The boy coughed again, gripping the cloth of his night gown.
"Cursed… cold!", he managed to get out weakly.
"It seems like you overdid it a little, young master."
The two different coloured eyes glared at his butler. "Are you telling me I behaved foolishly?"
Sebastian smiled, as he was letting the medicine drip on a silver tea spoon.
"If the young master had followed my advice to stay in bed…"
"Yes, I know", the young Phantomhive interrupted him, not in the mood for lessons. "…I should have listened to you." He coughed again, trying to suppress it.
The smile of his butler seemed to soften a bit. He knew that it was quite hard for his little master to admit that he had been wrong. "You can still make it up by following my advice now, as you just acknowledged by yourself that this might be the wisest thing to do", he said, putting the brown bottle on the table next to the bed.
Ciel looked up to him. "With this reasoning, you probably want to convince me to take that medicine?", he stated, eyeing the spoon his butler was holding.
"Well, I was expecting my master to be reasonable", Sebastian declared politely. "But if he prefers to act like a child…" He sighed.
Ciel frowned at this. "What is it with this medicine nonsense?", he asked, seemingly a bit unnerved. "Just make me well. Or is that something you can't do?" He looked at his servant, who just smiled at his challenging words. "Of course I can. But in order to do so…" In one swift move he had leaned over, one gloved hand holding the chin of his master, as careful as if it was made of glass, while the other was moving the spoon to his lips. "I'm afraid you will have to take your medicine", he concluded.
Ciel's eyes met his and for an instant, it seemed like the boy wanted to argue. Finally, he sighed. "Fine. If that's all you can do…"
He reluctantly let the spoon filled with the viscous liquor enter his mouth and forced himself to swallow quickly after Sebastian had pulled the spoon out. A thin smile of hidden amusement curled the butler's lips as he saw the slight look of surprise on his master's face.
"Now, was the taste as horrible as expected?", he inquired.
Violet and blue eyes looked at him, and Sebastian knew that Ciel had figured it out.
The young Phantomhive smiled this slightly ironic smile of his, admitting his defeat.
"You added sugar, didn't you?"
Sebastian bowed, one hand on his chest. "I merely added one piece of the finest brown sugar, which is usually only adequate for the best Earl Grey." He looked up and put on his modest smile. "After all, this would be expected of a butler serving one of the Phantomhives."
Ciel nodded and lay back on his pillow. "I want to sleep now", he said.
"As you wish, my Lord", his butler replied, reaching for the candleholder.
"Leave them", Ciel ordered. "It's not that late. I might want to read when I wake up."
Sebastian bowed, not questioning the orders of his master.
After the other servants had gone to bed, Sebastian was making his nightly patrol through the estate. As he opened the door of his master's chamber, he was not surprised to see that the candles were almost burnt down, but his master himself had apparently not woken up or even moved. He went over to the bed, taking the candleholder, which now needed to be refilled. Suddenly, he heard the young Phantomhive coughing softly in his sleep and bend over the bed to take a look. The boy was coughing again, louder this time.
With a look of concern, Sebastian noticed that his little master wouldn't be able to keep sleeping soundly this way. He sighed. It couldn't be helped…
He gently touched the boy's head, waiting patiently till his breathing was going steadily and undisturbed.
As he drew his hand back, he slightly ruffled the soft hair, leaving dark strands falling back on the pale face, which looked so wonderfully at peace now that his small master was fast asleep.
For a brief moment, there was an astonishingly genuine smile on Sebastian's lips – then he blew out the candles.