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The Line of Symmetry

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It was safe to say that there were several types of Shadowhunters.

Some of them understood the importance of protecting mundanes and took their mandate very seriously, living and dying by the Law as Jonathan – the first of them all – had done.
Some of them liked killing demons more than they liked protecting mundanes, but they still did their job efficiently by slaying everything that could be legally killed.
Others wanted to be useful to the cause and yet despised – or were not suitable for – the act of fighting, and so they dedicated themselves to research and archives, doing the Shadow world a great service by keeping records of its history and tradition.

And then there was Kurt.

Kurt Hummel came from a long line of incredible fighters, each one better than the one before. His own mother had been the first woman in more than one hundred and fifty years to kill a greater demon and when she died, just a couple of months after Kurt was born, she became even more of a legend than she had been in life. It goes without saying that once it was his turn to be marked and choose a path for himself, Kurt had been expected to be like his mother if not better.

Kurt didn't like to research or archive, so becoming a bookworm would have been impossible for him. And he wasn't made for a contemplative life – not to mention that he really despised self-mutilation – so becoming a Silent Brother wasn't even an option. The only thing left was becoming a Shadowhunter in the highest sense of the word: a fighter, a slayer of demons. At least, the battle gear was fashionable.

So he had trained and worked, doing whatever the Clave required from him.
Luckily for him, he was born in a time and age not particularly vexed by class struggles and blessed by the lack of a charismatic psychopath, demanding a world without Downworlders. So, he had mainly fought lesser demons – which was an easy task all in all – long enough to be elected Council representative for his Enclave.

Now his main task was sitting through countless meetings a month and deciding what was best for both Shadowhunters and Downworlders, which was satisfying enough for him after a life of unwanted, really tiring fighting. He had expected to spend the rest of his life basking in the comfort of his position and he planned very well to do so until the day came when he could retire, but clearly his son had other plans.

Having Leonard hadn't really been Kurt's choice. Like his career, parenthood had been a causality.

Kurt was head of the New York Institute at the time. It was the last week of August and the Accords had just been signed again. He was back from Idris and he was getting ready to resume his work in New York when someone had knocked at the door and run, leaving a little bundle in a basket on the stairs, like that was the XVIII century and the Institute was a common orphanage.

Now, the fact that whoever left Leo had seen the Institute for what it was and knew that there were people inside meant that they were at least from the Shadow World, if not Nephilim. Therefore, Kurt was presented with a conundrum. No Downworlder would have left their child in the hands of Nephilim and yet a proper Shadowhunter would have never abandoned his son like that, under any circumstances.

A Silent Brother was instantly summoned from the City of Bones to determined what the boy was, an he confirmed that the baby had Nephilim's blood in his veins. That was both outrageous – because the kid had been abandoned – and discomforting – because there was no way to find out who his parents were. Kurt just assumed the boy was the result of an illicit affair between a Shadowhunter and a mundane, which explained the necessity of getting rid of him and the choice of leaving him in a place where he would be taken care of as his mother or father had been.

Unsurprisingly, none of the families asked to adopt the baby. Family bloodlines were still a thing and preserving it was the reason why the baby had been left to himself in the first place, so he came to live at the Institute and Kurt named him Leonard, that meant Brave as a Lion, hoping that it could bring him the luck he hadn't had so far.

This was supposed to be a permanent solution, Leonard's life forever tied more to the Institute than to the head of it, but when the time came for Kurt to leave his position and become a full-time representative for the New York Enclave, he had grown so attached to the kid – who was already six at the time – and the kid to him, that he brought Leonard with him to Idris, officially adopting him the year after.

Leonard received his first mark at twelve, like any other Shadowhunter child, and his and Kurt's life would have probably kept on being pretty normal if Leonard hadn't chose to train in New York and Kurt hadn't agreed, reassured by the fact that the head of the Institute at the time was one of his best friends. How could he know that it was going to be the beginning of a catastrophe that was going to climax in the most appalling, shame-bringing and probably career-ruining way?

Blaine Anderson was the heir of one of the most ancient Shadowhunter families and the epitome of The Shadowhunter warrior. He was tall, strong, educated, skilled with basically every weapon known to man and a natural born leader. When he came of age, everybody would be so keen to pay him compliments and throw their daughters at him that one would think Blaine was going to become King or something.

Blaine hadn't accepted any of those proposals because apparently he didn't like girls, something that at some point he had briefly shared with Kurt. They even had some sort of secret affair for a few months, until Kurt called it off. He didn't want to be caught and risk his career, so he convinced himself that this was just a phase and he could very well move past it. Eventually, he didn't but he did not give in to his inclination either.

Blaine, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction.

