Series: Black Butler
Prompt: #74: Ballad, also Theme Set Gamma.
Word Count: 2,118
Characters, Pairings: Sebastian, Ciel (with subsequent Sebastian/Ciel—again, tilt your head and squint XD)
Summary: They don’t play cat-and-mouse, but their dance is no less deadly.
Warnings: angst, mentions of abuse, long sentences (:P), brief (and mild) reference to sexual content.
Notes: I’ve done these 1sentence things for several fandoms—it’s only fitting if I do one for Black Butler, too. :) The theme set used here is “Gamma”. I hope you all enjoy!
Ciel cannot claim to understand Sebastian’s motive – whatever it may be – for repairing his ring, but once he feels the solid weight of it on his left thumb once more, his part of the world rights itself and he finds that thy ‘why’ of it isn’t really important at all.
In all of the centuries of his (non)-life, he had never been surprised until the moment when a young and broken boy looked at him as if he were a savior instead of a devil (a grave mistake on the boy’s part, perhaps, but that’s never really been his concern—or so he tells himself).
The first memory the young Earl has of his “new life” is this: He’d stood face to face with a demon, and he’d been completely unafraid.
There is a small box sitting on the dining room table, and the note attached is addressed to him, written in Ciel’s small, quick script: You’ve never informed me of the date of your birth, you know; and Sebastian can’t help the upward curve of his lips—today is as good a day as any to celebrate.
If there is one thing that Ciel has learned, it is to face the future instead of running away from it, and that is exactly what he plans on doing, despite the fact that his only (cold) comfort is the knowledge that, in the end, his death is on his terms and no-one else’s.
Sebastian sighs to himself as he looks around the study—it is without a doubt an utter mess, books and papers strewn about, and in the midst of the aftereffects of the storm, his young master sits in his chair behind his desk, fast asleep and completely oblivious to the chaos he’s caused.
The stone angel that just smashed into Sebastian’s back gives the illusion of angel wings, and if circumstances were different, Ciel would laugh at the irony of it.
Even with his coat wrapped tightly around himself, Ciel is still shivering, and when Sebastian removes his own coat and drapes it over his young master’s shoulders, Ciel doesn’t look very happy with the situation (the stubborn brat), but he doesn’t discard the offered warmth, either.
The first time Sebastian is wounded in front of him, Ciel stares at his butler with a mixture of worry and wonder, and Sebastian only smiles softly, asking: “Did you not think that my blood would be as red as yours?”
When Ciel insists upon trying wine, Sebastian lets him indulge in Paris’ finest, and even though he doesn’t say I told you so when he later winds up carrying his very drowsy master to bed quite early, those words remain poised on the tip of his devilish tongue even after he tucks Ciel in for the night.
When the clock strikes midnight, Ciel sometimes gazes surreptitiously at Sebastian and he thinks that this particular hour is very fitting for princesses to revert to servants and for lavish coaches to turn back into pumpkins (and for butlers to turn into demons and for souls to be devoured).
Once and only once (out of necessity and politics and not out of desire), Ciel visits the church and Sebastian accompanies him (“and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”), his voice a whisper against the young Earl’s ear: “It’s far too late for that, Young Master.”
Ciel occasionally wonders if his now-imperfect eye skews and distorts his view of everything, for surely, demons would never show true concern for humans (except only, every now and again… he thinks that one demon in particular might be the exception).
The music that they make together is some odd mix of horror and sorrow with just a hint of forbidden spice, and Sebastian has come to the conclusion that he rather likes their peculiar duet.
“The young master makes a rather pretty young mistress,” Sebastian quips, and Ciel blushes as bright pink as the dress he’s wearing (all lace and silk), and promptly tells his butler to stay quiet unless he has something useful to say.
In some cases, Sebastian’s smile is naught but a cover (a ruse), but every now and again (particularly while in the company of his young master), his smile is anything but—it just is, like the clouds and the grass and the air, genuine and real.
Sebastian has promised to stay by his side until the very end at least a thousand times, but there are times in which Ciel would like to hear it at least a thousand more times—for at his very core, he is merely a little boy terrified of the prospect of being all alone (again).
Ciel asks him (upon waking) if he ever dreams, and Sebastian rakes his eyes over the boy’s form, replying (appetite awoken), “Not in the way that you humans do,” and he leaves it at just that.
On the darkest, dreariest nights, Sebastian will leave a lit candle on his nightstand (a stationary comfort), and Ciel never thinks to ask if the gesture is an act of kindness (a ridiculous concept, really) or just another form of ‘duty’.
Even though his young master has proven to be quite gifted and skilled in several areas (for a human boy), Sebastian still teases him: “You’re only talented in the area of getting captured, Young Master.”
There are times when the silence is louder than any scream Ciel has ever heard, and it is precisely moments like these in which he is grateful for Sebastian’s presence, even though he can never quite find the strength to actually say so.
Sebastian often ponders over what sampling his young master’s soul will be like (for he is so exceptionally different from all of the others)—whether it will be like a having a cool drink after a long time spent in the desert, or like a much-needed respite after an even longer journey.
To this day, Ciel refuses to sit in front of any fireplace even when the mansion is at its coldest, but Sebastian covers him with layer upon layer of blankets, and that makes the chill a little easier to bear.
