SO. This is my Little Red Riding Hood AU! Finally finished! I'm really proud of this. Seriously. Also, Grandpa Magyar is a perfect human being and I want him to be canon. I don't think I've seen anything of him except for what I've written, though? Hm. Anyway, without further ado, enjoy and review!
Once upon a time, in the thick forest surrounding a bustling town, there lived a man named Gilbert.
Gilbert was a strange man and a hunter by trade. That is, it would be his trade if there were people to sell his kills to. As it was, however, Gilbert was maybe-kinda-sorta exiled from civilization. Forever. For you see, even stranger than his personality were Gilbert's strange looks. Gilbert had been born with silver hair and crimson irises, and though his father and mother did all they could to keep their firstborn son hidden, the secret could not be kept forever.
Eventually, Gilbert ventured into town, a gust of wind blowing his hood from his head. His appearance was exposed, and the villagers damned him for what they believed he was: a demon. A monster. He was cast out of the place he had called his home, forced into a life of solitude at only fifteen.
Years passed, and over time myths came to be. Tales spoke of a demon that would prey on young women who ventured into the forest at night, of a wolf-like monster that tore the flesh of travelers that lost their way in the wood, of a most hideous being that God Himself rebuked.
As he grew and matured, Gilbert learned the ways of the forest, hunting and surviving on his own with ease.
…Relative ease, anyway.
"Goddamn rabbits," Gilbert grumbled to himself bitterly, fruitlessly attempting to wipe the dirt from his face. "How the fuck're they so fast?" He sighed, dejectedly rising to his feet and wincing at a fresh pain in his shoulder. With knowledge that he would need to conserve his energy if he was to go without food that day, Gilbert resigned himself to a seat underneath an old oak tree near a path, hoping against all reason that someone might travel it despite the hour.
Most often he never bothered with the trail, so rarely used that plants and thickets grew over it in some areas, but his immense hunger encouraged him to hope for the impossible. Perhaps some plucky teenage boy would come along to spot the demon that lurked here, and if he was lucky he might get to see that demon steal the food right out of his trembling hands before he pissed himself and ran home. One of Gilbert's greatest joys was to scare the daylights out of boys that attempted to find him to impress some lady or another because really, what would they do if they actually saw him? Sometimes Gilbert liked to consider what transpired after the boys went home. "Did you see the wolfman? What happened to the basket you carried your dinner in? And why are your trousers soaked?" Gilbert was in the midst of entertaining these thoughts until he heard the melodic humming of a woman drifting through the air, and immediately he stood. What luck! He pressed himself against the trunk of the oak, moving himself into a position that gave him a clear view of the path while still hiding himself from the traveler. His eyes widened when he spotted her silhouette.
The young woman had long flowing hair, brown as the bark of a tree and brilliant eyes as green as the leaves of the oak he was standing under. She was small, probably a whole head shorter than himself, and was as dainty and lovely as a flower in spring. She was dressed as pretty as a commoner could, a dark green dress that spoke of a simple life, a weathered cloak and worn boots proof of constant traversing through these very woods. In other words, the perfect prey.
In her hands she held a large wicker basket, no doubt filled with food she was bringing home from the town. Gilbert could practically taste the freshly-baked bread with strawberry jam, rosy red apples that gave a satisfying crunch when you bit into them, and eggs to be fried over a fire. He was all but salivating at the very thought of such a meal, and with every step the young woman took he was closer to getting it. All he had to do was wait.
When she was in place and the stage was set, Gilbert lunged with a snarl, the expected shriek like music to his ears. Or maybe, just maybe, that was the ringing in his head as cool metal made contact with the side of his face. Gilbert cried out in pain, clutching his head as he was sent sprawling to the ground, his eyes hazy as he tried to find his attacker. All he could see was the face of the young woman contorted in fury, brandishing an odd weapon threateningly.
He wanted to scream at her, to tell her she'd invoked the wrath of the demon of the wood and that she would now suffer a death far beyond the mortal imagination, but the wrong words came out. Instead of the intimidating speech, a trembling voice that sounded suspiciously like his own wailed, "Jesus Christ! What the hell was that!?"
"I should ask you the same thing! What sort of brute attacks a defenseless woman on her way home?"
"Defenseless?" Gilbert choked out. "A defenseless woman doesn't carry around a fucking metal… thing to beat up people with!"
Her eyes narrowed. "It's called a frying pan. What sort of idiot doesn't know what a frying pan is? Now explain why you attacked me!"
"I was hungry, okay?" He raised his hands in a placating gesture. "In case you haven't noticed, the forest doesn't exactly have much in the way of food."
She stared at him in confusion for a moment before realization hit. "You… You're the one they talk about, aren't you? The hideous demon of the forest."
Gilbert frowned at that. "Well I wouldn't necessarily call myself hideous, but I guess that's me." A silence overcame them before he added, "Hideous? Really?"
"That's what they say," she replied with a shrug.
"Damn. I thought I was pretty sexy."
