Author's Note: I'm not telling you guys anything. It'll seem weird at first, but give the story a chance. I hope you support me.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji.
The photographer ducked behind the curtain of his camera, and took a picture of the two teenagers awkwardly standing next to each other. The smile on the young man was nervous, and was nonexistent on the girl's face. The cameraman had given up on trying to coax the youths into smiling for the picture about fifteen minutes ago.
Two handsome gentlemen behind the camera man were grinning. The younger of the two men called out, "Aw, for bloody sake man. Hold the girl! You're going to be marrying her in a month after all!"
The red headed male looked down at his female companion and she glared up at him with barely concealed rage, clearly stating she wouldn't be responsible for her actions if he tried to embrace her. Especially in front of her father and brother, lest she give them a tiny ray of hope that this farce of an engagement would all play out well.
"Er, modest pictures are better yeah?" Henry Albert Jones replied hesitantly, not wanting to out rightly refuse his soon-to-be inlaws' request. He rubbed the back of his head, eyes flicking uncertainly between the beauty at his side and her family.
The younger of the men behind the cameraman laughed. "Don't worry mate, she won't break your arm if you just put it around her waist."
The livid girl practically growled up at her (unwanted) fiancée. "It would behoove you to not tempt me to do just that."
The older of the two men sighed and frowned at his daughter with disapproval. "Behave yourself; we need at least one picture of you two that doesn't have you standing like statues or you trying to set the camera on fire with your eyes. Now let him put an arm around you, and conduct yourself in a manor befitting a lady of the Phantomhive family."
The young woman scowled at her father, and then looked ahead at the camera, her arms still crossed. Henry tried to look at her for permission, and when she turned her face away from him he figured that was as close to a 'yes' as he was going to get. Timidly, he put his right arm behind her back and let his hand settle stiffly on the curve of her waist. She tensed under his touch, as though it revolted her. It probably did.
The father of his fiancée smiled in approval. "There we go, that looks much better."
Her brother snickered, "Except that sissy still looks like she has a icicle up her-"
"Hold your tongue, James. please take the picture before my daughter combusts from overexerting herself. This will be the last."
thanked God under his breath and once again ducked under the curtain of his camera. "Alright. One…two…three…hold that pose!" The flash of gunpowder went off, and Henry felt his eyes water from repressing the urge to blink.
Vincent Alec Phantomhive II clapped his hands together, smiling at his daughter and her intended. "Well that's a wrap. Come along you two, my mother is probably waiting for us with tea."
In a flash, she wrenched away from under Henry's arm and strode up ahead of the three men and towards the mansion. Vincent and James waited for their almost-in law, both smiling encouragingly.
"She hates me. And I don't even know why! I've been perfectly polite to her!" Henry bemoaned once his fiancée was out of ear shot. "She acts as though I murdered her family and beloved pussycat or something!"
Vincent clapped a hand on the young man's back. "She doesn't hate you. She hates the situation." He sighed, "She's been against this arranged marriage from the start, and doesn't like that I'm making her do this."
His son James grinned. "Father, really? 'Doesn't like' isn't the way to describe it. She'd probably sell her soul to Lucifer if it meant getting out of walking down the aisle in a white dress."
Vincent cleared his throat lightly. "Anyway, she's stubborn. Not one of her admirable traits, of course. She'll warm up to you though."
"After a decade or three." James offered, still madly grinning.
Henry's worried hazel eyes gazed at his future inlaws. They acted like everything was going to work out. They were completely confident about all of this, in the way only noble blooded aristocrats could be confident. "I don't think so. I'm sure she's going to run away."
Vincent laughed, a rich warm sound. "Oh, she can try. But, there are reasons why I have guards standing outside her door and around the mansion. I've taken my mother's advice, and I'm proud to say my guards and myself have foiled four of my dearest girl's escape attempts."
"Advice?" Henry perked up; maybe it would help him deal with his fractious bride-to-be.
Vincent smiled, "Oh yes. My mother said that she's just like my late father in that she's always angry, and incredibly stubborn. And thus, will do anything to get her way with or without legal means."
Henry deflated. "So she gets it from her grandfather. It's genetic, which means I'm ruined."
