Pairing: Kurt/Sebastian (assorted background pairings)
Rating: NC-17 overall
Warning(s): homophobic bullying and slurs, violence.
Summary: [Hogwarts AU] Kurt Hummel never wanted to be a Slytherin--especially not when it landed him in the same house as Sebastian Smythe.
AN: Thank you so much for all of the feedback! I really appreciate that you took the time to read and comment. :) There will be a brief break before the next chapter because I'm going to be finishing off my other WIP, Thirteen, and then I have a shitload of exams next week, but it should be up by Sunday 17th at the latest. :)
He came to in a soft bed, his leg no longer screaming in pain and his ribs reduced to only a throbbing ache.
"You're awake," a familiar voice said quietly. Kurt turned his head to see Sebastian draped across a chair, gold reading glasses perched on his nose and a tatty paperback in his hands—a muggle one as well, from the look of it.
Kurt closed his eyes again, but when he reopened them Sebastian was still sitting there, the hints of a smirk playing around his lips. "What're you doing here?" Kurt asked—or at least tried to, his tongue heavy and cumbersome in his mouth.
Sebastian rolled his eyes and got to his feet, reaching out to grab a couple of pillows from a stack on the windowsill. He helped Kurt to sit up, propping the pillows behind Kurt's back before pouring him a glass of water.
Kurt's fingers squeaked on the misty-cold glass as he took it, his hand shaking slightly with the exertion. Sebastian sighed and took it from him, carefully lifting it to Kurt's mouth without spilling a drop. The water tasted cool and sweet on Kurt's tongue. He tried to swallow a bigger mouthful but choked, spluttering water down his front.
"Idiot," Sebastian muttered, reaching out to dry off Kurt's chin with a cuff.
Kurt pulled away, cheeks burning. "You don't need to be here," he pointed out, his voice coming clearer now.
"I told the nurse I'd stay until you woke up." Sebastian set the glass down—Kurt winced at the lack of a coaster—and shrugged.
"Well, I'm awake now," Kurt said.
Sebastian ignored him and settled down in his chair again, picking up his book and folding the corner of the page over to mark his place. Kurt winced again.
"In other words, there's no reason for you to be here." Kurt tried to fold his arms but the jolt of pain that the movement sent through his chest caused him to gasp and unfold them again.
"Nurse says you shouldn't move," Sebastian said, frowning at Kurt in a particularly annoyed manner, forehead furrowing. "You took a real bashing."
"Good thing I came along when I did, really," Sebastian continued, as if Kurt hadn't even spoken. "You'd probably be in St. Mungo's ICU otherwise."
Kurt frowned at him. "You're exaggerating. Like always."
Sebastian fixed him with a serious look. "Not exaggerating."
"They wouldn't have gone that far." Even as the words left his mouth, Kurt realised the falseness of them. He swallowed and looked down at his clasped hands in his lap. "Thanks," he said quietly. It wasn't as hard to say as he'd expected.
Sebastian’s eyebrows leapt up his forehead. "Do my ears deceive me?" he asked in a mock-astonished tone. "Did Kurt ‘I’m better than you’ Hummel just apologise?"
"I am capable of apologising sometimes, Sebastian." Kurt scowled. "Stop making this out to be such a big deal."
Sebastian pressed a hand to his chest. "Oh, but it is! I must alert the media—"
"What, about the alarming resemblance you bear to various members of the weasel family?”
Sebastian smiled then, so sudden and unexpected that Kurt was momentarily wrong-footed. "That's more like it. Nice Kurt was starting to creep me out a little—I was worrying that you'd hit your head harder than we'd realised."
"Fuck. Off," Kurt said steadily, as if Sebastian was a slow tourist who needed things said both loudly, slowly and multiple times. Only he was nicer to Sebastian than he would be to a tourist. Vultures. And the thought that he was being nicer to Sebastian than he would be to somebody else was a rather disturbing line of thought, one which he was grateful to have broken by Rachel's arrival.
"Kurt!" she squeaked, sounding positively delighted to see him. She rushed over, dropping her bag on the foot of Kurt's bed and grabbing him in a tight hug that made Kurt's head spin, both from the pain from his ribs and from lack of air.
"Careful, hobbit-girl," Sebastian said, amused. "He's still got three broken ribs."
