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The Midnight Bird

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The mansion was more lively than usual on this particular day. Even Sebastian seemed to have a little more life in his gait as he goaded the mansion’s staff into performing their jobs. After all, when there are visitors, the Phantomhive mansion is to never appear lackluster. Meanwhile, Ciel sat in his office, rifling through some spare papers and preparing for the meeting that would take place in a couple of hours. Unlike the rest of the mansion, he remained as cold and impassive as ever. He glanced at the name scrawled in cursive at the top of a folder. Masontree.

To the undiscerning eye, they were just another aristocrat family that stole from the poor and kept their pockets lined with pounds. But Ciel knew better. The Phantomhives and the Masontrees had worked together for generations, and just like the former, there was more to them than their smiling faces in the print. No true city can function without a little crime, the Masontrees simply ensured that things ran smoothly.

This time around, they were sending their youngest child, Katherine Masontree, and her maid. Ciel looked over the files he had on both of them and, unsurprisingly, remained unimpressed. Nothing about either of them seemed to make it clear why his family had decided to work with them– the girl seemed normal and the maid was just another maid, with no special skills highlighted. But business was business, and he couldn’t back out now.

A firm knock dragged Ciel from his thoughts and he looked up from the papers to acknowledge it. “Come in.” Sebastian walked in carrying a tray with a tea set and a slice of a dessert resting on it.

“Young Master, your afternoon tea and snack.” He made his way over to Ciel’s desk and set the tray down, preparing a cup.

“You’ve been in here for hours now. Surely you haven’t only been working on paperwork?”

“Of course not. I’ve been reading up on our guests.” When Sebastian set the cup down, he reached for it and took a sip. “I take it that the game room and meeting room have been prepared?”

“Of course.”

“Good. I want this to be a clean meeting and get them out of here as soon as possible. Make sure those servants don’t do anything to mess it up.”

“Of course Young Master.”  With a bow, Sebastian turned on his heels and strode out of the office, glancing back quickly to catch his charge returning cooly to the papers in front of him. It wasn’t unlike him to be so thorough, but somehow he seemed more… irritable than usual. If that was possible.

Ciel heard the door click shut and dropped the papers, sighing with the weariness of an old man. To be honest, he didn’t really consider it necessary to have the girl visit in the first place. It would have made some kind of sense if the Masontrees were trying to initiate some kind of arranged marriage, but Ciel was already long engaged, and that fact was well known. Instead, the whole situation just seemed annoying at best. With a signature frown on his delicate features, the boy took a bite of the dessert served to him and felt some of his worries melt away. At least if he had to put up with the rest of the world he’d still have sugar to relieve him.

Outside of the office, Sebastian was notably less relaxed. Not that he was unhappy, of course. Any visit from a guest was an occasion to be celebrated (read: an occasion to show off). He made sure to be just as thorough, if not a little more, than his master, and looked into the Masontrees as soon as word came out that their only daughter would be visiting. Needless to say, his curiosity was quite peaked.

Very little information existed about the maid that he was told would be accompanying their daughter, and every shred he could get his hands on was vague and often conflicting. Such a situation seemed intriguing to the man who’d often thought to himself that he’d seen it all, and he found himself carrying himself with a little more excitement than normal- which was to say, not much. Still, it was enough that the mansion’s staff picked up on it and began to put a little more elbow grease into their work. Surely, if these visitors were interesting enough to make Sebastian of all people act differently, it was worth putting in a little effort.

The girl was less of an enigma, much to Sebastian’s disappointment. She didn’t appear to be anything special, and while she was bright in all her work she didn’t seem to be anywhere close to being a social butterfly. In fact, it seemed she kept to herself, making information on her demeanor difficult to obtain. On top of that, it was quite odd that the family chose to send their only daughter when they had an older son. The little ghost of a mystery around this girl combined with the question mark that was her maid was enough to tug at the corners of Sebastian’s mouth as he strode about the mansion, cleaning up what seemed out of place and making careful preparations.

