yoonmin au in which jimin’s lived his entire life trapped in a tower, dreaming of the beautiful lights he sees in the sky every year. he never thought he’d be able to see them up close until a dragon crashes its way into his tower and offers to take him.
hello this is. going to be the most (the MOST) self indulgent thing i have ever written. a cross between tangled and how to train your dragon !!! bc i love those movies with my entire freakin heart !!!
we're starting and finishing this in one go because apparently i have that much faith in myself

pls enjoy this mess

years ago, in the season of short days and long nights, a prince was born underneath a black velvet sky. with his golden hair and sleepy brown eyes, he became the pride and joy of his entire kingdom.
this kingdom, in itself, was different.

it was one in which dragons roamed free, oftentimes paired with a human rider, circling the skies and lazing on the seaside cliffs and stealing apples from vendors' carts.
to outsiders, the dragons were almighty, terrifying in all of their large, scaled beauty, with their powerful wings and intelligent eyes and ability to shift back and forth from human to dragon.
because of their dragons' strength, this kingdom lived in peace for centuries upon centuries. until one night, when the prince was barely a year old, a greedy, aging sorcerer snuck his way into the castle, and stole the prince away.
for he had heard of the magic that rang true in this kingdom's royal bloodline -- magic that could heal, that could soothe, that could stop time within a person's own body.

could let a person live forever.
so consumed with greed and treachery, the sorcerer locked the prince away in a faraway tower, hidden deep within the forest.

devastated, the king and queen called for the help of every dragon and rider to search for their son.
but he had disappeared, without a single trace.

and for the next 23 years, the dragon kingdom would light lanterns on the missing prince's birthday, hoping that someday, prince jimin would look up, and find his way home.

"they're talking about you again," taehyung said in lieu of a greeting as he fell into step beside yoongi.

the older dragon quirked a brow in acknowledgment, his cloak flowing out behind him as he made his way towards the water.

"oh, everybody around town. the same stuff, really," taehyung huffed out. "just about how you refuse to take a rider."

yoongi's eyes became stone.

"it is not law that we must accept one."
"i know, hyung. of course i do. it's all talk, anyway. judgment from those who wish to have you."

"that's the thing," yoongi shook his head. "i don't wish to be /had/. to be owned. i want to...i want to be free."

taehyung bumped his shoulder lightly against yoongi's.
"you know having a rider doesn't tie you down, hyung. it gives us strength. a connection, a bond."

"i haven't felt it with anyone. that bond, i mean."
taehyung nodded. "and maybe you never will. but that's okay. you're already one of the strongest dragons in the kingdom. you don't need a rider to prove that."

yoongi pretended not to preen at his friend's compliment. it felt good, hearing praise.
it was nice to hear something kind, after years and years of the whispered words behind his back, the entire kingdom wondering why he refused a rider.

it wasn't for lack of trying on their parts -- he got propositioned nearly every week from someone new.
he politely but firmly turned down every single one of them.

"and how is your rider?" yoongi asked taehyung.
he watched in amusement as the younger blushed, biting his lip to hide the automatic grin that made its way onto his face.
"jeongguk's...amazing," taehyung confessed. "he's taught me so much already. and he knows exactly how much weight to lean into our turns, which is /tricky/, and he always makes sure to have dry clothes for me after i shift back, and he's so strong but so gentle at the same time-"
yoongi let out a laugh. "you are absolutely smitten, taehyungie."

to yoongi's surprise, taehyung didn't deny it.

"hey," yoongi called gently. "for the record, i heard jeongguk talking to his friends the other night. he thinks just as highly of you as you do of him.
you two are a good match, tae."

taehyung looked at yoongi, something serious in his eyes that wasn't there on a typical day. he opened his mouth to say something, but the ringing of the large bell cut him off.

they both looked out towards the water.

it was time.
the sun had just begun to set, and the entire kingdom watched as the king and queen, standing on the shore, waves kissing their toes, knelt to the ground.

yoongi watched as their shoulders caved with grief, bodies trembling, silhouettes wrapped around each other tightly.
after a few minutes, they rose, and with them, a lantern.

held delicately on the flat of their outstretched palms, they brought their arms up slowly, then gently pushed, giving the lantern up to the air and the wind.
its golden glow was the spark setting off thousands of others, as the rest of the kingdom followed their rulers' lead and lit their own.

yoongi and taehyung, too, knelt to the ground and lit the lanterns that had previously been in yoongi's pack.
"to the prince," taehyung murmured.