"Sorry, sorry," she said, letting him go instantly. She grinned at him, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "I'm just glad to see you awake. I was getting ready to sing tearfully at your bedside if you didn’t wake up soon.” She frowned slightly. “Actually, I’m quite sad to have missed out on that opportunity. I’m convinced the only reason Brittany doesn’t love me yet is because she hasn’t heard me sing—and it would have been perfectly moving for her to hear me sing at my friend’s sickbed.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry to have caused you to miss out on the chance to use my injuries as a tool in wooing your soon-to-be girlfriend. How long have I been out?"
"About a day," Sebastian said, tucking his long legs up underneath himself on the chair and taking his glasses off, stowing them inside his robes.
Kurt frowned. "You've been out of classes all that time?"
Sebastian shrugged. "They weren't particularly interesting anyway."
"And the teachers just let you?"
Sebastian smirked lazily, draping himself over the arm of the chair. He stroked the spine of the closed book in his lap, fingers unconsciously tracing over the weathered spine almost seductively. "You would be surprised what a charming personality can do for you, Kurt."
"Of course, you would know," Kurt said, injecting as much sarcasm into his voice as he could.
Unabashed, Sebastian just grinned at him and tapped his fingers on the cover of his book.
Kurt narrowed his eyes. "Have you been sitting in here all day?" he demanded.
"No," Sebastian said at the same time that Rachel said "yes". Sebastian gave Rachel a pointed look and firmly repeated, "No. Do you really think I'd waste my time hanging around at your bedside?"
"Yes," Rachel said, grinning impishly at Sebastian when he kicked her. "He had me bring him up books so he wouldn't get bored."
Kurt leaned back, his ribs aching from the strain of sitting up straight. He folded his hands in his lap and raised an eyebrow, noting with curiosity how the tips of Sebastian’s ears were stained red. "Rachel, would you mind getting me a drink?" he asked, hoping she would take the hint and ignore the fact that he had a half-drunk glass of water on the stand.
"Sure," she chirped, flashing Sebastian a smile before bouncing out the room. They could hear her humming as she headed down the stairs.
"She's in a good mood," Kurt said, "especially considering the fact she was pissed with me before."
Sebastian fixed Kurt with a suspicious look. "Unless you have some strange kind of amnesia that causes you to forget things at random, you know full well that you have half a glass of water on the nightstand. And unless Rachel's suddenly become mysteriously blind, she knows that too."
"Maybe I wanted some juice instead," Kurt said, suddenly feeling defensive. How in Merlin's name had he thought that talking to Sebastian was a good idea?
"Cut the crap, Kurt, and tell me what's going on," Sebastian snapped, sitting up straight and glaring at Kurt with an odd sort of vulnerability in his gaze.
Kurt swallowed. He sort of wished that he hadn't sent Rachel away, now. "Why did you decide to stay with me all day?"
Sebastian narrowed his eyes. He looked more ruffled than Kurt thought he'd ever seen him before. "You already know why, Kurt."
"Actually, no, I don't." Kurt started to fold his arms, but then remembered that it was a bad idea and instead clasped them in his lap, fingernails digging crescents into the backs of his fingers. "Enlighten me, if you would be so kind."
Sebastian abruptly got to his feet and started pacing. "I've already told you that I...like you," he said, crossing his arms and glaring at Kurt. He looked like he was only just managing to keep from yelling—or bursting into tears.
Kurt tore his gaze away from Sebastian and instead stared down at his hands in his lap. He felt like his insides were writhing, panic starting to claw its way up his throat and into his mouth where it pinned down his tongue, rendering him mute. He looked back up again when Sebastian let out a harsh bark of laughter, rough and broken-sounding. He shook his head and sat back down again, tucking his knees up against his chest and hugging them. He was biting down on his lower lip, bruising the full pink flesh. Kurt sort of wanted to kiss him.
Kurt closed his eyes for a second, hoping that when he opened them Sebastian would be gone and this would all have been some sort of drug-induced hallucination.
But no. He wasn't so lucky.
Sebastian wasn't looking at him, instead choosing to stare down at the floor with a curiously blank expression on his face. He looked young; brown hair starting to flop from its upswept coiff, jaw clean-shaven and his face angular in that way that teenage boys get before they start to fill out some more.
Kurt opened his mouth, then shut it again. The panic was starting to recede, making way for a oddly hysterical feeling that Kurt wasn't sure he liked—he had no idea if he was about to burst into laughter or if he was going to start yelling and throwing things: neither of which were things he particularly wanted to have happen in front of Sebastian. "Look," he said after a moment where he tried to wrestle his emotions back under control. "I didn't realise you were serious." He licked his lips, his mouth strangely dry. He felt sick, his stomach clenched into a tight, wriggling ball of anxiety and fear. "I thought you were just mocking me," he finished, voice low. His hands were stinging where his fingernails had dug into slightly too hard.
