Chapter 1: Librarians and Ferrets
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Holland. November 26th, 1942
Sebastian looked through the oak shelves, a deep frown on his face. He was looking for one that focused on the lungs and heart that his professor had prescribed for the upcoming test but couldn’t find it in sight. He mildly worried that they might all be out. That would be a grave issue. Sebastian needed to do well on this exam; it was expected of him by family at home.
After a couple more minutes of search the student finally gave up and made his way to the desk near the entrance of the library. He’d seen a dark haired woman who would probably know her way around the place well there earlier as he entered the library, but when he arrived only a small boy with navy hair was there, pouring over a thick tome.
“Er, excuse me.” Sebastian said gently to draw his attention, a single sapphire blue eye looking at him almost scrutinizingly as if trying to judge his entire character just by the single glance. The other eye was covered by an ink coloured patch. “Is your mother around?”
The boy looked at him for a minute. “Is this your version of a joke?!” he demanded. “Just because not all of us are as vertically blessed as you and are destined to be short doesn’t mean we’re whelps!”
Sebastian drew back at the outburst, pushing his glasses up his nose. “I-I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry I just assumed- I mean there was a woman here before and you looked like her-”
“Oh, you can stop your blubbering.” the librarian remarked as he turned to grab a piece of paper and pen. “I have reason to apologize too. Those psychology students are starting to wear on me. They give you a single onceover then assume they know your whole life’s story! Piss pots the lot of them.” he mumbled then turned his head to give Sebastian a one eyed glare. “You’re not a psychology student, are you?”
“No.” he replied quickly, the hard gaze dropping immediately. “I’m a med student.”
The boy nodded and turned to face him full-on once more. “Right. What is it you’re in need of?”
“I’m looking for a book.” Sebastian handed the smaller a piece of paper since he had no idea how to say the doctor’s name.
“Quite a few people have been searching for this one.” the boy nodded and stepped out from behind the desk to lead Sebastian down an aisle.
“So, now that you’ve figuratively slapped my wrist, do I get the honour of a name?” Sebastian asked simply for small talk.
“Ciel Spettro.” the librarian replied shortly.
“That’s… Uncommon.” he replied awkwardly.
“It’s okay to say you’ve never fucking heard the name.” Sebastian was a little taken aback to hear that language come out of the boy’s mouth until he reminded himself that the person in front of him was eighteen at the least, not a boy at all. “It’s a family name, old. Stupid if you ask me, but the name is mine and that’s what I shall be called by.” Ciel shook his head as he brought a ladder over from along the railing on the shelf. “Apologies, I’m rambling.”
“It’s quite alright.” Sebastian chuckled a little as the librarian climbed up and scanned over the shelves. “I’m Sebastian Michaelis.”
“Michaelis?” Ciel questioned. “That’s not a common name for this area. Have you recently immigrated? I don’t know why you would with that bastard Hitler’s uprising and all.” Unlike anyone else who mentioned the German dictator, Ciel’s voice did not get quiet, it stayed strong and he might have even gotten a little louder as he spoke, obviously outraged.
Sebastian cleared his throat as he looked around at the few pairs of eyes that had come to focus on them at the librarian’s loud words. “Um, no. Well, we did, yes, from Great Britain, but that was almost right after the Great Fire in 1666. My family has actually been living in Switzerland since but I came to Amsterdam for higher education, but the name just hasn’t changed much - it was Michalac before but changed over the years.” Ciel nodded along but it was clear he wasn’t just doing it, he was actually listening. That was a rather nice change from those who usually asked about Sebastian's family then ended up losing interest. “Spettro, you said is your last name?” the librarian nodded. “That’s rather unusual.”
Ciel nodded again, forefinger tracing over leather spines. “Yes. Loosely translated from Italian to mean ‘phantom’.”
When Ciel didn’t give any more information Sebastian gently prompted, “It sounds like a nickname more than a surname, is there more to it?”
“My family ran the Italian drug cartels for years." Ciel explained shamelessly, voice almost as loud as when he spoke of Hitler. "Never getting caught no matter how much they were testified against, they were practically undetectable by any means - the city folk coming to call them specters because of it. The name slowly evolved to Spettro as the language changed, though it still meant the same thing to the people. Anything with the Spettro brand on it was feared and hated.”
“You talk easily about a dark past.” the medical student noted.
Ciel shrugged. “My grandparents were the last ones to carry on the Spettro legacy; my father never had a part in it. As soon as signs of The Depression started to show my family left Italy immediately before they could crumble. They thought it would be safe in Holland, a good distance from them and the past. Look what good it’s done us.” he scoffed and shook his head. “I wish you luck in your studies, we’re all out of the book you’re in need of.”
Sebastian groaned. That was going to be a poor grade to send back to his family. “Thank you for looking anyways.” he sighed and turned on his heel to leave but stopped. “What is Italy like?” he asked quietly.
“I don’t know.” the librarian said as he climbed down. “I’ve lived in Holland my entire life.”
Sebastian faced him once more. “If I could, how old are you?”
“Nineteen.” he replied, seeming almost bored by the questions.
Sebastian nodded. He was good at picking up on nonverbal cues after studying human bodies for so long. Ciel was silently asking him to leave. “Um, thank you again.” he said and picked up his bookbag as he left.
Ciel was there every time Sebastian went to the library for the next two weeks. At first they had just said passing “Hello”s but slowly their conversations started to get longer. He learned that Ciel was a big C.S. Lewis fan and could tell you just about anything you wanted to know about him and dreamed of meeting him. Besides spending most of his time with his nose in a book, he had a pet ferret, a quirky little white critter he named Elizabeth - sometimes he’d even bring his pet to work to have her socialize, bathing it often to keep the the smell away. Sebastian also learned a few other things about the ebony haired boy, things he didn’t say like his obvious love for the outdoors. Ciel had a nervous tick, too, so whenever the topic was either touchy or he was embarrassed about he’d swipe his hand unconsciously over his eyepatch.
It wasn’t long before a friendship blossomed between them and Sebastian started to spend great amounts of time in the library with the Spettro boy. The thing was that the student knew he wanted more. He knew who he was, how he was. He was homosexual and he was proud of it. The rest of the world? Not so much. It was highly likely Ciel was part of the latter group. But Sebastian kept his tongue and grew close with the librarian. One night Ciel even invited him back to his apartment. When Sebastian’s spirits lept he suddenly remember that it was because Ciel had a book the student needed.
The train ride there wasn’t too long, followed by an even shorter walk until Ciel led him into a small apartment. It was, admittedly, cramped, but had a rather homey air to the decor. A blonde boy bounded up to them the moment they walked through the door. “Ciel!” he singsonged and the librarian sighed.
“Sebastian, this is my younger brother, Alois. What have you got in your hands?” he asked when he noticed his brother’s cupped hands. The boy opened his hands with a wide grin.
“I’ve got a butterfly!”
“How ever did you find that at this time of year?” he asked before looking closer with a frown. “It tore its wing.” Ciel noted.
“Actually… I plucked it off. It kept trying to leave me.” Alois pouted but he still looked proud of himself.
The elder gave a sigh. “You cannot do that, Alois. It will die.”
Alois’ pout became more sorrowful. “I apologize, brother. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“The only one upset is that butterfly. You should put it out on the rose bush Ms. Mey-Rin grows. At least then it will still be able to eat.” Ciel looked around with a frown. “Where’s Pluto?”
“He’s in the room.”
Ciel blanched. “I told you not to let him in there! I told you that if we kept him he wasn’t allowed in the bedroom, do you realize how many priceless volumes I have in there?!”
The younger Spretto lowered his head shamefully. “I’m sorry, Ciel. He kept trying to lick the butterfly…”
His older brother groaned and rubbed at his temples. “Yes, yes, fine. Do me a favour and go play with Lizzie. Be gentle though, her paw’s still injured from the thorn.” Ciel led Sebastian back into the apartment as the blonde boy ran off to a cage in the corner.
“I didn’t know you had a brother.” Sebastian mumbled.
“Yes, well, bringing him to Amsterdam wasn’t my choice. Down!” he commanded sharply when he opened the bedroom door and a white puppy jumped up, scratching at his knees. Sebastian waited patiently as Ciel gently ushered Pluto out of the room and closed the door, trying to get the mess sorted out. If he’d learned anything over their time together, it was that Ciel would tell everything on his own time, there was no need to prompt him to speak. “My family was in need of money so I offered to get a job at the college library when I saw the ad for it. They didn’t want me to be alone so they sent Alois with me. I think in all truthfulness it was just so they wouldn’t have to watch over him.” he added quietly but with a prominent tone of bitterness.
“He seems to look up you.” the student commented as he took a seat on one of the twin sized beds when Ciel gestured to it, looking around at the beige walls. Alois’ side of the room had hand-drawn pictures taped all across the walls, not an inch of the boring drywall showing; even the bedposts were painted, the palette resembling Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Ciel’s side was much plainer: books littered the floor around the bed with a path carved through them to walk through, a shelf on the wall for more tomes, and a few black and white photographs of a Dutch countryside. One of the pictures had a much younger version of the Sprettos, Alois just a baby that a beaming five-year-old Ciel held in his arms and a couple behind them, smiling just as widely.
Ciel sighed and ran a hand through his raven hair. “He does. I know I should be kinder to him but… Well he’s not like other fifteen-year-olds. He’s clinically insane, diagnosed when he was seven. Seven. My family’s never had the money to get him treated properly, not since Grandfather embezzled it before the move from Italy. My father never wanted anything to do with the money so he never bothered asking where it was before Grandfather died. Now it’s just a treasure for some thrillseeker to stumble upon when they may. But because of his mental condition, Alois cannot handle going to school so I have to teach him myself - hence the number of books I bring home from the library.”
“So what he did to the butterfly…”
“Something I’m entirely used to. He thinks he’s figuring out a solution to problems, usually through violence since that’s the easiest thing for his diseased mind to comprehend. I try to teach him otherwise but he really just doesn’t get it. A few days ago he brought me a spider, all its legs pulled off but two, said the legs itched him when the spider tried to leave. He’s got a thing for insects and the like.” he smiled a little and searched through the stacks of books on the floor. “I don’t blame him for what he does, he doesn’t know any better. It’s just a little frustrating sometimes.”
Sebastian nodded. The obvious affection Ciel had for his brother was new. The librarian always seemed cold to human beings, enjoying his time in nature surrounded by flora and fauna. But he cared so deeply for his disabled sibling - it was a welcome change to see in his friend.
“You’ve never told me much about yourself.” the elder Spretto said suddenly, turning with the neurology book in hand. “You know about my books, my brother, my ferret, yet you’ve told me so little of yourself.”
Sebastian shifted a little uncomfortably and shrugged. “There’s not much to say about me. My whole family’s lived in Geneve as long as anyone can remember. I came to Amsterdam to go to school. That’s about it.” he finished, raising his shoulders again in what he hoped looked like a careless manner but truthfully speaking of his family was not his favourite thing to do. Explaining their immigration was one thing, but having to talk about his father and mother? No. He'd prefer not to.
The suspicion Ciel had about it all was as obvious as the sun. He could tell easily that Sebastian was holding back something, something he didn’t want to talk about. But he didn’t push. He just nodded and set the book on the student’s lap. “Very well. Tell me, what are you studying.”
“Neurology.” Sebastian smirked, earning himself an eyeroll.
“Yes, thank you, I couldn’t tell that myself.” he grumbled sarcastically. “What area? There’s a lot to be discussed just by saying simple ‘neurology.’”
“Right now, neurological disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson's, Narcolepsy, and Tourette’s.”
“Sounds recited. Almost as if you’re quoting the professor exactly.” Ciel commented and Sebastian shrugged. “You asked and I told you exactly what.”
The librarian laughed. “You’re rather insolent, aren’t you?”
“You’re rather a jackass, aren’t you?” Sebastian shot back with a grin and Ciel rolled his eyes but they both chuckled, soon lapsing into a comfortable silence.
Sebastian sat for a moment more before he bit his lip. The urge to do as he wanted was so strong with his friend right there, right next to him; but he knew he couldn't. Ciel wouldn't want it, not that. Not Sebastian. But still he found himself pushed to action despite him telling himself he couldn't. Perhaps it was Ciel sitting there, looking so blissfully perfect, or maybe the quiet with only the sound of Alois giggling happily as he played with the ferret out in the other room and the thought of getting to witness all the little moments between the brothers, arms wrapped around Ciel’s waist as they watched Alois…
Before he even realized what he was doing, the student found himself with his mouth against Ciel’s, hand on his porcelain cheek. The navy haired man’s eyes widened but surprisingly enough he didn’t pull away. In fact Sebastian swore he heard the librarian’s heart sing as he let his eyes drift shut, surrendering entirely before Ciel suddenly pulled back from the blissful kiss and looked down. “This is wrong…” he whispered. “You never even told me how old you were.” he added as if to keep Sebastian from commenting on his first statement.
“Twenty-one.” the student chuckled, palm not leaving the other’s cheek.
“You’re tall.” Ciel replied lamely.
“You’re short.” Sebastian retorted.
“You’re insufferable.” the librarian scoffed even as their mouths drew closer once more.
“And you are very, very attractive.” he murmured before their lips locked and Ciel’s arms wrapped around his neck, losing himself in the gentle kiss. This one lasted much longer and it was heaven. It was slow, and sweet, and caring but that didn’t make it lose its potency at all.
Ciel pulled back suddenly when he heard the telltale thumps of Alois running to the bedroom. As predicted, the boy burst in the room with a grin. “Ciel, Ciel, Ciel! There’s an ice cream truck outside. Oh please can we get some?” he begged, giving his elder brother big eyes accompanied by an even bigger pout.
The librarian sighed as he viewed his sibling. “I’m sorry, Alois. We don’t have the money for it.”
Sebastian frowned at the look that washed over Alois’ face and quickly dug his hand into his pocket. “Here, that should be enough.” he said, dropping the coins he produced into Alois’ palm.
“I can’t ask you to give us this.” muttered Ciel but Sebastian waves his hand.
“It was only my bus fare. My dorm’s not too far away and it’s a lovely night out, walking’s fine.”
Ciel nodded slowly and turned back to his brother. “Say thank you to Sebastian for being so nice.”
“Thank you, Sebastian!” Alois grinned as he kept the coins close like a precious treasure.
“You’re very welcome.” Sebastian smiled and ruffled his hair.
“Now go get your shoes on quickly or else we’ll miss him.” Ciel commanded gently and his brother ran off. Then he turned to the student. “Are you sure you want to walk home? I’m sure I can scrounge up some coins-”
Sebastian held up his hand to stop him. “It’s fine, really. I don’t mind at all.”
Ciel looked at him for a moment before sighing. “Alright. Just watch out for the soldiers. Those Nazis have become quite the nuisance.” he mumbled and was quickly shushed by Sebastian placing his hand over the man’s mouth
“Don’t talk so loudly about that.” he hissed out but Ciel shoved his hand off.
“I will not live in fear!” he said fiercely. “He’s nothing but a tyrant and I will shout that from the mountain tops!”
“You should worry more for yourself than me.” sighed Sebastian. “I guess I should go now.”
Ciel nodded but kissed him once more quickly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” he smiled, the expression returned by the student.
They both stood and Ciel called out to his brother to hurry up, telling him that after ice cream he was making pasta salad for dinner. Sebastian smiled and bade them both goodnight before stepping out into the chilly winter air, snow crunching under his boots as he shoved his hands in his pockets and kept his head down, ignoring the Nazi soldiers that reminded him it was almost past curfew. He could have sworn his lips still tingled from that last kiss.
Chapter 2: Happy Birthday, Ciel!
University of Amsterdam dorms, Amsterdam, Holland. December 7th, 1942
“Oh come on. I showed my scar and told you about it. Show me yours.” Sebastian prompted as the two lay on the student’s bed and fed Elizabeth small strips of chicken after having her do tricks. He put forth his left palm to add more weight to the impel as he showed the four circular scars in his hand from when he had been playing a game of tag with his sister and she had gotten upset when he won, grabbing a fork and shoving it into his hand. It had hurt like hell, but that’s when Sebastian had also decided to become a doctor because the man who took care of him had been so nice and made him feel better quickly. On that day the little seven-year-old said he wanted to do that too and now here he was.
Ciel put his hand over his eyepatch and shook his head. “You chose to tell your story. I haven’t done the same for mine.”
“Did you lose your eye?” the student asked, stroking his fingers down Lizzie’s long back.
Ciel shook his head.
“Then why do you where the patch?”
“Oh come on, tell me!” Sebastian whined as he stretched over the bed, laying his head on Ciel’s crossed legs.
The librarian leaned down and kissed his nose. “No.”
He huffed and stared up at his boyfriend, trying to fight the urge to rip the eyepatch off and see what exactly he was hiding under it. But he would never do that. It had taken a lot to gain Ciel’s trust, he would not throw it away just for simple curiosity. Instead he stuck out his bottom lip and stared up at the librarian.
After a minute of this, Ciel huffed and reached behind his head to pull the end of the bow securing the patch on. It dropped into his lap, revealing a slightly misty eye, lighter than his other. He looked away bashfully and Sebastian realized he had immediately dropped into his habit of studying any abnormality of the body. “It looks like cataracts.” he said after a minute.
“It’s something along those lines. I don’t quite remember. I was four or five when it first appeared and all I can recall was the operation being too expensive.” Ciel tried to shrug casually but it was more awkward and self-conscious. “It’s just embarrassing; it’s why I wear the patch to cover it.”
Sebastian nodded. “I understand.”
