The only thing worse than an angry Charles, was a terrified Charles.
Something I learned early on in our marriage was that the man could not handle anything pertaining to other worldly activities; to put it bluntly he's afraid of ghosts.
"You summoned, no" he paused running a hand through his hair in frustration, "you summoned, a ghost" he shook his head violently, the hand running through his hair now gripping on tightly as he tilted his head back and began to laugh hysterically "you brought a fucking ghost, a ghost into my home" he hissed out as he turned to face me.
"In my defense-" I began, until I saw the glare that began to plaster itself upon his face that was clearly directed towards me "No" he interrupted. "Actually yes, Elizabeth please do explain what sort of excuse you have; I'd just love to hear it"
"Yes, well, between you and everyone else I've been trying to go to for information, I am left with absolutely no choice other than to break my promise while you're off gallivanting for your Queen and country" I huffed.
"So this is about Martin Harding then" he stated rather than asked.
I pursed my lips trying to choose my next words carefully as he stared me down, seemingly ready to pounce at any second. "You told me I'm not allowed to see him, speak to him, nothing, you told me-"
"I know what I fucking told you, but that didn't mean go and summon his dead fucking brother!" he yelled hysterically.
I had wondered when the yelling would begin.
The grip he had on his hair seemed to tighten and I wondered if he would pull any of it out, to my surprise he didn't and merely continued to glare at me.
"Please, at least tell me you sent him back for the love of all that is decent in this fucking world, tell me that thing will never step foot in my house ever again"
I nodded in response knowing he probably didn't want to hear me say Oh, yes Charles, the ghost is indeed gone but Sebastian decided to stop by for a bit of a chit-chat
Gods no, that would not go over well at all.
At that, it seemed that Charles had hit a wall, the anger from before dissipating quickly as his hand that had been gripping his hair fell to his side and he took a seat across from me unlike before when he had been pacing the room, anxious, waiting, and afraid.
A terrified Charles was definitely worse than an angry Charles because he was unpredictable; calm as a light rain on a spring day one second and violent as a torrential thunderstorm the next.
"The Queen" he began, only to take pause a moment later to run a hand through his hair in exhaustion this time. I could see the cracks in his exterior beginning to form; whatever had happened while he was gone clearly wasn't boding well for him.
"She's very unhappy with the way things have progressed thus far which leads me to my first question" he said, the exhaustion and frustration leaving his entire body in that moment as he peered at me from under his arm to lean forward and tilt his head to the side slightly, a knowing look upon his face. "What did our ghost tell you, Elizabeth?"
No matter how much Charles tries to deny the fact that he has no 'interest' in the occult the Queen herself is a completely different matter, that much was clear.
Something told me that from his dark implying tone he wasn't inquiring about the weapons trading and for all I knew he was probably lying to me when he said he had no idea what the man was talking about pertaining to The Order Of Nine Angles but what was I supposed to say?
The Queen knows I'm getting leeway when it comes to Sebastian who is also chasing after the Order, I'll just be another piece to the puzzle chasing after this elusive group of people that everyone either wants dead or wants to have nothing to do with.
Perhaps I could use the Queen's interest in my favor, perhaps I could offer myself as a scapegoat if she very well pleased, if anyone could get information on a community that involves itself in the occult it would be I.
"I wasn't able to get very much out of him but I did get a name" I said, knowing it would be in my favor to go the honest route.
The only thing I was banking on was the fact that The Queen would know the name; maybe this was the leader she was after when she organized the massacre.
Not to mention this Order of demons seemed to have a tie to Sebastian which meant they could be my answer to killing him, or at least finding out more about him.
"Well, what's the name then?" he asked.
"Solomon Mathers, you wouldn't happen to know anything pertaining to the name would you?" I enquired.
He blew out a long pained sigh and rubbed a hand over his face, he'd really gotten himself worked up hadn't he?
"What happened to hunting down Sebastian?" he whispered.
I frowned, so he did know more than he let on, he clearly knew the Order was a bunch of demons and was essentially asking me 'why go after these demons instead of the demon you were after before?'
But why did he sound like he had just reserved himself to a fate he didn't want?
