The young Earl summoned Mey-Rin to the music room the next morning, making the topic of conversation very clear from the outset. She trudged into the room as if she were meeting her death sentence, sporting an ugly, yellow bruise that spanned from her temple to her jaw. Try as she might, there was no easy way to hide it with cosmetics or otherwise. The music room was en route to another parlour in need of dusting, so it was not as though I had no business being in that hallway. Through the crack in the door I peered.
"Come here; let me have a look at you." My young master stood with his back to the door. Mey-Rin took a cautious step forward, not daring to meet his eyes as he inspected her cheek. "Does it hurt? Do I need to ring for a physician?"
"No, young master. I'll be fine, thank you."
He gestured to that bench. "Please, sit." Her eyes surveyed it, then she gaped at him, knowing full well it was the very same she caught her master in the midst of being serviced by me. She had seen his bare backside sliding over those cushions, sweat and seed added to the varnish. He had probably grinned at her discomfort as she lowered herself onto it, keeping her gaze to the floor.
Ciel wore one of his more stately grey suits: no pomp, all business. The cane he carried issued a click on the wood floor with the same authority as his heeled shoes. "I see you are uncomfortable, so let me start with an apology. I am sorry you have had to endure the abuse of my butler. His actions are inexcusable and I feel that I should take some accountability for them."
"No! Young master-"
"Let me finish." Despite a calm tone, he raised the cane and she fell quiet. "He is my servant. I have a duty to see that he conducts himself in a manner that is worthy of being the Phantomhive butler. And hitting other members of my household does not fall under that definition. So, if there is any accommodation I can make to ensure your security, please do not hesitate to let me know."
"I just... um... well, I just want to steer clear of him."
"That can be arranged."
"May I ask... what reprimand is he-"
"No, you may not ask. That is a matter between him and me, and thus you are in no position to make inquiries." I pondered just what he had in mind for me. He stopped his pacing to lean over his cane. "This brings me to my next subject. As much as I regret that you have been hurt, you are not entirely innocent in this situation, Mey-Rin.
"Let me rid you of any assumptions you may have. You are not entitled to keep secrets in my house. You are not free to conduct yourself in any self-serving manner that goes against the honour and dignity of this house. And you do not spy on me just because you think you can get away with it."
Her hands fidgeted with the hem of her apron, boots squeaking on the parquet as legs squirmed. The Earl took a step forward, his temper simmering. "Look at me when I'm talking to you." Raising her sight to meet his appeared to be a torment. "I know what you did, Mey-Rin. Sebastian is a bastard who uses his words and his wiles to tempt people into serving his own motives. But he would not have taken that course if you had not given him a reason to. If you had conducted yourself with some decency in the first place, we would not be having this conversation."
"Decency? With all due respect-"
The cane resounded with a clap to echo through the room. From my vantage at the door, I noted that perhaps the acoustics were too good. "Ah ah! I know what is about to come out of that cheeky little mouth of yours, and I doubt you mean any respect by it at all. Do you not understand what I mean when I say, 'my house?' My business in my house is just that, mine. You are not privy to how I conduct myself behind closed doors. You are not in a position to give me lecture on any subject of what I do in my privacy."
Ciel lifted her chin, face inches from hers. "And one more thing. It is a shame that it took an act of violence to make it clear to you that you do not pursue him. Now you will hear it from me. You will not touch him. You will not engage him. Do it again and I will hear of it, and not only will I dismiss you from your position here, I will ensure you never find work as a maid again." He let her go, turning away from her.
Mey-Rin's quaking rattled the firm expression off her face. She knew her fortunate position at the estate. For all the ways she could bungle the chores, a detriment that would cost any other their employment, she was a valuable asset. There were not too many nobles who would see the benefits of a sharpshooter maid.
Ciel twisted back, his voice smooth once more. "I have to ask, but I'm sure you understand how curiosity compels us to regrettable ends. Were you really spying because you liked what you saw? This room does lend a particular ambience, do you agree?" He smirked at her profuse blushing that clashed against that bruise and his voice dropped to a whisper. "Did you know... after that Friday afternoon, you know the one I'm referring to, I would keep coming into this room just to sit right where you're sitting, because I could still smell him on that bench."
