"TWO AND A HALF BLOODY WEEKS? WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU DOING?"
I'm kinda expecting that kind of reaction from you guys so yeah... ^^'' I'M SOSOSOSO SORRY!
Okay. To avoid annoying you guys, I'll continue my rant at the end of the chapter. but be warned: I suck at writing final chapters more than in normal chapters. kindly brace yourselves for disappointment.
The first place Rune went to was her brother-in-law's house.
House wouldn't exactly describe Lord Matthew's residence, actually. It wasn't as huge in size as Whitefield Mansion, but it was still a big place.
Sebastian parked the carriage somewhere nearby and Rune got out, rubbing her butt that was beginning to feel sore despite the fact that they had only been sitting in the bloody cramped up "box with wheels" – as Rune would put it – for ten minutes or so.
"Damn.." she groaned and thought to herself. "I'm getting out of shape these few days.."
Ciel did his job of leading his mistress to the front door and making sure she did not trip on anything or do anything heroic like that.
Everything went well enough. Rune managed to make it to the porch with the least amount of cussing used. She stood there and smoothed out her clothes, then she stretched her hand out to feel for the knocker.
Rune's hand had barely touched the brass handle when the door swung open and a man almost rammed onto her.
"I'm so sorry!" the both of them said at the same time, completely informal.
"..eh?" Rune blinked. She recognized that voice. "Lord Matthew?"
"..Lady Rune?" Matthew's feigned surprise in his tone. "Is something..?"
"No, no it's nothing that important, actually," Rune said, shaking her head so much that the two men was afraid that it would fall off. "I just came for a visit. I'm not disturbing you, I hope?"
"Well," the Marquis huffed. "I was just about to visit town square for some shopping, actually." He broke into a grin. "But I'm sure that can wait."
Rune sensed the mood and smiled back. "Still, I apologize."
"It's alright," Matthew's grin faded when he noticed the unfocused gaze of his late wife's sister. "Lady Rune.. are you..?"
"Can we talk about that inside?" Rune cut in, quite forgetting her manners. Then again, who would be sane enough to stand and talk in the cold? "I'm sorry, but it's freezing out here."
In five minutes, Rune was seated across her brother-in-law, telling him about what had happened so far as briefly as possible. Ciel and Sebastian (who, was asked to join them later on) stood behind the girl, listening to her half-assed story that clearly did not explain majority of the events that had passed.
"so…" Matthew knitted his eyebrows as he tried to process Rune's ridiculous story. "Her Majesty the Queen ordered you on mission after mission without letting you rest. And that's how you got those wounds?"
Rune nodded, struggling to keep a straight face.
"What about your eyes then?"
"..!" Rune ran out of ideas. How could she explain about her loss of sight without telling him the whole truth?
"I.. uh.." she panicked.
"My apologies for being rude, but the Young Mistress prefers not to bring up the subject about her eyes," Sebastian said in a smooth tone, owning grateful look from Rune. "It's rather.. ah, traumatic for her to recall what happened that day."
That couldn't exactly be counted as a lie. It wasn't that traumatic or anything, but Rune did loathe the very day when Ciel was made ruler of hell. She could still see the triumph smirk on Lucifer's face when he won. Oh, how she wanted to smack him in the face just thinking about it.
"..I see.." Matthew's tone indicated he didn't 'see' at all, but it also showed that he'd decided not to go deeper into the subject. "It must have been hard for you."
Rune shrugged. "My life has always been hard," she stated matter-of-factly. "Anyway," she tried changing the subject. "How is everything going with you, Lord Matthew?"
Silence. Matthew heaved a sigh. "..I'm fine now. But when I first lost Helen.." he said, sadness slightly tinting his smile. "..my life was a mess."
Rune nodded. She knew how he felt. Her sister's death had indeed left a great impact on their lives – hers and her brother-in-law's.
"My company sales took a dive. I was in countless debts," Matthew was getting worked up now. "I had to work late every night to think of this and that. I was lacking sleep. My health was crumbling." He paused and took in a breath, before reaching out to gently ruffle Rune's hair. "But.. I thought of you one day. It came to me that you, Helen's only sister, were left alone after she died. It was like losing your family all over again. Your despair must have been greater than my own. But somehow, I knew that Rune Whitefield would not surrender hope. She would move on even if it kills her." Matthew smiled. "And that had been my motivation to work harder and overcome my troubles. For the sake of my late wife and her sister."
Rune had no idea why, but color rose to her cheeks. She'd never been told something like that before, and she could very well say that she was moved by those words.
