was a sound that irritated me to no end, but it was the only way I could get everyones attention.
"Today is a day of Celebration, you see today our dear old Bill is getting married, to a magnificent woman, Our Fleur. Now we all know about my relationship with the Weasleys, they took me in after what happened to my mother, and dragged me out of the pit i had dug myself into, there is no doubt in everyone's mind that we are upon dark times and for that reason it gives me great pleasure to see someone finally reach true happiness,even when the world seems to conspire against it, may their life be full of said happiness, for the both of them, to the happy couple" I took a big sip out of my glass, and set it down
"Now as we all know, in the day of the wedding, what the bride wants she gets, and she asked me as a wedding present to finally do something I've been thinking about for quite a while now" my vision settles on Fleur who is jumping and clapping in the back.
Ron is confused as always, atleast this time its not his fault I only told Ginny and Harry who are smiling approvingly.
"Arthur and Molly can you please come here i have to ask you something first" I whispered my question to them and watch their faces light up. Knowing that they have also become like parents to Hermione.
"Go ahead love" Molly gives me a big hug and shakes me in excitement
"Well, now the second most important part is successfully done" I turn around to pick up my guitar that is hidden away in the back of the room.
"Now I want to ask a very special someone to sit next to me, Miss Granger, can you come up here please." I pull a chair next to me signaling her to sit next to me.
Everyone makes way for her to get to the front of the room where I'm at. Her face is full of confusion, its good to know Ginny didn't say anything, I didn't quite expect her to keep the information to herself.
"I've been working on this for quite a while, and finished it last night when Fluer and Bill found me and demanded I do this today" I smile starts tugging at my lips as my heart begins to Race and My brain bombardes me with scenarios
I looked at her face, annoyed but excited, seems to be thats always how she is around me. I schoochsd a little closer to her until our legs were touching. And started to play.
My hand glides across the cords making a soothing melody.
"I met you in the dark, you lit me up, You made me feel as though I was enough. We danced the night away, we drank too much, I held your hair back when, You were throwing up" I didn't see her but I could feel Molly questioning when the hell we were drinking.
"Then you smiled over your shoulder, For a minute, I was stone-cold sober, I pulled you closer to my chest, And you asked me to stay over, I said, I already told ya, I think that you should get some rest" her cheeks are getting a little blushed, and from the corner of my eye I can see Bill taking Fleur out to dance
"I knew I loved you then, But you'd never know, 'Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go. I knew I needed you, But I never showed, But I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old.Just say you won't let go, Just say you won't let go" remembering how that simple sentence kept us going through everything it amazes me. I looked at her face to find her golden brown eyes tearing up. She still looked beautiful though.
"I'll wake you up with some breakfast in bed. I'll bring you coffee with a kiss on your head, And I'll take the kids to school, Wave them goodbye, And I'll thank my lucky stars for that night" a giggle escapes, and a wide smile follows, I decided to use the incantation Proffesor McGonagall showed me and made the guitar keep playing.
"When you looked over your shoulder, For a minute, I forget that I'm older, I wanna dance with you right now. Oh, and you look as beautiful as ever, And I swear that everyday you'll get better. You make me feel this way somehow" Hermione's hands quickly find mine, and I heard a soft aww come from Ginny and Luna who were behind me.
I got so lost in her eyes I forgot what came next, so I decided to keep singing whatever came to my head.
"I'm so in love with you, And I hope you know. Darling, your love is more than worth its weight in gold. We've come so far, my dear, Look how we've grown. And I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old. Just say you won't let go, Just say you won't let go" her hands grip tighter on mine, its time. I pulled a the small velvet box from my jacket pocket as I pull away from her to present it and open the box, everyone is gasping except the few people that already knew, she gasped and started to cry, which consequently made me cry.
"I wanna live with you, Even when we're ghosts, 'Cause you were always there for me when I needed you most" I dropped to one knee and began Remembering everything that we've gone through, our own little adventures, our small stupid arguments and I can't help but smile.
"Hermione, after everything that has happened, if I have learned something its that there isn't really time to hesitate on things, much less something as valuable as what I have with you, and to be honest we don't know what is going to happen in the future. My mom used to tell me. Benny whe. You find that girl you will notice how everything drifts away and dammit who I always loose my way when it comes to you. We've been together four years now, and every time you come in a room. You take my breath away, I don't want to loose that, ever, Hermione Granger would you-" she interrupted me and pulled me up.
"Get up you idiot" she pulled me towards her and kissed me.
"So is that a yes?" I asked jokingly
"Yes Benji, I will marry you" she wrapped her arms around my neck and we began dancing to the music as people clapped around us.
As I put the ring on her finger I kept singing
"I'm gonna love you 'til, My lungs give out. I promise 'til death we part like in our vows, So I wrote this song for you, now everybody knows, That it's just you and me 'til we're grey and old. Just say you won't let go" I whispered to her before she got dragged away by all the girls.
A big smile, spreads in my face as all the guys run towards me being Lead by Ron.
After a while everyone stops and splits off
I can see Hermione walking towards me with the same teary smile on her face.
Her small hands cup my face and she pulls me in with a kiss and whispers to me
"I will never let go, not now not ever, you're stuck with me now" I smiled and spun her around, as everyone started celebrating around us, but we didn't notice, it was like for that moment it was just us. With no one else around.
@tada-lol, you might be interested in this😂
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xenia-cenia · 10 months ago
Albedo x Fem!Reader - Love
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A/N- HUGE thank you to @yukiilu​ for helping me figure out what to do for this one - check out their blog, it’s super good!
Liyue time babey!!!! Also stan proper lab safety
Trigger/Content Warnings: abusive dad/absent mom, near death experience 
Word Count: 2,483
Request: No
Summary: You learn what love truly means.
You were not cut out for love. That had been drilled into your head since you were a child - you were dangerous. You needed to stay under lock and key. You needed to obey. You needed to stay put.
Your mother danced with electricity between her fingertips and fear in her step. Your father who had fallen in love was quick to run when he found her true identity.
By the age of 4, anyone could see you were different. Lightning always seem to strike around you, yet the shocks had no effect. 
You could not love, nor could anyone love you. 
You could easily end cities if your frustration flashed, you needed to be hidden. 
It took 15 years for your father to pass and you to be found. The world had changed in your absence, children ran with kites and merry. Sunlight beamed onto your skin and burned your irises. 
Citizens of the place you learned was called Mondstadt expressed their disgust for your father. They all told the same story; that when you were a child you got attacked by a group of hilichurls who stole your life. They mourned with him for years and none could explain the surplus of storms that followed your ‘death’.
 A woman with blonde hair which she wore into a ponytail was the first to greet you to current Mondstadt. She called herself Jean and apologized for your suffering. How, she questioned, were you held in a basement under their noses for all of those years?
Out of pity or fear, you weren’t quite sure, she assigned the Knights resident alchemist to teach you everything you missed. 
The boy never held expression in his teal eyes; nothing more than analysis. He didn’t sigh or apologize for your past like many other citizens of Mondstadt, instead, he asked you a question that you yourself had never considered.
“Why were you locked away?”
After a few moments of careful thought, you responded, “Love.”
He almost looked surprised at your answer, “Interesting.”
For weeks, you shadowed the boy as he completed various experiments. For weeks, you watched as he slowly began to open up to you.
“Come here.” He instructed, holding a vial with his gloved hand. You walked up to him and looked at his experiment, “Careful now, pour this into this.” He pointed at a cylinder.
You opened your mouth to question why, but simply shook your head and poured the vial. A burst of red and pink exploded into the air, the colors swirling and forming a flower.
“Alchemy,” he spoke, looking at the wonder in your eyes, “is magnificent. Isn’t it?” With an unclothed hand, you reached up to touch the symbol but Albedo quickly grabbed your wrist, “You’ll burn yourself.”
“Ah,” you set your hand down. “Can I... can we do more?”
He smiled to himself, “You’ll need gloves.”
The next day, as you sat around his lab in the Knights of Favonius headquarters, he showed up carrying a large box. You quirked an eyebrow up but he ignored it, setting the day and hastily rifling through it. Your curiosity got the better of you, you walked over and peered in.
It was filled with various lab safety precautions. He paused with his hands deep inside the box and pulled out see-through goggles with a thin black strap around the back. 
“Try these on.” He handed them to you. You squeezed the goggles on and were surprised at how clearly you could see everything. “Do they fit?” He asked, not looking up.
“I think so.” You adjusted them, “They don’t hurt or anything.”
“Okay, good.” He sucked the inside of his cheek, “Hmm... try these gloves on.” He pulled out a pair of black gloves with a bright yellow diamond pattern sewn into the cuff. 
You picked them up and slid them on. The warm interior made your chest swell, to conceal the blush that crept onto your face you turned around and covered your cheeks with your hands.
When was the last time someone went out of their way to make your clothes were warm and fit right? Had it ever happened?
“(Y/N)?” Albedo asked, confused at your sudden reaction.
“They’re... they’re really good. Can I keep them?”
“I don’t see why not.” The boy waited for you to turn around before he continued his plans for today's experiment. As you did, he couldn’t help but smile. In one quick step, he was mere inches from your face, his hands adjusting the goggles you had shoddily put on. “This part needs to go on your nose.” He tapped the plastic. “Make sure you don’t get any flyaway hairs stuck in here.”
