The smoke wafted into his nose. Had it been any other day, the smell would have been very appealing to him. But tonight, the smell was combined with the scent of his own blood and sweat of his struggle as his captors had dragged him to the sacrificial chamber.
"By the sacrifice of the incense; also comes the sacrifice of this boy; he who is unclean. He who is unwanted. He who is unnecessary. He shall be purified by the gods, brought to purgatory to be judged, to atone for his sins. Brought by this incense, he shall be removed from this world; one less blemish upon our perfect lives!" the masked voice rang out, echoing in the dark, damp, blood-soaked chamber.
There were cheers erupting around him, and he used all of his might to attempt to free himself from the leather straps that held his wrists and ankles in place. His bindings constricted as he moved, cutting off his blood circulation.
One of the cultists brought a burning joss stick of incense under the boy's nose. Another hand clamped over his mouth, forcing him to inhale the delicate, sickly scent. He felt a line being drawn down his bare chest, warmth and pain spreading from it, seeping to the sacrificial table below him. He forced his head upwards to see. A streaming line of blood extended from his stomach, the pain excruciating. He shrieked, writhing in a futile attempt to escape. Hands pinned him down once again, the incense growing stronger.
"Morientem puerum hunc in nomine Dei nostri Salvatoris, Sancti et purus. O Domine, in hac vita sapere turis et alia remota macula sanctum tuum creationis mundi!"
The incense came closer, the boy's head wrenched out from under the restrictive hand, gasping for breath, an escape from the sweet, sickly, overpowering scent. The ashes fell onto his tongue, searing the muscle. With his last effort, as he watched the dagger begin to come down onto his tender flesh once again, he screamed.
"If there is a God, an angel, save me! I beg you!"
His flesh was torn again and again, no savior coming.
He inhaled what was expected to be his last breath, and whispered.
"I now turn to you, demon. Wherever you are. Save me now!"
"My Lord! Breathe, my Lord. It was simply a nightmare. Shh…"
It was pitch black in the room, save for one softly glowing candle on his bedside table and the chilling moonlight that reflected off of Sebastian's pale skin as he sat next to his master. Ciel's eyes were wide and teary, still forcing his mind to believe that it was only a subconscious memory. No reality. Ciel looked into the eyes of his butler. Sebastian was proof enough.
He had Sebastian. His butler. His demon. The one who would protect him until the end.
"What… What is that smell, Sebastian?" Ciel whispered hoarsely.
"Lau decided to come for a visit just over two hours ago while you were asleep. I told him that you were not able to meet with him. He asked for a cup of tea, and as a butler, I complied. He opened a small package that he had brought with him; it was a packet of 'Guì xiāngcǎo méiguī' or juniper vanilla rose incense. He had also supplied an incense tower. Lau then informed me that it had quite a soothing effect for children and lit a joss stick." Sebastian explained, adjusting Ciel's nightshirt.
"Nnh…" The boy coughed. "Sebastian. Get rid of that stench. It is the same incense as that that was used at the sacrificial ceremony where I was to be killed." The boy ordered rigidly.
"Of course." Sebastian bowed before removing his tailcoat, folding it neatly and placing it at the foot of the bed. "If you wouldn't mind my leaving this here momentarily, I simply do not wish to coat it with the scent as well. I shall return with some warm milk, Young Master."
Ciel nodded as Sebastian left the room. When the door shut, the Earl reached for the coat and brought it to his face, lying back down on the pillow. He inhaled, the familiar scent of his butler; something strikingly resembling anise; soothing him almost immediately. The nightmare flashed through his mind again and a few tears escaped his eyes, betraying his pride. He had the knowledge and intelligence and pomp of a fully-grown adult, but he was lacking the experience and wisdom and resistance that only time could provide.
Ciel had learned to put up many thick walls in a maze around his heart. Walls that took effort and dedication and love to reach through. When something did touch his heart though, it was obvious that no matter how hard he tried to appear adult-like, his heart was the tender and naïve heart that belongs to a child.
Through the muffled sobs, the boy inhaled repeatedly, masking the stench of the incense with his butler's smell. The tailcoat was damp and wrinkled, being held next to the boy's tear-streaked and now-sleeping, delicate face.