"No, you're rather hideous." Gilbert let out an indignant squawk in protest, causing a smile to grace her lips as her laughter filled the air. She held out a hand to him, which Gilbert took. With a surprising amount of strength she yanked him to his feet, Gilbert stumbling a little at the sudden movement. "Do you have a name, hideous demon?"
"Gilbert," he grumbled, not too fond of the 'nickname' she gave him. "What about you?"
Gilbert grinned, deciding the name was perfect for her. "Elizabeta," he repeated, testing out how it sounded on his own tongue. "Kind of a mouthful. How about 'Lizzy' instead?"
She laughed again, the sound sweet as birdsong to Gilbert. "I suppose that's fine, as long as I can call you a pathetic moron."
"You know what? Go ahead. I've heard worse anyways," he joked, smile growing a bit wider as she chuckled in response. "So what did you call that thing again?" He nodded at the weapon still clutched in her hand.
"It's called a frying pan. You use it to cook things over a fire, like eggs and toast."
The mention of food reminded his body just how starved he was, hunger making his stomach rumble loudly. A heavy blush of embarrassment stained his cheeks as Elizabeta proceeded to laugh again, this time at him, a distinct mocking tone in her voice. "Wow, you really are hungry, aren't you?" With another snicker at his expense, Elizabeta fished around her basket, pulling out a simple bread roll and handing it to Gilbert. It's not much, but it should help your hunger." She watched in amusement as he devoured his food, her mind puzzling over her new acquaintance. "You said that there wasn't much food, but what about animals? Couldn't you hunt rabbits or something?"
Gilbert grimaced at the thought of his enemies. "Rabbits are too damn fast. They're small and they hide in the thorn bushes if they see me. It's more pain than it's worth." He rubbed his aching shoulder, still tense and sore from his fall.
"You're hurt. Mind if I see your shoulder?"
"Sure." He unlaced the frayed string at his collar and pulled the shirt over his head, revealing an array of scars and scratches evidence of his years in the forest. A patch of red, swollen skin was on his shoulder, and Elizabeta gingerly prodded it with a finger. He hissed. "Watch it! It fucking hurts."
"Some hot water would probably help the muscles loosen up. How about this: you start a fire, and I'll head back to my house. I'll fetch a kettle of water and a towel, and we can boil the water over the fire for your shoulder. Sound good? I can bring some food back for you too."
Gilbert was skeptical. He'd never encountered anyone that wasn't scared shitless of him, but she had given him food. Maybe… maybe he could trust her. "Fine."
She smiled sweetly, and Gilbert couldn't help grinning in return. "Wonderful. I'll be back soon, okay?" He nodded and watched her leave, presumably in the direction of her cottage. When she'd finally disappeared from sight, Gilbert went about scrounging up firewood.
True to her word, Elizabeta returned and nursed his wound, chatting all the while about the village and her life in general. He learned that she lived with her grandfather in a small forest cottage, Grandpa Magyar staying at home as she did errands in town. Gilbert nervously asked if she knew Ludwig Beilschmidt, his brother, and she informed him that Ludwig was a seasoned carpenter and rumored to be courting a baker named Feliciano. The news made Gilbert smile.
After that, Elizabeta met him nearly every day on her way home from the village, sometimes sitting with him and eating a light meal, sometimes simply walking and conversing about anything and everything. And slowly but surely, Gilbert began to fall in love, her beauty and kindness and oftentimes brutal honesty (emphasis on 'brutal') charming him. He couldn't help his feelings, and brought it on himself to make sure she made it home safely every evening. She couldn't know, of course, because she would be offended that he didn't think she could protect herself, but he still watched over her. Months passed and his infatuation only grew, and he decided that he needed to be with her. He needed to speak with Grandpa Magyar. He needed to ask for Elizabeta's hand.
. . .
When Gilbert arrived at her cottage, he wasn't entirely sure what he was going to say to Elizabeta's grandfather. He'd already decided he wouldn't open with "Hello, Grandpa Magyar, I'm the demon of the forest and I want to bang your granddaughter into the next century!" A shriveled old man wouldn't be able to handle that. Gilbert certainly didn't want to give Elizabeta's only known relative a heart attack. He figured he would be able to win the old man over, despite his reputation. Probably. He wasn't actually sure what he was going to say, but he was hoping that it wouldn't end up being stupid.
With a hand that was certainly not shaking, Gilbert rapped on the door, looking around awkwardly. He noted there was a rather large shed nearby, and he wondered what they might keep in it. Minutes passed without an answer, and Gilbert realized that Grandpa Magyar must have been too weak to leave his bed.
Creaking open the door, Gilbert crept into the house, eyes searching for Grandpa Magyar. He passed through a small kitchen that consisted of nothing more than a potbelly stove and cupboards, leading him to a pair of doors. Curiously, Gilbert peeked into one of the rooms, the cozy-looking sheets and feminine scent telling him that he must have been looking into Elizabeta's bedroom. A feeling of giddiness swept over him. This was her room. Lizzy's bedroom. Where she slept.
The old man could wait, Gilbert had exploring to do.
