@everyone who told me that I would love the Emerald Witch Arc
You were right. It's currently 12:30am, so kindly ignore any spelling/grammar errors in this post, but I'm about halfway through volume 19 and I'm already overwhelmed with so many emotions. So, some initial thoughts~
The twin theory. I have seen posts here on Tumblr about 'R!Ciel' and 'O!Ciel', and honestly, before I had context, they confused me a bit. But even before seeing those posts, I had theories about Ciel having a sibling/a twin before his contract with Sebastian was created, and there are so many things in the manga that imply that this theory is correct, so to have that confirmed is still really satisfying.
Finny. I just have so many feelings about Finny right now. His story seems... darker, somehow, than what we were shown in the anime. Maybe it's just a little bit more graphic with the violence of it in the manga? Something about it just seems even more intense than what the anime showed, which I think is saying something.
But it only makes me love Finny even more, because look at everything he's been through, and look at what a wonderful person he still is. He's taking care of Ciel, he's doing everything that he possibly can to protect him while he's in this extremely vulnerable state and make him feel safe. He's genuinely worried about Ciel and he wants desperately to make everything better for them, and I just-... I love their friendship so much. It is criminally underrated, they clearly care about each other, and if anyone tries to say that they aren't friends after this, I will riot.
Tanaka. I hate that the more I read the manga, the more implausible it seems that he had nothing to do with the fires that killed Ciel's parents. I love Tanaka, and I don't want Ciel to lose yet another member of his found family, but I've had a theory for a while that there's more to Tanaka than we know, and that he might (willingly or not) have had something to do with the fires that killed Ciel's parents. First of all, he is (as far as I know, at least) the only Phantomhive servant that survived the fires. Everyone else (aside from Ciel, obviously) presumably died that night. No other servants have been mentioned, they weren't brought back when Ciel returned, so I assume that they died that night. Furthermore, Tanaka was hurt that night, from what appeared to be a stab wound- who the hell stabbed him, and why?
And O!Ciel has made multiple references to R!Ciel in this volume (saying things like 'Ciel doesn't want to be hurt anymore', not wanting to see Sebastian because of what happened to Ciel, ect.), and the others likely assume that the young master is simply not aware of what he is saying, that his illness has him delirious, but I'm not convinced that it wouldn't have at least crossed Tanaka's mind that perhaps the young master is remembering/referring to his late sibling. Tanaka also seems fairly calm about Ciel's condition and about the way that Sebastian is handling it (while the other servants accuse Sebastian of being heartless/not caring about Ciel), which to me seems to imply that he either has a lot of trust in Sebastian, or that maybe he is hiding something.
Lastly. Dadbastian. You all knew this was coming. I am absolutely loving the Dadbastian content in this volume. The way that Sebastian escorted Ciel safely back to his room the moment he sensed a legitimate threat to Ciel's safety. The way that he rushed back to Ciel as soon as he realized that the threat had already gotten to the kid. His panic and desperation as he searched for help, as he made that deal with Sullivan (since when do demons make deals with humans that don't result in a contract?), and as he followed Sullivan's instructions without question in order to safe Ciel's life.
And can we talk about how Sebastian remembered that warm milk with honey tends to soothe Ciel when he's upset/scared? The contract may dictate that he protect Ciel, that he keep him alive until he gets his revenge, but it does not dictate that he remember small details about Ciel, or that he know how best to soothe Ciel's anxiety. As far as the contract is concerned, as long as Ciel is still alive and not in excruciating physical pain, then he can still take out his revenge and the contract has not been breached. It does not dictate that Sebastian care about Ciel's comfort. It doesn't demand that Sebastian take care of Ciel the way that he does- the way that a caregiver would. A way that shows attention to detail, and concern for Ciel's comfort, a way that makes Ciel feel seen and cared for, a way that makes him feel safe.
Which is what makes all of this so utterly heart wrenching, because Ciel doesn't feel safe right now. He's hurting, badly. He's reliving the worst time of his life, and this poor kid is beyond terrified. And Sebastian has to instruct Finny on how to bring Ciel some level of comfort, because Ciel told Sebastian not to touch him, so what else can Sebastian do? Ciel is alive, so the contract hasn't been broken, but Sebastian is worried about Ciel's wellbeing. He knows that Ciel is scared, and he desperately wants to comfort him, to protect him from psychological pain as well as physical. But he can't do that right now. He can't read Ciel a bedtime story, or sit by his bedside until he falls asleep, or bring him warm milk and honey, so instead he's carrying on in the way that he thinks his master would want him to, and he's telling Finny how to protect Ciel in the way that Sebastian, at the moment, cannot.
He can't be near Ciel, but no one can say that Sebastian isn't trying with everything he's got to protect his kid. And that urge to protect Ciel from this psychological trauma, that need to comfort him, isn't because of their contract. That concern is born of genuine love for this little kid that desperately needs someone to care about him.