A/N: this is the first chapter of an AU based on The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, but of course, you don't need any knowledge of the game in order to understand anything that happens here. this tells like any other forbidden love story with some magic sprinkled in.

Fair Game Week Day 2 - Modern/Supernatural

Every night under the shine of the moon, a wolf sings at the top of a cliff.

The songs he sings are wordless, nameless; he doesn't remember where he learned them or who taught him, but he does know that they remind him of home. They're strong, crooning, reminiscent of the abyssal night that encompasses the depths of the surrounding forest. For a while, he may pretend that he has an audience, that he isn't alone in an endless night.

Or rather, he assumes he has no audience besides the cosmos until he hears something from the foot of the cliff that he's perched on.

It's fleeting, just barely audible over the ever-present symphony of the forest, but he hears it regardless. He uncurls just a bit from the tuft of undergrowth he lays in, his ears perked up in question. It doesn't waver, and faintly, he recognizes that it might be an applause. He shifts carefully, then glances over the edge of the cliff.

The first thing that stands out to him is the glint of the moon against smooth, pristine metal. It's iridescent, a beckoning flicker in the night, a focal point for the moon's spotlight to home in on, to embody. He resists the knee-jerk urge to reach for it, drawn to the moon's new gold-plated shimmer like a moth to the flame, once he realizes that it's a crown.

And underneath that crown is a prince.

The prince doesn't seem to see him against the moonlight, the foliage, the opalescent sky. He's pretty, unarmed, vulnerable - it's very odd, the wolf thinks as his maw shudders in anticipation, it's odd to see a lone human this close to the forest. It's no secret that beasts roam in the night, and it's also no secret that the beasts of the forest hunt humans just as humans hunt them.

But as the wolf readies to leap down and claim his meal, he's struck by the prince's smile.

The prince's applause ceases, but his smile lingers, as everlasting as the stars that illuminate the night sky. It's bright, brighter than the crystalline sky and the all-seeing moon, brighter than the cosmos itself. It's warm and filled with unabashed admiration, as if the wolf's voice is a marvel to behold, as if the wolf's song is a melody to revere.

The wolf shrinks back into the crop of undergrowth. Something sparks in his chest, flutters between his ribs, spreads warmth like the blood beneath his skin. He takes a slow breath - steadying, calming, but for what, he doesn't know - and turns to flee back into the forest.

The wolf continues the tradition of serenading the moon, but from that night onwards, the prince joins him.

They never do speak, and although the wolf yearns to see the prince's smile up close, he's grateful that the barrier between them stays undisturbed. Their convergence would mean nothing but trouble. But here, at the top of the cliff bathed in moonlight while the prince sits on a tree stump down below, there is peace to be had.

Some part of the wolf is glad for that. He's glad for the nameless company, for the anonymity, for the smile. Something about it is enchanting, this smile with no judgement, this joy with no eyes. After every song, every applause, he glances over the peak of the cliff to see the prince's smile, then returns to the depths of the forest.

For a while, he may pretend that the prince is smiling at him.

The wolf doesn't keep track of how long this routine carries on. He merely sings, and the prince applauds for him, and it's a balance that never overturns. It's a semblance of peace that never shatters.

That is, until the applause doesn't come one night.

The wolf's song ends, and instead of an applause, there is silence. His ears perk up against the surrounding noise of the forest, but he doesn't hear the prince clapping for him. What he does hear is the faint crumble of dislodged rubble and the rustle of stirring undergrowth, and quickly, he glances over the edge of the cliff.

He doesn't expect to see the prince right below him.

He blinks. His breath catches, seizes his lungs, and the cosmos stops breathing alongside him; everything is wrenched to a crawl, halting alongside Remnant on its axis, and there's no atmosphere, no space, no time. Before him, a far-fetched fantasy comes to life. Before him, there's the prince, with his biceps bare beneath his cloak and a silver-edged brooch in the shape of a shamrock glinting bright against his chest.