Ciel retied the eyepatch around his head then laid down with his boyfriend, his ferret clambering onto his chest and curling up as he pet her. They lay there for a while, needing nothing more than each other’s company, until Ciel shot up suddenly. “I’ve got to get home.” he declared, holding his hand out for Lizzie to climb up onto his shoulder.
Sebastian frowned and pushed himself onto his elbows. “What? Why?”
“Alois is going to kill me for being late.” the librarian groaned to himself, entirely ignorant of Sebastian’s question until he put a hand on the raven haired man’s.
“What is it?” he asked gently.
“Hanukkah!” Ciel proclaimed happily.
Sebastian felt his heart drop at that simple word. No... No, he'd heard it wrong. Of course he had. It was something else entirely. But the student couldn't even think of another word to replace that one. “H-Hanukkah? You’re a Jew...” he whispered and Ciel nodded immediately.
“Of course I’m a Jew, why else would I be getting the morning shifts for the past three days? Certainly not because I like mornings!”
The student slapped his hand over his boyfriend’s mouth when he got too loud. “You can’t say stuff like that!” he hissed.
Ciel narrowed his eyes and shoved Sebastian’s hand off. “I can and I will. I have no fear of Hitler, I know My Lord will protect me. I will not refute what I know to be true just for fear of my life. His will be done, not mine.”
Sebastian looked at him for a moment before shaking his head. “How can you say such things? Rotterdam was destroyed along with hundreds of lives. Jews are being stripped and shot in Russia. Poland is full of ghettos where the Jews are forced to stay. How can this be His will? How can you be faithful to an absent god?”
“Just as your parents could not coddle you away from all the evil of the world, so our God cannot. Nothing is learned and that’s why we’re here: to learn. If we don’t, our earthly lives mean nothing.
“The good His people do must have a counterpart and that is evil. There cannot be joy without sorrow. Those are laws that are irrefutable - for without sorrow you would not know what joy was. So there is evil in the world that we may know good.”
“How could your god allow something like this?!” demanded Sebastian, Ciel meeting his gaze fiercely.
“Because men have free will. It is all part of the plan: if you used your agency to do honourably in this world, you will gain eternal life in heaven. If you chose to sate your own personal interest and trod on others on the way, then you’ll be punished. It’s very beautiful when you take the time to study it. No one is forced to do anything.”
Sebastian shook his head. “I can’t believe in that when I see all the suffering in our world.”
“Right, I forgot, your whole goal in life is to become a doctor with a god complex!” Ciel spat. “I don’t have time for this; I have to get going.” He turned on his heel, snatching his bag up on his way out before he slammed the door.
Sebastian flopped back with a sigh. Ciel was a Jew…. The student had heard plenty of stories of what happened to the Jews, along with the disabled and homosexual. His eyes widened suddenly. If the Nazis ever found out about two of those together, Ciel would be screwed six ways to Sunday. His eyepatch made it clear enough he wasn’t perfectly healthy, but it was just an eyepatch. If they were in Germany it would probably be enough to condemn him, but soldiers here were more lenient. But if they found out about his Jewish heritage or homosexuality…
He turned to look at the door. “I won’t let them know, I swear it. They’re not going to hurt you or Alois.” he whispered into the quiet of his dorm.
Apartment building in Amsterdam, Holland. December 14th, 1942
“I told you you didn’t have to do anything for me.” Ciel mumbled. His eyes were covered by Sebastian’s hands as he was led up the flight of stairs to his apartment, fingers holding tightly to the student’s sleeves to help keep himself from tripping.
“If I did nothing for your birthday, well what kind of boyfriend would I be?” Sebastian hummed in his ear. “We’re almost there, just a couple more steps.”
Ciel nodded and lifted his feet carefully as his hand reached out blindly for the doorknob; he found it with a little guidance from Sebastian. As soon as the door closed behind them the hands were removed from his eyes to reveal the pink and blue streamers hung around the room, silver balloons on the floor. “Happy birthday!” Sebastian and Alois exclaimed in unison..
A slow grin spread over the librarian’s face and he leaned down to pick up one of the balloons. “How ever did you come by all this?”
“Don’t ask.” Sebastian said.
“Yes, just have cake!” Alois grinned, shoving a plate into his brother’s hands.
Ciel laughed and ruffled Alois’ blonde hair before he sat down to eat. “Chocolate?” he asked around a mouthful of dessert.
“Devil’s food cake. I made it myself.” the youngest beamed proudly.
“Good job. But you two really didn’t have to go through the trouble of all this-”
Sebastian shushed him with a kiss. “We already did, so get over it and enjoy it.”
Ciel laughed and ate the bite of cake Sebastian held up in front of his mouth. Alois made a face at them when Sebastian kissed the icing off his boyfriend’s lip. “You two are nasty.” he mumbled and pulled Pluto into his lap, the little white puppy licking at his chin.
Sebastian pulled back with a chuckle. “You never told me how you got the dog.”
“We found him.” the elder Spretto said as he leaned back against Sebastian’s chest. “We were walking and there he was. Alois wanted to keep him so…” he shrugged. Then he leaned in to whisper, “Plus, he really helps Alois when he gets in a bad mind set, so he stays.”
“Oh.” the student nodded. He looked over when Alois ran to the bedroom. He raised a brow as the boy returned with a box in hand and Ciel groaned. “Bloody hell… Alois, we’re not-”
“Pleeeease!” he whined.
“It’s a stupid-”
“Don’t call it stupid-!”
“You never even finish a game-”
“You never give me a chance-”
“You get bored after five minutes-”
“I do not!”
“You do too!”
Sebastian got up and stood between the siblings. “What the hell are you two talking about?” He held his hand up when both Sprettos started to talk over each other.
“I want to play Monopoly.” Alois proclaimed when Sebastian gestured to him.
“Monopoly is so boring.” Ciel grumbled.
“We can play it quickly!” his brother argued.
“It’s never quick!”
“If we actually played it we’d know the rules, then we could play it quick!”
“You’re the one that finds something else to do halfway through the game every time.”
“It’s not every time!”
“I’ve got a game!” Sebastian cut in, effectively getting both brother’s attention. “It’s called Teeko.”
Ciel nodded. “We’ve got it. Father and Mother sent it to us last year. We haven’t had the chance to play it yet though.”
“I’ll go get it.” Alois volunteered before he ran back to the bedroom, returning with the box.
It took roughly half an hour for Sebastian to explain it - mainly to Alois; Ciel had it down quickly - but then they spent two or so hours playing it. Once Alois yawned, Ciel helped him get ready for bed and kissed his forehead goodnight.
“Thank you for this.” the librarian whispered when he returned to the couch, reclining against his boyfriend’s chest. “It’s more fun for a birthday than I’ve had for a few years now.”
“It’s not over yet.” Sebastian whispered in his ear, voice getting low and husky.
Ciel grinned and turned to look at him. “My, Mr. Michaelis, you couldn’t possible be speaking of something scandalous, now could you?”
“You’re damn right I am.” Sebastian chuckled before he kissed him. It was slow and sweet at first but all it took was one little nip from Ciel before it got rougher, tongues battling for dominance.
The student laid back with his lover on his chest. His mouth slid away from Ciel’s down his jaw to the base of his throat, a soft sigh falling from the smaller man’s lips as he arched his neck to expose more sensitive skin.
“Have you ever done this before?” Sebastian asked gently against his Adam’s apple before wrapping his lips around it and sucking, his tongue lavishing the taut skin.
It took Ciel a moment to get a reply out through his soft moans. “I’ve done it, yes, but never with another man.”
He nodded and got up to grab a bottle of lotion from his school bag. “The couch probably isn’t the best place, and the bedroom’s off limits at the moment as well.”
“There’s always the floor.” Ciel smirked and slid off the sofa to sit on the carpet, pushing Sebastian to lay down when he was joined on the floor by the student.
Shirts and jackets went quickly after that. “I didn’t realize how much you worked out.” the librarian commented with a grin as he kissed along Sebastian’s toned abdomen.
“Sometimes you have to take a break from homework.” he replied a little breathlessly, fingers stroking through Ciel’s silky hair.
“Now these are just a bother.” he pouted when he got to the waistband of Sebastian’s jeans and the student quickly removed them. Ciel swiped his tongue across his lips as he viewed his lover’s near naked form. “My, what a simply delicious predicament we’ve gotten into.” he grinned before Sebastian tugged him in for another kiss, sliding off the other’s jeans and underwear with lingering hands.
“You talk a lot.”
Ciel shrugged, taking the lotion from his boyfriend. “It happens sometimes.”
Sebastian watched with a groan as Ciel spread lotion across his fingers then shoved two into himself. His hips canted in time to the slow thrusts his hand was making, a mouth watering moan of Sebastian's name falling from his lips as he got up to three fingers. He scissored them inside himself for a moment more before easing them out. “You’re clean, correct? No need for a condom?” he asked while getting more lotion and spreading it along Sebastian’s thick cock.
The student nodded with a wanton moan. He held Ciel’s hips as he slid down on his length with a quiet groan. Ciel took a minute to fold his legs and get them under himself right, hands resting on Sebastian’s shoulders, before he rolled his hips slowly and lifted himself along the length of his cock.
It wasn’t long before the pace became fast and rough, hips slamming together and loud moans fall from each of their lips. Sebastian actually slapped his hand over Ciel’s mouth when he let out a loud shout of “Fuck!” as his prostate was hit.
He whimpered and leaned down to kiss his lover passionately. “Sebastian!” he whimpered as his climax hit him, ropes of white come shooting between their stomachs. Sebastian groaned at Ciel’s hole clenching on him, his orgasm not far behind with a quieter call of his lover's name.
They lay panting for a while before Ciel slowly shifted, letting Sebastian’s spent dick slid out of him. He stretched his legs out with a little groan, stiff from being in that position for so long, and pulled a blanket from off the couch, draping it across their bodies as he settles atop Sebastian’s chest, small hands cupping his cheeks. “I love you.” he whispered with a little smile, kissing the student’s nose.
Sebastian smiled as he snaked arms around his waist. “I love you too, Ciel.” he said softly and the man tucked his head under Sebastian’s chin, both dropping to sleep easily, both unaware of the stuttering messes they were going to be in the morning when Alois woke them, innocently questioning what they had been doing last night that ended with them falling asleep like this.
Chapter 3: Parades Aren't Always the Best
Main Street, Amsterdam, Holland. January 2nd, 1943
“Higher! I still can’t see!” Sebastian laughed as Alois bounced upon his shoulders, trying to get a good view of the New Year’s parade. Even many of the soldiers had stopped their duty to watch with the crowds as dancers chasséd down the street, followed by a gymnastic group, and some singers. It was small this year while other years had been far grander, but it was nice to have the brightly coloured costumes and candies during the bleak time.
Sebastian took a couple steps forward into the assembly. “How about now?”
“Yep.” Alois grinned.
“Do you need me to pick you up too?” he teased Ciel. The librarian glared up at him, crossing his arms. “I can see just fine, thank you.”
Sebastian chuckled and turned back to the parade. He looked around, noting the small amount of yellow badges with a sad expression. Jews were forced to wear the Star of David on their lapels to identify themselves. Ciel had adamantly refused against it. He no longer went to a chapel to worship, instead doing it with Alois in the safety of his home, so no one could prove that he was a Jew (when questioned on it, Ciel had explained it was not because he was ashamed of his religion, but because he knew the consequences of one who wore them and he could not allow that to happen to himself while he had Alois to look after). He would not be taunted because of a yellow star he wore.
“Brother, look at those ladies twirling flags!” the youngest Spretto cried in glee as he watched.
Ciel chuckled. “Yes, they’re very good.”
Alois climbed off Sebastian’s shoulders when his makeshift seat started to hurt. He hummed, peaking through people’s legs to get a good view, when all of a sudden a symphony of gun shots went off. Screams broke out among the crowd as they all quickly tried to find cover, heavily armed men in black shirts marching down the street. The sight of the Schutzstaffel, SS, marching quickly towards them only caused more chaos.
Ciel looked around through the fleeing people to try and find his brother, separated from them because of the panic. “Brother!” Alois called out. “Ciel! Where are you?!” Ciel could hear the tears in his voice and he wanted to hug the boy close.
“I’m coming, hold on!” the librarian shouted as he tried to shoulder past the crowd. “Hey!” he barked when he felt arms round his waist but stopped as he turned to see Sebastian holding onto him.
“We have to go.” he said firmly and tried to tug Ciel away.
“No! I’ve got to get to Alois!”
“There’s nothing we can do!”
“I’ve-” Ciel stopped and his hands flew over his ears when a rifle shot just feet away, blood spraying over his face, chest, and arms as a man with a Star of David pinned to his shirt crumpled to the ground, hole in his head smoking. A shriek ripped from his throat, raw and tearing; Sebastian took the distraction as an opportunity to pick his lover up, ignoring the blood smeared across his shirt. “You can meet up with Alois at home, but we must go now!”
The mention of his brother was enough to get Ciel’s mind in order, at least enough to call, “Go home!” over the noise. “Go home through the alleys, I’ll be there soon!” There were no more calls for him so he could only hope Alois heard his order.
After that he went limp, mind set on the blood slowly drying against his skin, otherwise oblivious to the jostling shaking him as Sebastian sprinted towards the university. He breathed heavily as he ran trembling hands over his crimson covered arms.
His quivering hadn’t ceased even by the time Sebastian set him down in his student dorm. “Hey.” the older whispered gently.
“I- that man-” Ciel choked out but stopped and shook his head.
Sebastian drew a gentle hand through his navy hair. “Shh, let me clean you up.” he whispered and grabbed a tea towel, wetting it in the sink. He knelt in front of his boyfriend and gently wiped up his face and arms, then his clothes. Ciel shook the whole time. Nonsense flowed from his mouth but barely any of it was coherent and none of it intelligent.
It took a long while of just petting the librarian’s hair and whispering comfort before Sebastian finally got him to calm down. “Go bathe.” he prompted and Ciel nodded, heading to the bathroom.
His hands still shook slightly as he undressed and turned on the water, though he was very thankful that his boyfriend had washed the blood off before this so it didn’t stain the water scarlet He didn’t need anything else to remind him what was happening to his people outside. He lowered himself into the warm water with a little shudder, thoughts turning to Alois. He prayed he made it home alright. Better yet, that he made it home without running in to any soldiers. If any of them asked why he was panicked or where he was going, the boy would tell them without a second thought. He didn’t understand the war - often asking Ciel why there were so many men with guns around and why everyone looked so upset all the time - and he didn’t hear the rumours of what they were doing to Jews, homosexuals, disabled, and other undesirables all across Europe. He didn’t need to: didn’t need to be tainted by the evil of the world; didn’t need to know how cruel men could be; didn’t need to lose that light that shined in him so brightly despite his flaws.
Ciel shook his head. His brother could be obnoxious, but Ciel would do everything to keep Alois safe and well. He’d been accused of being too overprotective of the boy before, and maybe he did coddle him, but Alois was his brother - all he had left in the world. As of last spring, that became a literal too.
His family lived on a little ranch in the Dutch countryside. He had his own horse, a blonde stallion he called Finnian. He learned how to ride during his time at home - he was bloody awful at it now, though, from lack of practice.
Last April he had been planning a trip back home to get away from all the doom and gloom of Amsterdam to celebrate the Passover, but that was interrupted by a letter he got from a neighboring dairy farm. German soldiers had been driving around the province where seldom anybody lived when they came upon the Spretto’s humble home. Maybe they saw something that told them they were Jewish, maybe they conversed and Vincent Spretto let something slip, as he was very unashamed of his culture like his son but contrast by not often thinking of the dangers, and then were executed on the spot, or perhaps the Germans just got bored and they were the first people they had seen in a while; stories of Nazi cruelty were far from rare during these times.
The letter arrived in the middle of his planning and everything stopped in Ciel’s world. When Alois asked the matter, the librarian tried to explain what death was, but Alois didn’t understand. It wasn’t something his diseased mind could understand. So Ciel kept his mourning quiet and let Alois write his weekly letter to his parents as he always did. Ciel would help as if nothing had changed. At first it was hard to keep his grief to himself, but over time he learned to turn that sorrow into something more: hatred. A hatred for Hitler, for the SS soldiers, for those that supported them. And his anger fueled him, pushed him to secret little rebellions. He’d often gotten those the Nazis did not think worthy to live appearing at his doorstep. He took them in and cared for them for a couple days before he sent them on their way to the next safe house. There was a code that went around Amsterdam that only those in their little circle could understand, containing addresses and times to arrive. Ciel helped everyone he could as his big “fuck you” to Hitler. But most of all, he vowed to keep the rest of his family, his little brother, his light in the world, safe.
He didn’t know if Alois was even alive now.
He prayed to God that he wasn't, that death would be there to catch rather than brutal soldier arms.
Ciel looked down at his hands, hands that would carefully pluck splinters from Alois’, hands that tucked him tenderly in bed no matter how long the day had been before, hands that held him close after one of his mental breakdowns. Hands that may never touch the boy again.
He grit his teeth and steeled himself. There was no time for living in pointless fantasies when he could learn the truth for himself.
He got out and drained the tub then dressed quickly. “I will see you tomorrow, for better or worse.” Ciel told Sebastian as he grabbed his shoes, sliding them on with one hand as the other did up the buttons on his vest.
Sebastian opened his mouth but he knew the look in the eldest Spretto’s eyes. There was no turning him back. He closed his mouth and nodded, placing a gentle kiss on the top of Ciel’s head before he swept out of the apartment.
He kept his eyes ahead of him, Main Street still blood splattered but all those who had lost loved ones had been cleared away. He was brisk, not stopping for idle chatter, and the small crowd of people going about their daily business parted for him as if they knew he was on a mission and anyone who tried to stop him would pay for their folly.
