To those who've read and reviewed the previous chapter, thank you! : D

Yeah, I'm making more of an effort to update my Kuroshitsuji fanfic, so my other stories might still be on hold for a while (not to mention, I've got massive Writer's Block for my other stories—I think it's Sebastian's doing o.o)

Oh, and I noticed in the first chapter when Dumbledore states that Ciel is over two hundred years old, it's wrong. It should be just around 122 or 121. Yes—I'm horrible with mathematics, I know x) Oh, and—I think I'd much rather prefer the term 'demon' to 'devil'. For some reason, the former sounds cooler, doesn't it? Though do bear in mind that they are devils.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this chapter!


That Butler, Mingling

. . .

" is more than civil
to talk so humanly with the very devil."
-Mephistopheles (Goethe's

. . .

"You've kept me waiting, Bella."

Bellatrix Lestrange cringed as though the harsh, cold voice alone had whipped her. She bowed on the floor, her forehead touching the cold marble as she prostrated herself before her lord and master.

"My lord, it was not my intention to do so," Bellatrix whispered. She did not dare look up. Instead, she kept her eyes on the floor. Shadows danced in front of her, but the shadow standing before her was still.

"Oh?" her master's cold voice hissed. "The plan would have succeeded. Harry Potter and his friends were separated from the other members of the Order. Harry Potter was cornered." Bellatrix winced as the voice grew louder. "Harry Potter should have been mine!"

Bellatrix dared to look up—and wished she hadn't. The rage and contempt in her master's crimson eyes were more than enough to send the bravest wizard hiding under a rock.

"But you let the boy escape," Voldemort said softly, his long fingers caressing his wand. "And all of the Death Eaters accompanying you were even killed!"

"Master, the fault was not mine!" Bellatrix exclaimed. "It was the boy and that...that demon!"

Voldemort narrowed his eyes. "Demon?" the dark wizard whispered, his voice carrying across the room.

Bellatrix bowed her head again. "My lord, the reason why I have delayed is because I had to be sure," she said, her voice low.


"Harry Potter would have been ours!" Bellatrix said passionately. "But a young boy and a young man appeared. This young man killed off the other Death Eaters—without even using a wand! In retaliation, I stabbed his heart."

Voldemort remained quiet, so Bellatrix continued. "But he didn't die, Master," she whispered, her eyes on the ground again. There was anger in her voice, as well as a hint of fear. "I failed to kill him!"

The pause made Bellatrix look up. Her eyes widened in surprise.

Voldemort was smiling.

. . .

The old man stared out at the window, at the full moon. The light of the moon cast a ghostly glow about him, his sweeping silver beard shimmering in the moonlight. His gloved hands were clasped behind his back. Behind his half-moon spectacles, his brilliant blue eyes took in the moon's serene glow.

Albus Dumbledore sighed. Unlike the moon, he was, for once, far from serene.

The headmaster lifted his right gloved hand to his face, the light of the moon casting a silvery glow to the blue glove he wore. He raised the other hand, intent on removing the glove, but he stopped. Despite already knowing what he would find, was he afraid to remove the glove?

He removed the glove anyway.

On the back of his right hand was an upside down pentagram, enclosed in two circles. A symbol that matched the one on Earl Phantomhive's left hand.

He suddenly heard a snort behind him.

Dumbledore lowered his hand and glanced over his shoulder, at the portrait of Phineas Nigellus. He smiled. "Is something bothering you, Phineas?" he asked pleasantly.

"That!" Phineas huffed, his eyes on the mark on Dumbledore's right hand. "Dumbledore, I'm sorry for saying this but what you have done is...madness!"

Chuckling, Dumbledore turned away from the window. "I cannot help but agree," the portrait of Dilys said. Her lips were pressed in a hard thin line.

"People seem to be calling me mad these days," Dumbledore said cheerfully, sitting behind his oak desk.

"We're not calling you mad," Phineas huffed. "We're calling your deal with the brat mad!"

Dumbledore raised a hand. "I believe Earl Phantomhive is far from a 'brat', Phineas," Dumbledore said as he gloved his right hand.

"He's a demon!" Phineas exclaimed.

"He seems to me a lost child," Dumbledore said.

Phineas let out a huff of frustration. He was silent for a moment. "You can still get out of it," he muttered. "Out of this madness."

Dumbledore leaned back. "On the contrary, I am very much looking forward to this madness," he said. "I believe, at the end of it all, I will still be sane." He was silent for a while. "Hm. It seems that I have another problem to look into."

. . .

Ciel raised an eyebrow as he flipped the page of a book he had been reading. The book was one of the many they had purchased at Diagon Alley earlier in the day. He had taken to reading all of his new books in preparation for his role as a student. Admittedly, he found the wizarding books to be highly interesting, different from what he had studied when he was still human (again, he refused to admit this aloud). The volume he was currently immersed in was particularly gripping.

The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts gave him all the information he needed to know on this Lord Voldemort character. And what he did know, he thoroughly disliked...or rather, he found boring. This Voldemort was no different from the typical power-hungry tyrant that occasionally roamed the earth, with the exception of his wielding magic, that is. He huffed and closed the book, leaning back in his chair, his arms resting on the arm rests.

He was sorely tempted to hunt down Voldemort and have Sebastian destroy him, but, as Sebastian reminded him, his master's wishes prevented him from doing so. And here came another dilemma...

It was bad enough that he had to serve someone else. It was worse when that someone happened to be rather...eccentrically whimsical.

Ciel Phantomhive had encountered numerous types of denizens over the course of his existence, ranging from the 'homo' Grim Reaper to the womanizing viscount. However, this was the first time in his life that he had encountered someone as queer as his master, Albus Dumbledore. Maybe he was even more than queer...maybe he was completely and utterly mad...

Ciel pushed the thoughts from his mind. He had better things to do at the moment. He stood from his chair and walked towards the window that faced the busy street. The curtains were drawn. He parted them and looked at the street, at the throngs of people walking just outside the gates of his townhouse.

He allowed himself a small smile. How many of them were actually wizards? He realized that there was so little he knew about the world. Well, he was about to correct that.

He suddenly sensed something.

Drawing his eyes away from the crowds, he looked up at the sky. It was far away, a brown speck against the pale blue sky. But even at this distance, he had no trouble making out the owl heading towards his window.

An owl? He had learned from Sebastian that owls were what wizards used to send messages to each other (which was rather silly, seeing as how slow owls were. Hadn't wizards ever heard of cellphones?).

Ciel opened the window as the owl drew near. Several curious heads in the street below looked up at the owl that flew through the Earl of Phantomhive's window. Ciel paid them no heed as the owl flew onto his outstretched arm.

It was a handsome tawny owl, larger than a regular owl, with piercing amber eyes. Ciel took a moment to admire the creature before turning his attention to the bird's outstretched leg. Attached to its leg was a letter.

How medieval, the Earl thought as he detached the letter. The owl immediately took flight, its feathers brushing lightly against Ciel's cheek as it flew through the window.