When he finally managed to look at Sebastian, Sebastian looked completely bewildered. "Uh," Sebastian said, forehead crinkling, "how does kissing you translate to mocking you?"
Kurt flushed, his cheeks prickling with the all-too-familiar heat. "I thought you knew."
"Um," Kurt said, not quite sure whether this was going quite as he had intended. "That I like you.” He squeezed his eyes shut, not sure if he would be able to take what he was sure would be an expression of mocking derision on Sebastian’s face.
Instead, he heard a low, amused chuckle. He cracked open one eye, frowning when he saw a blurry Sebastian rocking backwards and forwards, a hand slapped over his face.
"It's not funny," Kurt said petulantly, opening both eyes fully so he could glare at Sebastian. "It's actually rather serious."
Sebastian just shook his head and laughed even harder.
Kurt huffed and wished that he didn't have three broken ribs, so that he could fold his arms. "I'd appreciate it if you'd stop laughing at me."
Sebastian took his hand away from his face and grinned at Kurt, face pink and eyes watery from laughing. "I'm just appreciating the irony," he said, still chuckling slightly.
Kurt frowned. "I'm not following."
Sebastian unfolded himself from the chair and came over to perch on the edge of Kurt bed, reaching out to take Kurt's hand. Kurt blushed again, automatically pulling his hand back from Sebastian’s warm grasp.
"M'not a girl," he muttered, looking away in embarrassment.
Sebastian huffed out a soft laugh. "I'd noticed. It’s kinda part of the appeal." He bit his lip, looking conflicted. "I'm going to kiss you now, if that's okay?"
Kurt had barely opened his mouth to agree when he found warm lips on his own. He made a muffled sound of surprise; Sebastian pulled back as quickly as if Kurt had hit him, eyes wide. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"I'm fine," Kurt said breathlessly, unable to tear his eyes from Sebastian’s mouth. His pulse was fluttering at the base of his throat and his lips were tingling. "Just took me by surprise."
Sebastian grinned suddenly. He shifted closer to Kurt until their faces were only inches apart. "Good," he breathed, and Kurt could taste him on his tongue, slightly cinnamon and nutmeg and completely addicting. Kurt closed the gap between them and kissed Sebastian again, forcing Sebastian’s mouth open and biting down slightly on his lower lip until Sebastian made a murmur of complaint, then licking deep into Sebastian’s mouth. He felt dizzy, intoxicated and light-headed, spinning wildly out of control and not able to care in the slightest.
Sebastian brought his hand up to cup Kurt's cheek, stroking his thumb along Kurt's cheekbone as he turned the kiss gentler, lazier, before pulling away and grinning at Kurt. "I find it hard to believe that you've never kissed before," he said, lilting amusement in his tone and, for the first time, it didn't send a shiver of irritation through Kurt.
Kurt shrugged, biting down on his tongue when the movement sent a wave of pain through his torso. "Guess I'm just a natural, then," he said with a rather Sebastian-esque smirk.
Sebastian hummed in agreement and leaned in for another kiss when a delighted shriek pierced the warm mugginess that was so pleasantly overpowering Kurt's mind. He glared at Rachel as she approached them, fingers curling possessively around Sebastian’s tie, keeping him in place. He didn't even remember grabbing hold of it, but it was surprisingly handy. "Can't you see we're busy?" he said, not caring about the whining tone to his voice.
"Oh, don't mind me," Rachel said, sitting in the chair that Sebastian had vacated. "Just carry on."
"Perv," Kurt muttered, forcing himself to let go of Sebastian’s tie. "I still don't see where you get off on all of this."
Rachel stuck out her tongue at him, but didn't stop grinning. "I'm not going to say 'I told you so'." She gave it a second's thought. "Actually, no, I am. Told you so!"
"Fuck off," Kurt said easily, smiling at her despite his irritation. "Why are you even here?"
She shrugged, jerking a thumb at her bag. "I brought you your school books," she said. "I thought you might want to catch up on homework. Sebastian too."
Sebastian snorted, hand creeping out to take Kurt's again. This time, Kurt didn't pull away. "No, thanks."
Kurt pinched his hand.
"Ow! What the fuck, Kurt?" Sebastian complained, cradling his hand against his chest and giving Kurt a wounded look. "There's no need to maul me."