His quick stride paused only when he stood in front of the door to his two-room apartment. His hand hesitate to slide the key in the lock, almost afraid of what inside would show. I am Ciel Spretto, and such inanity as fear will not stop me, he told himself fiercely and turned the key, pushing open the door.
It was a mess: couch cushions flipped onto the floor, side table turned over and its lamp smashed into bits. A few of the kitchen cabinets had their doors ripped off and pots and pans were strewn across the tile floor. Ciel’s eyes widened. That was where they hid the menorah over the rest of the year. Had they been looking for proof Alois was Jewish? They’d definitely found it if they were.
The librarian looked over when he heard a low whine, creeping to the bedroom. Pluto looked up from his spot curled under Alois’ bed, Ciel’s overturned. His neatly stacked books lay all over the room, the paint on his little brother’s bed frame scratched up. The pictures Alois worked so hard on and had taped to the wall as a symbol of his pride were now on the floor in torn bits. He sifted through the torn paper to find his black and white photograph of his young family. The edges were torn and it had been trampled on, but for the most part it was fine. Ciel gently folded it up and tucked it in his pocket. He looked over to the cage tipped over in the corner, water and food spilled over the dark rug. He sighed quietly. Elizabeth would be long gone by now.
He knelt down and let Pluto sniff his hand before coaxing him out from under the bed. He stroked his long, white fur silently and picked the puppy up to lay in Alois’ bed with him, eyes drifting to the sheer curtains over the window, now torn with long ragged knife strokes through them. He closed his eyes. How strange that everything he had could be taken away in one afternoon. He imagined the Nazi soldiers didn’t even think twice about it. They just trampled through the room and took Alois - as was obvious by the lack of blood anywhere - not even thinking about what family the blonde boy might have had, people who would mourn his loss. They didn’t think about the person who would have to clean this mess up. Of course not, they were trained only to kill at their leisure.
A soft growl escaped Ciel’s lips. God. How in the hell could there be a God? Alois was just a boy! He got up to pace, running a hand through his hair, Pluto letting out a pitiful whimper behind him. Alois had drawn the short straw his entire life… His fucking mind didn’t even work right! How could any one claim there was a God, let alone that he was merciful and kind, after taking one look at Alois?!
He let out a scream of rage and kicked at the books on the floor - confused, angry; he needed answers. Everything he had been taught since he was a little boy no longer kept him sated. They had been enough during his medical challenges as a child, especially when his asthma revealed itself very violently; he hadn’t wavered when criminals came to get revenge on the Spretto family; never doubted when he lost his parents. But this was too far. Had it been Ciel that was taken, his faith would stand strong. This was the final straw. Alois couldn’t even care for himself. He was an ill boy and yet this so-called “merciful” God had given him nothing but the biggest load of shit there was to offer!
Ciel grabbed the menorah from the kitchen and threw it against the wall, the cheap metal breaking into pieces. “There is no God.” he growled to himself before dissolving into sobs on the floor - heart broken and empty.
Apartment building in Amsterdam, Holland. January 3rd, 1943
Sebastian opened the unlocked door slowly when there was no reply to his call of Ciel’s name. It was noon and he’d expected to see his boyfriend at the library - ten sharp, like always. But Ciel hadn’t been there. He didn’t show up an hour later either. Ciel never took a day off. Sebastian decided to look for him then.
He stepped over the threshold slowly and looked around at the broken brass candle holder on the floor, accompanied by torn Sunday clothes and two half burnt Bibles. “Ciel?” he called out into the emptiness once more, creeping to the thrashed bedroom. He looked at the lump under the covers on Alois’ bed and came over slowly, quietly. “Ciel?” he whispered and the mass stirred. After another whisper of the name, the bulge turned over to reveal two deep blue eyes staring up at Sebastian, the right one misted.
“What time is it?” Ciel asked in a quiet voice, rubbing at his eyes before he reached for his patch on the floor, Pluto moving closer to his warm body when the librarian had to shuffle to the edge to grab it.
“After noon.” Sebastian said as he sat down next to the small man, pushing his hair out of his face.
“Is it?” Ciel sat up to wrap the strings round his head and tie a neat bow in the back, smothering a yawn behind his palm. “I did get to bed rather late last night.”
“I can see that. Did you… Did you do all this?” the student asked but quickly regretted it when Ciel’s mood obviously dropped, the room almost feeling colder.
“Most of it was the soldiers. Only the Bibles and others of the like was done by I.” he looked down. “They took him, Sebastian… They took him and I’m sure he didn’t even put up a fight. How could anyone be so heartless as to abduct a defenseless little boy?”
Sebastian let out a sigh and shook his head. “I don’t know.” he turned his attention back to the broken menorah. “...Why? Why did you do all this?”
“Because I could not devote my life to such blasphemy any longer.” Ciel proclaimed quietly and Sebastian’s gaze whipped back to him.
“There is no ‘but’. I see now that it was foolish to think praying to clouds could achieve anything. The only thing you will ever gain in this life is what you work for yourself. There is no supernatural being up there, wanting us to only to show our faith before He pours the blessings of heaven upon us - or if there is, He is not the kind and caring Heavenly Father He has been made out to be. The world is cruel and vile and callous. The demons that lurk in it will tear you down without a second thought. There is no metaphysical that will save you. Only yourself and those around you who care - though that number is dwindling every year. You have to take care of yourself, or else those around you will steal from you without a second thought.”
Sebastian listened as Ciel’s voice gets softer with every word, having started out strong but it’s obvious the realisation of being truly alone with no God to save him, no hope, coupled with the loss of his brother, seemed to have broken the man. He stared for just a moment more before enveloping his lover in his arms and held him close. “You can come back to my dorm. My roommate recently left to enlist in the British armies. You can stay there.”
Ciel looked at him for long moment. “Have to bring Pluto.” he whispered and Sebastian nodded. Of course he would want to bring the dog, the last living reminder of Alois.
The librarian was quiet as his boyfriend helped him pack clothes and a few keepsakes. He wrapped an arm around Ciel’s waist and kissed him softly. “I may not believe in God, but I know for a fact that everything is for the better in the end.” he said gently.
Ciel just nodded.
Sebastian gave a little sigh and led Ciel to the door, looking back at the thrashed room before he closed the door and locked it, leading the librarian away from his ruptured world.
Chapter 4: Recovery
University of Amsterdam dorms, Amsterdam, Holland. April 25th, 1943
“Ciel.” Sebastian gently shook the librarian’s shoulder to rouse him from sleep. “Love, I made dinner for you.”
The oldest Spretto grunted something that sounded like a thank you as he turned over and took the plate, setting it next to similar untouched lunch and the breakfast, only partially eaten because of Pluto.
Sebastian looked at the three uneaten meals and sighed. “You’ve got to eat something, babe.”
“I’m alright.” Ciel muttered back as he curled up under the heavy duvet once more. “I think I’ll just go back to sleep.”
A sigh escaped the student’s lips but he nodded and left the room, shutting the door softly. He drew a hand through his midnight hair. Ciel had barely left that bed since Alois’ kidnapping. He didn’t eat and slept most of the time. He quit his job at the library and Sebastian couldn’t think of the last time he’d even seen his boyfriend hold a book. All he did was lie in bed and hug Pluto close. Sebastian was at his wit’s end on what to do to help. All his attempts had been shut down with mumbled words. Oh, how so very quiet Ciel had become since the incident. He spoke little and the words were near impossible to hear when they did come.
He spared a look at the door before heading to the kitchen, worries of Ciel the only thing in his mind despite the many tests he was to be taking at the beginning of the next month. He just wished his boyfriend would show some sign of true life rather than just survival. Maybe if there was some way they could get Alois back…
Sebastian sighed and shook his head. What was he talking about? The SS soldiers took him. They would be lucky if he even survived the trip to a concentration camp. Another soft breath left his lips as he gathered the dishes he’d used to make the meal, almost dropping a plate when a thought struck him. “I’m going out!” he called to Ciel as he grabbed his coat to shove on his arms. He thought he heard a mumbled reply but it could have just been foolish wishes, rushing out the door without checking.
Ciel woke the next morning with Sebastian’s usual call for breakfast. Today, though, he did pick a little at the sausage and oatmeal, having a couple bites of each before dragging the blanket back over his shoulders.
“Actually, I got something for you.” Sebastian interrupted before the librarian could return to his dreamless sleep.
“Oh? And what’s that?” he asked in almost monotone, turning to face his boyfriend who gave a smile and set a box on the bed, careful to avoid smashing Pluto’s paws. Ciel frowned a little and pushed himself up to open the cardboard flaps. “ Dymer by Clive Hamilton; Spirits in Bondage by Clive Hamilton; The Allegory of Love by C. S. Lewis; Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis; Perelandra by C. S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis.” he said each title as he pulled out the books, tearing up through the process until the last of the list was nothing more than slurred, emotion-filled words. Ciel threw his arms around Sebastian’s neck, looking at the replacement of his C. S. Lewis collection. “Thank you.” he eventually choked out.
Sebastian wound his arms around his boyfriend with a soft smile. “You’re welcome.” he whispered, releasing him when the librarian moved back a bit.
Ciel breathed out a shaky breath and he closed his eyes, drawing his knees up to his chest to wrap his arms around them. “It’s difficult…” he whispered and Sebastian sat up straighter. Ciel talking about what he was feeling? This wasn’t what he had been expecting to come from this; he’d expected some form of thanks and then either silently going to sleep or his boyfriend starting to at least read again. Talking was so much better than both outcomes. “It’s been years since Alois and I were separated. Even as children we spent much time together. It was once I was older that I started to detest having to watch over him so carefully.” the librarian choked on a bitter chuckle. “How foolish of me. I had a brother who adored me and would watch my back as well as he could. How could I have taken that for granted?”
“You’ll never actually appreciate something until it’s gone.” the taller man said gently as he set a hand on Ciel’s back. He smiled slightly when the slim librarian leaned into his side, letting out a slow sigh.
“He’s been with me my entire life; it’s so strange to have him gone.” Ciel whispered, his lover nodding but Sebastian stayed quiet. He couldn’t say Alois would be alright when he knew for a fact most people who went with Nazi soldiers ended up coming back as thin, starved corpses. There was nothing he could do but hold the small man close and try to comfort him how he could.
“I want to forget.” said Ciel rather suddenly and the student looked down at him with a frown.
The younger man looked down, fingers picking at the duvet. “I want to stop thinking about all this… I want to only be able to focus on you and nothing else… Please.” he finished in a quiet voice.
It took Sebastian a minute to understand that Ciel was looking for sexual distractions, but he nodded once the light bulb clicked in his mind. He cupped his lover’s cheek, making him look up. “If you’re sure…”
“Positive.” he replied firmly and pressed their mouths together.
Sebastian was a little hesitant at first - sex didn’t seem like the proper way to deal with this but if it would help his boyfriend, at least temporarily, he wasn’t going to say no. And so he gave into the kiss, licking into Ciel’s mouth as the librarian let out a soft groan.
He grunted as he was pushed back and Ciel wasted no time in getting them undressed. As soon as all their clothes were on the floor, Ciel’s lips wrapped around his lover’s arousal and Sebastian made a breathy noise. He spread his legs wider for the librarian to get comfortable between them as he started to lick along the head and sensitive underside.
“Oh, shit.” he whimpered when Ciel’s wet mouth slowly took more of his cock. He could both hear and feel Ciel gag as the head hit the back of his throat, but he seemed eager still, forcing his throat to relaxed - and if Ciel wanted to keep going, who was Sebastian to tell him he couldn’t?
After getting his gag reflex under control, the librarian slowly pulled off only to plunge his mouth back down on his length. He could feel saliva starting to drip out of his mouth, as he couldn’t figure out how to swallow without choking himself, making a mess on Sebastian’s pelvis. He lifted his mouth completely off his lover’s dick and wet his lips before swallowing. He licked around the velvety tip, pressing his tongue down on the particularly sensitive spot on the underside. He heard a low moan from Sebastian at that and moved to put his lips on the edge of his shaft and suck on that spot with a hum.
Ciel smiled softly at the lovely pants and moans Sebastian was giving as he lathered his tongue across the student’s length.
When his cock was dripping with spit, Ciel climbed up and placed a hand on his lover’s shoulder, his other holding Sebastian’s dick as the smaller man impaled himself on it slowly with a low groan. “Fuck,” Sebastian murmured when the tight heat of Ciel’s ass was on him, biting at his lip and groaning as the librarian started to circle his hips slowly.
After getting a moment to adjust, Ciel started to bounce slowly on his boyfriend’s lap, placing a hand over his mouth when Sebastian cursed again. “Shh, my love, we need to stay quiet. No one can hear us.” he whispered, but with a devilish smirk, he moved his hips faster, in turn making Sebastian gasp in pleasure around his hand.
The smaller man moaned softly as he rocked on Sebastian’s cock, sweating out precum into his lover.
“Mmm, fuck, I love you.” Ciel whimpered out.
Sebastian looked at him, mouth parted in more than a moan now. While the feelings were certainly reciprocated, the words had never been spoken between them. He was ecstatic to hear them, though. “I love you, too.” he panted out.
The smaller man let out a whine when his prostate was hit, Sebastian gasping as he got tighter around his arousal. He moaned as Ciel bounced on him faster, stripping his cock quickly with his fist, his boyfriend watching with lust blown eyes as Ciel came heavily onto his chest, moaning his name out as quietly as he could - which truthfully was not quiet at all.
He rode out his orgasm with heavy pants then lifted himself off Sebastian’s cock slowly, only to take the shaft in his mouth and bob his head quickly. The student groaned, fisting his hand in Ciel’s hair. He came as soon as the head bumped against the back of his throat, rocking his hips into it.
Ciel pulled back once he’d swallowed what he could, wiping the white that he dribbled down his chin.
After handing him a tissue to wipe himself up, Sebastian smiled at him, getting a grin in return as Ciel thudded down next to him into the pillows. He leaned forward and pressed their mouths together gently, the residual taste of semen there mixed in with Ciel’s own flavour.
“Thank you.” the librarian murmured as he curled up closer to his boyfriend.
“I love you.” Sebastian smiled softly, stroking his fingers through Ciel’s navy hair. “It will be alright.” he whispered, the words heavy on his tongue with the blatant lie.
But Ciel nodded and closed his eyes. “I love you too.”
Jew’s home, Amsterdam-West, Amsterdam, Holland. April 30th, 1943
Half a week later there was a service held for those who had died or had been taken in the parade. The Jews of the city had become paranoid and overly-cautious in everything they did, so they waited as long as they dared before administering their traditional death rites.
Ciel came only on Sebastian’s insistence, saying he both needed to leave the cramped dorm and gain some form of closure.
“This doesn’t change anything.” he murmured as he and his boyfriend took a seat near the back of the throng seated in a Jewish woman’s backyard, candles set near the doors with only an upturned wooden box to act as a pulpit. He cast a look around at the group of sullen-faced people, surprised to see quite a few without yellow Stars of David standing brightly on their chest. At least there was assurance this would be more of a civil progression rather than a religious one.
“Then you can provide support to those who are still mourning.” Sebastian whispered back.
Ciel was about to reply that at least they still had something to hold on to, at least their loved ones were assuredly dead and in the afterlife rather than suffering some awful misery, knowing in your heart that they were alive but not being able to do a thing about it. At least they still had faith… Ciel lowered his head and kept his eyes on the vibrant grass, yellow flowers dotted between the blades, as a man wrapped in white robes stepped onto the box.
“We are gathered today to mourn those who were brutally taken from us at the beginning of the year.” the priest’s voice boomed over the crowd, croaky from old age but well projected. “But we know, that they are in rest now.
“While their passing is hard, I assure you all we will see our beloved ones again.”
Bullshit, the navy haired man snorted to himself.
The priest stopped in his words to receive a piece of paper from a woman about his age. Ciel recalled seeing it by the door as the group wandered into the service, seeing people stop to write a name down on it.
“Among those who we have come to honor tonight are: Alice Janssen, Taylor Smith, Vendelín Fitzroy, Brenda Leonardsson, Maria Kopecky, Alois Spretto-”
Ciel was on his feet in a flash. “He’s not dead!” he shouted, a sudden wave of grief rushing over him, anger laced through it heavily. “He’s not dead, you worthless fucker!”
“Ciel-” Sebastian started as he got up.
“No!” the librarian barked, loud and clear for everyone in the audience to hear. “There is no God, don’t you understand?! There is no merciful deity up there watching over us! Heaven, Hell - who cares?! We’ve already been abandoned! We’re scrabbling on our own in the dark! Open your damn eyes and stop living so blindly or else more people are going to get hurt!”
Sebastian wrapped his arms around the other man while the crowd stared at him, shock written blatantly on their faces. Ciel stumbled back into the embrace, covering his face with his hands as his shoulders started to shake with sobs. “He’s not dead… He can’t be dead…”
A brunette girl, no older than sixteen, leaned over and put a hand on Ciel’s. “Ciel…”
“No, Paula!” he barked as he pulled away from the gentle touch. “You can’t tell me you still believe in all this fucking bullshit ! What evidence have you?! What sense does any of this make?! What kind of ignorant moron do you have to be to be able to look over the newspaper then say ‘God will provide?!’ He’s done such a fucking good job of providing now, hasn’t He! If there is a god, we are but his toys to play with as he sees fit! Get your heads out of your asses, people, and see that for once!” he shouted and looked over the crowd of ashen-faced people, some mothers covering their children’s ears and some staring with slack jaws, shaking his head before wordlessly stalking off.
Sebastian stayed where he was for a long while, completely frozen with shock at the outburst, before he regained his senses and ran after his boyfriend.