"and his safe return," yoongi finished.
the two friends stood, paper lanterns engraved with suns and stars flickering in their hands, filled to the brim with hot air and desperate hope.

they let the lanterns go, and watched as it joined the others. all calling for the prince to come home, to his kingdom, his family.
though he was only a child when the prince was stolen away, yoongi felt an ache in his chest.

the two of them stood there until the last of the lanterns disappeared from their sky, leaving them in complete darkness.



startled, jimin looked up from the painting he was working on, head moving towards the window.


heart pounding now, he checked the clock. his uncle wasn't due home for another four hours, and even then, he always came in through the hidden door that he
kept locked, pocketing the key with him.


clenching onto his brush like a weapon, uncaring of the blue paint that splattered onto his pants, he stood from his stool.

jimin made his way towards the window, and held a hand to it, the wooden panes of it latched shut. when another impact made the wood jump underneath his palm, jimin unlatched the lock, heart in his throat.
the window flew open, and jimin gasped, stumbling back, as something sharp and hot brushed harshly against his side as it pushed its way into the tower.

jimin whirled as something large collapsed to the floor,
causing all of the stray papers in the room to flit up from their resting places.

the paintbrush in his hand clattered to the ground.

there, right on the stone floor of the tower that made up jimin's entire world, was a dragon.
a living, breathing dragon.

a living, breathing dragon that was currently bleeding out all over the floor.
"oh my god," jimin whispered to himself. his hands shook as he made his way over, unsure of what to do. unsure of how the dragon had even managed to squeeze itself in through that window, unsure of how it had even found this tower.

inspecting it, jimin lost his breath.
the creature was beautiful.

deep green scales, so dark they were black at some angles, certain ones reflecting light the way crystals do, winking and playful and effervescent.

its body was a sea of light and shadow, complete with a set of huge, powerful wings.
before jimin had time to process his thoughts, to try and find the source of the blood coming from the creature's belly, the telltale sound of a door opening echoed through the tower.

jimin sucked in a panicked breath.
his uncle was home, earlier than usual.
sprinting over to the dragon's large head, jimin's hands fluttered frantically over it.

"wake up. you have to go. you have to go!"

a single, black eye opened, and it stared hazily at jimin.
"he'll hurt you, you have to go, please," jimin's voice was frantic as he heard his uncle's footsteps coming closer, the sorcerer making his way up the entirety of the tower, allowing himself to reach the living area on the very top.
when the dragon didn't respond, jimin whirled and ran for the door that his uncle was just about to come through, desperate to distract him, to convince him not to hurt the creature, his mind going a million miles a minute.
he didn't know why or how, but jimin was sure that the dragon meant no harm. and strangely, there was an ache in his chest that had him yearning to reach out and run his hands over those beautiful scales, to heal its wound, to help it get better.
back turned towards the dragon, jimin made it to the door right as his uncle flung it open.

"uncle!" jimin exclaimed nervously, waiting for the man's reaction as he glanced lazily around the tower.

"jimin," the man said. "what are you doing by the door?"
jimin hesitated, staring at his uncle's face.
why was he not shocked? not angry?

"are you daft, jimin? answer my question," his uncle snapped, using an arm to jostle jimin out of his path as he made his way further into the room.
jimin glanced behind him, and noticed the dragon was gone.
just like that.
blinking harshly, he gasped.
had he imagined the entire thing? was his life so lacking from magic and adventure that he was beginning to hallucinate?
"and clean that cursed paint of yours off the floor," his uncle said. "i feed you, provide for you, look after you every day, and all you do is make a mess."

jimin's eyes wandered to the blood on the floor.
his uncle had mistaken it for red paint.
"yes, uncle," he said weakly. "i'm sorry, uncle."

eyes flickering to every corner of the tower, jimin was /sure/ that there was nowhere the dragon could have hidden. it had been massive, taking up almost the entirety of the floor space when it had been laying down.
there was no way it could have disappeared.
"i'm leaving for a few days, to get supplies from the village over," his uncle said as he packed some clothes into a case. "there's enough food to last you until i come back the day after tomorrow."

"yes, uncle," jimin responded automatically. his mind was still reeling,
but more than that, something lonely clenched deep in his gut. had he truly made the dragon up? had his tiny taste of magic disappeared before he could even appreciate it?

had that taste of magic even been real?
"won't you sing for me before i go?"

jimin looked up at his uncle then, and let out a silent sigh.

this was all he was good for.
this was all he was needed for.

