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FIC: The One About Dragons 1/?

So! We all remember that mystery project I've been going on about?

Yeah. This is not that.

This is what happens when I find myself oddly bereft at the end of a massive project like HP&tBfL, cruising the kinkmeme, and trying to work out what to do with the persistent feeling that I ought to be writing something. Usually, it ends in tumblr-inspired .gif fic. This time, apparently, I'm trying my hand at a kinkmeme fill.

The fill is here, and quite long; the fic will likewise, I'm sure, be long as heck, but I suppose we'll find out when we get there. And yes, I'm asking you to trust me on a WIP all of a week after the last one got wrapped up. Whatever, whatever, I do what I want.

Heed the warnings this time, guys. I've never written anything quite like this before. They'll get updated chapter by chapter.

Title: The One About Dragons
Rating: PG-13, this part; eventually, NC-17
Warning: DUBCON AND CHILD ABUSE.  (Um.  Not in the same place.)  The dubcon will likely be mild, but the abuse will be very present, and ongoing for at least the first few chapters.  Later chapters will also (likely) include graphic violence.
IN THIS CHAPTER: Discussion of child abuse/abuse of an adult by a parent; allusions to other, similar forms of abuse.  Lots of getting into the headspace of an abuse victim, but no on-camera depictions of it.

Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox. I own nothing.

Summary: Blaine's always been told that the dragon you know is safer than the dragon you don't.
In this chapter: Kurt might be the strangest sort of dragon Blaine's ever seen.

Notes: Seriously, check out the prompt on the kinkmeme. There's supposed to be a second fill, so we'll see just how different they turn out. Thanks, as always, to crown_of_weeds, who has been a wonderful sounding board and advice-giver.

The best place to hide, Blaine had long ago learned, when the King of Ander was in a Mood, was his own bedroom. Everybody knew the king’s temper flared and struck, toxic as a viper, with less warning; everybody knew, in much quieter whispers, that the Crown Prince Cooper was such a model of honor and perfection that he’d someday be their salvation. Nobody visited the chambers of the barely-tolerated second son. Why would they bother?

Unfortunately, that included any sort of servants who might bring Blaine food. If he just stayed here long enough, and starved to death...well, somebody among the palace servants would probably end up executed for it. One must, Blaine knew grimly, remembering his mother’s constant admonitions, keep up appearances, and the royal family couldn’t actually appear not to care. Probably nobody would notice or stop it happening until after the fact, though, which meant that Blaine had to head down to the Great Hall for dinner if he wanted to eat today.

(Once, when he was twelve, Blaine had tried staying holed up with an extra pitcher of water and a basket of fruit smuggled out of the kitchens, just to see how long it would take them to come looking. Three days later he’d given up out of thirst. The next time he’d seen his history tutor, the man ordered ten lashes for Blaine missing a lesson, and when the king found out, he tacked on another five for good measure. He hadn’t tried anything like that since.)

So, very well. There were supposed to be servants who helped Blaine with things like his dress and his hair. They would, for balls and state events, for parades, and he supposed that in theory “tend to Prince Blaine” was on somebody’s schedule, somewhere--but why bother do the work if nobody, from the king on down, cared to see it done? Besides, Blaine was twenty-two, old enough to be responsible for his own appearance. If Blaine dared show up in the great hall looking slovenly, that would be on his shoulders, and so would the cane.

The easiest way to tidy his mop of unruly hair to his father’s satisfaction was simply to use an unguent made of scented oil and wax and slick it all back. Blaine took his time with his comb and mirror. You never gave the King of Ander a reason to be annoyed. He could find plenty enough on his own.

He was stalling, of course, and it wouldn’t work anyway. Nothing would fix his father’s mood tonight. By this point even Blaine knew about the emissary that arrived from the Kingdom of Sylvestra late last night, the one with the message sealed with a red ribbon: a declaration of war. Blaine had overheard a few of the knights talking, in the practice yards this morning, before Sir Bedevere pummeled him ‘round the side and forced his attention back to the match he was losing so badly. He’d fled before his father could stalk out to the yards and spot him, but that was well before lunch, and there was no use delaying the inevitable.

