Author's Note: *peeks out from behind a wall* K-Konnichiwa, minna-san...*hides again as a volley of rotten tomatoes came hurtling towards her* I-I'm very sorry for the late update! *kowtows* It's just that...I had a depressing college semester, and by depressing, let's just say I have a huge chance of being one year delayed in my course (Veterinary Medicine) , not to mention that I was also hospitalized for four days because of acute gastroenteritis...T^T and aren't these reasons enough to be sucked dry of all my creative juices? As usual, it is your support that keeps me going. In fact, whenever I am in need of inspiration, I just read your reviews and somehow get perked up. So please keep those reviews coming! You don't know how much power each of your kind words pack! They serve as the ink for my quill, the waters for my parched muse...My only wish is that you will all be patient with me, for writing can be a tough job, even though you really do love what you're writing about. Actually, the ideas are endless, overflowing even, but the real problem is giving them form, putting them in words. I know sometimes you get impatient...I know, for I, too, grows impatient whenever a fave fanfic of mine takes too long to update...But please rest assured that I will deliver, for I did promise you, didn't I? And trust me, I never break my promise=) I will take this time to thank all of you for all your support all this months, for without you, Robin and Tutor would never be what it is today. So please stick with me 'til the end, for Robin and Tutor isn't just my fan fic, it is also yours. Now, about the previous chapter...*blush* I'm glad you like it! My hard work did pay off...(let's just say I have to read a mountain of historical romance novels and stop between typing phrases in order to quell my fangirl squeals and nosebleeds =3=). But you're all worth it! Oh and another thing, I know this is late but I really would like to thank Sada-chan for the wonderful fanart she made of my "Alice Ciel"...I've intended to thank her (I assume you're a her?) in the previous chapters, but somehow it just slips off my mind. I'm very sorry! *kowtows* So here it is, minna-san http : / alwayzonsomethingluv . deviantart . com / # / d37y07r (just remove the spaces)! Quite close to how I had pictured it, I would say. Thank you very much once again, Sada-chan! Love lots! ^-^
P.S. I've made a facebook account for my writer self http : / www . facebook . com / profile . php?id = 100002398814737 (just like the one above, just remove the spaces); here we can talk about almost anything, even those that doesn't involve Kuroshitsuji. Be sure to add me as a friend! ^-^
Disclaimer: The only one who can claim ownership to the fantabulous creation of Kuroshitsuji is none other than Yana Toboso-sama! *worships*
Robin and Tutor
Chapter 19: Mathilde
Ciel cautiously peeked into the chapel, inspecting if anyone was inside. They had begun their covert operation to rescue Lizzy, and had split themselves into two groups in order to search the convent grounds more thoroughly. Ciel, Sebastian and Roland were in one group, while Bard, Maylene and Finny were in the other. Ciel's group was to investigate the church, while the servant trio's area of assignment was the dormitory-the two buildings were the least suspicious among the infrastructures of the place, and thus, the most like likely to hold secrets within their depths-or so Ciel thought at that time.
Seeing that the coast was clear, Ciel beckoned his companions to progress on their mission, but no sooner had they taken one foot inside the chapel when-
"Oh, did you also come here to pray, fellow sisters?"
Ciel jumped in surprise and abruptly turned around, coming face to face with the middle-aged nun who opened the gates for them the day before. His lips parted in a shaky smile.
"Well...yes, yes; we came here exactly just to do that."
The nun returned the gesture, albeit in a more composed manner.
"Please, call me Sister Cecilia, Sisters-" She scrutinized at each of them thoughtfully. "Anne Marie, Sabrina and Madeleine, am I correct?"
"That is quite a memory you have, Sister Cecilia." Sebastian said smoothly, the usual seductive lilt of his voice making the nun blush despite herself.
