A/N: This is dedicated to Hitomi-ChanChan, who gave me the adorable idea of Boy-Princess!Ciel.
The-Basic-Disclaimer: I do not own Ciel, Sebastian, Rachel, Vincent, the Triplets, Tanaka, Kuroshitsuji in general, etc.
But, I do own Arlen and Anthony. I enjoy making people up as I go along. ; )
This can also be found in 'Impetuous Meetings, Chapter Four; Princess and Servant'.
It seemed so long ago, like such a far off dream, that all this began.
He didn't want to forget any of it- all of the chaos and lies that had shaped him into what stood before the Knight today. Everything and everyone had played some part in the trechery that pushed him here, and he wanted to make sure he never lost sight of that undeniable truth.
He wanted to look back on those stolen moments with fondness, remember the warmth that he invoked, a warmth he had never experienced until they crossed paths.
But their paths were winding and unsteady, and he knew that better than anyone. Which made him want to treasure it all the more, before he lost sight of it all.
The summer season had settled upon the flourishing kingdom with a crash and a gentle breeze. The mornings seemed to come far too quickly, the nights too short to fall into a peaceful sleep before the blazing sun was already peeking it's way over the window ledges, the tavern rum a bit too sweet to resist. The villagers had become too loud and joyous for their own good as the season progressed, treating each day as a party favour.
"Good morning, My Lady," The door opened, swiftly closing behind the older mans enterance. The lump of bedsheets squiggled slightly, huffing, but maked no move to get out of it's warm cocoon of silk and wool. "You don't have to call me that, Tanaka- it's just us."
"But isn't it only proper?" The servant questioned lightly, moving to draw back the curtains. The lump seemed to shrink back from the invasion of unwanted light before answering in a slight quiver, a voice only Tanaka had heard from the young Heir, "...You know I hate that title."
"Come now, Ciel, it's long past time to get up. The family is expecting you at breakfast." The young boy beneath the covers sighed, groggily sitting up and pushing at his disheviled fringe. As he gathered his barings (he never was a morning person), Tanaka drew two long dresses from the mahogany wardrobe, one flowing with all things lace and pink, the other simple in it's beige and purple design. "What shall the young lord wear today?"
"Why do I get the feeling you enjoy this? Crazy old man..." Tanaka waved him off with a gloved hand, laughter tinkling with an aged 'ho..ho..ho..'. "Enjoy your pain? Never, my young lord. But I do share the pain of keeping you in your role."
Ciel rested his temple on his drawn knees, looking gaunt and uncaring. His cheeks had slowly lost their natural glow over the course of time, and his frame appeared more bony than Tanaka had ever seen him- he worried the boy was falling dealthy ill.
After a long pause, Ciel answered without lifting his head, "...the pink one."
"Very well, my lord."
"Ah, there you are, Ciel. What ever took you so long?"
Ciel descended the stone steps slowly, one inch at a time, careful not to slip on the pointed heels of his shoes. His hair was long now, flowing behind him resentfully in two tails of slate-gray curls. His lips were twisted into a discontended frown, frosted with pink; his voice was that of tinkling bells. "Pardon, father. I hadn't slept well."
His father brushed him off, turning back to his mother next to him at the grand table. They spoke in hushed whispers, but Ciel cared not to know what they spoke of. Ciel slid into his usual seat further down the golden table, smoothing out his skirts methodically as he did so. Glancing around the table, Ciel half-heartedly noted that his brother was not yet present.
Ciel was handing his goblet to a nearby servant sporting a water pitcher under his arm when Arlen finally bounded down the stairs, the pure epotime of happiness. His blue eyes, so like Ciel's, were alight with the joy of a new morning and his lips were lifted upwards in a grin.
"Arlen! We thought you'd disappeared, boy! Try to be on time, will you?" Their father gave his most dazzling smile, ruffling up the youngest Heir's already mussed golden hair as said child took his designated seat further down the table, right by the head of the table and further from his sister than he wished. But rules were rules.
Arlen nodded slightly, letting his fathers good humour pass over his head as his eyes settled on Ciel, melancholically sipping from his goblet, his eyes looking through what was sat before him as though translucent. "Mornin' Celly!"