Blaine settled his tunic, a little worn at the seams but perfectly suitable for the youngest son of a King. Appearances mattered. Appearances kept Blaine’s father on his throne. They kept the population from asking questions about what happened in his prisons, in his negotiation rooms, in his treasury. Right up until he had to fight a war with money the kingdom hadn’t had in years.

Let them invade, thought Blaine, as he tugged his surcoat into place a little too roughly. See how he likes it then. The mere thought of the King of Anders forced to kneel, or under the lash, made Blaine shiver. It was too unreal to picture, the god among men brought so low, but the king would know he’d thought it. Blaine’s back still chafed against the silk of his tunic from last week.

He would try to avoid his father’s eyes at dinner tonight, but it was never quite enough. The king had a way of seeing people’s thoughts written on their faces. He’d known that Blaine was bitter, resentful, ungrateful and treasonous even before Blaine did.

He knew Blaine’s other secret as well, the one that could send Blaine to the axe or worse if it were ever made known. He’d known since Blaine was thirteen, when Blaine had first begun to notice the broad shoulders and well-muscled chests of the knights in the baths.

Life in the palace hadn’t been so bad before then, when Blaine was young. He’d still been the youngest son, not particularly needed or wanted, but no more objectionable than any other useless child running around the place. The lashings had been fewer then, and usually only for things he’d already done.

But the law was very, very clear on the subject of men who lay with other men, and only his father’s silence protected him from the penalty for that. Of course the punishments had grown harsher and more frequent since that day. Blaine had never been grateful enough. Whether he’d stepped out of line or not, that was always true--and given the choice between his father’s fist and the hangman’s axe, Blaine had no right to complain.

Blaine’s stomach rumbled, and he looked as well as he could. He would be charming tonight, try to catch his mother’s attention for once, if she wasn’t already too deep in her cups by the time dinner was even served. Maybe if he was already engaged in conversation, his father wouldn’t want to interrupt. Maybe, for once (Blaine was so ungrateful, he had no right to hope, no right to want anyone else to suffer in his place, some poor serving girl who’d never done anything wrong, never let her eyes wander where the law of the land says they shouldn’t, but oh, his shoulders chafed against the inside of his tunic, and he couldn’t help it) the King would vent his rage elsewhere. Just for tonight.

“You have got to be kidding me,” said Santana. Puck snorted his agreement, but didn’t look away from the spectacle building in the middle of camp to nod hello to her.

Thine eyes like sapphires from the farthest shores, thy lips spring’s most perfect peach, thine arms that bear thy swords as thou ridest into every breach,” warbled the young man in front of them. He stood alone, in the wide empty circle of space in front of the Chieftan’s tent, strumming a tall folding harp and singing, largely on-key, in the direction of a smaller tent over to the right.

“Tell me he wrote that himself,” Santana said. “There cannot be somebody else in the world who thinks that counts as a love song.”

“It’s an original composition,” Lauren confirmed. Hmm. Maybe next time Puck proposed to her...

She elbowed him in the ribs. “If you ever make a fool out of yourself like that trying to propose, I’ll rip your balls off,” she said conversationally. Puck swallowed.

“Come on, baby, you know I’d sing you a good song,” he promised. Out in front of them, the man had moved on to singing about Kurt’s cooking. Which, Puck had to admit, was pretty tasty--but probably not exactly the way to win Kurt’s heart.

“Yeah, well, find me by one of the campfires after sundown and we’ll see,” Lauren allowed. Puck smirked. He’d seal the deal yet.

“Is this idiot even from our tribe?” Santana asked. “Like it’s not bad enough that we’ve got half the guys in camp trying to get into Prince Prance-a-lot’s codpiece, now we’re taking on suitors from completely different tribes?”

“I’m not feeding them,” Puck said automatically.

“You’d think there’d be enough meat on one of those minotaurs or dragons they keep killing for him,” said Lauren.

“Yeah, but that would be useful,” said Santana. “And they’d have to bring back more than just the head, or the still-beating heart, or whatever.”

“Dude, what do you even do with that many still-beating hearts?” Puck wondered.