You nodded blankly, trying to keep yourself from collapsing to the floor with shaking legs. And for the first time in your life, you began to wonder.
Perhaps your father lied about love. Perhaps it was another trick to keep you under his control; to scare you about kindness that existed just outside of the darkness. Perhaps even you could love
But you knew better than to let thoughts like that clear your mind. Your father just wanted to protect you. You were dangerous. It was for the best. You deserved to be locked away.
Right. You shook the thoughts away and listened as Albedo began to explain the lab he’d be doing today. 
When he was finished, you chatted happily with him the entire time and hoped he wouldn’t notice you shoving the gloves to the bottom of the box and your sadness.
At your home, you couldn’t help but feel fear. The house where you were locked in for years, your world contained to a small basement, now in your possession. You could tear down walls or seal the basement off once and for all.
But you didn’t. Instead, you pretended you grew up normally. His half of each imaginary conversation was filled by creaking and soft footfalls.
“Father!” You called into the empty house, “I had a lovely day today.”
“It was so much fun.” You smiled as you walked into the kitchen, “I- oh! Father. We’ve talked about you leaving dishes in the sink.” You shook your head disapprovingly and laughed softly as you began to wash them.
“I know you’re old, Father! But I’m not your live at home maid.” 
“Fa...” your smile fell as you turned around. In your heart, you could pretend he was standing there with a lopsided grin and wise eyes. But you knew he only ever looked upon you when you began to cry or shriek. You exhaled deeply and gripped your arms, your eyes locked on the floor, “I love you, Father.”
Some things never change.
You still found yourself sleeping in the basement and singing songs you created as a child to soothe the loneliness. On the cold basement floor, you couldn’t get the blond-haired alchemist out of your head.
Love was wrong. You were wrong for Loving anyone. You knew this still... would it be alright to like? Would it be fine to pretend he would spin you on the dancefloor with a large grin and soft blush? Would it be okay to imagine your hands in his hair as he lies on your lap, murmuring of alchemy and his hypothesis as he slips off into sleep?
Maybe that was alright. You smiled to yourself and let sleep overtake you.
“Dragonspine.” Albedo walked into his lab, smiling happily at you, “I’m going to Dragonspine.”
“Dra...” your eyebrows furrowed as you tried to remember what that was, “The... the mountain?”
He nodded and sat on a chair, “I’ll be gone for quite some time but I’ll try to see you every-”
“I want to come with.”
“What?” He looked at you with wide eyes.
“I want to go with you.” You repeated, your resolve burning in your chest.
“Why? It’s dangerous.”
“But it’s real. I want to see as much of this world as I can.”
He inhaled softly, “I... suppose... you can come with me. But you need to stay close to me. Don’t run off or get yourself hurt.”
You beamed at the boy, “Yes! Thank you, Albedo.”
Albedo and you gathered supplies instead of your daily experiment. Warming bottles, blankets, and every spare bit of medical supplies you could get your hands on. After some careful consideration, Albedo bought a basic polearm for you to use.
“Just in case. I don’t think you’ll need it, but if I’m away and something goes wrong... well, it’s better to be prepared, isn’t it?”
5 weeks after you found out about your trip to Dragonspine, you set off. It was a cold and uncomfortable hike to Albedos lab in the mountains. He assured you that he’s had this lab for years, that it should be safe. When you arrived, you collapsed next to a fire and took deep breaths.
Albedo frowned as he began to set up his next experiment, “I won’t be angry if you want to leave.”
“What? We just got here!” 
“I know it’s just...”
“Look, I... if I need to leave, I’ll tell you. So stop worrying about it!” You tried to stifle a yawn as you lied next to the fire.
He sighed, “Fine. Do you want...” he looked over his shoulder and let his voice fizzle out as he saw you sleeping. Albedo went through his supplies, pulled out the blanket, and put it over you. “Oh.” He spoke to himself, a memory coming back. 
One more trip into his supplies, he pulled out a small item and lied it next to your head. He hoped you’d be happy when you saw it. Albedo smiled to himself and continued working.
When you woke up, you were drenched in a mixture of sweat and melted snow. You pulled yourself up, tried to shake some water off of you, and sighed. “Alb...” you turned to the alchemist, but he was fast asleep. You thought over what to do and came to a conclusion.
With soft steps and careful placement, you left the lab and began to explore the depths of Dragonspine. You walked for only a few minutes, growing increasingly more confident in your abilities, but a loose twig decided to ruin your day.
Quickly, you stumbled and rolled down the cliff and into a pillow of snow. You sat for a second in the snow, laughing softly at how stupid that looked. “Well, up and at em.” You stood, looked around for a path, and happily followed it hoping it’d lead you back to Albedos lab.
An hour had passed since you decided to walk away from Albedos lab, why was it that you even left? Did you think a walk would dry you off? Were you simply tired of lying there? You couldn’t remember. The path led you to a dark cavern, with smoke billowing out of the mouth.
Heat. Fire.
The only two thoughts in your head clouded your judgment as you walked deeper into the cavern, hoping to get warm. 
Albedo woke up with a nagging feeling that something was wrong. He sat up, looked around his lab, and immediately felt bile rise in his throat.
You were gone. You had left - he gave you one instruction and now you were gone. Albedo quickly pulled himself up, grabbed the gift he left for you and took off.
It didn’t take long for him to find your footsteps and follow them into Starglow Cavern. Despite his swiftness, he had the feeling that he was too late. Too slow. He drew his sword and charged in, still following your footsteps. Unsurprisingly, they led to a flame nearby. He saw Hilichurls warming themselves with the flame and felt his heart drop.
Albedo rushed towards the flame, quickly knocking out the hilichurls and looking over the edge. There, at the very bottom, he saw you crawling towards the top and leaving a trail of red behind you.
“(Y/N)!” He yelled, your head snapped up. He could almost see the relief on your face as you saw him. He ran through the cavern and when he arrived in front of you, gingerly picked you up. “What... what happened?” He put his hands on the frozen tears on your cheeks.
“I’m sorry.” You responded with a raspy voice, “I...” 
“Ssh, save your strength. I shouldn’t of asked ju-just stay awake. Can you do that?”
“It’s so cold.”
“I know, I know.” He went up the cavern as quickly as he could, occasionally making comments so you stayed awake.
When he arrived back at his lab, he lied you out on the blanket and thought about the best course of action. Not even a second later, he was tearing through his supplies and forcing Warming Bottles into your arms. 
“Al... Albedo.” You called weakly. He froze, trying to contain his panic. “Come... come over here.”
He shook the fear away and kneeled next to you, grabbing your hands tightly. “What is it?”
“My Father... told me I can’t love. But,” you smiled with tears in your eyes, “I think I love you.”
His fear broke through his walls. Albedos eyes flooded with tears as he held you, “D-Don’t say it like that! Don’t say it like it’s goodbye!”
“Albedo...” you tried to laugh, “You always make me feel so... happy...”
“No... no!” He shook your body, “Wake up! Wake up, dammit!” He pressed his fingers against your palm and felt his entire body jolt as your weak, but still existent, pulse throbbed against his fingers. 
The Alchemist quickly set to work, every healing potion he had was used. It didn’t matter if he could save a million lives with one; he’d use a million potions just to save you. He trekked back down to Mondstadt with you on his back, completely abandoning the lab, and screamed for help until you were taken to safety.
But it wasn’t until your eyes opened again could he relax. It wasn’t until he could wrap his arms around you and feel your arms tighten around his waist that he knew it’d be okay.
Shakily, he grabbed the gift he had so desperately wanted to give to you, and felt his eyes well up with tears as you hugged him tighter.
You slipped the gloves on and tried to contain your happiness, “You saw?”
He nodded, “You weren’t wearing them when you left I...” Albedo cut himself off. He didn’t want to say the truth which was he spent hours tearing the box apart and trying to get the gloves back to you, “I wanted you to have them.”
Love is what you felt when Albedo grabbed your hands, or when he blushed with a shy smile. 
Love is his drawings of you that filled his every sketchbook. 
To love, you decided, was to be alive.
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carelesscreativity · a year ago
ErrorBerry First Date for Blu3b3rryp13: Commission for Ko-Fi
(SFW, Fluff)
It was already exciting enough, Error being able to hold his hand. Blue’s eyes had already transitioned into stars as he was tugged along, staring at the back of the glitching skeleton. They were heading away from Error’s little spot in the AntiVoid, his beanbag fading into the distance behind them. Blue was a little nervous. He had only ever been here and UnderSwap. Error had promised to take him somewhere new.
“Did you already decide where we’re going?” Blue asked, just curious. Error glanced back at him and nodded. His grip tightened on Blue’s hand and the other was momentarily surprised before squeezing the glitch’s hand back. A portal began to rip its way open in front of them. It was dim on the other side and Blue was momentarily taken back. He wasn’t a huge fan of the dark.
“It’s okay... tr-tr-trust me...” Error said softly. Blue glanced over at him and nodded. He did trust Error. He stepped through the portal, feeling his boots landing in grass. He blinked in surprise. Error followed behind him. Blue heard the portal close, staring around. They were in some kind of cave. It was lit by a pool of glowing water in the center and small crystals jutting out all over the walls. Immediately, Blue’s eyes became stars again.