"I believe the correct reply to Rachel was, 'thank you so much for thinking of me, Rachel—I'd love to catch up on my homework'." Kurt smiled, baring his teeth.
"Bloody hell, fine," Sebastian grumbled, still rubbing his hand.
Kurt rolled his eyes and reached out to reclaim Sebastian’s hand. "Stop being such a baby," he said, brushing his thumb over the back of Sebastian’s hand. "I didn't pinch you that hard."
Sebastian pouted, his lower lips jutting out. Kurt sort of wanted to bite it. "I have very sensitive skin.”
"You two are so sappy," Rachel announced. "It's making my teeth ache."
"You don't have to stay," Kurt said, not looking away from Sebastian. "Wouldn't want you to get cavities."
Rachel sighed, sounding put-upon. "I guess I'll just have to brush my teeth really well tonight."
"You do that, sweetheart," Sebastian said, winking at Kurt. "Actually, just to be on the safe side, why don't you go and do that now?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
"That was a hint, Rachel."
"What was?" she said, faux-innocent.
"Just go away, sweetheart," Sebastian said. "Kurt and I are trying to have a moment, here."
"Oh, sorry." Rachel got up, pulling out a couple of books from her bag and placing them on the sidetable. "Going, going." She ambled out of the hospital wing, sending a wink in their direction before closing the door behind her.
"Finally," Sebastian murmured, inching closer to Kurt again. "Now, where were we?"
"Apparently we were trying to have a moment," Kurt said, brain starting to stop functioning again at Sebastian’s proximity. "And I hope by moment you meant make-out session."
"You read my mind, babe."
Sebastian and Kurt were curled up on a couch in a corner of the Slytherin common room, lit with a soft blue-green light from the window into the lake, when Karofsky clambered through the portrait-hole. Kurt stiffened, the warmth of Sebastian’s side pressed against his own suddenly a beacon, flashing ‘Come get us! Look at us being gay in the corner over here!’
Sebastian evidently felt Kurt’s tension, because he looked at him in concern—an expression Kurt could only now recognise as such, the only indicator of concern being a slight creasing of Sebastian’s brow. “You okay?” he asked, pitching his voice low and intimate.
Kurt didn’t look at him, unable to tear his eyes away from Karofsky’s leer over the other side of the common room. “Yeah,” he said weakly, his ribs giving an insistent throb, a reminder of what Karofsky could—and would—do. “Just…tired.”
Sebastian wriggled slightly closer and Kurt had to resist the urge to flinch away. Laying a warm hand on Kurt’s arm, his book completely forgotten, Sebastian scrutinised Kurt’s face. “We can head upstairs, if you want,” he offered. His mouth curved into a smirk. “My bed’s more comfortable, anyway.”
Kurt smiled back, although all he felt was nauseous, Karofsky’s presence turning what should be a comforting touch into one that left him feeling dirty and fearful. “A tempting offer, but one I’ll have to decline,” he said. “I really just need to get some sleep.” He pushed himself upright and got to his feet, his skin feeling cold now he was away from Sebastian’s heat. He shook his head when Sebastian made to get up as well, smiling tightly. “I’m fine, don’t worry. I’d only fall asleep on you and be terribly boring company.”
“I don’t mind.” Sebastian looked at him with a softness in his eyes that made Kurt’s breath catch in his throat. The temptation to crawl back into his arms threatened to overwhelm him until he remembered Karofsky’s hulking presence still there in the room.
Kurt shook his head. “Thanks, but no thanks.” He tried to ignore how hurt flickered in Sebastian’s eyes and flashed him a brief smile before turning and hurrying towards the door to the boys’ dormitories.
He had barely passed the door to the first years’ room when he was slammed up against the wall. A thick arm was placed squarely across his throat and Karofsky’s breath ghosted hot across on his face.
“What was that with Smythe in there, Hummel?” Karofsky demanded, voice pitched low but furious. “You spreading your gay everywhere, huh? Desperate for any guy who decides to take pity on you?”
Kurt shoved at him. His pulse was racing, his ribs screaming and the pressure at the base of his throat making it hard to think. “Get off me, you fucking Neanderthal,” he hissed, panic starting to rise again.
Karofsky pushed harder. The stone against Kurt’s back was hard and unforgiving. “Answer my question, fag, or you’ll find a fist in your ribs again.”
