Author's note: Hi! This is the first fanfiction story I've published. I'm trying to improve so constructive criticism is very much appreciated! Hope you enjoy my cheesy little tale, sorry about major historical inaccuracies. Story rated M for some violence (no gore), language, and suggested sexual content. Check chapters for specific violence warnings.
For weeks Kurt had felt like someone was watching him. It was small things: a prickling on the back of his neck when alone in his chamber, a flurry of movement when he turned his face to a window, the unaccountable snap of a twig as he hunted alone in the ancient forest that surrounded his family's estate. And once, most mysterious of all, a strange song sung by a beautiful voice, carried to him on the wind in the dead of night, so acheingly lovely he was certain by morning he had only dreamt of it.
Kurt told no one of his lingering sensation of being watched. Living at his family's ancient seat, the isolated Hummel Estate, didn't leave him with many options. Except for the occasional visiting Lord or knight it was just him and his father and their incorrigible servant, Puck. He had no desire to worry his father with thoughts of people wandering about the property; or, more likely, Kurt's deteriorating mental state. And he had absolutely no desire to discuss the matter with Puck, whose advice veered towards non-sensical far more often than being actually helpful.
Puck was busy at the moment anyway, overturning the manor house in preparation for their expected and highly esteemed guests. Some knight Finn Hudson or other, who Kurt remembered only vaguely meeting at some tournament, and his widowed mother. Kurt was looking forward to the guests as a welcome distraction to his current uneasy mood, hoping a few extra voices in the manor would drive out the unsettling thoughts of being watched.
The morning of the guest's planned arrival Kurt took to the woods with his clunky cross bow in search of deer. The ancient Sherwood Forest always served to invigorate him and it was here, among the massive trees, the constant signs of new life that came with spring, the dense green of life everywhere you looked; that the memory of his departed mother shone more brightly than anywhere else. He could hear her laughter in the soft trickle of the stream, the rustle of her dress in the soft wind- the same way Kurt would hear her come into his room late at night, to kiss him goodnight. There was a stillness, even in the dense life of the forest, that could never be replicated, and it was here that Kurt felt most at peace.
Hunting was more of an excuse to spend time in the forest than anything else, but Kurt wouldn't miss the opportunity for a nice dinner of venison steak if the chance arose (Puck was worthless at shooting, he never put in enough practice). As he picked his way carefully along the uneven forest floor he kept his ears open for any sounds of animal movement, his eyes straining for signs of stirring among the trees.
A deer, startled by his footfalls, streaked at a run to Kurt's right. He swiveled wildly with his ready crossbow and let fly the short arrow. He wasn't a bad shot, but it always came down to chance with a moving deer and the less than satisfactory aim capabilities of his crossbow (it was a good quality bow, the best he could afford that incorporated all the new technology without any useless gadgetry). A warm burst of success rose in his chest when he heard the deer fall with a soft thump, today at least, luck was on his side.
Kurt approached the copse of thickly growing trees the deer had disappeared into during its last efforts of escape. It was darker inside, the canopy of trees obliviating the sun save for a few columns of slanting sunshine. Kurt hauled himself through a narrow space between two trees. Half stumbling on a protruding root, he grabbed a low branch to steady himself before scanning the copse for the deer.
His body went tense and rigid with what he saw. Standing over the dead deer was a man who seemed to have grown right out of the woods. He was small but strong, with ropey muscles circling along his bare arms. His face, below a crown of dark curls woven with leaves, was streaked with dirt and sweat, but he seemed perfectly at ease. His chest was crossed with a quiver strap and he held an enormous longbow in one hand.
Kurt inhaled sharply but the man just stood, perfectly still, watching Kurt with bright hazel eyes. Kurt met his eyes and for a second feeling flared at the back of his neck, the now familiar sensation of being watched washed over him again, and he knew without a doubt that he hadn't imagined any of it, this man from the forest had been watching him. He felt a prickle of anger and fear at the thought, and something else too, something deeper and unexplained, something that spoke of questions, and curiosity, and, thought he didn't even dare think it, wanting.