“Wowie! Error, this place is pretty!” He exclaimed. He moved over to the pool and knelt next to it. He could see himself! He beamed quietly. Error watched him, not having realized Blue would be entertained just by this alone. They hadn’t even gotten to the good part yet. Blue reached out and sent ripples through the water as he ghosted his gloved fingers along the surface of the pool. Error came over quietly.
“Blue... th-th-this isn’t what I wanted to show you. Though I guess I’m glad you’re already enjoying y-y-y-yourself...” Error mumbled, stretching out a multicolored hand to the other. Blue blinked before gasping. This wasn’t even it?? He was already so excited! He giggled and gave a tiny blush, apologizing. He took Error’s hand and the glitch helped him stand before reaching out to him with his other hand.
Blue’s blush became a little more noticeable as Error gently cupped his other cheek. Blue inhaled quietly, his eyes wide. Error must’ve been REALLY excited and/or nervous if he was showing this kind of affection. Blue tipped his head into Error’s hand, his eyes bright stars. Error sighed. “Th-Th-This isn’t even the good part, so let’s go...” He murmured quietly. Blue nodded and took his hand once again. If this wasn’t even the best part, he couldn’t wait to see what was.
“Error? Where even are we?” Blue asked in hushed excitement as the glitch pulled him along once again. Error glanced back at him. They were moving into a dimly lit tunnel and Error’s blue blush glowed noticeably. He mumbled that this was where he went to calm his mind a lot. Blue was even more excited. “You must like this AU then... I thought you didn’t like ANY of them!” Error murmured that this one was the exception.
They emerged into a LARGE cavern and Blue recognized it immediately as a version of Waterfall. He inhaled shakily. The echo flowers here were all a strange blueish purple and crystals jutted out of the rocks. They were all glowing, along with the pools of water. Monsters were milling about in fluffy clothes, but none of them seemed to mind Error or Blue. Error knew that he was seen as a regular there.
He visited so much that the AU’s residents just accepted them as one of their own and that feeling of being accepted made him like the AU just a little more. He sighed as Blue broke away from him again. He watched as the other moved over to a field of echo flowers, kneeling down and reaching out to one. Error watched Blue gently stroke his gloved fingers over the petals. The other was fascinated and gave a tiny giggle. Error blushed as he watched him.
Blue blushed as well, but for a different reason. The flower had picked up his giggle and it was spreading to the other flowers, making the entire cavern momentarily echo with his goofy laugh. Blue covered his face, bright blue to his shoulders as Error gave a soft bit of glitching laughter himself.
Blue glared back at him in embarrassment. “No! Don’t laugh!” He whined, having moved slightly back so the flowers didn’t pick up his words. He looked over and noticed the Nice Cream Guy watching. He moved over and paid for one, bringing it over to Blue.
He knelt down next to the flushed skeleton and offered the Nice Cream to him. Blue lit up upon seeing it. He looked over at Error. “J-J-Just take it before I change my mind...” The glitch muttered, looking away, his cheeks a little blue. The guard-in-training nodded, sitting down and leaned against Error as he unwrapped it and began to eat quietly.
“Are you gonna get one, Error?” Blue asked, looking back at him. The glitch shook his head, murmuring that he wasn’t hungry. He was far too nervous to eat right now, just wanting this to be perfect for Blue. The other kept himself against Error as he quietly worked away at the Nice Cream. Error looked up to see the crystal-covered ceiling. It really was a spectacle, but for Blue, he had planned something even better.
“Aww!” Blue’s soft, flustered squeal brought Error back. Blue had finished his Nice Cream, the stick reading that he looked nice today. Error gave a tiny scoff, asking why that flustered him so much. Blue glanced over at him. “Well, you got it for me... so when I read it, I imagined you saying it.” Blue admitted shyly. Now it was Error’s turn to be flustered as he ducked his head slightly into his blue scarf.
“D-D-Do you want me to say it?” Error asked quietly after he’d gathered the courage to poke his head up again. Blue turned to him, eyes becoming stars as his cheeks flushed. He quickly sputtered that Error didn’t have to, going on a tangent about how he was the Magnificent Sans and how he ALWAYS looked good, so no one really had to remind him. Error rolled his eyes and reached out, stopping him.
He held Blue’s hand and sighed. “You look nice today.” He mumbled quietly. He watched in surprise as Blue’s glowing blush spread to his shoulders and the other pulled his hands away to cover his face. It was terribly cute, though Error would never admit that to Blue. Blue stuttered out a quiet thank-you. He held the stick against his chest, beaming. He exclaimed that this was nice.
“Th-Th-This still isn’t what I want to show you.” Error said, making Blue’s eyes widen even more. He stared at Error in disbelief, asking if there was even more. The glitch gave another soft scoff, glitching to his feet and holding out his hand once more. Blue reached up eagerly, taking his hand and allowing Error to pull him to his feet. He guided Blue towards a side cave, it being incredibly dark.
The guard-in-training paused and Error turned to look back at him. Blue was a little worried. Error sighed, asking if Blue trusted him. Blue immediately nodded without hesitation, taking a step forward into the dark path. It was very narrow. They could only walk one-in-front-of-the-other and not side-by-side like Blue preferred. He could see something shiny up ahead, but he couldn’t quite make out anything other than that it was another opening.
Maybe another cave with more glowing crystals? He held the Nice Cream stick against his chest. It made him feel better. Error continued to guide him along even though Blue felt like the rock walls were getting narrower and narrower, closing in on him. He inhaled shakily. “It’s okay.” Error’s voice drifted back to him as he felt the other give his hand another squeeze. Blue squeezed back. Finally, as he felt either wall scraping his sides, he was tugged free.
He yelped and Error turned to face him, catching Blue in a hug. Blue immediately hugged him back, burying his face into Error’s shoulder. He was shivering a little. “Sorry... d-d-didn’t mean to freak you out...” Error mumbled quietly. Blue whimpered that it was okay. He gulped and drew back after a moment. He jumped, his eyes wide in shock as he felt teeth against his.
Blue’s eyes became stars and he relaxed a little, pressing back against him. He reached out with his free hand, quietly curling his gloved fingers into the fabric of Error’s shoulder. Error sighed against him. “You should look around.” The glitch told him softly. Blue tinted to his head to the side and froze up, his eyes wide. They were on some kind of cliff and all he could see for miles were millions and millions of glowing white dots. He let go of Error.
He slowly moved forward, his eyes changing. “Stars...” He whispered. He blinked and turned to look back at Error. “Th-That’s what these are, right?? These are actual stars??” They looked nothing like the tiny speckles of light he’d see in the Underground. These were endless. They went on forever and he was completely mystified. He heard Error come up next to him, taking his hand once again. Blue jumped as he felt the other wiping under his eyesocket.
When had he started crying?? He blushed blue. That was embarrassing! He squeezed his eyes shut as Error continued to wipe his baby blue tears. “Y-Y-You like them that much?” The glitch asked quietly. Blue whispered that he loved them. Error glanced around, most likely to check if any other monsters were around before giving a small smile. “This is Outertale. These monsters live in the stars. I f-f-f-figured it was a good place for a first date...”
“I-It is!! Error, this is wonderful!! I-I...” Blue almost started crying again, choosing to tackle Error in a hug instead. He held him tightly as the glitch chuckled again as he lowered them to the ground. He rubbed Blue’s back quietly. “Thank you... thank you so much...” Blue was sobbing weakly and Error nuzzled him quietly, sighing softly.
“You’re welcome.” He responded quietly, resting his head on Blue’s shoulder as he stared out into the endless expanse of stars.
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crazydemigod666 · 10 months ago
Okay, so the title of this is gonna be Alexithymia, which I came across in this a “word a day” thing. I don’t really know much about it, but if you find that I have not portrayed it well, please let me know for I don’t want to offend anyone.
Summary: Alexithymia: An inability to describe emotions in a verbal manner. Alternatively, Logan finds himself, against all odds, at a loss of words when it comes to his friends and family. So, he takes a different route.
Pairings: none. All platonic  DRLAMP baby.
Word count: 2432
TW: Aside from an offhand mention of being devoured by rabid wolves (as expected, yes this is Remus being Remus), nothing I can think of, but let me know if you want me to add anything!
Taglist: @gattonero17 @someoneiwasnt
It’s hard being human, so many struggles that you need to overcome. It‘s even harder when you’re only one aspect of a human’s personality, never fully understanding what it means to be ‘human’.
As much as being a part of it provides unique opportunities and possibilities, finding harmonization in the cluster of Sides that is Thomas Sanders isn’t easy. Surges in one’s need for action differ, but you can never exclude a Side entirely.
That being said, it’s harder for rationality to come through, than is the heart or fear.
In short, it’s hard being Logic.    
Logan didn’t mind his job. Quite the contrary, he was rather happy with it. Then of course, it’s not like he chose what his job would be. However, he was grateful to be the Logical side of Thomas, finding comfort in facts and figures rather than having to deal with icky, complicated feelings.
That didn’t mean he never had to deal with them, though.
Today had been a long and tiring day. Firstly, an unforeseen delay in the drive back to Thomas’ house had caused the schedule to be altered, much to Logan’s dismay.
Realistically, he knew that preparing a schedule didn’t dictate the course of action for the day entirely. There are always unforeseen events (catastrophes, Virgil would call them) that can cause a change of plans.
But Logan was under no obligation to like them.
Secondly, there was the constant bickering between his fellow Sides. Not that it wasn’t a daily occurrence, but given the latest events, he had hoped they would tone it down a bit, as they say.
