"I apologize deeply, young master, but the blade was covered in some type of poison. Even though the size of the cut is small, I must admit I have never felt so much pain in my life," the butler coughs.
"I haven't seen you like this since that encounter with the undertaker. The poison, the sharpness of those blades... just who is she?" The young earl ponders. "She can't be human, beating you up that badly."
"My senses are telling me she's human, though," Sebastian mutters, causing Ciel's eyes to widen. "Still, there's something off about her. The sensation is ultimately a human soul, but it's different from regular humans. I just can't figure out what."
"What is she, a human-animal hybrid like Snake?"
"No, no, that's completely irrelevant to our situation. I also can't sense anything from her at all. Say, if I was presented with a murderer, I would be able to sense death around him. However, I cannot sense anything from her," he continues.
"How do you think that's possible?" Ciel asks.
"I do not know; the ability to suppress oneself's aura is very much unheard of in a human. Even in demons, it is impossible to suppress the aura completely, something that the girl has managed."
"I see. Well, as much as I'd like to punish you for failing me, I'll let it slip this time," Ciel grumbles. Sebastian's eyes widen, standing up slowly with a pained smile.
"Thank you, My Lord. You're very generous today."
Back at the Phantomhive Manor, Ciel sits down in his study, reading over letters and preparing for the ball the next day.
It seems the Viscount is up to something again.
I'm afraid these experiments of his are getting out of hand.
Boy, please help put a stop to his foolishness tomorrow night.
As I cannot attend, I will send an assistant in my place.
Please treat her nicely.
Sipping his tea, Ciel turns his head to Sebastian. "I'll stay here and try to find out more about the bizarre dolls. Sebastian, I want you to go and find out more about that girl. She could very much be a threat."
"As much as I wish to not run into her again, if you insist I shall oblige," Sebastian sighs. He then leaves the room.
In the library, Sebastian quickly sketches an accurate portrait of the girl on a blank canvas. "This should do," he mutters, and leaves the manor for the streets of London.
He stops at a closed grocery store, where the owner is cleaning boxes.
"Excuse me, sir, but do you know anything about this lady?" Sebastian questions, showing the old man the portrait.
He wiggles his glasses and squints his eyes. They suddenly light up. "Oh, yes! She bought a bag of apples earlier from me. I don't know anything else though, sorry."
"It's fine, thank you for the information," the butler smiles and leaves.
Sebastian continues to walk the streets, asking anyone he sees walking by about the girl.
"Oh, her? I've seen her before. She's beautiful, isn't she?"
"She's quite strange, really. One day she goes out wearing an old, worn down dress and the next day she walks out wearing the clothes of a noble!"
"Hmm, I don't know her. Grandpa, do you know her? She's pretty..."
"Oh, I know her! She works for the Roberts Manor!"
"I've seen her on the streets, talking sometimes. What about you, mom?"
"Isn't she a maid for the Marquois?"
"I have no idea, I've never talked to her before."
"She was a maid for the Phantomhives before the fire, right?" A girl states.
Sebastian's eyes suddenly light up.
"No, she's not!" Her friend interrupts. "I heard she works for the royal family as a private maid!"
"Don't be silly, the queen already has two butlers!" The girl argues.
Sebastian thanks the two girls and leaves with a sigh.
During an investigation he has never gotten such inconsistent answers. The Roberts, the Marquois, Queen Victoria, even the Phantomhives--
"Hey mister, 'that a picture of Miss _____ you've got there?" A small, rag-dressed boy asks.
The butler looks down at the boy surprised. "Do you know her, little sir?"
The small boy giggles at the thought of "little sir."
"Yes, I know her. She's really nice and pretty and she bought a piece of bread from me today! Look! This is the penny she gave me!" The boy shows the tall man happily.
"I see. Would you happen to know her full name?" Sebastian asks with a smile.
"Sure I do!" The boy cries and tells him.
"Thank you. Here's a little something for your troubles," the butler smiles as he hands the boy a penny and leaves.
"Anytime, mister!" The little boy yells in delight.
Sebastian leaves with a wide smirk on his face, pink eyes glowing with satisfaction.
He climbs into the window of the Scotland Yard's building, and slips into a room.
Not just any room.
The room that contains the documents of all the citizens in London.
He opens the file folders for her last name, but to his dismay--
She is not in it.
In fact, what's more confusing is that for the families of the Roberts and Marquois...