He watched as it soared away before turning his attention to the letter he held. He studied the wax crest on the letter—a badger, an eagle, a serpent and a lion surrounding a large letter 'H'.

Sitting at his desk, he took a letter opener, sliced the crest and took out the letter. It was written on parchment paper. He raised an eyebrow, amused. It was a letter from his master. Chuckling, the demonic Earl began to read:

Dear Earl Phantomhive,

I trust you are well? I understand that I have not contacted you for some time, however I hope that things are proceeding according to plan? Knowing how more than capable you are, I have no doubt that this is the case. You are to take the train on platform nine and three quarters at King's Cross Station on September first. Forgive me if I am reminding you, I find it is an inescapable trait of mine.

I have a favor to ask of you. The moment you set foot at Hogwarts, I hope that you will try to 'mingle' with the normal students of the school. It would be rather odd if you kept to yourself for a whole year. Besides, demon though you may be, I think you will be rather lonely without anyone of your...physical age to get along with. (Lonely? Ciel thought, scoffing) Though, I do hope you let no one know what you really are. I imagine that the panic should students discover your true identity will be as great as Lord Voldemort suddenly appearing in the middle of the Great Hall during a good lunch.

Now, on to another part of this time-consuming letter. Earl Phantomhive, I hope you will not mind if ask another favor? I have reflected on this the whole night, weighing, as muggles say, the pros and cons of this decision. The pros outweigh the cons by a mere point—

There was an abrupt knock on the door and a moment later, Sebastian walked in, bearing a stack of papers in his hand. "Pardon the intrusion, my lord, but the company has sent over a few papers that you need to look into," the butler said, approaching the desk.

"This letter is far more interesting," Ciel said. The young lord was actually chuckling. "Here, Sebastian, read it."

Sebastian effortlessly caught the tossed letter in one hand, balancing the stack of papers in the other. A few papers, eh? Ciel thought.

The Black Butler raised an eyebrow at the letter. It was from his master's...master. He allowed himself an internal chuckle at the thought. As he perused the letter, his amusement grew.

Really...Albus Dumbledore was a queer old man. Even for a wizard. Imagine asking for such a favor, despite knowing full well what they were.

"Rather ironic, I think," Ciel said as he leaned his elbows against his ornate oak desk. He glanced at Sebastian over his interlocked fingers, the amused smile still on his face. "Sebastian, as my servant and as per our contract, everything you have belongs to me."

Sebastian smiled as he set the stack of papers on the desk. "Of course, Young Master. Everything from my very soul to my legion of demons belongs to you," Sebastian concurred.

"The same rule applies to my contract with Dumbledore." Ciel inwardly frowned at that. He detested sharing his toys with anyone, master or not. "Therefore, you are to follow his wishes. Understood?"

Sebastian bowed, placing a hand against his chest. "Yes, my lord."

. . .

Harry Potter stood at the edge of a long corridor.

Shadows from torches on the wall danced and flickered against the damp walls. On either side of him, formidable black doors loomed like sentinels. A light mist wrapped around the place, blurring the sharp edges of the doors, blurring the flames from the torches...Blurring his very sense of reality.

Something was not right about the place. Something in the place made him want to run fast. Something in the corridor made the blood in his veins run cold, and it wasn't because of the primal fear of being injured or even killed.

It was something much worse.

What fate is worse than death?

The high pitched, cold voice seemed to reverberate through the light mist, echoing on the damp stone walls. Harry Potter ran. He ran down the length of the long corridor, his lungs and scar burning as the familiar rush of adrenaline kicked in.

Was it just him, or did this corridor seemed to go on and on?

Your fate is death, Harry Potter.

At last! He suddenly came to a stop in front of a door, larger than the others. Instinct told him to push against the door, to open it. He would be safe.

The door swung open.

His eyes widened in surprise when he found himself standing at the threshold of darkness. In the middle of this darkness, the figure of an old man with a sweeping silver beard hovered, looking at him with a look so devoid of hope that Harry felt like throwing himself over the edge and into that unfathomable darkness.


"Professor...Dumbledore," Harry panted.

Dumbledore smiled at him. A pair of pale hands suddenly shot out from the darkness surrounding Dumbledore, grasping him by the shoulders.

"Professor!" Harry screamed. His senses were numb with fear as Dumbledore smiled at him.

The hands suddenly pulled Dumbledore into the darkness. A pair of glowing red eyes took the old wizard's place, the slitted pupils gazing on Harry with a look almost akin to a feral hunger. Beneath the red eyes, a mouth appeared and smiled a Cheshire cat smile, sharp pointed teeth white against the black darkness.

What fate is worse than death?

The voice was not high pitched and cold.

. . .


Harry's eyes flew open. He was breathing heavily, his heart thundering in his chest. Beads of cold sweat appeared on his forehead.

"Harry, what on earth happened?" Ron asked. He was standing over Harry's bed, a hand on Harry's shoulder. Ron, it seemed, had woken him.

"Ron," Harry mumbled as he sat up. "Nothing, it was just—"

"A dream?" Ron continued, raising an eyebrow. He looked a bit pale, Harry noted. "Harry, what kind of dream has you screaming like bloody hell in the middle of the bloody night?"

Harry intertwined his fingers, frowning. Dumbledore had been in his dream, had been pulled into darkness by a pair of pale hands and a pair of glowing red eyes. He'd heard Voldemort but, for once, it wasn't Voldemort's cold voice that sent shivers up Harry's spine.

It was that other voice.

"I think you should tell Dumbledore about these dreams, Harry," Ron was saying, snapping Harry from his inner musings. "I mean, if You-Know-Who's intentionally sending you these dreams, then Dumbledore should know about them."

Harry shook his head. "They're just dreams, mate," he said.

"This is the third time this week that you've been screaming in your sleep," Ron said. He sat at the edge of Harry's bed and frowned. "What was it about?"

Harry hesitated then sighed. "I dreamed about Dumbledore being pulled into darkness by a pair of hands," Harry admitted. "And a pair of glowing red eyes." He decided to omit Voldemort's voice—it would only send Ron into a panic attack.

Ron shook his head. "I don't get it...What d'you think it means?"

"You're starting to sound like Trelawney," Harry pointed out.

Ron flushed, his cheeks as red as his hair. "Shut up," he said, punching Harry's shoulder.

Harry chuckled. "It's nothing to worry about, Ron," he reassured him. "Maybe I'm just feeling tired these past few days. After all, three days from now, we're back on platform nine and three quarters."

Ron didn't look convinced.

. . .

"Common humans and wizards hardly differ from one another," Sebastian said as he and Ciel made their way through King's Cross station.

Ciel was dressed in a gray button up shirt with a black neck tie and black slacks. Sebastian had purposefully dressed him in 'commoner's clothing' so as to blend in with the crowd of both wizards and muggles. Sebastian himself was dressed in a white shirt, over which he wore a black sweater and a pair of black slacks. He was also pushing two trolleys, one in each hand (this earned him a considerable amount of stares from the muggles. The show-off, thought Ciel).

