Vault of Bones

Chapter 01 – Once Upon a December

14 December 1879, Phantomhive Manor

Carriages pulled up in front of the mansion's doors. It was winter, and despite the raging snow, the noblemen of England arrived continuously. Said noblemen wore in luxurious coats; ladies were dressed in colorful and fashionable gowns, obviously wanted to catch attention. Their jewels and diamonds complement the lighting within the mansion. Escorting beautiful women showed a nobleman's status, so they say. Ladies held on tight to their lords as they walked in the mansion, greeted by an elderly butler.

Stewards greeted their guests and showed them the way. T'was a party, in the middle of December. The Earl of Phantomhive threw the said party, in honor of his young and only son's birthday. All these noblemen were the Earl's and his wife's acquaintances; from workmates, old friends, to closest of relatives were invited. And the Earl, Earl Vincent Phantomhive, young himself to look upon, humbly welcomed his visitors. His young son clung onto his hand behind him, poking his head every now and then to see whom his father was talking to. His eyes scanned the room, searching for familiar faces. None showed up, much to the young boy's disappointment. Truthfully, he was hoping that his cousins would arrive.

That was when the Earl Phantomhive was approached by a woman. The young boy, Ciel, looked at her. She was young and beautiful; her dark blonde hair was pulled up into a bun, covered by a feathered hat. She wore a complicated-looking red gown, but Ciel, though not knowing too much about dresses for his age, thought the lady looked lovely. Said lady smiled at his father, and the Earl did the same.

"Mistress Wolvercote," breathed the Earl, taking the lady's gloved hand and kissed it lightly as a form of greeting.

The Lady Wolvercote, after her hand was kissed, shooed the Earl's hand away. "Yes, it's good to see you too, Vincent."

Earl Vincent laughed. "How long has it been since you last left your nest?" The lady in front of him rolled her brown eyes at him. Vincent's eyes darted onto the child behind Lady Wolvercote. Gesturing for the child, he asked, "Is she your daughter?"

Caroline Wolvercote nodded and pushed her daughter in front of her. At the sight of the girl, Ciel squeezed his father's hand. The Earl had almost forgotten about his own son that he laughed at himself.

"In that case," he said, pushing Ciel gently in front of him, "introduce yourself first."

Ciel nodded and smiled at their guests.

"Good evening, Lady Wolvercote. I'm Ciel Phantomhive. Nice to meet you."

With that Ciel hurried back behind his father, clutching Vincent's coat. The young boy watched as the Mistress Wolvercote smiled at him and gestured for her daughter to do the same.

The young girl stepped forward. She was taller than Ciel, and definitely older than him. She wore a pale pink dress; her black hair was tied in a bun; and flashed a bright smile for the Earl and his son.

"My name is Anais Wolvercote," The girl said and then curtsied. "Greetings, Earl Phantomhive." She turned to Ciel, "Hello, Ciel."

At the sound of his name, Ciel instantly smiled at the girl. He felt his father's loving hand being put on top of his head.

"Ciel, why don't you play with Miss Anais?" Vincent gave the children a warm smile. "Show her around while Mistress Wolvercote and I will have a talk."

Before the young boy could give a response, another man approached their group. He looked elderly, with glasses and grayish hair, and he looked familiar. The newcomer immediately bowed to the Earl, way too low from Caroline's point of view.

"Pha- Phan- Earl Phantomhive!" the man blurted out, surprising Vincent, Caroline and the children from his sudden outburst. "I am honored to be here." The man was sweating and he looked nervous. As he composed himself, the man couldn't help but glance at the two children, who stood side by side. He smiled at the sight of Ciel.

The boy had grown, he thought.

He turned to look at the girl. She's unfamiliar, but she looks just as beautiful. Caroline saw how the man looked at the children and was immediately alarmed.

"Can we help you?" she snapped, although it sounded like a simple question.

Baron Kelvin scoffed. He wasn't even talking to this woman. But since she looked like an acquaintance to the Earl, he tried his best to sound polite.

"Good evening, Earl," he said.

Vincent smiled at him. "Why, hello, Baron Kelvin." Then he turned to the children. "Ciel, Anais, go ahead and do what you want."

Ciel beamed with delight. He held Anais' hand and led her away. "Come this way, big sister!" he said.

The Earl Phantomhive and Mistress Wolvercote watched as the children left.

"Ciel has a poor health, and he doesn't go out much. It's a good thing Lizzy visits him every once in a while." He was talking about Ciel's cousin Elizabeth who was one year older than him. "How wonderful for you to have brought Anais. Now he's got a new friend." He smiled.

Caroline nodded, "Anais wanted to meet him. That girl wanted to have a younger brother on her own." The lady frowned for a second, and then remembered that the Baron Kelvin still stood there. She cleared her throat, earning both the Baron's and the Earl's attentions.

Vincent smiled at the Baron. "Please excuse us. Marchioness Wolvercote and I have matters to talk about." The Earl Phantomhive offered his arm to the lady and disappeared from the sight of the elderly Baron.

With a sigh, Baron Kelvin looked around for the children. No sign of them. Then he made his way to get himself a drink.