The prince's hands are fisted in the undergrowth, his head turned downwards as he wavers against the cliffside. Only once he finds his footing does the reality of the situation come slamming back into the wolf. He can't be seen, not like this, not now, not ever. He can't be seen, not by the prince, not when his smile and his applause and his admiration would shatter upon impact.

The prince finally glances upwards, and frantically, the wolf reaches out to cover his eyes.

He catches a glimpse of seafoam green before his claws tear into them.

The prince's cry shatters the night. A burst of crimson stains the wolf's claws, the cliffside, the hands that come up to cover his face. Before he falls backwards off the cliff, the wolf reaches out to him, his hand dwarfing the prince's own. The back of one hand glistens where it presses against the shredded remains of his eyes. The other pulls against the wolf's grip, relentless and frantic until he cannot hold on any longer.

Thin ribbons of blood follow from the prince's face in faint arcs. It happens slowly, this plummet into nothing, this plunge into the depths - the wolf can only watch as the prince falls, too stunned to flee, too hurt to follow after him.

Only once the prince lands in the bushes below does the wolf find it in himself to breathe again. The atmosphere is too light, the space beneath his sternum too heavy, the blanket of celestial bodies above too bright; the wolf watches with a wound of his own quickly tearing itself wide open as the prince stirs slowly, weakly.

He doesn't know what to do. He should help. He should run. He should cleanse himself of the memory, wash his claws of the crimson that sings so sweetly to him, rid the prince of the curse he brought upon him.

But the damage is done, and there's no hope to mend irreparable damage from uncaring claws. Already, the wolf can hear voices. Footsteps. The clank of armor, the click of bows being drawn, the whisper of arrows that embed themselves in the undergrowth mere milliseconds after he scrambles out of the way.

The wolf disappears into the forest and doesn't return to the cliff for some time.

The prince is alive.

That's the first thing that the wolf learns.

The second thing he learns is that the prince is also locked away.

He hears this from the guards who patrol the area that the prince was last seen, presumably to find the beast who blinded him. They never do find the wolf, forever shrouded in the night, the forest, the call of the abyss; they know better than to stray too far, and the wolf knows better than to provoke them.

He hasn't sung since that night. He hasn't approached the cliffside, either. He can still smell the iron that clings to the foliage, sickeningly sweet, sickeningly human. Instead, he lingers by the paved pathways and wild undergrowth, and he listens.

Shame is the first thing he hears of - shame to the royal family, and then later, the apparent disgrace that such an incident brought. He hears about the cell that the prince is confined to, the metaphorical chains that tether him, the guards who pity the fate of their majesty's lost son.

There is guilt that festers like a vicious poison, prickling under the wolf's skin and seething in his veins until he cannot ignore it any longer.

He seeks out the prince late one night. It's surprisingly easy to skulk through the dungeon corridors. Torches are left unlit and corroded walls are left unattended, and there's nothing but the ever-present moonlight to guide his way. Something tells him that these cells and hallways have long since been forgotten.

Something tells him the prince is meant to be forgotten, as well.

Perhaps he shouldn't try, not when he's the one who brought this upon the prince. Perhaps he should move on, find a new cliff, a new retreat, a new kind of solitude. Perhaps this is a sign - a reason he was given a pelt and a maw, a purpose for the claws that took the prince's eyes.

All of these doubts fade like whispers lost to a gentle wind the moment he finds the prince.

He sits with his back pressed to one discolored wall. He's hidden by the shadows that bloom from each corner, his clothing tattered and his crown nowhere in sight. Despite the way he hangs his head, the wolf can see the bandages that cover his eyes.


The prince's head tilts towards the wolf just so, the motion slow, cautious. After a long moment, he murmurs with a hint of wonder in his words, "Wait. Your voice." He doesn't inch closer, but he wavers for a moment in his seat as if he's considering it. "Are you . . . the singer in the forest?"

The recognition is more exhilarating than it has the right to be. The wolf settles by the bars of the cell, responding, "I am."