As usual, he was proven wrong first thing in the afternoon when they got back home.
And he hated being wrong. Luckily for him, they could reduce this quarrel to the confinement of the mind palace instead of capturing it in a video.
“Must you all blow this nuisance out of proportion to such a great scale?” he sighed.
The all glanced back at him, different expressions across their faces.
“Well, I wouldn’t call it a nuisance more than an unfortunate demise of Thomas’ social life”, Janus stated dryly.
Having Janus as a more commonly seen Side these days took some getting used to, but Logan hadn’t mind his presence, given how he usually offered an interesting view of their problems.
Today proved to be one of those days where that was not the case.
Frankly, Logan wasn’t even bothered to point out the flaws in everyone’s reasoning, having opted for letting them all get it out of their system.
Only when the tension seemed to have risen to a higher point, he made his case known, and as expected of him, he was right.
“You always know the right words to say, right, Logan?”
It was a simple compliment, nothing out of the ordinary, but somehow, it meant more to him than he would like to admit.
Compliments these days, among many other things, were starting to become more frequent. In fact, it was one of the reasons days like these, where having to take the reigns of rationality and logic was proving to be a hard task, were becoming less strenuous.
More often than not, he would find a plate of cookies with Crofter’s in front of his door. Occasionally, when he had been working all night and having fallen asleep behind his desk, he would wake up to find his head connected to a pillow, a blanket across his back and a cup of coffee waiting next to him.
He knew this was a way of his fellow Sides thanking him, and he suspected a lot of it had to do with him being silenced so often, but that didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate the effort.
However, it was starting to feel…weird. Or odd…Or bizarre? Remarkable? Was that the word he was looking for?
In the comfort of his room, he summoned a dictionary, trying to find the words to describe it.
But as he flipped through the pages, he found them to be void of nouns, verbs and adjectives, not even a single letter was visible. It was blank, just like his mind.
Angrily, he disposed of the book, crossing his arms as he stared at the ceiling of his room. The surface was covered in stars and constellations, and he fondly remembered the day he put them up there.
The Sides were still young, matching their human in age. Bickering was more frequent back then, and solutions were rarely based on logical conclusions. Still, it was a fond memory:
The twins had offered their services in tools, Janus discussed the best stars to be put on there with him, and Virgil and Patton provided not only moral support, but they made sure they took plenty of breaks and little to no risks in getting injured.
If they had known back then they could just conjure anything and make the room look the way Logan wanted in a flash, much time could have been spared.
Time Logan never considered wasted.
In the corner, right above his pillow, he could see the stars that were the least realistic, yet were the ones he was most fond of:
A small group of faded greens and reds, surrounded by blues and purples, with dots of yellow speckled throughout the painting. The very first famILY drawing ever made.
And it was here, in Logan’s room, right above his head.
Being Logic isn’t easy. It requires being rational, balanced, levelheaded and calm. It requires a stable and prudent mind, it requires seeing things clearly.
Something Logan was finding very difficult with the tears gathering in his eyes.
He could talk for hours about the way stars come into existence and fade out of it. He could write essays about the scientific discovery of DNA and how it functions. He could go on about the different kinds of ethical philosophy for a week, and it still wouldn’t come near to half of what he knows.
Yet, when it came to expressing what he felt regarding his friends, his family, he found himself silent.
As he wiped his tears, he thought about the hardships they had endured over the years. How much Thomas had grown into such a magnificent human being, and how much they as his Sides had evolved as well.
From children, to teenagers, to adults, so much had changed for all of them. Yet one thing remained the same.
He looked back up at the ceiling, and picked up the dictionary once more. This time, he knew what he was looking for.
And as he found it, he set to work.
The following days, Logan was nowhere to be seen save for those few instances he appeared in the kitchen for a cup of coffee.
Now, it was not uncommon for Logan to be m.i.a. for a while. The others knew he would hoard himself in his room to plan and work for days on end.
Usually though, he would still come down for lunch, or at least dinner.
When Logan missed both of those for the 6th time, the Sides were getting worried.
“Has no one seen him, like, anywhere?” Virgil muttered as Patton took away his plate.
“I certainly haven’t”, Roman replied. “I haven’t spoken to, or seen him since, almost a week ago.”
“Did he say anything out of the ordinary? He wasn’t mad at us, right?” Patton looked upset.
“I mean, if he was, he didn’t say so? He did ask if he could go into an unoccupied space of the Imagination.”
“Oh yeah”, Remus said, shoving something green and slimy into his mouth. “I recall him wandering about the edge of my forest. But there’s nothing exciting there. Just an empty space, really. I’ve been meaning to decorate that blank canvas but Logan seemed really interested in it.”
“You don’t think something happened in there, do you?” Janus pondered.
Virgil tapped his feet nervously, eyeshadow slowly growing underneath his eyes. “I’m gonna look for him.”
He shot up from the table, chair stumbling behind him as he reached for the stairs.
“Now slow down, Panic at the Everywhere”, Roman moved to intercept him halfway. “Let’s not jump to a conclusion, okay?”
“But he’s never gone for this long! Especially not without eating anything!” Virgil yelled back.
“Calm down, alright. I didn’t say you weren’t allowed to go look for him, just don’t assume the worst.”
“Yeah, for all we know Logan is just getting torn apart by rabid wolves!” Remus tossed an unidentifiable object into his mouth, crunching it between his teeth, which resulted in Virgil’s eyeshadow creeping further across his face.
“He’s going to die, Logan is going to die, your monsters are going to kill him”, he jabbered.
“Really, Remus?” Janus rolled his eyes.
“What, that’s super fun! Like, when they start tearing into your stoma-“
Janus gestured for him to stop the exposition, nodding in the direction of Virgil and Patton who were both looking very alarmed at his statement.
“How about we all go look for him, yes? Would that be a reasonable compromise?” he offered.
Even before anyone could answer, the Side they were planning to look for appeared behind them, visibly disheveled.
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, LOGAN CAN YOU NOT?” Virgil practically latched on to the wall behind him. “Where have you been!?”
Logan looked at him puzzled, touched Virgil had endured such stress from his…personal project. “Apologies for my absence, I didn’t know it would be of that much affect to you.”
“Of course it did you dummy!” Virgil managed to dig his nails out from the wall. “We haven’t seen you in almost a week!”
“We were getting worried we did something wrong”, Patton moved towards him. “We…didn’t, did we?”
“What?” Logan stared in shock. “No, of course not, it’s, actually quite the contrary.”
He fiddled with his tie, now hanging loosely around his neck, a stark contrast to his usually well put together appearance.
“I, uhm, I would like to show you all something”, he muttered uncharacteristically.
The Sides exchanged a few glances, having not expected Logan to be this nervous.
“This sounds like a trap”, Janus narrowed his eyes. “Should I be worried?”
“Of course not, there is nothing for you to worry about”, Logan straightened his glasses. “However, if you would be so kind to follow me?”
Hesitantly, they all trotted behind him as Logan lead them towards the shared space between Roman and Remus’ room, beyond the castles both creative sides had build and farther and farther away from the entrance.
“Logan, what is this all about?” Virgil asked after a while.
Logan looked back over his shoulder, a small smile painted on his face. He chose not to reply, and instead brought them before a vacant spot near a forest, just as Remus mentioned.
Normally, this would be a stark white spot against the colours emitted from Creativity, an infinite bright void.
However, where they had expected nothing, they stared at a navy curtain, hiding the usually empty space.
Logan cleared his throat, taking out his signature stack of vocab cards. He selected one in particular, fingers tracing the edges anxiously as he put the others away again.
“Alexithymia”, he said.
“Play Despacito?” Remus asked confused.
“Alexithymia”, he repeated. “An inability to describe emotions in a verbal manner.”
“You all know I have a tendency to express myself with numerous expositions. Facts, figures, graphs…All of these are within my repertoire to provide information and to perform my role as Logic to the best of my abilities.”
“Yes, we are aware of that, Logan”, Janus spoke slowly.
“However, the one thing I can never find the words for, is the way I feel. Specifically about all of you. So,”
He moved to pull away the curtain, revealing what he had been working on for the last few days.
“I would like to show you.”
The scene before them was nearly indescribable:
Swirls of colours flowed into each other, pooling together like galaxies. Reflected in their starry eyes, they could see trillions of little specs across a nebula of their signature colours, a backdrop for the buzzing orbs of light flowing across the occupied space. The glow that covered them all almost covered the entire area, a soft blue, seeping into the folds of their clothes and the wrinkles around their eyes as they stared in awe.
Logan moved forward, extending a hand to Virgil. “Uh, specs, what are you gonna do?”
“Just trust me”, he simpered.
He reached out to grab one of the orbs, holding onto it with his fingertips. As soon as he connected it with himself as a link between it and Virgil, the light changed from the bright white to a vibrant purple, buzzing in the process.
“He understands reality better than the other guys, and that is comforting.”
“What in the world…” his voice rang throughout the Imagination.
Logan handed him the now purple orb as he moved on from him to the next side.
“Because he’s my hero!” 
Patton’s cheer chimed in next, a baby blue glow engulfing the fatherly side as Logan handed him another light.
One by one, the lights that were previously contained to the nebula now started changing colours, surrounding every side in a glow of their own until eventually, Logan stopped in the middle, holding something in his hands.