“I keep them in jars on a shelf in my tent to frighten anyone who actually makes it in there,” said a voice behind them. Puck jumped. He’d deny it later.

Kurt, son of Burt the Chieftan of the Seventeen Tribes, fierce in battle and all that other crap, blah blah blah, who (according to the man still serenading an apparently-empty tent) knew a dozen different uses for dragon’s blood and could stop a man’s heart with a single look, folded his arms and raised his eyebrows. “How long has this one been there for?”

“About half an hour,” said Lauren. “You slip out the back tent flap?”

“I haven’t been in there since before breakfast. My father was expecting a messenger due in, I rode out to meet him.” Kurt held up a single scroll, bound by a snowy white ribbon. Huh. That was a treaty message. Must be something big going down, for Kurt to be heading out himself for something like that.

“Wait, so you mean lark-lungs over there didn’t even check?” asked Santana. “That’s priceless.”

Kurt sighed. “Do you know if my father is in?” he asked. “If he’s been listening to that for the past half hour, maybe he’ll let me disembowel this one.”

“Hey, you can’t stop ‘em now,” said Lauren. “Your crazy suitors are the best entertainment this tribe’s had in years.”

“It’s been years,” Kurt said.

Truthfully, Puck had never known a time in this tribe before men lined up to court Kurt. There had been a handful of women, too, over the past couple of years, although they had given up more easily. Puck had seen many a determined shieldmaiden in the years since he’d joined Burt’s tribe. When somebody was out-stubborning them...

“No matter,” said Kurt. He tucked the message into a pouch on his belt and drew one of his twin swords. “This ends now.”

The suitor didn’t even notice Kurt striding up behind him at first, so intent on his song was he, although the assembled spectators of the tribe spotted him instantly. Lauren was right, this was kind of the best entertainment they had. Puck didn’t see Quinn around. He hoped she wasn’t the only person in camp still working right now. That’d just be sad.

“I’m sorry, was that song for me?” Kurt asked. The suitor’s fingers slipped on his strings, drawing out a terrible squawk, and he turned, only to find himself chin-to-tip with Kurt’s sword.

“Kurt,” managed the suitor, drawing back a little from the blade. Kurt followed him.

“You have me at a disadvantage,” Kurt said, cocking his head and smiling the same oh-so-pleasant smile Puck had seen him give countless other men before tearing them to shreds. Usually with his tongue. Puck always figured that was mostly because he didn’t like trying to get blood out of his leathers. “Your name?”

“I am Tambalar, of the tribe of Tenretni,” the man declared. “We met just two moons ago, at the tribal conclave at Summoning Hill. You spoke well of my playing.”

“Yes,” Kurt said, still smiling oh-so-politely. He allowed the tip of the sword to slip, slowly, down from the man’s chin along the line of his throat. “That’s what we usually call manners. Usually, in this tribe, we also think to ask around about somebody before we start courting them, but you’re new, so I’ll help you out.”

“I...I don’t understand,” stammered the suitor. “They all said you loved music and bested any man that asked for a duel, so I wrote you a song--”

“And if it were a singing competition I’d have you in my debt for the next six moons,” said Kurt. “I have no desire to be courted. If I’d had any interest in you at the tribal conclave beyond whatever I showed in your sad, pathetic little imagination, I’d have had sex with you at the tribal conclave. Since that definitely didn’t happen, I think we can assume that I have no interest in...anything you have to offer.” The sword’s tip came to a halt, ending its slow, downward path pointing right where the suitor should have been wearing his codpiece. “If you want to waste your time, I can’t stop you, but I’d prefer if you stopped wasting mine.” In the blink of an eye, the sword was back up, pressing right into the flesh of the man’s throat. “Do we have an understanding?”

Puck couldn’t see, from where he was standing, if the man gulped. It was probably pretty painful if he did.

Kurt brushed his father’s tent flap aside and strode in, bristling with irritation. This one couldn’t even sing. Honestly.

“Tell me somebody doesn’t have to clean up a fresh corpse out in front of my tent,” his father said by way of greeting. Kurt rolled his eyes.

“You could have dealt with him, you know,” he said.