The forest man smiled, a bright joyous smile, it crinkled his eyes and transformed his face, sending a renewed shudder through Kurt's already thudding heart. And then he was gone, as quickly and silently as a fox. Kurt caught a last blurry glimpse of black hair, the figure of a man melting into the trees, and thought he heard the sound of laughter, a light pleasant sound, but by then, it could just as easily have been the wind.
It took Kurt longer than usual to pick his way back to the manor house. Every innocent sound in the forest around him sent images of the strange man across his vision and caused his heart to speed up. He was restless and couldn't shake the sense of agitation that the brief meeting had landed him with.
Once the man had departed and Kurt had been able to shake himself to action, Kurt examined the deer to find a foreign-looking arrow protruding from the deer's right side. The stranger's arrow had brought the deer down, and yet he had been content to leave it. It was the smart thing for him to do, after all it was private property and the Hummel's had right to any game on the property. But it left an uneasy feeling in Kurt's gut, as if the stranger might resurface at any moment and demand payment for his kill.
Kurt was relieved to reach the manor house and see Puck running around feverishly amidst the guests and their servants. He leaned his quiver against the manor house, wanting to hide the mismatched longbow arrow from view, before realizing he was being paranoid. He had encountered a poacher in the woods that had run off as soon as a he saw Kurt, nothing extraordinary about that. But Kurt had no desire to explain why he had felt unable to leave the arrow back in the woods, or discuss the strange feeling he had experienced when their eyes met.
Kurt darted upstairs to change before playing the host. Discarding his bloody, sweaty work clothes for his best set of clothes-the ones he had bought on his last trip to the capital, he hoped the Hudson's wouldn't notice the style was several years old. Now that his father was week and couldn't travel Kurt couldn't bring himself to leave him for long trips that weren't strictly necessary.
Kurt need not have worried. The Hudson's were kind, unassuming people (in Kurt's opinion the best sort of nobility) but lacked any knowledge of fashion sense. Finn dressed in comfortable looking gear more befitting a servant than a knight and Kurt found himself making mental notes on how Lady Carol Hudson could improve her figure with a few simple dress adjustments before remembering that it would be discourteous to instruct the lady how to dress.
The Hummels and Hudsons enjoyed a lively dinner that night. Good natured Finn was full of bumbling tournament tales and a little beside himself with a new audience to hear them. Kurt was more than pleased when Carol and his dad withdrew to whisper by themselves near the fire. Kurt Laughed a little in spite of himself when he had to convince Finn not to bother them. And warmed even more to Finn when comprehension slowly dawned on his open-book face and after a moment's thought nodded in approval of the coupling.
Kurt smiled in earnest then. The thought of his father, happily settled with Carol warmed his heart and sent a sappy floating warmth through his whole body. Carol and Burt had both been widowed for years, Kurt recalled his fathers animated face when the visit had originally been planned, the happy stories from Burt's youth when his and Carol's family had wintered together for several years in a nobleman's estate in the south, long before he had fallen head of heals in love with Kurt's mother.
As Kurt excused himself for the night and readied himself for sleep he thought that this visit was exactly what he needed to leave his troubled thoughts of darting, watching eyes and prickling unease far behind him. Troubling thoughts were banished in the cheery light of guests and lively conversation, dismissed in the face of his father's obvious happiness.
Kurt went to sleep with a smile on his face. But he wasn't to get rid of the image of the man in the forest quite so easily. His sleep was disrupted by fractured images; glimpses of hazel eyes hidden behind leaves, strong arms pulling a bow, gripping the branches of a tree, smiling lips and a row of glittering white teeth, a callused tanned hand covering his own. And once a high tinkling laugh that turned into a strange mournful song that might have been nothing more than the sounds of the nighttime forest outside his window.
Author's note: And thanks for reading! More coming shortly. God bless.