Sebastian was out in the courtyard, watching the stars again. The sky was clear for now, but the clouds would start rolling in soon enough, bringing rain with them. Already the earth had that peculiar scent that boded a solid storm, and would leave the ground wet and muddy.
Ciel watched his butler from his bedroom window, noting that Sebastian had picked up another stray somewhere. He'd never understand what the demon found so enchanting about the small animals, but cats seemed to be the only thing that he adored with an unrestrained affection.
As if aware of the eyes that were on him, Sebastian turned his head towards the mansion, crimson eyes meeting blue. Ciel didn't blink, staring back down at his butler, the sigil burning brightly in the moonlight. With a quick push, Ciel opened his windows, allowing a gentle breeze to blow through the room, ruffling his hair. The heavy scent of rain was in the air, and Ciel glanced up towards the sky. Clouds were moving in rapidly, covering up the stars. It looked like they were done stargazing for tonight.
He lowered his eyes back down to the courtyard, but Sebastian was gone. Closing his eyes and tilting his head back, Ciel enjoyed the warm breeze as it swept across his skin, playing with his hair. "Did you read your future?" he asked, not bothering to turn around. He could sense Sebastian's presence, a constant pressure that tugged at his soul.
"There is no future to be read in the stars, Bocchan," Sebastian rebuked mildly. "And if there was, would you want to know?" he asked, his eyes curious. Ciel shook his head; who in their right minds would want to know if there was a set path already laid out for them? If there was somebody out there who held his destiny in their hands, then Ciel didn't want to know, because that would mean that everything until now had been part of a grand design.
Sebastian moved forward until he was standing right behind Ciel, the warmth from his body comforting. Ciel allowed himself to lean into the taller man behind him, his eyes watching as the first raindrops fell, quickly soaking the ground. Lightning and thunder weren't far behind, he was sure. Already, the sky was lighting up in the distance.
The rain breezed into his room, but Ciel didn't move from his position in front of the window, allowing the icy rain to soak through his nightshirt and drip from his hair. Sebastian remained behind him, not moving to close the windows and shut out the rain. Lightning lit up the sky outside of the Phantomhive mansion, followed by the rumble of thunder.
After several moments, Sebastian moved around Ciel and closed the windows, locking them and shutting the curtains. Finished, he looked down at his master and sighed. "Ah, Bocchan. You look like a drowned rat," he murmured, his tone almost regretful. "Let's get you warmed up, shall we?"
Ciel didn't protest as he was led across the room to his bed and stripped carefully. Sebastian, being as prepared as usual, had brought a towel with him and wrapped Ciel up in its comforting depths, the cloth soft and warm against his bare skin. His hair was gently rubbed dry, and a new nightshirt was procured.
Dry and warm now, Ciel allowed himself to be picked up and set in the bed, propped up against several pillows so that he was sitting up. Sebastian offered him a small tea cup, and Ciel brought the hot liquid to his mouth, tasting it. It was liquid chocolate, mixed with something a little spicier, a little more alcoholic, and it was very good.
Ciel took another careful sip, and closed his eyes with a sigh as the beverage soothed its way down his throat, warming him up from the inside and allowing him to relax into the pillows, his eyes half-closed. Sebastian always seemed to know what would be best for him, as a proper butler should. He wondered if Sebastian's perfection was his own design, or if his contract with Ciel just allowed him to be whatever Ciel needed him to be.
A warm hand swept his hair away from his face, while another removed the cup from his slack grip before he could spill it. Ciel opened his eyes, blinking, and watched Sebastian as the other man stared back at him fondly, his hand holding Ciel's bangs away from the sigil carved into his right iris. "Bocchan," he murmured, and Ciel pulled back gently, carefully. Sebastian released him, so that he settled back into the cushions, his eyes drifting shut again.
The pillows behind him were adjusted so that he was lying flat on the bed, his head cradled in softness. The covers were pulled up and tucked under his chin, and Ciel found himself curling up, so that he burrowed under the covers. The rain still battered against the window, but it was a dull pounding now.
"Sleep now, Bocchan. The rain will still be here in the morning," Sebastian murmured, and Ciel found himself obeying the gentle suggestion, his eyes closing as he drifted off, the windows providing a solid buffer between him and the storm.
His sleep was undisturbed for the remainder of the evening, and when he awoke the next morning, he found that Sebastian had been correct. It was still raining outside, though the storm had died and had turned into a gentle drizzle. Sebastian pulled apart the curtains, and Ciel stared blearily out at the overcast sky, watching the rain as it fell to the earth.
