Warning: I've only read up to chapter 13 of the manga and seen up to the 3rd episode of the series, so my knowledge of Grell and all other characters after those events is quite limited. Also, I took some liberties with canon and the back story.

A Maiden Blush

At first it is an amusing game, and he enjoys trying out the different hairstyles, wondering if any of them can effectively mask his beauty. Madame Red pretends that the toilet is leaking so that they don't enter her bathroom, and the whole time he is testing out different shades of black and brown hair dye, switching his bangs around with a fine-toothed comb. In the end he decides that swept-backwards and secured with a ribbon is the most homely (and therefore most convincing) fashion, and he suppresses a laugh while marvelling at how wide his forehead looks this way – how hideously unflattering.

He is a little more impatient with the wardrobe; there are very few tasteful options available to butlers, and even if the catalogues contain a certain amount of varied vests and shirtsleeves, the Barnett family already has a dress code for their servants.

"But Madame," he begins, hesitatingly, one day. Lady Ann looks at him warily, more aware about the irony of his words than she cares to admit; she is a very clever woman, and she knows that the title should actually be reversed, in every sense of the word. But he likes this game, and it's definitely a fine way to polish his acting skills – isn't starring in a great drama one of his dreams, anyway? – so he lets the address fall from his lips like sugar, taking care not to lift his head, so that she doesn't see his wide, leering grin. "It's just – I haven't found any attire that I think is fitting enough, and..."

She waves away his claims, returning her attention to her patients' records. "I understand, Grell. Just do as you please."

"Thank you, Madame." He orders himself the finest custom-made velvet suit, soothing himself with the idea that since it can't looknice, it can at least feel attractive. He also orders at least five different satin bows, and ignores the sounds of his dear mistress dissuading the plumber from entering the bathroom, as he tries on different tailcoats and slacks. In the end he decides that a simple striped pattern will do for the ribbon, and after slipping on the attire completely, he sets to work on the most difficult part of the costume: his face.

He contorts it over and over again, giggling at himself and the way he looks so plain, with those atrocious rounded glasses. He pulls his eyebrows down and wears a nervous frown and tries his best to look unintelligent. It only works to a certain extent, because such brilliance is difficult to disguise, and it really doesn't suit him to wear such a grovelling, simple-minded expression – but Grell is a great actress, and every great actress knows how important facial expressions are. He fashions his mask very carefully, and when he is satisfied he tries out a few lines in an aptly stuttering voice: "H-h-how do you d-do?" Then he has to clamp his fingers over his mouth to keep from laughing.

Madame Red says nothing when he finally steps out from the bathroom, hands shaking, betraying his excitement at starting this new charade. She even looks fairly impressed, although she jolts a bit when he uses his most subservient voice and says, "Then, Madame, shall I make you tea?"

She is well-suited to being a doctor; she accepts his extravagant change in appearance with grace, and reacts perfectly, playing the part of his mistress, the baron's widow. Her tone is certainly convincing as she starts to fill out more records. "Do."

It takes him several tries to prepare tea that does not make her run to the sink, but there is enough time to master the art, so he doesn't let it bother him. In fact, he settles into the role quite merrily, and learns with appropriate enthusiasm how to drive coaches and answer the doorbell; how to file papers, and to tell the difference between herbal and mint tea. He still makes kissy-faces at handsome visitors behind their backs, from time to time, but there is never anyone that particularly catches his eye, so it doesn't matter that they only see him as the good baroness's bumbling butler. Sometimes he feels the teeniest bit of resentment at the way Lady Anne always steals the show; but it's unbecoming for one such as him to be envious of a mortal, and anyway, when the night falls and his real duty needs to be fulfilled, she never fails to acknowledge his power, and to let him do the most enjoyable parts.

"I make cleaner work of it, after all," he giggles into his collar, batting his lengthened eyelashes at the mirror with glee.

"Yes," she answers, washing her stained hands under the sink, dousing them with more disinfectant than they both know is necessary. She has become distracted, recently, and it doesn't take long for Grell to find out the reason why.

The human child is a little too young to be attractive, but he knows that given a few more years, he will certainly become stunning. But Ciel isn't what sparks his interest - Grell is really more enraptured by the man standing behind the young boy's chair, with his dark eyes and dark hair, and a smile stretched over his perfect face, so sinfully handsome that it's all the death god can do not to tear his mask off and demand that they marry, right then and there. Even his voice is drop-dead gorgeous, deep and hollow and oh-so gentle as he brings his lips close to his master's ear and tells him that tea will be ready soon. Grell has to avert his eyes and shuffle away when the man walks past, afraid that his burning desire might make itself too apparent. He contains a blush when the man pauses a few feet away from him, trying to catch a glimpse of his face, not exactly suspicious but wondering, just the same.

