"Is there a God, Sebastian?" Ciel says one evening. Sebastian has only just cleared the dinner table of its dishes and utensils and mostly-eaten food, and Ciel is rather pleased to see that he is somewhat surprised by the suddenness of the question. "And I order you to tell the complete truth about the matter."
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees his butler smile quickly, attempting to hide it by covering his mouth and coughing into his fist. "I would never dream of lying to you, my lord."
"Whatever," Ciel responds with a roll of his eyes.
"Have I ever lied outright to you before?" Sebastian doesn't try to hide his grin this time, and after a moment, a quiet laugh floats to Ciel's ears. "If I may inquire as to the young master's sudden interest in the subject…?"
Ciel's fingers tighten around the head of his cane. "You may not."
Sebastian laughs again, more of a chuckle this time, and replies, "Then may I ask why the young master has not consulted a priest?"
"Because priests generally aren't other-worldly creatures who have lived for eons of time so as to know the definitive answer, Sebastian," he says, glancing pointedly at his butler. "Don't patronize me."
"Is the young master suggesting that I am old? I do believe I feel insulted."
"Stop stalling!" Ciel commands harshly, slamming his fist down on the table. "Answer me!"
A quiet "Yes," is all Sebastian says before he goes back to performing his duties. He does not say another word on the subject for the rest of the evening, even though Ciel asks him to explain ("What more explanation is needed? It was a rather closed-ended question, my lord."). Ciel is not at all satisfied with the man's response, but it will do no good to try and get anymore out of him at the moment.
So, Ciel bides his time and waits for another opportunity, which comes several years later on the eve of his marriage to Elizabeth. He and Elizabeth have only just turned sixteen when they marry, because she insists there is no reason to wait any longer to be wed if they are both of a legal age. Ciel isn't as sure as he lets on, because although he can tolerate a Lizzie who is ecstatic over her approaching wedding, he can't tolerate a Lizzie who is heartbroken and in tears.
Sebastian makes fun of him when he foolishly voices the sentiment. Ciel admits to himself that he loves her, in his own way—he has been around her long enough that she has finally gotten under his skin and made an impression on him, not to mention that she has become much calmer as she has matured. It is not, however, the sort of love that Elizabeth will expect of him, the sort of love that she has had for him since the day their parents announced their betrothal when they were little children. The sort of love that would impel him to marry her before he absolutely has to do so.
(Sebastian had once asked him if it was only marriage to Lizzie that Ciel was adverse to or if it was the idea of marriage in general. Ciel hadn't been able to give him an answer, and the butler hadn't been able to be persuaded to give his opinion.)
Sebastian wants him try on his wedding finery one last time to make sure everything is in order for the morrow. He is fussing about it as if he is the restless bridegroom ("Are you sure that the boutonnière is not scratching your face, young master?" "For the final time, Sebastian, the damned flower is fine."), and Ciel is close to choking his butler by the time he can convince Sebastian to change him out of his wedding clothes and into his night shirt.
"Why are you so nervous about this?" Ciel asks, holding up his arms. The feel of impossibly soft cotton sliding over his naked skin is somehow comforting, something that has never changed with time, and he revels in it every night.
"I am not nervous," Sebastian contradicts brusquely, brushing some non-existent dirt off of his lapels. "As a butler of the Phantomhive family, it is my duty to make sure everything is in readiness for the momentous event of my young master's marriage. I would consider it a personal failure if something were to be amiss during tomorrow's ceremony."
Ciel snorts loudly, crossing his arms and giving his butler a questioning look. "It's a long, boring speech, a couple of 'I wills,' and a kiss. I've been through all of them separately. Why should they be any more nerve-wracking when combined?"
Sebastian doesn't reply, and instead focuses intently on turning down the bedding. Ciel removes his eyepatch, tossing it down on the nightstand as he has done for the past six years, and is nearly forced to push Sebastian out of the way to get into bed.
"I do hope," the man says lightly, "that you are not so cavalier with your new bride tomorrow evening. Young ladies are especially delicate on such occasions."
"Lizzie is not delicate, Sebastian," Ciel states quietly, wriggling to sit more comfortably against the headboard.
Sebastian pauses for a split second, seemingly surprised by Ciel's statement, and says, "Oh? And if it isn't too bold to ask, how did the young master come to obtain such knowledge?"
"How do you think?" Ciel quips. When Sebastian remains silent, he adds, "I have already relieved Lizzie of her delicacy."
