[The+Girl+Next+Door [size15 There is a terrible cost to dark magic, but you know what they say. You can't take it with you.]]
Sebastian gave a short bow, "yes, sir." He said, then left to do as he was told. He entered the stables. One look at the hoofed beasts told him they had been brushed recently. One less thing for him to do. There were 4 total. One was actually Sebastians own mount from Hell. To a human, it just looked like a big black beauty of a horse. He patted the Hellbeast on the nose. To the demons eyes, it was magnifisently grotesque. He smiled, "Hello, old friend. Looks like you get to run today." Bits of flesh hung, exposed to the world. Bone poked out of muscle, and the lips were peeled back to show the sharp carnivorous teeth. Its hooves were sharp and shiny. It pressed its bony nose into the demonic butlers cheek. "I know, you don't like being stuck in here. I couldn't leave you for somene else though." The Nightmare Horse trotted out once the stable was open. He put the saddle on it, the creatures natural illusion shimmering. It was his pet, of sorts. The highly inteligent creature had taken a liking to the Raven demon a few hundred years ago. They had been able to assist each other quite a bit, and the demon started using her during his contracts. While the Nightmare could not help against other demons or other such creatures, any wildlife in the area would be in for a surprise. The Hellish horse could easily take down a bear twice its size. "It is lucky the master cannot see you." Sebastian chuckled, imagining the disgust Ciel would show.
He prepared the other two horses, then brought them around to the front of the manor.The black horse for his master, as usual. A tan colored stallion, and a paint mare for the ladies. All of the horses were impressive in their own way. The paint ended up unneeded, as Lady Elizabeth insisted on riding with his master. The 4th horse was usually the one for town trips, if one of the servants had to go buy something. He double checked the reigns and saddles before heading inside to alert the noble humans that the horses were ready. Once everyone was mounted and setting off toward the unused part of his masters land. Once they were out of sight, Sebastian took off to secure the path his master was taking the ladies. Luckily it was getting closer toward midday so a lot of the larger predators were napping. Still, there was a boncst the he chased off. It was sad, but he couldn't have it spooking one of the horses. He was careful to remain out of sight. About noon, he returned to the manor and prepared an easy lunch for when they returned or his master called him to find them. He was sure someone would be growing hungry soon.
Out on the trail, Lizzie chattered constantly. Commenting on either some pretty flowers or the birds songs. Francis watched the two from her horse, unable to resist the small smile. Ciel looked so much like his father. Though he was much more serious minded than her brotjer had been at his age. They did carry guns, as it was foolish to go into the wilderness without any sort of protection. She heard a slight rustle in the bushes, and gripped her gun. However, it was only a squirrel that dashed out into their path.
Ciel looked between the two females after Lizzie suggested an activity for them to do. His fiance, of course, seemed thrilled at her idea which was normal for her while his aunt seemed to agree. It wasn't the worst idea in the world, she had certainly had some that the small earl quite detested. Some fresh air in the woods would be nice and would prove to his doubting aunt that he had recovered quite well.
[+blue "Very well,"] he agreed after a few moments, slowly setting his empty teacup down on the table. Sebastian had kept them well stocked on tea and snacks, making sure no one went without. [+blue "Sebastian, prepare the horses for riding," he ordered softly, his gaze shifting to the demon nearby. [+blue "Then see to the upkeep of the grounds."] Ciel and his butler had become rather close during their years together, Sebastian discovering that his master's words often had hidden meanings in them. Once the demon picked up on them, he rarely changed them as it allowed them to communicate when they had guests over. The boy's meaning was to keep an eye out in the woods for any issues that may arise and to take care of it quickly and discreetly. With any luck, nothing would happen and the two ladies could be on their way sooner.
Sebastian listened as his master took control of the conversation again. He carefully observed the three humans, refilling the cups when needed. One thing that was uncanny was that the butler always knew right when to leave the cup empty, and when he shouldfill it up again. Though, to the deamon, it was nessisary to be so observant as to do a good job.
The three talked for a while, Sebastian zoning in and out as the conversation led to more trivial subjects. While Lady Francis' drills on how Ciel was being treated had been at least able to keep his interest, he was now bored. However, it wasn't too long until Lizzie sported abhuge, hopeful grin that was so normal of her. The conversation had grown quiet and Lizzie, knowing her mother, suggested something to do.
"Ciel, we should go riding!" She exclaimed, a little too loudly.
The Phantomhive estates land was quite extensive, with plenty of room for them to ridehorses for hours without going across the same path twice. Despite the doctor giving the ok for Ciel to go to town, he was wary of his master traveling through the woods.
Being the one who created the Black Plague, he knew what sort of diseases animals could carry. He opened his mouth to protest, but Francis stopped anything from coming out with a sharp look. She could be very intimidating when she wanted to be. "I think some excersise would do you some good." She said, agreeing to her daughters suggestion.
