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In the heart of the sleeping woods [Open to Puck]
Hunter was still in wolf form. The sun was just past its height, and he was still running. He passed another of those black flowers, this time a small clump of them. He paused, his senses heightened in this form. There was something off about those flowers. They smelled... well, like winter. Which didn't make sense, really. It was winter, true, even if the woods themselves didn't seem to believe so. It was always unnaturally warm, even for late February. But these flowers - three of them - had the scent of winter cold just before snow. No, not just snow: a blizzard, winter in its beautiful fury.

He stopped to sniff closer at one, unable to help the curious whine in his throat. He circled them, sniffed again, and sniffed the soil and the plants around them. No, the scent was localized on those flowers alone. Unmistakable as it was, he doubted he would have smelled it in human form, doubted any ordinary human would have smelled it at all. His purpose temporarily forgotten, Hunter kept to his investigation of the flowers, knowing well as his jealousy and ire passed, he'd soon return to his human form.

Tags: puck, hunter

From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 15:49:27  

It wasn't often that one came across a wolf sniffing flowers. It happened even less often that one came across a wolf so large or flowers so strange. While the former was a first for Puck, the latter he'd done just two days before - though he'd only found a single one, not the small cluster of them the wolf seemed to have come across. Scurrying down with silent skill from the branch he'd been watching from, Puck crouched down beside the wolf-that-wasn't and said conversationally, "Curious, aren't they?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 15:53:05  

Hunter immediately snarled, not so much a warning as a display of how unsettled he was at the fact that this being managed to get so close before he noticed. He could only partly blame it on the fact he was so absorbed on the flowers. It was the other part, the fact that he really did not know how he neither heard nor smelled him until he spoke, that had him baring fang and growling in warning.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 15:59:30  

Hmm. Perhaps he shouldn't have startled him. But Puck didn't seem much disturbed by the unfriendly welcome. If anything he seemed half amused, a brow arched and a hint of a smile hiding around his mouth. He regarded the wolf calmly and said, "Are you quite finished? I was trying to start a conversation." Whereas most people would have been concerned for their personal safety, the faery was not. He could handle himself around animals. And he could certainly handle himself around men disguised as animals. He tried not to grin as poor ass-headed Bottom came to mind.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 16:03:44  

It was likely comical the way Hunter cut himself of mid-growl, with a curious kind of sound. This one was odd. This one showed no fear being so close to an angry wolf. This one... Hunter moved away from the flowers and sniffed near him, letting out a perplexed whuff. This one didn't smell altogether human. Hunter couldn't put his finger - paw - on it, but hell, he probably didn't smell altogether wolf or human himself.

He sat back on his hauches and eyed the not-human.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 16:13:55  

"That's better," Puck said with a short nod when the wolf-that-wasn't decided to behave himself. "Now, as I was saying..." and his attention was drawn back to the black blooms. "These flowers, they're curious, aren't they? I found one two days ago, and now there are more." He lightly stroke a sable petal. "Strange that I've never seen them before when I know almost every plant in this forest, from twig to root." his voice took on a vague, almost wondering quality as he spoke, and his touch lingered a bit long on the flower before he seemed to pull himself free of whatever had been occupying his mind so fully.

"What of you?" He said suddenly, bright, sharp gaze on the wolf once more. "You're no animal." He smirked. "Well, not in the truest sense."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 16:18:33  

Hunter watched with head inclined as he spoke. He shook his head in response, clearly a negative - no. He had never seen them before. He had no idea whether the not-human would understand if he tried to elaborate further, and Hunter wasn't exactly fluent in the language of wolves yet. He wasn't sure he knew how to say "They smell like winter."

