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take a breath, count to ten, take a step

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Three weeks into senior year, Dad said, “Blaine, your grandmother has come to see you. You’ll go to the Hilton tomorrow afternoon and meet with her.”

Blaine frowned. “Why doesn’t she just come here? And which grandmother?” Mom’s mom, Grandmom, visited last year and Dad’s mom, Grandma, left three months ago. Neither of them would stay at a hotel.

Dad stared at him for a long time before looking away. “Go to school, son,” he said, voice breaking on the last word.

.

Kurt met him in the parking lot. They always parked next to each other so they could walk in together. “I have to cancel for tomorrow afternoon,” Blaine said, holding the door open for Kurt. “Apparently, my grandmother is in town. I’ve been ordered to see her.”

“Which grandmother?” Kurt asked, deftly dancing away from a slushy. They were few and far between this year; Puck and Karofsky, for some reason nobody knew, teamed up to take down bullying. Lauren Zizes seemed to be their boss, and Blaine knew from Kurt that the three of them agreeing on anything was a terrifying prospect. But it seemed to be working.

“Hey, scumbag!” Lauren yelled from down the hall. “You just made my list.”

Kurt and Blaine watched the guy pale and attempt to run, only to hit Karofsky’s chest and bounce backwards. Kurt tugged on Blaine’s hand so they could continue to Kurt’s locker.

Blaine’s locker was further on in the school, so they usually went to Kurt’s first. Blaine’s was close to Kurt’s first class, so it gave them a little more time. They had the same subjects except for Kurt’s French and Blaine’s art, but none at the same time except glee. It was incredibly frustrating, especially since – even almost a month into the school year – none of the other members of New Directions had really warmed up to him. After his popularity at Dalton, it was odd to be on the bottom again. He’d started dreaming about the Sadie Hawkins dance and angry, judgmental eyes again, ever since he started at McKinley, not that he told anyone. He’d even considered asking Dad about going back to Dr. Johan.

But he had promised Dad he could handle McKinley. Face his demons head-on and win.

So Blaine held Kurt’s hand in the halls. Kissed him in the choir room. Looked everyone in the eyes, head raised high, and didn’t let anything get to him.

“Which grandmother, Blaine?” Kurt asked again, closing his locker.

“Oh, right,” Blaine said, smiling at the quick glance he got of Kurt’s Blaine&Kurt Forever collage on the inside of Kurt’s locker. It always made something inside his heart glow to see it. “I don’t know,” he answered. “Dad wouldn’t say. But Grandmom went back to San Francisco and Grandma was in Paris, as of her last postcard.”

“A mystery,” Kurt announced in a dramatic voice. “Maybe there’s some major family secret you never knew, but they’re finally about to tell you.”

Blaine rolled his eyes, scoffing. “Right. The Anderson family is known for its drama, believe you me.”

Kurt laughed, leaning against the locker next to Blaine’s. “Maybe one of your grandmothers is secretly a lesbian – or bi,” he quickly added off Blaine’s look, “and her lover has come to track you down.”

Blaine shook his head. “I’ll find out tomorrow,” he said. “Did you finally defeat the physics problem?”

Scowling, Kurt said, “I hate physics. It makes no sense.”

Blaine smiled at him, closing the locker and taking his hand again. “At least you can speak four languages fluently,” he consoled Kurt. “I can’t make heads or tails of anything but English.”

.

After school, whenever there wasn’t a glee meeting, they went to Kurt’s house. Finn usually had football or a study date with Rachel, and Kurt’s dad never came home till after five. It was Kurt’s stepmom’s last night of the late shift this month, so she said goodbye as they walked in the door.

Kurt always had some healthy treat prepared and they sat at the kitchen table, working and studying and laughing and singing, and Blaine had no idea at all why Kurt loved him. Why Kurt waited for him to catch up and catch on. Why Kurt stayed with him. Kurt had a glamorous future waiting – he would one day realize he could do better than Blaine.

“Sweetie,” Kurt said. “Did French hurt your feelings again? You look sad.”

Blaine shook his head. “No,” he said. “I’m just being silly.”

.

On Tuesday, Blaine went to the Hilton instead of Kurt’s house. He stopped at the front desk to say, “Hi. My grandmother is waiting for me somewhere? I’m Blaine Anderson.”

The woman’s eyes widened. “Oh, yes, Mr. Anderson! Please follow me.” She hurried from behind the desk and led him to the elevator, to the second floor, down the hall, and to a meeting room, where two men stood next to the door, one in a suit and the other wearing a leather jacket.

Blaine nervously looked at his guide. She smiled at him. “This is Blaine Anderson,” she said to the men, stressing his name.