She was never in the record for their servants.
Even for the girls that claimed she used to work for the Phantomhives, her name is not in any of those records either.
Lastly, he looks at the queen's records. As expected, there is no trace of her.
Basically, she does not exist.
Maybe the little boy was wrong, or she lied about her--
A photo slips out of the Phantomhive folder and lands on the floor. Sebastian picks it up and studies it. His eyes widen.
* * *
"So? What did you find out?" Ciel asks impatiently.
Sebastian presents to the boy a photograph. Annoyed, Ciel takes it and studies it carefully. A shocked look on his face appears.
An old, labeled photograph of a young Rachel Phantomhive hugging her personal maid, both smiling in the Phantomhive garden.
An arrow is pointed at the smiling servant, and the writing is recognized by Ciel as his mother's.
"Happy birthday to my favorite maid, _____!"
However, what surprises Ciel the most is background. Playing in the grass, a little boy, no older than two or three.
"This photo was taken more than ten years ago," Ciel whispers in horror.
"Indeed, My Lord." Sebastian smirks.
"She looks completely the same."
Ciel's hand shakes as he places the photo down.
"We know her name now, but I checked, and there are no mentions of her whatsoever other than this photo in the documents," Sebastian explains. "However, she has apparently worked for plenty of other manors, but they have no mention of her either."
"Is that all?" Ciel grumbles.
"There is also a rumor that she is currently working for the royal family."
"What?" Ciel replies, shocked.
"That's not what we should be worrying about right now, young master. It's getting late; you should sleep. Tomorrow's going to be a big day."
"You're right... Sebastian. But... say, could she have something to do with my parents?"
"I doubt it, My Lord. If she did, wouldn't the other nobles she worked for also be dead?"
"That's true. But the photo... is she really human, Sebastian?"
"I sense she is."
You look at your clock, which reads 12 am.
You lie in your bed, wide awake, the encounter with Earl Phantomhive still racing through your head.
It's a good thing I took the liberty of erasing all my records. Still...
I hope they got that birthday card of mine.
You close your eyes and try to sleep, but being half demon, you only actually need rest once or twice a week. But tomorrow's a big day, and you want to be prepared.
I have things to deal with tomorrow.
In the morning, you see off Victoria and her two butlers. You work through the entire afternoon, cleaning and doing laundry. At four, though, you decide it's time to get ready.
You get another maid to help you with the corset, which slips on quite easily, to your surprise. You put on the dress, and, while the maids aren't looking, you slip into your dress the knives from the queen.
The maids help you put on a bit of makeup and help you with your hair. Then you slip on a cape and head into your carriage.
Within an hour, you arrive at the Viscount's mansion.
Pulling the hood of your cape over your head, the door is opened for you and you walk into the grand ballroom.
Bright, shining yellow lights give the atmosphere a cheery attitude, and the numerous amounts of people laughing, talking and eating make it seem like there's nothing horrible happening behind the scenes at all. Tables of food and drink are put around the edges of the walls, and a high platform, supported by two flights of stairs parallel to each other, covered by velvet carpet. You smile. It's nice to see something like this.
A cough beside you snaps you out of your trance.
"You're Her Majesty's assistant, right?" A young-looking boy with blonde hair and red eyes greet you. "I'm Edgar Redmond, the Viscount's nephew. I'd like you to come with me."
You nod and take off your hood, revealing your face. You greet him with a warm smile. He seems stunned. "What's the matter?" You ask calmly.
"Oh, uh, nothing, you're just very pretty," he stutters. Chuckling, you link arms with him and he leads you to a private room beside the right of the platform.
The moment you enter, you're greeted with a hug.
"Lady _____!" The viscount cries. "You're as beautiful like a young robin, as always," he sings. Your eyebrow twitches.
"Well, thank you. Her Majesty prepared a message for the guests that I'm supposed to announce," you state, getting right into business.
"Why yes! Let the entire ballroom be overwhelmed by your beauty!" He cries dramatically. "I'll make sure you do that just before the dances start."
You nod in agreement.
"Let's do that now!" He cries, leaping out of the room and onto the platform. You watch from the room, utterly disgusted.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" He shouts passionately into the crowd. All the guests turn to look at him, and from the corner of your eye, you see the Earl Phantomhive and his demon butler standing in the distance, a serious look on their faces.
They, no doubt, have business here as well.