Seeing Sebastian smile to himself in a way that was almost genuine was a shock enough to send Mey-Rin scrambling over herself, but when Ciel ventured out of his office to prepare himself in his chambers grumbling about some “stupid girl and her maid”, the servants took it upon themselves to have a quick sidebar.

“Why the hell does a little girl need to come here of all places?” Baldroy pondered aloud, sounding less angry and more confused. He wasn’t opposed to the visitor, but it did seem a little out of place. Finnian visibly paled.

“If she’s anything like Lizzy when she gets here…” Baldroy and Finny shivered, but Mey-Rin’s spirits seemed to lift. Sure, Lizzy was a handful, but spending so much time in the boy’s club that was the Phantomhive mansion left her wanting for the more feminine side of life. Clutching her broom to her chest, she opened her mouth to drop in her opinion when the familiar sound of the kitchen door swinging open caused everyone (except Tanaka, of course) to jump a little.

“Hard at work, I assume?” Sebastian asked in that softly threatening voice of his. The staff frantically nodded, returning quickly to their duties. The butler seemed to take the submission as a sign of authenticity and took his leave. While the servants really did turn back to their duties, it didn’t go unnoticed that the butler hadn’t even bothered to scold them. This change of heart left one question on everyone’s mind: Who were these visitors?


 

At long last, the wait was over. The ride all the way from the Masontree mansion to that of the Phantomhive’s was not only long but excruciatingly boring. Robin quickly took her maid’s helping hand as she exited the carriage, eager to remove herself from the hot, confined space and stretch in the cool evening air.

“My lady, are you ready to meet with the Earl Phantomhive?” Ivy asked gently, taking her charge’s quickness as a sign of anxiety. Her worries were quickly soothed when she released a trademark sigh and waved a dismissive hand in her maid’s direction.

“Of course I am, don’t worry about me,” Robin replied. “We only have to stay for dinner, right? I want to go home and rest and I haven’t even been here a minute.”

The maid hummed affirmatively, but couldn’t hide the flash of uncertainty that crossed her expression as she looked in the distance. She could smell the rain coming, and it didn’t seem like a gentle rain cloud wanting to pass through. She held her tongue, but deep down she did worry that her lady wouldn’t make it home in time to rest.

Without much further ado, the pair ascended the grand steps and patiently waited for their knock to be answered. When the large wooden doors swung open, an unfamiliar figure stood in the oversized doorway with a saccharine smile on his face.

“Hello there!” he said with a bow. “We are most honored to have you in our home tonight, Miss Masontree.”

“You… are not Tanaka.” the girl responded flatly, and Sebastian had to fight the urge to release his sharp tongue.

“Yes, my name is Sebastian. I am the head butler of this estate now, because of Tanaka’s age. In fact, he’s right there,” he explained, gesturing to the small old man kneeling on a pillow, sipping tea at the end of the line of servants the stood anxiously by the door.

“Ah, of course.” The girl retained her coldness as she continued, “I thought he might’ve died.”

Ivy stifled a laugh as the line of servants visibly jumped at the deadpan of her charge. To her disappointment, though, the smile on the butler’s face somehow became less forced. That wasn’t any fun at all.

“Thankfully, Tanaka is still in good health,” he replied easily. “Now then, would you like to meet the young master? He is currently waiting in his office, and I assure you he is quite eager for you to meet him.”

Robin’s expression only grew more steely at the obvious lie. Everyone knew about the bratty earl– he was most definitely not going to be pleased to meet her. Despite this, she allowed the tall man to lead her and her maid up the grand staircase and to a door left slightly ajar.

“Young master,” Sebastian announced himself. “Your guests have arrived.”

If you had been listening closely at that moment (or if you had superhuman hearing), you would have been able to catch a sigh of annoyance and the discontented shuffling of papers before Ciel said, “Come in, then.”

When the door was fully opened, Robin couldn’t help but let a little bit of surprise leak onto her face. It seemed that Ciel hadn’t changed a bit since childhood– he still had the same doll-like and delicate features, the same slim body, and the same pale skin. The only differences were the eyepatch he now wore and the grim scowl that seemed permanently etched into his face. Judging from his expression, he didn’t remember her one bit. Maybe this could be interesting.