On the plus side, the ire that had pushed him into turning wolf to begin with was nearly gone. And he shook his head at him again, this time in backwards agreement. No. He wasn't truly an animal. And maybe if he concentrated enough he could force the shift back.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 16:27:22  

"I figured as much." It was a blanket answer, one that Puck tended to use often whether he did actually figure or not. "Here, let me help you with that so we can have a real conversation." 'Helping' consisted of Puck feeling out that aura of faint, almost accidental magic that seemed to surround the wolf and nudging at it with his own just so.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 16:32:10  

Now that? Was an odd feeling. It was an insubstantial part of one's body being poked but an insubstantial, yet adamant finger. And oh yes, it helped.

The change back was always far less painful, much like shrugging into leather clothes already warmed from one's own body heat. His human body fit him like the literal second skin it was, and suddenly Hunter was there, still fully dressed, with all belongings, looking slightly confused. "Er... thank you," he said, because really, what else does one say to that?
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 16:41:29  

Puck shrugged off the thanks. "We'll just say you owe me one." Because everyone knew faeries never did something for nothing unless it suited them to. And it hardly ever suited Puck. "That's a strange condition you have there, friend. What brought it on?" Puck could tell this man - a hunter by the looks of him - had no real magic of his own, so there had to be another cause of his transformation.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 16:48:37  

Hunter eyed him suspiciously at that, as well he should. He shrugged his shoulders, not in reply, but to feel the stretch in them, human shoulders again. "Magical wolves don't like it when you kill them. Especially when they still have the breath to curse you." He said it offhand, matter of fact, almost as if it didn't bother him. Honestly it didn't. He just wished he could control hit better. So what if he was cursed? He rather liked being a sometimes-wolf. It was just when it came upon him at inopportune times he wished he'd killed Red's Big Bad Wolf just a little faster.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/20/2007 17:05:52  

Puck grinned. "I find it most things don't like it when you kill them. It's the nature of things, I suppose." It was said with a shrug as he found his gaze drawn back to the flowers, a little frown of confusion furrowing his brow; they certainly were odd. "so what brings you to my woods, hunter?" Okay, not his woods, per se, but the hunter didn't know that.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/20/2007 21:11:05  

"I don't particularly like when said things try to eat people either," Hunter responded immediately. "Makes me have to kill them." And then furrowed his brow at the next question. "Your woods? I wasn't aware these woods belonged to any one person." It was said without any malice, and with mild amusement.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 02/21/2007 07:45:13  

The first was spoken like a true hunter and Puck ignored the comments. Instead he focused on the rest and he paused before admitting, "Okay they're not my woods specifically, but they do belong to my master. And his lady queen." He added the last belatedly; Titania was often an afterthought for the young faerie.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 02/21/2007 09:32:18  

Hunter watched him evenly as pieces slowly started falling into place. The 'boy' looked human, but clearly wasn't. He claimed to own the magical woods, or no, rather, that his master and queen did instead. Hunter knew enough about magic to know exactly what - though not who - he was dealing with. "Ah. You're a fairy, then," he said simply, not at all a question. And that brought to mind something the fairy had said earlier.

Hunter frowned. "No one of right mind willingly owes a fairy anything. If you want something in exchange for the help you just gave me, I'd prefer we lay out those terms immediately." There was no way Hunter would allow a fairy to have such a hold on him. An unnamed favor owed to a fairy? That could only spell trouble.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/04/2007 09:12:50  

Damn. The hunter seemed quicker witted then he'd initially seemed. Puck hid his irritation behind a quirk of lips and a raised eyebrow. "It's a bit too late to go back on our agreement, but if you so wish..." He looked the hunter over, then commented, "You sell your wares in Camlann, yes? If that's the case, your boon is this: keep an eye on Camlann for me. What goes on there, be it minor or major, i want to know about it." He paused, giving the hunter a considering look. "Does that suit you for a favor owed?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/04/2007 19:45:50  

Hunter didn't bother to argue that he hadn't actually agreed to anything yet. Few argued with fey and won. He weighed what the fairy said, and responded, "That's all? You want me to play spy? And where should I find you to report?" Hunter had no qualms passing information back and forth, would have had none even if he had known what was brewing between Camlann and the unseelie court. "Any loopholes, tricks, anything your ilk are famous for? Or is it just that, no more, no less? And for how long am I supposed to be giving you this information?"
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/05/2007 08:58:42  

