All characters © Toboso Yana
Summary: At the Phantomhive's doorstep, two individuals discuss humanity: one who understands it perfectly and one who mocks it.
Author's note: it was really difficult writing for Lizzy. She hasn't really been developed by Toboso-sensei yet, and most of the fanbase hates her because she interrupts the yaoi canon. But I like to think she's a fascinating character...
The silk tassels hanging from her drapes could only entertain her for so long. Elizabeth Middleford soon gave up on batting them around and blew her breath out in a sigh. It was unheard under the burbles of thunder and the mild patter of rain outside.
Well, this was depressing. What a day to get your first period.
Elizabeth played idly with a curl. Auntie Angelina had told her that menstruation was not a disease, as most people seemed to think it was nowadays. Sure, it wasn't fun, but it didn't mean she was sick, as her physician had stated. Rather, she had finally come of age. All women had it.
It quite a strange sensation, though. Elizabeth fidgeted and smoothed out her dress, antsy. How did Auntie Angelina put up with this every month? Or her mother, for that matter?
Elizabeth had been instructed to stay in bed, but apart from the heaviness in her nether regions and feeling slightly logy, she was fine.
Well... not entirely. She felt lonely and downright depressed, more so than she had in a while.
Paula was off in town. Elizabeth supposed she could call upon Samantha, Bridget, or any of her other girlfriends to entertain her, but they were only good for laughs. Their mothers insisted they sit around, play the piano, and talk with tea and biscuits and their pinkies extended, all in all which was quite boring. She wanted to horseback ride in the thunder, or at least dress up those adorable servants over at her cousin's manor.
Her friends were all fine and dandy, but Elizabeth realized then, in that room where the droplets of rain smeared down the window panes and the thunder belched like a gavel, that she didn't really have anyone she could relate to. It was probably those emotions from her menstruation talking, as Auntie Angelina had warned her of, but it put a frown on her face and weighed down her limbs nonetheless. Her mother could provide company, perhaps, but even the most obedient of girls would find it appalling to have their mothers as their best friends. It wasn't like Ciel was any better, she decided with a crease in her brow. He listened, he cared, but he didn't really care. Even a buffoon could see that.
So why was Elizabeth putting on her coat to go see him, you ask?
She didn't quite know the answer to that; she only knew that she had to get out of this house, away from that loathsome pitter of rain and thunder which covered grief and muffled lies.
"The young master is occupied in his study at the moment with some very important papers," was all Mr. Sebastian had to say to her as she stood in a light evening jacket, shivering in the Phantomhive's opulent doorway. The moon behind her bled like a drop of milk on blue velvet, and minute beads of rain quivered precariously at the ends of her pigtails.
Elizabeth resisted the urge to whine; a vestige of her childhood that had somehow permanently integrated itself into her adult speaking voice. "Well, can't he—" she stopped suddenly, just then noticing the way Mr. Sebastian's eyes had narrowed to slits and the way he was scrutinizing her under an unreadable glare. "—is, um, something wrong, Mr. Sebastian?"
"Are you quite well, lady Elizabeth?" he asked her.
She blinked and nodded, blonde curls bobbing up and down in double nods of their own. Droplets of water fell from them as she did so. "Yes. Why do you ask?"
Mr. Sebastian tilted his head to the side as if musing upon something he almost understood but whose concept he hadn't quite grasped. "I smell blood," he observed dismissively. Elizabeth blushed to the roots of her hair and looked down at her shined shoes. Mr. Sebastian seemed to read her humiliation, somehow, and mercifully decided to direct the subject into less awkward matters.
"Now I'm afraid the young master is busy at this time," he continued. "Perhaps if you come back tomorrow."
Elizabeth clasped her hands in front of her and gave the butler an earnest stare. She really didn't want to go home, as she knew she'd be even more depressed than before. It was a dreary day, she had her first menstrual period, and damned if she was going to march all the way back to the Middleford estate. "Please, Mr. Sebastian?" she protested, "I know Ciel's busy, but I wasn't feeling like myself and was hoping that he could cheer me up."
Mr. Sebastian was usually a nice man, but Elizabeth suddenly felt apprehensive at the way his smile curled up like onion peels. His normally polite smile now looked a trifle insidious. "Now lady Elizabeth, isn't that selfish of you?"