She covered her agape mouth with her hand and he crouched in front of her. It took his benign touch to pull it away from her face and fold her hands in her lap. "Describe how he smells, Mey-Rin."
"Why would you ask me...?"
"Just do as I say."
She closed her eyes, memories trickling from trembling lips. "He smells of… spices from the cupboard... smoke from the fireplace... the silver polish…"
"Yes, and what else?" He lifted his hand to turn up the wrist to her face. I baulked, for he had the audacity to use that tactic, not to entice, but simply to prove his point.
"And... you... oh my God, Sebastian smells like…!"
She was crying honest tears. From then on, would she identify the piquancy through the house? He gripped the back of her neck, and she cowered, wishing to leave the room, for now she recognised he incensed the very air she breathed. "Now now, I have no intention of causing you harm. Let this be clear to you. Stop your snivelling. Look at me."
She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry, young master."
"Good. Because now I know you understand."
He lifted himself by the cane, his steps like a solemn verdict. "I was considering putting you on suspension but I have a better idea for you, Mey-Rin. You are to travel to my town house in London to prepare it for my arrival in three weeks, after my trip to France. You will clean the house, top to bottom, in and out. You don't receive help. You just receive plenty of time to make it ready for me and my guests next month. If you can't manage it, then perhaps I'll reconsider my decision to suspend you. You are dismissed."
There was the anticipation that Ciel planned to confront me in the same manner as he had with Mey-Rin, but such was not the case. The few times we crossed paths that day had been tense, with terse words and no so much as a glance in my direction. It was not in my interest to initiate that conversation, and while I could sense his need to settle this, he was fearful of tackling the subject.
In the early hours of the morning, I lay in my bedroom contemplating this situation. The only desires I had were for him to put it out of his mind, to see the matter as trivial and move past it. That was unrealistic, because after seeing Ciel with Mey-Rin that day, I realized that his show of authority was to outweigh his feeling of being threatened. Worse still, I was the cause of that threat, for he had sympathized with her in some fashion while painting me as the one who had been wrong on all counts. Then again, perhaps that was an accurate judgment.
He had spent the night turning and thrashing about in his bed, and I knew it would only be a matter of time before he got fed up with tossing under his blankets. Eventually he did kick the comforter from him with the purpose of coming to face me. He had had enough with his conflicting thoughts, obsessive worries, frustrations, heart ache. Waiting for his arrival, I decided I was going to help settle this matter.
There was a banging on my door.
The door knob rattled as he tried to let himself in, but of course I had locked it. He knocked once more.
"What makes you think you can lock rooms in my house? Open the damned door!"
Obliging, I peeked out my head to see Ciel standing there in a nightshirt. Upon seeing me, whatever firm resolve he had carried with him faltered, the grimace vanishing from his face. With eye patch missing, his eye glowed dim in the darkness.
"Is there a reason you would insist on waking the entire manor with your antics at this late hour?" I pulled out my pocket watch. "The time is twenty minutes until three. Should you not be asleep?"
"I can't sleep! And I blame you for it!" He gripped my arms as he pushed himself through the doorway, and I allowed him to steer me into the room. "You infuriate me!"
"I realize that, young master. I do apologize that I have, once more, fallen short of your expectations." I was not wearing my gloves, for it was off-hours. My jacket was pressed for the morning, shoes polished. He gripped at my shirt sleeves, teeth gritted and I was sure he was ready to strike me. "Please tell me what is troubling you. Tell me what I can do to make this right."
"You don't know what is troubling me? Are you pretending to be so ignorant or are you legitimately that much of an idiot?"
"There is no reason to insult me, young master. Perhaps I am aware of what is bothering you, how I enrage you beyond reason, and I just want to hear you say it. Why must you come to my quarters in such an agitated state, at so late of an hour, barely dressed? I see the anger brimming in your eyes and it excites me, but there is a small part of me that wishes I was not such an aggravation to you, despite how lovely are when you are frustrated." Pulling him to me, he staggered into my embrace, his head to my chest. He pushed away, turning from me.
