Elizabeth sat in the sunny parlor, finding an old piece of needlework she needed to finish up. It wasn't anything major, just a small handkerchief, but the person's birthday was coming up and she was determined to finish it until then. The sunlight streamed in through the clean windows, lighting up the navy and black living room. She had thought several times of replacing the furniture, but it was expensive and there was no real need to. Most things in her life nowadays had no more color in them, so why should the parlor be different?
She took out her sewing kit and gently started to finish up the embroidery on the cloth, making a little red bird. She smiled slightly to herself as she worked. A crow loudly cawed outside the window, making her shiver involuntarily.
"Lady Phantomhive, will you be taking the carriage today?" Tanaka asked quietly, standing in the doorway. Elizabeth looked up slightly, then nodded.
"I need to get out more. I've been shut up in this house for a while now. I think I'll go to the candy store." She smiled at her butler. "Are the others up yet?"
"Yes, they're preparing breakfast for you. Do you want me to wake up the little ones?"
"I'll wake them up in a minute," Elizabeth promised, then Tanaka bowed and went back into the kitchen. She continued sewing the bird for a bit before finally looking up at the clock, finding it to be nine in the morning. She left her sewing neatly on her chair and climbed up the stairs to the eastern wing of the manor, where the bedrooms were.
She passed her own room and knocked on the door across from it softly, resting her head against it. "Lucina, Edward, please wake up for breakfast!" She said cheerfully, walking inside. As she expected, Edward was still asleep, but Lucina was wide awake and playing with her dolls.
"Mommy!" She gasped and happily hurried over to her, tightly hugging Elizabeth's skirt. "What's for breakfast?"
"Your favorite, strawberries and cream." Elizabeth kissed the five-year-old's head gently. "Can you go wake your brother up for me, sweetie?"
"Yes Mommy!" She nodded and happily ran over to Edward's bed, shaking him gently. "Time for breakfast! Wake up! We're having strawberries and cream!"
"Huh?" Edward asked in a sleepy voice, rubbing his eyes. He looked up at Elizabeth, who nodded.
"Lots of delicious strawberries. They're in season this year, so they're plump, fat, and juicy. And of course, cool, fresh milk to drink."
"Sounds yummy!" Lucina eagerly ran downstairs, and Edward got out of bed.
"She's so much more faster than I am." He pouted, and Elizabeth patted his head.
"You just take things slowly, that's all." She headed downstairs with Edward, getting out the bowl of cream and gently topping the strawberries with it and putting in a spoon. She then poured some milk and gave the twins their breakfast, then sat down at the table with a cup of tea to watch them drink it.
"Where are we going?" Lucina asked, having cream on her mouth.
"The candy store. I thought you guys would like to get out of the house." Elizabeth smiled, and the twins' eyes widened hugely.
"Yay! The best place in town!" Lucina cheered.
"I love candy! I want chocolate," Edward ate his food slowly.
"We'll have to see what there is," She watched the children eat, then called Paula in the room to prepare everyone for the day. She bathed the twins and brushed Lucina's long hair, letting it fall to her shoulders. She gave her a little pink dress with lots of lace on it, along with white boots and a pink rose in her hair. Edward received a baby blue sailor suit with black boots, while Elizabeth wore a dark grey dress.
"Let's go." She placed a bunch of money into her purse, letting it hang from her wrist, then opened the door for the twins, stepping into the carriage.
Once it was in motion, the children stared at everything in amazement as it passed in the window.
"Those houses are so big!" Edward gasped in amazement.
"I wanna live in a big house!" Lucina declared. "When I get older!"
"You already live in a big house, silly goose," Elizabeth laughed, patting her daughter's head. The carriage came to a slow stop in front of the candy store, making the children cheer in happiness.
Elizabeth gently stepped out of her carriage, carrying a lacy black parasol in her hands to shade herself. She didn't really need the shade as it was a fairly cloudy day, but she always liked having something sturdy to grip onto.
Despite the chilly day, a lot of people were out and about in downtown London, making the city square very bustling. Despite her best attempts, a few people noticed her walk into the candy shop, and a few started to gossip about her.
"That's the Phantomhive widow, isn't it?" One loudly whispered.
"What a poor woman. She has to raise a family all by herself thanks to her husband leaving," A woman stated in disdain.
"Her husband didn't leave, he killed himself!" A man laughed meanly, and Elizabeth tightly gripped the parasol's handle. She fully stepped inside the shop and smiled slightly, letting the sugary-sweet air overwhelm her senses.
"Mommy, what can we get?" Lucina asked curiously, running inside after her and pulling on her skirt.
"I want something big!" Edward added, also pulling on Elizabeth's skirt.
"Something big? Hm, I'm not sure about that," She laughed lightly. "But I'll make sure to get you something you both will enjoy," She walked over to the counter and stared at the owner, making him jump slightly.
"Lady Phantomhive! I haven't seen you in...months," He slowly realized, bowing slightly. "So please forgive my shock. What may I get for you on this fine day?"
"Have anything small a child would like?"
"A child? I will have to see," The man vanished into the backroom and Elizabeth turned around slightly to keep an eye on the children, who were running around the tiny shop in fascination.
"Can we have rock candy, Mommy?" Lucina asked, kneeling in front of the display. "It comes in orange!"
"I want taffy," Edward bounced up and down behind the counter, noticing the taffy machine placed in the corner. "A big string of it! So we can all share!"
"These came in the other day. I thought a family of your influence would be interested in them," The shopkeeper came back out with a small white box, and when Elizabeth nodded, he opened up the box to reveal four large roses made entirely out of chocolate. That got the childrens' attention, as they rushed over to the counter and gasped, their eyes wide.
"It's so pretty!" Lucina nodded in approval.
"Almost too pretty to eat," Edward sighed.
"Look, approval from the children," Elizabeth laughed, pulling out several coins and placing them on the counter. As usual, she gave the shopkeeper far too much, but she shook her head when he tried to give her some back. She gently tied the red ribbon around the box and smiled at him, walking out of the candy store. "Where shall we go next, darlings?"
"Can I have the flower now?" Lucina asked instead, pointing to the box in Elizabeth's hand.
"You don't want to spoil your dinner," She responded, continuing to walk. "Maybe we could go to the park, or maybe the bakery. You two would love some warm sandwiches,"
"Can I have a cheese one?" Edward asked politely, giving Elizabeth big eyes. She giggled and nodded.
"There goes the Phantomhives. It's a shame the Earl was so selfish. Leaving this world, and also leaving behind a gorgeous wife and two beautiful children," A nobleman said loudly as he walked past Elizabeth. She gave him a sharp glance when his back was to her, but said nothing else. She hurried her steps along, and the twins did the same to match her stride the best they could.
Soon they reached the bakery, where one of Elizabeth's old friends from her childhood was standing in the doorway, about to leave. "Oh! Lady Phantomhive!" She curtsied slightly, her voice still high-pitched and girly. "Did you come to get their fresh shipment of bread? I got some myself!" She motioned to the bag on her arm, which had several loafs of bread inside.
"No, I came to get some lunch for the children. I normally would've eaten at home, but I need to get out more. And they need to get out more too," Elizabeth smiled a sad smile and walked inside the bakery, nudging the twins inside.
Edward ran over to the counter and placed his hands on the front of it, trying to see over the top despite how short he was. "A cheese bread please!"
"I want a roll with butter!" Lucina added, running over to her twin's side.
One of the workers laughed softly at the children and went into the back to get some more rolls out of the oven. Elizabeth came up behind the kids. "I just want a large unsliced loaf, please send it to the manor," She asked politely, and the worker behind the counter nodded.
"Midford Manor?" He started to write down, but Elizabeth shook her head.
"No, Phantomhive Manor. That is still where I live," She loudly closed her parasol with a snap as the food was brought paid for it and smiled, waving to the workers. "Have a nice day!"
"Can we eat in the park, Mommy?" Lucina asked eagerly, running outside of the bakery. She stopped right at the edge of the path, not risking running into the street.
"The park is too far for us to walk, but I know a nice place in the shade we could try," Elizabeth suggested, her parasol hanging from her arm. She made sure the children were extremely close to her before walking again, since she didn't want to lose them in the crowd.
Despite her attempts to ignore it, she could still feel peoples' eyes on her, eyes of pity, and some eyes of disgust aimed at the twins. After all, Lucina had dark hair and emerald eyes, but she closely resembled her father, while Edward had curly blond hair and deep blue eyes. There was not a single question as to who fathered them. And she hated how people judged him. True, very few people knew what really happened that night, and nobody could stop the gossipy nobles, but she disliked how people pitied her for it. She could hold her own; as the Lady Phantomhive, as the head of the manor, and undertaking the watchdog duties. She could even do it while taking care of children.
But the second Earl Phantomhive disappeared from the face of the earth, seemingly, everyone cried suicide and went about their day. Some of them even seemed to assume it was her fault; that he did it to prevent having children out of wedlock, which was even further from the truth.
His hands in her hair, gently teasing each curl. Her pigtails had fallen out earlier and her hair fell in tangled waves behind her.
It mattered little to the two. It wasn't the night to be worried over trivial matters, after all.
It was the last night they would see each other, and while the daylight showed them at their most innocent, the darkened hours belonged to their more sensual side, revealing things to each other neither thought of before.
As much as she tried to forget, five years later, those memories are still clear to her.