Ciel stopped in his tracks, his eyes sweeping the crowd of humans rushing past him to get to their desired trains. He glanced behind his shoulder, at Sebastian. "Hardly differ?" the young Earl echoed. "Oh? That makes them both boring then."

"On the contraire," Sebastian said. "To you, perhaps, humans are boring seeing as you were human yourself once. To one such as I, however, humans are—and always will be—both entertaining and delectable."

Ciel scoffed and resumed walking. His right eye was still covered by his eyepatch. His other eye was busy scanning the platforms for platform nine and three quarters. He raised an eyebrow. There was no such platform. He led Sebastian over to the departure board, where a list of scheduled trains flashed. Still no platform nine and three quarters. He inwardly huffed in frustration.

Behind him, he could feel Sebastian's suppressed amusement.

"Sebastian, get me to platform nine and three quarters now," Ciel ordered. He tried to hide the irritation that would further fan Sebastian's spark of amusement.

"This way then, my lord," Sebastian said, smiling an insincere smile.

Ciel frowned as Sebastian led the way past jostling crowds and towards platforms nine and ten. They stopped between the platforms. Sebastian turned and smiled at his master. Ciel could almost picture him saying "Ta-da!", what with that amused and phony smile he wore.

"Well?" Ciel snapped.

"This, young master, is platform nine and three quarters," Sebastian said, standing aside so his master could see the solid brick wall between platforms nine and ten.

"Do you take me for an imbecile, Sebastian?" Ciel said, narrowing his sapphire eye at the butler.

To his frustration, the idiot only smiled. "Young Master," he said, standing beside Ciel. He lowered his voice. "As a demon, your senses are a thousand times more accurate than when you were human. Can you not sense anything rather odd about this particular brick wall?"

Ciel looked up, glaring at him. He frowned as he directed his glare at the brick wall before him. He drowned out the mundane sound of muggles rushing past them to get at platforms nine and ten. He drowned out their annoying chatter, their stifling aura, his eyes and senses focusing only on the wall.

And then he saw it—a well-hidden magical aura emitting from the seemingly mundane wall. The aura was so subtle that he wondered how Sebastian could have found it. But then again, Sebastian was more experienced than he was by about...several millennia. Or maybe even more.

"I can see it, but that doesn't mean it's what we're looking for," Ciel said, giving Sebastian an annoyed look.

The butler only smiled as he wheeled both trolleys in front of Ciel. "Young master, kindly do observe," Sebastian said as he turned to face the wall.

"You didn't have to tell me," Ciel scoffed.

To his surprise, Sebastian ran towards the wall, trolleys squealing loudly as he pushed them forward. Ciel's eye widened in surprise. He'll create a scene if he hits that wall! he thought. And the scene was that Sebastian would be in one piece—and the wall wouldn't.

Before he could decide whether or not to order the butler to stop, Sebastian hit the wall...and vanished. Ciel blinked. He blinked again, as though doubtful of his demonic eyes before he shook his head. Ciel Phantomhive never doubted himself.

Ciel glanced around to make sure no muggles were looking before he, too, ran towards the wall. If he had been human, he would have closed his eyes. But he wasn't human—it was the silly wall that would be damaged, not him. As though to prove his point, his speed picked up just as he was about to smash into the wall.

He went through. It was as though he merely passed through an illusion. The moment he went through, he stopped, his eyes taking in everything around him.

Platform nine and three quarters was both lively and noisy. What caught his eye first was the scarlet Hogwarts Express, puffs of smoke billowing around it. Wherever he looked, Ciel could see nothing but torrents of wizards and witches, all of different ages. Some of them were sporting muggle clothing, others—the older students—were already wearing their black robes. The platform was filled with noise. Students chattered to each other excitedly about their summer and some, in hushed voices, talked about the situation with You-Know-Who (whoever that was). The loud of talk of the students was second only to the loud screeching of animals, the pets that students were allowed to bring with them—cats, owls, toads...


Ciel blinked. He was no longer allergic to cats, but it was safe to say that his dislike of them remained. Speaking of cats...

Sebastian was busy talking to a pretty brunette, while he held her furry white cat in both his arms. On first glance, it seemed as though Sebastian was talking to the girl, but he was actually talking to the cat as he stroked its fur. The girl didn't seem to notice that the butler was ignoring her, because she was busy staring at the butler, a blush in her cheeks.

Ciel didn't know whether to laugh or be annoyed. The idiot had even abandoned their trolleys! He was about to call out to his butler, but he remembered his master's request. Pretence was most essential if he was to follow Dumbledore's orders.

"Sebastian," he whispered quietly.

From across the crowded platform, the butler automatically looked up and gave his master an apologetic smile. Ciel glared at him as he returned the cat to the girl and made his way towards him. Several girls turned to stare at Sebastian and whisper among themselves. Ciel was sorely tempted to rub his temples. It was the same problem everywhere they went.

"Young Master, forgive me. That creature was most beauteous to behold," Sebastian said, a hand on his chest. "As well as captivating."

Ciel scoffed. "Go find me a compartment," he said as he walked to a corner, away from the rambunctious crowd of wizards and witches. He leaned against the wall, his eye taking in the whole scene before him.

"Yes, my lord," Sebastian said, vanishing a moment later.

. . .

"Hurry up, or you'll miss the train!" Molly Weasley said as she herded Harry, Ron, Hermione, the twins and Ginny through the crowd of students. Tonks, Moody, Lupin and Sirius the dog were following close behind them. "Oh, I told you lot to pack what you needed the night before!"

"We're not late, Mum," Ginny reassured her. "Look, there are still students off the train, and the whistle hasn't even blown yet."

"But all the compartments will be taken by then!" Mrs. Weasley protested. She had Harry by the arm and was rushing through the crowd with dexterous speed.

Harry suddenly felt something warm against his hand. He looked down. Sirius was looking up at him. Harry knew him well enough to know that, had he been human, Sirius would have been barking with laughter at the flustered Molly (how rare it was for her to be this flustered. Sirius found it rather refreshing).

They reached the train and Lupin and the others helped them get their trolleys on. Harry stepped back. Sirius was giving him a look.

"I promise I won't do anything stupid," Harry reassured his godfather.

Sirius let out a low growl, and Harry chuckled, stooping to pat him. "No loopholes," Harry promised. Sirius nodded his black shaggy head then, to Harry's surprise, he stood on his hind legs and placed a paw against Harry's chest.

"Siri—Snuffles!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed, catching sight of him. Her voice was nothing more than a whisper. "Get down! Do try to act more like a dog!"

Sirius complied with a huff, and Harry chuckled at the flustered expression his godfather wore.

"Cool dog, Harry."

Harry looked up. A girl with dark eyes and long dark hair was smiling at him. She seemed to be a fourth year.

"Thanks," Harry said, returning her smile.

She held out her hand. "I'm Romilda," she announced. "Romilda Vane."

