Hello dear readers, I have returned! As promised, none of my stories are abandoned. However, due to my now hectic schedule, updates will be inconsistent. Anyways, I hope you still enjoy reading these stories, as here is another chapter for you all. I will apologize if the story progress is quite slow, but we are on the first episode, so it's more introductory than anything.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler). However, I do own Alex.
Pairings: Undecided for the moment
Warnings: Language, Character Death, Possible Adult Scenes, Sadism
"The progress we've been making with the East Indian factory is quite astonishing." stated Ciel's business associate, Mr. Damian, as the young earl finished moving his game piece on the large board in front of them. "We already have the makings of a topnotch staff."
"Bewitched by the eyes of the dead – what rotten luck. It appears I lose a turn." Ciel remarked, as he seemingly paid more attention to the game rather than the man seated across from him.
The man didn't appear to be affected by the young earl's nonchalant behavior, "Now is the perfect time. We should begin expanding the company and building a strong labor force –"
"Go on, it's your turn." Ciel spoke again, ignoring the man's weak attempts to bring business into the conversation.
Mr. Damian was taken aback, but nevertheless, went to spin the die and move his game piece. "Okay then, five spaces… Now, what I wanted to ask…" there was a glint in the man's eyes, which did not go unnoticed by Ciel, yet he sounded almost sincere as he spoke, "Perhaps, you could contribute another £12,000 to support our expansion? I believe it would be quite a profitable venture for you, my lord. And I would consider it an honor to help expand the Funtom company—"
A knock on the door interrupted the droll, one-sided conversation, and Alex stepped into the room. Her face lacked any distinguishable emotion, and emerald orbs assessed the occupants rather meticulously.
"I beg your pardon for the intrusion, but Sebastian mentioned that you requested my presence, Lord Phantomhive?" Ciel was startled by the sudden change in the witch's demeanor, but schooled his features as he turned to address her.
"Yes… And I believe that I've told you to call me 'Ciel'. There is no need for such formalities."
Alex made a small noise of acknowledgement, before a slight smirk graced her lips, "Of course. My apologies, Ciel."
"Oh my, who is this lovely young lady, Lord Phantomhive?" Mr. Damian straightened in his seat.
"She's a special guest of mine who's currently residing in the manor." the young earl said, grateful for her appearance. If he had to listen to any more nonsense that the man had been spouting…
"Good evening, Mr. Damian. I've heard a great deal about you." Alex held out her hand with her palm facing downwards, "My name is Alexis Potter."
Though her expression gave away nothing, the witch's insides churned with disgust as Mr. Damian took her hand and placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles. She resisted the strong urge to snatch her hand back and slap the man across the face. Alex had never been more thankful towards her fellow Slytherins for teaching her pureblood decorum. While many think otherwise, purebloods and muggle high society were similar in many aspects: mannerisms, clothing, houlier-than-though attitudes… although the last one could be biased.
"It's a pleasure, Lady Potter. If I may be a bit bold, but might I inquire as to why you are currently staying with the Earl?" questioned Mr. Damian.
Alex had expected this. Ciel was a noble, and most likely had a fiancé. It was natural for others to question why he would accommodate her without any business relation of the sorts.
She smiled politely, "Why, to assist Lord Phantomhive in his line of work. Sadly, I cannot divulge any further detail on the matter."
Mr. Damian paused hesitantly, eyeing Alex with something akin to suspicion, "Of course…" A terrified shiver crawled down his spine when Alex's smile shifted to a vindictive smirk, emerald eyes gleaming with mischief as she glanced at the game board.
"Lose a leg in the enchanted forest," she stated, "How unfortunate,"
"Would you care to join us?" Ciel offered, gesturing to the empty seat next to him. Alex nodded in thanks, before settling down beside the young earl who turned his attention back to Mr. Damian, "And it's your turn again. I lost a turn, remember?"
"Ah, I see." said Mr. Damian with growing irritation, and spun the die, "Right, I move six…"
"You don't – that's three." Ciel cut in as he stared at the board.
"What? But –"
"You lost a leg, if you recall. Now, you can only move half the number of spaces."
"Oh my," Mr. Damian chuckled nervously, "This is a gruesome board game, isn't it? Is there no way for me to restore my leg, then?"
