Eat You Up

Chapter 3 - Reddest

The wolf reached Red's grandmother's house long before her grandson had finished his task of picking mushrooms. He took his time straightening his jacket and brushing the pine needles out of his tail before knocking politely at the neat blue door. He had to do this three times before at last hearing the sounds of footsteps on the other side of the door.

"You're late." She answered the door with a scowl on her face, and the old woman seemed about to start in with a series of complaints or insults but, upon seeing that the guest at her door was not the person that she had been expecting, she instantly changed from angry to smiling in two seconds flat. The wolf, being an old hand at lying and deceit himself, did not buy her act for an instant. "Oh my, you're not him! Please, pardon my rudeness. I was not expecting company."

"Of course, my dear lady." The wolf graced Red's grandmother with a proper bow, his ears nearly brushing the ground, and he smiled back at her with not a hint of menace in his canine features. "And I must apologize for dropping in so unexpectedly. You see, I was out walking just now in the forest when I began to feel positively faint. Imagine my great surprise then, when I came across a house just when my time of need was at its greatest. I hope I will not have caused you much in the way of trouble with my incontinent arrival at your doorstep."

"How nice it is to hear a gentleman speak so politely." If she was at all bothered by the fact that the gentleman in question was not a man at all, but a wolf, then it did not show in her voice or on her face. If there was one thing that she could not stand, it was to appear classless in front of strangers. In fact, she even stepped back and held her door open wide, saying, "And here I am, repaying such politeness with rudeness. Do come in, for if you're feeling faint then it would be unforgivable of me to keep you standing out of doors. You can come and sit inside and I will find you something to drink."

The wolf wanted to laugh. Getting into the old woman's house had been frighteningly easy.

"You are most kind, dear madam."

"Think nothing of it."

The old woman led the wolf into her home, taking him towards the comfortable kitchen at the back of the building. She seated her guest at the heavy oaken table, busying herself with the tea kettle, before taking a seat herself. They talked of the weather and of the flowers that had decorated the front yard of the home, all the while the wolf wondering if her meat was still tender at such an advanced age. If the old woman suspected what he was thinking, she did not let on.

"I must say," the wolf finally said, his natural curiosity getting the better of him and causing him to bait his hostess, "and I do hope that you can forgive me for being overly presumptive if I am in fact wrong, but you bear a striking resemblance to a pretty young man that I passed in the woods on my journey earlier today. Do you, by chance, have a son?"

"Hah!" Her hard-practiced composure was completely lost for a moment, and an unfriendly sneer graced her thin lips as she answered, "I had a daughter, once, but she is long dead. You may well have seen her worthless son though. He is, after all, rather hard to miss."

"Her son?" The wolf pretended to ponder this for a moment. "Long, red hair the color of flames. Striking green eyes. A vibrant red traveling cloak?"

"That would be him," she didn't sound at all pleased. "I'm surprised that you made it here at all, if you ran into that boy."

"Whatever could you mean, dear woman?"

"Any man that runs into that boy either ends up wanting to hang himself or would be otherwise too distracted to continue on his journey." She looked inward for a moment, seeing things that the wolf could not. "He was an obnoxious child after his parents died. Always following after me, trying to get me to hold him, crying all night, being such a bother that I'd have to lock him in the garden shed just to get a moments peace. He was impossible! And now he seems to have made it his life's mission to disgrace me in the eyes of the community by whoring himself to anyone that'll have him. Disgusting little creature!"

The wolf understood now why Red had been so reluctant to go on his journey, despite the love sick nature of his heart, and he silently congratulated himself on doing both the boy and the world at large a great service by doing away with the horrible old hag and her spiteful mouth. He finished his tea, making it a point to smile politely at his hostess, before sitting down his cup and wiping neatly at his maw with the corner of his napkin. Then he preceded to leap across the table, tearing out the old woman's throat with a toss of his great head, his fangs nearly ripping her head clean off of her neck.

The wolf laughed as blood sprayed the room and bathed him in a warm shower of fresh red droplets.