“Logan, what-, how-,” the yellow side was at a loss for words.
“Yes, not being able to find the right words is exactly why I constructed this”, Logan explained.
“I don’t know how to identify the feelings I have, and as my core function, not being able to find a logical explanation is rather…frustrating”, he looked around at his fellow Sides, shining like a rainbow.
He opened up his hands to reveal a small star shaped light, pulsating in his own blue colour. He let it float back into the scene he had created behind them, the star taking all of the lights with it, spinning slowly in harmony.
“I don’t expect you to understand what I mean, I don’t even know it myself either”, he chuckled as they gathered around him.
“Yet” he smiled as he felt his family wrap their arms around him, tears shining in their eyes like the sparkles behind them, “This makes it easier.”
It’s hard being Logic. You have to be calculated. Precise. Eloquent and sensible.
Logan sobbed quietly as the twins moved to cover the rest of the imagination in darkness, highlighting Logan’s creation.
Intellectual. Sound of mind. Impartial.
He sighed, content with the work he did, warm in their arms.
It’s hard being Logic.
But Logan didn’t mind.
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jaydabear · 11 months ago
A Gathering of Friend and Foe {DSMP Fanfic}
Merry Christmas!
Btw I used Morse code here but I have no idea if it’s right. I appreciate any help from someone who knows more about it than me to fix it if it needs fixing.
Laughter erupted as everyone gathered under the Christmas tree built in their home. It was a beautiful sight, L’manburgians and DSMP citizens alike were talking and laughing as if there were no tension between them. Everyone was having fun and for the first time in a long while, no one wanted to kill each other. 
Up on the roof of a nearby building was Dream, sitting down with a pink scarf wrapped around his neck. He watched as everyone was singing, dancing, eating and just talking. He often forgets how much his world changed. He remembers how this world was just him and George, goofing around like they always do. Then came their friends and more and more people just kept coming. Dream chuckled at the memory as he jumps down to join them.
“There he is!” Sapnap announced, raising his cup of eggnog towards the direction of his best friend. Dream waved hello and immediately gets tackled by Sapnap, George. Bad and Ant, laughing as they build a dog pile on their friend. “That’s what you get for ignoring us for the past few weeks.”
Dream groaned but nevertheless, he was glad they were still his friends even with everything he has said and done. “Alright, alright get off me. I want to taste the food.” 
“It’s delicious!” Tubbo poked in, helping them stand back up. “Niki and Puffy worked really hard to prepare the feast tonight. It’s magnificent!” He boasted. Dream huffed a satisfied breath under his mask and ruffled Tubbo’s hair as he made his way towards the table. 
“Hi Dream! We didn’t expect you to join us tonight, what a surprise!” Puffy said as she gave him a plate. “We’re happy to have you, help yourself to anything. Niki and I made enough for everyone and more!” 
Dream only nodded his head and started grabbing some food. He looked around again, the smiles on everyone’s faces giving him the warmth he never thought he’d feel again. These past few months have been rough for everyone and actions were made that placed tension within the nation. With all the wars and rebellion his world has been through, he was always cold and, if he was being honest, quite stressed out. He never had the time to just relax and goof around with Sapnap and George like the early days of this world. Tonight was giving him that much needed relaxation.
“Please, Dream, have some blue. Calm yourself.” Ghostbur softly said, making Dream turn around and see the friendly soul of the former president of L’manburg holding out a crystal to him. “It’s Christmas eve! Have fun!” 
“Thank you Ghos-” he cut himself off, smiling as he takes the transparent crystal from his friend and watch it fill with a light shade of blue. “Thank you, Wilbur. Have a happy holiday to you and your friend over there.” He gestured over to the blue sheep next to him.
“We will!” Ghostbur gleefully replied, hovering a bit higher off the ground as Dream just chuckles at him. 
Out of the corner of his eye, even behind the mask, he could see the familiar shade of blue in the distance. He knew who the three were and just smiled. He settled his plate down and started walking towards the three shadows. He noticed one of them stand up, alerted by his gesture. He quickly raised his hand up to stop them from leaving and immediately starts firing a sequence of firework rockets to the sky. 
-.-- --- ..- .----. .-. . ..--.- .-- . .-.. -.-. --- -- . ..--.- - --- ..--.- .--- --- .. -. ..--.- ..- ...
He smiled at them when they all seem to relax. He waved at them before going back to join everyone else.
“Well...” Phil started. “Should we?”
“Would he really not do anything in a gathering where everyone’s all in one place?” Tommy said, skeptical with the invitation. 
“To be fair, he would’ve done something by now. The feast has been going on for about two hours now and nothing has happened.” Techno replied. 
“Let’s just let them enjoy their party. Let’s go home.” Phil suggested and Techno agreed. They started to walk back towards the snowy taiga they lived in, but noticed Tommy was still staring at the brightly lit city where all his friends were having fun. “Tommy?”
“Can you... let me drop something off for a second? I promise not to stir trouble.” Tommy asked, holding up a present in his hand and one of his potions of invisibility. “One of you can come with me if you want. I just need to drop this off for Tubbo.”
“Sure thing.” Techno said. He gave Phil a pat on the shoulder and started walking over to Tommy. Phil smiled and told them he’ll meet them back at the house.
The pair drank their potions and took off their armor, silently making their way to the big Christmas tree. Tommy walked past everyone, smiling as he saw them having fun for the first time again. He gently placed the box where he was sure Tubbo would easily spot it. He lingered for a bit, reminiscing over the days he used to live here with everyone else. He felt Techno place a hand on his shoulder, knowing what it meant. He stood up and looked at his best friend from the other side of the plaza. He smiled, knowing Tubbo was happy today.
The two started making their way home.
Dream was watching the entire time and as soon as he saw the footprints on the snow starting to walk away, he called over Tubbo and told him to look under the Christmas tree. 
“You have a gift for me there Dream?” Tubbo teased as he went to go check.
“Eh, kinda.” Dream admitted, arms crossed as he watched.
Tubbo immediately found a box there with his name. Assuming it was from Dream, he went to start teasing him. However, the moment he saw who it was from, his heart dropped and his eyes widened.
Phil heard the door open and immediately went to give Tommy what he found. “Someone dropped this at the place where Logstedshire was.” He said with a smile. “Looks like someone hasn’t completely forgotten about you.”
Tommy was confused, but he took the box Phil handed him anyway. Inside was a plush disc and a card that read; “Hi Tommy... Merry Christmas... Wherever you are. -Big T”
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ohgodmyeyes · 9 months ago
Of Course You Can Taste The Force
Saw some interest pop up in my feed with regard to period sex with Anakin, so I'm going to share 'Of Course You Can Taste The Force'. Shouldn't need to tell you it's rated with a big, fat E.
2.5k words.
You had just come out of the shower. The room was warm and steamy, and the air was thick with the comforting scent of your favourite soap. You loved the facilities here at your preferred hotel on Coruscant; they were some of the finest in the galaxy— and the owner tended to favour accomplished young Jedi such as yourself...
...Yourself, of course, and your secret companion, Anakin Skywalker. Who, in fact, had just walked into the shower room, apparently having heard you finally turn the water off. He was completely dressed: Dark brown tunic; bold, black leather accents. Your eyes lingered on his boots, because for some reason, you loved his boots. “I have an idea,” he began. You typically loved Anakin’s ‘ideas’; however... “It’s not exactly the best time,” you told him reluctantly. It really wasn’t. In fact, you were in the midst of a bit of a race with nature right at that moment: You’d hoped to make it to the cabinet outside the bathroom door in time to retrieve a product to catch the menstrual blood you knew was about to begin trickling down the inside of your thigh. Before you could begin to get there, however, Ani had walked in. “What do you mean?” he asked. “I haven’t seen you in weeks.” He always missed you when you had to be apart— he tended to miss you a lot, actually. It was endearing. He stepped toward you; placed his right hand on your bare hip. The sensation of his leather glove on your wet, naked skin gave you goosebumps. He squeezed. You smiled, “I mean I don’t think you’ll be especially interested in in me today,” you told him. “I’m always interested in you,” he retorted. You laughed. “What did Master Obi-Wan teach you about biology, Anakin?” You added after a short pause, “Female biology?” He seemed to think for a moment; then, a look of realization washed over his face. “Oh! You mean...” He pulled back from you to look down— and that trickle of blood you’d anticipated was, indeed, just beginning to make its way down your leg. “Yes,” you said. “That’s what I mean... and if you don’t let me go, I’m going to have a bit of a mess on my hands.” He didn’t move, though— he only grinned as he continued to stare at the dribble of blood on your thigh. ”What?” you asked, a bit impatiently. “That’s beautiful,” he remarked, as he gazed. “It’s annoying,” you told him. “Don’t you know what it means?” You scoffed, “Half a lifetime of inconvenience.” He shook his head; pulled you in closely. “It means you have power.” You laughed again. “‘Power’?” “Power,” he confirmed. “Male Jedi can protect life, and if we need to, we can destroy it— but we can never create it. Not the way you can.” He reached down with his bionic hand— still gloved— and gathered some of your dripping blood on his finger. Then, he raised it again, and held it up to the light. You could see yourself glistening on his fingertip; deep red blended with dark leather as it slithered its way down the material. You’d never really considered it that way before, and it surprised you that Anakin apparently had. “It’s still going to be a mess if you don’t let me get to the cabinet,” you reminded him over his wonderment. “I’ve never minded a bit of a mess,” he countered coyly, and then he shocked you again by placing his finger into his mouth and closing his eyes as he eagerly sucked your blood off of his glove. “What are you saying, exactly, Ani?” You were almost certain you knew, but you could hardly believe it. You’d come under the impression over the course of your life that human men were almost invariably put-off by female menstruation. Anakin, though, had always been a bit different... it was why you’d fallen for him in the first place. After he’d finished licking you off of it, he placed his hand on the side of your face and leaned down to whisper into your ear, “I’m saying that right now, you have a power— an expression of the Force— flowing not only through you, but out of you. It’s a power I’ll never truly be able to harness for myself.” You leaned into his touch; nuzzled his hand as you enjoyed his breath on your neck. “So... you want me to share it with you?” you asked him. “Is that what you’re saying?”
