Once upon a time there was a lumberjack and his wife. He was a brave, strong man and deeply in love with his beautiful wife.
They had two children; one boy with hair as golden as the sun and one boy with hair black like the night.
They were called Stephen and Antony - and they were Nick´s pride and joy.
Stephen liked to draw and he was very talented with charcoal; Anthony preferred to listen to knight-stories and had an almost unnatural fascination for iron.
The Furys were a happy family. But then the Green Plague came and when Nick lost one eye, his wife had lost her life. In order to give his children a mother, Nick had married the beautiful Amora.
But she was vain and only cared for herself.
So when a harsh winter came and the family didn´t have enough to eat, Amora convinced Nick to lead the children into the woods and leave them there. Nick´s heart broke, but one look into Amora´s enchanting eyes and he did as he was told.
Anthony had overheard the devilish plan and laid out a track of little cogwheels so that Steve and himself could find their way home.
Their father was overjoyed when they returned, but Amora´s gaze made him abandon his children again. Anthony had lost all his cogwheels in the wood, so Stephen laid the trail this time. Unfortunately he used crumbs of bread he used as eraser while drawing and the animals of the woods ate all the crumbs.
The kids couldn´t find their way back through the forest which became darker, colder and sinister. It was as if the trees became creatures with horribly twisted faces, wooden hands with long, sharp claws and unholy whispers through the night and darkness. Exhausted, the kids went to sleep beneath a big bush that had lost almost of its leaves.
When they awoke the next day the sun was shining, but they didn´t feel the warmth as they used to and the light seemed less bright.
Stephen saw that his little brother was afraid and tried to gave him hope again. "We will find our way, Tony - we will get back home."
They walked and walked until they were tired and barely unable to place one foot in front of the other.
Anthony was quite irritated and cursed loudly while they were trying to find their way home. He was nervous because of the dark, the dangerous animals and mostly because he felt abandoned. His big brother Stephen was also scared, but he grasped Anthony´s hand to make his brother feel more confident. Anthony was glad for that and squeezed Stephen´s hand. He just wanted to go home and he wanted his mom back.
It was dark and it was starting to become cold again. Their father had always warned them about going into the woods at night.
"It´s too dangerous, boys," Nick had said, "the wild animals and beasts of the forest come out at night. They are strong, fast and merciless. But that is not the worst: they say that an old witch who is dressed in blood lives there, protected by a vicious being made out of cold air and sharp winds."
Then the boys got to a clearing and there was a gingerbread house. The walls were made of gingerbread, the windows were made out of sugar, it was decorated with cookies, candy canes and chocolate. It looked very nice and so tasty. They were both hungry, but... Anthony was suspicious. Who would build a house like this? Why? And how did it stand upright? How did it withstand bad weather? The cold? Technically....this shouldn´t be possible.
Stephen was also suspicious - these colors clashed horribly. Also, he thought that it should be decorated with red-white stripes, blue and stars...or at least little wings.
Anthony walked up to the house and started to examine it. Was this really...gingerbread? It looked like gingerbread, it felt like gingerbread, but
"Nibble, nibble, gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?" a voice called to them.
"I didn´t eat it - it was for science. This house defies the laws of physic!"
"It´s a magical house, dimwit - what do you expect?" the voice called again, quite irritated this time. It sounded a lot like their late mother when she was angry.
"Excuse us, madam, but we´re lost in the woods and very, very hungry." Stephen said.
"Awww," the voice called, "you are a real gentleman. Come on in!"
The door swung open - Tony eyed it suspiciously and muttered something that sounded like "I hate magic".
There was a woman in the house, dressed in red, with a long cape and she had red, curly hair. "The witch dressed in blood!" Tony exclaimed.
"Actually, this is more scarlet...or crimson if you will. I´m the Scarlet Witch," she introduced herself, "who are you?"