"When will the rain end?" he asked disinterestedly. He really didn't care if it rained for the next week, but the other servants would undoubtedly drive him insane if they were locked inside for that long. Maybe he'd kick them out anyhow, after a few hours.
Sebastian replied simply, "It should end by this afternoon, Bocchan." Ciel nodded; just a summer rain, then. Nothing to be concerned over. "Breakfast will be ready momentarily," Sebastian continued, efficiently dressing his young master before leaving him to his own devices while he went to bring breakfast and finish preparations for the day.
Ciel left his room and wandered down the hallway, not really focusing on which direction he was going. Sebastian would find him no matter where he was. A loud voice made him wince as he heard Finnian crying. Now what had that boy done? Broken some more furniture? Or perhaps he had torn up the garden again?
Sighing in resignation, Ciel turned towards the noise. No doubt Sebastian would take care of the blond boy if Ciel left him alone, but he had to admit that he was curious. The servants here were intended to guard the household; as actual servants, they were useless. Only Sebastian and Tanaka were equal to their reputation, and Tanaka was getting far too old to continue defending the Phantomhives, though he was certainly still capable.
Bard was crouched in front of Finnian in the foyer, while Maylene was standing by the front windows, looking out at the gentle rain. "Don't cry, Finny," the chef mumbled, obviously uncomfortable and out of his depth. Comforting other people, especially somebody as emotional as Finnian, was not something that the ex-soldier was very good at. "The rain won't last forever, and it's a good thing anyhow, right?"
Finnian's cries slowly turned to sobs, and he looked at Bardroy with wide, wet eyes. "But the rain means I can't go outside and garden!" he sniffled. This time, it was Ciel who sighed, catching the three servants off guard as they whirled around to stare at him. Ignoring their embarrassments, Ciel moved forward to stand next to Maylene, gazing out the window.
"Rain makes the flowers grow, Finnian," he spoke solemnly. "And it cleans the air. Surely you know that. Besides, it will stop by this afternoon," he said, Sebastian's words echoing in his head as he spoke them. "It's not like we're going to have to worry about flooding," he frowned, chastising his employee.
Finnian had stopped crying, and was staring up at him with hopeful eyes. "This afternoon?" he asked, clarifying the most important part. Ciel just nodded with a sigh, turning and walking out of the room. He wanted breakfast, and he needed to get started on the day's work, so to the office he went.
Pausing at the door, he casually tossed over his shoulder, "Or you could go play in the rain." Maybe the idiot would go outside and drown in the ankle-deep water. One could only hope. He left to the sound of Finnian's excited chatter, while Maylene and Bardroy tried to discourage him from mucking about outside.
In his office, Ciel settled down in his chair, leaning back with his hands clasped over his stomach. Sebastian would bring breakfast and today's itinerary with him, so for now, Ciel had nothing to occupy himself with. Swiveling the chair around, Ciel stared out at the rain, his fascination with it having nothing to do with the rain itself.
When the Phantomhive mansion had burned down a few years back, the country had been suffering a drought. The ground and buildings in town were all dry and easily caught fire. No doubt it hadn't taken but the smallest flame to send the entire mansion up in the blaze.
If only it had rained, perhaps the fire wouldn't have caught so easily. Perhaps, it would have taken longer to catch the furniture and set the mansion ablaze. Maybe, just maybe, there would have been time for them to escape – Ciel, his mother and his father. Instead, only he and Tanaka had survived. Even now, when Ciel knew who – or rather, what – had been responsible for the death of his parents, he couldn't shake the feeling that the drought was partially responsible.
The door opened with a quiet click as Sebastian walked in, the cart making muffled sounds as it rolled across the carpet. Breakfast had arrived. Ciel watched as Sebastian set the pastry and tea on the desk, explaining as his usually did. "Today's breakfast consists of a Toffee and Strawberry Napoleans, made with fresh, hand-picked strawberries and smooth, creamy toffee. For tea, I have procured a deliciously light Golden Moon breakfast tea, designed to complement the darker taste of the pastries."
Ciel wasn't listening, as he slipped his fork daintily into the pastry. He might be the head of the Phantomhive household, but he had the same sweet tooth as his late father. Oftentimes, the Earl Phantomhive would sneak a small pastry or candy to his son while his wife wasn't looking. But if she ever caught him, then they'd both be in for a lecture. When he was young, Ciel had seen it as a game, and his innocent face always got him out of the worst trouble.
