IV

That Butler, Learning

. . .

"Hard studies all, that have cost me dear
And so I sit, poor silly man
No wiser now, than when I began!"
-Faust, Goethe's Faust, Part I

. . .

Ciel sat near one of the windows of the boys' dormitory, staring out at the inky black sky. The other third year boys had already fallen asleep, their snores echoing softly around him. He frowned. Demons like him did not need sleep, but it was a luxury he could afford. And luxuries were something that he often indulged in.

But tonight, he didn't feel like indulging in any luxury.

He stood up and threw a cloak over his pyjamas. It was already one in the morning, and everyone should be asleep by now. Silent like a shadow, he left the dormitory, headed down to the Common Room and out the portrait hole.

The dark corridors were deserted and silent, the only sound being the crackling of the fires in the torches. He listened quietly, confident that his demonic hearing would alert him to the presence of any human.

He made his way through the corridors, and down the changing staircases (the fact that they moved had amused him, but he didn't dare admit this out loud). He found himself in the entrance hall and presently heard footsteps fast approaching.

Ciel frowned and retreated into the shadows, blending into the darkness. The footsteps grew louder and presently, Sebastian came into view. What was he doing out here? the young Earl wondered. He had not given Sebastian any instructions...but Dumbledore might have.

"My Lord," Sebastian said, his red eyes immediately snapping to the hidden Earl. "Let us not forget who taught you that little trick."

Ciel glared at him as he emerged from the shadows. The bastard. "Why are you wandering the halls?" Ciel demanded, a hand on his hip.

Sebastian smiled. "I sensed you roving about the castle," he admitted, "which is rather fortunate. It saves me the trouble of sneaking into Gryffindor tower."

Ciel frowned. "And why?"

The butler tilted his head at his master. "There is something I need to teach you, My Lord, before you start classes."

The demonic Earl crossed his arms and frowned at his butler. "Well, out with it."

Sebastian's smile widened. "You do realize, my Lord, that during your stay here, you are expected to perform magic...human magic?"

Ciel scoffed. "Obviously."

"Well, my Lord," Sebastian went on. "This is highly impossible for the likes of us. Our brand of magic is far more destructive than the humans'. After all, sire, it is a demon's nature to wreak as much havoc and chaos as possible."

Ciel was somehow reminded of a more dangerous version of Fred and George. "The point, Sebastian?" he said impatiently.

"As your butler and mentor, I shall teach you how to channel this destructive force into a more, shall we say, harmless form via a fake wand." The butler's smile made Ciel narrow his eyes. "After all, my Lord, we can't have you showing up for your lessons without a grain of magical know-how in you, now, can we?"

Ciel scowled at him. "How long will this take?"

"Oh, to an experienced demon, perhaps two or three nights," Sebastian said dismissively. "But, in your case, young Master, I would say about...several weeks to a month."

Ciel glared. "You bastard." He suspected (and he knew he was right on this) that Sebastian purposely withheld this from him so as to cause him humiliation.

"However, it may be necessary to practice away from Hogwarts," Sebastian mused, as though he had not heard Ciel. "What, with your inexperienced control, and your constant outbursts of frustration should you be unable to get anything right..." He trailed off and smiled at his Master, who looked as though he was about throttle the butler.

"Shut up—that's an order," Ciel snapped.

Sebastian smirked and placed a hand on his chest as he bowed to his master, neither sound nor word escaping him.

. . .

Harry stared up at the canopy of his four-poster. There were certain nights when sleep eluded him, and this was one of those nights. Come to think of it...did sleep elude him, or did he elude it?

He closed his eyes. There were times when he found that he just didn't want to sleep—times when he wanted to evade the dreams he knew waited for him. And lately, he had every reason to avoid his dreams.

Yawning, Harry reached over to his bedside table for his glasses. He groped underneath his pillow for his wand.

"Lumos," he murmured. The wand tip immediately flared with light, casting shadows on the drawn curtains of his four-poster. He retrieved the Marauder's map from his trunk and spread it across the blankets, his brilliant green eyes intently scanning the blank piece of parchment.

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," he whispered, tapping the parchment with his illuminated wand tip. Sometimes he found that perusing the Marauder's Map helped him sleep.

Lines of ink spread from the tip of his wand, like wiggling worms. They connected with one another to form a detailed map of the Hogwarts castle and grounds, along with their secret passages.

Harry lay back on the pillows, holding the map in front of his face with one hand, and keeping his wand in the other. His eyes settled on the small dot labelled 'Mrs. Norris', which was prowling along the fourth floor corridor. Another dot labelled 'Argus Filch' was skulking along the corridor to the entrance hall.

Harry quickly sat up.