"Ah, good morning, Arlen. Sleep well, I presume?" Ciel allowed himself a small smile, a slight curve of the edge of his lip, as he regarded his younger sibling warmly. Arlen nodded energetically, his locks waving in disarry around his face.
"Yup! And you, big sis?" Ciel turned away, steely blue gaze back on the golden cup in his delicately gloved hand. "Well enough, I suppose."
The mindless breakfast chatter continued, Ciel slowly joining less and less in the mundane gossip spread from the castle town and the thriving politics of nearby lands as well as their own. Eventually, the courses were brought and the tinkling of cutlery replaced the speech, save for his father's bursting laughter. Ciel idly wondered if his father had always been like that, boisterous and fake.
"So, is Mr. Michaelis going to be Arlen's tutor?" Rachel asked slowly, her tone insinuating that she already knew the answer and was simply looking for something to boast of while the servants were in earshot. "Yes, for swordsman ship. Our dear friend Tanaka is getting a bit too old for such daunting tasks, I'm afraid." Tanaka bowed in Vincent's direction when he looked his way, showing no hard feelings were present.
"Swordsman ship?" Arlen asked innocently, blond brows furrowing. Ciel scoffed at the notion of Mr. Tanaka being too old. Hardly. "Yes, a new Knight was sworn to our Family yesterday," Vincent smiled down at the confused little Prince, "His name is Sebastian and he'll be teaching you to use a sword. He's a very good swordsman~"
The rest of the meal was spent listening to Vincent boast of his new pawn, and Ciel listened in earnest for a short while, but quickly grew tired hearing of this 'Sebastian'.
With a sigh, Ciel stood from the gilded table with a slight incline of his head towards his father and mother at the table's head, annoucing that he was going for a stroll through the back gardens. Arlen was at the ready to attend his big 'sisters' side, but his father had other plans.
"Now Arlen, you know that after breakfast you have your studies- and starting today, after that, you'll be attending lessons with Mr. Michaelis. You can play with your sister at a later time," Vincent placed his elbows on the table in a moment of dropped ettiquet, lacing the gloved fingers and resting his chin on them. His hazel eyes flashed a turbulence of emotion behind their lowered lashes as the word 'sister' tumbled from his lips. So much history and secrecy behind such a small, two syllable word...
"Ah, right. Sorry, father." Arlen sat back down, staring at his half empty white-and-gold plate forlornly. Ciel watched sadly, offering no word of comfort to his misty eyed brother. It was best if he kept his peace and didn't give the boy any false hope; he was damned the moment word had spread of the Queen's gift of a second child, a son to lead the land.
Ciel exited the room swiftly and silently, pink skirts rushing about him as he did so. As the clicking of his heels drifted further and further away from the dining hall, Tanaka bowed to the Family and the other lesser servants, a sad twitch to his smile as he left after the 'girl'.
One of the three triplets standing by the back corner watched the two leave, muttering to his dopplegangers, "I wonder what's wrong with Princess Ciel- she's had such a horrible temperment as of late..."
The other two nodded, watching the retreating figures disappear around the bend of the hall solemly.
"Is it a blessing or a curse that I managed to escape that?" Ciel stomped down the tile walkway of the back gardens, Tanaka ever faithfully following. The sun was at it's zenith, washing everything in the garden with a gold glow. The flowers were an array of colours, an endless sea of spectrum, waving to the young Lady -Lord- as she passed.
"Esacped what, My Lady?" Tanaka tenderly stooped, plucking a frail pink flower from it's bretheren as Ciel paused in the shade of one of the castle pillars. "Them.. that-that life!" Ciel stumbled over his words, sweet tenor dropping a few octaves in their privacy.
The young heir may have had trouble expressing his dislike, but Tanaka could read him well enough to piece it all together on his own. Ciel hated how deprived his younger brother was, how any true chance at living was stripped away in favour of the crown he was to someday bear. Ciel was angry, because he should have been the one to suffer. He was the first born son; Arlen should be free to do as he pleased, enjoy his life.
