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Burning Attic [Semi-Hiatus]

Chapter Text

My mother once told me that love doesn’t always come when you want it to; that it can come at the worst of times, against your will. I thought it was silly; if I didn’t want to love someone, I simply wouldn’t. But I would come to learn her words to be anything but silly.

I was ten years old at the time. It was later in the evening, about 5:30 or so. He had gotten a big promotion in his job, so Sebastian, Freckles, my twin, and I, along with our mother, had decided to throw a party for him. The entire living room had been drowned with decorations of navy blue, gold, various shades of grey, creme, and a tad of brown. We were hiding behind the couch, impatient to hear the door open so we could jump up and throw the sparkling rainbow confetti everywhere. It was what we always did, and we expected nothing different.

When there was a knock at the door, we were confused. He had a key, he didn’t need to knock. Our mother gave us a reassuring smile and opened the door. We were greeted by two police officers, who took our mother out of earshot. We waited for her to come back in. That’s when she told us; our father was dead. Gone. I knew that he wasn’t ever going to come back, but it simply wouldn’t sink in - at least right away. It was awkward, watching everyone around me breakdown in tears. Even Sebastian looked down in agony. I suppose I was so shocked that my brain simply wouldn’t accept it. Our mother pulled up all into a tight hug. I’m sure they didn’t get any more sleep than what little I did that night.

At the funeral, I finally broke down. Everyone seemed startled by my loud wails of agony. The message finally went through to me that I was never going to see him again. My mother had to step away with me for a few minutes, to help me get quiet. When we sat back down, I held my head in my hands, covering my eyes. A few people gave kind eulogies of him. Then we were all released in rows, walking past him as we left. Some people whispered to him or patted his hand. I couldn’t even look at him. Not in that shiny, black casket. Not with that wreath of navy blue flowers, held together with soft green leaves and white ribbon… I looked down instead. On the way home, I laid my head down on my older twin’s lap and fell asleep as he combed his fingers through my hair, still sniffling lightly.

Our father was the one who made the money in our family, as it was the case with most traditional families. Our mother stayed home with us, did the chores, and went shopping. She hadn’t finished school, so she didn’t have a job. Because of this, she told us that we were going to leave and live with our estranged grandparents because we weren’t going to be able to keep our house. She said that they were one of the wealthiest families in all of North Dakota.

The very next morning, bright and early, we flew to America from our town house without getting to say goodbye to any of our friends. We each had two large bags, stuffed with all of the essentials, clothes, and toys we could possibly fit without breaking the zippers. I hesitated before following the rest of my family out of the door. I didn’t want to leave everything I knew behind me. It wasn’t fair to me, or to Freckles, or to Sebastian, or to-

A hand the same size as mine pulled me from my thoughts. He gave me a small smile and told me that we didn’t have any other choice but to get in the car. And so I went.

The car ride to the airport was a fifteen minute drive. We got through security and baggage fairly quickly. While walking through the hall to board, our mother warned us that we must be good and try our best to keep ourselves entertained because it would be a long time until we got to North Dakota. My sister got to sit next to the window, while I sat next to her. Our brothers sat in front of us, and our mother behind us. During the 16 and a half hour flight, I read through two books, I filled a piece of paper with sketches of dogs, and I slept. For the remaining three hours I day dreamed. I day dreamed of a giant mansion, with acres of land for running, two loving grandparents, and many servants. There would be a big lake that we could swim in. A big slide to go down, and floats, and the most comfortable of swimsuits. An endless forest to explore with at least one of my siblings- most-likely Freckles. There would be something like an abandoned shed or tree-house deep in the sea of trees. There would be a box of golden rings and ancient coins and other treasures. I imagined we would have a dog, and name him after our father. My father had always loved dogs, but couldn’t get one due to Sebastian’s allergies. I thought it would have been fitting.

Finally, we landed. Everyone started clapping obnoxiously, annoying me in my exhausted state, though I was glad the flight was over. I waited patiently for the good-to-go to get out of my uncomfortable seat. As we walked off the aeroplane, I tried to stretch as much as I could without stumbling. We claimed our baggage,  placed it on a rolling platform, and walked out of the airport. It was nearly pitch black outside, besides the lights in the parking lot. Most others went to cars or hailed taxis. Our mother lead us out to the paved road that lead out to the flat, country land, and we walked.

It was a long time until we reached the driveway. It was long, dark, isolate, and surrounded by trees. I was sure the place was going to be full of evil spirits and demons and every kind of monster imaginable. With every twig that snapped and every leaf that was rustled, I walked closer to Sebastian until I had bumped into him by accident. I looked up to him with a face that said sorry . He only smiled down at me and held my hand the rest of the way to the door. It seemed that Freckles was unnerved as well, as she reached for his arm and held onto it tightly.

A giant fountain split the driveway in two, but made a circle around it. Statues of naked angels sat atop what looked like a large bowl. The water came out of their mouths and through cross-shaped holes under them.

The fountain was nothing compared to the mansion, though. A light-bricked, three-story mansion spread across to meet each side of the clearing. The windows were all stained black. The middle of the building was rectangular and thinner. On each end, the building jutted out to be more box-shaped. For the middle of the building, the roof was short and triangular; on the ends, the roofs were small, black pyramids, with the tip turning into dangerous spikes. All of the lights seemed to be on.

We had made it to the door. Our mother hesitated when giving three loud, quick knocks to the dark, wooden door. Only a few seconds later, the door swung open almost aggressively, and revealed a rather frightening woman. She was tall - taller than Sebastian - and loomed over us. Her features were sharp. Red, thin lips; electric green, cat-like eyes that glared down with revulsion. Grey hair that was pulled tightly into a bun. A skinny, hourglass figure. Arms crossed. I didn’t understand why she was so angry.

After a moment of silence, our mother spoke up with an obviously forced and nervous smile, “Mother, it’s so nice to finally see you after so long.”

She twiddled her fingers, awaiting a response. All she got was a tch and a wave as permission to come inside. Our mother opened the door for us, and we all trailed inside behind our grandmother. We were lead through magnificent halls and up two flights of stairs. At the very end of the hall, she unlocked a door and opened it. I rushed inside, wanting to get away from those judgmental eyes.

The walls were beige and bare. The floorboards were dark and creaky by the edges. There were two windows, which were adorned with lacy dark grey curtains.

There were three twin-sized beds inside; the one on the left, rose gold, with black lines that formed snapdragon flowers and creme coloured sheets. The middle one, soft yellow and plaid with mint green sheets. The one on the right, sky blue with white stars and dark grey sheets. All of the bed frames were pale and stained, with roses and vines carved up the posts. In between the beds were small,white nightstands, each with a lamp and two drawers.

To the right beside the door was a white dresser with four drawers. In the wall behind it was a deep indent. On the ledge was a black velvet cushion lined with gold, and three white pillows that were lined with gold as well. On either side of the nook were bookshelves.

To the left, in front of the pink-themed bed, was a table and four chairs, the wood matching the bed frames. On the chairs as well were black velvet cushions with gold buttons. In the wall behind it were two doors.