It had taken two hours for Sebastian to find Ciel after his speech at the funeral procession, and when he did it was in the train station of all people - his boyfriend sticking out sorely as he stood completely still while others bustled around him, hectic energy near palpable in the air filled with coal smoke, barely even noticing the small man, still as a statue.
The student pushed past people without even a word of apology as he made a beeline for Ciel. He didn’t even jump when Sebastian laid a hand on his shoulder, not so much as a blink. “He loved trains…” he whispered. “That’s all he ever wanted to do - well, anything with trains. He wanted to paint a mural on one then be conductor.” he cracked a small smile. “In that order. Said he had to paint one before he could drive one.” Ciel closed his eyes, breathing getting a little ragged. “And now he never will. Because of those damn Nazis, he’s never going to have a chance to see a train again, or his puppy or a butterfly or-” he stopped as tears started to flow down his face. “And it’s all my fault. I should have kept a closer eye on him, I should have-”
Sebastian hushed him. “This isn’t your fault, Ciel. There’s nothing you could have done, so don’t blame yourself.”
The librarian lowered his head miserably. “But if it’s my fault, that means it’s my job to fix it. And if it’s my job, I can do it. But it’s not my fault, and there’s nothing I can do to bring my baby brother back.”
“We’ll get him back, it’ll be alright.” whispered Sebastian, but his words sounded empty - even to him. Hitler had a deathgrip on the country, a grip that the SS and all his other militaristic followers made sure to keep like a vice. There was nothing they could even begin to do without being put on numerous watchlists - perhaps even executed one day. Stamp out the unclean. And in this situation, that was those who wanted good in the world.
How others couldn’t see what a monster Adolf Hitler was, Sebastian didn’t know. If only he wasn’t such a damn pragmatic speaker - enthusiastic and saying what the people wanted to hear. That’s how he’d gotten so popular. If he wasn’t so passionate and vehement about what he was saying, so many sensible people would probably see through his guise, see how horrible his regime was.
Sebastian shook his head with a sigh. They were completely powerless, and here he was trying to give his boyfriend a false hope. And yet, he found himself muttering in a firmer tone, “We’ll find Alois.”
Ciel nodded blankly along, shoulders shaking and biting at his lip as he tried to stop his tears.
“Come on.” the student murmured as he wrapped a comforting arm around his lover’s shoulders to lead him gently back to their apartment.
He made the smaller man sit, quickly making a cup of hawthorn tea for him. Ciel made a face at the bitter taste after taking a small sip. But once Sebastian added a couple cubes of sugar, the flavor was far cleaner.
“I just don’t understand.” the librarian whispered between small swallows of the tea. “Why did it have to be him? Why couldn’t it have been me? I’m strong enough for such pain, he is not. He is but a boy. Why does he have to suffer such atrocities?”
Sebastian sat on the couch next to Ciel, steepling his fingers against his lips as he thought. “There was a Japanese poet named Masahide who once said ‘My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.’ Have you ever thought that perhaps this ordeal is not for him, but for you ?”
A frown creased Ciel’s brow. “Sebastian, I don’t know how the crack talk of some religious-”
“You don’t need a god to think about the mysteries of life.” the student cut in, voice tender but sharp. “You met the psychology students, quite a few of them considered themselves atheists, but they are still philosophists.”
Ciel sunk down in his seat. “Alright, fine, continue on.” he grumbled.
“Perhaps it’s just for me, but one of the fastest ways to learn a lesson of any sort is through pain. Any kind. The idea I’m getting at is that, yes, you have suffered and it is anguish, but maybe you have things to learn. Can you not say you think higher of Alois now, that you care for him more, that you appreciate what you had now that it is gone?”
Ciel looked down. He was getting annoyed often with his little brother before this happened, angry he had to take care of him so thoroughly. But now that he was gone, Ciel wanted nothing more than to be able to help him clean up the kitchen of pain and crayons after he’d drawn more pictures to cover their bedroom walls with, or take a walk with his brother through the park, or- well anything, really. He just wanted Alois back.
Sebastian wrapped his arm around his boyfriend’s waist and kissed the top of his head. “But no pain is permanent. And isn’t it true that as long as one can suffer, one is living, rather than just surviving? You’re human, and there’s pain in life, but pain brings opportunity: the chance to either rise above it and become better than you were, or to crumble and escape into madness.” he licked his lips slowly, trying to figure out what else he could say when most of the words seemed to just bounce off Ciel’s aura of depression. “‘Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say “My heart is broken.’’ But which one gives you more from it?”
Despite the solemnness of the quote, Ciel couldn’t help but smile a bit. “Don’t you reference C.S. Lewis to me.”
Sebastian’s own lips turn up a bit. “‘Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.’”
“‘When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.’” Ciel hummed.
The student tightened his arm around Ciel. “Exactly.”
“He doesn't get enough credit for his work.” he murmured and set his empty tea cup aside. He cupped Sebastian’s cheek and kissed him softly. “Thank you for being so patient with me.”
“I always will.” smiled Sebastian.
Ciel closed his eyes and shifted to get comfortable against the student’s chest. After a moment of silence he reached over to the coffee table to grab Out of the Silent Planet . “May I read to you?” he asked quietly.
A tender smile rose on Sebastian’s face. “Of course, love.” he murmured and kissed his boyfriend’s cheek as he opened the book and Ciel’s gentle tone began to wash over him.
Chapter 5: Judas Kiss
University of Amsterdam dorms, Amsterdam, Holland. May 24th, 1943
“Hey, babe.” Ciel smiled as his boyfriend walked through the door, hands buried deep in a bowl of veal he was mixing spices into. “How were your finals?”
“Fine.” Sebastian shrugged off his backpack into the corner and came over to smell the piquant meat.
“Don’t worry, the animal was killed properly. It’s fine to eat.”
Sebastian cast a look at Ciel as he kept working, not even blinking. Apparently not all Jewish traditions were out of his mind. “Okay… What are you making?”
“ Ossobuco . It’s a traditional Italian dish. Mother sent me the recipe for it a couple years back.” he hummed as he washed his hands up then grabbed celery and carrots and got to work chopping up the vegetables.
“And what is that over there?” Sebastian gestured to the plate of beef on the opposite counter.
“ Bresoala . It’ll be ready in two months.”
“For one of the days I don’t feel like making supper.”
Sebastian laughed softly. He placed his hands on the smaller man’s waist, pressing a kiss to his neck that got him a hum from Ciel. “I’m having some guests over in an hour or so, students I used to tutor, so we can go over material before the anatomy final tomorrow.”
“So keep out of the way and hands to myself.” nodded Ciel. “Though I do hope we don’t plan on feeding them, there’s only enough for us.”
He shook his head, rubbing circles into his lover’s hipbones with his thumbs. “No, we won’t be. And I can handle snacks if they want them.
“I’ll give Pluto a bath then - he needs one.”
Sebastian looked round as the white dog let out a noise of interest at his name. He was quite a bit bigger now, his withers now a bit taller than the student’s knees - though on Ciel, Pluto was up to his waist, just barely having to stretch to lick his chin.
Reaching out to pet Pluto, Sebastian nodded. “He could use it, and a good brush; fur’s starting to get all over the place again.”
“Alright, I’ll be doing that then tonight.” Ciel declared as he put the diced vegetables in a pan.
“I really don’t understand a bleedin’ thing.” Baldroy admitted as he, Sebastian, and three other students, triplets by the names of Canterbury, Thompson, and Timber, studied the cardiovascular system, an unlit cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.
Baldo was a U.S. soldier, sent to the University for a semester in medical science to assist with dealing in battlefield injuries. Sebastian was surprised America would do such a thing, considering how they were continually turning a blind eye to the war happening in Europe. Bard would try to defend his country, saying that this wasn’t a matter they needed to get involved in when they had domestic issues to deal with, but that was just callous of them. So many were dying, and Sebastian was nearly positive that if the States would choose a side to support, the war would be won and families wouldn’t keep falling apart. But he was just a foot soldier doing as he was told, following orders, therefore devoting himself to his studies. But academics were not his strong suit. Wielding a weapon, well he was one of the best in that division. But he was no doctor, not in the slightest. Still, Sebastian had to commend his efforts. He tried his best, this just wasn’t his passion as it was the dark haired man’s.
“Well, maybe if you weren’t always puffing on smoke, you’d understand how lungs work.” Thompson stated, his identical brothers nodding along.
Baldroy made an indignant noise. “I know how to cook a meal in five minutes, can clean a gun in under two, and I know how to drive a tank-”
“Baldo-” Sebastian started in attempts to quell the brewing fistfight, interrupted himself when a sopping wet dog ran past them, all four students jumping to snatch their books away from the destroying water as Pluto shook off, droplets flying everywhere.
Bard stared at the hound, eyes wide. “Sebastian, we ain’t supposed to have dogs.”
He looked at the American and gave him a sweet smile. “Then I suppose you shouldn’t tell anyone.”
Baldroy opened his mouth but was cut off by a shout of, “Pluto, no!” Ciel shouted as he raced out of the bathroom, towel in hand. “Don’t do that!” he cried when the dog rubbed up against the couch. “That’s leather!”
He chased after the dog, tripping on a corner of the blue and grey rug adorning the room, bashing his face on the corner of the coffee table. “Pluto!” he called as the dog rushed passed him, Canterbury’s hand darting out to grab his collar. “Thank you.” he said, pride strong in his tone despite his lip now being split and slowly bleeding.
The triplet merely nodded as Ciel took Pluto to tie him up in the bathroom, as he had been trying to before he got out, to dry. He came back into the living room, Sebastian tutting. “You really need to be more careful.”
“It’s not that bad.” the librarian shrugged.
“It’s starting to swell.”
“Is it? Damn it.”
Sebastian tisked and wrapped his arm around Ciel’s shoulders to guide him to the kitchen and clean up the wound.
Timber watched them go, waiting for Bard to busy himself with his textbook, before he leaned in closer to his brother, murmuring, “Interesting, aren’t they?”
Nodding, Thompson replied, “Look at the way he touches the boy. Would deign to say they’re more than flatmates.”
Canterbury hummed thoughtfully. “Wouldn’t the authorities be interested in that?”
“We have no proof.” Thompson and Timber said in unison, hushing immediately when Baldroy looked up at them, turning back to his book after a moment.
“We need to find some then, get rid of Sebastian. He’s too bothersome.”
The triplets nodded and looked round as the lovers entered the room, Ciel holding a cloth to his mouth.
Baldroy groaned loudly when Pluto started to howl from the restroom. “We’re not going to get anything done.” he huffed, the underlying I’m going to fail this test clear in his tone.
“We might as well go get some drinks.” Everyone in the room turned to Timber, who had finally spoken loud enough for all to hear. “We’ll get the tab.”
“Ain’t gonna say no to free alcohol.” the American laughed and stood up, dawning his shoes quickly.
Sebastian was a bit more hesitant, something uneasy in him. Maybe it was just his doctor’s instinct telling him what liquor did to the body. “I…. Guess it would be fun.
“Isn’t he going to come with us?” Thompson asked as the others were going out the door but Ciel sunk down onto the couch.
He tilted his head with a frown. “Me?”
The man nodded.
“I supposed… Suppose I can come if my company is desired.” He got up and grabbed a jacket, following them out of the apartment.
There was a bar located just off campus that was only a few minutes’ walk. The coil of discomfort in the pit of Sebastian’s gut didn’t go away as they walked through the door, jukebox blaring some American song the made Baldroy grin as soon as he heard it. They took seats at the bar, the triplets ordering a round of whiskey for all of them.
“This isn’t your first time doing shots, is it?” the student asked his boyfriend teasingly, hoping some playful banter would ease him.
Ciel scoffed. “Of course I’ve done shots, do I look like a child? Don’t answer that.” he said quickly then threw his head back as he drained the glass then made a face with a gag that proved, no, he had not done shots before.
Sebastian chuckled and gave him a pat on the back. “Lots of water in between, alright?”
Ciel made a face at him but then chuckled and shook his head, drinking another shot of whiskey when the bartender gave it to him on the triplets’ insistence. “It’s so damn hard not to kiss you right now.” he murmured lowly.
“I think we’ll have to be careful with your drinks.” he chuckled.
Despite Sebastian’s words though, two hours later he and Ciel were in the corner of the bar, Ciel nearly on top of him as they giggled and sipped beers. As it turned out, Ciel was a very horny drunk, and it was taking what was left of his sober inhibitions to not give in entirely to the temptation.
“So what’s Switzerland- Switzerland like?” Ciel asked, pausing in his sentence to take a long swig of beer.
“Cold!” the two burst out laughing. “It is so fucking cold there!”
Ciel laughed and tried to crash their mouths together before Sebastian put a hand on his chest, some small voice reminding him they could be affectionate in public. “Not here, baby doll.”
The smaller man stuck out his lower lip in a pout. “But I want to.”
“Mmm, I know you want to, but we can’t.” When that didn’t change his boyfriend’s expression, Sebastian leaned in to whisper in his ear, “But when we get home, I am going to fuck the shit out of you.”
He shivered in pleasure at the idea. “Mmm, daddy-” he got out before going bright red, Sebastian letting out a laugh.
“Oooh, does someone have a kink?!”
“I do not have a kink!” scoffed Ciel indignantly.
“You so do!”
“I don- okay, I do.” he relented with a sigh.
Sebastian laughed triumphantly. “That’s cute!”
“It is not!”
“ You’re cute.”
Ciel leaned forward to kiss him again, huffing when he was stopped once more. “Oh, enough of this.” he grunted and climbed to his feet, swaying, then helped Sebastian stand and immediately tugged him out the back door that led into an alley.
Canterbury nudged Thompson, who in turn elbowed Timber, and he pointed to the door as the couple stumbled out it. “Interesting, isn’t it?” Canterbury murmured.
“Very.” Thompson nodded.
“I think we can find the authorities now.” Timber added and the other two nodded then got up at the same time and left through the front exit.
Meanwhile outside, Ciel had shoved Sebastian against the gritty, ash coated brick wall out back, pressing their mouths together. The student groaned against his lips and pushed his tongue past them.
Ciel’s fingers got to work on his lover’s shirt buttons. He tipped his head back with a moan as Sebastian kissed up his pulse before their lips were crashed together once more.
Sebastian went to wrap his arms around the librarian’s waist, but suddenly his weight disappeared from against his chest. His eyes snapped open as Ciel let out a shout of protest. A burly man covered in hair in the green-grey uniform of the Ordnungspolizei , the name for the police force now that it was taken over by the Nazis.
Ciel kicked at the man. “Bastard! Put me down! Unhand me, now!”
Two more officers, one a short redhead and the other a tall blonde, pinned Sebastian against the building by his arms, the other one clamping his hand over Ciel’s mouth. “You are condemned to quarantine, filthy faggot.” he spat out, shoving his first two fingers down the librarian’s throat when he tried to bit the police officer.
When Sebastian opened his mouth, closing it when one of the soldiers pressed down on his arm. “This is the other man, correct?”
Behind him, barely in Sebastian’s field of view, Thompson nodded, his other brothers flanking him. “Indeed.”
The redhead looked at Sebastian, a spark of recognition passing between them. Tutoring, that’s where Sebastian knew him from, he had tutored this man at one point. The soldier licked his lips slowly then said. “Sir, are you truly a homosexual?”
Sebastian’s eyes widened. He was being given grace here, a chance not many received. He cast a glance at Ciel, his lover’s uncovered eye wide, fear and hatred behind his bright blue iris. Sebastian had never become sober faster. He had a choice. Say no, don’t be shipped off to a concentration camp. Yes, and he had Ciel and a life of horror ahead of him. He swallowed hard. wetting his lips. “...No, sir. He forced himself on me.”
The blonde cop looked over in surprised. “That scrawny thing?”
The student coughed and feigned a hiccup.
“He’s drunk.” the redhead supplied and the other two nodded.
“Take this one.” the chief officer said as he brandished Ciel as if he were nothing more than a ragdoll.
Unable to stop himself, Sebastian looked at his lover. Ciel’s eyes were glossed over, something breaking inside him as soon as their gazes meet.
“No!” he screamed, fighting anew against the strong cop. “No! You- you- you- you bastard!” he blurted out when he couldn’t think of anything better. “Rot in hell, Sebastian!” his tears started to overflow and he shook his head adamantly. “Sebastian! Sebastian, please! Sebastian!” he choked on a sob and went limp in the man’s arms. It took everything in Sebastian to not run up and kiss him and promise his love. He had to go through with this though. “I hate you!” he screamed with the last ounce of will in him. “I hate you and I hope you die!”
The student watched bleakly as Ciel was dragged away and shoved into the back of a car.
The blonde soldier shoved Sebastian away from the wall, no sign of the triplets. “Get home. Quickly.” he ordered.
Sebastian felt sick as he fixed his coat and began to walk down the street. Ciel would be feeling so betrayed right now… But he had to. Even if his boyfriend didn’t understand, he had to. He was going to get Ciel back, though, he knew what he had to do.
He closed the door to his apartment and leaned back against it, pushing his hands through his hair. With finals out of the way, it made the idea of dropping out much easier - though it was still heavy on his mind.
He heard Pluto yip from the bathroom and let out a noise of pure misery. But… But he was doing this to save Ciel. He would save his beautiful lover. He would.
He pushed away from the door. But first he needed to sleep for thirty hours or so before he could get his thoughts working properly.
Ciel sniffled quietly in the back of the cop’s car, wiping his nose with his sleeve. Sebastian gave him up… For his own safety. How could Ciel blame him, though? They had both heard of the atrocities that happened behind the barbed wire fences of concentration camps and ghettos. Sebastian was only looking out for his own well being. How could Ciel be angry at such a reasonable train of thought? Still, he found himself furious; but the fire was dying. His spark was no longer being blown on, nothing to keep the flame strong. He was alone. Entirely, completely alone. Not even a god to keep him company. “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” he murmured to himself. Mr. Lewis always had words to help any situation.
