A Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler Fanfiction
ClaudexReaderxSebastian, Part 6
Your Butlers, Argumentative
“My lady? My lady, are you all right? My lady… my lady…”
A voice. Calling out to you in the darkness. You were trapped, it seemed, in the depths of what appeared to be an endless hell of black. A completely lightless world presented itself before you, giving you no hope. No hope for love, no hope for escape. In itself, it was almost a hell.
“My lady? Are you all right?”
That voice again. It was there, always there, haunting you in your deepest dreams. There was no hiding or running from it. To try to do either one would be only to die. Only then could you be free from it forever.
That voice. So familiar… Is it… is it Sebastian? No, no. This is different. It’s… Claude?
“Cl-Claude…” Your heavy eyelids refused to lift themselves, and so you moaned softly instead, feeling how stiff your back had suddenly become. “Wh-What… what happened?”
“My lady. Please, rise immediately. There are issues we must deal with immediately.”
“Clau-Claude…” Your chest was rising and falling heavily—it seemed as if there was a burning, heavy lump in your throat, and as you coughed, it refused to lift. “Claude… h-hurt…”
So emotionless. His voice sounded almost as if he were bored as he droned on monotonously. Did he not care that you were in pain? Did it not occur to you that you now appeared unable to breathe properly?
“I insist that you bear with me. If you do not, Detective Fred Abberline will have your house searched and your heirlooms taken away for inspection.”
Slowly, you opened your eyes, a blurry world of black and red reaching your distorted vision. Red… the colour of blood and fire.
And now, the clouded image of Claude become a misty apparition, but you could see him leaned in towards you, his face close to yours as he gazed deep into your eyes, as if searching... for a clue… a clue of the past…
“Claude… t-tell me… what ha-happened? I want… answers.”
You would give anything at the moment to be able to know what had happened, why it had been so, and who had done it. Who was it who had interfered with your fate so easily, as if toying with your life? Who had stepped into your presence as if you were a mere pawn, playing with the strings that held the puppet that was you? Who was the one who had done it…?
“My lady, you’re drenched in blood.” With a sudden shock, you realized that the redness that was clouding your eyes was your own blood.
He took out the handkerchief from his vest pocket, and you felt it brushing against your skin and onto your eye. The rough cloth scratched the smooth surface of your (eye colour) orb, but you resisted the urge to blink against the burning sensation as you lay, staring up at the ceiling of… of what? Claude daubed the bright red liquid from your eyes, which were now watering from the alien contact of fabric.
No. That isn’t the ceiling… it’s the sky.
A pitch-black sky burned down upon you, burdening you with the darkness of its very essence. Darkness was a thing you had now come to fear, rather than something you’d use for your benefit, as you supposed you were to do now that you had Claude and Sebastian. That was their only, sole purpose.
… To serve you, their master and lady, loyally.
The police… Sebastian… and Claude… but my cousins, where are my cousins? They’ve haven’t been left behind in the crowds, have they? They could have gotten lost… lost so easily, carried away by…
Instantly, images of the men in black robes and pointed masquerade masks appeared before you, their whips in hand, sneering mercilessly down upon your frightened face. Mercilessly. As they tormented you and drove you near madness and death… but no. No, that was all over… there was no more to fear… no more…
“Your cousins are safe, my lady.” You became immediately aware of a familiar presence that had stepped close to where you were laying… someone much like Claude, but different, so very different…
“My lady—are you well?” asked the voice that you now knew so well to be Sebastian Michaelis’s.
“S-Sebast—Sebastian! They’re safe? W-Where… where are they?” Your mind was teeming with questions that needed to be answered immediately. “M-my parents…”
No, you mustn’t think of them! You shut your eyes tightly again, shutting out the blazing lights and enclosing yourself in darkness.
You didn’t want to remember—you didn’t want to remember what had happened, all those faces those people. Those murderers, the cult members, the smiling expressions of your mother and father…
“I’m sorry, m’lady,” Sebastian murmured quietly. You felt his eyes lingering on you before he turned to Claude. “How is she coping?”
