The Birth of a Wishing Heart
Violet came back to hear Hansel and Gretel in some sort of discussion about a wishing heart. Violet knew a little bit about the gods giving good people a second chance of life within another animal when their descendants needed protection and guidance the most. Guinniverre had shared that Adiscordia was in the search of the heart of Hansel’s mother. If she hadn’t come after all that, she didn’t think Lucia would come now, Regardless, she decided to listen and join in. After she left she was just grateful and relieved that she hadn’t ruined the night.
“She’d probably be a doe.” Hansel smiled. “They’re beautiful, and quick on their feet.”
At this Violet found another opportunity. “Hmm I’d say she’d be more like her son. You’re more like a clever scheming rat.” She joked as she took her seat. Hansel shook his head in disapproval filling his plate again.
“Violet!” Gretel exclaimed rushing to the young woman to hug her. “Are you okay?”
Violet nodded quickly as she gently pushed away the queen. She was trying to take the attention away from herself as much as she could. “I’m fine. I promise. Hansel, you also have these big puppy damsel in distress eyes. So maybe a small wolf pup?” She didn't want to disrespect his mother again, but he was just too easy to tease!
Hansel nearly choked again, his cheeks bright red. He didn’t mind his mother returning as a strong wolf, but his eyes- “That’s why I cover them!” he exclaimed reaching for the ribbon behind him.
“We’re still in the presence of royalty.” Violet smirked. “Down boy.” She watched his cheeks grow even redder in irritation. This caused the Queen to laugh. This was the only reason why he’d allow such blows to his pride, to make her laugh. “You’re right! He does get easily embarrassed.” Violet giggled.
“I think Hansel’s more of a piglet. Any baby animal can have big eyes but only pigs have an appetite like his.” Guinniverre joked.
“Again, with the fat jokes.” He groaned covering his face with his hands. He had expected it to hurt more, but he didn't really seem to mind. The last time he had received warnings and had caused harm with his gluttony, but this time he was the victim. It wasn’t entirely his fault. Maybe it was because it was all in good fun and they were together and safe? He only wanted to hear them all laugh and enjoy the night.
Violet nodded. “Three plates and going strong is quite the feat.” Guinniverre continued to giggle holding up four fingers as she went to her seat. “This is his fourth?” Violet asked in surprise.
“I’ve been eating nonstop for a month…” He reminded from behind his hands. “I can’t help it. Plus Violet try this. Try this and tell me this isn’t irresistible!” He defended, his face still beet red as he took off his hands to grab a forkful to overfill his cheeks and join in the joke.
“Now he’s a chipmunk!” Violet joked as the girls laughed continuously. “The changing colors of your face are just too funny!”
The night progressed and Guinniverre noticed Hansel had fallen asleep. She was also exhausted and sated, so she couldn't blame him. The morning had been eventful to say the least. “Hansel?” She snapped her fingers around his ears. “You can put your hair back in place If you wake up.” There was no response. The princess yawned. “Thank you so much. We really enjoyed it. This was an amazing idea, and I loved the dress. I should head to bed. I’m going to wash up and then grab Hansel if he hasn’t woken up already." She looked over to Violet with a bright smile. "Thank you.” With that, she ran to Violet and hugged her tightly.
Violet slowly held the queen, not used to loving physical contact. “Of course.” She then kissed her forehead. Guinniverre was a sweetheart. “Now off to bed.” Gretel chuckled before running off. Despite Violet’s rough, blunt, and playful nature, there was definitely a motherly side to her.
Violet watched her leave as she followed and closed the door softly before returning and leaning against the sleeping noble. “Rat, she’s gone. Was there something you wanted to tell me?”
Hansel dropped the act staring at her with a slightly annoyed expression. “Are you going to keep calling me that?”
“Yes! You cheated on that fight and got me in trouble with the queen!” Violet exclaimed quietly.
“I don’t remember you listing off rules, anything was allowed. I was just using whatever I had on me, and the first thing I thought of were those distressed puppy eyes.”