The personal tent of the Chieftan of the Seventeen Tribes was large, as befit his status, and lushly appointed with gold and furs. Flaps of canvas partitioned off smaller areas for privacy and sleeping, but at the moment, Kurt and Burt were in a wide, high-peaked room strewn with rugs and cushions for guests.

Burt gestured at the ground, and Kurt knelt opposite. He leaned forward to check the amount of water left in the tea service, then lifted the pot from its tiny brazier and poured it carefully into two green lacquered cups.

“Have you been drinking your tea?” he asked. “You know you’re supposed to--”

“I’m supposed to be able to go five minutes without somebody mothering me,” Burt said. The little folding stools like the one he sat on were all easier on the backs of the tribe’s older warriors than the ground, but Kurt let himself settle cross-legged on a floor cushion. “Carole brought me a new pot of water ten minutes ago.”

Burt was a not a young man. The Chieftan never was; no very young man had the wisdom and experience to lead all ten thousand of them. He was still well within the prime of his life, a strong man and a bold warrior, if not quite so fierce as he’d been in his younger days, but his brush with fever last winter had worried all those close to him, and Kurt--and, clearly, Carole--couldn’t quite help but fuss.

“She braved that disaster outside?” Kurt asked dryly. “Where is she now?”

“She went off to find the Bieste and take bets on how you’d get rid of this one,” Burt told him. “Kurt, this has got to stop.”

Kurt’s mouth thinned into a flat, displeased line. “You tell me how, then, because every other person in all seventeen tribes seems to be able to get through the day without being stalked by half a dozen suitors who won’t take ‘I will disembowel you’ for an answer. I’m not that special, Dad. Half of them are only hoping I’ll look at them twice so they can gain favor with you, and the other half are just...sad.”

“Have you ever even thought about courting someone yourself?” Burt pressed. “I mean, come on, five thousand men across seventeen tribes, they can’t all be that bad.”

“And is that why it took you ten years to get around to courting the Widow Hudson?” Kurt asked. “It’s not about being all that bad. They’re all perfectly fine as friends, or fellow warriors, or at least they are when they stop following me around, but none of them is what I’m looking for. And I’m not going to lead one of them on just to get rid of the others.”

“All right, I get it,” Burt said, holding up a hand. “But it’s been six years, kiddo, and it still brings the whole tribe to a halt. This can’t keep going on.”

“Well, I’m open to suggestions,” Kurt said stiffly. “In the mean time, can we talk about the message I just spent all morning riding out to get? And why you don’t want anyone else in the camp knowing you’re exchanging parlay messages with the King of Ander?”

“You opened it?” Burt asked, taking the message from Kurt’s outstretched hand. The wax seal and the message ribbon were both still in place, but Kurt nodded.

“I spent ten minutes with a piece of flint and a pile of dead grass melting the wax back into place again,” he said. “If anybody I met on my way in asks, you never tell me anything.”

The wax gave easily under Burt’s thumbnail. Kurt waited patiently, sipping at his tea, while his father read the message.

The hunt-leaders and respected members of his father’s council didn’t like it when Kurt knew what was going to happen before they did, but Burt had long made it clear that they didn’t dictate who made it into his confidences. Kurt just didn’t think there was any reason to upset the pot if they didn’t have to. Not when it was easy enough to...finesse his way by things, without them ever having to know.

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” Burt said finally, rolling the message back up and slipping the ribbon over it.

“You’re seriously considering working with him?” Kurt asked, arching his eyebrows. “The last time we dealt with the Kingdom of Ander, they offered to show us how to make things out of steel, and promised us architects if we ever decided to start building houses.”

“I know,” Burt sighed. “He’s a piece of work.”

“They gave us a translator,” said Kurt. “His entire job was to repeat everything the king said more loudly and slowly.”

“I remember,” said Burt.

“We speak the same language,” said Kurt.

“So what I’m wondering is, what’s got the King of Ander so worked up he’s sending messages asking a bunch of barbarians like us for help in the first place?” asked Burt. “There’s plenty of good timber and metal ore in that kingdom that we could stand to get our hands on, and I’ve got to admit, I kind of like the idea of having that asshole in our debt.”