Claude shook his head, his golden eyes gleaming with the flames of the slowly subsiding fire that had cost the life of your parents… “I’m afraid not too well,” you heard him say to Sebastian.
“Of course. I see, I see. I didn’t expect her to be as strong as he had been.” Sebastian nodded with a sense of certainly as he and Claude directed their gaze to the blazing manor. “No, not at all like him.”
Like him… like him… The phrase repeated itself resoundingly in the depths of your mind. But who was he? The one whom Sebastian speaks of?
You wanted to know who was the man that Sebastian had been talking about, someone who had gone through as much as you had, someone who might have understood and somehow managed to survive through all of it… Who was he? If Sebastian, a demon, could speak so highly of him, then surely… he must have been a courageous, honourable person…
With this thought in your mind, you could think of little else save for your childhood as you lay upon the warm grass.
You could remember days like this, where you and your father had lain on the cold, wet greens and played… how damp the two of you would be when you finally returned to your mother in the manor! He had been so caring—no. He could be caring, but only when he, the “Lord”, the “ great Earl”, wanted. Otherwise, he was locked up in his study daily, never paying attention to you or your mother, and the woman who had given birth to you was the same in behaviour.
It had always been Persephone who had been beside you… it was she who had been lying beside you on the grass, wet with dew, laughing as you crawled across the lawn and tried to hide in the bushes… but she’d always found you in the end, of course… always…
And then there was the mysterious man that Sebastian spoke of…
The man who supposedly was like you, who had forgone the misery of a dark past, who had perhaps been neglected by uncaring parents, who had likely been the male clone of you… perhaps, just perhaps, that man could understand.
The desire to know this unknown figure became stronger, burning in your heart and mind as you lay there on the ash-covered grass, imagining the valor and bravery of this person and how he’d miraculously risen above the many tragedies in his life... Oh, if only you knew him!
But even if he was to forever remain masked in shadow, away from you, there was always the chance… that you could reform your life, likewise. You could rise above misery and death—you could overcome it all, you could defeat the never-ending mourning in your life…
And the first step was to become the lady of the (last name) household.
Yes, that was exactly what you would do. Steel yourself for the plunge into a stuffy life of pretense and lady-like manners. Prepare your mind for the sickening dive into the fashionable expense and numerous corsets, dresses, balls, and occasions that you’d always hated. And there, in that life, you would hide…
Until they had gone past and forgotten you—yes. Those men who had captured you… they’d be allowed some time to alleviate themselves from how horribly they’d split their own souls apart with all the murder and torturing they had done, just enough so that they couldn’t feel the pain of their breaking spirits... And just as they settled down peacefully, without fear of a retort from the aristocratic family that you would then own…
You would strike, and at your hands, they would be submerged into the depths of a horror-filled hell, even deeper and more fiery than the one before. Yes… and then… there was the matter of your parents… yes, you would deal with that in good time… but not yet, not now…
Now, you would have to steel yourself.
Be strong, (Name)… you asked for this yourself. You wanted this life. Now take it and use it. Become… become the man you never knew. Be like the Lord, the Earl that was your father. Be like the lady that was your mother… but most of all… be like him… the unknown man who suffered just as much.
“Sebastian. C-Claude…” You coughed slightly, your lungs feeling terribly compressed as you made to sit up.
In a moment, Sebastian was at your side and lifting you up so that you sat on the grass, in your blood-stained, white lawn dress, your breath ragged and slow as you muttered: “Bring me... bring me to speak to them… I want to know… w-want to know everything they’ve f-found…”
He stole a cursory glance at Claude, who nodded his head approvingly, signaling that you were well enough to be handled. And then, with a brisk nod of his own, Sebastian stood, hoisting you up in his arms, smiling slightly down at you, and said, calmly and firmly…
“Yes, my lady.”
