I wake up breathing hard. My head is filled of half-remembered memories, mixed with terrifying (probably) fictitious images of Sebastian's true form. High heels and burning eyes. A face marked out by swirling darkness-- something horrible underneath, I know, but I just can't make it out-- all overlaying his sly smile. His knowing eyes and mocking tone.
In my memory, Sebastian's mouth curves up as though to smile, but then the tip of his tongue touches his lip. Decidedly (dangerously) slow, he licks his lower lip. As if contemplating the taste of something...
"You have made a great sacrifice in blood, pain and shame. The toll has been paid..." amusement where there should be none. "...so you may make a binding contract with me and grant your wishes-- or not-- by your own will." The words are low, and suggestive, like the quiet murmurings my mother used before, when she was urging me to bed. His actual words are like thistles sticking in my ears.
I want to clear my head. The window is hard to push open; it's been repainted so many times that it doesn't seem to fit properly. But it opens, and air comes in. Winter air feels crisp in my lungs, like I'm breathing in something piercing. I take a few deep breaths, feeling my lungs tighten.
At length, I close the window and go back to bed, my thoughts heavy and swirling in a maelstrom of emotions and memory. When I finally do get back to sleep, it's not nightmare phantoms that trouble me, but memories of a past out of reach. Nearly happy memories that are almost worse that the nightmares.
"Madam Red?" A man wearing a collared shirt calls from a short distance.
The lady looks up from her seat on the bench, her legs crossed in her pencil skirt. Her hand is not far from a stylish bag containing her cellphone and work papers. It tightens around the opening without her seeming to notice.
"Yes," she answers. Her tone is polite, if brisk.
At her feet, Ciel looks up from a quiet game on the ground. His large blue eyes are made even bigger in his pale face.
"A word, please?" The man eyes the boy on the ground, gesturing that they step away from him.
Madam Red purses her perfectly painted lips and arches an eyebrow. "And you are?" Her tone is belittling, and her gaze sharp.
"I work with Dr. Schultz," the man says, pushing the sunglasses up his nose. Such a big man shifting his weight awkwardly before a woman and her nephew seems incongruent. Madam Red nods and stands up. "Don't leave from this bench. I'll be watching you from over there." She tells Ciel, not seeing or not caring about his sudden, worried stillness.
Ciel watches the two adults intently, his stick falling to the ground. The wind rustles his hair. His eyes are fixed on his aunt, who gestures cold authority and strict negation. She waves her hand to gesture, "Now." or perhaps "soon," and the man says something in return. Just when it looks like the lady doctor will walk away, he says something again, and she freezes.
Slowly, her body tenses. Her hands clench around her bag, the other hand tightening into a fist. Her features are arranged to show annoyance, but all else screams fear and anger.
She stalks back over to the bench and sits down. "Your daddy certainly has stirred up a hive of bees." She mutters. But she smiles a thin, fixed smile. "But no matter. Do you want to learn a little trick? We can still annoy that man over there." She smiles a sneaky, cunning smile best suited to a young woman.
"Shall we catch his trousers on fire?" she asks.
Ciel's eyes widen, and he looks to the man. He frowns a little uncertainly. "You shouldn't do that, Aunt Anne." he shakes his head quick and sharp for emphasis, looking both worried and disbelieving.
Madam Red laughs, covering her smile with a gloved hand. "Just make him feel a bit hot. No need to get your knickers in a twist." She teases, her tone light and playful. "It'll be our little secret."
With that, she bends over and presses a finger to Ciel's lips, and the secret is sealed.
Ciel turns to watch the man, wondering what the fire would feel like.
His hands clench tight, and he watches his aunt-- similar in features to his mama-- do a dirty little trick.
A game. It's just a game, right?
I reenter the Phantomhive flat at three AMjust enough time to clean up, and do a few chores before morning. I grade a few of Ciel's assignments and prepare pie crusts and bread dough for the morning's breakfast.
As per the daily schedule, I go in Ciel's room at seven. A book lies on his bed stand, and his laptop hums quietly on his deskhibernating rather than properly turned off. I return the book to its shelf and tap in a command for the computer to shut down before approaching the young master's bedside.
His covers are strewn about, the sheets kicked all the way to the bottom and the downy comforter rumpled around him. He looks like a small animal, curled about and protecting his vulnerable middle. Even his hair is in disarray...
I lean in close, gently brushing his long fringe away from his face.
"It's time to wake up, little master." I straighten and move to open the curtains.