Two dots labelled 'Ciel Phantomhive' and 'Sebastian Michaelis' lingered in the entrance hall. He glanced towards Ron's curtains, eager to tell him of this latest development, but the snoring coming from Ron's direction only told him that trying to wake Ron would be a waste of time.

Harry glanced back at the map, and rapidly blinked his eyes in disbelief. What were Ciel and Sebastian doing at this time of hour? As Harry continued staring, perplexed, the dot labelled 'Argus Filch' appeared in the entrance hall. Harry watched as Filch's dot made its way towards Ciel and Sebastian. To Harry's surprise, Filch's dot moved passed Sebastian and Ciel, moved passed the other two dots as though he hadn't seen them...

Harry frowned as he leaned back against his pillows. Had Filch already known that Ciel and Sebastian would be up? If not, then had the caretaker failed to see them? Remembering the way Filch's eyes bulged at the slightest whiff of mischief, Harry thought this highly unlikely...

He frowned as he watched the dots of Ciel and Sebastian step out of the great double oak doors. He narrowed his eyes. It looked as though they were headed in the direction of the Forbidden Forest...

Did Ciel get detention already? Harry couldn't think of any other reason for their trip into the Forest.

"Mischief managed," Harry whispered. The map suddenly went blank, as though its contents had been wiped clean.

Harry removed his glasses and pummelled his pillow, his thoughts dwelling on Ciel and Sebastian. He would tell Ron and Hermione about them tomorrow, he thought, as sleep finally came to him.

. . .

Ciel stepped out into the cold night air, the wind whipping his hair. Behind him, Sebastian carefully closed the great double oak doors of the entrance hall, restoring the broken security enchantments with his own magic. Ciel glared at him from over his shoulder.

"Where should we go, then?" the young Earl asked.

Sebastian nodded towards the Forbidden Forest to the east of the castle. The dark outline of the trees swayed ominously against the starry night sky. Without another word, both master and butler made for the forest, neither paying any mind to the flickering lights in the window of the gamekeeper's cabin.

"It's quiet," Ciel said as he Sebastian stepped into the shadows of the forest. He glanced around. Truth be told, he was hoping to catch a glimpse of a mythological creature come to life (he wouldn't dare admit this aloud), but it seemed as though luck was not on his side.

"Naturally," Sebastian said as he led his young master deeper into the forest. "Even magical creatures fear beings of our kind."

Ciel scoffed. "And here I thought I would finally be able to see chimeras and dragons."

"The forest does not house such creatures, Young Master," Seabstian said. They walked deeper into the forest, the leafy canopy above them thickening with each step they took. "If I recall what the gamekeeper told me, he made mention that the Forest is home to centaurs, acromantulas, and the like."

"Acromantulas?"

"Giant spiders," Sebastian said promptly.

They walked on for a few more minutes until they came to a clearing. The thick canopy above them prevented even the slightest ray of moonlight from illuminating the clearing. If it weren't for his demonic eyes, Ciel would have been blinded by the darkness.

"This area will do," Sebastian said, glancing about the field.

"And what exactly are we going to do?" Ciel demanded. He crossed his arms.

"I shall teach you how to channel your demonic magic into something a little more tame," Sebastian explained. "Be warned that, as you are highly inexperienced and very young for a demon, you maybe...a little slow in learning."

Ciel glared. "You bastard," the Earl hissed.

Sebastian gave him an insincere smile. "Well then, Young Master, shall we begin?"

Ciel's glare only intensified and Sebastian let out a chuckle. "The first thing you need to do, Young Master, is to feel your power," Sebastian instructed as he whipped out his tutor glasses and put them on.

The demonic Earl rolled his eyes. He had been feeling his power for decades. "Next," Ciel said impatiently.

The butler raised an eyebrow. "You need to focus on being aware of the full extent of your power, Young Master," Sebastian warned. "Otherwise, you will have little control over the energy you will unleash."

"Next," Ciel repeated firmly.

Sebastian let out a sigh. "Visualize what 'shape' you want this energy to take," he instructed.

Ciel narrowed his eyes. "Be more specific."

"You are the one who needs to be specific on what you want your demonic energy to become," Sebastian said, as he paced around Ciel, hands clasped firmly behind his back. "Do you want to conjure something out of thin air, say, perhaps, a knife? Or do you want to launch a blast of demonic energy at an opponent?" Sebastian smiled again.

Ciel nodded. It sounded simple enough. He looked around the empty clearing, confident that no magical creature was going to intrude on his concentration. Glancing at the ground in front of him, Ciel narrowed his eyes and visualized a replica of himself (Sebastian had tried it once, as a prank, and he had not gotten over it).

Nothing happened.