"..Lord Matthew.." Rune said, lifting his hand from her head. "Thank you for not losing hope." She gave it a slight squeeze and stood up. "Thank you loving my sister and always thinking about her. And thank you.. for everything." She turned. "I'll be taking my leave now."
"Have a safe trip home, alright?"
Rune glanced over her shoulder, a smile gracing her features. "I will."
Marquis Collins stood watching his sister-in-law stride to the door, wondering why had that conversation seem so final, as if he wasn't going to see her ever again.
"..You alright?" Ciel asked as he helped Rune up the carriage. Rune sank on the passenger's seat and took in a shaky breath.
"Yeah," she managed. "Anyway, what time is it?"
Ciel checked his pocketwatch. "Three in the afternoon."
"Good," Rune grinned. "There's still time."
Before Ciel could finish his sentence, Rune yelled; "Sebastian! Could you bring us to Middleford residence?"
"Understood," Sebastian's voice was muffled from the sounds of the bustling traffic outside, but Rune could make out that much. Rune could feel Ciel staring at her.
"What?" she asked.
Ciel averted his gaze. "Nothing."
They rode the rest of the way there in silence. Ciel kept his gaze focused outside the window, watching the hustle and bustle of the town centre come and go as Sebastian drove their carriage to the home of Ciel's ex-fiancé.
Ciel had a fiancé with the name of Elizabeth Ethel Cordelia Middleford – also known as Lizzy. They were cousins and were betrothed by their parents when they were young. Lizzie had curly blonde hair, lively emerald orbs, and a bright smile. She had a fetish of making everything 'cute' though they always end up looking preposterous. Ciel had accidentally bumped into her after four years of absence during the royal ball where Rune was attending. That was when he was in disguise. The second time, he wasn't as lucky. They had visited Phantomhive Manor thinking that only the servants were there. Ciel certainly did not expect to see the blonde girl there of all places.
All those memories had slowly returned to Ciel over the past few days of listening to Sebastian talk and talk during nighttime under the orders of Rune. He remembered the times he and Lizzy spent together during their childhood. He remembered how she had hugged the breath out of him when he came back after his nightmare of a month. He remembered her sad smile when they were parting ways in their last reunion.
Strange. Ciel couldn't remember the reason on why she'd look so.
Before he could decide whether or not to set his train of thoughts on the matter, the carriage came to a stop. The door opened and Sebastian offered his hand to Rune. Rune took the offer and with his help, supported herself as she carefully climbed out.
"Stop!" A man's voice sounded. Rune realized Sebastian had stopped the carriage outside the gates and it was one of the guards telling them to stop. Funny. They'd practically just waltzed into Lord Matthew's home. Maybe the guards there were sleeping or something, Rune thought.
"We're here to see Lady Elizabeth," the russet-haired adolescent told the guard. The uniformed man raised an eyebrow in suspicion.
"Lady Elizabeth is a busy person," he said, eyeing the three of them.
"We're just going to talk to her for a short while," Rune said. "It's important."
"And why is it so, if I may ask?"
"A dying wish," Rune replied straightforwardly. It wasn't a lie anyway. The man glared at her, his confusion clear as day on his face. Reluctantly, he nodded and asked, "Your names please?"
"Rune," Rune said. "Rune Whitefield."
The guard stared at her like she was a ghost (which, was something Rune would pay money to see) and disappeared into the building. He returned several minutes later, breathless and panting. He took in an extra big breath and straightened up. "Please follow me."
They did. A maid took over as soon as they entered. Ciel couldn't help admiring the interiors of Lizzy's home as they walked in the hallways. The walls were painted creamy white and decorated with framed pictures at certain intervals. Intricate designs were carved on the cherrywood doors. Ciel had only been to Elizabeth's home a few times, and that was when he was still a little boy that had yet to experience a twist in his life – or at least that was what he remembered.
The sounds of metal clanking against metal got louder as they walked. Swords. Judging from the intensity of it, Rune could tell that those in combat were professionals. The maid held out her hand and knocked, and the sounds stopped.
"Come in," a voice called from behind the door. The maid twisted the doorknob, pushed, and stepped aside.
"Umm.." Rune mumbled. "Sorry for distur-"
Before anyone could even register what was going on, a flash of blonde hair and white clothes tackled Ciel and almost squeezed the life out of him.
"It's been so long!" Elizabeth squealed. She gave the young demon one more squeeze before deciding to let go and move on to give Rune a hug. All Sebastian got was a nod and smiled.
