Little Black Bird
The Loveless' Christmas Special

Spinoff!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!

Hope you'll like my belated present!

Important Note! Please remember that whatever goes on in this story may or may not be related to its' true series-it's more of a…different universe of the same story, much like an OVA, so to speak. So be aware of that.

And some small spoilers are contained within! You have been warned! But it's nothing major.

Also, it's a very dark story!

Enjoy!

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Beta'd by: NarutoFanProduction

Thanks to:
ShadowFoxMoon, NarutoFanProduction, Bishonen'sFoxyMiko, ChocolateBunnyChan, Yoruko Rhapsodos, ShikiKira, Thyme Spirit and all of my readers! Thanks for the motivation! You too, Kagome Yuki Niwa! You're an awesome author!

Note: As of March 5th of 2012, I fixed few mistakes. If you still see some, please let me know. It was pretty long so my beta and I may have missed quite a few. Any help will be much appreciated!

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"Little Black Bird, Little Black Bird, won't you come and grant my dearest wish?" Called a little girl. Her voice was soft and solemn. Yet the slightest glimmer of hope echoed in her tone. Her bare feet padded softly over the frosted earthy soil. The silence of the forest would've been deemed disturbing to most others. But not her. This was where she lived. This was her home. "Little Black Bird…" She called out once again. High above the onyx feathered crows watched with peaked interest. Their crimson gaze followed her walking form. Who was this child that entered their forest? Who was this child that asked them to grant her wish?

The silence was agonizingly thick, as per usual. But there was something in it that chilled her to the bones, "I've come to grant your dearest wish." There finally was an answer to her heartfelt request.

•○•○•

The city of London was blanketed with its winter coat, snow fell to the surface gently without a single sound. For the one that was known to be busy with life, it was eerily quiet. Few people braved to be out in the bitter cold, including a certain little girl and a gentleman with rust-colored hair.

She glared hard at the snow that covered every inch of the ground, as she was huddling within her thick, black coat for warmth. She never spoke a single word. Her nose was bright red, along with her cheeks, making her seem like a true porcelain doll. But her eyes darkened with calm fury at the situation she was forced to be in.

Her leather boots crushed the white frosted ice noisily as she marched to a certain destination. The gentleman was smiling, albeit nervously, perhaps in fear of facing his small lady's wrath. His long stride easily kept up with the young girl dressed in black's furious pacing as he attempted to console her, "Ah, milady, it's not that bad of the weather to go out and shop."

All he received was a very, very soft growl of annoyance, barely audible even with his good sense of hearing. The gentleman sighed, "Perhaps, Lady Kagome, we should have gone shopping earlier this month…I did attempt to tell you this, did I not? Same with the Master as well…" He trailed off, suddenly uncomfortable at this rare display of anger that flared around Kagome's small form.

She huffed out silently, despite her hardening eyes. She simply kept on walking. The man followed, much like a loyal dog.

'Her birthday…She already requested that she did not want a birthday party…' He thought offhandedly, remembering that her supposed birth date had already passed barely a week ago. They did plan a secret birthday celebration, but even then she managed to put to a stop to that. He suspected that one of those stuffed animals she had somehow told her that private information, even though he placed a temporary spell on them to keep them quiet.

Suffice to say, everyone was unhappy at that interference-Master Alden more so. Being rather a jolly man who's only desire was to keep his only grandchild happy, it affected him the most. The little lady didn't know of this but after her refusal, there was an incident where Alden, even though he wasn't the type to drink, had drunk himself sick and the gentleman was forced to call in a trusted doctor, Jinenji, to revive him back to his usual health.

"Shippou." The small voice snapped him back to attention, almost as if she knew he was distracted by his thoughts, and he looked back to the little girl curiously.

"Yes, milady?"

"Where is that jewelry store?" Ah, she wanted the direction. He went ahead to answer that, directing on what route to take. With that accomplished, he found himself wandering back to his last train of thought.

Shippou highly doubted Kagome even knew just how much power she wielded over her own household, over even her own faithful grandfather. The redhead felt badly for Master Alden, seeing how rejected he must have felt when the young lady flat-out refused her own birthday party, due to her feeling of worthlessness.

Suddenly, he forced himself to stop, lest he'd push his young mistress down in the snow, when Kagome paused. Shippou blinked questioningly before following her line of stare and bit back an annoyed sigh.

"You."

Kagome merely hummed casually as she avoided the young man's eyes.

"Hello, Lady Higurashi and Mr. Reynard." The thin, tall dark gentleman smiled at the pair, his dark eyes had that gleam Shippou was growing to hate so much, "We didn't expected to see you two. How had your holidays fared?"

The youthful boy eyed them warily as the small girl shrugged carelessly at the man's forced cheery question.

"Good, how are yours, Mr. Michaelis and Young Master Phantomhive?" The red-haired butler bit out a reply, finding himself lacking that false jollity act he typically wore proudly on himself and pondered if he need to bother to get it back.

"Hmm, very well." Sebastian almost grinned at Shippou's muffed appearance.

"Ahem." That was enough to break up the subtle sparkle of rivalry-in the opinion of the child earl; it seemed that winter had affected more than just him and his household. Hell, even the Lady Exorcist seemed a bit…grouchy today-her face pale red.

He loathed the cold season simply because of his memories-Ciel hated how happy people looked during then. He basically hated everything the winter stood for. And it is starting to appear that Kagome also shared similar views.

Great, one more thing to add to their common grounds.

"That's enough out from you, Sebastian." Ciel declared to his butler before turning to Kagome, "I don't suppose you have yet to receive an invitation for the Winter's Ball on the day of Christmas Eve?"

Kagome gave him a flat stare, allowing Shippou to speak, "Well," He suddenly looked uncomfortable, "Lady Kagome isn't the type to attend a party, no matter the reason, other than charity. Why do you ask, Master Phantomhive?" He blinked. He also ignored the sudden fury of the small child he stood next to-knowing that she wanted to get out of the cold quickly.

"I hoped that you will come, since I have a gift for you in mind-I'd prefer that instead of delivering it." Ciel confessed somewhat, giving a warning glance to the manservant. Sebastian seemed to bear a mischievous smile.

Kagome blinked, bewildered at that-Shippou shared the similar feeling, "That was…out of the blue, Master Phantomhive, as you and Lady Kagome are barely an acquaintance…"

"Think of this as a thanks-at least another way to show my appreciation for saving my life." Ciel tried again-hook, line, and hopefully sinker.

"Hmm…Lady Kagome, what do you think? Would you like to attend?" Shippou looked down to her, and she looked up, blinking. The butler nodded in understanding, "Yes, milady." He glanced back at the earl and his bothersome servant, "She'll think on it. But she does appreciate your invitation."

Ciel sighed, well, it's still a maybe-better than a no in his hindsight, "Very well. But I do hope you will come, Lady Kagome-" He bowed, "We need to get out of the cold so have a good day."

Sebastian followed his young master's action, "Be warm and stay safe, Madam Higurashi and Mr. Reynard."

Kagome curtsied as Shippou bit back his tongue and bowed to them both, "Likewise, Mr. Michaelis. And thank you again for inviting us, Earl Phantomhive. Have a good holiday."

The pair simply walked passed them, crushing snow in their wake.

He made sure that they were out of the earshot and released his tongue, "By Mother Inari, that bothersome prick!" Shippou hissed out. Kagome blinked slowly before striding toward a destination. The sooner she got out of this bloody weather, the better.

"Ack, Lady Kagome, please wait for me!"

•○•○•

"So Master Ciel, do you think she will attend?" He tried to keep his amusement in check, but even then he knew Ciel had noticed.

The door of Funtom creaked as the youthful boy turned the knob, "She better be-I didn't go out my way for nothing after all. I do owe her grandfather a favor for saving my stock from pummeling by bidding for it in my place." He stepped in and cherished the warmth his store had emitted.

Sebastian simply smiled.

•○•○•

The carriage was filled to the brim with presents, with barely any room for Kagome and her mostly impeccable butler. She wouldn't want to admit it to herself but yes, she did get carried away.

Shippou was glowing with amusement-several times he had to stay outside because Kagome was actually getting some gifts for him. And she didn't want to spoil it for him. He was embarrassed to say that, while it was not appropriate, usually, for their superior to give their servants a gift or two, he was actually preening over it.

He only stepped in when she made sure it was well hidden within the wrappings, boxes, and bags and carried them all the way to the awaiting carriage.

Once their work was done and entered the elegant wagon, Kagome quickly thrust out a hand to Shippou. He blinked for few moments before the realization set in, "Oh! You want the list…" He pulled out a small book from a pocket and handed it over to her along with his pen.

Kagome quickly looked over the written ink and wrote something on them. While distracted, she waved her hand and the butler nodded,

"Driver, please get us home now!" He informed the shriveling man outside and then the horses suddenly started to move.

Shippou watched his little lady flipping over a page as she went through them, knowing that it was for the people whom she was giving a gift to. He hated to admit it but something told him that she had just added few certain people on the list, judging by the numerous additional items.

The horses bravely marched past the cold and they eventually exited out a gate. The hibernating civilization was beginning to thin out as the frozen nature was steadily growing thick and more intimating. This was their path to their home and because they were farther out of the town, they had few neighbors. And those neighbors were far and scattered so one could supposed that they weren't neighbors at all.

But even so they were still there.

Just as the carriage was starting to climb the large hill of where the manor was located on the top of, the air seemed to breathe tighter-whereas if the skin was too taut upon a person.

Suddenly, seeming like she had sensed something out of ordinary, she snapped up her head and eyed outside owlishly, "There's something there, Shippou," The butler blinked before he realized of the small pressure onto his senses, "and I do not like it."

He silently cursed his distractedness he had earlier.

•○•○•

This was one of few daily routines she did everyday-those birds always seemed to watch her, never sure of just which black bird she was speaking of. A squawk broke the still silence, as a carriage came rolling by. The door snapped open and the miniature ladder came down with a loud wailing creak.

The woman watched, fascinated by this mysterious person.

It was a little girl fully clad in black, as if she was attending a funeral. A man stepped out after her, looking a bit flustered, "Milady, you should have allowed me to escort you out…"

He was ignored.

The woman felt unnerved by the girl's stare, "U-umm, can I help you?" The weight of the basket was beginning to tax her strength. The child was so…pretty but so…cold, much like the winter itself.

"Ah…" The man in a pressed suit opened his mouth but was stopped.

"What's your name?" The little child asked as she eyed the woman's horribly inappropriate attire for the cold weather.

The woman was embarrassed-after all, she was wearing what one would call a potato sack dress, "Ehm…My name is Ella…"

The girl eyed her and gestured the man to speak with a small wave of her covered hand, "Who's your employer? We would like to discuss your attire-Lady Kagome has no desire to see a frozen body on the way home."

The woman blanched, flitting about, "I'll be in trouble!"

The girl, Kagome as Ella had heard her name to be, stared, "So I suppose you would prefer a cold death then?"

Admittedly she had a point-Ella could feel the cold of the frost hands creeping along her spine, jousting her between the thin line of the dark endless sleep and the awake of biting ice, "…Very well, I will take you to Lady Holly then." Her head was bowed, showing her submission to the little mistress, "If you may, please follow me."

They nodded, eyeing her-criticizing her.

Shippou nodded to the poor shivering driver to stay. The driver gave him a look of despair. He returned it with an apologetic smile before falling in line behind Kagome.

A bird cawed; wings flittered noisily.

•○•○•

The manor of this Lady Holly wasn't that far-it was only a mere way past the small patch of large, foreboding trees to get there. However both Kagome and Shippou instantly did not like the appearance of the building-it was black and almost looked as if it was abandoned. Underneath the thick cover of snow, the garden was unkempt and overgrown. There were two topiary animals, lions perhaps, guarding the doors-but even though the whiteness on them were solid, they appeared to be more of some sort of monsters than a pair of animals.

Shippou absent-mindedly noted the lack of a gate and realized that the trees were their gate.

"U-umm," They stopped before the large dark red door, with Ella looking at them nervously, "Come in with me, if you may please." She twisted the knob and the click sounded as it breezily opened. As proper for a servant, she allowed Kagome and her butler in first before entering.

Ella hurriedly shut the door, to keep the cold out.

The little lady eyed the surroundings while taking in the warmth of the home. It was all red-floor, walls, furniture-a lot of things were of similar coloring. Kagome looked up to Shippou, who returned the knowledge.

"P-please remain here while I fetch Lady Holly. Pardon me." Ella bowed before hurriedly passing them and disappearing within a door.

Shippou bended lower to Kagome and whispered to her, "This is odd, milady. Do you believe there was…?"

Not turning her head to her manservant, "How could I not? Those birds-bad omen of the things to come and bad omen to today. And the negativity…"

"YOU WHAT? Ella, you useless waste of flesh!" Kagome flinched at the sudden shout. It was a woman's voice and she allowed out a long string of insults toward poor Ella. An echo of flesh hitting flesh blasted throughout the house. Kagome's hand gripped on the hems of her butler's tailcoat.

Angry footsteps erupted. There was a cluster of giggling with it. He could feel the shaking his lady was emitting.

Instinctively, she half hid herself behind Shippou. He frowned, an erudite look within his almond-shaped eyes. Even so, he simply shielded her with his body while he waited.

The footsteps slowed right before the door and it opened, revealing a beautiful woman whom the years were kind to. She smiled brightly to the pair as she approached them slowly, her blue dress crinkled stridently, "Hello, I'm Lady Hamilton-what may I help you with, Sir…?"

There was something in her leering eyes that made him uncomfortable-lust. But even so, he greeted himself, "Reynard. Shippou Reynard and this is my lady, Kagome Luscius-Higurashi." He smiled quickly, "And we were concerned about your servant, Ella, for her lack of warmer clothing."

"Oh? I never noticed." The woman then took a quick scan of her flinching servant with an obvious bruise on her cheek, "Ella, dear, you do know that you do have thicker clothes, right? Go and wear them." She simply dismissed her with a wave of the hand.

"Yes, milady-y." Ella bowed and turns to flee from the room. There were two young ladies behind the older woman, who both giggled at her mad rush.

Nevertheless Shippou and Kagome minded them no attention.

"My sincerest apologizes, Lady Luscius-Higurashi, for not paying attention to the dear girl's health. I'm afraid she tends to think with her head above the clouds." Lady Holly simply smiled at the pair, "Well, if you're here, why not help yourself some hot tea before you leave? I know how cold it was out there."

They didn't want to be rude, no matter how much they instantly disliked them, so they agreed to stay for the drinks half-heartedly. Shippou pitied that poor driver outside however.

Lady Hamilton led them to their small diner room, "Please have a seat, Lady Luscius-Higurashi and Mr. Reynard. I'll have one of my daughters to fetch the tea. Ivy, dear, if you please."

The young lady, with green eyes and curling dark hair, curtsied her forest-colored evening dress, "Of course, Mother. Right away." Ivy hurried away and vanished.

The Lady of the Manor, still standing, quickly introduced her remaining daughter, "This is Rosemary, my youngest." Rosemary smiled; her chocolate eyes twinkled as she nervously flitted with her golden hair. She was rather a petite girl, compared to her sister, who was a bit more big-boned.

But they were admittedly both beautiful and definitely kind to the eyes of the available males.

"Ivy, as you just saw, is my oldest daughter." Lady Holly smiled. Rosemary touched her mother lightly, "Mother, if I may speak?"

"Of course, my dear."

"Lady Luscius-Higurashi, didn't your family produce wonderful clothes and dresses?" Her eyes sparked eagerly as she clasped her hands together.

Kagome merely stared. Shippou instead answered for her, "Yes, they do. Why do you ask?"

Rosemary tittered after pausing briefly to shrug off the young heiress' refusal to speak, "Oh, because those fashions are magnificent! It's very much difficult to get a hand on them since they are always sold out~!" Her excitement ebbed shortly, "I must ask…Who designs those clothes anyway?"

Shippou was about to reply when Ivy interrupted them with a tray with various cups and other sorts, "Ah, have I interrupted? My apologizes." Ivy frowned as she set down the tray.

