It was a warm August day, a soft breeze rushing past those who traversed the labyrinths in Rittenhouse Square. Many enthusiastic commoners spread from shop to shop, greeting each other with warm summer tidings. August was a grand time, you see, to the people of Rittenhouse Square, London, a time with many festivals and relatives, travels and tales, the warmth of the atmosphere leaked into every individual. Every individual besides Ciel Phantomhive, that is.
The solemn blue-eyed boy stalked grouchily through the hearty crowds, contempt visible in his dazzling blue orbs. Though only thirteen years old, he hated, he hated! He hated this street, he hated this Square, he hated this London, but most of all he hated the cheerful crowds. He couldn't stand the bustling and the close contact, he disliked having to respond to the happy hellos, he despised being hassled by entrepreneurs and revolutionaries, and women who fussed over him. He wished ill towards the shrill chimes of open-door bells hung in shops, he glared at laughter and fun and joy, and he ran away from the playgrounds and inviting children, away from night-time festivities and vivacious glow of fireworks light. Mostly, he ran away from the painful sight of the park.
But why? Why did he hate these cheerful times so? What was stopping him from enjoying the normal life of a young boy yearning for the future?
It all started the summer of 1984, three years prior, between two trees in Rittenhouse Square.
"Ciel! Ciel, where have you gone, my boy?" A soothing voice hummed from the kitchen in a sun-lit house. On the second floor of the small dwelling, a young boy, not a day over ten, sat in his white-washed room playing with his toys.
"I'm up here, mama!" The young voice rang happily through the walls, and the mother smiled to herself while she prepared the small wooden table.
"It's lunch-time, love, put your toys away and come down at once!" Rachel Phantomhive heard small footsteps cascading down oaken steps at the speed of light, before a small smiling face appeared in the doorway beside her.
"Can I go outside after lunch? Finny told me he wants to go to the park after lunch yesterday." Ciel beamed at his mother hopefully.
She chuckled softly, "Of course you can, but make sure you don't forget to eat the healthy food," The brunette warned her son, shaking a ladle at him to emphasize her point. Ciel glanced at the salad on his plate and groaned, he much preferred sweets.
"Okay." He pouted cutely taking a seat at the small table, and Rachel grinned contentedly, just satisfied to watch her darling son have lunch. Sunlight streamed in through the square windows above the sink from across the room, hitting multiple glass ornaments hanging randomly among the windowsills which cause multi-colored rainbows to shoot off in every direction, casting a beautiful display of color on the otherwise blank walls of the kitchen. Ciel loved the wonderland of unknown color shades cast around the monochrome room, and he admired the glass ornaments as he knew, from what his mother and father told him, that every one contained a story. He didn't know what the story was, but he so did yearn to know, though whenever he asked his parents would just glance at each other knowingly and he wouldn't get an answer.
But, Ciel was ready for a new adventure, so when his plate was cleared, he staccato'd a farewell to his mother, than was out the door. The light of a new August day blinded him for a moment, pure white intensified by the surrounding white houses. Then he was off to the park. He dashed past familiar people around the square, offering bright smiles and exaggerated waves to those who he knew. Life was such a dream back then.
He reached the park, and kicked off his shoes so his feet could meet with the lush grass of the area while he looked around for his friend. The park itself was a very beautiful place, not a thing littered the ground, the trees were healthy and tall, and the sunlight was heavenly as it created multiple new shades of vibrant greens through the transparent leaves. As the breeze blew, the earth seemed to move with it, the nature gleamed like the day, and that was what drew people to the park directly centered in Rittenhouse Square.
Ciel frowned; there was no sign of his counterpart, so he decided to take a rest in an inviting patch of shaded grass between two trees.
"..ello? Hello? Wake up!" Ciel opened his eyes slowly, a mix of greens and whites filled his vision before it sharpened and he noticed the hand of another boy waving in his face. The unknown boy frowned and furrowed his brow as Ciel began to adjust to being awake. The blue-eyed boy yawned before acknowledging the intruder to his dreams.
"Who are you?" Ciel questioned the raven-haired boy who was leaning over him, looking around to see if the park offered some explanation.
"Well aren't you the Phantomhive boy?" The raven asked, straightening up. Ciel got a good look at him, the boy couldn't have been more than a year older than Ciel himself, he was a good two inches taller and his eyes were a glowing auburn.
"Maybe…" Ciel mumbled standing up himself in case this boy posed any threat. At this, though, the other boy just smiled.