His taste, his tongue in her mouth. His hands in her hair, then on her body. How gentle his touch was, how he felt in her. How sweetly he slept next to her after they were done.
He wasn't selfish. If he had known what he had done, he would've stayed. And according to him, he had no say in the matter anyway.
If he was selfish, he hadn't whispered such things in her ear in the darkness.
If he was selfish, he wouldn't have had spent his last day alive with her.
"Here we are!" Elizabeth announced happily when she finally found the small courtyard. A few late summer blossoms were scattered around the bushes, while a few iron benches were set up in a circular pattern in front of a bubbling fountain. Some ducks were idly swimming around in it. "Isn't this such a pleasant place to eat? And we're the only ones here, so it's like we have it to ourselves," She sat down on a nearby bench and handed the children their food, smiling at their appetites.
"Look! Duckies!" Edward gasped, pointing them out to Elizabeth, who nodded. "Can I feed them my bread?"
"No, sweetie. Then they won't leave us alone and follow us home. And then we'll be stuck with them as pets!"
"I wouldn't mind having a duck for a pet! I'd love a pet duck!" Lucina declared, wiggling on the bench.
"Plus, your bread has butter and cheese on it. Ducks will get sick if you feed them those,"
"Oh," Edward pouted to himself. "Then I'll eat it myself. I don't want the duckies to be sick!"
"Me neither!" Lucina ate hers really fast.
Elizabeth smiled sweetly at the twins and looked around the park, wondering why it was so quiet on an otherwise busy day. Her face was shaded by the big hat on her head, which was a dark grey but brightened with a few pink flowers. Her dress was a dark grey as well and covered up most of her figure, but there were trims of pink lace on the outfit. She wondered if people would be able to recognize her from a distance.
"Done eating!" Lucina announced happily, jumping off the bench. "Can I have my flower now?"
"Wait until Edward finishes his," Elizabeth took out her handkerchief from her purse and made Lucina stand still, then gently wiped the butter off her mouth.
"Hmph," Lucina pouted, then hurried over to the fountain and sat down on the ledge, watching the ducks swim around. Edward finished his food and Elizabeth gently wiped his mouth off too.
"Where are we going now?" He asked politely, smiling. He didn't move to go over to the fountain, afraid Lucina would push him into it.
"Maybe back home? It's getting too late to visit anyone," Elizabeth thought to herself. She hadn't visited her own family in months after she shut herself up, and their increasingly worried letters still filled the mail pile. She knew she would have to visit them soon, but that could wait. She'd plan a huge sleepover for the twins.
"Did Papa come here a lot?" Edward asked curiously, his blue eyes shining.
"By himself? Or with me?"
"With you! Did you kiss?" Lucina giggled.
"No, we didn't kiss. Your father was very shy, you know. But he liked taking me out on dates to make me happy. We went here a lot. We'd also go on boat rides, and go out dancing, and a lot of times he'd spend the holidays with me,"
"Papa sound very nice!" Edward smiled happily.
"I wanna meet Papa!" Lucina added.
"You know you can't," Elizabeth said quietly. "I want to see your father again too," She gently twirled the Phantomhive ring around on her thumb.
Lucina went back over to Elizabeth and motioned to the chocolate box, and the blonde woman laughed and opened it up. "They might be a bit soft from the sun, but still edible," She handed a rose to each child.
"What does 'edible' mean, Mommy?" Edward asked, staring at the candy.
"It means you can still eat it,"
Lucina dug into hers right away, taking big bites out of it and smearing chocolate all over her mouth. Edward took smaller bites, but some chocolate still ended up on his mouth as well. Elizabeth took out the third one and ate it delicately, closing the box back up again. It was very good, she had to admit. It was very rich chocolate, almost darkly-colored. She was a bit worried that the kids wouldn't be able to handle it, but they seemed to be devouring it just fine. Maybe she'd have to make some soda for their late-night stomachaches.
"All done!" Lucina announced, bouncing up and down. She tried to grab Elizabeth's dress with her sticky hands, but Elizabeth was quicker and grabbed her hands, gently wiping them and her mouth off. "It looked like I had makeup on!"
"Aunt Frances wears makeup sometimes," Edward commented, wanting to be part of the conversation.
"It's all red and bright,"
"Miss Vicky wears makeup too,"
"Because she's poor!"
Elizabeth stared at Lucina for that comment. "Come on, you know that's not a nice thing to say,"
"She's not around to hear me," She pouted, mumbling under her breath. 'Miss Vicky' was a nanny of the children, though she was quite mysterious and only showed up every-so-often. Edward was terrified and mystified by her both, but Lucina always liked to judge her for reasons unknown. Once Edward finished his chocolate, Elizabeth wiped his hands and mouth off as well before standing up and putting her handkerchief back in her purse.
"You still shouldn't say rude things about people. You never know who is around to hear," A crow cawed loudly, making a chill run up her spine. "Come on, let's go home,"
A twin each took one of her hands, then Elizabeth started to walk them back to their carriage, finding it still parked in front of the candy shop. She helped the children in, then stepped in herself, closing the door and leaning back in the seat.
"I'm tired, Mommy," Edward cried, rubbing his eyes. "I don't really like walking,"
"I feel fine!" Lucina announced proudly.
"You are healthier than your brother," Elizabeth scolded her. "You can take a nap when we get home," She promised Edward, who nodded.
A few minutes later, they reached the Phantomhive Manor, which was still menacing and large despite the change of heirs. Elizabeth stepped outside and ushered the children inside, walking in herself. She sighed when they vanished upstairs.
"My lady! More letters have come for you!" Mey-Rin announced, carrying a few in her hands. Her vibrant hair was pulled back into a low ponytail that hung loosely over her shoulder; she had grown slightly taller. "I can't tell if they're important or not though,"
"Let me see them anyway," Elizabeth directed, taking the letters from Mey-Rin and sitting down in the parlor, looking through them.
The first was yet another from her family, this time written by Edward. He inquired after Elizabeth's well-being, mainly her mental health, and told her whenever she wanted to visit, their house would always be open. To her, it almost sounded as if Edward was suggesting leaving the manor for theirs, which was ridiculous. She wouldn't be able to leave until the twins came of age. And even then.
The next few were from old friends of hers; Jadwiga, Samantha, and Annelise, whose brothers were good friends with the Earl back when he briefly attended Weston, all asked about her status as well.
Finally, the last one caught her eye, as the sealing was very formal and she immediately wondered if they were orders from the queen. She got a few odd-jobs here and there over the years, but nothing that would require her to be away from home for more than a day. This, however, looked like an actual, official job from the queen herself.
She slowly opened up the letter, breaking the seal and reading it through carefully. It was a request for Elizabeth to investigate shady happenings at a local theatre where actresses, especially lead actresses, kept vanishing, only to turn up days later, obviously sick and having memory problems. She was requested to disguise herself as an actress and figure out what was happening from the inside.
She folded the letter up and took it upstairs to the study, placing it on the dark oak desk. She wondered why the queen was concerned over a few prima-donnas going missing, but figured it was probably something related to a cult. Or drug-related; both of which Her Majesty didn't want in her empire. Fair enough.
She then sat down at the desk, easing herself into the too-small chair and started writing out letters to the girls, first addressing one to Samantha Harcourt. As she wrote, Tanaka arrived and brought her some tea, which she registered briefly before going back to her work. She wrote for what seemed like hours on end, her hair falling out of her bun and her cowlick getting into her eyes. She briefly blew it out of her face before returning to her work.
The last letter she wrote that night was addressed to Miss Sieglinde, a German girl the Earl had rescued years ago from an abusive situation. While originally stiff around the girl, the two pretty soon became fast friends, and that hadn't wavered. Sieglinde wanted a visit from Lady Phantomhive as well, and Elizabeth decided to oblige her in the following weeks, still unsure of whether or not her children would be allowed to come. Finally, she put all of her letters into envelopes and poured wax onto them, carefully stamping them with a press and making sure she didn't burn herself. Afterwards, she piled them all up on her desk for one of the servants to mail, then retired to her bedroom, which still maintained an air of grace with its gold and dark accents.
Elizabeth managed to get her dress off and take her hair down, putting on a simple white nightgown with a high, ruffled neck. She was about to turn in for the night when the twins appeared in her doorway, staring at her with wide eyes.
"What is it?" she asked curiously.
"I can't sleep!" Edward cried, walking over to Elizabeth and pulling on her nightgown. "Can I sleep with you?"
"Me too!" Lucina demanded, jumping into the empty side of the bed. Elizabeth giggled lightly.
"Of course you two can," She got into bed, snuggling tightly with Edward and Lucina. "How about I tell you a story to make you feel better?"
"Yes please!" Edward nodded, sucking on his thumb. Lucina shook her head.
"I don't need a story to sleep!"
"Looks like your brother beat you out," Elizabeth gently ruffled her daughter's hair. Lucina pouted and closed her eyes, while Edward remained wide-eyed as he awaited the story.
Elizabeth started to tell him the story, a very condensed version of Sleeping Beauty. Before the story was over, however, Edward had fallen asleep, and so had his sister, both sleeping softly. Elizabeth snuggled herself in and soon fell asleep as well, snuggling with the twins.