Puck arched a brow, a little suprised that the mortal would seem to have so little qualms about spying on his own, but there were all kinds of mortals, he knew and all he said was, "No tricks. No more, no less. All I require is for you to deliver any information you learn." He gave the hunter a wry little smile. "I trust some part of you knows these woods well enough to find your way back to this spot? If so, return here in a week's time with anything you've found out. As for how long..." Puck pondered that for a moment, not certain how long this war with Camlann would take to spark or see through to the end, so he finally settled on saying, "I'm not certain how long I'll require your services, but I give you my word it won't be for an unreasonable length of time."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/05/2007 09:25:23  

Hunter held no loyalties to anyone but himself, so whyever should it bother him to play spy? Besides, nowhere did the fae say he couldn't return the favor for Camlann. Of course, Camlann would have to provide him with something to report back to its king. Playing both sides was a dangerous thing, but Hunter seemed to mind little, assuming he'd even get the opportunity. He mulled it over a little longer, still watching the fairy with great suspicion before he finally replied, "Fine. Then I agree, but on the condition that if this drags on for too long, we renegotiate terms."
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/05/2007 09:56:53  

"Agreed," Puck said, holding out a hand. Once they shook on it, the faerie's magic would ensure there was no way either party could break their word; Puck had no control over that, it was just the way of things. He had no real concern that the hunter would betray their agreement, nor was he concerned with the possibility that the man would decide to relay information to Camlann. There really wouldn't be anything for him to report to Camlann's king even if he so wished to.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/05/2007 10:03:12  

Hunter paused for one more moment and then shook the fairy's small hand, dwarfed in his own. "Agreed," Hunter responded, sealing the deal. And then he shifted topics, back to what had stopped him here to begin with. "So you know nothing of these flowers? This is not this first time I've seen them, but I never have before this week." He sniffed one now, and as he had expected, the wintry smell was unnoticiable now in his human form. He shook his head. "There's something... off about them."
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/05/2007 11:41:57  

"We have ourselves a bargain, then." Their deal made and sealed, Puck tilted his head at the sudden change in topic, glance from the hunter to the flowers and back again. "Hmm," he offered, a noncommittal answer if there ever was one. There's wasn't anything really strange about them to him, aside from their sudden appearance. He could only assume they had some magic in them, but he had no idea what kind or the source. Maybe he should take a few to experiment with. There was no hesitation between thought and action and Puck reached out to pluck a few of the blooms, tucking them carefully away in the small pouch at his waist. "I know nothing of them," he admitted finally. "But I will know something soon."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/05/2007 11:47:07  

Hunter oddly couldn't stop himself from plucking the last of the three and stowing it away, near where he kept the sliver of red cloak that still held traces of Red's scent. The scrap of red cloth peeked out as he tucked away the flower, but he seemed not to notice. Instead he just asked, "By what name should I call you? Seems a bit inappropriate to come back here next week and stand around calling, 'Green Fairy' and wait for you to show up."
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/05/2007 14:52:49  

Puck's eyes narrowed when the hunter snatched up the last bloom before he could do so himself, irritation flickering in his pale gaze. "You may call me Goodfellow and...what's this?" He spotted the scrap of red and plucked it from the hunter with nimble, swift fingers. "i think your handkerchief has seen better days," he mocked with an arched brow.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/05/2007 15:04:24  

Hunter didn't move fast enough to snatch the strip of cloth from Goodfellow's hand. "It's not a handkerchief," he responded, his tone gone tight and barely controlled. "And I'll thank you to hand it back now." A flash of gold in his eyes - the wolf simmered just below the surface, but Hunter was merely irritated, not angry enough for it to burst through.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 09:27:11  

