reginacapulet on tumblr asked for Red Queen, first time they meet, sizing each other up
pre-red queen, pg-13, ~680
note: always felt that the wolf/Red relationship is actually something close to the really elegant concepts detailed so well by Alice Borchardt in her wolf series. i can't help myself, sorry. and i have no idea about the timeline on this - post snow going to war to get the kingdom back, pre-almost execution - but then i don't think the show timeline makes much sense anyway, to be honest.
She knows this queen through the sharp smell of Snow's carefully-hidden fear and the Prince's unsure mix of anger and unease, and only dimly does the woman match the effects she's had on those closest to Red's heart— dark hair drawn back into a severe crown of braids, a face hollowed but sure, mirrored eyes rimmed with purple circles and lit from within by some unknown brightness.
Her mount's free of fear, a creature calm with the awareness can only come from a life of protected freedom, and the wolf asks without words in the moment before Red flashes forward to bring the woman off the horse— am I sure about this?— but then there's pain, a blossom of jagged agony splitting her body seemingly in half.
Red finds herself slammed back into the ditch along the road so surely that she's left blank-minded for a moment, and the wolf is far beyond frightened, left bleakly terrified by the loss of sensation.
Helplessness, this inability to move, to protect herself—
She can hear the fires in the distance, unknown soldiers' dying screams, the chaos of an old queen and a new struggling for the land the wolf now finds itself struggling to get back under her paws.
"A little fool of a pup," the woman purrs down at her, and the wolf is only more frightened now, still in impossible pain and badly rattled by the instability of the creature staring down at her so fearlessly. "So young… careful, dear, your new friend will take advantage of that gullibility."
Red has a fleeting thought of Snow frightened and exhausted after so many months alone and half-starved in the wilderness and the human anger burns bright— but the wolf remains where she is, smothers down the human thoughts with an ancient caution— a sick thing, it murmurs silently back at the echo of Red inside it, this is a sick thing and it's flesh is poison and its heart is dark with rot.
The horse had struck her down, had protected its mistress with such force in that one light kick that the massive wolf is still trembling in pain and alarm, can still only stare through the dark at the queen that had driven her friend into the wild darkness of the forests, that stares down at her with full knowledge of who Red is.
Noise, more of it, the guards so confusingly loyal to this hard-hearted woman rushing down the forest path, shouting and calling for her to stay, to wait— and then the ringing of swords, already-exhausted men ready again at the sight of the yellow-eyed beast crouching at the edge of the road.
But the woman just laughs, shakes her head, leans forward in the saddle to offer the woman-eyed wolf a light, "What were you even going to do to me, dear, fluff me to death?"
It's a far cry from the screams that the wolf has always been greeted with, even now that Red is in control (but not, she's not, and there's a joining now instead of that blinding eclipse between woman and wolf) and even as she snarls, thick fur of her nape raising in warning, the wolf is backing away, drawing into the shadows.
A sick thing, an infected thing, and the wolf watches from the darkness as the queen rides off with one last glance that promises this wolf-skinned girl with the sad eyes is the most hilarious thing she's seen in all the long day and night of fighting between their forces.
She's still there, hidden away and still badly confused by the incident when Snow finally finds here early in the next morning, when Snow lunges from her horse and rushes forward to engulf her friend in her arms. She smells like death and like Charming's quiet comfort, and she's crying when she says, "I thought— she found—" and Red hugs her then, finally, and does not mention that the woman hadn't even been the cause of the ugly bruise across her collarbone.
The horse had hurt her more than the mirror-eyed queen had.