He chuckled; a bit darkly, perhaps. You knew that Anakin had a hint of darkness in him: It was something you’d always seen, but that even some Master Jedi could not. You respected it; embraced it— and you didn’t mind keeping it quiet. You weren’t sure that Anakin himself had even fully registered it.
He tightened his grip on your hip; pressed the rough fabric of his tunic and the smooth leather of his belt into your bare flesh.
“I’m saying I want it,” he told you. “Are you going to give it to me?” He kissed your earlobe at that; he loved to tease you. You gasped at the sensation of his lips— they were so soft.”Yes,” you breathed, because you loved the feeling of belonging to Anakin... and he, too, seemed to relish his dominion over you. These feelings (and the actions you often took in response to them) were strictly forbidden, you both knew— however, you could hardly have helped them. ‘Forbidden’ did not mean ‘impossible’.
At your response, he took you around your waist by his hands and lifted you swiftly into the air— Anakin was impossibly strong, even for a Jedi Knight. You wrapped your bare legs around his waist; warned him that you were likely to get blood on his clothes.
His only answer was to make a noise indicating that he was experiencing a particularly ravenous hunger, and carry you out of the shower room. You absolutely loved it when Ani picked you up and carried you.
You also absolutely loved to watch him undress, and so that was what you did once he had brought you to the bedroom and set you down so that you were sitting on the edge of the mattress. First came his belt, with his lightsaber; he set those down gently. Next came his glove, which he peeled off sensuously and dropped beside himself on the floor with significantly less care than he’d afforded his weapon. You loved to study the contrast between his hands: They looked and felt so different from one another, but both of them were undeniably unique to him. You’d have known either of them, anywhere— to see or to feel them.
Finally, his tunic was lifted to reveal his stomach and chest; then, he peeled his pants away right out of and over his boots, and you were left staring at a magnificently strong body: Broad and well-muscled; yet lithe, and utterly smooth to your touch. As if he’d read your mind before, he didn’t touch those boots of his— they contrasted delightfully with his skin, and seemed to emphasize the sheer strength of his legs.
“I hate being away from you, Ani,” you said, because to see him this way always reminded you of how much you pined for him when you were apart.
“I hate it too,” he agreed, “but times like this make it all worth it, don't they?” He asked this as he stepped forward so that he was directly in front of you. His cock was already rock-hard, so you reached out to grasp it. He groaned softly; bucked into your hand.
“They do,” you confirmed, and you leaned forward to take him in your mouth.
He called out, and as if by instinct his hand shot to the hair at the back of your head. You swallowed at the tip of his cock; could taste him as he leaked onto the back of your tongue... which you dragged languidly along his length every time you drew your head away.
He let you do this for a while; finally, he pulled your mouth from him and looked down at you. “Lie back,” he said. “I want to taste the Force.”
“I didn’t know you could taste the Force,” you said, although to hear the concept spoken aloud, it made absolute perfect sense.
“Of course you can taste the Force, my love— I’ve tasted it my whole life.” He grinned widely. “But never, ever like this.”
Then, he dropped to his knees on the floor, and crawled up between your legs on the bed.“Ani!”
“Shhh— quiet,” he said, and he dove into your bloody cunt eagerly; licking, probing, sucking. He thirstily drank up both the substance of your life’s essence, and the slickness of your fresh arousal. You were stunned, but it felt incredible: Muscles which had been sore now throbbed in an infinitely more pleasant fashion, and your clit was as stiff and receptive to his touch as he had ever rendered it.
You felt yourself gush, and heard Anakin make a noise which sounded unabashedly pleased— you wondered which substance, precisely, he was responding to; however, you didn’t ask. You were too busy enjoying his enthusiasm for your ‘power’.
Once he’d made you shudder and buck to his satisfaction, he drew back and began to explore you with his fingers. You could see very clearly the blood around his mouth; on his nose, even.
You had read old legends and fairytales about creatures of darkness who fed exclusively on blood... and the incredible view of Anakin rising from between your legs coated with part of your insides recalled those stories. From the creamy, alabaster beauty of his skin to the honey-coloured tendrils of blonde which had just finished tickling your thighs, he appeared exactly as you might have imagined one of those painfully handsome, blood-sucking demons to have looked.
Anakin, though, had always been an image of stunning elegance.
“You’re beautiful, Ani,” you told him, because you couldn’t keep from saying it any longer.
“It’s you, darling,” he answered, as he traced crimson lines into your legs with both sets of his fingers.
“What does it taste like?” you asked him. “The Force, I mean?”
“I can’t describe it,” he said. He paused; seemed to think. “I’m going to have to show you.”
Once he’d said that, he crawled up the length of your body; you savoured the sturdy, athletic hardness of his muscles as he slipped over you deftly. Once his face was level with your own, he buried his tongue deep inside of your mouth and gifted you a taste of what he’d been so eager to take from you. You placed your arms around his back as he did.
The flavour was like copper, mixed with something which would nearly have tasted sweet, if it weren’t for an underlying, almost citrusy tang.
When he pulled away, he asked you, “It’s exquisite, isn’t it?”
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before,” you told him, and that was the truth.
“I love you,” he said.
“You can’t love me,” you reminded him. What you didn’t add was that you loved him back— of course you loved him back.
“I have to,” he insisted, and he shifted his body so that he could push himself zealously inside of you. You shouted at the suddenness of the stretch; dug your nails into his flesh, and moaned his name as he began to pillage you in a way you’d come to learn was unique to Anakin— only he ever could have made love to you this way
.As his breathing started to quicken along with his pace, he growled into your ear, “Mine.”
You bucked up into him in return; clenched yourself as tightly as you could around his girth, and answered him with an emphatic, “Yours— all yours, Ani.”
After that, you didn’t speak anymore. You both simply grasped, scratched, pulled, and rutted until Anakin’s cock began to throb and you could tell that he was about to release: Give you something in return for what he’d drawn out of you. You were eager to receive it; grateful that you were the person from whom he wished to take, and happy to give yourself to him, too.
Nobody knew, and nobody needed to know: This was only for the two of you.
He seemed almost to disintegrate after finishing; fall into a heap on your chest. He laid there this way for a long time as you held him; just breathing into you, and gasping half-coherent professions of his love. You could feel the soles of those boots you loved to see him wear all by themselves dig into your calf muscles.
Finally, you couldn’t help yourself anymore. As he slid off of you to lay beside you, you could see your blood smeared on his face and hands and cock; it made it so that you had to say to him, “I love you, too, you know,” because you did... and no matter how forbidden it was, nothing ever could have stopped it. You knew that to look at him right now.
He smiled as he closed his eyes, sidled up to you, and purred into your ear, “I know you love me— I can taste it.”
You laughed quietly at that because you were certain that he was telling the truth. You might have had a power that he could never possess; however, he’d still found a way to harness it; force you to betray yourself, and your feelings. You wondered if Ani wasn’t a bit more aware of that touch of darkness you sensed within him than you had been giving him credit for.
Then, you looked at the angelic tranquility of his features as he slept; thought to yourself that perhaps you had been mistaken about that little shadow you’d always thought you’d seen flitting back and forth behind his eyes. How could something so perfectly beautiful possess even a trace of evil?
That blood, though...That blood which coated his face and fingers: The deep crimson stain that was crusting unceremoniously around the base of his cock now, too, because even to suck it out of you with his mouth had not been enough... that gave him away, you realized.
Whatever it was within him which made him covet the only power you could ever possibly hold over him, though, was also the thing that allowed him to love you in spite of all logic, instruction, threat, or consequence.
You knew that it was worth it to have Anakin love you; worth it to share your essence with him. You let your dreams take you happily that evening, because they took you to a place where you did not have to miss your strange, sweet Jedi; where he woke with you every morning, and fell asleep having taken a new piece of you for himself each night.
Those dreams were not to become realities, of course— not right now; likely not ever. Here in your preferred hotel on Coruscant, though, amongst the heavenly smell of that soap you liked and the rhythmic heartbeat of your most favourite person, coated in your very self...Here, at least, you could pretend for a while.
You were happy you hadn’t made it to the cabinet.
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asoiafdaenerysdaily · 10 months ago
So... It might be that I'm just very dense😅, but what & when exactly was the turning point in the Conflict between Dany & the free(wo)men vs The Slavers & all their allies?