“Hmm,” said Kurt. “You make a valid argument.”

“You know getting anything like this by the guys is going to be a pain in the ass, so I’m gonna need your help on this,” said Burt. “If I take an envoy up to Castle Lima to try and talk this out, I want you there with me, keeping your eyes open, okay?”

“Of course,” Kurt promised. He sipped at his tea.

Then he paused, cocked his head, and added, “You know the king is already planning on how to screw you, right?”

“Counting on it,” Burt said in satisfaction. “Gives me an excuse to kick his ass when we’re done.”

In a sense, Blaine’s life was very simple. He was twenty-two; he’d long since outgrown the tutors, though he still made his way down to the practice yards every few days in some vain attempt to get better with the sword. Cooper had been sitting on his father’s council for years at this age, but Cooper was going to inherit the kingdom. Blaine would inherit whatever Cooper felt generous enough to let him have, which would probably mean a respectably-appointed suite in the palace and a small allowance from the royal treasury on which to keep himself, his future wife, and whatever children they somehow managed to produce. The spare heir wasn’t really needed for very much otherwise, as his father had pointed out to him more than once.

Simple. Blaine was a pampered palace brat; his days stretched wide open in front of him to fill as he pleased, so long as he didn’t bother any of the dozens of people around him with real work to do. There were dozens of courtiers and lords’ sons around the place, and they all liked him well enough, for a little while, until they remembered who he was. The girls all seemed afraid of him, or maybe they just feared the shadow of his father. Blaine couldn’t begrudge them that. He feared his father. Everyone in the palace did. It only showed sense.

He was going to end up marrying one of those girls someday, bundled off so his father could get a good political bargain out of it. Maybe, if Blaine was very very lucky, his father would see it as an easy way to be rid of him once and for all, and he’d end up inheriting her father’s lands in her place. He could live out the rest of his life on some back-country estate, never causing anyone too much trouble. And if she drank as much as Blaine’s mother, if he could barely look at her during the day for memory of what he’d do or think about at night to get those heirs...maybe it would be all right.

When Blaine wasn’t trying to charm all the courtiers of his own age into being willing to keep him company for a while, but it didn’t seem dangerously foolish to even try to leave his own room (he’d had to sneak into the servant’s quarters, apologetically, the morning after the dinner with the Sylvestran envoy, for sheets that didn’t have blood on them), he usually went down to the castle music rooms. There were three of them, where the royal troubadour composed his works and taught the noble children, and the ladies-in-waiting whiled away the hours with the harpsichord and lyre. Usually, at least one would be open, and despised or not Blaine was still a royal prince; nobody ever threw him out.

Today, he had his run of the place. Today, his father received the envoy from the barbarian hill tribes: the Royal Council were all meeting them in the Great Hall, and everyone else in the castle would be circling around, just trying to catch a glimpse of the weird foreigners.

Last time they’d been here, nearly seven years ago, Blaine couldn’t recall seeing any of them wearing a necklace of skulls like all the stories said, but he’d spent most of that visit locked in his room so he couldn’t embarrass the kingdom. This time he had either been forgotten or his father trusted him to know to stay out of the way. Blaine could take advantage of either to get in a little time by himself on the harpsichord.

Blaine was good at music. It wasn’t much--it certainly wasn’t worth much, for a man, and a prince at that, but as nobody cared what Blaine did with his spare time it couldn’t be to embarrassing to his father, either.

He’d tried his hand at composing, once or twice, but what could Blaine possibly even have to say that anybody would want to listen to? Mostly he practiced the old ballads, on whichever instrument he might find. Today it was the lyre, and Young Lovers’ Dream.

And thy beauty, like some phantom from a young lover’s dream, it holds me, holds me, holds me. As you disrupt my dreams, so follow me into the night, we’ll go so boldly, boldly, boldly. And oh, I would give you my body, my all, if you would dream of me as young lovers do this night. And oh, I would give you my life, my all, if you would dream of me as young lovers do this night.

His fingering was perfect. The song echoed hollowly in the empty room. Blaine sighed.

