thought about a namkook where it's like, medieval/fairy tale fantasy and joon is a prince and it's time for him to get hitched so his parents are like 'ok u know the drill, we got to lock you in a tower guarded by a dragon and you marry the 1st brave knight that comes for you'
and joon is like, 'ok sure' cause that's how his parents met each other and how his brother seokjin met yoongi and that's how tae is going to meet his destined true love so its like, tradition. so he gets sent to the tower and adopts the dragon as his pet and waits for his love
so like we fast forward a couple of months and joon is starting to get restless and he's not allowed to intervene whenever a knight /does/ come to rescue him. so as much as he loves his protector rapmon, he has to watch knight after knight fail to defeat the dragon and save him๐Ÿ˜”
until one day where joon was casually reading in his room and noticing that rapmon has been unusually quiet today, he hears something that makes him go still with shock.

the footsteps of someone coming up the tower towards his room.
joon panics because he's not in his finest garbs and his room is a mess and not at all presentable for his knight in shining armor so he quickly throws all of his stuff under his bed, fixes his face up and hair, and pretends to be asleep to receive true love's kiss
he hears the door open and braces himself for true love's kiss and his rescuer is quiet as they approach his bed. joon gets ready for the kiss, like puckers his lips up all cute for it, but something...goes under his covers?? and?? snorts??
'ahh no no, dont crawl into stranger's beds, dubu' he hears a voice fondly chide, and the thing under his bed covers snorts happily as it is removed. 'um hello?' the voice asks, and then someone pats joon's face, which?? what the heck??
joon opens his eyes to look not into the face of a dashing knight in shiny armor, but instead the face of a still rather handsome yet boyish peasant boy. there's also a pig. a big, round one that is snorting through joon's books.

'hi? can you show us the exit?'
and joon is so?? confused?? because who is this guy and how did he get in here past rapmon?

'im really sorry that we're bothering your nap, but my pig wandered into your...castle? tower? anyways, we're a little lost and would you mind just showing us how to get out of here?'
'how did you get in here past the dragon?' joon asks. he doesn't see a sword hilt on the man, so he couldn't have brought a weapon.

'oh, it didn't bother us? i think it's still sleeping, so I just left it be.'
joon doesn't know how to take this. he's NEVER met someone that managed to get past rapmon. his parents never prepared him for this, so he kind of just...lies there in his bed confused, staring at his strange rescuer
the pig starts trying to eat one of joon's books and the rescuer quickly rushes over to grab his pig, cuddling it in his arms like a baby. for some reason, joon feels slightly endeared by the sight.

so, he gets out of bed, fixes his clothes and says, 'sure lets go'
the rescuer introduces himself as jeongguk, who works on a nearby farm with ranchhand hoseok. dubu is his pig, but she's really his baby that he loves.

'she has a nose for trouble. she sniffed you out I guess' jk jokes on the long long walk back to the kingdom.
joon finds himself very endeared by this pig handler who has big doe eyes and a bright laugh and a cute scrunched nose smile. yea he's not a dashing prince in shiny armor that 'woke' him with true love's first kiss, but joon still hears the bells ringing in the leaves
so, by the time jeongguk has returned joon to the gates of the kingdom (he turns down joon's request of meeting the king for his reward; something about it being jigae surprise night back at the farm) joon has his mind made up

this pig farmer, his rescuer, is his true love
so joon just walks into the throne room and everyone is shocked and are like 'your highness! you've returned!! where is your knight?! we need to start the wedding!'

'he went home. it's jigae surprise night'

joon explains to his parents that it was a pig handler that rescued him and at first they think he's making it up and just left the tower on his own accord but joon promises that it's the truth, and also that since the pig handler rescued him, then that makes him his true love
but joon's parents are like, not having that explanation so they're like, 'ok, we'll try this again. let's try an enchanted cottage. they're nice and cozy and your knight will find you there and whisk you back home'

and joon doesn't think this is necessary but he still agrees
so joon goes to an enchanted cozy little cottage in the middle of the forbidden woods. he managed to talk his parents into letting rapmon guard the cottage as well, and he still eats all the knights that stumble upon the glen, but joon loves his dragon no matter what
a few weeks pass and joon wakes up to someone on his doorstep that /shouldn't/ be there. this time, he can see rapmon busying himself with something, ignoring whoever is politely knocking on his door, so he goes to check

'hi! wow!' says jk at the door 'funny seeing you again!'
joon is shocked to not only find jk at his door, but also finding jk's pig and rapmon /playing/ with each other. apparently, the pig is not afraid of a gigantic fire breathing white dragon with menacing teeth. it happily snorts around rapmon's claws, snuggles against his scales
'how did you find this cottage?' joon asks.

'oh, dubu was sniffing out some truffles and she just wandered over here. hyung is making some fancy dish tonight. do you want to come over?'

joon is confused, but does not turn down the offer. 'let me get my books' he says, smiling
hoseok is super nice and an excellent chef. he is terrified of rapmon when joon, jk, and dubu arrive riding on rapmon's back, but he warms up to the dragon eventually and welcomes joon with a big warm smile and open arms
jk gives joon an exclusive and deeply educational tour of the farm. for some reason, there's something about jk explaining the process of how he milks the cows, cleans the stables, and feeds the chickens, that joon finds very attractive
hoseok and jk prepare dinner for joon in the evening. hoseok apologizes for not having something fancier to eat dinner for a prince, a little bit awkward at having royalty in the quaint little cottage.

'wait,' starts jk, 'you're a prince?'

joon blinks 'yes?'

'you didn't know? even with me in a tall tower guarded by an imposing dragon?' joon asks with a small smile.

'I thought you were one of those eccentric rich people types. the kind that own fancy pets.'

'like a dragon?'