"So.. what brought all of you here?" she asked once she calmed down.
"Err.. we happened to pass by this area while going somewhere," Rune tried not to stammer on her lie. "And Ciel said you lived nearby. So we figured to just.. you know."
"Oh." Lizzy's smile dimmed when she noticed Rune's new visible scars and blank eyes. She silently motioned for the person she was just fencing with to leave.
"Rune.. what happened?" she asked when they had their privacy.
"A lot of things, to be honest," Rune replied.
Rune nodded. Not much later, she ended up telling Elizabeth about everything; from her days of slavery to the day where she'd formed a contract with two demons and so on. For some reason, Rune couldn't stop once she started – she needed someone to listen or she was going to break down. She didn't know why, but she felt that Lizzy was the best and only person she could spill everything to.
Lizzy listened intently without making any comments. Rune couldn't see, but she could somehow tell that the blonde was talking it all calmly enough. Elizabeth might have been childish in the past, but clearly she'd grown up. She'd learnt to control her feelings when necessary.
Rune inhaled to catch her breath when she was done. Somehow, it felt as if a burden of weight had just been lifted off her shoulders. She felt better after pouring everything out.
"Oh Rune.." Slender but strong arms pulled the adolescent into a comforting hug. Rune could smell the faint jasmine scent of Elizabeth's hair, mixed with the slight smell of her sweat as she was caught in the embrace. The warmth of the gesture somehow managed to reach the adolescent's heart.
"I'm.. sorry," Rune choked back a sob. She would not cry. "I'm sorry I lied to you. I'm sorry for burdening you with this information. I'm sorry for-"
"Shh.." The older girl crooned, gently ruffling Rune's hair as she spoke. "It's okay, Rune. It's okay."
Rune swallowed back tears. "..I'm sorry.."
Ciel and Sebastian could only stand and watch. Neither of them knew how to handle things like these. Human emotions can only be understood by humans, that's what they came into agreement with.
Rune didn't want to look like she regretted the choices she made in front of the two demons, so she inhaled sharply and slowly pushed away from the hug.
"Thank you, Lady Elizabeth," Rune said, trying for a smile.
"Just call me Lizzy," The blonde smiled back, though it was tinged with sympathy. "You alright now?"
"Listen, Rune," Lizzy started, resting a hand on the other girl's. Her words were gentle, yet firm and reassuring. "You're a strong girl. Stronger and braver than I will ever be, anyway. But even so, there's no need to hold back like that."
Rune gave her a confused look. "Hold back? What do you mean?"
Elizabeth sighed, like she couldn't believe just how stubborn Rune is. "Tell me," she gave Rune's hand a slight squeeze. "How many girls out there do you know that's capable of escaping slavery, agreeing to feed a couple of demons with their soul, being the Queen's pet, and putting their lives in danger almost every day?"
"Gosh.." Lizzy couldn't help letting a restrained laugh escape her lips this time. "Are you that slow or are you just denying it?"
Rune knitted her eyebrows, confusion still obvious on her face.
"What I'm saying is," Elizabeth focused her gaze straight at the two demons, though her words were directed to the younger girl. "I don't have the rights to judge you, but I know that you're not the type of person that easily regrets her decisions. You stand your ground whenever you do something. Remember that."
Ciel and Sebastian nodded respectively, understanding the message.
Rune could feel Lizzy smiling warmly at her, and that somehow helped pull her back together. What was she doing, telling such a horrible life story to a person she barely knows? Rune Whitefield wasn't that weak. Rune Whitefield couldn't be that weak. She had less than forty-eight hours left to live. She couldn't afford to waste any time by feeling weak.
"..Thank you so much.. Lizzy," Rune stood up, her sightless eyes gleaming fiercely. She bowed deeply towards the direction of the blonde. "And it was a pleasure meeting you."
"It was nice meeting you too, Rune," Elizabeth stood up as well, giving Rune one final hug. "Also, whatever happens, I want you to know that even though we can hardly be considered as close friends," she released her from her grasp. "I'm proud to have met you."
Elizabeth turned to Ciel and Sebastian. "Will we be seeing each other again after this? Or will the both of you just disappear again once this is all over?"
The demons looked at each other as if having a silent conversation in their minds. Ciel faced Lizzy and shrugged.
Elizabeth nodded like she understood. Once again, Ciel was surprised with how much the blonde had changed and matured over the years. He could still remember the times when she would pout and throw unnecessary tantrums like a five-year-old child whenever things go wrong.
"Now, if you'll excuse us," Rune said. "We'll be taking our leave. Thank you so much for your time, Lady Elizabeth."