"My dear-it's quite alright." Holly assured her, "Please go and serve them."

"Of course. Mother." The frown transformed into a smile. She hurried to do what she was needed to do.

The tea was readied and within the grasps of each individual, including Ivy who simply helped herself.

"As I was saying-the family has several seamstresses and designers under their employment so I cannot name a specific one. They tend to work together as well so they can't take sole credit." Shippou replied, eyeing the teacup.

Kagome also refused to drink hers, though she had her hands on it to warm herself.

"I must say-I have heard a lot about you, Lady Luscius-Higurashi. And you're certainly pretty in person!" Holly praised, her two daughters also affirmed with agreement, "And they say you're a tarot reader?"

Kagome simply nodded.

The Lady of Hamilton smiled, "Would you be so kind to do one for me and my daughters?"

At that, Kagome allowed out an inaudible sigh, "Yes."

The women squealed. Shippou flinched at their high-pitched voices.

•○•○•

Ivy waved herself with a lovesick sigh, "Oh, oh, dear, how lovely am I to meet a gentleman soon~!"

Rosemary huffed at her, arms across, "She said I need patience to meet my soul mate! Why must you meet sooner than I?"

"Oh, is my little sister envious?" The larger gentlewoman chortled softly, "Would be more lovely if mine was that charming butler~!" Rosemary sighed along with her, her heart clenching at the handsome sight of Mr. Reynard.

"'Tis a pity that he was of a lower rank!" She frowned.

As they were left to talk between themselves alone, Holly smiled, "I can see why you were well spoken of in the town-you are quite spot on." She cupped her own cheeks in happiness, "Am I ever so glad that I'll die with my age so kind to me~!" Lady Hamilton stopped herself, "Oh, dear, I'm sorry-I'm absolutely quite conceit with myself. My pardon."

Kagome waved away a hand as she gathered back her faithful cards and placed it back in her coat.

"Ahh, we should be letting you two go. Have somewhere to be, surely." The pale haired woman smiled, "Sorry to have to keep you two."

"It was quite alright." The butler smiled as he thought, 'I couldn't say the same with the poor driver outside…'

"I'll show you and your butler the way out." She turned to the two gossiping women, "My daughters, bid your farewells!"

"Nooo~" They stopped themselves with the narrowing eyes of their stern mother, "Um, take care, Mr. Reynard! …And Lady Higurashi too!" Rosemary shuttered out.

Kagome shifted from her foot to another, not liking their use of the familiarity of her surname.

Ivy was more composed, "Be well and have good holidays." She bowed. Rosemary parroted her movement.

Their lady mother nodded as Shippou simply allowed out a quick farewell. Then he and his little lady turned to follow Holly.

At the door, the older woman smiled as they stepped out, "You are welcome to come and visit again, Lady Luscius-Higurashi and Mr. Reynard." She waved at them as they halfway trekked to the forest. Then she shut the door.

Kagome glanced up to a top floor window and saw a fluttering of a thick red curtain before turning away.

Then the forest swallowed them whole.

•○•○•

Onto the ride back to their home, the manor, Shippou quizzed his lady, "Did you lie to them?"

Kagome kept her eyes on the passing scenery, "My cards do not lie-doesn't mean I cannot." She turned to her butler, "This is what they said." The lady flashed two cards to him. Magician and High Priestess.

"They warned me to not to trust them and that they are…cruel beings." Kagome said as she pulled the cards back so to look at them, "They were reversed, as well as showing up in all the readings I did for those three hags." She then placed them back in her coat, where her hidden pocket was within.

Shippou nodded, "I see…And that manor…It's black outside yet terribly red within." He tapped on his chin, "Doesn't that tell you something?"

"Everything's cursed. That Ella…She did something." Kagome replied, "Should we do something, Shippou? What do you suggest we do?"

The butler sighed, "It's the holiday-isn't it a season to be helping others out?" He eyed her, "Plus I'm sure your father would do the same thing, if he's still alive." She flinched at that, nonetheless he continued, "As well as your grandfather had he been slightly younger."

Kagome sighed, "Very well-I'll see what I can do."

Shippou smiled.

•○•○•

"Well, this is rather sudden." The sole heir of the Phantomhive family murmured, "I wasn't expecting you for some time, or rather, at all, even." Ciel eyed the girl in front of him, his hands under his chin. He paid no mind to the mess on his desk.

Kagome's chin was high for once, "I have decided to accept your invitation." Shippou stood tall behind her seat, eyeing the youthful boy.

That was a surprise, "Truly?" Even the devil shared his shocked expression. Neither had he expected the little Higurashi Lady to attend the ball.

The thing about the Winter's Ball was that you really had to know people with a connection to the Queen to attend. Those who do are welcomed to invite as many guests as they want within reasons. But even among high-ranking nobility, it was difficult to get even a single invite.

Winter's Ball was considered one of the greatest parties to attend in its' time, as it included gift exchanging, singing, admiring the beautiful cold scenery outside and so on. Even the aging Queen herself enjoyed it so much that she attended it every year, despite the fact that it was her own husband that had first thrown the ball. It was rumored that the king had done it just for her.

"Yes. All I ask is for you to invite a certain family." Kagome folded her hands on her lap, daring him to refuse her request.

Ciel knew she had something up her sleeve but decided to play a fool, "Duane?" He guessed.

Kagome closed her eyes, feeling a slightest bit of guilt for Rina and her family for being unable to attend. She would have loved the ball, even though her 'big sister' had never attended it herself, "No. They are off elsewhere to visit their extended family-they will not be able to make it back in time, unfortunately."

"That is unfortunate." Ciel frowned thoughtfully. He was right-she was up to something, "…Very well, I shall send invites," He paused and Kagome's eyes opened-there's a smallest of a spark in these dark orbs, "IF," She narrowed her eyes, "you are to tell me what you are planning."

The tiny slip of a girl glared, "…You are not letting this off, are you?"

"Nope." Ciel smirked darkly.

Both butlers nearly sniggered at the spark of childish challenge. It was out of the norm!

"You are truly a manipulative bastard." Kagome determined.

Ciel shook his head, "Nope-I am not-my parents were married in case you have forgotten." That smirk deepened.

Lady Higurashi released an angry sigh, realizing that she was on a losing edge, "Very well-I'm doing a job, so to speak. And in the honor of this…holiday," She just about spat out the word, "I must…how would one explain this?"

"Granting a wish would do so nicely." Shippou placed in his two cent, "It is, after all, what you are doing."

Kagome huffed at the skeptic appearance of the earl, "Yes, quite so."

Ciel took off his chin from his hands and made himself comfortable in his cushy seat, "It isn't something you usually do." He narrowed his eye, "I have done my research, Lady Kagome, and you are only interested into…" The earl waved a hand as if searching for a good phrase, "expelling the evil. And for money as well."

"You're the greedy sort," Ciel was blunt, eying down the girl, "Don't deny it either."

Oddly enough, even her butler, who usually was so overly protective of that little girl, had done nothing to protest his claims. He was calm, straight-faced even.

Kagome smiled and it was not a happy smile, nor was it sad. It was a cruel, dark smile, "Spot on, good sir." She gave a slow clap, "You, indeed, are a dog of the Queen." She gave a mocking giggle, "But then again, what should I say to a manipulative bastard who thirsts to kill yet unquenched, over a mere revenge? Oh and I must add that you absolutely depend on a pet dog for it," Sebastian almost looked offended. Odd as he was stoic to these terms being used on him, "You are useless."

Ciel gave a high nose to her, refusing to let her to win, "So says a girl who refused to bare her pride to strangers and family alike. You're a coward, Kagome."

For once, Shippou found this bantering amusing, as he would jump in to defend his mistress by now. But he saw the amusement on her face, which was a reason why he hadn't done so. Kagome was having too much fun pissing off a young boy who always seemed to be on a high horse.

Sebastian shared of the same opinion and smiled intriguingly, as he watched the children jesting amid themselves.

The little lady simply smiled, "As you are. There is not that much difference between us, is there not?"

And the boy laughed, for the first time in ages, "Very well-I'll oblige your silly request for now, as long as I get to be an eyewitness to whatever scheme you have in mind."

And while she didn't smile again, there was that gleam in her eyes, exclaiming her victory, "That'd be sufficient with me."

"So who would you like me to send invitations to?" He questioned. Sebastian stole a paper pad from the desk with a pen readied.

Shippou took over, "The Hamilton's. There are three ladies in the household. But Lady Kagome would prefer it if you are able to send another one forward to us-there's someone else there we had taken a special interest to."

The Phantomhive earl nodded just as his butler finished and placed the paper in front of him, "Very well. I will do as you asked."

Kagome stood up and curtsied, "Thank you, Earl Phantomhive. The meeting was pleasurable."

The red-haired butler hurriedly placed on her coat, "We'll take our leave now. Thank you so much for taking out your busy time of the day and we apologize again for our abrupt appearances." He bowed.

Ciel waved away a hand, "I told you-it was quite alright. I highly enjoyed our meeting so it was worth it." He looked at Kagome, "I'll send out the invitations on your behalf and I will look forward to your presence in the ball, Lady Higurashi."

She curtsied again then she turned and briskly left the room, with Shippou closely behind her.

"Well, it seemed like everything will now finally fall within place, young master." Sebastian mused out; his cinnamon-strained eyes twinkled with malicious amusement.

"Heh, with added entertainment as well." Ciel chuckled.

The butler nodded, "Ah, young master, you still need to do your research I've assigned." The chuckle died at that.

•○•○•

"Ahh, Lady Kagome, you have returned!" A familiar shrilling voice sounded within their ears and the little lady was tackled on the floor, "We worried! You took so long, Mistress!"

Shippou blanched when he was unable to catch her in time. Then again, he wouldn't be able to, what with the large amount of baggage he had on him.

Kagome rubbed her wounded bottom but didn't bother getting off the ground. She looked down to two small plushy creatures and blinked as they hugged her tightly, "Next time, take us with you!" The black one demanded.

"I must say-Yash and Kiki were horrible company…" The white one murmured out, its' tone much more feminine than the black counterpart. They clung tightly on Kagome's wool coat, never wanting to let her go from their sights again.

Kagome merely patted them both, "I'm fine, Lilith and Damien."

"I still say take us with you next time." Damien grumbled. Lilith the white Cat plush smacked him on the back of the head.

"What did I do?"

"You were being rude. Have some manners!"

"Bleh!" Nonetheless he compiled and calmed his hold on his lady.

Kagome pulled in her legs just as a tiger and two adult servants entered. The overgrown creature slithered its' way to her, butting the little mistress' shoulder with a loud rumble, greeting her, "Pgerrrrrr~"

"Welcome home, our little Lady!" The maid spoke cheerfully, yet oddly stoic, her long, silky hair fell over her shoulders as she bowed.

"Keh-got a lot of gifts haven't yer?" The gruff man stated, his amber colored eyes twinkled with amusement. His arms across as he eyed the butler setting down numerous luggage.

Smack! Just like what Lilith did to Damien, the maid smacked the manservant across his white-topped head, "Manners, Yash, manners!" She frostily told him.

"Fine, woman…fine." Yash muttered out, rubbing his red bandana. Shippou shook his head at them.

Ignoring her servants, Kagome embraced the tiger's neck as much as she could. She was tiny compared to the large animal, "Greetings, Kirara." She murmured within the coarse fur, rubbing her face against the thick bright coat. Kirara rumbled again, whipping the tail around in happiness. The cat hastily rubbed her jaws alongside of her small back with delight.

"Pardon me, I must put away the gifts within the mistress' room." Shippou gave a quick bow before he rushed away, carrying as many bags as he could. But he paused only to deliver an order to a servant, "Yash, pick up rest of the items and put them away as well."

"Keh-why did I know you'd say that?" Yash muttered out as he obeyed, walking passed the child to pick up rest of the items and then followed the butler.

As they disappeared, the maid approached and bowed to Kagome's sitting form, "Milady, you must be cold from your outing-would you like some warm lavender tea?"

'I'm already warm,' She thought as she cuddled with Kirara. Damien, and Lilith, "Yes, that'd be nice, Kiki."

Kiki straightened up, "Where would you like your tea, madam?" her breezy chocolate colored eyes watched her closely.

"With my grandfather-I'd like to speak with him." The youngest child of the Higurashi family stated, as she gently coasted away Kirara from her presence, "Help me up?"

The maid quickly took her under her armpits to get her feet on the ground and routinely removed her winter wears from her, "Is that all?"

Kagome patted her skirt, not minding the two Cats clinging so obsessively on her dress, "Direct me to my grandfather?"

Kiki nodded, "I'll guide you there, my little lady. Please allow me to put up your coat, hat, and winter gloves for a moment please."

Kagome frowned, "I'll be fine-just tell me where he is, please."

The older woman shook her head, "I insisted. Please allow your loyal dog her small desire, if you may."

Kagome released a deep sigh, "Fine. Hurry up." Sometime she forgot what her maid really is…After all, all they wanted was the return of love and attention. And apparently Kiki have been neglected for some time. Something Kagome needed to mend quickly.

The maid was quick and led her mistress and her tiger to a lobby room, where her grandfather awaited within. But the brief walk was nice and comforting. Before the door, they stopped and Kiki was about to reach the knob when Kagome interrupted her, "Kiki-on your knees before me please."

The adult blinked before obeying her and kneeled, "Milady?"

Kagome ruffled her head fondly, messing up her long silky hair, "Please forgive me for neglecting you, Kiki. I haven't realized you have been deprived of the attention you sorely needed." She patted her head softly, "Soon, when my time is free, we can play outside together, okay? With your favorite ball too!"

Kiki's once frosted eyes warmed over, "But milady! You loathe the cold!"

Kirara's chest rumbled at this scene, her tail twitching about.

Kagome cocked her head, giving her a non-smile, "I need to repent for my neglects, Kiki." She said this with a no nonsense tone.

She gave her a bright smile, "Oh, miss! Thank you!"

She removed her hands from her maid's now unruly hair, "It's the holidays, Kiki. 'tis the seasons." Kagome gestured her to get up.

Off her knees, Kiki moved to smooth down her hair, her expression glowed brightly with joy. With a deep breath, she opened the door and announced the little mistress' presence, "Master Alden! Your granddaughter would like to speak with you!" She said with a smile as she allowed in Kagome, with Kirara trailing behind her.

"Oi, Kagome-chan! Has your trip gone quick? Without issues, I hoped?" Alden's grin was bright and filled with elation as he spotted his granddaughter.

"It went well, Grandfather." Kagome bowed to him. Alden hurriedly gestured her to a seat across from him, with a table in-between and she complied. The Lady Exorcist made herself comfortable, as Kirara curled around her boots. The Cats then went on to perch on a sidearm.

The older gentleman smiled, "Glad to hear it-tell me how it went, my dear heart!" He clapped his hands eagerly. The old butler, Toutousai, shook his head at his silly display as he watched from along side the wall.

"Well, other than shopping, we did encounter a few people…" Kiki showed up, with a tray with a pitcher and cups, and set it down on the small table. The maid poured the little girl a cup and Kagome accepted it easily.

"Master…Would you like one?" Kiki gestured to the tea, questioningly.

Alden nodded, "Yes, please!" The maid poured another cup and allowed him to pluck it from her hands.

"If I may be excused…" Both Higurashi dismissed her freely and Kiki bowed before hurried away.

Sipping his flavorful tea, "What happened then?" He prodded curiously.

Eyeing down the brown colored liquid as she circled the rim of the cup with a finger, "We came across Earl Phantomhive and his butler." She looked up, "The earl invited me to the Winter's Ball."

Trying hard to hide his smile by covering it with his teacup, "And did you accept?"

Kagome nodded, "I did."

Alden's jaws dropped, "I was expecting you would say you'd think on it…" He slapped a hand on his mouth, 'Oh why do I have to be such a chatterbox?' Lilith and Damien had their faces in their paws at him.

His granddaughter narrowed her eyes on him, "Do you have something to do with this, Grandfather?"

He shook his head hurriedly, "Oh for the heaven's sake, no!" It was when Shippou entered the room silently and watched them, standing next to the old man.

