I watched her. A splash of red against the dull grey of England’s dreary landscape. She was beautiful and so full of fiery rage. In a way, she was like me–she had been robbed, by fate, of the one thing that would make her happy in life. So much like me.
A reflection of crimson.
Angelina Dalles, known better by the title Madame Red.
What a beautiful cluster of Lycoris radiata, surrounded by weeds. In that moment, watching her murder, watching her spill carmine remorse across the cobblestones of Whitechapel, watching her gut the nameless whore like the slimy fish she was–ah. I fell in love, deeply and irreparably, with another woman.
I made myself known to her. How could I not? To see her so skillfully remove the wasted uterus, to watch her soak herself in the deep red blood…It was akin to seeing an angel made real. Not that a stuffy Angel would ever sully themselves with the matters of mortality, of course. But for the sake of my personal romanticism, Angelina was a seraphim of the most gorgeous scarlet.
She was afraid at first. Then, slowly, she grew to enjoy my company. Perhaps, in her own little way, she loved me back. It was an odd sort of emotion between us. An understanding, a kinship, a friendship. There was love and hate there, in equal measures.
“Why didn’t you come to me sooner? You are a being of Death; why couldn’t you find me before my life was ripped away from me?”
There was always that question. Sometimes spoken, sometimes only shot at me via a glance. I had no choice, I told her. I was a creature bound by my duties. Even being with her then, now, it would reflect poorly on me. For all I knew, should I ever return to the realm of the Grim Reapers, I would be cast aside and out. I could be killed for doing this with her.
In the back of my mind, I knew that William would never allow that. He hated me and loved me in a way different than my relationship with Madame Red. He would strike me, hurt me, harm me, spill my blood and damage my face–yet he would never kill me.
It was a whirlwind, really. A proper cyclone. Angelina and I murdered and ripped, tore and destroyed. We were the Hands of Justice; we were the darkness in the corner of the room and the monsters under one’s bed. It was delightful, delicious, delirious.
One night, just before the end of our little game, she took my hand. I was surprised, and it must have shown on my face. Though we were close, we rarely touched one another. I did not mind the closeness, but Angelina preferred to keep our little ploy of master-and-servant in play, even when no one else was in the room. So, as she took my hand to remove the white gloves I wore as part of my role, I studied her.
“Hush, Grelle,” she said gently. “I have sent the help home. It is just you and me tonight. As, perhaps, it should be.” I started to speak, though now I do not remember what I wished to say. She pressed her fingers against my lips. “Drop your disguise. I want to see you for you tonight.”
I smiled with razor teeth.
“There is something so dangerously delicate about you,” Angelina continued as I pulled my hair from the velvet bow I kept it tucked back with. The brown melted away, allowing the crimson to spill back into my locks. “I see you as a toxic flower; to view you, one would think you were easily killed, easily plucked. Yet…should one be tempted to bring you to their lips…”
“You are waxing poetic, Madame,” I purred through a giggle. I let the ribbon drop to the floor. “What is in that pretty little head of yours tonight, hm?”
She pulled away then. Her arms folded across her chest. “Ciel is close to us–to finding us. That damned butler of his–” I couldn’t help but laugh– “knows too much. But how? How can a man–”
“He. Is. No. Man,” I purred. I stepped forward to her, wrapping my arms around her shoulders. She had lost weight since we began this endeavour; I could feel the bones beneath the pale cream of her skin. “He is not human, love.”
She bulked at that, turning in my arms and looking up into my eyes. There was confusion on her face. It was like she had sucked on a lemon. Sour, yet sweet. I wanted to kiss her little bud of a mouth. “Sebastian is like you?”
“No,” I giggled, enjoying the taste of the secret on my tongue. “Oh, should I tell you? Let it slip, let that cat out of the bag? Hm-hm-hm. Your beloved little nephew’s butler is no human, yet no Grim Reaper. No. He is something far more dangerous, something so twisted and black that I would fear him if I knew I could not best him.”
Angelina furrowed her brow. “Grelle–”
“A devil, dear. A demon from the pits of Hell itself, ready to sup upon poor little Ciel’s soul the moment his duty is done.”
Her eyes widened. “How long have you known?”