“Miss Masontree,” he said stiffly, and Robin flashed a polite but distant smile.

“Mister Phantomhive,” she replied, and the loss of his title didn’t go unnoticed by Ciel. He frowned (somehow more than before) and gestured to the seat across from his desk.

“Young master, I will be off preparing dinner if there is anything you need. I assume you will be of some assistance?” Sebastian turned to Ivy and smiled politely.

“Of course, I would be happy to.” The maid’s expression seemed to stay exactly as it was when she entered the mansion, a fact which somehow peeved the butler. Usually, women swooned at his feet, a sight at which he’d grown accustomed to. How peculiar.

The door quietly clicked shut as Robin took her seat. The silence in the room was deafening as Ciel arranged the papers laid before him. Business time, Robin thought to herself.

“So,” she began. “It seems that there’s quite an issue going on. I assume you’ve heard?”

Ciel looked up in mild curiosity. “There are many things of importance that vie for my attention. Could you elaborate?”

“There is quite a nasty thieves’ guild in South London, haven’t you heard? It sounds like the kind of thing you might take care of,” she said cooly, and Ciel leaned back in his chair. Ah, so this was why she was here.

“I see. And, pray tell, why are you so eager to have it taken care of?”

“See, now that’s the issue,” Robin said, false worry leaking into her tone. “It was a lovely guild up until someone found out that it was ours . Now some daft old politician is hellbent on ‘exposing’ my family. Really, what a chore this man’s become!”

Ciel rested his chin on his hand and looked the girl over. She was quite young, probably about the same age as him. She would have been nice to look at had it not been for her mean grey eyes and unfortunate freckle problem; somehow, though, it did looks strangely fitting. For someone as deeply entrenched in crime as one in the Masontree family, you wouldn’t expect them to look very traditional.

“And how exactly should I assist you? I’m a very busy man.”

A very busy boy, I should like to think, Robin thought, holding her tongue with great difficulty. “Well, our families are very tightly linked. If one of us goes down, there’s no guarantee that the other one will stay floating. Of course, if it were to come out that the thieves guild was being puppeteered by the crooked old politician, there really wouldn’t be much of a problem, would there?”

The boy quirked his eyebrow. She did have a point; if her family went down and was exposed for all the crime they controlled, his status as the Queen’s guard dog along with every illegal action he’d taken to uphold that title would be uncovered as well. Still, though, a little part of him that still had a conscience said it was bad to frame someone who only wanted to stop the crimes happening all over the city. Judging by the slightly disinterested expression of his guest, it seemed she didn’t share the same sentiment.

“That should be easy enough,” he conceded. “Did you have something specific in mind for me to do?”

“Oh, not much, really,” Robin leaned back and waved a hand in front of her. “All you would have to do, Mister Phantomhive, is call in a few favors. See, we take our business very seriously, as do you, and we have a plan. With me, I’ve brought ample incriminating evidence- trade receipts, letters from the guild members to our puppeteer, even some eyewitness testimony. All that needs to be done is for an anonymous tip to be called into the Yard and once his home is searched, there won’t be a problem anymore! There is one little issue, unfortunately.

“You see, none of our associates specialize in sophisticated crime. Lots of rough, quick, dirty jobs, but nothing as delicate as planting evidence. You, however… seem to have quite a knack for getting things done very quietly.” Robin’s face turned serious as she leaned forward in her seat. “I need you to call in whoever it is that does your dirty work and have him plant this evidence tonight . Whatever fees entail, whatever you need, it doesn’t matter. Tonight that horrid old man is out self-promoting at a gala and it will be our only chance to plant this evidence before he goes public with my family’s dirty laundry.”

Ciel scoffed. That was all? They could have simply sent a letter and he’d have had Sebastian in and out ages ago. Then again, you never know who might be reading when you send a letter. “I don’t need anything from you. I’ll have it done tonight- in fact, call into the Yard when you’re done with dinner tonight to have them search that man’s house. By tomorrow morning, he will be in jail.”

“That quickly? Are you sure?”

