Here's the prologue of my first story. I hope you like it!
Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler © Yana Toboso, Square Enix, A-1 Pictures, Yen Press, and FUNimation Entertainment. The following is a fan-made story written for entertainment purposes only. No profits are being made. Please support the official release.
That's all this world is – the coldness, the emptiness…the nothingness.
The darkness is nothingness.
I see nothing.
I feel nothing.
I am nothing.
The darkness coils around me, destroying all that I am, all that I was, all that I will be…
"I"…do I even exist?
Does anything exist?
Is there a world beyond darkness?
What is that up ahead?
Another long, busy, exhausting day.
Twenty-one-year-old Angelina Durless sighed deeply, flopping ungracefully down into her chair and pushing her crimson-red hair out of her face; she could forgive herself this lack of elegance this one time, for her day had been exceptionally tiring. A long day of work at the Royal London Hospital, followed by an extravagant ball held by the Duke of Albany, and ending with a romantic stroll in the gardens with the Baron Barnett. On her feet from sunrise to midnight…such busy lives the beautiful lead, she thought wryly, chuckling a little to herself.
Still, she didn't mind all that much – it had been a very nice day, even if it had been ridiculously packed. There'd been not one, but three births that day, and Angelina had made it a point to midwife all three, staying each time for as much of the labor process as possible. She loved it when babies were born. In fact, it was only after watching a live birth that Angelina felt inspired and confident enough to defy her family's wishes and get her medical license. The first gulp of air, the shrieks of a new life, the wonder in the new mother's eyes when her baby was presented to her…every moment was so magical and precious. She hoped with all her heart, as she did every time she assisted in a birth, that one day she'd feel that magic as well.
And the ball had been fun, too. She'd worn her favorite red silk dress and danced with scores of rich and handsome men. She'd flirted and gossiped and swooned in all the right places; she'd become something of an expert on all things social, and all the younger girlies had flocked to her for advice. The ones at tonight's gathering had some real potential…but of course, they'd never be as glamorous as she was.
And then there was Baron Barnett. Average wealth, average looks, average personality. Nothing particularly special about him. Still, Angelina supposed that he was rather sweet. He'd sought her out at the last three soirées, and he always gave out such flattering compliments. He wasn't a bad dancer, either, and he had consistently saved her the last dance at every ball they'd attended. It couldn't be more obvious that he was head-over-heels in love with her. It seemed like he'd been trying to confess his feelings in the garden, but the poor man was too tongue-tied to say more than, "Ann…I…uh…" It had been admittedly very cute, and Angelina had saved him the trouble of continuing and rewarded his good taste by kissing him playfully.
"I suppose he's going to ask for my hand next," she mused aloud, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. In a practical sense, it didn't seem too terrible an idea. Barnett may have been bland, but he was honest and pure, and he seemed like he'd take good care of her. And anyways, she was twenty-one now – dangerously close to old-maid territory. Her beautiful face certainly wouldn't last forever, so she had to take full advantage of this opportunity.
And yet…there was that man…that wonderful, unattainable man she couldn't forget even if her life depended on it. Ann sighed deeply, cupping her cheek in her hand and staring off wistfully into space. "Oh, Vincent…if only I'd been as wonderful as my sister…maybe then…"
Knock, knock, knock.
Angelina jumped in surprise, glancing over suspiciously at the front door. Who on earth could that be? It was well past midnight…who had such urgent business at this time of night that they had to physically come to her house? Grabbing a knife from the table just in case, she stood up, crossed the room, and tentatively opened the door. "Hello…?"
What she saw nearly made her jump out of her skin. Standing in the doorway was a tall, dark figure dressed in a black coat and top hat. The coat's collars were turned up, and the hat had been pulled down over the figure's eyes, so its face was indistinguishable. There was an undeniable aura of darkness about him (if indeed it was a "him"), and even the air around him seemed ten degrees colder. Ann wouldn't be surprised if at any second he leapt at her with a butcher's knife like in one of those horror novels Rachel was always reading. In short, the figure was absolutely terrifying.
But wasn't the figure itself that had given Angelina such a fright – it was what he was carrying. Held protectively in the dark creature's arms was a young girl, perhaps ten or eleven years old, most likely unconscious, and frightfully small and skinny, with matted black hair and a torn once-white dress. Her skin was raw and red from burns, and every inch of her was covered in blood. Most horrifying were her eyes – wide open despite her comatose state, staring blankly off into space. Even though she was breathing steadily, she had the eyes of the dead.
Angelina let out a gasp of horror at the poor girl's condition. "Oh, my goodness! What's happened to her?"
