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: 5,177 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: 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
Part 3: Out of the Woods
Alas, Burt had not been able to join them that night or even for a full week, despite Kurt inviting Burt every midday lunch, a meal he always took in private with his father.
Blaine’s dinner productions grew more elaborate, ending on the seventh night with the chandelier deigning to allow Blaine’s weight so that Blaine could attempt a particularly dangerous yet beautifully executed jump on the table, landing dangerously close in front of Kurt, that for one brief, chaotic moment Kurt was sure Blaine might land in Kurt’s arms.
That he would not have minded—that worried him deeply.
Kurt had risked it then, after it was over and Blaine’s face was still flushed with exertion: “When your brother returns, will you go off adventuring and charming your way across the world?”
“I had thoughts, once, about it,” Blaine said, a small frown vanishing as he looked at Kurt. “I think when all is restored, I could be happy, yes, but I cannot image going off on my own.”
“This soup is delicious,” Kurt said, quite uneasy at the expression of Blaine’s face (for there was no denying Blaine’s handsomeness, had not he been the younger brother of the most handsome prince in the world, perhaps Blaine would earned a minor ballad or two in his own right). Blaine’s face was geared for such honesty of expression that even Kurt who willed himself into only seeing the worst in people, in assuming that his form would only inspire disgust, could only see the plainness of Blaine’s admiration and he could not allow himself to dream further than that. “My father would like it.”
“I will have it sent straight away,” Blaine said and Kurt pretended to be very invested in the sight of a wheeled tray scurrying out of the dining hall of its own volition.
Burt was able to join them for dinner under his own power on the eighth day and despite Kurt’s hope that it would be a sufficient stalling tactic to cure the oddness that had settled between him and Blaine, his father had decided instead to relay every story that Kurt never needed Blaine to know about Kurt’s own insignificant adventures.
He told tales of when Kurt was once young and foolish enough to show off, how he would sing and dance about town when he was still just another human boy, his friends once memorably getting hit by dozens of loaves of bread after the baker was not amused by a song they performed in the town’s central fountain. Blaine drank every story in, requested details with such earnestness and cast the warmth of his gaze to Kurt so sweetly that Kurt almost forgot that the boy he once was would never again be known.
Finally, Kurt was forced to regale them with a bit of his own story of transformation, how he had mistakenly thought he’d made a wish of improvement but of course, one ought to be wary of magical beans, despite a well-intentioned friend, and this was the result.
“Maybe some other kind of enchanted food would restore you!” Blaine seemed awfully eager to break Kurt’s curse though it certainly didn’t seem to be because he was disgusted by the current look of Kurt. “My brother once ate the kind of lettuce that turned him into a donkey and there was another sort of leaf that turned him back that I discovered, as the witch sometimes turned her transformed donkeys back into people when there were high enough ransoms to be had. She would feed the poor folk forgetting draughts so they no longer remembered their time as her beasts of burden. There are always ways, and perhaps there is a bean of restoration.”
“I gotta say, Kurt, Blaine has a point. Maybe we can figure out how to break it for once and all.”
At that, Kurt stood, which he knew could be frightening, for he saw how big his shadow looked in the lights of the dining hall. “Your offer is kind, Blaine, but you have done much for my family, do not feel that you must do anything more. We must depart as soon as my father is well enough and for repayment, offer a horseless carriage as thanks.”
He hurried out as soon as Blaine nodded, pretending that was the end of it, though he caught the disappoint in his father’s face. There would be no stopping Burt Hummel. To the forest he would go tonight to better remember what he truly was.
The silence between Burt and Blaine was a weighty thing.
Burt Hummel was a man of few regrets. He missed his wife greatly, for while theirs might have been an unsung love, it had been quite powerful and it still ached in his bones. His deepest sadness was that he had failed his son by making Kurt believe he was unworthy and that his son would never be freed from his curse.
“You should tell my kid, you know.”