I released her. “Oh, for some time. A whiff of him was enough for me to know. I could see it in his eyes and taste it upon his words. He is a demon, through and through, and a monster in the flesh. I would just L-O-V-E to tear him apart, to spill his blood, to feel his warm body against mine as the life flees from him!” I giggled and twirled, all caught up in my fantasy. “It is the duty of my kind, after all. Like Romeo and Juliet–we were never meant to be together. What a dreadfully beautiful romance we could have!”
“You might have that opportunity,” Madame Red sighed. She sat down, pouring a glass of wine for herself before drawing another for me. “We shall see.” Silence for a moment as she motioned for me to sit with her. Finally, she looked to me. Something unreadable played in her eyes. I noticed for the first time that even her eyes were red, though a touch of brown in them muddied them. I quietly wondered how a human managed such a hue. Perhaps it was just the light from the fire in the hearth before us.
“Grelle,” she said at length. “You have told me that it was suicide that brought you to where you are now–to what you are now.”
“Oh, I don’t really like talking about that, love,” I mumbled around my glass of wine.
She settled back into her seat. “Had I taken my own life that night, instead of that woman’s–”
“Mm-hm-hm, I see where you are going with this. Believe me, Angelina.” I looked at her over the rim of my eye glasses. “When I threw myself off of that cliff and into the icy tendrils of the ocean, had I known that I would still be trapped in a male body–if I had known then what I know now–I would have not done it. I would have found a way to die without it being counted as suicide. Surely, a true D-E-A-T-H is better than this.” I frowned sharply. “What is going on in that head of yours?”
Madame Red did not speak for a moment. Her eyes stared into the fire, burying themselves in the orange and red of the flames. “If I wanted to die–”
I reached out, clasping her hand in my own. “I can promise you, Angelina. Should it come to that, I will do the deed myself. I love you that much.”
She looked at my hand, clutching her own. Then, slowly, she looked to me. Into my eyes, into the depths of who I was. I imagine her gaze then was what having one’s Cinematic Record watched as one perished was like. I wanted to look away, but found that I could not. This woman, this mortal woman who had had everything ripped from her held me then, with those eyes, as though I was nothing more than a fly in a spider’s web.
“You must promise me, Grelle. Promise me that, should I slip, should I fall away from who I am now, you will kill me. You will know. I trust you the most, out of everything and everyone in this world and beyond. I love you in a way I cannot explain. I…I think you might be the first true friend I have ever had. I do not wish to lose myself, to become someone I am not.” Her thumb rubbed gently over my knuckles. “You will know. Do not let me become just another woman.”
“I will not,” I promised gently. I drew her hand to my lips, kissing the pad of her forefinger. “I p-r-o-m-i-s-e.”
Her face fell easily into a smile then. “Thank you, Grelle.”
I watched her as they lowered her casket into the ground. That brat was there, and Sebastian. Everyone she had ever known, those that loved her and yet did not know her. They were all there to weep. To speak kindly of her before they turned their backs upon her and cursed her out of their lives. Little ants, running around, whispering sweet lies to one another before scurrying out of their nest to devour the next delicious gossip.
It had taken a lot to convince William to allow me to watch. I could not appear to the mortals, of course. I did not have my Death Scythe for protection, should the demon or the brat notice me. Perhaps worst of all, he gave me a time limit.
There was little time left. I listened to the Phantomhive child and Sebastian speak at Angelina’s headstone. I watched them passively; I was still injured from my fight with the demon. As attractive as he was, I honestly did not wish to face him again so quickly. He would tear me apart, and not in a way that would feel nice.
With the clock ticking, I watched them disappear from the cemetery. I dropped down from the tree I had been hiding in. My heels dug into the soft Earth, making it a touch hard to walk. Ah, the pains of being a fashionable lady.
“I promised you,” I said gently as I knelt by her headstone. I touched the letters there, spelling out her name. “Angelina Dulles…my lovely Madame Red.” I pressed my forehead against the cold stone. Hot tears slipped down my face and fell to the ground. Joining them, I placed a bouquet of red spider lilies on her grave and forced a wide smile.
“My friend,” I breathed. “Ah. I loved you so.” I pulled her coat, pulled from her body just a few days ago, tightly around me. “I promised you, yet I was so angry. I felt as though you had betrayed me. That brat…was he really worth this? We could have had the world. Now, you have a plot in the Earth. Sleep well, my sweet. I will try to live for the both of us.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, watching her in my memories. A splash of crimson.
Oh, my pet. I will be red enough for both of us.