Sebastian gently opened the door to see a sleeping master who was presently cuddling his coat. Setting down the milk that was on an immaculate silver tray on Ciel's nightstand, he then proceeded to walk towards his master's bedside. Sebastian gently pried the coat from the boy's clutching fingers. He swung it over his shoulder, pulling the covers up to Ciel's chin. The butler placed a small kiss on the boy's forehead. He left the milk on the table for Ciel.
Sebastian walked to the main ballroom, leaving all doors open between there and his master's chambers. He lifted the cover off of the grand piano. He decided to wake his master gently with his favorite piece so that Ciel could enjoy the milk that he had prepared. We wouldn't want that going to waste, now would we? Sebastian thought smugly.
He sat down at the piano, quietly checking the tuning.
Ciel's eyes eased open as he heard the sound of the grand piano being gracefully played. He recognized the song almost immediately, it was his favorite piano piece. Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven. It seemed to be the melody of his life. It had been with him since his ninth birthday. The year before he had lost everything.
The stunning melody continued and Ciel sat upright. He noticed the warm milk beside him, picking up the cup and bringing it to his lips tiredly.
Sebastian walked into his master's bedroom thoughtfully, slowly, as the music continued.
"Sebastian?" the boy began to sound slightly unnerved.
"My lord?" the butler was confused.
"Who is playing the piano?" he had thought his butler had been playing. But who else knew how much that song meant to him?
"Me, of course." Sebastian stated simply.
"You. You?" Ciel repeated, first in acknowledgement, next in trepidation.
"Of course. If I couldn't play my master's favorite piece and make sure that his milk was to his liking at once, what kind of a butler would I be?" Sebastian's face was a mix between a knowing smirk and a loving smile.
"I see. Did Lau bring any other varieties of incense with him?" Ciel asked.
"Yes. Would you like to know what others he offered?" the butler replied.
The boy nodded, maintaining eye contact with his butler taking another sip from the cup.
"He brought some sandalwood, saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, and my personal favorite for its bittersweet qualities…" Sebastian began.
Like you… The butler thought.
"Anise liquorice." Sebastian concluded.
"Would you like me to light some of that particular selection, sir?"
Sebastian left the room for no more than fifteen seconds before he had returned with matches, a joss stick and the incense tower.
"Is that what I smelled on your coat…?" Ciel blurted without thinking.
"No, I had not lit any other joss sticks, only the juniper vanilla rose." Sebastian was smirking now, his master had identified his demon scent.
"So… that's just…" Ciel began, blushing.
"Just…?" the butler prompted, knowing full well what his master was trying to say.
"That's just… the way you naturally… smell?" the boy's blush got even deeper.
Sebastian chuckled slightly. "Yes, that is just my demon scent, Young Master."
"That would explain why I've started liking black liquorice since I've known you…" Ciel mumbled, looking down.
"Come again, Young Lord? I didn't quite catch that." Sebastian taunted his master.
"You heard what I said, don't be foolish!" Ciel snapped.
"Of course. Would you care to know something else on a similar topic?" the butler asked, still teasing.
"Maybe later. For now, I just want to sleep." The boy murmured tiredly.
Sebastian knew that his master hadn't specified how much later.
The boy's eyes eased closed as his butler readjusted the pillows and blanket to comfort his master. The music was still playing repeatedly and Sebastian made an effort to quieten the music so it would serve as the child's lullaby.
Ciel was beginning to drift asleep when he felt soft, smooth, warm lips on his. His eyes snapped open and saw his butler. He gasped, inhaling a breath sharply. As he did so, he tasted the most wonderful flavor; that of the highest quality; most refined; most delicious black liquorice. Their lips remained in contact and began to move together softly until the boy's eyes drifted shut once again. It was then that the butler pulled back, whispering.
"Does that count as later?" the smirk was audible.
Sebastian didn't wait for a reply. Instead, he stood upright and blew out the candle, leaving only the silver moonlight to illuminate the room. He turned to the door, casting a glance out the window and into the glowing garden. The door clicked shut.
So he tastes like black liquorice too… Ciel mused, smiling softly.
I like this incense much better. Both master and servant thought, the delicate lullaby slowly fading out to silence.
A/N: Ok. I was at Walmart with a few others and we were browsing for things to help our cosplays along, and I saw the incense. I knew it had to be something good. XD
[That should answer your question on what was getting better all day, Bocchan. XD]