"I'm guessing he couldn't keep his mouth shut after all…" He whispered to Toutousai.

"Quite so." He replied, his wide eyes showing amusement, "Think the master will get himself out of it?"

Shippou nodded, "Let's hope so. Little Mistress needs this-whether if she believes it differently." They grew silent as they waited for the old master's long awaited answer.

He coughed, "Young Mr. Phantomhive had sent a letter some time ago about it and I told him that he'd have a better luck asking you in person." Alden lied-whether if Kagome believed him or not was to be seen.

Kagome's eyes were still narrowed, however she eventually shrugged, "Very well-I have too much to do to even bother asking what you're up to, Grandfather."

All three males released a sigh of relief. Kirara yawned lazily underneath the girl's tiny feet.

Alden blinked, "Too much to do? Am I assuming you're speaking of the gift wrapping?"

She chewed her lips, "That and there is an exorcism I must carry out."

The old man blanched, "But no one asked as of yet!" He was surprised. The stuffed toys turned their faces to Kagome, curious.

The little girl nodded, "The trip I and Shippou went on-we also encountered a very pitiful girl." She sipped her tea, "She was cursed and on the behalf of the holidays' spirit, I've decided to help her."

"Aw, how generous of you, my lady!" Lilith gushed; her jeweled eyes twinkled in amazement. Damien nodded eagerly.

Mr. Higurashi gave a sad smile as he realized one thing, "Very well-this is for the memory of your dearest father, is it not?"

Kagome said nothing, eyeing down the tea again. The cats had a sad understanding and bowed their heads, as their features wouldn't allow any expression to show.

Both butlers sighed.

Silence grew thick as the fireplace nearby crackled noisily, busying itself by warming up the manor for them.

Then it broke, "I have a favor to ask of you, Grandfather."

Alden looked at Kagome curiously.

"I'd like a seamstress on a standby-no questions asked." She stated firmly, "Oh and few other things…"

•○•○•

'If only, if only…' She sighed as she waited for the squealing to be done. Apparently, Mrs. Hamilton and her two daughters had received a letter-some form of invite.

To what, she wasn't sure.

"Oh my, oh my!" Rosemary sighed merrily, "Isn't this wonderful?"

"Quite so, quite so, my dear sister!" Ivy cooed as she fanned the letter to her painted face.

Lady Holly tittered along with her daughters, ignoring the worn maid, like she was invisible. Then quickly, like a startled cat from the sight of the hungry dog, the older woman turned to her with a mischievous smile, "'tis too bad you weren't welcome to the Winter's Ball, my dear stepdaughter!"

'Winter's Ball?' That thought put a stab through her pining heart. As a little girl she has always wanted to go to a ball such as the famous Winter's Ball. And her cruel stepmother knew it and used it as her favorite weapon. She didn't dare to say a word lest her family would jest her some more unkindly.

Ivy giggled alongside with her mother, "You're only a lowly slave, dear Ella!"

Rosemary cast her a pitying eye but forced herself to laugh with her mother and sister.

Ella stared down the ground, keeping her unshed tears at bay. But as always she said nothing and allowed their abusive words to sink their blades within her skins and her fragile heart.

"How kind of Lady Luscius-Higurashi to invite us!" Rosemary cooed, trying to change the subject.

Ella flinched-that little girl who basically saved her life? She felt betrayed. She almost drew blood from her lips.

"Ah~" Ivy let out a shrieking giggle, cupping her face in enjoyment with the paper in between, "She knew of connections!"

Holly smiled brightly. "I wouldn't be surprised-she does know the young Toymaker himself! Why wouldn't they be? They're children after all~"

Rosemary pondered, "'tis a pity."

The daughters and the lady mother looked at her, "How so?" Holly blinked.

"Wouldn't they make an absolutely adorable couple?" Rosemary blurted.

Ivy gasped. "Ah~They would-too bad that the Toymaker already has a fiancée, I've last heard."

"A pity indeed…" Lady Holly mused agreeing. She then clapped her hands after placing her invite on a tabletop, "Alright, alright, enough of this silly gossiping. We must get new dresses for this lovely ball!"

The noble daughters nodded, enticed at the idea of more gowns.

Ella, for once, decided to ask, without asking for the permission to speak, "I supposed I'd need to help you to carry them?"

Holly turned to eye the dirty servant girl for a moment, "Why, heaven no! You'd only dirty them!" She declared, her nose high in arrogance. Ivy laughed before excusing and apologizing for the silly action. Rosemary twitted with a golden lock, her face neutral.

The lady mother waved a hand to her, "Beside I'm planning on hiring someone to assist us for today anyhow." She looked away, "Little girl, why not busy yourself by plucking out the roasted peas out of the fireplace like the little Cinder girl you are?" She dismissed her.

Ivy laughed again, unladylike.

This time she didn't bother excusing herself for her action.

"Understood, milady." At least Lady Holly didn't slap her this time. Ella turned to hurriedly rush out of the room.

And when she reached to her room, she tossed herself onto a measly bed and sobbed into her pillow.

•○•○•

"You are expected to have finished all of your chores by the time we return, Stepdaughter." That last word was stressed out, to show the threat of what will happen if Ella failed to do what Holly commanded.

If she said that word then that meant…"Yes, Mother. I'll get them done." Oh how she despised calling Lady Holly of what she was not. But it meant that she has understood.

"Tadah, little dirty girl!" Ivy cooed as she followed her mother out with a gentleman helper Lady Hamilton hired. Rosemary spoke not a word or even spared a single glance as she shut the door behind her from the outside. Leaving her all alone, inside the red-interior house.

Unable to help herself, she peeked out the window and saw the three ladies vanishing within the forest. Through the thick weaving mass of the trees, she was able, but barely, made out a shape of the horse drawn carriage. She sighed as it left a moment after.

"I supposed I could get on the chores now…" Ella lamented.

And so she did, mournfully daydreaming of the ball she always wanted to go since she was barely a little girl.

"Papa, Mama…" She whispered as memories crawled in slowly. A plate shattered on the floor as she was unable to hold it with shaken hands. Ella fell to her knees and sobbed out all of the pelted up sadness she had within.

With a sigh and lifted her head with a sniffle, "I mustn't dally about-I have work to complete." She weakly stood up and was about to receive a broom and a pan to clean up the shards of the platter she dropped. Only to see that there were nothing on the floor, "Wha-?"

"Ella."

"Wah!" She startled and span around to that familiar voice, "How and when did you get in?" Ella squeaked. She was absolutely mortified by her state-surely the puffy red eyed look was not a good impression.

But still, that little girl was like a ghost!

Ella thought she had good ears but not good enough to hear her to come in it seemed.

The Lady Exorcist ignored her question, "Would you like to go?"

"Go? Go where?" Ella was wary.

"The Winter's Ball of the Eve of Christmas." Kagome eyed her closely, awaiting her answer.

Ella chewed her lips for a brief moment before nodding, "Yes I do. Why do you ask?" There was small bubble of hope swelling in her chest.

"I'll need to take your measurement." That was all she said as Kagome approached her with a roll of aged tape measurement. The young girl rudely pulled down an arm and took the length without a word.

"Ah, but why?" Ella wasn't necessarily well versed into many a career so she most likely was clueless about what Kagome was doing. But common sense warned her that it was a good thing and it's happening.

From her neck to all the way down to her feet, Kagome was finished and rolled back the tape and pocketed it under her thick winter wear. Ella then noticed two of the most adorable plush animals she has ever saw together in an exterior pocket of her coat.

"How cute!" She couldn't resist saying it. The maid then blushed, "I'm so sorry! I didn't know what came over me!"

The little lady of Higurashi shook her head, already knowing of what the maid was speaking of. She shouldn't have brought Lilith and Damien today…

"That'd be all for now. I'll return soon." Kagome abruptly curtsied, "Farewell until then." She turned away from her and disappeared from the kitchen.

"Wah! Wait!" Ella hurried out, "Will you just tell me-" She didn't see that little lady anywhere in the hallway-that girl simply vanished like a ghost! "Wahhh…?"

She stared in the dark red hallway, jaw ajar wide, 'There is no way she can disappear like that!' Ella refused to believe it and searched for her everywhere.

•○•○•

"Is it necessary to get you out so soon?" The red-haired butler pondered out loud as he held his small mistress in his arms. They were on the snow-covered chimney on the rooftop, to avoid detection of the pitiful woman.

Kagome huffed out, seeing the fog of hot air escaping her lips, "Yes. We're supposed to be her magical doves* you know."

Shippou hummed, "I'd supposed you want Miss Ella to believe you to be a miracle worker."

"Did you finish all of her chores?" Kagome huffed again, now shivering from the cold. She was only thankful that it wasn't snowing that heavily today.

The manservant smiled foxily, "As you commanded, milady."

"Good-just in time too." She glanced at the gateway of the forest before declaring, clenching on her Cats in a failed attempt to drain warmth from them, "Now get me out of the cold!"

"As you wish." They vanished within a swirl of snowflakes.

"Hm?" Rosemary looked up and blinked.

"Something's the matter, sister?" Ivy cooed, most happy about her latest purchases.

She shook her head, "It's nothing, Ivy. I thought I've seen something on the roof."

Lady Holly chortled, "It's probably the crows-they've taken a liking to our lovely house after all." She looked back, "Ah, come along, dear good sir!"

The young boy, struggling with the baggage, nodded as he followed after them, "Yes, madam."

They reached the creaky manor and Lady Hamilton merely allowed herself in, knowing there was no need for them to dally in the icy weather waiting for their useless servant, "Come in, come in, all of you! Don't need any cold death!" They hurriedly enter to the warmth they so sorely needed.

Holly shut the door to keep out the cold with a sigh. She then removed her coat and handed it over to Rosemary to put it up for her along with Ivy's coat.

"Um, madam…Can I rest my arms for a bit?" The young male nervously questioned. He was rather young and scrawny albeit rather cute.

Lady Holly smiled oddly, her blood colored gown glittered, "Of course, dear, set the luggage down over there on the table." She pointed to a maroon-stained wooded furniture through an opened door.

He nodded, "Yes, madam." Suddenly a dread feeling grew within his chest as he walked away from the trio of the ladies.

"Dear Ivy, do ready the tea!" The oldest woman ordered, that smile still on her face.

Ivy clapped her hands as she giggled, "Yes, Mother!" She hasted away and vanished from their views.

Rosemary waited as Holly passed her, "I need to check on that dirty girl to see if she got everything done. Rosemary love, why not convince that dear boy to stay for a few, hm?"

The blond woman nodded numbly, "Yes, Mother. As you wish." The youngest noble daughter curtsied before going to the exhausted boy.

"Good sir, why not stay for the tea?"

•○•○•

"Hm, it looked like that stupid one actually finished everything for once, Quite impressive of her." The lady in red mused as she wandered about in her home, checking everything that Ella was needed to complete. Growing tired of looking, she was frustrated, "ELLA YOU BLOODY DIRTY GIRL-COME RIGHT THIS INSTANT!" Holly let loose of her infamous ear piercing shriek.

She, of course, gave no care about the guest in her house, since her daughters would keep him at bay. They always do.

A clamper of footsteps pulled to stop behind her, "I'm so sorry! I was-"

Holly turned, "Was what, my dear stepdaughter?" Her eyes held strong to her silent threats.

Ella gulped, "I was looking to make sure I haven't forgotten any chore!" She rushed out.

The Lady crossed her arms, her nose high again, "It seems like you got everything finished as needed, so I'll let you off for now. Get the dinner ready." She let down her lace covered arms and walked away with a dark smile.

Ella stared at her vanishing back with wide eyes, "D-dinner?" She knew what that word meant and she feared it so heavily.

A crow screamed and she flinched.

•○•○•

"Quite too bad that the little miss wasn't able to drink her tea-I wonder why?" Ivy mused, as she petted the sleeping boy on her lap. She sipped her drink calmly.

"I'm sure she wasn't thirsty." Holly tittered, "Don't you agree, my lovely Rosemary?"

The blond nodded mutely, staring into her cup.

"Ahh, little sister is being quiet again…" Ivy frowned, her green eyes narrowing.

Rosemary blanched, "Ah, my apologizes! I was…" She pondered what to say for a few second, "thinking of that handsome butler fellow. Mr. Reynard."

"Ooooo-!" Ivy cooed, "That handsome fellow~"

Holly shook her head, "Ah, young love." She grinned, "You both would love to eat him all up!"

Ivy and Holly both giggled loudly as Rosemary could only cast a pitying look at the young boy on her sister's lap.

•○•○•

Kagome barely crawled out of her bed this morning, the cold was freezing her to the bones, regardless of how thick her blankets were, how many stuffed animals she had with her, or whether if Kirara was sleeping under the cover for warmth or not. When Kiki dressed her and brushed her hair, sleepiness was still deep within her skin.

Kagome barely remembered her brushing her teeth, eating her breakfast, and whatnot. The entire morning passed by for her in a blur.

Until five of clock tolled for attention in the afternoon.

"Erm, milady?" Shippou eyed the blank faced girl on her desk, "Milady?" He prodded for attention again. 'Oh dear seems like winter sleepiness is exacting its' wrath on her this time.'

A touch on her shoulder seemed to have brought out her slight daze, "Hm?"

"Have you forgotten about today?" The butler bit back a sigh when he received an empty stare, "It's the Eve of Christmas, do you not remember?" Shippou nearly blanched when Kagome dropped her head on her desk soundly, the papers of her assignments he had given her floated away from her action. The cats squeaked, shocked, from their positions on a corner of the furniture.

"So I did." She grumbled out, "How I despise the holidays so." The lady added.

Shippou only blinked.

Kagome lifted her head and rubbed her forehead with a dainty hand, "I supposed we should get ready."

"We're going to the ball?" Lilith pondered.

"Yes, but we need to pay a visit to someone first." Kagome answered as she stood up from her chair.

Damien cocked his head, "Ahhh-that girl? What was her name again?"

"I thought it was Cinderella, like the one from that fairytale Mistress was always reading…" Lilith mused. The white cat then pounced on the back of Kagome's skirt as she moved away from her desk and held on tightly. The black cat followed after.

Kagome only quirked a tiny smile, "She might as well be." Shippou guided her away from the room.

•○•○•

The manor was empty-the ladies of Hamilton vanished to attend the ball-dressing so glamorous. Their young maid sorrowfully went about her chores, daydreaming about being a princess dancing with a prince.

"Yelp!" Ella cried out as she accidently burnt herself from trying to separate the coals from the woods. She placed the wounded finger in her mouth, 'Geez I can't concentrate! I need to stop dreaming and get them finish! Or I'll be their dinner!' She straightened up and hurried to wrap her marred appendage.

"How clumsy of you." Ella squealed from fright and spun around.

"You! What are you? A black ghost?" The soot covered maid accused, her dark eyes shined with trepidation.

The dark clothed Lady Exorcist was amused though she didn't fully show it, "I'm afraid not, Ella." Her thin line of her lips turned to a frown, "You're dirty-when's the last time you have taken a bath?"

Ella flustered, "That's n-none of your business, Lady Kagome!"

"This won't do." Kagome circled her once then twice, directing a critical eye on the older female's form, "Not at all." She stopped in front of the servant, "Shippou." She snapped her fingers.

And in an instant, her butler materialized, bowing with a smile on his face, "As you wish, milady."

Next thing Ella knew, she was outside of the lobby room and before the mirror her lady stepmother and stepsisters have been so taken to. She gasped, seeing how clean she was being. The servant looked at her skin and saw that pink-tinted hue she hadn't seen in ages and then her hair. Originally it was blacken due to its' being unwashed and thicken with dirt and oil. Now it was reddish color and thoroughly cleansed and brushed to the feel of silk.

"How…?" Ella then took a full look at herself, realizing she was no longer wearing that rag. Instead she was in n blue-ivory colored gown, with lace woven within sleeves and the bodice. She almost felt like she was at a wedding alter or rather a princess.

Even her marred finger was no longer wounded.

Kagome stood behind her, staring within the reflective glass, "Magic." She simply said. The lady cocked her head and gave a decisive eye, "Hmmm-something's needed."