"of course, uncle," he said.
jimin closed his eyes and sang, ignoring the stinging behind his lids, and the emptiness within his heart.


jimin awoke that night to noise.
he found consciousness easier than he normally did, thoughts of the dragon still running circles in his mind.
had it come back?
was it still injured?

questions were loud within his head as he made his way down the stairs.
jimin halted as he came face to face with a man with moonlight skin.

the two of them froze as their eyes met, twin expressions of shock on their faces.
"who are you?" jimin demanded, heart pounding.
when the man stepped towards him, jimin let out a shout and backed up, throwing his hands out in front of him.
"don't come any closer."

"i won't hurt you," the man rasped out. "i...you've seen me. earlier."
"i've never seen you in my life," jimin hissed out. "i never leave this tower."

the man blinked.
"you...never leave this tower?"

jimin did not answer the question, however, as his gaze was drawn to the wound on the man's stomach.
dried blood stuck his tunic to his skin, and jimin's brows furrowed.

the man was injured in the exact same spot the dragon was.

"how did you get in here?" jimin demanded.
"i /flew/ in here, through the window," the man huffed, running a hand through his hair. "you saw me. when that other man came in, i smelled your fear, so i shifted back and hid in the wardrobe. i suppose i lost consciousness until now..."
"you flew in here. through the window," jimin repeated. "and you shifted. from dragon into human form. and then hid. in the wardrobe."
the man cocked his head to the side slowly. standing in a patch of moonlight, he looked like he had been born from the stars, all milky skin and shining eyes.

"do you not know...?"

jimin stayed silent, still wary and cautious of the stranger.
"when was the last time you've left this tower?"

"i told you, i've never left."

the man's face morphed into one of confusion.
"ever? in your life?"

jimin shook his head once. "i...i'm not allowed. uncle says..."

"uncle? that man that had come in here earlier?"
jimin nodded.

"and he keeps you...what? locked up in here?"

"he says it's unsafe for me, outside of the tower. i..i shouldn't leave it."

the man let out a disbelieving laugh. "so you really don't know, then. what i am."

"and what are you?"
"that dragon you saw earlier. it wasn't a figment of your imagination."

jimin shook his head slowly. "it...there was no way it could have flown out while my back was turned. i would have heard it, i would have..."
"that's right, you would have. that's because it didn't fly out. i've been telling you, that dragon is me."

stumbling back a step and releasing a shaky breath, jimin tried to process the man's words.
growing up in this tower, jimin had spent his time reading an abundance of fairytales.
those stories were his only friends for his entire life, and if he learned anything from them, it was the fact that fantastical, magical things were out there, if only to those who would open their eyes and simply...look.
jimin's magic was proof of that.

"i would shift back and prove it to you, but i don't want to stretch out my wound more than i already have," the man said.

jumping up at the mention of the wound, jimin hurriedly made his way towards the man, forgetting his fear.
"may i see it?"

when the man didn't answer, jimin tipped his head back slightly to meet his eyes. only then did he notice how close he had gotten to him. he felt the warmth of the man's breath, saw the gentle curve of the man's top lip, feline and delicate in a way that didn't
quite match his rough voice and serious eyes.

"your wound," jimin whispered. "i can heal it."

the man silently lifted his shirt, and jimin bit his lip at the dried blood caked around the sizable cut. tried not to lose his breath at the exposure of the man's taut, pale skin.
bringing his hand out, he placed his arm flat over the wound, ignoring the man's hiss of pain, and began to sing.

tendrils of golden light burst from the wound like sunshine greeting the night, and the man watched in awe as his wound closed itself at the sound of jimin's voice.
when jimin stepped back, there was nothing left of the wound.

"you're an angel, then?"

jimin blinked in surprise. "what?"

"i've never heard of anybody who...has powers like yours. who has a /voice/ like yours. you must be an angel, or at least part?"
though the man was dead-serious, eyes a little wide and a little awestruck and a lot enraptured, jimin threw his head back and let out a loud laugh.

"oh, /no/. i'm not. definitely not. i'm just...just me."
"just you," the man hummed. "and may i know who you are?"

jimin was reeling. this entire situation was surreal to him. this man, who had seemingly come out of nowhere, had somehow crashed his way into jimin's life, and was asking him his name.

"jimin," he answered.
to his surprise, the man dropped to one knee, and bowed his head.