The demon looked to his master, it was really too late to say anything against it now. However, he would wait for his master to decide before leaving to get the horses ready.
The boy's gaze flickered over to his fiance as he heard her quiet plead with her mother, shifting his gaze back to his aunt after a moment and took a drink of his tea. He was a bit relieved that Lizzie tried to reign her mother in but knew it would be useless in the end. Francis would simply pause the conversation and return to it at another time, most likely shortly before she left or the small group fell on a quiet moment. She was like a hound that had caught a scent and wasn't always willing to let it go so easily. It seemed to be a Phantomhive family trait.
[+blue "Indeed. He's been working hard on the meal plans and rarely deviates from them, even if some of them aren't very palatable,"] he answered, his nose wrinkling faintly at that last part. He was, of course, referring to the awful meal of liver. He'd rather put out the fire in the fireplace with his face than to eat that again. [+blue "The doctor checks in biweekly to be sure everything is fine. He was impressed with Sebastian's skills while taking care of me, though I'm sure Bardroy's emergency military medicine knowledge had a hand in that."]
While Ciel knew Bard had quite the medical skill set he knew that as to his comatose care, the cook had no part in it whatsoever. The lie was to merely make his butler seem human in some sort, that he really couldn't do everything. His aunt was suspicious enough and he hoped this would deviate some of that into another direction.
Sebastians smile turned genuine at that, listening to his master defend him. In truth, the more people around drew a higher risk of one person being smart enough to figure out the demon. Their current servants were always too much in awe to really comprehend it themselves. He was grateful, when Lizzie intervened.
Francis had been about to speak when Lizzie let out a slightly pleading "Mother..." She had wanted this to be a happy visit. While she, too, had been terrified of getting the call that her beloved had not made it; it did not mean that Ciel needed to deal with critisim right now. She was just overjoyed that Ciel was ok. She had always known that Sebastian, somehow, would not let him die. No matter how impossible the task seemed. At that thought, she turned to the butler. "Thank you for taking care of him." She said. It was one of the few redeemng qualities Sebastian liked about Lady Elizabeth. She very rarely addressed him like someone below her.
"I was merely doing my duty, my lady." Something that caused Francis to raise an eyebrow. Normally, someone in Ciels position, would have been hospitalized rather than having a servant do everything. She did not question it though, lettngher daughtwr enjoy her visit.
"I trust he at least has you on a roper diet then. You look like you have lost weight." Francis said, studying Ciel closely again.
Ciel remained quiet as his aunt ranted, both about Sebastian's capabilities as a protector and they way the kept themselves. For the latter issue, he was able to brush her comments off. Francis never approved of the way the two appeared, always finding something to complain about. Ciel preferred it this way, he was rather comfortable in his clothes and liked that his hair was long enough to cover some of the eye patch. He didn't need it to be combed back all the time. As for Sebastian, there was a reason he had taken this form. It was one Ciel could grow comfortable with and could easily come to. He wasn't about to change anything in either his butler's appearance nor his own. This wasn't her home.
The former statement had an underlying message and Ciel picked up on it immediately. She was questioning Sebastian's capabilities as a protector and didn't deem him fit enough to do so on his own. It wasn't exactly a fair call to make as she wasn't aware of the entire story nor could she ever be. If it was a normal being then yes, Sebastian was perfectly capable of protecting his young master. This creature was otherworldly and far older and stronger than the demon was. Of course there were going to be complications.
[+blue "Our appearances aren't the issue here,"] Ciel stated, picking up the teacup once Sebastian had served it. [+blue "He complies to his dress code and dresses me in the attire a young noble should be in. As to the incident, he did what was required of him and far more. The details are classified because of the case we were working on but under the circumstances he was flawless. I took a risk without his knowledge or supervision and payed for it in the end."] It wasn't the exact truth but Francis didn't need to know that. Still, it was close enough.
[+blue "Sebastian's skills as a protector don't need to be questioned."]
Francis studied her nephew closely from the moment she saw him. He was a bit thinner, and pale as usual. He looked tired, honestly. Yet, she could not help but notice the butler looked prim and proper as always. Her eyes narrowed slightly, studying the butler while her daughter roughly showered Ciel with affection. For someone who claimed to have been doing everything he could, he looked perfact. If he had so much time to put into his own appearance, surly Ciel would be healthy by now. The butler parted to the kitchens, as Ciel led them to the parlor. Ciel rarely beat around the bush with her. Being raised a Phantomhive herself, she knew pretty much all the tricks. "If there is one who can best your butler, there are others. Perhaps you should hire a few more hands?" She rose an eyebrow. There was no way her daughter would live in a house she did not deem safe. She knew Ciel would also hear the underlining question. Was Sebastian truly capable of protecting him? He HAD almost died, after all.