"Eh?" Ella twisted away from the mirror to turn her attention on the girl, "Wha…?"

Shippou crossed his arms and gave a pondering look, "Perhaps we need to stylize her hair?"

"Perhaps. Come, Ella, you need to sit." Kagome grabbed her by the sleeve and guided her back to the lobby room.

"Wahhh!" The servant-turned-almost princess was pushed on a ridged-back chair roughly.

Ella realized that Kagome was behind her and tried to move her head to see her. She couldn't as the lady restricted her head with her small, covered hands on her neck, "Why-?"

"Hm-normally I would do this myself but we have limited of time." The Lady Exorcist mused, ignoring the woman's question, "Shippou. I trust you to fix about her hair."

Ella can see the butler near the door and he bowed elegantly, "And of course." Mr. Reynard straightened up and then approached, passing her. Kagome removed her hands from the maid's skin, only to be replaced by much larger hands of the lady's butler.

Ella was stiff but her instincts told her to be calm and let them to do what they liked to her.

Small tugs there and here, it really wasn't as bad as she thought it would. Ella then chewed on her yet painted lips as she pondered. Unable to help herself, she blurted out, "Why? Why are you doing this, Lady Higurashi?"

She was nervous because she was unable to see the little girl and was expecting to hear no reply of sort from her.

"I'm simply granting your dearest wish, Ella." Kagome replied.

"I'm simply granting your dearest wish, Ella."

Ella was horrified as the memory burned brightly in her mind, "No, don't-!" She was about to run.

But Shippou held on her shoulders firmly, "I'm not finished yet you silly girl."

Ella trembled, ignoring her raucous instinct. She heard a sigh and the black and blue flickered by her side. Ella looked up and saw the little lady standing in front of her, "You were foolish to have done what you did, Ella. But worry not-I'm not one of them." Kagome coldly declared, her eyes crystallizing like the water in winter.

Her eyes wide, even as the butler kept on working swiftly on her tresses, "Y-you knew?" Ella stammered.

"Well, duh~!" The dark stuffed animal exclaimed as it climbed up to cling on the girl's head, disregarding the Cinderella woman's squeak of surprise, "She is the Lady Exorcist after all!"

The other one popped out of Kagome's coat to look at its' companion above, "Damien! You know you're not supposed to talk in front of normal people!" Kagome allowed out a quiet sigh as Ella heard a suppressed chuckle from the man behind her. Ella, in shocked wonder, watched the white one rushed after the black one, Damien.

"Hey, hey, don't h-ahhhhh!" Damien screamed as he received the wrath of the white one by being hit in both sides of his face and body few times. It was enough to get him to loosen his hold on the blank faced girl's styled hair and fell off. But Damien grabbed the tail of his annoyed companion and dragged it with him to try and avoid falling.

Needless to say, they both fell to, what Ella first thought, their dooms.

Flunp! came the soft sound of their cushioned bodies hitting the wooded floor.

"Arggg, why, Lilith, why?" The black one cried out as he pushed off the white one from his form and sat up.

Lilith huffed out, "You made an embarrassment out the mistress, Damien!" She then hurriedly climbed up Kagome's dress to her shoulder, leaving her companion behind on the ground. "I'm so sorry, Mistress!" She rubbed her round head under the girl's chin.

Kagome said nothing though she allowed an eyebrow to twitch briefly.

Ella was unable to help but to watch the whole thing in awe, pondering on how in the world those creatures could even act alive.

Damien was left behind, sitting on the floor and acting much like a pouting child in the corner.

Ella could still hear the stagger of Mr. Reynard as he still was doing her hair.

But she supposed it wasn't too much of a shock considering what happened to her years prior. Still those little creatures sure are cute.

There was something that was bugging her however, "Lady Exorcist…?" Where had she heard that from? She gasped as she remembered.

"Devil's child!" Ella uttered out. She yelped when there was a rough yank on her head. She then realized that Mr. Reynard wasn't happy with her mindless proclamation. "I'm sorry-I didn't me-" She tried to apologized but Kagome merely scoffed at her.

"I'm used to it." Ella frowned at the dark dressed girl as she remembered how the Hamilton ladies would gossip at some juicy tidbits about this very child. One rumor claimed how this very girl was the very antichrist of the Bible. Another was about how she'd bring a curse to the entire world, much like Black Plague. There were many, even more ridiculous rumors-of course the Hamiltons never believed them and merely giggled at the ludicrousness of them.

Of course not all of them were necessarily cruel and unjustified.

There was a gossip about how she saved the daughter of a homeless family by casting out a demon that was within her. The church was unable to exorcize the beast whilst she could. While people had to pay her for her services, Kagome was generally a helpful person, most likely from the influences of a kindly old man that was her grandfather. There were few more similar rumors like it.

"Ah. That should do it." Shippou stated as he removed his hands from Ella's dark locks.

His eyes held grudge when she turned to thank him. Ella swallowed thickly, "Thank you." She looked down, "M-may I see the mirror again?"

"And of course." He helped her up, that look in his eyes hadn't fully gone away. Ella said nothing as she followed.

The princess for the day knew Kagome was trailing behind her.

"Oooh. Your work is lovely, Mr. Reynard!" Ella shyly admired her newly fashioned hairstyle through the mirror once they reached it.

"Thank you, miss." He bowed.

Kagome gave another examination, "Hmm-still something is missing." Lilith nodded in the agreement.

Shippou hummed as he also looked, "Do you believe so, milady? I wonder what."

Ella looked at them in wonder, curious. "Oh, that's right-she needs shoes and jewelries." Kagome realized and dragged out a string of small pearls from her winter wear. It was simple and had a larger round sapphire in the center. The necklace was a perfect match to the dress Ella was wearing.

The man then took it from her small hands and gently placed it around her neck with a small click of the linkage.

Ella then took another look in the mirror. She couldn't take a breath at how…perfect she looked with the dress and the necklace.

"The shoes?" The little lady inquired.

Shippou pulled out a pair of ivory colored heels, like a magician would with a rabbit out of a hat, "Here, miss."

Ella felt silly not grasping the fact that she was without footwear all along-she had been so used to wearing old and badly worn slippers.

The butler kneeled before the maid, "Your feet, madam."

"Ah! Um, of course." Ella picked up her skirt and held out a stocked foot. Shippou put a shoe on and clasped it altogether to make it fit snugly. He then gestured her to give him her other foot.

Ella gulped, having never worn a heel before, did as he asked her. Unused, she shakily held out her other appendage. Seeing her behaving as she was, Shippou hurried on.

Click!That footwear was finally on. The man stood up, with a smile, "Do they fit?"

With both of her feet down, she nimbly nodded, "Yes. But I've never worn shoes such as those before."

Kagome grunted, "Don't worry too much over it-you'll get used to it quick." She waved a hand at her lazily. The Lady Exorcist then took another look, "Now…I don't think you are in need of anything else. Except maybe a stole to keep warm."

"Have you forgotten?" Mr. Reynard pointed up a finger dramatically, "This miss here needs an invite ticket and a carriage."

"Ahh," Kagome nodded, "I have forgotten." She turned to Ella, "It'll be in the white carriage-you'll be riding in it."

Ella squeaked, "I don't ride with you two?" She frowned behind her hands as she contemplated why.

"Heaven sake, no. It'll draw too many eyes on me and I simply do not like to be the center of the attention." Kagome scowled. "We'll be late if we don't hurry." She then pointed out.

Shippou bustled them toward the exit of the red-lined house. He was quick to deliver a furred stole for Ella, who was still a bit baffled on the entire event. Ella shrived when the cold air bit her exposed skin when the gentleman opened the door for the women. She was quick to thank Shippou for the shawl as it kept her warm.

"Wait for me, Mistress!" There was a small black blur slithering across the waxed floor and it pounced on the edge of the little girl's skirt just as she entered the snowy land outside. Shippou shut the door then.

"Ahh, Damien you idiot," Lilith grumbled at her companion as he climbed his way to Kagome's shoulder, "Will you be good for now on?"

Damien only grumbled at her as he held on. Kagome ignored the pair as she was guided by Shippou to their carriages beyond the forest. Ella was slow as she was unused trekking in snow with heels and was fretting over her skirt touching the ground.

The lady and her butler had to wait for her to arrive because of her carefulness.

"That's the carriage?" Ella shrilled once she saw the beautiful horse drawn wagon. Even the horses themselves were pure white, white as snow.

"Quite so." The butler affirmed, "And the driver will help you in."

Kagome nodded, as she was stepping on the ladder, "Best to hurry now. We don't have much time before the ball starts."

Ella nodded and the driver was kind enough to help her in. Just as she flopped on her seat, Kagome ran in her view before the door, "Oh! I've forgotten! Here are the words of my warnings." She declared to her, "Do not linger before the clock hits the midnight, when the ball shall end, or the spell will be broken."

"Spell?" Ella squeaked, "What spell?"

Kagome frowned, "You're smart-you'll figure it out by then." She continued on, "And please, keep these items we had been kind enough to lend you for the day safe. We'll need them back."

Ella nodded, knowing that the dress, the jewelries, and the shoes were too precious for her to keep either way, "I shall try."

"Good." Kagome stepped off the steps, "Now hurry along!" She slammed the door shut and Ella looked out the glass to see her scurry to her own dark stained carriage just as the horses whinnied and pulled away.

She had to take a look in the surroundings she was in, wondering if it was a dream or reality. Ella spotted an envelope on the opposite side of her and she picked it up, crinkling in her gloved hands. The small sounds were barely enough to convince her that, yes, it really wasn't a dream.

Ella watched the scenery blurred by as she allowed tears to slip and fell from her eyes the entire time she was in the moving wagon.

•○•○•

"Mr. Higurashi! There you are!" Ciel, the youngest earl of his family, called out as he saw the familiar face of the smiling old man and advanced toward to him calmly.

"Ah, Young Mr. Phantomhive, how have had you been?" Alden grinned as he guided him away from the bustling crowd of the boisterous party to a quieter corner of the ballroom. He noticed the man that always followed the young boy around, "And greeting, Mr. Michaelis!"

"Fine-I'm just happy to not to deal with my fiancée for this moment." Ciel confessed, knowing Alden was familiar of who she was, "But never mind her. Is she truly coming?"

Alden cocked his head, "Ah, is the little miss Elizabeth not invited? I could have sworn she was." He shrugged.

Ciel's expression had a flash of annoyance, "I said never mind her. Now, please…"

Alden waved away a hand, chuckling, "I know, I know. I'm merely jesting with you." He sipped his tea as he had been forbidden alcohol by his doctor, "My dear said she will…" The old man trailed off with a frown.

Ciel held back a growl, "The ball is about to start. The guards don't allow the guests in if they are late." He silently cursed the rule the queen had installed some years back when she grew weary of dealing with them. Apparently she saw it as a sign of disrespect to her and her power.

Alden again waved a hand, "Trust my words-my dear granddaughter's butler does have his ways." He was vague but Ciel supposed he could take his word for it.

"If you say so. I'm sure if there's a need, Sebastian will assist." Ciel admitted. The gentleman in black nodded at him with strong confidence.

The old man smiled, "I will take your word for it."

Ciel then took a look around and had to hold back a wince as he saw how bright the huge decorated ballroom was.

It was populated by many people and if he dared to guess the numbers it would be barely over a hundred. Not as many as it would with other, more ordinary parties, when it'd easily be over five times that number. But either way it was still quite numerous in his hindsight.

Suddenly the crowd was silent and eyes turned to the entrance. Curious, so were his.

"Ah, Young Master, it seemed that there is a Cinderella in this ball." Sebastian mused out in interest, "A ploy of the young lady herself perhaps?"

Ciel didn't glance back to his butler as he examined the flustered woman, the dress was stunning. Indeed it was the handiwork of the seamstress he knew of personally, the very one who worked under the watchful eyes of the Higurashi family. "A Cinderella indeed. Should we introduce ourselves to her or…?" He directed the question to Alden, though Ciel knew Sebastian might be able to want to answer it.

"No. Let us wait a little," The old master declared, "I doubt we can get a word to her otherwise." Alden was right-the woman was already being overwhelmed by numerous of people.

"Looks like she already received the interest of the prince himself as well." Ciel allowed out a loose chuckle, "Prince Edward of Wales**. The Queen's nephew."

The tall, thin male from beyond the boy earl's sight was unable to stop himself from looking at this unknown woman as he kept his aunt entertained with his stories. The Queen tittered on her throne as she saw his attention straying.

Alden was getting to be aggravated, eyes switching about, "Where is she…?"

"You said not to worry…" Ciel murmured as he pointed out.

He sighed, "I know-it doesn't stop me from worrying-she is my only grandchild after all. My dear heart."

"You talk as if I was dead, Grandfather." Kagome dryly commented as she merged from the shadow of the wall with Shippou behind her.

Alden blanched, "A lie! You know I love you!"

Ciel blinked as he watched.

"You are such a dramatic man; Grandfather…Is it enough that you already knew I was here? Honestly…" Kagome sighed before she greeted Ciel with a curtsy, "Hello. How have you been, Earl Phantomhive?"

Alden rubbed his head as he chuckled sheepishly, knowing that he already was busted for playing the Queen's Watchdog and his butler for a fool. Nonetheless Ciel allowed it to roll off his shoulders as he knew of the erratic part of his nature.

He bowed in return, "Quite well. Not many duties as it had been rather quiet." Ciel acknowledged as he straightened, "And you, Lady Higurashi?"

Kagome blinked, "Well, it's going quite well as you can see." She tipped her head to the woman they were quick to dubbed a Cinderella, "I can only hope it will stay that way until the grand finale." She frowned at that thought.

Ciel waved a ringed hand, "Well, no one is paying attention to us as they were too captivate with the Cinders girl." He glanced at the Exorcist Lady, "As much as I'm curious of what happened, I promised a gift."

"Hm?" Kagome narrowed at her grandfather, knowing that he was the one at fault for planning this whole thing. Alden sweated.

The youthful boy gestured her to follow, "I've made an arrangement with the Queen and she was kind enough to lend a room."

"I'm sure that Lady Kagome isn't the sort to dance as well." Sebastian considered out loud. He then smirked when he realized the young master had also wanted to avoid it as well. Ciel gave him a brief warning glare.

"Hmm…Good point." Kagome nodded and fell into step behind Ciel. He led her away from the grand room, her grandfather and the menservants hurried after them. No one ever noticed their absences.

•○•○•

Ella was overwhelmed. It was the first time people had ever came to her and how! There were sneering ladies, flirting gentlemen, children in awe, elders impressed, all sorts of people! They asked so many questions but they were polite about it. Such as the good mannered society.

As she tried and answered each question she received, somehow Ella had found her ability to be a proper and charming lady. 'Is this the spell the little lady spoke of?' Somehow she doubted it, at least not the fullest extent of it. Ella knew full well that she was never raised to be well footed or educated.

Yet, even in the shoes she never walked in before this day, it came easily.

How odd.

"Oh, the Queen is starting her announcement!" An older woman tittered next to the formerly servant girl as a bell twinkled throughout the sound. Attentions on Ella dissolved away as the audience shifted to the beloved ruler of their country.

Queen Victoria then stood up before her throne-like chair with a big smile, not allowing her subjects to have a chance to sing their praises-after all, it was their day too and she wanted to have it fun, "Hello to all and Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas!" The audience chorused, many had said something afterward but as it was so loud, Ella couldn't hear them all.

The aging queen giggled before composing herself, "I do have a few things to say before the ball can truly begin!" She smiled brightly, "As for one, my nephew, Prince Edward of Wales, is here to celebrate with you all! Please greet him!"

Ladies giggled and the gentlemen simply smiled, some with spite in their eyes, as they chorused in greeting for him. Edward almost seemed flustered at the attention he received as he stood slightly next to his oldest aunt. He then bowed, "Hello, the Queen's loyal subjects! So glad all of you are able to make it to the Winter's Ball." He proudly announced.

The audience murmured, mostly in praises of him and his aunt.

