That Butler, Very Skilled3
"You see, I think Ciel looks best in blue!" Lizzie chatted away as Mei-Rin put the finishing touches on her outfit. "When I was out shopping in London today, I fell in love at first sight with the clothes I bought for him. Oh, I know!" Lizzie turned to Mei-Rin. "Why don't you attend the party too? I'll make you cute! Let's take off your glasses first." Mei-Rin struggled to hold her glasses on her face as Lizzie tried to remove them.
"B-But, um… I-I am terribly farsighted, Miss. If I don't have these, I can't see a thing!" Mei-Rin said, panicking.
"If you can see far away, that'll do just fine!" Lizzie said cheerfully.
"That's enough." Ciel said assertively as he made a grand entrance into the Salon, followed by Sebastian, who was carrying his new walking stick, and Chêne. Lizzie immediately turned all of her attention on him. Mei-Rin had managed to escape Lizzie's clutches without a makeover once again.
"Ciel~!" Lizzie said excitedly as she ran to him. She grabbed Ciel's hands and used the momentum to swing the young earl around. He looked a little green around the gills, like he was riding the teacup ride at an amusement park, and the other person was a weight lifting champion on steroids that was spinning their cup at in human speeds. "You're sooo Cuuute! My eyes didn't deceive me! Lizzie said. She abruptly stopped spinning Ciel around. Chêne grabbed the dazed and dizzy Ciel when he stumbled and rubbed his back soothingly to try to help him recover from his motion sickness. "Look, look! Everyone's turned cute!" Lizzie said excitedly as she motioned for Ciel to look at his three other male servants. They were all dressed in drag now. Tanaka was a Japanese noblewoman; Finni was a black-eared cat-maid, and Bard was dressed in a high school girl's sailor uniform and a horrible wig. Bard looked ill, while Finni only looked slightly chagrined. Tanaka was all zen, calm and peaceful. Bard grabbed Chêne.
"How dare you escape all by yourself!" Bard whispered rather loudly while Lizzie continued to chatter away about what was cute and why. Chêne rolled her eyes.
"In case you haven't noticed, I didn't escape. My dignity has been shredded too by this fluffy nightmare she put me in." Chêne whispered back more quietly. Bard seemed to forgive her after he took in the whole effect of her outfit. "Ya' know, that dress makes you look even—"
"Don't say it." Chêne said darkly, glaring slightly at Bard.
"But Ciel is definitely cutest of a—What's this?" Lizzie asked when she saw the family ring still on Ciel's finger. Lizzie grabbed Ciel's hand and loomed over him, emitting a dark aura as she interrogated Ciel. "Ciel! Where is the ring I got you!? The cute one that matched your clothes?" Ciel sweat dropped.
"Huh? What ring?" Ciel said as he snatched his hand back. "This ring is just fine." Lizzie did not look like she was going to accept that.
"The gemstone in the ring is a deep-blue like the outfit, so it matches doesn't it? It'll be fine like this." Chêne said, trying to placate Lizzie. It failed.
"I think not!" Lizzie yelled aggressively, a vein popping on her forehead. "I've made you all cute, but that ring isn't cute at all!" Lizzie suddenly burst into tears. "So you don't want to wear the one I bought, Ciel! You're sooo Meaaan! Waaah!" Chêne actually liked Lizzie, but these tantrums made her want to smack some sense into the girl sometimes. It was just a ring, for crying out loud.
"That's not it." Ciel sighed. He did not want to hurt Lizzie's feelings, but he couldn't not wear the family ring. "This ring is…" Lizzie's eyes glinted, scheming, as she snatched the ring right off Ciel's thumb.
"There~!" Lizzie shouted with glee. Ciel's eyes widened.
"L—!" Ciel yelled.
"Got iiiit~!" Lizzie cheered. "See, this ring is much to big for you! The one I chose is just the right size—"
"Give it back!" Ciel yelled harshly. Everyone in the room flinched except Sebastian and Tanaka. Sebastian watched Ciel quietly. Ciel glared hard at Lizzie as she held his ring. "Give it back this instant… Elizabeth!" Ciel demanded sternly. Chêne knew why Ciel was upset, but was slightly shocked to see Ciel lose it like that in front of Lizzie.