"Oh. Great! Then your mom told me to come and get you, you've been out for three hours and she's worried." Ciel was shocked, it sure hadn't felt like three hours, and he hadn't even seen Finny! Moreover, why did this new kid know his mother?
"Really? Why did she send you to get me?" The blue-eyed boy asked the stranger, though he followed him over towards the edge of the park by the noisy streets.
"That's right, we haven't met, please forgive my rudeness. Sebastian Michaelis, your new next door neighbor." The raven smiled widely, offering a hand to Ciel, who cocked a brow at the amount of formality Sebastian used. He vaguely remembered something about a new family moving in next door.
When they arrived at Ciel's house, his mother came rushing over to the door, laughing brightly with another woman Ciel had never seen before. Both women grinned and ushered the boys into the house, and Rachel made introductions.
"Ciel dear, this is Sebastian and his mother Ms. Michaelis, they moved in here yesterday and we have such brilliant things planned to do together! Please say hello." His mother wrapped an arm around the other slender, smiling woman who was beginning to look more and more like Sebastian. Ciel stood up nervously from the chair he had been in, blushed, and did a slight bow towards the woman with long ebony hair.
"H-hello, nice to meet you." The boy instantly sat down again, staring abashedly at the ground until he felt a small hand on his shoulder. He looked over and Sebastian smiled at him, and then Rachel seemed to have a revelation.
"Ah! Ciel, why don't you show little Sebastian around the Square while his mother and I run some errands! How does that sound, Angelina?" The brunette asked her new friend, who nodded eagerly in turn.
"That sounds splendid. Sebastian, this will be good for you, now go and behave!"
With that, the two boys were pushed out of the dwelling once again, faced with the dwindling afternoon light. They stood silently by each other, watching their mothers depart with hugs, waves and smiles, already looking like two best friends. Both Rachel and Angelina were beautiful women, but completely in different aspects. Rachel was softer and warm, rich brown hair and glowing sapphire eyes like her son, and she seemed to represent the sun itself. Angelina was sharp and beautiful, drowning raven hair down almost to her waist, she had piercing auburn eyes, crimson in the current glow of the sun, and she seemed to represent the cool moon.
The sun now was setting at an early time of approximately five o' clock, golden red hues of orange and purple glided across the urban rooftops giving everything an unearthly aura. The sun was an explosion of orchids and flames in the sky, and the clouds themselves carried dreamy puffs of pinks and indigos, clashing perfectly above the lively Square. The houses were cast in shadow, but none of the civilians seemed to notice them creeping around, since all were anxious for the August night life in Rittenhouse, flickering lights already strewn about in some places for a festival.
Ciel and Sebastian faced each other, and Ciel smiled the companion he met between two trees.
As the sun and all it's glory met with the horizon of night, Ciel had already shown his new neighbor most of Rittenhouse Square. They had run through the tourist crowded market streets ,dashed along the nearby channel, thoroughly went through the inventory at the Rittenhouse Bakery, received some free pastries from kind hearted shop-owners, collected odd knick-knacks from promising revolutionaries, and explored the haunting corridors of the Rittenhouse church Ciel had been to superstitious to discover on his lonesome.
Ciel had rediscovered his hometown; he thought that he would never lose his love. His love, though only ten years old, he had so much that he loved. He loved his street, he loved his town, and he loved London. He loved the happiness spread between the bustling crowds in the Square, he loved greeting and talking with people who adored him and he loved in turn, he loved the smooth chime of the shop doors when he and Sebastian opened them, he loved the ringing of laughter through the town, he loved the harmony of fun and work and joy, he couldn't get enough of the dazzling fireworks and August life. Mostly, he loved Sebastian.
Ciel believed that he had never had so much fun in his life, and Sebastian felt as though he would enjoy this new town greatly. By the end of the day, they had vowed to each other with the unbreakable pinky swear, that they would never leave each other's side for the rest of their lives. A promise that the two boys had wound around their lives from between two trees in Rittenhouse Square.
That night, that first night, the two best friends watched the stars shoot across the sky lying in the grass between two trees. The night's grandest festival had ended, and the bright colorful lights, happy painted faces, magical acts and reveries had yet to flee the boy's imaginations. The music, the laughter, the dancing, the horribly sweet food replayed in Ciel's mind while he gazed dreamily at the starlit sky. That was his first time at one of the infamous August-time festivals, and he now thought that daily life would never again compare.