"It seems that your tongue is something to be considered, too, Sister Sabrina." Sister Cecilia said stiffly, coughing lightly in an attempt to regain her composure. "I would suggest that you try to correct your manner of speech; no nun of St. Carmel's shall be accused of trying to arouse something other than virtuous sentiments from their conversations."
Sebastian raised a sardonic brow at what Sister Cecilia just said.
"Pardon me for saying this, Sister Cecilia, but are you implying that my way of speaking produces impious responses from you? If that may be so, would you please specify these sinful emotions that I may know how to relieve you of them?"
Sister Cecilia's colour intensified with indignation at the audacity of Sebastian's queries, and after submitting once again to a fit of light coughs, haughtily turned her back towards them and swung open the chapel's heavy, double oak doors.
"We will be continuing this talk later; it would not do to keep the Lord waiting."
Ciel cringed at the indication of Sister Cecilia's words. Casting a wry glance at Sebastian, which the demon reciprocated with a barely suppressed amused grin, Ciel proceeded to the task he swore never to do again-praying.
Ciel thought it was the longest ten minutes of his life. Praying is a relaxing activity, but if done only in motions, and reluctant motions at that, the young boy found it to be quite strenuous. Add to that the very much palpable aura of amusement emanating from Sebastian, and Ciel could only do as much not to succumb to the incredible urge to have a major temper tantrum that very instant, and in a holy place at that.
"Should you not burn right this very moment?" Ciel hissed through gritted teeth at the guileless demeanour of the demon beside him. "This is a church, for crying out loud!"
Sebastian did not seem to be affected by his master's foul mood; worse, it appears to have increased his enjoyment tenfold.
"For a demon that had defeated angel, should it not only to be expected, young master?"
Ciel glared at him, but realizing the futility of the act just as quickly, resorted to venomous mutterings under his breath.
"What a pity, you do not know how much I would love to see you blaze right now."
"I am afraid, I am already quite aware of your unfortunate sentiment, young master." Sebastian replied pleasantly, further stoking the boy's ire. His manner than turned grave as he let his eyes survey the holy structure they were currently in. "As to address your interest on why I remained unharmed in such a consecrated building, it seemed that the holiness of this edifice is not how it used to be. To be precise, I can feel demonic energy emanating from this place, though only in traces. The mere fact that the nuns, who have considerable psychic perception due to the spirituality of their profession, could not sense the contamination signifies that this is all caused by a high-level demon who have enough power to hide his presence to those who are unlike him in being and beneath him in demonic rank."
Ciel also grew serious at what Sebastian just said.
"And as a high-ranking demon yourself, you were thus able to perceive his presence?"
The demon butler nodded in reply.
"Do you think that the demon could be that black cat we encountered yesterday?" Ciel asked thoughtfully.
A throbbing vein appeared on Sebastian's brow as he was reminded of that irritating incident.
"It could be, young master."
Ciel would have spoken more if not for Roland who directed his attention to the fact that Sister Cecilia had been staring at him disapprovingly for quite some time. Ciel smiled sheepishly in a pacifying attempt, but the nun's features remained gravely set as she finished her prayers and exited the chapel with the full dignity of her profession, beckoning the young boy to follow. Ciel sighed in acquiescence and stood up.
"Can you pinpoint the exact origins of the demonic energy?" Ciel asked under his breath so as not to be overheard by Roland.
"The demonic energy is wafting from the floorboards, so it is more than likely that it may have originated from a secret room located beneath this structure." Sebastian replied just as discreetly.
Ciel then turned to look at his servant piercingly on the eye.
"This is an order, Sebastian. I want the location of the secret room found as soon as I returned."
Unable to do his usual kneeling stance because he was seated in a pew, Sebastian just laid his right hand upon his left breast and slightly bowed his head.
"Yes, my lord."
And with that last exchange, Ciel promptly did as told and followed Sister Cecilia out of the church building.
"I believe you are aware of the reason why I called you out here, Sister Anne Marie." Sister Cecilia said curtly, folding her arms as she did do.