Sebastian, unfortunatly, heard the comment quite clearly down the hall and also knew what she was really asking. His jaw clenched and he had to stop for a moment to reign in his fury. Of course, she had reason to doubt him. His pride did not want to accept a human saying that though. He continued on, pushing the cart toward the parlor. He knocked, and entered. Of course, being a servant, his entrance was hardly acknowledged. Which was lucky for him, really. Had he been important enough to be looked at, and Lizzie not to occupied by fussing over Ciel, they would have seen the full blown murderous glare that usualy even got Ciel to obey without question. It was gone as soon as it was there though, as the demon put on his mask of professionalism while he served the tea. How dare she, a mere mortal woman, undermine him? He was quickly remided of his role, though.
"Furthermore, I see he still refuses to dress either himself, or his master properly!" She grabbed the butlers bangs, brushing them back. She left Ciel alone, though. Due to his fragile state. Sebastian took the abuse, having no real choice but to try to keep the polite smile plastered on his face.
While most masters would have become angry and instantly reprimanded their servants, Ciel was instead thankful and chose to remain quiet about it. He was grateful Sebastian had said something as he was certain that he was about to be sick if the spinning and squeezing continued much longer. Once he finally felt like he wasn't about to lose his breakfast, he faked a small smile and picked his head up a little bit. [+blue "Lizzie, it's so good to see you,"] he greeted her quietly. His eyes then shifted over to his aunt who seemed less than enthused about her arrival to the estate, as it usually seemed. [+blue "I trust your trip went well. Let's go into the parlor and Sebastian can bring you some tea."]
He glanced over at Sebastian for a moment before leading the ladies into his home, quietly heading over to the parlor. Ciel waited for them to sit before sitting himself and leaning back a little into the seat. Lizzie, of course, sat close by while Francis took a seat across from him. He decided to cut the bullshit and get straight to the point, something he knew his aunt would appreciate. [+blue "As you can tell, I'm recovering well,"] he told her quietly. [+blue "Sebastian has been taking excellent care of me. Measures have been taken so that it won't happen again."]
When the two reached the doorway, the other servants were already at the door, ready to greet. Sebastian nodded, so far, so good. He opened the door, following his master down to the carriage to lead and invite thwm inside. Sebastian kept a careful 3 paces away. Close enough to protect, far enough to not be presumptuous. His master stopped, and Sebastian went forward to open the door. As soon as the door was was open, a blur of pink rushed by and clung to Ciel, spining and squeezing him.
While she was talking impossibly fast, even Sebastian struggled to keep up. He suspected it was something along the lines of: "oh my gosh! Cieeel you had me so worried! I am so happy your ok and you shouldn't scare us like that." And shejust kept going.
He jaw clenched as jealousy coursed through his viens, offering a hamd to assist Francis. Which, she shoo'd away. Finally, Sebastian snapped, noticing his master looking somewhat dizzy from all the spinning. "My Lady, please..." He stopped himself, quickly relizing he spoke very much out of turn. Not onlydid he not allow his master to speak first, it wasn't even a proper greeting.
He was the one to just completely screw up the whole 'do everything perfactly to get them to leave' plan. Knowing it was fully too late to crawl out of the hole he possibly just threw himself into, he finished "He is still recovering...." He glanced at his master, wondering if he had managed to salvage the situation. Simutaneously upset he failed to control one of the most basic demonic instincts.
Lizzie, for her part, was instantly horrified. "Oh no! Are you ok? I didn't hurt you did I?" She released her fianceé instantly, giving him a chance to breathe.
A curious eye turned towards Sebastian, Ciel watching him quietly. It was surprising for the butler to offer a warning of their guests' arrival, Sebastian typically enjoying seeing his master squirm under the pressure. It was odd, Ciel wondering what exactly caused the demon to change. Was it because of the boy's stress level or was there something deeper going on? It was hard to say but he decided not to press it at the moment. The demon could revoke his warning if the boy nudged too hard. Instead, he moved into the parlor and picked up a book, reading until Sebastian returned.
Once the demon announced their arrival, Ciel sighed and quietly marked his place in the book before setting it down. This would be one particularly stressful and long day but he wanted to get it over and done with. He could only handle his family in small doses, especially these two. Ciel rose from his chair, straightening his jacket before heading out into the main hall to greet them when they came in through the door.
Sebastian stood behind his master, as per usual. He watched him eat in silence, clearing the dishes away. "Master, if I may, I would request you go relax. I will alert you when I hear the carriage arriving."
It was a bit odd for that to come from Sebastian. He normally just brought them to him withot any sort of warning at all. Watching the discomfort his master may be going through. This time, he could be getting quite the heads up. The demons hearing was much keener than any human. "I will prepare something for the ladies arrival." The demon bowed, then took his leave. Which left Ciel to do whatever he wanted.
