Song as Old as Rhyme
Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: AU, but a couple of canon S3 elements (aka Cooper Anderson's existence)
Warnings: Fairytale violence
Word Count: 4,198 out of 12,233
Summary: The tale of a boy who became a Beast and the second-born prince who lived in the shadow of his Thrice Enchanted brother.
Author's Notes: Story is complete and will be posted in full over the next couple of days. Many thanks to whenidance for helping this story progress into more than me emailing her "what if I flipped Beauty and the Beast around, but like even more so than expected, and incorporated a bunch of my favorite fairytales and Cooper Anderson was the most famous prince in all the land?" Major ♥ ♥ ♥ to her for the beta and to icedwhitemochas as well.
Link to Part One: Our Heroes
Part Two: The Enchanted Kingdom
Now a Beast, Kurt spent his days indoors assisting his father, Burt Hummel, with his more advanced “everyday useful” mechanical devices. They had invented a horseless carriage, and it was a stunning device, one that Burt planned to showcase at a far-off exhibition, a personal invite at the behest of Lord Motta, who enjoyed delighting his somewhat spoiled daughter with only the newest of creations.
Kurt’s nights were the only time he was free to roam the land without fear. Sometimes his friends appeared outside of the stone cottage and sang with him, though he forbade them to see him in any natural light, for his appearance was so changed. Only the eyes remain as they ever were, and while his voice ought to be a growl, he still spoke and sang as he always had in strict defiance of the strong urge to speak in a monstrous tone, remembering the boy he was that existed before his self-inflicted curse.
Then he would look down at the twisted paws that were now his hands and wondered who could ever love such a beast?
The days passed slowly until the week before the exhibition, where it seemed as though there was far too much to do and not enough hours to accomplish the finishing touches on their horseless carriage. It was important for Burt Hummel to personally appear along with his invention though he was much distressed at leaving his son behind. He petted the heavy fur at his son’s nape, and tried to promise his quick return, though Kurt could only despair. He could not follow where his father went for no one, save for Brittany and those few of his friends who had glimpsed enough of his form to guess, knew what had happened to the Hummel boy let alone that he was now an accursed monster.
(Brittany had decided Kurt was simply in a suit and despite her requests to shave off his monster costume, Kurt declined the offers.)
It was on the forest road to the lands of Lord Motta that a terrifying pain that shot through Burt Hummel’s chest. Fortunately, or else there would be no further story, his horse was a brave strong creature and took off in the direction of the only seeming habitable place within the horse’s range, crossing over a bridge that was quite unattended.
The castle upon the hill looked to be in fine condition and the horse could not know what exactly it had come across, the gates swinging open almost of their own accord, there had to be someone there to help its master and that was all that mattered.
There were few actual animals in the kingdom of Dalton—everything had become some animated inanimate object.
Only birds were frequent visitors, and Blaine currently favored a sweet bird he called Pavarotti. A live bird was a much fairer companion than any he could expect while his brother was off seeking fame and yet more fortune. He was often visited by other bids bearing news of his brother’s exploits. A fortnight ago a carrier pigeon had dropped off news that Cooper planned to seek a dragon as dragons often stole away princesses and there was always dragon treasure to be had as well. He’d also added a newly written ballad of his most current exploits to be celebrated as a source of national pride upon his return.
Blaine did distribute pieces of the ever expanding Ballad of Prince Cooper Anderson the Twice Enchanted when he had a mind to but he rather sought the songs that had nothing to do with his famous brother to sing for his own pleasure.
He sang a bit with the bird when he did not sing with the little fixed cuckoos coming out of the clocks in the castle, the poor trapped members of the kingdom’s much loved Warblers choir did try to stay in good spirits despite their predicament. Blaine was often tempted to join the choir after his voice had settled as he had a strong desire for song but his duties as second born prince prevented him from participating.