Finding the mushrooms had been a bit more difficult than the wolf had made it seem, but at last Red found himself within sight of his grandmother's home with a few of the moldy little fungi tucked away into his basket. And, despite how much time he had wasted on finding the mushrooms, Red was feeling calmed by the presence of his secret weapon. He felt that he might have a hope of facing his grandmother now that he had them.

Red took one last calming breath and knocked on the familiar blue door. And knocked... And knocked... With no answer.

Red was wondering what to do, worried that his grandmother had chosen this of all days to leave her house when she routinely stayed in the house for a month at a time without leaving, when he discovered that the door wasn't even latched. He found this a bit odd, as his grandmother was obsessive about locking her doors and windows even though no one ever went out to her isolated area and the village itself had next to no crime, but he decided to ignore it and pushed his way into the house. He called out once to his grandmother, and it was with a mixture of relaxation and renewed fear that he heard a faint call from the old woman's rooms to his left.

"Grandmother?" Red asked as he tapped on the door to his grandmother's bedroom. "It's me, Red. I've come for a visit."

"Red?" There was something odd about her voice, but Red wasn't sure what exactly it was. "Why, what a surprise it is to find you here, grandson. What brings you way out here?"

"Grandmother?" Red asked again, "Are you feeling all right? You sound strange." And you don't sound entirely displeased to see me, which was even stranger still.

"I have a horrible cold," the old woman answered. Although, of course, this was not at all true. The person in the bed had neither a cold, nor was he anyone's grandmother. Red's grandmother had been eaten clean down to her brittle old bones not an hour before. In her place now was the deceitful wolf, dressed in the dead woman's nightshirt and sleeping cap, secreted away behind the heavy gauze curtains of his victim's four poster bed. And he was looking forward to playing with his prey a bit before pouncing.

"I'm sorry that you're not feeling well," it was, at least in part, the truth. Although Red also saw it as a golden opportunity not to be missed. "I may have something that will make you feel better. Something of a home remedy, if you will. Just give me a minute and I'll be right back."

Not fifteen minutes later Red had returned with a steaming cup of tea, complete with freshly ground mushrooms, and it was with a secret smile that he thought to give the mug to his sickly grandmother. He was surprised, however, when the old woman/wolf shouted at him before he could get too close, nearly causing him to spill the freshly brewed concoction.

"I just don't want you to get too close and catch what I've got," the wolf lied. He was having fun, and he wanted to see how far he could carry his ruse before Red discovered who he truly was. That, and he was still digesting the old woman's intestines. He had plans for her beautiful young grandson, and he didn't want an upset stomach ruining them. "Leave the mug on the beside table. Grandma will get it from there, dearie."

Dearie, Red thought to himself? He suspected that his grandmother was sicker than she let on if that was what she was choosing to call him. Usually it was slut or, at best, brat. It was a decided improvement.

"So, what brings you out here to see an old woman on such a nice spring day?"

Red paused for a second, not sure if his grandmother's unusually good behavior would extend much further, before taking a seat in an oversized chair on the far side of the room and saying, "I have a favor that I need to ask of you. Or, more like advice. Yes, advice. Advice about the huntsman."

"The huntsman?" The wolf feigned ignorance while picking up the mug of tea from the table so that Red could see him take a drink of the truth potion before they got too far into the conversation. "Why would you want to ask about him?"

"I know that you think I'm incapable of it, but I'm in love with him, and I don't know how to get him to return my feelings." Red's words came out in a jumble, the boy rushing to make his case before his grandmother returned to the spiteful old hag that he had long known. "Anthony said that you and he are well aquatinted, so we thought that you might be able to help."

This was no great bit of news to the wolf, who had already heard of poor Red's dilemma, but it was of great interest to the man outside of the window. For the huntsman had not known until that very moment that Red's feelings for him ran so deep. He had been walking past the window, late for a meeting with Red's grandmother, when he had happened to overhear a very familiar and unexpected voice from inside the house. The second voice gave him pause, but hearing Red confess to loving him distracted him momentarily from the oddness of the other voice. Hearing this conversation made the huntsman glad, for, in fact, he was very fond of Red and liked him very much. Maybe even loved him. But the huntsman was not a man who shared well, at least when it came to his lovers, and so he had been avoiding Red as of late even though it pained him to do so. He simply had not felt it right to ask Red to change his ways and settle down simply because he did not want anyone else touching the beautiful redhead. Now he knew that he need not worry about making such a request. It brought a smile to his lips as he continued to listen in on the conversation inside the house, knowing that he would be going inside very soon to add a smile to Red's lips as well.

