a Sequel to the Sequel to Père Lachaise
by Kimberly T.
Long Author's Note: This story is, as the subtitle plainly states, a sequel to a sequel to Aservis Roturier'sexcellent and touchingly tragic one-shot story "Père Lachaise", which can be found on her profile. And where is the first sequel, you might ask? Well, that's also on her profile. After I read her story, I felt positively compelled to write a follow-up to it; the story poured out of my fingertips in less than two hours and was posted as a 1,000-word 'review' to Aservis's story, with my apologies for inflicting it on her in that manner. But thankfully Aservis not only accepted my apology but accepted the story as a sequel, and posted it as Chapter 2 to her story with all appropriate credit due.
But the plot bunny that had sunk its demonic fangs into me and compelled me to write the sequel (which was never properly titled, but which I think of as 'Seven Years in a Cemetery') just wasn't done gnawing on my brainstem. Which is why you are now reading this story, the sequel to the sequel, which has been posted with Aservis Roturier's express permission.
Before you go any further, you really should consult my FFnet profile's Favorite Stories list, find and read "Père Lachaise", or you won't understand at all what's going on in this story. It's okay, I'll wait… (Patiently hums a little tune)
But if you're quite sure you've read that excellent story already as well as my follow-up, and just want a quickie refresher on the most pertinent details, here they are:
It starts in Paris and seven months after the end of the anime series II, after Ciel is turned into a demon and he and Sebastian leave Phantomhive Manor forever. Sebastian hates being contracted to Ciel now, sentenced to serve as a butler for Eternity and without the reward he'd rightly earned, and he's let the boy-demon know it too. And after Ciel has realized that Sebastian, the most important and dearest person in his entire world, now apparently loathes him and never wanted him for anything more than a meal, he falls into a deep depression. After getting Sebastian to list the ways that a demon can die, Ciel commits suicide. Only then does Sebastian realize how much he values Ciel for himself and his companionship, and manages to stop the demon-child at the very brink of death… but he can't revive him entirely; Ciel is left in a coma-like state, completely unresponsive to the world.
In my first sequel, it takes Sebastian seven years of hunting souls to feed to Ciel, seven years of guilt and repentance, hardship and desperation before he is unexpectedly given the soul that finally, fully revives the demon-child; the story ends with Ciel opening his eyes.
Chapter 1: In Debt and Dining Out
Ohhh, that sweet shade of cerise exposed when those eyes finally fluttered open of their own accord; Sebastian had never beheld anything cuter. Until they changed color a moment later to their original deep blue, and then he knew that there could not possibly be any sight more beautiful anywhere on earth; that deep blue was the color of his only Heaven… his Ciel.
Those sweet lips parted of their own accord as well, and Ciel whispered, "Sebastian? What… you're crying…" He was so enthralled just by hearing his little lord's voice again that it took a few moments for the words to actually sink in; when they did, he dabbed at his cheeks and felt the moisture there with astonishment.
Who had ever heard of a demon weeping?! Tears were for mortals, not for his kind! And tears were for grief, while right now he was so very far from grieving! His entire being was filled with relief and joy at having Ciel back with him, awake after what seemed an eternity of waiting and desperately hoping. There must be something wrong with him, after so many years of starving himself while feeding every soul he could safely snatch to his precious—
Ciel reached up towards his face, the youth's pale features starting to crease with worry, and Sebastian instantly shoved the mysterious ailment out of his thoughts while catching that hand and pressing fervent kisses to his fingers. "Awake, you're awake, my dear little lord, awake at last and it's been so long, so very long and I'm so very sorry, forgive me, but it's all right if you don't because all that matters is that you're awake at last…" He was dimly aware that he was babbling like a brook, hardly fitting behavior for a demon of his rank, but it had been a very long time since he had given the slightest damn about fitting behavior. No, that didn't matter at all anymore; all that mattered was—
"Sebastian, stop," Ciel finally said rather irritably, and Sebastian instantly shut up and stopped kissing and nuzzling that small hand, but couldn't bring himself to let go of it; he held it to his chest while staring adoringly and imploringly into his dear little earl's eyes, waiting for his next order. But all Ciel said next was a soft, bewildered, "...What happened?"