"Don't try to calm me. It won't work. All day, since I found out, I haven't been able to look at you. You disgust me, you know that?"
His disappointment stung me and I had not expected that. "Is it because I went to her bed?"
"It's not just that! It's that you kept something from me! You never lie to my face but you scheme and hide things. It makes me wonder what else you hide from me. I don't know if I can trust that anything you do is genuine. And you're right, I never voiced some expectation that involved me and me alone… because I did not know it was there. But it was, this assumption that if you want to bugger me, that I am craved and wanted and catered to, that you would only wish to be with me!
"But I really don't think you want to have anything to do with me, with all my feelings and stupid notions of what this is supposed to be. I think you only seek to upset me because you get a rise out of it, and why do I even allow myself to endure it? Do you even know what that feels like?"
He turned around to face me with fury in his eyes, teeth gritted. He stomped over to shove me, and I acted as if his forceful outburst had caused me to stumble. Seeing me waver spurred an increased anger.
"I wish I could hate you for all that you've done to me! Maybe then it wouldn't hurt so much!" He continued his shoving, forcing me back until my leg hit the bedrail and I landed on the mattress. "You may not believe you betrayed me, but I certainly feel that way. I wonder, what carries more weight, your intention or my perception?" Pulling at my shirt, I feared he would rip it, his face inches away, contorted with rage.
"Speaking of intention, I think yours is to vent your frustration and establish some control. If you would permit me to assist…" My hand clamped around the back of his neck, forcing lips and teeth to mine, an angry kiss as Ciel bit at me. Despite the growl he fed me, despite the trickle of blood down my chin, I thrust against his pursed lips, tongue intruding. A growl became a gasp, and then a whimper as his fury surrendered. His indignation turned to a yearning that was no less ardent as he clawed at buttons, forcing me out of shirt. Rising from the bed, trousers were wrenched away and I was pushed back to the mattress. He straddled me, and I discovered he wore nothing under that night shirt. His violent bucking paired with vicious biting on my neck was enough to burn away my reason.
"It is true, I confess young master, I provoke you because I enjoy it—ah…" he bit at sensitive skin on my collarbone, "but you are wrong to believe I cannot desire you for all your feelings… because I desire you now." His mean hands scraped down my sides and I writhed from the sting. Grasping at his thighs, I pulsed against him, the aching arousal producing frustrated groans.
Ciel raised himself, still rocking his hips but he dug his nails into my hands on his thighs. "I feel like even now you're doing it, coaxing me into something that is going to cause me further grief."
"Yes, but you would come to my quarters in such a state, knowing full well where such an action can lead. My coaxing is only successful because you already possess the inclination." Sitting up, I parted his shirt to reveal slim chest and roiled cock. "And do I really disgust you, young master? I cannot believe that to be true when you are like this." I reached for the oil on the bedside table to coat his thickness. He pumped into my hand, scraping at my scalp and moaning into my hair.
"And why must you look at me that way, Sebastian? Why must you be so manipulative, how you dominate every part of me…?"
I whispered into his ear, "Because this is me being my genuine self. I will tell you what my intention has been all this time. Would you care to hear it?"
"I feel from this point forward I will just regret everything I have with you, Sebastian. So say what you're going to say."
"It pleases me that you have stopped lying to yourself, my little lord. Because that is all I have ever wanted of you, to accept the sadness of your existence, to let the anger and the rage continue, to funnel your frustrations into this sexual distraction, to give me a taste of all that plagues you." He began panting from my grip, as I stroked him faster. "Will you please work your frustrations on me, young master? Will that please you?"
His voice wavered. "What are you asking?"
"I am saying that I will have you tonight, but not at the expense of causing you further injury." I squeezed his rear to prove my point. "But you appear so angered for being out of control."
Lifting him from my lap, I wrapped my legs about him, watching the comprehension unfold as he realized what I was asking of him.
"Can you do it, young master? Can you subdue me?" My hips rested in his lap, cleft rubbing against his slick erection. He dug his nails into my thighs. "Please, show me what it means to be possessed by you. Then maybe I can glean some insight as to how you are feeling, so out of control, so manipulated and hurting."
"Sebastian, how can we…?"