"So, my boy is in love, is he?" The wolf pretended to ponder Red's words, playing the role of the grandmother for a moment longer. "Well, the solution is painfully obvious, isn't it?"

"It is?" Red wondered, part of him hopeful and a part of him, the part most familiar with his grandmother, apprehensive. "What should I do to get the huntsman to love me, Grandmother?"

"You can't," the wolf said with sadistic glee, relishing the sight that was about to meet his eyes. He just knew that Red was going to look positively beautiful in tears and utterly heartbroken. "No one will ever love a worthless little tramp like you. Least of all a man like the huntsman. Give it up while you still have a hope of salvaging your heart, boy. Find a man who knows how to treat someone like you."

"But..." Red was speechless. He had learned to expect heartlessness from his grandmother, but he hadn't thought that she'd be quite so... blunt. And he was certain that the mushrooms had made her completely honest with him. So it really was hopeless. He wanted to cry. "I didn't..."

The laugh that came from the bed caught Red by surprise, stilling his tears for a moment. He knew that his grandmother claimed to be ill, and her voice had always been rather deep even for a woman, but the sound that he had just heard had been beyond deep. And it had almost had an edge of a growl to it. A sound that he had never in his life heard his grandmother make.

"Are you sure that you're all right?" Red asked again, getting up from his chair and cautiously moving a little closer to the bed. "You really don't sound like yourself at all, Grandmother."

"And what exactly do I sound like?"

Red wasn't sure how to answer that, so he took another step forward. The closer that he got, the easier it was to see through the gauzy coverings on the bed. From that vantage point he could tell that something was most definitely amiss. And it made him very nervous.

"Why, Grandmother, what big ears you have," Red said, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach telling him that he wasn't looking at his grandmother. "I've never noticed how very pointed they were before."

"Of course my ears are big," the wolf snickered, "all the better to hear you with, dear grandson."

"And I've never before noticed how very big your eyes are, Grandmother."

"All the better to see you with, my darling boy," the wolf was practically salivating as he watched his prey approach the bed.

"And what big hands you suddenly have, Grandmother."

"Why, they are all the better to hold you with, sweet Red," the wolf couldn't wait to devour the beautiful redheaded boy. In more ways than one.

"And what an abnormally large mouth you have, Grandmother."

The wolf had waited quite long enough in his opinion, and with Red's last words he reached out through the curtains with lightening speed and pulled the boy to him, throwing him down on the bed and pinning his arms above his head. "Why, all the better to eat you with, you sweet little morsel!"

Red had a moment to see his all too brief life flash before his eyes, his heart weeping for all of his regrets, despairing at the fact that he had not even had the chance to let the one he loved know how he felt, when he felt a shudder above him. Thinking that the worst was to come Red squeezed his eyes even more tightly shut, not wanting to see the snarling maw that would surely meet his emerald gaze. And then he waited. And waited. Yet still he did not feel either the unwanted sensation of groping paws nor the ever so sharp bite of canine fangs.

Then there was the sound of a heavy thud and the stifling weight of the wolf was gone.


Red was afraid to open his eyes, fearing that this was only a ruse by the wolf to further torment him, but then he felt a roughened yet gentle hand on his cheek and his eyes flew open. The sight that greeted him was most welcome indeed. There, perched on the edge of the bed, worry etched clear across his handsome face, was the huntsman. And, best of all, on the floor beside them was the wolf. Dead. A thick blade sticking out of the center of his back.

"Are you all right, Red?" Red had never seen such concern directed at him, not even from Anthony, and that was what at last brought his tears in a wave of emotion. He regretted that it only seemed to worry the huntsman more, but he felt like he'd been holding them back all day and he couldn't keep them back any longer. He was just so happy to be alive and with the huntsman. Nothing else mattered. "Did he hurt you?"

"I'm fine." Red whispered, afraid to speak too loudly, lest he break the spell that he felt about him.