Once all of us gathered into the room, our grandmother followed behind us and closed the door. She folded her hands in front of her and cleared her throat.

“I want you all to listen to me, and listen carefully; you have rules to follow. Firstly, you are all to stay in this room at all times.When Rachel and I leave this room, we will lock the door behind us. You are not to cry, or to scream, or to jump around - no loud noises. You are in charge of the little ones,” Her eyes shot into Sebastian’s. “No one is supposed to know you’re up here except the both of us. Secondly, girls and boys are not to share the same bed or bathroom, and the same goes between alphas and omegas. There are three beds here so you should manage just fine. Thirdly, the maids clean this room at the end of each month. When they do, you are to take all of your things and yourselves up to the attic. It must be as if no one is here. Fourthly, you are not to speak about your father or even say his name in my house. If you do not follow these rules, you will be punished. Do I make myself clear?

The four of us nodded obediently.

“Good. Rachel, tell them goodnight and then come out. I need to speak with you.”

“Of course, mother,” Our mother smiled.

Our grandmother stared at her for a moment before she swiftly left the room. Mother turned to us and clapped her hands, a big smile on her face.

“Make the best of it, alright, my darlings? It will be alright.”

“How long will we be here?” Sebastian asked.

“I’m not sure, honey. I need to finish school, then get a job. After that, I would need to save up.”

“A few years, then?”

“A few years, yes. I’m hoping it will only be two or three. It won’t be so bad, though! I’ll visit you all the time, and buy you all lots of gifts! Whatever you want. Even a television.”

“Really?!” Freckles gasped excitedly.

“Really. Whatever you want,” Our mother smiled brightly. “Well, I’ll let you get settled in. Goodnight, my loves.”

She gave each of us tight hugs and kisses on our cheeks. Then she left. We heard the lock turn, and I flinched. I turned towards the bed.

“Well, I suppose we should start with the beds. Freckles, do you want this one?” Sebastian motioned towards the pink one.

“No! It’s too girly! This one is mine!” She then launched herself onto the blue-themed bed.

Sebastian chuckled. “Alright then. Which would you two like?”

I looked at my twin for him to decide. He said, “The yellow one is fine.”

“Good, I wanted this one.”

Freckles giggled, “Why, are you a girl?”

“No. It matches my eyes.”

We all laughed at that. Sebastian told freckles to get in her pajamas first, then my double and I, and then he would.

It turned out that the bathroom was the door closest to the table. Everything was white, creme, and gold. The sink was a double sink, and had my favourite soap - milk and honey. The tub was about two feet deep, the curtains matching those of the window.

Once we were all ready for bed, Sebastian hugged us all goodnight and tucked us in. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

“Ciel, wake up! We’re gonna decorate the attic!” My sister shouted, bouncing on my bed. She didn’t cease when I opened my eyes.

“Okay, okay! I’m up,” I sighed, annoyed at being so rudely awakened.

Everyone was surprisingly out of bed. There was a glass of white milk and a plate of food with scrambled eggs, an apple, and a sugar cookie on it at the table. Beside me was my Bitter Rabbit. Sebastian must have put him there at some point, because I had been too tired to unpack anything.

I grabbed Bitter and pushed the covers off me and gasped as my feet hit the icy floor. For a few seconds, I just sat there, remembering where I was and trying to wake up while Freckles went back up to the attic. With a yawn, I stood up and made my way over to the table. I pulled a chair next to me and placed Bitter on the soft cushion. When I sat down, the cushion sank all the way to the hard chair. It was a decent breakfast - a bit cold, but it filled my stomach.

After I finished and stretched, I made my way over to the attic’s open door. Climbing up the stairs, it got noticeably warmer and harder to breathe. The temperature change was nice compared to the cold room.

The attic was large; perhaps the size of three living rooms. On one side, there was a chalkboard, with four long tables that could fit two people each. Dozens of chests and boxes of various sizes had been pushed to the side. Some spare chairs had been shoved in front of them as well. Old candelabras with tall, unused candles still in them, sat on a couple of the chairs. From one of the long beams in the ceiling hung two swings, side by side. A giant mirror leaned against the wall in front of the door. To the right of me, hidden behind two large back-to-back book shelves, Sebastian was showing our brother how to make flowers from the thin paper. There were some already on the old, burgundy carpet in front of them; reds, oranges, pinks, blues, and a couple of white ones. Morning light shone through the closed window.

Beside them were various art supplies. Plastic containers of light grey clay, small cups of paint, more coloured paper, paint brushes, glue, and thin sticks.

A cough suddenly escaped me, alerting them to my presence.

“Oh, Ciel, you shouldn’t be up here yet. I haven’t dusted, and your a-”

“It’s okay,” I interrupted his fretting, causing him to frown. “... Can I join?”

“Well… Alright. Could you fill this up with water for the paint?” He asked, holding up an empty container.

I smiled and grabbed it from him, walking back down to our room. Our grandmother was down there, hands on her hips, scowling down at my terrified sister. Her hateful gaze was quickly redirected at me.

“What are you doing, boy?”

I swallowed nervously, “I-I-I’m getting water… We’re… We’re painting…”

“Where is the tall one? I told him to look after you little nuisances and this one is causing a racket! I told you, no one is supposed to know that you exist!

“He-He’s upstairs…” My voice shook, my body shivering.

“Get him, now!”

I scrambled back up stairs, nearly tripping. Sebastian looked up at me confused. I pointed down the stairs and told him that grandmother wanted him. He looked worried for a moment before giving our brother a quick smile, then he stood up. My eyes followed him until he was out of sight. When he was, I began to rub my palms together and twiddle my thumbs.

“Hey,” My twin pulled me out of my little trance. “He’ll be okay. Sebastian is strong and smart, like dad was. That old hag is no match for him.”

I laughed a bit and sat across from him. “I guess you’re right. I just don’t understand why she’s so angry. And she said that Freckles was causing a racket- but what five year old doesn’t? It’s normal! Ugh… I already hate here.”

“She’s probably angry because she doesn’t have fun. But we don’t have any other choice. We’ll just have to make the best of it, like mom said.”

“How? If we can’t even come out of this room , do you think we’ll be able to go outside? I wanted to go and look in the gardens, and in the woods! This isn’t fair!”

Comforting alpha pheromones filled the space around us. I looked behind me, to see a tense Sebastian and a sniffling Freckles. They held hands. Her eyes were pink like she had been crying, and I didn’t doubt she had. She didn’t do anything wrong.

Sebastian sat her down next to me, and she immediately clung to my arm. Sebastian’s warm, comforting smile returned as he sat in front of the three of us.

“What kind of flowers would you like to make?”

“Lilies,” Freckles answered, her response muffled a bit.

My twin’s answer was, “Morning glories.”

“Anemones?” I said, more as a request.

“Those would be perfect! We already have a few paper ones, so I think we should do a few clay flowers.”

“... I-I didn’t get the water…”

“Ah, that’s alright. I’ll get it this time,” Sebastian rose to his feet and picked the container up.