"jimin. i'm min yoongi. you were afraid of me, and i have given you far too many unpleasant surprises today. but you extended a helping hand and healed me anyway, and for that, i am in your debt.
if there's anything you desire, tell me and i will do my best to fulfill it."

jimin's initial instinct was to shake his head no.
'you don't owe me anything, really,' he wanted to say.

but then his mind drifted to the lanterns.
the /lanterns/, those gorgeous lights that he's been seeing every year for his entire life, through his window.

he didn't know what they were for, or who set them free -- all he knew was that they brought him a little bit of hope.
showed him that in the darkness, when you least expected it, light would always come to clear a path.
"the lanterns," jimin said shyly.

yoongi looked up. "the lanterns?"

"i wish to see them, up close. do you know where they come from?"
slowly, a grin made its way across yoongi's face. jimin held his breath, a little bit enchanted with the way it transformed his entire demeanor.
beautiful -- yoongi was beautiful.

in the soft light, he looked like an old painting that had faded a bit at the edges, looked like something that would appear in the prettiest parts of jimin's dreams.
"it just so happens that i do know," yoongi mused. "very well, actually."

"oh?" jimin fought to keep the rising hope from bubbling up too soon in his throat, in his heart.
if he could have this one thing, just this one thing -- he would be okay. he could go back to the tower and live on with the memory of one small, grand adventure, with a beautiful man who held magic within his veins.
the memory of seeing the lights up close could be the one beautiful thing he could always think back on when days in the tower got too dark, too lonely, too suffocating.
"jimin," yoongi was smiling gently. "let me show you around my home."

"the lanterns are going up tomorrow night, so will you be okay with being gone until then?" yoongi asked.

jimin bit his lip, heart racing.
his uncle wouldn't be home until the day after the next, so jimin should be fine.
he would be fine.

"yes," jimin nodded. "i'll be okay."
yoongi flashed him a grin, one that hinted towards his knowledge of jimin breaking the rules, one that was rogue-ish and mischievous, a secret shared between just the two of them.
"give me a moment, then."

with that, yoongi threw open the window, and without a single warning, leaped out.
"yoongi!" jimin screamed, rushing over and catching himself on the windowsill, hands clutching at the wood in fear.
the first thing he noticed was that it was dawn now.
tiny trickles of light were stretching their midas limbs over the forest, letting the world greet a new golden day.
when he looked down, jimin lost his breath.

flying gracefully through the air was the dragon jimin had seen the night before, except this time so much /more/.
without the wound ailing his side, in the light of the sun, yoongi was magnificent. strong and confident and free in all the ways jimin wished he could be.

"yoongi!" jimin screamed again, but this time in delight.
yoongi circled the tower once, then stopped right underneath the window.

for a moment, jimin hesitated. he looked back into the tower, the walls that had made up his entire life, the steps that he could walk with his eyes shut.
turning, he looked out to the open skies, the trees, the blooming sunrise.

he made eye contact with yoongi.
there was something -- /something/ in yoongi's eyes, that had jimin knowing this was important.

to him, to yoongi, to both of them.
taking a deep breath, jimin stepped up onto the windowsill, then landed on yoongi's back.

as soon as he situated himself, wrapped his arms as best he could around yoongi's thick neck, yoongi dove.
jimin shouted, burying his face into thick scales, and felt yoongi huff out a laugh underneath him.

"go easy!" jimin berated, breathless with laughter and fear and exhilaration.
yoongi caught himself, flew flat, then with a mighty beat of his wings, they were going straight up, into the clouds, and jimin could taste sunlight on his tongue, feel the wind reddening his cheeks, and for that small moment, jimin knew exactly how icarus must have felt.
so, so free.
so, so happy, even as the wax slowly began to melt.

yoongi's home was more than anything jimin could have ever imagined.

they hovered over it for what seemed to be hours, yoongi circling again and again so that jimin could take in his fill.
everywhere, there were dragons, roaming free, their shadows as large as clouds working their way swiftly through the skies.

there were riders, as well, and jimin could easily pick them out from the protective armor they wore,
found himself staring in awe at the way they were so trusting with their dragons.

they seemed to share one mind in the way they understood each other.
from atop yoongi's back, jimin let out a gasp of fear as one of the riders dropped straight off of their dragon.

the dragon hesitated for a beat, then two, watching as their rider fell.

