Title: Faerie Tales
Summary: Ciel hadn't always viewed Sebastian as his knight, but it was such a small, insignificant thing that finally managed to change his mind.
Author's Note: I had posed a mini-contest in Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, and Veleda was the one who won said contest. Veleda asked for a story that focused on Sebastian and Ciel: something set earlier in Ciel and Sebastian's partnership when each was still testing each other and feeling each other out. Hopefully, with this story, I was able to achieve something similar to what you were hoping for, Veleda. And thank you, also, for giving me something to occupy my time with for a while on my flight. *laughs* :) Enjoy!
The boy hadn't managed to sleep in a week.
There were black circles beneath his eyes, the skin bruised-looking and unnaturally dark compared to the unhealthy paleness that still remained as testimony to his unwanted captivity. The child was worn and obviously exhausted, and the demon who was currently referred to as Sebastian Michaelis tucked him into bed each and every night, expecting the lordling to finally be worn down enough to allow himself to sleep.
But each morning came with the butler stepping into the Master Bedroom, half-knowing already that too-jaded eyes would be awaiting his gaze once he had turned his attention towards the bed. Each and every morning for seven consecutive days, that expectation had been met: silently, the child would watch him go about his business, opening the bedroom's curtains and setting the tea service upon the table next to the bed. Still silent, the demon would next head into the wardrobe to retrieve the lordling's clothes for the day, waiting patiently—unnaturally so—for the boy to finally overcome his own instinctive flinching to allow the demon butler to ready him for the day's activities.
Things had seemed to have settled into a routine by the eighth night.
…but then Sebastian surprised the child by placing the candelabra onto the bedside table before gracefully settling himself into a chair in the corner of the room. Shadows seemed to envelope his elegant form and, from apparently out of thin air, the butler withdrew the estate's ledger to go over the accounts as he did each night.
Time stretched on, passed in moments—but, as he knew would happen, the boy eventually broke the standstill with the curiosity and subtle arrogance that his captors hadn't been able to beat out of him. "What are you doing?"
The darkness of the hour hid the demon's bemused smirk, though the face that he turned to the tiny lord was professionally blank, the practiced expression that those of the upper servant echelon managed to develop in order to protect their masters' secrets. It was an expression that he had learned from Tanaka, though the devil believed that he had managed to perfect it of any of the previous flaws that it had contained. Sparing the child just a small glance, Sebastian returned his attention back to the ledger to mark several of the inconsistencies that would require further investigation.
"You haven't been sleeping, bocchan," the demon answered idly, response as easy and as blasé as everything that he had managed to do in the week that the boy had known him. "I thought that, perhaps, you would be able to bring yourself to rest if I was here to look after your resting form."
To Sebastian's surprise, the child snorted derisively at the butler's words—ones that he believed would have soothed the anxious contractor, and the boy's eyes turned cynical as he continued to watch the other from over the edge of the thick, encompassing blankets that masked most of his huddled body.
"You might be in my current employ, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm any safer with you looking after me," the contractor said in reply, words too sharp for someone who was still a child in the eyes of many. His words were laden with distrust, blue eyes darkening further into shades of midnight as he continued to watch the demon he had formed a contract with. "You're a demon; it doesn't matter if you're contracted to me right now. Mum used to read me faerie tales and stories from the King's Bible. You and your kind always serve yourself first and foremost. There's no guarantee that I'd wake up if you were the one looking after me."
Pleased with the tartness that had answered his own concerns, a much more genuine smile toyed about the corner of Sebastian's mouth, and his head tilted slightly as he placed the ledger to the side so that he could give the child his full attention. "But why would I break a contract that I had originally put so much effort in creating?" he asked, curious to see what the lordling would say in this round.
"Why form a contract with a child in the first place?" the contractor shot back, eyes narrowing slightly as the tiny body curled further beneath the thick comforter that swathed himself.