But instead Ciel was forced to hide in frills and lace while his brother payed the price with his freedom.
Tanaka sympathized with both young heirs, but at this point, hope for change was lost. Both furtures were set in stone. "Ciel, you know as well as I do that there is nothing to be done," Tanaka's tone was soft, like that of one speaking to a freightened child. Gently, he tucked the dying flower behind Ciel's left ear, partially covered by his slate tresses. Immediately, the young boy in disguise removed the flower and began to twirl it between his fingers absent mindedly.
"So you say..." Tanaka knew where Ciel's train of thought was taking him, and there was a cliff where it was going; best to stop him now before the infamous cogwheels of his mind turned one too many times. "Now now, no more talk of this. Perhaps a ride into town will take your mind off of things, hmm?"
"A trip into town- is that your solution to everything?" Though the wording seemed rude, his tone held no malice, and he even offered the grandfatherly butler a gentle smile, a rarity and a pleasure for all on the recieving end of his grace.
"I'll go ready the carrige while you change into something less boisterous." Tanaka bent at the waist, showing his respects, before marching off in the direction of the stable before Ciel could make a witty remark.
Ciel would never defy Tanaka, that was simply a fact. Whereas his parents had simply cast him aside to the servants after his disappointment of a birth, Tanaka had scarcely left his side in the past 16 years. His love for the family and it's servants went beyond simple duty, and Ciel was terrified to loose him, though he's never voiced the sentiment aloud.
As instructed, Ciel returned to his quarters, albeit at a lesurily pace Tanaka would surely complain of in jest. Once changed into simple dark trousers and a laced blouse, he scoffed at his reflection, ever a source of his disdain. His hair remained long, the tresses gathered at the nape of his fair neck, face powdered like any lady of the crown.
His fringe hid half his face from view, shielding it away from the world with it's slated tresses. He had an impulse to brush the strands away, to tear away the cloth, to banish the smoke and mirrors his father and mother had set around him. But it would do no good. He was stuck in this hell, and he loathed every breath he took. Presenting himself as he truly was now would do no good, and the price would be too steep.
Head bent, Ciel sprinted down the marble hallway, careful not to trip over the heels of his dark boots. Best not to think of it, not now.
There was a shortcut to the back gates through the training yard, a large arena-like place that was used for the sole purpose of the sworn family Knights. Surrounded by pillars and dull marble walls, the floor was tiled and scuffed with scars of past fights the Knights engaged in. It was ten thirty, meaning no one should be around the training yard right now. And even if they were, his -her- appearence would matter little. They would simply drop to their knees, heads bent, and mutter something about their allegence to the Phantomhive family or other short quips of loyalty. Pathetic, in Ciel's opinion.
Ciel maneuvered through the familiar marble hallways, quickly coming upon the training rooms' grargantuous wooden doors. The tapestry bearing the family crest that hung upon the door fluttered as he yanked the heavy wood forward, but didn't open it much more than a few inches before he discovered that he had been wrong; the room was in use.
He froze as the realization dawned on him, but it wasn't the fact that he was wrong that paused him so much as the fact that he couldn't idenify one of them, and he was the one winning, it appeared.
Two Knights stood poised, swords drawn against one another on opposite ends of the room, meters apart. Both held their swords up high, gleaming silver and glory in the light supplied by the grand high windows, pointed in their opponets direction. It seemed that they had been working at this for a while, both drenched with persperation, their uniforms clinging slightly to each movement and shift.
Ciel glanced at the blond man standing off to his right, a bloodied line racing down his earth beaten forehead, knowing him to be Anthony. He'd spoken to the Knight many times before, and had always been impressed by his swordsmanship, but it appeared as though he was losing this friendly battle, and Ciel did not like that, that this stranger was winning against him.
To his left stood a stranger, clad in the Phantomhive Knight uniform worn by all in their line of duty. Ciel was positive he'd never seen him before; his hair was so dark it appeared more like shadows than blackened strands, with brown eyes that flashed a smoldering claret when the light rebounded just right. Ciel vaguely remembered his father talking about a new Knight, and idly wondered if this was the famed Sebastian...
