Does innocence exist?
Gretel had been on the floor crying for a while. She wished she hadn’t grown so close to him. It was his fault. Why couldn’t he have told the truth? Why did he have to use her as a redemption point? Was any of it real? The way he was so defensive against Adiscordia, now it made sense. He had too much to hide. Adiscordia was only trying to survive against the curse inside. To prevent herself from being too hurt by her weaknesses she acted evil and powerful. Gretel grabbed the table edge and pulled herself up.
The counter was empty, she had a lot of work to do. She walked over to Hansel, Adiscordia must’ve put all of it towards him. It looked like his finger act had worked. Her throat welled up again as she saw the boy glutting himself in a way he hadn’t before. It was like the chocolate statue when they arrived. If he kept this up his scrawny state when he arrived wouldn’t be able to compete for long. Was it the guilt? If he truly felt regret and guilt, then why hadn’t he made things right by saving her people when he still could? Anger was beginning to fill her. Her parents were gone, her kingdom gone, and now she was stuck here. She had no words for him. She didn’t want him to exist right now. She wanted him gone out of her sight. She shut the window leaving him in darkness and his own devices.
Breathing heavily, she grabbed a large chunk of meat and a butcher’s knife as she lifted it up and slashed at the meat. Knife hitting the table board over and over to release her anger. She didn’t know what she would use it for, but she was supposed to be working in the kitchen. This was technically working in the kitchen.
The complete darkness and loud hits startled Hansel as he paused. She left him. He was alone. Opening the window wasn’t too hard, the mechanism just needed a pin of sorts. What really hurt was that he knew he deserved it. Hot tears streamed down his cheeks. What did he expect her response to be? If she teamed up with Adiscordia to kill him could he blame her? His heart fell, as he found it hard to breathe. He had taken her family, her home, her future, and her kingdom. At least Adiscordia gave a quicker death than five years of deceit. He would remain to protect her, even if she was against him. If he died in the process, it was deserved and long overdue. It just meant he’d be with Lucia again.
He thought for a moment. He was in the dark surrounded by sweets waiting for the day when he’d burn to death. Even if he did come up with a plan, Guinniverre wouldn’t listen to him, not now. Why did he have to wait to see his mother and go back to better times? He wasn’t giving up, he was being realistic. There wasn’t much he could do trapped like this but eat, sleep, and choke on his own guilt and self-hatred. Until this point, he had done nothing but fight against Adiscordia and her oven until Guinniverre would talk to him again. With no Guinniverre to fight for what was the point of staying in the right mindset. Maybe he should just enjoy what was left? He licked the chocolate icing around his lips, surrender tasted sweet and creamy. “Perdonami mamma…” He whispered before ignoring the utensils and grabbing two oversized fistfuls of cake sealing his fate. With suppressed memories rising that were far more favorable than the present it didn’t take him long to forget. His cleverness now asleep to let him enter a place of peace and rest that had been gone for years.
Heavy hits startled Adiscordia. She had been doing research on the wishing hearts, all she could find was that when she returned Lucia would take a new identity completely, not remembering Hansel as her son. Yet she would still protect him when he needed it most. It made it difficult to understand. What was she supposed to expect? She threw off her robe unable to concentrate, running to where she assumed the door was. She ended up hitting her head with the edge, a stone pushing harder against her flesh. She winced, she wouldn’t last much longer like this.
She walked in. “Verre! What on earth are you doing?” she growled before sensing the girl’s rage. It was threatening her innocence.
“I’m cooking!” she yelled back. “That’s what you told me to do!”
“Really? Because it sounds like you’re breaking my cutting board!” Adiscordia rebutted. She could feel Guinniverre glare at her. There was nothing but quiet, this made Adiscordia freeze up. There was silence. She closed her useless eyes trying to focus on listening before another loud thump was heard. “Verre!” she hissed before sensing the girl’s heat and gripping her hand harshly and throwing her unto the floor pinning her down again with magic. She tried to focus again. There really was quiet. No yells of protests. She came closer to him and heard nothing but the sounds of a greedy piglet who had stopped fighting. She had succeeded. She separated them and had succeeded in breaking the boy. She knew it was coming but she didn’t think it would be this bad! He hardly sensed her at all.
She opened the window slowly as light poured on him. He barely reacted, continuing his search for peace. With that the window shut with a heavy grin spread on Adiscordia’s face. Like this he’d be ready soon. She wondered if Guinniverre could keep up. Lifting a hand the table and counters were suddenly full again, nearly creaking from the feast on them. Guinnniverre watched in surprise unsure of what to say.
“Come Verre.” Adiscordia smiled heading to her room with a hand spread in front of her to avoid embarrassment from her lack of sight.
Gretel was concerned looking at the table. Was it cursed? Then again, did Hansel really need to be cursed right now? She rose and followed Adiscordia to her room. It looked normal other than some floating objects, plenty of books, and… a wall. There was a wall covered in ash, below it was a crack. The crack was there but it also wasn’t, she couldn’t explain it. She could only stare in wordless thoughts.