Memories like this were no longer painful. What had happened could not be changed, and Ciel had chosen his own path. There was no point in yearning for what might have been, if only things had been different. Ciel lifted the teacup to his mouth and took a small sip. Sebastian had been right, of course; the tea complemented the pastry exactly.
He listened as Sebastian rattled off his appointments for the day. Two meetings with the owners of various Phantomhive factories, a dance lesson, and finally, a meeting with a foreign dignitary. Ciel was just happy that he wasn't required to attend a party – or, even worse, a ball – to entertain the ambassador. Providing him with courteous hospitality here, in his home, was preferable by far.
Sebastian swept his dishes away as soon as he had finished, leaving him with his cup of tea and the paperwork that needed to be processed that day. Ciel scowled down at the stack of papers before sighing and pulling out his stamp. This was definitely not his favorite part of being the head of the Funtom Company. It was boring and repetitive.
It was almost a relief when his visitors arrived, though the meetings were far too short. Both men came, gave their report, and left again. Since they were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, according to Sebastian, there was no need to do anything more.
His dance instructor cancelled their lesson, since she had a family emergency, so Ciel had the early part of the afternoon free. At some point, while he had been talking with the factory supervisors, the rain had stopped, and now the sun shone brightly outside. It looked like it would be another clear night tonight.
The foreign dignitary's visit went smoothly enough, with no mishaps. Sebastian managed to keep the three idiots out of trouble for the most part, and his service was impeccable as always. Ciel managed to keep his voice polite and interested in his guest, and the Ambassador was happy enough to just chatter away, requiring little input from his host.
After Sebastian had shown the guest his room for the evening, as he would be spending the night before traveling on to the Queen's home, he followed Ciel to the bathroom, the hot water having already been poured and filled with a gentle perfume. Once more, Ciel remained passive while Sebastian stripped him, removed his eye patch, and lifted him up, setting him gently in the tub and proceeding to wash him thoroughly.
The wash cloth was gentle on his skin, and the water was comfortably warm. The fragrance, a soothing lavender, was faint rather than overwhelming. Ciel allowed himself to relax in the huge claw-footed bathtub as Sebastian washed him clean, the soap foaming along his skin and into his hair. When he was clean, he was again lifted out of the tub and wrapped in a large fluffy towel.
Sebastian brought him to the bedroom and set him on the edge of the bed. Moving to the bedside table, he removed a vial of oil from the drawer and knelt at Ciel's feet. Removing his gloves, Sebastian carefully massaged the oil into his master's skin, starting at the toes and working his way up, pressing firmly into muscles as he went, forcing Ciel's body to loosen and relax.
Ciel's body stirred when Sebastian brushed his inner thigh, but both demon and boy ignored it. It would go away on its own in a moment. Ciel had no interest in carnal pleasures, and Sebastian would not dare to overstep his bounds. Stomach, hips, chest, arms, back, and finally his neck and face were all covered with the oil, and Ciel breathed out a small sigh.
The herbal and spice scent of the oil was potent, but as Sebastian took a dry, soft cloth and rubbed it along Ciel's body, working the oil into his skin, the scent faded and became just another familiar scent. Every night, they did this – a bath followed by a massage with the special oil that Sebastian had created himself.
Finished with the massage, Sebastian carefully dressed Ciel in his nightshirt. The covers had been pulled back earlier, so Ciel just curled up in the middle of the large bed and allowed Sebastian to tuck him in. This, too, was part of the nightly ritual, and they both knew what would happen next. Still, Sebastian humored his master, and Ciel did the same in return.
"Have a good night, Bocchan," Sebastian murmured, blowing out the candles in his hand and leaving the room, closing the door behind him. Ciel counted out ten minutes and then rose from the bed, slipping easily to the floor and into a pair of warm slippers. Padding over to the window, Ciel once again sat in the cushioned seat and stared out the window, down at the courtyard.
As he had known he would be, Sebastian was outside, staring back up at the stars. The rain was finished for now, so he would remain out there for hours, until the sun began to rise. Demons didn't need to sleep, and after he had finished his nightly chores, before he began early morning preparations, he would come out here and just watch the sky. Ciel, of course, would need sleep, and in another hour or so, Sebastian would come and put him back to bed. For now, though, Ciel watched Sebastian, while the demon watched the stars.
As boy and demon remained there, frozen against the nighttime backdrop like a twilight painting, Ciel thought to himself that while rain might be a good thing, at night, it was better to see the stars, always.