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Ruby Red

Chapter Text

He could smell it.

It was sweet and tempting, albeit not as mouth-watering as the blood he'd smelled in the streets of London and any town he'd passed during his journey to find salvation in death. A journey that had been unsuccessful so far.

For a moment Carlisle was afraid a group of hunters or maybe travellers had wandered deep enough into the forest to come across the cave he was hiding in, because at this point he was afraid he'd be unable to resist his instincts, his hunger any longer. But then he heard it, the roaring of a stag, followed by the sound of hooves on dry leaves. It had to be a passing herd of deer.

His body was moving by itself. One moment he had been leaning against damp rock, the next he was standing at the mouth of the cave, scanning his surroundings for the approaching animals. The first deer broke through the shrubbery, still unsuspecting of the predator just a stone's throw away. It was the biggest creature he'd encountered in the forest so far, the closest in size compared to a human.

Venom filled his mouth as salvia had done once upon a time when confronted with a tasty meal. Would it be possible? Could he just… Did it have to be the blood of humans he fed from, thereby killing them? Maybe he could…

Carlisle hesitantly took a step towards the small herd, his bare feet silent on the earthy forest ground. He stalked a bit closer, holding his unnecessary breath and finally readied himself for a pounce. Too focused on his meal, he didn't notice the sunbeam shining through the treetops until his skin was already reflecting the light.

The biggest stag noticed him first, shortly followed by the rest of the herd and rather than confronting the enemy, they bolted, quickly disappearing between the trees. Carlisle gave chase, but keeping up was surprisingly difficult. In the beginning, just after he'd transformed into this, he'd been fast, faster than the beat of a heart, faster than a blink. Now though, his body was emaciated, lacking in speed and in power. He didn't give up, however. He continued to run after the deer even after he'd lost sight of them, when the only thing leading him was the scent of the blood pulsing through their veins.

Maybe seconds, maybe minutes later, Carlisle felt a tingle on his skin and suddenly there was the mouth-watering scent of human blood in his nose, easily overshadowing the plain deer blood. Gasping, the blond stopped, stumbled backwards, even though his body wanted to surge ahead and search for the source. He blindly made a grab for something, anything to ground him. His fingers closed around a low-hanging branch, which easily snapped off, when a young man appeared in Carlisle's field of view.

The brunet was studying him and Carlisle was desperate to urge him to run away, before he lost his last shred of control, but his teeth were clenched tightly and no sound emerged from behind his lips. Just when his restraint snapped and the muscles beneath his skin contracted in preparation for an attack, the man moved. It was barely a flick of the brunet's wrist, but Carlisle's body froze in mid-motion and tumbled to the ground.

A witch?

Half relieved, half apprehensive, the blond waited for something to happen, maybe for death to finally consume him. There wasn't anything else he could do, anyway. The man stepped closer, crouched down next to him and then, inconceivably, opened his wrist with a twitch of his fingers. Carlisle's pitch-black eyes intensely followed the path of the warm liquid as it trickled from the cut, before dripping onto his lips.

For a short moment it was indescribable torture, but then the man carefully pushed his jaw down and the ruby red blood hit his tongue. He spent the next few minutes in a daze as gulp after gulp disappeared down his throat, replenishing his body with new energy. It was both a blessing and a curse that he wasn't able to consume the blood at his one pace. Half of his mind wanted to drain the man quicker, wanted to drain him dry, while the other half was glad that he couldn't. Fortunately, the former urge lessened slowly but surely, until it ceased almost completely.

"You don't seem like a bad bloke," the brunet mused as he finally pulled his arm back and closed the wound on his wrist with another flick of his fingers. When he moved his face into Carlisle's field of view, the man was paler than before, though a friendly smile was tugging on his lips. "Otherwise you wouldn't have been able to pass through my wards, so I tell you what. When my stunning spell stops working in a few minutes, you're welcome to join me at my house. It's a bit more westward, on a small clearing. You can either stop by for a bath and a new set of clothes or… well, I wouldn't mind providing you with more food, I guess. It gets a bit lonely out here, you know?"

The man got to his feet, his smile turning wry.

"Of course, you're free to leave, too. In that case I wish you good luck and… next time you shouldn't wait that long to feed."

Carlisle heard him leave and felt oddly bereft. Was it because the brunet had voluntarily given him his blood? Or maybe he was just missing the company? The last few weeks had been quite lonely (frustrating, confusing, agonising).

He slowly got up, when the spell (a witch after all) was lifted as promised. He looked down at himself and eyed his garments, which were more hole than cloth at this point. His skin was mostly caked with dirt, his hair probably tangled and matted beyond salvation.

Carlisle pensively licked the remaining blood from his lips, then, finally, headed westwards.

He had nothing to lose and everything to gain, be it death, a few amenities or a new home.