Blaine looked away, guilt clear across his face. “I wish I could play a pretense but it seems I’ve been obvious about it. I do not think Kurt would appreciate the sentiment, no matter how deeply felt.”
“A lot of words for saying you like a guy. That’s it, right? You like my son—in that way.” While Burt Hummel was not one to mince words, it was an odd thing to speak to a man who favored other men and found his son so favorable he longed to free Kurt from his curse. “It’s fine if you do. Not too surprising, I mean.”
“I do not think he—” Blaine stopped suddenly, looking down at his hands. “I have been very presumptive.”
“Don’t let the hair and fur fool you, kid,” Burt said, and he added with a wince, “your highness,” as he was speaking to a prince, despite how very young Blaine looked, drawn into himself. “We Hummels are pretty thick-headed but our hearts, well, you found me with moments left. They get bruised real easy. And love ain’t no easy thing.”
“Love,” Blaine breathed out, looking at Burt. “Yes, I do quite love him. I wish that was enough. If only.”
“I’ve had lots of if onlys. I’ll go see where Kurt is and talk to him. You’re a pretty all right prince, you know.”
Blaine blinked. “I don’t. I mean, thank you, but I don’t think I—”
“Well, you are.” Burt stood and clapped Blaine on the shoulder, and Blaine nodded, letting himself believe in that moment that things would be better, that indeed, all would be for the best.
The forest was quiet and foreboding and Kurt ought to get used to it. One day, when he was no longer able to hide out in the stone cottage, this would have to become his home, and the darkness his dearest friend. He knew he was moping and he had chosen to do it in style, wearing a dark cloak he had repurposed from an old wardrobe, a brooch at his throat that Blaine had given him, one handmade but a gift he could not refuse.
Kurt saw the poor bird caught in the thorns and pulled it free, a roll of paper falling from its leg as the string was much loosened. The bird seemed of better sorts once freed and quickly flew off, forgetting its package. Kurt unfurled the note and saw, with a date of a mere week ago a hastily written letter addressed to Blaine.
Had he perhaps not been out of sorts he would not read the message but he saw it began with Dearest Brother and was quite curious of what adventures Prince Cooper had experienced that he wrote in such a sloppy hand, ink spilling across the messy letters.
Brother, I am coming home. The dragon was no match for me and while the lady who cowered under the vicious creature was only the daughter of a minor Duke, the dragon’s hide was coated in jewels and I had my men roll up the hide and they shall be transporting it back to Dalton immediately. I myself am taking a minor excursion to settle a quarrel with an Old Fox who much deceived me about the princess, or rather lack thereof. Make sure my rooms are ready. All my best to my adoring subjects, if I have time, I will finish off the next part of my glorious ballad, which I hope will inspire them about my magnificence.—Cooper
Kurt felt a touch ashamed about reading such private words but as he remembered that the enchantment ought to end upon Cooper’s return he felt his heart sink deeper with inexplicable sadness that Blaine’s time in his enchanted world was soon to end. It was a selfish feeling, naturally, for once Blaine had actual people around him, perhaps then his eyes would be clear to see the horror he had treated as a person true, and with that, Kurt realized he must away with his father tomorrow night, all the better to protect himself from future pain.
He would leave some sort of message to Blaine expressing his gratitude but his time in the kingdom would be over as soon as all was returned and the restored people came to realize that they had allowed a Beast to stay among like as though he was their equal—and worse, that he had the favor of one of their princes.
With that conviction, Kurt set back on the path to the castle.
The Prince had learned many lessons in his adventuring, one of which was the necessary dramatic reveal. After he’d sent his manservant away with his horse, as he wanted to surprise his nation and he knew that the wooded path was a fine place to be in the dark, he practiced his smile that he would deploy to the beloved people. He had no fear of danger as he wore a fine fox fur, all golden red, and no weapon could harm him with such a skin about his person. For, as stated in the letter, he had settled his debt and now wore the fine pelt of the trickster fox.