'i don't tell rich people what to spend their money on'.
they have a nice little dinner and jk doesn't treat him any differently for being a prince. jk lets joon stay in his big warm bed with the soft quilt blankets and the one (1) pillow.

dubu tries to call in bed with joon to snuggle and jk tells her not to be rude to their guest.
so joon, very subtly, tries to suggest, 'well, its a pretty big bed...i'd like something to snuggle against...'

and jk goes, 'oooh yea I understand' and goes to grab joon a second pillow before wishing him a good night's sleep and taking dubu to sleep in hoseok's room
the next day, jk delivers joon to the kingdom gates again, and again, jk turns down joon's offer of coming to meet the king and queen. he has to go to the market and find himself some magic beans. apparently, giant golden eggs are delicious served over rice
'well, if you insist on leaving, then at least take this,' says joon, who gives jk a dainty handkerchief. 'as an offer of my appreciation'

jk takes it with a grin and wipes his face with it right away, which is not what joon was expecting him to do, but ok.
'it smells like you, hyung,' jk says with a smile. 'pretty.'

he tucks the handkerchief in his pocket and takes off his necklace to put on joon. 'here! since we're giving each other gifts!'

joon hears bells again. yes, this man is the love of his life.
joon says goodbye and returns back to the royal court. his parents are surprised that he has returned so quickly.

'where is your knight?'

'he left.'


'he has a beanstalk to climb'

'he can't rescue someone else!'

'no, he's just getting some eggs for dinner'

by this time, the king is a little bit fed up by this pig boy constantly thwarting valiant knights attempts at rescuing & romancing his son. it's going against tradition!

'a moat! we will try a moat! a pig won't be able to cross a moat!' he proclaims. 'this time it will work!'
joon really doesn't want to do this, and he argues that this is all unnecessary and jk has fairly rescued joon /twice/.

'because of that dragon!' the king exclaims 'it doesn't attack him! but not this time! we'll use a sea monster! he won't be able to get around that!'
so joon gets put up in a tower surrounded by a large, wide moat. and in its grey waters, a sea monster with gnarled fangs and a long, long neck, swims circles around the imprisoned prince and sends whoever dares to cross to a cold and terrifying grave
it isn't rapmon, and joon doesn't develop much of a bond with the sea monster in the same way. he just watches from his window day after day, as knight after knight gets dragged down with a loud splash and blood shortly rising to the surface afterward.
he misses jk. he misses rapmon and dubu. just because jk didn't ride up to the tower on a valiant steed, wore fancy armor and had a string of titles attached to the end of his name, doesn't make him /less/ deserving of a chance to court joon. damn outdated family traditions.
one morning, joon rises from his bed and takes his book to the window, expecting the usual day with nothing to look at other than the lines of poetry and the occasional loud splash of the sea monster claiming another knight.
to his surprise, at he looks out the window at the moat, he sees that the sea monster is looming over a tiny, shabby looking boat. and in that tiny, shabby looking boat, joon sees jk with a fishing pole, a net, and dubu plopped on his lap in a large, plump ball
joon is both astonished, ecstatic, and terrified all at once. he rushes down the steps and out the door, watching by the banks of the moat in worry as jk continues to row his boat around the sea monster and the sea monster...does nothing.

'hi hyung! what're you doing out here?'
joon looks at jk and the sea monster, waiting patiently for jk to safely dock his boat on the shores of the bank and for him and dubu to disembark. 'i'd ask the same of you, good sir,' joon says.

jk raises his fishing pole, big smile on his face. 'there's good fish out here!'

'yea! me and dubu come fishing out here all the time! there wasn't a sea monster here the last time though, so I don't think we'll be able to get some good catches this time, but finding you was a real nice surprise!'
joon smiles softly. 'seeing you was a nice surprise as you think you can take me back to shore with you?'

jk offers his hand on bended knee. there are stars in his eyes and the sun in his smile. 'of course, hyung. as you wish.'
jk returns joon back to the other side with dubu, joon warily looking at the sea monster as they pass it by. 'not to be rude,' joon starts, glancing at jk, 'but why didn't it attack you? it has literally attacked every knight that came for me and gruesomely tore it to bits'
jk hums. 'well think about it. wouldn't you attack someone too if you're just minding your business, floating in your big moat with the little fishies, and then out of nowhere, some guy in armor starts yelling at you and poking you with a sharp sword?'

'...i guess?'
'plus, i don't think it's /bad/. like, if it really wanted to hurt us, it would have done so by now, right? it's kind of like rapmon, don't you think?'

joon hums. he didn't think about it like that. and now that he looks, the sea monster doesn't look all that menacing up close.
when they disembark, joon apologizes to the sea monster for being so distant with it. 'i'll see about visiting you sometime,' joon promises, and as the sea monster goes back under the water, he hears it give an appreciative whine.

great. that's two monsters he's somehow adopted.
the third time jk takes joon back, joon /insists/ that jk meets his parents because if he has to go through this one more time, he will lose his mind. jk doesn't mind; hoseok has sexiled him and dubu from the cottage so they have time to kill
'so hoseok is dating someone?'

'yeah. some wizard guy. he's nice, but he turned me into a newt one time, so im a little on the fence about hyung dating him.'

'are you interested in anyone?'


'i see.' joon says, while mentally screaming in his head.
joon takes jk on a tour of the castle since jk was so courteous to give joon a tour of his farm. jk oohs and ahs and asks all sorts of questions about the architecture and the artwork lining the magnificent halls. dubu is less interested and tries to eat the curtains twice
'and up here, we have my royal quarters,' says joon, showing jk his bedroom chambers. 'it's very nice,' jk compliments.

joon nods, looking over at his bed. he doesn't want to be too forward about it, but if jk is to be his true love, they have to talk about it /sometime/
'yes, it's very cozy...but it can be very lonesome, sleeping in that big bed all by myself at times with no one to hold,' joon says with a heavy sigh. jk nods understanding.