She smiled and the room seemed to lit up. There was a twinkle in her eyes and the lost boys felt warmth creeping back into their hearts.
Stephen decided that he liked her. Also, her red hair reminded him of his late mother, Dugana.
"I´m Stephen and this is my brother Tony. We´re lost and want to get home."
"Poor babies," she cooed ("I´m not a baby" was Tony´s initial response), "come and sit by the fire for a while, you must be freezing. I bet you´re hungry, just eat whatever you see." She gestured to a big fireplace in which flames were dancing and the wood was crackling.
Tony scowled. "How high is the probability of a gingerbread house of this size in this environment, while it´s edible and 100% functional? What about the dangers of an open fire inside a building made out of food?" he asked.
The witch thought for a moment, then she replied:
"7% probability, while calculating all the magic energy flows, the fairytale setting and the evil-stepmother-paradigm. Your likelihood to find this place and to ask this questions are about 5,1 % with renewed use of said paradigm, the possibly happy-ever-after equation, with a 33% chance of-"
As she went on Tony looked at her, awed. He started to like her. Math and candy!
"What´s your name, madam?" Stephen asked.
"You can call me Wanda," she said smiling.
With a quick wave of her hand three steaming mugs floated through the air to them. "Sit," she said and gestured again to the fireplace. It was decorated with orange biscuits and marmelade. They sat down. "Don´t be shy!"
Encouraged, Steve took a piece of a chair. He felt ridiculous at first, but then he took a bite. Delicious chocolate! He watched Tony who bit cautiously into a book and he had to smile as Tony´s expression transformed from suspicion to bliss.
"Coffee!" Tony exclaimed happily. The book was soon gone and his little brother replaced with a rapidly talking bundle of energy.
Suddenly it became chilly and a silver wind rushed into the house. "Sister!" it called. The silvery wind looked like a man, composed of air and...speed. Tony couldn´t describe him otherwise.
"Calm down, brother; they´re just two lost kids who want to get home." the witch said soothingly.
"Oh," the wind-man said. He looked as embarassed as the wind could be.
"Why don´t you join us?" she asked and soon all four were sitting in front of the fireplace, eating parts of the house which magically regenerated themselves every time.
The wind-man, Pietro, and his sister were the son and daughter of a great magician who lived behind the seven mountains and the seven seas. They had yearned for a little peace and quiet and decided to come to this little forest. To Tony´s question why the house was built out of candy, Wanda just responded by: "Well...magic´s gotta be good for something." They all laughed and traded stories at the warm fire.
Stephen and Tony were now happy, full and quite sleepy.
Wanda pulled a warm, fluffy blanket over them. Her brother had run into the woods again, steady and unsteady as the wind himself.
The witch had to giggle as a pair of blue eyes watched protectively over the black-haired little boy. "Don´t you want to get to sleep?" she asked quietly. "I have to watch over Tony. I promised."
"Brave, little soldier," she said, "Rest now for I will watch over you."
Stephen trusted her and was soon fast asleep.
In the next morning Pietro returned quite excited: he had found the home of the little boys.
The witch took the boys home to reunite them with their parents. The forest was now no longer creepy, but filled with brightness, snow and peaceful silence.
They reached the little cottage of the lumberjack soon. Inside they found Nick hugged them so tight they thought he was never going to let go again.
The evil stepmother Amora had run away to chase after a tall, blond warrior she had spotted the day before. At that time her spell over Nick was broken. Nick had spent the whole night and day searching for his kids, but had returned to their house in case they had returned, like they did once before.
He was overjoyed to have his children back.When he wanted to thank the witch for bringing his kids back, he paused in awe.
The moment he saw Wanda his eye lit up and he swore that he could hear angels sing. For him the sky became pink, the clouds golden and the world seemes to shrink down to the little cottage. Wanda thought that she had never met a manlier man before.
It took them two years to convince Pietro to agree to their marriage.
It was a beautiful wedding and then they lived happily ever after.