Deep within the forest stood a hollow red tree. It wasn’t the tallest, nor the prettiest, but it was the perfect home for wood witch Marmalade. Airy chimes rang amongst the boughs as an autumn draught fanned the flames of her stove.

Sugar pies were stacked atop muffins atop towers of shortcakes. The wafted scent of baking bread enticed all manner of creatures to Marmalade’s tree for sweet treats and a place to rest their paws.

Each morning, Marmot would scurry up to Marmalade’s kitchen window and scamper away just as quickly clutching samples of the day’s goods. Huffing in the warm smells of fresh pastries, Marmot tossed them over his shoulder one by one. Too many cherries. Too much banana. Apricot… Honey… Marzipan. This wouldn’t do.

Marmalade dusted icing powder from her hands and turned back to her bowl. Only to find a clump of fresh moss sinking into the batter.

“Marmot!” Marmalade cried, brandishing her whisk at the fluffy tail whipping out of sight. “Again!” With a laboured sigh she dumped the batter and began her recipe anew.

Marmot sniffed as he watched Marmalade through the window. Dejected, Marmot curled into a ball, breathing in the tantalising scent of scones ruined yet again by sweet fruits. Hearing sad sniffles, Marmalade looked up to see Marmot, forlorn and hugging his tail for comfort.

Shaking out her apron, Marmalade beckoned Marmot inside. Padding cautiously to the bench, Marmot took the whisk from Marmalade’s proffered hand. Snatching up a basket, he dashed back outside, soon returning laden with long grasses and patches of lichen, hard seeds and wild roots.

With tender hands and amused smile, Marmalade guided Marmot as he added flour and water to moss and weeds. The grass only caught fire once as the bread baked. Barely had it cooled when Marmot scarfed the loaf.

With full cheeks and sheepish eyes, Marmot glanced at Marmalade. She laughed. “That’s alright, I wasn’t hungry anyway.” Marmot brushed his nose against her hand and scampered back into the forest, leaving Marmalade to sweep up the crumbs.

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