Sebastian clicked his tongue. "Young master, you are so used to conjuring inconsequential objects worthy of the Weasley twins. Is it safe to presume you were trying to conjure something more complex this time?"

Ciel glared. "Shut up."

"Remember," Sebastian went on, as though he heard nothing. "If you were trying to create a replica of yourself, in an attempt to even the score with me"—Ciel raised his eyebrows—"I suggest we move on to simpler matters for now. Learning to mimic human magic is far easier than conjuring a sentient being."

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" Ciel snapped.

"I was about to, before you saw fit to interrupt me with your brazen confidence," Sebastian said. Ciel hated the smile on his face.

Ciel fumed. "Right, then," he muttered. "Tell me everything I need to know."

"You can shape your magic to mimic human spells," Sebastian went on. He pulled out a long, black wand from within the folds of his robe. Ciel knew it to be a fake, like his, gotten on the day they had gone to Diagon Alley. "Observe, Young Master."

Sebastian held the wand in front of him, and said, "Lumos!"

The wand tip suddenly flared with light, illuminating the dark clearing around them. "You try," Sebastian said. "Remember, say the words and shape your magic."

Ciel took out his wand. "Lumos!" he said, focusing his magic, and willing it to shape into a point of light on his wand tip.

To Ciel's frustration, the wand tip sparked with light, which promptly faded away. "My, my," Sebastian said, sighing. "It seems that you need more practice, Young Master."

Ciel glared.

. . .

"Harry, are you absolutely positive?" Hermione asked for the third time that morning, her forkful of egg dripping quietly onto her plate

Harry let out a weary sigh. They were seated in the Great Hall for breakfast and, having made sure that no one could overhear them, he had just told Ron and Hermione about his midnight perusal of the Marauder's map.

"Yes, Hermione," Harry said. Glancing around, he lowered his voice and leaned across the table. "The dots were labelled 'Ciel Phantomhive', and 'Sebastian Michaelis'. I'm sure of it."

"But what could they be doing in the middle of the night?" Ron wondered aloud. "Why didn't you wake me, anyway?"

"You were snoring," Harry pointed out. "I doubt a troll could've woken you up."

Ron gave him a look. "Anyway," Hermione said, setting down her fork. "So Filch didn't see them?"

"I don't think so," Harry said. "I mean, his dot just moved past them. If he'd seen them, he would have at least stopped for a moment, wouldn't he?"

Hermione looked thoughtful. "But what if—"

"He knew they'd be there already?" Harry finished for her. "Let's say Filch knew. But why would Ciel and Sebastian be there in the first place? Ciel got into trouble already?"

Ron was about to say something, but Hermione cut him off. "I think Professor Michaelis is sort of just checking up on Ciel, is all," she said. "He was his tutor, the son of his mum's close friend...Almost like family, I think."

Ron raised his eyebrows. "And you think Sebastian Michaelis—"

"Professor Michaelis, Ron," Hermione corrected.

Ron rolled his eyes. "And you think Professor Michaelis is carrying on as Ciel's big brother?" he said skeptically.

Hermione sighed. "I said he's sort of just checking up on Ciel, not playing the big brother," she pointed out.

"Well, if you ask me," Ron began, and their regular early morning row began.

Harry sighed. Hermione did have a point. Maybe Sebastian was just looking after Ciel out of habit, like Hermione said? Harry took a bite out of his toast and chewed slowly, his thoughts swirling around Ciel and Sebastian. There was something off about them—especially about Sebastian. Though Ron and Hermione seemed to have put it out of their minds he, Harry, could not forget the way Sebastian's eyes had glowed red as he slowly removed a dagger that had been stabbed into his chest, right into his heart...

"Someone's had a bad morning," Dean suddenly commented.

Ron and Hermione stopped bickering just as Dean pointed with his chin towards the great double doors of the Entrance Hall. Ciel Phantomhive strode through the doors, his black eye-patch visible against his pale skin, a heavy frown on his face. Several students turned their heads to stare, but Ciel defiantly ignored them as he strode past the other three House tables.

"Think he'll sit with us?" Ron muttered in an undertone.

As though he heard him, Ciel's blue eye snapped in their direction. Harry was about to scoot over to make room, but Ciel turned and sat down at the far end of the table, away from the other students.

Hermione glared at Ron. "Nice," she commented scathingly.

"What?" Ron demanded. "What, in the name of Merlin's beard, have I done this early in the morning? I just said—"

"What you said doesn't matter—it's how you said it!" Hermione snapped.

"How I—"

"Don't play dumb, Ronald," Hermione said, rolling her eyes. "You didn't sound very friendly, and I think Ciel heard you!"

"Heard me? Hermione, heard me?" Ron said, incredulous. "D'you realize he was right down the table? Not to mention the noise this lot makes in the morning..." He gestured to the students chattering about them.