They dove for one another, both stepping at the same time and thrusting their swords forward. The two thick strips of metal clashed, pushing against one another, as the two attempted to get the better footing and push the other back. Sebastian eventually won, side stepping just so to get the perfect leverage and send Anthony wheeling. The blond managed to regain his footing just enough to dodge contact with the other man's sword, attempting his own attack. Just as before, it was blocked and Anthony was sent backwards, this time his footing too frail to support him.
He landed on his back, sword clattering to the tile beside him. He groaned at the impact, shifting to sit up right and give the other man a friendly smile. Anthony was too kind to hold a grudge, but he would surely be asking for a rematch once that wound above his eye healed over. The two exchanged a few words, and the dark haired man helped Anthony to his feet.
"He beat Anthony..." Ciel found himself whispering. The aspect in itself was ludicris; Anthony was the best, he was the Captain of their Knights! No one beat Anthony, that was a fact, simply accepted by all. But... this man just did.
"They weren't joking when they said you were one of the best, eh?" Anthony laughed light heartedly, brushing something off his shoulder. The other man smiled humbly but said nothing. "I best be off, but feel free to stay here as long as ya want. Everyone reports here around eleven every morning, alright?"
Once Anthony took his leave, the dark haired man wandered over to the table that held the water, and Ciel decided to show himself. What on earth was he hiding for in the first place? Catiously, he stepped around the doors' wooden frame, gliding into the room almost silently, but he was still heard.
The taller male turned to face the small 'girl' that entered, looking none too surprised. Had he known he was at the door? "Are you Sebastian?"
The man smiled knowingly, bowing gracefully in Ciel's direction. "Sebastian Michaelis, at your service, M'Lady. And you must be Princess Ciel."
Ciel shifted on his booted feet, feeling the long faux tresses brush his shoulder blades as he moved. "How could you tell?" He drawled uninterestedly. Sebastian's smile stretched into a smirk, calm and cruel. "You look just like your father-"
"It was a fluke." Sebastian looked taken aback at being cut off, but didn't speak against him for doing so. "Pardon?" He questioned lightly, looking amused.
"You beating Anthony, it was a fluke," Ciel snapped, leveling a glare at the new Knight. Sebastian still didn't appear surprised, and Ciel made it his goal then and there to find a way to catch him off guard at some point, to wipe that damn smile off his face.
"Maybe so," Sebastian answered breezily, stance cocky, smile self-assured. Ciel felt something in his stomach flip, and decided he'd wipe that smile off his face now and just be done with it. With a flourish, the young heir pulled one of the training swords off their stand and held the point to Sebastian's throat.
There it was, the expression Ciel had been looking for. The slight arching of his dark brows, his smirk diminishing ever so slightly. Ciel delighted in the expression, and his stomach flipped once more.
"Well?" The younger prodded, smirk playing about his lips. Sebastian grinned in return, proffering a hand. "One moment, My Lady." Swiftly, the dark haired man retrieved his sword from where he had laid it at rest and twirled it between his fingers with practiced grace. Ciel's face remained impassive, but Sebastian could sense a smirk below the sugar-frosted surface of her -his- pout.
The two remained at an unspoken stalemate, both swords raised and glimmering. Neither dared to breath the tense air, both waiting for the other to make the first move. In the end, Ciel was the first to strike; breaking the fallen silence, the young Heir dived forward, pointed tip aimed for Sebastians guarded torso. As expected, Sebastian held his weapon outwards, matching Ciels move and even managing to push him back by the slightest bit. The metal clashed, echoing in the youngers ears proudly. Ciel dropped down to rest his weight on his ankles, sweeping his free leg in an arc and toppling Sebastian backwards as his foot hooked on the back of the elders boot.
"That's cheating," Sebastian informed, looking up at Ciel with a forced grin. Ciel gave a grin of his own, loving the rush he got from towering over the dark haired man. "I don't believe we distinguished any rules of conduct for this ruction," Ciel retorted smugly.