James snickered again, and wrapped and arm around Henry's neck. "Henny ol' boy, I hope you're healthy because marriage with my sister is not good for the faint-hearted."
The earl of Phantomhive laughed softly as he opened the door for the young men, "On the bright side, my boy, you'll never be bored with her."
Henry looked at his upcoming father in law weakly, not bothering to hide that his statement wasn't the least bit helpful.
Ciel Briar Phantomhive II threw herself on her bed and screamed into a silk pillow; releasing all the pent up fury she'd been harboring all afternoon. She didn't care that she should be in the parlor having tea with her father, brother, and…and her…her…-disgust welled in her-fiancée.
She sat up and punched the innocent object, imagining her father's face on it.
It wasn't fair. James wasn't engaged to be married and he was three years older than her! It was because she was a damn woman, and could be used as a pawn in some grand political marriage scheme. For the past three weeks she'd barely even glanced at her father, so angry with the situation was she. It made her so angry, to be used.
To be put in such a situation like this, it was beyond humiliating. It destroyed her pride, she rejected her father's plan from the moment the proposition came forth from his lips.
Two weeks ago, this stupidity had started. She hadn't expected her father to be so absolutely inane, as to suggest an arranged marriage because he hadn't done so with James, her older brother. Her father had formally asked her to have lunch with him; she adored her family purely and had been charmed at her patriarch's simple request. How quaint. How could she refuse her kind, doting father her simple company. He was so busy these days what with the Depression and all.
They'd had lunch on the veranda, the sun was shining and it was pleasantly warm. They had a lovely time, talking together about this and that…and then it happened.
"Ciel, you've grown to be quite a beautiful woman."
She blinked at her father in moderate surprise at the random statement, and laughed lightly. "I'm fifteen, which barely counts as a woman. Grandmother says I'm a 'young lady'. I'm still growing."
"No, I believe you've bloomed into a lovely flower. One that is ready to be picked." Vincent replied, smiling. There was something wrong though. Something was wrong.
She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. DANGER DANGER
"Whatever could you be going on about, dear father? I'm barely even a bud yet, never mind a full bloom." She countered gently, keeping the strange anxiety from bubbling over.
"No, you're at your peak. And I'm not the only one to have noticed, the Jones family has as well."
The Jones family. A new-money family made extremely rich from their electrical good company that had boomed even now during the Depression. The north of Britain had been hit hardest because of the lack of modernization, where as in the south families became affluent because technology rocketed off and well-to-do people could buy more as prices fell. The Jones had started off with a fairly modest electrical good company, created by Christopher Jones. The company had prospered poetically, and Christopher Jones had (somehow) become 'friends' with Ciel's father, Vincent Phantomhive II. Christopher Jones wanted to gain the aristocratic, royal blooded legacy and recognition the Phantomhive family had, and wanted to marry into the famiy to achieve his dream.
Her father was apparently only too happy to comply. The Phantomhive name was not nearly as grand (nor wealthy) as it was when Ciel's grandfather (and namesake) , Ciel Briar Phantomhive I had been the Earl of Phantomhive and head of the Funtom Company back in the eighteen hundreds. Vincent had decided linking Phantomhive and Jones together would be good for the family, and for the family vault.
Her father Vincent cared nothing for the name of Phantomhive, Ciel learned. Not a fraction as much as her grandfather supposedly had, if what grandmother Elizabeth had told her was true. No, Vincent cared about his wallet. To be willing to intermarry his child with a no-name New money family and simultaneously disgrace the noble Phantomhive name and the daughter who had once trusted in his good judgment.
"I refuse." Ciel replied flatly.
Her father blinked, surprised. "You don't even know what I'm going to say."
Any sweet daughterly charm immediately vanished when her pride was put into question and replied coldly, "Yes, I do. You want to marry me off to Christopher Jones' son, Henry Jones. And I'm telling you this: I refuse."
Vincent frowned at her. She stared back at him obstinately. And thus, the Battle of Wills began.
He leaned forward and folded his hands together, resting his chin on them while his elbows supported his weight on the table and stared unwaveringly at his only daughter. She leaned back and crossed both her arms and legs, looking down her nose at him.
"You'd forsake your family?" Her father finally asked, frostily.