The leather jacket opened the door. “Your grandmother is waiting,” he said, a faint accent flavoring the words.

Blaine swallowed, trying to smile. “Thanks,” he said, walking in.

The only person in the room was sitting at a table in the middle, elegantly sipping her tea.

“Um, excuse me,” Blaine said, stopping just inside the door. “I was told my grandmother was waiting for me in here?”

“I am,” Queen Clarisse Renaldo of Genovia said. “Come in and sit with me, Blaine. We have much to discuss.”

“You’re… you’re my grandmother?” Blaine asked. “But that’s impossible. You’re the Queen of Genovia.”

“You know of Genovia?” Queen Clarisse said. “Please, Blaine, have a seat.”

Blaine walked to the table on autopilot. Kurt would freak out when he heard. The chair scraped the floor as Blaine pulled it out; he winced, but Queen – Queen! – Clarisse didn’t react.

“My son Philippe insisted on traveling the world,” Queen Clarisse said, sipping her tea. Blaine let his cup sit in front of him untouched. If he tried, he’d just make a mess. “He wanted to go adventuring, the silly boy.” She smiled at him. “He met your mother in California. They had a whirlwind romance and wed – they annulled the marriage a few weeks later and then he moved on.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Blaine demanded.

Queen Clarisse looked completely calm. “Philippe died seven years ago. As I sorted his things, I found a stack of love notes – my son always was old fashioned. I’ll give them to you, of course.”

Blaine wanted to interrupt again, but Queen Clarisse’s eyes bored into him, so he kept quiet.

“Maria Wilkes gave birth six months after Philippe left. She married Robert Anderson two years later and he adopted her child. You know what happened next,” Queen Clarisse said.

Yes, Blaine knew. Mom died when he was eleven – apparently the same year as his biological father. What the hell.

“There must be some mistake,” Blaine said. “I can’t be – are you sure?”

Queen Clarisse smiled at him again. “The head of my security followed Philippe on his adventure. Joseph was simply the best of our men then. He was the one Philippe went to when he learned of your existence. We have known of you from the beginning, Blaine.” She poured herself more tea from the pot in the middle of the table, continuing, “I know this is a shock, my dear. But you are the only child of my only child, and therefore, you are the sole heir to the throne of Genovia.”

Blaine stared at her, mouth open, as he struggled to find suitable words. He had the feeling that yelling, What the fuck are you on, lady?! wouldn’t go over well.

Finally, he pushed back his chair, said quite calmly, “Excuse me, Your Majesty,” and strode from the room. He ignored the men and everyone else he saw, and next thing he knew, he was at Kurt’s house, slumped against the door, with no idea how he got there.

And then Kurt opened the door, catching Blaine as he fell in.

.

Blaine was pliant in Kurt’s hands as Kurt pulled Blaine up the stairs and gently shoved him onto the bed, following him down. Kurt positioned them with Blaine as the little spoon and hummed into Blaine’s ear, holding him.

It calmed Blaine, allowing him to think.

Queen Clarisse had no reason to lie to Blaine. Therefore, she did not lie. And Dad knew yesterday. Which meant Dad could have told him.

“Dad’s not my dad,” Blaine said.

Kurt stopped humming immediately and his hands tightened around Blaine’s.

“I mean, he adopted and raised me, so he’s my dad, but not biologically. And my biological father’s mom is the mysterious third grandmother.” He was getting hysterical so he took a deep breath.

Kurt kissed the back of his neck and murmured, “Is she a nasty ogress I have to defeat?”

Blaine laughed, turning in Kurt’s grip to kiss his lips. They did that for a little while, and then Blaine rested his head on Kurt’s chest. “Do you remember,” he asked, “when you made me memorize all the royals left in the world?”

“And then I quizzed you about them? You never got more than seventy percent right.” Kurt laughed, tangling his right hand in Blaine’s ungelled hair.

“Queen Clarisse of Genovia met me at the Hilton today,” Blaine said.

Kurt’s hand and chest both stilled. “You… are you joking?” he whispered, staring at Blaine.

Blaine shook his head, slowly lifting his gaze to Kurt’s face. “Her son is my bio-dad, and she’s known my whole life.” He facepalmed. “I left before she could get past ‘Blaine, you’re the only heir,’” he mumbled into his hand.

Kurt still stared at him. “You’re the heir of Genovia?” he asked, voice faint. “Blaine, the national language is French.”

“What?” Blaine whined. “Really? Man.”

They looked at each other for a long moment before collapsing together, laughing.