Do not be alarmed; skinning the nasty fellow was the kindest thing Prince Cooper could do in his battle against the fox. He saved many from the ruinous plans that old crafty fellow had and he had raided the fox’s horde and found several delightful treasures that were nearly priceless for they were so rare, and by taking them back to his kingdom, would share with all the magnificence and wealth of such forgotten items.
He walked and the woods seemed to shiver in anticipation. The dawn was breaking slowly, bright and true. It would be a glorious day.
In an eager mood, he almost missed the shape in the dark, not a man or a kindly creature and the arrow was set on his bow before he allowed the Beast to snack upon its princely prey.
The arrow pierced through the layers (why would a beast wear clothes?) and sunk deep in Kurt’s back.
The howl had been loud as anticipated but what Cooper did not expect as he looked over the dying body was that it was dressed in fine—if curiously designed—clothes and that next to one of its paws was a letter the very shape of one he had sent Blaine a week ago. There was some hasty writing on the outside of it, a painfully neat scribbling that Cooper could barely make out in the early morning light.
He did catch at the end, a signature and he tried out the name. “Kurt?”
The Beast made a great moan in response and said in a voice under great pain, “You shot me.”
“You’re—you’re a—” he looked back down at the note, at quite a loss, and saw written your kind hospitality, Blaine, means more than I can express and said in quite alarm, “You’re my brother’s guest?”
Any kingly born knew better than to assault a personal guest of the royal family! Cooper had not been away that long or grown that wild (despite his rather fetching travel-grown beard) to forget such lessons. Alas, the Beast—Kurt—was far too large and clearly too heavy to wrangle to the castle but never mind that all, for at that very moment he crossed into the official boundary of his kingdom and the ground shook under his feet, welcoming him home.
Before the clever spell finally broke, in the castle, Blaine had endured quite a night.
Burt Hummel had offered further wisdom as he was most grateful for Blaine’s ardent offer to release Kurt from his enchantment, for Burt Hummel was the goodly kind of fellow that ought to be in more stories as there’d be less trouble and a good deal more kindness. While Blaine was greatly flattered that Burt thought his offer came from a generous place, that didn’t help him in feeling that he yet again overreached and now Blaine was quite convinced that his adoration of Kurt had lead him to suggest ways of breaking Kurt’s curse simply for his own selfish motivation so that he might gain Kurt’s favor.
Or rather his grandest purpose, to resurrect Kurt back into his true body and with such gratitude, Kurt would look fondly upon Blaine and allow Blaine to offer some small measure of courtship.
(He knew that many princes wound up married to their true love in more ridiculous fashions but Blaine hadn’t even the courage to ask Kurt if he liked him in such a way.)
Then he had gone off to speak (sing) with his mother who had quite a lot to say about Cooper’s exploits (not all of them particularly noble, for it was his manservant who had severed the dragon’s head before Cooper had pierced its heart but already there were ballads of Cooper’s bravery) and then revealed that Kurt would be the messenger of a note that would save the kingdom but break Blaine’s heart, which was exactly the wrong sort of thing to tell Blaine and he had not much desire to sing with his mother any longer and made hasty excuses to leave quite abruptly. He dared not venture out in the forest though he was quite sure that was the direction Kurt had went off to, there was nothing that he could say other than an outright love confession that would be stammering and desperate, no it would be better to figure out a more sincere method. Revising the speech in his mind lead to Blaine wandering the castle as the morning dawned, utterly restless and frayed on the single hope that he could perform the right grand gesture and maybe, just maybe Kurt would see his love was right and true.
He did not notice until the kitchen cabinet was suddenly brimming full of stunned people instead of enchanted mugs that Cooper had finally crossed into the border of Dalton.
“He’s home,” he said, and was swept into a large hug as so many of his people happily reacquainted themselves with moving in their true bodies. As soon as he managed to pry himself free from the happy jubilations, he wondered if Kurt had returned from his wherever and how soon he could reveal to Kurt his true feelings.