“What the hell are you implying?” Fred Abberline’s eyes narrowed as he eyed Sebastian unhappily, his glance flickering to the three children, your cousins, standing by one of the steam engines not far off from where the four of you stood, and then he turned back to Sebastian, with whom he had been conversing. “You want us to abandon the crime scene here in order for you to situate your new ‘master’ and her relatives back into her home?”
“As my lady requested, Detective. I would not like my master to be forced take shelter in a lowly inn. A lady of a noble family deserves to be treated as she is... do you not agree?”
Sebastian, as usual, was pressing on, not allowing Abberline to have too much of a word in the argument and effectively countering the young man’s protests that he would be smacked right hard in the jaw if he called off the officers without his boss’s consent.
Ah… it’s been a while since I’ve been at this. Sebastian allowed himself a small smirk as he continued to present his argument. I’m afraid that Abberline’s ineptitude has only since then grown considerably… and to think it’s been so long since he… since he… No. Those days where I served him are long gone… long, long gone.
“Does it trouble you that you might keep a lady cold and starving out in a lesser inn while you and your fellow policemen are here ‘conducting business’?” demanded Sebastian, his smile never faltering as he stared convincingly at Abberline (who you noticed was using up a considerable amount of sweat and quiet swear words).
“Yes, perhaps your lady might require a great many comforts, but tonight we are investing our efforts in finding the facts in the deaths of a lord and his wife—I won’t have you interfere this time!”
Then, catching Sebastian’s red-eyed glare, he hastily added: “Mas-Master Butler… don-don’t think that you can ex-exert your control o-over me this time! You don’t have him anymore t-to back you up! W-Without him, you haven’t got the authority o-of the Queen!”
“The Queen? Y-You really mean… the Queen!”
You had been watching in silence until the mention of Queen Victoria came up—with curiosity, you looked up at Sebastian, but Claude, who was standing beside him and listening intently, put a hand on your shoulder to signal that you should continue to sit in silence. With a growl of impatience, you sunk back into your sitting spot on the hood of the police car, where the two butlers had seated you before Claude had gone to call Abberline over.
Sebastian had insisted that he be the one who argue the detective into giving you the access to the manor back, as he claimed to have “known Abberline in a previous life”. However, from the look of things, although Abberline did know Sebastian and Sebastian, he, he seemed to be less than keen on letting the demon take back your home.
The brown-haired man unconsciously ran one slender finger across one side of his short mustache, then continued to argue, with each moment growing more and more intolerant. “I tell you, if you don’t have his—no, the Queen’s—permission, I refuse to allow you in here!”
“Yes, Detective Abberline. But unfortunately, the Earl (last name) would not have allowed his daughter to remain in such lowly places as an inn! Have I not made that clear enough?” Sebastian’s eyes flashed a dangerous fuchsia for a moment and then, at seeing Abberline’s eyes widen in fear, returned to their original crimson red. “Of course, I might have to take this up with your boss, if you are not willing to talk to him—”
“Never mind,” replied Abberline hastily, quickly pushing the subject of his boss away. Then, after a moment or so of thinking, he said: “L-Let me see what I can negotiate… and you,” he said, shooting a disapproving glare at you. “Don’t count on having your precious manor back by tonight. I can only do so much, even for a little brat like—”
Detective Abberline turned to see where the voice had come from, an indignant look on his face at having been interrupted—and then he came face-to-face with Claude Faustus. It was the first time Claude had spoken so far throughout the conversation between Abberline and Sebastian, and it was certainly the first time that Abberline had found that there was so much to fear from the other butler. Finding himself staring straight into the clear, sharp, golden-eyes of the Spider demon seemed to have helped him realize what he was up again.
For a moment, Abberline’s knees went weak, but his gaze did not—or, rather, from what you could see of the wavy-haired man, could not—direct itself from Claude’s menacing stare. The older being towered over the detective, concealing his face in complete, black shadow; the only light that you could see upon Fred Abberline’s face was from the now dangerous, fuchsia glow of Claude’s demonic glare, but that alone was enough for you to be able to see the drops of sweat slipping onto Abberline’s brow.
