Title: Mellow Candle

Author: Sybil Rowan

Summary: Finny was abused by one of Ciel's targets months earlier, and he is now trying to form a relationship with the new servant, Snake. Finny is awkward and very uncertain on how to approach Snake since they're both very damaged people. Bardroy and Mey-rin try to help the romance blossom. This is a companion piece to The Tight Spot.

Pairing(s)/Characters: Bard, Mey-rin, and Finny in friendship; Finny/Snake

Rating: M

Warnings: memories of horrible child abuse, some language, not terribly graphic, but can strike a chord, some mentions of sexual abuse against Finny from my fic, The Tight Spot.

Author's Notes: I recommend reading "The Tight Spot" first, but I'm going to try to make this a standalone piece. I just love Finny, Bard, and Mey-rin... that trio is way too fun! This is a blend of the anime and manga.

Disclaimer: Black Butler is owned by Yana Tobosu.

Beta Reader: WingedPanther73, my beloved hubby!

Date: June 30, 2014, 02:04

Word Count: on going

Mellow Candle, part 1:

Autumn was drifting into winter, and Finnian found himself worried about the new Phantomhive servant. Finnian wasn't enjoying the cold snap because of all his fretting. Sebastian had a whole list of things Finny had to do in the garden to prepare for the winter, and he should make plans for tomorrow; he just couldn't help thinking about Snake.

The slightly older boy had started draping himself in thick coats. Snake, because he was a footman, was required to wear the same type of formal clothes as Sebastian. They should be warm enough, but Finny had noticed Snake's jaw quiver this morning at breakfast. When he went to run an errand for Master Ciel that afternoon, he came back shivering.

Finny'd asked Bard, who he roomed with, to take in Snake's friends in the kitchen during the day since it would be warm, but the American chef was deathly afraid of snakes, unfortunately. But Bard had reminded Finny of the hothouse. It was the perfect way Finny could help watch the snakes while the footman was busy during the day.

"Doesn't that look nice?" Finnian gushed to himself as he walked around the cleaned hothouse, now with a snake play tree he'd built. It was an accomplishment. Usually, his projects ended up in disaster, but this one he knew would be a hit. He created limbs and perches where Snake's friends could curl up and get warm.

There were plenty of little nests made of towels, he'd have to beg Mey-rin's forgiveness later, and bright, little toys dangling from the branches. He didn't know if snakes played with toys like that, but he'd seen Sebastian make something just like this for cats. Of course, Master Ciel made Sebastian burn it. Yeah, the butler wasn't happy that day.

Well, Master Ciel seemed to like snakes a lot more than cats, so Finny was pretty sure his creation in the middle of the hothouse was safe from Master Ciel's wrath. He bolted from the hothouse, the crisp, cold night had a clear sky with a lot of stars shining, but no moon. He went to the mansion and puzzled out were Snake's room should be. A footman's room was small and located next to the master's room, in case he needed the footman to run an emergency errand in the middle of the night.

Finny picked up a stone and tossed it beside the window, knowing he'd break the glass with contact. When Sebastian poked his head out and glared down at Finnian, the gardener felt sick. "So sorry, Mister Sebastian! I needed to talk to Snake."

The man pointed to the next window to the left. Sebastian chided, "And be more quite. Or else."

He felt his face flush as Sebastian closed the window. He tossed another stone at the proper window and was rewarded with Snake hanging out now. He flashed the drowsy looking boy a bright smile and waved. "I built your friends something. They should really like it, and..."

"Finnian, could you come up. It's too cold to talk like this tonight, says Oscar."

"Sure!" Finnian then leaped up and started climbing the side of the house. He wasn't supposed to do it this way, but he wanted to see Snake as quickly as he could. Snake looked at him with narrow, amber eyes as he swung in and closed the window. "Sorry. I was trying to think of ways to keep your friends warm. I just wanted to let you know I found it!"

Snake gave him a blank expression for a minute and then asked, "What did you do, Emily asks?"

"I made a play tree for them in my hothouse. Since you'll be running errands for Master Ciel during the day, they can stay with me in the hothouse during the winter and enjoy some of the plants and stuff. I wouldn't mind looking after them while you're working."

Snake's eyes widened in surprise. "But... Most people don't like snakes, says Wilde."

Finny smiled and shook his head. "I love all animals."