Elizabeth was told by the Earl specifically to come and visit the manor by ten in the morning. She had no idea what he had in mind, but she wasn't just going to pass up an invitation from her beloved Ciel! She woke up early and took a bubble bath, then got dressed in her light blue sailor dress, adding a pair of flower earrings and white gloves. She went downstairs and ate breakfast with her family, which was a small meal of oatmeal and milk, like usual. After she ate, she got her carriage ready and went over to Ciel's, promising her parents she would be home before eleven.
"Ciel! Where are you?" She called out cheerfully as she walked inside the manor, looking around the parlor. Her white boots made little noise on the hard floors. "Ciel?" She checked the kitchen and dining room, still finding nothing. She then went upstairs and knocked on the study door, then opened it, finding it empty. "Where's Ciel?" She briefly prepared herself to get into a trap, only to gasp when someone tapped her shoulder. She spun around widely. "Ciel! I was looking for you!" She gave him a tight hug.
"So I heard." He responded quietly, looking down at the floor. "I am glad you accepted my invitation. I was afraid...you wouldn't want to come," He hesitated.
"Why? I mean...we've been through a lot together. Doesn't that just prove we're meant to be?" She asked, confused.
"Want to have lunch with me?" He asked instead, heading down the stairs. "Sebastian will make whatever you want. I promise."
"Oh! Okay," Elizabeth eagerly followed after him. So it was just a lunch invitation? She could handle that. "Maybe tomato soup and fried eels? And strawberry-chocolate cake for dessert!"
Ciel nodded and walked into the kitchen, then walked back out. "Now, whatever you want to do today, we'll do it. Don't hesitate. I want you to remember this day," He gently took Elizabeth's hands.
"Ciel...what's all of this?"
He continued holding onto her hands, but looked away uncomfortably. "I'm...going to be going away for a while. A long while," He started.
"For how long?" Elizabeth pressed. "Because I don't mind waiting for you to come back, you know,"
Ciel winced. "...I'm not coming back," He sat down at the dinning table, the food being served by Sebastian, who had a creepy aura to him. Moreso than usual, Elizabeth thought.
"Why not?" She lowered herself into the seat next to him. "Ciel?"
"..." Ciel started to eat his food, ignoring Elizabeth. Instead of eating, however, she blinked, looking at him. She briefly glanced over at Sebastian on the other side of the room and shuddered violently when she had an uncontrollable thought of a slimy tentacle wrapping around her throat, into her throat, sliding further and further down until it reached her heart.
"It's Sebastian, isn't it?" She asked suddenly, making Ciel choke on his food. "He's not what he claims to be,"
"How did you know?" Ciel narrowed his eyes at her.
"It's a family thing. Mother is able to sense and sometimes even see otherworldly things. So can Edward and I. I've...had a suspicion for a while now that Sebastian wasn't human." She fidgeted in her seat nervously.
Ciel sighed. "Yes. Four years ago, I promised my soul to him if he helped me carry out my revenge on the people who ruined my life. I did that. Now he's ready for his payment." He explained calmly, eating more food.
"Oh, Ciel..." Elizabeth breathed.
"That's why I want today to be about you. Anything you wanted to do or say to me, do it now. No limits. I don't want me to leave this earth knowing you didn't tell me something important,"
"Well..." She hesitated slightly, suddenly feeling awkward. What could she even say? What did she even want to do? "I know you know I love you. I love you a lot, Ciel. And...I guess the one thing I would regret is letting you leave this planet without me confessing those feelings to you,"
"Then do it." Ciel picked up the bottle of the wine on the table and shakily poured it into their two cups, not getting a glare from Sebastian for once.
"I love you Ciel!" Elizabeth announced, picking up her wine glass and downing it. The drink was very fruity and sweet to her, making her stomach feel thick. "I love you so much!" She pulled Ciel over to her and kissed him on the lips, making his eyes widen. He placed his hand on her back, letting her do all of the kissing. Well, that was just fine to her. She kissed him a bit deeper, leaning forward in her seat.
"Young Master, perhaps you would like to continue this in your room?" Sebastian appeared between the two randomly, making Elizabeth start and almost fall out of her seat. "After all, it doesn't seem very polite to kiss in public,"
"Fine." Ciel stood up and took Elizabeth's hand, helping her out of her seat. He led her up the stairs into his bedroom, pulling open the door and closing it loudly with a lock. "Here's my room."
"It suits you," She commented, running around to look at everything. She couldn't think of a time she had been in Ciel's room, this Ciel's room, not the nursery he had as a child. "It's very pretty,"
A small smile formed on his lips. "Thank you," He walked over to his bed and sat down on it. "Sorry about him."
"It doesn't matter. I would much rather be alone anyway," Elizabeth made no move to sit next to him, finding herself feeling awkward again. She was nearly seventeen, yet her dress stubbornly revealed all of her boots, and she did her best to hide her expanding bust with layers of underwear. She didn't think it was right to get intimate with Ciel, even though she wanted it, secretly.
"Since we're confessing things here, there is something I want you to do for me once I'm gone," Ciel spoke again, startling Elizabeth out of her thoughts. She looked over at him. "You remember all of those people I've come across in my job? The Weston boys, my servants, Sieglinde?" She nodded. "Please...keep an eye on them for me. Don't tell them what actually happened to me. Let them think I ran from town or died or something. But I want you to keep in contact with them. Write them letters, visit them, give them money, whatever you want. Promise that for me," Ciel smiled lightly at her, a smile filled with sadness. Elizabeth nodded again and sat down beside him.
"I promise, Ciel. You have my word," She gave him a serious look. "...I'll watch over your manor too. And your remaining servants! I'll be a good watchdog in your absence,"
"Thank you. Knowing that makes this easier," He then blushed heavily and looked away from her, making Elizabeth look away as well.
"You did say this is our last day together," She started, kissing him on the cheek. "And I want to remember you in a good light. So..." She blushed and gestured to his clothes, miming unbuttoning them, making him blush even more.
"A-Are you crazy?! I-I'm not very good at it!" He stammered out in embarrassment, making Elizabeth giggle slightly and give him a kiss on the lips.
"I thought that was what the wine was for?" She teased lightly, falling onto the bed with him.
"No. I just wanted to see what it tasted like before I died," Ciel smirked, pulling lightly on her pigtail.
"That's the Ciel I know!" She kissed him on the lips again, and soon he was on top of her, returning the kisses and escalating them in his own way. His lips tasted of chocolate and wine, making Elizabeth feel drunkingly giddy. Before she had fully thought about it, their clothes were off, her hair was undone, and he was inside of her.
He was gentle about the whole session, whispering to her about how much he loved her and how she would be the one he would miss the most. She was the one who was always there for him and the one who brightened up his days.
After they were done, Ciel laid down next to her, sleepily wrapping them up in the sheets. "Take this," He said softly, pulling his ring off his finger.
"I can't take it, it's your Phantomhive ring," She declined, shaking her head. He ignored her and slipped it onto her finger with a kiss.
"You're a Phantomhive now. Lizzy, please marry me," He held her close and kissed her forehead, making her blush heavily.
"Oh, yes Ciel! I'd love to marry you," She exclaimed with a smile. "I've dreamed of this moment for years now,"
"The wedding is tomorrow. Make sure you wear..." He yawned sleepily. "Black."
Elizabeth woke up the next morning, finding the twins still fast asleep in the bed. She smiled happily and got out of bed, yawning and washing her face. She brushed her teeth and ran for Paula, informing her she was going out for a visit and needed her traveling gown readied. She also told her to keep an eye on the twins, since she didn't want them to come with her.
She had her hair done up in a fancy, tight bun, though her cowlick stubbornly stuck out of it, threatening to get into her eyes again. Her dress was a deep navy blue with a white lacy blouse and black lace trim around her waist. A black rose was placed in her hair. "Lady Elizabeth, you are practically the splitting image of your mother!" Paula said happily, making Elizabeth smile weakly.
"I get that a lot." she slipped on a pair of white gloves and pulled on her ring, making sure the children were still asleep before she left. She got into her carriage and told the driver the address, carrying an envelope in her purse.
During the ride, her mind kept drifting to the letter Her Majesty sent to her. She knew she would have to deal with that soon, but was hoping to postpone it for a bit until she was absolutely sure she had a reliable babysitter. All of her options seemed reliable at first, until she realized they were all her bodyguards and were assigned to protect her to their death.
Not exactly ideal babysitters.
The carriage soon stopped in front of a small but pretty two-story house, surrounded on all sides by rosebushes. The house seemed to glow a dark green. Elizabeth stepped outside and walked up the steps, knocking on the door. "Miss Sullivan? It's me!" She called out once a maid opened the door.
"Lady Phantomhive? Isn't it a bit early to go calling?" The maid stared at her slightly in disdain.
"I thought Miss Sullivan would enjoy breaking her fast with me!" She smiled politely.
"Is that Lady Elizabeth? Send her in! Send her in, please!" Sieglinde's cheery voice came in from the parlor, and the maid looked back with a sigh, opening the door wider for Elizabeth to come in. She walked in and headed for the parlor, finding the German girl sitting in a very soft chair, her legs propped up on a stool in front of her. "Oh, I'm so happy you decided to come!" She clasped her hands together.
"I figured I might as well. I thought you'd like to go shopping with me again after breakfast?" She offered nicely.
"I would love that!" Her eyes lit up.
"Breakfast time!" Another maid announced, gently scooping Sieglinde up in her arms and carrying her to the dining room, placing her at the head of the table. Elizabeth sat across from her and watched the younger girl chew on her fork thoughtfully as she mulled over what to eat.
