Disclaimer: The Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters characters are not mine, just borrowed for this story.

Warnings: language and violence.

Reviews are always welcome

Red in Tooth and Claw

The wind whipped through Katja's hair as she sped over the tree tops, and her hands ached from gripping her broom so tightly. She had been going nonstop for the last four days in a desperate bid to escape the witch hunters. The chances of them following her were slim to none, but having watched her fellow witches gunned down during the ritual had left Katja terrified and desperate. A rare feeling of fear spread through her. Never had witch hunters been that successful at taking out so many.

Several of the covens were at odds with one another, which normally wouldn't have been a concern, until Muriel had sent out invitations for the blood moon ritual. One coven could not be allowed to get an advantage over another and Katja had been sent to spy on the gathering. Muriel had made the claim once before and failed to deliver, so there was much skepticism on whether or not she could succeed this time. The spell would provided to much of an advantage for Muriel if she could see it through.

The one positive of the resent blood bath was Muriel had failed to complete the ritual and paid for her treachery with her life. That left a very large area open to be claimed by another coven. This news would make her sisters very happy and everything that Katja had been through that night would prove useful. Her coven could make a play to absorb the now unclaimed territory into theirs. All those extra souls within their reach; a larger hunting ground would provide so many opportunities.

A wave of relief passed through the witch as she finally had their lair in sight. As quickly as she was able, Katja rushed inside, making her way through the dark and twisted halls of the cave. Eventually the black rock halls expanded into a large cavern and Katja hovered at the edge awaiting her summons.

The grand witch didn't look up from her task. Katja was debating whether or not to announce her presence her intimidating leader when the grand witch spoke up, "What have you learned?"

Katja swallowed and hesitantly moved closer. "I attended the ceremony as you asked. Muriel would have succeeded this time; she found a grand white witch. Hansel the witch hunter turned up to save his sister and killed most of our sisters in attendance, including Muriel, before they could perform the ritual. Hansel and Gretel had help this time, they were not acting alone. They had magic working for them."

The grand witch smiled as she dropped a wiggling worm into her bubbling potion. A puff of purple smoke billowed from the caldron and the flame beneath it turned and eerie shade of green. This turn of events was almost too perfect. She cackled, "Tell me more about this grand white witch."

Gretel startled awake. She looked around the room for what would have woken her at such a late hour. The village was quiet, as was the inn in which they were staying. Hansel was passed out in the chair near the door and Ben had curled up on the bench by the window. Both men were fast asleep, so whatever it was that caught her attention had gone unnoticed by her companions.

She was just about to go back to sleep when she heard it again. It was soft almost like a whisper lost on the wind. Gretel strained her ears couldn't make out the words. Ever so cautiously she crept out of bed, careful not to wake her brother and Ben. She felt an inexplicable pull towards her satchel. With nimble fingers she opened the bag and quietly searched through the contents. The hushed whisper grow louder, but the words still indiscernible.

A groan from Hansel caused Gretel to freeze. She waited stiffly holding her breath, until she heard his soft snores drift through the room once more. Certain that he was once again asleep she continued her search. Her fingers brushed the side of the wand that she had picked up after their battle with Muriel. Cradling it in her hand she pulled it out of the bag. It called to her, compelled her closer. The stone began to pulse with a soft orange light and Gretel was mesmerized by it. How could something so evil appear so beautiful?

"What are you doing?" croaked Hansel.

Gretel flinched and immediately shoved the wand back into her bag, burying it deep. She calmed her nerves and ignored that guilty feeling that was starting to coil in her stomach like a snake. "Nothing, go back to sleep Hansel," she assured.

Hansel just frowned.

"I'm fine. Look I'm going back to bed. It was just a bad dream." Gretel climbed back into bed and curled up facing the wall. If she had to face that concerned gaze she wasn't sure her resolve would remain intact. She listened intently for the tell tale creak of the chair to signify that Hansel had indeed decided it was nothing and went back to sleep, before she let out a relieved sigh. She rolled over and looked at her brother; sleeping there so peacefully, so trusting. Gretel couldn't place why she felt the need to keep the wand a secret.

They were all each other had in the world and she was doing something they promised they never would do to one another: keep secrets. Gretel didn't know why she had taken Muriel's wand and worse still, she didn't know why she felt the need to keep that fact from her brother. It had been months now and she still couldn't bring the subject up. She kept telling herself she would destroy the evil thing but everyday she put it off.

Gretel closed her eyes and waited for sleep to take her. Tomorrow, she would destroy it tomorrow and Hansel would never have to learn of her lies. The small room at the inn fell in to a peaceful silence and none of the souls inside bore witness to the pulse of red light that flooded the room.