"Fine then," Sebastian lifted himself to his feet with a theatrical grunt of effort, "anything goes. Best two out of three wins?" He raised his sword once more, subtly aligning it with Ciel's pale neck and giving his cocky smile once more. "As you wish," Confident in his teachings, Ciel did the same, twirling his sword into position with a flourish.
Once more, the duo dived for one another, swords raised and faces skewed in concentration. Their swords met, kissing above the hilt, then drew apart with a sharp, clanging echo as their owners attempted to reset their footing. Sebastian struck first, sliding his sword in an arc and bringing it down above Ciel's head. Ciel blocked, but not without a tax on his strength. They may have been matched in tactics, but Sebastian out ranked him by far when it came to strength. He could feel his knees beg to buckle under the exertion.
Half-heartedly, Ciel threw him off, sending the man back a few paces. While the young Heir was busy trying to keep on his feet, Sebastian directed his sword under Ciel's defending one to press against his torso with practiced ease. There was no malice to the movement; it was almost teasing.
Sebastian's grin was alight, vexing and full of mockery.
"My point," the two stood still, each watching the other warily. Sebastian, wondering if he had offended the Princess, and Ciel, wondering the meaning of such a pitiful win. Was he refraining from truly attacking him? If so, then that just wouldn't do. It was like an indirect snub to waste his time with idle play.
"Last round," Ciel reminded, fixing his stance. He narrowed his eyes, meeting Sebastian's claret-like ones with a pointed stare holding more meaning than anything he had uttered to the man so far, "give it your all."
With that, the disguised Prince rushed forward, throwing all his strength into a single blow to push Sebastian out of his defending stance. Sebastian took Ciel's statement as a challenge, and refused to fall. He slid backwards, pushed by the force, but his footing remained steady. Ciel caught him grinning over the sharpened edge of his sword as he swung right, but managed to block it all the same.
That smirk... there was nothing Ciel wanted more than to wipe that smirk from the mans face completely. How dare he enter the Royal Household, Ciel's household, with such arrogance?
Though, Ciel begrudgingly admitted to himself that he commened the mans gall.
The two simply swung at each other for a while, each attack blocked and neither making progress. Ciel was finally feeling the effects, forehead beading in sweat and knees weakening with each step, and knew the fight would be ended soon. Sebastian was looking a little worse for wear as well, and Ciel silently reveled in it.
As quick as Ciel had, Sebastian dropped down to rest his weight on one ankle, sweeping one behind Ciel's heels and sending him spiraling to the floor. His sword clattered somewhere behind him, and he felt an unpegged annoyance take root in his nervous system as he silently regarded Sebastian. He hadn't moved from his couchant position, one leg still extended dangerously, but he had set his sword down beside him.
Both sat frozen, starring at one another as their ragged breaths slowly recceded to normal and the spar-induced haze lifted. Sebastian's eyes appeared a brighter red than before as they flickered over Ciel's agogus features.
"I thought you said that was cheating?" Ciel muttered, tone flat and expression deadpan.
Sebastian shrugged, lowering himself into a more comfortable position on the tiled floor. His eyes never left Ciel's. "Anything goes."
A long pause followed Sebastian's statement, and Ciel knew he needed to elegantly make his leave. "You fight well, Mister Michaelis." Ciel rose to his shakey feet, swiping at his clothing and attempting to make himself appear somewhat presentable. Surely Tanaka would inquire what on earth he'd been doing all this time...
"As do you, My Lord."
The world froze, Ciel's nerves running cold. A thrill ran down his spine as Sebatsian's statement fully sunk in. His hand paused in it's ministrations for the slightest second, breath clogging his lungs with too much oxygen. "Pardon?"
Sebastian stood, retrieving water from the pitcher with a devil-may-care grin. "Ah, pardon me, My Lady. Old habit."
"Yes, of course... I-I must be going. Have a nice day, Sebastian."
Ciel could feel Sebastian's wrongly-coloured eyes follow him out of the room into the back courtyard towards the carrige awaiting him at the gates, but refused to turn around and meet his gaze.
For some reason, Ciel didn't believe him.
A/N: Comments, questions, predictions, random facts of the day? Feel free to post 'em in a review. ; )