Sebastian blinked at him, momentarily dumbstruck, before finally saying hesitantly, "You don't remember, my lord?"
"No, I-" Then Ciel's breath caught and his eyes went wide for a moment, before losing their focus as his thoughts turned inwards on themselves, on the memories that Sebastian could tell were coming back to him. "...oh."
Sebastian could stand it no longer, he had to gather the boy close again, cradling him to his chest as he both fiercely berated and fervently begged, "Little one, don't ever do that again! Not ever!"
Ciel's voice was tiny and muffled against his chest, but he could still hear him say hesitantly, "But... I thought you hated me..."
"I was a fool," Sebastian said harshly, finally speaking aloud the words that he'd flogged himself with many times over the years. "A sulking idiot, an angry imbecile, too blindly bitter over what I'd lost to realize and cherish what I still had! But I know now what I should have known then, and I swear to you, little one, my dearest little lord... I am more than willing, nay, I will be delighted to stay by your side as servant, guide and protector, through all Eternity."
The boy's arms crept around his torso to hug him back, tentatively at first but with increasing fierceness as he muttered, "If this is all just one last dream, I don't care; please let it all end this way."
The words stung his heart, and Sebastian pulled Ciel back just enough to look him in the eyes as he growled, "Do not talk of ending! If I had been even another hour later waking up, you would have been gone forever! I was barely in time to keep you from dying entirely, and I've spent these last seven years doing everything I could to revive you and bring you back!"
Ciel stared at him in wide-eyed silence before finally whispering, "Seven years?"
His nod of response was slow, as he felt the weight of those lost years once more; weighing far heavier on him than all the millennia of his existence prior to meeting his Ciel. "Seven years, three weeks and five days."
After another moment of just staring frozen in shock, Ciel slowly lowered his gaze to Sebastian's lapels as he whispered, "I'm sorry… Sorry to put you to all that troub-"
Sebastian blurted out, "Oh no, no, dear little one, you've nothing to be sorry for!" as he gathered him close once more and began rocking him in his arms. "I am the one who is so supremely sorry, to have driven you to such despair. To have taken all my rage at what those despicable demons had done, out on the one who scarcely deserved it at all, and was as much a victim of their schemes as I," he murmured into that downy-soft hair the shade of slate. "I am so, so very sorry, my Ciel… but now I am also so very happy, that I have the chance to make it up to you."
It seemed to take the demon-child a few moments more to really believe the truth of his words, but finally Ciel relaxed into his embrace, clutching his lapels with one hand while nuzzling that dear little face into his chest like a kitten looking to be petted. Sebastian sighed contentedly while rubbing his back, and kissed the crown of his hair—
And then they both froze as a voice rang out from somewhere overhead, a shrill tone that they were painfully familiar with, saying in a gay singsong, "You're welll-comme!"
Demon and demon-child locked eyes for an instant, silently asking each other with equally startled and dismayed expressions if they'd really heard that. And then they both looked up, Sebastian with his eyes already blazing and fangs bared, to see the Grim Reaper Grell Sutcliffe perched on a branch high overhead and grinning down at them, his scarlet coat still bright in the evening gloom and his chainsaw Deathscythe slung over one shoulder.
Grell grinned even wider, showing all his pointed teeth, as he gave a fingertip-wave down at them. "Hello, my sweet Bassy-chan! And hello, Brat; you're looking much better! I knew those souls would do the trick!"
Later on, Sebastian would decide he was actually grateful for Grell showing up at just that moment. Because at the sight of that Grim Reaper who had plagued them so often in the past, as swiftly as switching on a light, that hesitant and still-so-timid little Ciel turned into Earl Phantomhive, the Queen's Watchdog. The arrogant aristocrat who always strode confidently into the darkness, the child prodigy who dared to match wits with hardened killers four times his age and experience, who stared unflinchingly into the blackest of hearts while placing unwavering trust in the demon who walked at his side; that was Sebastian's little lord at his finest. And it was Earl Phantomhive who shouted upwards, "Explain yourself, this instant! And for starters, explain what a member of the British branch of the Grim Reapers is doing in Paris!"
Then his eyes flickered sideways to Sebastian's, asking silently, We are still in Paris, right? Sebastian gave the barest nod of confirmation, and the Queen's Watchdog glared upwards again.