There's also the curious fact that Sebastian implied the Queen may not even know why he's going after the Order as well, only that he is.
Maybe that's what they're all trying to find out too, why would a demon go after other demons?
"These 'people' are sacrificing humans and abducting children, involving themselves in human trafficking and doing god knows what else. Everything my husband died for, everything he tried to prevent from happening ever again was all for nothing?" I hissed, half lying, leaving the 'and Sebastian seems to have a tie to all of this somehow but I don't know how yet' part out, not noticing until now that my knuckles had gone white and were clenching my dress.
A pained look I couldn't explain crossed over Charles expression before he masked it back into his usual calculating, emotionless one.
"Your husband"he spat, telling me all I needed to know about the pained expression I had just seen as I visibly winced "only acquired revenge on those who wronged him, he wasn't some sort of savior that went around protecting children stopping this damn epidemic that seems to plague our country, if anything he just killed the children himself when he came across them" he said, the last part coming out as a stifled laugh.
"You lie" I whispered in disbelief.
"I really don't, a man named Baron Kelvin recreated the altar room in which all of the children were held, your dearest husband included, the recreation was very much real especially the children, he burned the place to the ground with the children still inside even though, the Queen's orders were to keep them alive and bring them all home to their families" he stated in a matter-of-fact tone.
"No, he wouldn't" I said, shaking my head trying to get the image of it out.
"Why not, I would have, those children were never going to recover from what that perverted old man had done to them, I'm actually convinced Phantomhive was doing the right thing for once although the Queen disagreed, she was very displeased, almost got your poor husband killed" he said in mock sadness.
No, no, no, no.
That wasn't the kind of person Ciel was, he wouldn't just go against the Queen's orders, it wasn't like him.
"He wouldn't just kill those children because they would never be capable of recovering. Ciel recovered, he lived, and he survived!" I yelled.
"But at what cost?" he yelled back, "he was the lucky one or unlucky one depending on how you want to look at it, his only means to survival was giving his own soul up to a demon, you think he'd have wished that upon anyone else?" Charles retorted, "Do you really believe he was such a fucking saint, you really think you can just 'recover' from something like that?!" he continued, raising his voice back to a yell.
"Stop it!" I screamed.
"He was a broken fucking shell of a man!" he screamed back hitting a small glass of flowers that had been placed on the table, I began to hear everything as though I were in a muffled tunnel not even picking up the sound of the glass shattering, I felt like I was outside of my own body.
"He was never capable of loving you the way you deserved to be loved, his fucking revenge consumed him and all he did was use everyone around him to get what he wanted" He spat, slamming his hands on the table.
Silence ensued for a few moments as I looked down at the pattern of the carpet not really registering it anyway, all I could hear was his labored breathing matching to my own until finally he calmed himself down.
"Look at me" he whispered.
I sat still as a statue refusing to move only to betray myself a few moments later as I shook my head back and forth, not even having realized I'd been doing it at first.
"Look at me Elizabeth" he said, his voice more audible now and once more I betrayed myself as I looked up into his cold fucking eyes only to see remorse filling them, unshed tears had filled my own.
A long staring silence began between the two of us, neither one of us looking away until finally I could see Charles visibly clench and unclench his jaw, the remorse leaving his eyes, "He had a choice that night, he could have chosen you, chosen to run but instead he chose the demon, he always chose the demon."
And wasn't that just the most fucked up part of all of it?
Charles was right, Ciel had always chosen Sebastian over me, chose to die, to leave me, to give himself up to the demon.
A pained smile came over my face as my own laughter filled the room; Charles stared at me in confusion almost as though I'd gone insane.
"He was good to me you know, owned by so many and so much, his Queen, his country, his love given to me, my love given to him and he gave me all that he could, I took what he was willing to give and in return I gave him all of myself" I whispered, mostly to myself.
I'd started crying, not realizing it until I felt the tears hit my palms and I could see myself starting to visibly shake, "He went through so much and even though he did unforgivable things, made mistakes, didn't love me the way I had wanted, he still loved me and I-"I stopped not being able to hold myself together as I placed a hand over my own mouth letting out a pained sob.