"W-Why are you so angry?" Lizzie asked, confused. She was starting to cry for real now. "I… was just…" Ciel just continued to glare at Lizzie. "... What is it!? I was only trying to make you look cute! So how come you're so angry!? You're mean! "I hate…" Lizzie screamed as she raised her hand that was holding the ring. Chêne's eyes widened.
'She wouldn't!" Chêne thought horrified. She rushed toward the girl, past Sebastian who just stood there watching silently, hoping to stop her in time. "Liz—!"
"…This ring!" Lizzie finished screaming as she swung her arm down and flung the ring down onto the floor. It shattered. The blue stone cracked and broke apart. The silver band was bent and smashed. It was damaged beyond repair. Ciel snapped.
"—!" Ciel rushed towards Lizzie in a rage, his arm raised to slap her. Lizzie flinched and cried out in fear as she raised her arms in an attempt to shield herself.
* Smack! *
The sound echoed throughout the room as Ciel raised his hand to strike again, but someone stopped him by grabbing his wrist. Ciel froze and his eyes widened in shock as he realized what he had tried to do —what he had done. Chêne was standing calmly before him; an angry, red handprint was already forming on her face. She had shielded Lizzie, who was sobbing and clinging to Chêne like a lifeline.
"Young Master." Sebastian said firmly as he gripped Ciel's wrist. Ciel looked over his shoulder at Sebastian, warily. There was a thin sheen of sweat on Ciel's brow from being so worked up before. Sebastian stared back at Ciel. "Young Master." Sebastian repeated less harshly. "You have forgotten this walking stick of yours we just had made." Sebastian gently placed the walking stick in Ciel's hand. Ciel was breathing heavily now, trying to calm down. His heart was still beating rapidly from his momentary rush of adrenaline. Ciel gazed despondently at the shattered ring, his eyes partially veiled in shadow. Chêne wanted to comfort Ciel, but she knew he wouldn't appreciate being coddled, especially in front of so many people. So, Chêne stayed by Lizzie's side and held her while whispering soothing words as she cried.
"Excuse us, Miss Elizabeth." Sebastian said, bowing. "That ring is very important to my master. It has been passed down through the Phantomhive family for generations. It was the only one of its kind in the world. Please forgive my master's discourtesy."
"Eh… !?" Lizzie gasped, clearly distressed. "It was… such a precious ring… and I…" Ciel kneeled down and picked up the ring's remains. "Ciel… I'm—!" Ciel stood and tossed the ring fragments out of a nearby window. Chêne and Lizzie's eyes widened in shock. Sebastian looked mildly surprised. "Wh—Ciel!?" How could you!?" Lizzie gasped as she rushed to the window.
"I do not care… it is just and old ring." Ciel said calmly.
'Eh?' Chêne thought. 'Then why do I have your handprint tattooed on the side of my face?'
"Whether I wear that ring or not…I, Ciel Phantomhive, am the head of the Phantomhive family." Ciel declared proudly. Everyone in the room stared at the young boy in amazement. Even Sebastian's eyes widened for a split-second. Chêne smiled wryly.
'Typical Ciel.' Chêne thought.
"What's with your face?" Ciel asked Lizzie as he picked his top hat up off the floor and dusted it off. Poor Lizzie's eyes were red and puffy from crying… her nose was running a little too…
"B-Because…" Lizzie cried, sniffling. Ciel sighed.
"That face is a fright. Can you even call yourself a lady?" Ciel said as he gently wiped her face with a handkerchief. "I do not want to ask you to dance when you are looking like that." Ciel said, giving Lizzie a sly smile. Lizzie stopped crying and blushed. "The rule of a ball is to forget about bad things and dance the night away. Is that not so, my Lady?" Ciel said smoothly, holding his hand out to Lizzie in invitation.