"I see," he replies, and Ciel is almost completely sure that Sebastian already knew. If asked, he would probably say that their sin has made the smell of Ciel's soul was sweeter, or more rancid, or whatever the hell kind of scent a mouth-watering soul should have. The answer would be a lie anyway, and so Ciel doesn't waste the energy to ask.
"I suppose Lady Elizabeth is quite in love with the young master," he muses aloud, as if he feels he has to justify for Ciel's actions. "You can be very…persuasive when you choose to be, my lord. I suppose it took nothing more than a few sweet phrases and a passionate 'I love you' to win her over."
"Who said that I was the one doing the persuading?" Ciel remarks off-handedly, even though it is a lie. He and Sebastian stare at one another for a moment, and when Sebastian smiles again, it means he knows Ciel is lying too. Sebastian knows him all too well. Ciel is about to lie back down in bed and try to sleep when a memory suddenly makes its way to the front of his mind. "And you never did answered my question, Sebastian."
"Which question might that be?" Sebastian asks, even though he knows full well which one. "The young master asks me many things every day."
"Don't play stupid, Sebastian."
The man only smiles again. "Of course. I suppose the young master would like to have a more…detailed answer?"
"May I assume the young master knows of the origin of demons?"
"Tch, just because I do not currently attend mass does not mean I have never been to church, Sebastian," Ciel says. Sebastian knows Ciel hates it when he is treated like a child, and he suspects that is exactly why the man does it. "Demons are angels who have been expelled from Heaven."
Leaning against the wall, Sebastian crosses his arms lightly. He closes his eyes for a moment and sighs before taking a deep breath. Ciel fights the intense urge to slap Sebastian across the face. "Contrary to popular belief, there is no reproductive process for demons."
"Popular belief?" the boy scoffs.
"Yes. The young master should know very well that there are certain groups of people who theorize about such things."
For a split second, Ciel feels an intense pain at his side, and he can almost make out the heat of a fire and the stench of burning skin. He glares at his butler. "…Go on, Sebastian."
"When the Devil rebelled, he took a substantial amount of angels with him, all of whom later became known as demons. For the scope of this discussion, we will say that this number cannot increase or decrease. All of the angels who fell from grace still exist."
"Meaning that you were there in the beginning. That you have seen Him yourself?"
"Yes, on both accounts."
Ciel pauses for a moment, looking up critically at the man. "Couldn't you have just said that, Sebastian?"
Sebastian smiles. "Please excuse my long-windedness, my lord," he replies with counterfeit humility. Turning to close the curtains to his left, he bids Ciel goodnight and leaves the room. Ciel finds it highly suspicious, but says nothing and drifts rather quickly off to sleep. The next day, his wedding goes on without a hitch and Elizabeth is welcomed with open arms to the Phantomhive estate by all of the servants.
It surprises Ciel when Elizabeth announces nearly a year later that she is with child, but he is much more surprised that Sebastian has allowed him to keep his soul for that length of time. The time is coming, though, and they both know it. Ciel can feel it in the air every time Sebastian is in his presence, the knowledge that his butler is licking his not-so-metaphorical chops and eyeing his next meal with a lustful hunger.
Before Elizabeth's pregnancy is outwardly apparent, Sebastian lets him know when he will have his soul taken from him. His wife is returning from Sunday morning mass, stepping out of her carriage and walking up the front steps, when Sebastian states, "I am quite hungry, young master."
Ciel's pastry-laden fork pauses halfway to his mouth. His hesitation is only momentary, however, and before Sebastian can finish breathing in again, Ciel responds, "I know." He takes another bite of his pastry, swallows it, and adds, "Stop complaining and eat, then, if you are so ravenous. It wouldn't do for a servant of the Phantomhive family to die of starvation or malnutrition."
Sebastian smiles. "Yes, my Lord."
Later that same day, as they are served lunch on the terrace, Elizabeth asks, "I don't mean to be rude, Mr. Sebastian, but…do you believe in God?"
"Lizzie!" Ciel groans, rolling his eyes. He rubs the bridge of his nose with his left hand and sighs. "Why in the world would you ask Sebastian something like that?"
"Well," she starts, and from the color in her checks, he can tell that he's embarrassed her, "I was curious. I go to church every Sunday, and Finny, Maylene, and Bard come with me, too, but Mr. Sebastian never has. If he wanted to go—"
"As thankful as I am for your thoughtfulness," Sebastian interrupts smoothly, "someone must stay behind and take of the young master while you are away, Lady Elizabeth."
Elizabeth's lips twist into a pretty pout. "Then perhaps Ciel should come to church as well."
Out of the corner of his eye, Ciel can see Sebastian endeavoring not to grin widely. He ignores it. "Lizzie, we have already had this discussion."