“Y-You… wh-what is…” Abberline’s eyes widened as he spoke the words, but he still seemed unable to look away of his own accord.
And then suddenly, he gave a small yelp of pain—his face contorted in agony, and his legs trembled as if begging to allow him to fall to his knees, but still he remained standing. His deep, brown eyes suddenly became vacant and lost, but clearly filled with fright, still staring straight into Claude’s bright red, glowing orbs. The next second, and he was groaning with pain, as if possessed; in fact, you were horrifyingly sure of this as you watched silently and incredulously.
Nothing you’d seen or felt had been like this, and the feeling of it gripped you tightly—you were petrified by the gruesome cruelty of it, not only physically, but mentally. What on earth was Claude doing to Abberline, and how—how indeed!—was he able to feel the intense agony of it?
You turned your head to look up at Sebastian, and your mouth opened to speak—however, no sound came out. You tried to find your voice, but your throat felt blocked up by horror and terror, and finally…
“S-Sebas-Sebastian!” Your frightened gaze trailed to Claude, and then back to your other butler. “H-How is Claude d-doing—”
You flinched as you heard Abberline give a muffled scream of pain. His lips seemed to be sealed together, and his fellow policemen and firefighters scurried past without even a glance at the suffering man.
At last, you found the ability to speak. “Sebastian!” you gasped to him, and with a bit of reluctance, he looked down at you. “Wh-What is he doing to h-him!?”
He gazed at you calmly, scanning your expression with his deep, crimson eyes. “I think, my lady… that’s it better if you don’t know.” You were about to protest when he said: “It’s for your own good, my lady.”
With a gasp of shock, you shut your eyes once more, wanting to carry your very being into darkness. It was too much to watch, too much to see another human in pain… and then you heard Abberline moan: “Please… please… please, don’t do it…”
Your eyes snapped open immediately as you gaped at Abberline. You couldn’t help wondering—who was he talking about?
“Pl-Please… d-don’t hurt me, I l-lo—don’t! Please! He’s my—my… s-stop… stop, please, please, I don’t want t-to…” His last words ended in a scream that seemed only audible to you, Claude, and Sebastian. All the workers moved back and forth, shouting for more water, more bandages, more steam engines—Abberline’s agony went unheard.
“Cl-Claude.” You felt as if you were choking on your own words, but you coughed the feeling of it away and found yourself saying: “Claude… please… stop…” He paid no heed to you and so you slid off of the hood of the automobile, moving towards him. “Claude, he’s in pain!”
Running up to Claude, you tugged at his sleeve, pleading, “He’s hurting! C-Claude… p-please don’t hurt him…! He’s… he’s innocent… innocent…”
Please. Don’t hurt them anymore.
Abberline made a gagging sound and clutched at his heart, gasping and pleading for mercy, and you suddenly recalled how you, yourself, once was forced to beg for the release that never came. How you had screamed and cried and begged, but your words went ignored. And here, the one that had saved you was exerting his power and control over another who did not deserve it…
No more… don’t hurt anymore… Don’t hurt them. Don’t hurt the innocent anymore.
Claude‘s glare appeared, almost, to grow a tad fainter—for a moment, Abberline seemed to burst back into reality, his eyes growing clear and distinctly sharp once more. And then Claude’s stare strengthened, and with a shudder and a gasp, he was tugged back into a world of grief and torture.
“Don’t… don’t you dare…” Claude’s words came out in a hiss, and it took you all of your skills of comprehension to be able to understand them. “Don’t you dare… insult the lady of the (last name) household again… do you understand me, detective?”
A nod—and then Abberline was on his knees, his eyes no longer misty and distant, gasping for breath as if he’d just been submerged underwater. He blinked twice, then moaned, rubbing the back of his neck, which was sore and red.
“P-Pardon me,” he said absentmindedly. “I must’ve gotten a bit faint… weakness in the knees, you know, passed down through the family… now, now I must be off… talk to Lord Randall… ‘bout access to the mansion…”
Claude’s eyes had dimmed back to their golden colour, but he hadn’t lost his impatience.