Kurt struggled to think. “It’s none of your business what Sebastian and I do,” he ended up saying, but he knew the second he opened his mouth that it was no use.
Karofsky laughed. “It’s my business when you come into my house and fairy-up the place. You made it my business when you corrupted one of ours.”
“Big word, that,” Kurt spat. “Did you look it up specially?”
Karofsky growled and used his other arm to grab Kurt’s bicep, digging his fingers in until Kurt gasped in pain and would have buckled at the knees, were he not being held up by his neck. “Go near him again and I will make you regret it.”
Kurt stared at him, pain and fear making his vision sway and blur until all he could focus on was Karofsky’s face and the complete lack of empathy in his eyes. “I didn’t make him gay,” he said, voice rising in pitch and cracking. “He’s gay and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Karofsky pulled away from him then and Kurt sank to the floor, gasping for air and watching as Karofsky’s expression changed from anger to cruel enjoyment. “Well we’ll just have to go after Smythe, then, won’t we?” Karofsky said, faux-casually. “The gay may be stuck in you, but we might be able to beat it out of him in time.”
And with that, he turned and swaggered back up the stairs to the common room. The door closed behind him with a dull thud, leaving Kurt sat alone on the cold stones of the dimly-lit hallway with a sick feeling coiling in his stomach.
"They got any sausages?" Sebastian asked, plumping down next to Kurt at breakfast and reaching out to grab a slice of toast.
Kurt stared at him. "What are you doing?"
Sebastian paused and frowned, as if confused by what Kurt meant. "...eating breakfast," he said after a moment of silence. He tore a strip off the toast with his teeth, chewing noisily as he stared at Kurt, expectant. "Why," he asked through his mouthful, "is there a problem with that?"
Kurt wrinkled his nose at the half-masticated toast in Sebastian’s mouth. "You're at the wrong end of the table."
Sebastian still looked nonplussed. "Is that a problem?"
"You're at the wrong end of the table," Kurt repeated, as if saying it enough times would somehow cause Sebastian to understand.
Sebastian shrugged and flashed him a cheery smile. "And good morning to you too."
"I think what Kurt's trying to say is that he doesn't understand why his boyfriend might want to sit with him at breakfast," Rachel said with an over-exaggerated eye-roll.
Kurt's frown deepened as Sebastian helped himself to the platter of chipolatas. "People will stare."
"Let them," Sebastian said with a shrug. "It's only breakfast. Sausage?"
"No, thanks." Kurt glanced around. Sure enough, there were a handful of faces looking back at him in curiosity. He glared at them and turned away. "They'll talk," he warned, taking a gulp of his juice and giving Sebastian a pointed look. And definitely not appreciating the line of his jaw.
Sebastian laughed: a soft, intimate sound that sent shivers down Kurt's spine. He reached out and laid a hand on Kurt's shoulder; a casual gesture imbued with such meaning that Kurt's breath caught in his throat. "Then let's give them something to talk about, hmm?"
Kurt snorted, but relaxed in his seat all the same. He jumped when Sebastian matter-of-factly laced their fingers together, pulling his hand away automatically. He saw the hurt that flashed across Sebastian’s face and felt a twinge of guilt in his gut. "Not now," he muttered, unable to meet Sebastian’s eyes. He could feel the eyes of Karofsky and his cronies drilling into the side of his head from where they sat at the other end of the table, not too far from where Sebastian usually sat.
Rachel threw a bunched-up napkin at Kurt's head, bitchfacing at him when he scowled at her. "Stop being such a prude, Kurt," she chided. "Let your boyfriend hold your hand and stop acting like the Wizengamot will come down on your head for it."
"I need both my hands to eat," Kurt protested, holding up his knife and fork.
Sebastian slanted a side-ways look at him, his expression guarded. Kurt wasn't sure whether he wanted to know what was going through Sebastian’s mind or not.
Rachel heaved a put-upon sigh and went back to perusing the pages of a dog-earned copy of Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms. Kurt frowned at her, but didn’t comment.
“So, I was wondering if you could meet me in the library this evening?” Sebastian said, forking scrambled egg into his mouth and chewing noisily. “I could do with some help on my Transfiguration essay.”
Kurt froze, mind racing. “Um,” he said, “I’m kind of busy this evening?”
Sebastian paused in his egg-eating and gave him a curious look. “What are you doing?”
“Just…stuff,” Kurt said, shrugging. He took a gulp of his pumpkin juice and somehow, although he would never know how, managed to choke on it.