“Are you doubting me?” Ciel inquired quietly, but his intimidation seemed to be lost on his guest. Sebastian would make quick work of the evidence, and he had nary a doubt about it. “I assure you, Miss Masontree, you haven’t a thing to worry about.”


 

Ivy didn’t trust the butler nearly as much as his charge did. After they’d left their masters to discuss business, he’d quickly taken the maid downstairs and begun preparations for dinner. He briefed her on what they were doing, and then was off. One thing she noticed about him- no matter how difficult the dish was, he never ever tasted what he was cooking.

“You must be quite the chef,” she said, the sharp edge of cynicism seeping into her tone. Sebastian only smiled in reply. In truth, he was quite annoyed that she had agreed to help him in the kitchen. He wanted to simply dash through this task with his superhuman speed, as per usual, but with a sous chef he couldn’t exactly do that and expect her to keep up. And, not to mention, this was the first time she’d even addressed him after agreeing to assist. She wasn’t very talkative.

“Ah, but so are you,” he replied suavely. “I mean, you knew every dish I said to make and you haven’t needed even the slightest bit of assistance since we begun.”

He looked the woman over. She was taller than most- not a giant, but definitely not a small woman. And, despite her full skirt, he could tell that she was quite shapely as well. The thing that intrigued him most, though, was her smooth, dark skin. He didn’t really care what color she was– after all, wouldn’t it be a little strange for a demon of all people to care about race? Still, it was uncommon for an aristocratic family to keep a maid of such tone above the stairs. Then again, he supposed, the Masontrees weren’t really a common aristocratic family.

“I aspire to serve my lady well, and that includes being well-versed in cuisine,” Ivy explained.

“Are you Miss Masontree’s personal maid, then?” Sebastian inquired, to which the woman nodded. “How long have you worked with her, if I might ask?”

“Hm,” Ivy tilted her head back in thought as she continued to stir the pot. “I arrived shortly after my lady was born, so just about thirteen years.”

“To work for such a family for so long is admirable. You must be quite fond of Miss Masontree, then.” Sebastian asked the question without really thinking and nearly regretted it once he did. He had worked for Ciel for just about two years, and he wouldn’t call the feeling towards his master very affectionate. Tolerant might be a better word. Hungry, maybe.

To his surprise, though, he saw Ivy crack a soft smile and swirl the liquid in her pot thoughtfully. “I am,” she said with an air of gentleness about her, almost maternal in nature.

Ah, then she isn’t… Sebastian shook his head of the intruding suspicion, turning his attention back to the dough he was carefully working, sleeves rolled up and tailcoat set aside. Ivy glanced back, giving the man a once-over before turning back to her task.

He couldn’t be… she thought. It was strange that even while kneading dough he didn’t remove his gloves. What could he be hiding? Well, maybe he is.

Baldroy shifted uncomfortably from side to side as he mixed together stuffing in a bowl. Cooking with Sebastian was stressful on its own, but with a guest too? He was used to working below the stairs, so even if the woman in the kitchen was a maid he didn’t feel like he should be in such close quarters with her. It didn’t help that she was so… pretty.

“Baldroy.” Sebastian’s tone was harsh, even for him, and the man froze up a little. He hadn’t even realized he’d been staring, and he instantly felt nervousness well in his stomach. Was he in trouble for creeping on a guest? Sebastian cleared his throat before continuing.

“You and Mey-Rin watch the kitchen. I believe our guest and I should go upstairs and check on the young masters.”

“Ah- er, right then. No problem,” the man assured, laughing nervously. Sebastian adjusted his sleeves and pulled on his tailcoat before walking out the door, Ivy in tow. Baldroy sighed in relief. He wasn’t in trouble. Probably.

Quickly, they arrived at the door of Ciel’s study, and Sebastian announced himself quickly before coming inside. “Young master, is there anything you need? We just came by to check up on you and our guest.”

“In fact, yes, there is.” Ciel looked at his butler, a trace of mischief in his eye. “I’d like you to call in the man who does our dirty work.”

The butler raised an eyebrow. His charge only looked across his desk, and Robin craned her neck up to meet his eyes. “I need whoever it is that gets your jobs done to do something for me. It is why I came, after all.”