When they finally caught their breaths, Kurt looked up the Hilton’s number and dialed, then held his phone to Blaine’s ear.

“Um, hi,” Blaine said when a woman answered. “This is Blaine Anderson. I was there earlier to see my grandmother. I kinda… ran away. Is she still there?”

“Yes, Mr. Anderson,” the woman said after only a small hesitation. “If you’d like, she can meet you back in the conference room.”

“Um, okay.” Blaine looked at Kurt. “Maybe an hour? Would that be alright?”

“Of course, Mr. Anderson.” The woman paused. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, thank you. I’ll be there in an hour,” Blaine said.

Kurt hung up and dropped the phone onto the bed. “An hour,” he repeated.

Blaine nodded. “Please come with me,” he begged, giving Kurt his best puppy eyes. “I can’t face her alone.”

Kurt’s whole face lit up. “Really?”

Blaine nodded again, unable to stop himself from kissing Kurt again. A few minutes passed before Kurt gasped into his mouth and yelped, “Blaine, I can’t meet a queen dressed like this!”

.

As they sat in the car, Kurt asked, “How do you want to play this?”

Blaine looked at him. “Kurt,” he said, “you’re my… everything. And I’ll tell her so. I’m not gonna lie about you, or hide you.”

Kurt smiled his surprised, breathtaking smile and lunged into Blaine’s arms for a few more minutes of kissing.

.

Blaine and Kurt walked into the lobby holding hands. Blaine led the way to the elevator, Kurt hit the button for the second floor, Blaine slowly walked down the hall to the door with the men standing on either side, and the leather jacket from before said, “She’s waiting.” His eyes glanced from their clasped hands to Blaine’s nervous and defiant expression, and he smiled.

“We’ve known about you from the beginning, Your Highness,” he said gently.

Oh. Oh. Blaine saw the same realization on Kurt’s face, and both their grips tightened. Kurt smiled at the man and he nodded. “Both of you may enter.”

Kurt said, “Thank you, sir,” squeezing Blaine’s hand. Blaine took a deep breath, and then he stepped through the door.

Queen Clarisse sat at the same table, sipping tea. “Welcome back,” she said, bestowing upon them a gracious smile.

“Your Majesty,” Kurt said, bowing. “I’m Kurt Hummel.”

“I know,” Queen Clarisse said, setting her teacup down. “Joseph researched you quite heavily when you finally caught my grandson.”

Kurt’s grip tightened on Blaine’s hand again. “Do I meet your approval?” he asked, voice brittle.

“Yes, Mr. Hummel,” she said warmly. “Joseph was most impressed with you.”

Kurt’s grip eased and he began to brighten. “Really?” he asked softly.

Queen Clarisse smiled at him, like a benevolent grandmother. “There is a great deal of potential in you, Mr. Hummel. You’re wonderful for Blaine.”

Practically bouncing in place, Kurt positively lit up. It was a thousand times how he acted after Blaine said yes to Prom.

“Both of you,” Queen Clarisse said, “sit. We have much to discuss.”

Blaine waited for Kurt to move. Kurt tugged him forward, pulling out two chairs, and Blaine nervously fidgeted. Kurt reached out for his hand with a smile, and Blaine inhaled slowly. After a moment, he looked at his grandmother.

“In a month’s time,” Queen Clarisse said, “we shall announce that our lost prince has been found.”

Kurt looked at Blaine, then Queen Clarisse, then Blaine again. “Why a month?” he asked.

“To prepare him, of course,” Queen Clarisse said. “He must learn the history of Genovia, the policies and practices – the language, if nothing else,” she added with a raise brow.

Blaine flushed. Kurt said, “I can teach him French, Your Majesty. I’m fluent.”

“Are you indeed?” Queen Clarisse asked, delightedly. “Joseph found Spanish and German, but you’re still taking French at school.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Kurt ducked his head, a light blush on his cheeks. Blaine had to look away so he wouldn’t ravish his boyfriend in front of his grandmother the queen. “I take French for fun,” Kurt explained. “My mother taught me the basics, the rest I learned from books.”

Queen Clarisse said, “Oh, splendid.” If she were less dignified, Blaine thought, she might even clap her hands. “Say something, my dear,” she ordered.

Kurt rattled off an entire paragraph and Queen Clarisse actually laughed. “Marvelous,” she said. “You sound like a Frenchman. Very well, Mr. Hummel. You shall teach Blaine the language of his people while I deal with the rest.”

Blaine reached for Kurt’s hand. “Your Majesty,” he said hesitantly. “How will… I won’t lie about Kurt. I won’t hide him.”