By the time they got home, it was already getting dark.
The sun was just setting, making part of the sky look blood red. The shops in town were closing. Everyone was going back to their respective families; to spend their nights together and so on.
The three servants greeted them as soon as they stepped through the door. The whole household gathered at the dining room as Sebastian went to fetch the cuisines from the kitchen. The servants were reluctant at first, but after some dramatic talk from Rune about how she wanted to dine with them before she died and how her spirit wouldn't be able to rest in peace even if it was in the stomachs of demons if she didn't do anything etc etc, they gave in and took their seats.
Bard had managed to whip up really good dishes this time without blowing the entire kitchen up – which, was a little surprising, knowing him. But because of the heavy and awkward silence, even the best food in the world would taste bland.
"Phew.." Rune exhaled elaborately, trying to sound upbeat and cheerful, just to lift the mood. "Today sure was tiring. I can't believe how fast a day can pass without us realizing it."
The demon servants were emotionless. The mortal servants took a sudden interest in their plates, unsure on how to react and what to say.
"Why is everyone so quiet today?" Rune was sure her voice quavered, but she didn't care. "You're all making this dinner tasteless, you know."
Finny stood up suddenly and slammed his hand on the table so hard, Rune was surprised that it didn't break and collapse onto the ground.
"How could you be so cheerful and calm even when you know that your life is going to end on the day after tomorrow?" he half screamed. Bard and Maylene hastened to pull him back down on his seat, but Finnian was known for his strength. He wouldn't even budge.
"Aren't you even the least scared?" the emerald-eyed boy continued in an impossibly soft voice. Sebastian and Ciel said nothing, but they knew Rune was aware that the blonde servant was dangerously close to tears. "Isn't there anything you want for the future? Are you just fine with dying just like that?"
His voice cracked at the last three words.
"..Which part of me looks like I'm not afraid, Finny?" Rune set down her silverware. She bit her lip and swallowed that painful lump forming in her throat. "I'm.. scared all right. I just… can't go back on my words. I don't want to go back on my decisions. I made them, and I will face the consequences head on, whether I like it or not."
"We've already lost the Young Master once.." Maylene said softly, her voice shaky as well. She had one hand on Finny's right shoulder and another holding his arm. "We don't want to lose yet another person that's precious to us.."
"What are you saying? It's not like I'll be gone forever or something," Rune said, willing herself to chuckle. She pointed a thumb towards the left side of her chest. "I'll always be with you guys. In your hearts."
"That's not funny!" Rune cringed at Finnian's tone.
"Finnian," Sebastian's tone was calm, but there was a certain strictness in it.
The gardener sniffled, ignoring the head butler for once. "That's not funny at all, Young Mistress.."
Rune bit down harder. Even Maylene was starting to sob now. Only Bard and the demons kept their cool.
"..I'm sorry.." Rune lowered her head and whispered ever so softly. She wondered why she was apologizing. It was her life. It was up to her on how she wanted to use it, and she'd chosen. She'd chosen her fate all those years ago in that cold chamber. And she didn't want to cry over it. She didn't need to. Finny and Maylene was doing it for her.
"I'm sorry.." she whispered again.
Ciel had extra trouble waking Rune up the next morning.
Despite the fact that her soul was to be consumed by him and Sebastian the very next day, Rune wasn't losing any sleep over it. Or maybe she was, which explains why it was so difficult to drag her out of bed.
After a shower and breakfast, Rune set out once again that day, telling her mortal servants that she and the butlers would be back by the evening before she went. She felt a little more enthusiastic this time, for she'd missed the place ever since she left it.
And that was how they ended up standing at the doorstep of the Church of Gospel. Ciel and Sebastian seemed fine, but the back of Rune's shirt was damp with sweat due to the painful fact (for her, anyway) that she was out of shape.
Just like the last time, Sister Bernadine, the plump nun answered the door soon after they rang the doorbell. Rune couldn't see her, but a wave of nostalgia washed over her as soon as she heard the nun's gentle and kind voice.
"How may I help you, my dears?" the sister said, eyeing the guests standing on the porch. Her brows knitted as if trying to remember. "I'm sorry, but have we met before somewhere?"
Yes. Months ago. Rune shook her head. "No."
Before any more questions could be asked, Rune heard more footsteps heading their way.
"Are you done yet, Sister Bern?" A dark skinned girl peeked over the nun's shoulder. "We're hungry!" she whined. "And the kids are complaining like no tomorrow."