Surely they would be moved on to the smaller council chambers by now, his father and the barbarian envoy. As impossible as it was to imagine--the council chambers so precisely, ornately appointed, and the barbarians presumably all hulking and half-naked, dressed in old furs and jewelry made of bones--they were here for negotiations. Even the King of Ander couldn’t hire a people of fifteen thousand men to invade a foreign country for him out in the stableyards.

It was probably safe to head up to his own room. The music rooms could be depressingly lonely without the strains of somebody else’s practice drifting through the walls.

He tucked the lyre carefully away in its case, laid its bow to rest on the rack, and shelved his sheet music in the little press against the far wall.

Sometimes, Blaine felt like a ghost haunting a stranger’s castle. Nothing that anyone else did here was quite meant for him. Nothing touched him.

His back ached. His back always ached. He headed for the stairs.

Castle Lima, Kurt was convinced, was designed as a claustrophobic stone-walled labyrinth specifically to foil invading armies and barbarian spies.

He’d slipped the main party easily enough, although even his most well-tooled leather pants and his one canvas jacket that he’d traded two catamount pelts for in North Yste wouldn’t pass for a native’s beyond the most cursory inspection. In retrospect, perhaps a pair of pants with shoddier workmanship and less detailing would have been a better choice. That nobody had stopped him yet seemed more to do with the fact that everyone Kurt saw, from courtiers down to chambermaids alike, hurried along the hallways with their heads bent, too intent on one task or another to notice their surroundings. Or else, they were trying to avoid drawing notice. The more Kurt saw of Ander, the less he liked it.

At any rate, they might not be dragging him down to rejoin his father and the rest of the envoy (as if any flimsy outlander here could drag Kurt anywhere), but nobody was helping Kurt navigate, either. He couldn’t imagine how people lived like this. Everywhere he turned, another hallway, another staircase...Kurt hadn’t been this confused about what direction was north since they’d broken out half a dozen barrels of Sladnac rotgut for the Bieste’s thirty-fifth birthday, and tried to play pin the arrow on the straw dragon. He hadn’t seen the sun in half an hour.

There! On the wall of that winding stairway, a window. It barely counted as an arrow slit, really, and this place would be impossible to attack on horseback, but bottle everyone up inside and Kurt could only imagine they’d all go mad and kill each other even before the starvation set in.

Kurt peered through the arrow slit cautiously, and bit back a curse. Apparently he’d somehow made it high up enough in the castle to be looking out over the tops of three smaller towers. Well all right, he was standing at the top of dozens of stairs. He could fix that part, at least.

Kurt followed the staircase down so many turns it began to feel as though he was back in camp, playing pin the arrow on the straw dragon again. It widened as he went, between each door leading off to another hallway, so for the first few turns Kurt could have bumped both elbows at once, but by several floors down, three people could have passed abreast without difficulty.

The tapestries along the walls grew richer as he descended, and after four floors a silk carpet runner appeared, gracing the center of the steps. Kurt took that as a good sign. He made sure to check the windows whenever they appeared; he was definitely going down, at least, which was something. Right now the only thing he could imagine doing was finding the flat open stableyard and trying to get his bearings from there. The hall where they’d been welcomed was on the same level as the yard; he could retrace his first steps, anyway, and find his father from there.

Then he ran out of stair.

Kurt glanced out the window. He was definitely still at least three or four floors up from the ground. The staircase widened even farther here, into a big, sweeping structure open along its left rail to the hall below. Majestic, Kurt supposed, if you liked that sort of thing. It ended in a marble floor tiled into some kind of gaudy, achingly repetitive pattern, and Kurt could see from even halfway down that there wasn’t another staircase in sight.

So. Kurt was lost in this pit of an outlander castle, and had been for at least an hour now. All he’d managed to learn was that the King of Ander’s subjects seemed to like him nearly as little as the tribes did. Also, the longer he wandered this aimlessly, the more likely he was to be spotted by one of the palace guards and throw all the negotiations into jeopardy.

What he needed was a nice, naive-looking castle resident who could get him all the way back to the king’s council chambers without asking too many questions. Not a servant; the way they were rushing around, he doubted one could spare more than the thirty seconds necessary to give him directions, and he wouldn’t put it past one of these mad castle-dwelling outlanders to send him halfway across the palace from where he wanted to be, just out of sheer nastiness. Kurt really disliked Ander.