"I'm not forsaking it, you are. By attempting to coerce me into a half-baked money making scheme that will mortify me and smear the Phantomhive name." Ciel replied easily.
"It's not a scheme; it's a superlative political move using matrimony as a lucrative means to make fine profit." Vincent insisted calmly.
Ciel mock laughed, "Don't candy it up father, it's a slave trade. Me for money. You'd steal away your own child's sacred freedom to choose whom to marry for some jingle in your pocket? How savage."
"You admire your grandmother Elizabeth, right? She was in an arranged engagement when she was eleven." He was grasping at straws, and they both knew it.
"Grandmother Elizabeth didn't marry Grandfather Ciel until she was seventeen. I'm fifteen, which is by the way, not the age of consent. Also, that was back in the 1890s. It's 1938, father. And furthermore, Grandmother and Grandfather were relatives and knew each other since they were toddlers, you're asking me to marry a total stranger. More specifically, a stranger who has commoner's blood." She sneered, "Their situation and mine don't even compare."
Vicent straightened from his position. "You're going to marry that boy within a month."
"No, I am not."
Having enough, her father slapped his hands down on the table. "You are marrying Henry Jones. That is my last word."
"Those are five words, dearest father." She said flippantly as she stood up. "And here are my two: I refuse." She turned away from the table, and thus turning her back on her father for his utter betrayal of her trust.
"I have no use for those pieces whom act on their own will and betray me or my trust…"
The thought came randomly, but strangely sat easily in her heart. She would not forgive her father for this. She would not forgive his attempt to humiliate her.
She now sat in her room, lightly smoothing over the silk violet pillow she'd hit, as if in apology for taking her anger out on it. Two weeks had passed and four failed escape attempts. Vincent must have known his daughter wasn't playing around, because he'd tripled the security around the mansion.
Not to keep the ghoulies out, but to keep her in.
Ciel sighed, before a determined look crossed her face. This mansion was huge. There had to be a way out that would let her leave undetected from her father's guard dogs.
She mentally smacked herself, the answer was obvious: The library.
There had to be some blue prints of the mansion stashed away somewhere. And if there were, they'd most likely be in the library. If she studied them, perhaps the prints would reveal a secret servant's entrance she could escape out of.
She shot off the bed like a rocket, a new passion burning in her soul. Escape. Escape. Escape. Ciel wrenched her door open, only to come face to face with one of the last people she wanted to see on the other side, his hand poised to knock. Henry's hazel eyes widened in surprise before he remembered himself and realizing how close they were, self consciously backed away a foot.
Ciel sighed, irritated by the interruption of her new plan. "Hello, Mr. Jones. To what do I owe the honor of your presence?" What she said sounded polite enough, but the tone she used was sarcastic and anything but gracious.
Henry ran a hand through his orange brown hair, nervously. "Uhm, your father said that there was a masquerade dance at the Beaufort's mansion tomorrow evening at seven."
She raised a dark eyebrow. "I didn't receive an invite, nor did I RSVP one."
Henry cleared his throat, squirming under his beautiful but cold fiancée's gaze. "The Earl said he received and RSVP'd for you."
"I suppose he's going to make me go there, come Hell or highwater himself?"
"Yes, I suppose he is." Henry replied, wilted.
She flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Very well. I'll have my driver take me, and arrive at seven sharp."
Lady in question frowned. "What, ?"
"I think your father wanted us to arrive together, to get people used to seeing us together, what with us being married soon and all."
It was light, but she detected a cockney accent now that she was actually paying attention to what he was saying. Ugh. "It won't be necessary for us to arrive together so people 'get used to seeing us', because there isn't going to be a wedding ." Ciel replied callously.
Henry sighed. "Would you please give it up? It's exhausting. We're going to be married. I'm not thrilled about it either, but can't you stop with this…this…attitude?"
Previously, she'd never personally held any grudge against Henry. She was just unkind to him because he was the thorn in her side along with her father, but a ray of hope glimmered. Henry really didn't want to marry her.
"If you don't want to marry me, then do something about it!" She encouraged, " Maybe if we joined voices together in rejection against this arrangement our fathers would back down and leave us alone! Then you wouldn't have to marry me! Father won't listen to me because I'm a girl and he thinks I don't know what's best. If you helped me, we could get out of this archaic farce."