Gilbert flitted around the room with gusto, trying to absorb every detail. There were all sorts of trinkets and baubles, some decorating the top of her trunk, others hanging on the wall like paintings. He was smiling until his gaze fell on a shining sword mounted on one of her walls. What the hell was she doing with a sword?!
He had no time to contemplate it as he heard quick, heavy stomping approaching, manic fear soaking him when the bedroom door swung open.
Before him stood a man who was without a doubt the most terrifying being on the planet. He was a giant, gruff and rugged, and his eyes were a furious green that could turn the bravest knight into a blubbering mess. He was also incredibly hairy, and Gilbert had a passing thought that he might actually be the wolfman of legend.
"What are you doing in my granddaughter's room."
This was Grandpa Magyar.
Sweat was beading on Gilbert's forehead as he meekly stuttered, "O-Oh, you must be Lizzy's grandf-father! M-M-My name is Gilb-bert—"
"I asked what you're doing in here, boy."
Gilbert wasn't sure what to do. He was incredibly close to passing out, and he doubted he would be able to make it past this beast. He opened his mouth to beg for his life, but the wrong words tumbled out.
"M-My, what big muscles you-you have!"
Grandpa Magyar's scowl deepened. He snatched the front of Gilbert's shirt and hauled him up off his feet, their faces now level.
"All the better to beat your face in."
. . .
Elizabeta's arrival home was greeted with the sound of pathetic whining that she instantly recognized as Gilbert's. It was puzzling, because the only person that should have been home was her grandpa, and last she checked Gilbert didn't know where she lived. Still, erring on the side of caution, she made her way to the sitting room. What greeted her there was less surprising.
Grandpa Magyar was sitting in his favorite chair polishing his newest creation, a longsword commissioned by some lord or another. His feet were propped up on a miserable heap named Gilbert who was currently groaning in pain.
"Grandpa?! What's going on? Why is Gilbert here?"
Gilbert's eyes snapped open and he barked, "This ogre attacked me!"
"Animals ain't allowed in my house," Grandpa Magyar said, his attention never leaving the gleaming iron in his hands.
"Wh… You're the animal! I didn't do anything!"
Sighing in exasperation, Elizabeta set down her basket on a nearby stool and hung her cloak on the rack. "Grandpa, why don't you go back to the shed and work there? I'll deal with him." He nodded by way of reply, nudging Gilbert roughly with his foot before making his way to the door. She returned her attention to Gilbert when she heard the door slam. "Alright, start talking. What are you doing in my house?"
"What, no 'Are you okay?' That giant almost killed me," he groused. He struggled to stand, giving up and resigning himself to a seat on the floor.
"That 'giant' is my grandpa."
"Well yeah, I figured that out before he beat me to a pulp. How the hell does someone get muscles that big?"
Elizabeta shrugged. "Grandpa's a blacksmith, his work calls for strength."
"Strength, my ass! He looks like he wrestles bears!"
"Whatever," she snapped, "just tell me why you're in my house!"
He lapsed into silence, unsure of how to proceed. He had been nervous enough thinking of how to explain his intentions to a bed-ridden old man, how was he supposed to explain them to the girl they were about? "I… I don't know. You probably don't wanna hear it."
He sighed. After another moment of silence, he began. "I know I'm probably the last person you'd want to marry, and I know you probably have some guy you're courting, but even if there's just the smallest chance… I-I just wanted to say that I, uh… I love you." Gilbert's eyes were trained on the floor, voice just above a mumble. When he heard no reply, he hastily continued, "N-Not that it's even a big deal, I'll get over it and shit, and if you think it's creepy or something, well, I guess I can't blame you, but yeah, so don't worry about it—"
"—because seriously, getting together with the 'hideous wolfman' would kill your reputation, and what if people found out and started hating you too—"
He finally looked up, noting with wonder that her expression was soft, not at all disgusted or uncomfortable like he'd thought it would be. "Yeah?"
"I don't care." Elizabeta laughed that same birdsong laugh she had on their first meeting, falling into his lap and laughing harder when he squawked in pain. Her arms were wrapped tightly around his neck, and Gilbert had the sudden fear that she might be trying to asphyxiate him for his half-proposal. "I don't care. They can hate me forever, if it meant being with you." She pulled back, her green eyes glistening with almost-tears and a clear contradiction to the smirk on her lips. "Besides, moron, if I wasn't around, who would treat your injuries from chasing rabbits?"
"Hey, those little shits are fast," he argued. Belatedly Elizabeta's words settled in his mind, provoking a slight reddening of cheeks. "S-So… by saying, uh… wh-when you said that, did you mean…?"
"Yes, you idiot. Yes." She gave him a watery smile as she held his red face in her hands, her voice slightly strained. "It can't be anyone but you." Elizabeta leaned forward and pressed her lips to his in true love's first kiss, followed by another, and another, and another.
Gilbert wrapped his arms around her and let his tongue instigate true love's first makeout.
And they lived happily ever after.
…Relatively happily, anyway.
"Oh my God, Gilbert, who said you can put your hands on my ass!?"
"I thought it was implied!"