"I got attacked by a monster," the prince explains, gesturing needlessly to the bandages that shield his eyes from scrutiny. "I don't remember what it was. I didn't get to see before it . . . " The prince trails off with a heavy sigh. The sound is loud, thundering, reverberating echoes that shatter the wolf's heart anew. "I'm glad you're okay, at least."

The prince turns further to face him. It's then that the wolf sees the state of the bandages. They aren't pristine and white, but mottled and ragged as if they're meant to hide the wounds rather than soothe them.

Suddenly, the prince asks, "How'd you know I was here?"

"I'm also a prince," the wolf answers on impulse, his voice blessedly steady while the ground beneath him feels dangerously close to splintering from the weight of the lie. "I heard about what happened. I had to come see you."

"You went out of your way to visit a blind prince?" he tries to joke, but the words are too hollow, too wounded.

"It's only fair," the wolf says. "You went out of your way to listen to me sing."

"Because I love your songs," the prince easily admits. He speaks quietly, gently, the slightest crook in his voice making the wolf's stomach flip. "I've never heard anything like them. I just wish I had the chance to meet you before . . ."

He trails off once again. It's no secret that the prince has had enough of the memories that no doubt linger; he doesn't quake, but he's close to it, the breath he takes to steady himself nearly imperceptible even to the wolf's keen ears. This isn't the place where he should be recovering, the wolf helplessly thinks, this isn't a place the prince belongs in at all.

"I can get you out of here," he says before he can think twice about it.

"I'm sure you can," the prince mirthlessly laughs, "but I wouldn't bother. My eyes are - they're gone, and I can't -"

It only takes another painstaking few moments of grasping fruitlessly at straws before the wolf finally remembers that there's a way to heal the prince. He perks up, saying, "I know someone who can heal your eyes."

The prince opens his mouth, halts, lets out an uncertain noise. He rises from his seat and approaches the wolf, reaching out to grasp at the bars before he breathes, "You do?"

"She lives in the forest." The prince wavers, and the wolf immediately reassures, "I can get us there in one piece."

He doesn't speak about the witch of the forest just yet. She can grant the prince his eyes back, but even so, the wolf can't afford to reach out.

He glances down to the claws that brought them here. They're long, curved at the ends, made to tear into prey, never to hold them. They're made to break, to shatter, never to carry something lighter than glass and finer than starlight. The sink in his chest grows deeper, yawning as wide as the abyssal night; the witch's magic is grand, but her price is even moreso.

But then the wolf's eyes are drawn to the prince's hands.

He'll need a way to guide the prince; he lingers on the spaces between them, and hopelessly, frantically, he wonders what it'd be like to hold them. He wonders what it could possibly feel like to hold something so fragile, so precious in his own. He aches like none other, aches like never before, aches for something just out of reach that he can't hope to obtain like this.

The price will be grand, but the results will be worth any loss it takes to achieve them.

"I'll need some time, but I'll come back for you," the wolf tells him.

"Thank you. Really." The prince bites his lip, then says, "I'm Clover, by the way."

The wolf recognizes the tentative hope in Clover's voice, and it occurs to him then that he doesn't have a name to offer. Names are not given to omens, to harbingers; names are not gifted to creatures who bring misfortune and ruin. The wolf was made solely to harm. To hunt. To kill.

But if hunting is the only thing the wolf is meant for, then he'll gladly hunt every last beast to get Clover his eyes back.

Finally, the wolf says, "Qrow."

The name is foreign, but it also doesn't sit entirely wrong with him. It's fitting, Qrow realizes with a rush in his chest, it must be fitting - if not for the misfortune that his namesake brings, then because Clover is smiling at him again. It is small, feeble, but still a smile, and Qrow would give anything to immortalize it.

"Thank you, Qrow."

It takes a day before Qrow reaches the heart of the forest.

He doesn't sleep or stop to rest, but with the prince waiting behind bars, he doesn't feel the need to. He isn't entirely sure where the witch's abode is, but when he leaps over a gaping pitfall and falls into a deafening silence on the other side, he knows that he's close.

