15.

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Jungkook panted heavily, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He'd just arrived back from training the guards, hence why he felt absolutely drained. Although the intense lethargic feeling pulsing through body was partly due to exercise, the other was related to the stress he felt about Kim Taehyung.

He couldn't seem to get the boy out of his head; and his talk with Yoongi barely helped either. In fact, it only made him doubt whether he actually had feelings for the servant.

As he neared the palace, Jungkook decided to take a quick shortcut through the palace gardens, hoping to get some fresh air in order to clear his mind. Especially now that spring had arrived, the Prince often found himself relaxing outside, spending time in his own company as he'd never been one to enjoy the company of other people more than his own.

Strolling through the gardens, Jungkook glanced up at the fluorescent sun beaming down at him. He took in a deep breath before letting out a long sigh, his mind still preoccupied with Taehyung. He knew he had to be real with himself, yet he was terrified what that would end up in. Allowing yourself to succumb to your feelings eventually weakened you, or at least that's exactly what Jungkook thought.

Finally arriving at the bottom of the palace stairs, Jungkook began trekking up the steps, feeling his muscles ache as he did so. Training had been extremely vigorous today, since the guards were in terrible shape which is why Jungkook went hard on them for five hours straight.

Yet, as the Prince finally reached the top of the stairs, his ears perked up at the faint sound of quiet sniffling. Jungkook furrowed his brows in confusion, pausing for a second to find out where the sound was coming from.

"Hello?" Jungkook called out, craning his neck to glance around his surroundings, although he was met with absolutely no sign of anyone. "Who's there?"

The sniffling stopped for a second, causing the Prince to wait for a reply, however after hearing absolutely no response he grew impatient, this time calling out impatiently.

"I said who is it?" the Prince asked, adopting a firmer tone. "Don't make me ask again."

The faint sound of footfall occurred, before Jungkook's eyes darted over towards the entrance of the palace, where a familiar figure appeared from the corner of the doorway; and to say Jungkook was surprised would be an understatement. He was shocked.

"Taehyung?" he breathed out, his eyes widening at the sight in front of him. The last thing he expected was to see a dark purple bruise littered across the right side of the boy's face. The opaque colour signalled to the Prince that this had only happened recently, as well as the stray tears evident on Taehyung's flushed cheeks. "What the hell happened?"

"I-I don't..." the servant stammered out, clearly attempting to control himself from bursting into tears in front of the Prince, however when Jungkook took a few steps towards him, his eyes widened in sheer concern, Taehyung couldn't help but break down in front of him, his body shaking with each sob.

"It wasn't my fault."

And at that split second, Jungkook couldn't help but wrap his arms around the boy, bringing him up against his broad chest. He couldn't feel anything but rage. Pure rage. The Prince's own hands trembled with fury at the thought of someone daring to even touch the boy, although he attempted to push his anger towards the side as he comforted the servant, patting his back gently.

"Hey," he said softly, his tone immediately changing to a gentle one. "It's okay. You're okay," he murmured comfortingly, rubbing circles into Taehyung's back.

The blue-haired boy's sobs eventually quietened after each passing second, until he was left with emitting sniffles, before pulling back from Jungkook, embarrassment written all over his face.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly, wiping his eyes. "I didn't mean to do that. I'm so-" he continued, before he was cut off by Jungkook, who pressed his finger lightly against his lips.

"Stop. Don't apologise," the younger stated calmly, managing to control the inner anger building up inside of him for Taehyung's sake. "Who did this to you?" he asked whilst moving his fingers towards the bruise painted over the boy's cheek, gently brushing his thumb over the darkened pattern.

The servant paused for a second, his entire body frozen as Jungkook traced his finger over his skin. He swallowed thickly, feeling his heart pumping loudly, not quite believing what was happening to him in that split second.

"Well?" Jungkook repeated, although he kept his gentle tone, not wanting to scare Taehyung off. He couldn't even control his actions in that moment himself. The Prince didn't know what overcame him as he caressed Taehyung's soft skin, however he was certain about one thing.

He didn't want to stop.

"Uh," the servant said, his voice croaked due to the endless crying he'd been doing prior. "The King."

"My father?" Jungkook spat out, immediately withdrawing his hand. His fists clenched tightly as he felt a wave of murderous rage wash over him, although Taehyung's correction only relaxed him slightly, mentally thanking the Gods it wasn't his own father who'd dared touch the boy.

"No. My King," the servant quickly corrected, visibly wincing each time he moved his jaw to answer Jungkook. This didn't go unnoticed by the Prince, who stared at him with empathy, wishing it was absolutely anyone who'd been hit instead of Taehyung.

"Why?" he asked, his words laced with evident fury.

"Because of the dance," Taehyung whispered, staring down at the floor. "We danced together and he didn't like it."

Jungkook felt his blood run cold. His sheer stupidity had bitten him right back and caused Taehyung to feel pain. How could he be so naive as to think there wouldn't be repercussions with dancing with a servant in front of everybody? It was his own doing that had resulted in the servant getting hurt, and the realisation killed him. He didn't know why he cared this much, yet one thing was for certain.

He'd destroy the King.

The Prince's gaze remained fixated on Taehyung's bruise, before he narrowed his eyes at the boy in front of him, steadying his breathing.

"He won't ever touch you again," Jungkook declared, moving past Taehyung as the male stormed off into the palace, seeking out to find none other than the Northern King, whom Jungkook was imminent from completely ripping apart.

He ignored Taehyung's attempt at stopping him, dodging the outstretched hand the blue-haired male aimed towards him, knowing that if Taehyung ordered him to stop, he'd only get angrier knowing how selfless the boy really was.

The Prince had never felt more enraged in his entire life. Absolutely nothing infuriated him as much as the thought of someone striking Taehyung across the face; not even his own Father forcing him to wed someone he had absolutely no attraction to.

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