The Trial of Annabelle Marie Phantomhive
"What do you know about breaking into the seven levels of Heaven, Sebastian?" Ciel implored curiously as he and his butler stood in front of an old abandoned monastery.
"There's a single gate where I know that entrance is possible, however, passing through it in itself is a highly difficult – if not impossible, task for those not of holy beings," he explained as they went to stand in front of the huge double doors. "I have kept the location of the gate a secret until it was needed, and now seems like a proper time. Before us now is the gate."
"Then," Ciel began, "Sebastian, this is my order: do all you can to save Anna without placing me in any danger whatsoever."
Sebastian bowed. "Yes, My Lord," he responded loyally. "By the way, Young Master, I have failed to mention that beyond that gate, protection is difficult, as we would be facing thousands of angels that would try to stop us, not to mention the spirits living on each level might try to interfere with completing our objective. Do you still wish to proceed?"
The young earl glared. "Don't make me repeat my orders, Sebastian," he hissed. "Let's go."
"Let the trial of Wishing Angel Annabelle Marie Phantomhive commence," the eldest council member announced, and Anna bowed her head silently, her wings folded behind her. "Matthew, please read out the charges."
They stood in a pure white cloud-covered room, Anna standing in the center of the room, leaning against the railing that was semi-circled around her. A few meters before her and about two storeys up were the seats for the 12 angels of the Council that resided in the 2nd level of heaven. Behind Anna sitting in the rows of benches were dozens of spectators, angels and spirits alike from all levels who were close friends and fellow coworkers. Among them was Fang, sitting next to Michael, narrowed feline eyes set in great worry and concern.
The blonde-haired angel stood up, and for a moment, his forest green eyes met with Anna's, flashing with pain before he began to read the parchment before him. "Annabelle Marie Phantomhive, your crimes as an angel are as follows; you created a Blood Contract with a demon under the current name of Sebastian Michaelis; you've made a Faustian Contract with said demon; and above all, you've also slept with said demon. How do you plead?"
Anna… Fang thought in worry. Please don't do what I think you're going to do…
Anna raised her gaze unflinchingly to the Council. "Guilty of all crimes charged," she declared boldly, her voice unwavering. A sense of longing and sadness filled her voice as she continued, "And I have no regrets for committing any of them."
But I only wish I could see you one last time, Sebastian, she thought sadly, I'm so sorry.
"Young Master, we have arrived," Sebastian declared as they appeared in a world that seemed so similar to the one Ciel knew.
"Are you toying with me, Sebastian?" the child hissed. "This looks exactly like London. How in the world is this the 7th level of Heaven?"
The demon smiled. "Appearances can be deceiving, my lord," he warned, directing Ciel's glance to a familiar looking woman in red. She had red eyes and hair that looked only all-too familiar to the young earl.
It's like the colour of liquorice that burns a landscape…
"M-Madam Red?" Ciel breathed, his eyes widening. We're definitely not in the same London, he thought.
His aunt turned to him, eyes wide with horror. "C-Ciel?" she gasped, running over to embrace her beloved nephew. "W-What are you and Sebastian doing here? D-Don't tell me you're dead!"
Ciel shook his head furiously. "Please quiet down, Madam," he chided as he and Sebastian glanced around warily. "We broke in. Is there anywhere private we can speak?"
"Come in." Angelina Durless ushered them into her home, where another man and a small child resided. "Ciel, Sebastian, this is my husband and my child. I was reunited with them here."
"Pardon my asking, Madam," Sebastian began curiously, "but how did you end up in the 7th level of Heaven?"
She nodded in understanding. "I understand that it must be a little confusing, considering my crimes should have condemned me," she agreed. "However, I had done more good than bad during my life, and thus, they counterbalanced each other in the end. My judgement was executed swiftly, considering also that my death was premature. I was given the privilege of being able to reside here where I was reunited with my beloved husband and child."
"It is good to see that you are satisfied with your afterlife here," Ciel said. "Wait, does that mean you've seen my parents?"
She nodded. "They're residing on the 3rd level," she informed, "but I think they're off to see the trial of an angel in the 2nd level. She was present during my judgement as well, and she's an ancestor-"
"Of the Phantomhives," he finished. "I know; Annabelle Marie Phantomhive. She's my maid."
Angelina's eyes widened. "How did you know?" she implored.
