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Gold Dust by littlealice
Chapter 5 : The Passion of Ava
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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I deleted the last chapter I posted and it’s being replaced by this one.
Hope everyone likes; I lost like twelve reviews so comments are mucho appreciated!










GOLD DUST
Chapter Five
THE PASSION OF AVA


 




Darla Baker as Ava Falcroft









The Grimm Gardens.


Ava hated them. She hated them with all the passion of hell, which was exactly where she would send them if she had the choice.


Miles and miles of untouched, overgrown, unruly wildlife creeping its way over every last standing remnant of the once-magnificent manor. It was now ruins. Golden stones chipped and faded and green with flourishing moss, weather-beaten statues broken or fallen, thick tree roots twisting like vines to strangle the stone residue.


She winced away from the scene. The afternoon sunshine penetrated the leafy canopy in speckled areas, illuminating barely-trodden paths amongst the undergrowth and catching the wings of the ever-prolific cabbage white butterflies.


The wind carried the scent of a fox den in the base of an elm tree. Squirrels, badgers, does; all besmirching the grounds of the manor with their innocent presence and making Ava want to take out her wand and level the entire area. Tragically, she couldn’t.


“You’re right, it is beautiful here.”


Ah yes, the wizard. What was his name again? Evan? Eric? Andrew? It was irrelevant anyway, he wasn’t going to live long enough to notice her slip-up and as there were only the two of them she didn’t need to hail him at all.


“The Grimm Gardens.” she said out loud, eyes roving the greenery. “The ruins were once a great Manor; the home of the legendary Grimm Malfoy. Rumour has it he’s buried here somewhere, in an unmarked grave.”


“Why an unmarked grave?” her companion asked curiously. Ava heard his arm stretch out to touch the branch of a nearby tree and a smile found it’s way onto her lips. The Grimm Gardens were much like the garden of Eden. But whereas in Eden you must not touch the forbidden fruit… in Grimm you must not touch anything.


A thin vine shot across the branch the man had touched and wound around his wrist. He cried out and tried to pull his arm back; a second vine broke free of a rose bush behind him to enclose around his knees and force him to the ground. Ava continued to smile serenely at a nearby statue. 


“When you bury someone in an unmarked grave,” she explained as a thick, white-flowered bindweed began to wrap itself around her companion’s face. “Their soul doesn’t pass on. It remains trapped in the earth, waiting to be woken up.”


As the poor wizard sank into the undergrowth, a carpet of tiny, blood-red flowers blossomed in his place. Ava smirked. The reason the Grimm Gardens flourished so liberally was buried seven feet below her toes, rotten and crumbling but very much alive and greedy for flesh and blood.


She looked up at the statue. The leaf canopy was heavier here; no rays of sunlight managed to get through, leaving the stone sculpture cast in a dark circle of shadow. The likeness of Grimm Malfoy stood tall and proud amidst the ruins of his home, worn by weather but untouched by the roving wilderness that surrounded it. The stone base on which he stood vanished into the earth and twisted into thick and gnarled roots. They grew further down than any of the trees, and at their very tips were the broken remnants of the thick stone crypt in which Grimm had been buried.


Ava smiled as the mud at the base of the statue bubbled, and small rivulets of dark red liquid rolled around the stone to sink back into the ground moments later. Evan’s bones would be somewhere far beneath the garden, in a minefield teeming with the remains of hundreds of others like him, left to decay into the soil while his flesh nourished the overgrown wilderness.


“Soon, Grimm.” she spoke into the wind, reaching out to place a hand on the nearest branch. It was something she did every time she entered the garden; making sure that he knew that she would offer her own life whenever necessary. Ava knew he would never take it. “Soon.”



--



Once he had made sure that the Stone brothers had no immediate plans to directly attack Hermione’s Uncle’s home, Draco was close-enough to content to let it go. He watched her into the townhouse, checked the area one last time and then headed back to the manor to call it a night.