The change is always sudden, they say, as if taking an underprepared plunge into the deep. Every step he takes reverberates, echoes; every scrape of his claws against a protruding tree root is a thunderclap in a nebulous sky. Here, there's nothing but a glasslike quietude and a cold stillness to the air. Here, there's no sunlight that pierces the veil or moonlight to guide him, but his eyes are keen enough to catch the glow of lamplight in the distance.

When he finds himself at the witch's doorstep, he halts.

He doesn't need to knock, though. The hesitance is a question enough. The door slowly creaks open, spilling forth light and warmth, but that does nothing to stop chills from running down his spine when he's met by piercing red eyes. He's heard of her tales and learned her name, but there's no familiarity here.

Familiarity implies that there's safety, and here, there's none.

Here, there's power, and all of it belongs to her.

There are no names here, either. Names are gifts; names are blessings. Names hold power, and here, Qrow has none.

Here, Qrow is only a wolf, and the witch's lips curve into a wicked smile at the sight of him.

"I don't often get customers like this," she muses. Idly, she gestures him over with one white, crimson-veined hand, and he's compelled to step over the threshold in a heartbeat. "What does a man-eating wolf want from me?"

With another small gesture, the door swings shut behind the wolf. She shifts from where she's seated by the fireplace, one leg hooking languidly over the other, her eyes trailing over him with mild interest. It takes him a moment to find his voice, lost somewhere in his mind as he wilts ever so slightly under her gaze.

"I wish to become a human."

She leans forward just so, asking, "Now why would you want that?"

"I want to bring someone here," the wolf tells her. "He lost his eyes. I don't know who else can help him."

She regards him for another long moment before she beckons him over with one finger. The pull is something magnetic, calling to the iron in his blood, the very fibres of who he is. In an instant, he's knelt by her feet, and he can't stop the growl that simmers in his throat when she teasingly scratches under his chin.

"How very noble of you," she laughs, softer than the vulnerable bloom of an early spring meadow. "I would ask how this happened to your friend, but I think I already know."

She holds out her other hand, and a burst of light breathes to life in the center of her palm. It's a wild convergence of colors, an entire spectrum dancing and sparking in her hand before it breaks off into individual gems. There are many of all colors, thrumming with a warmth like that of the midsummer sun, all drifting in a slow circle while she basks in their glow.

Her eyes settle on the wolf once more, and never before has he felt so vulnerable, so exposed. "What kind of human do you want to be?"

The wolf holds his breath. He considers the lie he told the prince, and although he doesn't have to uphold it under the circumstances, he still admits, "A prince."

Her smile grows wider at that - amusement, ridicule, he doesn't know. He doesn't want to know. The gems in her hand grow brighter, and finally, she withdraws the fingers that scratch under his chin. In an instant, the vice-like grip that tethered him to her loosens. He edges away as far as he dares, but he doesn't run just yet.

The witch hums as if she has come to a conclusion. She settles back in her chair, and quickly, the gems whisper and burst into nothing but light as she closes her fist.

"Your voice," she finally announces.

That gives the wolf pause. Hesitantly, he asks, "My voice?"

"Wishes aren't free," the witch says, the lilt of her words light like the toll of a bell, the tinker of windchimes. "I require compensation, and your singing voice will do just fine."

The wolf thinks about the prince and the way their fingers might interlock through the bars of his jail cell, and with a deep breath, he answers, "Okay."

"Wolves are usually difficult with me, but you've been so giving," she croons. "I'll add in something extra to the spell just for you."

She opens her palm once more, skin radiating with a glimmer like that of the crystalline sky, and the wolf finds himself reaching out before he can stop himself. It's a rush like none other, a jumpstart beneath his skin that whites his vision and sends him whirling, spiraling. He blinks once, twice, finding himself first in an endless sea of color and then in a candle-lit cottage.

He isn't sure what thrums like the blood in his veins, what fills him with warmth or rushes to his extremities. All he knows is that it's gone almost as quickly as it arrived, and in its place is an odd sense of vertigo. He looks down to his hands and sees the same claws, the same fur, the same monster.