Queen Clarisse smiled again. “Genovia has progressed quite far, Blaine. A few holdouts linger, of course, but most are in the twenty-first century. Heirs can be created in more than one way, after all.”

Blaine felt himself blush, but Kurt stroked his fingers, leaning over to whisper, “I love you.”

.

Kurt and Blaine stayed an hour more, discussing literature and fashion and football versus polo. Blaine did like Queen Clarisse, but he couldn’t call her Grandma and he didn’t yet love her. They scheduled the next meeting for Thursday afternoon; testing, the queen said, only herself and Blaine needed.

Blaine kissed Kurt goodbye in the parking lot. “I’ll see you tomorrow at school,” Blaine promised.

As he turned away, Kurt caught his hand. “We can skip tomorrow, if you want,” he said. “We can go somewhere only we know.”

Blaine chuckled. “This isn’t the end of anything,” he said, pulling Kurt close and resting his cheek on Kurt’s shoulder. “I might be the heir, but it’s not for a long while. First, I have to finish high-school and college.”

A horrible, terrible thought occurred to him and he reached up, fingers grasping Kurt’s shirt. “Do you want… you don’t have to stay.”

Kurt smacked the back of Blaine’s head. “Of course I’m staying – do you know how rarely a knight in shining armor turns out to be a prince?”

Blaine halfheartedly chuckled into his shoulder. “I don’t want to chain you to me, Kurt.”

“Oh, Blaine,” Kurt sighed. “You’re not chaining to me anything. I’m right where I want to be, and with exactly who I want to be with.” He pressed a soft kiss to the side of Blaine’s head.

“And what about your magazine,” Blaine demanded, pulling away. He was suddenly so angry – a grandmother he’d never known just stole any future he thought he might have. He refused to steal Kurt’s, too. “What about Broadway, or all your plays.”

Kurt grabbed his hands. “Blaine,” he said gently. “You silly boy. Genovia is world-renowned for its arts.”

“Oh,” Blaine said after a moment.

Kurt laughed softly. “Go home, Blaine. Talk to your dad – politely, if you can manage it. Eat a good supper, take a hot shower, go to bed early.” He squeezed Blaine’s hands, lifting both to kiss each knuckle. Then he said, “We’ll skip tomorrow. Meet me at the library on Pritchard. We’ll research the kingdom we’ll one day rule.”

“Okay,” Blaine murmured. He allowed himself one more invigorating kiss, then he pulled away, climbed heavily into his car, and drove home.

.

Dad was sitting in the den, holding an unopened Coke. “Blaine,” Dad said. “You met her?”

“I did,” Blaine replied. “You should’ve told me.”

Dad stared at the Coke, twisting the can around in his fingers. “I adopted you when you were three,” he said. “I raised you, and I love you. I am your father.”

Blaine shook his head. “Not about that, Dad – I know you’re my dad.” He paused, looking down. “She’s an actual queen. And I’m her only grandchild.” The words loomed, but he forced himself to say them. “I’m her heir, and she’s going to claim me, and I’m a prince.” He collapsed on the couch, covering his face with his hand. “Holy crap.”

How could this happen? Dorks couldn’t be princes. That had to be a rule. Princes were solemn and serious. They surely didn’t serenade closeted boys at the mall, or write terrible odes to a certain boy’s sea-sheened eyes (seriously, what is that even? Blaine still hadn’t worked up the courage to let Kurt see that one).

Princes were like Charles, and William, and Harry – and oh, but Blaine used to have such a crush on Harry. Princes weren’t boys who got bullied out of a school.

Queen Clarisse had to be wrong. If anyone in Lima was the long-lost heir of a throne, it would’ve been Kurt.

“Blaine,” Dad said. “She and her Head of Security showed me everything.” He stood and walked over, sitting next to Blaine. “You are her grandson.”

Blaine shook his head, eyes starting to water. The panic and anger faded, leaving only a burgeoning sense of melancholy. Everything he thought he knew was a lie. Whatever future he’d had was gone now.

During his royalty lessons, Kurt had explained about Genovia. An unbroken family line had ruled for almost three hundred years, and ruled well. Genovia had escaped most of the wars that plagued Europe, and had actually taken in refugees. It was a good place. But Kurt had also mentioned the Parliament, and how some people thought a few power-hungry nobles were circling around for the throne. And since Queen Clarisse had no living heir…

Well. Blaine couldn’t very well leave a power void for the unscrupulous to battle over. The whole country could sink into turmoil. He had to at least see Genovia in person before making a final decision.

“Blaine,” Dad said, putting on arm around him. “It’ll be alright, I promise.”

Sighing, Blaine just leaned against him.