Except this one.
Ciel had no books, no papers, no radio. Lewis wouldn’t be able to impart any more wisdom to him. Yet another manifestation of his loneliness.
It ached so deeply in him, a knife slowly twisting in his gut until he was bled dry by it. You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. He didn’t have a religion to dangle on, no boyfriend to grip tightly, no studies, not library, no dog, no-
Ciel froze. A vivid picture of Alois’ toothy smile floated into his mind. And suddenly, life didn’t seem quite so monochrome, not with the white blonde of his brother’s hair, the greens and purples and reds he loved to wear. He was going to find the boy, and he was going to keep him safe - just as he’d done for all the years of their lives.
He gripped the chain connecting his cuffs. This is what he was going to hold onto, his family. Not even for Alois, but for himself. And then… And then, maybe one day, he’d be able to give Sebastian exactly what he deserved.
Despite the grim situation, the horrifying train ride and awful camp he was heading to, Ciel smiled at his reflection in the mirror. He was feeling quite himself again now, and he no longer needed deceitful boyfriend to keep his fire burning strong.
Chapter 6: Forsaken - Ciel
Outside of Amsterdam City, Amsterdam, Holland. May 25th, 1943
Ciel spent the night in the holding cell of the local police station, except instead of the kindly officers he knew from the times Alois had left and his elder brother went on search for him, it was Nazi soldiers, bored but fierce.
The Germans perked up when a new face came in, being hauled by the same guard that had caught him and that bastard Sebastian in the alley. “ Judenschwein ?” the one at the front desk asked shortly. By the look of his bunched muscles and bruised and scarred face, Ciel guessed he was a whole lot of brawn with very little brain.
The other shook his head. “No.” he said in surprisingly clear English. “Fag.”
The dumb one made a face before spitting on Ciel. He snarled and wiped the saliva off his cheek. “I suppose that’s the worst you can do, seeing as you can barely form two words.”
The cop rose from his chair but stopped when his superior officer held up a hand. “He is staying here for the night, we’re not laying hands on him. Not here. The citizens are already too rowdy. We don’t need more need to provoke them.”
“They don’t have to know…” the blonde Nazi from earlier said softly but that got him a glare.
“It doesn’t matter, we’ll leave him untouched.”
“Which means I’m in for hell later, doesn’t it?” drawled Ciel then faked a yawn. “Can we hurry this up? I really don’t like being dangled around like some doll.”
The muscular one once again rose only to be stopped. “I will make sure he gets what’s due. Just stay where you are.”
And with that, Ciel was hauled roughly into the cell at the end of the hall, thrown none too gently against the far wall.
He grunted, biting his split lip as he slammed against the stone. He put a hand on his mouth when fresh blood dripping off his chin, making a face at the bloody palm he got when he pulled his hand back, pressing the collar of his jacket to the wound instead. But it didn’t hurt. He was so pleasantly numb in every way, his back didn’t ache like it should, his lip didn’t have a stinging pain. He didn’t really feel any of it, barely felt the Nazi’s strong hands gripping him tight. In the course of a few hours, he’d managed to shut off all emotions and more. Inside, he couldn’t really say what it was he was feeling - something like a black hole the crackpot scientists were always talking about. Or maybe he-
That’s exactly how he felt. Completely, totally empty. There was barely anything keep him from biting open his wrists to let himself bleed out, fall into some blissful abyss. He didn’t need to know what came after death, it was sure as hell better than where he was. Maybe he would feel full once he died, wouldn’t feel like there was this massive effort to keep himself together going on constantly, wouldn’t always be on the verge of tears. Maybe death was nice…
He shut his eyes, pressing harder on his lip until he finally did feel a massive rush of pain that made him hiss. He had a mission - one that could all very well go wrong if Alois was gone already - but a goal no less and nothing was going to stop him from finding his little brother.
He put more pressure on his lip until the barrier he’d put up dropped, his back starting to ache as it should, cold seeping into his slacks from sitting on the concrete floor, and tears flooded up in his eyes. Sebastian… He’d just thrown his lover aside without a second glance. If Ciel listened to the silence, he could have sworn he could still hear the student saying that he wasn’t gay, that Ciel had forced himself on Sebastian.
Shaking his head miserably, Ciel got up with a wince at his back to move onto the straw cot in the corner of the room. That fucking bastard had started their relationship in the first place! He could have at least been willing to go down with it too!
And suddenly his anger had exhausted itself to be replaced by that deep longing in the pit of his stomach as he recalled the screams he’d hear at night, see people getting dragged away from their families, teary mothers trying to get their child back, fathers damn near ready to fight off the Nazis themselves, and scared little children hiding themselves behind their parents. It was worse when whole families were taken though, then you could hear daughters screaming for release, knowing something would happen to them, sons futilely fighting, and all the while their parents were trying to comfort them, tell them everything would be alright and they’d be safe.
Ciel sighed out his fury. If that was just the deportation, what were the actual camps like? How could he truly be angry at Sebastian for trying to get away from the cruelty he was headed for?
And yet, all logic inside him was drowned out by want, longing for arms to wrap around him and hold him close; gentle kisses and quiet confessions of love; caring touches.
His teary eyes snapped open fully. Had Sebastian ever cared for him at all? He might have been a spy, planted by the Nazis. But if that were true, why didn’t he turn Ciel in as soon as he knew for a fact that Ciel was a Jew? Maybe Ciel was his first target, he didn’t know exactly what to do so he went along with everything until his superior officers showed - which meant those blasted triplets were Nazis too.
The man let out a loud noise of frustration and punched the wall, confusion running rampant inside him, actually glad for the pain that shot through his hand. He hugged it close to his chest, wincing. At least it gave him something to focus on besides his answerless questions.
Once the throbbing was gone, Ciel turned onto his side to stare at the brick and plaster that made up the building. He grunted and shifted when he couldn’t get comfortable only to twist again. This was awful, how was he supposed to sleep on this thing? Ciel shook his head at himself. This was going to the most comfortable bed he’d sleep in - maybe ever again - he should enjoy it while he could. He sighed and closed his eyes but then opened them once more with a drawn out groan. No, this bed was fucking terrible and he hated it. This is what he got for growing up with luxuries: he’d get to die without them.
He furrowed his brow. Did he truly think this was his end? From what he’d heard, nothing good ever came from concentration camps, and no one ever came home. He nodded. Yes, he was probably going to die and there would be nothing noble about it. He wasn’t searching for Alois for his brother, but as a lifeline for himself. At least he could be assured he’d go down with a purpose, probably fighting as well.
Ciel sighed and dug his fingers in under his patch to wipe away his tears, repeating the action on his naked eye, then turned over on his cot once more and settled himself in for a long night.
Waking up the next morning proved to be just as uncomfortable as sleeping had been, jolting upright when a guard banged against the door, a new one he hadn’t seen last night. The guard, a tall and scrawny brunette with a face far too nice looking for the job he had, slid a tray of food through a slot but Ciel could only stare at the brown porridge-like substance next to a bruised apple. “I’m rather fond of caviar.” he said after a moment and regretted it as the guard swished his tongue around in his mouth before spitting a large glob into the porridge. Suddenly he didn’t look so handsome.
“There is your caviar.” he growled, his accent giving him away as German but there was only a hint of it in his English.
Ciel looked at it then at the guard and gave him a sickly sweet smile. “Thanks.” he grunted and sat on the floor, careful to segregate the contaminated portion of food before taking a bite. He gagged and tried to swallow it quickly, anything to get the putrid taste off his tongue. As soon as it was down his throat, Ciel looked up at the ceiling. “I don’t know who’s up there, but please at least let me stomach this. If you want to be kind, you can make the camp food better than this rubbish.” he snorted to himself as he got another spoonful. “But when are you ever kind?”
It was a lot of gagging and dry heaving before he finally managed to finish the plate, the water they gave him was of no help either since it was almost as acidic as the meal. “I can’t believe I ate that.” Ciel muttered in disgust as he got of the floor, knees popping and sore from sitting there so long. The bruised and rotten apple completely ignored; he wasn’t that desperate.
The same guard came in a few minutes after. He left the tray where it was, instead grabbing his captive roughly to shove his arms behind his back, Ciel holding in a cry as his shoulders were jerked painfully far, and cuffed his wrists together.
Not much gentler than the cuffing, he was hauled out to the police cruiser, thrown in the back. He grunted as his head hit the door. It took him a while to find a way to sit up, not that it was really any better than just laying across the seat that was more comfortable than last night’s bed.
The ride was uneventful, just bumpy with the Germans spitting out curses in their native language that Ciel half understood from the times he’d get bored in the library and study the textbooks, giving him a good bit of knowledge and understanding of most Germanic languages - and those curses the Nazi were spewing were not pretty in the slightest.
But the librarian ignored them and soon enough they were at a train station on the edge of town. Getting out was difficult with the handcuffs, but eventually he managed it
As soon as he stepped out of the automobile, a wave of sorrow swept over him, seemingly unbidden. He twisted to shove his nose against his shoulder as the smell of unwashed bodies drifted stagnantly through the train depot, dreading when the soldiers would force him into the throng of so many people: a good number of them on their knees, praying with tears streaming down their cheeks. Others were more sullen, accepting their upcoming fate with as much dignity as they could muster in their ratty clothing, tattered and frayed. “They’ve just come from a ghetto.” Ciel whispered in horror as he stared at the malnourished cluster, their sunken cheeks , loosely draping clothing, and frail arms giving away how well they had been treated in the Nazis care. Ciel’s hand drifted to his stomach, feeling over the the thin layer of muscle and fat covering his ribs and abdomen. That wasn’t going to be there for much longer. Soon he was going to be nothing more than a skeleton with a bit of flesh stretched over its bones.
“Nothing close to ‘just,’ lad.” one of the Jewish men said when he overheard the words, something of a Scottish accent causing his voice to jump in ways the librarian wasn’t accustomed to. He caught Ciel when the guards pushed him forward after they took off his cuffs, smelling so completely dirty, as if he hadn’t bathed for a month, that Ciel nearly vomited on him as he straightened himself. “Most of us have been here for a week and a half, some smaller groups have come, Jews and gypsies and disabled they rounded up in nearby towns. Which are you then?”
“I’m a Je- Oi!” barked Ciel when a Nazi cut him off with a slap to the back of the head.
“Don’t lie.” he growled and looked at the Jew, probably something he didn’t do on a regular basis as the Jew flinched, but the soldier was making an exception for this occasion. “He’s a queer.”
The man, once kind, stepped away hastily, making a cross with his fingers. “Queer?”
The word seemed to spread like wildfire through the crowd, heads turning to see who had stooped to such low levels as homosexuality, who had confirmed their destiny in hell.
Ciel lowered his head slowly, shame flooding through him. Growing up, it wasn’t something his parents had to address, no known person was gay then, nor had he really been attracted to anyone while still at home. It seemed the population of gays - or known gays - was still as low as it had been growing up as some people looked over at him curiously, almost like they were expecting him to look something other than human. Others drew crosses on their chests when the word was heard and turned away quickly to keep themselves from getting contaminated. Some mothers turned their children harshly when they tried to look at him, covering their eyes. Ciel wet his lips, embarrassed his mouth had ever touched another man’s, ashamed of all the nights of pleasure he and Sebastian shared, nearly letting out a sob as he thought of all the sweet times of just holding one another he had taken part in. He stared at the ground, feeling as small as he looked. What had he been doing? Sin. That was the only answer he could give himself. What he had done was wrong, the worst of any transgression he’d partaken in. He almost choked out an apology as all the men backed away from him like he had a plague that could be spread.
But then a woman stepped forward, dark complexion and golden bangles clinking on her wrists giving her away as a gypsy. “I am Charity.” she said, accent one Ciel couldn’t even recognise - almost musical, as if she could break out singing at any moment. “I, too, have been shunned for being who I am.” he looked up at her through long lashes as she linked their arms together. “It cannot be this way any longer. We are all going to endure the same things, we must band together if we are going to survive them.”
Ciel gave her a soft smile, though his humiliation and disgrace was still written heavily on his features. But at least, maybe there was one decent person in the world.
“Ciel.” he whispered. “My name’s Ciel.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ciel.” Charity smiled, bright and radiant in the gloom of their situation.
“How long have you been here then?” he asked, taking a seat against one of the many stone pillars lining the edge of the depot and leaned back against the cool brick, pulling his jacket tighter around himself to help hide away from the still glaring Jews. So much for the love taught in their synagogues.
Charity looked up, bottom lip between her teeth as she thought. “Four days now. I came right after food was given out for those unfortunate enough to have been for two weeks. But, from what I hear, it would have been better if they hadn’t. A lot got sick from rotten meat, for the others it just didn’t help anything, only made them hungrier. At least it’s rained, made it easy to get decent water.”
“Two weeks?” the librarian breathed out. And ill? No wonder the place stunk. He opened his mouth to ask more of her, but before words could get out a gun fired somewhere in the station, the noise echoing around with cries of surprise from the captives. Ciel jumped, pushing his navy hair away as he looked around for the source. Charity didn’t even flinch.
“There’s four or five of those every day. Someone tries to run, the guards stop them. And yet people still run.”
“Maybe a quick bullet to the head is better than what we’re in for.” Ciel whispered.
Charity agreed with a grim nod. “Still, I could not force myself to do that, knowing that death is the only way it’s going to end.”
“Isn’t that true for where we’re going as well? The only difference is they’re dying while still free. Our death is going to be in captivity.”
The gypsy barked out a bitter laugh. “You call this freedom? Most of these people endured forced separation before this, working day and night.”
“It’s the most liberty they’re going to get, though. Only imprisonment follows for us.” Ciel countered, drawing his knees against his chest.
She sighed and gave a nod. “I wonder if it’s like this in America.”
“It’s something in America right now. They’ve go an ego bigger than their whole continent right now, their economy’s going to hell, not to say the whole world’s isn’t. But the point is, in America they’ve got this false security, fake independence. I think I’d rather be here where I know I’m a prisoner than there, where they think they live in their ‘land of the free’ but in truth it’s no better than here.”
“But they welcome people there, so many leave Europe to go to America for the lack of bondage. We’re not forced to be an Aryan there or die. My people might not be hated in America. Maybe yours neither.”
Ciel cringed at her grammar but figured it was the best she had for someone always travelling in caravans. “Now I know Italians aren’t in high esteem right now, but some great things have come from Italy…” he trailed off slowly when he saw her confusion. “Oh, you’re talking about-”
“Homosexuals, yes.” she nodded with a chuckle. “Not Italians.”
The librarian laughed at himself and looked down with a shrug. “Maybe. But probably not. They’re too busy clinging to their Bibles to think their God might be fake, think their teachings may be wrong. It’s yet another entrapment the American people are doomed to. I doubt they’ll ever change.”
Charity merely shrugged. There was nothing she could say, she was not versed in the ways of the world as he new friend was. “What happened to your boyfriend? Or maybe the man you were with for the night?”
“Boyfriend.” he spat out, voice going cold and hard as steel. “He denounced me as soon as things got rough. Left me to endure this hell alone.”
Charity frowned and put a gentle hand on Ciel’s arm. “I will not leave you, my friend. We will face this together.”
“Thanks.” he sighed out, letting his anger flow out with the breath. “I really cannot see why people hate gays so much. Greece was a heavily homosexual community and look what they’ve done for us.”
Charity tilted her head to the side, her golden earrings tinkling with the movement. “Greece. I am not knowing this word.”
The librarian frowned. “Right, you’ve probably had minimal education.” he looked around. “Well, we’re not going anywhere. I guess I’ll start from what most people assume to be the beginning. Almost all historians agree there was a flood that covered the entire earth…”
Ciel spent the next three hours teaching Charity simple world history, going over the entwining tales of the Middle East, moving to north Africa, then on to Europe. He used a flaked off piece of brick as chalk to draw on the concrete to help her absorb everything, orally as well as visually. Some other prisoners drifted over now and then to ask questions on things they didn’t know, but for the most part they were women, men keeping their distance from Ciel now, and usually ones whose mothers were not there to tell them to stay away from the filthy sinner. But Charity was the only constant listener, seeming highly interested in what Ciel was teaching her.
“...Then in roughly 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to Western civilization, but the Easterners had been using it since the early Eleventh century after Bi Sheng made a mobilized printing press to speed up the printing process they were already using in China.”
“Bi Sheng was Chinaisian?”
“Uh, Chinese, yes. Well, Asian, at least, I’m not entirely sure he was Chinese, might have been Tibetan or something of the like…” he shook his head. “Off topic, sorry. The printing press helped push Europe out of the Dark Ages and into a new age of invention and wonder: the Renaissance-”
Ciel broke off when there was gunshot, this only the second one of the day. Except this one ended with a dull thud instead of a cry of pain, plaster raining down as the bullet was lodged into the roof. “The trains will be here in five minutes!” a voice shouted through the silence that followed the shot, this soldier with a French cadence. “You have two to get yourselves separated! Men on the left, women on the right!” he fired off another round. “ Go ! ”
Charity looked at her friend as chaos broke out over the depot: people scrambling to obey before the Nazis tempers could flare up, mothers trying to get their sobbing sons to the correct side, lovers giving last hopeless goodbyes before they split, trying to stay as near to each other as possible before inevitably being pulled away by the maddened throng.
“You need to go.” Ciel told her when she sat still on the floor as he stood. “Don’t prove them.”
“I promised I wouldn’t leave you alone-”
“Don’t be daft! Just do what they say, don’t make yourself a target!”