"You are Angelina Durless, correct?" the figure asked softly. It was definitely a masculine voice, very deep, with an almost musical quality to it. There was something about his dark tone and timbre that sent shivers down Angelina's spine.
"I-I am. But this girl, what –?"
"A great tragedy has struck this night," the man went on before Angelina could finish. "This girl's village has been utterly destroyed by a tremendous fire. She is the only one who survived."
"Oh, how dreadful," Angelina whispered weakly. "The poor thing…" She reached out her arms, silently asking to take a look. The man hesitated, but gingerly handed off his burden. The girl, despite her scrawny stature, was a little too heavy for Angelina, so the young doctor had to kneel down on the doorstep and sit her up on the carpet. "Oh, dear, how simply awful…"
"I'm told you are quite the skilled doctor," the man continued, placing his arms awkwardly at his sides (it seemed as though he didn't know what to do with them now that they were empty). "Perhaps there is something that can be done for her?"
"Yes, I think I'll be able to help," Angelina muttered absentmindedly, absorbed in the task at hand. "Hmm, second-degree burns…those should heal on their own in a few weeks…quite a bit of blood, but she doesn't look cut anywhere…I should look for broken bones, sprains, torn ligaments…"
"She has been complaining of excruciating pain in her chest," the man broke in.
"Her chest, eh?" Personally, Angelina didn't think this doll of a child had enough awareness to speak, let alone complain. Still, she was required to look. "Excuse me, dear," she said gently, tugging down the neckline of her ruined dress. The girl made no response; it was like talking to a mannequin. Angelina leaned in for a closer look, but…there didn't seem to be any problem. Smooth, unbroken, snow-white skin everywhere she looked – there weren't even any burns. What was there to complain about? Perplexed, she pressed her finger against the girl's skin…
…and like pressing a switch on a toy, the girl suddenly came to life, her dull eyes becoming wide and panicked. She let out a high-pitched scream of pain and terror and began thrashing about wildly, her body shaking like a leaf. It was all Ann could do to hold on to her. "Hush, child, hush," she soothed gently, pulling her hand back from her chest and stroking her jet-black hair. The girl eventually calmed down, her body going limp and the dead look returning to her eyes.
Angelina let out the breath she'd been holding and turned back to the dark figure, who had strangely not moved once during the girl's entire outburst. "Phew…! Well, it certainly doesn't look like there's anything wrong with her chest, but she's obviously distressed in some way…well, the hospital's closed to new patients at this time of night, but I can run her over there first thing in the morning and take a better look. Besides that, all she needs is a bath, some ice, and my special aloe extract and she'll be right as rain in two or three –"
"Her suffering is not only physical, Angelina Durless," the man interrupted, startling Ann into silence. "For whatever reason, this young lady has lost each and every one of her memories."
Angelina felt her eyes widen. The poor child was already hurting so much, and now this? "L-Lost her memories? You mean amnesia?"
The figure nodded once in affirmation. "Yes. She can no longer recall her time spent in her village, the faces of her family and friends, or even her own name."
Ann's heart sank in pity. "How dreadful," she whispered again, taking ahold of the child's hand. She made no response – and how could she? She was no more than an infant, a living doll. "Was it from a bump on the head? Shock? Psychological trauma?"
"I cannot say."
"I see…well, I'm afraid I've never had an amnesia patient before. I'm not quite sure what sort of treatment I could give without at least knowing the cause…but when I take her in tomorrow, I'll have a specialist look at her, Dr. Phelps or someone…"
"No," the man said sharply, his air of menace tangibly increasing. "It must be you who cares for her, Angelina Durless."
Angelina physically shrank from the man's hostility, but she kept her psyche strong. "Wh-Why me?"
"It was the dying wish of this girl's mother that I place her into your care – and your care alone."
She suppressed a shiver of fear. "But why me?" she asked again. "I've never even met the woman! Why would she entrust the safety and well-being of her daughter to someone she doesn't even know?"
"Ah, but she did know you," the man replied cryptically. "And you knew her, as well. In fact, it was because of her, and this young lady here, that you were inspired to become a doctor."
Ann stared at him blankly. Because of the girl and her mother? But how was that possible? She'd never seen them before…unless…
"Th-That girl," she began, trying to keep her voice steady. "She isn't…?"
"She is. You, a young girl with no medical experience, assisted in delivering this child when no one else would. You showed inner strength, gentle care, and unbelievable kindness to a woman you had never met. Even now, eleven years later, at her dying moment, My Lady remembered that kindness."