'yeah. that's why dubu always sleeps with me in bed'

'...i was thinking more.../human-shaped/'

joon reaches out to take jk's hand, holding it soft and gentle in his grasp. 'you've rescued me three times with rather...unorthodox methods. but you've charmed me in a way that no knight on a valiant steed ever could...and...i'd like to ask--'
'your highness?' a steward interrupts, pulling joon out of his moment and dragging his attention away from jk to her. 'the king will see you both'

joon looks to jk. jk's face doesn't betray anything, but the glimmer to his eyes makes joon's stomach feel warm and light.
they both head to the royal hall where the king and queen await, and joon presents jk to them.

'this is him?' the king asks. '/this/ is the pig boy that has defeated a dragon, traversed the enchanted woods and slain a sea monster?'

jk looks to joon, then back. ''
the king sneers. 'no,' he says. 'this man will not be your beloved.'

'you can't do that!' joon snaps. 'he's rescued me /three/ times! he's done more than /any/ knight could! what reason is there for you to reject him?!'

'this isn't how it's done, namjoon! i won't allow it!'
'everyone please calm down,' the queen says with a raise of her hand, then gestures to jk, who cradles dubu in his arms. 'young man, please be honest with me. did you /intend/ to rescue my son all those times?'

quietly, jk says, 'no'
the king gestures with a wild hand. 'see?! it was a fluke!', but the queen gestures for him to calm down.

'do you have feelings for our son?' she then asks jk. jk turns his face to the floor, absolutely silent though his face turns a bright shade of pink.
she hums. 'i see,' she quietly murmurs, then folds her hands over her lap. 'it is quite late, and you both must be tired after such a long trip. I'll have someone prepare for you a quarters to spend the night.'

'o-oh, thank you, m'am, er, your majesty.'

the queen smiles.
'namjoon, may we have a word alone?' she asks her son. though joon is upset at things not turning the way he'd wanted, he nods his head and follows his parents out to the gardens while jk and dubu are escorted out of the hall by a servant, exchanging only soft looks of goodbye
'why don't you like him? he's loving and has a good heart and doesn't treat me any different because I am a prince. rapmon likes him, the sea monster is fond of him--'

'great. he makes friends with beasts as well,' the king says with a roll of his eyes that joon frowns at.
'i understand that he has a pure heart, but I am just worried that all of these coincidences are just that. /coincidences/,' the queen explains. 'has he expressed his love for you?'

joon bites the inside of his cheek. ' I'm sure he will soon.'

the queen sighs.
'then perhaps, to make everyone happy, i propose that there be one final test,' she responds, stopping by a rose bush in bloom. 'if he succeeds, then I will have no qualms about your marriage.'

'...and if he fails?'

'then we will find you your knight in shining armor ourselves'
joon tightens his jaw. 'fine. i have no doubts he will succeed. he's resourceful. he'll find a way. he always does.'

the queen smiles, but it is a pitying one. 'you're very enchanted by him, aren't you? i just want to be certain that he feels the same way'
to that, joon stays quiet. worry seeps into his chest at his mother's words. he's heard the bells many times upon seeing jk's smile or his big doe eyes. his laughter has tickled joon's heart and his humble stories made him warm.

he hadn't misread the situation, has he?
the thought plagues him all night through dinner, where jk eats food served in immaculate dishes without even looking joon in the eye the entire time.

dubu snorts around the table for scraps, and joon feeds her discreetly, appreciating the snuffs of her snout against his hand.
just before it is time for joon to retire to his personal quarters, he stops by jk's room and knocks twice. when jk opens the door, joon searches the doe eyes for that glimmer he fell in love with.

but, joon only sees the same unease and uncertainty swimming in jk's eyes
words start to clumsily fall from joon's mouth. 'i'm sorry,' he blurts. 'i'm sorry, I'm so sorry. i took you away from your home and put you in this uncomfortable situation and - what was I thinking, of course you didn't /mean/ to rescue me, but I just...i don't know...'
'...hyung...i'm sorry, but this is a lot to think about all at once,' jk murmurs, avoiding joon's eyes once again. at his feet, dubu snorts around, bitting the bottom of joon's pants leg and attempting to pull joon inside.
'aish, stop that' he scolds, holding her in his arms. 'she really likes you,' jk mumbles, bouncing her up and down. joon smiles, trying not to let the doubt sink in, but his chest feels too tight.

well, at least there's /someone/ that really likes him.
joon tries to go to sleep. but the thoughts of how foolish he was, how embarrassing of a situation he's placed jk in, keeps him from fully dropping into sleep.

that why, in the dark, it's easy for joon to hear the sound of someone coming thru his bedroom window.
'who's there?' he whispers in fright, grabbing whatever is closest (in this case, a book) and hastily relights a candle. in the dim glow, he sees someone in his bedroom dressed all in black, holding a rope and a blindfold and a gleaming dagger on his hip
'hi' the bandit greets with a wave. 'so, your mom called me and said that I need to kidnap you? we need to make this quick. It's my turn to host poker night at my place and I still need to clean up and set out the appetizers so if you'd kindly tie yourself up, that'd be great'
' mother the /queen/?'

'yeah.' the bandit throws the rope at joon and sits himself down at the foot of joon's bed, pulling out a stick of charcoal and a crumpled up piece of paper. 'what's the guy's name that's supposed to be fighting for your love again?'

'great.' the bandit scribbles something down on the piece of paper while joon watches with absolute confusion, until the bandit stops and gestures to joon and then the rope. 'just wrap it around your wrists. I'll finish tying them the rest of the way'
'first, tell me how you managed to sneak past the royal guards and climb three stories to my window while going unnoticed'

'what, are you /judging/ my qualifications for kidnapping you or something?'

'n-no, I'm...sure you're quite adept at kidnapping'

'damn right I am'
' mother, /the queen/ requested that you kidnap me and leave--' he peers over the bandit's shoulder, 'a ransom note for jeongguk? is this a part of his test?'

'i guess? I don't know what kind of weird mating rituals you guys do. are you going to tie those knots or what?'
joon ties the knots around his wrist as asked, and the bandit finishes up his ransom note and leaves it on joon's bed to be discovered in the morning.

'please tell me we don't have to go out the window. the guards know you're here.'

