Little Red Riding Magnus. Part 1.
'Stupid redhead.' Alec thought glumly, curling up in the shade under a tree and letting out a small whine.
It was all that girl's fault that things had come to this. One moment Alec was a happy and free pup with all three of his siblings, and then that human girl, Clary, had to stumble into their territory. The humans should have learned by now that entering the Shadow Woods meant certain death. And yet, when his litter mate, Jace, had found her lost and alone, he'd not only kept her safe for the night, but he'd followed her home!
Alec's sire had been furious, but had left well enough alone. Jace, taken in as a stray pup several frosts ago, had grown into the pack's best hunter, and the elder wolves had a soft spot for him. They didn't say anything, not even when Jace had started wandering the village borders. Soon enough he even evoked his Change to talk with that red-haired human. Alec's tail thumped against the trunk of the tree in annoyance. And then Jace began returning home to the pack less and less, and soon enough his sister Isabelle found her place with the humans as well. And then they didn't return at all, not even to see him. The elder wolves were watching him now, waiting for Alec to wander off as well. It would have been a blessing to them; Alec wasn't a great hunter like his sister, and laughable compared to Jace. Truth be told, he'd never even killed his prey before, whether it was a human or a mouse.
He couldn't stare into the eyes of another creature and kill them. And Jace had seen that growing up, watching the way Alec would wait until the carcass of the hunt was unrecognizable before he'd go near it. He had caught twice his share for Alec's sake, and the two had grown close because of it. All Alec could do well was the protect his newest litter mate, Max, and the other young pups in the pack. But this wasn't a job for a male wolf. It would have been better suited to Isabelle, if his sister didn't enjoy the hunt as much as any of the other wolves did. As so the elders watched and waited, no, hoped for the day that Alec would wander away to be tamed by the Village of Man. Their stares had grown so hard over the weeks, that this morning he had simply walked away, beyond the ring of their territory, into parts of the Shadow Woods even the fiercest wolves did not go.
He didn't know what he was looking for out here, where the elders had warned them against with tales of dangerous monsters and plants. Most likely death, quick and painless, as opposed to the slow pain starvation would cause him. Already the hunger was getting to him, clawing at his stomach and demanding that he do something to dull the ache.
Though dying in this part of the Shadow Woods wouldn't be all that bad. The trees were just as green as in the pack's territory, and the earth soft in a way that was fun to roll around with. Alec stretched out, twisting onto his back and rolling around in the dirt until he was covered in a healthy sheen of it. Much better. He rolled to his feet, crouching down low when he heard a branch snap in the distance. He stared into the greenery, ears pricked and nose breathing in the scent of the woods. Then he caught it.
Human. Alec huffed out a breath, creeping forward silently towards the sound of crunching leaves, his hunger driving him forward. This was something he could do. He had no love of humans, and ending the life of one would be like defeating those who had taken his siblings away.
Alec froze when the sound of footsteps grew louder, watching as a human came into view, and catching sight of red atop their head. Red, the color of that human girl's hair. Rage mixed with the hunger in his stomach and Alec lunged forward, snarling as he broke through the foliage and pounced on the human's chest, knocking them both to the ground. He bared his teeth as the human yelled, clicking them together menacingly.
Surprisingly the human didn't fight, rather they went quiet and still, as if it would save their life. Alec studied the human for a long moment, a growl still rumbling in the depths of his throat.
This human was different from the girl, Clary. This human was male, and larger, his skin a darker tone and his eyes curved weird and colored the same golden color as Jace's. Alec paused at this, the growl dying in his throat. In that moment he realized that he couldn't do it. He couldn't hurt anything, not even to sate his own desperate hunger. He scrambled off the male human with their weird, red hood and ran back into the foliage, ashamed of himself.
It had been a few nights since the failed hunt of the human, and Alec's hunger had only grown. His stomach told him what to hunt, but as he watched the birds and the small animals carrying on with their lives, he found he still couldn't do it. What right did a misfit like him have to ruin their perfect lives? He stumbled and walked through the woods, feeling remarkably sleepy, and he knew the end was coming soon. The hunger had died down, as if it had given up on him as well. Alec curled into a ball and settled down to die.
When Alec came to the world was a haze of foreign scents, like the woods had been captured and mixed with the smell that could only be called 'human'. The wolf snapped awake, looking around wildly. He was in a wooden den. A human den. He knew that much from Jace's tales. Carved trees decorated in dyed fabrics that hurt his eyes were scattered everywhere in a room too large for one creature. Alec scrambled to his feet, looking around wildly for an escape from this place. How had he gotten here? A creaking caught his ear and he spun around to see a shaft of light widening against the wooden wall of the den. He darted forward, bursting free and into the sunlight. He looked around wildly, seeing the woods, but they were several paces away, as if the trees had been cleared out ages ago. He looked behind him to see the human den, rather large, and surprisingly alone in the collection of trees. He wasn't at the village then? Where was he?