“But I want to get Bitter too.”

“That’s fine. You can get Bitter and I’ll get the water. You wouldn’t want to spill any on him, would you?”

I pouted and stood up with crossed arms. “You’re mean.”

He dared to snicker at me. “Well, I don’t think you would like it if someone spilled water on you.”

“It would be an accident! Why would I want to spill anything on him on purpose?”

“I don’t think you would, but it would still be unpleasant. Let’s get that water now, hm?”

I stuck my tongue out at him, causing him to shake his head and laugh at me… again! But I followed him down the winding stairs anyways. We successfully made it down to our room this time without a wrinkled and wretched old woman interrupting us again. I pulled Bitter into my arms and squeezed him tight for a moment. Sebastian came out of the bathroom with the container of water filled three fourths of the way up. He also grabbed the napkins we didn’t use from the dining table. We then returned to the attic. Freckles was laying down now, her head resting in my twin’s lap. He smiled up at me as I sat down next to him, and my lips soon reflected his. Sebastian sat down next to me.

“We’ll start with lilies first,” Sebastian told us.

He then poured a bit of water into the container of clay and got all of it wet. Once it was all wet, he squeezed it and rolled it around in his hands. Eventually, the clay turned warm and softer, the consistency now not unlike silly putty. Sebastian pulled out a small chunk and divided that chunk into six smaller ones. His fingers manipulated the substance into long, slender petals. When he had done this with all six pieces, he joined the petals together one by one. He carefully placed it on the window sill behind us, saying that it had to dry.

Then he told my brother and I to give it a shot. I accepted the chunk he gave me and got to work, mimicking his earlier demonstrations. I tried hard, but frowned at the result. Some of the petals were thicker than others, some shorter, some wider.

“Put it by the window, Ciel. We can paint them tomorrow when the clay is dry.”

“No, I have to re-do it. It’s bad.”

“What do you mean ‘it’s bad’?”

“It’s not the same as yours… not perfect .”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not like mine. Nothing is perfect. Not even mine, although they are stunning,” He winked at me, making me roll my eyes. “But seriously, your flowers are beautiful.”

“How?”

“Because you made them,” He smiled with eyes full of love that warmed my heart and brought fire to my cheeks.

I hesitantly set the flower next to his. When Ciel finished his, Sebastian continued showing us how to make the different types of flowers we suggested, as well as proteas and primroses - some of Sebastian’s favourites. By the end of it, we had a small field of flowers drying. We could barely see what they were set on.

The sound of footsteps captured our attention. We waited to see who it was, relieved to see it was our mother. I had never been happier to see her; my sister, brother, and I all got up to hug her.

“Oh my! Did you miss me that much?” She giggled a bit.

“Gramma's mean, mommy! She yelled at me an’ I was just playin’!”

Our mother sighed. “I’m sorry, honey. She’s always been strict, but we have to follow her rules, okay? It’s her house, and she’s been kind enough to let us stay until we can get back on our feet.”

“She said no one’s s’pposed to know about us, ‘n’ that we’re sins. Why’d she say that, momma?”

Our mother looked down with her eyes closed. “That’s not true. That’s not true at all, none of you are sins. She’s just… jealous of how good you behave. And angry, at me.”

“Why would she be angry at you?” Sebastian questioned in a baffled manner.

Mother sighed again, heavily. It was a moment before she spoke. “When I was sixteen, both of my half-uncle’s parents died. He had just turned eighteen, and had started a job, but he didn’t have enough money to move out yet. My parents treated him as if he was their own son. The longer he stayed, we grew closer, and he was just so handsome, and charming, and…”

“You mean… our dad…?” Sebastian asked.

Mother nodded and swallowed. “My mother told me that we were all damned to Hell. She said that you would be born with webbed feet, and hooves, and horns… all kinds of deformities… but you weren’t! You’re all perfect, beautiful, healthy, and the best children anyone could ever ask for. She was wrong! ” Our mother wiped tears from her ocean eyes and cleared her throat before continuing. “Anyways, I brought you all gifts because I love you so much.”

I hadn’t even noticed the shiny, yellow paper bags behind her heeled feet. She handed one to each of us, then informed us that the head servant, ‘Claude’, had brought our lunch, and it was downstairs on the dresser. She then kissed our foreheads and left with the promise of plenty more presents.

Sebastian suggested that we eat before our food gets cold, but three excited young children against one soft teddy bear would always win, and we quickly dug into the bags.

In my bag was a fuzzy brown bunny with a small, pink nose. Around its neck was a powder blue, chiffon ribbon. My next gift was pajamas. They were the same colour as the bunny’s ribbon, and made of silk. The buttons looked like they were made of pearls. I thought it was something an angel would wear. The next was day clothes; blue, high-waisted shorts with four gold buttons. To go with it was a white, long-sleeved, button-down shirt with black ruffles on the cuff and around the buttons. There were black socks that would go a little past my knee. They were black, with gold lace at the top. I thought it was odd, but decided against questioning it. My last gift was a thick, unbelievably soft blanket. It was pastel blue with a big, white moon and small, four pointed stars on it. I rubbed it against my face to get my scent on it.

With a smile, I insisted that Sebastian feel how soft it was, since he was the only one who hadn’t gotten a blanket. I whispered that he could borrow it, but only him ! He laughed that stupid laugh of his and agreed as I wrapped the comforting cloth around me.

Once everyone had opened all of their gifts, we headed down stairs to eat. Besides Sebastian, we all sat down at the table. My twin sat across from me, making me feel like I was sitting in front of a mirror. It was slightly unnerving. Sebastian placed a plate in front of us, one for himself, then opened the picnic basket. On each plate, he put one covered bowl of chicken soup, fruit salad, and two cookies. Along with that came lemonade with ice.

I stared down at my plate and tried to hide my disgust. A fruit salad? These people must have been mad. They were locking us in an attic, so it wasn’t a surprise that they weren’t below serving fruit salads. I reached for the cookies first, to be met with Sebastian’s disapproving eyes. Instead, I chose to eat my soup because I was not going to eat a single piece of fruit. The soup was still warm, and actually very good, so I was finished with it quickly. From the corner of my eye, I could see Sebastian eyeing me. He knew I didn’t like fruit.

“Ciel, you need to eat your fruit,” Sebastian broke the silence after I hadn’t moved for a while.

“No,” I pouted.

“Your brother and sister are going to get your cookies if you don’t eat that salad.”

Time for action.

My eyes welled up with semi-real tears and I let out a sob, “I h-hate salads, Sebastian.”

YEAH ! SALADS SUCK!” Freckles screamed.

Sebastian stood up abruptly, his chair scraping loudly against the floor. He went to the dresser by the door, opened the top drawer, and pulled out a black bible. We were met by a stern face.

“Children,” his voice boomed as he walked over to us. He leaned over me as he said, “wasting food is the work of Satan! ” He straightened up with a playful smirk across his lips, and walked to the other side of the table to lean over my reflection. “If you don’t eat every. Last. Bit , of your food, He will come through the window,” Sebastian paused and looked at Freckles, slowly moving closer to her as he finished, “... and he… will… eat you!