Ciel is quick to wake, as always. But the way he clutches at his sheet, grasping for a blanket that isn't there, and by his swollen eyes...all this tells me he woke earlier, or was crying in his sleep.. The state of his nightgown and bed sheets suggests a nightmare rather than sickness, however. I keep my face placid as decorum demands and go about finishing the morning routine.
"I've prepared oatmeal, wheat bread, yogurt and pudding. For morning tea, I suggest Darjeeling or white tea with peach. What will you be having?"
"Never mind that," his voice is breathy, almost hoarse with disuse. "Report."
I nod and begin. "I found the server and took it down. Rest your paranoid little head, any videos staring anyone resembling a certain young master have been taken down. I also spoke with the owner of the website and his colleagues. Would you like their names?"
Ciel scowls at that, and pushes himself up into a sitting position. "It's not paranoia if they actually continue to pop up. If I could go a year without rumor or hint of them" he clutches the cover once more, and then brushes it off with more force than strictly necessary.
"That simply is the nature of these modern conveniences," I shrug. "Once it's been on the net, someone will save a copy." I turn to approach the door. "It would be best if you could set yourself apart, young master. Ordering me to dispose of it is one thing, but working yourself into nightmares is quite another." I hold his gaze for a moment, and then drop my eyes , as is appropriate.
But not before I notice Ciel's pale complexion stained pink when he flushes. "Don't think you can lecture me, Sebastian. You presume too much." He hisses.
His scowls makes him look his age for the first time this morning. His face is pinched and worried, but his eye shines bright with anger. However, I notice that it's his anger and embarrassment that make him quick to get out of bed.
I give a small bow. "Please excuse me, little master." I smile as I say it, though my thoughts already stray.
Our last year together
teasing him is already seeming that much more appealing. How much he's changed since he was a child, but also, his soul-- aaah, his soul-- is as appealing as ever. Like a well-cut gem smeared with grease, it sparkles all the brighter for its impoverished surroundings.
Ciel stands, and moves to the other side of his small bedroom. He opens the wardrobe, idly pushing through his clothing.
I clear my throat. "What will you be having for breakfast? It will be ready when you come down."
"Darjeeling , oatmeal, yogurt and a bit of fruit," he mutters.
"Underst" I begin,
"And I want their names after breakfast, and a list of their possible sources." Ciel interrupts, swirling around to glare. "I want to make progress, Sebastian, not just clean up after your continued mistakes."
I chuckle. "I believe your little endeavors in the crime have made you bolder, young master. Let's enjoy this last year. It would be tragic indeed if your little vendetta turned up nothing."
Fear, anxiety and anger play in Ciel's eyes, the latter seemingly winning. He presses his lips together and readjusts his leather eye patch. He looks to the ceiling, reminding me of another time with this boy.
Ciel staring up at the night sky, oblivious to the sounds of fire engines and police sirens soon to rush to the scene. That blank, empty stare of a child deep in shock, allowing for a glimpse of his damaged soul. His hands quaver like little white birds, and his marked eye streams tears and blood...
...tears that fall onto soft, rounded cheeks...
...and into the corner of a lush mouth.
That little boy was doll-like in his perfection, marred with scars I helped facilitate. A delightful toy.
Ciel turns back to me, nerves making him testy. "This place needs to be cleaned." While he glances around, he continues talking. "Of course, I still expect you to teach morning lessons, and prepare an afternoon snack." His single visible eye fixes on a spot in the corner, near a plush toy half finished on the work bench. "I want something Asian for a snack. Almond Jelly, maybe. And I want it with fresh Chinese Almonds."
It seems he's falling back on keeping me busy, running me about. How charming.
"Of course." I murmur, and bow out. There is much to be done...this morning, or this year, the difference seems to be minuscule.
I both look forward to and dread the end of this year
but a contract is a contract. I will not be persuaded out of the terms, even for Ciel Phantomhive.
I have waited many a year for such a soul...and his sweet hands and trifling orders will not stay me.
I look at his visible eye, and recall the marked one. It will begin, I think, with gentle kisses...and teeth to graze his swollen lips, tasting tears of regret and pain...thinking of it now makes me laugh with delight.
I wonder...should I hold his hand?
Or let the little thing pound me with his fists?
I can almost feel his breath on my cheek. Almost taste salt tears...
Ah, but I will wait.
Just a little longer.
Thoughts? Feed your author words of encouragement. ♥