Sebastian was there in a second, pressing up close and slapping him on the back, a concerned expression on his face. “You okay?” he asked, hand lingering just slightly too long to be strictly platonic and the heat from his thigh, pressed against Kurt’s, burning through Kurt’s trousers and setting his skin on fire. Kurt wasn’t sure if he liked it or not; he’d never had particularly pyromaniacal tendencies.
His eyes were watering; Sebastian was wetly blurred around the edges, only his face in proper focus. Kurt tried to smile, but knew that it came out as more of a pained grimace. “Fine.” He pulled away from Sebastian’s touch, ignoring the flash of hurt that crossed Sebastian’s face at the obvious rejection, and picked up his bag. “I’m heading off to Arithmancy.”
Rachel looked over the edge of her book to observe, “You’ve barely eaten anything.”
Sebastian reached out and grasped Kurt’s wrist, long fingers curling tight and sending heat scorching through Kurt’s body. Kurt distractedly wondered if he’d find burn marks littering his body by the end of the day. “Sit down and finish your breakfast,” Sebastian said with a small smile, tugging Kurt’s arm.
Kurt frowned. “My class starts in half an hour.”
“That gives you plenty of time to have some toast.” Sebastian dropped a slice of still-warm toast onto Kurt’s plate and handed him a jar of strawberry jam. “Eat, babe,” he said, winking.
“I don’t like strawberry,” Kurt muttered, even as he sat down.
Sebastian said nothing, simply swapping the strawberry for blackcurrant. “I’ll walk you over there when you’ve finished.”
Kurt narrowly avoided choking on his toast, this time. “Um, you don’t need to do that.”
Sebastian shrugged and flashed him a smug smile. “I don’t mind. I have a free period, anyway.”
“You still don’t need to walk me to class, Sebastian.” Kurt felt the familiar surge of irritation rise up in his chest again. In some ways, it was nice to know that kissing Sebastian didn’t make him any less irritating.
“It’s no problem.”
Kurt gritted his teeth. “I know my way around the fucking school, Sebastian.”
Sebastian’s eyebrows jumped up his forehead. “No need to be so touchy, babe.”
“Kurt,” Kurt said, glaring at him. “Not ‘babe’. Kurt. It’s my name; maybe you could try using it for once.”
An irritated glint sparked in Sebastian’s eyes. “Fine. Kurt.”
“Good,” Kurt threw back, folding his arms and fixing Sebastian with a mulish expression. “Can I go now?”
“Be my guest,” Sebastian said, lips twitching into a sneer. Kurt wasn’t sure if he wanted to punch him or kiss him, pressing close and bruising his frustration into Sebastian’s skin.
He stood up again, hitching his bag over his shoulder and giving Rachel a curt nod. “I’ll see you later.”
She gave him a narrow-eyed look over the edge of her book and nodded back. “Sure.”
Kurt hesitated for a moment, not sure if he should nod at Sebastian or not. After an awkward moment in which Sebastian pointedly refused to look at Kurt, he turned on his heel and stalked away.
Kurt was distracted all the way through his next lesson. He sat in his usual place at the front of the classroom, but instead of having his hand in the air every five seconds (the teaching had become rather good at dodging Kurt’s hand by now), he nibbled on the end of his quill—ignoring the bits of feather that stuck to his tongue—and stared at the blank sheet of parchment laid out on the desk in front of him.
Professor Abrams stopped halfway through the middle of his talk on the symbolism of the joint usage of the numbers seventy-three and eighty-one, and gave Kurt a curious look. “Are you feeling quite well, Hummel?” he asked, pushing his glasses further up his nose and peering at Kurt in anxiety.
Kurt stared at him, not entirely sure how to react. “Um, yes, thank you,” he said after a moment of silence in which he could feel the eyes of the rest of the class burning into the back of his skull. “Tired, I guess.”
He nodded and gave him a sympathetic look. “It’s the date, you know,” he informed him matter-of-factly. “It particularly exhausts those who have birthdays on the twenty-fourth of a month.”
Kurt blinked, vaguely weirded out by the fact that Professor Abrams knew when his birthday was and even more unsettled by the fact that his Arithmancy lesson seemed to have turned into a Divination class. “…Okay,” he said, biting down on his lower lip and trying to ignore the fact that everybody was staring at him.
“Would it help if you took a break?” Professor Abrams readjusted his glasses again, wheeling closer to Kurt’s desk and fixing Kurt with a firm look.