She was sixteen now and her hair was still short, though it was starting to fall to her shoulders. She was starting to develop a figure. She started to eat her sausage first, eating them really fast. "How are the little ones?"
"Oh!" Elizabeth gasped slightly, poking her food. "They're doing good. I didn't think about bringing them here. I didn't want them underfoot,"
"Why? You think they're scared of me?" Sieglinde laughed, drinking her milk. "I'm still a child at heart!"
"Speaking of which...any luck in the romance area? See any boys that catch your eye?" Elizabeth teased, smirking. Sieglinde blushed heavily.
"Oh dear, no! I'm bad at talking to boys," She said quietly. "Besides, I don't think any boy could compare to..."
Elizabeth nodded, finally starting to eat her breakfast. Once upon a time, she would've been jealous that other girls had their sights set on Ciel, and she was. And a tiny part of her still was. However, she was twenty-two now and thought such actions were childish now. In her records she learned many girls adored Ciel and crushed on him; a few even loved him. She let it go, as it made no difference now.
"All done! Now you gotta finish so you can go shopping!" Sieglinde exclaimed eagerly, bouncing in her seat. Elizabeth's eyes widened slightly at how quickly she had finished.
"I'm eating!" She managed to laugh, eating her food a bit slower. There was too much oil on the eggs and sausage that made it hard for her to swallow, but she still managed. After washing it down with some milk, she stood up and walked over to Sieglinde. "Need some help?"
"Just to my room. I invented a machine that can help me walk. That way, I can shop with you!" She explained happily. Elizabeth nodded and gently scooped the younger girl up, surprised by how heavy she was. She nervously placed her hands in non-discreet places as she carried her up the stairs to her room. She placed Sieglinde in front of her closet and after making sure she wouldn't topple over, opened her closet and pulled out a giant spider-like machine that closed and opened at the waist.
"Oh," Elizabeth blinked in surprise, making Sieglinde laugh.
"Is it not amazing?" She carefully strapped herself in, turning the machine on and stretching as the legs straightened out. She then walked over to her bedside and pulled a purse out from the drawer under her nightstand, clutching it tightly. "Now let's go shopping!"
Elizabeth just shrugged and smiled, helping Sieglinde down the stairs in her machine and waving to the maids.
The two decided to go shopping a local boutique to see if anything fashionable and cute had come in. Sieglinde had caused quite a stir in town because of her machine, but she somehow seemed oblivious to it as she walked into the boutique. "Look at all of these fancy dresses!" She said in amazement, her emerald eyes sparkling. She instantly hurried over to a dark red gown with pink lace on it, pointing it out. "I want this one,"
"I think the color isn't very flattering. How about this one?" Elizabeth instead pulled out a seagreen dress with a brown corset attached, and Sieglinde gasped and nodded.
"I want that one! Look, there's one in blue and yellow! Get that one so we could match!" Elizabeth nodded and took that one off the rack, trying to avoid Sieglinde's spider-legs as she walked up to the counter.
"These two, please." She told the seamstress politely.
"Certainly," The older woman smiled nicely and took out a tape measure, pointing to a small stand in front of a mirror. "Just stand over here and I'll take your measurements,"
Elizabeth went first and stood on the stand, holding out her arms and standing perfectly still as the woman measured her height and waist. "Quite a big waist," The woman said to herself, making Elizabeth blush lightly. "And you're still wearing a corset,"
"You have quite a big waist too," Sieglinde huffed, putting her hands on her hips. The seamstress glared at her, then glared at her machine.
"Says a little girl who's half-spider." She finished Elizabeth's measurements and pushed her off the stand. "I don't know how I'm going to measure your waist,"
"Like you would anyone else. Ignore these. They're my legs, you don't need to measure legs now do you?" Sieglinde challenged, and finally the woman sighed and quickly took her measurements as well, going back behind the counter.
"And do you girls have the money ti actually pay for these dresses?"
"Would we be in here if we didn't?" Sieglinde continued on, and Elizabeth looked at her and pulled some money out of her purse, smiling politely at the seamstress.
"Keep the extra," She whispered, and both her and the German girl left the boutique.
"Honestly, I've been here for five years and I still can't believe how rude some British people are," Sieglinde loudly announced on the street, her spider-legs twitching. "And I thought the Germans were bad,"
"Not everyone in England is rude. I thought you of all people would also know that," Elizabeth hummed, finding the carriage again and getting into it. "After all, you were brought here by one,"
"I thought Ciel was a rare exception!" She laughed, folded her legs under her to fit in the carriage better.
"He was. In many ways." Elizabeth said curtly, her features darkening.
After dropping Sieglinde off at her house into the care of more fussy maids, Elizabeth returned back to her own house and walked in on Finny running around the manor, pushing the twins around in a wheelbarrow.
"Go faster!" Lucina cheered, bouncing in her seat.
"It's like riding on a horse!" Edward laughed, tightly holding onto his sister.
"You're kidding! Horses are nothing like this!" Finny laughed, almost colliding with Elizabeth before she quickly jumped out of the way. He stood up and bowed nervously, looking sheepish. "Lady Elizabeth!"
"Mommy's home!" The twins hopped out of the wheelbarrow and tightly jugged Elizabeth, making her gently pat their heads.
"It looks like you guys had a lot of fun while I was gone!" She laughed, making Finny grin.
"They wanted to try this out. But don't worry, I didn't hurt them," He wheeled the wheelbarrow back outside into the garden. "How was your visit?"
"Pleasant. Lady Sullivan was very happy to see me again. I think I'm going to go calling again tomorrow though,"
"Where are you going, Lady Elizabeth?" Paula asked curiously, coming down the stairs.
"To my parents'. And the twins are coming too. It can be a big sleepover,"
"But what about-" Finny started to ask, only to get cut off by Elizabeth's stare.
"I'll deal with that later. Right now, I need to get my socializing out of the way. So go pack the twins some clothes and toys for the visit,"
"Yes." Paula curtsied and went back upstairs.
"Can we have a snack?" Edward asked nicely, but Elizabeth shook her head.
"You two have to get ready for practice today,"
"Okay Mommy!" Lucina said happily, hurrying out of the room, but Edward pouted as he followed her.
"I dislike practice," He whispered.
Elizabeth went into her room as well, opening her closet and pulling out a tight white fencing suit. She placed her dress on her bed and put the uniform on, taking out her mask and heading outside to the garden. Bard tossed her a sword and she grinned, ready to start.
"Here we are!" The twins announced, dressed in a sailor dress and sailor suit.
"I knew it was fencing!" Edward cried as he was handed a small sword.
"You two are Phantomhives, and your grandfather is a British Knight. You two must uphold your family names," Elizabeth said seriously. "Besides, you can't expect to be a Phantomhive member without knowing how to protect yourself,"
Lucina nodded and started chasing after Edward his her sword, making him cry. "Get away from me!"
"I'm gonna get you!" Lucina laughed, trapping Edward in a corner and waving her sword at him. He dropped his own sword and covered up his face, breathing heavily.
Elizabeth sighed and clapped her hands, making the twins look at her. "No, not like that. Watch me," She picked her sword back up and started doing some simple moves with it, fighting an imaginary opponent. Her steps were light and graceful; she looked like she was dancing. The twins watched her in awe, and after she was finished, they clapped.
"Mommy's so pretty!" Lucina gasped.
"That's why Papa loved her," Edward nodded, hurrying over to Elizabeth to better catch his breath. She patted his head.
"Lunchtime!" Paula called happily, making the twins drop their swords and hurry back inside to eat. Elizabeth went inside as well and grabbed a biscuit, rereading the address of the theater from the queen's letter and changing, hurrying out of the house.
Elizabeth arrived at the small theatre, which was painted in dark red paint that made her feel uncomfortable as she stared at it. She had her hair loose and covering up half of her face, while her outfit was a simple brown linen gown with a patched apron and black boots over it. A brown bow was placed in her hair.
"Excuse me sir! Are you currently hiring any new, inspiring actresses?" She asked sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes. The man at the door stared at her slightly, taking notice of her maternal frame.
"Yeah, a spot opened up just last week that we haven't been able to fill. A lot of chicks are afraid of being the next one to go. But I think it's bogus. I think they're just going out and getting drunk," The guy shrugged, waving Elizabeth into the hall. "You must be a brave girl,"
"Oh no, not me. I just needed the money for my family!" Elizabeth cooed, smiling. "I won't be here but a week at the most,"
"Might as well see what kind of skills you have," He led Elizabeth over to a small stage and she walked into the middle of it.
"What will you have me do?" She giggled, playing with her curls.
"Have you ever acted before?"
"Not really, sir...but I'm sure I could try really hard if I wanted," She wobbled back and forth, glancing at out the empty rows of seats. "Just give me a scene,~"
"Okay, you're a eccentric circus performer who does acrobats." The guy said in a disinterested tone. Elizabeth nodded and spun around.
"Isn't the circus so much fun! I'd come here every day if I didn't work here!" She tittered, spinning around the stage. She was suddenly glad nobody could see her acting like a bimbo; nobody important anyway. "Aren't I so good at my job?" She jumped in the air and landed on her hands, walking on them for a few seconds before jumping back into the air and landing perfectly on her tiptoes. "Oh darling!~"
"You're hired! That was impressive!" The guy cheered, making Elizabeth blush and giggle.
