Red: A Modern Fairytale Retelling
by Jessi McPherson
Genre: YA Fantasy
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“Oh, god. Are you okay?” He was silent. She knelt beside him to check his pulse. It was there, but it was weak. “Well, hang on. Hopefully Gran has something to help.” Carefully she lifted him, but it took everything she had to bring him to the trail. She knew there was no way that she would be able to carry him all the way there. “Please stay alive until I get back,” she whispered to him and took off running. It only took a few minutes to make it the rest of the way to the cottage. “Gran, Gran, please come quick!” she yelled as she headed for the door.
“Dear child, what has you all worked up?”
“I need your cart. There was a young man in the woods, and he’s injured.”
Her Gran looked up at the moon. “Come, child. Show me where.” They hitched her horse to the cart and Cara led her Gran to where she had left him.
“Was he alone?” Gran asked.
“Yes, and gravely injured.” As they rounded the bend, they could see that he was still lying on the side of the road.
“Oh dear. He’s been attacked. Come, let’s get him to the cottage and tend to his wounds. We don’t have much time,” her Grandmother urged.
“He’s coming,” he groaned. Her Gran knelt beside him and whispered something. He seemed to relax.
“What did you say to him?”
“Only that he was safe and being treated,” she replied. They walked quietly back to her cottage. “Place him on the cot, dear. Do you have the elixirs your mother sent?”
“Yes, here in my bag.”
“Good. I need those− also, some wolfbane and jasmine from my shelf.” Cara grabbed the plants that she had been asked to get and sat beside her Grandmother, watching her work.
“I don’t recognize him from the village,” Cara said, placing the plants in the mortar for her Gran.
“No, I don’t suppose he is a villager.”
“Where do you think he came from?”
“I think we will find out, either when he wakes or when the sun rises,” her Grandmother said.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll see, child, and it’s about time.”
Cara didn’t understand what she meant. She watched as her Grandmother pulverized the herbs and noticed she spoke quietly as she did. “What are you saying?”
“Just a little spell to help with the healing. He is in a lot of pain and won’t heal until he calms.”
“So it’s true. You are a witch.”
“That’s a strong word, but yes. You are, as well. You come from a long line of them. We are here to help protect the Hylands. That is why your mother sent you tonight.”
“What do you mean?” Cara asked, wonderment evident on her face.
“She noticed you’ve been changing and slowly coming into your gifts over the last few months. There’s a lot you are going to learn about, but now we must attend to this man.”
Cara was in shock. Her Grandmother was, in fact, a witch, and apparently, so was she. She started to shake.
“It’s okay, sweet child.”
“Why didn’t you or Mother tell me sooner?”
“We weren’t sure if you would inherit any gifts. Not every child that is born into our line has the power. We had to wait.”
She couldn’t believe it. Their attention was drawn to the young man as he started groaning and speaking frantically. “Lily, Lily run!” he yelled, thrashing about.
“Come, hold him down while I work, dear.” Grandmother mixed herbs and covered his wounds. Cara still hadn’t moved. “Cara, snap out of it. Yes, I know it’s a lot to process− and not how we intended to tell you− but right now I need you to focus, or he will die.”
Cara blinked a few times and moved to do what she had been asked. His face calmed slightly as she laid her hands on him, but the anguish was still evident. She finally took a moment to look him over. She didn’t know why, but she felt compelled to gaze at his perfect figure. Even covered in wounds, dirt, and blood, his beauty was evident− from the sculpt of his chest to the contours of his face.
She slid the blood-matted hair from his face, and he slightly opened the most beautiful green eyes she had ever seen. As he gazed into hers, he said, “Please find Lily.” Then he closed his eyes again.
“Who is Lily?” she asked. He didn’t answer. Instead, he started thrashing again.
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