"I didn't say you had to believe, or even listen!" she exclaims, her checks now pink with something other than embarrassment. "I just want you to come with me. Not every Sunday, just sometimes, just so we can spend time together."
Sebastian intervenes then, reminding Elizabeth that overexertion in the form of a heated argument could be harmful to their baby's health. A long silence falls over the three of them. Ciel wonders if Elizabeth had asked her question because she really was curious, or if it had just been a way to manipulate the conversation onto the subject of his personal distaste in religion. She has tried everything in the world to persuade him to start attending mass again, and he has staunchly refused each time. He has no business being in a church when he doesn't believe in any form of god. He had disillusioned Lizzie a long time ago.
The silence is broken when Sebastian gently suggests that they return to the house, and when his wife stands up and briskly walks back inside, Ciel rolls his eyes and tersely orders, "Talk some sense into her, Sebastian."
Ciel makes sure to eavesdrops on their conversation, as Sebastian would certainly alter it in some way when he reports it back to him.
"I just don't understand it, Sebastian," she whines, laying the book she had been pretending to read down on the table. "I know Ciel doesn't like going to church, but I don't want his soul to go to Hell because he won't even try anymore."
Ciel can almost see Sebastian's smile through the cracked wooden door that separates them, and he knows what the demon is thinking—"Oh, my lady, I can assure that the young master's soul is in no danger of eternally burning in Hell"—but since he is talking to Elizabeth, he says nothing and simply listens as she continues speaking.
"I mean, does he really believe that God doesn't exist? How can he think that? We are proof of His existence, and so is everything around us. Ciel is so very smart, Sebastian, but why can't he see it?"
Sebastian clears his throat lightly. "Acknowledging the existence of God and truly believing in—having faith in—Him are two very different things, my lady."
Her nose scrunches up in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"One can believe in God without having faith. Doesn't Scripture tell us that 'the devils also believe, and tremble'?"
"Yes," she concedes in a whisper.
"'The devils also believe'," he begins, "but have you ever seen one in a church?"
"Ciel is not a devil!" Elizabeth counters sharply, standing up out of her chair so quickly that it turns over behind her. She rounds on Sebastian, index finger pointed at him in stern reprimand, and the sight is so ridiculous that Ciel has trouble suppressing his laughter. "Ciel is a human being just like you and I, Mr. Sebastian, one of God's precious little children, and his soul will be in terrible danger if he doesn't realize that he is wrong!"
"This is what he has chosen, and like it or not, there is nothing you can do to save his soul, Lady Elizabeth," Sebastian says coldly. He kneels before her, laying his fingertips gently on her abdomen, and adds, "Please, my lady, don't upset yourself any further and risk the young master's child. We have already suffered one such tragedy. There is no reason to endure it again."
She bursts into tears then, and Sebastian holds her while she cries, pointedly not looking at the now obvious crack in the bedroom door. Ciel's eyes go wide. A miscarriage? How the hell had Sebastian hidden a miscarriage from him? When had he and Lizzie conceived the first baby, and why hadn't she told him she was even pregnant?
He hurries back to his own bedroom and, when Sebastian returns there, demands answers from him.
"I am quite hungry, young master."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Ciel demands, hands balling up into fists at his sides. "How did you hide this from me? If Lizzie miscarried, she would have been in the hospital for some time, and depressed for much longer after that. Did it happen while I was in France last winter? Why the hell didn't you at least send a telegram?"
Sebastian coolly replies, "How does the young master think I knew that he had taken Lady Elizabeth's virginity?"
When realization hits him, Ciel's mouth hangs open slightly in surprise and disgust, and he tries very hard to swallow the bile rising in the back of his throat. "Don't tell me that you…?"
"I am quite hungry, young master," the demon repeats. "And as I have been denied the main course, I saw nothing wrong with sampling an h'ors d'oeuvres."
When Ciel is through vomiting out the window, he glances over at his butler and asks, "'The devils also believe, and tremble,' huh? Do you tremble, too, Sebastian?"
Less than a fortnight later, Elizabeth finds the slaughtered, mangled body of her husband lying in Finnian's meticulously groomed rose garden. He is naked, his torso gaping open from top to bottom, and it looks as if a wild animal has been feasting on his innards. His hands and feet are just as butchered, missing several digits on each appendage, and his manhood has been viciously chewed off. The police at first think that a lucky pack of wolves had found him during a midnight stroll. Until, that is, they realize there is a very cleanly cut slit in his pale throat and that, despite the fact the rest of his face remains completely unscathed, he is missing his right eye.
The butler, Sebastian Michaelis, is also missing.