Sebastian was in the same sort of state, tracing diamond skies. He thought about how upset he had been when his father's job had moved them, until he met that strange and lovely boy in Rittenhouse Square between two trees.
The two dreamers fell asleep blissfully that night in the grass between their two trees in the park of Rittenhouse Square, their mothers had seen them and taken them home, and all was well that night in the dreams of the land between two trees.
"What!" This was the first word that left the stunned Phantomhive boy's mouth, as he stared blindly at his best friend of three years. Sebastian shuffled nervously before looking back into Ciel's eyes to confirm the dreaded news. Neither was happy one bit.
The day had started out peacefully as it normally did in early April, the birds chirped musically to a tune no one knew, and Ciel met with Sebastian in the park that they had long ago deemed their own. The boys were out for spring break, and while both had grown attached to other people, they always kept their promise from three years prior. Until that afternoon. The sun glinted mockingly off of the fresh dew of April's rains in the grass, and there was not a single cloud in the sky to match Ciel and Sebastian's mood.
"Yeah. Tomorrow he said." Sebastian put bluntly, not meeting his friend's gaze, knowing he'd find betrayal in the drowning crystals.
"Why so soon? I mean, you haven't even finished the school year! That's ridiculous!" Ciel half-yelled incredulously. The thirteen year-olds leaned against their two favorite trees in the park, the place really felt like home, and it was the only place Sebastian could bear to tell Ciel the news.
"I don't know, my dad's weird, he said something about April and new beginnings, so it would be the best time to leave. I think he's really just sick of being in one place for so long." Sebastian stated with venom.
Rings of flame met whirlpools of indigo. Confusion and anger swirled about in both of them.
Sebastian was moving to America, of all places, the land of the free. Sebastian didn't feel freedom coming. He felt like he was embarking on a journey to prison.
And Ciel, Ciel felt the end of his happiness. He couldn't enjoy the August cheer.
The covenant from between two trees was no more.
Ciel skulked among the snow-drifts, bundled up in winter attire from his persistent mother. Though blanketed by the hushed snow, Rittenhouse Square was still bleakly alive with people shuffling around for various reasons, mostly to buy last minute gifts. Ciel wondered what it would be like if everything were quiet like the falling snow. His life had been rather uneventful over the past three years; he had graduated into high school and wasn't exactly looking forward to his driver's license like every other sixteen year old he knew.
Ciel drifted over to his two trees in the park that he stopped avoiding. This had become a habit of his over the past year, after his father died, to come to the park and rest in one of the trees. It gave him freedom to thought, a place where he wasn't distracted by schoolwork, or girls, or family. Somewhere where worries and problems seemed to not exist. Ciel briefly considered the life of the trees in this park. They never had to go through the pain and confusion he was going through; they didn't have a care in the world. Time probably meant nothing to them either.
Ciel wondered what the civilians looked like to the trees, always in a hurry to get things done, rushing and rushing until life was no longer fun. To these trees, he was probably ten not even a day ago. The blue-eyed teen climbed into the first branch of the left-side tree, and gazed at the world around him. It still amazed him, to have this little sanctuary in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of city life. It made everything seem so unimportant.
It was December twentieth, and Ciel didn't even bother looking forward to Christmas, or anything really, anymore. His mother always tried keeping up the spirit morale, and he always felt guilty in his gloomy state, since he knew it hurt her to see him that way. That was why he started leaving the house more often, to come and sit in the park, to not worry his mother and to dream. Dream among the white clouds of snow, the lights in the city glowing like heavenly kingdoms. Dream where the angel's feathers fell from the sky. Dream where the harsh reality of London was suffocated by a montage of wallpaper purity. Snow. And though the trees he loved were barren in the winter, they still held a nameless beauty when the white quilt hugged them.
Sometimes, Ciel compared humans to that of a snowflake. Not in the cliché way of being unique, but in that humans may or may not start up in the heavenly clouds, sent to earth where they are created and shaped in to something more, crushed into weapon for someone else, or thrown into the mud and demolished by people plowing their own road through life.
Ciel gazed longingly from his perch into the white-washed world. He could see some families through their windows, curled up and warm by a fire. He could see some choirs, rosy cheeked and cold-bitten but smiling warmly nonetheless to melt the hearts of neighbors and friends as they sang carols of promise to one another. Ciel felt his own bitter-cold snow sink in at the memory of his old friend Sebastian, whom he spent the best years of his life with. Nostalgia filled him as he gazed over familiar bakeries and shops he and Sebastian frequented, until all the employees knew them by name. He even smiled a bit at the old, now abandoned church.
