It didn't take long for Hunter Huntsman to return to his family's cottage for the weekend. He would be lying if he said he didn't feel a little nervous. He kind of wished the journey had taken longer, at least then he'd be able to process what had happened a little better. His stomach felt like it was being chopped down from the inside, and his mind was abuzz with the one word he was sworn to never utter: choice. All his life he had resigned himself to being the next huntsman. The man whose job it was to hunt down animals. He never had any other option…until now.
His father always told him it was the huntsman's job to stand on the side of justice, but how could hunting down innocent animals be just? How could skinning a live a fox's cub be righteous? He never understood that. During the summer at his parents' cottage he spent his nights going through his father's traps and setting the animals loose, he spent his days making bird houses (or bird castles, really) and making sure every bird family had a place to live. That's what he wanted. He never wanted to raise his axe against anything that had a face.
But he knew his father wouldn't approve. No one would approve. He was supposed to be the next huntsman; the man who would refuse to hurt Snow White and instead find a pig's heart to give to the evil queen, the man who would open a wolf's stomach to save Red Riding Hood. He liked the idea of helping people…but he didn't understand why he needed to harm innocent animals to do it.
Hunter stood in front of his parent's cottage, knocked three times and waited. He heard the birds chirping in the trees, he heard the squirrels scurry across the fields. He loved those sounds. When he was a kid, he would get up early just to hear the birds sing. He closed his eyes and allowed the memory to flood him like an open dam; the sun shining on his face, and the smell of the dew on grass.
What Raven did was incredible. Everyone at Ever After High knew she had doubts about her destiny (who didn't?) but never in his wildest dreams did he think she would…it was incredible.
The door swung open, and there stood his father.
"Hunter, you're home." His father smiled. "Please come inside." Hunter's father was a stout man, he was almost as large as a bear, and with a full beard to match. Hunter walked inside and set his bag down by the door. He was only staying the weekend (as all students did after Legacy Day,) but he wanted to be prepared for anything.
"Your mother and sister went out but not before your mother made this amazing spread for us." He spread out his hand and showed a table filled with food, chicken sausage, ham, duck, turkey. Just about every kind of meat imaginable…it made Hunter's heart sink.
"Thanks Dad, but I'm not really hungry right now." He turned his back and tried to keep himself from heaving. He never had the heart to tell his family that he couldn't eat meat. Even the idea of seeing his friends chewing on bacon made him want to sink into his chair.
But what was even worse, was seeing the expression on his father's face. That beam of pride that Hunter had known since he was old enough to carry an axe. That weight of expectation that he never wanted. The next Huntsman.
"So tell me about Legacy Day. You must be so excited. How did you do it? You must have sauntered up there, puffed your chest out and declared your destiny loud enough to scare the birds out of their nests!" His Dad smiled so wide Hunter was afraid his mouth would stretch too far.
"W-well…" the truth was Hunter never got the chance to declare his destiny. The headmaster had cancelled Legacy Day after Raven's act, but even so, he wouldn't have wanted to sign any way. What exactly could he tell his father? He took a deep breath and said.
"Actually Dad, Legacy Day was cancelled."
And his father's smile disappeared.
"What do you mean 'cancelled'?"
Hunter's shoulders shook. He told his father of Raven Queen and how she defied her own destiny. He told him of how she ripped her page, he told her of how she stood proudly on the podium as everyone else looked in awe.
"T-this is an outrage." He heard his father scream. "How could that witch do something so…horrible."
Horrible? All she did was decided to live her life as she saw fit. What was so horrible about that? It was their lives, why did they have to live it the way others told them to? Didn't that defy the logic of living in the first place?
Hunter's father place his hands on his son's shoulder. "Do not worry my son. You shall still take on your legacy as the next Huntsman. All will be right in the end."
But what if he didn't want that destiny? What if he wanted something…different?
Hunter nodded his head. "Y-yeah Dad." He felt his heart sink once more. "Whatever you say."