“And?” he growled, his eyes trained on Abberline as he stepped back, allowing the detective to stand.
“Oh—pardon me, my lady,” Abberline said gently to you, as if he were meaning to say it all along. You felt sick inside at this. “I believe I very nearly insulted you. I assure you, it won’t happen again… oh no, no, not at all…”
And with that, he made his way off to speak to the mustached man that was Lord Randall, who was shouting at a group of officers at the moment, scolding them for their ineptitude and laziness.
“Ah well,” said Sebastian, a wide smile on his face as he nodded pleasantly at Claude. “At least they never miss the opportunity…”
“—to miss an opportunity,” finished Claude, who seemed in a better mood now that he had been able to toy with Abberline’s mind… or whatever he had been doing.
You sat there, your stomach churning, feeling sick. What Claude had done to Abberline’s mind, you didn’t know, and you weren’t sure you wanted to know… whatever it was sickened you. To think that he would do that in your name—that was much worse to acknowledge, and yet you were forced to do so.
How can he gain so much… feel so happy… at tormenting the innocent… But no, you told yourself firmly, Demons don’t feel happy. They only gain pleasure… by torturing… creating misery… they feed off of it. It’s their source of fun...
“Lady (Name)?” A far-off voice was echoing in your imagination.
Oh, how your imagination kept you alive nowadays… You had always been so busy imagining a perfect past, a perfect world, as you were locked up in the foul prison of the cult. You lost yourself in fantasy so often, trying to convince yourself that all would turn out for the better. You had been so busy thinking of a world that didn’t exist for you that you’d forgotten to see reality itself…
“And what do you have to say to our lady?” said Sebastian, and you immediately jolted awake.
There, standing before you, speaking to Sebastian and Claude, was a shoulder-length haired man, dressed completely in white with eyes of a stormy grey—just like that of Persephone’s. But, looking more carefully at him, you saw that this man was almost the exact opposite of Persephone.
His uniform, unlike hers, was elegant but crowded, with many golden chains strung on his clothing and nuerous badges on his chest. His hair, unlike her long, pitch black, silky strands, was shoulder-length, short, and a lovely white-blonde. He had the air of someone of importance—handsome, slim, and although he stood shorter than Sebastian and Claude, he still stood with an immense pride that you could have easily found in both your butlers.
“My name is Earl Grey,” said the man to Sebastian. “And I have a message to deliver.” For a moment, he blinked and looked closely at Sebastian, murmuring silently to himself, and then he asked, “Don’t I know you, butler?”
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “That will be determined shortly. But what is this message you speak of?”
“And from whom does it come?” demanded Claude. “Who would want to speak to our lady when she has so suddenly returned from…” He glanced furtively at Sebastian, who returned the look as if they were undoing a sort of communication, before he said: “—returned from her business?”
The young man gave a startlingly sharp laugh that sent a pleasant tingle down your spine. The sound that he made almost founded a base of hope in your mind, a beautiful effect on what had been an abject, lost world. It had been so long since you’d heard the sound of laughter from someone other than your cousins… and to hear it from this stranger formed for you a thought that perhaps not all men in this cursed world were weary and unpleasant.
“Business?” He said in that confident voice of his—listening to him made you feel as if there were so much to learn from him, so much that he knew that was yet to reach your mind. He sounded as if there were much for you to do, things that he had found, things that you had not had the mind and strength to reach… “The Queen knows of such things. Your lady was not out on business.”
“The Queen?” You stared up at Earl Grey—he smiled at you reassuringly, nodding.
“Yes, the Queen, Lady (last name).”
Your mind began to reel. You had been thinking about the Queen earlier tonight… but why, you could not imagine.
“What does the Queen want with me?” you asked, bewildered.
He simply gave another rambunctious, cheerful laugh, one that both amused and astounded you. And then, a stark white envelope was pressed into your hands by a white-gloved thumb…
An envelope with the Queen’s seal upon the back flap.