I handed him the bottle of oil. "You understand the process well enough. You appear apprehensive. Do you not desire it at least in some small way?" My legs were spread wide for him. I bucked to feel his fingers tread across their unexplored territory. "Please, young master, open me… I want to be so open for you."
Perhaps it was my vulnerability that made him falter. His tentative touch caused me to shudder, slim fingers traveling along crevasse. He watched with anxious curiosity as he swirled around furrowed entrance. My expectant sighs were the necessary permission to convince him to plunge those oiled fingers into me.
It was a curious sensation, but to see the trepidation subside with the crossing of this boundary, how his hands grew urgent to dip further, pull me wider…. I felt a hand stretch over my heaving chest and I grabbed for it.
"Do you feel how eager I am for you, young master? Do not make me wait any longer."
"Sebastian… why must you be so stunning? And so horrid?" The intrusion left in a rush and I clamped from its absence. I draped a leg over his shoulder as he mounted, a hand pulling against my rear as he directed his weeping prick against that threshold. "I will regret this…"
"Why do you believe that?"
"Because I can't take you in anger… and this would all be so much simpler if it were that way." His face was screwed as he thrust forward, the forced entry of someone of little experience, but I groaned all the same because it was him, my young master who would forever refuse to back down from my challenges.
"Shite, ah… " he gasped as his arms wrapped around my leg against his chest, as if he needed some additional means to anchor himself to me. Even if the boy had no extreme girth, it was a biting penetration and I had a fresh appreciation for what Ciel had to endure from my treatment. He exhaled with unsteady breath as he plunged deeper and I clung to his shoulders. When he ploughed to the hilt such a dizzying thrill shot from the core, rendering me erect.
"Sebastian… you're flushed."
"This is… puzzling… and extraordinary… and I do not know what to make of it."
"It stops hurting after a minute." He pulled away, gritting his teeth and with fluid thrust the tingling burst through me once more.
I mewled, "It does not hurt… you feel delightful… tell me how good it feels for you." I clenched around the intrusion and we both gasped.
"It is so tight… and hot… oh Sebastian… Why must you always make me feel in extremes?"
Any trace of anger had diminished to reveal his quiet tenderness, his steady undulation. His hands caressed, his face pressed into my knee. I witnessed the tranquil ecstasy wax over his face and I did not know whether to be captivated or terrified from the sight.
This was the manner in which he would subjugate me, and I had foolishly placed myself in a position where my only option was to lie there and receive it. He was right; it would have been easier for him to be fuelled by his anger, to pummel me into submission and leave me desiring more of the abuse. Instead he would take me with the gentleness of a lover, because that was the source of his pleasure with me.
Ciel brought my legs forward as he leaned into me, eradicating any space between us. His vision was set on my face, my jaw agape. My cock twitched against his stomach and while my body was abuzz with expectant climax, my head was swimming. He uttered, "I thought about what you said yesterday, that you would be such a lover if you could... and what if I was to command it of you? If I risk myself in the face of your cruelty, then be what I need from you."
"Your orders are absolute, and yet you would expect of me the very action that I am unable to perform. It would be a show, a lie, young master. You place me in a difficult position. I can either refuse your order or lie to you. Either way, it is a breach of contract." My words were sluggish, and they sounded as if I were hearing them under water.
"But you said you would be these things-"
"If I could, but I cannot. There are some things that cannot be changed."
I closed my eyes against the disappointment that gleamed in his. "Even if you wanted to? Could you just decide-"
"And could I propose to you that it is as simple as changing your feelings for me? Is it a condition that can be ceased?" I rocked against him and how I wished his arms did not clamp around my neck as they did. "You can cover it with all your anger, but it is still a part of you. I would not ask you the impossible task of taking that feeling and expelling it, because I know it cannot be accomplished."
"Then let me ask one more question... do you not love me... because I am some truly wretched person? Am I just not worthy of it?"
He had stopped, and with it my chest felt frozen, the very air stifling against my skin and his hands on my face prickled with a delicate hurt.
"My young master... if there has been any contractor who was worthy... you would be it."