“I-” Charity tugged one of the many rings off her fingers and pushed it into his hands. “Give that back to me when we see each other again.” she got out hurriedly before another gypsy grabbed her arm and dragged her off to the right.
Ciel watched her disappear into the crowd before looking down at the ring in his hands, a well crafted silver band with a large blue gem cut into a rectangle on it. He bit his lip as he examined the band that had been on Charity’s short, stubby finger; much too wide for his own long and thin ones. He slipped it on his left thumb, closing his fist to hold it in place since it was too big even for that finger, before he joined the group of men on the right.
His trek to the middle of the cluster was stopped by someone pushing hard on his back, Ciel falling face first onto the ground before he registered what had happened. He grunted and pushed himself up, lip split open once more. He groaned and pressed his sleeve to his mouth. Ciel looked around to find who had pushed him but all the Jews looked guilty of it with hate written so clearly on their faces. To add to it, someone near him shouted, “We don’t want the queer! Put it with the women!”
“Fucking lovely, now I’m a thing …”
“Shut up!” a soldier barked. “You’re going to meet plenty more where you’re going, get used to it now!”
The sullen quiet that had laid heavy on the train station after the groups split was broken in an instant by loud complaints - most of them from the men, a few coming from the women exclaiming they didn’t want Ciel in their group either. Both were silenced when another round was shot into the ceiling.
“I don’t care if you don’t want it with you and the next person to say anything about it gets a bullet to the brain!”
No one spoke up after that, the only noise being two trains rumbling into the station.
Ciel sighed and picked himself up off the ground, clothing still against his mouth as he tried to keep blood from going everywhere. He looked at the ring, trying to ignore the bovine feeling he was getting as they were marched slowly onto the train like livestock. When Charity said, she didn’t stop to think that it might be an if . Ciel knew it was an if ; the two were so unlikely to see each other again, it was barely even that.
Head lowered, Ciel dropped his bloody sleeve. He didn’t look at anyone, ignoring the rough shoves he got from all that stopped only when he escaped to a corner of the train car and sat with his head buried in his knees as he pulled them against his chest. A few men sat near him, only because there was no other place for them to be. They made their unwillingness clear to him, as the globs of spit they put in his hair showed. Ciel did his best to ignore the jeers as the train started to rattle along the track, and it wasn’t hard, too focused as he was on the last ounce of his dignity slipping away to be replaced by silent shuddering sobs.
Chapter 7: Armed - Sebastian
Amsterdam University dorms, Amsterdam, Holland. May 26th, 1943
Letting a groan fall from his lips, Sebastian slowly peeled off the covers at Pluto’s relentless barking. “Alright, alright, I’ll get some food for you.” he sighed. He’d spent his day mourning, it seemed even Pluto thought it was time he got out of bed and did something to get his beautiful boyfriend back.
Sebastian grabbed a towel on his way passed the laundry room, getting a cupful of food for the bounding dog before he grabbed the phone. He sighed and dialed a number slowly. He dreaded what was coming up, but Ciel. He was going to save Ciel from the hell he was condemned to. That Sebastian condemned him to.
“Uncle, hello,” Sebastian cringed at the voice coming through, memories he’d buried away flaring up. “Yes, yes, I’m sorry I don’t call more.” he said, trying to sound as sincere as he could through gritted teeth. “I was actually wondering if we could talk.”
Amsterdam University, Amsterdam, Holland. May 29th, 1943
At the end of the week, Sebastian was walking down through the courtyard to meet an ensemble of olive clad Nazi troops, a redheaded man taller than himself at the center of them. While most students backed away from the dreaded soldiers, Sebastian walked straight into them. “Uncle Abaddon.” he greeted cheerfully, which was quite a task while in the back of his mind he could hear his uncle’s deep, rumbling voice telling the five-year-old Sebastian how worthless he was after letting his sister beat him at a game, blows landing, his small body getting covered in bruises that never seemed to go away with the constant beatings. Sebastian pushed the memories away and smiled up at the well built man, his red mustache quivering as he tried to size up his nephew.
“What have you called me here for, boy?” Abaddon asked, but despite the harsh words his tone was jovial, as if happy to see his family.
“I was thinking perhaps I could buy you lunch and we could discuss-”
“I haven’t the time.” cut in his uncle, the coming out more ze . It seemed his Swiss accent had been washed away to be replaced by the German’s after spending so long with them.
Sebastian bit his lower lip. “Alright… I’d prefer not to speak about this so publicly-”
“Sebastian!” the student nearly flinched, just barely managing to hold his ground. He didn’t have to fear abuse out in the open, he was okay. It was still fucking annoying that his body wasn’t on the same page as his mind, though. “You are perfectly alright,” Abaddon assured, voice gentle once more. “Tell me what you wished to ask me about.”
Sebastian did his best to put on an eager expression as his heart and mind raced in tandem. “I want to join the German forces.”
Eyes as red as Sebastian’s widening, Abaddon tilted his head to the side a bit. “You wish to be under Hitler and serve the Fatherland?”
He nodded. “I wish to help cleanse our people. Jews have done nothing but destroy our country, I want to help purify us so we may be strong again.” He had gone over those words a thousand times in the mirror this morning, choosing precisely the ones he wanted. His uncle already knew he could stomach the sight of bodies after his nephew joined a medical school, all that left Sebastian with was to portray the want, be as dedicated as the other Nazi soldiers. He had calculated it carefully, and by the slow smile spreading under the taller man’s mustache, he had gotten exactly what he wanted - he was going to work a concentration camp.
“You know what, my boy? I think I will take up your lunch offer.” Abaddon turned to his entourage and barked a few words in German. The men saluted then marched off together. He turned his attention back to the student. “Come, we have much to discuss.”
“So you wish to join the National Socialist German Worker’s Party?” Abaddon asked as he he leisurely sipped a bottle of whiskey.
It took Sebastian’s brain a minute to translate it to Nazi , so used to hearing the abbreviation as he was. A fluffy word to cover up what they were actually doing. He may be majoring in medical sciences, but to gain credit he had taken a few extra courses, one of them a political study. He’d learned to recognise that any time the word socialism was put into a mix, it wasn’t a good idea. So he had to do his best not to cringe at himself as he nodded. “Yes, I want to help. They’re goals are-” God help me, “Very virtuous and, um-”
“Awe-inspiring.” his uncle supplied with a smile when Sebastian couldn’t get out another positive word. “Yes, they’re very ambitious, certainly, but with more recruits as enthusiastic as you, we will be able to reach them without a doubt.”
Enthusiastic? Apparently Abaddon was too blinded by his adoration for Hitler and his plans to really be paying attention. That or Sebastian was a better actor than he thought. Maybe I could pursue theatre in my spare time once this passes . He chuckled to himself. “Yes, I just want to do my part to help obtain objectives.”
“And you said you want to rid our Fatherland of Jews?”
Sebastian’s nod was reluctant, but the military commander didn’t seem to notice. “Yes, they’re a plague, tainting everything pure. We must be rid of them.”
Abaddon got up with a smile, whiskey bottle held tightly. “I know the place for you then, my boy. But you understand that you’ll have to drop out of school, don’t you?”
“It’s worth it to serve the, er… Fatherland.”
He got another hearty grin at that. “Then I want you packed up and ready to leave at the end of the weekend.” he commanded, a hint of his military persona slipping into the words, then turned on his heel tightly and walked out of the cozy diner.
Sebastian glared at the extra meal he really didn't have the money to pay for as a waitress brought it out. Fucking great.
Later that day, Sebastian found himself in the headmistress’ office, sitting in a high backed, red leather chair as the old woman paced in front of him, a frown deepening her wrinkles. “You want to drop out?” she asked as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Yes, ma’am.” he said softly.
“With one year left?”
“Perhaps we can work out an arrangement so that I can return in a while?”
“...Why are you leaving?”
Sebastian bit his lip. Headmistress Victoria would never accept him joining the Nazis, she knew her start student better than that. She would ask questions he wasn’t allowed to answer. “I want to join the British forces and stop this damned war.” One lie after another for him, it seemed.
Unfortunately it was the right thing to say to Victoria. “A noble cause. I’m sure we can hold a spot for you once the war is over.”
Sebastian stood with a gracious smile, tongue burning with the falsehoods he’d had to say all day. “Thank you, ma’am.”
Amsterdam University dorms, Amsterdam, Holland. May 31st, 1943
Sebastian stood out on the steps of his beloved school, the grand façade to his back. He didn’t want to look at it, it meant accepting he was leaving. He had gained so many friends at this school over the last few years, done stupid things that ultimately taught him lessons he’d remember for a lifetime - and scars that would last just as long. He’d lost his virginity here to a very pretty platinum haired woman named Angela; he had his first vodka in his dorm, and his first hangover following; he had been free from the tyranny his family was in this school. For a second, he even wondered if what he was doing was a good idea. He’d be risking his life for someone he knew for how long? A year? Less? Was this really worth throwing away his dream?
Sebastian steeled himself. Not only did he care deeply for Ciel, but he put his boyfriend in this situation. It was his job to fix it and damn it all to hell if he failed. He was going to set this right, no matter what.
He sat on the steps, determination burning within him. Fifteen minutes later, an olive truck with the Nazi Swastika emblazoned on both sides pulled up, his uncle Abaddon stepping out of it, dressed in his best military uniform. Sebastian cringed at the procession. Hopefully Headmistress Victoria didn’t see it, otherwise he could kiss goodbye to the spot being held for him on his return.
“Ready?” Abaddon asked as two of his men got out to help Sebastian put his bags in the back of the car.
The student nodded. “I am always ready to serve the- the Fϋhrer.” he groaned internally. Was the next little while going to be sucking up to a dictator? Heavy on the dic .
“Good.” his uncle smiled. “You are an irregular circumstance, but I have found ways to make exceptions. You will only have two weeks’ training in a proper facility, the rest of it will be spent at concentration camps.”
“I believe that is where you’ll be most effective.” he finished, a proud twinkle in his eye.
Sebastian did his best salute. “Thank you, uncle. I look forward to the opportunity.”
Abaddon laughed and slapped Sebastian’s shoulder heartily. “Then we shan’t waste any more time! I knew someone in my family would come to their sense and see what a noble cause Fϋhrer Hitler is leading.” he grinned as his nephew climbed into the back of the truck, tongue thick and heavy against his mouth as he fought the urge to gag.
But he was doing this for Ciel, he was going to save Ciel. That’s the thought that kept him moving, or, in this case, kept him sitting in the back of the truck as the other soldiers climbed in next to him. The car ride was silent - well, Sebastian wished it was, and it would be if his uncle would stop romanticising what Hitler was doing, saying how noble and amazing it was as if he were trying to get the few people in the car to convert to it further. The student kept quiet during it, just nodding and smiling and praying fervently that he would shut up.
Abaddon never did. Though, thankfully, his topics slowly shifted from the Nazis’ work to Sebastian’s schooling and the conversation became more enjoyable. Honestly, despite the childhood beatings, Abaddon was one of the best uncles he had - very enthusiastic and adoring towards his niece and nephew (not that it was too hard to get on the top of the list when only a few relatives visited them. The rest were still in Britain and thought the Michaelis family daft for immigrating to Switzerland).
At the end of long drive, when the truck began approaching semi-permanent barracks on the outside of town, everything shifted back to how it was before. “You’re a good boy, Sebastian.” Abaddon started as a soldier came out to check the car to make sure it had proper clearance. “And very passionate about your goals. Because of this, I don’t want you spending weeks in training, you’re too bright for it. Instead, I’ve made sure your training will only last fourteen days. After that, you’ll be going to a camp to finish learning what you need to from those stationed there already.”
Sebastian nodded along absently, mind working. He’d gotten his wish to work at a concentration camp, now there was the issue of finding Ciel at all. Many of the camps dotted Europe, how was he to be sure of getting stationed at the same one his boyfriend was being held in? Sebastian bit the tip of his tongue, rolling over ideas in his mind, then finally opened his mouth when there was a gap in Abaddon’s words. “Uncle… I know you’ve probably already called in many favours on my behalf, for which I am very grateful for, but could I maybe make one more small request?”
The redhead gave a curt nod. “Perhaps, what is it?”
“Could I maybe have all my stations be local? I… Had a dog that I left with a friend while I served, but I’d like to be able to visit him easily on holidays.”
Abaddon nodded again, seeming quite obliging still despite the lame excuse. “Simple enough; of course I can allow my nephew one last favour when it is so small.”
Biting the inside of his cheeks to keep a gleeful smile off his face, Sebastian climbed from his seat when the automobile came to a stop in front of a training field covered with troops in green-grey uniforms in neat lines as they listened to their commander shout at them in German. There was so many concentration camps not just because of the high population of people they considered “undesirable” but also so that transportation would be easy - rather than a twelve hour train ride where you had to keep the people from revolting against the guards, you got an hour ride to a near camp before any of the inmates could have any ideas. Guarding a local camp, Sebastian had the highest probability of finding Ciel he was ever going to have.
Abaddon drew the student out of his thoughts by putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. “From here on out, I am not your uncle.” he hissed in Sebastian’s ear as the accompanying troops led them to the barracks. “I am your commanding officer, familial ties mean nothing any more. Do not expect more special treatment from me.”
Our ties never mattered to me . Sebastian smirked to himself. Only long enough for me to take advantage of your relationship with Hitler.
Abaddon Michaelis had been on the battlefields of World War I with Adolf Hitler; he listened to Hitler’s ideals, listened to him scoff at the disgrace Germany earned after the war and promised he wouldn’t let it stand, and Abaddon agreed with it all. Before he went to prison, Hitler promised Abaddon a place of power when he was in charge of the nation. Maybe that’s why Sebastian grew up being beaten by him, authority went to his head majorly, or he wanted his family to be the best they could. Whatever the reason, Sebastian had an odd pulling, contradictory love and hate for his uncle. He was never quite sure how to feel about the redheaded man. But right now his relation to him was the best blessing Sebastian could ever ask for.
As Sebastian learned, his day was already planned for him and it was packed. His first stop was the on base barber shop, a tall muscular man inside who looked more suited to be a butcher than a barber was chewing on a toothpick as he waited for recruits in need of trims to come in. Prior to walking in the door, his uncle behind him, Sebastian hadn’t really put much thought into his hair besides keeping it tidy despite its length. Suddenly, he really liked the way his midnight black hair framed his face, how small pieces would escape him to become tasteful flyaways, the strand crossing over the bridge of his nose, always in his sight but something he’d become accustomed to so he never really saw it. Now he did, though, and he didn’t want it to go.
Before he could voice any of this, he was pushed into a chair and a pinstripe apron was secured around his throat. Soon black locks started falling to his lap and the ground. He kept his eyes firmly on the slate grey wall to ignore them as the barber grumbled in German, probably about how long his hair was and how unseemly it was for a young man of his age to have his bangs at such a length.
“I can’t speak German, Sir.” said Sebastian to his uncle as a means to take his mind off the surprisingly traumatic cut, keeping his head very firmly in place. He was still worried about the rough appearance of the barber. Who knew, maybe one wrong move and the man would cut Sebastian’s head off rather than his hair.
“There is a division for that. Your commander will speak English, but as part of your training you’ll be studying German.”
Sebastian resisted the urge to nod and kept quiet as the man went about his work. It didn’t take long before he was looking at his new taper cut, a defined part on the side rather than how he’d just let his hair cascade down in an inky waterfall, a gentle wave in his hair. He sighed and ran his hand across his forehead, missing the strands of hair he’d usually feel doing that action. He stayed seated until the barber finished slathering his head with pomade to make his tresses keep the new parting.
Sebastian stared at his reflection once more, trying to get used to it. This is how what he was going to be seeing in the mirror every morning now. Might as well get familiar with it now.
The student stood and turned to the barber. “ Danke . ”
The man folded his arms over his chest and bobbed his head, and then Sebastian was swept out of the shop.
Next on his agenda was a fitting for a uniform. There was an initial embarrassment at being asked to strip right in front of the seamstress, but that was gone as soon as Sebastian realised he’d be taking group showers and this was another thing he’d have to get accustomed to.
This appointment also went fairly quickly: the woman helped Sebastian find a decent fighting uniform then fixed it up so it wasn’t baggy anywhere. As he caught a peek of himself in the mirror while she was tacking up the pant legs, he had to admit it was a dashing uniform. Without anything else to think about, his mind drifted. What would Ciel think if he saw him in this uniform? Well, there would be the expected disgust first, but if he appeared as his lover saving light, what then? Would he agree that it was rather nice on Sebastian’s long frame? He chuckled softly at himself. What a child he was, like a teenager with his thoughts constantly drifting to a crush.
Sebastian’s smile slowly faded. But Ciel hated him. He had turned against him; never mind it was for their good, that was a low blow. There was no assurance Ciel would forgive him if he ever managed to find his boyfriend. That wasn’t going to deter Sebastian. Whether their romantic relationship lasted or not, or even if Ciel understood why he did what he had, Sebastian was getting him out of whatever camp he was held in. Either with a clever plan now that he was on the inside of the operation, or by brute force. Whatever the way, there was a firm guarantee that Ciel Spretto was going to be a free man once Sebastian found him.
After everything fit him properly and he was measured so the seamstress could make his formal attire and whatnot, Sebastian was given a tour of the barracks and training ground, the facility split up: one side strictly German speaking, the other English. His escort stayed on the English side, and at the end of it, around two, he was sent to help the recruits clean guns as the start of his training.
“A freshie?” a man with white blonde hair and a matching complexion gasped when Sebastian came in.
“Unusual.” agreed another, his hair a straw yellow, as he shoved a cleaning rod down the barrel of a shotgun.
