Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries ) (5 page)

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
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Cerené stopped what she was doing and nodded. Both girls locked eyes for a moment.  “And you didn’t mind?” Shew said.

“Mind?” Cerené let out a feeble laugh. “I don’t have the right to mind, princess, or wish.”

“Who said so,” Shew protested. “Tell me what you wish for, and I will grant it to you.”

“You know you’re different from how I pictured you, Princess?” Cerené said. “I didn’t imagine you like this.”

“Neither did I,” Snow White laughed.  She wondered if she was really like that in the past. After all, and although this was a dream, she was a sixteen year old from the twenty first century trapped in a seven year old body in the 19
th
century, but it was her modern mind that was working here. Although Cerené looked to be eight or nine years old, she talked like she was older too.

“So what do you think of me biting the prince?”

“Oh, well,” Cerené hesitated.

“Speak your mind.”

“Well, I agree he was yummy,” Cerené giggled, covering her ashen mouth with her hands.

“I knew it,” Snow White clapped her hand with Cerené. “So I was right to bite the yummy out of him.”

“In your own sick way, I guess so,” Cerené laughed. “Is he dead?”

“I sure hope not,” Snow White said. “I’d like to bite him again.”

Cerené laughed so hard she fell on the floor. Snow White was happy to make her smile. It was like seeing sunshine in an abyss.

“Come here,” Snow White said, grabbing a towel to clean the ashes from Cerené’s face.

Suddenly, Cerené’s features tensed and she pulled away. “No,” she said. “I can’t wipe the ashes away. I can’t,” she made a fist with one hand.

“Why?” Snow White wondered.

“I just can’t,” Cerené took the towel from her and stood up, preparing to leave. “Would you ask anything else of me, princess?” She asked the question stiffly as if they hadn’t been laughing seconds ago.

“I didn’t mean to—”

“Thank you, princess,” Cerené said and left the bathroom. Snow White leaned against the door’s edge, watching her walk away. What had offended her so much? Snow White just wanted to wipe the ashes away.

Watching her walk away, Snow White noticed Cerené wore strange slippers, slightly hidden under her dress. They looked as if they’d been burned and smeared with ashes. The slippers didn’t look like they were made from leather or anything Snow White had seen before.

“Those are strange slippers,” Snow White said, hoping to stop the girl from leaving.

Cerené stopped then turned around slowly. She looked even more worried now, “they are just a poor girl’s slippers,” she shrugged, “nothing special about them.”

“I didn’t say they were special,” Snow White approached her. “I could give you better slippers.”

“No.” Cerené reverted to her shyness again. What kind of secrets did this girl hide?

Snow White didn’t push her. She already knew these weren’t ordinary slippers, but what was the point of insisting to know?

Cerené stopped at the door on her way out again, “thank you,” she said without looking back.

“For what?” Snow White asked.

“For talking to me like a human being,” she replied and left.

Nineteenth century or not, Shew wasn’t fond of drama, but her curiousness about Cerené almost made her forget this was a dream.

Confused, Snow White retreated to the chair in front of the mirror. Looking at her reflection, she was stunned at what suddenly began to happen.

She was aging, and as she watched in astonishment, her body turned into the fourteen-year-old version of herself.

 

 

4

A Garden of Graves

 

So this is how this dream is going to work, shifting time whenever it wants?

Puzzled, Shew rested her hands on the table, which transformed into strips of black and white, shorter strips of black and longer strips of white. The table was taking the shape of a large piano.

Looking back in the mirror, she saw the whole room change behind her. She was being transported to another time and place in the dream, to a big echoing hall in the castle when she was around two or three years younger than she was in the Waking World.

Finally, the mirror in front of her exploded into ashes that turned into ravens as they flew out of the window, and all she could hear was the annoying sound of a man who she believed was her music teacher.

“This is the wrong note,” the man screamed and pulled his hair. He had hair like Einstein, and wore an oversized tuxedo. “This is a B# not B,” he poked keys furiously.

Shew rolled her eyes, sitting with her hands on the piano. Who was this annoying man? She played several keys trying to comply.

“That is even worse,” the veins in his neck throbbed. He looked like he was battling invisible bees pecking on his face. He was unusually hairy. “This is an A.”