Puck caught that, the flare of animal behind human eyes and he laughed, a pleased, slightly mocking sound. "A keepsake then? From whom?" He buried his nose against the red scrap, inhaled deeply. "Ah...A lovely girl no doubt. Your sweetheart?" Pale eyes grew shrewd. "Or perhaps you wish she were?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 09:36:03  

Hunter's hand snapped out and back, fast as a wolf's jaws and he snatched the scrap of red fabric from Goodfellow's hand. "It's mine is what it is." The growl in his voice was clear, the wolf was rising, and Hunter wasn't at all of the mind that he should maybe try to stop it or get away. It was also just as clear the the fairy had clearly hit home with that last remark, and Hunter put the piece of Red's cloak away again, angry that Goodfellow had dared touch it, smell it like he did. He could feel the wolf clawing at his skin from the inside, knew it was ready to tear itself free.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 09:46:12  

It was fascination and wicked amusement that filled Puck rather than fear as the hunter's control began to slip. He'd certainly been spot on with that guess. How interesting. Puck never had so much fun as when he was meddling in human relationships. And Unrequited desire was one of his favorite niches. He backed up a pace, not out of nervousness, but rather just to be out of reach should the wolf break free suddenly. "That paltry scrap of rags might be yours but not the young lady who belongs to it." Not exactly the smartest conversational gambit given the situation, but he was getting to a point. "However...I have a way to make her yours, should you so wish it."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 09:57:03  

Goodfellow's first statement had Hunter growling deep and loud in his throat, his face actually starting to look a little... lupine. And then the rest of his words filtered in, and the wolf was stayed, held back just long enough for Hunter to narrow suddenly gold-flecked eyes at the small fairy and respond, "You do? And what is that?"
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 10:12:49  

"This." From the small pouch he kept at his waist, Puck produced a small vial. It was translucent, seemingly roughly hewn from some kind of crystal, and in it was small amount of dark burgundy liquid. "Guaranteed to make your object of affection to become hopelessly devoted. No side effects and one hundred percent effective. All you have to do is slip it into her drink or food and she's all yours." Of course the hunter had to be the first thing the girl saw immediately after taking the potion for her to fall in love with him specifically. But Puck would mention that later. Maybe.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 10:26:13  

Hunter stared down at the fairy, eyes slowly going back to normal, the wolf abated. "And what would I have to give you for this? Because I'm certain there's quite a price." Rationality should have told him not to take it, not to make another deal with a fairy, not to believe in his words even. But a man who changes into a wolf when angered or jealous has little in the way of rationality where it comes to his obsession.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 10:40:22  

"You would be right," the fey confirmed, corner of his mouth lifting in a tiny, unreadable smile. "In exchange for this, instead of a new bargain, how about we renegotiate the terms of our first deal?" He held up the small vial waving it to and fro, tempting. "You will become an agent of the Winter court for so long as my king deems you useful. Your life will be in your own hands, you will be granted certain allowances in the presence of fey...and you will have your sweetheart."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 11:06:38  

Hunter's eyes followed the bottle, but he managed to cling to some shred of common sense. "I would rather not find myself serving a man I do not know. I think I should meet this king of yours before I commit myself to his court. I want to know who he is, how he runs his court, and what will be expected of me well before I agree to any kind of service." He crossed his arms over his chest, more in an effort to keep his hands from greedily snatching the snmall vial than to look imposing.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 11:24:54  

Puck's eyes narrowed, affronted on behalf of his king. "You doubt my king? Dare call him a mere man?" The last was spat as if it was a dirty word. As if Puck served some mere mortal! His fist closed about the small vial and started to put it away. "Nevermind, then. We'll stand by our original deal and I'll be on my way. And you can tell your sweetheart she wasn't worth a little work." In all honesty, Puck had nothing to lose in this particular bargain, so he had no trouble at all walking away.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 11:34:52  