Queen Victoria waved away a hand, "Ah, and another thing, I have included a few surprises for this ball!" She winked, "Just to make it more merry! So do be prepared to expect the unexpected!" People cooed at that thought, wondering what they were.

Ella too pondered but shrugged it off, knowing that the ball would last until midnight and she was sure people would eventually get bored of just dancing and singing.

"The last thing…" Queen Victoria clapped her hands together childishly, "Do enjoy!" She then returned to her seat, her knees aching. Her subjects cheered. She gestured to one of her several butlers in white to announce the start of the dance.

A young golden haired man walked ahead of his Queen and proclaimed, "So begin the music!" The musicians, up on the upstairs over heading balcony, quickly started to play, allowing the beautiful sounds to flow away from them.

Those who were uninterested into dancing merely pushed back closer to the walls, allowing for more rooms for action in the middle of the large room.

Ella found herself surrounding by numerous of gentlemen, asking her to dance with them. She swallowed thickly before she nodded, nervous jittering into her bones.

A man smiled as he took her away from the scowling group, their feet moved in their own accord to the harmony. Skirts twirled and bustled about in the air as the ladies were spun. Smiles were plastered on their painted faces, their stiff, decorated hair bounced with rushed movement.

Ella found herself hoping that none of the Hamilton ladies had spotted her.

•○•○•

Kagome eyed the door beyond, unsure of what to anticipate, as she was all alone. In a big, dark hallway that was so dreadfully long. The others had disappeared once when the electricity flickered from the lights in the ceiling, shortly blackened everything.

She found herself without even her butler-the one who vowed to never leave her side.

Kagome supposed he had lied. Unless there was a reason to it.

Even Lilith and Damien were no longer with her!

She refused to move her feet, knowing that her grandfather had hatched a ploy-what, she didn't know. But whatever it was, she wouldn't like it. 'But what if it's a good thing?' Kagome's traitorous mind wondered.

Kagome glared hard at that beckoning door but her fear of being alone was biting.

She caved and hurriedly raced to the entrance once as the lights flickered again. Kagome never did like the darkness.

Never.

Her covered hands grabbed on a doorknob. And the little lady hesitantly pulled it open.

She blinked, seeing nothing but several candles that seemed to be floating in the dark. Kagome squinted her eyes and realized there were twelve candles in a structured group. The surface the candles seemed to be in looked like…

"Cake?" Kagome uttered out quietly. 'Wait a minute…'

Light turned on, causing her to squeak out loud and stepped back as they chorused altogether, "Happy Birthday!"

The tiger of hers, Kirara, was there and crawled toward her with a rumbling purr. There was a ridiculous large pink bow on her neck, probably to celebrate her very belated birthday. She head butted Kagome's torso, wanting affection. The lady petted her as her face became heavy with red from embarrassment.

It was a fairly small room but big enough to hold a group of nine, including her grandfather, Ciel, the butlers, and the two stuffed animals. Kagome didn't see who the other two were as she had her head down.

Familiar shoes came in her view and she looked up, "Your grandfather had been telling me about how you wouldn't appreciate your own birthday." Ciel confessed, "And as I owe him a favor, I've offered to help out."

Kagome glared, her face still red from humiliation. He grabbed her hand as he frowned, "Don't be angry," she flinched at the touch. But Ciel never noticed when he pulled her to the table with the cake. Passing the tiger he gave a nervous glance to the beast.

Allergy or not, it's just too odd to have that animal as a pet. Just too odd.

Kagome spotted her two other servants, Yash and Kiki. They were smiling.

Suddenly she felt bad for even being angry-all they wanted, she realized, was to celebrate her birthday. That was all.

Ciel gently pushed her into the front of the cake. The candles glimmered in the excitement, as they waited to be blown out. The young lady chewed her lips before she spoke one word, "Why?" Kagome knew the reason but she wanted to hear it herself.

Shippou smiled at her, "It was your birthday-wasn't that reason enough?"

She could feel the hopeful eyes on her as she eyed the candles. Kagome looked up to the adult before returning to the dessert.

The candles were blown out, never hesitating.

•○•○•

The music was almost enough to make her to forget who she truly was-even as the feet swayed gracefully on the floor, their partners twirling and guiding them nearly so kindly. It was all a blur to Ella, but she would say it was the memorable reminiscence she would ever have,

Sparkles glinted from the crystal chandeliers, blindingly, as she was circled and circled again by her partner-different gentleman this time. Ella was surprised at how easily to follow the tempo-the movement.

A part of the spell perhaps?

Nonetheless she didn't dare to think on it.

Another man stole her away from her current partner, easily declaring to that ruffled gentleman, "My turn, good sir!" He said with a grin.

The man then pulled her away, as Ella flustered at the realization of who he was.

It's the prince! Prince Edward!

She was speechless yet she still flowed in the polished movement with him. "May I have a privilege to know your name, my dear beautiful lady in the white?" The prince smiled.

Ella was thickly red, "E-Ella, Ella Laurent." She didn't dare to use the surname that tainted her own family.

"Beautiful name." He hummed, "My aunt has taken a fancy of you, you know…And so have I." Edward confessed.

She gulped, unsure of what to say. Wasn't this the spell's doing? If so then it's starting to be overwhelming. But somehow Ella didn't feel any burn of cold regret. Rather it was warm and sent excited tingling down in her belly. The thought that that little girl was doing this all for her…

It was…nice.

A boost of confidence overcame her nervousness as the prince spun her, "Oh, how embarrassing!" A giggle escaped her lips, "I came because I was invited by a friend-I didn't think I would even get that much attention!"

Edward then tipped her before twisting her once more, "Oh? So you never received that much attention as you have? I couldn't ponder why you wouldn't-you're beautiful and radiate with such a glow!" A cello sang louder than its' musical companions as they ended a melody, only to started another one.

Ella flustered when Edward refused away several partners then, declaring he wished to dance some more with her.

"A glow?" Ella blinked, "Whatever do you mean? Perhaps it's my new gown?" Her skirt flew as she warped a foot to turn away from her royal partner, a part of a complex dance the large group is now part-taking in.

Edward pulled her back in his arms before stepping away, only to return back, "Hmmm-I supposed it was happiness-purity-it is difficult to say. All I can tell you is that it must be something many ladies cannot do." He stated.

His hands, even though they were gloved, were gentle yet fairly large-a show of a true gentleman.

Her heart was drumming loudly.

Is this what the ladies would call the love of first sight? She wasn't sure she ever believed in that sort of thing, having always believed love came with time-just like her true mother and father.

They didn't speak for rest of the dance, enjoying each other's company-ignoring the glares of jealousy.

Just like that, the song ended.

Edward excused himself from Ella, departing with her watching after him. He returned to his grandmotherly aunt's side. She watched them interact briefly and saw how proud the old queen seemed to be.

"May I please have your attention?" That blond butler of the Queen announced. People turned-some were disappointed as they wished for more time to dance but never protested against the Queen's decision.

The man sighed, "Thank you-now the Queen wishes to speak." He bowed before moving away to allowed the aged woman to speak.

She didn't bother standing up from her seat; her bones are wearily, even with eager eyes, "It's time for the surprises!" Queen Victoria said with a bright, childlike smile. The audience was excited-noisy with enthusiasm. She clapped her hands to earn back the attentions, "It's time for…gift exchanging!" The Queen giggled.

The audience murmured excitedly but was all confused the same as it was not a new surprise-gift exchanging was a part of Winter's Ball. As if she saw their confusion, she then declared, "This time-I shall hand out the gifts that my people entrusted to me-as well as I'm handling out gifts to the children!"

It was a grand opportunity to meet her up-close-and the attending children will too get an extra gift. It was indeed a special surprise.

The same gentleman from before then declared the children under the age of thirteen will go first and that they must go in two lines-one for boys and other for girls. Then they must say their full name to receive the gift from a guest and so on.

When the Queen gave them their presents, it was indeed a sweet sight to be watched-very touching to see the smile on the youngsters' face.

Ella watched all, tears biting her eyes.

•○•○•

Kagome eyed the bracelet that the Earl was kind enough to give her-it was adorned with small specks of sapphires and diamonds. It was once a family heirloom of his deceased mother and Ciel figured it'd be a better gift to the girl rather than to keep it for the memory. He, of course, didn't say much about it and she knew better than to press on. It was a small party, fairly short simply because both Kagome and Ciel had businesses to attend to.

But it was something she'd always remember.

There weren't that many gifts, again because it was almost Christmas and she didn't feel like carrying presents back home. And so Kirara and the two servants left with them, telling her to be careful as doing so.

"Happy Birthday, Lady Kagome." He bowed to her, "I hope you'll like my gift."

There wasn't any need to give her something, in her hindsight-after all they were nothing more than acquaintances. Yet he felt he owed it to her to do so.

Kagome sighed as she dropped her thinking on the enigma that is the boy of Phantomhive. She finally arrived in the ballroom with the others in her shadow.

"At least they are not dancing." Ciel causally remarked.

She agreed.

"We need to find Ella-I'm sure Milady will appreciate knowing that she hasn't gotten into trouble just yet." Shippou stated.

"Hm. Seems like the Queen is handing out presents to young children." Sebastian pointed out, "This Ella is most likely watching them from a sideline." He suggested with a mischievous smile.

Shippou twitched.

Kagome breezed through them; Ciel hot on her heels-it was almost as if he read her mind and had chosen to see this through. The butlers were left behind with a flat expression and a jolly old man chuckling. The young men blanched before hurried after the younglings, zigzagging throughout the maze of people.

They stopped, spotting their lady and the earl before a small crowd. The said crowd was surrounding that Cinderella girl. Ciel pondered, "Lady Kagome-why her?"

Kagome understood, even with the vagueness of his question, "Because she's pitiful. That is all." She coolly answered-never once removing her eyes on the blushing woman.

"Because she reminded you of you?" Ciel realized and she flinched, answering his question. He could feel the burn of the red haired butler's glare. Overprotective much? He hummed-observation was indeed his forte after all.

Kagome was a bit piqued but otherwise ignored the earl, "Let's just hope that none of her…family has seen her yet."

•○•○•

"Who is that weakling who danced with my prince?" Ivy hissed-jealousy surging through her veins. Despite her masquerade of being a good, prim and proper lady, she still inherited her mother's temper.

Holly smacked the back of her oldest child's head with a fan, "Cool your temper, Ivy-you're attracting attention and by that I meant bad sort of attention." With a quick scan around, the trio could see the odd glances and whispers of them, easily contaminating their reputation.

Rosemary was quiet, interested more in smoothing her dark-colored gown straight as she attempted to hide away with a wall. Her mother wouldn't have it however.

Ivy childishly puffed out as she quieted her tantrum, "Still-the prince refused me because of her."

"Did you at least see her face though? I haven't caught the wind of who she is." The Lady Mother pondered out loud, tapping the folded fan to her lips as she thought.

The dark-haired daughter shook her head, "I'm afraid not."

Flap! The fan noisily opened as Holly declared with pride thrumming in her voice, "Then shall we introduce ourselves to her?" At this, Rosemary tried to excuse herself away from them.

"Ah! Rosemary-you are coming with us, young one." There was no room to disobey in her mother's tone.

Rosemary bowed her head, "Yes, Mother." How were they going to react if they found out about their maid? Horrible she knew. Rosemary had witnessed Ella herself as she danced with a partner-the blonde wished that there is such a thing as blissful ignorance for her.

•○•○•

"Oh, dear-I'm afraid this party may end sooner than we hoped, my heart," The old man warned, gaining the Lady Exorcist's attention. Kagome blinked as Alden tipped his head into a direction, "Would these ladies be of Hamilton?"

She glanced where he was speaking of and saw them marching to where the Cinderella was. The little lady held back a curse and nodded, "Shippou." The man understood.

And so do the Queen's Watchdog and his butler, "Let us come with you," Ciel said and he received a shrug. The earl believed it to be okay. They hurried and disappeared among the swarm of humans, leaving Mr. Higurashi behind.

Alden heaved a sigh, "There is something foul in the air-I wish you luck of expelling it, my dear granddaughter."

•○•○•

"Hm?" Their eyes saw the familiar dark hair of the Lady Exorcist, "Oh, Lady Higurashi!" Holly cooed, already losing interest in meeting the Cinderella girl-Ivy, though, kept in a huff, knowing better than saying anything. Her mother had already held the little girl in such a high regard simply because she gave them tickets to the Winter's Ball. The golden-haired woman released a sigh in a relief.

Ivy noticed and narrowed her eyes.

Kagome curtsied, "Good evening, madams." She straightened up and gestured the boy child next to her as he gave them a bow, "This is my acquaintance, Earl Ciel Phantomhive."

"Nice to meet you, ladies." He stated coolly. His eye though was hard and wary.

Holly gasped, "Oh, thank you for allowing us to attend!" She blinked as she remembered her manners, "Ah, my apologies-" She returned a curtsy, "I'm Lady Holly Hamilton and the two ladies with me are my daughters, Ivy and Rosemary." They returned the same gesture.

"It wasn't a problem at all." Ciel stated, "Lady Higurashi has spoken of you."

"Oh," Holly cooed, "How nice of you, Young Lady Higurashi-I didn't think we'd strike a fancy from you." She flittered her fan.

Kagome, as usual of her nature, merely tipped her head. Shippou and Sebastian emerged from a cluster of people, "Milady…There you are."

Both Ivy and Rosemary flustered at the appearance of the butlers, "Who is that stranger?" Rosemary asked, dazzle-eyed at the man with almost red eyes.

"Oh." Sebastian then smiled seductively at the young ladies and bowed, "I'm Sebastian Michaelis, the young master's butler, and it's quite nice to meet you two, ladies."

"Oh, another butler?" Ivy was disappointed, whispering to her younger sister. However Rosemary was still dazed at his appearance, ignoring her.

She approached him shyly, "Dear sir-" Rosemary was interrupted by the Queen's Butler.

"Alright then-now that the children have received all of their gifts," Eyes swept to the giggling bunch of the youngsters as they showed off their toys with big smiles on their faces, "it's time for the chorus! You all are very welcome to dance as well." The gentleman in white bowed just as a small group of musicians on the over heading floor started once more.

The choral group then started once the music hit a certain note, "O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth…
"

"Do you wish to dance with me?" Sebastian smirked darkly at the flustering woman, after receiving a nod from his young master.

"Yes, that'd be nice!" Redness was dark on her cheeks as she accepted his gloved hand. The butler swept her away.

Ivy stared at Shippou, beckoning him to do the same-even if he's nothing but a mere servant. He merely handed out a hand and too swept her away once she took it. Holly was asked by an older gentleman and vanished within the crowd.

"…" The earl and the lady exorcist glanced at each other, "We'd need to dance, don't we?" Ciel gave a look of dread.

Kagome frowned, "You have been wishing to know more about the situation, do you not?"

He sighed before bowing, "May I have this dance, milady?"

She curtsied, hesitantly accepting his offer, "And of course." Ciel then pulled her within the swirl of people, with Kagome's skirt flipping around in a flurry.

"His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease…" The voices of the singers held strong as the music were beginning to lulled somewhat. A large, decorated clock upon a wall was ticking down warningly.

•○•○•

The prince asked her to dance with him again and she couldn't say no-how could she?

Ella could have sworn that she must have one of the biggest smiles on her face-she was the happiest girl there is in the ball. "You looked very happy." Edward remarked, pleased that he was the one that gave her that gleaming smile.

"Oh, yes, I am." She giggled, "I never thought I'd dance with a prince!"

Edward smirked, "Oh?" He bended her close to the ground before picking her up, "Well I'll assure you that it's not a dream, my dear Ella."

The woman smiled, "I'm sure it is not, Prince." She was whirled away before returning to him, "But it sure does feel like a dream." Ella confessed.

The prince said nothing, merely smiled at her and kept on dancing with her. The chorus ended their song only to move on to next one, the music resumed, "God rest ye merry, gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay…" The pattern of their feet changed into more hurried pace but less complex.

A certain golden-haired woman eyed her in fear but it ended quickly when the servant man flicked her away from the pair. Deeper within the crown of noble kind.