"what're they...?"
yoongi made a reassuring noise underneath his breath, a low grumble.
at the very last minute, the dragon dove, tucking in its wings, going straight for its rider.

the dragon catches them easily, tossing them playfully back up in the air, and the rider effortlessly finds their way back into position on the dragon's back.
after realizing that they had done that on purpose, jimin let out a huff of relief.

to his surprise, yoongi made his way over to the pair, and when they got close enough, the rider stared at them with huge, shining eyes.

at the sound of yoongi's name, the other dragon looked towards them as well.

it made a low, rasping noise in its throat, and yoongi's response vibrated through jimin's entire body.
a bit shy at the presence of new people, jimin ducked down and pressed his face flat against yoongi's scales.

the four of them descended, and jimin didn't miss the way people gasped at the sight of him atop yoongi's back.
when they landed, the rider atop the other dragon slid down easily, finding his feet like it was second nature.

jimin hesitated, and yoongi slowly lowered himself so that jimin was closer to the ground.
he slid down and stumbled a bit trying to regain his footing,
and yoongi steadied him with a wing.

then, yoongi nudged him gently with his head, a silent 'wait here', and loped off with the other dragon towards a large building.
"they're going to shift," the rider said after jimin stared at them in confusion for a beat too long. "who are you?"

jimin looked up at the rider. the question wasn't aggressive -- simply curious.

"i'm jimin," he answered.

the boy crinkled his brows. "are you from here?"
"no, yoongi's just...showing me around. i won't be here for long," jimin said.

"where are you from, then?"

jimin fidgeted uncomfortably. "i live in the forest, with my uncle. it's quite...secluded."

the boy blinked.
"jeongguk, leave him alone," yoongi was back, and he placed a steadying arm around jimin's shoulders.

another man joined their group, finding his place next to jeongguk, and jimin could guess that it was the dragon jeongguk had been riding.
"yoongi, you have a rider now?" he asked, staring at jimin with something in-between awe and confusion.

"no," yoongi said. "i'm just showing him around."

"you've never let anyone ride you before," the other responded. "surely, he must be someone special."
jimin blushed deep red, and fought the urge to hide his face in yoongi's chest.

"taehyung," yoongi groused out. "we're going now."
they broke away from taehyung and jeongguk, who stood back and stared after them with a strange look in their eyes.

as they passed more and more people, jimin noticed that everybody seemed to be looking.
"everybody is staring at you," jimin whispered.

yoongi let out a huff. "trust me, it is not me they are looking at. it is your beauty that catches their attention."
"i am not," jimin shook his head.

"not what?"

"not beautiful," he said.

yoongi tilted his head to the side. "you're are. i thought that right from the start, even when i was half-delirious with pain, bleeding out all over your floor--"
yoongi cut himself off when he noticed jimin ducking his head, overwhelmed with the praise.

so he changed the subject, told jimin the history of this kingdom, told him where he got his favorite apples, pointed out his small cottage, right next to jeongguk and taehyung's.
he took him to see the castle, which was grand and everything lovely, but jimin was more interested in the way yoongi's arm stayed around his shoulders, protective and secure, leading him firmly through the bustling crowds.
more interested in the way yoongi noticed when jimin was enraptured by the street dancers, and stopped to allow him to watch for as long as he wanted.
more interested in the way yoongi bought them a meal and gave jimin all the best parts.
warmth built in his chest, something pretty and golden jimin's never felt before.

something beautiful and lovely jimin never thought he'd ever get the chance to feel.

the next night came quickly, and by the time the sun was setting yoongi had already bought them lanterns.

the two of them sat on a more secluded part of shore, waiting for the king and queen to light the first one.

"yesterday, what taehyung said..."
yoongi looked over at him.

"is it true? that...that you never let anybody ride you?"

yoongi blew out a slow breath.

"it's true."

"so why did you let me? you could have said no to taking me here, you really didn't owe me anything. i didn't want to make you uncomfortable."
"i wasn't," yoongi was quick to say. "i wasn't uncomfortable. i never had a desire to let anybody ride me until you."

"why?" jimin asked.
yoongi grinned, a little crookedly. "maybe there's something about you, that makes me feel safe."

jimin bit his tongue, a little too shy to say that yoongi made him feel the exact same way.
"this is all for the missing prince, then?" jimin changed the subject. "so that he'll come home?"

yoongi nodded. "he was taken away when he was just a baby, and the king and queen have been searching for him ever since."

"they still believe he's out there?"
"i don't think they would do this if they didn't," yoongi said.