“Fair tactic, I guess.” Violet surrendered with her arms crossed. He had used her own words so she couldn’t exactly back out.
“But I did want to tell you something, as her guardian you need to know this. It’s important Violet, so no games.” Hansel looked at Violet with seriousness and worry. He was letting her in, even after all the teasing. He really did take her role seriously. “Something happened with Adiscordia before she died. I have reason to believe that she left part of herself in Gretel, and it’s alive.” Violet was left with a fearful expression but she continued to listen. She didn’t want to believe him, but why would he make this up? “When she died I saw something happen to Gretel, and when we needed to escape. I had the idea to try to reason with Adiscordia. If She was in Guinniverre then maybe she was powerful enough to use against Grizelda. It worked, that’s how we escaped. That’s also why Gretel doesn’t remember anything.” He said full of worry.
“What did she do?”
Hansel closed his eyes trying to remember. “I started talking about Lucia and how if she got her wishing heart that she could free Grizelda from the curse. I don’t know what happened but Gretel’s face changed and something else responded. She became pale, and her eyes and veins turned black. It was terrifying! When Grizelda saw that Adiscordia was still in Gretel she let us escape. When I realized Gretel didn’t remember anything I knew something was wrong.” There was a pause. “I don’t know if my mother is coming back, and it’s taken me a while to accept it but its fine if she doesn’t. If she does I’m scared of what will happen. I’ll need your help to take care of Guinni, and I wanted to ask you for something else.”
Violet barely responded trying to process what was being said. “I will always help watch the Reine. I want to be more involved so thank you for telling me. What else did you need?”
“If wishing hearts come around? Protect them.” He begged. “Please, I don’t want to trigger Gretel and I don't want Grizelda or Adiscordia to get their hands on a power like that."
“That’s a heavy demand, but, I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you.” Hansel noted giving Violet a hug. “I’ll wash the dishes tonight. There was one last favor I wanted to ask of you.” His cheeks became colored again at this.
“Another one?” Violet asked in false irritation.
“My old clothes fit horribly, and I can’t go home in Rhioninian clothing. From the looks of Guinniverre’s dress I think you know how to patch up clothing?” He asked wishfully as he picked up the plates and utensils.
“I can do something better than that!” Violet grinned. “I’ve got the whole night!”
“You don’t sleep?” Hansel asked as Violet led him to a well that they could draw water from to clean the dishes.
“I wish burglars slept. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but this place is filled with abandoned riches.” Hansel nodded in agreement as Violet let down a bucket, and pulled it back up full of water. “There’s your water. Your clothes will be done in the morning. I’m off to help Reine and prepare the bed.” Hansel thanked her as she left. Just before she was out of sight she stopped. “And one more thing. You know my insults mean I care for you right? In all seriousness you make a great noble Hansel. Never change. I’m trusting you with the last remaining royal of Rhionine. Don’t forget what an important job that is.”
“I could never forget.” He promised as she left.
While they had been talking Guinniverre had filled a tub. It had been so long since she had a proper bath! It felt so good! She took a while enjoying it until her eyelids could hardly stay open. She loosened her braids and afterwards changed into one of her mothers old nightgowns. It was so soft. She went to the Queen's room to find that Hansel was already fast asleep on his side of the bed. She crawled into her own side. She began remembering the day’s events. Adiscordia’s screams were so loud. Grizelda had been terrifying. She wondered if Hansel had felt as helpless as she did under the bed. She wondered how awful it must’ve been to be tied up like that. “Hansel? Are you still awake?” She whispered
With that Hansel turned to face her. His eyes were still closed but his arm extended as she dove into his shoulder and held him for comfort. The two of them soon fell fast asleep.
Hansel woke up first, carefully pushing Guinniverre away to not wake her as he left. He was excited and grateful to see a pair of trousers and a shirt similar to his old one folded neatly on the bed. His jacket was right besides it, having been patched up and lengthened a little. Was Violet some sort of seamstress? He didn’t think a wolf beast would be so good at sewing! Hunting and guarding, definitely, but sewing? He hid and got dressed quickly. It fit so comfortably! It was better than the noble’s outfit! He was grinning ear to ear. He wanted to find her, but was hesitant to leave his sister. He decided to thank Violet when Guinniverre was awake.