Harry sighed as Ron and Hermione continued with their row. Taking a sip of his pumpkin juice, his eyes strayed to where Ciel was. Ciel took a bite of toast, grimaced and chewed. He didn't seem to be enjoying his breakfast. Then again, he didn't seem to be enjoying the morning much. Harry found himself wondering whether or not Ciel's late night encounter with Sebastian had something to do with the nobleman's sour expression.

Ciel's solitary blue eye suddenly snapped to him.

Harry blinked. Ciel grinned, his blue eye flashing into red. Harry blinked again. Ciel was no longer looking at him, but staring down moodily at his empty plate, his blue eye narrowed in scorn.

Harry frowned. Was he starting to imagine things?

"Look who's here," Parvati Patil suddenly said, giggling. She and Lavender Brown were both staring at the great double doors.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione whipped around in their seats just as Professor Michaelis entered the room, his black robes billowing about him in a way that would have made Snape envious. Harry had to hand it to him—he certainly knew how to make a dramatic entrance without even trying.

"Good morning," Sebastian said, smiling at several girls as he walked past the Ravenclaw table. The girls giggled, blushing furiously.

"Oy!" Ron said, snapping his two fingers in front of Hermione's face.

"What?" Hermione said, startled.

"Stop gawking at him!"

"I wasn't gawking at him, Ron!" Hermione snapped, going scarlet.

"Then stop drooling over him!" Ron said.

Hermione glared, took out her Ancient Runes book, and refused to speak to Ron. Harry turned his attention to Sebastian Michaelis. The young man walked up to the staff table, greeting his fellow teachers with a pleasant 'good morning'. Harry was amused to see Professor Sinistra and Professor Sprout blushing. Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling with amusement, while Snape only glared with unconcealed venom.

Ciel rolled his eyes. Oh, Sebastian had his way with the ladies, which, on occasion, came in handy; but which, most of the time, was just annoying. The show-off.

The demonic Earl turned his attention away from the teachers' table to survey the students. From across the hall, he could see Draco Malfoy and his two cronies huddled together in deep conversation. Ciel narrowed his eyes as he strained to hear them.

"No...I've already checked...usually deserted," the one named Crabbe was saying.

Ciel strained even more, inwardly cursing the general noise of the other students.

"Don't be stupid...I'll...another..." Malfoy hissed. "...can't afford…"

Malfoy's voice was completely drowned out by the flutter of a hundred owls as they suddenly swooped into the Great Hall. Ciel inwardly cursed as he looked up at the birds that flew overhead, encircling the Great Hall in search of the recipients of their parcels. He admitted that, despite his sour mood, he was rather fascinated—wizards may be old fashioned, but at least they had style (which, come to think of it, was somewhat contradictory).

A snowy white owl stood out from the others. It had no package tied to its leg and, unlike the other owls, the moment it flew into the hall, it swooped down the table to land imperiously on Harry Potter's outstretched arm.

For a fleeting instant, Ciel remembered how the Phantomhive family owl used to land on his arm in exactly the same manner. He frowned, thrusting the memory to the back of his mind as he continued observing Potter.

"Want some?" Harry offered, raising a piece of toast to Hedwig. She gratefully took the proffered toast, and nipped him affectionately on the finger. She dipped her beak into his goblet of pumpkin juice before hopping onto his shoulder, her soft wings brushing against his cheek.

"She seems particularly affectionate this morning," Hermione remarked.

"Nah, I'm just really loveable—ow!" Harry winced as Hedwig nipped him in the ear.

Ron and Hermione roared with laughter. Harry couldn't help it—he laughed along with them. Hedwig screeched shrilly as Harry's laughter made her sway on his shoulder.

"Ow!" Harry gasped as Hedwig nipped his ear. "Right, right, I'll behave!" Harry said, as he reached up to stroke Hedwig's head.

Ciel frowned. From what Dumbledore had told him of Potter, he expected the boy to be just like him—bitter, angry, and filled with a burning need for revenge. After all, the boy's parents had been killed (just like his), and he had been practically abused for most of his life by his own flesh and blood. And yet...

Potter was still smiling.

He was resilient, Ciel would admit as much. Would that mean that he, the Earl of Phantomhive, lacked the resilience that Potter seemed to possess?

No. They were different. Potter had not gone through what he had to endure. Potter had neither been tortured, starved, nor branded. Nor had he experienced almost being sacrificed to a devil...

"Mr. Phantomhive?"

A stern and curt voice snapped Ciel out of his musings. Professor McGonagall, their head of House, was standing behind him.

"Good morning, Professor," Ciel said deferentially.