Then he thought of his father. Ciel frowned, wiping at the wetness stinging at his eyes and blaming it on the winter cold. His father's accident happened one year ago, when Ciel was in the pit of his depression. He had been shot by a deranged mother, while protecting two kids on the very bench Ciel was seated across from, acting as their human shield. He had been a hero that day, there was even a statue erected in his honor in the very center of the park. Ciel avoided it at all costs.
Surprisingly enough, Vincent's death led Ciel out of his depression. He became involved in school once again, reconnecting with old friends and even dating regularly. Yet, much to his girlfriend's chagrin, he still hadn't kissed anyone yet. His friends made a big show of it at first, who ever heard of a handsome sixteen year old boy who hadn't lost his first kiss? He didn't even know what, or who he was waiting for. Every time the opportunity arose, he would feel sick to his stomach.
Ciel glanced at his watch, realized that he was supposed to be home and hour earlier and was shocked that he had lost so much time at the park again. He wasn't sure why his mother even needed him at home at four in the afternoon, but since she never requested much he had given her his word, which now was broken. Just as he hopped down from the tree, two arms embraced him from behind. He panicked, and in a split second had whirled around to face his attacker, when he saw someone he never thought he'd see again.
"Now is that any way to greet an old friend?" Sebastian grinned widely at his astounded counterpart.
"S-Sebastian?" Ciel blurted out, dropping his poised fists to his sides.
"You look as though you've seen a ghost." Sebastian's grin hadn't faded in the least, and he approached Ciel slowly through the curtains of snow. Realization seemed to dawn on Ciel as the situation sunk in, and despite Ciel's attempts at anger, a smile cracked its way onto his face.
The blue-eyed teen flung himself at his former best friend, arms wrapped around his neck; Sebastian was still at least three inches taller than Ciel. The smaller boy breathed in deeply, Sebastian's familiar cinnamon and coffee scent filling Ciel's lungs. Sebastian returned the other's hug, and clutched onto the back of Ciel's jacket, burying his nose in Ciel's dark hair. The two teens remained like that in their blissful little world for ten minutes.
Golden and painful recollections flitted before both of their eyes as they embraced between two trees in Rittenhouse Square.
Ciel and Sebastian returned to Ciel's house laughing that night, and when warm air rushed up around them they were greeted by the lofty scent of cocoa and the fireplace.
"Oh, you two are home! Why, it's so late, we had gotten worried!" Ciel didn't mind the scolding one bit as Angelina entered the kitchen where he and Sebastian stood. Rachel joined her in an instant, both with light-hearted expressions, and that meant that Ciel's mother was finally having some fun. He hadn't seen her looking that young since his father died.
"Well we're cold, any extra hot drinks?" The blue-eyed teen asked, moving into the comfortable living room to sit by the fire with Sebastian. The two women giggled and walked into the living room with two cups of chocolate scented steam. The two teens graciously accepted the drinks, and after a few minutes of friendly conversation, the mothers were out of the room again.
Ciel and Sebastian basked in the silence that was weighed with a thousands words. There was no need for proclamations of their happiness, or misery, or contentedness. They both knew the feelings were mutual, and they rather thought there were no appropriate words to describe them anyway. Ciel didn't need to ask Sebastian why he was here, he was satisfied with the fact that Sebastian was there at all, and he didn't want to miss a second of the joy it brought. Sebastian himself was too afraid to bring down the mood by asking how much had changed since he left, knowing about Ciel's father.
"So, I hear there's a Christmas festival in three nights for Christmas. I was thinking that maybe we should go." Sebastian suggested, nudging his friend, adding 'it's been a while since I've been to one with you' in his mind. Ciel pursed his lips as if thinking hard about the question, teasing Sebastian with a 'Hmmm…' so the raven smiled and elbowed him again.
"Yes, yes, that sounds like fun." Ciel smiled at his companion. The warm glow of the fire added an amorous radiance to Ciel's face, and his eyes shone with a light that Sebastian had missed so much. Sebastian ran a hand over Ciel's cheek, feeling the soft skin that he had yearned for during his time in America.
Ciel flushed a little, invisible to Sebastian due to the red glow of the firelight, but the intensity in Sebastian's eyes as he beamed at Ciel was causing an uncomfortable stir in Ciel's gut, that just felt so right. Ciel leaned into the touch, he felt as though this was where he was supposed to be, this was where Sebastian needed to be, and this was how everything should be. Eventually Ciel relaxed and fell into slumber on Sebastian's shoulder as they both watched their full hearts dance with the fire, thanking God for their meeting between two trees.
