Mina is finally well enough that she can walk all day without pulling her stitches or having to be carried by Edward, and they are far enough from the roads and towns to avoid any jumpy, superstitious travelers. At sundown, Mina sits in front of the fire beside Gretel and brings out the materials required for her craft.
"I'm not near as powerful a witch as your mother was," she says, "but I can still teach you what I know."
Gretel eyes the spellbook uneasily. Muriel's wand weighs heavily in her pack, and she can still feel its power surging beneath her fingertips, beckoning. "I don't know if I want to do this," she mumbles.
"It will only be the basics for now," Mina reassures her. "You can decide if you want to learn more. But magic can be a powerful tool. The dark witches aren't used to defending against it." Her eyes flicker to the other faces in their strange group, and she smiles. "And it can be used for healing, something I think we'll need on this journey."
Gretel lets out a short laugh and scoots closer. "Alright," she sighs, "let's give it a try."
Mina settles in to teach with one last glance across the fire. Edward is standing guard and Ben has moved in eagerly close, but Hansel is as far away as he can get while still being within the fire's light. "You could learn this, too," she offers gently.
Hansel shifts uncomfortably. He is still wary of magic, no matter who it comes from, and he doesn't see that changing for a good long while. A lifetime of anger is hard to overwrite. "I've never seen a male witch before," he replies skeptically.
"They're very rare," Mina admits. "Most sons of witches are born sickly, and few that survive are powerful enough to use more than a few simple spells." She smiles warmly, fondly. "But you're different, the son of a Grand White Witch. You could do almost as much as your sister."
He hesitates, drumming his fingers against the ground. Even in the dim firelight he can see the cuts and bruises still healing on Gretel's face, and sometimes as they walk the hem of Mina's shirt lifts enough that he can see the edges of the deep, ugly wound that nearly took her life. He lifts his hand to let it settle over his own injury, all but vanished now due to Mina's treatment. "You said it can be used for healing?" he asks.
Mina nods, and after another moment of thought, Hansel heaves himself to his feet and rounds the fire to sit down beside Gretel. "I guess it can't hurt to listen," he mutters, in a tone that suggests he believes it actually might.
Gretel bumps her shoulder against his, a move that's both teasing and comforting. "Don't worry," she says. "Even if I'm a witch, there's no way in hell I'm giving up my guns."