"Kas!" Another set of footsteps. "Be at least a little more patient, will you?" A brunette boy peered over the nun's other shoulder curiously. "We shouldn't disturb when there are.." he trailed off as soon as he saw the odd trio at the doorstep.
"Why do the three of them seem so familiar?" the girl mused out loud.
"Kas!" the boy chided.
Rune did not need to be told who they were. The memories was still fresh in her mind – the time when she first stepped in and introduced herself, the time when she had to deal with the bratty head girl, the time when she stood in the chapel surrounded by chanting children.
And most of all, how could she forget the head boy and girl who were the first ones to make her feel welcomed even though she had been lying to them?
"Ethan," Rune unconsciously muttered. "And Kas."
Both adolescents in question stared at her.
"Why do you know our names?" Ethan asked suspiciously. "Do we.." he seemed to pause for a second. ".. know you?"
Realizing her mistake, Rune shook her head viciously and tried to look as if it was nothing. "Not really. And Ma'am," she turned to the nun (or at least she hoped she turned the right direction) and grinned. "I don't suppose you mind if we pay a humble little visit to the children of this orphanage?"
For a moment, the nun seemed to be caught in a sense of déjà vu as soon as Rune finished speaking.
"S-Sure.." Sister Bern sounded hesitant, but she tried to hide it with a smile. "The children would be glad to have some company once in a while."
In half an hour, Rune was surrounded with orphans (they were having their meals before that) in the common room. Rune had to admit: all her life – even the last time she visited the orphanage – she'd never experience such a feeling. She'd been tutored privately when she was young, leaving her no friends to play with except her sister. She'd been kidnapped and enslaved after that, making her only know the feeling of hard work and torture.
And when she'd returned, Rune had willingly let the responsibility of running a super company rest on her shoulders alone.
Rune was practically taken of a childhood every normal child out there should have.
And for the first time in thirteen years, Rune was having fun. With other children, no less. Despite herself, Rune didn't want the moment to end. The experience of playing with other children seemed like a distant dream. Being there made Rune's life look like a long nightmare.
".. you okay?" a little boy asked suddenly, pulling Rune out of her thoughts. Rune blinked back to reality, feeling many pairs of eyes trained on her.
"Ian," Kas demanded, her footsteps getting louder as she approached them from somewhere. "What on earth did you do?"
"I didn't do anything!" Ian cried. "We were just playing around with onee-san when she suddenly started tearing up."
Rune's eyes and cheeks felt wet. She was holding a tiny hand in each of her own. Without realizing it, the thoughts that had invaded her mind had managed to break the fragile strings that had been holding her together.
Great. Of all times. Rune cursed inwardly at herself.
"S-Sorry.." Rune released one of the hands she was holding and wiped her eyes roughly with her sleeve. "I don't know what.."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Ethan came up and told her, resting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's okay."
"Yeah!" Kas chimed in cheerfully, ruffling Rune's russet hair in a friendly manner. "We don't care what's with the tears, so save your breath and don't explain yourself. If you want to cry, then just let it all out."
A crowd soon gathered around the russet-haired girl out of a mixture of curiosity and concern. Rune hated it – hated herself for losing it and looking so bloody pathetic in front of so many people. She had accepted the fact that she was going to have her soul eaten in more or less a day. So why was she still feeling such sadness and pain in her heart?
"..Thank you all for your concern.." Rune inhaled deeply to calm herself. "Thanks so much, but I'm alright now.."
Meanwhile, the demons were helping with the chores. They'd willingly volunteered, as neither of them was too keen to play with a bunch of children.
As Ciel scrubbed plates in the kitchen, standing among a few nuns that kept fussing over him, he felt a fragment of memory return – and a large one too. He had been to this orphanage before, accompanying Rune on her mission for the Queen like he always does since their contract was formed. He could remember names: Ethan, Kasandra, Laura, and a few others. He could recall the moment when Rune was captured and had her limbs bound to a vaguely cross-shaped panel with spiked chains. He remembered that Rune had almost died that time.
Ciel had most of his memories back now; his childhood, the voices of his parents, his experiences. Still, Ciel felt that something was still missing. And that important something just seem to insist on not coming back.
He glanced up from his work as Sebastian walked in, a pile of plates stacked on his arms.
"Is that the last of it?" Ciel asked. Sebastian nodded and placed the dishware in the sink.
"Hey Sebastian.." the younger demon spoke, proceeding to coat a dirty plate with dishwashing liquid.
"..Yes?" Sebastian had taken his coat off and was rolling up his sleeves.