Through the course of ADwD the Slavery Revolution was always present lost cause, of course, by the slavers. Half of the world, especially the wealthy & powerful (slavers) declared themselves allies to Yunkai. More than once were the names of all the cities listed that aided them. Tge Delimma of the Sons of the Harpy is stilla current problem & while Hizdahr is imprisoned atm, he still is considered King/ Consort. Yunkai & Astapor are allowed to maintain the Slavery again & so on. The Second Sons even defected, coz they didn't want to be on the "losing side".
What changed?
Surely the pale mare has weakened, if not almost broken the siege of the Yunkai. But why do Tyrion & Jorah say "The Yunkai have lost this war"? Why do the Second Sons want to defect again?
Don't get me wrong, I love the change! But I can't follow it? Jorah listed in Tyrion XII all Danys current resources as a reason for her victory, but she had all those from the beginning of ADwD. So what changed? I would get it if Dany had already the Dothraki on her side & if that was known, but it's more speculated by the people that Dany is dead somewhere in the Dothraki Sea...
Thx anyway 😍.
Thank you for the question. There are indeed many things happening here, and quite a few things change from the moment Ben decides to betray Dany, to the moment he decides to go back to her side.
First, we get news very early in the book that Yunkai has been gathering allies against Dany:
"I have sellswords too."
"Two companies. The Yunkai'i will send twenty against you if they must. And when they march, they will not march alone. Tolos and Mantarys have agreed to an alliance." - Daenerys III ADWD
It was all Dany could do not to laugh. "Not well. Last night three Qartheen galleys sailed up the Skahazadhan under the cover of darkness. The Mother's Men loosed flights of fire arrows at their sails and flung pots of burning pitch onto their decks, but the galleys slipped by quickly and suffered no lasting harm. The Qartheen mean to close the river to us, as they have closed the bay. And they are no longer alone. Three galleys from New Ghis have joined them, and a carrack out of Tolos." The Tolosi had replied to her request for an alliance by proclaiming her a whore and demanding that she return Meereen to its Great Masters. Even that was preferable to the answer of Mantarys, which came by way of caravan in a cedar chest. Inside she had found the heads of her three envoys, pickled. "Perhaps your gods can help us. Ask them to send a gale and sweep the galleys from the bay." - Daenerys IV ADWD
Today she counted five-and-twenty, though some were far away and moving, so it was hard to be certain. Sometimes she missed one, or counted one twice. What does it matter? A strangler only needs ten fingers. All trade had stopped, and her fisherfolk did not dare put out into the bay. The boldest still dropped a few lines into the river, though even that was hazardous; more remained tied up beneath Meereen's walls of many-colored brick.
There were ships from Meereen out in the bay too, warships and trading galleys whose captains had taken them to sea when Dany's host first laid siege to the city, now returned to augment the fleets from Qarth, Tolos, and New Ghis. - Daenerys V ADWD
And of course, inside Meereen, Dany has to deal with the Sons of the Harpy. So this threat grows and grows, until Ben decides to turn on Dany:
The cobbler thanked her for that, and the old brickmaker kissed her foot, but the weaver looked at her with eyes as hard as slate. She knows I lie, the queen thought. She knows I cannot keep them safe. Astapor is burning, and Meereen is next.
“There’s more coming,” Brown Ben announced when the Astapori had been led away. “These three had horses. Most are afoot.”
“How many are they?” asked Reznak.
Brown Ben shrugged. “Hundreds. Thousands. Some sick, some burned, some wounded. The Cats and the Windblown are swarming through the hills with lance and lash, driving them north and cutting down the laggards.”
“Mouths on feet. And sick, you say?” Reznak wrung his hands. “Your Worship must not allow them in the city.”
“I wouldn’t,” said Brown Ben Plumm. “I’m no maester, mind you, but I know you got to keep the bad apples from the good.”
“These are not apples, Ben,” said Dany. “These are men and women, sick and hungry and afraid.” My children. “I should have gone to Astapor.”
“What is done is done,” said Reznak mo Reznak. “Your Worship, I beg you, take the noble Hizdahr for your king at once. He can speak with the Wise Masters, make a peace for us.”
“On what terms?” Beware the perfumed seneschal, Quaithe had said. The masked woman had foretold the coming of the pale mare, was she right about the noble Reznak too? “I may be a young girl innocent of war, but I am not a lamb to walk bleating into the harpy’s den. I still have my Unsullied. I have the Stormcrows and the Second Sons. I have three companies of freedmen.”
“Them, and dragons,” said Brown Ben Plumm, with a grin.
“In the pit, in chains,” wailed Reznak mo Reznak. “What good are dragons that cannot be controlled? Even the Unsullied grow fearful when they must open the doors to feed them.”
“What, o’ the queen’s little pets?” [...]
“Pets?” screeched Reznak. “Monsters, rather. Monsters that feed on children. We cannot—”
“Silence,” said Daenerys. “We will not speak of that.”
Reznak shrank away from her, flinching from the fury in her tone. “Forgive me, Magnificence, I did not …”
Brown Ben Plumm bulled over him. “Your Grace, the Yunkish got three free companies against our two, and there’s talk the Yunkishmen sent to Volantis to fetch back the Golden Company. Those bastards field ten thousand. Yunkai’s got four Ghiscari legions too, maybe more, and I heard it said they sent riders across the Dothraki sea to maybe bring some big khalasar down on us. We need them dragons, the way I see it.”
Dany sighed. “I am sorry, Ben. I dare not loose the dragons.” She could see that was not the answer that he wanted.
Plumm scratched at his speckled whiskers. “If there’s no dragons in the balance, well … we should leave before them Yunkish bastards close the trap … only first, make the slavers pay to see our backs. They pay the khals to leave their cities be, why not us? Sell Meereen back to them and start west with wagons full o’ gold and gems and such.”
“You want me to loot Meereen and flee? No, I will not do that. Grey Worm, are my freedmen ready for battle?”
The eunuch crossed his arms against his chest. “They are not Unsullied, but they will not shame you. This one will swear to that by spear and sword, Your Worship.”
“You mean to take the field?” The Shavepate’s voice was thick with disbelief. “That would be folly. Our walls are taller and thicker than the walls of Astapor, and our defenders are more valiant. The Yunkai’i will not take this city easily.”
Ser Barristan disagreed. “I do not think we should allow them to invest us. Theirs is a patchwork host at best. These slavers are no soldiers. If we take them unawares …”
“Small chance of that,” the Shavepate said. “The Yunkai’i have many friends inside the city. They will know.”
“How large an army can we muster?” Dany asked.
“Not large enough, begging your royal pardon,” said Brown Ben Plumm. “What does Naharis have to say? If we’re going to make a fight o’ this, we need his Stormcrows.”
“Daario is still in the field.” Oh, gods, what have I done? Have I sent him to his death? “Ben, I will need your Second Sons to scout our enemies. Where they are, how fast they are advancing, how many men they have, and how they are disposed.”
“We’ll need provisions. Fresh horses too.”
“Of course. Ser Barristan will see to it.”
Brown Ben scratched his chin. “Might be we could get some o’ them to come over. If Your Grace could spare a few bags o’ gold and gems … just to give their captains a good taste, as it were … well, who knows?”
“Buy them, why not?” Dany said. That sort of thing went on all the time amongst the free companies of the Disputed Lands, she knew. “Yes, very good. Reznak, see to it. Once the Second Sons ride out, close the gates and double the watch upon the walls.” - Daenerys V ADWD
This is the moment Ben decides to betray Dany, take her provisions and gold and go to the Yunkish. What he learns here that makes him take this decision is:
Yunkai has just burned Astapor, and Dany was powerless to stop them, and now they are marching to Meereen;
Sick people are coming to Meereen, which is likely to weaken even more the city;
The Yunkai'i have three free companies, has sent people to Volantis and will probably fetch the Golden company (which has ten thousand men), they have four Ghiscari legions (and maybe more), and it's said that they were also making alliances with khalasars against Dany.
Against this, Dany has only two sellsword companies, the Unsullied, and the freedmen companies, but the freedmen companies are inexperienced and have never really faced battle. So Yunkai has forces that vastly outnumber Dany's forces.
On top of that, he learns here that one of Dany's forces (the Stormcrows) is not currently in the city, and that Dany is unwilling to use the dragons, the only thing that could give them an advantage and counter Yunkai's numbers.
And there's also the fact that at this point, Dany hasn't yet made the peace deal with Yunkai (she decides to marry Hizdahr at the end of this chapter, after seeing how bad and urgent the situation is), so Ben has reason to believe that Dany will be attacked and lose, especially considering that she refused to sack the city and leave like he suggested.
So these are all reasons he decides to abandon her at this moment and turn his cloak. However, many things change.
Long story short, the peace is broken by Ser Barristan, and there were already many signs that the Yunkai'i and their allies already planned to break the peace (see here, here, here and here). Ser Barristan takes command of Dany's forces and goes to battle. But here, a few things happen:
Ben believed that the Yunkai'i would get the support of the Golden Company (which would give Yunkai a huge advantage with their ten thousand men). However, the Golden Company did not really join Yunkai (they went to Westeros with Young Griff), and the Volantene navy hasn't arrived yet at the moment the peace is broken and the battle begins;
While the pale mare did weaken Dany's people, it also weakened the Yunkish army, so that didn't really bring Yunkai any advantage;
The Stormcrows, that were outside Meereen when Ben decided to betray Dany, have returned to the city, which means Dany's disadvantage in numbers isn't as big as Ben expected it to be;
The khalasars that were said to have allied to Yunkai haven't arrived yet at the moment of the battle;
The dragons, that Ben believed wouldn't take part in the battle, were released by Quentyn and cause havoc during the battle;
One very unexpected thing happens that is bad for Yunkai: Victarion's fleet arrives and starts attacking the Yunkish navies and armies.