There was, if any cared to follow it, a remarkable scarlet stained trail from the boundary of the forest leading to the grand entrance of the castle, and follow it, some men did, gazing in horror and fascination at the heavy creature that their newly returned Prince Cooper had demanded be carried straight away inside the castle walls.
“We must be quick, men!” Cooper cried out, and it was quite easy for him say as the burden was carried by his people and his arms were free to point towards their final stop.
Blaine was forced to spend his morning rushing back and forth to help ready the way for Cooper’s return and assist any person still a bit confounded. His mother tried to show some support though she was still most displeased from her time spent as a mirror, and whenever there was a pause in the conversation of some freed person in high praise of their ability to dance a jig or simply scratch an itch they’d had for many a year behind their ear, she kept asking wherever that handsome young man had gone to, as he ought be here in the celebrations, and perhaps if Blaine had not been so exhausted he would’ve realized a mirror might’ve shown his mother the true reflection of Kurt.
Instead he wondered if Kurt delayed his return in fear of the reactions of his newly returned people and the thought unsettled him deeply, perhaps Kurt would not care to be in a place brimming of unenchanted folk, and this would be Blaine’s undoing, for a prince had duties and Kurt had no serious reason to be attached to him and all his obligations. His heart heavy, he pressed on, even running into Burt Hummel, and managing a whole minute before inquiring if Burt had yet seen his son. Alas news on that front was negative and before Burt could offer him any kind gesture, there was a great crash and rising noises issuing from the grand entrance.
Cooper swung through the castle doors with grand purpose, the great shape of Kurt’s form carried by several men as Cooper shouted for assistance.
Blaine felt the floor beneath him crumble as his mother gave a great shout and asked whatever had happened?
“Kurt,” Blaine said weakly, still fixed to the spot of his doom, and Burt Hummel rushed, much against the healer’s cry, to his son’s side.
His mother’s arms wrapped around him, strong and sure as she tried to keep Blaine from falling to the floor. He idly realized this was the first time he had experienced his mother’s hug in quite a long time and that she kept repeating the same words, “Don’t look. Don’t look.”
But he must, because it was Kurt and he did not mean to push her away or to take the unsteady steps towards Kurt and fall upon his knees once he was there, but that was exactly what happened.
There was an awful lot of blood on Kurt’s waistcoat. What had been both majestic and terrifying about him had turned weak and Kurt could take only shallow breaths that seemed to cause much agony. Vaguely he felt the healer try to lay her hands on his shoulders to move him away but Blaine shrugged her off. Burt held one of Kurt’s hands, that mighty paw barely able to hold on and Burt’s face was ashen.
“Kurt,” Blaine said and his voice was all panic, “please, speak to me.”
With great effort, Kurt looked upon him and let out a broken breath. “Blaine. If things were different. If I wasn’t dying—”
“Don’t say such a thing! Our healer has restored your father, perhaps you will be even easier.” The lie fell so desperate from Blaine’s lips, but he let himself believe it in that moment, that just as his kingdom was restored, this was a day meant for miracles.
“I dipped my arrows in the dragon’s blood,” Cooper said, too loudly, dropping to his knees. He did not expect Blaine to push his hand away when he placed it on Blaine’s yet he did not seemed surprised by it. His head was bowed. “It was a strong poison, brother. I don’t know how much time is left.”
“Be quiet.” Blaine touched Kurt’s face, the first time he had ever dared, the chill and morning dew that cling to the many shades of brown, all light and dark. He said, confident in a way he had never quite allowed himself to before, “I promise you that you will not die.”
Promises are made often to be broken. A prince swears his undying love but at the end of the story, he must die. A foolish lover swears forever and then mischief, curses, and heartbreak get in the way. All these things are true and in this ending, ought to be expected as just another grand gesture, one that will lead to the most inevitable of conclusions.
There was not much time left and though Kurt might have yearned to wish for more, he knew all the wishes turned to nightmares, could feel it in how his body almost felt like the one he had before he’d made an ill-fated wish, and the way blackness swam into his senses, dulling everything except for the faint touch of his father’s hand as Burt said his fondest nickname, and that of Blaine, the boy he could not and now would never have.