Caroline snatched her hand away from the Earl's arm.

"Marchioness? Please, Vincent, don't make me laugh," she whispered. Vincent laughed; she had always been the polite one. "Besides, I don't hold that title. Anais' grandmother does." Caroline waited for a reply.

"After that incident, you've never shown yourself too much in public," he said, leading the way towards a hallway. "Such a shame. You were a well-known doctor in London." He turned left; there was the hallway. No one was there. Said hallway was carpeted with a dark red and fancy chandeliers hung from above. Caroline let herself gape; her house was never been as lovely and presentable as Vincent's.

"Enough about me," was all her reply. "Why invite me now?"

Vincent raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Caroline sighed exasperated. "I mean, why did you invite me here? Your boy has had a lot of birthdays before, but this is your first time to invite me." She paused and stopped walking, forcing the Phantomhive to stop and turn back to her, his eyes showed amusement.

"You want me to do something for you, am I right?"

She is so sharp as ever, he thought.

"Tell me what," the Wolvercote's demanding voice echoed in the hallway.

The Earl closed his eyes and shrugged. "I'll tell you once we get there." He gestured her to follow him. "Come with me?" He began to walk again. He heard Caroline sigh heavily behind him.

"Vincent," her voice quiet and solemn, "you know I'm retired. I don't do those things anymore."

Vincent didn't stop walking but Caroline followed him still.

"Ever since Anais was born, I've never been in service of anyone, except for our town, and you know that," her voice became demanding again. Still, Vincent said nothing. "Besides, you've got Undertaker."

The Phantomhive stopped and looked at her. "Undertaker?" he echoed. "He's actually here, see? He also wants to meet the young ones so he came." Vincent gave her a grin. "Come, follow me. The room is right around the corner." He went off again and Caroline was forced to follow the man.

"Did you not hear me?" her voice raised. She reached out for Vincent's arm and grabbed it with force. "I said I'm retired! I've refused the Queen twice! What makes you think I'll do this for you?" She gritted her teeth and she breathed heavily. Vincent raised an eyebrow, again, with amusement.

"My, my, what temper," he tapped her by the shoulder gently. "And you call yourself a doctor." She huffed under her breath. "I wouldn't be surprised if pretty little Anais gets this from you." Vincent laughed. "And about your question, I think you'll do exactly as I ask you, my Lady. Why? Because you can't say no to my requests, can you? Her Majesty is yet to tame the wolf, isn't she?"

"I would never give her what she wants anymore," Caroline said honestly.

"You're actually giving her a hard time to keep track of you," Vincent's voice came again.

Caroline studied his features. Despite the way his tone sounded, he looked serious about this matter. He was, after all, Her Majesty's Watchdog. Watchdogs eliminated those who taint the name of the Queen. And with such position, Vincent needed his pawns. There were many of them, Caroline included, and were known as the Evil Noblemen. Doctor she may be, but under the Queen's requests and supervisions, she helped clearing Her Majesty's name by solving cases about the dead, same way how Undertaker did it. Four times she served the Queen, four times she was paid. It was a fair deal. Caroline would help the Queen's Watchdog often. But after the birth of her daughter, Caroline refused to work for Her Majesty again.

"This will be the last Vincent Phantomhive," she sighed and began to walk again. Vincent followed after her. "How serious is this one?"

"You'll figure it out later," he said with a childlike grin. Vincent had always been so lighthearted. "Also, Diedrich is here."

Caroline's eyebrow rose and smiled. "So, the German is back, eh?"


5 January 1885, Town of Brighton

The Town of Brighton, as its name suggested, was a warm and bright town. Located south of London, Brighton sat near the sea where the city's fishermen made a living. It was fashioned after the towns in Italy, and used bricks for roof and walls. There was a church located at the city's center, hospital, market and schools surrounded it. Brighton is renowned for its beaches and tourists spots, the main reason why many noblemen and foreigners visit them during the summer season. Every May, Brighton holds a festival and contests, including the Artists Open House. A wide and lush forest separated Brighton from its neighboring cities. Many noblemen lived there, for the city was peaceful and quiet.

Away from the village and by the seashore was Caroline Wolvercote's house. Not as big as Vincent had, but not as small as a peasant's. It was around the size of a townhouse that noblemen used to visit when seasons came. And the house was gloomy. It looked like a typical townhouse; its paint was grey and was unlively. Withered grass carpeted the entrance to the manor. Trees were about them which looked like the only things alive. Behind the house were a stable and well. The property was protected by a rusty old fence, probably hadn't been touched for years. Yet here was where Marchioness Wolvercote lived, with her few servants and beloved daughter.

"Is everything ready, Eugene?" asked an elderly woman, Miranda as she was called. The woman wore a simple brown dress and on top was her neat apron. She wore brown boots and her grey hair in a bun. She held a basket covered with thin sheet on her hands. Miranda closed the backdoor of the kitchen, as the young boy Eugene prepared the carriage.

"Everything ready here, Grandma," Eugene said energetically. He was the manor's pageboy, whom the mistresses of the manor were fond of. He had a short black hair and he wore glasses. Poor boy had poor eyesight ever since he was young.