"Then please don't cry," the huntsman begged, leaning down to pepper kisses across Red's cheeks and the tips of his trembling lashes. His last kiss landed sweetly on Red's lips, lingering for a moment before pulling back. "I can't stand it."

Red touched a trembling hand to his lips, bewilderment written clearly all across his pretty face. "You kissed me."

"So glad that you noticed," the huntsman teased. He had wanted to kiss those lips for so long, and the fact that they had stilled the other man's tears was only an added benefit of giving in to that desire.

"But... you kissed me," Red repeated. "Why would you kiss me?"

The huntsman looked at Red like he'd just said the silliest thing in all the world, but then he shook his head and laughed, confusing Red even more. Then he leaned forward and kissed Red again, this time much more thoroughly, not parting until the little redhead was breathless and dazed. "Because you're supposed to kiss the one that you love, Red. Or am I mistaken?"

Red was utterly speechless. He was certain that he had misheard the huntsman. Or misunderstood. He opened his mouth and closed it three times, not sure what to say, before finally squeaking out a shocked, "You love me?"

"Of course," the huntsman answered, smiling as Red's mouth continued to hang open, his big green eyes looking impossibly wide as he blinked up at him. "And, after what I overheard just a moment ago, it seems that I owe you an apology. I should have told you how I felt earlier, but I wasn't sure if it was the wisest thing to do. I couldn't have bared to see you with anyone else, but I didn't want to cage my beloved little bird either, so I let my insecurity keep me from you. Forgive me?"

"You love me?" Red repeated, now completely certain that the wolf had already devoured him and that he had been fortunate enough to find his way to Heaven. It was the only explanation in his mind. "But nobody loves me."

"That's just not true," the huntsman assured him. "I love you with all of my heart."

Red was so happy that he leapt into the huntsman's arms, landing in his lap with a contented squeal. "You really love me?"

"Yup," the huntsman couldn't remember the last time that he had seen Red so happy, and it did his heart good. He'd been worried sick lately over the state of affairs between them, and long before that he had been constantly bothered by the way that Red was treated by the village at large as well as his very own grandmother, but now he promised himself that neither of them would have anything more to worry about. He would take care of Red from now on, and that, in turn, would ease his own heavy heart.

"Then I'm all yours!" Red had never thought that he'd get a chance to say that to the man that he loved. He just couldn't belive his sudden turn of good fortune.

That was more than the huntsman could take, and any thought of talking things out, or taking things slowly, went out the window as a sudden wash of lust overtook him. For, as much as Red had been waiting to say such a thing, the huntsman had been waiting just as long to hear it. He grabbed Red around the waist, tumbling them both down onto the bed, before again claiming the other man's lips. This time he didn't let up until they were both left breathless.

"Mine," the huntsman growled, nibbling at Red's earlobe as his hands made short work of their clothes.

"All yours," Red said, gasping and writhing as the huntsman's strong hands stroked across his sensitive skin. "So, what are you going to do with me, now that you've got me?"

There was a decidedly wicked look in the huntsman's dark eyes as he looked down at Red's disheveled form, winking once before saying, "Aside from never letting you go? Why, I think that I'll take my cue from that dead old wolf over there... I'm going to eat you up. Every last bit of you," he promised as he all but devoured Red's neck, trailing hot kisses and tiny bites along his collarbone, moving steadily down, down, down...


The next morning Red woke to a wholly unfamiliar sensation. Sunlight was streaming in through the window, daylight already having arrived, and still his lover shared his bed. The huntsman was spooned against Red's back, his arms holding him tightly, and Red could feel the steady strength of his beloved's heartbeat against his own flesh. It was perfect. And it was real. When first his consciousness had returned Red had actually feared that it had all been a dream. Now he knew that it wasn't.

With the prospect of his very own happily ever after within his grasp, Red rolled over and tentatively kissed the mouth of his sleeping lover. The impassioned kiss that he received in return startled him, but he gladly gave over control as the obviously aware huntsman pulled him closer and proceeded to kiss him senseless. It was definitely better than any dream.

The End

                                                                                                                                    Chapter 2 ~~~~~~~~~ Back to Red Riding Hood ~~~~~~~~                  



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