Professor McGonagall nodded. "I would like to have a quick chat with you regarding your course schedule," she began. She waved her wand, and a piece of parchment appeared in the air. She snatched it, and read it for a moment before continuing.

"I have been speaking to Professor Dumbledore, and he has informed me that you have been taught the necessary subjects required for first and second years." She gave him a piercing look, which he unblinkingly returned.

"Yes, Professor," he said.

"He has also informed me that Professor Michaelis happened to be your tutor," she went on. There was something in her tone that made Ciel believe Dumbledore did tell them about him and Sebastian.

He gave her a small smile. "Yes, Professor," he said.

She nodded curtly. "Hogwarts does not force students to attend the school," she went on. "However, it is still the school's duty to ensure that students receiving education at home are well trained."

"Sebastian was more than capable," Ciel said.

"I've no doubt of that," Professor McGonagall said, giving him a telling stare. Ciel grinned at her as she pressed her lips into a thin line.

"Well, all seems to be in order with you," she went on, as she tapped the piece of parchment. She nodded curtly at him as she handed him his schedule. "Enjoy your stay at Hogwarts, Mr. Phantomhive."

Ciel took it. "I'm sure I will, Professor."

Professor McGonagall didn't say another word as she turned on her heel and strode off, emerald green robes swirling behind her. Ciel watched her go, and then looked down at his schedule.

"I can't believe this!"

Ciel's blue eye snapped up. Potter and his two friends had just finished breakfast were already getting up from the table.

"I mean, look at this schedule!" Ron said as he thrust his parchment underneath Hermione's nose. "History of Magic, Herbology, and Transfiguration, all in one day! Great way to start the term. I'll be bored to death before the week is out, mark my words!"

"But Herbology and Transfiguration are all right," Harry said, looking at his parchment as Ron gave him an incredulous look.

"All right?" Ron said, bewildered. "Sure, they're all right...but any subject that follows History of Magic..." He trailed off, finally noticing the look that Hermione was once again giving him.

"What?" Ron said in exasperation.

Hermione shook her head, and rolled her eyes. Just then, she caught sight of Ciel, who had just gotten up from the table.

"Hello, Ciel!" Hermione called out, much to Harry's surprise.

Ciel froze, deliberated, and then turned to face them. "Hello," he said promptly, giving them a small smile.

"How are you this morning?" Hermione asked politely. She eyed the schedule in his hand. "Good week?"

"It's fine," Ciel said. Dumbledore did say it would be easier to befriend Potter. "I've got Charms first, that should be interesting enough." Ciel inwardly frowned. He had not properly learned to channel his demonic energy last night. Charms would be a disaster, unless the professor who taught it didn't call on him.

"Haven't you had Charms before?" Hermione asked, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, weren't you taught Charms at home?"

"I was," Ciel said, inwardly swearing at his mistake. "I was referring to the professor. I've been much too used to Sebastian, so I'm wondering what the Charms professor will be like."

"Professor Flitwick's nice enough," Harry said. Ciel turned to him, and Harry momentarily wondered whether that blue eye would flash to red.

"I'll take your word for it," Ciel muttered.

"Say, why don't you come with us on your way to Charms?" Hermione suggested.

Ron and Harry stared at her. "I don't think you know where the rooms are yet. You might end up lost, or worse, late for class," Hermione went on, giving the nobleman a smile.

Ciel blinked, surprised at her offer. He would have thought that Potter and his friends would be suspicious of him...

He shrugged. "That's fine by me," he said.

Ignoring the looks that Harry and Ron were throwing her, Hermione led the way out of the Great Hall. Ciel deliberately stayed behind. In the entrance hall, they caught sight of Fred and George Weasley, both of whom were pouring over their schedules, identical frowns on their faces.

"This is hell, George," Fred was saying as they got closer.

"Bloody well is, Fred," George agreed. "If it weren't for mum, I wouldn't bother coming back for N.E.W.T.s..."

"Yeah, I think when we die, we'll become saints," Fred said dispassionately. "St. Fred and St. George. Patron saints of mischief. Not bad, though." Catching sight of Harry and the others, he raised his voice. "Oy!"

"Rough morning?" Harry asked as they approached the twins.

George sighed tragically. "Double Potions, first thing on the list," he said, waving his schedule under Harry's nose.

"Rough," Ron said.

Fred nodded solemnly then, catching sight of Ciel, said, "Ciel, isn't it?"

Ciel nodded. "Ah, I see you in the company of the Golden Trio," George said, snickering.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Better watch out, mate, you'll get into heaps of trouble, hanging out with this lot," Fred jokingly admonished.

"C'mon," Hermione said, as she led them away from Fred and George.

"See you around!" Harry called out to the twins.

"See you!" they chorused.