Kurt hesitated. “I’m not sure—”
“Okay, okay, off you go,” Professor Abrams said, wheeling himself back to the blackboard and picking up the chalk stub. “Now, we were discussing how seventy-three and eighty-one work together to create an optimum power—can anybody tell me how they work in correlation with one another?” He turned around and blinked at Kurt. “Weren’t you just leaving, Hummel?”
Kurt flushed and pulled his bag onto the desk, shoving his books and papers into it before getting to his feet and fleeing the classroom as quick as he could without tripping over his own feet.
Turning the corner, he nearly walked straight into somebody leaning against the wall. He hastily side-stepped, not looking to see who it was. “Sorry, sorry,” he muttered, hiking his bag further up on his shoulder and ducking his head.
“Wait—Kurt—” a familiar voice said, a warm hand wrapping around his wrist and preventing him from pulling away. Kurt froze, feeling like a bucket of icy water had just been dumped over his head, his breath catching in his throat.
Sebastian quickly dropped Kurt’s wrist, fingers brushing against the back of Kurt’s hand before Kurt flinched away and Sebastian shoved his hands back into the pockets of his robes. “I was hoping to speak to you,” Sebastian said, green eyes earnest.
Kurt’s stomach clenched. “I don’t know if this is quite the right time—”
“It’s never the right time,” Sebastian said sharply, glaring at Kurt. He ran a hand through his hair, messing up the carefully-combed style and causing it to flop over his forehead slightly, giving him a look of vulnerability that made Kurt’s heart skip a beat. Sebastian sighed. “Look. We need to talk.”
Kurt quirked an eyebrow, fixing Sebastian with his most glacial of frigid stares. “I don’t see what there is to talk about, unless it’s how obnoxious your smirking has become.”
Sebastian snorted. “Nice one, Kurt. And here I was thinking that your prissiness came from being too much of a lady, but ladies don’t insult people who’ve done nothing wrong.”
“We have nothing to talk about, Sebastian.” Kurt tightened his grip on his bag-strap and resisted the temptation to look away from Sebastian’s gaze.
Sebastian took a step closer. “What about everything?”
“I’m perfectly willing to discuss the meaning of life some other time.”
“Ha-ha, very fucking funny.” Sebastian folded his arms, shifting his weight from foot to foot as is he wasn’t sure whether to run or stand his ground. He ducked his head, the movement an odd combination of awkward and elegant, like a cat teetering on the top of a fence. “Look, fuck—what is this, Kurt?”
Kurt paused. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s not something I’ve really thought about.”
He was a fantastic liar when he put his mind to it.
Sebastian frowned at him. “Stop lying.”
“I’m not lying,” Kurt said, although even he could hear the way his tone rang false and he knew Sebastian could too. He plunged on—in for one, in for a dozen, right? “I appreciate that you stayed with me in the hospital wing, and maybe you’re not as annoying as I first thought, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re a smirky-faced douchebag who this is all a giant game to.”
Sebastian’s mouth dropped open. He shook his head, taking a step back. He looked as if Kurt had just sucker-punched him in the stomach, his face white, unusually open and expressive. “I can’t believe you, sometimes,” he said, his voice surprisingly ragged. “I can’t believe that you still don’t get it, even after I stayed with you and held your hand and kissed you and—” He cut himself off, inhaling sharply and closing his eyes. “I thought you cared more than that.”
Kurt folded his arms and tried not to wince at the residual ache in his ribs. “You have a reputation, Sebastian,” he said firmly, ignoring the sick feeling in his stomach when he saw Sebastian flinch. “You’ll get bored of me sooner or later, and I won’t have that be the end of my first relationship. It’s better to not even go there.”
“But kissing somebody and then leaving them out to dry is okay?” Sebastian demanded, a familiar spark of anger appearing in his eyes. “You know, most people would at least have the balls to break up with somebody properly—not to mention that most people have an actual reason.”
“I have a reason,” Kurt said, feeling his resistance start to crumble. He kept the image of Karofsky’s leer firmly in his mind. This is for Sebastian, he reminded himself. He swallowed hard and went for the final kill: “And anyway, it’s not breaking up if you were never together in the first place.”
Sebastian stilled, his expression becoming blank and neutral. “Well that clears things up, then.” His voice was tight and measured, and Kurt felt like he was breaking apart at the seams. “Have a nice day.”
Kurt wasn’t sure what to say to that. He just stood there in the corridor and watched as Sebastian walked away from him for the first time.