Sebastian and Ciel spent the next two days catching up with each other, and they were practically connected at the hip. Ciel's other friend's were a little annoyed, but the two mothers loved it. The inseparable teens went everywhere they could think of in Rittenhouse Square, the bakeries, the shops, the theatres, the abandoned buildings, the old sandlot by the graveyard, everywhere. The shop owners at the bakeries recognized the raven with Ciel immediately, and the teens were treated with free pastries. The children that they used to play with greeted Sebastian with open arms once more, and the teens indulged in their childhood again, diving into the fields of snow with harmonious laughter. Everything seemed right again.
The two teens slept in the theatres, laughed during church, were scolded by a politician after hitting a baseball into his window in the middle of winter, ran away from politicians, stayed up till dawn, counted the stars, made up constellations, skimmed every book in the library, prank-called every neighbor, ran through every street in Rittenhouse Square, and laughed until their insides hurt. They took too many pictures, watched too many movies, ate too many sweets, and sucked every minute out of every day. The evening of December twenty-third came before they had chance to catch their breath.
Sebastian and Ciel went to the Christmas festival with a few friends that night. They joined in when the carols were sung, hummed when they didn't know the words (which was quite often). They tried once of every cookie provided, and they collected multi-colored candy canes like Pokémon cards. By the end of the festival, each member of the small group of friends had a stomach ache, light-headedness, and a sore throat. They split up before the fireworks show, so Sebastian and Ciel ran off to the park to their spot between the two trees to get a clearer, more comfortable view of the light show. For the next forty minutes, the teens watched the sky in awe as detailed designs glittered in the sky then faded away.
Many explosions depicted a popular Christmas icon, the most impressive were a Santa Clause, a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and most astounding of all; A family gathered around a Christmas tree. The two could hear the crowds clapping and whistling from afar, and they applauded as well.
"What a show." Sebastian decided, still gazing at the twinkling sky as the last bit of color faded.
"Sure was." Ciel agreed, still wide-eyed in awe. Finally tearing his eyes away from the heaven-bound painting, the blue-eyed teen realized the Wonderland that surrounded Sebastian and himself.
Warm lights decorated the barren branches around the park, colors that were so perfect glistened against the snow in an entrancing display rather than gaudy one. The snow looked like a vanilla sunset, and the trees seemed to grow into a pool as they tapered upwards to the night sky. Sebastian put an arm around Ciel, also admiring the view, and both wished to be as timeless as the trees.
"Sebastian…this is going to end." Ciel whispered, just loud enough for the other boy to hear. The air was silent, no one was driving or active outside at that time, all had gone to the banquet inside the city hall, and the atmosphere was as smooth as the snow it carried. Sebastian didn't want to acknowledge Ciel's statement, mostly out of denial.
So he chuckled and said; "Of course it is, daytime has to come at some point." Ciel frowned, and leaned against his partner.
"No…I mean this, us, this feeling. You're leaving again aren't you? I can't have that happen again; I can't have everything mean nothing anymore." Tears welled up in the blue-eyed boy's eyes, but he wouldn't let them fall.
Sebastian sighed and threaded his fingers through Ciel's soft hair. "No. I'm not going to leave again, it's something I meant to tell you when I arrived, but I didn't know how to say it. I just wanted to be with you. My mother and my father divorced last summer. We're not going back to America. We moved here to come back home again." Sebastian told his best friend as they stood in the numb cold.
Small crystals fell silently as snow.
Ciel didn't know what to do; he was elated that Sebastian was staying, so why did he feel like something inside of him just sunk? Sebastian wiped away Ciel's tears and faced his companion, smiling brightly. Ciel was about to question his expression, when Sebastian said "Mistletoe," and pointed upwards. Ciel caught a glimpse of the red and green hues of the plant hanging on one of the trees above them. Then Sebastian's lips were on his. Ciel's hands wrapped themselves around Sebastian's neck and fingers entwined in hair, and Ciel realized that the sinking feeling was the realization that he had no more excuses to deny his feelings for Sebastian. But now, he didn't want to.
And so, Sebastian Michaelis stole Ciel Phantomhive's first kiss from between two trees in Rittenhouse Square.
Lights were hung, and songs were sung, between two trees in Rittenhouse Square.