"that's heartbreaking," jimin whispered.

"it is," yoongi agreed. "but it's beautiful. the way they never give up hope."
when jimin looked over at yoongi, he couldn't help but agree.

though there were so many people bustling around them, jimin felt as if he and yoongi were in their own world.

"jimin," yoongi called.


"you said you never leave that tower. is it really true? never?"
jimin ran his hands over the sand they were sitting on, relishing in the feeling of the soft grains slipping through his fingers. something he's never felt before that day.

"yes," he answered.

"and your uncle," yoongi continued. "does he...does he treat you well?"
jimin shrugged, unwilling to answer.

"how old are you?" yoongi pressed.

again, jimin shrugged.

"you don't know?"

"uncle never told me my birthday," jimin said reluctantly.
yoongi was staring at him, then, something a little bit desperate and fearful in his eyes. the gaze had something in jimin recoiling.

"what happened to your parents, jimin? why are you staying with your uncle? why does he never let you leave?"
"i don't know what happened to my parents," jimin said. "but he said--he said it wasn't safe for me to be outside. because of my powers."

"many people have powers, jimin," yoongi shook his head. "does your uncle use you? does he use your powers?"
jimin's lack of answer was answer enough.
"jimin," yoongi said. "you don't have to go back."

jimin looked at yoongi sharply then.

"what do you mean?" he tried to hold down the overwhelming hope in his chest. didn't want to give it power over him, only to watch it crash and burn as he was disappointed.
"you can stay here. with me - or even without me. you can..you can be free, jimin."

before jimin could answer, the first lantern made its way into the sky, drawing their attention.

with a small sigh, yoongi let the subject drop, and helped jimin light his lantern, then his own.
"they're beautiful," jimin said quietly, holding the lantern in his hands and letting the warmth of the flame illuminate his face.

yoongi felt something ache in his chest. "ready?"

when jimin nodded, they set their lanterns free, and watched as they joined the sea of lights
in the sky. jimin couldn't take his eyes off of it, neck beginning to ache as he kept his head tilted back for so long.

it was everything he had dreamed of, and more.
more, because in his wildest dreams, he never could have come up with the beauty of yoongi by his side.
more, because for the first time in his life, jimin felt like he could finally breathe.

once the lanterns were tiny stars fading in the night sky, yoongi and jimin met up with jeongguk and taehyung, who had set up a picnic.

jimin found himself genuinely happy as he leaned against yoongi's warmth, listening to jeongguk's stories
and familiarizing himself with taehyung's laughter.

the two were clearly infatuated with each other, and jimin thought it was beautiful, the way they looked at each other.

like nothing else mattered.
the two of them begged jimin to stay, at least for a while longer, wanting to show him around the kingdom, but jimin shook his head.

he couldn't -- he couldn't.

no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't.
something rustled in the leaves behind them.

taehyung and yoongi stood, immediately on defense.

when jimin's uncle stepped out from the darkness, a dark look in his eyes, pure fear ran through jimin's veins.
"uncle?" he said shakily, rising to this feet.

"my dear jimin," his uncle said, venom in his voice. "i see all this time, while i've been away, you've been befriending beasts."

jimin didn't say anything -- /couldn't/ say anything.
his tongue was thick and heavy in his mouth, his throat constricting.

"we're going home, jimin," his uncle commanded. when he took a step closer, jimin felt something bloom to life inside of him.

bravery, or sheer stupidity, or something in-between.

both yoongi and his uncle turned to look at him in shock.

"no?" his uncle asked.

"no, i'm not going back," jimin said, voice shaking. "i'm not going back with you, ever."
when his uncle stepped forward, hands clenched into fists, yoongi threw out an arm to block him from getting any closer.

"are you even really jimin's uncle?" yoongi hissed. "i had a feeling, you know."

strangely, jimin's uncle turned pale at the words.
"shut your mouth before you say something you regret," his uncle spat back. "jimin, we're /going/."

taehyung reached out for jimin's hand and squeezed it, grounding him. it was only then that jimin realized he was trembling.

he didn't want to go back.
the tower was his entire life, it was everything he'd ever known, so familiar in all the worst ways.

jimin didn't want to go back.
"come here," his uncle shouted again.