He took her hand and shook it. "Harry Potter," he said.

She chuckled, still not releasing his hand. "Oh, you needn't introduce yourself," she said. "Everyone knows who you are. You're the Chosen One."

Harry inwardly groaned. The Daily Prophet liked spewing out nonsense every now and then. "I'll see you on board then," Romilda said as she turned and left.

Sirius let out a small bark. Harry looked down at him. "What?" he said. He didn't need to ask. He could see the laughter in Sirius's eyes.

"Harry, come up on the train!" Hermione called out. She was holding Crookshanks in her arms.

Harry nodded. "Bye, Snuffles," he said as he got on board. As he glanced back towards Sirius, he blinked.

Across the sea of faces, leaning comfortably against a brick wall, was a young boy probably no older than thirteen or fourteen. His arms were folded across his chest, and he was looking at Harry with a solitary blue eye, the other being covered by an eyepatch. He had only seen him a couple of times, but he had no trouble recognizing him whatsoever.

"Phantomhive," Harry muttered. He blinked and the boy suddenly vanished.

"What was that, Harry?" A hand suddenly clasped his shoulder. Lupin.

"I saw Phantomhive again," Harry said as he glanced around the crowd. The young earl was nowhere to be seen. Was he seeing things?

Lupin narrowed his eyes as he, too, glanced around. "Are you sure?" he asked, his voice lower than a whisper.

Harry nodded. "Remus?" They both turned to Tonks. "I found them a compartment at the end of the train. I'm sorry to say it wasn't wholly empty."

"That's fine, thanks," Harry said.

"Remember, some of the members of the Order will be at Hogwarts soon," Lupin reminded him.

Harry sighed. "Remus...I don't think it's really important that some of the members of the Order go to Hogwarts," he said. The truth was, all this protection stuff was starting to get to him. It made him feel like a child. "It would be better if they focused more on"—he glanced around and lowered his voice—"Voldemort."

Remus frowned. "These are dark times, Harry," he said quietly. Placing a hand on Harry's shoulder, he led him down a corridor and stopped. "We can't deny it—the Death Eaters are getting bolder, stronger. Dumbledore acknowledges this. He reckons that it's only a matter of time before Voldemort himself comes out into the open."

Harry frowned but said nothing. "The enchantments around Hogwarts are more than enough," he said firmly.

Remus smiled. "Ah, you mean the very same enchantments that were supposed to keep out the infamous Sirius Black?" he said, amused.

Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "Just be careful, Harry," Remus said as he ruffled Harry's hair.

Harry watched as Remus and Tonks alighted from the train. "Harry?" Another hand on his shoulder. Hermione. He turned to see her, Ron, Ginny and the twins waiting for him. "C'mon. The train's leaving soon."

He nodded as he followed them down the corridor, towards the end of the train. "Tonks mentioned there was someone else the compartment," Harry said.

Hermione shrugged. "We haven't really been in yet," she said. "We waited for you." She let go of Crookshanks who led the way towards the compartment.

"Whatever," Fred muttered as he slid the compartment door open. "I'm tired. I hope the witch with the trolley comes soon, I'm starving."

The compartment was not empty. Sitting near the window, was a young boy with bluish-black hair. He was facing the window, his elbow leaning against the armrest, and his chin resting in the palm of his hand. Harry could make out his reflection in the glass—the single sapphire-blue eye, the haughty and bored expression...and the black eyepatch.

His eyes widened in surprise. What was he doing here?

The boy suddenly caught sight of their reflection in the window. He turned to them. Harry could practically feel Hermione and Ron's eyes bug out in surprise. They weren't the only ones. The moment Crookshanks caught sight of him, the cat immediately darted behind Hermione's legs.

"Ciel Phantomhive," Harry said.

"You know him?" Ginny asked.

"We met once," Harry said as he stepped into the compartment. Ciel Phantomhive kept his eye on him, obviously appraising him. "Or may be more than once, depending which way you look at it."

Ciel's mouth twitched with humor. "Harry Potter, I presume?" he said. His voice was well-mannered, cultured—the voice of a nobleman.

"You're that kid in the alley!" Ron suddenly said.

Ciel raised an eyebrow. He did not answer Ron. "Well, come in," Ciel said, gesturing to the empty seats. "I'm not going to eat you." He chuckled with humor.

Harry sat down beside the seat across from Ciel, Hermione sitting next to him, Crookshanks on her lap. Fred, George and Ginny sat across them, Ginny sitting next to Ciel. Ron took the seat across from Ciel. Ciel Phantomhive stared warily at Crookshanks, and the cat stared back.

An awkward silence ensued. The train began moving and Ciel resumed staring out the window. Ginny glanced at Harry then at the young boy beside her. She cleared her throat.

"So," Ginny began. "I don't think we've properly introduced ourselves yet." Ciel turned to look at her. "I'm Ginny Weasley. These are my brothers Fred, George and Ron. That's Harry Potter and Hermoine Granger." She gestured to each one in turn.

Ciel tilted his head in acknowledgement. "I'm Ciel Phantomhive."

"You're that kid we saw in the alley!" Ron blurted again.

Ciel turned his one blue eye towards him. "I don't remember you," the boy said rather coolly.

Ron flushed.

Harry looked at him. The boy was hiding something, he could feel it. "So...aren't you the Earl of Phantomhive?" he asked.

"Earl?" Fred asked. "Wow, mate, that's cool."

"That's like royalty, that," George put in.

"No, you idiot, it's more like nobility!" Fred snapped.

"There's hardly any difference, you twit."

"So, what year are you, Ciel?" Ginny said loudly, interrupting her brothers' debate. "You seem to be a little too old for a first year."

"Third," Ciel answered promptly. "I've never been to Hogwarts for my first and second year."

"Nobles and royals are different, Fred! Where, in the name of Merlin's cap, did your brains go?" George said sarcastically.

"Maybe they went here, you moron!" Fred said as he pretended to hit George on the head.

"Oh yeah? Maybe they went here!" George said, pinching Fred's nose.

"What's an Earl doing at Hogwarts?" Hermione said loudly, interrupting the twins' banter.

Ciel turned an amused eye from Fred and George to Hermione. He and Sebastian had already concocted a story for this. "My mother was a witch," he said slowly. "She married my father, the Earl, but failed to tell him what she was. When he found out, he was adamant that no son of his—especially the heir to the Earldom—would prance about wielding sticks and spewing nonsense."

"However, two years ago, my magic began to manifest. My mother asked my father to have a friend of hers come and, shall we say, 'home school' me in the magical arts. My father agreed, and a tutor was provided for me, the son of a friend of my mother's. Up until this year, he taught me magic, taught me to control my powers. This year, I am starting Hogwarts."

"Did your father agree?" Ron asked.

Ciel's blue eye seemed to flash. "He's dead—that's why I inherited the Earldom at my age."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Ron said quickly. "I didn't realize." Unlike Harry and Hermione, he wasn't well-versed with what went on in the muggle world.