"Oh sir, you make me blush!~"
"Not sure if you'll get an actual part or just be a stuntswoman...but either way, you're in,"
Her face fell slightly. If she was just there for stunts, then the kidnappers wouldn't notice her and she wouldn't have much of a chance to figure out who's behind them. Then again...if her acting double got kidnapped, would she still be able to follow her?
"Follow Tia to your room. You guys will be sharing because you look around the same age, kinda,"
"I have a room here?" Elizabeth asked in a daze. That would make it harder to return home whenever she pleased. Perhaps she hadn't thought this through enough.
Tia turned out to be a gloomy girl with dark black hair who said no words as she led Elizabeth to a small tent that had bunkbeds in it, as well as a separate cot on the floor.
"What's your name?" Tia asked at last, claiming the top bunk without even asking her first.
"Ethel." Elizabeth responded quickly with one of her middle names. "I'm named after my father's mother."
"So your grandmother?" Tia gave Elizabeth a strange look when she laughed bubbly. "Just say grandmother. Don't use super long terms."
"So, I am assuming you're an actor too?" Elizabeth asked instead, looking around the tent to make note of everything.
"Yeah. I hope to be. That's why I'm here. And why you're here too." Tia rolled her eyes. "Did you want some?" She pulled open a small bag she had with her and pulled out a large bottle of alcohol. "It's super strong,"
"I don't drink! Drinkin' bad for you!" Elizabeth laughed again, finally settling into what she hoped was a lower-class accent.
"And you survived this long without it? Just a sip ain't gon' hurt,"
"It looks mighty strong. Whisky? I can't drink that," Elizabeth declined again. She hadn't had anything stronger than wine, and even then, it was in moderation at parties. She wasn't in any mood to get drunk.
"Suit yourself, girly," Tia shrugged and put the bottle back in her bag. "Like I said though, don't know how ya lasted so long on 'em streets. You seem posh and elegant,"
"I don't mean ta be. I ain't posh! I'm just natural pretty!" Elizabeth huffed in response. She then sat down on the lower bunk, having taken in her surroundings. "Who's that cot for?" She asked, pointing at it.
"In case there ain't enough room and a third girl gotta room with us. That's very rare though," Tia shrugged again.
"I wouldn't mind sharing with another girl," Elizabeth said to herself. She nervously fidgeted with her fingers, having left the ring at the manor. Soon it would be dinnertime, and she would have to leave in order to help with the kids.
"Wanna look around town?" Tia threw a few coins down at Elizabeth, her apron catching them. "Ain't enough for much, but you could get yourself some stickybuns or something. Like one of 'em."
"I ain't had a stickybun before!" Elizabeth laughed, pocketing the coins. "I bet they're all sticky and gooey!"
"Something is wrong with ya, girly," Tia shook her head. "And you look a lot older than what Captain's lookin' for,"
"I'm only sixteen. I think. I don't know my birthday! But I reckon I'm sixteen!"
"I'm fourteen," Tia shrugged. "You look like you're twenty-five, at least."
"I'm just mature! How dare ya insult a girl!" Elizabeth huffed again, fluffing up her hair and storming out of the tent. She found some of the other actors hanging around nearby some other tents, chatting and drinking.
"Ya must be tha new chick Captain hired. Nice ta meet ya," A redheaded guy held out his hand for Elizabeth to shake, and she gingerly took it. "They call me John."
"I'm Ethel." Elizabeth looked around at some of the actors and made notes of both the most-innocent-looking ones and the most-suspicious-looking ones. "I'm awfully happy ta be workin' here!" She fluttered her eyelashes and spun around.
"What a happy lass." A brunette woman chuckled, blowing some smoke out of her mouth.
"I am happy! What's not ta be happy 'bout?" Elizabeth waved the smoke away from her face, coughing.
"Captain will probably start the show tomorrow. Rehearsals at least. Seein' as how we got enough people," Another man stated.
"Finally. I was sick of waiting's around. I need money, ya know?" The woman with brown hair grumbled, smoking some more.
"I think we all do." Another woman agreed.
"So...what do I do?" Elizabeth finally asked, looking around. "While I wait."
"Did you meet your partner already?" Someone asked, and Elizabeth nodded.
"She wanted ta go to town with me!"
"Then go with her. You might buy somethin' pretty," The smoking woman looked away.
"She did say we could get stickybuns!" Elizabeth bounced back into her tent, finding Tia painting something on her nails. She climbed up part of the ladder and leaned in, looking at it. "What'cha doin'?" She asked cutely, making Tia look up.
"Paintin' ma nails. There's some noble girls who got them pretty nails, they do, all sharp and colorful. I want colorful nails like 'em." She explained. "I got this paint from an art store."
"Wanna get stickybuns with me?" Elizabeth offered. "I wanna get somethin' sweet!"
"Are you kiddin'? It's very late in the afternoon. All the good ones will be gone. All that'll be left are 'em stale ones," Tia grumbled, finishing up her nails and blowing on them. The paint bottle was placed in her lap.
Elizabeth frowned slightly, since she knew from experience the bakery never gives out stale bread or desserts, but she kept her mouth shut. "I guess I'll just sleep!~" She laughed, sliding down the ladder and sitting down on her bed and yanking her boots off. She then pulled her dress over her head and curled up in bed, watching the room slowly darken from the afternoon sun to evening twilight and then the dark night. Tia's bunk was silent, so Elizabeth figured she had fallen asleep already.
Soon, she had fallen asleep too, wondering how she was going to keep up her investigation while also visiting her family the next day.
It was several weeks later, and everyone seemed very quiet over the whole Phantomhive disappearance. Elizabeth lived her life as normal, though she felt like a part of her was gone. She never told anyone, not even her mother, what truly happened to keep her word. She took to wearing the ring everywhere, hidden under her gloves or sleeves.
One day, Edward woke her up late in the morning and told her the police had arrived to ask the family some questions.
"Why is Scotland Yard here?" She asked tiredly, rubbing her eyes. Her whole body felt sore.
"Since we're family, they're probably going to ask us questions about Ciel," Edward shrugged, leaving her room. Elizabeth slowly pulled herself out of bed and bathed, then dressed herself in an all-purple ensemble. She wasn't quite ready to give up her colors, and neither was her family, as they were all dressed in dull red when she arrived in the living room.
"Again, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. This won't take long at all though, we promise." The detective promised, questioning Frances first. Elizabeth wasn't sure what the questions were since they weren't allowed to be in the room during it. Paula gave her some milk and toast to eat as she waited, and she ate it. The nerves made the food feel like a rock in her stomach.
Finally, it was her turn, though she was the last to be questioned.
"You were his fiancee, correct?" He asked almost as soon as she sat down. Elizabeth nodded. "Did he confide anything to you the night before he disappeared?
"No sir." She said simply. "He was always busy with his duties, so we rarely saw each other."
"He never took time out for family?" The detective raised an eyebrow.
"Sometimes he did. We just grew apart after he got older. You know..." Elizabeth struggled to smile.
"Was he acting any different before he disappeared? Saying or doing things unlike him?"
She thought about the answer to that question, but realized she was unable to go into detail about it. To her, Ciel seemed exactly the same that night as he had any other nights. "No." She finally said.
"Alright miss. Thank you for your participation. That's all I needed to know." He stood up and called the rest of the family back in the room, dusting off his coat. "We'll let you know later on this week when to prepare the funeral."
"Funeral? He's dead?" Frances' eyes widened slightly.
"Yes. At least, pronounced dead." The detective headed for the door.
"If it's not confidential, what is the official cause of death?" Alexis asked.
"Suicide. He drowned himself by throwing himself in the Thames. Makes the most sense, as we're still unable to find a body and will likely never find one at this point." The detective shrugged, finally leaving the room.
Elizabeth's stomach chose that moment to flip. Out came her breakfast, all over the rug and Edward's shoes.
"Elizabeth?!" Her parents called at the same time, holding her as she crumpled to the floor, vomiting one more time before dissolving into tears.
"What's wrong?" Frances demanded, tightening her grip on her.
Elizabeth just shook her head, unable to tell her family the truth. She quickly put together all of the soreness and nausea she had been feeling recently to mean one thing.
"Elizabeth!" Edward demanded, kneeling down in front of her. "What's wrong?"
She swallowed and closed her eyes. "The Phantomhive family...has an heir."
"Of course they do, it's your job to undertake Ciel's old duties." Frances frowned.
"No...not that. The manor here is soon going to have little feet running around...the little feet that Ciel and I made together." She said slowly. The room was stone-silent and she winced.
"Unbelievable. Do you think a scandal like this won't go unnoticed? It doesn't matter much for the Phantomhives, but for us. You ruined our family name," Frances left the room in a flurry.
"I can see it now. Having a child out of wedlock? And Ciel's child nonetheless!" Edward grumbled, following after Frances.
Alexis helped Elizabeth off the floor and called in a maid to clean the mess. "It was reckless, understand? And irresponsible of you." He started, making Elizabeth nod. "However...we can fabricate a story. Say you're a widow. That way, the gossip will be less than if you were unwed."
"But what about Edward and Mother?" Elizabeth wiped her eyes.
"Let me deal with them. I promise, they can't stay angry forever. It's just a huge shock...to lose your nephew and find out your only daughter is carrying his child in the same day?" He straightened himself up. "Stay in your room and rest for the day. I'm going to have a maid make a stomach relaxer for you."