"Don't we all deserve to at least have that one person who will love us unconditionally no matter what wrong we commit, no matter what path we choose; don't we all deserve to at least have that one thing in our lives?" I asked looking up at Charles; he looked like a child, a scared terrified child and I couldn't help the pain I felt on his behalf as I gave him an apologetic smile.
"I wanted to be that for Ciel, I wanted to be that one person after having lost those people and I wanted to be his family, replace what had been lost even though it would never be the same I wanted to love him unconditionally, so I did" I told him truthfully.
Perhaps it was unfair to him, the man that wanted my affections so badly, but how could I just lie? Perhaps part of me was punishing him, perhaps not. I'd never know and so the words were out and in the air, free to do with as he pleases.
He seemed to be staring off, through me, I couldn't know what it was he was seeing or thinking until he finally met my eyes once more.
"This is my fault" he said suddenly.
I furrowed my brow.
"What?" I voiced out loud.
"There's nothing I can do to stop you from pursuing the demon is there?" he asked completely ignoring what had just transpired.
"Don't answer that, I already know the answer. Shall I be honest with you for a moment since you were kind as to show me the same respect?" he said with fake sincerity in his voice.
I nodded, not knowing what else to really do.
"Her Majesty is going to use you, you're going to go after The Order and she will use that to her advantage but you already know that, she knows you're going to go after them which will lead her to the demon and The Order, you've always been the fucking key to both of them and it's only a matter of time" he said, his tone raising once more.
"Yes, well-"I began to say only for him to interrupt me.
"There's nothing, Elizabeth"
I raised a brow quickly becoming agitated with his riddles.
"I can't fucking protect you from this Elizabeth!" he yelled moving past the table separating both of us to grab hold of my arm startling me into moving away from him only for his grip to become tighter.
"If her majesty doesn't get you killed it's going to be the demon and if it isn't the demon it's The Order, I'm stuck and if you do this I won't be able to do anything" he choked out, pleading.
Charles was pleading for me to stop; I could see it in his eyes, in every fiber of his being even after my confession he still-
I cupped his face with my free hand and ran my fingers through his hair and for once his face softened.
"It was always supposed to be like this wasn't it?" I asked.
A broken look I never wanted to see again came over his face and he gripped my hand that was running itself through his hair and placed it upon his face once more.
"I was always supposed to take you from Phantomhive; you were always supposed to be the one that lead us to Sebastian. The Queen ensured it, she knew you'd want him dead when the contract was fulfilled, that was always the original plan but then-"He shook his head as though even thinking about it was painful.
"The massacre, The Order showing up, I've become more useful" I said, putting the pieces together.
"I figured I would eventually find a way to protect you but there's nothing, I can't do anything, I can only stand here and watch as it all goes downhill and I have no choice but to follow her majesties orders, she may kill you eventually, she may make me kill you one day" he confessed, admitted.
Something told me we both figured it would come down to that, something always unspoken yet known between the two of us.
It was why we'd always held each other at arms length, why this has never truly been a marriage, why we'd never had children.
We both knew it was temporary.
"Something happened while you were gone" I stated, already knowing this was leading down a very bad road, half spoken confessions, half spoken thoughts.
There was silence again as we still held each other, as he still held me as though he was afraid to end the moment, afraid to lose me.
"She doesn't trust you, I have orders to bring you to her, you'll be her puppet and she will hold your family accountable, she will make us kill them do you understand that?" he said holding my face in his hands and touching his forehead to my own.
I froze, in shock. The Queen was going to make me follow her every order and use my family as leeway.
"They wouldn't go down so easily" I hissed tears gathering in the corners of my eyes.
"There's much worse to be done than killing a person, her majesty would be willing, these are the contingency plans Elizabeth" he stated and I could see the apology in his eyes.
She'd force my hand, the demon would be hers not mine, everything I'd worked for over the years completely taken from me, my will, everything.
But Edward, mother, father, they'd be humiliated, tortured, I was well aware of the power Double Charles could inflict upon a family with the grace of her majesty placed upon them.
Families stripped of their titles, maimed, abducted, the most terrible of things had happened through the years all so her majesty can get her way.