Grell adjusted his spectacles as he frowned down at them, saying, "Well, that's gratitude for you! And after I went to all that trouble for you, too… Well, for your information, I applied for and was granted a transfer to the Paris region three years ago. London was just so drab and boring without my sweet Bassy-Chan to play with! And word had finally floated across the Reaper divisions that a certainly devilishly handsome butler and his brat had been spotted in Paris, the City of Lights… or should I say, the City of Love! Really a far more appropriate nickname where Bassy-Chan is concerned!" as he tittered most disturbingly.
"So I came here, and what did I find? At first, only traces of where you had been! As if you were continually hiding from everyone! I really couldn't believe it at first; what could possibly make my bold and beautiful Bassy-chan turn into a shrinking violet? But finally I got my hands on this," as Grell reached into a voluminous pocket of his scarlet overcoat, and pulled out a tube-like device; it extended to become a telescope, its casing etched in arcane symbols. "And after some diligent bird-watching, I finally found my dear black raven! But he was carrying a little wounded bluebird everywhere he went."
The Reaper pocketed the telescope and leaped lightly down from the tree branch to the cemetery lawn, to stride towards them with that alarming grin of his. "And cowardly stealing souls from stray humans whenever you thought no Reaper was looking, instead of making devilish contracts for them or engaging in spectacular battles with angels and reapers for your savory delights. Really, Bassy, such disappointing behavior! But it was plain to see why you were behaving so wretchedly; something dreadful had happened to your brat, and you were occupied with keeping him safe and fed until he was well again."
Grell struck a supremely self-satisfied pose, every line in his body suggesting that the demons were allowed to start worshipping his greatness whenever they pleased. "Undertaker had told me all about the brat being turned into a demon by some other demons; the old boy always knows the best gossip, even if it's hard to get him to part with it! And everyone knows that for demons, a freely given soul is more than their ambrosia, it's their cure-all! So I waited until a suitably despairing soul appeared on my 'to die' list, a stupid cow who'd believed all the lies her boyfriend told her until he found out she was pregnant. I stepped in to keep her going instead of letting her die at her appointed time, and discreetly herded her in this direction until I was sure you would find her and take care of the rest. None of which was easy, I assure you! And I'd get into all kinds of trouble with my division bosses if they ever found out… But of course, anything for my dear Bassy." And then he looked at them expectantly.
There was a pregnant pause as Sebastian and Ciel looked at each other, reluctantly acknowledging what Grell had done for them. Then Sebastian slowly set the demon-child down to stand by his side, so he could fully bow to the Reaper while saying, "Grell Sutcliffe, you have given me and my lord invaluable aid, and... I owe you a boon in return."
Grell dramatically threw his hands in the air as he exclaimed, "Finally! Finally, after everything I've done for him over the years, the man admits how much he owes me!"
"Yes," Sebastian agreed through gritted teeth, not liking the reminder of all the ways he had used Grell's obsession with him to manipulate the Reaper, back when Ciel had been fully human. Not that he had any remorse at all for what he'd done, but several of those run-ins with the deviant shinigami had involved moments that he'd rather keep from his little lord's ears. "So ask what you will, and if it does not involve risk to my lord in any way, then I shall comply."
Grell, grinned widely, showing all his pointed teeth. "Bassy, darling! You know what I want, what I've wanted all along; one night of unbridled and glorious passion, to have you all to myself for whatever I want!"
The Reaper revved up his Deathscythe and spun in a joyous circle while swinging it overhead, casually lopping off a few tree branches as he caroled, "We'll paint this town so red, crimson as a bed of roses!"
Ciel grabbed Sebastian around the waist, gripping him fiercely while scowling at Grell. "Hold on; as Sebastian's master, I have some say in this bargain!" The older demon knew he really should tell the boy to hush, that he'd have paid nearly any price to have him restored and he'd gladly endure whatever Grell had in mind, but he was too touched by the protective (and perhaps, dare he hope, jealous?) gesture to say a word.
Grell stopped dancing about and frowned indignantly at Ciel, and the demon-child demanded, "You'll do nothing that will cause him serious injuries; nothing that he can't completely recover from within minutes!"