Pansy was waiting in the entrance hall when he strolled in out of the darkness, arms folded over her chest and mutiny in her eyes. Draco braced himself. “What’s rattled your cage?”


“You’ve rattled my cage!” she snarled, looking very much like a wild animal as she followed him into the library. Several sets of eyes followed them, some shooting Draco sympathetic glances, others looking like they thought Pansy’s fury was entirely justified. “What the hell were you thinking just bringing her here?!”


“Give it a rest, Pansy. We all promised Jacob that we’d watch out for her if anything happened to him.” Draco sighed, brushing his hair off his face and sitting down on the window-seat he had shared only an hour ago with Hermione. Pansy remained standing. He knew that he had cornered himself, but he also knew that her anger was justified and that by unfurling his wings and flying to the top of the highest bookshelf to avoid her he’d just make her angrier, so he resisted the urge and sat back. “Even you.”


“Yeah,” she snapped. “We agreed to keep an eye on her. Not invite her to the bloody manor and tell her everything! She’s not one of us, what’s to stop her telling everyone she knows where we are and what we have?!”


“Pans-”


“I can’t believe you’d bring her here! This is you thinking you’re in bloody charge again! You had no right to expose us all to her!”


“Pansy-”


“None of this is any of her goddamn business anyway! The last thing we need is her poking her nose around like it’s anything to do with her, when it’s not!”


“PANSY!” Draco finally yelled. “You’re steaming.”


She blinked and looked down at her arm. A thin layer of mist was curling away from her skin and into the musty library air; barely noticeable but enough to put Draco on edge. “Oh.” she said after a moment, flexing her fingers and shaking her arm. “Sorry. I didn’t notice…”


“Just keep calm.” Draco said, immediately feeling bad. He reached forward and pulled her onto the cushion beside him, one arm around her shoulders even though the heat made his skin tingle uncomfortably. “Look, I don’t want a nosy muggleborn thinking she’s one of us either. But as much as we hate her, she’s pretty smart - at least smart enough to not go broadcasting what I told her to every Tom, Dick and Potter.


But she’s nosy, like you said. And I’d rather have her getting in Zoey’s way in the manor than out in London where I’d have to have someone watch her twenty four seven. Yeah?”


Pansy’s shoulders slumped in defeat and she nodded glumly. “Yeah. But I’m not being nice to her, so you can shove that up your feathered ass.”


“All I’m asking is that you don’t cook her.” Draco grinned. “And stop letting her get you so aggravated. Don’t let her think she can make you lose your cool.”


Pansy laughed appreciatively. “Funny. Alright fine.” she sighed melodramatically and raised a hand. “I solemnly swear that I will not toast Hermione Granger.”


“That includes third-degree burns and setting her hair on fire.”


“You take all the fun out of life.” she scowled. “Okay deal. If you manage to put a book on a fishing line and somehow lure the mudblood into spending most of her time in the manor, I promise not to cook her unless she annoys me.”


“Good girl.” Draco kissed her head. “Now what did you do with Blaise?”


Pansy pulled a face. “He’s in the piano room with mini-Becker and Zoey.” she said, shrugging one shoulder. “Zoey kicked me out because apparently my thoughts were bothering Max.”


“Were you mentally screaming about tearing out Granger’s hair again?” Draco asked sympathetically. Max Becker was their resident psychic and one of the youngest people living in the manor. His abilities were unpredictable, although he often said that some people’s minds just shouted things at him - usually when he was in close proximity and the said someone was feeling strong emotions about something.


“… Maybe.” Pansy cringed, brushing a dark strand of hair out of her eyes. “I was probably overreacting. The little creep should stay out of my head.”


“I can’t help it.” a third voice joined their conversation as Max Becker appeared at the end of the row and smiled at them. “You seem to have calmed down now.”


