[24 fics in 24 hours, #7]
Derek blinks, and the world looks incredibly different. What happened? Did the witch transport him somewhere? He’s...
After watching “The Most Beautiful Death in the World,” (the second Kuroshitsuji musical) on YouTube last night, my husband and I were hanging out on the roof, admiring the city lights and the clouds rolling over the moon.
Then he turned to me and said, “If that moon tries to mock you, I will end it!”
(crossposted from Epic Recs on Livejournal)
Title: little lamb, stained in red
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Categories: Angst, character study
Length: Long (about 19,500 words)
Warnings: Underage (13-year-old boy/ageless demon). References to previous sexual abuse. Occult and cult activity. References to opium use. Victorian-era hypocrisies and graphic/dark content.
Summary: The hands before, the hands now. The same stains. The same dirty smell, the same sick feeling in his gut. This was the shame of Ciel Phantomhive.
Review: If you’re in the mood for something lighthearted and fluffy, you’ll want to stay as far away from “little lamb, stained in red” as possible. But if you’re in the mood for something dark and poetic, unsettling, yet strangely uplifting, do I have a story for you! Those who follow Kuroshitsuji know that Ciel Phantomhive is no ordinary 13-year-old. He’s a keen businessman, a ruthless leader in the Victorian underworld, and the master of one hell of a butler. In “little lamb, stained in red,” he also has a sexual relationship with said butler. Much of the story consists of Ciel comparing his relationship with Sebastian to his earlier abuse at the hands of the cultists who abducted him.
This story captures a lot of what unsettles me about the Sebastian/Ciel pairing. Yet paradoxically, it also highlights everything I love about their relationship. The lyrical, stream-of-consciousness prose positions the reader into Ciel’s head, and that’s never a comfortable place to be! Ciel skirts the edge of sanity in this story, as he does in canon. obstinate_fate also does not shy away from the problematic aspects of the age gap between Ciel and Sebastian. Though the sexual encounters are skimmed over with a few key details rather than a pornographic play-by-play, the constant references to Ciel’s size remind us how young he is, and the story dwells on sexual abuse that occurred when he was even younger. And, as in canon, Sebastian himself is something of an enigma. Though we get the sense he cares for Ciel, we’re never entirely sure of his feelings or his motivations. But this isn’t Sebastian’s story. It’s Ciel’s, and as such, it was entirely satisfying to me.
I first discovered this story through the podfic by rhea314, which does a beautiful job of conveying the stream-of-conscious prose. The podfic, like the story itself, demands the reader’s attention. I was trying to do the dishes my first time listening to it, and I kept realizing I’d missed some key detail and needing to rewind. But if you can listen while giving it your full attention (it is a favorite of mine for driving), it really is a treat. Rhea’s voice brings across Ciel’s youth as well as his instability, and I loved that she sang the song lyrics that twine through his memories.
This story, like the best Sebastian/Ciel fics, does not fall into the common romantic tropes. There is no magical healing cock here. Yet there is healing, though perhaps of the sort that only Ciel would recognize. It reminds me of the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold to illuminate the beauty of the cracks. As in canon, Ciel has managed to turn his pain into a victory of sorts, and if his story is a tragedy, it his his tragedy, and he’s walking into it with his head held high.
little lamb, stained in red
[podfic] little lamb, stained in red