“And who might you be?” the first soldier asked when Sebastian took a seat.
“Sounds very prim and proper. You a dick?”
The student shrugged with a playful smile. “Aren’t we all dicks at one point or another?”
The golden haired man laughed. “I like this one. Alexis Midford.” he stuck out his hand and Sebastian shook it politely. “The probing one here is Snake.”
Sebastian looked at him. “Snake?”
Snake merely shrugged, and so he turned his attention to Alexis for an answer, though he didn’t have one either. “Dunno. Snake is what he’s called by everyone and so Snake he is.”
Sebastian nodded slowly. He liked Snake’s obviously quiet disposition. Alexis took over for him though. “Reckon you’re a special case then?”
“You missed Paris then.” Snake said, absently putting a gun back together with the skill and boredom of someone who had done it a thousand times.
“Paris was amazing.” Alexis agreed with a smile. “Gorgeous city. We had have an officer, Knappe, he actually climbed the Eiffel Tower.”
Snake smiled softly. “Paris was very nice.”
“He’s only sayin’ that because he found himself a nice little wife there.” another man said as he walked in and plopped down next to Sebastian, the short hair on the top of his head had the remnants of gold dye, but the rest of it was almost as black as Sebastian’s. “Either of you got any more Pervitin?”
“You know we’re not allowed any off the battlefields, Knox.” Alexis chided.
“What if I’ve got nightwatch, then can I get some to keep me awake?”
He huffed and flopped his upper half onto the table, folding his arms under his chin for support. “Just wanna forget them screams… All the time, ya hear ‘em, ringing in yer ears.” Ronald cast a look at Sebastian. “Count yourself lucky, freshie. They hype you up for battle here, say it's honorable, that we're fightin' for a good cause; scariest fucking thing when you get there. It’s nothin’ like training. It's an orderly mess, organised chaos.” he turned his head to shift his gaze on the wall across the room. “Never realise how fragile you are until the man next to you gets shot. Goes down with a seeping hole in his head…”
“There’s plenty to drink.” Snake said to fill the silence that followed when Ronald Knox went silent.
“Commander says I’m not allowed to be drunk on duty any more. He says it makes me unreliable. I say that’s a load of bullshit, I’m as good drunk as I am sober.”
Both Alexis and Snake sniggered but neither said anything, making Knox turn his attention back to Sebastian. “And what about you? I can see you’ve never been in battle before. You comin’ to Russia with us? Gonna be fucking cold, don’t wanna go at all.”
“Uh…” Sebastian swallowed thickly. He already knew his answer wasn’t going to be accepted well. “No. I’m only here for a couple weeks. After this, I’m going to train at a concentration camp.”
A sullen mood fell over the table at once.
“Lucky bastard.” Knox mutter and breathed out a sigh. “Don’t have to go fight the Red Army and be up there in the bleedin’ cold.”
The former student chuckle softly. You’re the lucky one, he thought to himself.
Ronald jumped up when a bell rang throughout the facility, the other three far slower about it, and Sebastian staying seated altogether. Knox grabbed the back of his uniform to pull him up. “Come on, freshie. I’ll take care of you, show you the rope, be your sugar daddy.” he winked teasingly and pulled Sebastian out the door.
Chapter 8: Tarnish - Ciel
Amersfoort, Holland, May 26th, 1943
Ciel kept his forehead against his knees through the whole train ride. It was only a little over an hour, but the car they were in was meant for livestock, not people. It heated up quickly and got stuffy and hard to breathe even faster. Many of the men pulled their shirts off to keep cool, waving their hands as fans on their faces.
At first, he got many jeers from the Jews - disgusted he had once considered himself one of them at this treatment. Perhaps they were just trying to pass the time, get their mind off the fate that waited at the end of this ride, and he provided a very obvious amusement, but as they realised he wouldn’t react, not even lift his head, they seemed to get bored and merely sat and waited impatiently.
Despite the stagnant air, Ciel didn’t undress at all; he stayed in his position until the train came to a screeching halt. He sat there while the others filed off, only getting up once most of the Jews had stepped out. He was last out of the train, a small navy haired boy at the back of the line as they were marched through the railyard.
Ciel kept close to the fellow prisoners in front of him to keep a distance between himself and the Nazi guards behind them as the group was marched through the town. Obviously this was a common thing, as none of the residents were outside, already shut up in their houses away from the grim air that surrounded the captives. Occasionally the librarian would see a young child peeking through the curtains, waving when they caught Ciel’s eye, and he would give them a forced smile back before they were dragged away by their mothers and probably firmly scolded.
He turned his eyes to the ground after a while, feeling the constant, repeating beat of his feet against the cobblestone starting to wear out his heels - not that he said anything about it as some others did to each other, he was smarter than that. Besides, the march hadn’t been that long, had it? Maybe twenty minutes, so far. Perhaps? He wasn’t sure. He was stuck in the monotone of the situation, the quiet whispering in front of him, dull brick façades around him, footsteps meeting the ground, soldiers shoving any that didn’t keep up with the butt of their rifles. What use was time any more? It would only prove to further his suffering. It was probably for the best that his sense of it was slipping away.
Ciel managed to get to the middle of the group during their trek, keeping his arms pressed against his sides to make himself as small as possible.
Eventually their march ended up against steel bars that towered over their heads. Ciel could see all the olives and greys of German uniforms running around inside the barbed wire fences, a black clad officer occasionally entering his field of vision. A shout in their native language, and the gates opened slowly. With armed escorts, the prisoners marched in.
He couldn’t keep himself from wincing when a lung tearing scream pierced the air, pure anguish within the noise. The Jews who had been in ghettos for months didn’t even flinch.
Once the shout died away, ending with a strangled out plea, the sounds of work began to echo through the camp. Hammers clanged against various substances, pickaxes met hard ground with a metallic ring, prisoners toting wheelbarrows walked past the newcomers without a glance; Nazi guards keeping careful watch over all with no one seeming as distraught by the moans of pain that would reverberate through the camp often as Ciel was.
His reaction to each noise started from a sorrow within him and caused a physical reaction. He squeezed his eyes shut at the next scream of pain. Such an oppressive aura in the camp... As small as the librarian already was, it made him want to curl up just so there was less of him to look at; less of him to suffer.
One simple glance around as they were marched to a long stone building to get their striped uniforms told Ciel that every inmate here was terribly malnourished. Hell, most of them looked sick - or perhaps just deathly miserable. He felt an almighty throb in his chest that spread out and made him shudder. How could anyone treat another human being like this? How could the men that did live with themselves when they returned back to either the barracks or family they came from? How could they drift to sleep and not see these tortured faces in their mind’s eye? What could possibly be stopping them from taking their lives after creating such hellish misery?
Ciel looked around as soldiers came past to collect any valuables their new inmates may have. His eyes widened and his eyes drifted to the large ring on his thumb. It was his one last item connected to affection, last reminder there was good in the world. Ciel stared at it for a moment.
He quickly slipped it off his left thumb and stuck it in his mouth. His eyes widened as the soldier got closer - and, yes, he was having anyone who looked suspicious open their mouths as well. He’d taken a cock down his throat before…At least this one wouldn’t stay in there.
He tilted his chin up to lengthen his neck, it would be easier with a straighter throat. It took a couple tries, the man breathing deeply through his nose as he tried to master his gag reflex, but Ciel managed to swallow the chunky ring, ending with a gag and a belch. He looked down at the floor when a guard turned to him with a scrutinizing expression.
The other Nazi shook the rapidly filling bag when he got to Ciel but the librarian just shrugged. He was looked over with narrowed eyes, gaze pausing on his eye patch, but eventually continued down the line all the same.
Breathing out a sigh of relief once he was sure the soldier was far enough away to not hear it, Ciel tugged his clothes off. He chuckled softly, bitterly, to himself. Apparently sex had taught him plenty of useful things - don’t think about it when you get naked, just get going. He shook his head as he pulled the rough material on, making a face at the overlong trousers matched with a too tight shirt.
A look around told him the other inmates had just as ill-fitted outfits. Nearly every shirt had a yellow triangle beneath the serial number, a couple with brown. Ciel looked down at the shape on his shirt - a pink triangle larger than any of the other colours. His throat tightened, eyes locked on the symbol that emblazoned his grievous sin for all those around him to see. There was no hiding it from anyone, he was forced to reveal his prodigious mistake to any who were to lay eyes on him. How would his treatment differ from those of the other inmates because of this hated label?
Ciel tried to hold onto his pride, to keep his head held high and his spine rod straight, but his resolve is slowly crumbling. Even in the hellholes of the world he is being ostracised - not only by the guards but the inmates too.
Alois, Alois, Alois. He tried to chant to himself, keep his purpose clear in his mind. Yet if he is being treated like this even by those who are in the same sinking ship just for his sexuality, how is his little brother’s mental instability being handled by all those in the facility he is being kept in? There is little hope in Ciel’s mind for him being coddled, his breakdowns cared for as well as the librarian had; rather he is probably just as shut out as his elder brother is, forced to fend for himself even though he doesn’t know how.
As upset as he is at his own situation, he can only imagine how horrible it has to be for the boy who can’t even keep his faculties in line. Ciel’s resolution strengthened with the thought of the little boy’s anguish. He would find his brother. He would fucking murder everyone who mistreated him in their time apart, even if it meant destroying the entire concentration camp. No one was allowed to hurt Alois Spretto so long as Ciel had a say in it.
Fists clenched, he kept quiet as the guards began to usher them outside. He looked around at the other so-called undesirables hard at work. So many of them were nothing more than twigs, impossibly thin people with thinner limbs being forced to do labour that should have had many more, and healthier, people doing it. On a number of people, he could see large sores caused by disease - boils and rashes as abundant as the putrid stench of urine in the air. Both sight and scent made him gag. All this fueled a growing hatred. Who could treat other humans like this? As if they were nothing more than mange ridden mutts whose existence was only a nuisance - who did something like this? Who could dream up such a horror?
Ciel jerked around when he heard a cry of pain to see a man, black woolen coat wrapped tightly around his barreled chest with a flog raised above his head, face red with fury. Beneath him a woman was cowering on the ground, her nothing but bone arms covering her as best as they could.
Perhaps this new fire within him made him throw away all logical thought or maybe it was just human decency and respect for life; either way, he stepped out of the neat line of fresh inmates. “No!” he shouted as the whip came down with a sharp crack and the woman let out another scream. Ciel shook as he clenched his fists and took a determined step forward, anger written clearly over him. “Leave her alone!”
Suddenly the wind left him as a pain blossomed through his abdomen and the librarian dropped to his knees, coughing when bile rose in his mouth with an acidic burn in his throat. He did his best not to vomit with the blow as his stomach cramped, lungs crying out when he couldn’t force air into them. He looked up, tears blurring his vision, to shoot an icy glare at the Nazi guard standing over him, not a hint of remorse in his expression. “You would do well not to overstep your boundaries so soon, schwein .” he spat.
“Dr-drop dead.” choked out Ciel, his journey back to his feet shaky but the fire behind his uncovered eye was no less dim because of this.
His head was yanked back painfully as the officer tugged his bangs out of the way, looking him up and down with a shrewd glare. Cold, piercing eyes linger on the damning triangle on his chest before they narrow in grim satisfaction. A few quick words are barked out in German. Ciel has a loose handle on the guttural language - not a whole enough understanding to translate every word of the quick exchange; but when he heard what he thought to be “I haven’t been with my wife in months,” his blood turns icy in his veins. He stood stock still for a moment, frozen by this dreadful cold, a macabre anticipation that flowed through him.
The other guards march off the group Ciel had come in with, yet the librarian stayed planted where he was, a hand still tangled tightly in his dark hair. It was with this grip that he was led back (or, more accurately, dragged) to the officer’s bunkhouse. The room he was taken to was fairly Spartan, with just a bed, desk, and darkly stained armoire to give it furnishing. When the door was closed and bolted, the man forced Ciel to his knees, calloused fingers brushing along his jaw. Shaking as his mind played out various scenarios, none of them remotely pleasant, Ciel closed his eyes.
Part of him wanted to pretend the touch belonged to Sebastian: a loving caress before coupling; let his imagination feign soft words of adoration breathed in his ear by a voice honeyed darkly with arousal yet laced with the warmth of affection. For as angry as he was at his betrayal, there is no denying even now Sebastian remained a synonym for safe in his mind. But Ciel can’t stand the thought of perverting one of the last havens of tenderness he has with such depravity. Instead his thoughts wander to the library: the various tomes he read during his ample free time, the books he brought back for Alois, the philosophical fiction he fell in love with.
As a rough thumb ran across his full lower lip, his mind brought up a poem instead to focus on as his mouth was forced open, a metallic ring of a zipper echoing through the mostly bare room.
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
The head of a cock pressed against his lips, Ciel obligingly took it in.
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone ?
His subconscious, aware he would be punished if he did not, made him lick across the tip, suckling on it as well as he would if he was with a man he cared for rather than was forced to be with.
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
Ciel bobbed his head along the length of the officer’s member - nothing to write home about, only five inches or so; still nothing to scoff at - but his movements were mostly made by the iron grip still holding his hair.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
He gagged slightly when his lips were shoved against the man’s pelvis, cock curving down his throat. He swallowed down bile, focus returning to the words of Edgar Allen Poe.
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes as he tried not to choke when the man held his head still, nose brushing against curled pubic hairs as his throat was fucked roughly.
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
He scrabbled at the officer’s thighs when his lungs cried out for air, leaving red furrows through dense muscle. A particularly hard thrust in retaliation made him drop his hands to his sides.
Is all that we see or seem
The man pulled his cock from his mouth as it splurt out thick pearly ropes. He closed his eyes, feeling the fluid fall onto his cheeks and brow. When it stopped, he forced down a shuddering sob as the officer pulled his trousers back up. Ciel opened his eyes to stare blankly at the wall, cum dripping down his chin.
But a dream within a dream?
Ciel was dismissed from the room right after his unwanted facial, and he fled the scene with a speed faster than light.
He wanted to cry, curl up in some quiet corner and let sobs overtake him. He wiped his face clean with his sleeve. He wanted to claw at his cheeks until he stopped feeling phantom semen drying wretchedly on his alabaster skin. He wanted to vomit, not until the taste of that iniquitous Nazi was off his tongue, but until the metallic taste of blood coated his mouth instead. Most of all, he simply desired to die. To lay down and exist no more. He had no fire in his belly to keep him on his feet - it had been quenched by an orgasm forced upon him. He tried to picture Alois, tried to make his little brother’s suffering piece his resolve back together. He couldn’t. He couldn’t recall his purpose for suffering through all this graciously. All he could see was a black uniform engulfing his vision as an unwanted deplorable member was stuffed in his mouth.
Ciel tried to find a place to hide, between monotone brick buildings. Yet a guard grabbed him by the back of the collar. A smack stung his stained cheeks but he didn’t flinch. He tried to muster some snarky comment in return to the blow. Nothing came. With an uncharacteristic meekness, he allowed himself to be hauled to the kitchens. There, he helped prepare a thin soup and slice mouldy bread.
After evening roll call, inmates lined up and Ciel aided in serving the overwhelming number of prisoners. Some smiled and thanked him politely, obviously unaware of the sinful pink triangle on his chest. He attempted to return the pleasantries, to give them some friendly conversation to lighten their bleak day, but even a simple “You’re welcome” was often too difficult to utter, coming out as stammered syllables instead. He never met anyone’s eyes.
Half way through the passing of rations, a hand once again clamped down on the back of his shirt. He was dragged from the steaming and suffocatingly hot kitchen, brought to a table where a number of officers were having their own meal - a great deal better than what the prisoners were having for supper. The man he had defied in the courtyard sat him on the ground next to his own seat. Ciel looked up at him, taking in his neatly trimmed blond hair, blue eyes full of laughter as he exchanged jests in German with his fellow workers. Hitler’s ideal German indeed.
Ciel managed scowled when a chunk of meat was offered him. All it took was a light slap to his cheek to make him gingerly take the offered food, nibbling at it slowly. More was given to him in the same manner, and while he knew it was better and in higher portion than what any other captive was eating, he couldn’t help but detest it. A few slanderous guffaws of “ Guter Hund,” were thrown his way, and every time the blond would pat his head patronisingly with a nod.
The librarian took this all silently - for what else could he do? At least here he was being mockingly praised rather than outrightly detested. He knew a number of the officers eyed him with loathing because of the mark on his shirt that showed just who he was, but he was proving useful to a lonely man who had not Biblically known a woman for months and that kept him safe from the unnecessary cruelty that most other inmates experienced.
He felt no gratitude towards the man for this. Today may have been a blowjob, and tomorrow as well. But what about when he got bored of that? Ciel didn’t want to think about that. He focused instead on the meat he was being fed - he didn’t recognise the taste. Was it pork? Religion had kept him from eating that for so long, yet now he couldn’t think of why. It was such a good meat, but perhaps he thought so only because it was foreign to him.
When beer and brandy were broken out of their casks, Ciel was not offered any. Yet he was not allowed to leave either, as the tight grip on his shirt told him. Surprisingly enough, he was not used for some pleasure doll when the men got drunk. He just sat on the floor as laughter was exchanged, silently taking the pats on the head and scratches behind the ear.
He was sent to the barracks when the blond grew tired of his company for the night. There, he curled up in the corner, away from the sickly coughs and restlessly sleeping men. He shoved his fingers down his throat to retch. The ring clattered as hit the floor. With his saliva, still full of acidic bile, he rinsed the tenderly washed the sick from it. Perhaps the metal was a bit corroded, and maybe the jewel did not gleam as brightly, but the love and unbiased friendship it stood for was still as clear as ever. He spent the next hour weaving together loose threads from the nearest frayed blanket to fashion a cord. He slipped the ring on it then put the impromptu necklace on. He tucked it beneath his shirt then curled up away from his vomit.