Adiscordia sat on her bed and patted the seat next to her, feeling as Gretel sat with her. “I have questions, but I’ll let you go first.”
“Um.” She decided to start with something simple. “the crack on the wall?”
“That’s the opening. It leads to the curse’s home, to the gods. When the heart is taken it will open the crack entirely and the curse will leave this world, and leave me.” Gretel stared at it in awe, it was glowing. What Adiscordia had said was true. “Any other questions?”
“If the curse if from there why is it here?” Gretel asked curiously. “In you?”
“It’s been stuck in my blood line for generations trying to escape, but the weight of it has either killed the vessel, destroyed the vessel’s mind, or it’s form.” Gretel looked at Adiscordia. Despite her youth her skin was like hard baked clay. It was rough and cracked, with the curse rising through it. Stone and shards piercing through the inside. Questions filled her immediately at this, she took a breath.
“Does it hurt?” Adiscordia didn’t answer. “Is there a way to stop it from hurting you?” There was still no answer. “How old are you, and how much time do you have left? When you die where will it go?” Gretel asked quieter not expecting an answer.
“I am twelve years old.” Adiscordia responded which nearly broke Guinniverre’s heart. She was Hansel’s age. “Once my vision completely fades I was shown that I’d be gone. Then, I presume the curse will go to-“ She stopped. Her hands balled into fists as one lifted and the door slammed shut. Her poofy dress deflated to fit her body accordingly. Gretel’s hands covered her lips. The heels remained, but Adiscordia seemed to mainly float. She must have! Her legs were broken, deformed, with large stones erupting from the cracks pushing through the dress. She couldn’t imagine anyone walking with that type of pain. The centerpiece was Adiscordia’s heart, as the disguise faded Gretel could see shards rip through the chest of her dress. The rocks moved upwards and downwards slowly.
“Is that your-your-“ Gretel was at a loss for words.
Adiscordia remained emotionless covering it back up with some magic. “When I think of what will happen next, love comes. It clashes creating more rock and worsening the beat. I trust you not to bring up my weaknesses.” Weaknesses… Adiscordia had weakness. Why was she being honest with Verre? The truth was clear but not clear enough. Her goal was a new vessel, if she could live through Verre with the curse looking for a heart, someone else wouldn’t have to.
“You trust me?” Gretel asked curiously. “Why are you telling me this.”
“You have something most don’t.” Adiscordia answered simply, a word being written in blood next to her. “Now my turn.”
Gretel stared at the word nearly in tears. She had ‘mercy’.
“Did he admit to using you as redemption?” With that she broke down crying again, nodding her head. After a few seconds of silence she remembered Adiscordia’s predicament and answered in a quiet tone. “Will you help me find the heart?” After all Adiscordia had told her and showed her, how could she refuse? Becoming Adiscordia’s apprentice meant freeing her, her family, Hansel, and the generations after from the curse and beast of the forest. She wasn’t going to the evil side by learning dark magic. It was learning a lesser evil to stop a far greater threat.
Gripping at the bed sheets Guinniverre rose in a confident but hurt whimper. “Yes. I will be your apprentice. I’ll help you find the heart so you can be freed.”
Adiscordia barely comprehended her. “Yes?”
“Yes.” Guinniverre repeated.
Adiscordia sat staring at the wall. She did it, but it was because Guinniverre was willing. “You’ll be marked by dark magic-“ Adiscordia warned. “Your innocence will vanish.”
Guinniverre wiped her tears forcing herself to breath before answering. “If learning dark magic and affiliating with a supposed enemy to defeat a threat that is destroying children and families means I’m no longer innocent then does innocence really exist?”
Adiscordia remained quiet at her words. She would have cried if she had tearducts or remembered what happiness felt like. The understanding comment may have been the closest thing she could feel towards it. She sat there letting Guinniverre cry as she let herself rest in the relief her words had given. She felt a sharp pain that came for only for a few seconds as a warning. She was getting too attached. Adiscordia stood up swinging into action, grabbing Guinniverre’s head.
“What are you doing?” Gretel asked in fear.
“A gift!” Adiscordia purred. With this she felt something push inside her. As she opened her mouth to try to breathe, there was flame entering her mouth. It was some type of truth she couldn’t reach. Then just like that, the pain was gone. Her betrayal, her feelings, the hurt, it was gone. She was no longer distracted by emotions. It slowly dawned on her that she didn’t have to worry about Hansel any longer. He didn’t love her, why should she care what happened to him? She was doing all this to save him and many more people anyways and once Adiscordia was split from the curse they wouldn’t need to eat him. He was more of a hostage, to lure in the heart. Deceit and hate had to be spread all over for Adiscordia’s own safety. She understood.
Finally, she wriggled out of her grasp taking quick breaths, racing to the kitchen for some water. It was as if she had been burned inside! Guinniverre chugged water quickly, now finding herself in a black lace dress. Adiscordia waited for her in the doorway, her dress back to its swollen grandeur state. “Adiscordia..” Guinniverre panted with a pause. “When do we start?”