Eugene patted the horse, Dunlop, as the young mistress Anais named the black horse, and ran off to assist the elderly woman. He helped her get on the carriage and once everything was set, they left the manor.

The rest of the servants were in the hospital. Their Mistress Wolvercote, though the doctor that she was, caught a scarlet fever from one of her child patients. It was too late to cure her, as Caroline hid her sickness for two good weeks from her servants. Everyone was in shock when Caroline collapsed for the first time. She had been forcing herself to work. Caroline worked as a doctor in Brighton's hospital, usually tending to the children. She made a lot of money with such work, more than enough to supply her own family. And so, she donated some of her income for an orphanage's needs. In other words, she was a philanthropist who was loved by Brighton's people. Yet she was fighting for her life in the very hospital she worked for.

It had been around two weeks after her she was admitted. The doctors were impressed on how she managed that far. But her condition became worse, and medicine cannot help her. Caroline's servants were mournful and tended to their ladyship, praying that she'd gone well. Many of her acquaintances visited her. For instance, Madam Red, a fellow doctor who lived in London and Ciel's maternal aunt. Madam Red and Caroline worked in the same hospital before the latter moved to Brighton. Next were the Marquis Midford and his family; again, Ciel's relatives. Caroline worked with the Marquis many times already that they'd become close.

Eugene and Miranda arrived at the hospital. They took the stairs and went through the long quiet hallway. Miranda held on to her basket possessively, its contents were for the sick Lady Wolvercote. Her room was located on the end of the hallway, which seem to stretch like forever to them. Eugene looked up and smile, a familiar figure greeting him.

On the other side of the hallway, a man with silvery hair and deep ruby eyes came running on all fours. He wore a suit similar to what noblemen would wear in London. The man ran towards them, a collar around his neck. He barked as he approached them.

"Ah, Pluto!" Eugene exclaimed. He patted the man, who sat on the floor, still on his hands and feet. Pluto gave out a delighted whimper and crawled towards Miranda and her basket. He sniffed at it and delightfully made an effort to snatch it.

In an instant, Miranda helped up her arm, away from his reach.

"No, this is not for you," she chuckled. Pluto let out a rejected whimper, his face frowning.

"Don't worry, Plu-Plu. Your treats are left at home," Eugene laughed, patting Pluto again on the head. The man, or rather, hound, barked excitedly.

Then came a maid and a steward, Nunally and Klaus, also servants of the Wolvercote house. Nunally, who was a cheerful girl, bowed to them. She had long straight brown hair and dark brown eyes. She wore a usual blue and white maid uniform, behind her white apron was a red ribbon. Klaus, an elderly man yet as strong as a young adult, nodded and led them inside the room. He had spiky grey hair and a moustache. His butler uniform was as normal as could be. Instead of a necktie, he only had a short red ribbon around his neck. Pluto was left behind; no dogs were allowed after all.

There they saw their Lady Wolvercote suffering from her unceasing fever. She had a wet towel on her forehead, provided by Nunally, but it didn't seem to help. She looked pale, paler than Anais' skin. Miranda placed her basket on the table and observed. Eugene, on the other hand, sat on a chair, his eyes never leaving Caroline.

"She hasn't been better, has she?" Eugene asked, but it sounded like he questioned himself.

Klaus shook his head. "I'm afraid not, lad. Her ladyship has actually gotten worse, according to her doctor." His German accent filled the room and Miranda broke the silence with a heavy sigh.

"Anyway, I've brought her soup. It's still warm, I think." The caretaker took the sheet away and held out a bowl. "Pluto tried to take it." She said with a smile. Nunally helped her set the table so that it would look presentable for Caroline.

After it was done, Miranda looked around. A person seemed to be missing. He tried to figure out where this person was, but at last, she asked them.

"Where is Anais?"


Author's Notes:

Greetings. This is my first Kuroshitsuji story. To be honest, I'm hoping that you find the starting chapter interesting. So, please, stay with me and continue to read the upcoming chapters. As for the Double Charles, they won't appear until the fourth chapter so please bear with the first three chapters. Prologues are essential, after all.

About the story, the plot will not be following any of the manga's nor does the anime's story plot. It takes after the manga's current plot, the Weston College arc. In other words, the Pluto in this story is the Pluto that we've seen in the anime, but does not play the same role. Pluto is not Ash or Angela's pet, but he remains to be a demon hound.

Please review and tell me what you think. Any opinions, suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, unless that it isn't rude. If you're thinking about a Mary Sue character, my answer would be no, she is not.

That's all, folks. Thank you for reading!

References:

1. "Escorting beautiful women showed a nobleman's status, so they say." – This line was said by Edgar Redmond, Viscount of Druitt's nephew in the manga. The phrase itself was, of course, modified.

2. Caroline is based on the "Evil Noblemen" group which consists of Vincent, Diedrich, Undertaker and Tanaka. She "appears" in the Kuroshitsuji manga chapter 32, page 6.

3. Brighton's Artists Open House event is based on the real event which happens during May. It only started around the year 1980.

4. The old Wolvercote mansion is based on the Violet Wolf dormitory in Weston College.

No copyright infringement intended. All rights reserved.