Pale nostrils flared as the vampire caught scent. A heavy hand came down on Armand’s shoulder and his brother’s husk drawl came out low, not loud enough even for the sharpest mortal ears to hear, “Hold.”
It wasn’t often that Armand and Grisha hunted together. Armand, the more lithe and elegant of the two, preferred to whittle away his time in places like libraries. Grisha wasn’t uncouth - he got his regular feed from the blood banks, just as every other modern vampire - but he was better built and adapted for hunting down a large animal. The older brother was six foot seven and was made of thick corded muscle, a vampire who hunted regularly - a monsterous bear compared to Armand, who was more like a sleek borzoi.
To hunt was a healthy thing for a vampire - or at least that was what vampiric society believed. It was a common understanding a proper hunt cleared the senses and the instincts, therefore allowing everyone to live in reasonable harmony with the mortals without anyone snapping due to that primal want.
Armand loathed it.
He felt that it was a personal betrayal. Blood suppliers gave them more than enough to keep them happy and healthy, there was no need to go off like some animal. The raven-haired man was a gentleman of the highest order and hated the thought of losing grip of his own self-control...but his body wanted it, needed it, from time to time.
The sole comfort for him was the presence of his older brother. Grisha found all of this to be quite natural and was very comfortable doing this sort of thing - and it meant that he knew when it was all going to far. A perfect chaperone. Grisha would act only as a wingman this night - he was not there to feed.
So, here they were. Armand’s long hair had been tamed back into a polished braid to keep it out of the way and both brothers were clad in dark sportswear to blend into the woods.
“What do you smell, Mandya?” Grisha’s voice stayed low as it rumbled, an attempt to focus his brother on the task ahead.
The younger brother closed his green eyes and breathed in deeply as he pulled his scattered thoughts together. “Boar.”
“Mhm.” Grisha tugged gently on his beard as his listened to his brother speak.
At that, Grisha nodded his head. A lone wolf would do - boars were too unpredictable and their tusks could easily cause damage to either, or both, of the Demidov brothers.
“We will take the wolf. You go in from the left, I will go in from the right.” The older vampire gave his brother’s braid a playful tug, earning him an imperious side-eye. Had they not been trying to be so stealthy, Grisha would have let out a bark of laughter. Instead, he motioned for Armand to go take the left hand flank and waited for his brother to sneak off before taking his own path.
For Armand, it all happened so quickly.
Once he had taken in the scent, the ancient had barely felt the speed course through his legs as he weaved through barren trees or the power that ebbed through his chest as he took down the creature. The struggle between the two beings hadn’t even registered in his mind.
All Armand felt was warm comfort spread through his chest as his fangs sunk into the wolf, anchoring into the flesh with as much ease as a hot knife cutting through butter. He drank deeply, his normally still heart pumping in time with the fading pulse of the wolf’s. Armand did not stop until the animal had been drained.
No pain was inflicted on the creature, truly, for natural endorphins eased that. But it did not comfort the younger as he brought his head up to stare at his laughing brother, who had made himself quite comfortable against a tree trunk.
Irritation knitted the vampire’s brow.
“What?” His normally smooth and melodious tone sounded husk, even to himself.
Grisha shook his head and merely drew his large palm down from his nose to his jaw with more raucous laughter which caused Armand to cock his head. Suddenly, he drew his own slim hand down his face and pulled his hand back - blood.
When Grisha found his voice again, green eyes dancing with laughter, he explained. “I did not realise you were such a sloppy feeder, brother dearest!”
Any other creature would have found Armand’s current state intimidating - long raven hair had fallen into his face during the hunt and his pale chin was now stained crimson, fangs flashing and eyes dark.
But to the eldest Demidov boy it simply looked as if he were a child that had made a mess - more than humourous if one knew how pristine the other brother tended to be.
“Ugh.” Armand’s distaste pinched his expression as he pushed his hair back with his clean hand - he hated to dirty his face.
“How do you feel though?”
Grisha shook his head, “You should not feel like that. These are our natural instincts - and it is not as if you hunted it down for sport. You were quick and did not prolong any suffering.”
Pale fingers ran through the dusty fur in front of him with a sigh. “I just wish it were not this way.” A silent moment stilled the air before Armand continued. “Well, let us bring him back. We can make use of the rest of his body, at the very least.” The other brother gave a nod and bent down to raise the wolf up and on to his wide shoulders.
“I will tell Papa that you still feed like a child,” Grisha snickered as they made their way home.
Still bloodied fangs flashed in annoyance, “I am thousands of years old - don’t you dare.”
Warm laughter filled the woods as the vampires disappeared into the night.