'your highness, I take my job seriously'
and to joon's chagrin, the bandit (even though he's smaller than joon) easily lifts him up and over his shoulder and carries him out the window and down the wall.

'by the way, I'm jimin' the bandit introduces with a smile, right before he throws joon over the back of his horse.
joon looks up at his bedroom window, the way the curtains sway in the night breeze. he then turns his head to jk's window, seeing that it's dark inside and wondering if jk is having an easier sleep than he was.

will jk come looking for him when the morning comes?

will he care?
jimin swings himself up onto the horse. 'hang on tight! we have a /long/ way to go' he shouts into the dark, not caring who will hear him, which is rather unbandit like.

he gives the reins a hard snap and the horse takes off with jimin and joon disappearing into the darkness.

so it's been a few weeks since jimin 'kidnapped' joon. 'kidnapped' because the royal guards and family know that joon is temporarily being held captive in a bandit fortress, located past dangerous obstacles, monsters and formidable terrains, ran by the bandit leader jimin
joon doesn't really know jimin's deal is because while jimin fully commits to his role of bandit and holding joon in a cell where there is little light and an uncomfortable bed of hay, he also invites joon up to his place every night for dinner and games of poker
other activities joon is allowed to partake in is walking around the bandit fortress, playing with the bandit dogs (he has learned all of their names and they all are in love with him), and regularly assisting jimin with hanging the art he's stolen around his place
no one knows the details of what the final test is aside from the king, the queen, and jimin himself. joon thinks that if he does some favors for jimin around the fortress, /maybe/ he'll clue him in as to what jk is expected to do. is he coming for joon? was this all a trick?
he doesn't have rapmon at his side and joon misses him terribly. the bandit dogs are fun, but they're not a gigantic white dragon, nor are they a round and plump little pig. he waits and waits in his cell for something, any sign of jk coming to rescue him, but none show
and the longer that joon sits in his cell (or on jimin's chaise or at the table with jimin and three other bandits and watching them all try to outcheat each other) he wonders if this was all for nothing. maybe joon was the only one that heard the bells when his and jk's eyes met
seeing the prince is down, one of the bandits alerts jimin, who comes to joon's cell one day, plops himself down in front of it and asks, 'really? you are a prince who can get any person in the entire kingdom, in all the /land/ and the only one you want is some pig boy?'
'he isn't some pig boy. he's my true love.'

'but how do you know that? because he accidentally rescued you & your weird mating ritual says so? what if some other random person stumbled on you? would /they/ be your true love?'

joon bites the inside of his cheek at jimin's words
'I don't know,' joon admits. 'but I feel even if I were to have crossed paths with jk some other time, I would have still grown enamored with him'

'is he really all that?'

'/yes/' joon breathes with a smile. 'he's so capable and he's sweet and cute'

'...but he's a pig boy'
'he could be the royal fool and i'd still want him all the same' joon confesses. he turns his gaze down to his hands, smile sad. 'but, if he does not want me in the same way, then perhaps I'm the only fool'

jimin frowns at that. 'it's not a foolish thing to be in love'
'it is if the person doesn't love you back, hasn't even thought /once/ of you as someone to love...this is pointless. he isn't coming for me.'

'he might. you don't know that.'

'it's almost a month that I've been held captive. if he was to magically show, he would have'
jimin bites the inside of his cheek. 'well...he might be...a little bit tied up?'

joon raises an eyebrow. 'what do you mean by that?'

'uhh...well, your mom didn't exactly put out an /easy/ task for jk to do in order to be deemed your one true love'

'...what do you mean?'
so, jimin decides to spill the details. after all, joon can't interfere with the final test trapped here, so it wouldn't hurt to put him in the loop.

jk's final test is one of four trials. the first trial is that he must face off against the blind sorcerer of the dark mountain
the second trial is he must defeat the minotaur that guards the mouth of the cave of treasures, and then he must retrieve the mermaid pearl from the golden grotto and return it to the dwarf in the mushroom village who will /then/ tell jk the location of his final task
the final task, being that jk must slay a hydra and successfully pull one of its fangs and carry it to the bandit fortress and show the guards, who will then allow him entrance into the fortress so he may retrieve joon and return to the kingdom a champion and joon's true love
joon stares at jimin blankly. 'are you /kidding/ me?!'

jimin raises his hands up in surrender. 'look I didn't make the rules, okay? im just an unwitting pawn in your parents weird desire to control your love life'

'but you kidnapped me! and you went along with their plan!!'
'/yeah/ but the queen made me a really good offer that I just couldn't refuse'

'what offer could she have made you that would have convinced you to go along with this madness'

jimin's smile goes sheepish. 'so, uh, your younger brother...he's not seeing anyone right?'


'he's slated to be wed to the prince of the neighboring kingdom, who will rescue him from a tower--'

'yeah, no. not anymore. i kidnap you, tae now gets put back on the market. and instead of the whole 'rescue' thing, I just get to take him out on a date'
'what??? /why??/'

'dude, have you /seen/ your brother?'

'no, /why/ would she allow you to court tae with no restrictions yet allow jk to go through this madness where he could get /killed/ just to be given their /blessing/ to court me? this isn't /fair/!' joon angrily shouts.
jimin winces. 'uh, well, she just said if he is as lucky and capable as you say he is, he wouldn't have a problem going through these tasks'

'but he's--' joon bites the inside of his cheek, balls his hands into tight fists.

but jk is a /pig boy/. he's not a knight.
there's no way he would be able to do any of these tasks, would be able to fight any of these monsters and /win/. it's as good of a death sentence as any.

jk must have turned down the note as soon as he read it, returned back to his farm with dubu and left this nonsense behind
joon's shoulders slump down in defeat. this is hopeless. jk isn't coming for him. jk abandoned him and joon is stuck in the same place he's started, waiting for a knight in shining armor to come rescue him.

he curls up into a ball and hides his face. 'please, I want to be alone'
jimin lingers there before eventually leaving joon be. and as the chill of the night settles in joon's cell, it seeps into his bones with the dread and heaviness of what tomorrow will look like for him.