An uncomfortable silence soon fell on them again. Ciel resumed to staring out the window. Hermione was closing her eyes, and Ron was leaning his head against the compartment wall, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. Fred and George were silently debating whether or not an Earl equalled to a prince and Ginny listened to them.

Harry surreptitiously scrutinized Ciel. How could he deny ever having met them in that dark alley? Was he deliberately pretending, or maybe didn't even remember? No. He would have remembered. He was just denying it—and Harry would find out why.

"Where's your butler?" Harry suddenly asked him. Doubtless, asking about one's butler was rather pointless, seeing as how insignificant a butler's presence at Hogwarts was. But there was something about the young Earl and his butler, a bond of sorts. Harry had a feeling that the butler—Sebastian, was it?—was more like a shadow than a servant.

Ciel's solitary eye snapped to him. Hermione's own eyes opened and fixed themselves on Ciel. Ron glanced at the young Earl, as did Fred, George and Ginny.

"My butler was the tutor I had," Ciel said. "When I resolved to attend Hogwarts, there was no more use for him. He found another job elsewhere."

Harry nodded. He wanted to ask many questions were buzzing in his head, waiting to be answered. But he knew that Ciel was like an oyster. He had to approach carefully, or the young Earl would snap close.

"You mentioned your father, but what about your mum?" Ginny asked.

Ciel turned to stare out the window, at the darkening sky. Rain would be lashing down soon. "Both my parents died last year," he said calmly. A little too calmly. Sebastian was right—he needed to work on his acting (yet again, he wouldn't dare admit this aloud).

Ginny's eyes widened, her mouth making a little 'o' of surprise. Before another uncomfortable silence could fall on them again, the compartment door suddenly slid open and a girl with waist-length dirty blonde hair and silvery grey eyes walked into the compartment. If Harry didn't know her any better, he would have thought, judging from her dreamy expression, that she had walked in by accident.

"Luna!" everyone, except Ciel, chimed up.

Luna smiled at them. "Hello, everyone," she said. "I was looking around for a wrackspurt—I felt one in our compartment—when I heard Fred and George bickering in here."

"Ah, hello, Swoony, Loony, Luna!" George said pleasantly as he got up and draped an arm across Luna's shoulders. "We missed you, we have."

"Hello, Gred," Luna said amicably. "And hello, Forge." She smiled at Fred.

"Luna," Harry said as she sat down beside Ginny, next to Ciel. "How have you been doing?" He had to admit, he felt a certain fondness for Luna ever since their meetings in Dumbledore's Army.

She shrugged. "I've been doing quite alright," she said, her voice dreamy. "My father's been doing an article on the Umgubuluar Slashkilter and how Fudge uses them to his advantage."

Harry, who had more than his fair share of the Quibbler, thought it best not to ask.

"The what?" another voice asked.

Everyone, except Luna, turned surprised eyes towards Ciel Phantomhive, whose eye was fixed on Luna with curious interest.

"Oh, hello," Luna greeted. "I haven't seen you around here. Are you new?"

"This is Ciel Phantomhive, Luna," Ginny introduced. "He's just come to Hogwarts for his third year."

The girl tilted her head. "Hello, Ciel," she greeted. She suddenly squinted at him. "What's wrong with your other eye?"

Harry raised his eyebrows. He had never asked himself the reason for Ciel Phantomhive's eyepatch before. Ciel, on the other hand, let out a small breath. "I got into an accident when I was a child," he said, shrugging.

"You can have it fixed up at St. Mungo's, you know," Luna told him. "If you've lost an eye, I hear they can grow it back for you—or they can give you a new one, from another animal, such as a Jouleker. They have beautiful eyes, you know. They change color with your moods."

"You'll have to excuse Luna," Hermione said, laughing nervously. "She can be a bit funny at times." Luna raised an eyebrow at her.

"Nah, she's not funny," Fred said. "She's loony Luna."

"Fred!" Ginny snapped.

Luna only continued to smile, as though an interesting Quidditch game was playing. "By the way, Harry," Luna said, turning to him. "The girls in our compartment asked me what sort of food you liked to eat for every holiday of the year."

Harry blinked. "Really?"

Hermione rolled her eyes as Luna nodded. "It's not surprising, really," she said. "Considering all this 'Chosen One' talk, it's only natural that people will start to like you even more."

"Chosen One?" Ciel asked, fully turning to them. Of course, he knew what it was all about. But pretence was key in this situation.

"Harry's the Chosen One," Luna said, smiling at him. "Everyone knows that only he can defeat You-Know-Who."

"That's not true, you know," Harry muttered. "All that Chosen One rubbish."

"It's not rubbish, mate," George said. "It's absolute garbage."

They laughed, with the exception of Ciel. "Rubbish...garbage!" Luna said, guffawing. She was actually clutching her midriff. "So...funny!"

The door to the compartment suddenly slid open, and a boy with pale blond hair and grey eyes stepped, flanked on both sides by two burly, apelike boys.

The moment the boy stepped in, everyone—even Luna—fell silent. The atmosphere tensed, as though a fight was about to break out. Even Ciel Phantomhive turned his eye to the newcomer with evident interest.

"Malfoy," Harry said coolly.

Malfoy's pale face automatically turned to Harry. His grey eyes narrowed. "I'm surprised to see you still in one piece, Potter," he sneered. "Word is your precious Order...slipped up during the summer."

Harry narrowed his eyes. "I'm not surprised you know about the Death Eaters," Harry said quietly. The atmosphere tensed tenfold. "Tell me...did Aunt Bellatrix get in trouble with her precious Dark Lord?"

Malfoy took a step towards Harry, as did Crabbe and Goyle. Harry stood, as did Ron, Hermione, Fred and George. Both Ginny and Luna's hands were in their pockets, clutching their wands.

"Can you feel it, Potter?" Malfoy said, eyes cold. "All around you. There are signs. It's only a matter of time before the Dark Lord himself announces his presence to the whole world. Even to the muggles."

"Shove off, Malfoy!" Ron snapped. His hand immediately dove into the pocket of his jeans, but before he could even grasp his wand, Malfoy had his pointed at Ron's face.

The effect was instantaneous. Harry's wand was in his hand and pointed at Malfoy. Crookshanks was hissing as Hermione, Luna and Ginny had their wands on Grabbe and Goyle. "Feeling brave, Malfoy?" Harry said coldly. "Of course you would—you've got little Death Eater friends to back you up, don't you?"

Malfoy smirked. "You'd love to know, wouldn't you, Potter?" he said quietly.

"Get out, Malfoy," Hermione snapped. "You wouldn't want to cause trouble now, would you? Term hasn't even started yet."

Malfoy turned his malicious eyes to her. "Mudbloods don't have the right to talk to a pureblood," he hissed.

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "You'll pay for that!" Harry snarled. "Expelliar-!"


Harry blinked in surprise. Ciel Phantomhive stood from his seat and turned to face them, a scowl on his face. "What an annoying ruckus. If you want to fight, take it elsewhere," the earl said.