Grell rolled his eyes and gave an exaggerated sigh. "Oh, fine; I hereby promise, nothing but flesh wounds. But in return Bassy-chan has to promise to not touch my beautiful face; not just for our night on the town, but never again!"
Sebastian smirked at the Reaper. "Really? You want me to promise to never touch your face?" as he lifted his free hand to lightly draw a gloved finger along his own cheek, accompanying the caress with a heavy-lidded look of suggestion.
Grell nearly swooned. And when he recovered, he coyly tittered, "Well, that kind of touching is allowed, of course!"
Sebastian and Ciel exchanged looks again; Ciel's worried, and Sebastian's resigned. Then they turned back to Grell as Sebastian said with a nod, "Very well, the bargain is made. But I must insist that you wait for your promised night; I cannot leave my lord's side right now, not even for the span of a few hours! He is so newly recovered and weak yet, and I will not leave him to be easy prey for any other supernatural creature that might come along."
Grell crossed his arms and pouted, but finally said, "Fine, I'll wait. I'll give you one more full night and day; that's plenty of time to stuff another soul or two down your baby bird's gullet." Then he pointed at Sebastian as he said firmly, "And while you get yourself someone to eat too, Bassy-chan; you're starved at least half-to-death already, and I want you feeling fit for our fun!"
Ciel spun to stare upwards at Sebastian as he blurted out, "You're really starving? Half-to-death?!"
Sebastian tried to demur, but Grell overrode him with a matter-of-fact, "From what I saw through the aetherscope, Brat, he fed every single soul he could grab to you without saving any for himself. And it's showing, if you know what to look for; his— Oh, don't give me that look, Bassy darling; you know I'm only saying this for your own good!"
"Then we are agreed," Sebastian said forcefully, glowering at the Reaper in warning to say nothing more on the matter of his wellbeing. "You and I will meet back here at this same time tomorrow, whereupon you shall have me at your disposal and for your pleasures until dawn."
"Wonderful!" as Grell twirled around a few times in raptures of joy, "This will be a night to remember for all time!" Then he stopped to bat his eyelashes at Sebastian while saying, "But for now, I simply must get back to work; souls to reap, supervisors to keep blissfully unaware, you know how it is!" He turned to the side while revving up his Deathscythe again; the weapon cut a gaping hole in thin air, through which an unearthly light gleamed. "Until tomorrow; àtoutàl'heure, Bassy-chan!" he cried gaily as he stepped through the doorway and disappeared, as did the doorway an instant later.
The cemetery was quiet again after the Reaper left, and fully dark now that night had completely fallen. Sebastian sighed as he turned to his little one and asked, "Shall we depart, my lord? If we have only the one night to restore you to sufficient strength before I must give Grell his due, then we must find more populated hunting grounds."
"To restore us both to sufficient strength," Ciel said firmly. "But how are we to do that; to get souls for you to eat while you're still under contract to me? I was under the definite impression that contracts typically involve exclusivity; that while a demon is contracted to someone, they can't go nibbling on any other souls until the contract is finished."
Sebastian said uncomfortably, "That is true, my lord, but—"
"Ah!" Ciel brightened as an idea came to him. "What if I ordered you to eat someone's soul? After all, you've said before that while under contract, I own every particle of your being; I'd say that incudes your appetite. There's nothing in our contract to say that I can't give an order like that, so… would that work?" as he gave the elder demon a hopeful look.
"Yes, my lord; that will do quite well," as Sebastian smiled with relief. He knew that sooner or later they'd have to have a serious conversation about the contract, but he was more than willing to put it off until much later.
"Well then, let's be off to the lowest parts of Paris," Ciel said as he reached upwards, and Sebastian immediately scooped him up to cradle him in his arms again. "You may not get the most savory souls there, but right now I'm far more concerned with filling you up so you'll be better able to survive whatever depravities Grell has in mind for you. There'll be time to fuss with finding and securing more palatable fare on other nights."
"What a coincidence, my lord; I had the very same thoughts on tending to your wellbeing," Sebastian said with an exceedingly wry smile as he sprang into the air.
Ciel still wasn't 100% convinced that what he was experiencing right now was completely real, and not one last dream before final oblivion; his subconscious giving his dying mind something to think about besides the sight of his own blood swirling down the bathtub drain.