Hunter felt his stomach jump when the fairy turned to walk away. "Wait. I did not say I doubted him. I said I wanted to know him, know his measure, know what kind of..." Hunter paused looked for the right word, and instead reworded his sentence. "Look, I want that vial. I am fully intending to accept your propositon, Goodfellow. I just want to know all the parties I'll be agreeing to work with. I believe that's a fair exchange." How he managed to keeping himself from leaping after him, Hunter didn't know. He was inwardly chomping at the bit, but he refused to let desperation cloud the little judgement he had working. "Please don't leave. Tell me about your king."
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/13/2007 11:51:07  

Puck paused, regarding the hunter with a jut of lip that bordered on petulant. But it was more the temptation to talk about one of his favorite subjects than the man's almost-plea that had the faery staying to reconsider. "Very well," he allowed finally. "I will tell you of my King Oberon and you will agree to the terms." It wasn't a question. "He is the lord and king of the Winter Court and a more powerful faery you will never meet. He is brilliant, always thinking, mind always turning..." Puck's face changed as he spoke, softened, as did his voice, almost reverent. "When it suits him, he is kind and fair. Always wise. Beautiful like smoke and creeping ivy.' He glanced at the hunter. "I doubt you'd truly be able to comprehend him."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/13/2007 12:01:53  

Hunter listened as Goodfellow spoke, and clearly noticed the change in his expression, the sound in his voice as the fairy spoke of his king. Well. That was a something to store away for later. He nodded slowly in response. Getting himself not only involved with fairies, but the lord of the Winter Court, serving in the Winter court? Dangerous. Very dangerous. But his life in his own hands, and Red... his eyes fell on the vial again. "I agree. So long as I do meet your king. And you tell me exactly what will happen when I give that to Red."
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/20/2007 10:13:09  

This hunter was far more shrewd than most human Puck came across and that both intrigued and annoyed the faerie. "Very well, hunter. I'll see if my king will deign to meet with you and as for the other..." He held the small vial aloft once more, the dark red liquid almost black in the shade of the forest. "I told you. You slip this into her drink - she won't notice, I assure you - and I guarantee if she lays eyes on you not a moment after, she'll be all yours. Devoted to you above all else."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/20/2007 10:24:39  

Oh that did it. Goodfellow's clear instructions, his promise Red would neither notice, nor be harmed by the liquid, and Hunter was sold. He reached out for it, with a quiet, "Then we have an agreement."

There was little room for anything but Hunter's obsession right now, and the faery promised him the object of his desire. How could he possibly refuse?
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/20/2007 15:45:00  

Puck smirked, tossing the precious vial into the air before catching it deftly. Instead of handing it over, he took the hunter's outstretched hand and shook it, a little ripple of magic sealing the deal more than the words, "It's a bargain, then." Then and only then did Puck hand over the vial. "Be back at this very spot in three days time at sundown. If my king is waiting here, you will have your audience. If he's not, he had better things to do and I'll be here in his stead to arrange another time."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/20/2007 15:50:23  

Hunter's eyes followed the vial more like a hawk than a wolf. They fairly gleamed, with anticipation, with the desire to see his obsession realized. He could barely do more than nod in reply as he finally closed his hand around it, and it took a little while for the "Three days" he repeated to actually be spoken. Distracted entirely now from his earlier pursuit, of Red's new silent friend by the lake, Hunter didn't spare the fairy another glance before turning back the way he'd come, to find his Red again, vial of liquid tucked carefully away.
From: [info]puckeredup Date: 03/20/2007 15:54:55  

"Three days at sundown," Puck repeated to make sure it sunk in. He was terribly amused now by the hunter's demeanor. Truly a man possessed. This would be delightful. "Off with you now. Your lady awaits."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 03/20/2007 15:57:23  

Hunter had enough presence of mind to remember that. "Three days, sundown," and then he was gone, moving through the trees, swiftly on the hunt again, this time for a pretty redheaded girl in little red hood.
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