Malfoy turned his grey eyes to him. "Potter," he said. "I can barely keep up with the mudbloods you keep behind you."

Ciel narrowed his eyes at him. Oh, he wanted to teach the brat a lesson, but he found it impossible to do so without blowing his cover (how did Sebastian manage to scare people without revealing his demonic nature?).

"Is that the only thing to commend you?" Ciel sneered. "Your blood?" He chuckled. "If you ask me, it would be best if you swap your pureblood for a brain."

Harry and the others laughed, while Malfoy's glare became more menacing. "I'd watch your steps if I were you, little boy," Draco said, glaring down at Ciel from his height. His wand nearly touched Ciel's forehead. "If you don't, you might just...trip."

Ciel glared.

"Anything from the trolley?" A loud voice said, accompanied from the familiar creaking of wheels from a trolley.

Malfoy immediately stowed his wand away just as the witch with the trolley appeared at the open compartment door. "Anything from the trolley, dears?" the witch asked.

Malfoy glared at them before turning towards the door. "Come on," he said to Crabbe and Goyle. The witch smiled expectantly at them and Harry quickly shook his head. She closed the door to the compartment as she left.

Ciel narrowed his eyes as he watched Malfoy leave. "Who was that?" he asked. He turned to Harry and the others.

"That was the witch with the trolley," Fred said darkly. Ginny rolled her eyes as she hit him on the shoulder.

"That was Draco Malfoy," Luna chimed in.

Hermione turned to Ciel. "You shouldn't have egged him on," she said. "Malfoy always remembers a grudge."

Ciel scoffed as everyone sat down. "I don't see a reason to be afraid of him," he declared.

Harry's expression darkened. "I have a feeling that he's mixed in with..." His voice trailed off and he glanced briefly at Ciel, who had resumed staring out the window. He shook his head.

Ciel stared at Harry's reflection in the glass, his blue eye narrowed slightly. Yes, Dumbledore had said that the boy had a knack for getting into trouble and, judging from the way he acted, Ciel had no doubt that this was the case.

He inwardly sighed as he resumed staring out the window, at the countryside that flashed by in a blur of green. His thoughts drifted to Dumbledore and the queer requests that the wizard had made of them. He frowned to himself. Truth be told, he had had no intention of serving someone like Dumbledore—in fact, he had no intention of serving someone else. Ever. However, it was Sebastian who had insisted that he contract the old man ("You are a demon, young master," the butler had said. "And yet, you still have quite a lot to learn.")

A lot to learn, eh? Well, he had all eternity. That was more than enough time to supplement what little knowledge he had. Again, he glanced at Harry's reflection. The boy was subdued, his thoughts obviously deep. Ciel Phantomhive allowed himself a little smirk.

Let's see how far Dumbledore can bend Potter before he breaks, he thought.

. . .

Aside from Malfoy's sudden appearance, the ride to Hogwarts was wholly uneventful. The witch with the trolley came by again and everyone—with the exception of Ciel—gorged themselves on the sweets the witch had to offer.

"Why don't you try a chocolate frog?" Hermione offered politely to Ciel. The boy had been nothing but quiet for the remainder of the ride. "You may not have had these yet."

Ciel glanced at her. "Chocolate...frog?" He raised an eyebrow. He held out his hand as his curiosity got the better of him.

Hermione smiled as she leaned over and deposited the small box into his hand. Everyone seemed to watch as Ciel slowly opened the box.

"Be careful with it," Luna warned.

Ciel untied the ribbon. His eyebrows shot up in surprise as the lid popped off and a literal chocolate frog hopped out of the box and onto his arm. "What the—?" he said.

The frog croaked and leapt onto his head. Harry and the others couldn't help but chuckle at the flustered expression the little nobleman wore.

Luna laughed as she reached over and retrieved the frog from the boy's head. "Here," she said, handing him the frog. "You eat the frog, not wear them on your head like a hat. It isn't like the Megelwilk, you know."

Ciel blinked at her as he held the frog in his hand. "The what?" he asked. This girl was...strange.

Luna beamed. "Megelwilks are very cute creatures. They look like a big round furry hat, and they sort of just sit atop a person's head for hours on end. Of course, the person can't notice because Megelwilks can become invisible. Daddy thinks they like sitting on a person's head, because it makes them feel superior and..."

Ciel let Luna go on as he turned his attention to the squirming chocolate frog in his hand. He lifted it to his lips and bit the head off. Instead of chocolate, he tasted nothing but ash, like he always did when he ate mortal food. For a moment, a pang of regret hit him in the face and he easily brushed it aside. Someone like him did not regret a step taken to achieve his goal.

He frowned as he ate the rest of the frog. It was then that he noticed a card in the box of the chocolate frog. The card had a picture on it. It was a man with a sweeping silver beard and half-moon glasses.

"Dumbledore," Ciel said quietly as Dumbledore's image smiled cheerfully up at him. He raised an eyebrow. "He moved."

"Pictures in the wizarding world always move. Blimey, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you lived under a rock," Ron said, raising an eyebrow at him. "Ah, you got Dumbledore? Keep him. You can collect more cards."

Ciel nodded as he flipped the card over. At the back was a short description of Dumbledore's achievements, including his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald. If Dumbledore could defeat a dark wizard, what could stop him from defeating Voldemort?

"We're almost there, I expect," Hermione announced as she stood up and peered out the window. "It's time to change."

. . .

It was nightfall by the time the train came to a full stop at Hogsmeade station. Harry, along with Ron and the others, made for the carriages that would take them to school. Though not a first year, Ciel had to take the traditional boat ride across the lake, along with the other first years.

Harry and the others joined the crowd of students that were waiting for the carriages. He glanced around the crowd, looking for any members of the Order that Remus had said would come. To his relief, he saw no one.

"Wotcher, Harry," a familiar voice said.

Harry and the others spun around. "Tonks!" Fred and George chorused.

Tonks grinned. Her hair today was long, curly and purple, her eyes a blue that rivalled Ciel Phantomhive's. "I'm your guard, Harry," she announced, grinning at him.

Harry grinned, trying to quell his disappointment at having a guard. "Just you, then?"

She nodded. "In a way," she said. "I'll be accompanying you up to Hogwarts. I'm staying in an inn in the village. In the morning, I'll be patrolling the school grounds. It won't always be me, though. Others members of the Order will take my place as guard."

The carriages pulled up, drawn by the Thestrals seen only by a few students. Luna, Fred, George and Ginny took one carriage, while Harry, Ron, Hermione and Tonks took another.

"So, what do you lot make of Ciel Phantomhive?" Ron suddenly asked once they had gotten settled and the carriages began moving.

"Ciel Phantomhive?" Tonks said, frowning. "He's here?"

"Yeah," Harry said, narrowing his eyes at her. "You know him?"

Tonks shook her head. "Not...really," she said, her voice trailing off.

Harry, Ron and Hermione glanced at one another. It was blatantly obvious that Tonks knew something. "What do you know about him?" Harry asked.