"Why form a contract with a demon in the first place when your mother had read you those stories, mmm?" came the rebuttal from the black-cloaked man and, in a fit of bemused pique, primly crossed his legs—resting an elbow upon one knee so that he could cup his chin in the palm of a hand.
Just barely so, Sebastian could see Ciel wrinkle his nose at the devil's words. "I didn't exactly have a choice, you know. I cried out for help—and you were the only one who answered. Papa had always said that things came with a price. When I got taken, I had to learn just how true that was. You offered me help, and I accepted it because I already knew that it wouldn't come freely. Nothing ever does—nothing ever did, but I didn't see that before."
"Oh, come now. Don't be morose," the demon chided with a quiet laugh, lightly tapping a finger over the sharp curve of a cheekbone. "At least help did come; at least I did answer your call."
The boy's eyes turned suspicious, just as the demon knew that they would. "Why did you come, then? Why did you answer my call for help? You could have just as easily ignored it. So why did you come?"
A chuckle was the boy's answer and, this time, Sebastian tapped the full curve of his mouth with one gloved hand. "That, bocchan, is a secret."
Blue eyes turned shrewd then, and the lordling continued to eye his demon from the corner of his gaze. Sebastian knew that the other would eventually learn how to better control his expressions—it wouldn't do to constantly have that particular advantage for himself in the game that the two of them would dance for years to come—but, for now, the demon enjoyed the way that he was easily able to anticipate the other's responses. "What if I ordered you to tell me?"
The demon's trademark sly smirk was the child's answer to that, and the lordling already had an idea as to what the devil would be replying with. "Ah~ Even with an order, bocchan, I still wouldn't be able to tell you. Demon aesthetics, after all."
The boy scowled darkly at that, rolling over sullenly onto his opposite side. Shoulders hunched in, and the contractor dragged the blankets higher still so that the dark, fluffy down at the top of his head was the only part of him to show. "Go away," came the irritated huff. "You're aggravating tonight."
"As you wish, bocchan," Sebastian murmured in answer, finally easing himself up from the chair that he had commandeered; he tucked the estate's ledger back into the pocket in the inside of his vest, keeping it safe as he once more headed for the Master Bedroom's door. He gave a slight bow to the annoyed child still bundled up in bed (and still firmly presenting only his back to the demon that he was currently irritated with), and headed out so that he could roam the rest of the manor throughout the night—pointedly, though, Sebastian allowed himself to "forget" to bring the candelabra with him, leaving behind something to mutedly light the shadows that lingered threateningly in the corners of the boy's room.
Hours passed and silence seeped into the nooks and crannies of the Phantomhive household. It was nearly two in the morning, however, when Sebastian once more found himself in front of the doors to the Master Bedroom—he had been summoned back with a silent pulse of the contract that had been embedded in his contractor's right eye.
After stepping back into the rooms that only he had been allowed access to by the child himself, the demon couldn't stop himself from quirking an eyebrow in surprise as he caught sight of the thick book that had been placed on the desk next to the chair that he had previously occupied. Moving closer, the devil found himself entertained at the realization that the book was one of faerie tales—the collection of stories that the Grimms brothers had been assembling for years.
"I'm bored. Read to me until I fall asleep," came the muffled order from the middle of the bed, though the child still didn't deign to show himself to the (rather smug) butler.
"As you wish, bocchan," Sebastian murmured in answer, settling himself back in the seat that he had earlier made himself comfortable in. Paging to the table of contents, he found the story that he had always been bemused by and flipped idly to the start of that particular tale. Voice a low, lilting murmur, the demon began to read to the child that he currently found himself in the employ of, "Once upon a time, there was…"
When the blush of dawn began to slowly tint the horizon a pale and virginal rose, the demon glanced over at the form of his charge, giving a small, pleased smile at the sight of the covers moving up and down steadily, the quiet breathing of the child the only sound in the silence of the bedroom.
Ciel Phantomhive had allowed himself to fall asleep.