Ciel brushed a tendril of hair from my face and soft lips were on mine as he thrust into me once more. He did not pull away as the pace quickened, the pressure building to staggering degree, his breath a barrage to my senses. Wave upon wave of dread emotion pinned me to the bed, all directed by the boy twitching inside of me.
Thighs slapping against me, he reached between us to grip my aching hardness with the intention of delivering me to fierce climax. His stroking lifted the crushing tension and I clamped against him, savage bucking and I was forced to hear the echo of my cries in his parted mouth.
He reciprocated with cracking voice, his body seizing before I felt the jolt of stinging heat, infused with such dizzying passion and misery. The light seemed to fade from the room, my head spinning in blind syncope.
"Sebastian...?" His voice sounded so remote.
The amorousness was a foreign sensation that had no business clamouring in me, and my reaction was to expel it. Nudging him off of me alleviated some of this discomfort, but I felt he still lingered. He had left this corrosive mark within me that I feared could not be expunged.
"Are you... all right?"
He hovered over me as I retreated into my covers, but his scent was in these as well. He could not be escaped. His shirt still hung from him, and his fringe was stuck to his forehead. His skin was ruddy, blooming with vitality and I wished I were in a mind set to appreciate it.
"Why do I even allow you to manipulate me when I clearly have the upper hand in this situation? You can't even stand me to touch me right now. Do you think I'm going to tolerate this for much longer?" He sat on the edge of the bed. "We are now at an impasse. For all the ways you serve me, we found the one thing you can't do for me. And it is the one thing that makes me so intolerable for you. How I wish it were a feeling I could simply pluck from me and toss away."
My voice had left me, but in that moment I wanted to tell him how I did not wish for such a thing. As much as it stung me, his love was just as much a part of him as his anger, his bitterness, and his sorrow. Here was the crux of his fascination: a boy with a world of affliction who still found some space within him to cultivate such a rhapsody.
He rose from the bed. "I have a solution. I'm tired of playing this game with you. So it ends now. You are my butler. That is all you were ever meant to be for me in this contract."
His words did not make sense to me, and I sat up, finding some capacity to use my voice. "What do you wish to end, young master?"
"Whatever this dalliance is, all this fooling around, your sick manipulation, I'm done with it."
"So... this is the real reason you came to me this evening."
"I suppose it is."
He would not have had me backside up if it were not for my beguilement, the wicked charm I could employ only with intent to ravage. It appeared my means were too successful.
He walked to the wash basin in the corner to help himself. "You can have all of me when my revenge is complete, however you please. Until such a time, I'm not interested in engaging with you in any intimate way." He looked at my reflection in the mirror, his eyes surveying me in reverse. His icy expression masked an unspeakable grief. "You serve as my sword and shield, because that's all you're good for." He leaned over the basin, shoulders shaking for he had taken to lying to himself again. I suppose it had always been his one defence.
I would have no more of this sport because he would not allow it of me. We would return to the simple interactions of master and servant, with only witless teasing, trifling encounters that could no longer amuse me after what we-
"Do not look so put out, Sebastian. I'm only taking your advice."
Thinking back to earlier in the week, I recalled what I had said to him in such a moment of exposure, when we had shown me that terrible sublimity, when I did not stand before him as a mere servant.
"You said, 'take what little I can offer you.' Sebastian, you can build me towers, vanquish my enemies, and bring me the crown of victory... and that will have to be enough for me." Ciel clamped his hand to quivering pout, and his voice cracked. "I cannot expect more than that." He squeezed his eyes shut but the tears fell to lace themselves about his fingers. He turned in humiliation to have lost his composure once more. In his mind, he believed he would never possess enough fortitude, enough equanimity.
I wanted to collect him to me, to gloss over his wet face and stroke at his scalp and tell him that he was perfect, that this was not an issue to be upset over because this was all so unnecessary. Rising from the bed I attempted an embrace but he slapped me away.
"Don't," he gasped. "You don't get to pretend that you comfort me. You don't get to indulge in this. I'm leaving."
"Y-young master… I… I implore you—"
"Do not follow me."
He had never been more gorgeous than when he stormed out the room. I believe I stood rooted to that same spot well after I felt him collapse in his own quarters where he cried himself to sleep.