Tonks huffed. "I said I didn't know him," she said, leaning back in her seat and folding her arms. They gave her an almost McGonagall-like look. "Oh, fine!" she said, sighing. "I overheard Dumbledore mention that some muggle nobleman would be attending Hogwarts this year. That's all."

Harry leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh. He could not shake the feeling that the Order was hiding something from him.

. . .

"First years, this way!" Ciel barely heard the stern-faced witch's words as he followed behind the other first years towards the entrance hall. The first years had given him strange looks, not only for the fact that he looked older than them, but also because of his eyepatch. For a brief instant, he wondered if contact lenses could hide the contract mark in his eye.

He was pulled out of his thoughts when he noticed the stern-faced witch glance around at them. Her eyes seemed to linger on him for a moment before she spoke.

"My name is Professor McGonagall," she said. "In a few moments' time, you will be sorted in your Houses. Now, during your stay at Hogwarts, your House will be like your family. Achievements will earn you points for your respective Houses. Any rule breaking and you will lose House points." She paused for a moment, her eyes lingering on Ciel. "Kindly wait here for a moment."

Ciel watched as McGonagall left the chamber through a door on the right. The loud buzzing noise of a hundred students wafted into the chamber from the door she had left. He turned his attention to the group of first years. They were now chattering excitedly, wondering which House they would be sorted into.

"I'm sure I'll be in Gryffindor," a boy was saying. "My family's been in it for generations."

"I'll run out the door if I get sorted into Slytherin," a girl was saying.

"What's wrong with Slytherin?" another girl said to the first. There was contempt in her voice. "My family has been in Slytherin since the time of the great Salazar Slytherin himself."

"Oh, that says a lot," the first girl said, rolling her eyes.

Before the Slytherin-girl could answer, a voice suddenly rang throughout the chamber. "What do weeee have heeere?"

The first years gasped as they pointed upward. A little man with wicked dark eyes and a wide mouth was hovering above them. He wore a bell-covered hat and orange bow tie and was blowing a loud, wet raspberry. In his hands, he held bits of crumpled and soggy parchment.

Ciel frowned. This little man was, if he was not mistaken, a poltergeist. Easy enough to deal with—if he was being demonic, that is. Under the guise of a student ignorant of the wizarding world, however...

"Itsy, bitsy, ickle firsties!" the poltergeist said gleefully. "Oh, won't this be fun?" He began dropping the soggy balls of parchment on the first years. Girl screamed as the soggy bits of paper fell on their hair and face. Boys tried swatting away the bits of paper with their arms, screaming louder than the girls.

"Hahahaha!" the poltergeist said as he swooped down. He dumped the entire stack of paper onto an unsuspecting girl, who screamed louder than a banshee.

The cackling spirit placed both hands on his heaving belly as he laughed at the mayhem he had caused. He looked down at them, and the first years took several steps back, afraid of what he might throw next. His eyebrows rose in surprise when his dark eyes landed on Ciel.

"Oooh!" the potergeist said as he darted down towards the boy. The first years gasped as they parted like the Red Sea to let him pass.

Ciel frowned as the mischievous spirit stopped, hovering just in front of him. "What do we have here?" he said, cackling. "A little too old for a firstie, you are! And what does Peevesy see here?"

Before Ciel could blink, Peeves snatched his eyepatch. "Hey!" he snapped. He kept his other eye closed as he made a lunge for his eyepatch. Admittedly, Peeves had been quick. Ciel inwardly scowled, as he imagined Sebastian's snide laughter at his lack of speed.

"What's wrong with your eye, ickle firstie?" Peeves said tauntingly, false concern in his voice. As Ciel tried to reach him, he floated higher into the air, cackling madly.

Ciel glared up at him. He could jump up, but Peeves was almost twenty feet above ground—an impossible jump for a human. "Give it back," Ciel said, his voice low, almost deadly.

"Come and get it, little firstie!" Peeves taunted, waving his eyepatch high above him. "Itsy bitsy firstie wants something from Peevesy!"

Before Ciel could lose his temper, a voice cut through the entrance hall.


The double doors to the right suddenly burst open and McGonagall strode out, her nostrils flaring. Beyond the double doors, Ciel could make out hundreds of students seated at long tables, before the two doors closed again.

McGonagall stood in front of them, her eyes narrowed up at the floating spirit. "Causing mayhem just before the sorting! You had best stop it, Peeves, otherwise I shall inform the Bloody Baron!"

Peeves's only answer was to blow a loud, wet raspberry before dropping Ciel's eyepatch. He caught it and tied it back on just as Peeves zoomed off. McGonagall watched him go before turning her attention back to them.

"That was Peeves," she announced. "He is the poltergeist of Hogwarts, and it would be prudent of you to avoid him. He only answers to the Bloody Baron." She turned her eyes to Ciel. "Has he stolen anything from you, Mr. Phantomhive?"

Ciel inwardly smirked. No doubt, Dumbledore told her about him. "He returned it, Professor," he reassured.

She nodded, as she turned to the other first years. "Kindly fall back into line and follow behind me. They are ready for you."

. . .

"Looks like Dumbledore couldn't find anyone this year," Harry said, his eyes surveying the staff table. He was seated between Ron and Hermione. McGonagall had just left to get the first years.

"For what?" Ron asked.

"Defense Against the Dark Arts," Hermione said, her eyes on the staff table as well.

Ron shrugged. "The job's jinxed, remember?"

Hermione frowned. "This is bad. How are we supposed to prepare for our N.E.W.T.s?"

Before anyone could share her sentiments, the double doors opened and McGonagall walked in, followed by the first years. Harry could see Ciel Phantomhive sticking out like a sore thumb because of his height. McGonagall led them towards the staff table. She motioned for them to stop and she conjured a chair out of thin air. With another flick of her wand, the Sorting Hat appeared on the stool. A hushed silence fell across the Great Hall as a slit near the brim of the hat appeared, and it began to sing:

A millennia or so ago,
When I was fresh and new,
There lived four great friends
Who were united through and through.
Shrewd Slytherin and bold Gryffindor
Quite the pair, indeed!
Each there for the other
When he was in need.
Fair Ravenclaw and sweet Hufflepuff,
Never far apart,
Always helping each other
With her clever mind and kindly heart.
The four friends shared a hope, a dream
To educate your sorcerers
Thus they hatched their scheme.
Said Gryffindor, "I shall teach those
Whose bravery runs deep."
Said Ravenclaw, "Those with keen
wits, I shall surely keep!"
Declared Slytherin, "I shall take those
Whose ancestry is purest."
Said Hufflepuff, "I shall aid those
whose diligence is surest!"
And so did they divide
Their favorites from the throng
Each never thinking
That something could go wrong.
Hush, listen to this old hat's tale
Of how the four thought
Their bond would never fail.
Said Slytherin one day,
"Take only those of pure blood
and keep the unclean at bay."
Countered Gryffindor,
"Are they not all the same?
Look at their skills, not at their name!"
Thus, the two friends fought,
and old Slytherin left one morn,
leaving everyone quite distraught.
Four friends whittled down to three,
Their sorrows witnessed by me.
As the centuries go by,
I continued my duty
Of sorting each of you lot.
Dividing potential bonds,
And stirring discord and strife!
But now's not the time for petty fights,
For our Hogwarts is in danger
And you have cause to fear for your very life.
Stand firm within,
And be the pillars that hold up our school.
But, for now, let the sorting begin.