"Thanks." Elizabeth blinked, her hands on her stomach.
"And I would love to have a little granddaughter running around here." He added before leaving the room.
The next morning, Elizabeth woke up with a start, having heard a loud noise from outside. She jumped out of bed and hurriedly put her clothes back on, managing to button up a few of the buttons on her dress before pouting. "Oh well," She tied her apron strings in a knot and buttoned up her boots, glancing up at Tia. "What was that noise?" She demanded, on-edge.
"I heard the Captain likes to wake people up with a gunshot. It's not loaded though," She grumbled.
"Is that why he's called the Captain?" Elizabeth wondered out-loud as Tia walked down the ladder.
"Your dress. Ugh." Tia spun her around randomly and buttoned up the rest of the buttons for her. "No sense in havin' it fall off while ya practicin',"
"Ah! Thank ya!" She grinned, running outside. "What's for breakfast?"
"I think gruel and sausages," Tia shrugged, putting on her grey dress and black boots. She pulled her hair into a bun to show off her brown eyes, while Elizabeth's remained tangled in her face. Part of her was screaming for a brush, but the other part liked the fact it made her harder to recognize.
"I like gruel!" She cheered. "Where do we eat at?"
"Inside the theatre. There's a little eatin' place," Tia led Elizabeth away from the sleeping tents and back inside the theatre, going down the stairs to a darkened wooden room. "See? We eat here." She plopped Elizabeth down on a bench. "Just sit here and I'll get ya something," She then left, and Elizabeth turned serious and looked around the room, listening for more potential news involving her case.
"Captain is gettin' antsy. I can tell. I think he's going to snap soon," A man whispered to another as they walked into the room.
"He wouldn't. Acting may not be respectable, but you can't seriously be suggestin' that he's behind those girls getting drugged. No way." His friend shook his head.
"Hey, ya never know,"
Elizabeth's ears perked up just as Tia brought her some food.
"Luckily the gruel was hot this time," She said simply, sliding a bowl over to Elizabeth. There was an egg on top of the food.
"Oh," She blinked in response, eating up the food anyway. It reminded her of what she regularly ate for breakfast, though it was a lot thicker than this watery mess. And the egg on top ruined it. "So is Captain like the director...guy?" She giggled in a ditzy way.
"More or less. Ain't nobody know his real name so we call him Captain because he was in the navy for a few years. Of course, he would be nothing without his assistant Martha." She took a few sips from the dirty cup she had with her, and Elizabeth swallowed at the sight of it.
"Breakfast time is over, ladies and gentlemen! Let's head on upstairs for our first rehearsal!" The man who must've been Captain announced. Elizabeth couldn't really make out what he looked like in the distance though.
"'Bout time. Come on," Tia had already finished eating and pulled on Elizabeth's arm, leading her back upstairs. The stage was decorated with a nicely-painted backdrop of a flowery meadow, and Elizabeth wondered who painted it.
"You the new hire," The brown-haired woman from yesterday glanced at Elizabeth, taking in her disheveled appearance. "Name?"
"Last name?" She eyed her.
"I dun know, ma'am. I ain't got one," She answered shyly.
"Alright Ethel. You're going to be a side character in our play, which is Cinderella. You're also going to be a stuntswoman and do odd jobs," She said bluntly. "By the way, name's Martha. they probably told ya that already, but I like to make sure people remember," She then walked away.
"I love Cinderella!" Elizabeth chimed after her. She had seen a performance when she was younger with her family, though she had trouble remembering if there were any stunts in it. Maybe she should've paid closer attention instead of drooling over the sparkly gowns.
"Ya like fairy-tales? Why am I not surprised," Tia rolled her eyes, handing Elizabeth a large bag. "Come on, we gotta put these in the dressing room.
"Why?" Elizabeth hurried after her.
"They're makeup pieces. Bottles and stuff like that. I don't really know, I didn't look in the bags,"
"Okay!" She was glad she had such an easy job and just followed after Tia, opening the different doors and neatly placing the perfume bottles and makeup tubes on the tables. Some of the brands she recognized easily and smiled as she thought of the lucky star who got to use them.
After they finished with that, it was early in the afternoon. Elizabeth hadn't been given the role she was to play yet, but she was still made to stand on-stage and watch the other actors practice, and she nervously but silently tapped her foot on the wooden stage. She had to go to the Midfords' manor and check on her family; she needed to see if the twins had arrived easily.
"This is for ya, jitterbug!" A man whooped from somewhere behind Elizabeth, dumping a giant bucket of muddy ice water onto her. She gasped in surprise and shivered. "Did ya think I didn't notice ya shaking? It's nerves. A cold douse will fix 'em right up for ya!" The redheaded man grinned as Elizabeth continued to shiver.
"T-t-thank you," She managed, turning up her nose because she smelled even worse now. "I-I'm gonna change," She said quietly, running off the stage.
"Hey! Come back here!" Martha yelled after her, but Elizabeth didn't answer. She went back to her tent and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders to ease some of her chills, then rushed into town. She was a fast runner, but many people still gave her dirty looks when they saw her appearance in such a rush. She certainly hoped that the police of all people didn't catch her.
Her own manor was closer to town than Ciel's was, so it didn't take her long to reach the front yard. She caught her breath, then marched up to the front door, knocking loudly on the door. Alexis answered it, his eyes widening. "I am sorry ma'am, but we don't have anything to give you," He said sincerely, starting to close the door. Elizabeth shoved her foot in the door and pulled her hair out of her face, the tangled snaring in her fingers.
"Father! It's me, Lizzy!" She said sternly, making his eyes widen more.
"Elizabeth! Get in! What has happened to you?" He took in her dripping, shivering form that had dirt caked on. "Goodness."
"Are Lucina and Edward here?" She changed the topic, and sighed in relief when Alexis nodded.
"They arrived just this morning with Paula. Your mother was surprised to see them without you."
"I had something important to attend to," Elizabeth answered, spinning around and going into the parlor, where Frances was reading and Edward was playing with the twins. The second she stepped in, Frances looked up and turned up her nose.
"Bathe. Now." She directed. "Where have you been? You look and smell like you slept in a gutter."
"Woof-woof!" Elizabeth barked in reply, allowing a maid to take the blanket off her shoulders and lead her to the bathroom. The maid gave Elizabeth a long and warm bubblebath, then gently brushed her hair and put it up in her usual pigtails, then put on an old dress of hers that was a dark green with matching ribbons. The lace trim was blue, and the dress only went to her knees now. After she was cleaned, she went back into the living room and sat down across from Edward on the floor.
"Mommy!" The twins happily ran to her, hugging her tightly.
"We missed you!" Edward added happily, and Elizabeth smiled.
"I know you did. Mommy was busy,"
Her older brother glared at her and finally stood up. "Busy doing what?"
"Watchdog duties. There's a local theatre in town where the actresses have been vanishing the night before performances, the showing up a few days later sick and with memory loss. I was ordered to investigate, so I spent the day and night there," She explained calmly. "Hence my appearance. And I'm going back there later."
"That sounds dangerous. What if you get kidnapped too?" Edward demanded.
"I can handle it. I was made a crew member. Chances are whoever is doing this won't notice me so I can safely follow the current lead actress. I already have a few ideas about who it is anyway,"
"Mommy! Can we play now?" Lucina asked impatiently. "Grandpa bought us a bunch of new toys!"
"Did he now?" Elizabeth smiled, scooping the twins up in her arms. "Then yes, we can." She carried the twins into her old room, which Alexis had converted into a nursery and playroom for the twins. She set them down on the floor and sat down herself. "Did you eat breakfast here?"
"Yes! Grandma made us oatmeal and milk! It was yummy!" Edward smiled. Lucina ran over to a big pink dollhouse.
"I wanna play with this, Mommy!"
"Alright, let's play with the dollhouse," Elizabeth scooted over to it and picked up one of the dolls, letting Edward and Lucina pick whichever dolls they wanted. Lucina picked the mother doll, while Edward picked the father doll. "I guess I'm the daughter," She giggled and made her doll wiggle around in the dollhouse while Lucina ordered her around. Edward was a very nice father, and they continued to play until Paula informed it was time for lunch.
"Lunch!" Lucina threw down her doll and ran out of the room, making Elizabeth sigh. She and Edward put the dollhouse away and went into the dining room, where the rest of the Midfords were sitting and waiting for lunch. Elizabeth helped Edward into his seat, then sat next to her brother, allowing lunch to finally be served.
"Does Papa have grandparents?" Lucina asked as the maids served lunch.
"Yes, but they're dead. They were dead long before you were even born," Elizabeth said quietly. "So you just have your Grandpa Alexis and Grandma Frances."
"Do I have any uncles or aunts from Papa?" Lucina pressed, but luckily it was time to eat, so Elizabeth didn't have to answer.
"Things are going good at Weston. I'm still miffed that I'm the only one of the group who decided to come back and teach, but what can you do," Edward started, cutting up his meat.
"Being a teacher at such a school is something to be proud of though." Alexis reassured him. "And soon it will be time for you to inherit my title,"
"Being the Head of the British Knights...it makes my head spin just thinking about it." He chuckled lightly.
"Maybe you can find someone new for Elizabeth too," Frances stated, sipping her wine.
"I don't want to be remarried. I'm happy with being the Head of Phantomhive," Elizabeth stared at Frances.