"That's not going to happen." Henry replied, dully. "My father would sell his soul to get linked with your family. He'd murder me if I broke it off."
She felt immediate disgust flood her at his submissiveness, "Looks like I'd win either way."
His eyes widened in shock at her words, and didn't get much better as she continued.
"I don't plan on marrying you. I'm going to do everything in my power to not marry you." Ciel went on to say venomously, "If miraculously, I somehow do get married to you -which is highly unlikely- know that I will still escape as soon as I am able."
Henry sighed, "Your father would never let you divorce me, Miss Ciel."
She glared. "If I were to marry you and was not able to make and escape or divorce you, know this: I would make your life a living hell, for as long as I live." Ciel vowed. "I will not lie in the marital bed with you, I will not give you children, and every day you will wish you'd never even heard the name 'Phantomhive'. Are you prepared to reap the consequences of your actions? Or lack there of?"
Henry backed away from her, looking at her as though the Devil had sprung out of her head. "Are…are you mad?"
Ciel suddenly softened and smiled at Henry serenely, a look he'd never seen on her before.
She purred sweetly, "Mad? I'm not mad, I'm furious."
Vincent had severely underestimated that girl's pride.
His mother was watching him wearily, sitting comfortably across from him on the couch in one of the parlors.
"I know what you're doing, my son. And it's a mistake." Elizabeth Phantomhive looked at her grown up child, frowning. She lightly stirred the tea in her delicate teacup.
Vincent looked at her tiredly. Was every woman in this mansion conspiring against him? "It's not a mistake. It's good for the family."
She shook her head, the light creases in her face deepening from the expression. "That girl, is far too much like my late husband; your father. He didn't like our arranged marriage, but he was fond of me and indulged my girlish whims and married me because of it. I know, that had he not cared for me so, Ciel would have had nothing to do with me. He'd never been interested in marriage. Even when he got older. He was the only one I wanted, and he knew this."
Vincent leaned back in his chair. "Mother, arranged marriages are common practices. They have been for centuries now. I don't understand why she's so vehement about abolishing the engagement."
Lady Elizabeth ran a finger through one slightly silver and gold curl. She smiled, her granddaughter had asked her to wear her hair down, despite that she was in her fifties and most women had theirs cut or tucked in a bun.
Her heart warmed in remembrance of her late husband's soft words. Years and years ago, she had been sitting next to him, doing needlepoint when she felt a gentle touch and noticed he was lightly fingering a silky blond curl. He had been actually smiling then, an expression so sweet and rare she felt the breath leave her.
"You have lovely gold hair, Lizzy. Promise me you'll wear it down."
Elizabeth brought herself back to reality, and stared at her son. "Don't do this to her, Vincent. Don't do this to Ciel. She's been a good girl, I can't remember her ever back sassing you up until now. If you go through with the arranged marriage, she'll never forgive you. She'll always hold a grudge, it'll destroy her."
Vincent gazed at his mother, identical pairs of green eyes meeting. "Because she's like father?"
Elizabeth closed her eyes. She remembered her beloved Ciel's bitterness, his anger, his hatred, his hurt, his sorrow. All those negative emotions festered inside of him, and those accompanied by deadly illness had destroyed him. "She's passionate, like him. I remember when he was younger, how happy he was. Joyful, blissfully happy. But after what happened to his parents, it was like someone had flipped a coin. He changed forever. I tried to make him feel better, and he tried to be patient with me." Elizabeth laughed lightly, "We met each other half way, most of the time."
"I remember…that wedding photo." Vincent mentioned, taking a sip of tea. "Of you and father."
She nodded, signaling him to go on. "It's eerie how much father and my daughter look alike. The photograph is in black and white, but were his eyes really that incredible royal blue like hers?"
His mother nodded. "Even their hair is the same exact shade. She looks just like he did when he was younger. Those thick black lashes, a slim body –though hers has a feminine curve of course-, the pale skin, the childlike face. And those eyes. Ciel had an eyepatch, but the remaining eye was beautiful. Our Ciel has his exact eyes."