he might as well get used to it. this feeling will be with him for a while.

one month passes exactly. then three days trickle by, and hours drag slowly along. the bandits have been trying to raise joon's spirits and have been putting on intricate theatre shows in front of his cell because 'rich people like the arts, right? /right?/'
joon appreciates the effort, but he just feels too out of it to enjoy much of anything. even his walks around the fortress with the dogs and feeling the sun on his skin don't bring him any joy.

it gets to the point where joon receives a letter from his mother, asking if he's ok
'please, forgive me,' the letter read. 'i had no idea how heartbroken you've become because of this, and I promise to have the royal guard come for you first thing in the morning. we will talk. we will find other means. your true love is still out there. we'll find them, joon-ah'
so, nightfall comes on joon's last night and for one last try, the bandits put on a goodbye party for the prince. joon leaves his cell just so they'll stop pestering him to come to the party they worked really really hard to set up. they made him a cake. he /has/ to see the cake.
joon listens to the bandit enthuse about the party and how much fun joon is going to have and it's going to make him happy and forget all about being abandoned by someone he thought felt the same about him, and it all honestly goes in one ear and out the other for joon
he zones out momentarily as they both slip into the shadows, almost arriving at jimin's abode, when suddenly, there's movement out the corner of joon's eye, and someone comes close to him, and there is the sound of a heavy thud, the bandit's body slumping to the ground
'sorry!' the attacker says, grabbing joon's hand in the darkness and pulling him out into the moonlight, so joon can see how big and wide and beautiful jk's eyes look when the light hits him. 'hyung? are you okay? you're not hurt right?'

joon is silent, then, wetly, 'you came'
jk smiles. 'of course i'd come, hyung. why wouldn't I? wait, please don't cry--' but joon is already crying and wrapping his arms around jk to pull him into a tight hug.

'it's just been so /long/. i thought something happened...or abandoned me'

'what? no! never!'
jk pulls back but keeps his hands on joon's waist. 'im sorry I took so long, hyung, and I can explain what happened, but first, we need to get out of here! it's not safe!'

'they won't harm us. they're all in on this stupid test.'



suddenly, horns sound in the night, and torches are lit. 'intruder! there's an intruder!!' someone yells, and the bandits all swarm out of the shadows and their crowded huts, the majority rushing out of jimin's house with slices of cake that they haven't yet eaten
jk immediately pushes joon behind him for protection, and joon would have quickly tried to desclate the situation and explain to the bandits surrounding them what is going on, but he gets a little...distracted.

'jeongguk...why do you have dubu strapped to your back?'
dubu squeals happily at seeing namjoon again, wriggling around in the strange holster that jk has tied onto his back. jk, without looking, blurts, 'because! she's my good luck charm! she helped me find you all the times before, so why wouldn't I have her help me find you now!'
joon stares at dubu snorting in her little holster and then at jk trying to valiantly protect joon from the bandits encircling them, with not even a sword or a weapon to defend himself with.

jimin appears in the fray of bandits, dagger in hand and scowl on his face
'what's going on? who is this?' he questions with a menacing tone joon has never heard jimin use before, not even in his most intense games of poker.

'he's the one that knocked out the guards at the gate! he's got to be!' one of the bandits shout. then, 'wait, is that a pig?'
joon snaps out of his momentary pause to step around jk and shoo the bandits back. 'he's my rescuer! we're leaving!' he announces.

the bandits lower their weapons, all looking to jk with astonishment, jimin the most surprised. 'he...he /survived/?'
joon nods, taking jk's hand in his. 'he's here, which means he beat the trials. I'm sorry about the party, but we should be heading back to the kingdom posthaste'

'wait, wait, wait' jimin says with a raised eyebrow. 'where's the hydra fang if he /really/ 'beat the trials?'
'i left it outside the fortress. i can't carry it on my back. it'll crush dubu.'

jimin obviously wasn't expecting that answer. 'you pulled a hydra fang? you /really/ got the hydra fang?'

'do you want to see it?' jk asks. jimin nods his head fiercely
indeed, the hydra fang rests just outside of the fortress, and it is as big as jk himself.

'you carried this?' joon asks, looking at the way the fang gleams in the moonlight. 'you carried this all on your own?'

'yep.' jk says. jimin, circles around it, absolutely stunned
joon looks at jk's arms and his hands, feeling breathless. 'wow, that' amazing of you'

jk beams. 'thanks! dubu's brothers weigh just as much as the fang, so I've had a lot of practice lifting heavy stuff around!

joon thought he couldn't be more in love, but he was wrong.
jimin looks up from admiring the hydra fang. 'i can't believe it,' he says, hands on his hip. 'how could a pig boy not only defeat the hydra, but manage to pull out one of its fangs?'

once again, jk starts to look sheepish. 'yeah, there's a reason behind that...'
he looks to joon, biting his lip, 'um, listen, I want to talk to your parents before...uh, before about us? if you know what I mean?'

joon blinks. '...there /is/ an us?'

jk's face is pink under the moon. '...i'd like there to be...but I need to say some things first'
'do you want to say those things to me first?'

'no...i'd rather say it once...and I already kind of messed up the night by knocking out people I didn't need to knock out, so I don't want to make it worse'

jk's words strike a chord of worry in joon's heart. what's going on?
'well, the royal guard is going to be here in the morning, right?' jimin asks joon. 'you both will just return back to the kingdom tomorrow. it won't hurt if you stay one more night, right? soobin /really/ worked hard on that cake, your highness.'

jk nods in agreement.
'yeah, plus dubu gets cranky if she has to stay in this holster for long' jk points out, and dubu /has/ been squealing a lot louder since they trekked back to the gate. joon takes the pig out and bounces her in his arms. the movement calms her, at least for now.
jimin claps his hands together. 'great! glad that that is all cleared up. jeongguk-ssi, do you mind using your big strong capable hands to help lift this heavy fang back to my place?'

joon raises an eyebrow. 'why are you taking the fang?'

jimin smirks. 'that's a secret'
jk agrees to taking the fang up anyways. joon pretends he doesn't swoon at watching jk easily carry the hydra fang up the steps to jimin's house with little trouble. the bandits are all amazed at jk's strength as well, while some are more interested in dubu
'like, is she /really/ a good luck pig?' one bandit asks as they all enjoy slices of farewell cake and mead.