Gretel awoke with a grin, well rested and now cheerful. “Good morning Hansel!” She beamed hopping from the bed. Hansel smiled. It was so nice to Gretel so happy so early in the morning. “You're dressed!”
Hansel nodded. “Violet helped!”
“We have to thank her! But first!-” Guinniverre rushed to look through her mother's things. “We have to find one of my mother’s satchels!”
Hansel went quickly to help her. The expensive clothes and materials here never ceased to amaze him. The precious stones used to decorate the bed frame alone could have helped so many people, yet they were only being used as decoration. What was the point in that? Once Gretel found the bag the two began to fill it with the riches that they were depending on to save them and their village. Afterwards Gretel made something to eat, mainly so that she could use her magic one last time before having to hide it away. Not that Hansel minded, he had grown accustomed to rich meals and he knew he was going to miss them.
Afterwards, they went outside to look for the Queen’s guardian to thank her and head out. “Violet?” Hansel called out feeling the need to thank her before Gretel did. It was his clothing after all. There was no response. Where was she? “Violet, we’re heading out!”
“Give me a minute!” Violet called out from above. Hansel searched over his sister as they looked into the distance, finally looking up to see her jump in front of them from seemingly nowhere. Instinctively Hansel pushed a hand to keep the queen back and away from unexpected danger. Violet was back to wearing her red cloak. Her eyes still showed off a golden hue as she rubbed them tiredly. She hadn’t seemed to have gotten a lot of sleep the night prior. She chuckled. “He’s jumpy too!”
“You came out of nowhere!” Gretel exclaimed.
“I don’t like sleeping in plain sight.” Violet admitted. “But you two are heading home?”
Gretel nodded showing the satchel. “Th-“
Hansel immediately interrupted. “Thank you for the clothing.” He said with a quick bow. “and I’m sorry for keeping you up.”
Gretel nodded quickly. “and thank you for last night! It was so fun and nice. I didn’t think I’d get to enjoy a night like that after Rhionine fell, but I did! It’s all because of you, thank you! Thank you for the fresh flowers, bringing us home, guarding home, and everything!” She said rushing to hug Violet again who was left with the confusion of affectionate physical touch again. She hugged the queen quickly.
“Of course Reine! I wanted to give you this.” She said getting down on her knees to be able to look at the queen at eye level. She took a whistle from her pocket and put it in her hands. “If you ever need me, just blow into this. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She turned to Hansel nodding to give him permission to use it as well for Guinniverre’s sake if needed. Gretel smiled as she blew on it giddily which caused Violet to wince as she grabbed her ears. “Not so close!”
“I think it’s broken.” Gretel mumbled, not having heard anything.
Hansel came closer turning the whistle in his hands. “It’s a type of dog whistle, isn’t it?”
Violet nodded. “I was right there-“ she groaned. “but you’re welcome, and I hardly sleep. It wasn’t a problem.” She smiled at the noble. “I’ll be around watching you two, but stay out of trouble. If you ever want to return Reine, I’ll be here.”
Guinniverre smiled before lifting a hand so Hansel could take it. With that, hand in hand, they left. It wasn’t a long journey, and the farther they went into the forest the more familiar it looked. Finally, they could see the outline of houses in the distance.
Gretel began to run, causing Hansel to chase after her. “Papa! Papa!”
She was too forgiving. Hansel wondered if he even loved them. Their situation before was desperate, but was it really worth abandoning him and Guinniverre? He should have gotten rid of Diana. They could have fattened and roasted her body and eaten that instead! It was a dark thought that he had to push aside. He wasn't looking forward to seeing her again. At first he knew she couldn't replace Lucia, but he was open to it. Now he was having trouble tolerating the both of them. Before he knew it Gretel was knocking on the door.
“Papa! Papa!” There was no response. “Maybe he isn’t home?”