"I was surprised…when Alissa said out of the blue she wanted to name our daughter after father."
There was a drawn out silence at the mention of Vincent's late wife.
"Such a gentle soul." Elizabeth sighed. "She saw that wedding photograph of me and Ciel. When she gave birth to your daughter, she exclaimed suddenly she wanted her to be named after him."Elizabeth smiled, "Sometimes when I look into my grandaughter's eyes, I feel like I'm seventeen again. Just because of how identical they are."
A new voice suddenly joined them, "Father, I do not appreciate you shoving me in public with that commoner. How far will you go to humiliate me?"
The young lady they'd just been talking about was in the room, her delicate hands on her lightly curved hips as she glared lividly at Vincent.
Her father rolled his eyes. "This is the first time you've talked to me in days, and that's how you decide to address me?"
"The masquerade? At the Beaufort's?" Ciel went on, impatient.
Elizabeth smiled. "A masquerade dear? That sounds romantic."
Ciel's expression suddenly shifted from one of irritation to affection once she noticed her grandmother was in the room. She sat down and smiled warmly at Elizabeth "Grandmother, how are you this afternoon? Did you have a good book club with your lady friends?"
"I did, thank you dear. What's this all about a masquerade?"
The young lady struggled to keep her expression from souring in front of Elizabeth. "Father's making me go. It's at the Beufort's mansion."
"Yes, with Henry." Vincent added.
Ciel frowned at her father. "I'm not going with him. I'm meeting him there."
Vincent's brow creased. "I told him to tell you that I wanted him to escort you."
She smiled icily. "Henry's such a gentleman. When I humbly declined his invitation to escort me, he graciously understood."
Vincent sighed, exasperated "Lord, you threatened the poor boy, didn't you?" He stared at her. "You can't just go to a dance unaccompanied, it's beyond improper."
"We wouldn't have that problem if you weren't forcing me to attend."
"Can I come, dear?"
Vincent and Ciel both looked at Elizabeth, surprised at the request. Half a heartbeat later, her granddaughter beamed, "Why of course grandmother! That's a wonderful idea! We don't go places together enough, you know. It'll be very fun!"
Vincent sighed. "Mother, the whole point of this is for Henry and Ciel to be seen together. As a couple. An engaged couple."
Elizabeth look sheepish, but Ciel glared at him "Father! How can you say such a thing?! Grandmother wants to go, and I want her to come with me! You would deny your sweet mother such a simple request?"
Her father cleared his throat, looking properly chastised and exhaled in defeat. "Fine. Fine. Why don't you two buy a new dress for the occasion tomorrow?"
Elizabeth grinned. "That would be lovely, I've been meaning to get a new one myself. Ciel, I'm sure we could find you a gorgeous gown, that one store down town has some very in vogue fashions."
Her granddaughter laughed indulgently, "You'll really help me find a pretty gown?"
Elizabeth smiled, a young look in her eyes. "Definitely. I want to make you look cute."
"Who's the idiot?" I hear Sebastian's voice say coldly. I look up as he crouches down in front of me. "It was something important to you, wasn't it? You put quite a show on in front of lady Elizabeth."
I look away, embarrassed he'd understood my true feelings. He seems to be good at that though. He takes my hand in his, an oddly affectionate gesture and I feel something heavy settle onto my thumb. I look down and see the ring Lizzy broke only a few hours ago, on my finger. In perfect condition. "This…this is…"
Sebastian keeps smiling at me as he says, "I am Phantomhive's butler. What would I do if I couldn't accomplish something like this?"
He keeps holding my hand, and I can't bring myself to make him let go. A strange feeling inside me. "This ring is meant to exist on your finger." Sebastian said gently as he looked up at me "Please take good care of it."
Ciel gasped, awakened from the dream by a horrible pain. She cried out and put her hand over her right eye that was burning incessantly. She was about to call a maid when all at once the burning stopped. Her eye still tingled, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the horrible sensation it was a few seconds ago. She gingerly touched under her right eye, wondering where the horrendous and random pain had come from.
A dark figure walked the streets of London alone, a smile on his pale handsome face as his eyes gleamed strangely from the lamp lights. In a rich voice, he sang a short song;
"London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my dear darling."