"So, Ciel, how was it like being a nobleman and a home-schooled wizard?" Hermione asked, when silence threatened to overtake them.

"Tiresome," Ciel replied. "I had to balance everything. Public appearances, magical classes with Sebastian, Muggle classes with a muggle tutor and whatnot."

"But now that you're at Hogwarts," Harry said as they climbed the staircase to the third floor. "Who handles all the nobleman business back at London?"

Ciel shrugged. "One of my advisors, so to speak," he said. His tone did not encourage further conversation, and presently they came to the Charms corridor.

"Charms is that way," Hermione said, pointing to the door near the end.

Ciel nodded. "Thank you," he said.

"We'll see you around," Hermione said, as she herded Harry and Ron away.

Harry glanced over his shoulder. Ciel was still staring after them. To his surprise, Ciel smirked and raised his fingers, wiggling them in goodbye. His hands, Harry noted for the first time, were gloved.

"What's wrong with his hands?" Harry wondered aloud.

Ron made a noise in the back of his throat. "He's royalty, isn't he? Maybe he just doesn't like getting them dirty," he said.

. . .

"Ciel Phantomhive, I presume?"

Ciel looked down at the tiny wizard who smiled up at him. If he remembered correctly, his name was Professor Flitwick. For a fleeting instant, he was vividly reminded of a garden gnome with a wand. He immediately banished the thought.

"Yes, Professor," he replied. From the periphery of his vision, he noted the other students craning their necks to get a good look at him. Did he really seem like such a novelty? Apparently, yes.

"Good to have you in my class, dear boy!" Flitwick said, beaming up at him. "Choose a seat."

Ciel took his seat next to a blonde Ravenclaw whose smug look and brown eyes instantly earned the demonic Earl's distaste. "Nice to finally meet the infamous Earl Phantomhive in the flesh," the boy said.

Ciel raised an eyebrow. "Pardon?"

"I'm Jonathan Alecott, by the way," the boy said, extending a hand to him. "My father is Richard Alecott, owner of the Alecott wines in the muggle word."

Ciel remembered the brand, but he had never tasted it. "Ah," he said. "Yes, I'm surprised you're here."

"As is my father," Jonathan said. "He actually planned to send me off to Oxford for college, but I got my owl on my eleventh birthday. Turns out, mum was a witch, and she never told him. Nearly had a heart attack, my old man, but he's gotten over it. Actually finds it very useful to have a witch and wizard in the family."

"Well, that's—" Ciel began.

"Dad will be over the moon when he finds out that the Earl Phantomhive is a wizard," the boy went on, chuckling at the mental image of his father.

"I don't want—" Ciel tried yet again.

"'Course, he'll be asking me a lot about you," Jonathan said. "Kind of admires your family. He keeps on saying that the Phantomhives have always been genius. Of course, like everyone he wonders why you're relations keep leaving."

"Listen, Jonathan," Ciel said. "You can't tell—"

"Now, class," Professor Flitwick said from the front, his wand held aloft. "We shall begin with an overview of the Cheering charm, its uses and incantation…"

"What was that you were saying, Phantomhive?" Jonathan asked him.

Ciel took a deep breath. He found Professor Flitwick's class to be rather interesting, and the idiot sitting next to him to be very annoying.

"I don't want you telling your old man about me," Ciel said rapidly, his eyes still on Professor Flitwick as he made a gesture with his wand and pointed it directly at a student.

"Why?" Jonathan asked.

"I don't want anyone from the House of Lords finding out about my involvement in magic," Ciel said, as though it were quite obvious.

"Why?" the idiot persisted.

Ciel turned a steely eye toward him. "Just do as you're told," he snapped. How dense could he be?

Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "Of course, my lord," he said sarcastically.

Ciel ignored his jibe and turned back to Professor Flitwick, who was now ordering the class into pairs to practice the Charm. He frowned. Damn, he didn't think he'd be performing magic this soon. Thinking back to Sebastian's class last night, he felt as though an ice cube had plummeted into his stomach. He had not mastered channelling his demonic magic.

"Partners, Phantomhive?" Jonathan said, a little too smugly.

Damn.

"As you will," Ciel said, narrowing his eyes.

Professor Flitwick waved his wand once, and the desks immediately flew to the side, pressing themselves neatly against the wall in order to give everyone a wide space in which to practice.

"You first, Alecott," Ciel said, rolling up his sleeves and brandishing the fake wand. All around them students cried out spells, some backfiring. From the corner of his eye, Ciels saw fireflies erupting from the tip of someone's wand.

Jonathan raised the wand. "Diffundo!" he cried.

