Gingerbread house

Chapter 5 - part 2: chapter 2

The house was both changed and exactly the same. He and Gretel had first seen it at night, when it had loomed impossibly in the middle of the empty glade, lying in wait for them. Now, in the peaceful afternoon sun, Hansel could see that the glade was no longer forbiddingly bare - someone had planted an unruly garden of vegetables and herbs, and there were chickens scratching here and there in the dirt. He could see a little black goat tethered to a tree, nibbling idly at the grass. The house looked unassuming, ramshackle. If anything, Hansel thought, it looked like it could belong to anyone he knew at home, except that... there was no mistaking it: it was a house made of gingerbread, in the middle of a forest.

Hansel sat still on his horse, mesmerised, totally unsure what to make of what he saw or of how he felt, when a flicker of movement in the corner of his vision made him catch his breath: a young woman was walking briskly towards the house. She was slim, with pale brown hair uncovered and falling loosely to her waist. She was plainly dressed, and carrying what looked to be an armful of wood. There was something in the way she walked: an easy, self-possessed air that stirred something in him.

He was lost in gazing at her for a moment when she stopped dead in her tracks and looked directly at him across the garden. Her glance made him jolt so that even his horse flinched; he was so caught off guard that he felt himself blush. He hesitated, wondering if he should raise his hand in greeting or turn and leave immediately, but after pausing to stare at him, she simply continued to make her way into the house, disappearing through the open front door and vanishing from his sight.

Hansel was confused; he felt guilty for intruding, but also wildly curious and reluctant to leave. As he was lingering uncertainly she reappeared in the doorway. She waved at him. He realised that she was smiling at him. Feeling suddenly foolish he waved back, and not knowing what else to do, he got down from his horse and approached her.

"Greetings stranger", she said, when he came nearer. "What brings you to this part of the forest?"
"I'm sorry to bother you, I- I lost my way".
"Ah yes, it is easily done!" she said, brightly. Now that he saw her up close, he noticed that she had light skin that was turning golden from the sun, and that she had clear grey eyes that sparkled slightly - almost knowingly.
"Where are you travelling to?" she asked.
He gave her the name of his sister's village. She thought for a moment.
"Well, I have never been there, but I have heard the name I think... I believe it is that way". She pointed towards the way he had come.
"Oh yes, of course, it must be..." As he spoke, he realised that she was peering at his face with a curiously thoughtful expression, as if trying to decide something about him, although he could not say what. Then she said:
"Have you had a long journey? Would you like to rest a while here? Your horse must be tired."
"Oh, thank you, but I wouldn't want to trouble you..."
"It's no trouble at all!" She smiled, warmly. "I don't see people very often, I would be glad of the company for a little while"
"Oh, well thank you, I-"
"Unless perhaps you're afraid?"
"...Afraid?"
"Well yes, why shouldn't you be!" to his surprise, she laughed.
"I mean to say, a woman living alone in an enchanted house in the middle of the forest - perhaps it's wise that you should be afraid. Although, since I am a woman living alone in the forest, perhaps I am the one who should be afraid of strange men appearing in my garden?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't meant to disturb you, I - did you say your house was enchanted?"
"Oh yes! Yes, it is, quite bewitched. It's made of gingerbread, or hadn't you noticed?" There was something so simple and genuine in the way she spoke; Hansel was beginning to find her quite disarming.
"How can it be made of gingerbread?"
"To be honest, I don't know. But it is. Would you like to see inside? I can show you."
"No!" He said, a little too suddenly. "No, that's alright - I can see - yes, it is, isn't it?"
She smiled again.
"That's probably sensible of you. Well then, shall I bring some chairs outside? I have some ale, perhaps we can sit for a bit, and you can tell me the news where you come from? It's been a long time since I had someone from outside the forest to talk to."

In spite of himself, Hansel glanced around him at the pretty garden, and thought that there was something very appealing about sitting outside in the sun, drinking a mug of ale, talking to a woman that he was beginning to find charming. She interested him. He told himself that if he stayed to talk to her that at least she might tell him what she knew about the house, and how she had come to live there. Something in his mind told him to tread carefully; but, he reasoned, if she did reveal herself to be a witch, then he had dealt with witches before. He was no naive young boy this time.
"Yes, alright", he said, "That's very kind of you."
"No trouble at all," she said, smiling. "Would you like something to eat?"
6 chapters, created StoryListingCard.php 5 years , updated 4 years
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Comments

Built4com4t 4 years
Nice twist on a classic fantasy...I hope you find time for more
Hereiam 4 years
Absolutely incredible story. Would love to read how she coyly returns him to the blimp of his youth. Yummy stuff.
Stanton 5 years
It hits my nerves and make me longing for more. Thanks for writing it. I hope his journey into her fangs and her cage will go on.
GrowingLoveH... 5 years
This story is captivating.

I want to read more, and I savor every bit. I never want it to end.

Chapter 5 ends with such beauty and draws me in. I love it!
HanSelo 5 years
You write wonderfully. I can't wait for more!
Hansel4witch 5 years
Amazing smiley
Lry 5 years
You great writing skills, it's really fun to read
TheFeedress 5 years
Thank you!
GrowingLoveH... 5 years
What a wonderful take on this feederism-inspiring tale! You are brilliant.