Kurt coughed and yet more blood spilled on the floor. “I would have loved you. I love you, despite what I am. Perhaps, if you—”
“Don’t say your goodbye, please.”
“I would never,” Kurt said, but despite that his eyes felt heavy and he longed to close them and rest. There was a comfort in the dark, no longer something he had made himself endure, but a welcome that there would be no pain and he was succumbing to its deadly offer.
Blaine pressed his face close and whispered, “I love you.”
Kurt felt something shatter within him, something that he had buried along ago, a hope that he had tried with all his might to smite but still it flickered in its prison but it was much too late, the poison did its work and he had said his goodbyes to his father and to Blaine. Yet, it burned within him, this last desperate need and he tried to but he could not finish it, scarcely whispering a word, “I—”
There was a terrible striking of the clock, as though the finality of some sort of magic had ceased.
All was quiet at first until a wrenching cry burst out of Blaine, tears spilling as he held Kurt, protesting that this was not how it was supposed to end, that he had lost Kurt to his brother’s foolishness, to his own inability to save him.
Had he not been in such complete despair, perhaps he would have noticed the sudden light issuing from Kurt, the kind of fire that is unburning, blue and white, and all that was good in the world. He might have indeed been consumed by it had not Burt and Cooper pulled him away, as it grew too bright for any human eyes to behold, the weighty, bloodied cloak shifting of its own volition to ensnare Kurt’s form, covering him completely. The crowd that amassed had been significant but now all was silent as they watched the most ancient and most powerful of magics take shape, and Kurt rose far above them, captured in the cloak.
There was a great shifting and a sudden movement, bursting bright and golden as the cloak tore open and a hand was freed, the first sign of the man.
The cloak fell to the ground without much fanfare and there was a gentle groan as a man pulled himself out of the wrecked cloth.
The young man was milk pale, swimming in the bloodied clothes that had inhabited his former self. As he rose to his knees the vest fell from his shoulders and he peeled it off, leaving him in an overly large white shirt, still bloodied in one spot but the tear of the cloth revealed a white, unmarked back. Chestnut-colored hair fell into his eyes until he flicked it away and then he stared at his hands and laughed, a beautiful noise. It was a long moment before he looked up and in that moment, Blaine gasped. The eyes were unchanged and as devastating as ever.
“There you are.”
Kurt smiled and Blaine had never seen it before but it was so familiar and so kind. It was an expression he longed always to be the deserving recipient of, for he could not help smiling back. “Have you been looking for me forever?”
“Whatever do you mean?” Blaine stood when Kurt did, surprised at first, at the sudden change, for Kurt was so different and though his fingers trembled as he dared to touch the curve of Kurt’s cheek, finding the skin warm, it was still Kurt and though they were surrounded by so many, Kurt was everything. “I saw you straight away.”
Kurt’s mouth trembled. “I never thought—”
“No, please, don’t, just, let me—” and it was clumsy words but not borne of a clumsy mouth, which Blaine proved as he moved up into the kiss, Kurt’s gasp a perfect welcome, for he was alive, so alive, Blaine could feel Kurt’s jaw against his fingers as Kurt deepened the kiss, pushing into it with want and urgency and it would have gone on much longer had not the crowd burst into sudden applause and Kurt had ducked his head away.
When Blaine was able to check Kurt’s expression, he was much surprised—Kurt blushed in such a fetching manner. Skin so smooth turned such a ruddy color in surprise yet his eyebrow, though quite different, arched in the same spectacular manner as he took in the large crowd.
He whispered in a conspiratorial manner, “This might turn into one of your brother’s ballads. The day he almost killed me and his handsome brother saved a poor inventor’s son.”
“The day I asked your hand in marriage and you said—”
“Yes!” Kurt’s hand flew to his mouth, eyes wide. “Unless you were just speculating.”