Nooo! ” She shrieked.

My hand shot across the table, snatching the bible, before I ran and jumped on my bed. I went into the fetal position with the book tucked between my stomach and legs. Not even a second later, I felt Sebastian’s weight on the bed, making the springs creak. He tried to wrestle it from my arms, but then resorted to tickling my sides. I squealed and squirmed, trying to get out of his grasp.

Sta-ha-hap! Sebastian!”

A loud bang stilled everyone in the room. Our grandmother stood in the doorway, looking at us as if we had just went ‘number two’ on her new shoes. Mother followed behind her, looking frightened. Sebastian backed down off the bed.

What is the meaning of this? ” The old woman hissed.

“S-Sorry, I was trying to get him to eat his fruits,” Sebastian stammered.

Our Mother tried to defend us, “Mother, don’t blame them, they--they didn’t properly understand.”

“Well they will, now. Take off your blouse.”

“Mother-”

Rachel. The blouse.”

Our mother tilted her head down and slowly walked to the room. She shakily unbuttoned the pumpkin-coloured fabric and slid it down to her waist. On her back were dozens of angry red lines.

Our grandmother pointed a boney finger at her, “ This is what happens when you disobey. A lash for each one of you, and one for every year she lived in sin with your father. If I were you, I would start changing my behaviour. Quickly. Rachel, come.”

Our mother quickly buttoned up her shirt and followed that monster from the room. I sat staring at the door. Had it been my fault? Because I was being stubborn and bratty? Because I was being picky? Because I was selfish?

Needless to say, we had all lost our appetites for any of the food. I pulled the blanket over my head and laid down, falling into the arms of darkness.

 

-

 

“Ciel, wake up. Dinner,” I was shaken awake by my twin.

I sat up, rubbing my eyes. Light had ceased the flow through the curtains of the window. The lamps were on, but the room was still dimly lit. Picking up my new rabbit, I returned to my seat at the table where plates were already set out, and sat him in my lap. Sebastian served two chicken legs, a serving of mashed potatoes per plate, and two cookies, along with a glass of white milk to wash it down with.

I started with the mashed potatoes. They were too spicy and lumpy instead of the creamy texture that I liked, but I stomached it anyways and tried to eat it quickly. I gulped down half of my milk after I had eaten all of it. The chicken was greasy, but it was better than what I had previously ate. The cookies, as all cookies, were perfectly made. Not sickeningly sweet, but not bitter; not too soft and not too hard. It was relieving.

“Good job, Ciel,” he complimented, as it wasn’t often that I finished a full plate.

A bashful smile on my face, I was allowed to be excused from the table. Quietly, I pulled my chair out and walked to my bed. Then I pulled my toy bag out from under it and fished out Alice in Wonderland . Even though I had read it a thousand times, it was my all-time favourite story. I climbed up on to the soft blankets and laid on my back. Soon, I was lost in Wonderland as well.

When I got to page 204, Sebastian interrupted me, telling me that I had to take a shower. My other two siblings already had. I begrudgingly set the book on the nightstand beside me, picked out the new pajamas I got, and went to the bathroom. There was a fresh towel already set out. The mat in front of the tub, as well as most of the porcelain floor, was still wet. I turned both of the knobs, the hot one turned all the way and the cold a bit less, and undressed. As soon as I stepped in, I was met with an icy blast and yelped. Turning the cold knob back did nothing; it didn’t even warm up when the cold knob was turned completely off. So, shivering, I tried my best to hurry up and wash myself. With all my shaking, it was hard to really do anything, though.

It took fifteen minutes too long. When I was finally rinsed off, I hurriedly shut the freezing water off. Five minutes later, I was dried, dressed for bed, and had my teeth brushed. I got under the covers of my bed quickly. Sebastian tucked the three of us in, gave me my two rabbits, and turned the lights off before going into the bathroom himself. The quiet noise of the shower starting was the only noise in the pitch-black room.

Sebastian emerged after ten minutes. Freckles was snoring loudly in the bed next to mine, and my twin kept tossing and turning in a fitful sleep. The pink-themed bed creaked when Sebastian added his weight to it. I wondered if he was cold. He only had the thin blanket that was originally here, and I didn’t figure the water had heated up after I had been in there. Plus, he used to sleep next to me when I was younger, and it helped me sleep much better than when I was alone. I had a sneaking suspicion that he did too. At the same time, I didn’t want our grandmother to walk in on us like earlier when we were simply goofing around. My mind went in circles until I decided that I wanted a good night’s rest.

Slowly, I slid out of my bed with my blanket and bunnies, and crept to the edge of his bed.

“Sebastian?” I whispered “Can I sleep with you tonight?”

“We’re not allowed to be in the same bed, remember?”

“I know, but I can’t sleep and I’m cold from my shower still.”

He sighed lightly, “You know I’m going to have to move you after you fall asleep, right?”

“I know. It’s fine.”

The springs squeaked in response to Sebastian moving over. I climbed in the bed next to him and got under the thin blanket. Then I threw my thicker blanket over it, and instantly felt warmer. I snuggled into the large figure and suddenly felt small, even more so when Sebastian’s long arms wrapped around me.

A sudden wave of exhaustion washed over me. Before I knew it, I was falling asleep. The last thing I heard was Sebastian softly saying, “Goodnight, I love you.”

Chapter Text

It was the end of November; already a month since we had arrived. Leaves had fallen and decayed into the ground, and frost covered the ground outside. My two brothers were packing up all our things. Freckles and I were sitting at the table, still finishing our breakfast. I gave her one of my cookies as I did often.

She hadn’t been as hyper lately; she was always tired, and when she did get around to playing, she didn’t play for long. Her skin had grown pale and she got cold easily. When she slept, her breaths were wheezy and shallow. Every couple of days she would vomit until she was dry heaving. Blood came out sometimes. Her vomiting had gotten more common over the past week. All she could do was lay down and sit when it came time to eat.

Sebastian said that she might have contracted a stomach bug, and that it was causing a plausible underlying case of asthma to make itself known. After all, that had happened to me when I was five. Maybe he was right, but there had to be something else. Blood wasn’t normal.

By the time everyone’s bags and all of our things were put in the attic, we had finished our breakfast. Freckles just had to finish her cookies, but she could take those upstairs with us. Sebastian wrapped her fuzzy yellow blanket around her and picked her up, turning to me expectantly. I already had the picnic basket in my hands. I followed him up to the attic with my twin behind me, shutting the door quietly. We made our way up the stairs quiet as mice. Sebastian put Freckles in one of the swings, then opened up the window. Cold air wafted in, replacing the stale air with the scent of evergreens and ice. It seemed I had forgotten what the outside smelled like. I was relieved.

My twin was soon pushing our sister on the creaky swing, and our older brother had climbed out the window. I rushed over to see what he was doing. About a foot and a half under the window was a flat cement platform, like a small balcony. He offered his hand for me to take, saying that natural light would do me some good.