Ciel's visible blue orb darkened, "I'm afraid once something is truly lost, sir, one can never get it back again."
Alex's gaze narrowed as she glimpsed at the young earl from the corner of her eye. We're so alike, yet we aren't. He already believes himself to be damned, with no future other than his soul being consumed by a demon. Harry and I used to think the same way, once upon a time. Sometimes I wonder, if Hagrid hadn't shown up when he did, where would Harry and I be now?
"Your body is burnt by raging flames."
Probably six feet under… Alex thought grimly as she stared at the terrified look on Mr. Damian's face
The tension in the room eased up when Sebastian entered, announcing that it was finally time for dinner.
"Oh, dining out in that exquisite stone garden. Shall we go, my lord, my lady?" Mr. Damian moved to stand, but paused as Ciel spoke.
"Very well. We'll finish the game later."
Mr. Damian laughed awkwardly, "Oh, is there any real need to finish it? It's obvious I'm going to lose."
"I'm not in the habit of abandoning games halfway through." Ciel said as he stood from his seat, and Alex gladly accepted the hand he offered her as she followed suit, both making their way towards the door.
Their steps halted as they heard Mr. Damian murmur. "How childish," Three sharp pairs of eyes turned towards the Italian, who immediately tried to rectify his statement, "I – I mean, sometimes it takes a child's eyes to see what really important. It's a true gift. Maybe that's what made the Phantomhives the nation's foremost toy makers. It certainly impresses me."
Alex bit back a sneer at the man's pathetic attempt, before mentally shaking herself. This kid's depressing personality is rubbing off on me.
They strolled towards the garden, the witch gently holding onto the young earl's forearm as they walked, and Alex subtlety inched closer to whisper, "You are aware that he is attempting to swindle money off you, right?"
"I suspected as much." Ciel responded in an equally hushed tone, "Did you read his mind or something of the sort?"
"Or something," Alex said wryly, "You need to pay more mind to your surroundings. Even the walls have ears."
Ciel glanced at her with a smirk, "It's not polite to eavesdrop, you know."
"It's not my fault that I'm naturally inquisitive." Alex retorted, smiling slightly, "Besides, it just might work in your favor one of these days. I can easily obtain information with less chance of getting caught. Then again, you have Sebastian for that."
"You've been caught before?"
"I try not to." Alex offered a light shrug of her shoulders, trying to appear nonchalant though the pink dust on her cheeks easily gave away her embarrassment, "It's our house's number one rule, after all."
"Your house?" Ciel's brows furrowed knitted in confusion, "You insinuated that you were an orphan."
"I am," the smile briefly dropped off Alex's lips at the bitter reminder, and returned as if nothing had occurred, "I'll explain another time. For now, there's a guest to entertain, and I did promise to lend a hand in offering this Phantomhive welcome."
She sounded almost excited at the prospect. But despite her seemingly cheery demeanor, Ciel could easily see how strained her smile looked.
"On tonight's menu is a dish of finely sliced beef Donburi – courtesy of our chef, Bardroy."
As a serving of said dish was placed in front of her, Alex idly took note of both the Earl and the guest's looks of shock, prompting her to stare at the meal with slight suspicion. Now that she thought about it, Sebastian had never mentioned what dish he was improvising with in place of the ruined dinner. Was this inedible? Was it poisoned?
"A pile of raw beef." Mr. Damian remarked in disappointment, "And this is dinner?"
So that was it, Alex mentally deadpanned. She discreetly glanced at the young earl seated to her left, who had begun to eat his meal nonchalantly. She followed suit, fumbling with the chopsticks whilst idly listening to Sebastian's brief cultural history of Donburi. She held in a snicker at the guest's astonished look as Sebastian finished his little speech, though she was quite amazed herself.
"Excellent! What an inspiring idea!" Mr. Damian praised, "The legendary Phantomhive hospitality in action."
"And finally, we have selected the finest wine to accompany the taste of the soy sauce." Sebastian announced, and gestured Mey-Rin to pour the wine. When the maid made no move to serve the guest, the tall butler leaned in to whisper in her ear, causing her to blush heavily, "What are you standing around for? Pour the man a glass of wine." He told her, his voice slightly laced in frustration.
"A-ah, y-yes sir!" she stammered, before swiveling unsteadily with the serving bottle in hand, face flushed and eyes dazed behind her large, round glasses.