(He sang a bit with his mother when he was young and did not know better. Alas, her own transformation had made their duets far more bittersweet, though he found sometimes to sing with her was much less heartbreaking than mere speech.)
The particular morning when the horse and his rider came upon the castle, Blaine was quite out of sorts, unable to find the one mug in the kitchen that was not a former servant (or a servant’s child, he apologized to the teacup profusely as he set the small squawking child back with his mother, the teapot). He was not fond of drinking out of people, despite their current appearance being ideal for liquid storage.
All thoughts of taking his breakfast were quite ended at the horse’s high whinny as it clomped into the grand castle entrance. Before Blaine could scarcely come to understand the situation, he took in the man’s ashen face and knew that he must do something immediately to ensure the first living human person he had seen in quite some time did not immediately expire in his home.
Fortunately the court’s healer was still quite adept despite being turned into an apothecary cabinet.
Unfortunately, the healer was the granddaughter of a fairy, and therefore tended to use obscure magical cures and was not exceedingly powerful (hence the kingdom still suffering under the enchantress’s curse). She could only stave off the current pains of the poor man, who could speak a little now thanks to the healer’s meager abilities.
The clocks struck news of the turning of the hour and the Warblers choir sang of the time and Blaine knew for this man, Burt Hummel, his time was soon to run out.
The healer told Blaine he must make haste on Burt’s horse (rested in the stables by several enchanted stableman of various types of tack) and find the man’s stone cottage where roses bloomed under the eastern window and take the most beautiful rose of the lot, returning the flower back to the castle. Only then would the man be healed under the specifics of the spell.
It was a most arduous ride for poor Blaine, as he had not seen another living person in several years and could not bear to let the man down despite his poor riding skills, having so decayed as all the kingdom’s horses had been transformed into wooden rocking horses. The horse’s rest ought not to have been enough to stir the creature into a fast pace yet it pushed on with a frenzy that Blaine could only surmise was the great love for its master.
He had no assurance that he would make it in time or that he could easily find the stone cottage that overlooked a meadow, where the precious rose of life waited to be plucked and brought to save the dying man.
But in a day’s time as nightfall approached, when he knew there was scarcely a day left to keep Burt Hummel lingering in the living world, he found the stone cottage that stood next to the most beautiful meadow and at the eastern window, the roses did bloom.
The rose was snipped off the bush before he realized the shadow looming over him was indeed more than a mere shadow.
“What are you, thief, who rode on my father’s horse?” So came the deadly snarl, high and almost beautiful, and Blaine quavered as he turned around and did gasp at the shape of the not-man in front of him. It was something not like a lion or wolf at all, nor a bear, standing on two legs. It wore heavy cloak over its shoulders and exposed a most stunning and vibrant waistcoat, or rather several patched quite masterfully together but its paws were large and sharp. Something like a man at its core, but terrible and wild. Blaine dared not look away.
“I have come to rescue Burt Hummel’s life. He was struck ill, I know not how, and my healer has some magic—the good I assure you!” he was hasty to add at the Beast’s further growl and how it menaced as it drew towards him ever closer. “There is but a day’s time left before the magic is spent and if you call this man your father, then please let me save his life. That is all I aim to do, on the instructions of my healer.”
“Take me to him immediately,” the Beast demanded and Blaine was nearly set to jump back on to wearied horse before the Beast shook its mighty head. “On my back and hold tight. I am faster than any horse.”
Blaine settled on the back, struck with the memory of the first time he had jumped up on his brother’s back. The Beast either smelled of rosewater or Blaine had lost all his senses, which was quite possible, as he trusted this Beast not to take him to some dark place and make a very fine meal of him.
“How much time is there truly?” the Beast asked suddenly, his voice quite altered, or rather, perhaps more its natural tone. There was an edge of worry that the Beast had not troubled to disguise.
“There is less than a day—” but that was all Blaine could say before the Beast ran with a force Blaine had never known before, and he held tight and kept silent, not realizing that it was a bit rude not to reveal his kingdom’s particular enchantment to this poor accursed fellow.