"The Young Mistress," Ciel caught himself. Rune was not their 'Young Mistress'. Not anymore. But what else could he call her?
He pushed the thought out of his mind and asked, "What was she to me, exactly?"
Sebastian stared at his master, unable to hide the feeling of surprise from showing on his face. Even to him, human emotions were something very complicated and hard to understand. Though he had been observing his master and the human girl ever since they met, Sebastian could only come to the conclusion that Ciel had a certain kind of attachment for Rune, something slightly closer than a master–servant relationship.
""I have to admit my lord," Sebastian said as he scrubbed gravy stains off a plate. "I do not know. That is something only you are sure of."
Ciel struggled to suppress an exasperated sigh. It was stupid – the whole losing his memories thing. It was annoying to not be certain about anything. Ciel remembered that Lucifer had started it all – the kidnapping, the taking of his memories.
But why were they taken? Was it a price for something?
Ciel could feel that piece of recollection trying to resurface, but it was as if something was blocking its way. The memory was so fuzzy, Ciel almost wanted to yell in frustration.
"..I'll go check her," he gritted his teeth and muttered, putting down his last piece of dishware and wiping his hands with a dry cloth. Without waiting for Sebastian's reply, Ciel marched right out of the kitchen.
Rune was still playing with the orphans in the common room when Ciel arrived. The boy leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms as he watched. Kasandra saw him in the middle of her game and paused to walk over.
"Hi… err.. Ciel, was it?" she said, tilting her head with an apologetic smile on her face for the awkwardness.
"Came here to join us?"
Ciel was about to reject the offer when he decided otherwise at the last minute. What harm could it do? He thought.
So he nodded instead and went to join Kas in her game of chess. He stood over the crouching figures of the dark girl and the brunette boy Ethan and studied the chess board. Ethan was playing black and Kas was playing white, and apparently, Kas was winning.
"Checkmate!" Kas cheered when she made her winning move. Ethan sat back and sighed before breaking into a grudging grin.
"Fine," he said. "You win me this time."
Kas grinned back at him triumphantly. "I always win you. Now who's next?"
None of the spectators seemed to be excited about losing, so Ciel sat down across the board, hardly able to suppress his confident smile.
"Me," he said, proceeding to rearrange the pieces to their places. Kasandra grinned at him before doing the same.
Five minutes later, Kasandra and the others were staring with their mouth agape at the chessboard, Kas's king caught in a check. Ciel casually moved his piece and smiled smugly.
The dark girl blinked. "..four moves.." she muttered. "Four moves and he beat me.."
"That's because I probably have more experience in playing it," Ciel said, once again rearranging the chess pieces. "Shall we go again?"
Rune could hear the cheers for the respective chess players from all the way across the room. She sighed softly to herself as she went back to listening to Ian's story about how he'd managed to steal a cupcake from the kitchen without getting caught, once again wishing that the day would never end.
Before Rune knew it, it was nighttime by the time they got back.
Dinner was exceptionally dull that night, since Finny, Maylene, and Bard were sniffling and generally sounding very depressed throughout the whole thing. Rune's throat felt dry as she forced herself not to think of it as her very last meal. Ciel and Sebastian would be having her soul first thing the next morning.
This time, Rune let her tears flow freely when she was pulled into a group hug with her mortal servants. She wasn't ashamed to admit that she was going to miss them very badly – if she could miss them. For a moment there, Rune could give up anything to have her sight back. But she'd learnt over the years. It was dangerous to think so.
They were all reluctant to let go even after minutes, but they did so anyway when Rune requested to visit one final place.
Sebastian stood at the back with his master, watching Rune kneel down and tentatively feel the names engraved on the tombstone. It had only been several months since they went to the cemetery, and it was nothing to a demon. But to Rune, it felt as if a decade had passed since she visited, and that made a wave of guilt wash over her.
"..Sorry for not coming to see you all for such a long while.." Rune whispered hoarsely.
Silence. The only sounds were the soft howling of the slight breeze that blew through the night.
Rune sighed, letting her hand rest on the cool stone tablet that bore her the names of her parents and sister.
"..I'm just hopeless, aren't I.." she smiled bitterly to herself. "I come to visit for the first time in months, and it's my last one."
Ciel stayed as silent as his butler, but he could feel it – that one piece of memory struggling to resurface again. It had something to do with the Underworld, its seven Princes, and even Rune's sight – but what was it exactly?