He had taken Sebastian's tailcoat into the bathroom with him, to steal a last and miniscule measure of comfort from the scent of his butler that permeated the fabric. That familiar scent that had somehow always reminded him of cinnamon and vanilla instead of sulfur and brimstone might be aiding his imagination even now, to concoct the most vivid dream he'd ever had. But if this was all just one last dream, he was going to savor every moment of it; savor the feel of those strong arms cradling him again in warmth and safety, and the thrill of the night air rushing past them as they traveled at breakneck speeds.
With Sebastian's prodigious leaps clearing up to fifty yards in a single bound, it took them only a short while to leave the vast acreage of Père Lachaise Cemetery behind and reach one of the poorest sections of Paris, one that hadn't been touched by Haussman's grand renovations yet. But before they'd quite arrived, Sebastian said quite suddenly, "My lord, would you please say something?"
The words startled Ciel from his contented reverie, and he responded with a somewhat bewildered, "Such as?"
"Anything; I care not what." Sebastian's voice sounded strained. "Talk of the weather, call me insults, recite poetry; just please, do not stay so silent! I... I have endured too many years of such silence, and now it greatly unsettles me."
And now Ciel was greatly unsettled, by Sebastian's admission. What had his butler endured over the last seven years, to leave him so weak as to even admit to a weakness?! ...Hopefully it was just extreme hunger, as Grell had said, and tucking into a soul or two would set him to rights. In the meantime, Ciel wracked his brains for something to say besides just blithering like an idiot, and finally decided on Sebastian's third suggestion; a poetry recitation.
He knew very little poetry, having always left such fancies to Lizzie while he read murder mysteries and the like, but there was one poem he had read and still recalled quite clearly, due to its author and its subject. He cleared his throat and began, "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—"
Sebastian chuckled as he recognized the poem, and Ciel continued, "While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. ''Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.' "
But by the time he finished the second verse of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven", they had landed on the roof of a squalid-looking tenement hall overlooking a dank-smelling alley, and Sebastian was setting him on his feet again—though handling him so carefully, one would suppose he'd been made of spun glass. Then together they looked over the edge of the rooftop, down into the alley below. There were no street lights in this poor section of Paris, but the moon was full and rising; plenty of light for his now-demonic eyes to see what was going on far below their feet.
And the sight below was enough to turn Ciel's stomach. Paris abounded with prostitutes, even more so than London, and far too many of them were children; young girls who had been orphaned or even abandoned by their families who could not afford to feed them. In some despicable cases, the girls' own parents were their pimps, selling their bodies to whoever lusted after them for sums as low as two francs per rape. The silently miserable girl in the alley below them couldn't have been more than eight years old… and the man roughly groping her and rucking her skirts up, no less than forty years of age.
Ciel's lip curled in disgust as he pointed at the man and growled, "He'll do for a start. But be sure she gets whatever money is in his pockets first."
"Yes, my lord! Please wait here, I'll be but a moment," as Ciel abruptly found himself moved several feet back from the edge of the roof, even as Sebastian lightly leaped off it to vanish below his field of vision. Ciel huffed in mild annoyance—his butler's sudden overprotectiveness was going to get old rather quickly—but waited where he was, while below him he heard the girl shriek in fright, and the man start to shout in protest—a shout that was abruptly choked off. And Sebastian's voice a moment later, saying in soothing tones, "Here, child, for you; now take it and run."
Barely a second later, he heard the slapping of cheap shoes on the pavement as the little girl ran away; then there was another sound—something like a wet squelching, or suctioning; liquid in some fashion—and a second or two later, Sebastian was back on the roof and kneeling in front of him, and smiling while presenting something in his cupped hands. "Your supper, my lord; please pardon the lack of tableware and other accouterments."
Ciel stared at what his butler was presenting; it was the first time he had ever seen a soul. There was no real shape to it, nor truly any substance, but it was there nonetheless, and faintly glowing to his new eyes. This was what he would have to live on, for the rest of his possibly endless existence. He was repulsed by the thought… but oh dear god, how he wanted that shining thing, a sudden craving that struck him as stronger than the strongest urge he'd ever felt for chocolate or even tea…
But he put his hand up to ward it off, saying firmly, "That one is yours."
