Title:Belle of the Ball
Words/Rating: 1125, soft NC-17
Characters: Alois/Hanna (non-con), Claude, Triplets
Spoilers: Up to Series II episode 5
Summary: Once there was a girl who wished to escape her miserable existence.
Extras: Thanks to fabularasa for beta duty.
"And do you wish to go to the ball?" asked her Fairy Godmother.
"Oh, yes! More than anything," she said.
"My master is damaged," says the demon to his eager fellows. "I request assistance."
He wants to share? The lucky creature has managed to ascend from Hell, escape this dreary plane for a time by entering into a contract with a human, the short sweet liberation they all covet. Now he wants to share his good fortune with more of them? Of course she volunteers. Nearly every last one in the circle does.
"You'll regret it," cackles one of the more ancient demons--one who did not volunteer--when she is chosen, along with three of her fellows. "None of our kind ever did a deed out of generosity," he says, stroking his own ragged black wings. "Mark my words."
The contracted demon tells her to call him Claude, gives her a form and clothing, and her role. And her name.
And with her new dress, and her coach, and her attendants that were once three white mice, off she went to the ball of her dreams.
"You are his servants," says Claude.
"You're his servant too." The one named Thompson says this with a stubborn pout.
Claude takes the four of them in with his cold, disapproving stare. "That is different."
"Why is it different?" says the one called Timber. She--Hanna, she must get used to the new name, Hanna--can tell Thompson from Timber and both from Canterbury, being of their ilk, and it has nothing to do with the lay of their hair.
Claude adjusts the steel-and-glass spectacles upon the bridge of his nose. "It is different because his contract is with me, and not any of you. You are here because I suffer you to be, and you should be grateful for it."
But he had asked for their assistance, hadn't he? Hanna's memory twinges to the warnings of the other demon, the ancient one. It is too late to worry, though. The four of them will not be allowed to return until Claude permits it.
"We will all serve the master, yes," Claude amends. "But the four of you will serve him as humanly as you may. The master, in his fragile state, has needs best served by those he believes are human."
Something is puzzling her. "Claude?" She points to her three fellows. "Why am I shaped differently from them?"
Claude slaps her hand. The pain is new, would be interesting if it did not make this body gasp so. "Do not point. It is unmannerly." She rubs her stinging hand as Claude adjusts his spectacles again. "As I said, our master has certain needs. That is why one of you must bear that shape."
Too late to worry, she thinks again. Careful not to point, she lifts the slapped hand once more. "How do I make this stop hurting?"
Claude's stare is no less a demon's despite its shielding in fragile human tissue and the veil of those glass lenses. "You do not. You bear it. That is what makes you appear human."
Much, much too late to worry.
At the ball, the prince was waiting to receive her, and would look at no other girl. Together, they danced every dance.
She had never known there could be such a thing, or that it could be borne without a scream. Screams will only make the master worse, Claude has warned her. But as her master's fingers eviscerate her ruined socket, jelly and blood coursing down her mask of a human face, she does not know how it could be worse.
She finds out.
She finds out when Claude will not let her heal the gutted eye, as that would be a demon's conceit, not in a human's power. So now she must fumble away at her duties with half her vision, mocked by the master for her clumsiness, berated and struck for it.
She finds out when the master calls her names he does not use for her three fellows, names she does not understand entirely but recognizes that the words wanton slut and filthy whore are somehow reserved for her because of her shape. They cause her no physical damage but she understands they are meant to make her burn with shame, and by that power alone, they do.
She finds out when the master detains her in his rooms at night, under Claude's watching eyes. The shame she has learned burns her skin again as the master forces her to disrobe, touches her in all the places the clothing had hidden, his fingers finding new flesh to explore, new orifices to plunder. Sometimes parts of his body other than his fingers make that exploration, fill those orifices in hurtful, brutal thrusts that cause her body to shake, to bruise and to bleed.
Worst of all are the moments after when his tears fall on her skin in the wake of some frenzy she cannot name, cannot know, his sobs wrenches of imagined terror and loss. For that, too, he needs her, to have her near. Though not for long. Shortly he is calling her slut and whore and harlot again, hitting her, driving her from the room as he turns to Claude for comfort, for an embrace, for words of devotion, yes, your highness. For filthy Hanna, there is no room.
But when the clock struck, she knew she must leave the prince, leave the ball, before the magic faded at the stroke of twelve and returned her to her former state.
She does not know the terms of Claude's contract. When it will be over, when this horror of a master will be nothing more than a fleeting taste on a demon's tongue. Claude tells her it is not for her to know.
She is only a young demon. Not experienced enough to guess at the trickery by which contracts may be broken, loopholes exposed, a demon's magic upset. Of course there are stories, rumors. There are always rumors couched in tales, but which are false and which are true? Can a ritual be undone, can a devil or god be petitioned in a counterbargain? Is there disenchantment at the day's turning?
But she has no idea of where to begin. And what will be the penalty be, from her master or from Claude, if she guesses wrong?
No, she thinks, as the master's eyes, and Claude's, burn into her back. The master is already inventing his next game, and there is nothing she can try, nothing she will let herself hope for. No sigil she can erase, no divinity more powerful than her own captors. Midnight, she knows, is not coming.