Sebastian has come to learn this: his young master’s strength is not of the physical sort—it lies hidden behind mismatched eyes and within his quiet commands, and if Sebastian were not himself (a demon butler), he might find this fact to be quite fascinating.
Sebastian’s expressions are – for the most part – simply a series of masks, Ciel believes, but there are moments in which his façade crumbles, and Ciel can see the hungry demon lurking beneath (and he should be terrified, but he isn’t).
“No-one touches my master except me,” Sebastian growls, and despite his hell(fire) origins, his warning is as icy as that of an Arctic storm.
His fall from grace (as it were) did not take place when Ciel made the pact with Sebastian, but before that (between one form of torture and the next)—he was already on the road to Hell, the only difference is that now a demon’s claws are digging into him and dragging him along, making his descent that much quicker.
“Have I forgotten to inform you that Lady Elizabeth plans to pay us a visit this afternoon?” Sebastian asks, and Ciel’s glare is as hard as stone, which is exactly the reaction that Sebastian counted on receiving.
They pirouette and they sway, sharing silent glances and brief touches (some clumsy, some steady and sure, some gentle and some that are anything but)—if nothing else, Ciel has certainly learned from his butler that not all dances take place on the ballroom floor.
His master’s body is tiny, frail, human, and Sebastian knows that he could snap him like a twig without any effort whatsoever, but he chooses instead to protect him (for now).
“Nothing here is sacred,” Ciel murmurs, eyes roving over tangled sheets, and close by (never far away), Sebastian hums in agreement.
“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Sebastian quotes as he tucks the young master in for the night, grinning as Ciel rolls his eyes, not bothering to mutter a word in return.
There are days when it feels like Sebastian is his whole world, and then Ciel remembers (how could he ever forget?) that the demon in his service will inevitably be the death of him one day (quite literally).
Sebastian is certain to always look his best (even in the midst of battle)—for what sort of Phantomhive butler would he be, if he couldn’t at least do that much?
Ciel is burning up with fever, and he wonders momentarily if this is what Hell is going to feel like; he is only vaguely aware of the cool touch of Sebastian’s hand against his forehead, and when he leans into the contact, it is altogether involuntary.
Sebastian is (almost) startled to realize that Ciel does not often laugh when amused—instead he reserves his laughter for darker moments, much like Sebastian himself.
Ciel knows that he doesn’t have to question anything that Sebastian tells him, for, unlike humans, demons never lie.
“You do not measure time in the same manner that I do,” Sebastian murmurs as he combs his fingers through his young master’s hair (and startlingly enough, Ciel allows the action); “I have forever to accomplish my goals, and you humans only have a lifetime.”
Sometimes, Ciel feels utterly overwhelmed by his responsibilities—at these times, as if on cue, Sebastian will appear with tea and a snack, and just that moment’s reprieve is enough for Ciel to calm down, recollect himself, and push forward once more.
“Stay,” Ciel whispers, “just until I fall asleep,” and of course, Sebastian cannot (does not, will not) do anything except obey.
Patience has never been his virtue, and Ciel proves this by drumming his fingers on his oaken desk and staring pointedly at Sebastian, asking (in a tone that is none too polite), “Where have you been?”
Sebastian will never understand why humans feel the need to talk about such inconsequential things as the weather and their problems and their work day—he must credit his young master with at least this much: when Ciel speaks, his words carry some semblance of meaning.
Ciel doesn’t always like the way that Sebastian’s eyes seem to search his own—but he doesn’t always dislike it, either (and perhaps that counts for more than it should, but it’s too late to change anything now).
“I do hope you feel better soon, Young Master,” Sebastian says with all sincerity (because even though his kind know nothing of such things as ‘hope’, he still means what he says—he never lies, after all).
Ciel never pauses to consider how his butler (just one pawn out of the many) can utterly eclipse all else in his life—he doesn’t think about it, because he’s already on dangerous enough ground as it is.
There is no doubt that his master is currently seated on his makeshift throne; he could mention (but he chooses not to) that the laws of gravity apply even to the young earl: ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
Ciel knows – inherently, unquestionably – that the road ahead of him will be a long one, no doubt fraught with peril, but he also knows that with his demon butler (and future murderer, he must never never forget this) at his side, he will not have to face it alone.
His young master (exasperatedly) asks him if there’s anything that he doesn’t know how to do, and Sebastian can think of quite a few things (such as: love [perhaps, perhaps not]), but his lips remain sealed, all the same.
They are not locked in a game of cat-and-mouse—Sebastian has vowed to provide his services and Ciel has promised payment; it’s a simple (though no less deadly) arrangement, and nothing more (right?).
Sebastian watches the steady rise and fall of Ciel’s chest and it is both a comfort and a torture: mine, he thinks to himself, but it isn’t just until death do us part--ironic that the boy’s demise will be the thing that ultimately unites the two of them (such is the ballad that they play, and it will only end with Ciel’s moans [of pleasure, of horror, of pain], and Sebastian’s sigh [of pleasure, of satiety, of finality]).
Yes, I do believe some of these were a little on the weird/creepy side, but given the subjects of this piece, I do believe that the creepiness was inevitable.
Did any particular sentence stand out to you guys? Which is/are your favorite(s)? I would love to know!