Sebastian lost his smile. "But my lord, you—"
"Sebastian, as I understand it, I ate scarcely an hour ago. While you haven't had anything to eat for at least the last ten years! This is an order, Sebastian; eat that soul. And enjoy it, one hopes," he added rather lamely.
"Yes, my lord." And Sebastian brought his cupped hands up to his own mouth, closed his eyes and inhaled. The ethereal glow disappeared between his lips, and the demon butler was very still for a second—and then he sighed, while giving a shudder of unmistakable relief and satisfaction.
Ciel waited patiently for Sebastian to finish enjoying his meal, while wishing he still had his walking stick at hand; he wondered idly what had happened to it in the intervening years. When his butler finally opened his eyes, he asked mildly, "Feeling better?"
Sebastian's smile was wry but grateful as he replied, "Yes, my lord; thank you for asking."
Ciel studied his butler's face, comparing it to his memories of what Sebastian had looked like when they had first formed the contract, and decided that he still looked a little peaked. He asked to confirm his suspicion, "But if you were truly starving earlier, badly enough that even Grell noticed, is it going to take more than just that one soul to put you back in top form?"
Sebastian reluctantly nodded as he got back to his feet. "Unfortunately, yes, my lord. That is always the case when eating souls taken by force, instead of properly earned by contract or freely given."
Ciel cocked his head inquiringly; that was news to him. There was so much about his new state of being that he still didn't know or understand... but there was no time like the present for a quick lesson. "Why is that, then? Does the whole thing not come out when you take it by force? Are the most nutritious bits left behind?"
"That isn't quite accurate... but it is perhaps the closest analogy, my lord," Sebastian said as he frowned in thought. "I know of no terms in any human language that would describe the process better."
"Well, let's go and get you a few more, then; I need you to be in tip-top shape for tomorrow." Ciel added sternly, "I shan't eat until you're properly stuffed, is that clear?"
"Yes, my lord," Sebastian said with a bow. "I would assume you prefer that we dine solely on criminals tonight?"
"You assume correctly. I know I am no longer the Queen's Watchdog, nor even in our old jurisdiction, but… I would prefer to retain a few of my human habits, as long as I possibly can."
"Understood, my lord," as Sebastian scooped him up again. "Then let us find more human predators to prey upon."
There had been one interruption in the hunt, when Sebastian had abruptly scooped up his little one and retreated quickly across the river Seine, to avoid another member of the Paris division of Grim Reapers out on a retrieval. Now that Ciel was conscious again, he was no longer absolutely helpless, but Sebastian would still take no chances with his safety. But five hours after they had begun, Sebastian's hunger was well sated, and Paris had been relieved of two more child rapists, three armed and violent muggers, some brute who'd just beaten his wife to death, and a burglar who'd climbed back out of a window with blood spatters on his gloves. Sebastian had known by the scent that it wasn't human blood, but hadn't bothered to correct Ciel's impression before he was ordered to take him. (Because it had been feline blood, which made the man even more despicable scum so far as the demon was concerned.)
And now, after eating seven souls (not all that tasty, but filling) and declaring quite truthfully to Ciel that he felt not just full but as hale and powerful as he had ever been, Sebastian was finally able to persuade his little one to eat the eighth soul. He slipped the ethereal substance between the demon-child's willingly parted lips, and waited to see what he thought of his first meal taken while conscious. Would Ciel complain about the coarseness of the flavor, or would he eagerly demand another?
But to Sebastian's surprise and dismay, instead of either complaints or demands for more, Ciel suddenly began to cry. "His name was Alphonse," the boy-demon whispered brokenly while clutching his stomach, as tears trickled down his cheeks. "Dear god, I didn't want to know his name…"
Mentally chastising himself for not expecting something like this—of course the experience would be different for Ciel; demons thought of humans in general as little better than cattle, but to his little lord it had only been a very short time since he had been part of that herd!—Sebastian gathered the quietly weeping demon-child into his arms, and murmured as he rocked him back and forth while rubbing his back, "I understand, little one. Sshhh, shhh… There, there; it will get easier, in time…"
At least, Sebastian hoped it would become easier for his little lord in time; he had no experience at all with the formative years of newly-turned demons, only millennia-old demonic lore to draw upon. For tonight, though, their hunting was clearly done. He would have preferred to tuck another soul past those lips, but he knew now that it would be useless to try until after the shock of this first time had worn off.