"jimin is the prince," yoongi demanded loudly. "jimin is the missing prince, isn't he?"
at those words, his uncle bellowed with rage, and lunged forward.

shock hit jimin like ice-cold water from all sides, and suddenly taehyung's hand was gone.

yoongi and taehyung had shifted, a strong defense against the sorcerer who had claimed to be jimin's uncle.
but, aided with the help of jimin's magic, the sorcerer had lived a long, long time.

and a sorcerer who had lived as long as he had collected so much knowledge, so much power -- more than he probably should have.
the sorcerer murmured under his breath, and suddenly he was rising, his own dragon underneath him: translucent, made from his own magic, but solid and dangerous all the same.
jeongguk picked jimin up and swung him onto yoongi's back before anybody else had time to react, and once he was on taehyung's back, the four of them were airborne, jimin's uncle right behind them.
jimin screamed and held on tighter to yoongi's neck when the translucent dragon knocked agaist them, jostling their flirt. yoongi growled and swiftly ducked as the dragon opened its mouth, and artificial fire came out.
this fire was unnatural, infused with the sorcerer's magic, black and all-consuming and devastatingly powerful.

"he can't keep that dragon for long," jimin shouted to yoongi. "it takes too much magic. we just need to -- we need to stall."
yoongi made a noise of recognition, and began flying haphazardly through the sky, spinning and diving and suddenly changing directions so that the sorcerer couldn't keep up.
several things happened at once.

jimin watched as the dragon underneath the sorcerer stuttered once, flickering in then out. he was losing magic, quickly.

but then the sorcerer stopped in his chase and veered.
directly towards taehyung and jeongguk.
the sorcerer's dragon opened its mouth, and both yoongi and jimin screamed. yoongi tried flying towards his friends, but it was too late.
the black fire that was created from the sorcerer's greedy, tormented magic hit taehyung square in the chest.

the last thing taehyung could do was hurl jeongguk's body to the cliff underneath them before he began falling.
when yoongi and jimin passed by the sorcerer in a desperate attempt to catch taehyung, jimin was yanked back and down, forcing yoongi to halt in his flight.

the sorcerer's dragon was gone, but he had reached out towards jimin, a heavy arm around his waist,
the momentum of his weight jostling jimin so much that he slipped from yoongi's back, only barely managing to catch himself on one of the protruding scales that ran along yoongi's spine.
jimin heard the sorcerer murmur something once more, and before he could do anything, a translucent net was suddenly slung over half of yoongi's body, trapping one of his wings with it, taking away his ability to properly fly.

jimin was screaming.
yoongi didn't know what to do -- it took everything in him to simply keep them all in the air, with the net hindering one of his wings.
his other wing beat hard, trying to make up for the near-complete loss of the other.
one glance down showed the sorcerer who claimed to be jimin's uncle hanging onto jimin tightly, an arm wrapped around his torso.

jimin -- the /prince/, the missing prince, yoongi had /found/ him -- was screaming.
flailing, both arms clenched tightly around his hold on yoongi's scale, trying to hold on while also looking out towards taehyung.

taehyung, who was falling.
looking smaller in his dragon form than yoongi's ever seen him.

from the cliff, jeongguk was screaming, /wailing/.
his voice carried through the wind, wrecked, sobbing out taehyung's name as he watched his dragon hurtle towards the ground.
yoongi let out a loud, anguished roar.
his mind was everywhere all at once: save taehyung. help jimin. get the sorcerer /off/ of him comfort jeongguk. tell his parents that he loved them. help everyone, save everyone, make everyone happy,
so that everyone would live out their lives together.

they had been so close to the light, yoongi could feel jimin's warmth against his body, could hear the sound of jimin's carefree laugh, the prince's voice playing like a sweet record in the back of yoongi's mind.
yoongi wanted--he wanted--he wanted a future.

with jimin.
with taehyung, with jeongguk.
with everybody that they loved, with everybody that they had yet to love.
wanted to watch the seasons fly by through jimin's eyes, wanted to watch the sun rise and set a million times over with jimin's hand in his.

wanted to introduce jimin to everything that he had been kept from for his entire life, wanted to see him eat cake for the first time,
wanted to point out the constellations, wanted to sing jimin songs, wanted to take jimin swimming when the water got a bit warmer, wanted to see if the tiny bud growing in his chest was something akin to love for jimin, wanted jimin to meet his own parents.
he wanted to give jimin everything that had been taken away from him.

yoongi wanted all of this, yearned for this happiness.
yoongi watched as all of it fell apart in a matter of minutes.
everything happened in the blink of an eye.

taehyung was falling.
jeongguk was crying.
jimin was screaming, screaming, screaming -- he was screaming yoongi's name.
yoongi glanced down towards the beautiful boy, the one with hopeful eyes and the happiest smile yoongi's ever seen.