He went to the fireplace, the only illumination in the room, where Snake's friends were all resting on the hearth. All their attention was on Finny. He knelt by them and smiled. "Would you like to be in the hothouse with me while Snake does his job? It'll be very warm and just like nature. I even put toys out for all of you to enjoy. I just know Snake will have to do a lot of running outdoors, so I wanted to find a place for all of you to keep warm while he works. Would you like that?" He asked the ten snakes on the hearth with enthusiasm, their eyes all on him.

Finny got nervous when Snake put his hand on his shoulder and knelt with him by the snakes. He was afraid of rejection. Maybe he overstepped boundaries? The slightly older teen gave him a shy smile and said, "They all thank you."

Finny's heart soared with joy. He patted their heads and murmured his thanks. The snakes all knotted together close to the fire and started falling asleep. Finnian smiled at how peaceful they looked.

"Thank you, Finnian."

He gave Snake a shy smile. "You can call me Finny, if you want."

Snake nodded and then lowered his face. "Finny, most people don't treat my friends so nice. You're very kind, and I thank you."

"Wait. None of them said that?" Finny asked confused why Snake was breaking his odd speech pattern.

"They're all asleep now, so they aren't telling me anything," Snake explained.

"Oh. That makes sense. I wish I could talk to animals like you. When I was..." Finny then clammed up, realizing what he was about to reveal. Finny had kept his origins a secret from Snake, because he didn't really know how to accept everything that had happened, himself, let alone trust others with that knowledge. Yes, Bard, Mey-rin, and Sebastian knew out of necessity, but it wasn't something he wanted to talk about much.

Finny pushed on a bright smile and said, "It would have been so cool when I was growing up. You're so lucky."

"Lucky?" Snake murmured, his face took on a dismal expression in the firelight of the dim room.

"Yes! You had friends to talk to. When you were sad, you could talk to them. When you were happy, they could be happy with you. That was so awesome," Finny said, but then something about the boy's expression grew really harsh.

"You think it was luck to be born like this?"

Finny felt as though he said something horribly wrong, but he couldn't understand. Finny's face flushed and he hung his head, too terrified he'd offended Snake. "I'm so sorry."

Finnian then jumped up, flung open Snake's window, and jumped the four stories down to the ground, of course, not taking any damage. Snake called after him, but he fled in embarrassment.

After all, how would he feel if someone called him lucky? Snake probably had pain growing up, too, and Finny had been careless. It was just like him to bumble around and smash things up. Why did he have to hurt Snake, of all people?

"The hell? Finny?" Bardroy snarled, bolting upright in bed. He watched the kid slide in through their forth story window and shut it. The room was very dark and cool, because Bard had gone ahead and banked their fireplace. Still, he knew Finny's tearful outbursts very well. Even in the dark, the boy could keep him up with tears.

The kid threw himself on his bed and was trying to sob quietly. Bard sighed knowing "quiet sobbing" and "Finny" didn't go in the same sentence.

"What's wrong now?" The American chef demanded, a little grouchy since he'd been pulled from his drowsy state.

"I think I hurt Snake's feelings. I didn't mean to," Finny blubbered.

Bardroy repressed an aggravated sigh. Finny had been an absolute, crazy, emotional wreck a little while after Snake joined the Phantomhive Estate. He didn't want to upset Finny any further, so he didn't point it out. He lit a candle on their shared, bedside table and walked over to the kid. Finny was now in a full melt down, lying on his stomach and clutching his pillow.

Bard was starting to get afraid Finny might actually be crushing on the slightly older, teen boy. He couldn't explain why Finny seemed so infatuated with the other teen, otherwise. If that were the case, he'd have to give Finny another "talk" about relationships. He thought Finny liked women, because of his crush on Angela, but now he figured it was possible for Finny to like boys, too. Finnian was very young and was still trying to figure it all out.

He sat beside Finny on his bed and started to pat his shoulders. "I'm sure it was a misunderstanding that can be worked out tomorrow morning. Just sleep on it. I'm sure he knows you ain't the type to throw out insults. Just rest."

Finny settled down and fell into a fitful rest. Bard gave a heavy sigh and tried to figure out how he'd approach getting at what exactly was on Finny's mind... no, more like his heart.

Bard wasn't shocked to see Finny pouting at the servants' breakfast table in the kitchen. He knew the kid was upset, but this did seem extreme after a plain misunderstanding with a simple friend. That's when the thought occurred to him, again, that Finny may like Snake a little more than a friend. He inwardly groaned as Mey-rin served him oatmeal and popovers.