And the elder demon had to admit to himself that the child truly didn't need another bite; he was very nearly glowing from within after having been fed three souls in less than six hours, including one freely given, which was worth any ten souls forcibly ripped from the body. He was still as weak as a newborn, but it was highly likely that Ciel wouldn't feel truly hungry for another two to three years, and might possibly be sated for a full decade.
After Ciel had finished and dried his eyes (looking thoroughly angry with himself for showing such weakness), Sebastian took him to the small house waiting for them at the western border of Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. The demon had moved them and their few belongings into the house seven years ago, after feeding the former owner's soul to his little one; the city tax collectors cared not who owned the house now so long as they received their due on time.
The tiny dwelling was a far cry indeed from Phantomhive Manor, but Sebastian had done what he could to fix it up and make it more comfortable on the inside, while still keeping the exterior plain and nondescript enough to avoid undue attention from the curious or the criminally inclined. He'd also layered the exterior several times over with the strongest avoidance wards he could make, to keep Reapers and other demons from even glancing at it, so they would have a refuge to retreat to in between hunting for souls to feed his little one.
They went inside, and as Sebastian took off and hung up their overcoats, Ciel gave a small smile while touching a finger to the head of his walking stick, which Sebastian had been keeping in the umbrella stand all these years. There followed an extremely quick tour of the small cottage, and Ciel eyed the furnishings with quiet appreciation; the elder demon had chosen color schemes reminiscent of the earl's bedroom and study back in Phantomhive Manor.
Then the boy visibly brightened when his eyes fell upon the bookcase in the corner, and Sebastian nearly glowed with pride and self-satisfaction as he walked over to it and ran his fingers along the spines of the many books displayed. The demon had raided bookseller stalls for the novels that he knew were the boy's favorites from before, and then added to the shelves newer works that he was sure the now-eternal youth would enjoy reading whenever he woke up.
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!" Ciel whispered gleefully, grinning with almost giddy delight as he plucked the volume from the shelves. Then he caught himself, and schooled his features to a more serene appreciation as he turned to his butler and declared, "You've done well, Sebastian."
The elder demon thought that at that moment, he couldn't have been more delighted if every single demon in Hell had lined up to bow at his feet and acknowledge him as their superior in all aesthetics.
Then Ciel pointed to one of the two overstuffed chairs Sebastian had posed near the fireplace and ordered, "Sit down."
"My lord?" Sebastian questioned in bewilderment, though he did as ordered.
"You said earlier that you get unsettled when I'm silent for any length of time," Ciel said as he sat himself down in the other chair with the book he'd chosen. "So obviously, sleeping right now is out of the question; you might well work yourself up into a fit of the vapors before I wake up again."
The elder demon kept his face impassive, though inside he was bridling at the implication that he was no better than a hysterical human female… Even if he had to admit that Ciel had a point. Just the thought of seeing Ciel asleep in the bed, lying still and silent in much the same way he'd been dreamlessly sleeping for the past seven years, made Sebastian want to dash outside again and seize a half-dozen more souls to stuff down his gullet, in a panic to make sure he'd wake up again afterwards.
Ciel continued, "Therefore, the most sensible cure is for me to keep talking until you've had an utter surfeit of all speech for a while. And rather than blather on about the weather or other tedious subjects, I'm going to read to you; that way I'll get some measure of enjoyment out of this cure as well."
Sebastian smiled again as he said, "A sensible solution indeed, my lord."
"Of course. You may get up now and then to do whatever chores you deem necessary," Ciel said as he opened the book and flipped pages until he reached the first story, "but you are not to leave the house or stray out of earshot of my voice until I am finished. So; this first story is titled 'A Scandal in Bohemia'. To begin: 'To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind…"
Sebastian flicked a finger at the wood in the fireplace to start a fire blazing there, and as Ciel read while the flames leaped and danced for them, he sat back with a truly contented sigh. His dinner earlier had hardly been up to his usual standards, but he readily admitted that it was good to be comfortably full again. And most important of all, he had his dear little lordling back in full mettle; yes, finally all was right with the world once more.
To be continued