"I hate eels!" Edward cried from his seat, pushing his plate away. "Why'd Grandma make eels?!"
"Eels are yummy!" Lucina stared at her brother in disbelief.
"I can understand why a child wouldn't like them. Too slimy," Alexis chuckled, asking for a maid to bring Edward cod instead. "I didn't like them either as a kid,"
"It's not like all we ever eat are eels," Edward grumbled, downing his wine. "I don't know why he's fussing,"
"And I wasn't the one who made them. I told the cook to make whatever was in her book for the day, and this was it," Frances continued eating her own food.
Once a maid came back with an alternative meal for Edward, he smiled happily and thanked her, eating it. Lucina glared at him for getting special treatment.
The family continued to eat in silence, Elizabeth feeling awkward because she could feel Edward and Frances' disapproval at her radiating from their spots. She hated how they treated her just because of the twins. She knew if Ciel was still alive, they would have no qualms over her being a mother already.
But he wasn't, and her mother was already thinking of remarrying her. The strawberry cake tasted flat in her mouth.
"Tell us a story, Grandpa!" Lucina asked after lunch was over, following Frances and Alexis into their room.
"I'm afraid I'm fresh out of stories, dear. You'll have to wait until your bedtime," Alexis chuckled, patting her forehead. She pouted.
"No fair! I wanna hear a story now!"
"How is their training going?" Frances asked Elizabeth, sitting down on her bed.
"It's going good. At least, as good as it can. I show them as much as I can, but I feel they're still a bit too young to properly absorb it," Elizabeth answered quickly.
"Good. I expect them to be extremely skilled when we take them to their knighting at ten,"
"The knighting," Edward winced at the memory, making Elizabeth giggle.
"It wasn't that bad!"
"Not for you! I wobbled so badly from nerves. I almost fell at a heap on Her Majesty's feet! She looked so unhappy with me. And then Mother scolded me,"
"It was funny!" Elizabeth reassured him. "And you looked so adorable in your little suit,"
"Can we play?" Lucina asked, walking into the bedroom.
"Sure. What do you want to play now?" Elizabeth asked, easily picking her up.
"I wanna play bubbles too!" Edward piped up, standing in the hallway.
"Alright, I'll make some bubbles for you!" She went into the parlor and sat the twins down on the couch, then called for Paula to make a solution of bubbles. Paula nodded and did so, coming back with a large glass bowl of bubble solution. She went outside and set the bowl down in the grass, and the twins rushed to it, grabbing the bubble wands and dipping them into the solution, then running around to make really big bubbles.
"I'm leaving," Elizabeth whispered to Paula before stepping outside. She had her peasant outfit back on, and her hair braided and covering up her face.
"But Lady Elizabeth, you just got here! Won't you at least stay for dinner?" Paula said in a worried tone.
"I have a job to do. Make sure the children go to bed early, and tell them a story if they can't sleep," She ordered, hurrying away from the Midford Manor before anyone else could see her.
Nobody had attended the birth, but Elizabeth figured as such. Ever since her announcement had been proven true, her family had been avoiding her. It suited her, since she had a lot of business to take care of at the Phantomhive Manor anyway. It was there she went into labor. A midwife was called, and Elizabeth was put into bed and helped through her birth, gasping at the news she hadn't had one baby, but fraternal twins.
"Congratulations, my lady. They're some very beautiful children too." The midwife smiled, handing them to her. "You should name them,"
Elizabeth straightened herself up in bed and stared the the dark-haired girl and blond boy in her arms. "Lucina and Edward." She answered easily. "The two most important men in my life."
"Good names," The midwife left to write their names down, and Ciel's servants hurried into the room to coo and look at the babies. Even Snake was getting into it, a small smile on his face.
She was still surprised she had twins, but it made sense, in a way. After all, Ciel himself was a twin. She passed the twins around, then the servants were shooed out by the midwife and the babies were taken into the new nursery. She still had to rest up.
A few days later, a simple and short letter from her family arrived, congratulating her on the twins. It seemed empty and she locked the letter up in her desk.
She knew it was a reckless choice, but it was a reckless choice made from love. Out of all the things she wasn't able to give Ciel, she was glad she gave him the one thing he never thought he'd have: heirs.
It was nearing evening when Elizabeth reached the theatre again, running straight into Martha again.
"Ethel! Where were you? I hope you're not goin' to do somethin' like that again. Every worker is important in a theatre production," She scolded, making Elizabeth laugh.
"I was gettin' sick! I didn't wanna vomit in front of everyone! so unladylike!" She waved her hand.
Martha stared at her strangely, then finally waved her away. "They're still doin' rehearsals in there, though it's unorganized. Just go onstage and help out where ya can,"
Elizabeth nodded and went back onstage, finding most people standing around and talking instead of actually practicing. Elizabeth did a few spins here and there to make it look like she was actually doing work while she listened in on other peoples' conversations.
"Did they ever pick a lead actress?" The redheaded man asked one of his friends.
"I hear Martha's just going to undertake the lead. She's pretty and all, but it's a bit annoyin' how she's in every lead role. Even when she's not cast, she still finds a way to get put in," His friend grumbled, and Elizabeth tripped on a nick in the wood and fell over, falling off the stage in a huge tangle of limps and skirts.
"Oh no!" She cried, wiggling around. Tia walked in and turned her nose up at the sight, but still helped Elizabeth up.
"You survived so long because of...what, exactly, girly?" She demanded, looking her over.
"More like dumb luck," She scoffed, turning on her heel and walking off. "Come on, practice is over for today. It's time to go back to our rooms." Elizabeth nodded and followed her, gasping when she found a piece of hard candy on her pillow.
"It's butterscotch!" She guessed, turning the candy over in her hands. "Where'd these come from?"
"Martha gives 'em to all the new actresses. I guess Captain buys 'em for her or somethin'. Go ahead, eat it," Tia climbed into her own bed.
Elizabeth kept looking the candy over, but finally shook her head. "I don't like butterscotch!" She tossed it behind her and started getting undressed for bed.
"Suit yourself. I hear they're super good though. They come from some candy company called Funtom,"
"What an odd name!" Elizabeth laughed. She was surprised Ciel's candy made it this low down the social ladder. Part of her wanted to go back and eat it, but she suppressed that urge. Who knew what would happen to her if she tasted it? She finished getting undressed and fell asleep in her bed, feeling worn-out from her visit.
Elizabeth woke up early in the morning and managed to get herself dressed again, noticing the candy was gone from the ground. She quietly crept out of her tent and noticed nobody else was awake either. She peeked around in a few tents, trying to find out where Martha or Captain slept. Her steps were light, which made it easy to dodge the glass bottles and other pieces of garbage strewn about. She reached the backdoor of the theatre and slowly stepped inside, looking around.
"That new actress is a beaut, ain't she?" Captain's voice reached her ears, and she ducked behind a wall to listen better. "She looks a lot like that Phantomhive whore, so it's even better," He laughed. "If only I could make her lead. She'd get our sales through the roof,"
"You don't need nobody else in that lead but me. When will be the day you realize that?" Martha all but purred in response.
Elizabeth continued to inch along the wall, making sure she was crouched down so it was harder to notice her. She came across a darkly-colored door and quickly tried it, finding it to swing open at her touch. She hurried inside and closed the door behind her, finding herself in an office.
"Is Martha behind the disappearances?" She wondered to herself, going to the desk and pulling open one of the drawers, finding a large collection of hard candy in various colors. Sprinkled in the bottom was a fine white powder, which Elizabeth stared at. "Sugar? Salt? Flour?" She pinched part of her dress and collected some of the powder in it, then sprinkled it onto a small flower in the room. The flower curled up and fell limply, making her gasp. "Cocaine!"
"Who's in here?" Captain demanded, his footsteps getting closer to the office. Elizabeth gasped silently and looked around for a way to escape, finally curling up in a ball underneath the desk and making sure she was out of sight when Captain finally came in. "Nobody. Strange." He walked over to the desk, and she could make out really fancy shoes and checkered pants on his figure. He was a lot taller than she had imagined, and thin.
"Come in here, dear. Let me see how that looks on you." He directed, and a woman's heels entered the room, laughing. "You look like a little princess! Gorgeous! Want some candy?"
The girl laughed and must've shook her head, as Elizabeth heard the drawer being slammed. She wondered if it was Martha he was talking to.
"I know you're wondering about that blonde bimbo I hired recently. I know you dislike her greatly. Give me some time, I'll get her too," Elizabeth's eyes widened as the girl laughed meanly and rushed out of the room. She knew she only had a few more days, tops, to figure out who was behind this and why, and send her report back to Queen Victoria.
Captain didn't leave the room for thirty maddening minutes, though doing what she couldn't possibly figure out. Putting cocaine in the candy, most likely. She was starting to feel dizzy from her position.
Finally, he stood up and left the room, leaving the door open. She crawled out from under the desk and grabbed a small bag of the candy and coke left out, shoving it into her apron pocket as she hurried from the room and went downstairs to eat.
Tia was already down there, halfway through her breakfast. "You weren't in your bed when I woke up." She said bluntly as Elizabeth got her own bowl and sat down.
"I was lookin' for a place ta, ya know!~" She laughed. "Do that!"