Sebastian was quick to clean up, erasing any evidence his masyer ate without them. Just in case Francis demanded an inspection of her daughters future home. He then set to work on something for them to eat, and preparing a blend for the tea. He would save Francis' favorite tea for Lunch. When everything was just needing cooked, he left to perch on the roof to wait. It would make him clealy inhuman if the meal was already waiting if it was done the second they walked in the door. With how observant Francis could be, he wanted to appear as human as possible. As expected, he heard them before he saw them. He recognized the Midford families carriage coming over the horizon, and left immidiatly to warn his master.
So many decisions to be made first thing in the morning. This caused a faint frown to appear on the pale face, Ciel finishing the last of the tea in his cup before setting it down. It was hard to decide on things when he would still rather be sleeping and doing real work instead of what today would bring him. [+blue "I'll eat now,"] he responded, looking up at his butler before slowly standing. [+blue "It's hard to say when they'll appear; if I wait then they'll likely be late."]
He stood still as he was dressed for the day, a soft sigh filling the room. Ciel knew why Sebastian chose the outfit he was wearing but it was one he didn't care for much. This was really the only reason it was still in his closet. He had to play the part of the caring fiance while proving to his aunt that he could dress more diversely than he typically did. Still, just because he understood the reasoning didn't mean he didn't hate it.
The small earl followed Sebastian downstairs, sitting down at the table and looking over the breakfast prepared. The butler was correct, it was rather light due to the fact he would be eating a bit later. It would be enough to stave off the hunger for now, however, so he began to eat.
"Not yet, my Lord." Sebastian said, "I have prepared something light for breakfast, so that you might be able to dine with them should they arrive soon." Sebastian said. "Unless you would prefer to wait a little while in case they are nearly here?" He questioned. He was sure Ciel did not care for decision making so early. Oh well. "For lunch there will be poached salmon, with a mint salad and a parfait for dessert" something healthy, so Francis wpuld not complain about Ciel consuming too much sugar. "And dinner will be roasted lamb with an array of vegetables with a lemon meringue pie. Unless you would like to request something different, sir." Sebastian said, gathering the days outfit. Picking something both ladies would like. Conviently something Elizabeth chose for him. Which would make her happy. He returned with the outfit, laying it out in preperation to dress his master.
It was so hard to wake up in the morning, this one especially. Ciel knew how stressful the day ahead was going to be and didn't want to partake in it. Most people would prefer to get it over with quickly, much like ripping off a bandage. Unfortunately this would be nothing like that seeing as the ladies would most likely arrive early and leave late. He would be forced to endure hours if not all day of their inquiries, comments, and critiques all without trying to be too harsh.
He was looking forward to this as much as being stabbed again.
Slowly the young earl sat up, looking up at his butler tiredly before taking the tea that was offered to him. It was a good blend, probably chosen to give him an extra energy boost for the day. [+blue "Are they here yet?"] Ciel asked tiredly, taking a small drink of tea afterwards.
Sebastian spent the night doing detail work on the manor.his keen eye able to pick up the tiniest speck of dirt or dust. Every room in the phantomhive house was given the white glove test. Dependng on the size, a room would get multiple. He stood on the roof, admiring his work. He checked his watch. The sun was just starting to peak over the horizon. He figured he had until the sun was just almost fully visable. The road was in line with the sun. Deciding to enjoy the rare silence, he sat on the roof. He watched the sun rise, his pupils turning to hair thin slits. Though, the eye color remained the same. The pupils change made it so the suns rays had no affect on his sight. He kept an eye on the road, in case a carriage showed up at this obsene hour. It was rare whenthe manor was this silent. Between tasks needing done, the servants, his masters nightmares, he rarely had a moment to just breathe. He took them when they came though.
He listened to the birds begin to chirp, his eyes picking up the young deer begining to run about. He watched an owl catch a mouse on its way to its nest. The smells of the forest that surrounded the manor difted around him.
It was sad, how humans seemed blind to the beauty of their world.
Soon, much too soon, his break was over. He stood, walking toward one of the platforms that held the hundreds of guns. He took the nearest door inside. "There isa long day ahead. Best get started now." He made his way to the kitchen, his masters breakfast was quick to make. It was light, as it was known the ladies would arrive early. As was protocal, Sebastian would have to bring refreshments to help ease them from their travels. He could not have his master to full to not eat with them. But if they arrived later than they thought, his master would need something to hold him over until lunch. Once the meal was done, he left to awaken him. Due to the pressed time, Sebastian hurried to the room, entering. He smiled, his master was cute when he slept.
"Master, it his time to wake up." He said, pushing the tea cart along with him.
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