What he needed was the unarmed, unburdened dark-haired man in the richly-dyed blue tunic about to mount the very staircase Kurt was descending. Kurt halted directly in front of him, and waited.

“Excuse me,” the dark-haired man said automatically, as he was looking up. “I--” He trailed off, eyes widening. Outlanders.

Although...now that Kurt could see his whole face. He really was a very attractive outlander, wasn’t he?

“Hi,” said Kurt. “Can I ask you a question? I’m a little lost here.”

“Yes, of course, sir.” The man seemed to remember himself, or at least his manners, and extended a hand. “My name’s Blaine,” he said, with a brief, polite bow of the head.

“Kurt.” Blaine’s palm was dry, and calloused in odd places, mostly on the fingertips--not a swordsman, then. Good, less chance of Kurt getting called to account for his little...unauthorized excursion. “I’m afraid I got separated from my envoy.”

“You’re with the barbarians,” Blaine said, and Kurt manfully resisted rolling his eyes.

“Yes,” said Kurt, “that’s me, the barbarian fiend. Can’t leave me wandering around the castle or I might just decide to start pillaging something. You never can tell.” Kurt wondered if outlanders knew what sarcasm was. They hadn’t shown any sign of it six years ago, but to be fair, they were busy being scared out of their wits that the big nasty barbarian horde of five adults and three teenagers would rape and slaughter them all in their beds.

“Well,” Blaine smiled, recovering his poise in rather less time than Kurt had expected. “You seem trustworthy enough to me.”

Well then.

Kurt did not blush, because grown men who’d fought raging battles and single-handedly slain manticores, not to mention fending off the entire male population of the seventeen tribes since his sixteenth birthday, did not blush. He especially didn’t find himself feeling flattered and flirtatious just because some outlander with pretty eyes smiled at him with more charm than fear.

But if Kurt were the sort of man to be charmed so easily, he might be finding this Blaine a little intriguing. Just a bit.

“Now,” began Kurt, then in a split second, reconsidered his pitch. He could probably intimidate Blaine into giving Kurt what he needed, but it looked like Blaine might be more susceptible to Kurt simply asking. “I need to find the rest of my envoy,” Kurt said, more calmly than he’d ever expected to be with an Anderian. “Is there any way you could show me to the king’s council chambers?”

Blaine hesitated, frowned for the briefest of instants before the charming smile was back in full force. “I can give you directions,” he offered. “It’s actually not that far.”

“Then you can spare a couple of minutes to show me,” Kurt insisted. “I don’t know how you people navigate in this maze, but I’d rather not spend the next hour trying to follow your instructions.”

“We’re really not supposed to be near the council chambers while they’re in session,” Blaine said, glancing down away from Kurt. Was that his objection? Well, that was simple enough.

“You’ll be with me,” Kurt said. “And I’m most definitely supposed to be in the council chambers, now, so I think they’ll excuse it just this once. What will they say if you leave one of those dangerous barbarians just wandering around on his own?”

Blaine nodded, squaring his shoulders like he was about to embark on some sort of dangerous quest. Kurt quickly quashed the little voice inside his head proclaiming it ‘adorable’. His life was complicated enough without adding random outlanders to it.

“Well then,” Blaine said, and gestured down the staircase with an open hand. “To the council chambers it is.”

The barbarian--Kurt--might have been the strangest man Blaine had ever met, if only because the more he spoke, the less he seemed strange at all. He had an odd, rounded sort of accent, nothing like Blaine had ever heard before, but perfectly intelligible, and he spoke with more wit than half the courtiers in the palace.

He was taller than Blaine by half a handspan, but most men were, and he was more slender than many of the palace guardsmen. He was fully dressed as well (and Blaine stopped any thoughts about that the moment they even began to threaten, was he mad, the barbarians wouldn’t bother to wait for the axeman to cut off his head), in odd clothes that were nonetheless better-pressed than most people around here. He was nothing at all like the barbarians of stories were supposed to be.