His sleep that night was restless, wrecked with visions of what debauchery might be waiting for him in the coming days.
Chapter 9: Ascendancy - Sebastian
Outside Amsterdam, Nazi camp. June 14th, 1943
Fourteen days of training didn’t sound bad on paper. Not so nice in experience.
Sebastian couldn’t feel any embarrassment any more as he stood in a group shower, ten other trainees around him. He breathed out as he watched dirt wash down the drain.
Training was harder for him, as the rest of the soldiers had either been in war already and had experience under their belt, or they were raised in the Hitler Youth Program and once again knew many relevant skills. Sebastian wasn’t quite so lucky and the sting in his limbs proved how that was doing for him. During the four hundred metre run that afternoon, he had actually thought of every biscuit and cake he’d eaten during his time at the university and pleaded forgiveness for his sins over each one.
Sebastian never thought himself out of shape, but over the past couple of weeks he sincerely regretted the small bit of pudge that had accumulated along his waistband.
Even with this, he was probably one of the healthier people here. Never in his whole career of internships at hospitals and other medical experiences had he never seen so many addicts gathered together somewhere other than rehab. Pervitin and opiates had been given liberally to those going into war. Sebastian knew that Pervitin was a stimulate. It made sense for it to be given to soldiers for the surge of adrenaline; a side-effect of it being a big, even rash, self-esteem boost. It also dulled pain - a perfect drug for those in battle. Not to mention one that created a high dependence easily, especially with how readily it was given out. Along with that alcohol consumption was also an encouraged habit among the soldiers. Sebastian couldn’t see why, anyone he’d ever met while drunk never seemed to make good decisions. Apparently the superior officers weren’t oblivious to this either - he’d even overheard bits of conversations about it, the most prominent one he recalled being a tall man talking about “Crimes involving unnatural sexual acts” while under the influence. So Sebastian chalked it up to either being some gay butt sex, or perhaps bestiality. Either way, it proved his point that drunks weren’t the best people to trust your life with.
With the five minutes he was allowed in the shower in mind, Sebastian stepped out and grabbed a towel. He dried quickly and hurried down the hall to his barracks to dress. Once he perfected all the folds and tucks of his uniform - as nothing less than perfection was allowed - and pushed his fingers through his undercut with a longing for his messy hair, he turned to check the small stack of letters on the trunk at the end of his bed. Most of it was pointless: settlements needed for the university, last bills for housing, and one from his uncle.
He put the other parcels aside and sat on his thin mattress as he tore open the one from Abaddon, scanning over it quickly. Well wishings, nephew… Hope you’re settling in… Due to circumstances... I trust this won’t be a bother to you… Regards, Uncle Abaddon. Wait. Sebastian frowned and went back a couple lines.
Due to circumstances and letters from your superior officers, your training has been scheduled to continue for another three weeks at the least. I trust this won’t be a bother-
Sebastian’s eyes widen. No. He crumpled the paper in his fist and threw it at the wall, where it fell, silent and unsatisfying. No. This wasn’t an option. Ciel had already spent a fortnight in either a ghetto or a concentration camp, he wasn’t going to let his boyfriend suffer any longer. As strong as he was, Ciel was still so small, so very small; and Alois’ loss had taken its toll on his resilience. Not only that, but this situation was one Sebastian had directly caused. He couldn’t bear the thought of the librarian hurting because of him. He couldn’t let Ciel just rot away in some camp, he had to save him, damn it!
Sebastian hung his head, elbows resting on his knees. No… This wasn’t the way this was supposed to play out. He was suppose to join as a sort of spy then break Ciel free of his prison, not have to spend over a month just in training. It was unacceptable. Unthinkable. A variable Sebastian never once considered possible. Stupid, he scolded. Stupid and illogical. He never had been in the best of shape, how was he expected to pass the Nazi’s strict tests with his limited physical abilities? They put no stock in mental exercises, which he could complete without even a metaphorical sweat breaking. Running four hundred metres was such a depressingly bodily task. He wouldn’t be able to get to his lover before Ciel was scarred beyond healing with his physical state.
The former student ran his hands over his eyes with a low groan. No, he didn’t think he could even survive if he had to continue this hellish regime for three more weeks. Not only that, but he couldn’t excel at any of his tasks - he found no joy in them, not as he did for any surgical problems.
That’s a perk of going to garrison a concentration camp, I guess: I’ll get to work with bodies again.
Sebastian laughed grimly at himself then pushed up to his feet. Suddenly the excess of alcohol around the training grounds wasn’t so irksome to him.
Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. June 15th, 1943
Over the next week, Sebastian became more acquainted with the soldiers around him, seeing as he was going to be there for a while, and learned most of them were training to join the SS. Made sense, a majority of them were blood thirsty bastards who put too much stock in Hitler’s words, while also explaining why their schedule was such a hard one. Perhaps the former student was a bit more physically fit than he originally thought.
It was with a groan that he stood from his seat when the train finally bumped to a halt. As part of their training, the unit was sent out to help quell a now armed Jewish rebellion. From what Sebastian understood, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto became enraged when they learned people were not being sent to labour camps, but to be exterminated. With help of what those above him called “Polish bandits,” the residents of the ghetto had gotten their hands on guns, grenades, and other such armaments. The upcoming SS were sent, along with already full fledged members of the deadly group, to stamp this out.
Sebastian wasn’t thrilled in the slightest. Battle was not something he was hoping to see in his lifetime, nor against Jews he could so easily imagine as Ciel or Alois. Did these so called undesirables have families? Friends? Perhaps it was someone’s birthday today, maybe all they wanted was something sweet to brighten up their life on this day. There could a pregnant woman, ready to burst with child, who only wanted a safe place to raise her baby. Fathers itching to teach their sons the proper way to care for his future wife. Young girls playing dolls with their friends. These weren’t pigs that deserved to die - these were people with hopes and dreams and fears who had committed no crime but wanting to live in safety.
Ciel. Sebastian reminded himself of his purpose firmly. Nothing was going to change his course, not even innocent bloodshed. If that was the price for saving his beloved from hell and getting to have him in his arms once more, then so be it. He refused to be deterred.
With his drive - or maybe it was justification - renewed, he stepped off the train, rifle pressed firmly into his shoulder. He marched alongside others clad in olive, posture exactly the same as those around him. There was occasional gunfire ringing through the air, screams accompanying it, but most of the city was rubble - burned to a crisp by the Nazis. On one lone rooftop, visible through the ash, are two flags: one the red and white of Poland, next to it a white and blue banner representing the Żydowski Związek Wojskowy - the Jewish Military Union.
“They’ve got balls putting those up.” Ronald Knox muttered in his ear when he, too, caught sight of the flags.
“I imagine those being there are the only thing keeping them fighting.” Sebastian murmured back. When he got a look of confusion from Ronald, he continued, “Imagine how much their moral must raise every time they look up and see that, despite the Germans’ best efforts, those flags are still flying high. Even though there’s casualties in the streets and their town is burned to the ground, those flags are still faithfully up there.”
Ronald looked a bit surprised at his understand then nodded, jumping quickly to attention when the German order was shouted across the crowd of newcomers.
The SS warriors were sent immediately into the field to find the remainder of hiding resident after being told of what the forces already there had found the Jews to be using, “Polish Rifles, Russian Rifles, German Rifles, pistols of various calibers; hand grenades, Molotov cocktails, and various homemade explosives.”
Once the Blackshirts had saluted with a “Heil Hitler!” and marched off dutifully, Sebastian’s squadron was to guard the subdued Jews.
He was surprised to see the dirty and exhausted rebellion holding their heads high even though they knew trucks were on their way to take them Treblinka for extermination. Not one of them wavered as armed forces surrounded their raggedy group. Perhaps the fighting had dulled them, made them as desensitized to guns as Sebastian was to corpses.
He stared at them, gaze going to every face he could make out. “Why do you fight?” he asked in soft English after being met with so many resilient looks hidden beneath dark bruises and ashy faces - some of them covered in burns.
“Why do you?” spat back a woman. She was sporting a black eye and swollen cheek, but her fire wasn’t dimmed in the slightest from her wounds.
Sebastian blinked. “For a safe haven for my beloved.” he said after a moment.
The woman seemed surprised by the answer and nodded. “For family.” she agreed. “For human rights no matter the person. For the future. For liberty in all things, even death. If my choice is to go to some extermination camp or fight, then I will always choose to fight. I shouldn’t have to die with less dignity than a lamb brought to the slaughter; I shouldn’t be treated like a diseased animal; for the children to live in peace and not fear. For all peoples to be able to meet in fellowship.”
He stared at her for another moment then nodded. “A worthy cause if ever I heard one.”
Has Ciel already died like that? The sudden thought shocked Sebastian, almost making him reel. Here he was, guarding people who only wanted to be treated as the human beings they were as Ciel suffered because of what Sebastian had done. Not for the first time, nor would it be the last, he wondered if his plan had been foolhardy and misguided - if it wouldn’t have been better to go with Ciel, side-by-side, into the belly of the beast.
He could only nod to the woman once more before turning back to the rubble of a once hellish ghetto.
Not much sleep was had that night by anyone in Sebastian’s squadron. It was also then, sometime around two, when he had his first dose of Pervitin - against all his better judgement. Grogginess and a lack of wanting punishment finally pushed him to swallowing a pill with a mouthful of whiskey.
And when it kicked in, it was nothing like Sebastian ever experienced.
As everyone had told him, he felt more awake and alert than he could remember being. And… Euphoric. What was there to be upset about? His gun was right there next to him along with Ronald drinking by his side. It was all good.
In fact, he was feeling more emotions than he could recall ever feeling at one time. He would have thought the experience exhausting, but he only felt continually spurred on, sparks of energy coursing through him, ready to do anything asked of him no matter the task. Hell, he was ready to march into every concentration camp in Europe, guns blazing, until he found Ciel.
Ciel… Now that was a delicious thought. Cock twitching in his trousers, he licked his lips. What he wouldn’t do to have Ciel in front of him now; would love to have his tongue buried deep in the librarian’s furled hole, make him croon with pleasure. Sebastian scratched his thigh with jerky fingers. How lovely it would be to fuck him - hard and fast; then gentle, loving, sweet with words of praise. To hold Ciel close once more…
Suddenly that amazing range of emotions he was feeling turned sour. Sebastian dug his fingers into his thigh harder. “Look at you, boy.” He jumped with the sudden voice, hated, feared. He turned to where he thought it was coming from. Standing in front of him- no, towering over him, was Abaddon. Not the primp and proper military commander, but a man who might as well be a hermit: red hair overlong and unkempt with a beard just as ragged, a mixture of alcohols souring his breath to match his bitter attitude over the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles, anger he took out on a young Sebastian and his sister. “Look how worthless you are.” The student could have sworn he felt a hard slap and he stumbled back. “Can’t even stand. Can’t say no. A pushover.” Another hit and Sebastian fell back.
“No, no, no!” he shouted at the air, rigid finger pointed at the delusion. “No! You’re not real!”
And right before Abaddon could land the next blow, he felt arms wrap around him. “It’s not real.” Ronald Knox assured through a whisper in his ear. “What ever you’re seeing, it ain’t really there. Not everyone takes Pervitin well, so just focus on me. Don’t listen to it, listen to me.”
Sebastian, surprised by the act, leaned back against the other soldier’s chest. He stayed like that until the effects of the drug eventually wore off, leaving him tired and twitchy. He could hear his pulse thrumming in his ears, faster than it should be. A side effect of stimulants. Except, unlike with other recreational drugs, Sebastian remembered everything he saw. And he wished he didn’t.
It had taken years to shake off the shadows of abuse, to look in the mirror without recalling bruises dotting his torso. To be able to even look at Abaddon without flinching, resisting the urge to lower his eyes as a form of submittance, never respect. How odd it was that his only uncle managed to be the best and worst relative he had, radical in both aspects.
Once his shaking had subsided enough, Sebastian stood and looked out over the ashes of the Warsaw Ghetto. “It’s almost morning.” he muttered in surprise.
Ronald nodded beside him. “Yeah. You know, maybe you’d like an opiate better. Probably shouldn’t try Pervitin again, might just claw out your own eyes if you do.” he chuckled weakly. “That-that was supposed to be a joke.”
“I’ve had enough of drugs.” the former student replied, staring at the slowly rising sun, beams of light breaking through the fog, illuminating the gloomy landscape. He wished it wasn’t. Not for him, but for the few Jews that had to look at it. As much as they may have hated their forced residence - a home is a home, and they had been living there long enough to come to know the ghetto as such. Now it was in ruins, buildings either levelled or full of so many holes they looked ready to collapse at a moment’s notice. They’d been told the fighting had been going on for nearly a month, which easily accounted for all the property damage, but Sebastian could scarcely comprehend just how destructive war was.
Just as he was trying to wrap his mind around what the ghetto may have looked like before a brilliant light, brighter than the sun in the sky, erupted across the town, surprisingly quiet. First came the heat from it before the magnificent thunder from the explosion, accompanied by the dreadful violins of a building crumbling.
“What the fuck was that?!” Sebastian asked in a slightly panicked tone, completely shocked out of his reverie.
“The synagogue.” muttered Ronald. “They blew up the synagogue.”
He stared out at the eerily silent landscape. Before, for all hours, there was gun shots ringing through the air, punctuated by the bang of grenades, with large engines constantly rumbling beneath these other noises. Now, all fighting parties are too shocked to continue their clashing. The sinister, empty hush that suddenly fell across the ghetto was just as quickly filled with wails of agony. Even the Jews Sebastian’s squadron was set to watch over started to let out hackle-raising sobs. Some pulled at their hair as they screamed out in Hebrew, others tearing at their dirty and hole filled clothing in a clear sign of anguish. The skyline was ominously barren with the temple no longer overlooking the city.
Sebastian could feel his soul throb as despaired cries rang out, making him grip his gun tighter. Would Ciel have reacted like this? Would Ciel even be able to look at him once he knew everything Sebastian had done and allowed to be done just to reunite with his lover? No. Ciel probably hated him now. He had betrayed the librarian, after all. No matter how calculated those words had been, that doesn’t ease the pain of Ciel screaming his hatred at him as Germans took him to be deported. They could go on to have the happiest future that anyone ever had or will have, Sebastian wouldn’t forget how Ciel sobbed at his treachery. Soon, Sebastian felt his misery was as great as the wailing Jews’ behind him.
Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. June 19th, 1943
When Sebastian awoke, at perhaps one as he had taken the night shift, the entire ghetto was burning in scarlet flames.
You might think he’d be shocked at this development. It’s surprising how quickly you become numb. The first time he saw a body, he wanted to vomit - amazing for one who aspired to the medical field. But this corpse wasn’t some clean cut, died-on-the-operating-table corpse, it was the most vile form of death Sebastian had ever seen: the Jew was dead by time he came across it, but whatever could have killed her, he couldn’t see; all he knew was that the torso and waist were disconnected from each other, with only the spine and a few internal organs that seeped out onto the bullet shell covered road keeping the two halves together. Her eyes were empty, no light of life behind them, yet this make her even more harrowing.
If Sebastian were to come across her today, retching wouldn’t even cross through his mind; he would just stomp on her throat to ensure she was dead.
He hasn’t had to kill by his own hand yet, but he had watched the SS line up Jews, proclaim them war criminals, and shoot them until their clips were empty. Only then, with bullets no longer holding them in the air, did the lifeless bodies drop to the earth with a wet squelch.
Sebastian stared out at the ghetto. Each building was being lit, one by one, new flames slowly added to the burning heat that the former student could feel unbearably well from where he stood.
Four days in the field and already he isn’t the same man that the train brought here.
Later that day, with Warsaw still in flames at their backs, Sebastian helped load up the Jews into olive green trucks. He was told they were to be taken to a concentration camp, straight to the gas chambers.
Something inside him told him that four days ago he would have fought for their liberation.
Now he hit a frail old man in the back with the butt of his rifle for not moving quickly enough.
More than just than constant screams, death, and explosions contribute to his change. Most of it was the total distrust within the Nazi ranks.
Everyone was trying to rise to the top, to stand by Hitler’s side. Nobody was afraid to speak a bad word against his fellow man, so long as it meant he got rewarded. Sebastian can honestly say Ronald Knox was the only one he would want guarding his back, anyone one else would just drive a knife through it, but even then his trust for the man is minute. In these short days, he learned to stand on his own, to value his own accompany against those of his squadron. He realised that the only way he was going to make it through this - him and Ciel - was for Sebastian to carry them both. No one else was going to help.
One Jew, an able young man with a squished nose and singed brown hair, took a look around then began to run towards the ghetto - perhaps in search of a family member or prized possession.
An officer only a couple metres behind Sebastian hollered, “ Schießen !” and Sebastian did without a thought for disobedience. He raised his rifle to his shoulder, as he’d been trained, with just the barest glimpse down the sights before he pulled the trigger. While he had been aiming for the middle of the Jew’s back, he hadn’t prepared for the gun’s recoil, still foreign to him as it is, the shot hit him in the back of his neck and the man dropped with a gurgled cry.
Agony, guilt, shame, self-loathing. None of these are what Sebastian felt as he watched the man die in the dirt. No. He felt… Powerful. Powerful in a way that was so different from what he knew. At university, he’d been training to save lives, to have dominance against nature. Now, he had puissance over death, to wield it as he pleased. A hellish beast leapt inside him, invigorating him with an addictive poison, urging him to use this new found authority on every last living being in the vicinity. It was survival of the fittest and he alone fit that quota.
Ciel would think he was a monster.