“Won’t you call him in, then? You should know what to tell him– you’re always listening.” If Sebastian didn’t know any better, he would have thought his charge sounded rather amused. It was true he’d been listening through the conversation, but he hadn’t caught it all. He’d been a tad distracted, for lack of a better word. Oh, well. He would just find out who that politician was by reading the false evidence.

“Of course, my lord.” Ivy’s deep green eyes slimmed in suspicion as she watched the butler. She was going to follow him, that’s for damn sure.

“Thank you for your cooperation, Mister Phantomhive.” Just like that, Ciel’s apparent good mood disappeared.

“Would you please stop calling me that? It’s quite rude to disrespect someone in their own home, you know.” Robin feigned innocence.

“Oh my, disrespect? I mean no such thing, I’m terribly sorry. Would you prefer I called you by your first name, then?” Her cadence was sugary sweet, but the cynicism was dripping from her words. Sebastian glanced down. Like maid, like mistress.

“No, I would rather not have to call you Katherine.” Robin faltered.

“Well, you wouldn’t have to. I go by Robin, actually.” A sort of bemused expression washed over Ciel’s normally dark face as some kind of realization dawned on him. He knew something was familiar about her, he just couldn’t place his finger on it. Robin softly smiled to herself, expecting to hear him say…

“Kitty?” Oh. This is not what she expected to hear him say.

“I don’t- why did you- I don’t go by that anymore.” Robin’s face seemed to get a little warmer at the revival of her old pet name. Ivy let a smile cross her face. She hadn’t heard Ciel say that name in a long, long time.

“S-so you remember, now.” Robin switched the topic. “About time.”

“You’re Abner’s little sister, of course. I didn’t, erm, make the connection.” Ciel almost looked embarrassed at his mistake. “It’s fair enough, I haven’t seen you since… It’s been a very long time. You’ve grown up a bit.”

“You have not,” Robin replied, scarcely thinking about the retort until the familiar glower returned to Ciel’s face. A part of her felt bad, but the rest of her didn’t pay it any mind.

“Well, Kitty-”

“-Robin-”

“-don’t you think it’s about time that you prepared for dinner?” Ciel suggested demanded, and Robin nodded before standing up. Sebastian watched Ivy lead her charge out of the room, he assumed to a bathroom. He had read in her file that in her and her brother’s youth, they’d often played at the Phantomhive estate with his young master. No wonder he hadn’t remembered. Ciel had a tendency to put everything from before the fire out of his mind.

Sebastian glanced back at his master, who was occupying himself with discontentedly shuffling paperwork around on his desk. It seemed the girl had struck a chord, and the butler had to fight a smile. It was nice to have some entertainment.

“Sebastian.” Ciel’s voice was snappy. “What are you waiting for? Finish dinner and get on with it so we can get that girl out of the mansion.”

“Of course, my lord.” Sebastian quickly dismissed himself and made his way back down to the kitchen, trying his best to hide his smile. He couldn’t help it– even demons have a sense of humor.


 

Dinner was quiet. Not eerily quiet, but not a contented silence either. Nobody really let it show on their faces, but it was kind of strange. Not to mention the fact that the thunder in the distance was slowly getting louder as time went on. Robin glanced out the window and pursed her lips. If Ivy didn’t get back from wherever the hell she was soon, they were probably going to have to stay the night, and tomorrow morning was probably going to be really weird. You don’t often hang out with your childhood-friends-turned-tragically-scarred-business-partners, and in Robin’s personal opinion, that wasn’t a bad thing.

A timid presence pushed open the dining room door and a head of red hair and a large pair of glasses peered nervously around the corner. Mey-Rin prayed that she wouldn’t screw up her words as she faced the oddly intimidating young girl at the opposite end of the dining table.

“Er, Miss Masontree, there’s a Mister Abner Masontree here to see you.” Robin’s stony expression crumpled into one of confusion.