"Finally awake are we?" Alec nearly jumped into the air, spinning back around to see a human coming towards him. And not just any human. It was the same human he'd nearly killed a few days ago. He snarled at the man, crouching down and preparing to lunge at him. He was weak, he realized, and he didn't think he could kill the human, even if it meant defending his own life. The human paused, raising up his hands. In one of them was a drawstring back filled with...Alec felt his mouth begin to water. He could smell the meat, and he nearly jumped the human for that reason alone.
"Easy now, I didn't mean to frighten you." The human opened the drawstring bad slowly, and the smell of meat became stronger. Alec had stopped growling at some point, his eyes fixed on the bag. "I only wanted to feed you. You looked pretty hungry the other day." The human pulled out a handful of meat, thankfully unrecognizable, and tossed it towards Alec. Alec caught the first two pieces in his mouth, several more falling around him, and he quickly devoured those too, before looking back at the human expectantly. The human laughed, turning the drawstring back upside down and letting the rest of the contents fall free. Alec eyes the pile of meat hungrily, looking between it and the human warily. What was he plotting? The human seemed to realize this, and quickly stepped away. "Go ahead, eat up. I'm not going to cause you any trouble." He promised, circling around Alec slowly and heading into his den. The second the human disappeared inside the wooden den, Alec jumped forward, pouncing on the meat and swallowing it without a second thought.
That done, he turned towards the woods and darted off. He ran freely, feeling bloated and happy for the first time in days. Why had the human fed him? He didn't know, but now he was thirsty and needed some water. A few paces away he found a small stream and drank from it, before curling up for an abrupt nap.
When he awoke, he looked around at the steadily darkening sky, before retracing his steps, following the scent of the human's home. He had no other place to go, and maybe the human had more food with him. Alec found the clearing of the human's den and lied in the underbrush for a while, watching as the human moved outside. The human has dark hair on his head, and he was taller than any human Alec had come across before. He also wore strangely bright clothing, as if he were a flower in a forest meadow. The human had a small area cut off from the woods, where bitter-smelling plants grew. Alec snorted at the smell of them, shaking his head fiercely. He didn't understand why, but the human tended to these plant with great care, like a mother pup with her young. Alec watched as he worked away for the longest time, before the wolf caught sight of a rabbit stealthily making their way towards the plants. When the human's back was turned, the rabbit darted inside and began chewing on the bitter plants without a second thought. Alec stood up slowly, exiting the foliage and growling menacingly. The rabbit took one look at him and disappeared back into the brush. He looked over to see that the human had jumped to his feet in alarm. Alec merely looked at him. The human glanced between Alec and the trail the rabbit had left, before he smiled at the wolf.
"Thank you," he said. Alec's tailed wagged slightly. "Would you like to join me for dinner, Shadow Wolf?" Alec tilted his head to the side and the human studied him curiously. "That is what you are, isn't it? A Shadow Wolf from the Shadow Woods? Clarissa Fray came across your kind while she was wandering the Woods one day and brought one of them back to the village. The Village Clave was all but ready to shoot him when he turned into a man on his own. Then they nearly all died of a heart attack." The human grabbed a bowl filled with the bitter-smelling plants and walked towards his den, Alec watching him warily the entire time. "Legends have it that once upon a time you wolves were humans like us. Your ancestors made a pact with the Moon for her boon in hunting. You could change back and forth, from Man to Beast, but eventually your kind grew tired of Men and disappeared into the woods, never to be heard of again." Alec stared at him, and the human sighed. "I guess, I thought...with your strange coloring-a gorgeous coat, by the way- that you could be, but who am I to get ahead of myself?" He walked towards his den slowly, looking upset at the thought. "Oh well, wait here. I'll get you something to eat." Alec watched him go inside, before he stood as well.
The Change was something every wolf experienced when they were still growing. Max had yet to have his first Change when Alec had left his pack, but Alec had control of his for several frosts now. He looked down see the muscle under his fur rippling and changing, and he forced himself not to tense. It felt even more uncomfortable when you tensed up. The Change went over his body in waves, and soon he enough he stood with the form of a man. Alec reached up to touch the ears at the side of his head, feeling the smooth skin where fur should have been. He took an uneasy step forward, looking up when the opening to the human's den creaked open again. The human reemerged, bowl of raw meat in hand, and Alec stared at him expectantly. The human looked up at him and froze, the bowl tumbling from his hand. Alec watched as the meat hit the ground and he paused.