“A is good,” Shew tried to make a joke. “A+ is even better.”

“What?” he glared at her, looking as if he was about to choke her with the piano’s strings, chop her fingers off and use them as keyboard keys. “What is an A+?”

Ignoring the mad man behind her, she read the title of the melody she was supposed to play. It said:

 

The Magic Flute in G major

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

“I’ll never understand why a piece of music named
The Magic Flute
is played on a piano,” she poked, knowing it would drive her teacher crazy. “It should be played on a
flute
, Mr.—” she didn’t know what to call him so she glanced back at the transcript and saw his name scribbled at the bottom. “Mr. Oddly Tune?” she scowled. “Are you sure it isn’t Dudley?”

Oddly almost jumped, kicking his feet against the base of the piano.

“She is making fun of you because you’re not firm with her,” the Queen of Sorrow called over the banister on the second floor. “I want her to memorize this song by noon and perform it at the ball we’re having tonight.”

“But that’s impossible, my Queen,” Oddly said. “She's horrible.”

“Don’t call my daughter horrible,” Carmilla said calmly. Oddly sweat beads the size of lemons. “Or I’ll have you hung by the noose.”

“That’s not fair,” he mumbled. “I am a respected musician. I shook hands with Mozart himself."

The Queen shook her head and left the hall, calling for her servants on the other side of the castle.

“Don’t worry, Dudley,” Shew said. “I think I got it. This is an X minor, right?”

“There is nothing called X minor!” Oddly’s face reddened. It deformed as if his cheekbones were cracking from the inside. His back curved awkwardly and his feet grew big, ripping his shoes apart. Hair was growing swiftly all over his feet and face. Mr. Oddly was turning into a werewolf.

What should I do now? Is this memory or just a dream going nowhere?

Oddly, the werewolf grabbed Snow White’s fingers and banged them against the keyboard. “This is an A, you filthy brat,” his eyes yellowed and his fangs showed. The odd white hair on his head smoothed out and grew longer down his shoulders. “And this is a B!” he banged her fingers again.

“That hurts, Mr. Dudley,” Shew said.

“It’s Oddly you irritating princess,” he said in an evil voice that sounded if his throat had turned into a sewer pipe spitting out its guts. “I’m going to break your fingers one by one.  You’ll never play an instrument for the rest of you life.”

“Mother!” Snow White pleaded. Mr. Oddly clamped her mouth shut with his hairy hand. “If you scream, I will hurt you again. Be a good girl and come with me.”

She pulled his hand away. “Come with you where?”

“Night Sorrow wants to talk with you,” the werewolf grinned.

So that’s what the memory is about. I am being kidnapped and taken to my grandfather?

“You know what?” Shew said. “That’s an awful lot of hair,” her fangs grew and she bit him in the neck. She didn’t know if it was part of the memory or her own action, having been overly annoyed by this music teacher. “Mozart this!” Snow White sighed impatiently and kicked him between his hairy legs.

It was interesting, how Oddly dropped to the floor like an electrocuted fly, buzzing a little then turning back into a  music teacher who looked like Einstein. Only this time he was dead. Anyone who entered the room would have thought she just killed an innocent man.

“If this is how my teen years were like, then it was fun. I’m so enjoying this,” she mumbled, wiping the blood from her lips. “I bet I’d be a superhero in school. How come they don’t let me go to school?”

“Because you’d end up biting all the yummy boys,” Cerené said from the end of the hall, still wearing her ragged clothes, ashes covering her face.  She carried a bucket of water and a broom. She had grown to become a beautiful fifteen year old and still wore her mysterious slippers.

“Cerené,” Snow White found herself smiling.

“Let me clean up the mess, princess,” Cerené said, staring at the blood all over the piano keys.

“It’s not my fault. He was a werewolf, I swear.”

“I saw the whole thing, hiding in the fireplace,” Cerené said. “Let’s pull him out into the Garden of Graves.”

“What’s the Garden of Graves?”

“You don’t know what the royal graveyard is?”

“Oh, I was just joking,” Shew said. “Do you think we should do that?”

“There are a lot of people buried in the Garden of Graves already. I guess they are some of your mother’s victims,” she winked at her, implying she knew about Carmilla’s bathhouse slaughters. “There is room for one more hairy man. Hurry up before your mother sees us.”