She would kill me afterwards, that's what I was fully aware of, even if she could use me to kill Sebastian I would be too dangerous, a liability, she'd kill me, she would make Charles do it.
"You could run" Charles suddenly said, I had been silent too long and he had been looking in my eyes the entire time, both of us so close we were sharing breath.
I gave an aborted half-laugh, a quick exhalation of air, "Are you mad?" I said knowing my only choice would be to turn myself over.
"I'd have to hunt you down" he said, his face going hard as he touched the ring upon my finger, turning it in circles.
The ring he'd given to me when he had proposed, familiar-
You fucking gorgeous clever man, you brilliant loving perfect man
I swallowed, closing my eyes and nodded in understanding, trusting him just this once.
"I'm sorry" I whispered as my lips touched his for a brief moment, ghosting over his in apology; as I pulled away I could see the faint sincere smile upon his lips as he closed his own eyes and nodded in response.
Everything happened quickly after that as I pushed him away forcefully and reached down under the table to grab my hidden sword as he unsheathed his own.
We both knew the victor before the battle had even begun.
~+|*|+~One year later~+|*|+~
My eyes wandered through the throngs of people as I sat still in my seat, we were all waiting for the dark velvet black curtains to part and show the first child up for bidding.
I took special care in my appearance this time, a nice dark elegant dress, dying my hair black and putting in blue contacts while trying to make myself look as far from myself as possible, I was going to find out why that damn demon told me to come here but I was still ready for it all to be a trap.
I was ready for all of these people to turn on me and try to kill me.
You can never trust a demon after all.
Suddenly Count Druitt came onto the stage and I couldn't keep the chill from going up my spine, I would have thought it was due to seeing the Count but it felt different, familiar.
My eyes darted around as I looked for anything that would explain the feeling I had and suddenly up top in the balcony seating to my left my eyes met with a tall looking man with black eyes, he had short black hair and golden skin with a rather effeminate face but as my eyes met with his for that split moment I felt dread, fear, as though I were stuck in place and could not move from my spot even if I wanted to.
I suddenly felt someone next to me tap my shoulder and darted to look at them shaken from my stupor, one of the disgusting pedophile, slave drivers or god knows what asked if I was alright to which I told him I was just fine and without thinking asked who the man I saw was and surprisingly he knew.
Gustav Davidson, all he knew was he was a powerfully wealthy businessman specializing in what many said was work for The Queen herself.
Afterwards I looked back up at the balcony to find that the man was not there anymore.
That man…no creature…I've never felt so terrified looking into the bottomless pits of such eyes before
I couldn't think much more of it as Druitt began speaking in that disgustingly sweet tone of his as the curtains opened and it revealed a female child, probably 10 in a cage with blonde hair but her eyes were brown?
No it was almost as if they were a dark red.
I frowned, the poor child had the eyes of a killer, I knew all too well what it looked like but I also saw something more that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
"This young little darling is Belle, as you can see she has golden hair almost as though it were created from gold silk itself and she is a beautiful little yellow canary with mesmerizing eyes that almost appear to be red in certain light as I'm sure you can all agree"
I stayed still in my seat trying to ignore the way he talked about a child as though she was a mere object but that's what she was to these people, an object.
Suddenly the lights went off and I immediately sprang into action out of reflex, moving to the farthest side of the room in the back as quickly as possible without anyone catching me but as I moved I heard the creaking of metal on the stage through the frightened whispers of the disgusting inhuman people occupying the place.
Then I heard screams, I moved behind a balcony curtain keeping myself as still as possible to help keep myself from detection as I heard the cries of everyone within the room.
I could hear the familiar sound of flesh being torn from flesh; I could hear them being torn apart.
It just had to be, what else could do something like this?
Minutes passed as suddenly the back doors flew open and the moonlight shined through and illuminated the room to show blood everywhere, limbs everywhere, no finesse to it, pure mutilation and for a split second I saw a dark figure with bright red eyes fly out.
Once again I was the only one left alive within a room of mutilated corpses.
This was becoming far too much of a normal occurrence.
I was completely untouched, a demon that wasn't Sebastian had just killed everyone in the room, people associated with not only The Phoenix but The Order as well.
What the fuck was going on?