Disclaimer: I own hard copies of the first five manga (and scanlations on my computer of all chapters up to 34), the "Kuroshitsuji Anthology," a bootleg of the anime series (as well as copies of all the episodes on my laptop), and a whole ton of doujinshi. Not to mention fandom-related posters, a phone charm, a Phantomhive Family Crest necklace, a replica of Ciel's blue diamond ring, and a Trap!Ciel outfit.

But I don't own the actual series, sadly.

Author's Note: I whole-heartedly admit that this is not my best work, but I still really like the idea… So I hope you can at least appreciate it for that. :3

Also, please note that Lizzie is older in this fic. Mid-teens. And she is annoyed. XD

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Hierarchy

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"Ciel is teaching me chess, you know."

The busy butler pauses beside a set of antique bookshelves, the feather duster in his gloved hand freezing mid-flourish. He flicks a half-lidded glance over one shoulder; ruby eyes bore holes into the back of a curly-blonde head.

The teenager feels the stare— stiffens visibly. Her own gaze remains locked on a checkered board of black and white marble.

"He is the King," the young woman continues, running a delicate pointer finger up and down the cool curves of the dark token. "He makes the decisions: what to do, where to go… who lives and who dies."

The finger recoils, curling into its brethren with a tremble and a sigh of lace on silk.

"You are the Knight," she presses on, gracing her fiancé's favored servant with a turn of the head, a lock of the eyes. Red flame and green forest clash. She knows this is dangerous. "You protect the King, follow his orders… to the letter. Every time. Worth more than a Pawn, and more dexterous than a Rook or a Bishop— unusual in all aspects. More than this, you have always been there for Ciel, ever since… since…"

Her voice breaks, catching on fear or realization or some strange combination of both. "In every way, you are his Knight in Shining Armor."

The stone-faced servant—till that moment listening in apathetic silence— cocks a single eyebrow, his long lips lengthening, forming the faintest of smiles. And in doing this, the whole dynamic of his beautiful face changes: his eyes harden, melt, and congeal once again; for a moment, they look less like garnets, and more like lakes of blood. She can see her reflection in the still, ageless pools…

She blinks, shudders, and twists away.

And her fear pleases him. Though the butler does not chuckle, she can hear laughter in his polite drawl. "The young miss is far too kind to an unworthy servant such as myself," he murmurs from his corner, returning to his chore. The whisper of feathers over cherry wood serves as pleasant background noise; it helps to calm the girl's racing heart.

But she is not yet finished. She does not want to be calm. Sharp nails dig into soft waves of patterned silk, itchy ruffles of cream taffeta.

"I am the Queen," she announces over the rustle of the duster—the tip-tap of well-shined shoes. "It is the only piece that I identify with… Ciel has said so himself. But you know, for a while, I wondered about this. Because the Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, when you think about it. It will do anything for the King, copy any token's style, if it has to… And while I would do that if I could, I realize that I am nowhere near as capable as you. Or even Finny, or Maylene, or Bard. I am just… just there." She swallows, she straightens— she stands to face the butler with a stare as hard as shimmering emeralds. She is holding back tears, now. "Yet still, I am the Queen. And do you know why, Sebastian?"

Small particles of dust shine and dance in rosy beams of sunlight; the glow and glitter halos the pleasantly musing butler. The sight nearly makes her sick. "Perhaps because the Queen is the rightful companion of the King?" he guesses, offering his mistress a cordial grin.

She does not need to dig deep to hear the mockery in his tone. "Try again," she demands, her quiet voice lowering as her indignation flares. "And be honest, this time."

"Surely the young miss does not want to waste her time listening to a humble servant's uneducated postulations—"

"Say it."

The voice is pure ice: as cutting and sharp as a winter wind. Once more, the butler freezes… but this time, his expression—when he slowly spins to face his master's fiancée— is one of sheer amusement.

"It is because the Queen can be replaced by any meager Pawn," he returns, smiling that smile that is just slightly too wide, a fraction too cold. Unnatural. Deviant. The brightness of the library vanishes abruptly, swallowed by the dark— and the girl is suddenly doused in his lengthening shadow, unable to move: trapped in a web of truths and lies and knowledge and terror as the smirking servant sidles closer, victory in his gaze.

Demon…

"I must admit, I am surprised, my lady," Sebastian purrs as he approaches, offering a brief and contemptuous bow. "I never thought that you would get the hang of chess."

He sweeps past, unconcerned, footsteps echoing as he slips into the hall. But even when he's gone, his last whisper remains; Elizabeth falls to her knees, choking on air, as it rings in her ears:

"I am happy to hear that you finally understand."

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