“You’re as pale as snow.”

I took his hand and allowed him to help me out. “I don’t think I’ll get much of a tan in this weather. It’s too cloudy,” I remarked, looking up at the grey sky.

“It’ll at least give you some Vitamin D.”

I rolled my eyes, “Oh, stop. You’re acting like a dad.”

“I’m only concerned for your health.”

“Again - dad.”

“Well, if that’s what you want to call me, I’m fine with that,” He whispered in my ear with a suggestive smirk on his face.

“Ew, no! Enjoy your Vitamin D by yourself!”

I hopped over the ledge and back inside. So much for enjoying the sun with my brother. Oh well, it was cold outside anyways. Inside, my other brother was still pushing our sister who was complaining about being tired when our mother appeared at the top of the stairs with more bags. Freckles stumbled out of the swing and hurried to hug our mother who looked at her with worry.

“Where is Sebastian?” She asked, running her fingers through Freckles’s short hair.

I pointed to the still open window, to see said man was climbing back through.

Mother turned her attention back to Freckles and pointed to the figure to my right, “Why don’t you don’t you go play with your brother?”

She happily nodded. My twin took her hand and led her to the carpet. Sebastian glanced at the bags full of gifts set at her feet.

“More gifts?” He questioned with an underlying tone of annoyance.

“Of course! Only the best for my children.”

“Then why can’t we get more important things? Like medicine and clothes, or a teacher? Freckles should be starting primary school and the twins should be back in school too.”

“Honey, I just want you all to live comfortably,” She frowned. “And speaking of Freckles, why didn’t you tell your grandmother to come get me? Why didn’t you tell me she was sick?”

“I did ask her to get you, but she wouldn’t. She keeps saying that whatever it is will pass and it’s only gotten worse… I think you should take her to the hospital,” He lowered his voice on the last sentence.

“I was planning on it,” Mother glared at him in a similar way that our grandmother did. Then, looked surprised for a moment before clearing her throat. “Anyways, here are your presents. I love you.”

Mother turned on her heels and left abruptly. Sebastian stood staring at the place she had been in, in shock until I snapped my fingers in front of his face. He flinched and smiled weakly at me. He said that everything would be alright, and that we should open our presents. So, we both took three bags in each hand and carried them over to the carpet. They had been labeled, so Sebastian passed them out to everyone. My twin and I both got two bags each, while our other siblings got only one bag each.

In my first bag, I got a thick black book with nothing on the cover but ‘ The Omega ’ engraved with gold. There was nothing on the back, nor was there an author. Under it was an alice blue chiffon shirt that one could easily see through. Printed on it were teardrop-petal flowers and vines connecting them. The next gift was also clothing; another outfit. The shirt was short-sleeved and a button-up. It was pastel purple with a darker purple creating a plaid pattern, and the buttons were made of sparkling silver. It had dark grey linen overalls to go with it. There were no buttons on it like most, but there was a zipper. Last was a wooden jewelry box. Inside were a pair of sapphire earrings. They were stars with silver tassels hanging from each point. There were also empty slots for more earrings, rings, and small bracelets.

My second bag was full of art supplies. Sketch books, pencils, charcoal pencils, and sharpeners. My twin got similar gifts, but instead of art supplies, he got Lincoln Logs and trains. Freckles got a small dollhouse with a family of four, as well as pink and green stuffed bears. Sebastian got a white book that had nothing on it from what I could tell, as well as strange looking magazines. He also got art supplies, only his were canvases, oil pastels, paint, and - of course - paint brushes. 

“Hey, Ciel,” My twin spoke, mischief in his voice. “Look at what I found.”

I turned to see him holding a squirming rat in his hand.

“Ew! Put that down, it’s dirty!”

“Aw, but it looks just like you!” His comment made Freckles burst out laughing.

“No, it looks like you! Rat!

Sebastian interrupted our argument, “Ciel is right. You should put it down, it might bite you.”

Rolling his eyes, he dropped it on the carpet. I sprung up onto a dusty chair when it started scurrying towards me and angrily told my brother that he was disgusting. His only response was to smile at me with evil, beady eyes.

“Alright, you two. Settle down. The maids are probably in our room by now, and you know if they find out about us, all hell will break loose.”

We kept glaring at each other until I stood up and sat in one of the swings. Freckles joined me and sat in the other one. She stuck out her hand, which I gladly took, and pushed us gently with my feet. My twin was standing next to me soon enough.

“It’s my turn now,” He proclaimed.

“But you’re on it all the time! I haven’t gotten to swing once!”

“Oh well, I want to swing. If you won’t get off, I think I’ll sit on your lap.”

“You’ll break it.”

“That would your fault because you won’t get off.”

I scowled at him and got up, stomping over to one of the chairs at the school desks and began to pout. Both swings creaked behind me and I could practically smell his amusement. He really was a rat, wasn’t he?

A cold hand on my shoulder startled me. It was Sebastian asking if I wanted to go back on the roof with him to draw. I agreed. As we walked by, my brother smirked at me mockingly. In return, I flipped him the bird and watched his face fall in horror with sweet satisfaction. Sebastian and I dug our supplies out of our bags and we were soon back on the ledge.

Sebastian took out his oil pastels and got to work on a canvas. It took a minute for me to figure out what to draw, deciding on Bitter and his new friend, Cinnamon. I drew them in some of the outfits I had gotten, some outfits I used to have, some clothes I wanted, and some clothes that I made up. There were a few dogs, foxes, bears, and other stuffed versions of animals I drew as well. After two pages were filled, I decided to move on to a cartoon-ish style, and three and a half pages later, a more realistic one.

At some point, Sebastian had stopped drawing to watch me. I only realized it when I gazed at the treetops and saw him out of the corner of my eye. He asked to see what I had done and we switched our art.

Sebastian had drawn our view from the ledge. The blues and greys of the sky that blended together, the leafless, slender trees, the large field - all drawn to perfection. A small section of garden, which I hadn’t seen earlier, reflected reality spot-on. His black cursive ‘ SnDr ’ signature indented in the colours and matched the palate.

A snicker pulled me out of my observations . Those scarlet eyes were staring down at me with amusement.

“Is it that good? You’ve been admiring it for almost ten minutes.”

“No, I was not admiring it, I was just observing it.”

Sebastian frowned, “It’s not good…?”

My heart skipped a beat, “No, I didn’t say it wasn’t good, I said I wasn’t admiring it. It’s… i-it looks fine.”

“I was just messing with you,” he ruffled my hair, his teasing smile returning.

“Hey! You’re messing it up, I don’t want any knots!”

He hummed in thought, then commented, “Your hair is getting quite long. You could be mistaken for a girl.”

“Well I’m not a girl.”

Tsk , did I say you were? Besides, you look cute like this,” His hand curled around some of the strands that touched my shoulder as if to prove a point.

I crossed my arms as heat spread across my face. Who did he think he was? Honestly…

He changed the subject, “I think it’s time for lunch, don’t you think?”

“I guess,” I grumbled.