A deep hush followed the hat's song, and then a slow applause began to spread through the Great Hall. "It's the same message from last year," Harry muttered as he clapped with the rest.

Hermione nodded. "Be united, stand firm."

Ron huffed. "I don't fancy getting matey with the Slytherins," he said, throwing a look at the Slytherin table.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

McGonagall stood beside the hat, unrolled a sheet of parchment, and read the first name, "Aisler, Rachel!" she called out.

Harry and the others watched as a timid-looking girl stumbled towards the stool. She sat and McGonagall put the hat on her head. "Gryffindor!" the hat announced.

Harry clapped with the others. "Aster, Ian!"


"Bentley, Edwin!"


"Childer, Diana!"


"Detrex, Creusa!"


"Etherhart, Helen!"


Harry watched as the throng of first years diminished. He frowned in puzzlement as McGonagall called out "Porter, Mike!", without mentioning "Phantomhive".

The last of the first years were finally sorted, leaving Ciel standing in front of the stool. "Starting on his third year, we have Phantomhive, Ciel," Professor McGonagall announced.

Finally, Ciel thought as he ascended towards the stool. The last thing he saw before the hat's brim covered his vision were the curious looks of the students, some of whom stood up to get a good look at him.

He felt the hat shudder as it touched his head. Ah, the hat said, its voice echoing through his mind. Earl Ciel Phantomhive, our noble guest.

Get on with it, Ciel thought.

The hat chuckled. Beings like you aren't normally accepted into Hogwarts, it went on. I have never met one of your kind before. I daresay, Godric Gryffindor himself would have loved to duel with someone of your ilk.

Ciel rolled his eyes.

The hat was silent for a moment. Setting aside your...difference...I find your mind quite hard to place, Ciel Phantomhive. Your nature is power-hungry—you'd fit right well in Slytherin. But...I can sense a spark of something in you. Courage, compassion—virtues I'm surprised a demon like you would have.

Your point? Ciel thought.

Will you let this spark turn into a blaze, I wonder? Hm...highly unlikely. Would it be Slytherin, then?

Put me in Gryffindor, Ciel thought. His master's orders were quite clear, and being in Gryffindor would make his role easier.

You're the second Slytherin who asked to be put in Gryffindor, you know. Are you sure? You're the very antithesis of a true Gryffindor, you know. Well then, if you're quite determined...

"Gryffindor!" the hat announced.

Ciel whipped the hat off his head as the Gryffindors burst into applause. He made his way towards the table, intent on sitting on the farthest edge, away from the other students, when the girl called Hermione scooted over to make room for him.

"Sit next to us, Ciel," she said politely. Harry and Ron stared at her.

Ciel nodded as he sat between her and Harry. Several of the Gryffindors glanced hesitantly at him before speaking up.

"Will you introduce us to your friend, Harry?" Lee Jordan, who was sitting next to the twins across the table, asked.

Harry nodded. "This is Ciel Phantomhive," he said. "Ciel, that's Lee Jordan. Next to him is Neville Longbottom."

Neville smiled timidly at the stern-faced Earl. "Hi," Neville said hesitantly. Ciel nodded in acknowledgement.

Was he shy, or just distant? Harry couldn't help but think Ciel's rather aloof aura would somehow ensure he had little friends. He pushed the thought from his mind as Dumbledore suddenly rose to his feet and a general hush fell throughout the Great Hall.

"To our first timers, welcome! To our old students, welcome back. I trust your brains are all nice and filled with cobwebs for this year," Dumbledore said, raising both his hands in the air. Ciel smirked at the sight of Dumbledore's gloved hands. "Before we proceed to our delectable feast, Mr. Filch, the caretaker, wishes me to inform you all to adhere to the school rules, which may be read in his office. I would explain them myself, but I am fully aware that your minds will be on your dinner."

"Lastly," Dumbledore went on. "I am...pleased to inform you"—Ciel didn't miss the almost unnoticeable trace of hesitation in the old man's voice and smiled slightly—"that I have managed, once again, to fill in the post of Defense of Against the Dark Arts."

Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged looks, wondering who the unlucky witch/wizard was. Before they could ponder further, the double doors opened, and a young man strode into the Great Hall, his robes swirling around him as he walked (How dramatic, Ciel thought, scoffing).

Harry's eyes widened. Even though he had only seen him once, he had no trouble recognizing the pale complexion, the crimson eyes, and the messy dark hair. "But," Harry said, turning to Ciel. "Isn't...isn't he your butler? I mean, tutor?"

Ciel nodded as a slow smile crept on his lips. "I did tell you he found another job elsewhere," he said. He actually grinned—almost mischievously—at the identical flabbergasted expressions Harry, Ron and Hermione wore.

Harry watched as Sebastian Michaelis walked right up to the staff table. Sebastian turned around to face the students as Dumbledore spoke up again. "I would like to introduce you all to Professor Michaelis," he announced. "As you have no doubt guessed, he will be filling the vacant post for Defense Against the Dark Arts."

"Look at Snape!" Ron said, with apparent glee. The Potions Master did not look the least bit pleased at losing a position he wanted to someone younger than him—and he didn't bother to hide it.

"I'm honored that Professor Dumbledore thought me competent enough to fill this post," Sebastian announced, a charming smile on his face.

Harry couldn't help but notice the vast majority of the female population listening rapturously to him—including Hermione. He caught her eye and he raised an eyebrow at her. She blushed, but continued listening anyway.

"As I am relatively new to Hogwarts, I do hope you lot will go easy on me," Sebastian went on, his crimson eyes flickering to the Gryffindor table—to where Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ciel were. The corner of his mouth twitched with amusement as he pulled his gaze away from them.

"That will be all," Sebastian said. "Thank you for enduring."

"Trust me, I wasn't enduring," Parvati Patil said to Lavender Brown. They both giggled.

Sebastian smiled again before he took a seat at the staff table, next to Snape. Harry frowned as he watched Snape saying something to Sebastian.

"At least our N.E.W.T.s won't have to suffer," Hermione muttered. "Since we've got a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, I mean."

"Well," Harry muttered to himself. "Sebastian Michaelis as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." He suddenly remembered Sebastian's glowing, red eyes as he smiled at Bellatrix with an almost feral hunger. "Rather ironic, I think."

. . .

I did promise you it would be long ;)

Anyway, what did you guys think of this chapter? I think it was a bit too rushed. I dunno, what do you lot think? Oh, and I'm sorry if the Sorting Hat song sounds rather...dull xD I'm not good when it comes to composing. Read and review, please!