After his break-up with Kurt, he made a formal announcement and proclaimed himself homosexual and proudly so in front of the whole Council, in the loudest and most flamboyant way he could think of: by kissing a very manly warlock who had covered himself in glitter down to the tips of his bat-like wings.

The aftermath of the gesture was mayhem.

The Shadowhunter community was shocked. Half the Council wanted him stripped of his marks. Most of the families refused to have any contact with him whatsoever. Someone asked him to reconsider or downsize this inclination of his for the sake of their institution. But Blaine didn't even bulge. Freed of any restraints social rules had given him, he kept associating himself with male lovers, making sure everybody knew. He was not going to hide anymore and if they wanted to knock at his door and strip him of his Marks, then so be it.

Nothing like that happened, tho.

The Council met three times to decide over his fate, coming to no conclusion because the vote against him was never unanimous. Blaine had planted a seed in the minds of those more sensible Council members, each of them knowing someone who had been suspected of Blaine's exact crime. And, most importantly, Blaine had set an example and more and more people every day were coming out, making impossible to act against Blaine, since taking action against him meant taking action against every man and woman who declared to be homosexual. Losing all those Shadowhunters would have been risky for the cause.

Eventually, the Consul spoke in Blaine's favor and in favor of all those who had come out. He didn't exactly address the matter of how and in what measure homosexuality was going to be accepted, but he pointed out that they had more pressing matters at hand and, since no straight couple was going to turn gay overnight, the Shadowhunter breed was currently safe as it had been before this major coming out.

When his son Samuel later became Samantha, people said that that was the reason behind his enlightened speech, but he didn't even bother to reply. At that point, things were already changing and no one could stop them. Thanks to that first step, Blaine could become head of the New York Institute years later and despite rumormongers saying he had just fucked his way up, he proved himself more than capable of his role.

Now, fifteen years later, Kurt wished more than anything that Blaine hadn't got the job – and therefore hadn't been there when Leonard moved to New York to start his training as a Shadowhunter.
One moment Leonard was his beloved son – a lovely young man who loved to read and hang out with his friends – and then suddenly he was this fifteen years old irritating little monster proclaiming himself to be in love with a man twenty years older than him.

It had been a shock. Kurt hadn't seen that coming – how could he? And since by the Law the trainees couldn't have any contact with their family during the first year of training, the damage was already abundantly done when Leonard told him. It wasn't even a confession, let alone a request for permission. It was Leonard just stating a fact: Dad, I'm in love with Blaine. Like Kurt could just nod and be happy with it.

Obviously Kurt tried to put a stop to that nonsense but to no avail. Fighting with his son, punishing him or grounding him was completely useless because one way or the other he would always manage to meet with his boyfriend, aided by the fact that said boyfriend was a grown up man with a car.

Blaine even came to their house, trying to explain what was going on and failing miserably – mostly because he didn't admit to be wrong as Kurt had wished. Actually, he told Kurt that he loved Leo as he had never loved anyone before and categorically denied to have forced Leonard in any way. The kid – as he called him, making Kurt cringe – was perfectly capable of making his own choices and he was also able to kill an Hydra Demon on his own, which alone nullified all the coercion accusations since Blaine would have been way less hard to fight if he had done something Leo didn't want.

Kurt had to give in. Or at least to retreat, in order to think of a better way to keep them apart. And while he was doing just that – and slowly getting used to them in the process – they went and did the unthinkable. Kurt will never forget the moment that Leo entered his office and proclaimed – because that was the only way he knew how to say things – that he had chosen his parabatai and that parabatai was Blaine.

Kurt was suddenly terrified at the realization that not even the Law – that clearly forbade love between two parabatai – was going to stop them. They were going to undergo the ceremony, unless Kurt tattled to the Council. And Kurt, as much as he loved his job, would have never condemned his own son to be exiled.

*

Kurt looked around and wondered once again how it happened. How could he not see – even if he wasn't even there to watch – that his son was falling so badly for Blaine? How could he not stop him from going on with this nonsense? He was Leonard's father, he should have managed to keep him out of harm's way. Sometimes he wondered if he had failed because it was not a fight between his son and him, but his lone battle against two people ready to protect each other no matter what. He had been alone in this all along.

The fact that not only his son but even Blaine had always been so stubborn about this relationship didn't count as a merit for Kurt. Maybe it should have. Was a man who gets what he wants from your fifteen years old son and then bails on him as soon as shit hits the fan really preferable to someone who claims to love your son and stays with him to prove it even when you threaten to report him? Kurt didn't know anymore. Surely, he didn't want Blaine in his son's life – but was it because Blaine was doing Leonard wrong or just because Kurt couldn't accept the idea of their relationship being weird but not unhealthy?

The low, gloomy sound of the bell tore him away from his thoughts and pulled him back to the present.