He shot another smirk at me before trading our drawing surfaces once again and leading me inside. Sebastian went to the picnic basket, calling over our other siblings, and passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, cookies, and iced tea mixed with lemonade. We ate our lunch on the carpet. Both of my brothers cheered when they tasted strawberry jelly instead of grape. Freckles rolled her eyes, telling them that grape was obviously the best. It would fill my stomach so I didn’t care either way. I only ate half of my banana after the sandwich. I gave it to my brother since Freckles couldn’t even manage to eat half of it.

As soon as I was done with my lunch, I ran to the swing I had been in. No one was going to stop me this time. Like last time, I pushed myself, holding onto the rope that attached the chair to the ceiling. Not even a minute later, I heard someone approaching me, causing my face to fall. Luckily, it was only Sebastian. He began to push me so I didn’t have to as I usually had. It was relaxing.

I laid my head back and closed my eyes. The air rushed past me. The smell of Sebastian’s Eau de Cedre cologne seemed to enhance. It was quiet. I could have fallen asleep in that moment; I was tired enough to. Sebastian’s muffled voice told me that it was too late to take a nap, and that the maids should be out by now so we could go downstairs if I wanted to. My only response was a tired wave of my hand.

He continued to push me for a few more minutes before he suddenly picked me up and brought me downstairs. He set me down in one of the kitchen tables where there was a bar of dutch chocolate. I smiled at him in thanks and happily stuffed half of it into my mouth at once. Then he went back upstairs, soon returning with all of the gift-filled bags that everyone had gotten. Freckles was in her bed, sleeping, covered in her blankets as well as the yellow one from brother’s and my bed.

After finishing my chocolate, I became bored. There was nothing to do. Or, rather, nothing new to do. I had read all of my books - besides the new one, but lack of information made me anxious - and I had drawn all of the ideas that had been stirring up in my mind. Then I realized that I hadn’t worn any of the clothes I was given while I was here, besides pajamas. It wouldn’t hurt to at least see if they fit.

So I collected all of the bags from under my bed and took them to the bathroom with me besides a few, which were filled with underclothes, socks, pajamas, and such. I undressed and got to business. The first few I tried on were fine and fit perfectly. However, the fourth outfit I tried on were odd; it was unlike anything I had worn on before, and unlike anything my mother had bought for any of the family. This outfit consisted of tight black jeans with diamond buttons and a chain hanging from two of the loopholes. The top was only a leather vest that zipped up, the sleeves made of fishnet. There were two pockets on each side that could be buttoned closed with more diamonds. A pair of slick black, knee-high boots went with it. They each had laces on them, five thick buckles, and a zipper that went all the way up. The boots also had rather high platforms on them, which made me five inches taller.

This was a pattern that I noticed. In general, most of the clothing were my usual style and slightly baggy, how I preferred. But every few outfits were skin-tight or showed more skin than I was used to.

The last thing I tried on was the see-through shirt. Since it was see-through, I thought I was supposed to wear something under it, but it proved too uncomfortable to do so. Nothing was matched with it either, like all of my other outfits were. There weren’t any trousers either… But I tried it on anyways without anything under it. It fit correctly that way from what I could tell. I definitely wasn’t going to wear it in public, though.

Sebastian’s voice suddenly came from behind me, the cracked door opening farther, “Ciel? Are you alr-? Wh- uhhm…”

I whipped around to face him. Our faces were mirrored in red. He wore an expression of shock, and I, one of panic.

“Uhhhh… S-Sorry…” I said after what felt like ten years of silence.

He didn’t respond, but kept opening and closing his mouth as if he was trying to say something. It reminded me of a gasping fish.

Then my face fell completely. Behind him was a man dressed as a butler that looked like him, but different. His face wasn’t as slender, but his features were a bit sharper. He was a little shorter, but was more muscular. His eyes were yellow instead of red, and studied my nearly naked body with an odd expression that made me whimper.

Sebastian snapped out of his daze and looked behind him.

“What’s going on here?” The deep, monotone voice questioned.

“I-I’m sorry, we weren’t doing anything. I walked in on him by accident.”

“I believe it was Lady Driscoll’s order that alphas and omegas were not to use the restroom at the same time, am I correct?”

“Yes, but it-.”

“Then you shall be expecting a punishment soon. I will fetch the Lady,” the man said before promptly leaving.

IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! ” Sebastian screamed. Then he sighed, “Ciel, put some pajamas back on.”

“What is she going to do?”

“Nothing, Ciel. Just put some clothes on.”

I quickly put the pajamas that I had been originally been wearing back on and stuffed the rest of the clothes into the bags. From the other room, Sebastian was urging out other two siblings into the attic. As soon as I was done packing the clothes, I tossed the bags under my shared bed. Then we sat on the floor at the end of our beds and waited.

No longer than two minutes later, the door slammed open so hard that a dent from the door knob appeared in the wall. Our grandmother stood in front of the door with a whip. The servant from earlier, who was behind her, closed the door.

“Where are the other two?” The monster asked.

“In the attic,” Sebastian responded dully.

“Good. You,” she pointed a finger at me, “stand by Claude, and watch .” She then directed the finger at Sebastian. “You - take off your shirt, boy.”

I looked at Sebastian. His eyes urged me to do as told, and I did so hesitantly. I shuffled to the intimidating man and stood against the wall about four feet to his left. Sebastian took off his shirt and faced away from the woman as was ordered.

The whip cracked as it came down onto my brother’s back. He yelped, and I flinched with him. I could almost feel the sting. Blood trailed out of the bright red mark the impact left behind. On the second infliction, I jumped forward to stop her and grabbed her hand. The whip came down and hit me in the face. Tears came to my eyes as I screamed.

“That’s what you get, you obscene whore . Letting your brother look at you while you’re practically nude… how disgraceful, ” She ranted, though I wasn’t listening. “Claude, take him out and patch up his eye. You can decide his punishment.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Claude bowed.

The servant picked me from the ground while Lady Driscoll resumed Sebastian’s punishment. He took me from our room to the hall and began walking. About a minute or two later, we were in a bathroom. It looked like the one in our room, but bigger, and had many more things in it. Soaps, towels, jewelry, the likes.

Claude pulled a first aid kit from under the sink and immediately got to work. He put alcohol on the wound, causing a burning sting to erupt on my right eye. My hand flinched to instinctively cover it, but I didn’t allow my hand to leave my knee. Instead, I clenched both of them into fists. Then he dabbed it roughly with a cloth and put some sort of cream on it. He put a cloth over it, then tape to keep it in place. Finally, a medical eye patch.

“What a shame. Your eyes were so beautiful,” Claude mumbled, putting the kit away. I didn’t respond. He faced me when he spoke up next, “You do understand that I dictate the punishment, yes?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Hmm… so respectful ,” he licked his lips almost hungrily. I shuddered. “The less you struggle, the easier it will be. If you decide to make it hard, it will only be harder on yourself. Got it?”

“Yes, sir,” I repeated.

“I’m glad. Take off your clothes.”