"Oi," Bard suddenly voiced, "Is it me, or is Mey-Rin acting a little strange?"
Just as he said this, the magenta-haired maid lost her cool. She tipped the wine bottle over, completely missing the glass and spilling all its contents onto the pristine, white table cloth.
Ciel and Alex's eyes widened in shock, and the remaining servants gasped in disbelief. Fortunately, Mr. Damian was too occupied with gorging on his food to notice the ongoing disaster.
"Mey-Rin, stop! You're spilling the wine!" Finny cried.
Alex set down her chopsticks, and instinctively reached down for her wand to banish the liquid dangerously inching towards the edge of the table, but halted with a flinch when Sebastian rested his hand on her shoulder. She looked up to meet his red pools, which practically told her to leave the situation to him, and the witch reluctantly conceded with an inaudible sigh. She nodded to him.
With inhuman speed, Sebastian firmly grasped the end of the cloth and swiftly pulled, the soiled material easily glided off the table without as much as disturbing the tableware. Though the glasses rattled slightly, and Alex could see the water sloshing inside as the only form of evidence of the stunt.
That was... She eyed the butler with incredulity, who only offered her a sly smile in return as he folded the tablecloth, hanging it over his arm.
It wasn't long before Mr. Damian had finished his meal. The man gasped as he noticed the state of the tablecloth, or rather, the lack thereof. "Wh-what...? Where did the tablecloth go?"
"A speck of dirt, most unsightly. I had the tablecloth removed so it wouldn't distract us. Think nothing of it. " Ciel said casually, as if he hadn't been so surprised himself moments before. Alex had to admire the way he had quickly regained his composure. Then again, occurrences like these must have happened often enough that the young noble was no longer phased by them.
She didn't know whether to be impressed or amused.
Sebastian bowed, "Please accept my apologies, sir. Do continue to enjoy the meal at your leisure."
"Oh my," Mr. Damian let out another hearty laugh, "Lord Phantomhive, once again, you have truly impressed me. What an able butler you've acquired."
"Pay him no mind. He merely acted as befits one of my servants." Ciel acted as though the compliment meant nothing, but Alex could see the smug tilt to his lips.
"My master is quite correct. You see, I'm simply one hell of a butler." Sebastian practically purred, making Ciel huff lightly.
"You are too modest, Sebastian." Alex remarked, and smirked at the look on Ciel's face as she continued with her meal.
Mr. Damian continued to praise the dinner preparations as they settled back in the drawing room, but faltered when Ciel refused to acknowledge the contract until they finished their game.
Alex could see beads of sweat form in his discomfort, and decided to add more fuel to the fire, "Children can be very demanding about their games. And surely, you wouldn't want to upset the head of house now, would you?" she drawled, corner of her lips curling upward as he shifted under her unsettling stare. Her cat-like gaze bore straight through him, reading him like an open book and grasping at all the hidden clauses. Ciel glimpsed at her somewhat appreciatively from the corner of his eye as the petite witch succeeded in unnerving the Italian man.
"No, of course not." He choked out after a slight pause, "My lord, perhaps you would permit me to use your telephone?"
The man exited the room in haste once Ciel gave his consent, then the young earl turned to Alex, facing her fully with a scowl, "And who were you calling a child?"
Alex leaned back in her seat with a satisfied grin, "In that pig's eyes, we are children – someone he thinks he can easily take advantage of. Just continue to let him think of us as such. It will be all the more satisfying when we disprove his theory."
Ciel regarded her with a calmer gaze and growing curiosity, "You sound as though you speak from experience."
"I've had the displeasure of dealing with hierarchies before."
"Would it happen to be the house you were referring to?" Ciel watched as pain briefly flickered on her features, and Alex nodded.
"The school I went to – Hogwarts – was composed of four houses. Each student is sorted depending on the traits they possess, that best represents each house. There's Gryffindor for courage, bravery and chivalry; Hufflepuff for hard work, patience and loyalty; Ravenclaw for intelligence, creativity and wit; and Slytherin for ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness." She explained, "Though in my opinion, students are sorted way too early."
"You were a Slytherin." Ciel stated bluntly, causing Alex to blink in surprise at the immediate assumption. She didn't need to ask him how he knew, as Ciel elaborated further, "Out of all these houses, Slytherin strikes me as a group of those who would do anything to achieve their goals. You mentioned that you've dealt with hierarchies as well – no doubt students attempting to assert power over one another."
