To start at the beginning ...
Gretel stirred from her thoughts. Through the kitchen window, she could smell the warm and round aroma of the gingerbread boy, toasty and brown. She smiled at Hansel and took his empty glass from his hand.
“I’m guessing he’s ready. I’ll set him out to cool and then I can help you settle him on the roof in a bit.”
Gretel stepped over the threshold into the cottage and crossed the old wooden floor toward the kitchen. Stepping lightly over the oval, braided rug in the sitting room she shuddered as a wave of memories washed over her. She remembered the first time she had set foot in the gingerbread house - hungry, tired, frightened and longing for home. She shook her head to shake off the heavy memories. No, this was her home, her haven and sanctuary. She was safe here.
In the years following their escape from Old Lady Grimble, both she and Hansel had made many changes to the cottage. They had worked to erase the evidence of their imprisonment and to carve out a home to live in.
Gone were the rickety table and chairs from the front room. They had used them as kindling that first winter. In their place stood a beautiful hand-wrought table with matching chairs. Hansel, a woodsman in his own right, had carved this new furniture using the young saplings he had cut down to make space for Gretel’s flower garden. A present for his sister on the third anniversary of the day they had been abandoned.
Gone was the hulking black kettle that had once sat in the fireplace. It was one of the first things Gretel and Hansel had hauled from the cottage, leaving it to rust in the forest behind the cottage. It was a relief to them both to not see the cauldron any more. Or the phantom old witch standing over it and stirring her bubbling and brewing putrid stew.
Gone also was the cage.