'oh yeah, she's /definitely/ good luck' jk enthuses. 'she has a nose for that sort of thing'

'you told me she has a nose for trouble' joon chides.
'yeah, but you're not trouble and she has a nose for /you/, so the next thing must be good luck.' jk says. 'or truffles.'

'the more I think I understand why you're so madly in love with him, the more he makes me realize that I actually don't have a clue why' jimin murmurs
the night goes on and the party dies down to just jimin, joon, jk and dubu. jimin offers jk and dubu a bed in his place, waggling an eyebrow to joon as he leaves them to go marvel at the hydra fang in his possession for the third time that night
'he doesn't seem that bad,' jk says with a thoughtful hum. 'a little bit weird, but not bad'

'yeah. tae actually might be into him. they'll hit it off fine,' joon says, before glancing over at the bed. 'looks like you'll have a comfy sleep.'

joon laughs. 'you don't sound so sure.'

jk rubs the back of his neck. 'well, to be honest, I haven't been sleeping all that good this month cause I was worried about you'

joon pauses, looking at the way jk's ears slowly turn pink with his honesty.

'yeah. like, not even cuddling dubu helped. i was just worried about what was happening to you. where you were or if you were okay. i just...i couldn't relax until I found you'

joon's heart squeezes. 'well, you found me. and I'm so glad you did'

jk smiles. 'me too'
there's a gentle moment of quiet between them. joon nods and begins to turn towards the door. 'i'll let you and dubu have that good night's sleep at last, I'll see you in the morning-'

jk grabs hold of joon's hand before joon can fully get away.

'wait, um...i was wondering...'

', the's...i' jk huffs and squeezes joon's hand. 'can you maybe...sleep with me and dubu for the night?'

joon's eyes widen. his heart feels like it just jumped up and lodged itself in his throat just behind his adam's apple
'i mean,' jk continues in joon's silence. 'im sorry, that was really forward of me to ask. like, you're a prince, you don't sleep with /pigs/. i just...well, wanted something 'human shaped', this is awkward, I just-'

'i'd love to cuddle with you' joon breathes
jk looks up surprised. '...r-really?'

'yes,' joon says, hoping he doesn't sound /too/ eager.

'wow,' jk says. he smiles big and dubu snorts appreciatively between the two of them. 'that's cool.'

joon sighs. 'you are adorable.'

'thanks. hobi hyung tells me that a lot.'
the trio clamber together into bed, dubu curling up in a ball between the two of them, snorting in her sleep. joon doesn't close his eyes right away, too elated with the feeling of just having both dubu and jk by his side after going so long without their presence
then, in the dark, jk's hand reaches out and blindly rests over joon's. joon can see that jk is still asleep, but he does see a smile curl on jk's lips as jk's fingers curl around his hand and squeezes gently.

joon squeezes back, and his eyes fall closed to a peaceful dream

morning comes and with it the sound of trumpets by the royal guard. joon, jk, and dubu are placed onto large white horses & say their friendly goodbyes to the bandits.

'make sure you hype me up for your cute brother!' jimin shouts as they disappear over the horizon.
jk is quiet during the journey back to the kingdom, eyes focused intensely ahead while on his back, dubu snorts with every bounce the horse makes.

'is there something wrong?' joon asks.

'hm? oh, no. just thinking. it's fine, hyung' jk says with a soft smile.
the silence is still unnerving, and joon thinks about what could possibly be going through jk's mind right now as they approach the castle. the royal guards inform the king and queen of their arrival, and when joon's parents come to greet them, joon catches the looks of surprise
'impossible,' says the king, looking at joon and then at jk and dubu. 'how? how did he manage to find you?'

joon holds his chin high. 'does it matter? he completed the trials and rescued me. there should be /no/ arguments'.

'indeed,' says the queen with a nod of her head.
jk holds his head down. 'may we...may we speak in private?' he asks.

the queen blinks at him, confused. 'but we must prepare a celebration for your success at triumph.'

'no,' says jk, balling his hands into tight fists. 'i can't...i can't accept that.'
'what do you mean?' joon asks, taking jk's hand. 'jeongguk, you rescued me. you''re my true love. just as my brother was rescued and my mother was rescued, you rescued /me/ and now we can be wed-'

jk pulls his hand from joon's grasp. 'but I'm telling you that we can't.'
joon's heart plummets to his stomach. 'i don't understand,' he murmurs. jk can't look him in the eye. the queen looks to the guards and then to the king, who also looks confused as to what is happening.

'very well...let us retire to the throne room'
moments later, with the king and queen seated on their throne and joon at their side, looking down at jk who stands with his hands balled into tight fists and his lip pulled in between his teeth, jk confesses, 'the king was right. i am just a fluke...i didn't complete the trials'
the queen raises an eyebrow. 'what do you mean? you found the bandit's fortress. no one else knew the prince's location aside from myself, the king, & the bandit leader. were you told of the location?'

jk shakes his head 'no'. 'i found out, but not through completing the trials'
'then please, enlighten us how you were able to locate the prince. the first trial with the blind sorcerer, are you telling us that you did /not/ complete his riddles?'

'no, I didn't'

'but we were told by a royal guard when checking your progress that you /did/'

'...he lied'
the king balks at this. 'you're saying that one of our knights of the court lied to their queen?!'

'oh! no! not the /knight/. the sorcerer. he must have told them that I passed the trial because...well...'

'enough with this farce, pig boy,' the king barks. 'tell us the truth'
jk gives a heavy sigh.