And finally, Dany has also taken some very important measures that turned the battle in her favor (even though she wasn't there at the moment of the battle). First, she has released Pretty Meris in hopes to make the Tattered Prince turn his cloak and come to her side:
“Rogues and cutthroats, scum of a hundred battlefields,” Ser Barristan warned, “with captains full as treacherous as Plumm.”
“I am only a young girl and know little of such things, but it seems to me that we want them to be treacherous. Once, you’ll recall, I convinced the Second Sons and Stormcrows to join us.”
“If Your Grace wishes a privy word with Gylo Rhegan or the Tattered Prince, I could bring them up to your apartments.”
“This is not the time. Too many eyes, too many ears. Their absence would be noted even if you could separate them discreetly from the Yunkai’i. We must find some quieter way of reaching out to them … not tonight, but soon.”
“As you command. Though I fear this is not a task for which I am well suited. In King’s Landing work of this sort was left to Lord Littlefinger or the Spider. We old knights are simple men, only good for fighting.” He patted his sword hilt.
“Our prisoners,” suggested Dany. “The Westerosi who came over from the Windblown with the three Dornishmen. We still have them in cells, do we not? Use them.”
“Free them, you mean? Is that wise? They were sent here to worm their way into your trust, so they might betray Your Grace at the first chance.”
“Then they failed. I do not trust them. I will never trust them.” If truth be told, Dany was forgetting how to trust. “We can still use them. One was a woman. Meris. Send her back, as a … a gesture of my regard. If their captain is a clever man, he will understand.”
“The woman is the worst of all.”
“All the better.” Dany considered a moment. “We should sound out the Long Lances too. And the Company of the Cat.”
“Bloodbeard.” Ser Barristan’s frown deepened. “If it please Your Grace, we want no part of him. Your Grace is too young to remember the Ninepenny Kings, but this Bloodbeard is cut from the same savage cloth. There is no honor in him, only hunger … for gold, for glory, for blood.”
“You know more of such men than me, ser.” If Bloodbeard might be truly the most dishonorable and greedy of the sellswords, he might be the easiest to sway, but she was loath to go against Ser Barristan’s counsel in such matters. “Do as you think best. But do it soon. If Hizdahr’s peace should break, I want to be ready. I do not trust the slavers.” I do not trust my husband. “They will turn on us at the first sign of weakness.”
“The Yunkai’i grow weaker as well. The bloody flux has taken hold amongst the Tolosi, it is said, and spread across the river to the third Ghiscari legion.”
The pale mare. Daenerys sighed. Quaithe warned me of the pale mare’s coming. She told me of the Dornish prince as well, the sun’s son. She told me much and more, but all in riddles. “I cannot rely on plague to save me from my enemies. Set Pretty Meris free. At once.” - Daenerys VIII ADWD
And in the end, her plot does work, and the Tattered Prince turning his cloak is another factor that helps turn the battle in Dany's favor:
"Gorzhak zo Eraz lies slain, cut down by Pentoshi treachery. The turncloak who names himself the Prince of Tatters shall die screaming for this infamy, the noble Morghar swears." Brown Ben scratched at his beard. "The Windblown have gone over, have they?" he said, in a tone of mild interest. - Tyrion II TWOW
Then there's also the difference in the organization and willingness to fight between Yunkai's troops and Dany's troops. Dany has prepared her people to fight. She has organized the freedmen into fighting companies, and has made Grey Worm train and prepare them for battle:
“My freedman—” Dany started.
“Bedslaves, barbers, and brickmakers win no battles.”
He was wrong in that, she hoped. The freedmen had been a rabble once, but she had organized the men of fighting age into companies and commanded Grey Worm to make them into soldiers. - Daenerys III ADWD
Dany has the love of her people, and they are willing to fight for her and for their freedom:
“Wherever the Mother of Dragons goes, the Mother’s Men will go as well,” announced Marselen, Missandei’s remaining brother. - Daenerys III ADWD
When His Grace had tried to put them under the command of a cousin, as he had the Brazen Beasts, Grey Worm had informed the king that they were free men who took commands only from their mother. – The Queensguard ADWD
“Is it true?” a freedwoman shouted. “Is our mother dead?”
“No, no, no,” Reznak screeched. “Queen Daenerys will return to Meereen in her own time in all her might and majesty. Until such time, His Worship King Hizdahr shall—”
“He is no king of mine,” a freedman yelled. – The Discarded Knight ADWD
Her people are united because of her:
A young girl she might be, but Daenerys Targaryen was the only thing that held them all together. – The Queen’s Hand ADWD
Beneath him was the queen’s own mount, the silver mare Khal Drogo had given her upon their wedding day. That was presumptuous, he knew, but if Daenerys herself could not be with them in their hour of peril, Ser Barristan hoped the sight of her silver in the fray might give heart to her warriors, reminding them of who and what they fought for. - Barristan I TWOW
And Dany's forces have a clear commander, Ser Barristan.
Meanwhile, the Yunkai'i are utterly disorganized. Because the slavers are all selfish and greedy for wealth and glory, each of them has their own self interest. Meaning that while Dany's people are organized and fighting for a common cause (thanks to Dany's efforts and to their own cause to fight for freedom), the slavers are in utter chaos:
"The council of masters has been unable to agree. Yezzan zo Qaggaz had the most support, but now he's died as well. The Wise Masters are rotating the supreme command amongst themselves. Today our leader is the one your friends in the ranks dubbed the Drunken Conqueror. On the morrow, it will be Lord Wobblecheeks."
"The Rabbit," said Meris. "Wobblecheeks was yesterday."
"I stand corrected, my sweetling. Our Yunkish friends were kind enough to provide us with a chart. I must strive to be more assiduous about consulting it." - The Spurned Suitor, ADWD
"Captain's not here just now," Inkpots told the messenger. "He's gone to see the Girl General." 
The rider pointed at the sun. "Lady Malazza's command ended with the rising of the sun. Do as Lord Gorzhak instructs you." 
"Attack the squid ships, you mean? The ones out there in the water?" The paymaster frowned. "I don't see how, myself, but when Brown Ben gets back I'll tell him what your Gorzhak wants." 
"The ships are landing men," screamed the Yunkish lordling. "They've blocked the mouth of the Skahazadhan with a fireship, and every moment you stand here talking another hundred swords come splashing through the shallows. Assemble your men and drive them back into the sea! At once! Gorzhak commands it!" 
"Which one is Gorzhak?" asked Kem. "Is he the Rabbit?" 
"Pudding Face," said Inkpots. "The Rabbit's not fool enough to send light horse against longships." 
The rider had heard enough. "I shall inform Gorzhak zo Eraz that you refuse to carry out his order," he said stiffly. Then he wheeled his golden horse around and galloped back the way he'd come, chased by a gale of sellsword laughter. - Tyrion II TWOW
"We are commanded to defend the Wicked Sister," Brown Ben informed them. The other men exchanged uneasy glances. No one seemed to want to speak until Ser Jorah asked, "On whose authority?" 
"The girl's. Ser Grandfather is making for the Harridan, but she's afraid he'll turn toward Wicked Sister next. The Ghost is already down. Marselen's freedmen broke the Long Lances like a rotten stick and dragged it over with chains. The girl figures Selmy means to bring down all the trebuchets." 
"It's what I'd do in his place," Ser Jorah said. "Only I would have done it sooner."
"Why is the girl still giving orders?" Inkpots sounded baffled. "Dawn has come and gone. Can she not see the sun? She is behaving as if she were still the supreme commander."
"If you were her and knew that Pudding Face were about to assume command, you might keep giving orders too," said Mormont. - Tyrion II TWOW
And not only everything is in chaos, but a good portion of Yunkai's soldiers are slaves, and these slave soldiers simply do not have the same drive to fight for their masters as the freedmen have to fight for their freedom. These slaves don't love their owners the way the freedmen love Daenerys for having freed them. So part of Ser Barristan's strategy is to hit these soldiers and break them:
“You know our plan of attack,” the white knight said, when the captains were gathered around him. “We will hit them first with our horse, as soon as the gate is opened. Ride hard and fast, straight at the slave soldiers. When the legions form up, sweep around them. Take them from behind or from the flank, but do not try their spears. Remember your objectives.” - Barristan I TWOW
So all of these things contributed to the victory of Dany's army in the battle: some things that happened by chance, but some that Dany herself prepared that allowed the battle to be won. So when it's clear that Yunkai is losing the battle, Ben (with Tyrion's advice) decides that it's more beneficial to turn his cloak again and come to Dany's side:
"Better to look a fool than to be one," the dwarf replied. "We are on the losing side." - Tyrion II TWOW
The white cyvasse dragon ended up at Tyrion's feet. He scooped it off the carpet and wiped it on his sleeve, but some of the Yunkish blood had collected in the fine grooves of the carving, so the pale wood seemed veined with red. "All hail our beloved queen, Daenerys." Be she alive or be she dead. He tossed the bloody dragon in the air, caught it, grinned. "We have always been the queen's men," announced Brown Ben Plumm. "Rejoining the Yunkai'i was just a plot." - Tyion II TWOW 
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