"Is that...for me?" He asked slowly, trying out his lips after years of disuse. The human was dragging his eyes across Alec's human form in ways that made the wolf feel like prey.
"Oh, forgive me, Father. For I have seen temptation and I plan to run straight for it." The human murmured in response, and Alec looked around curiously.
"He's...don't worry about it. Did you...want something to cover up with?" The human offered, and Alec looked at him in confusion.
"Oh, no reason." The human murmured in response, looking him over once again. Alec couldn't help but roll his eyes at the man's strange behavior, walking towards his meal and settling down on the ground by the meat. He picked up a piece of the raw meat and opened his mouth, pausing when the human grabbed his wrist. "Wait, if you're in your human form you can't eat the meat just like that, you could get sick, or-" The human yelped when Alec abruptly shifted back into his wolf form, snatching his hand away. Alec sent the man a look that could only be considered haughty, before he devoured his meal in moments. "So, you can do that freely? Without the moon, or..." The human's voice died down as Alec easily shifted back into his human form. "Incredible."
"What? The Change? Only the youngest of pups can't do it."
"So you're born as wolves? Fascinating. Tell me more...?" The human paused. "What is your name?"
"My pack calls...called me 'Alec'. I don't have a name now." Alec said sadly. The human looked at him in confusion.
"Why not?" He asked.
"Because there's no one to call for me." Sadness appeared on the human's face, and Alec looked away, to the woods.
"Where is your pack?" The human asked, and Alec rolled his shoulders in response.
"They no longer wanted me, so I went away."
"I'm sure they still want you..." Alec shook his head.
"No, I'm a terrible hunter. I can't even kill the prey I catch. I couldn't even kill you." Alec pointed out, looking back to the human.
"Well, I'm rather thankful that you didn't kill me, Alec." The wolf blinked once, and the human smiled. "It's a good name. It suits you well. My name is Magnus, by the way."
"Magnus." Alec tried out the noise in his mouth. "It suits you too."
"You think so?"
"It's strange. Just like you." Magnus laughed, nodding his head.
"Fair enough." He answered, still studying Alec curiously. "I took in a stray wolf after all. The village people will think me as mad as the Fray and Lewis families."
"The humans that took in the other two Shadow Wolves. Jace and Isabelle-"
"-my siblings!" Alec spoke up excitedly. Magnus looked only half-surprised.
"Would you like to see them?" Alec blinked in confusion.
"You can, but the walk to the village is one I make only once a week, on the market day." Magnus told. "That's not for a few days now, but you're welcome to stay here until then. Under one condition."
"Remember that rabbit you saw eating my herbs earlier?"
"Those bitter plants?"
"Yes. Would you mind keeping them away for me? I have enough trouble growing the things without the local wildlife eating them up. In exchange, I'll feed you every day."
"With what? Do you hunt animals?"
"I know a hunter who lives in the woods nearby. I give him herbs in exchange for meat."
"Why do I give him herbs?"
"Why help me?"
"I just told you, I will if you scare away the rabbits."
"No, even before that. You brought me here." Magnus was silent at this. "Why did you help me then?"
"Why didn't you kill me the day before?" Magnus countered. Alec merely looked at him for a long moment.
"I'm not a very good wolf." Alec answered softly. "I don't like...killing."
"I don't think that makes you a bad wolf at all." Magnus answered.
"It did with my old pack."
"Well, how about we make our own pack?" Magnus supplied.
"You're not a wolf." Alec said bluntly. This was obvious enough.
"Fair enough. But do you know what humans call a pack?"
"A family. Do you want to join my family, Alec?"
"Just the two of us?"
"Well, the two of us and my cat. To be honest I'm glad you don't hunt things. The Chairman has a hard enough time keeping himself alive. I don't need a predator trying to eat him too." Alec didn't know what a cat or Chairman was, and frankly he didn't care. The idea of a new pack was both exciting and foreign.
"Okay. I'll join your...family." Alec said finally. Magnus nodded his head, before opening his door. Alec turned back towards the woods, pausing when Magnus called out after him.
"You're not going to sleep inside?" Magnus asked. Alec looked back at him in confusion.
"In your den?"
"Am I...allowed?" Alec hadn't slept in his den for the past few weeks now. His father had all but thrown him out after the latest litter was born.
"Of course." Magnus replied, Alec walked back up to the human. "But first you'll need a bath." He added.
"A bath?" Alec echoed, looking confused. Magnus nodded slowly, a determined look in his eyes.
A/N: So this is a sorta/kinda art trade with baneme that came to me spontaneously. Good news is that my writer's block is done. Also good news is that I have this and another story plot lined out. Hint hint: the next story is a Pirate AU.
Reviews are adored~