“Why would he…?” Ciel looked up from his meal with equal parts annoyance and curiosity. Perhaps Abner had come to pick up his little sister. That notion was quickly waved away as soon as he heard a loud, unfamiliar voice announce itself in the hallway.

“Miss Masontree, where aaarrrrre youuuu?” The voice was singsongy but gruff. Robin sat up ramrod straight. That was not Abner.

Mey-Rin released a frightened squeak as a large arm wrapped around her torso, clamping her arms to her side as she wildly thrashed about. “Wh- l-let me go!”

“Aw, no, love! Don’t worry, if you don’t struggle so hard nothin’ll happen to ya. We’re not here for you .” A rugged, dark face revealed itself and many others behind him as he roughly threw the door open with his empty hand. “Why, hello there kiddies! Sorry to barge in, but ‘e’ve got business with that little lady right there.”

He aimed a large finger directly at Robin’s freckled face, and she felt a chill go down her spine. Ciel stood up, voice laced with impatience.

“And who are you?”

“Aw, nobody important, I promise. You’ve got such a serious face for a little boy, take it easy! Give us that little doll and we’ll be out before ya know it.” The men had begun to creep into the room and Robin slowly rose up, pushing her chair back. Where the hell was Ivy, and where was Sebastian, for that matter?

“You,” she growled. “You’re with that blasted politician aren’t you?”

“Don’t be so mean, it ain’t ladylike,” the man smiled and shook his head as he confidently strode forward. “Oh, by the way, don’t worry about the rest of yer staff. They’re currently occupied downstairs, so it’s just you, me, and all these nice men who came to help me collect the catch of the week.”

As soon as Robin’s hand dipped below her hip, the men filling the room pounced forward. With the agility and speed expected of a young girl, she wove between them, racing directly towards the– wait, the window?
Ciel’s eyes widened as the large window in his dining room shattered, Robin catapulting her full weight against the glass and shooting herself out into the lawn, where it was beginning to rain. As soon as she hit the ground, the men wasted no time leaping out behind her, and she began to call for her maid while digging her hands into the grass. Just what in the hell was she doing?

Miles and miles away, Ivy’s head jerked up as she felt her chest sink and the distant call of her name from an all-too-familiar voice. She was crouched on the roof of a house neighboring that of the politician in question’s, trying to see into the windows where Sebastian was dashing around, littering the inside with letters and receipts. Unfortunately, in the inner city, it had begun to pour quite heavily, and it had become impossible to see through the cloudy glass.

She heard the voice call again and she knew she had to go. She had gotten the information she needed about Sebastian, and there was no doubt in her mind. This was not a human man. Whatever deal was going on between him and that brat of an Earl, she didn’t want her lady anywhere near it. Demons brought trouble, no matter the place. But, right now, the only trouble that occupied her mind was the one her lady was apparently in.

Ivy swiftly turned around and began to leap from rooftop to rooftop. She didn’t even try to be stealthy; the noise and cover provided by the rain would be enough to keep all the civilians out of her way.

Damn it, she cursed, gritting her teeth as her long hair began to stick to her face in wet clumps. If she were in the forest, she’d be at the mansion by now, but being in the smoggy, stony, horrid city was sapping away at her power. Not only did it make it hard to breathe, but it was making her slow at a time she couldn’t afford to slow down! She needed to be at her mistress’s side before something horrible happen. The anxiety began to gnaw away at her throat as she desperately shot herself across London.

Within minutes, the mansion was in view, and Ivy pushed herself to near vomiting point to soar across the rooftops into the Phantomhive estate. A rush of energy filled her as her feet hit the grass, and she immediately put it to use by going at a dead sprint towards the familiar energy emanating from just a few short yards away.

The first thing she saw was the shattered dining room window, and she felt her heart shoot into her feet. Oh, gods almighty, don’t tell me she’s-

Relief flooded her body as she spotted the flushed, teary, freckled face of her mistress, whose dress was only slightly bloodied and torn. She began to rush forward when she realized whose arms she was gently perched in.

“You took a moment too long to arrive, I do hope you don’t mind that I took care of the situation by myself,” Sebastian flashed a cold, knowing smile in the maid’s direction. Robin unwove her arms from around the neck of the demonic butler and desperately reached in the direction of her maid.