It was the Beast who delivered the rose into the healer’s room, his stride far too powerful for Blaine’s human legs. There was a brief pause where the Beast stared at the lack of a person next to his ailing father and as Blaine decided it would be better to let the father and son reunion happen without him looming, he quickly explained that the healer was a cabinet, much to the Beast’s confusion.
“My kingdom is under an enchantment,” Blaine told the Beast and the Beast made a noise at that, which Blaine almost mistook for a laugh. “I will leave so that my healer may attend to your father in private.”
Some hours later the Beast emerged, the healer seemingly pushing him out. It had become a familiar sight of objects moving under their own volition but to see a dresser able to move a creature Blaine knew had quite immeasurable power was most bizarre. The healer said in a chiding but kindly tone, “Your father needs rest, Master Kurt.”
Blaine pretended not to hear the name as he ought to introduce himself first, as regent of his kingdom, such as it was.
“My name’s Blaine,” he said once the Beast was looking in his direction, though the Beast took little notice of him. He seemed to be more interested in forcing his way back into the room, his fine claws (that Blaine noticed were well-maintained and almost shone in the dawning light) resting against the closed door. “That is to say, I am Prince Blaine of Dalton. My brother is our kingdom’s true ruler, but I am to look after our lands in his stead.”
The Beast only stared, a heavy eyebrow raised, all the better for the bright color of his eyes to entrap Blaine in the unfathomable gaze and after a stilted pause, Blaine tried again.
“Cooper Anderson the Twice Accursed?” (For he had not yet been Thrice Accursed.) “Perhaps your lands are not familiar—”
“I know the ballad of Prince Cooper Anderson,” said the Beast.
“Yeah, Cooper’s the one who started singing it,” Blaine muttered under his breath but the Beast must have far better hearing for he snorted in amusement. “I’m sorry to have made such a poor introduction, but I hope you could perhaps spare me one that I do not deserve?”
The Beast hesitated, glancing to the door before he made his decision. “I’m Kurt Hummel. Or—I was, once. I am what you see now. A monster.”
“A guest of my kingdom,” Blaine said firmly. “I will call you Kurt if you will call me Blaine. I’d rather not the Prince part if you can spare it, as I’m not much of a prince.”
“Yes, I think a better prince would have long ago freed his people from a misguided attempt to protect them, for that is what you see here, the work of an enchantment meant to preserve our kingdom and yet, it is not so. Please let me make you my personal guest and your father as well, of course, as he recuperates. I’ve not had much conversation with people as of late, am I saying too much? I think I am saying too much.”
“You are saying far enough,” Kurt replied, astonished. “Have you not—you’re not blind are you?”
“You see me such as I am?”
“Well, I hope I am not being rude but I am assuming that you were not always so?” That seemed the kindest way to put Kurt’s appearance and Kurt nodded, his heavy mane shaking. “As long as you have no plans to destroy my people, and the best way to avoid that is to simply ask any objects if they’re people or not before using them, then I see you as you are. Another person.”
Kurt made a noise, one that Blaine did not understand and he hurried on to explain, “Believe me, I’ve sat upon a couple of servants by accident despite knowing better and they seemed quite out of sorts. You are most welcome here and please, feel free to explore at your leisure. Though I must request that you do not go into the west wing.”
“It is forbidden?” The voice seemed off somehow, as though Kurt pitched it lower to strike terror in Blaine’s heart. While Kurt could easily pick Blaine up and dash him against the stone walls, Blaine felt only sympathy. For Kurt obviously could only understand things being forbidden to him.
