Scowling darkly, Ciel stared out at the falling snow, doing his best to ignore the loud, rambunctious voices that echoed through the mansion. Elizabeth had come for a visit two days ago, just before the winter storm had started, and had been trapped here since the carriages could not maneuver through the thick snow. As Christmas was fast approaching, she had decided that the entire Phantomhive estate needed to be decorated, and had forcefully enlisted the help of the other servants. Even Sebastian had been roped into helping.
Ciel chuckled to himself, remembering the tight smile on his butler's face. Sebastian had been rather put out that he had to help Elizabeth, while Ciel had managed to avoid getting dragged into her fantasies by claiming that he had too much work to tend to during the morning hours, and didn't want to get in her way. She had let him off the hook with a small pout and a promise that he'd spend the afternoon with her, doing whatever she wanted. It would probably involve dressing up or dancing or some such frivolity, rendered necessary by the snow that kept them housebound.
He had finished his work sometime ago – he really hadn't had much to do – and was now staring moodily out of his office window, trying not to contemplate what his home would look like when he exited the room. A gentle tap on the door announced Sebastian's presence before the butler stepped into the room, dressed immaculately as usual and bowing low. "Bocchan, the decorating is done. Would you perhaps care to take your afternoon tea with the Lady Elizabeth?"
Ciel sighed; that hadn't been a suggestion, but rather a tactful order. No doubt Elizabeth was pouting, wondering where he had run off to. Ciel was just glad that she didn't know where his actual office was, and that somehow, the servants had managed to limit her destruction to the ground floor. That had probably been Sebastian's influence, though. He really did make a rather superb butler.
Standing with a sigh of resignation, already exhausted by the mere thought of his afternoon activities, Ciel left his office, turning down the hallway and heading for the downstairs tea room, where Elizabeth would surely be waiting. He wondered idly what sort of tea Sebastian would prepare, and if he'd have small pastries to go with it. Ciel and Elizabeth had nearly opposite preferences when it came to tea time, but somehow Sebastian always managed to find a perfect middle ground, so that they were both pleased with the selection.
Stepping downstairs, Ciel was surprised to see Elizabeth dressed in her fur-lined winter coat, gloves adorning her hands and earmuffs covering her ears, her eyes bright with excitement and anticipation. Ciel frowned and turned to glare reproachfully up at his butler, who just gave him an enigmatic smile in return. "The Lady Elizabeth expressed an interested in going out into the snow, but felt that you might not be…amenable to the idea," he said delicately, and Ciel snorted. So the demon had tricked him. Why wasn't he surprised?
Ciel held out his arms silently, and Elizabeth smiled delightedly as Sebastian wrapped a scarf and expensive wool coat around Ciel's small frame, adding simple black gloves. Kneeling, Sebastian slipped boots onto his feet, and they were done. "Shall we, my lady?" Ciel asked formally, and Elizabeth laughed, taking his arm readily as they headed outside, Sebastian opening the door for them as they approached.
Staring straight ahead, Ciel nonetheless noticed the garlands woven through the railings, the mistletoe and ribbons hanging from windows and the ceiling, and the giant trees that stood in each of the four corners, gaudy and brightly decorated, tinsel draped generously over their boughs. A small shudder passed through him, along with the thought that as soon as Elizabeth left, the decorations would be coming down, the trees burned, and the mansion restored to normalcy.
A biting cold nipped at Ciel's exposed skin, but he couldn't bring himself to be too upset as Elizabeth shivered dramatically next to him before taking off and running into the snow, finding a suitable spot in which to flop down and make a snow angel, waving her arms and legs ridiculously through the snow.
Ciel glanced at Sebastian, who had followed them out after putting on his own wool coat and hat, and tipped his head at the prone Lady Elizabeth. Walking over the snow, not leaving even the faintest boot marks, Sebastian leaned down and offered his hands to Elizabeth, who took them happily enough, giggling as she was lifted free of the snow angel, which remained unmarred and perfectly formed.
The opening of the front door preceded loud laughter as the remaining servants dashed outside into the snow, immediately starting a snowball fight. Tanaka was used as a very handy shield, since nobody would dare to strike the former Phantomhive butler. Elizabeth, deciding that their fight looked like a lot of fun, gathered her own snowballs and lobbed them at Bardroy, who was also under attack by both Finnian and Maylene.
Bard's loud protests and the laughter of the three younger people soon filled the air, and Ciel stood in the midst of it, watching them and shivering, his hands shoved into his coat pockets. Sebastian was standing in the middle of a square now, dodging the snowballs aimed his way with an ease and grace that normal humans simply didn't have. The others had ganged up on him when they realized that they couldn't hit him individually.
Suddenly, his name was shouted, and Ciel looked up, just in time to be hit square in the face with a pile of snow. Choking on the cold white stuff, Ciel reached and hand up and brushed it off of his face, blinking the melting liquid from his lashes and shaking his head, sending water flying. Laughter followed his actions, and Ciel scowled darkly, looking up, sharp words on the tip of his tongue. His biting commentary was stalled however when he realized that it had been Elizabeth who had thrown the snowball, her face flushed with laughter as she watched him, waiting to see what he'd do.
Ciel debated only for a moment, and then smiled. "Sebastian," he purred, the silent order clear. Quicker than the others could react, all three servants and Elizabeth had been coated in snow, the cold stuff sliding down their coats and through their hair. Bard and Finnian had taken the brunt of the attack, both being men. Maylene had stumbled in the snow when a handful had struck her lightly in the back, and had landed face first on the ground, sputtering and choking, her glasses fogging up as she sat there, dazed.
Elizabeth had gotten the gentlest attack, the snow merely pelting the back and sides of her coat gently, leaving her dry and laughing at the others as she danced gaily around the yard, yellow curls bouncing merrily as she moved.
Having had enough, Ciel turned and walked inside, trusting that the servants would keep his fiancée entertained without him. Sebastian was a silent presence by his side, quickly sliding his coat off his arms as soon as they were in the relative warmth of the mansion. While Sebastian removed their wet coats and garments to hang up until they could be washed properly, Ciel took a closer look at the parlor, considering for a moment. Upon further thought, he supposed that they could remain standing for a little longer, at least until the holidays were over.
Sebastian moved to stand behind him, and Ciel leaned back tiredly against his tall body, enjoying the heat that radiated from the demon, easing his shivering. Sighing in contentment, Ciel murmured, "Please make certain that Elizabeth is offered proper hospitality when she comes inside." Sebastian murmured his agreement, and Ciel closed his eyes.
Long, gloved fingers came to rest on his shoulders for a moment, before strong arms lifted him against a firm chest and they started moving. Following their normal winter ritual, Sebastian would get Ciel situated in the sitting room by the fireplace, a warm blanket wrapped around him and a hot cup of cocoa in his hands. While Ciel normally drank tea, on days like this he allowed just a small piece of childish indulgence and took the heated sweet chocolate drink.
Several minutes later, Ciel was wrapped snugly in a warm blanket, a hot cup of chocolate in his hands, staring intently into the fire. Sebastian stood behind his chair, and Ciel tilted his head up after a moment, making a silent request. Leaning down, Sebastian captured his lips in a sweet kiss, chocolate and spice blending into a unique, addictive taste as they kissed leisurely.
Pulling back, Sebastian brushed fingers gently over Ciel's cheek and murmured, "Happy Christmas." Smiling, Ciel leaned back into the armchair, warm, comfortable, and content.
"Happy Christmas, Sebastian."