Ivy dashed forward and snatched up her mistress, soothing her as the girl croaked her name, throat thick with emotion. “Everything is alright now, my lady. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you. This is all my fault.”

Robin shook her head, attempting to refute the claim, but she was fighting a losing battle to tears and Ivy simply shushed her before she could choke out a sob. If her mistress cried in front of anyone, she knew she’d never let herself live it down.

“So then.” Sebastian, not seeming to care about the downpour that followed Ivy from the city that washed away the speck of stray blood in his cheek. “I do believe it’s time we had a talk.”


 

“An earth sprite?” Ciel almost sounded disbelieving. “Why would you ever want to serve a human as an earth sprite?”

Ivy stiffened. “I have my reasons.”

The boy sighed and ran a hand through silky navy hair, stopping to pinch the bridge of his nose. This was becoming quite a taxing visit. “Sebastian, they both know about our deal, now. I believe you know what to do.”

Robin, wrapped in a blanket and sound asleep in the arms of her maid, shifted in her slumber. Ivy unconsciously tightened her grip.

“My lord, I…” Sebastian struggled to get the words out for the first time in his endless life as the earl simply glared at him from across the desk. “There are certain consequences for the death of an earth sprite.”

“Is that so?” The boy’s expression soured even more. “Elaborate.”

“My blood will curse you,” Ivy said simply. “My death will mark you as a traitor to your own planet, and your own body will turn on you. An eye for an eye, you see? Your body will return to nature, restoring what you took, bringing me back to life. In essence, I cannot be truly killed. Just like your butler.”

“And I assume,” Ciel sighed impatiently, “that if I kill Kitty here, you will not rest until I’m dead?”

Ivy gave him a tight smile that hid many meanings and nodded in reply.

“Well then. It seems you’ll be staying here for the unforeseeable future.” Ciel’s voice had an air of finality, but that didn't stop Ivy’s brow from creasing as she swiftly denied the statement. “I can’t have you running around telling everyone about my demon butler, can I?”

“We won’t. I don’t want anything to do with this. Demons are trouble,” she said firmly, as though she’d repeated it a hundred times. “They shouldn’t even be in this realm. I’ve taught my lady since birth to stay away from those who should not tread our mortal soil, and I do not intend to go back on my teachings.”

Sebastian’s quizzical expression leaked through onto his face. What an odd childhood Robin must have had. No stranger than his master’s, though.

“You will be staying here until I say otherwise, are we clear?” Ciel looked tense. “I cannot risk you running your mouth, no matter what you claim to believe.”

Ivy prepared to shoot back a scathing response but held her tongue as her mistress once again shifted in her arms. Softly, she sighed. What was going to be best for Robin? She almost laughed at herself; a century ago she wouldn’t have caught herself dead thinking something like that.

“Fine,” she conceded. “We’ll stay.”

Ciel crossed his arms. Like they had any other option. Despite himself, he couldn’t stifle his yawn and he glanced lazily at the clock. It was nearly midnight, now. The actual scuffle had only lasted minutes, but the aftermath of Sebastian fixing the window, getting the servants in order and patching up the idiot who’d jumped out a window took a hefty amount of time.

“It’s about time to retire, don’t you think, my lord?” Sebastian didn’t wait for an answer as he picked up a candle and strode towards the door. Ciel didn’t admit it, but he was growing rather tired. It seemed that his guests were exhausted as well. “I will show our guests to their rooms. I will come to prepare you for sleep once they are settled.”

Ciel nodded sleepily and watched as the tall sprite lifted up her mistress with ease, almost gliding out the door. He heard the duo of footsteps fade out down the hallway, and he leaned forward to rest his chin on his hands. Today’s meeting was… eventful. He would ask Sebastian how the evidence planting went once he returned.

Before any footsteps could travel back to the office, though, Ciel was sound asleep at his desk. The darkness of the study seemed to wrap around him like a blanket as he snored the night away on top of his paperwork, looking more peaceful than he ever could awake. Little did he know the night was only about to get longer.