“No, it’s simply to spare another’s curse from being exposed without preparing her about the new guests to our castle,” Blaine said, a vague explanation but he had yet to mention to his mother that two people now had come into the kingdom. Yes, one of whom was perhaps not entirely human but obviously a young man quite worried for his father, but still, they had not had guests for a very long time. The sudden elation that he truly had people once more in Dalton, that he had assisted in preventing a man’s death caused him to continue to talk, optimism burning bright. “I hope I’m not overstepping, but I’ve helped break a curse or two, despite my failure to my own kingdom so I’ve learned a few tricks in rescuing others from their plight.”
It sounded like bragging to Blaine’s own ears but he was suddenly quite hopeful as though this would be the very day he could finally save someone after years of watching his people suffering under the enchantment.
Kurt was silent but gave no inclination that he did not want Blaine’s help.
“Did the sorcerer (or fairy, or enchantress, or strange fellow of the forest, or river folk, there are so many who could have caused such a transformation!) say there was an unmaking in your own enchantment?”
“This was my wish,” said Kurt with a terrifying ferocity and he turned away quite suddenly, galloping at a speed Blaine could not follow.
Blaine did not seek out Kurt until it was near dinner time and after he searched the most significant rooms on the first floor (his heart ached looking at the empty throne room where once all was decorated in braided ropes of spun gold and now was full of dusty straw) he went upstairs and found Kurt in the library. He was sitting on the floor, his paws delicately holding a particularly large tome of illustrated maps.
“These are exquisite,” Kurt said without turning around. “I always wanted to travel.”
“That book is a particular favorite of mine. I have heard many tales of many faraway places and in that, gotten to see the boundaries of such lands. I personally have only gone to a few neighboring kingdoms.”
“The life of a prince.” It was said mockingly but Blaine could hear the curiosity.
“In my journeys, I rarely traveled under my true title and one time, was very lucky to escape with not only my life but my brother’s as well.” He looked away, the memory of a witch boxing him about the ears for being such a clumsy servant one he’d rather forget. “That is a tale for another time. Would you like dinner?”
“I suppose if you could spare food, then yes, show me your kitchen—”
“Why would I do that?” Blaine asked, most puzzled. “You are my guest, so obviously you must be seated at my table. My table that is not a person,” he said hazarding a guess at why Kurt sat upon the floor when there were several fine carved chairs in the room. “Nor the chairs. Some of the serving dishes might be servants. There’s—a bit of a show. Sorry. We haven’t really seen people in a while and there has been some discussion of providing appropriate entertainment.”
“Is there singing?”
“Well if you don’t want us to sing—”
“You’ll be singing? A prince?”
Blaine blushed at the look in Kurt’s eyes, and he wondered if they were similar to his human eyes. They must be a bit enchanted for the color was quite stunning, and made Blaine feel as though he ought to remember this was both his guest and a man who chose a nonhuman form to survive in the world and therefore had little thoughts about the fluttery feelings of a young and sheltered prince.
“It’s not a terribly long song. I promise you that it will not be boring, our kingdom is quite proud to offer fine entertainment no matter the occasion.”
Kurt stood with a kind of grace that was unexpected such as he was. “Then I simply must witness this.”
Blaine grinned once Kurt walked past him as he had rehearsed this quite a bit and was hopeful he’d impress the man.
Kurt was utterly confused. Of course being in a land where there were no people, save for his recuperating father and the prince, reacting in that way was not entirely unexpected.
He had heard of Dalton before—only as the kingdom of the dashing and handsome Prince Cooper Anderson the Twice Enchanted—but not that it had fallen under a strange curse. Prince Cooper’s latest exploits in the Lands Across the Great Sea were all the rage as far as any of his friends best at gossiping were concerned about and no one had ever bothered to go visit Dalton in last two years since it lacked its most famous hero.
It was Blaine that was the chief source of Kurt’s confusion. This young temporary regent who Kurt had never heard of, who was so kind and didn’t even shudder when Kurt used his paw to split open one of the roast shanks at their dinner together, what sort of person could he be?