"You ain't see that bucket in our tent? That's what it's there for, it is," Tia stared at her, and Elizabeth looked down at the table, eating her food quietly. "Ya hear what folks here are sayin' 'bout ya, girly?" Elizabeth feigned innocent, shaking her head rapidly. "They sayin' ya look like that Phantomhive widow. Ain't that funny? I don't think she'd be like ya though,"
"What ya think she's like?" Elizabeth pressed curiously.
"A terrible person like her late husband. Never carin' 'bout poorer folks, eatin' off gold plates. Havin' e'v'rythin' handed to her. I imagine she'd be like most rich folks, insufferable and naive,"
"Maybe." Elizabeth swallowed, pushing her food away.
"Practice time!" Martha announced, and Elizabeth was all too glad for the change in pace. She followed the others to the stage, this time made to move various set pieces around as Martha practiced her lines onstage. she certainly had the air and grace of an actress, Elizabeth had to admit. Even if she was the one behind the disappearances, she had no idea why. Martha didn't seem like she'd gain anything from it, unless her husband was having affairs with them or something.
"You finally have a role," Tia explained as Elizabeth set another box down backstage. "You're one of the princesses at the ball. You gonna wear a dress and everythin',"
"But I'm already wearing a dress! And adorable one at that!~" Elizabeth squealed, spinning around in hers.
"A real one, not like that rag ya wearin'. Thought a girly like you would like that,"
"I would! I mean, I do!~" She smiled widely. "What do I hafta do?"
"Just stand there and gawk at the guy playin' the prince, I'm assumin'," Tia shrugged and left the room, and Elizabeth nervously clutched her chest. She had to be extra careful now. She followed Tia and continued to do her work for the remainder of the day, moving things around and helping actresses with their dresses and lines.
At the end of the day, Elizabeth was surprised when her and a few other people were asked to stay behind. Martha came out of the backroom, looking them over.
"I just wanted to tell you all you are doin' a good job. Some of you ain't cast members, but your work is still noticed and appreciated. You guys are the hardest workers,"
"Why, thank you!" The redheaded man grinned. Tia just rolled her eyes.
"I wanted to invite you all to have dinner with Captain an' I. Thought it'd be a proper way of thankin' ya." She headed back to the backroom, and the group eagerly followed after her, Elizabeth keeping her senses up. Martha led them downstairs into the mess hall, but the air seemed thicker than usual and Elizabeth had trouble keeping her balance on the stairs.
"What'cha cookin'? It ain't smell like nothin; I've had before," She managed to laugh weakly before tripping over the last few stairs and face-planting right onto the floor.
Elizabeth woke up feeling heavy, her limbs all sore. She was crumpled up in a cage, her hair roughly pulled from its braid and falling in her face. to her amazement, her clothes remained untouched, which meant so were her...
"Her Highness is awake," A familiar voice sneered, and the owner walked into the light to reveal it was Tia, wearing an extremely grand dress with a wig made of mismatched hair styles and colors. She was sucking on a lollipop. She kneeled down in front of the cage, grabbing Elizabeth's chin. "I was right about who ya were, princess! My feelings never lie," She stood up and spun around, vanishing into the darkness again.
Elizabeth's own senses came back to her and she pulled out a pin from her hair, scooting over to the lock on her cage and quickly but carefully unlocking it. When she heard the click, she pulled the door open and crawled out, trying to make note of her surroundings but finding it was too dark to do so.
A bullet was fired at her and like a flash, she had pulled out her swords and leaned to the left to avoid the bullet, taking a fighting stance.
"You little cheat! I wasn't informed you could fight!" Martha swore, trying to fire at her again. Elizabeth easily dodged that bullet too and held her swords up in front of her face.
"I wasn't either. What a pleasant surprise this is," Captain cooed, pulling on Elizabeth's hair roughly. He had dark brown eyes and thick black hair, though half of his face was covered up with a red harlequin mask. Elizabeth managed to struggle enough that his grip loosened, then she kicked him in the shin and escaped, jumping on top of the small cage. "Cocky little girl!" He spat.
"Fight me. I dare you to," Elizabeth took a fighting stance again.
"Just who do you think you are? The Queen's little bitch?"
She barked in response and took a few steps back, quickly shoving on of her swords to the side to cut part of Martha's cheek as she tried to lunge at her. Her left cheek started to bleed, and she dropped the gun to grab it in anger.
"She is the Queen's bitch!" Tia laughed, picking up Martha's gun and pointing it at Elizabeth. "So since you are, answer me this. Did ya figure out our plan?"
"It's obvious. You two gave pretty actresses, who inevitably were also often made the lead, those pieces of candy with cocaine in them. Then, you'd steal something pretty from them to give to your daughter. The cocaine helped make their memories fuzzy. You helped by making sure you always roomed with the newest girl so you could slip them the candy easier." She stated, jumping out of the way of Tia's bullet.
"Only the absolute best for my daughter. She was always so jealous of 'em rich girls. So I turned her into one too," Captain smirked.
"We were so pleased when we found out Lady Phantomhive was going to be a new addition. Such beauty. If only you'd led me cut your hair for her," Martha cooed, but Elizabeth swiped at her with her sword.
"I am sure Her Majesty would love to know why so many girls keep disappearing. At your hands!"
"The queen ain't gon' know nothin'! We destroyed all of the evidence," Tia laughed.
"I have some in my pocket," Elizabeth admitted, spinning around and slashing Tia's side, cutting her dress and making her bleed.
"Oh God," she grabbed her side and dropped the gun, falling to her knees.
"Come with me quietly, and I won't have to get any more violent." Elizabeth ordered as Captain rushed to his daughter's side.
"What choice do we have? I'd rather die here alongside the evidence. I ain't goin' to no jail." Martha scowled, lunging for Elizabeth again.
"Suit yourself," She danced out of the way and cut Martha's chest, ripping her dress and making her bleed. "Where are the others that were with me?"
"In their tents, sleeping off the drug." Captain glared at her. "You were the only one we wanted,"
"Oh! I really am a special girl!~" Elizabeth swooned, appearing behind Captain and pressing her sword into his stomach, slowly pulling it back out. "I really don't want to kill you, trust me! I'm a mother too, and I would do anything for my children. But you refused to come with me," She panted, watching Captain cough up blood.
"You think we care?" Tia choked out, still holding onto her side. "Just finish us already!"
Elizabeth looked around the room, then wiped her swords off with her handkerchief and put them back on. She shook her head. "You will bleed out soon. I thought this was more fitting than just finishing you off here. After all, I'm nothing like my late husband." She left the room, finding the stairs that led back up to the stage, leaving them down there.
"Did you bring any evidence of their crimes?" The Queen asked calmly a day later, and Elizabeth nodded. She pulled the bag of candy and cocaine out of he pocket, handing it to one of the Queen's servants.
"They should be dead now though. They were stealing certain physical attributes from actresses they deemed pretty to give to their daughter. The cocaine was put into candies their daughter handed out; it was supposed to keep their memories fuzzy,"
"Interesting. I thought your husband had the most interesting cases, but I see now that's being challenged. Thank you for your help,"
Elizabeth nodded and stood up, curtsying. "The pleasure was all mine, Your Majesty." She went back outside to where her carriage was, finding the twins chasing after a butterfly. She laughed lightly and herded them back into the carriage, telling the driver another destination.
"Where to now, Mommy?" Edward asked curiously.
"To see your father." Elizabeth placed a black veil over her face, adjusting it.
"I love visiting Papa!" Lucina said happily, her hair tied into braids with white ribbons. She had on a smaller version of Elizabeth's lacy black gown, while Edward had on a tiny black suit.
"I'm sure your father enjoys your visits too,"
The family soon arrived at the cemetery, Elizabeth being handed a large bouquet from the driver. She gestured for the twins to follow her and the three walked for a bit until they reached the center of the cemetery where a few graves were. Elizabeth kneeled down in front of the grave furthest away from the others, placing her flowers there.
There was already quite a few things already placed at the grave, ranging from flowers to ribbons to charms. She could tell who had given what. That German charm was from Sieglinde. That giant basket was from his servants. That flag of red, green, blue and purple was from the Weston boys. she smiled a bit, wishing Ciel could see just how much of an influence he had on people.
"I miss you. More than you could possibly ever know, or even understand. I think about you every day. So does everyone else. Lucina and Edward want to meet you. But most of all, I wish I could just see you one last time, hear your voice one last time..." She felt herself tearing up and wiped them away, the wind blowing her hair.
"Papa was really popular!" Lucina noticed.
"Did Papa have a lot of friends?" Edward asked curiously.
"Yes. He helped a lot of people, and they're forever thankful to him." Elizabeth stood up slowly and picked the twins up in her arms. "Now it's time for you two to go home and go to bed," She gently pinched their cheeks and got back into the carriage.
After they arrived home, Elizabeth got ready for bed herself, going into the nursery to check on the children.
"Would you like me to read you a story?" She asked nicely, and they both nodded. She sat down in the rocking chair and let them sit at her feet, telling them about holidays spent with her family and Ciel. The children listened with rapt attention, soon falling asleep near the end. She laughed quietly and picked them up, gently tucking them both into their beds and kissing their foreheads. "They all lived happily ever after, until the end of their days," She whispered, looking out the nursery window.
The moon was full and bright, shining silvery light into the room. A crow loudly cawed from outside the window, sending chills up Elizabeth's spine. She hurriedly left the nursery and went to bed herself, suddenly feeling a dark energy watching her, following her.
"Good night, my dear Ciel. I hope you are enjoying your time in Hell." She whispered.