'...okay, well, i arrived to the blind sorcerer's bridge just like the ransom note told me to. and he gave me his riddles like he was told to do. and, they were /really/ hard riddles. i didn't know how to answer them, so I was stuck for a while'
'but, then i was wondering how far across the gap /really/ was and I figured if I just climb down the mountain, cross the river, and then climb back up the other side, then I won't need to solve the riddles to cross the bridge, right?'

the king blinks, stunned.
'are you telling us you climbed down one side of a mountain, crossed a deadly river and climbed back up /another/ mountain just to avoid answering three silly little riddles?'

'hey, they were /really/ hard riddles.'

'darling, hush.' the queen shushes.
'well, i /was/ going to, but then I realized that I needed rope. so I thought, 'well, this guy is a sorcerer, he could just magic up some more rope right?' and I started cutting some rope off the bridge to use it to climb, but then he yelled at me to stop'
'SO i was wondering 'wait, how could he know that I'm cutting off rope for his bridge if he was blind?' and then I questioned him about it and he couldn't give me a straight answer, which seemed very fishy.'

if joon didn't know better, it looked like his father was intrigued.
jk raises a finger. 'so, i decided to put all of my trust into dubu's good luck, and I crossed the bridge. that's when I found out the the truth.' jk frowns hard, hands on his hips. 'the guy's not even a real sorcerer! /or/ blind!'

a hush of silence falls over the royal family.
'that...that can't be true,' the king says, astonished. 'all the knights that have vanquished him with their wit-'

'they paid him off and he let them say they 'vanquished' him'

'but what about the ones that said they were tormented after not completing his riddles?!'
'he used the money that he got from other knights to pay bandits to follow them around and torment them out of sight, making them /think/ they're cursed until they return and eventually pay him. and since he didn't want his lie to be revealed, he let me go, free of charge.'
'but you revealed it just now'

'yea,' jk winces, 'maybe you can just...not tell him that?'

the king slumps in his throne, looking like he isn't sure what he could believe in anymore. the queen clears her throat.

'well, what about the minotaur?'
'yes! what about the minotaur?!' the king jumps. 'the royal guard said the minotaur was gone when they checked the cave! are you going to say the minotaur was a fraud as well?'


'so you're admitting that you defeated the minotaur'

'no, he's traveling right now'

'i didn't defeat the minotaur. i was prepared to like the ransom note said I should, but there was...something sad about his eyes as I approached him, ready to challenge him. you know what I mean?'

'it's a monstrous beast!' the king cries.

jk shakes his head. 'that's not true'
'first off, have you ever looked into the cave of treasures? it's /really/ pretty. a lot of work went into aesthetically designing and arranging all of the gold and jewels and it really made a dark and depressing cave shine. and the minotaur just wants someone to appreciate that'
'the minotaur...wanted appreciation?'

'yes! like, i bet he wouldn't have been so angry & killed all those people that approached his cave if they would have stopped to look and appreciate his collection rather than try to steal everything. it's just like dubu and her carrots.'
'so, the minotaur and i had a heart to heart about what his future goals are and what he wants out of life. he was feeling a little stagnant lately, standing there in front of his cave guarding it from thieves, but I told him that shouldn't stop him from following his dreams'
' the minotaur go follow his dreams...of interior design,' the king says slowly. jk nods his head 'yes'. '...and that means the cave of treasures is open?'

'oh. no. he just put a really big rock in front of it. no one's getting in there until he comes back.'
the king pinches the bridge of his nose. the queen smiles warmly.

'but he told you about the mermaids before he left? is that how you found out your next clue?'

jk nods his head 'yes' again'.

'and I'm certain there's more to that, right?'
'well, not really. i just didn't give the gnome the mermaid pearl?'

'and /why/ is that?' the king asks, already sounding exhausted before jk can give the answer.

jk blinks. 'well, if he wants it, why can't he just go ask to borrow it? why does he need me to go get it?'
the queen hums. 'that's a very good point,' she muses aloud.

'no it isn't. stop /humoring/ him,' the king grumbles. 'so did you keep the pearl? did you steal it?'

'no. i went to the grotto, asked the mermaid for the pearl, she said no, and then I left.'
'you didn't even /try/ to get the pearl?'

jk frowns. 'hobi hyung told me if a lady says 'no', then to respect her wishes and be on my way. besides, the gnome was kinda weird. i didn't really want to give him her pearl anyways.'

'what do you mean by that?'
'like, when i told him i didn't have the pearl, he told me to get a lock of her hair. or one of her scales. or just something of hers that was very creepy and kinda invasive? I ended up cutting off a lock of my hair, ran it under some water, gave it to him and said it was hers'
'and he was fooled by your trick and told you the location of the bandit hideout!' the queen deduces with a laugh, clapping her hands while the king looks on stunned. 'well! that certainly /was/ an interesting journey you have gone on...but I must ask one question'
the queen folds her hands on her lap. 'from the sounds of things, you acquired the clues very quickly. yet you took a long while to find the prince? what was the delay?'

jk rubs the back of his neck. 'i had a little bit of trouble with the hydra fang.'

'...hydra fang?'
'yeah. the last trial. i had to defeat the hydra and take one of its fangs and deliver it to the bandit fortress. but I didn't know that they were in on it, so I thought I still had to sneak in and rescue hyung.'

the queen blinks. 'sweet only had /three/ trials'
' the ransom note says four?'