“You absolute fucking bitch, Hummel.” Santana’s voice cut through the quiet of the library as she stormed over to where Kurt was sitting with a pile of books by a window. Other students looked up in shock and annoyance; the librarian looked verging on apoplexic and got to her feet in protest, brandishing her quill like a sword as she waved it at them.
Kurt eyed Santana warily as she came to a stop in front of him. “What brought this on?”
Santana raised her hand and delivered a stinging slap to his cheek, one which left his ears ringing and his face burning. “What do you fucking think?” she hissed, hands on hips and cheeks flushed in anger.
Kurt frowned. “If this is about Sebastian—” He flinched back when she made to slap him again. “Santana! Wait a minute.”
She raised her eyebrows, mouth set in a stubborn line that reminded him of Rachel in one of her moods. “You’ve got a minute, Hummel, before I hex you from here to Durmstrang and go all hippogriff on your ass.”
“Sebastian and I aren’t suited to each other, okay?” Kurt said in a rush, feeling his cheeks heat up further when she stared at him incredulously. “We’re always arguing and I’m certain he doesn’t have a clue who Alexander McQueen is—it was only going to end badly.”
“But you like him.” She didn’t sit down. Instead, she put her hands on her hips and scowled.
Kurt glared at her, feeling the urge to squirm in his seat. “What is this, an interrogation?”
“So you do like him.”
“I never said that.”
Santana smirked—and yes, she was definitely Sebastian’s cousin—and raised one carefully-pencilled eyebrow. “What, the sex too hot for you or something?”
Kurt’s cheeks were on fire, he was pretty sure. “Not everything is about sex, I’ll have you know,” he snapped. “What’s wrong with wanting a little bit of romance?”
She stared at him, mouth dropping open slightly, before shaking her head. “If you wanted serenades and flowers then you’d be pining after that Hufflepuff Blanderson, Hummel. That’s not your reason.”
Kurt opened his mouth and then closed it again. “Were you here for a reason or just to yell at me?”
“Just to yell at you,” she said sweetly, pulling up the chair opposite him and dropping into it. “See, my cousin’s like my baby brother, so I don’t take it all too well when some asshole goes and breaks his heart.”
Kurt fingered the spine of his copy of Numerology and Grammatica, not able to meet her eyes. “He doesn’t have a heart,” he said, still not looking up. The cover had a small rip in it at the bottom corner of the spine, he noticed, the cardboard fluffy to the touch.
Santana folded her arms, tossing her hair back from her face with a careless flick of her head. “He has a heart, alright. He just doesn’t usually let people see it, because this is what happens.” Her voice was lower than before but no less intense. “Haven’t you ever been taught that it’s cruel to string people along?”
Kurt looked up, meeting her eyes for the first time. “I didn’t mean to string him along,” he said quietly, trying to imbue his voice with as much sincerity as he could. “It just…happened. I was stupid and thought that we might work out.”
“It just happened,” Santana repeated incredulously. “Breaking somebody’s heart doesn’t just happen, Hummel. What exactly even made you think it wasn’t going to work?”
Kurt frowned. “That’s none of your business. I stopped it before it got too far, didn’t I?”
Santana sighed, folding her hands on her knee and fixing Kurt with an intent look. “Kurt, as far as Sebastian is concerned, it was far enough the first time you ever spoke to him.”
Kurt wasn’t entirely sure what to say to that. He stared at the polished surface of the table and fought the urge to admit everything to this crazy girl. Prefect or not, she was still smaller than Karofsky and he was pretty sure Karofsky wouldn’t baulk at hitting a girl.
She reached out and laid her hand over his, slender fingers cool against the back of his hand. The red nail polish on her fingers was chipped, although her nails were carefully manicured. “Tell me the truth, Kurt. You like him, don’t you?”
“He’s an annoying, obnoxious, smirky-faced meerkat.”
She laughed slightly at that. “I’m with you on that one, and when it comes to Sebastian? That’s equivalent to a confession of love.” She patted his hand before drawing back and getting to her feet. “Just promise me you’ll try to talk to him?”
Kurt chewed on his lower lip, thinking. “I’ll try,” he said after a moment, not even quite sure why he was agreeing but the memory of Sebastian’s white face causing something to clench in his gut and the urge to fix things threatening to choke him.
“Good.” Santana smiled down at him. “I was getting ready to threaten you with some things that could potentially get me in trouble, so I’m glad we reached a nice little agreement.” And with that, she turned and walked away before Kurt could say anything else.