Counterpoise AU drabble (2015-09-04)

“Be careful,” a mother says to her daughter, “Stick to the paths we’ve marked. If you stray, you might end up in danger,” she warns. But the mother lets her daughter go, anyway, because how will her daughter ever learn if she doesn’t go?

The daughter–perhaps she is named after a flower–heeds her mother’s words; for a while. But there is much to explore in the forest, so many sights and sounds and scents to follow that she before she knows it, she has gotten quite lost.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem–everyone in her family can retrace their steps, follow the route they’ve taken by the lingering remains of themselves in the air–but she finds that her scent has disappeared.

No, it’s been washed away.

It’s as if a rain has fallen, drops of water still clinging to leaves and bark, turning the ground a shade of moistened darkness. But the sky had been sunny the entire time, and she hadn’t heard the percussion of rainfall.

She reaches out to touch a tree, damp from the mysterious not-rain that washed away the traces of her scent. The water is cold against her fingertips, as if only one degree away from becoming ice. She pulls away quickly, rubbing warmth back into her hand.

“What are you doing here?” A voice asks, low but sweet, like the juices of a fruit lingering on the tongue.

The daughter, the girl maybe named after a flower, startles. Turns to face the other.

The questioner is a little girl as well, smaller and younger than herself, with brilliantly bright red hair.

“I’m lost,” she answers truthfully, trustingly.

And the other girl, with hair so red and eyes so gray, smiles. It should be nothing to a girl whose own mouth is filled with fangs, and yet…

“I can help you, if you’d like,” the little girl says, hand outstretched beseechingly.

And when she takes that hand in her own, all she can think of is the feeling of water so close to ice.

~

A/N: I’m… not sure exactly? I had a vague idea of sort of reversing the Little Red Riding Hood story, but it sort of adjusted itself to become a Counterpoise AU in which Hana Inuzuka (okay, I know the Hana is supposed to be nose not flower, but I liked the parallel because in some versions of LRRH she’s named Rose Red) gets lost and a creepy, amoral!Konran (who has a water affinity) basically scares the crap out of her.

Cross-Post: Red brainstorm

original here. dated 2012-03-20

~

Every other day, after helping Mother out with the tavern, Rose Red hitches a ride on the Woodcutter’s cart to Grandmother’s house in the forest. This is because Rose is Grandmother’s apprentice–Grandmother being the kingdom’s old court magician. Twenty years ago when the then-prince (now King) of the kingdom rescued and married Snow White, her distaste for magic caused Grandmother to be removed from the prestigious position. This stigma against magic permeated throughout the kingdom such that Rose is a pariah in the town, however she knows that magic is her only chance to make something of her life. Most of her duties, however, are simple things like finding ingredients for various potions and charms.

On one such outing, Rose encounters Wolf in trap. Feeling particularly adventurous, she tries to free and heal Wolf; she succeeds (even if it does take multiple attempts). In return, Wolf steals her cloak (a sensible dark green) and runs away. When she returns to town before sundown, Mother scolds her for losing yet another cloak and makes her wear her childhood red cloak; hence the nickname “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Rose sees Wolf more often, he becomes friendlier and even begins to help her with her chores. Wolf undoubtedly becomes her best friend, as sad as that is, such that she begins to go to the forest every day now. As noticed by the friendly Woodcutter (who is in love with Mother, but does honestly care about Rose). She takes care to keep Wolf a secret from him.

Soon, though, a newcomer arrives: Huntsman. Rose, Grandmother, and Woodcutter do not trust him (though that may be only because Mother is charmed). Unsurprisingly, Huntsman is after Wolf. Because he’s staying in the rooms above the tavern, Rose hears his plans before they occur and goes into the forest to protect Wolf. Then the Hunt.

Rose and Wolf are able to evade Huntsman for the day, though he is undoubtedly getting closer. Then sundown. Rose has never been in the forest at night before. She has never seen Wolf at night before. That’s because Wolf is in fact the Prince! Not too long ago Prince was cursed during some important event (perhaps coronation or first battle/hunt). He was meant to be hidden away in the castle, however he was let loose. Snow White, as queen, has offered a reward for those who can find the Prince-Wolf, however Huntsman doesn’t understand that he needs to bring Prince-Wolf alive.

Just before dawn, Huntsman finds the two of them. Before he can harm either of them, however, Woodcutter, who had been tracking them down at the behest of Mother, arrives to stop him. Soon follow Snow White and Grandmother. Prince-Wolf is cured so that he is now just Prince. Woodcutter gets the reward (which he splits with Mother for the upkeep of the tavern). Grandmother is offered the reinstated position of court magician but refuses, saying she always hated the politics. Prince proposes to Rose.

And she says she has to think about it. Because, really, even though he’s known her for a while and fallen in love, she’s only known that he was a human for one night. One night spent in paranoid hiding. So yeah, she’s got to think about it. She stays in town and continues to learn from Grandmother, Prince visits every month and everyone treats Rose better, but she says she needs time to think about it every time. On the day Prince is going to go visit again, Rose arrives at the castle to apply for the position of court magician.

~

The sequel of Red, with a title more imaginative than Red II, would be about Rose adjusting to court life. The other courtiers are prejudice against her, due to her magic, her commoner status, and the fact that Prince obviously favors her over his peers. The sequel would mostly be about Rose proving herself worthy of the position of court magician: she perseveres despite the others’ expectations (and breaks a curse that has been plaguing the kingdom for years?). There are also smaller issues she settles since Rose does represent the reintroduction of magic (including negotiating with the faeries about a recent noble birth and a possible faery godparent?). She not-so-ironically finds allies with the dwarves, The Seven being the queen’s now ignored advisors, the next generation of dwarves being subsequently disrespected.

There are moments of Prince’s and Rose’s relationship progressing–the Prince often seeking her out despite both of their busy schedules. There is conflict, however, because even though his love for Rose is steadily becoming more requited that is inversely related to how everyone else views her and they both know it is unlikely anything will come of it (his marriage will be political not romantic). She does make some friends and even if they are servants their influence in court helps Rose immensely.