Ciel bit the inside of his lower lip hard, tasting his own blood. He didn't care. He might not look like it, but for some reason, he was desperate to have his recollections back. He wanted – craved, to remember it all before it was all over. Something in him was screaming for him to recall before Rune's soul was devoured.
His thoughts were interrupted abruptly when the girl stood up and took in a breath.
"..You two can take it now," Rune said. Ciel averted his gaze to stare at her. Sebastian did the same.
"What?" Ciel asked, surprised by his own tone.
"I asked for two days," Rune sounded strangely calm as she carefully sat down on the concrete ground. "Forty-eight hours had already passed."
Ciel found himself having the urge to argue. What was going on with him?
He fought the urge and turned to Sebastian. Sebastian's face was emotionless as always, but his eye's had a clear meaning. What would you do?
Ciel turned back to the girl, his attention rested on her purple eyes that seemed to glow in the dark night.
"..Alright." he decided.
Rune smiled and closed her eyes, though it doesn't exactly make a difference. "Hey…Is it going to hurt?"
Ciel shrugged and knelt down before her. "It might. But I can try to lessen the pain."
Rune unintentionally exhaled with relief. "Thank you," 'she seemed to be saying that a lot these days. "And I'm sorry."
Ciel said nothing to that. He reached out towards Rune's chest, as he had seen Sebastian do when he was showing him one of the many ways to retrieve souls when he'd just been turned into a demon. Just when his fingers were about to touch the front of her shirt, they went straight through.
Rune could feel the burning pain as Ciel took hold and ripped her soul from her body. She felt as if her whole being was set on fire and thrown into a river of acid. Her skin felt as if it was slowly decaying and eaten by thousands of maggots. Her bones felt like they were being melted over fire. Her brain could barely process thoughts. Sweat drenched her forehead despite the cold weather. Blood welled up on her palms where she'd dug her nails in.
If Ciel had really lessened the pain, Rune wondered how it would feel like if he made no attempt to be gentle.
The pain intensified and Rune could feel her consciousness slipping. "This is it.." she thought. "I won't wake up again after this.."
Then she heard it: a slow shredding sound like a piece of cloth torn apart. Just like that, the aching sensation faded.
Am I… dead?
"Open your eyes," a familiar voice commanded. Rune reverently obeyed.
Ciel held something bright and burning in his hand, its size twice the size of his fist. Rune thought that something was set ablaze, but she soon realized that it was a ball of flame alone. Instead of the usual colors of how a fire should have – red, orange, and yellow – it was white with a bluish tint, framed by a dark outline.
At that point, Rune had no idea what was more surprising; the fact that she could see, or the fact that she was still there in the human world. She watched wordlessly as Ciel broke the ball of flame into two equal pieces and handed one half to Sebastian. Their eyes were glowing demonic pink, not different from the times they were obeying orders. And as if it was a piece of apple, they started biting off small pieces of the flame, chewing slowly before swallowing as though savoring the taste.
"What.." Rune started when she finally found her voice.
"We took and ate your soul," Ciel replied casually, eating the last bit of what Rune realized was her spirit. "That's all."
"Then why.." Rune was so confused, she couldn't even say the right words. "Why am I still..?"
"What kind of Ruler of Hell would I be," Ciel said as he knelt down once again in front of the girl. "If I can't even spare the life of the mortal girl that I have feelings for?"
Rune stared at him, eyes wide. "You mean.. you remember? Everything?"
"I made it up on the spot," Ciel replied, sarcasm coloring his tone. "Yes. I remember everything."
Rune stared at him some more. "B-But still.. I.."
"You asked for two days, I know." Ciel held his hand out hand and touched the girl's cheek lightly. "But I'm changing the second word."
"Years," he said with an exaggerated sigh. "You've got two more years before that fragment of soul I left untouched burns out."
So that explains the tearing sound Rune heard.
"Also, our contract is complete." Ciel added. Rune unwound the bandages on her right palm and stared. The intertwined Faustian symbols, the sign of their contract had disappeared.
For the second time that day, Rune hadn't realized that tears had begun to overflow from her eyes. She threw her arms around the boy's neck, taking him by surprise.
Rune couldn't even form a proper 'thank you' without choking up. She couldn't' help it. Though she was more than prepared to face her own death, it was a relief to be alive. She was still there, breathing, crying, talking, feeling emotions. She was alive. She is alive.
Sebastian couldn't help cracking a smile – a genuine one, not his usual smirk of amusement. Why does he always seem to come across such interesting humans, he wondered to himself. After these years, Sebastian had thought that he should be able to read Ciel's motives even by a little, and he could. But he was surprised by his master's action almost as much as Rune.