Chapter Text

“No? Should I tell both your mother and grandmother that you’re his little slut? Should I tell them that you should all be whipped until you pass out? I promise that would happen, and I would do that . Are you still going to say no to me?”

Swallowing hard, I shook my head.

“Good. Now… take off your clothes. All of them. And quickly .”

For a moment, I only stared at him with a frightened look on my face. Then, with a slight grimace, I followed his orders. With shaky hands, I unbuttoned my shirt and slid off my bottoms.

Oho, ” he laughed, “you kept that on… very well. You look absolutely delicious in it. Maybe I’ll let you keep that on all the way through. Unbutton it. And take those off,” he pointed to my underwear.

I was confused and panicking. Body shaky and sweaty, mouth dry, and so,very nauseous; I didn’t know what he was going to do to me. What punishment required someone to be naked? Why was he looking at me like that? So… predatory .

But I had to. I couldn’t let my siblings be punished for something that they didn’t do, especially my sick sister. More people would be hurt, too; four out of four instead of half of us. If I could, I would let myself take all of the whippings.

So I did as told while he turned the bathtub on. An embarrassed red flushed my face, eyes cast to the floor. The man slid his gloves off, letting them fall to the tiled floor. Then his hands slid onto my hips, up my stomach, down to my thighs, touching me feather-soft in figure-eight patterns. Tracing my ribcage, everything that was caved in, and everything that protruded. He placed soft lips on my collar bones and nipples. Then he moved onto my belly button. Then even lower, to my thighs and everything in between.

Cool tears ran down my burning cheeks. My stomach was twisting into knots I couldn’t comprehend, and my body was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. His hands seemed to burn my skin. His lips felt like acid. And there wasn’t anything I could do but let the poison soak into my skin. Even if I did try to run, he would be faster and stronger than me, plus the chance of someone else being in the hall. That would lead to even more punishment. Or maybe we would get thrown out. Then mother would get angry at me. Maybe even Sebastian…

Suddenly, I was bent over the tub. I put my arms in the freezing cold water so that I could hold myself steady. The anxiety was making my vision slightly bleary and throwing my body off balance. I heard the unzipping of a zipper from behind me, which only formed more questions.

I had to get the biggest question out, “Wh-What are you going to d-”

But I was cut off by a searing pain in my backside. I began to scream, but Claude’s hands pulled my hair tightly and shoved my head under the water. I kicked my legs and struggled but he held me down, leaning his weight on me to where I could barely breathe. I quit struggling, but my head was still underwater. After a few more seconds, he stopped putting weight on me and lifted my head out of the water. I sputtered and coughed and wheezed. But I wasn’t going to get my breath back any time soon. He pulled his body away from mine, tricking me into thinking it was over, and shoved it back into me with full force. Such a strong force that slammed my knees into the bathtub, which made me cry out again. Again, he held my head underwater. This time, I counted, and ended up with 10 seconds this time. It was shorter, most likely because I didn’t struggle. I was getting tired.

Once again, he rutted his hips into my backside, and I vomited into the icy bathtub. But he still didn’t stop. He kept thrusting roughly, the movements getting faster and rougher as he went on. His other hand, which wasn’t holding onto my hair, returned to grip my hip so hard I thought he would crush the bone into dust. The water that dampened my hair rolled down my sweaty back like tears ran down my heated face. I could taste bile in the back of my throat. My body trembled and jolted with every thrust. And they were still getting faster, so fast that I thought it was humanly impossible.

White hot substance soon filled somewhere uncomfortably deep in me; I threw up once again at the feeling. A grunt coming from the thing above me as the liquid was being emptied. The thing in me finally pulled out, allowing my muscles to finally relax. My body slumped down to the floor so that I was laying down. The cold tiles felt good against my flushed skin for once.

I could feel the substance leak out onto the floor. When I looked, I saw blood and a milky-white fluid. Claude was stuffing his privates back into his trousers, smirking down at me with malice. He told me to clean myself up, whore , proceeding to throw a rag at me before leaving and shutting the door harshly. But I stayed on the floor, shivering.

Time was blurry, my body was numb, I couldn’t think. Everything was… fuzzy. It almost seemed nonexistent; as if I had dreamed the whole thing, and was still dreaming. But the sheer pain pulsing through my body told me otherwise. For a moment, I felt like I was falling. I quickly sat up when my vision went black. My heart pounded against my ribcage like someone was desperately trying to get out. I threw up in the tub again, with nasty, burning bile coming up mixed with everything else. Then I was dry heaving, the painful feeling bringing tears to my eyes again.

Then I decided it was time to clean up. I didn’t want the disgusting matter soaking into my body. Of course, it already had. I got to my feet, held up by burning legs, and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed , getting it off, but not getting the feeling of it off. The feeling was black, like a funeral. I wished it was my funeral.

After cleaning all of the liquids and vomit off, I emptied the tub and took off the see-through shirt. Once emptied, I ran water over every inch of skin I could and rinsed everything from my hair. Then I dried off with a larger towel and got into my pajamas.

Claude was waiting for me outside. He didn’t say anything, nor did he smile. It was as if nothing happened. We walked down the hall in a tense silence. It turned my stomach in weak, aching knots, though there was nothing that would come up. Finally, I returned to my room, my safe haven. It felt like I hadn’t seen it in centuries, and strangely, it felt unfamiliar. My brothers sat at the dinner table while my sister was absent. For a split second, I didn’t recognize them. I didn’t understand.

Claude must not have had anything to say, because he wasted no time in exiting the room and locking the door. Sebastian stared at me worriedly, his body visibly tense, as if he wanted to move.

“Ciel, are you alright…?”

I nodded slightly and laid down on my bed. I curled up into a ball and tried to disappear. A second passed where I could almost hear Sebastian thinking. After that moment, I heard him softly get up and come to the side of the bed. When I opened my eyes to his concerned carmines, I found him crouching down, a bit of space between him and the bed. His hand was on the mattress, offering his hand to hold like always.

“What did they do to you, angel?” He whispered.

My lip trembled and my eyes filled with tears. I covered my face with my soft blanket. What had he done to me? I didn’t know, but it felt dirty and wrong. I didn’t want to think about it. I just wanted to go to sleep and forget about this horrid day.

“Please talk to me, Ciel. I’m right here. I want to help you. Do you want to go to the attic and talk about it?” Sebastian pleaded, putting his hand on my shoulder.

I flinched away and let out a sob, starting to shake and squeezed the pillow closer to me. Sebastian immediately pulled his hand away.

Sebastian sounded lost, “ Please , Ciel, tell me what he did? I can try to fix it. I’ll help you, I promise. I’m right here.”

“... I don’t know - w-what he did,” I sniffed, trying to calm down. My body involuntarily forced sounds similar to hiccups out of my mouth, tears still spilling from my eyes.

“Can I see your eye?”

“In- I-In a m-minute, ple-ease.”

“Okay, it’s alright.”