Hansel looked up at the sky to confirm. “He’s usually out cutting wood now.” He looked around before he took his filed piece of flint and tried to pick the lock. It worked, and the door opened. With that the two walked in.
Hansel threw himself on a chair wanting to rest. The chair creaked in pain, causing him to grunt and pout as he slid against the wall to lay on the floor. Gretel giggled. “Don’t!”
“I haven’t said anything!” She laughed. “Your overreacting is what’s funny!” At this point, most of his overreactions were on purpose. To be at home with Gretel laughing after all they had been through, made the teasing worth it.
It was then a familiar gaunt face peeked in with a wooden slab ready to hit intruders. The man froze, the slab falling on the ground. “Papa!!” Gretel exclaimed setting down her bag of loot and running to him.
The man took a moment to stare at her before he went down to reach for face.
“Gretel, is that you?” He asked observing her as she nodded in excitement. The man didn’t seem to know what to say. “You’re alive?” Gretel nodded again holding his legs. “Where’s your brother?” Gretel quickly ran to the curled up ball of anger that was Hansel. His knees quickly rose. He folded his arms, placing them on his knees and his head on them facing downwards. He didn’t want to face his father, especially not looking like this.
“Hansel! Get up, Papa is here!” She bounced in excitement. “We’re going to be together and safe and happy!” Hansel groaned. He loved to see Guinniverre happy but this was too much. He wasn’t going to get up for the man who had left him to die in the forest. To make matters worse this was the same man who had done whatever was in his power to put the boy on a diet and keep him from robbing sweets as a child. Now he had to face him like this, all over again. It was a blow to his pride that he wasn’t ready to tolerate.
“Hansel!” Guinniverre was so happy to be out of the forest. She was out of Adiscordia’s house and didn’t have to fear death or danger. She was ready for some stability! She was ready for the villagers! She was ready to help everyone! Why wasn’t Hansel happy? He nearly growled shaking his head almost as a warning.
Lorenzo stared at the boy. Slowly it began to come into view. His hair was still overgrown and spread across his face to hide his expression. His jacket was patched up and extended but it was the same one. He slowly bent down to reach for the back of the boys neck, to see the chain that held the compass he had given him. It was him. They were there. They were alive! “Gretel,” he started. “Leave him alone. He is still angry and doesn't want to face me.” There was more to that. Lorenzo knew that shame was another factor in Hansel's behavior. He has hardly recognized him! Lorenzo knew it all too well. The shame and guilt after he was left by himself made him question who he was too. He watched Hansel’s hands ball into fists. This wasn't anger, this was fury.
“I didn’t think you two would come back alive.” Gretel took a step back hurt by his comment. He paused, trying to explain or form words. He was filled with guilt. It was a mistake made from emotion, desperation, and lack of proper thinking. He didn’t know how to express his sorrow. He didn't want to remember what he had done, but with his son clearly resentful he knew had to face him. Finally, still down he wrapped the two of them in an embrace. “Thank you... Thank the gods for bringing you back to me.
Hansel didn’t expect that. He expected anything but that. Was it because he had seen the bag of riches? He pushed against the wall and away from his father. He refused to even look at him. “Three nights after I left you, Diana left.” Hansel immediately poked his head up slightly, having heard some good news. “She was very upset about the Rhioninian truths and couldn’t handle it. When I realized what I had done, that I left my own children in the forest that steals children I think I started to go mad. I needed to find you!" His throat welled up with emotion. Hansel watched closely there was no doubt. Either his father knew about the riches and was trying to manipulate them with an intensely dramatic speech or, it was real. Lorenzo's voice shifted as he paused. He had said it to them. He had become vulnerable in plain sight. Tears of affection overcame him again as he took hold of Gretel again as reassurance of her safety while giving his son the space he needed. "Diana felt awful. She couldn’t come to a home that was a constant reminder of a family she had destroyed. I was constantly heartbroken and could hardly eat after. She took part of the food we had left and claimed she had done me a favor in a way so I could live. She asked me for forgiveness and promised not to share our secret. She never returned. I tried to work! I searched while I worked, but after a few days it was only searching. There was less money for food but I had to find the both of you! Through later nights I searched, finally giving up. I thought I had killed you both!” He exclaimed. Gretel held the crying man tighter. She had never seen him like this...