Ciel sighed. Sister Cecilia had confronted him as soon as he stepped out of the church, no doubt to scold him for his actions inside the chapel earlier. He curbed his rising irritation and tried to look contrite, unconsciously creating a very endearing picture made possible by his cherubic appearance.
"I am very sorry, Sister Cecilia. I promise not to do that again."
Apparently taken over by Ciel's angelic countenance, Sister Cecilia's demeanour instantly softened.
"Very well; you are young, and thus, still prone to acts of foolishness. The convent will remedy that."
I will not stay here long enough to allow that, dear sister.
Ciel hid his sarcastic thought behind a saccharine smile, and curtseyed deeply as a sign of gratitude.
"I would really appreciate it, Sister Cecilia."
The nun returned Ciel's false smile with a true one, and marvelled at the young boy's beauty which shines through the solemnity of his garments. He had worn the traditional nun's habit; a drab raiment which consists of black and white floor-length robes, a simple cowl, and a wooden rosary. The bouncy golden curls of his wig were tucked inside the cowl; the more rebellious ones escaping to charmingly frame his face. Sister Cecilia frowned at the pretty image the young boy makes.
"There must be something that can be done to somehow subdue that beauty of yours. If word comes out that one of St. Carmel's nuns is a girl of extraordinary loveliness, we would no doubt be troubled by men trying to climb the convent's walls just to get a glimpse of you."
Tired of hearing the same praises about his looks, Ciel fought the urge to roll his eyes at the nun's statement.
"You flatter me, Sister Cecilia."
Sister Cecilia brushed away Ciel's modest reply with a dismissive flick of her hand.
"I only speak in a manner that befits my profession, Sister Anne Marie: in all honesty. Have you no inkling of the high level of your beauty? If Helen can launch a thousand ships, I can quite confidently say that you can launch a thousand more."
Wearily accepting that nothing he will say can change Sister Cecilia's soaring regard for his so-called "beauty", Ciel opted to be quiet this time. Sister Cecilia, on the other hand, used his silence as an opportunity to study him further; her features taking a concerned look at the sight of his concealed eye cleverly covered by some thick golden tresses of his wig.
"Your beauty would have been perfect if you would let both your lovely lapis lazuli eyes show. I noticed that you have kept your right eye hidden since entering the convent; could there be a grave reason for you to do such thing? I will willingly listen."
Ciel theatrically sighed and touched the eye that bears his Faustian contract with mock sorrow, creating another illusion of a girl who had been through tragedy. He bowed his head to hide a secret smile as he recalled the excuse he and Sebastian came up if such circumstances were to arise.
"I...well, my right eye that is, was terribly injured in the Great Fire of London last year. We were visiting some relatives when the incident happened…I was the only one of my family who survived, but my right eye was blinded, and the wound did not heal so nicely..."
Sister Cecilia looked at Ciel sympathetically, and then reached out in an attempt to move aside the hair obscuring his "injury".
"Poor girl, will you allow me to see it-?"
"No!" Ciel vehemently cried out, jerking away from the nun's touch in a violent manner. Seeing Sister Cecilia's shocked expression at his behaviour, the young boy hastily tried to repair the damage done to the nun's estimation of his character by once again acting the meek lady. "I mean, the scars are horrible to look at, and I would not want Sister Cecilia to change her good opinion of me..."
Sister Cecilia just stared at Ciel incredulously for a while, and then shook her head.
"A few scars will not change my opinion of you, Sister Anne Marie, but if you are that reluctant to show them to me, then I will press no further."
Ciel breathed a sigh of relief at the cessation of Sister Cecilia's interrogation.
"Thank you for your kind consideration, Sister Cecilia."
The nun curtly acknowledged Ciel's spoken gratitude, and was silent for a while.
"Will you really not reconsider becoming a nun, Sister Anne Marie? Men will mourn the loss of such a pretty lass for a potential bride."