Heels clanged against the floor, keeping up with each and every note of the music, adding more to the melody. The sound was almost drowning but with bliss. Every face was bright with the light, even with the dark sky outside.

It couldn't be night because of so much snow that lighted against the darkness.

Ella found herself wanting to take a break from dancing as she was exhausted, "Prince Edward?"

"Yes, my dear lady?" He spun her before catching her in his arms.

"May we take a break? I found myself thirsty and rather tired."

He nodded, "As am I. Let's come to the side and away from the dance." Edward led her away from bustling ladies and gentlemen. He intake a breath before exhaling before turning to the lady, "I'll ask a butler to fetch us a drink, hm?"

Ella smiled and nodded lightly.

The prince summoned a servant and asked for what they wished. The servant then hurried away to fetch their desires. Edward then spotted Ella glazing out of a large window, her dark eyes in awe of the beauty of the winter.

He walked to her, "Beautiful, is it not?" He murmured as he absently picked up a dark curled lock of his princess.

The lock fell away from his finger when she turned to look at him, "It sure is." Ella gave him another one of her beautiful smile. She then looked back to the scenery.

Edward chuckled, "I wasn't speaking of the winter, my dear."

She glanced at him again and with a blush, "Oh! Oh, um, thank you!"

It was indeed beautiful for him.

The servant reappeared, with a tray. On the tray there was two cups and Edward plucked them. He thanked the young man and dismissed him.

"Here you go, my lady." He gifted her a cup and she quietly thanked him, accepting it.

She sipped it quietly as she watched the snowflakes slowly fall to the white blanket. Everything was surreal to her but at the same time…it wasn't. By instincts, she looked at the nearly trees and searched for the familiar birds. Her eyes widened in realization-there were none.

Kagome ran in her view before the door, "Oh! I've forgotten! Here are the words of my warnings." She declared to her, "Do not linger before the clock hit the midnight, when the ball shall end, or the spell will be broken."

"Spell?" Ella squeaked, "What spell?"

Kagome frowned, "You're smart-you'll figure it out by then."

She stepped back closer to the dancing throng. Edward gave her a quizzing glance, "Is there something the matter, Lady Laurent?"

She couldn't speak-there was that familiar hiss in her ears, "Why are you here, you pathetic girl?" Then the voice was gone, being swept away in the bustling horde. Her spine was straight as an arrow as fear was tickling on her skin, her cheat tightened. She found it difficult to even breathe.

"To free all those who trust in Him from Satan's power and might." The singers' voices were loud and proud as they pressed on with the harmony. Ella choked as she thought, 'God won't save me now! He cannot!'

"Ella?" The prince's voice was clouded with concern.

She glanced at a nearby clock and saw how it was already midnight and looked back to the prince, "I'm sorry." She fled. The glass cup fell from her hands.

It shattered upon the impact.

•○•○•

The choir ended and the little girl pulled away, "I should get going-follow if you wish."

"Hmm-I do think that I already know about this story…There's no happy ending to this one." Ciel mused as she gave him a bleak smile.

Kagome chuckled, "You'd make a good storyteller one day." With that she curtsied and then left him behind, surrounded by strangers.

"I would, wouldn't I?" He chuckled as he saw her vanished from his eye, "Merry Christmas, Lady Exorcist."

•○•○•

Ella ran out of the mansion, noticing how the white carriage was no longer there and forced herself to keep on running. Barely out of the property of the Queen, she got herself stuck within a rain drain grille. Ella grunted and whimpered as she attempted to set herself free with the heel still on her foot.

She looked back and seeing the murder of crows stalking her and fear merely grew strong. Ella never noticed the prince running after her, shouting her name. Frustrated, she released the shoe and ran on only one heel. The woman vanished within the snow that Edward was unable to get her.

"Ella?" He stopped before the grille and bending to pick the abandoned heel up, "Why did you run?"

Dodging the buildings by buildings her lungs burned but still she kept on, even with unbalanced feet and the ice cold weather. The murder of crows grew bigger and bigger. All of them watching her with their beady red eyes, few screeching in laughter. Taunting her.

Her tears turned to ice from the cold. Ella had no clue how long she had been running-hadn't any clue of how she kept on running, She was sure that she'd die a cold death by now but no-her body demanded both a break yet screamed at her to keep on fleeing. Ella opted for the latter-she'd rather die a cold death than to be devoured by the winged beasts.

Ella saw white-covered trees, barely being able to distinguish the difference between everything.

Everything in sight is blindingly white, so white.

It was a battle to climb up the hill, where her home was. Her breaths were growing cold as her skin was tinting blue and had a thin layer of ice covering her now ragged gown. Yet her heartbeat seemed to have slow down.

'I'm almost there!' Ella encouraged herself, 'Almost there!'

She fell over something buried in snow under a tree, having a face full of snow. Ella slowly pushed herself up, shivering violently, "Wh-hat-t d-did I sk-ip ov-over?" She asked herself and turned her body around to see what made her fell over. Ella was hoping that it was nothing more than a tree's jutting root.

She shakily reached over to it and slowly dusted away the thick layer of snow. Then she screamed. A crow laughed. Ella pulled herself up and ran from whatever scared her so much.

A black bird then landed on an uncover rotting skull of a dead body, slumping against the trunk. The avian chortled once more, watching the fleeing back of the poor woman.

"Ha, ha, ha! Sad, sad, sad! What a loss of a pitiful girl!" The bird screeched out before joining back to the black cloud of its' clan.

•○•○•

Ella fell to a messy crumple once she unlocked the door to the red-lined house. She weakly shut the door to keep in the warmth before falling back to the floor, with her body so stiff.

She was so, so cold-it was hard to take in the air she needed. Ella absently wondered about the meaning of the phrase, 'catching a death of cold' and then figured she already understood it.

"Well, well, well, look what we have here." Ella tiredly looked up and was barely able to see a memorable face of that cruel woman she had to have as her mistress but spoke not a word, "We have a rat in my house, my dear daughters." Holly sneered.

"Can we eat her?" Ivy sniggered, horrible unnatural features showing on her painted face.

Holly hummed, "I doubt that a frozen rat would be a good dinner, dear Ivy."

"How about we boil her?" The oldest daughter suggested, more of her unnatural features are showing. She truly did not look like a human anymore. The maid was feeling like she was having hallucination as her mind was feeling rather clouded-but knew what she was seeing were real.

The lady mother then grinned the widest smile Ella have ever seen-showing every and each pointed tooth the woman have, "That sounded like a splendid idea, my darling! Rosemary, my dear, please do start a fire and put a pot over with water in it!"

Rosemary nervously bowed, "Yes, mother." She was the only one that still resembled a human.

If Ella could, she would struggle wildly-but alas she was too cold to make even a single move but to breathe. And even it hurt to breathe. So the mother and her oldest merely pick her up like a potato sack and carried her to the kitchen and dump her on the floor as they wait for the water to bubble.

"Mother, mother! May I have a taste?" Ivy was eager-too eager and Ella knew what she wanted. Hot dread began to set in.

"Hmmm-it'd be a good start to her punishment, my dear. Feet are always good." Holly pondered. She barely looked human still-but if anything Ella would gladly call her a truest of truest monster. She sloppily licked her stretched lips with a long, blacken tongue noisily.

"Oh! How could I forget that she's a Cinders girl? Let peel off her heel!" The oldest suggested.

She cooed, "What a wonderful twist! Let do that!" Not-Holly grabbed one of Ella's feet-one without the heel-and cut off her wet stocking to reveal her blacken sole. Ella tried to struggle but her body simply refused to move due to the cold.

"Please-don't…" The maid cried feebly but she was ignored.

"Oh, look! It's black!" Ivy burst out in laughter as she pointed a finger to it, "Should we still eat it anyway?"

Holly shrugged as she was readying herself, "It's just a wee bit of frostbite-that's all to it."

She barely felt anything and she was thankful, but Ella still cried when she saw the red mess. Not-Holly had literally peeled off her heel, like meat.

The mother hangs it in front of her daughter, "Here you go, my dear heart."

Not-Ivy greedily grabbed it and gobbled it down with a gulp, "Hmm…The rat has an interesting texture…"

"Ivy, mind your manner." Not-Holly reminded. She received a quick apology in return as the mother turned back to the foot she was holding, "Now…what should I go for?" The mother pondered.

"The big toe! One of the sisters in Cinders girl book cropped off her toe just so the shoe can fit, don't you know?" The oldest daughter giggled.

"Once more, you are splendid!" The mother beast praised and readied a talon.

Ella clenched her eyes close, not wanting to see herself losing a precious appendage. Her throat had that sick taste of bile once she heard that sick sound of a bone crackling. She choked as she accidently opened her eyes and saw the stump of her missing toe.

The maid turned her head and vomited on the ground. She was lucky that she didn't have much to eat earlier but still it was sickening to see her step mother holding her detached toe. Her maw was dripping with the drools. It was disgusting to see.

Ella looked away, her skin of her face smearing with the excess. She was glad she was too cold to even feel a thing as she was sure it would hurt badly-feeling all sort of hot needles of pain.

There was that gross sound of devouring and crunching of small bones loudly in the suffocating kitchen. She watched the perfect shape of shadow doing just that. "Neh, neh, mother! The rat made a mess!" The oldest beast-daughter twittered-what an ugly sound, Ella thought-as it pointed at the excess of the maid.

"Oh!" The mother gave a disgusted sound, "Someone needs to clean that up! Rosemary, dear, throw the rat a rag, if you may. She needs to clean up her own mess."

Rosemary gulped, "Yes, mother." She nodded and turned away to get the requested item on a countertop nearby. With an apologetic glance at the blue-skinned maid, the youngest daughter threw a rag on her face.

The beastly mother looked at Rosemary, showing her the barely bloody foot, "Don't you wish for a taste, my dear?"

"No, thank you." The only unnatural being that still resembled a human declined.

Her mother and oldest sister glanced at her oddly, "It's strange of you to behave so-you used to be so eager…" Beastly Ivy drawled. Not-Holly nodded in the agreement, dropping the limb out of disinterest. Ella winced loudly once as her disfigured foot made an impact against the cold, cruel floor, thrumming with dull ache.

"Clean yourself up, you little rat!" Holly hissed. Ella, out of the practiced impulse, pathetically wiped down the waste with the soiled rag. Or at least tried to-every inch of her body was so stiff that it hurt even to twitch.

"Filthy thing, really." Ivy sneered before looking at her mother and her youngest sister, "Is the water boiling yet?" She was impatient.

Rosemary checked the slightly bubbling pot and shook her head in negative, "Not quite."

"Tch!" The sound of their voices were beginning to drown altogether as Ella saw the darkness edging around her eyes, her ears thick of cottony silence.

'Am I going to die tonight?' She thought and smiled, 'Mama, Papa, I'm coming home!' Ella closed her eyes, never was aware of a sudden shriek of rage being directed at her.

•○•○•

"Why was she smiling? Why was the s̡te̸p-r͏at́ ̵ smiling?" Ivy roared as she spotted that unconscious smile-her voice strained with discord. A beastly claw grabbed the front of the grimy, damp dress and pulled the human up in the air. The creature attempted to shake her awake from the endless sleep, shaking her so violently that the sound of the bones snapping in the neck was obvious in the air, "̡W̛ąk͏e ̛up you͏ ͏ús҉e͝less͏ ṕie͡ce of s̢hit!"

Angry with the lack of a result it then slammed the cold body down on the bricked floor, the head was now an unrecognizable mess. The frowning mother watched the youngest fledgling she sired from her evil womb fled within darkness, frightened off by the show of her sister's rage. Holly was unimpressed with the missing bravado the blond one used to have before. She made a mental note to discipline Rosemary for it.

Ivy continued to bash the body with a pair of large pincer-like limbs, "Stop that-keep it up and we will eat her off the filthy floor, dear." Holly grabbed a claw, her eyes sharpened in warning. Her daughter was now a mass of untellable breed-her maws was large and almost toad like, with drools taking form of jagged teeth. Her eyes were now a white orbs, lacking pupils, yet wide with unspeakable killer intent. Needless to say this child was no longer beautiful or even had a form of a human at all-the legs that were once curved and with hips perfect for child bearing, they were now bowed and feet easily reminded of a bird's talons.

The form was round, skin was scaled like. Being compared to the former disguise it was easily twice as large and twice as tall than its' human form was-it was reminded of a fat orc of some kind. Either way it was not a sight for sore eyes.

The creature hissed at its' mother as it was unable to speak properly. A slap sounded, "M͟͡ą̷͝n͡n͏e̵r̶̨͡s!̛ Had you forgotten your mą̷͝n͡n͏e̵r̶̨͡s?" Holly's voice took on a rough edge as she warned the being. Still it was being rebellious and lunged at her, forgetting its' place and its' mind.

Then there was a loud dog-like yelp. Holly stood over the cowering beast, an arm took on a form of similarly shaped pincer appendage within the stomach of her daughter, "Now҉ ͞y̸ou l̶i̧sten ͡to m͠e ̵yo̡u͟ st̶u̕p͟id̡ c͟hi͡ld o͠f m̴i͡ne͏! I͝ ̡exp̧ec̢ted yo͏u͠ ͝tó kno̸w͢ ͟y̡oųr͏ place!" She launched on a ranting lecture to the whimpering demon.

They never noticed someone standing within a shadow of a corner.

"Let just go and eat the rat girl now." The mother beast stated, annoyed. She wiped away the drools she was whipped on out of aggravation when its' daughter was growing excited, "Quite too bad Rosemary wouldn't be enjoying this." She remarked causally.

"Cinder girl, cinder girl, are you on your way to the heaven, cinder girl?" Soothing, youthful voice made its' way to the terrible duo. They snapped their attentions toward to something hidden from their hyper aware sight, seeing a silhouette of a familiar little girl, "Or will you stay and suffer for your foolish wish?"

They snarled as the realization of who it was sunk in, "YoU!̕͝" Holly shrieked, "Y͢o͠u'̶re ̛àņ unwel̸c͡om̡e g͢uest!҉"

There was a sarcastic giggle, "Haven't you realize you two were eating a ghost?" The little lady in black stepped out. She was wearing a veil over her head, as if attending a funeral. Behind her was a familiar redheaded gentleman, with an almost cruel smile.

Ivy speechlessly hissed at the girl as its' mother glared, "W͢h͝y̴ ͟s̢ho͟u̴ld͠ ҉ìt̕ m͝a̸tt̷er͟, ̀La̕dy Hig̷urasḩi?̢"̵ She spat out that name as if it held a taste of bile-a name she once held a fondness of due to the little girl's generosity. Her voice was quickly changing to something abnormal.

Kagome doesn't seem bothered though and gave an absent-minded shrug, "It shouldn't come as a surprise to me as you folks are beasts of gluttony. You'd eat the living to the dead to anything that weren't meant to be eaten." She pointed out, "Rather a repulsive line of work in my observation."

Insulted, Ivy stupidly flew into another about of rage and the mother merely watched, a gleeful grin making an ugly canvas on its' face.

Just when an edge of talon barely glazed the Lady Exorcist, something slammed into the side of the monster. There was a yelp once it crashed into the wooden floor, splinters floated into the air. "̹̬̠ͯ̅ͅMͥ̋͐̋̊̃y͉̙̍ ̖̻̣̻̪̀͐ͣc̷̭͇̹̩̠̾̓̓̏͂h̝͈̯̖͇ȋ͕̪̤̩̎̊̏̃̂́l̝̳d̴̯͉!̒̓́͌ͩ"̗̖͔͈̍̄͒ ̮̭̰͖ͧ͊̾̔ͦ"Holly wailed as the she-beast saw her fledgling was into a large crater, only things that was visible was a bowed leg, twitching. Shippou merely stood few inches away from the hole, readjusting his gloves.