Max was Becker’s thirteen year old brother; a scrawny, brown-haired kid with dimples and the kind of eager attitude that made Draco cringe. It was the subject of nightmares to many of the manor’s residents that Max would one day decide to charge headfirst into danger in a doomed attempt to help and end up injured or dead.


Pretty much everyone was fond of him. Even, though begrudgingly, Draco.


“Cassiopeia wants to talk to you, Draco.” he said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Her mind’s one big mess but it sounds like something to do with the Stone brothers.”


Draco grimaced. Cassiopeia hearing anything to do with the Stone brothers was rarely a good thing. “Alright, let’s go. Yes Max, you can come with. Pans are you coming?” he glanced back down at Pansy, who was chewing on a hangnail and gazing out of the dark window. “Earth beckoning Pansy.”


“Huh? Oh, yeah okay. Max where’s Blaise?” she added, looking down at the smaller boy.


Max shrugged. “Still in the piano room I think. He was playing Beethoven for Zoey when I left; she’s got a headache.”


Pretending he wasn’t jealous of his second-cousin’s long list of reputable talents, Draco led the way back out of the library and into the entrance hall, intending to make his visit to Cassiopeia as quick as possible before getting to bed. It had been a long day and Blaise’s best guest room, which Draco had claimed as soon as he moved in, was calling to him. 


He picked up his pace and headed down the long flight of hidden stairs that would take them into the basement.


Cassiopeia.


Cassiopeia, like many of the witches and wizards living in the manor, had a gift. But being genetically infected with gold dust was only a small part of the psychotic bag of crazy that she was; so small, in fact, that people barely remembered it about her.


For one thing, Cassiopeia was over fifty years old, and yet took the appearance of a twenty-ish year old woman. For another, her father had been a water nymph and her mother a Seer. Which made Cass a water-dwelling psychic and the last creature to directly use the gold dust before the four remaining vials vanished.


Fortunately for everyone she had spent most of her life living in the secluded lake on the manor grounds, feeding on fish and the occasional deer that strayed too close to the water. When she discovered what Blaise and Draco were doing now that they had inherited the manor, she made herself known to them by almost drowning the latter, and had lived in the basement ever since.


Also fortunate was the intense state of paranoia in which Blaise’s Aunt had lived. Constantly fearing for her life, she squandered a great deal of her fortune building another level beneath her manor, containing bedrooms, kitchens, libraries and, lucky for Cassiopeia, a vast underground swimming pool.


“Cass?” Draco called, knocking twice on the thick wooden door to the pool room. “It’s Draco, Pansy and Max.”


He pushed the door open and stepped in, almost slipping on the damn tiles. Cassiopeia’s pool took up most of the room, surrounded by a two metre border of tiled floor and the thick Grecian pillars that supported the roof. Light danced off the water’s surface and reflected across the three figures as they carefully approached the edge.


“Cassie?” Pansy said, sitting on the floor at the pool edge. Draco and Max hung back - Pansy was one of very few people that Cassiopeia would tolerate being close to without trying to drown them.


Finally she appeared, silently breaking the surface and looking up at them all through dead white eyes. “I saw something.” she said, her quiet voice echoing vaguely around the room. “The Stone brothers are following a new leader, not one of their own. A newcomer. A woman. The way they search for the vials is becoming more and more methodical. She knows what she’s doing.”


“Do you know who she is?” Draco asked, crouching down. “A name?”


Cassiopeia shook her head slowly. “She spends a lot of time in a wilderness… I can see stone, perhaps the ruins of a castle. There’s something wrong with the landscape… some… evil…”


Max let out a small noise of discontent and Draco turned to glance at him. The kid’s eyes were regaining their color again; apparently he had been trying to read Cass’s mind and follow her thoughts. “It’s like the Matrix in there.” he whispered, grimacing. “Impossible to follow.”


“Warning.” Cassiopeia said, gazing directly at Draco. “It’s a warning. Things are about to intensify. She’s going to make sure of it.”


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