Ciel cringed at Sister Cecilia's sudden decision to speak, and scoffed at her words in an effort to live up to his self-imposed label of being a man-hater.
"And why would I trouble myself with their sentimentalities? Pardon me for my harsh words, Sister Cecilia, but I wish to have nothing more to do with men after my harrowing experience at the brothels."
Sister Cecilia brushed off Ciel's words with a light laugh.
"You do not know what you are talking about, Sister Anne Marie. You are still barely out of childhood, so you have no idea of the intimacies shared by a man and a woman."
Ciel froze as images of such "intimacies" which he shared with Sebastian suddenly flashed in his memory: scenes of them kissing, embracing, caressing, and the impassioned episode from the day before...
Gargantuan effort was used in order for the young boy to clear his mind, and even when his thoughts were momentarily freed from its haunting recollections, his cheeks remained a heated crimson, prompting Sister Cecilia to worry about his health.
"Sister Anne Marie? Do you feel unwell? Your face has turned red."
Ciel hastily regained his composure, and turned to face the inquiring nun.
"It may be caused by the shock I felt from your words, Sister Cecilia. Nuns are supposed to uphold their virginity and lead chaste lives in the convent, are they not? Why then, are you enticing me to break away from my vows and become some man's wife? I found it quite scandalous to hear such notion coming from a senior nun like yourself."
Sister Cecilia once again laughed at Ciel's seeming naiveté.
"Scandalous, was it? Well, now that you have mentioned it, I may be capable of speaking such things because unlike most nuns in this convent, I am quite familiar with the bond of the flesh between the sexes."
The nun's declaration made Ciel look at her in disbelief.
"Bond of-for you to know such things…could it be that you had known a man, Sister Cecilia?"
Sister Cecilia's face took on a slightly affronted expression at Ciel's words.
"Do not make it appear as if I have committed the biggest crime in the century, Sister Anne Marie. Yes, I have known a man, but he was not just any man; he was my husband."
Ciel found himself once again staring dumbfounded at Sister Cecilia.
"You had a husband, Sister Cecilia?"
The nun went silent, obviously reminiscing the memories of her late husband, but they seemed to be good memories, for a gentle smile was on her face.
"Long ago, yes; a handsome enough chap with a heart as big as his-"At Ciel's scandalized expression, Sister Cecilia chuckled. "-body. He was a woodcutter silly, and they tend to become muscular because of the nature of their occupation. He died after a miscalculated swing of his axe sent a towering tree hurtling towards him instead of in the opposite direction."
Ciel fervently shook himself free from the gruesome image Sister Cecilia's narrative invoked.
"What a terrible way to die..."
Sister Cecilia sighed and looked away in melancholy.
"It was terrible indeed: he was crushed, I was devastated, and I ran to the Lord for comfort."
Ciel quelled his rising sarcasm at the mention of God, and just continued his inquiries.
"Have you no children, Sister Cecilia?"
"I had two, but they both died at infancy. I guess it is for the best, for I was beside myself with grief when my husband died, and could not have taken cared of a child, let alone two."
Unable to think of anything else to add, Ciel opted offering his condolences which Sister Cecilia accepted with a sad but nonetheless grateful smile.
"I am sorry to hear that, Sister Cecilia."
"Do not be, for it was all in the past."
They were silent for a while, but then Ciel, seeing that the situation was an excellent moment for investigation, started questioning Sister Cecilia about the convent…particularly regarding the Mother Superior.
"Sister Cecilia? I know this would seem rude for me to ask, but...the Mother Superior, what kind of person is she?"
"Mathilde?" At Ciel's confused stare, Sister Cecilia hastily corrected herself. "Oh, of course you would not know; "Mathilde Wickens" is the real name of the Mother Superior. As to why I am able to call her on first name basis…that is because we have been friends since the time I first entered the convent. In fact, she was the one who opened the gates for me."
Ciel felt his blood boil as the name stirred an unpleasant memory of another nun from the distant past…one who was certainly not Mother Superior material!