Every and each whine from the fallen beast more angry she grew, "W͕̦̤̩̯͗̑̚h͎̠͖͕̭͍ͧa̯̒͑̔̅͐̚t̪͕ͭ̆̂̑̓͒̓ ͕̮͇̝a̛͕̭̜ͪ́ͤ̃̐͗̚r̗̘̳̥̥͔ͯ͒̈ͨe̔ͨ̾͐͒҉̳̮͉ ̒͏͕̭̙ŷ̫̉̃̾̏ͥ̚o̽̄̌̄҉͉̭u̡̻̺?̍̿ͤ͗̊!̭̞̞͇̲̩̜ͧ͏"

Kagome smiled, "Why. I'm just an ordinary exorcist!" The now creature flew at her and she quickly commanded the power within a hand she thrust to the symbol of gluttony, "qǝɐsʇs oɟ ƃlnʇʇouʎ¡! They do not belong with us on this ǝɐɹʇɥ!" The language she spoke shifted into something unfamiliar, almost out worldly. The pressure in the air was something new-strong and heavy and the monster was forced on its' knees, as it was unable to move.

The pressure was foreign, something to be fear. The demon eyed the hand and briefly wondered why the glowing mark looked so familiar. It couldn't think perfectly due to the wrath clouding the mind and the pressure was almost too much for it to attempt to try and hold itself into the place.

Then something burned-everything burned and only does it realized what it was-it was the mark of Father Himself. It roared from the desperation to get away.

It turned once the she-beast heard the cry of the daughter. Whatever magic it was-it was dragging her to something within the darkness. It clawed the wooden floor in the desperation to get away. Leaving behind trails of splinters. Frozen in fear and in pain of the burn by the holy light, all the mother can do was to watch its' fledgling vanishing within the blackness, screeching for help.

The pitchy howl quickly stopped and the it-mother was beginning to panicked, the bond of the daughter was gone. All it can hear was the quiet humming of the horrible magic. Then the rage returned once more. It lost the intelligible voice, screeching deafeningly, as it attempted to crawl toward the girl to attack her. It barely managed but was so sluggish due to the pressure of the unnamable magic.

Its' screeches were so earsplitting that the nearby glasses shattered, flying into all directions. The butler shielded his young mistress from the sharp shards, receiving marks of wounds instead. Kagome kept on muttering that unearthly language, too focused to even pay attention.

Just as the beast managed to touch a talon on the little girl's shoes, a red tinted rusty chain appeared from the blackness and wrapped around a foot tightly. It kept on shrieking, but with more force, as it realized what the chain was.

More appeared, taking more of the she-beast's limbs, and was starting to drag it toward to its' original home. Hell.

These chains were the takers of the damned souls.

To be more precise, they forcibly take whatever that doesn't belong to the living plane back to the Hell. The little girl simply summoned them to get rid of the beasts of gluttony.

Even if they already had a contract with a living soul. Of course it depends on what they are and who they are, but that's for some other time.

It could only let out one barely explicable word before disappearing, claws were dug deep within the breaking wood, "W̧̻̒ͭ̎̀h̗̼͋̇́ÿ̊͊ͣ?̶ͪ͒̽̓͐͏̷̦͔!̺͎͍̺͖̯ͭ̌͂͑̇͂͠" There was no answer, as it didn't deserve one.

There was a white glow of a large circle of a pentagram, informing the exorcist of its' finished job before fading away.

Kagome stopped her chanting, obviously drained. But still she mastered up some strength to keep on going, stepping over some broken shards of glass. Then the lights suddenly died, engulfing everything in the dark. She glanced back at an odd-shaped silhouette. Something that doesn't even resemble a human…

"Shippou? May I have some light please?"

The silhouette moved, "Of course, milady-there's no need for a please, as everything you desired I will grant for you." The illuminations returned and the shadow was gone, her very human butler was in its' place, "Bright enough?"

Kagome shook her head at his dramatic declaration, "It's fine and thank you." She trekked toward a crumpled body, "Ella?" Kagome stopped before her cold body and kneeled down, being careful of the broken glasses, "Ella…I know your spirit is still here-I can feel you." She sighed just as Ella's eyes opened. If she was anyone else, Kagome would be frightened to see a corpse opening their eyes, more so when the neck was obviously broken, judging by the awkward bend of it.

"I'm not in heaven yet?" Ella frowned and sat up, snapping her neck back into the place noisily. She looked very disturbed by the sound, "…How…?"

Kagome wrapped her arms around her legs, watching the Cinders girl closely out of fascination, "You have been dead for a long while now. And reasons why you can't pass is simply because they held you here and that you have too many questions you wish to have answered to." She made a gesture to the surrounding, "And as you can see, I have managed to send the devils back to where they came from." Kagome cocked her head, "So all I needed to do was to answer these questions you might have."

Ella was confused, "I heard you said I have been a ghost for a long time...How can that be?" She remembered the ball, where people had admired her and remembering feeling the touches of the prince.

That and she don't recall her own death at all.

"When you made your wish, whatever that was, the crows killed you and devoured your heart in the exchange for your wish being granted. I have a reason to believe that your body is still out there somewhere…" Kagome stated, as she coolly readjusted her favorite veil. It was crooked when she was doing her duty of removing these vile beings off of this plane.

Ella loudly shuddered as she was remembering skipping over a rotting corpse when she was fleeing back to the manor earlier. That must be her own body all along. "But the ball…"

Kagome pointed to the legs of her tall butler, "Thus was just a simple spell to do-allowing you to be seen and to be touched by people around you."

"That was what this necklace is for, wasn't it? To keep the birds at bay and to let me to be alive for the ball?" The woman was shocked.

"Not alive per to say-there is no true way to bring the dead back to life. That was a crime against the nature itself. But yes, that's the necklace's magic." The Lady Exorcist explained as she shifted around on her feet-her position was not very comfortable and she was getting tired. But Kagome resisted, for Ella's sake just so she can properly pass on.

"But why?" The maid asked, baffled, "Why do all of this for me?"

Kagome narrowed her eyes, "I already told you-I want to grant your dearest wish-to go to a ball and fall in love with a prince. Just like Cinderella."

Ella blushed, wondering how they knew, "It was obvious, really." She was startled by the girl's sudden reply, "but I cannot answer-I know things even I cannot explain, Ella." Knowing that Kagome is refusing to go farther on what she meant, Ella didn't press on.

"And it's also because I wished to be kind." She continued.

Ella blushed, "I see…" Her eyes landed on the torn fabric and saw that she had only one shoe, she gasped as she realized her mistake, "Oh, but the clothes and the shoes! They were ruined!"

Kagome weakly chuckled, "I only said that just so you can take care of them up until…well, as you can see." She looked right in the Cinders girl's eyes, "Plus wouldn't you want to be remembered? The Prince got your shoe so to remember you. And your beauty…that's certain to have people to remember you for a long time and tell stories about you."

Ella then finished for her, "Nobody like to be forgotten." She sighed as she nodded.

Kagome nodded, "I do have a question for you. And I do apologize if I seem to be intruding but…what wish did you make with the crows?"

Ella looked down out of embarrassment, "I wished for a family-my mother had passed and my father was ill. I was an only child and I wanted my father to get better and have him to be happy…" Rest was obvious.

"That's a silly wish, miss." Shippou said, almost criticizing her. He quieted when he saw a warning look from his little lady.

Kagome bit her lips before sighing, "Anymore questions?"

Ella nodded, "Only one-what are they?" It was clear as of what she was speaking of.

"They're a hellish being who devoure everything, even ineligible." Kagome said as Ella seemed to have paled at her mistake of making a wish with the crows.

"I see-they had been eating people because of my mistakes…? I always thought they were one of us…" She said with shame enriched in her voice.

Kagome held up a hand, "Don't. Those who have lost their lives from the beasts had already made their peace-so should you."

She nodded in understanding, "I think I'm ready now." Ella then unclasped the necklace and handed it over to Kagome, "I know you said what you said but…keep it just so you can remember me?"

The little girl accepted, "I will." She blinked as the cold hands touched her own gently.

Ella closed her eyes with a smile as her wrecked body was fading away, "Thank you." And she was gone. Truly, truly gone.

There was nothing to tell that Ella have even existed, except a void on the ground of broken glasses.

Two familiar heads of plush popped from the coat of the butler, having always been muted witnesses of each exorcism Kagome have done, "Aw, how sad…" The white one, Lilith, said, the ears drooped from the sorrow. Damien the black Cat nodded in an agreement in silence.

Shippou yelped when they noticed the young lady was nearly bowing over from exhaustion. He raced to catch her before she could injury herself with the surrounding glass splinters. The butler grabbed her and had her into his arms. Kagome instinctively encircled her arms around his neck, too drowsy to say a clear sentence. She murmured something and Lilith struggled to make a sense of it, "Clean the place up?"

"That's what she said-I suppose she wants to leave behind no evidence…" Shippou tipped his head toward a circle on a once-hidden wall the little lady had chalked on, "Including that one."

The cotton-stuffed creatures nodded. Damien managed to ply away the diamond necklace from the exorcist's clenched hand and gave it to the butler for safer keeping. Lilith was under her chin, to give her comfort.

"I'll get to that, but first…she needs to be in bed-it's far past her bedtime…and it's a rather long day for her." Shippou declared, with a sad smile, "And I have some delivering to do."

•○•○•

"Eeekkkk! Ciel! Wake up! It's Christmas!" The boy snapped his eyes wide open, from pure annoyance once he heard his cousin, his fiancée's high-pitched voice from outside of his door. He let out a groan as he flopped over on his bed. "I'm very thankful that Elizabeth has some decency to not to enter in my room…" Ciel thought as he tiredly got up. He glanced at the clock and kept himself from not groaning out loud-it was not even time for him to wake up.

One of many reasons why he hates Christmases.

Being awakened so early…

"I guess I should get ready." He sighed and summoned Sebastian to help him to dress. Elizabeth had left to her mother and rest of her family (and he could hear his strict aunt loudly fussing at her from down the floor…) so he managed to have some time to himself.

It took a lot out of him to not to rip his hair out, as he was forced to deal with the rest of his family throughout the breakfast. As well as needing to deal with his servants.

Granted it was a lot easier to deal with them than with people who expected a lot of things from him.

It was pretty stressful for him, as Sebastian barely hid every embarrassment just in time to avoid humiliations, courtesy of the said servants. Good grief, while it was true that they had good intentions, they are quite a trouble, Ciel thought.

Now it was time to open presents and Elizabeth could barely contain her excitement.

Ciel's thoughts strayed and found himself wondering if the exorcist liked his birthday gift to her. To be honest, it was one of those things that were out of blue-his mother's jewelries that were supposed to be reserved to his fiancée. But it didn't feel right to trust his precious treasures to Elizabeth.

True, he does love her, but only as family. Ciel adored her silly antics and it felt good to be baffled sometime. But so far it never went farther than family. Maybe if he gets older he might grow some feeling for his fiancée.

But still he wondered why he trusted Lady Higurashi more with one of his treasures rather than Elizabeth.

How curious.

He was the last one to open the presents. All of them were directly from his family and his servants, mostly articles of clothing. All except one. The wrapping was far simpler than the rest-plain white with a dark blue bow. It was obvious to him who it was from.

Ciel wanted to rip it open, to satisfy his curiosity, but he had to keep up an appearance of a proper earl. The Earl patiently took his time and blinked when he reached his goal.

"What was it, Ciel?" Lizzy said as she tried to look into the box.

Ciel was also thankful for the fact that Elizabeth still believed in Saint Nicholas so she surely wouldn't ask questions of where it was from. It was a simple gift but he knew better.

It was also a sign of trust.

Whenever he went outside to be a part of tradition, he wore that top hat with handmade blue-colored decorations proudly. And no one asked what it meant-only one knew and didn't say a word of it.

Sebastian was surely going to poke fun of him once his family left to their proper home.

When he was finally all alone outside, "Merry Christmas, Kagome." The Earl whispered, as he watched the slow snowflakes falling to the blanketed ground.

He had only one regret for this Christmas-he didn't get a thing for her on this day.

•○•○•

Today was bountiful for Kagome-she had received many gifts from family, friends, and acquaintances alike. And she did receive a 'hug' from Kirara as her own gift to her. Of course she could barely leave the bed-of all the days; she had to be ill on Christmas. But it was a price to pay for doing a powerful exorcism just barely yesterday. Normally she wouldn't get sick-sleepy maybe, but not sick. Then again most of her exorcisms were usually just one beast each.

Two were an awful lot of work.

It was no wonder she'd get sick soon after. But she didn't let it stop her from trying to bring happiness to those who lived in her household. Thankfully there weren't a much of a party-her grandfather knew of her fill with parties already so he only allowed small handful of people to visit at a time.

She was only disappointed that Rina wasn't able to stop by, due to her family's having another obligation at that time.

Kagome took out Kikyou and InuYasha, her dogs, for a playful romp in the nearby forest and gave them attentions they didn't have from her in a while-unfortunately for them she couldn't stay out for long. But as they were beings with simple desires it was enough for them.

Kirara the tiger received a very good grooming, which she enjoyed very much, from her. The tiger was already being spoiled rotten so there weren't much Kagome could get her other than a grooming.

Lilith and Damien had gotten a new bow each, as well as matching decorations they could put on themselves.

She has gotten her grandfather and his own aged butler, Toutousai, many things, as well as Rina and her family, even if they were delivered. Yash and Kiki didn't really want anything, but Kagome did get them some new clothes and few other things.

And as for Shippou…she got him a new suit, some more jewelries he had been eyeing, and a hug. She rarely gave hugs to anyone willingly, except her grandfather so he had been preening for a long while.

There were few others she has gotten presents for as well. But she wouldn't get into that now, Kagome thought sleepily.

There was a knock on the door, "Come in." She said.

Shippou opened the door and bowed, "Missus, you have a guest."

Kagome blinked, "Who is it?"

Her butler gave a brief look of discomfort, "It's the Prince, milady." He stepped aside, to allow a familiar man in her filled room.

Edward gave a scan around her room, slightly shocked of her hefty collection of colorful stuffed animals, before regaining a straight face and made a quick bow, "Hello, Lady Higurashi. I do apologize for my sudden appearance."

Kagome watched him warily, "Please forgive me for being rude but why are you here? I never met you much less know you personally." She pulled up her blankets, not only for modesty but also for fear, as he approached. Lilith and Damien were left on the bed, slumping over, limbless.

"You can wait out of the door, John." The prince dismissed the servant man in white. He looked hesitant but quickly obeyed as he was established a stern look from the royal man. Edward sighed as he turned his attention on the little girl, "Do you wish for your servant to remain?"

Kagome's dark eyes narrowed, "Yes, I trust him."

He nodded, "Then will you mind having your door close then?"

The Lady Exorcist sighed, "Very well. Shippou, close the door please." She gestured to the redheaded man and he nodded. He shut the door with a silent click.

"I do apologize again-I don't trust Mr. Brown myself so you must pardon me and if you may spare a few minutes of your time…?" The prince bowed once more, almost begging.

It was then Kagome noticed a small box in his hands. She had that small dread coming up in her spine. "Fine-have a seat please."

"Oh, thank you!" The man released a sigh of relief as the butler took a chair and brought it over to where he stood. Edward took his seat, "And to answer your question…I'm here to find a lady named Ella Laurent. I'm very sure you have known of her." He handed her the box.

Kagome frowned somewhat as she removed the lid. It was a shoe-a silver shoe-the very one she gifted Ella with. She turned to look at the blue-blooded prince, "And what if I do?" She murmured, not bothering with her manners as of now. She's too tired to try and maintain a good manner. She handed the box back after she closed it.

"Please…There are many evidences that you do know of her. And no one else does. Please-I will beg on my knees if I must." It was shocking to see the prince willing to beg.

Kagome glared, "Please don't-even sick as I am now, at least even I know that's not dignified of you, Prince Edward." She rudely pointed a finger at him, "I'll ask you of this-do you know who I really am?"

The prince break out a cold sweat as he confessed, "Yes-you have both good and bad reputations in midst of religious folks and is well known in the underworld as an exorcist who can get rid of anything." Edward frowned at her, wondering what she would say.

"You're a smart man, Prince, so do your…what would the commoners says these days? Oh…math. Do your math. Surely you'll figure it out." The little lady commented out as she placed back her head on the pillow.

The gentleman blinked, "What do you mean by that?"