“I haven’t worked, I’ve hardly eaten, I’m so so sorry. Principessa Guinniverre I promise I have never hated you or your people, but I was a coward. I wanted to protect Hansel so badly that for years I formed a wall against your people! At the end I ended up losing you both! Please, both of you! I beg you to forgive me.”
Gretel's response was almost immediate. “I forgive you.” She began to cry, overcome by the wood cutter’s own emotion.
Hansel let his head press against his father’s arm instead of pulling away. He believed his apology, but right now that was the best he was going to get. Hansel's anger had dimmed but he wasn't ready to forgive him yet. “You looked for us?
“Yes! You are family! I can’t believe-” Lorenzo stopped, taking another moment to hold them before his grip weakened significantly in realization. He let go. “I’m sorry. You two must be starving.” He rose up, his legs shaky as he opened the cupboards. “There’s nothing left." Lorenzo could feel desperation return. They were back, but they were still in danger of death.
Hansel couldn't help but look away from his father with a quiet chuckle. Maybe he had been punished enough already. Gretel took her satchel and quickly emptied the contents on the floor. “Yes there is!” Lorenzo looked at the riches in awe.
“This- This could save the entire village!” He exclaimed.
“I know!” Gretel beamed with excitement. “We made a visit and borrowed some things from Reine Guinniverre.” She said with a light giggle.
Lorenzo stared at the riches. He had abandoned her in the forest. They had destroyed her kingdom. After all that she still saved him. He had to tell her the truth. He held her hands tightly in silence before starting a heart breaking conversation. “Reine.. I need to tell you the truth regarding the fall of Rhionine.”
The young queens face grew slightly more serious. Her beam disappearing into a small smile. “If it’s regarding a fire and Lucia, I already know.” Lorenzo turned his head to his son in shock. “I still want to save the village.”
Hansel turned to his father. “She has a heart of gold."
“I also think you have some explaining to do.” Their father asked Hansel full of curiosity. For someone who he had thought to have starved to death before endlessly roaming the forest for an end his son's looks told a different story. Hansel shook his head, retreating back into himself. It was too soon for this.
So as planned they used part of the riches to save themselves. They always had enough food to eat, and were able to fix the house. Lorenzo and Hansel went back to woodcutting. Diana tried to return but Lorenzo refused. His children came first and she understood, If anything she respected him more for his choice. She tried to stay closer to him and the children, hoping to gain forgiveness. At the least she gained respect, helping and never asking for a share of money. Once some stability came the rest of the riches were released to others.
Gretel and Diana spent most of their time giving food to the poor. Hansel helped use wood and money in order to create shelters and homes. Slowly, their kindness and generosity began to change the greed, turning over the famine for the poor and forgotten of the village.
When the siblings weren’t working they were enjoying each others company or bonding with the animals. They bought animals for the purpose of having meat, yet as time went on the pair bonded over a select few. Some of these animals became pets, and off limits to the butcher's knife. Among this small group was a sow named Caramella. The sow became Gretel’s partner in crime when teasing her brother in the most endearing of ways.
A few weeks later, Hansel found himself running home with his sister. “Caramella is having her litter right now!” She had been acting strange, and had grown a bit. They had expected twelve piglets, maybe even fourteen! Instead two piglets squirmed in their father’s arms. Their chests glowed with magic.
That was the first time I saw their faces. Hansel came closer to me touching my chest. “It’s coming from her heart. It-” He started quietly before looking towards his sister. He started a new sentence, a worry washed over them. Hansel could tell, and was the first to break through it. “A heart of gold. I’ll name her Gree.” He smiled tapping his sister's chest.
Gretel giggled before picking up my twin. “Cant have a loving Gree without a hungry Hans!”
I heard him groan at the sky. He had to be asking why. I could have been a graceful doe, or a strong ox, or even a quick rabbit, but I had to be a sow. Who had ever even heard of a piglet with a wishing heart?