"I…I see…" Angelina said softly. Yes, it was all coming back to her now…she had been there to visit her big sister, who was getting her tonsils removed, but she had gotten lost on the way back from the washroom…and then, she'd found a gypsy woman all alone in a side room, in full-blown labor…she'd sat and talked to her, comforted her and held her hand, until a nurse finally arrived to deliver the baby girl…Ann looked over at the unmoving child. Could this really be that same baby?
"That is why," the man went on, "with her last breath, she instructed me to take her here, into your care – medical and familial."
"F-Familial?" Ann stuttered, a realization striking her down like lightning. "You mean…adoption? But I…I can't…"
"You must understand, Angelina Durless," the man said coldly, "that this girl has no family, home, or means of support. And now, with the loss of her memories, she is completely helpless. My Lady trusts you, and only you, to be a replacement mother for her. There is no one else who can take her." To Ann's imagination, he seemed to grow larger, darker, like a shadow threatening to smother her. "You are her only hope."
Ann tore her eyes from the frightening figure before her and looked down weakly at the girl. Her, mother this child? But how? She was unmarried, a full-time worker, a party girl. She didn't know the first thing about taking care of kids. She was barely making ends meet as it was, and she knew she'd never get any support from her disapproving parents. Besides, who would watch over her when she was at work? At parties? Did this mean she'd have to give up her social life? Angelina shuddered – she'd die before she'd let that happen.
And yet…could she really toss this homeless orphan out into the streets to die?
No. She couldn't. She was disgusted at the very idea.
Maybe it was her horror at the girl's ordeal. Maybe it was the memory of the sparkle in that woman's eyes as she was handed her wailing baby. Maybe it was some subconscious need to care for something smaller and weaker than herself. Maybe it was the strength of her Christian duty. Maybe it was the longing to bring life, real life, to those dead, dead eyes. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that in this light, those long black bangs, those chocolate-brown eyes, that pale skin, and that beauty mark beneath her eye made her almost look like him…but whatever the reason, Ann decided right then and there that she wanted nothing more than to take in this still doll.
"All right," she said hoarsely, wrapping her arms more tightly around the girl. "All right. I'll…I'll take her. I'll treat her like my own daughter, you see if I don't."
And in that instant, a sudden change came about the figure; even all covered up and cloaked in darkness, he seemed to relax somehow, as though a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. "Very well. I see My Lady was right to name you as Luciana's guardian. I trust you will keep to your word."
"Yes. Her birth name. For future reference, she prefers to be called 'Lucy,' although I doubt she will remember."
"Then you know her!" Angelina gasped. "How? Are you her father? Brother? Betrothed?"
The man was silent for a moment before answering. "Perhaps it should have been better for her if I had been any of those things."
Ann's gossipy nature perked up, but she forced herself to focus on the matter at hand. "But you obviously know something of her past. Why can't you tell me right now? If I tell her, she may get her memories back!"
He shook his head slowly. "No. This is neither the time, nor the place. No matter the circumstances, Luciana's memories will not return until she steps forward to meet her fate. When that time comes, I shall return to give her the answers she needs." He took a single step backwards from the two on the doorstep.
"Wha…you're leaving?" Angelina sputtered. "Y-You can't! You can't just go off and –"
The words died in her throat as she glanced down at the girl, Lucy. A sudden change had come over her; once more, life and awareness had come to her eyes, and she now had a teary, shocked look on her face. She weakly reached out an arm towards the figure, making choked, unintelligible mewling noises at his retreating form.
The figure suddenly sprang forward, kneeling before the broken child and taking her hand tightly in both of his. "Be at peace, My Lady," he murmured, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. "It is hardly good-bye forever. I shall return to you before you realize I have left." He leaned his head close to her face, as though to kiss her. "Until then, fare thee well, my dear Luciana." He slowly pulled away, stood, and turned to walk away, his coat billowing about him. Lucy's hand dropped, and a single tear fell down her cheek as she once more became inanimate.
"W-Wait!" Angelina called after that figure, desperate to ask what she should have asked the moment she opened the door. "Who are you? What are you to this girl?"
The man paused and slowly turned to face them. The light from this street lamp flared, and in that instant, Angelina spotted two glowing orbs the color of blood beneath the brim of the man's hat. "I am all she shall ever need. I am teacher, protector, confidante…and one 'hell' of a servant." And without warning, he vanished into the darkness, leaving Ann and her new charge staring after him in wonder.
And Angelina Durless, Madame Red, finally felt that precious magic, the magic of motherhood, welling up in her heart.
Please leave a review and tell me what you thought. I'll try and put the first chapter up sometime next week.