The ceremony couldn't be performed in one of the usual venues or anywhere that could be easily found or where they could be easily seen by anyone who could refer to the Council. It was not easy to find a proper place, being the parabatai ceremony so theatrical – like any other Shadowhunters ceremony, for that matter.
So, obviously, Kurt had turned to the mundane world, to which no respectable member of the Council would get close if not strictly necessary.

He had found an old, abandoned warehouse and tracked down the owner for months, until he found the man drunk just outside his parked trailer. He had expected to have to extort silence from the man in ways that he wouldn't have been proud of – if not to kill him – since he wanted as less people as possible involved in this, but the man was already out of his mind and he had been clearly so for a very long time. He didn't even remember that he had a warehouse. Kurt paid him a lot in mundane cash and then destroyed his ownership documents, in case the man snapped out of his drunken stupor and decided to come and see what was of his warehouse.

The place was not huge, but big enough to host the ceremony – especially when the usual crowd of friends, family and community members was not going to be there. In fact, Kurt was going to be the only witness to this preposterousness, except of course the Silent Brother who was going to perform it, since Blaine's family hadn't been informed of anything, lest they all died of a heart attack or went straight to the Council.

Brother Isaiah was a mystery Kurt couldn't solve. He had thought they could try to be secretive all they wanted but in the end the ceremony couldn't be performed without one of the Silent Brothers and they could not be bribed into doing anything because they trained themselves all their life to want for nothing. But Blaine had come to him saying that he knew one of them who owed him a favour, which was unbelievable as it was crazy. And yet, the man had come and no retaliation from the Council or the Brotherhood had followed him.

Brother Isaiah was like any other Brother Kurt had ever seen. He was inhumanly tall, with dark deep cavities where his eyes should have been. His lips where sewn together by a thick, black thread and he wore the usual parchment-colored, hooded robe. He had showed up at the appointed hour and not said a word since then. He was walking about without a sound, getting everything ready while Kurt – the only other person in the room – watched him.

Leonard and Blaine were preparing themselves, separately now. As unconventional as this ceremony was going to be, they had been following the rules as much as they could. They had studied to be mentally prepared for what they were about to face and they had trained together for months, fighting, eating, sleeping together more than they were already doing. According to the Codex, their hearts should beat at the same rhythm – they had to become a synchronized mechanism, so to speak – in order to receive the bond. And now, a few moments away from the ceremony, they had to be alone to recollect their feelings and be ready to deliver and trust them all to one another.

We are ready to perform the ceremony.

Brother Isaiah's voice was deep and detached, and yet it was not mechanical. It had a precise undertone, a sort of vague accent, that made it unique.

Kurt nodded and sat straight, taking a deep breath. Probably called by Brother Isaiah's mental voice, Leonard and Blaine entered the warehouse in the same moment from different doors. They both wore their battle gears, including their weapons, symbolizing that the bond was one of the spirit to aid them in battle as well as in life.

Each of them stepped into one circle, keeping his head low. By the Law they could not look at each other until the moment came to pronounce the oath. Kurt watched his son, a wave of both pride and concern swelling in his heart. Leonard had changed so much in the past year. He wasn't the skinny, little bird he was when he left home. Now, he was a tall, fit young man. The baby blue of his eyes had darkened with determination and self-awareness, his face was more defined, the line of his shoulders was set into a much surer stance. Even if his body still showed the curves and disproportions of childhood, the first traces of manhood was already there. Kurt could see in him the man he was going to become.

In that sense Blaine, standing in the circle in front of him, seemed like Leonard's older reflection in a mirror. They had the same curly black hair, the same rounded face, the straight line of their closed mouths was the same on both faces, and Kurt didn't know if it was because the Angel had given them the same determined expression or because in this past year Leonard had been slowly but relentlessly molded into a younger version of Blaine. It was astonishing how much they resembled each other without actually looking alike.

Both circles lighted up at Brother Isaiah's nod. None of them even flinched as the flames went up with a roar, encircling them. Kurt could see them sparkling in their eyes, their dancing shadow drawing swirls on their pale faces.

Are you aware of what lies ahead of you?

Both of them nodded slightly. The crackling of the fire intensified.

Are you aware of what will be required of you?

“Loyalty,” Blaine answered, his voice determined and deep as it was rich. Kurt had heard him talk like that only once, when he came out. “And protection.”
“Compassion,” Leo said, his voice still youngish and bearing a vague trace of nervousness. “And patience.”

Blaine, this ceremony was not intended to be performed on a man of your age. The consequences of this action cannot be predicted. The Mark could be fatal to both you and Leonard. Are you aware of that and prepared to face what comes?

