"A Leash On The Dog"
. . .
100 YOUNG WOMEN GONE MISSING IN MANCHESTER
17th of February, 1893
HUMAN TRAFFICKING SHIP DOCKED IN COASTLINE
23rd of February, 1893
80 UNIDENTIFIED IN PRESTON
26th of February, 1893
30 GRAVE ROBBERIES IN LEICESTER
1st of March, 1893
SERIES OF DISAPPEARANCES CONTINUES IN LONDON
3rd of March, 1893
. . .
England's underworld was out of control. Crime has become an epidemic that has left poor Queen Victoria in sorrow. These are only a few of the bold captions plaguing newspaper headlines nationwide. Occurrence after occurrence, each headline like a domino. Scotland Yard has run ragged, and even her own precious Watchdog was falling, disappointingly, behind. It is of dire urgency that she feels she must train the puppy.
Another thoroughly examined newspaper was added to the growing stack beside the throne. Her majesty, adorned in an elaborate ebony dress, sat anxiously in her manicured seat. Her loyal, close-quarter servant John Brown stood stiffly by her side; his eyes were obscured by a pair of large sunglasses despite being indoors.
Two men, both clad in fancy white uniforms, had been summoned before the queen. One man was of tall, handsome stature with all articles of clothing primmed and prepped. He had a head of short, pale hair that seemed to waver on the line between neat and scruffy. Everything about his face, even down to the mole placed daintily near his mouth, meant stiff business. The other appeared younger, standing at about shoulder height to the first man. There was something different about this one. From the way his uniform was worn in a more laxed fashion, it was obvious that he wasn't as serious as his partner. His bright, colorless hair coupled with silver eyes added to his abnormality. But in spite of it, a smug grin didn't seem to leave his face.
These two are recognized to be Charles Phipps(the tall one), and Charles Grey(the younger one). Or better known as Double Charles, the private secretarial officers of Queen Victoria.
The urgent call had disturbed their peaceful day, but Grey didn't seem to mind. He never had a thing for such monotony.
Her Majesty waited for silence to signal privacy before addressing the two men. "Seeing as though crime in England is at a height, I'm afraid my Ciel may not be able to keep up with recent occurrences. It worries my aging heart, so I may promote the Kingsley family to work alongside the Phantomhive."
The Kingsleys haven't held such a position in generations due to their faltering loyalty to the crown. In turn, their reputation has whittled down throughout the ages. However, it all took a dive straight into a pit when one man came into the picture.
"But despite giving them such a position, I'm afraid I still have a few doubts on my mind. Wynn seems like a very good man, but I don't have my complete trust in him. Heavy rumors situating his father, the late Earl Kingsley, with the Black Market and Human Trafficking leave me at unease. I'm unsure whether or not Wynn remains guiltless."
"We'll keep watch on him, your Majesty. Should he misbehave, we will personally handle it." Phipps set a hand to his heart like he was making a solemn vow.
"Yes, but keeping in mind the cagey behavior of his father," she perplexed. " I have been suspicious of Heinz Kingsley for years, but he met an untimely fate before we could even scratch the surface."
She paused again, trying to mull over her thoughts of the next topic. "There is also Riliane Kingsley."
"The late Earl's daughter?" Grey stretched his arms and folded them behind his head, creating an air pillow as he yawned.
"Up until recently, I was unaware that Heinz even had a daughter. Word of her last season was completely out of the blue, and very brief. Speaking of which, this is what I wanted to discuss with you."
Both men perked up. Although Grey held more casual attention to the Queen's words as if she were simply having small talk over a cup of tea.
She spoke of how Riliane, soon to be 18, would be attending more parties this season and how Wynn was already anticipating marriage offers for his 'baby sister'. He even went as far as to state that he would be scrutinizing every suitor that steps up to the plate.
Victoria coughed weakly before continuing. "I need one of you to court and betroth Riliane Kingsley."
Both Phipps and Grey remained silent.
"The one of you who is not married."
Phipps' eyes teetered to Grey, who knitted his brows at his own cluelessness. Moments flew out the door before he could realize.
"Phipps, you dog, I didn't know you were married."
A quiet, weary sigh whispered from beside the Queen, causing both men to look up almost startled. They had completely forgotten that John Brown had been there the entire time. The guy rarely spoke, he was practically the Queen's shadow.
"A marriage with you will finally bring the family back under the crown completely, and will also allow you to keep an eye on them while evading suspicions. I'm terribly sorry to put you in this situation Grey, but I trust that you are the most appropriate candidate for this job." They couldn't be seen behind the dark veil over her face, but the Queen's eyes donned the sincerest of empathies. Her gloved hand gently patted her chest to convey this to him.
Grey smiled in spite of his unswayed opinions. "Yes, your majesty."
. . .
Phipps and Grey descended down the hall, dismissed to carry out a delivery to a certain one-eyed Earl.
Grey puffed his cheeks, his eyes straying to the glowering paintings rather than the smooth floors ahead. It wasn't that he disliked the idea of marriage. He just loathed the idea of being tied down. Even when he wasn't as serious as Phipps, Grey liked his job. Most of his assignments were a shot of pure adrenaline. He loved having his fun and the authority allowed him to do what he pleased. Getting hitched to a single woman would prove quite troublesome.
"Will you be alright with the arrangement, Grey?" Phipps inquired, having watched the vague hints of a tantrum Grey had put out since they left the Queen's presence.
"Don't tell me you're a hopeless romantic, Phipps."
"I respect her Majesty's decisions even though I disagree with forced marriages."
Grey gave Phipps a quizzical look and laughed. "Sounds like you married for love."
"Well, I believe marriage should be the result of two of people falling love."
The younger frowned. Phipps was six or seven years his senior, yet he believed in a petty thing like that? That kind of dreaming was meant only for naïve little girls and desperate commoners.
"It's funny. People treat marriage as though it's something pure and honest," he waited until he locked gazes with Phipps, "but in reality, marriage is nothing more than a societal contract that politically ensnares two people in 'holy matrimony'. It's not about love. It's all for rank, for money, for expansion. There's nothing pure and honest about that."
"So as long as her family can benefit you, it wouldn't matter who your future bride is? What if she resembled the back end of a horse?"
"Don't be silly, Phipps. I'm satisfied with where I am. I'm already an Earl, after all. If the girl's ugly, 'course I'd refuse. But...if that's the case with Wynn's sister, then I may be in a pinch. I do have a duty to her majesty."
Grey fully understood the situation. Marrying a Kingsley was a necessary tactic to keep that wild pack of mutts in line. The current head of that household was no doubt a doting older brother. Whether or not the Queen's suspicions are justified, the engagement will keep Wynn from acting up. Ciel Phantomhive has his loyalty. Now they had to put a leash on the other dog.
"You're unbelievable." Phipps scowled and looked the other way.
"Aw, you worry about me~!" Grey beamed as his posture brightened playfully. He pulled his sword from his side and began waving it in random patterns. "I'll be fine, Phipps. Especially if she's cute. If I get tired of her, I can always find a pretty mistress to bed." His smile widened cheekily. "Maybe that towns girl I met a few years back! How long ago was that? Four years maybe?"
"Do you even remember her face?" Phipps deadpanned.
Grey returned the sword to it's sheath. "Of course. Quite the cutie, that one. Deliciously blunt and naive, too. But I never bothered to ask for her name."