This is it: the end of the story. Yes, there are gaps in the plot, and the characters haven't developed the way I wanted them to, but that's all part of the writing process. The next step is to edit the story.
You'll find the whole story on the Free Stories page. As I edit it, I'll update that copy.
Now to see how it all ends...
Mistress Osborne strode forward, the clack of her boots on the wooden floor and the soft susurration of her tulle underskirts the only sounds in the room. As she passed the cage, Hansel stood, his eyes bright, almost glowing in the shadowed darkness of his face against the brilliant light streaming in through the doorway.
Tristan watched her, taking a step back when she passed him, moving out of her reach. Once he was behind her, he removed the small pieces of paper from his pocket and held them aloft.
Andrew stepped to the side so he stood directly in front of the Aga, his right hand hovering over the handle for the baking oven.
Hansel stood, still inside his cage, but close to Gretel.
Just as Mistress Osborne raised her hands to strike Andrew, Tristan began to speak.
“Mistress Osborne, you have been negligent in your training, a direct violation of the apprenticeship agreement you signed with the Magical Council. You have left me with no option other than to report your actions.”
Mistress Osborne swung to face Tristan, took in his stance and sneered. “You idiot. You have to get out of this house before you can cast any spell against me or to summon the Magical Council. Do you think I didn’t think of that when I put you here?” Her gaze raked him from head to toe. “Look at you. You’re so scared of me you’re trembling.”
“You’re right,” said Tristan as he slid to the side, working his way around the table. Andrew smirked as he realised Tristan’s movements drew Mistress Osborne’s attention to him alone, leaving Hansel and Gretel unobserved. “I am scared of you. I have been since my first day as your apprentice. I knew, even then, that I had to hide most of my power from you or you’d bleed me dry.” Hansel stepped through the destroyed bars of the cage and joined Gretel, their hands clasped, eyes glowing.
“Most of your power?” Mistress Osborne sneered. “I’ll admit you have some talent, particularly with transmography, but it’s nothing a thousand other wizards have.”
Tristan smiled, and Andrew wondered how Mistress Osborne didn’t quaver in front of him. “That was the case two years ago, Mistress. Things are significantly different now.” He once again held his scraps of paper above his head. In a deep, sonorous voice, he said, “Mistress Osborne, you have made it impossible for me to perform my duties either as an apprentice or as a wizard. You have spent the last several years consuming the magic of others.”
“And what?” she sneered. “Are you going to strip me of my powers, little apprentice? Do you think you can really do that when half your apprenticeship has been here?” She swept a dismissive hand around her, indicating her disgust for the Gingerbread House.
“I have no need of your powers,” said Tristan calmly. “I have my own, developed right here, inside a gremlin-controlled house.”
“Have you no idea, silly witch,” said Hansel, making Mistress Osborne swing around and gasp at his freedom from the cage, “what it means to learn wizardry within the bosom of gremlin magic?” He pointed to Tristan. “His magic has grown as it would always have done, until it’s much stronger than yours. But it’s been infused with our magic too. He doesn’t need the paltry spells you know. He can create his own.”
“You won’t be leaving here until the Magic Council attends and hears your case,” said Tristan as he tossed the papers toward her.
“This house can’t hold me, you fool.” She batted aside the papers. Each one she touched flared bright around the edges then sank into her skin. Mistress Osborne shoved the table toward Tristan, distracting him, then she charged at Andrew, the remaining papers zooming after her and clinging to her hair where they flared and disappeared.
Andrew gripped the oven handle, swung the door open the shoved against Mistress Osborne. She tumbled into the oven, Andrew pushed her feet in and slammed the door closed, cutting off her screams.
Gretel charged forward. “Why did you do that? You can’t COOK her. You can’t destroy a wizard.”
“Of course not,” said Tristan. “But transmography is my thing, isn’t it?”
“What did you change her into?” asked Hansel, a small smile hovering around his mouth.
Tristan grinned at him. “Something you’ll appreciate.”
A timer dinged and Andrew opened the oven door, reached in and slid out a large tray. On the tray lay a human-sized gingerbread man, complete with current eyes and icing smile and clothes. As Andrew placed the tray on the table, the gingerbread man jumped up and ran to the door.
“You can’t keep me here,” it yelled, Mistress Osborne’s voice high and squeaky. She ran out the door and down the path.
Andrew joined the others at the window as they watched her run away. “I don’t think that was as successful as you think it was,” he said. “She got away.”
As they watched, a fox darted from the trees, cut across the clearing and entered the wood where the gingerbread man had disappeared.
“Maybe,” said Tristan with a grin. “But then again, maybe not.” He picked up his satchel and gestured to the gremlins. “Let’s go home.” At the door, he paused and looked back at Andrew. “Are you coming too?”
Andrew flicked the dials on the Aga so it would burn itself out safely, then grabbed his pack and followed.
E E Montgomery
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