Another attempt at kidnapping has sent me to fetch my young master once again. His unconscious body hangs limp as I carry him to the carriage, my coat wrapped around him to keep him warm in the chill of the night air.
Inside the cabin, on the way back to the estate, I cradle him in my arms. Despite the thick coat, he's still cold, even shivering in his deep sleep. How tiny and fragile he is! I almost feel as though I might snap him in two if I'm careless. I hold him to my chest and place one hand at his nape, resting his head in the crook of my neck and shoulder. His cold little nose touches my skin, causing me to shudder. It amazes me how acute my senses are around him.
I yearn to hold him like this for real, to feel him press into my embrace, and welcome it. I want to be his shelter, his sanctuary; I want to be where he turns when he's scared or hurt or lonely, for I will always ease the pain and dry the tears... It is only natural for a Phantomhive butler to be able to work such magic on the young master.
A small hand clutches my lapel, and the scent of waking reaches me as he stirs.
"Sebastian," he murmurs, like a sleepy kitten. "I'm cold..."
"Is there something you wish me to do to fix that?"
"Hold me tightly," he instructs, nuzzling into my chest. "Share your warmth with me."
I'm grateful that he can't see the smile usurping my face. I wrap my arms around him, embracing him properly, and lean down to place my lips next to his ear.
"Yes, my lord," I whisper. He relaxes, melting into me, and I tighten my arms around him; this only prompts him to burrow deeper into my vest, the slightest of whimpers escaping him. I slide my gloved hand up into his hair and stroke it gently.
"Sebastian." His voice is barely more than a breath, yet I can hear it clearly.
He sighs softly, and I can tell he's embarrassed. "Do you have... a heart?" His hand rests over where one would reside, obviously seeking a pulse.
I chuckle. "In this form, yes. I do have an organ that works the same way as the human heart, though it is much more resilient."
My young master curls his fingers around my crisp white shirt. "Can you love?" he asks - I'm sure no human would have heard him.
I resist the strong temptation to kiss the top of his head, and settle instead for caressing his soft hair. Oh, how I can love. Before meeting him I would have denied that I could understand love, much less feel it. "Indeed I can, and I do."
"Do all demons love?"
"Most cannot. It is quite rare to find a demon who knows how to."
He presses into me again. "So who do you love?"
"Young master, I hardly find this relevant-"
"I order you to answer my question." There's a bite to his voice, as if he almost doesn't want to know the answer. Unfortunately, I am obligated to answer him truthfully.
"The one I love... is you, my lord." I hold my figurative breath, waiting for the blow to be delivered.
He scoffs. "No, I mean in a romantic way. Not the way one loves his food." I can almost hear the hint of a smirk in his voice.
"Regardless, young master, my answer is the same."
A moment passes in silence.
"You're lying," he says softly, almost angrily.
"I do not lie," I remind him.
"Then prove it." He pulls back to stare into my eyes, with an expression I can only describe as defiance. The eyepatch is discarded, revealing the symbol of our contract. "Erase all doubt in my mind, if what you say is indeed the truth. That's an order."
The glow of his eye beckons my gloved hand to his face; I brush my thumb lightly over soft lips. He blushes, and his expression falters, but he does not look away. I smile a little and remove my glove, curling my now-bare hand over his cheek. I suddenly realize that I tend to forget just how young he is. He seems so much older than his years would indicate. So young, and yet so painfully aware of the horrors lurking within his world. My mouth waters, so to speak, for the tainted soul residing within him... And yet, my heart aches. What is a demon to do, when his prey becomes his beloved...?
Suddenly, he does something that takes me by surprise: he lifts a hand and places it on my cheek, as mine is to his. Sapphire and amethyst irises flick back and forth between my eyes, his feminine lashes fluttering with the twitch of his eyelids. I wait silently for him to speak.
"That look you're giving me," he finally murmurs, eyes softening slightly. "You..." His eyes fall to my chest, where he presses himself firmly, gripping my shirt in his small hands.
"You weren't lying," he whispers against my heart, wrapping his slender arms around me.
I smile and hug him closer. "I have no reason to lie," I reason, kissing the top of his head.
"Mmh," he nods, nuzzling my chest. Sleep claims him again shortly after.