"…Yes!" Lizzie said, smiling happily as she took Ciel's hand. "It truly is like a dream come true!" Lizzie said as she and Ciel danced about the room. Everyone was smiling now as they watched the happy couple. Sebastian played the violin, accompanied by a small orchestra he had managed to procure at the last minute. Finni, Tanaka, and Chêne took turns dancing together in jest. Mei-Rin and Bard were laughing and watching. Sebastian finished the song he was playing. He felt someone staring at him. It was Chêne. Apparently she was taking a break too.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Sebastian said, smirking at her. Chêne's eyebrow twitched in irritation.
"It's nothing. I'm glad those two made up, but I think Ciel might be spending a little too much time with you… He's turning into a player." Chêne said, pouting and avoiding his gaze. Sebastian smirked.
"Did you call my aunt?" Ciel asked as Sebastian buttoned up his nightshirt.
"Yes. They will send someone for her in the morning. Chêne is currently putting Miss Elizabeth to bed." Sebastian said.
"Geez… I wasted an entire day." Ciel grumbled.
"Is that so?" Sebastian smirked. "You seemed to be rather enjoying yourself, Young Master."
"Don't be a fool—!" Ciel said, stopping short when he realized he was trying to remove his non-existent ring out of habit. "Ah…" That's right, he had forgotten he threw it away.
"Now which of us would you call a fool?" Sebastian asked cynically as he stood back up at his full height. Sebastian's figure was framed by the glow of the moonlight pouring in through the window behind him, casting dramatic a shadow across the butler's face. "The ring is important to you, is it not? Yet you pretended not to care in front of Lady Elizabeth…" Sebastian took Ciel's hand and slid something onto his thumb. Then Sebastian released Ciel's hand, revealing the family ring on his thumb, completely fixed and shining like it was brand new. Ciel's eyes widened.
"This is—!?" Ciel said, stunned. Sebastian smirked,
"I am the butler of Phantomhive family. It goes without saying that I can manage something like this. Chêne was quite concerned for you. She knew you were putting on a brave face. That girl is quite sharp despite how carefree she acts. She gathered most of the pieces before I even said a word. This ring belongs on your finger. Please take care of it." Sebastian explained. Ciel stared at the now restored ring.
"… You are right." Ciel said as Sebastian began to untie his eye patch. "This ring has witnessed the demise of its master many times. My grandfather's… my father's… and… without fail, this ring will bear witness to my death as well." Ciel clenched his hands in his hair and shut his eyes. "It has heard the final agony of every family head. When I close my eyes, I can hear their screams." Sebastian remained silent as he watched his young master. Ciel drew his knees up and wrapped his arms around them for comfort. "Maybe I would not hear them anymore… if I threw away the ring…or so I thought. But that was foolish of me." Ciel said dejectedly. Sebastian glanced out the window.
"Oh dear, the moon is already this high. Please get to sleep now lest your health be affected, Sir." Sebastian said as he tucked Ciel in for the night. Ciel gripped his pillow as Sebastian picked up the candelabra and turned to leave.
"Sebastian." Ciel called." Sebastian paused in his exit and looked back. "Stay here… until I fall asleep." Sebastian smirked.
"Heh…" Sebastian laughed to himself quietly as returned to his master's side. "No matter where you are, I shall always be by your side, Young Master, until the very end." The demon assured Ciel. They both knew what Sebastian's words implied by the very end. Ciel buried his head in the pillow and eventually drifted off to sleep, despite his worries. Sebastian quietly exited the room and paused briefly as he leaned back against the door once he was outside the room as he recalled the day's events, the contrast between Ciel's strength and boldness in his pride as a noble and the vulnerable little boy he just tucked into bed… Sebastian bowed his head and held his face with his hand. His eyes were hidden by the shadow cast up his face. He heard the pitter-patter of Chêne's footsteps as she tried to walk through the halls quietly. Chêne saw Sebastian and would have thought Sebastian was upset about something if she hadn't noticed his smirk. Sebastian chuckled softly as he slowly slid his hand down from his face. His smirk deepened when he saw the confused look on Chêne's face.
"… So, How did it go? Was Ciel relieved to get his ring back?" Chêne asked.
"I suppose…" Sebastian said enigmatically. He was amused when Chêne pouted at his vague answer, sulking but refusing to give in and ask for more details. The demon butler turned and started silently walking down the hall. "Now… to prepare for the morrow…"