Still shaking, I slid my hand barely out of the covers, feeling Sebastian take it instantly but softly. It took a minute of deep breathing for me to finally start calming down. I had probably cut off the blood circulation to his fingertips from how hard I was squeezing his hand. Soon, I was reduced to hiccups and snivels. Sebastian pulled me into his arms tenderly, keeping the blanket around me. In that moment, I felt so little. Like a baby almost. This feeling only intensified when I was pulled against Sebastian’s firm chest and was slowly rocked. A soothing scent filled the room so strongly I thought it would fill the entire manor and seep into the walls like nicotine.

Exhaustion invaded my body and sunk into my bones. Consciousness drifted further away from me until I felt the blanket being tugged to the side and away from my face, along with my new eye patch. My eyes drowsily blinked open. From the corner of my left eye, I saw my twin sat criss-cross applesauce on our bed, studying me with worry. I could see out of my right eye still, but my vision in it was discoloured and tremendously blurry.

As he inspected my eye, he commented, “It looks like it cut your pupil a bit, but your eyelids took most of the force, so it’s not that deep… can you see out of it alright?”

“It’s really blurry,” I mumbled in response. “‘N’ the colour’s off.”

“Does your eye hurt?”

“A little.”

“I thought so. Anything else?”

“Mm- n-no,” the words stumbled out of my mouth before I could figure out what to actually say. Everything from my hips to my thighs hurt, but I didn’t know if that would spark any alarm for him.

The look on his face indicated that he saw through my lie, but he put everything back, pursed his lips and didn’t say anything. He just kissed my forehead and brushed my bangs back. I rubbed my cheek against his and nuzzled into his neck. My hands gripped his shoulders as if he was going to disappear at any second. I had thought to wrap my arms around his midsection, but remembered his injuries. Then I wondered if his marks had been cleaned like mine had been.

“... Can I clean your marks?” I requested shyly.

“It’s alright, Ciel. You don’t have to go through the trouble fo-”

“I want to,” I interrupted him, abruptly pulling away and stared into his eyes with a look that told him I wasn’t going to take no for an answer or change my mind. I needed to distract myself so I didn’t have another meltdown.

He sighed and reluctantly agreed. I stood on wobbly legs and let him lead me by the hand to our restroom. Sebastian took off his shirt and knelt beside the tub while I ran cool water. I then opened the cupboards under the sink to grab the first aid kit - smaller than the one Claude had - and a small, navy blue washcloth. With the cloth, now wet, I softly traced the puffy streaks, earning a hiss from my brother’s lips. I murmured an apology and carried on. I poured isopropyl alcohol on the red-smeared cloth next and repeated my previous actions. This time, he jerked away, but I let him squeeze my hand. Then I patted the area dry, put cotton on the gashes, and lightly wrapped them with ace bandages.

I nuzzled his neck softly, whispering, “You didn’t do anything wrong, you know… you were just looking.”

“I know, Ciel… I just wish…” He trailed off.

“Wish for what?”

“... I wish you weren’t so… cute. So perfect ,” he murmured with uncertainty, lifting his hand and stroking my cheek. I let out a small purr.

“I’m not. You know I’m not…”

“But I know you are. That’s why I want you only to myself.”

“You can have me all to yourself if you really want.”

“Did he touch you?”

I choked on my spit, stuttering, “H-Huh?”

Sebastian turned around to face me, speaking slower and softer. “Did he touch you?”

My face started burning, “I-I don’t know what you mean-”

“You do. You can tell me; I won’t let him around you ever again.”

My eyes welled up with tears. I shook my head, feeling nauseous again. My hands quickly covered my eyes. I felt his hands grab my shoulders, making me move to walk backwards, but he held me in place.

“Shh, shh, shh, I’m sorry, Ciel. I won’t push it anymore, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you. Come here. Shhh,” Sebastian cooed comfortingly.

He pulled me into his arms, holding me tightly and protectively as I began to sob again. His soft voice repeated ‘ I’m sorry ’ and ‘ I’m right here ’. Cold tiles on my knees. Hands all over. Freezing, shivering, burning, squirming .

I shoved him away, my mind screaming ‘ DON’T TOUCH ME ’ but all that came out was incoherence. My stomach suddenly felt heavy, the limited contents rushing up my throat. I choked them up, feeling it burning my throat and spoil every taste bud. Most of what little acid-looking substance came up made a nasty splat on the tiles, the rest landing on my pajamas, some drops dribbling from my chin. It was hard to breathe. The room was starting to spin. Everything was going blurry and flashing. In front of me was… Claude ? No, Sebastian ? He looked worried, saying something that echoed into nonsense. I thought I felt him touching me, or maybe they were bugs crawling on me. The man in front of me got up from the floor a-

 

-

 

“My poor children… I can hardly take this…” A woman’s voice weeped.

“It will be alright, mom… We just have to get through this. He just-” The familiar man’s voice cut out for a moment. Then continued, “-ck. It’s not as serious as Freckles. She’s in a better place now. She isn’t suffering anymore. Besides, Ciel is older and stronger. He’ll be okay, I’m sure. I’ll be protecting him.”

The woman sniffed, “You are just like your father, you know? Brave and noble… truly honourable.”

“I’m doing the best I can for them. That’s all.”

My eyes fluttered open to bleary vision. My heavy body was moving, though it didn’t know what it was doing. A yawn escaped me, an almost foreign gasp coming from the right of me. A set of arms were soon wrapped around me, rich rose-scented perfume invading my nose, almost making me want to gag. I was surprised I hadn’t smelled it before.

The arms holding me shivered, sobbing coming from the distressed woman. She pulled away after a moment. Her hands went to my face as my mother’s eyes studied mine carefully. Sebastian sat down on the bed next to my knees and took my hand in his much larger one.

Mother’s lip trembled as she started, “Honey… Freckles-”

“I heard you talking,” I said quickly. I didn’t want to hear it; I didn’t want it to feel real.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. I never wanted any of this to happen to any of you.”

“Can we go somewhere else?”

“Honey…”

“It’s not worth this. I can’t take it here.” The last sentence came out whiny as my eyes started to fill with tears and lip quivered.

She pursed her lips, an odd look crossing her face for a moment that I almost missed. Almost. She softly told me, “There’s nowhere else. It would take days to get to a suitable and safe place for us. We already lost your sister… I couldn’t live with myself if another one of my children were hurt because I moved them somewhere unsafe. Who knows what could happen… We’re better off staying here, where it’s safe.”

“I don’t feel safe here. Especially with that… that butler . I don’t want to see his fucking face.”

“Ciel! You know better than to say such nasty words!” She scolded firmly, but trying to remain kind.

I look directly into her eyes. “I don’t care. If I see him ever I’m going to run away and I don’t care if I get eaten by goddamn wolves or anything. Keep him the fuck away from me.

Mother had the most startled look on her face. Briefly, she nodded, squeezed my open hand, and then left, almost rushing out of the room. Sebastian sighed and pulled me into his arms. He placed a kiss on, then rested his cheek on the top of my head.

“We’ll get out of here one day. We just need some time,” Sebastian whispered.

I nodded. We sat in silence together as he lightly rocked the both of us side to side.