"Please, I'm too tired, Prince. Speak with Shippou if you must. He'll provide you the answers you desire." The girl pulled up the blanket as she turned away from him.

The man gulped, "Very well. I'll leave you be then." He stood up and allowed the butler to replace the chair back to its' original place, "Please take care of yourself, young miss." Edward bowed before following the redheaded butler out of the room.

Once she was sure they were out of hearing range, Kagome muttered, "What a pitiful prince…"

Lilith and Damien sat up and stumbled over the little lady's body, "Couldn't you lie to him, Mistress?" Lilith asked sadly.

"Yeah, what she said."

Kagome shut her eyes, "He'll find out anyway…" Her eyes opened again and she lifted her head, "Would you mind looking out of window for me, Caelestis?" A large pale green and purple-colored bear quietly nodded, as it was next to a window. It was almost as big as she is.

It stood up and glanced out of the window for some moments. It then turned back to the small mistress. Damien flopped on its' bottom, "Wow-he said there was a man who looked like he saw a ghost. He just ran into the fancy carriage and left."

The bear returned back to its' usual place.

"Oh, poor prince." Lilith looked sad, "Mistress, why couldn't you just lie?"

She turned away, "Because Love can be bitter."

•○•○•

Sometime during the night there was a knocking on her window. Kagome opened her eyes sleepily and looked back, seeing only a shadow in a shape of a human through a curtain. There was a full moon tonight and the light was bring enough for her to see the shadow through the thick materials. "Who is it?" All of her collection glared at the window, waiting to protect her if needed. Lilith and Damien hissed.

Kirara was in her bed with her, got up and her wide eyes watched the shadow out of the window. She growled, with a giant paw over her small body protectively.

"Umm, it's Rosemary. And I'm not going to hurt you." The shadow said.

The lady let out a sigh, "Please take the front door. Shippou will be there." Her head hit the pillow, "If you couldn't tell-I'm woefully sick and I do not want the cold in my room." She patted the tiger to quiet her and purposefully bumped into the Cats to stop their hissing.

The shadow shifted, "Sorry about bothering you so late in the night, or morning for that matter, but I wish to repent for my sins. I'll use the front door, as you asked." Rosemary then disappeared from her window.

Kagome huffed and decided to catch some more sleep before they come in her room, cuddling within the tiger's chest. The striped beast's rumbling only lulled her into deeper sleep.

After some time had passed, there finally was a knock on her door.

For some reason it took a while for Shippou to get there to her room, with Rosemary. She groggily thought maybe he was threatening her and it'd make sense for him to do so.

Hazily she called out, "Come in." Luckily, the tiger was in her view when the door was opened. She can feel Kirara moving her head to see them and knew there was suspicious shining in her eyes.

"Milady, Lady Rosemary is here and she wished to speak with you. I'd rather it be when you weren't sleeping…but she claimed it was urgent." Shippou's voice trailed off.

Kagome sighed and tiredly move to sit up, allowing the paw to fall on her small laps, just so she can see the woman, "What do you want?"

Rosemary gave a sad smile, "I came for your forgiveness and I'd like to see if maybe there's a way you can get rid of…well, the unnatural part of me." She bowed.

Kagome blinked slowly, "What is there to forgive? You have done nothing to me. And there's nothing I can do for you-that part is very much your part. Ask for forgiveness elsewhere. Ask for forgiveness to your god. Perhaps they will cleanse you."

The woman looked crestfallen at the dashed hope, "Well, would you please hear me out?"

The Lady Exorcist glared, "If it's brief I will, but make it quick. Otherwise go away. I'm sick and I'm sleepy."

"Right. I shall." She nodded, "Only reason why I gave up on eating folks was well because I've fallen in love. But it doesn't feel right to be in love if I'm not a human. But being in love had also make it feel not right to eat human folks." Rosemary sighed, "Is it really wrong? And Ella…Oh, poor Ella…"

"Then ask her for the forgiveness. I'm sorry but I'm also a terrible listener at this sort of situation. But make the best of it. There isn't much I can say. Just make the best of it." Kagome then broke out in a yawn.

Rosemary smiled, "Thank you-for making Ella happy and for saving her. She deserved it. Thank you for everything." She bowed, "Oh and Merry Christmas-you might have as well and gave the best Christmas present she ever had."

"I should be going. So thank you for your time." Then Shippou escorted her out, shutting the door behind them.

Kagome flopped back on her bed and sighed, "Merry Christmas indeed. This whole thing is so…"

Bittersweet.

She dreamt of being an ill-fated Cinderella that night.

And Kagome smiled.

•○•○•

"Here's a story I must tell you.

Once upon a time
there was a pitiful girl.
She lived in a blood-painted house,
with three monsters within.
When she was a child-
she made a wish with a bird-
a bird that is not a gentle soul-
rather a soul of pitch black.
It granted her a wish that was so foul
that she lived in misery since.
Three monsters came in fray,
wearing skins of human.

The beasts were ugly but to the eyes of skeptics,
they were beautiful.
It was their way to lure the fools into their trap-
these such fools never returned.

It was a nightmare
that the pitiful maid must live in.

One day she came across a young stranger
Who took a pity on her.
That stranger said, "Give me your promise-
that you will wait out your death.
I'll grant you a happiness
that will be brief.
Do I have your promise?"
The pitiful girl simply nodded her head.

The stranger then was gone away,
without a word.

Time passed and she have forgotten her promise-
three monsters received an invitation to a ball-
something that the pitiful girl always wished to go.
with their cruel jest at her person, they left.
She was prepared to slit her throat,

'There was no happiness,' she thought,
'So why should I keep trying to live?'

But she was stopped,

"Have you forgotten your promise, o' pitiful maid?"
There was that stranger-all cloaked in darkness,

"Are you breaking your words to me?"

She lowered her blade and confessed,
"Yes, I have forgotten and yes, I'm breaking my words."

"Give this stranger a chance-I will grant you your happiness,
but it will be brief. Do you wish it?"
The stranger asked.

"Yes, I do wish for happiness-
but how will you do so? I'm trapped.
I cannot get out of my curse!"
She cried out.

"Heel my words.
I will keep them."
With a flick of the cloak,
the stranger cleansed of her dirt,
wrapped her in a gown of silk,
fixed about her once unruly hair,
and then put her in a pair of silver shoes.

"I am finished," the stranger said,
"Now go look in a mirror."

The pitiful maid gasped in her reflection-
She was no longer a pitiful maid
but now a lady!

"But why?" She wondered,
"Why would you do this to me?
You don't know me."

The stranger gave no answer but said this,
"Go on to the ball-your happiness awaits there."

"How am I going to get there?"
She received nothing but a push out of a door.
The lady gasped as she saw the white-painted carriage,
awaiting eagerly for her.

The stranger guided her to the wagon
and gave her a word of warnings,

"Return before the clock strike of midnight
or the spell shall be broken.
And please keep the shoes unscathed-
I'll need them back."

"Why the warnings?" She wondered.
Again she received no answer-
The door was locked and the carriage started to move.
She looked back and saw no stranger.

"Where is the stranger?" The lady frowned,
"Who is the stranger?"

There was no answer.

The carriage arrived to a castle that was so grand
That it reached close to the sky.
She was so awestruck-
never once seeing the castle before with her own eyes.
The lady was guided into the ball.

Eyes watched her-
all were awe by her.
Just as when the ball started,
she was asked by many to dance with them.
The lady didn't mind-
There's now a burst of happiness within her heart.

"Excuse me, dear gentleman,
but may I please have
a dance with this lovely lady?"
A handsome man smiled at her partner.
The partner allowed him to take his place,
envy lighted in his eyes.

She gasped as she recognized him,

"The prince? Why would you be interested
to dance with someone like me?"

The prince obliged her an answer,
"Because I never see someone beautiful
as you."
They danced and danced and danced.

'Is this love?' She wondered,
'If so, then it's a nice feeling.'
The happiness within her heart was growing
Stronger and brighter by the second.
She never realized that the monsters have spotted her.
or that the clock was ever growing closer to the midnight
until it was too late.

"The filthy maid-why are you here?" A beautiful beast quietly hissed into her ear
as it passed her by-
she gasped as she broke away from her prince.
The prince was curious-
what had overcame his lady?

The lady remembered the warning,
the stranger,
everything.

She saw the hands of the clock
and she fled from the castle.

The fair lady was now the pitiful maid again.
Her gown of silk turned into a rag-
her curled hair uncurled back to unruly-
her skin was dirty once more.

She only had one shoe-
The pitiful maid didn't remember what happened to
the other shoe
as she ran.

The maid saw the crows gathering about,
farther she ran.
She realized now what the spell the stranger spoke of was-
it was to keep the beasts at bay.

The pitiful maid was exhausted when she returned
to the nightmare she lived in.
She fell to her knees once she saw the beasts,
impatiently waiting for her return.

"You filthy wench!" The mother beast roared,
"You dare to enjoy the luxury that does not belong to you?"

Its' oldest daughter laughed, "Why not punish her?

A punishment she will forever have!"

"Death?" The other daughter said with a frown-
the other daughter was the only one that was hesitant to even to harm the maid.

"Exactly!" The oldest daughter laughed with tears in its' eyes.

The mother agreed, "How fitting!
This wench also does make a nice dinner!"

"Punish her first!" The oldest daughter demanded.

The mother agreed and told the other daughter to fetch a knife.

If she could run away, she could but she was too exhausted,
So she simply awaited for her death-
Surely it must be better than living in hell she was in,
right?

"Lets crop off her toe!" The oldest daughter exclaimed-
So excited to inflict pain to the maid it always hated.

The pitiful maid shrieked
as the hot of the pain overwhelmed her like a blanket-
the mother ordered the other daughter to seize her
to stop her from moving.

The oldest daughter gobbled up the cropped toe,
"How yummy! Mother you should try a taste!"
The oldest daughter peeled off a heel.

Once more she shrieked.
She shed tears as she thanked the stranger for granting her small happiness,
as the darkness was sinking her away.

The mother gobbled up the peeled heel,
"Oh, how delicious! Don't you want a taste?"
It asked the other daughter.

"Thanks but I must decline."
The other daughter kindly refused.

"Hmp-you're an odd one."
The oldest daughter ignored its' sister,
"Let throw her in a boiling pot!"

So eager that they had failed to see the stranger
some feet away from them but the other daughter.
The other daughter understood and spoke not a word.

"The pitiful maid, the pitiful maid-will you be on the way to the heaven?"
The stranger sang-

The beasts heard and turned to snarl,
"Get out! You are not welcome here!"

The other daughter fled.

"How are you not aware that your dear maid had long been dead?"
The stranger pondered.

"What gibberish are you speaking of, unwelcome guest?"
The mother hissed out. Its' oldest daughter glared.

The stranger then smiled, "Be gone, foul beasts, be gone
as you do not belong with us!"

There was magic
and they were gripping the beasts.

"What trickery is this?" One cried.

"Mother, help me!" Other sobbed,
the magic was dragging it to a portal of
the hell they came from.

"Who-what are you?" The mother demanded
as it tried to claw away from the magic.

"I'm simply an exorcist and simply a stranger."
The stranger answered them,
"Now, be gone!"

With glass-shattering shrieks they were gone.

In the midst of broken shards and chaos,
the stranger was unfazed.

"Is it true?
I've been dead all along?"
The maid asked as she approached the stranger.

"Yes, you have been.
For a long time-
ever since you made your wish with the crows.
You died when the crows pecked out
your heart in the exchange for that foul wish."
The stranger replied.

The pitiful maid frowned,
"How do you know?"

"I'm an exorcist.
It's my duty to know things."

"But everyone can see me and they can touch me…
How am I dead if I'm alive?"
She wondered.

"Because you didn't know you were dead.
And that was a part of the spell I've casted on you."
The stranger said.

"But the beasts…"

"They weren't aware but
They devour everything, even lost souls and living alike."

The maid cried,
"But all I want is a family!"

The stranger sighed,
"That was your wish, is it now?
How foolish to make a wish from that…"

"Why not?"

"Wishes are a dangerous thing to ask for.
It's simple as that."

The stranger then looked at the maid,
"But you already have felt the sense of happiness have you not?
You should be able to pass on now."

"…I can, can't I?"
The pitiful maid laughed freely,
"I can see the light now."

"Then go there."
The stranger hummed.

The pitiful maid gasped,
"I just remember now-the shoes!
I lost one of your shoes!"

"Just go-it's nothing to be worried about."
The stranger said with a smile.

The maid then vanished;
a smile was bright on her lips.

The stranger watched her gone
and have chosen to answer her unanswered questions,
"A shoe is something to remember you by.
And why I helped you
Is simply because I wish to be kind."

The stranger left within a swirl of darkness.

The other daughter watched all
with a smile
before it too vanished."

The book shut soundly as a man smiled, his bright eyes twinkling with mischief, "The end." He then placed the book back into its' proper place, "Hmm? It's not exactly how it happened? Well, of course not! This one is just a fairy tale I've written long time ago." The man laughed.

"But it's a fanciful tale is it not?" He hummed, "I do agree-it could have ended better-but that's what happened in the true story. I was once a part of it after all." The man blinked, "Well, yes, it does have more to it but the one I have wrote-well some things are better left unknown to the people that read it, hm?"

The man bowed, "I should be going but Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"

○•○The End○•○

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*Magical doves are referred to the 'original' Cinderella tale, the one by Brother Grimm themselves, not of the one by Disney/Charles Perrault. Basically there was never a godmother in the Grimm's version-rather there were white doves sent by the girl's dead mother from the heaven. You'll need to read it yourself-it was rather very interesting read, if you don't mind some of the gores and the dark themes it had.

Disney butchered it, even if it was by Charles Perrault, in my opinion but that's the story for some another time. There are also many different versions so check them out too when you get a chance.

Admittedly, I did use something from the Disney/Charles Perrault's version though. And I'm sure if you had read the Grimm's Cinderella, you'll figure it out. Heh.

**Prince Edward of Wales (as in Edward VII, Albert Edward, and also hold several other titles) was a real person. While the real Queen Victoria had children, Edward being her oldest son, Kuroshitsuji's (both anime and manga wise, unless I really did miss something.) does not seem to have any children of her own so I had to take on some creative licenses. So I went with him being one of her many nephews.

And since the rankings, titles, and such confused the brain cells out of me, I sincerely hope all of my readers don't mind me skimping out of the information I could have used/make up. If not then please forgive me. I'd appreciate any explanation if you are willing to help!

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A/N: Anyhoo~Sorry if it was so depressing. Hahah-but yeah this is Loveless for ya. *laughs weakly* And sorry about super, super delay too!

I'm not exactly sure what morals are in this shot/spinoff, but again, they are something for you to interpret. At the risks of me being a chronic rambler again, I'll say this-I always saw Christmas more of an act of giving rather than receiving and serve few very human lessons to us. Sometime that one simple act of giving will be enough for one to live and die happily, as you saw what happened to a certain character. And enough to even change!

Look at Mr. Scrooge for an example-he changed because of an act of giving from the ghosts, basically. They gave him realizations of his own behaviors. Or Grinch! That says all, really.

I can provide more but ehhh I'm pretty sure all of you got my point.

It really was never about receiving for me though-just an act of kindness.

I supposed I was trying to portray that but I'm not quite sure if that come through. The story just grows by itself under my hands-I didn't really have a much of control over it other than to tell a story.

Ahh, enough of my rambling!

I'll love to hear your feedbacks and your interpretation on the story! They'll be my little (belated) Christmas presents!

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy…whatever holiday some of you people celebrate!

I could never keep track. :c

Oh and Happy New Year!

Even if they are very belated!

Love,
Beautiful Phantom

PS. Don't you dare to bring in Twilight in this! :c It was just a coincidence! I swear! Ella stand for Cinderella and Edward were already a nonfictional character in a fictional setting! Please don't say anything about it, okay? I don't even like Twilight

PSS. Noticed the glitched-out/funky-looking words? They're something new I'm experimenting with. But you probably won't see it often, for the sake of the readability. But what do you think? Good, bad, unique, horrid? What? I'm not trying to be out there as one would put it-just trying something new…