Finny hadn't touched his breakfast at all, and Mey-rin was the first one to ask why not. Finny said glumly, "Snake got sent out on an errand before I could talk to him. I hurt his feelings last night, so I wanted to apologize. Plus," then Finny looked on the verge of tears, "it's frosty outside!"

"Hey, Mey-rin, you know how you nag me about drinking more milk? Could you get me some now?" Bard asked.

Her face lit up and she went to get it enthusiastically. When she was out of earshot, Bard asked, "Okay, come clean about Snake."

"What do you mean?" Finny obviously avoided the topic, with nervous nibbles to his oatmeal.

"You know! You've been mooning over him since he came here. You like him in a romance way?"

Finny looked stunned, looked at his bowl for a minute, but nodded without meeting Bard's eyes. "I like him so much it hurts in my stomach," Finny whispered. "I don't know how to tell him."

Bard sighed and slumped back in his chair. "I figured."

"You aren't mad at me?" he asked with a tremor in his voice. "I just don't know how to help it."

Bard sighed and gave Finny a light, friendly slug in the shoulder. "It's okay. You probably can't. I remember one girl I really like. I kept coming around, but she was in love with another guy killed in the war. I should have left her alone after she told me to leave her. I was wrong for pursuing her after that, and I'm still sorry I intruded on her sorrow. I thought I could wipe away all of her sadness."

"You seem sad now," Finny observed. Bard was jolted; he hadn't thought about that girl in a long, long time. "I do feel a little sad."

Bard smirked and nodded; he said, "I guess, a little. The point is, sometimes you can't help falling in love, but you need be careful and think of that person, what's in their wellbeing. If it's going to harm them, you need to think carefully about asking them to date you. But, if you think you can be happy and make the other person happy," Bard took a huge sigh and said, "then try to patch things up and make a go of it."

Finny stared at his tea bashfully and then glanced up. "Even if it's something people don't normally approve of?"

Figuring it was Snake behind the conversation, and the footman seemed like a good kid, too, even with his "friends," Bard nodded and said, "Yeah, just go apologize when he get back and be nice to him."

Finny looked shocked. "How did you know I like him so much? I mean..." Finny's face grew a beet-red.

"You like him. It's obvious the way you worry over him," Bard said. Finny just stirred his oatmeal and looked like he was pouting. Did the kid really thinking he was fooling Bardroy about his crush? Certainly not!

Mey-rin came bounding in and slammed the milk bottle in front of Bard. "Finally, you take my advice!"

Bard cursed himself for such a dumb ruse, now he had to drink the disgusting stuff. However, something else came into his kitchen he disliked more: all ten of Snake's reptile companions. Though they all went right up to Finnian and looked up at him, waiting expectantly.

"Oh! Snake sent you. I'll take you right away and you'll find breakfast in the hothouse. Plenty of bugs and mice." Finny wrapped them up in an apron and cuddled them as he ran them out in the frost laden morning towards the hothouse.

Snake put on his fur-lined coat again and left the noble Trancy house he had just delivered a letter to. He was about to head back to the Phantomhive household. It was frosty, so he knew he was moving slower this morning. He didn't want to disappoint Master Ciel, so he pushed on to overcome his reptilian nature.

He could handle cold better than his friends, because he was half mammal. He was so worried about his friends that he had sent them to Finnian this morning, in spite of the misunderstanding last night.

He regretted the misunderstanding so much. He wanted Finnian, no... Finny... to stay and talk out what had happened. Finny had always been the one to make him welcome at the Phantomhive household and never once been put off by Snake's friends.

When Finny had said Snake was lucky, it hurt. Did Finny know what it was like to live in a cage and be stared at like some atrocity exhibition? What did the younger boy know of that kind of life, being an exhibit, something to be looked at for other's amusement?

Finny probably didn't understand what it was like to be looked at under a microscope, Snake concluded. The kid would have no clue what it was like to live in a cell, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year.

Finnian was just too naive to understand Snake's life. Snake decided he'd push away the sweet overtures of a deep friendship. He didn't want such a pure person like Finny sullied with his troubles of his past confined in a cage. What would a gardener know about the lack of sunlight on his face?

Snake shivered and ran off to the Phantomhive household. He wanted to finish his tasks so he could talk to Finny and tell him that the friendship he offered was unwanted. It would be for the best, because there was no way Finny could understand the life Snake had lived inside a cage.

To be continued.