"But since you've openly declared that you're going to die sometime tomorrow," Ciel said and shrugged when Rune released him.
"I'll have to be your servant?" Rune guessed, smiling coyly and drying her eyes. Ciel smiled.
"The responsibility of ruling hell is now rested on your shoulders, Young Master," Sebastian said, not going against his master's wishes but giving him advice and being ratinonal. "The other Princes might not be happy with the fact that a mere human turned demon is their ruler and will commit treason. There will be fights. Hell itself might go into war."
"And I might drag you down and be a nuisance," Rune finished. "Are you sure you want me there, Ciel? I can just stay here and explain to everyone that a miracle happened or something, you know."
Reluctantly, Ciel reconsidered. It had been a selfish decision to make Rune his servant. Bringing her to the Underworld would indeed be risky, considering the fact that they might use her as hostage – they are the Princes of Hell, after all. But letting Rune stay in the mortal world meant leaving her…
"Just go without me," Rune urged.
Ciel averted his gaze back to her. "What do you mean?"
Rune stood up and brushed the dust off her clothes. "I don't want to join you in hell and waste my two years by being killed. I'll stay here and live the remaining life I have to the fullest."
Ciel stared at her some more.
"Our contract has been completed," the girl continued. "There's no need for you to constantly care for me already. My safety is my own responsibility now."
"You don't get it, do you?" Ciel sighed before breaking into a crooked smile.
"I know. It's not about the bloody contract," Rune stood up, grinning at him instead. "Still, I can care for myself. Just who do you think I am?"
For the first time, the smile did not fade from the young demon's features. "You're Rune Whitefield, sole survivor and heir of the Whitefield family," he said, quoting what Rune had spoken ages ago.
"And I'm also the former mistress and contractor of the famous Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian Michealis," Rune added. "Now go. Go to back down there and do your job. And keep it down there. I don't think the mortals would fancy having their world overrun by chaotic demons."
Typical of Rune to use sarcasm even in such a situation.
"Then we should get going." It was Sebastian who spoke up this time. He wanted to say something more but stopped when Rune pulled him into an awkward hug.
"Yeah," she said, barely able to stop herself from laughing out loud when she saw Sebastian's expression after letting him go. "You two very well should."
Rapidly recovering from his momentary shock, Sebastian nodded and proceeded to summon a portal that led them to where they were headed.
"So.. this is goodbye?" Ciel paused to ask, standing before the swirling vortex.
Rune shrugged. "I guess so."
Sebastian was so amused with the next thing his master did, he would never forget about it even if Ciel ordered him to. Ciel had ran over to the girl at the last minute, yanked her towards himself by the collar of her shirt, and kissed her full in the lips. And without saying anything, he'd stride back and vanished into the portal. After a glimpse of Rune's expression and a slight bow, Sebastian did the same.
And just like that, the portal closed and faded, not leaving a single sign indicating it had ever been there.
Only the howling of the wind broke the silence that followed. Rune touched her lips where Ciel had kissed her so suddenly and smiled.
"Thank you both for everything," she whispered softly before she took a step forward and pausing. "Until next time."
With that, she walked on, not looking back once.
"WTF WAS THAT? YOU ACTUALLY CALL THAT AN ENDING?"
I don't know about you guys, but that's how I reacted after re-reading everything to check for mistakes. I SUCK SO MUCH AT WRITING FINALES, IT'S A SIN.
But before you can all tell me about how much I sucked, I would like to say thanks to everyone who had supported my story by reviewing, faving, story-alerting, or even just by reading. Without you guys, I would've given up halfway through long ago ^^'' srsly. So, THANK YOU!
And about the ending... remember when I asked for suggestions on whether to write a sad or happy ending? Apparently, 'happy' won 'sad' by one vote lol. though, I don't think this can actually be counted as a happy ending... more like.. i dunno. neutral?
Also, not that most of you would care, but after writing this, I will be taking a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGG break before I will actually start writing again. my brain's dying LOL so yeah ^^' so to those who had been following my other fanfics, I'm sorry, but you would need to wait for a while before there are any updates ^^;;
and before I forget, I would like to apologize and thank antitype-blackblood-san because the seven sins thing was originally her idea ^^' Sorry antitype-blackblood-san! Read her story, Robin and Tutor. That's an order. cuz after reading hers, you'll see just how big of a difference there is between an amateur (me) and a pro (her)
Excuse my mistakes! Kuroshitsuji isn't mine.
Thank you so much again for reading! God bless all of you readers out there!