'i specifically told the gnome that once you acquired the location of the fortress to give us word that you are on your way to rescue the prince. but then the days passed and we grew worried that something fought a /hydra/?'
'um, i mean. kinda?' jk looks down at his feet. 'i didn't know how to find the hydra, so me and dubu were walking around the mountain for a couple of days. and then, when we were taking a break, dubu accidentally knocked over some rocks while I was setting camp'
'then those rocks knocked into some more rocks, which made bigger rocks and those turned into boulders and then, there was this huge rockslide that made the entire left side of the mountain into rubble, and we heard the hydra roaring'
'when we came down the mountain to check, we saw one of the heads trapped under a rock. it was dead, but the rest of the heads were still alive and moving, so we had to be extra careful in removing the fang. took me a little longer than expected'
'it never occurred for you to wonder /why/ you needed to get a hydra's fang?'

jk shrugs. 'i thought you were still testing if I was good enough for the prince. i didn't want to take any chances.'

the queen hums. '...i will send a guard to deal with that bandit later...'
jk balls his hands into fists, shoulders tens. 'even if that last trial was just a trick...i still failed all the other ones.' he looks up at joon, and his eyes look so pained. 'i'm not the person you think I am. I'm not...resourceful or smart or anything like that. I''
'i know i'm not good enough for a prince, and that I kinda just stumble into things and dubu's good luck gets me by, and I probably don't deserve the prince...but when I'm with him...i feel happy. and I feel like...i don't know, like I'm more than just me. like...I'm alright.'
jk turns his head back down in a bow. 'but, I won't be a bother to you anymore. i know I'm not a knight, and I know what I'm good at...where I belong...i just wanted to apologize for wasting your time with my tricks. I'm glad that hyung is home safe, but I should be going now.'
jk lifts his head and gives a soft smile to joon, and he begins to turn and leave with dubu trotting after him. and just as joon is about to shout for jk to wait, to run after him, someone beats him to it.

'stop right there, pig boy,' the king commands, and jk pauses in place.
the king rubs his chin, staring hard at dubu and then at jk. 'you are telling me...' he slowly starts, 'that a pig successfully took down one of the hydra heads?'

'...she did it accidentally, but yea. i guess she kinda did.'

the king stares for a long time.

then, he laughs.
'a /pig/ did what /none/ of the royal guards in my court could?! a /pig/?!' the king laughs hysterically.

the queen looks to her husband, a bit worried. joon does the same. he's never heard his father laugh so jovially in all of his life.
'a pig! a pig claimed the head of a hydra and you, you removed one of it's fangs with what?'

jk looks embarrassed as he mumbles, 'broke off a sharp piece of rock and sawed it out.'

the king laughs even harder, and the noise makes joon rather frustrated.
'if all you want is mock him for his efforts-'

'oh, as much as I want to, I can't,' the king sighs. 'this boy is no knight, and is a bit of a fool. but, there is no denying how deeply his love for you runs,strong enough that he'd take on a hydra without even a second's doubt'
jk swallows hard, averting his gaze. 'is it true, then?' the king asks. 'if we were to put you through the same trials over and over again, put you face to face with monster after monster to win hand of our son, would you?'

there is no hesitation in jk's voice. 'yes.'
the king sighs deeply, looking to his wife. 'in all my years I have never seen a heart so.../pure/...pig boy, promise me that you'll cherish my son as deeply as he cherishes you.'

joon's breath gets stuck in his throat, his eyes going wide with alarm the same time as jk's.
the queen nods her head. 'i have found my answer, and I am glad that my worries have been reassured. i only apologize that we didn't understand before putting you through all this mess...perhaps we should be a bit more flexible with traditions moving forward'
joon looks to his parents, then looks to jk who seems just as stunned. and when neither of them move towards the other, dubu waddles behind jk's legs and nudges him forward instead.

the queen giggles. 'it seems your pig is taking matters into their own hands'
jk shoos dubu away, turning to joon as joon slowly approaches him with a careful look in his eyes.

'you would really fight a hoarde of monsters all over again?...for me?' joon asks. jk looks down, then quietly reaches out and holds joon's hands in his.
'the way you talked about me that time, said all those nice things about me to your just, I don't know, it made me wonder if I was so deserving of your love...made me feel like I tricked you somehow into falling in love with me'
'how could you have tricked me? it was all your little quirks that I fell in love with from the very beginning,' joon says with a warm whisper. jk looks to him. joon sighs dreamily at the sparkle in jk's eyes.

'i think...i just needed to tell myself that I was the man for you'
'and do you know that now? do you know that I have been dying to have my true love's first kiss?'

jk scrunched his nose up as he smiles. 'i mean, I might have gotten /a few/ hints...I'm not too late for that kiss, right?'

joon smiles back, leaning in. 'not at all'
and so, with dubu snorting happily around their feet, joon's lips find jk's and the bells sound once more in joon's ears. their fingers intertwine, their chests come together, and the love swims in both of their eyes when they pull apart at last, only to dive back in with a laugh
at the king's command, they are slated to be wed. as eager as he was to be wed to his true love at last, now that joon has him, he wants to take his time, make sure he loves each bit of jk as lovers before he loves him all over again as his husband
jk still has training to go through now that he is to be part of the royal family, but he still leaves time to take care of the farm and help hoseok with anything he may need. he even shows some of the royal guards how to properly milk a cow, and joon watches with a fond smile.
and weeks after joon and jk have came together in their little unconventional fairy tale, they are hit with the announcement of sudden news.

'you're getting /married/?' joon asks his younger brother. '/already/??'

prince tae nods his head with a little smile.
'tae, he's a thief. that doesn't bother you?'

'he proposed to me with the fang of a hydra, hyung. how could i /not/ say yes?' tae sighs, gazing upon the hydra fang that the royal guards struggled to deposit in his chambers. 'plus, he's a really good kisser and has a cute butt.'
'don't suppose he told you /how/ he came across that fang, did he?' joon asks dryly, but jk pulls him by the arm.

'ahh, it's ok. let them have their fun, yeobo,' jk says with a sweet little grin, and joon's annoyance is quelled for the time being.
they leave tae to admire his hydra fang, walking side by side, hand in hand. it's not the end of their fairy tale; there's certainly more stories to come as they grow together with each passing day.

for now, with his true love at his side, joon can't think of a happier ending.

aaand we're done! ahahah wow! crazy how many people liked this rambly mess of a story! ahaha thank you for listening to me talk about pig boy jk and prince joon and thank you for enjoying this silly little fairy tale ๐Ÿ˜ญ
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