Ciel felt nothing. Of course, Sebastian had told him that ordinary muggle magic could not affect anyone of their kind. Normally, he would have acted in accordance with the effects of the spell, but seeing as this was Alecott…

He blinked and looked puzzled.

"Nothing?" Jonathan asked, surprised at himself.

"Not a thing," Ciel said, trying in vain not to smile at Jonathan's flustered expression.

"Queer," the idiot said. "I'm one of the best in Ravenclaw."

Ciel chuckled. "Maybe someone cast a Delusional Charm on you."

Jonathan glared. "Go on, have a go."

Ciel's eyes darkened as he lifted the wand. Truth be told, he had a sneaking suspicion that he would end up hurting Alecott if he attempted to cast a simple charm using his demonic magic. Alecott may have been an idiot, but he didn't deserve to be hurt. Well, he did, but Ciel did not want to get into trouble with his master so soon.

He glanced around to ensure that no one was watching (in the chaos that was Charms, people simply did not have the time to stare at them). He turned to Jonathan, and his eye flashed red.

Jonathan blinked.

Do as you're told. Ciel sent the thought into Jonathan's mind. A vacant expression crossed Jonathan's face, before he nodded. Ciel smirked. He took great pride in his ability to manipulate the minds of humans.

"Good," Ciel whispered. "The moment I cast the spell, you will be cheerful, understood?"

Another nod. Ciel brandished the wand. "Diffundo!" he said, not letting a trickle of demonic energy channel through.

Jonathan immediately smiled. "I feel great!" he exclaimed, arms extending sideways. He had a rather exaggerated smile on his face as he beamed at Ciel.

"Well done, Mr. Phantomhive!" Professor Flitwick said as he came over. "Most students master the spell in three days to a week, but you have done it in one sitting! Take twenty points for Gryffindor!"

Ciel felt extremely pleased with himself as the bell rang.

. . .

"What was that, Hermione?" Ron said groggily as they traipsed out of the History of Magic class. Judging from the look on both Ron's and Harry's faces, Professor Binn's sonorous voice had truly worked its magic far better than any sleeping draught.

"I'm saying you and Harry need to be serious!" Hermione huffed, glaring at them.

"I can't be Snuffles, Hermione, he's back in London," Harry said, grinning.

She gave him a scathing look. "N.E.W.T.s are coming up, and you two aren't taking things seriously!" Hermione snapped as they quickly descended the staircase.

"Give us a break, Hermione, it's the start of term!" Ron protested.

"And already, Professor Binns gave us homework!" Hermione pointed out.

Whatever trace of drowsiness immediately vanished from Ron's voice. "Homework? He did? When?"

"When you were conveniently snoring while I took down notes!"

"The homework, what's it about?"

"A four-foot long essay on the goblin rebellion of Rughorg the Remorseless," Hermione said. "And I'm not lending you my notes!"

Both Harry and Ron stopped dead in their tracks.

"But Hermione!"

"We can't manage without you!"

"Then let me introduce you to the library," Hermione said smugly.

"Don't be such a prat Hermione!" Ron said desperately which, apparently, was the wrong thing to say.

"Oh?" Hermione snarled, rounding on him as Harry instinctively backed away from the impending storm. "I'm the prat? Just who has been relying on me for the past six years, without even trying his best? Who, do you think, keeps pestering me because he wanted to copy my homework? And who, after he's done copying, can't even be bothered to say thanks? I WONDER WHO!"

The last words were shouted with such force that Ron visibly paled. "You don't always let me copy," Ron pointed out feebly.

"You!" Hermione screeched. By now, a small group had formed around them. "You manky plonker!" Throwing Ron one last final look of deepest loathing, she turned on her heel and stormed off, leaving an astounded silence in her wake.

"What the bloody hell is wrong with Granger?" Ernie Macmillan asked.

"Must be that time of the month," another boy volunteered. A haughty-looking Ravenclaw girl threw him a glare.

Harry sighed and grabbed Ron's elbow. "C'mon," he muttered as he dragged Ron after Hermione.

"Where are we going?" Ron asked.

"We're going to apologize to Hermione," Harry said simply.

"What? Harry, you can't be serious! I mean, shouldn't we let her cool down for a bit?"

"She does have a point, you know," Harry said as they descended the stairs. "You and I have never taken that History of Magic class seriously, and I think she's just worried, what with N.E.W.T.s coming up and all."

"I still say we give her a wide berth for three days," Ron said darkly.

"Don't be such a prat," Harry said. "Hermione just cares about us, is all."

Ron, to his credit, held his tongue.

As they walked along the Charms corridor, they caught sight of a familiar head of bluish-black hair. Ciel Phantomhive was leaning against the wall, his face buried in his A History of Magic book by Bathilda Bagshot.

"Hullo Ciel," Harry called on an impulse out as he and Ron passed by.