"That doesn't explain as to why you would think I was a Slytherin. Ravenclaws can be just as competitive." Alex retorted playfully, though it was a bit more forced, "But you're not wrong."
"How naïve," Ciel eyed her thoughtfully, "You may not realize, but I can see passed this… façade of yours. You're in pain, but choose to hide behind a mask because you assume others would deem it as weakness and use it against you. Right enough, most noblemen in society would frown upon someone so young with such high ambitions – there is a constant need to prove yourself to meet their expectations…" he slowly trailed of as he realized the familiarity of his description.
Alex immediately picked up on this.
"Sounds like someone else I know." she huffed out a bitter laugh, "I suppose the living proof of your statement is currently wandering around the mansion as we speak."
And it was true. Looking back, her years at Hogwarts seemed to be a constant struggle. Sharing a living space with the Slytherins was difficult, having to constantly watch her back lest someone decided to curse her solely for being born. While not all Death Eater families were in Slytherin, some of the more prominent ones were placed there, such as the Malfoys, Notts, Parkinsons, and many others whose children Alex had practically grew up with and trusted at one point in her life. Half of them had stabbed her in the back and tossed her to the wolves. Living with Slytherins taught her a lot of things – respect was earned, loyalty can falter, and trust was sacred. That, and one must never set off a dung bomb in the girl's dormitories – Daphne Greengrass will claw your eyes out, if you do.
Moments later, Sebastian entered the drawing room with refreshments, and poured both the young earl and the witch a cup. Ciel merely took a whiff, and his nose wrinkled slightly in disgust. "What is this? It smells terribly weak."
"Out of consideration for our guest I've brought some Italian tea." Sebastian answered apologetically.
Alex hummed, taking a sip of the tea regardless of the lacking taste, "Italians are better known for their coffee rather than tea. I would imagine there aren't many options for high quality Italian teas available in this time. Although, a friend of mine is particular to neither."
"He's Italian?" Ciel inquired.
"Yes, he is." Alex offered the tea cup back to Sebastian, "And he prefers pumpkin juice."
"Indeed, Lady Alex is correct." Sebastian took Alex's barely touched cup of tea and placed it back on the cart, before addressing Ciel, "I take it this particular selection is not to your liking, master?"
Ciel glared down at his own cup, "No, it is not. I don't like it at all." Alex and Sebastian knew he wasn't just talking about the tea.
Sebastian's eyes narrowed, "I'll see to the dessert preparations." He said.
"Good. We must show him every available hospitality. The Phantomhive family is known for its courtesy." Ciel stated, and all the room's occupants seemed to share the same wicked expression at his announcement.
Sebastian bowed, acknowledging the subtle order, "Yes, my young lord." When he straightened himself, Alex could clearly see his eyes glow a bright fuchsia.
The young witch smirked as she pulled out the wand hidden in her boot and stood from her seat, earning a curious stare from Ciel and an amused look from Sebastian. "Well then, gentlemen, I look forward to tonight's entertainment."
"What are you –?"
"Quiet child," Alex playfully hushed Ciel as they patiently for their target to appear within their line of sight, with Alex working on disillusioning them both, drawing slightly intricate patterns in the air with her wand.
"Again, who are you calling a child? I'm sixteen!"
Alex giggled and felt a sense of eagerness, mischief, and nostalgia flood through her. When was the last time she had pulled a prank like this? Granted, this was a bit more pernicious than a normal prank, but still. The thought of Fred and George briefly flashed through her mind, and the young witch tensed in her spot. Were they alive? Were the Weasleys safe? What about Ron and Hermione?
Ciel noticed the sudden shift in her demeanor, and his fingertips hesitantly brushed against hers, causing Alex's attention to snap to him. "Are you alright?"
"Ah, yes. I…" she paused, and shook her head slightly to rid herself of unwanted thought, "It's nothing. Just some memories that I would rather not bring up, for the moment."
Ciel was about to respond, but Alex hushed him for a second time and completed the charm, the sound of footsteps echoing up the empty stairwell moments after. Temporarily pushing aside his scepticism of the witch's behaviour, a slow smirk crossed his face, "Ah, our evening entertainment has arrived."
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