“Kurt. I would be honored, that is, if you really want to marry me—”
“Look I’ve returned my brother’s shape-shifting bridegroom and none worse for the adventure!” Cooper announced to everyone. “And we’re wealthy again!”
A large cheer engulfed the crowd, though the Queen and Burt Hummel did not look terribly amused at Cooper stealing the moment from the two reunited lovers, for that was what they were indeed, bound in the truest sense, and had not eyes for anyone else as they marveled in their agreed engagement.
And what an engagement it was! For Blaine, who had only seen the stone cottage under the most dire of circumstances, spent a longer visit there where upon he seemed agreeable to all of Kurt’s particular interests—they did indeed share singing as a start and now that Kurt felt far freer to sing, he found that Blaine was most happiest as a duet companion and that every love ballad seemed to simply be meant for them to sing together, even the sad ones, though Blaine sometimes tacked on a happy line at the end, as he had something of a trauma regarding lovers dying in their beloved’s arms.
But Kurt’s interest for the finer ways of dressing oneself, that too fascinated Blaine, who’d had some interest but mostly went with traditional styles and decided right then and there to promise Kurt a trip to some of the most fashionable courts so that Kurt could outshine them all in his fantastic creations. Kurt was mostly glad to be able to wear clothes that fit his human body, and he was most appreciative that he had gotten some very fine boots in Dalton, which Blaine was quick to admire as well, and that lead to admirations of Kurt’s other qualities that he found most attractive, ending with them a bit out of sorts and unbecoming for an unmarried couple and quickly stopped when Blaine paused to say that he hoped he did not offend Kurt for finding him so physically admirable.
Kurt only fondly laughed and hoped that Blaine didn’t mind how Blaine’s appealing face was often at the forefront of Kurt’s thoughts, and that had led to the men restarting their less than wholesome activities.
Kurt introduced Blaine to his friends, and Brittany had kissed Blaine’s forehead in excitement, saying she knew all along that someone would come around and figure out how to get Kurt out of that scary suit and then hoped that they would keep it as a fur on a ground was a wonderful thing, Santana had shown her all about it when they had a little vacation in a cabin with a roaring fireplace—at that Santana had stopped her, and Kurt had breathed a sigh of relief. But Kurt’s other friends were most happy of Kurt being free, let alone becoming the Prince’s Consort.
Blaine amended that Kurt would simply become another Prince, as was the custom, looking to Kurt and hoping he would not be disappointed that he would not get to be a king.
Kurt smiled warmly and said he was most grateful to be a man with love in his life.
It was a spectacular wedding when the day came. Fireworks the night before, on, and after the blessed day, and the throne room was restored to its new glory, the straw that was once gold had been removed and there was hung, to Kurt’s specifications, many exquisite and fine drapes of homespun tapestries, none of which had been furnished in gold threads. The wedding vows were notable in that neither groom had a dry eye once they finished theirs and the kiss was nearly indecent for a wedding, only tapering off for the grooms, now husbands, to catch their breath. Many birds flew over the kingdom on that day and it almost seemed as if the air sparkled as they flew across the sky, though only Kurt would have an answer as to how that was even possible. The horseless carriages were a particular sight as the wedded couple made their way into the streets.
Their honeymoon was spent traveling with the heavy book of maps, selecting a new land to explore at their whim, returning only after the Queen sent entreaties for them to return as Cooper had disappeared and she requested her son once again become regent, and his husband too, as she had a great fondness for her son-in-law. (That she was also personally looking forward to a little vacation and travel of her own could also attribute to this request but it was happily met by Blaine and Kurt.)
Ah yes, Prince Cooper and the infamous third enchantment. Well, that involves a very wicked witch who cursed fair Cooper and left him stuck in the form of a frog. It was not until the attentions of a Princess Sugar in the lands of Lord Motta that lead to the successful curse-breaking. But that story was rather well-known and a mere footnote in the far grander tale, this tale of Kurt and Blaine.
Do not doubt come what may or fear that dark days might cloud such happiness, for no matter the struggle that they might have to face, for ever and ever after did they live and love one another.