It was a question Kurt had yet to solve. As they dined, Blaine had marveled that Kurt was quite fortunate to favor his hands to partake of the meal as he often accidentally picked up a knife that was in reality a most affronted person and then found his appetite was no longer a priority.
Blaine also said he had some luck with breaking curses, but that comment Kurt tried to push far from his thoughts, for it would do no good.
Instead he spent time with his father when Burt Hummel was awake. The rose over his heart still bloomed thanks to the magic of the healer, a very most agreeable thing though she was still trapped in the guise of an apothecary cabinet. His father could talk a little when he was not completely exhausted, and commented that if he could make the kind of moving devices inhabited in the castle, they’d be quite wealthy.
Kurt could not quite explain to him about the enchantment, deciding it was Blaine’s tale to tell.
Which Blaine did in a rousing fashion once Burt was less inclined to doze off in the middle of a conversation. Blaine admitted he would be quite interested in mechanical devices that were not actually people.
Other times were spent in the library, or the gardens within the castle walls. Not a single person anywhere and as for animals, he only sighted distant birds in the sky, one in particular returning now and again to a window high in one of the towers of the west wing.
Perhaps Blaine was afflicted with a sort of madness that made him unnaturally polite to monsters.
It was in these thoughts that Blaine found him, in one of the hedge mazes. “I know a shortcut if you dare,” he said eagerly to Kurt, offering his arm as though he expected Kurt to link his arm through as though it was nothing. “It will only be a while and then you’ll be there. For after discussing things over, you’re invited to meet my mother. It is best if you sing, for the rhyme’s the thing.”
“Oh.” Blaine immediately dropped his arm and shrugged and then made a great show of shaking his head. His smile was quick and he ducked his head to hide it though it stirred something in Kurt’s heart that he refused to dwell upon. “I forget myself after speaking with my mother. I’m sorry for not speaking of her sooner but she is a bit private and unfortunately she had the most specific part of the enchantment laid upon her.”
“It involves rhyming?”
“Well,” Blaine said, thinking it over. “We try to do more singing because talking while rhyming can get annoying.”
“I hope she’s better than you at least. Over and mother as a rhyme? Really, Blaine? That’s quite a cheat.”
“I cannot claim to be good at it, it’s true,” Blaine allowed and he made another great demonstration of showing the way to the west wing, up steps that seemed to be missing some inlaid coils in the stone, Blaine apologizing for the look of things, long hallways bare of any carpets that Kurt would expect in a fine castle. He stopped to open the door leading into the place that was once his mother’s dressing room, removing a key that was strung about his neck to unlock it.
The mirror was one of the finest in the land; wrought silver all around and a clearer surface that could not be compared. And when Blaine entered, the faint outline of a woman took form in the reflection, the similarity enough for Kurt to understand this was Blaine’s mother.
At least for a moment as when Kurt stepped into view, for the first time in many years, he saw himself, such as he was no longer, perhaps a bit different as though despite his transformation the human side of him had done some fair growing up while stuck in his hideous form. He stepped out of the way before Blaine could see what was forever lost, suddenly ashamed.
“Sorry, you have to step just off to the side,” Blaine explained. “Holding her form is difficult as everyone save me was meant to be turned into objects and not look like a person at all.”
“Alas,” the voice said, beautiful and faintly echoing. “So many years lost to the time and here, my son brings the mocker of rhymes.”
Kurt peered at an angle to see the ghost shape once more and Blaine smiled at his mother a little sadly. It made Kurt realize with a jolt that this particular adventure of Cooper Anderson’s family would never be told, never remembered, as it was no brave tale fitting of Cooper’s supposed heroism.
“Mother, this is Kurt Hummel, the proof you can surely attest. His father convalesces in our castle and he is our guest. I believe he and his father are very fine inventors from what Sir Burt has told me—”
Kurt was quick to interrupt. “My father doesn’t have a title—”
But it was the Queen and her voice that rang out the loudest. “Tis true, the father, in time, will not, but the son shall never be forgot. I had hoped at least…for a son-in-law, not a beast.”