"I'm still a wolf," he says numbly.

"That you are," she purrs, the sound sending a terrible shiver down the wolf's spine, "because it's a complex spell. Give yourself another day, and you'll be a prince."

In her palm, the wolf can see a single gem, a heady crimson that pulses as strongly as the embers in the fireplace. Just as he's about to turn to leave, she tells him, "I almost forgot - you won't be able to protect yourself or your friend in a forest full of beasts."

The wolf blinks up at her. He lets out a helpless noise, and at that, she laughs again, the smirk that she wears a perilous glint in the dark, a predacious call to the abyss.

"Didn't think of that, did you?" she hums. "That's fine. You'll be able to shift between human and wolf at will once the spell sets."

". . . Thank you."

Oddly enough, it doesn't feel dangerous to turn his back to her anymore. Some beast has been satiated, some contract forged through sacrifice, but at the very least, he's allowed to leave in one piece.

"Do be careful, though," the witch calls out to him just as he steps outside. "You'll be forced to turn back into a wolf if moonlight touches you."

The door swings shut before he can respond.

It's almost frightening how smoothly Qrow can shift from wolf to human and back again.

He doesn't stay as a human for very long, though. He's taken long enough to get back from the witch's abode, and he'll always run faster when he's a monster than he ever will when he's a prince. He waits for nightfall once more, and once again, he finds himself weaving through untouched corridors and decrepit corners until he finds Clover.

This time, Clover waits by the bars of the cell, tapping idly against them with the backs of his knuckles. He pauses when he hears the undeniable scuffle of Qrow's claws scratching against the floor, and hesitantly, he calls out, "Hello?"


He tilts his head in Qrow's direction. The bandages still have yet to be changed, but at the very least, he was given his cloak back in Qrow's absence. Fastened to its collar is the same brooch that he wore at the night of the accident. Now that Clover is a breath away under the moonlight, Qrow can see the green that fills its interior, and fleetingly, he wonders how it might have complimented Clover's eyes.

The thought feels like a pinprick, digging just under his skin before it quickly fades. Now isn't the time to worry about that. Instead, he focuses on the bars of the cell. They're also worn from ages of disuse, most likely brittle and fragile to Qrow's claws if he tries.

"You came back," Clover murmurs with a hint of incredulity.

Qrow's attention is drawn to the fingers that wrap around one bar. "Didn't go through the trouble of getting you out just to ditch you."

Surprisingly enough, Clover laughs softly at that. "You have a plan, then?"

"You bet, shamrock." He pauses, then carefully says, "I'll need you to step back for a minute."

Clover seems confused by the request, but thankfully, he doesn't question it. He does as he's told, and once his back is pressed to the far end of the cell, Qrow grips onto the bars and yanks.

The door crumbles and breaks away easily under his hands, but not without a high, agonized screech that pierces the night. Across from him, Clover flinches at the sound, but he doesn't shy away. There's no fear in him, and it's almost painful, how easily he trusts, how willingly he comes closer once the dust settles and the door is ripped off its hinges.

"Qrow. . . ?"

With a stilted breath, Qrow closes his eyes, and when he opens them again, he's small and fragile. He's Clover's height now, he realizes, and when he glances downwards, he's still not used to the absence of claws and fur. It's almost too surreal to believe; he reaches out, and for once, he sees something breakable. Something human.

He sees one pale hand, trembling just so as it gently nudges against Clover's.

Tentatively, their fingers intertwine.

Qrow swallows hard around the breath that catches in his throat. Clover takes a small step closer, squeezing his hand just so, and already, Qrow's heart hits the ground running. To what, to where, he's not sure, but some fleeting spark in his chest tells him that Clover might know.

This is what he gave up his singing voice for. This is what he made that sacrifice for, and quickly, he concludes that he's glad that he did. He squeezes back, and finally, he doesn't have to be cautious to avoid splintering the bone. He holds fast to Clover's hand and tugs him along, and somehow, it feels natural.

It feels right.