"yoongi, yoongi," jimin screamed at him past the wind and the fear and the pain. "yoongi, /thank you/."
with that, jimin let go.
"NO," yoongi cried.
it came out as a terrible, thunder-clap roar.

jimin let go, and with him fell his uncle and his magic, completely freeing yoongi.
with his wings free now, yoongi dove for taehyung. in the back of his mind, he could only see jimin falling, plummeting, the weight of the man who had stolen his entire childhood away from him pulling him down quicker.
yoongi made it to taehyung and grabbed his limp body, set him on the cliff right at jeongguk's feet, barely making sure that taehyung was settled safely on firm ground before diving again.
diving faster than he ever had before, tucking his wings in tight, heart pounding against his ribcage, eyes narrowing against the wind.

he watched as jimin, a small, grappling speck, flailed through the air as he tried to get the sorcerer off him.
it seemed as if the sorcerer had used up all of his magic, as he was fighting jimin bodily, with no aid from his powers.

even moments before death, jimin wanted nothing to do with the man who had raised him.

jimin wanted to be free.
finally, the sorcerer lots his grip on jimin.

the two bodies plummeting towards the earth moved away from each other, victim to gravity and wind.
yoongi went straight for jimin.

watched as the ground came closer, closer, closer still.

all he could think of was jimin's eyes.
full of fear, love, happiness.
wanted to see them smiling up at him again, once more.

just once more.
yoongi reached jimin, and wrapped himself around the prince's body.

tried to straighten, tried to catch air beneath his wings again, tried to stop their harsh descent.

but it was too late.
they both crashed to the ground.

from the cliff, jeongguk screamed.

jimin opened his eyes to gold.

it took him a moment to realize that what he was seeing was a tall, grandiose ceiling, painted over with golden stars.

took him another moment to catalogue the pain in his body.
another to try to remember what had happened.
the lanterns, yoongi's arm warm around his waist, his uncle, his uncle /not/ being his uncle, being airborne, taehyung falling, letting go, plummeting towards the ground, fear, love, resignation --

familiar warmth enveloping him.
relief, then pain.
sitting up, jimin immediately swung his legs over the side of the bed, ignoring the pain that seemed to be hammering at him from all sides.

"yoongi," he whispered to himself, heart racing.
yoongi had caught him.
yoongi had protected him, taken the impact of the fall, yoongi had-
the door swung open.

yoongi stumbled in, bandaged but beautiful, always beautiful.

jimin lunged for him, mindful of both their injuries, but wanting, /needing/ to reassure himself that the other was fine.

"you're an idiot, min yoongi," jimin's voice was watery, shaking with relief.
"that's the thanks i get for saving your life?" yoongi's voice was muffled in the skin of his neck.

jimin's arms tightened around him.
he pulled back, then leaned in, pressing his lips lightly against yoongi's.
yoongi's arms tightened around his waist, and when they both pulled back, there was something soft building in jimin's eyes, something that looked like a promise, that was thanks enough.
"come on," yoongi said quietly.

"what?" jimin asked, letting himself be lead out of the room by yoongi's warm hands.

yoongi looked back at him and smiled. "it's time for you to meet your parents."

jimin stared up at the expanse of golden lanterns floating in the sky above him.

bringing light to what was once dark, a symbol of hope in what was a hopeless situation.

strong arms wrapped him, warm even through the rider's armor that jimin wore.
a kiss was pressed to the back of his head.
"happy birthday, baby."

sighing in contentment, jimin leaned his weight back against his dragon, relishing in the man that simultaneously brought him security and adventure.
the one who kept him safe, but also introduced him to so many beautiful new things the world had to offer.

"thank you, yoongi."
because, just like the year before, those last words jimin had shouted to yoongi before he had let go still conveyed everything.

jimin was thankful, thankful to the man who had shown him care and love.
thankful to the man who had shown jimin what it meant to truly live.
now, with the two of them wrapped up in each others' hearts, surrounded by the glow of a thousand lanterns, jimin smiled.

this year, the lanterns weren't a call to find jimin, weren't tinged with desperation and sadness over the lost prince.
this year, they served as a thank you.

to the dragon who finally lead the kingdom's prince home.
💫 FIN 💫
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