"Hello there. You must be the Barnett's butler. I am Sebastian, the butler of my lord Phantomhive." He inclines his head elegantly, and reaches out one beautiful hand. Grell takes it, trying not to titter, afraid that his glove might be soaked through with sweat.

"P-p-pleased to make your acquaintance, s-sir."

It takes a great deal of effort not to kiss his own hand afterwards; he satisfies himself by huddling in the corner and sniffing it when no one's looking. For the first time in a long time he flinches at the sight of his pasty face in the mirror, and thinks that maybe not even all this killing can compensate for having to appear in such an ugly form in front of someone so...dreamy.

The fact that that someone isn't entirely human, either, is just a bonus. Grell keeps this knowledge to himself; whether or not the faithful Phantomhive butler has found out his own secret remains a mystery. The thought makes him shiver in delight. It really is a sort of forbidden love. It becomes increasingly difficult to bear the suspense because the Lady Barnett visits her nephew so often, doting on him and embracing him while Sebastian looks smilingly on. Grell excuses himself to make tea as frequently as he can, and in the shadows of the kitchen he sighs amorously and embraces himself, wondering what sweet words can be used to sway that beautiful man's heart (supposing man is the right word, of course. He doesn't know if it insults them the way it does his own kind), asking no one in particular, whenwhenwhen can I take off this mask, because, surely, he had to reveal his true self one of these days.

"He's looking for Jack the Ripper." There's a deep sorrow beneath Madame Red's voice as she mutters this, only half to her butler; it's still daytime, so he says nothing in reply, respectful as any other servant. "I never thought that – god, he's just a boy. Why is he doing such things?" She buries her head in her hands, sighing deeply. He looks up at the ceiling, a touch too detached to simply be impassive; but this woman's theatrics stopped amusing him some time ago, when that black butler had appeared and stolen his heart away. Their joint identity as London's serial killer does not seem to be of such great concern anymore, but he does his best to feign interest as she clutches a fist and says, "We must not be found out. Not under any circumstances."

"Certainly." As long as she's careful. Mistake is not a part of a god's vocabulary, after all.

He loves the sight of Sebastian wearing glasses, and is only slightly put off that nobody asks him to dress up the way Ciel does. He is certain he would have looked twice as ravishing in that gown. "And if it were me," he whispers, leaning against a pillar in the beautifully-decorated ballroom, ignoring the urge to dance provocatively in front of everyone, "I could waltz with that man all night long. He wouldn't even have to ask, my sweet, sweet Romeo -"

He shivers despite himself, then jolts when he realizes that Sebastian is staring at him with a funny expression. He avoids the gaze – but how difficult it is, when he wants to return it with twice the passion! – and scurries away, bumping into several lords and ladies as he goes. "Don't worry," he hisses madly, ducking behind a table piled high with confectionaries. "Don't worry, you won't have to suspend your suspicions for long, my darling little butler boy." He licks his lips. "The charades will be over soon."

Grell knows. He can taste it: the dramatic curtain just begging to fall, the applause when the lead actress - namely himself – takes center stage.

Their next victim is named Mary Kelly. Grell steams the herbal rose tea in the kitchen with a delicate air, marvelling at the strange way the lady and her nephew seem bent on playing a game of happy families. He wonders what lines he might use to destroy this facade; if all goes according to plan, after all, this will be the last time he has to make tea for anyone. "Thou know'st the mask of night is on my face, else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek, for that which thou hast heard me speak tonight." He pours himself half a cup from the teapot, and brings it to his nose, sniffing carefully. Well, it smells all right. That'll have to do. He settles the cup onto the tray and carries it to the study, reciting as he goes: "Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say Ay, and I will take thy word." The romance of those lines makes him heady, and he wonders, briefly, if Sebastian is equally well-versed in Shakespeare.

"My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite." If bounty refers to deaths and corpses, anyway. He halts his monologue, wipes off his too-gleeful expression, and enters the study. He is only half-surprised when they all reject his tea, and uses this opportunity to throw a self-conscious smile in Sebastian's direction, who shoots him a puzzled gaze in turn. He practically has to leap out of the room to contain himself; every inch of him is wriggling with unbridled delight.

He can't wait to see that man's expression when he finally reveals the beauty that he has kept hidden for so long. He can't wait to see how his body will arch when his scythe tears through him; how wide will his pupils dilate? How far will his mouth stretch – what sort of horrified sounds will he utter? How will he look drenched from head to toe in crimson, the beautiful shade contrasting with his pale, pearly skin?

Grell dances away to the kitchen to fix tea, laughing to himself as he gazes up at the scarlet moon in the sky, as pink and deadly as the blush staining his own lovely cheeks.


A/N: Shakespearean quotes were lifted directly from the text of Romeo and Juliet. Thanks for reading. Comments would be greatly appreciated. :D Special thanks to A for giving it a read-through before I posted.