The boy looked up. "You lot," Ciel said, nodding.

"Just finished Charms?" Harry asked, as Ron gave him a curious look. "What'd you have?"

"Cheering charms," Ciel said, a hint of pride in his voice. Harry had a feeling that the Earl had scored points for Gryffindor.

"Everything going alright?" Harry prodded, realizing that he sounded awkward.

"Yes," Ciel said. "If you don't mind, I'm off for History of Magic."

"By the way," Harry said as Ciel strode off. "You didn't happen to see Hermione around, did you?"

Ciel stopped and glanced at them from over his shoulder. "Why, yes," he said. "She looked very angry."

Ron gulped as Ciel walked off. "See, Harry? A wide berth, I say!"

"She'll appreciate it more if we just apologize to her," Harry said, as he led Ron down the stairs.

"By the way," Ron said, as they grew quiet. "Why are you being nice to Phantomhive?"

Harry stopped as an image of a young man pulling a knife from his chest flashed across his eyes. "There's something odd about Ciel and Professor Michaelis, and I want to know what."

. . .

Ciel climbed up the stairs, frowning as he thought of Potter and his friends. The girl, Hermione, was the only one who had bothered being courteous to him, and he didn't think it was in Potter's nature to extend the same treatment. Normally, one would have dismissed Potter's greeting as politeness, but Ciel Phantomhive had been the Queen's Watchdog. He'd sullied himself with London's underground criminal world at a tender age, and he'd learned that appearances could be deceitful, motives even more so.

He was suspicious of Potter.

As Potter was, no doubt, suspicious of him.

A small smile crept along his lips. Oh, let Potter find out the truth. There was nothing in his contract with Dumbledore that stated that Potter was to be kept in the dark regarding their true identity. His smiled widened. He would enjoy watching as Potter struggled to find the truth.

Let the games begin, Ciel thought as he rounded an empty corridor. He stopped in his tracks as a sudden realization washed over him.

He had no idea where History of Magic was.

Cursing, Ciel turned on his heel, when the sound of a loud, wet, blowing raspberry filled his ears.

"Weeeeeeeeeee! What does Peevsy have here? A firstie with a dirty mouth, I fear!" With a loud pop, Peeves the Poltergeist suddenly appeared before him, looking absolutely delighted. "Why, if it isn't ickle firstie!"

"I'm a third year," Ciel snapped.

Peeves let out a loud cackle. "Don't lie to Peevsy!" the poltergeist said as he hovered above Ciel. "What's the Wee One doing out here all on his own?"

Ciel ignored Peeves as he walked past the poltergeist. "Come now, little lord!" Peeves hollered as he zoomed along beside Ciel. "Why the long face, Wee One? Have the big bad students been bullying the little lord already?"

"Go away!" Ciel growled.

"Oooh! The little dog thinks he's a big, bad werewolf!" Peeves said, cackling like mad. Without warning, he swooped down, and tugged hard at Ciel's eye patch.

"Arrrgh!" Ciel screamed as he instinctively covered his eye with his hand. Peeves laughed with great gusto, hovering above his reach, and dangling his eye patch tauntingly in front of him.

"Give it here at once!" Ciel ordered furiously.

"Come and get it, my little lord!" Peeves jeered as he floated even higher.

Ciel let out a frustrated growl. Dammit, he was much too high for a human to reach. Ciel's eye widened in realization as he glanced around the corridor. It was empty. Gloriously, gloriously empty.

He glanced up at Peeves, a sinister smile creeping across his face. "Oh, I'll get it, alright," Ciel said, as he lowered his hand and opened his left eye, where the sign of the contract shone against the blue of his iris.

"What's wrong with your eye, ickle firstie?" Peeves said. Ciel noted with satisfaction that his voice had lost its jibe. He smiled at Peeves, showing the poltergeist a row of sharp, sinister teeth. Peeves visibly paled as Ciel's eyes gleamed red up at him.

"Now…you wanted me to come and get it?"

The corridor remained empty as the sound of Peeves' screams filled the air.

. . .

Author's Note:

I know I've been on hiatus for quite a while. Okay, maybe 'a while' is an understatement. I have been very busy the past few years, because I've been fulfilling requirements for graduation, and I've been preparing myself for the Board Exams, which I've already taken. I have one year of free time before I get on with my life, so expect regular-ish updates from me in the near future.

Oh, and by the way, I've purposefully deviated from the books when it came to class schedules and some other details. As you've read, Harry and the gang have 'History of Magic', even though they've dropped the subject in the sixth book. I won't be following the sixth book's storyline much.

And many thanks to those who've continued to read and review, despite my 'absence'. I can't tell you guys how touched I get when I see your messages : )