Snow White made sure no one was coming and started pulling Mr. Oddly outside. “Let’s bury Mr. Dudley,” she said.

“It’s Oddly,” Cerené laughed.

The two girls struggled pulling the large man out to the garden through the servants’ backdoor. It was nighttime and the only light guiding them was the moon. The Garden of Graves was full of purple and yellow poppies. It was the royal family’s graveyard so it had to look classy, “so this is where I’m going to be buried when I die?” Shew mocked herself. Her family was immortal, so this whole garden was bogus.

“I want to be buried in a lovely place like this with all these flowers,” Cerené said casually then dropped Oddly onto a muddy spot and started digging with a shovel. She was unusually enthusiastic about it. Her smile was lovely, but wicked, and a little weird. The ashes sticking to her face and clothes made her look like someone who was up to no good.

That’s one disturbed childhood you had, Shew!

“I see you love burying people,” Shew commented.

“Werewolves,” Cerené corrected her. “I hate them,” her cheek twitched slightly.

Cerené had tied her blonde hair—with the fiery aura—into a reckless ponytail. It looked like she did it with strings from her broom. Shew wondered why Carmilla allowed one of her servants to look so poor and untidy.

“Next time if you want to scare a werewolf away, use red wine,” Cerené suggested.

“Really?”

“I heard it from an old wise woman in the forest,” Cerené assured her. Shew thought it was absurd.

Cerené sweat as she dug the grave. When she wiped the sweat from her face, she accidentally cleaned some of the ashes away. Shew saw Cerené had cute freckles buried underneath.

Then she saw something else that had been hidden under the ashes: a cut on the lower part of her cheek, running thinly toward her neck.

“What is that, Cerené?” Snow White asked, taking the shovel from her. The cut looked like a torturing wound.

“Why do you always ask about what doesn’t concern you?” Cerené stiffened angrily again. It was a brief but alarming behavior, but alarming. Shew had never seen such a sudden change in someone’s mood.

“I’m sorry,” Snow White said. “Let’s forget about it. I’m glad you’re helping me.”

Cerené’s mood lightened up again. She was missing half of one of her front teeth, but Snow White wasn’t going to ask about it.

The two girls finished burying Oddly Tune in the Garden of Graves then covered the soil with flowers. Snow White brought a log and used it as a tombstone, then wrote on it:

 

Dudley Tunes

He broke his student’s fingers,

And his favorite note was an A+.

 

“Great,” Cerené clapped her hands as if they had just planted a new tree. “I have to go back to work now.”

“Wait,” Snow White said. “Don’t you want to stay with me for a while?”

“I have work to do, Joy, and then I have to go back to my step-mother’s house. If I’m late, she’ll make me sleep in that horrible room again,” she said.

“What room?”

“Never mind, I really have to go,” Cerené’s lips twitched.

“No,” Shew said. “Stay, please. If you’re worried about the Queen or Tabula asking about you, I will tell them I needed you to help with something. Don’t worry. You’re safe with me.”

“Really?” Cerené held the broom and looked downward.

“Yes. It’s no secret that I have no friends,” Shew said. “Only private teachers visit me.”

“And you end up killing them, too,” Cerené giggled.

She seemed as if she was trying her best to escape the life that got her the scars on her neck and ashes on her face.

“Isn’t that fun, killing your annoying teacher and getting away with it?” Shew played along. “I’m not allowed to go to school or meet a lot of people.”

“Especially yummy boys,” Cerené giggled.

“Yes, that,” Snow White said. “I see you like yummy boys.”

Cerené held the rim of her dress with her hands, pretending she was rubbing something on the earth with her feet.

“You can tell me,” Snow White said. “We agreed you can speak your mind when you’re with me.”

“People don’t like it when I speak mind,” she said faintly. “They usually laugh at me.”

“I won’t laugh.”

“I really like the prince,” she raised her eyes, eager to see Snow White’s reaction. “I like how he is always smiling and neatly dressed. He is such a handsome boy. I also admire that everyone bows to him and wants to please him. That’s why you bit the prince, right? You like him, too.”

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
10.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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