“Mother,” Blaine protested, high color upon his cheeks. “You are forgetting you are to think in present thought and not reflect, I mean, this prophecy speak, um, it is rather, that is to say, Kurt will think it cheek.”
“You are really bad at speaking rhymes,” Kurt marveled, attempting to ignore that Blaine’s mother suffered an affliction with a touch of prophecy and called him quite rightly a beast and that she expected Blaine to marry a man. That was something Kurt could not believe to be true, despite talking to a Queen in a mirror. “It is a pleasure, fair Queen, to speak with thee, for such as it seems, as you can see, though I am more beast than man, I shall repay your son’s great kindness, such as I can, though I still wonder if he suffers blindness, for he has not ordered me to the wild, perhaps he thinks me a beast most mild.”
There was a ripple in the mirror’s manifestation, as though the Queen was attempting to move around in the mirror to get a closer look. “Transfixed as a beast it is easy to speak wise yet the man suffers under his lies. Welcome to our unnatural blight for it is here perhaps that you end your plight.”
The faint reflection faded and Blaine stood more squarely in front of the mirror, humming a bit wordlessly and then waiting a moment before he explained, “I think she’s gone to rest. I don’t know why she insisted on speaking prophecy. My apologies.”
Kurt tilted his head there. “Are you trying to rhyme?”
Blaine smiled. “Certainly not. Come, I’m sure you want to see your father. And let me be clear, I only called your father Sir Burt as I plan to knight him in honor of his service once he recovers fully.”
“And what service is that?”
“It has been a long time since I have seen people and I had been quite lonely,” Blaine admitted, “for that alone, his arrival to Dalton is more than I can repay any man. I also spoke with him a bit more about his inventions. A horseless carriage that is not an enchanted person? That would be quite a wonder, I assure you. I figured I could convince him to build me one for my use, after he is well recovered naturally, if I offered a knighthood and a promise of friendship between our kingdom and the inventor from the stone cottage.”
“That is quite a sinister plot, seeking an alliance with my father,” Kurt said, though he was teasing and wondered a bit at how easy it was to fall into happy conversation with Blaine.
“I will be honest—we are a kingdom of two particular accomplishments: a severe enchantment and absolute destitution. Save for our lands, which are difficult to harvest as we—well, I—have no people to tend after them, there is nothing of value to Dalton. I fear you and your father will suffer to have friends of such little interest.”
“Except for all the talking objects, many of whom are accomplished performers despite not having real bodies.”
Blaine inclined his head, allowing that as though it was a small trifle. “I do suppose if my brother finds a wife or treasure, or both, considering how his luck runs, that we shall have that as our future prospects but that may be a long way off. He recently went to a kingdom afflicted with a hundred years of sleep. There may be a dragon most deadly that he will undoubtedly slay.”
“That’ll be quite the song if he manages it.” At seeing Blaine’s discomforted look, Kurt added, “Though while hearing of dragons is fascinating, I confess that I was quite intrigued by the new performance offered at yesterday’s dinner.”
“You didn’t mind me jumping on the table last night?”
“I thought it very becoming, even when you almost stepped in the pudding.”
Blaine’s laugh was pure joy and Kurt could not help joining it, almost feeling entirely, blissfully human. He said after they had quieted down, “I like that very much.”
“Not stepping into pudding?”
“No. Your laugh.”
Their conversation died at that and they took purposeful steps towards Burt’s chambers where they might see if Burt was up to joining them at dinner and hopefully dissipate the sudden awkwardness that had formed, Kurt pushing away the prophecy of a Queen in a mirror and the aching yearning in his heart—the vision of his true self in the mirror. What was worse was his private desire for Blaine to have caught a glimpse of it despite Kurt’s efforts to prevent such from happening.
Part Three: Out of the Woods