Kurt flinched and saw his son shiver just as much. The main problem with the parabatai ceremony was that, being it intended to bond two people, they were both in danger from the moment they began the process to the moment it ended.

“I am,” Blaine said. His answer was clipped, but determined. Kurt knew all of a sudden that Blaine was willing to go through hell for his son. The problem was that if the ceremony went bad, him going trough hell was going to be pointless.

Leonard, the same applies to you. Are you prepared to face what comes, including death?

Leo shivered again, but didn't move. “I am,” he said. “Whatever comes, I accepted it long before entering this circle.”

The Law forbids to lovers to be parabatai because love affects the bond in ways that cannot be controlled. So, you are doing this against the Angel's word, against the Law and against the Council's will.

There was no judgment in Brother Isaiah's voice. He was simply stating a fact, which was both comforting – at least he wasn't against it, so to speak – and utterly terrifying – because he was making it absolutely clear that this was considered wrong on a much higher and scarier level than his own judgment.

Whatever will befall thee will be your responsibility and yours alone. Actions will be taken against both or one of you alike, if necessity comes from this, regardless of your bond, your Nephilim nature and your reasons.

It basically meant that if something went wrong because of their bond – and by the way he was telling it, it was bound to go wrong – the Council was going to take any measure to fix the situation, ignoring the fact that they were Children of the Nephilim, that is they were going to be killed at the mere order of the Consul, with no trial whatsoever, the safety of the community being more important than theirs.

Are you prepared to become parabatai, even knowing this? Be aware that once the ceremony starts, it cannot be stopped unless you die.

There was not a single moment of hesitation when they answered “Yes,” at the same time.

Then, proceed.

No name was pronounced, but it was Leonard who moved. The flames went down at a nod from Brother Isaiah, becoming just a line of fire at his son's feet. Leonard stepped over it, entering Blaine's circle. Blaine didn't move, waiting for him to be inside of it and so close to him that their bodies almost touched.

The circle has become one. The oath must be pronounced.

At the same time and with the same tone, their voices tuned like instruments of the same orchestra, they begun to chant the words that would bind them together. Kurt knew those words by heart and his own lips unconsciously moved with them, without a sound.

“Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—for whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”

The flames went up again around them, taller and stronger than before. Kurt, sitting a few feet away, could feel the heat coming from them and he clenched his teeth, but they were not moving. Blaine and Leonard were looking at each other now, the eyes of one lost into the eyes of the other, their hands along their hips but visibly itching to reach up and touch the body in front of them.

There was a powerful hum, a vibration coming from them and running across the circle, making the flames tremble. Brother Isaiah didn't look any different from when the ceremony had started, and yet Kurt could feel his concern, maybe as it resonated with his own. The hum grew stronger, louder and turned into a ringing. The windows of the warehouse started shaking.

It's now time for you to draw the Marks.

Brother Isaiah's orders seemed to beat the time of a secret tune Kurt wasn't aware of. It sounded like tolls of a bell: deep, precise and echoing, bringing them all to the end of a period of time and announcing the beginning of a new one.

Blaine took out his stele from inside his boot. Leonard took off his leather jacket and the shirt underneath it. He let the man turn him around and stared right in front of himself as Blaine drew the parabatai rune on his right shoulder blade. Leonard winced but he didn't make a sound as the rune beamed bright red for a moment on his tanned skin and then turned black and indelible. The flames sprang up, roaring. The humming so loud now that Kurt's ears were hurting.

Blaine took a step back and his shirt off, waiting. Leo took his stele and draw the same rune on Blaine's naked chest, just over his heart. This time, while the rune blazed red, the flame became a wall, hiding them to the sight. Kurt couldn't help but stand up, screaming his son's name, but Brother Isaiah lifted a hand, a stern expression on his face, and he shut up again, fear making his heart beat faster.

The ringing grew louder and louder, forcing Kurt to cover his ears. The sound concentrated into one, single, piercing hiss and there was silence for just an instant. Then, whatever energy was gathering in the circle exploded and the warehouse's windows exploded with it one after the other. The silence that fell after that was ominous.

Slowly, Kurt looked up. The first thing he saw was the sea of broken glasses everywhere. Then Brother Isaiah, standing there as he was before. There was a circle of clear floor around him, sign that something protected him from being showered in glass. A few feet from him, Blaine and Leonard were still looking at each other, their lips curled in the same calm smile. They were unharmed. The flames had protected them, closing in around them.

It is done. Brother Isaiah said, closing the ritual as if nothing weird had just happened. You're part of the Law, inasmuch you are parabatai. You're outside the Law, inasmuch you are lovers. Now you are of each other's and, in this case, on your own. May the Angel be on your side.

And if He is not, Kurt thought, I will be. He just hoped to be enough.