Sister Cecilia, unaware of Ciel's sudden sour mood, continued talking.
"Mathilde is-was-a typical convent-bred girl-meek and innocent...too innocent even. Of course, she cannot help it considering her background. She told me she was left as a baby outside the convent's walls and was raised by nuns, so it was apparent that she would become a nun herself. Her upbringing made her perfect for the profession…though it certainly did nothing for her development as a woman."
Sister Cecilia shook her head with an expression between amusement and pity.
"I have mentioned that I found her very innocent, have I not? Well, innocence is nice and all, more so in a religious vocation, but too much can be quite…troublesome. Such was the case with Mathilde. Would you believe that not once had she been outside the convent's walls? No wonder she listened to my life stories as a parched man would drink his first drought of water in days. She was especially interested in the…how should I phrase this…"physical" aspect of my married life, if I recall correctly…"
"The Mother Superior?" Ciel asked in disbelief, acting shocked that the abbess would be interested in such things. Sister Cecilia of course instantly went to the abbess's defence.
"She is a woman before she is a nun after all, and even though she has committed herself to a lifetime of celibacy, that does not dispel the fact that she is a woman, and thus subject to a woman's desires…including the carnal ones."
"I see…" Ciel said in what appears to be calm acceptance, hiding the fact that his highly deductive brain has begun furiously working.
"Oh no, you have seen nothing yet, my dear." Sister Cecilia said mysteriously. Then, making sure that no one else was around, she bent down to whisper into the young boy's ear. "Now, now…this is just between the two of us, you hear? This talk I am having with you made me think back on all the changes I have noticed on Mathilde since then, especially when she was appointed as the Mother Superior not long ago. The convent has somehow…changed, though I cannot exactly point my finger on where or how. The best way to describe it is perhaps that the air around here has grown quite stale, uncomfortable in a way…The younger nuns are also slowly going missing, one after another, especially the fairer ones. And then recently, there was that young lady guest of ours-"
"This young lady guest you are speaking of…was she around my age, with golden curls, emerald eyes, and introduced herself as Lady Elizabeth Middleford?"
Sister Cecilia blinked in surprise at Ciel's query, but otherwise answered promptly.
"Why yes, she did. Could it be that you know her?"
"Not personally; she was betrothed to my cousin, the Marquis of Hillcrest, but eloped with his twin brother, Lord Roland. The last I have heard was that she disappeared after Lord Roland hesitated in marrying her." Ciel replied in hasty improvisation.
"Oh the drama of the upper classes! But if Mathilde is indeed the one behind these unfavourable disappearances, then I only have myself to blame…"
As Sister Cecilia continues to castigate herself, the cogs in Ciel's mind continuously turn, putting the puzzle together. His thoughts were then temporarily interrupted by the sound of the other nun calling out to him.
"Do you not think that our conversation had lasted long enough? Your companions must be tired of waiting already."
His head roiling with the clues he had gathered, Ciel somehow was still able to curtsey in farewell.
"Well, if you will excuse me, I will be taking my leave, Sister Cecilia."
No sooner had Ciel turned away when he was once again halted by Sister Cecilia's voice.
"I will have you know that I truly enjoyed the short time I spent talking with you, Sister Anne Marie. I really do hope that we will have more of these conversations in the future."
The cryptic quality of the Sister Cecilia's message made Ciel turn to face her, but the only thing that greeted him was the gently smiling face of the nun. "Be careful."
Ciel gravely nodded in answer and slowly walked away, halting when Sister Cecilia was already nowhere in sight.
A flash of sudden darkness, and then his demonic servant was before him, his eyes blazing bright crimson.
"Yes, my lord…?"
"I think we have our culprit."
Author's Note: So, who do you think the culprit is? The only thing I'll say is that not all things are as they seem...=) No love drops for now, but we will never know in the future! So please stay tuned! Over and out! ^-^