"It's a long story," he sighed troublesomely. "In short, Anna is granting my father's wish to watch over me. Anna is an angel, Sebastian is a demon, and they're infatuated with each other. Because of Sebastian's mistake, as a result, she's been taken."
Her eyes widened even more. "I-I didn't know, and I doubt your parents do too," she breathed. "We've been watching you, and we were definitely surprised at all of the secret agendas that you've been having."
Ciel looked away. "How do you watch me?" he implored.
"I can't tell you," she said, "since you're not dead, after all."
"Why does this place look like London?" he asked.
Madam Red nodded in understanding of his wonder. "We're in the 'London' section of the 7th level," she responded, "So what brings you here?"
"We're here to rescue Anna, of course," Sebastian smirked proudly. "Would you mind giving us directions to the 2nd level, Madam? We're in a hurry. If we don't arrive before Anna's judgement, we could be too late."
Quiet gasps filled the room as the eyes of the Council hardened with pain as Anna confessed to each of her crimes. She was a close friend to each one of them, and someone they had respected greatly.
"Darn it, Annabelle," Fang grumbled quietly. "Why do you have to be so cruelly honest with yourself?"
Matthew looked up at the elder, his eyes filled with a silent plead. "In that case, the verdict, Jonathan?"
The angel inhaled deeply before announcing, "Anna, you know very well what punishment you must receive for your crimes. The sentence is Purgatory!"
A feeling of dread and sorrow washed through the observers.
"I object to this!" a man exclaimed, and all eyes fell upon Lord James Kurt, who looked as well as he were when he was alive. "The accused angel Annabelle has brought peace and closure for many of us here. Can all her acts of good not counterbalance her crimes?"
Other spirits Anna had helped in the past also began to protest as well, and Anna shot a sad but grateful look at the lord.
"Quiet down, everyone!" Jonathan shouted, silencing the room. "We understand that this angel has also brought great good and worked miracles, however, that does not cleanse her of her sins."
"Nevertheless," another man said as he stood up in protest, "it would lighten her punishment, at the very least. Most of us spirits present have been given a sense of peace by her, not to mention countless others who could not join us today."
The Council murmured amongst themselves as Anna smiled at her then-fiancé for going to her defence; he really had always cared for her, even when she was alive.
"Perhaps that may be true," Matthew reasoned, looking at the rest of the Council. "Your opinions? Alexandra?"
The female angel sighed heavily, her onyx eyes clouded with sadness. "Well, I have no objections to it, however, it is under the law that our verdict is centered around."
Shivers ran up and down Anna's spine as something didn't feel right to her; something was approaching. Without warning, the mark seared her shoulder and burned throughout her entire body, and she suddenly collapsed to the ground, passed out from the pain.
"ANNA!" Michael exclaimed in horror as he ran out from the spectators to take the beloved angel into his arms, wincing as the mark burned him at his touch. "This isn't good. The mark made by the Greater Demon has harmed her, but otherwise no extensive damage seems to have been done. She should be awake soon, but for now I suggest that this trial takes a break."
All the members of the Council nodded in agreement.
"Very well," Jonathan announced, "the trial will resume once Angel Annabelle awakens."
"Sebastian, where are we?" Ciel demanded irritably as they arrived in a version of London with silver-paved roads and flawless solid buildings, an aura brimming with life surrounding the area.
"We're on the 4th level, Young Master," the demon informed. "Luckily we've run into little trouble so far, which I daresay is quite surprising. In any case, only two more levels to go before we reach the location of Anna's trial."
"Ciel, dear," a warm, comforting voice greeted, and Ciel whirled around to face Rachel and Vincent Phantomhive, looking as well as they did when they were alive, "come this way."
"M-Mother? F-Father?" he breathed in utter surprise.
His father smiled sadly at him as he and his wife embraced their young son. "It's been a while, Ciel," he said gently. "Come on, you'll need to hurry. Anna's trial has already started. You both will need to hurry in order to make it in time."
Ciel hugged his parents back tightly, not saying a word.
"Anna has done a good job protecting you so far," Vincent commented, "and your demon butler Sebastian as well. Ciel, I can't believe you made a contract with a demon in order to get revenge." Before the young earl could respond, he shook his head. "Never mind about that, we can discuss more later. For now, you need to get to Annabelle. Hurry, if you head in that direction, you should be able to find the gateway. Your mother and I will stall for as much time as we can for her, but you will need to hurry. Time is of the essence."