She had always admired Mr. Sebastian. The man was astoundingly good-looking; slim, pale, and perfect in his meticulously ironed suit. He adhered to proper decorum at all times, never missing a beat and always setting an example for how the paragon gentleman should act. Elizabeth had never really considered that he could be anything other than mild-mannered, but then again she had always had her attention focused on Ciel. Mr. Sebastian was just a butler.
"What do you mean?"
"You come here to interrupt the young master with your problems," Mr. Sebastian said with a faint smile, "but have you ever considered that the young master may have problems of his own?"
Of course she had. God knew Ciel had problems. For almost a year he had dropped off the face of existence, only to come back a little pallid, a little thin, and a little quiet...She hadn't asked where he had been and he had never shared. Auntie Angelina had told her she suspected it to have been something along the lines of child prostitution, and Elizabeth assumed that Ciel would talk about it when he was ready. Elizabeth could only imagine what it was like to lose both of your parents, go through that, and then have to singlehandedly run their estate at the age of eleven. To say Ciel had issues would have been an understatement.
The rain fell against the gravel driveway, and to her it seemed to be whispering but, but, but...
"It's supposed to be a husband's duty to console his wife when she's in distress," she told him surely. "Of course I'm going to seek his companionship when I'm sad. It's only human, you know."
This seemed to strike Mr. Sebastian as amusing. "Only human, huh?" he asked, eyes crinkling up mildly at the corners. "And as a human do you find it more satisfying if you cling to others?" He seemed genuinely curious, but also quite humored, Elizabeth noted. She wasn't very good at reading people nor was she particularly sensitive, but she could have sworn she detected a mocking tincture to his voice.
She dipped her head in an eager nod. "Why do you think we marry and have families?" she asked. "Don't you feel better when you have someone to hug you and tell you it'll be alright? Or even someone who will just listen to what you have to say? Loneliness can be quite a burden, so that's why I try to visit here when I can so Ciel won't get lonely!" Elizabeth beamed so sunnily that she half expected the storm clouds outside to dry up and the rain to stop.
But, but, but...
As Mr. Sebastian pondered for a moment, absently fingering his cuff link, Elizabeth wondered if she had ever noticed before how she had never once seen him blink.
"Hm, no, I do not think I've found it more satisfying," he answered finally. "Human nature lacks independence."
Elizabeth burst out laughing; she couldn't help it. Mr. Sebastian's pencil-thin eyebrows rose in an expression of genuine surprise at her reaction, which only made her laugh harder. "Lady Elizabeth?"
"Mr. Sebastian, you're a riot!" she giggled, wiping the corners of her eyes. "That's not what a butler is supposed to say! What would Ciel think if he heard someone of the most obsequious profession in the world talking about independence?"
Mr. Sebastian responded with a smile, perhaps realizing then that this was the first intelligent conversation he'd had with Elizabeth Middleford since she was eleven. They stood now, the two of them at the Phantomhive's doorstep, discussing humanity under a heavy sky; she who understood it perfectly and he who mocked it.
Lady Elizabeth was certainly more interesting than she looked for a human. She had grown up in the past two years, and not only because of the blood Sebastian smelled around her nether regions. Her ebullience and antics would have made her mistaken for a simpleton on a first glance, but it was these traits that also made her indomitable. Then again, the longer Sebastian stayed here the more he was coming to terms with the fact that far more humans were never as they appeared. Now that survival was no longer a main priority and more luxury could be afforded, the humans had more time with their minds to develop them into something more. The new century had certainly spit out some interesting brands of homo sapiens. His master included.
He was choosing what words to utter next when someone behind the door said faintly, "Good evening, Lady Elizabeth."
"Ah!" Elizabeth peered into the manor. "Grandpa Tanaka!"
Before his bouts of senility consumed him, he had used to make her and Ciel sugar biscuits when they were barely older than toddlers. Although Mr. Sebastian was nice, it was Grandpa Tanaka who made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. There was something about an old person's smile that just made everything all right.
The elderly Japanese steward sipped his chai slowly and frowned. "Let the poor girl in, Sebastian. She's freezing."
The other servants looked up to Mr. Sebastian, Elizabeth knew, but Grandpa Tanaka had been around for much longer. This was seen as Mr. Sebastian placed a hand over his middle and bowed, holding open the door.