And then Blaine commented on the rather unusual pendant he was wearing, a rough-carved dragon the color of ivory, and Kurt glanced at it, as if in mild surprise that it would even be marked upon. “It’s carved from the bone of a lindworm I slew a few years back. Something of an elaboration on the traditional form of a single claw or fang, which, while classic, does leave something to be desired in more formal circumstances.” He paused. “Anyway, lindworm fangs make much better trophies than necklaces. They’re much too hollow to stand up to actual wear.”

Ah. “Hollow?” Blaine asked, pleased that his voice came out mildly interested and not completely intimidated.

“For the venom,” explained Kurt.

“Of course,” said Blaine.

So that was Kurt. Barbarian warrior, killer of small dragons (and lindworms, as Blaine recalled, were only small dragons in the sense that the Great Sea of Oiho was a small ocean), and connoisseur of fashion. Utterly terrifying, utterly fascinating, and somehow, enough of a conversationalist that Blaine almost forgot to be afraid of what was to come when his father found out he was escorting stray barbarians around the castle.

With the size of the envoy, and given his father’s general distaste for the hill tribes in the first place, they’d surely be meeting in the yellow council room. The blue was too small, the green too fine, the red far too important. With that in mind, Blaine still let out a tiny breath of relief when he led Kurt down the right hall and saw the guards posted in front of the door.

His father’s displeasure was fierce, solid, but familiar at least. All Blaine knew about Kurt was that he was wearing two swords and a belt knife, and considered this ‘dressed down’. Better, they always said, the dragon you knew.

“Excuse me,” Blaine said to the guards, a little less diffidently than he usually would. He wasn’t trying to impress Kurt. Not exactly.

“This is a closed meeting, your highness. You won’t be allowed in.” Kurt shifted a little at Blaine’s side, surprise at the title or just at the tone. It was amazing, how different ‘your highness’ could sound when it was used to address Cooper instead. Blaine just nodded his head.

“I found a member of the barbarian envoy wandering the halls,” he explained. “I was escorting him to rejoin the others.”

The guards blinked, and refocused their attention on Kurt, who was resting an idle hand on one of his sword hilts like it was the most natural position in the world. “The less time I spend standing around out here instead of in there, the happier everyone will be,” Kurt said. He nodded at the door. “In this country I think it’s customary to knock on those?”

The guards exchanged glances, then the taller one hesitantly rapped on the heavy wood of the door with the butt of his spear. A few moments later, he eased the door open.

“Your majesty,” announced the guard. Every head in the room looked up--the entire barbarian envoy, most of them much broader and more covered in fur than Kurt, and all fourteen royal councillors, and Cooper, and the king. Blaine’s spine was wood. It would do him no good to run away now. “Prince Blaine and a guest.”

Blaine stepped forward, just half a step into the room. “Your majesty,” he began, “honored council--”

“It was all my fault,” Kurt interrupted, brushing past so rudely Blaine couldn’t believe anyone would ever get away with it in the middle of a royal council room. “I’m impressed by your castle. It’s enough of a maze that I’m amazed it doesn’t trap your whole court like rats.” Blaine bit his tongue. The king, unbelievably, smiled.

“We don’t have very many rats here,” he said. “Just one or two, on occasion.”

“Good eating on one of those,” commented one of the members of the barbarian delegation. Half the council failed to hide faces of disgust, but Blaine could see the tension leaving his father’s shoulders gradually.

“Yes, quite,” he said. “Blaine?”

It could have passed as a nod of ‘thank you,’ Blaine supposed, to somebody who didn’t know that the King of Ander never thanked anybody. He understood his father’s look well enough to avoid anybody having to say the words in public.

“Yes, sir,” said Blaine, and bowed once more before he left.

He’d have until after dinner before he had to report to his father’s chambers, at least. The king would be busy with the envoy until then. It should be safe enough to come down to eat tonight, so long as he didn’t look to be enjoying himself too much, but it was always better not to visit his father’s rooms on a full stomach.


( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 17th, 2012 06:50 am (UTC)

Everything about this is fantastic omg. I am so floored by the ease in which you set everything up. Blaine's neglect and resignation made my heart hurt, and Kurt's complete and utter BAMF-ness is so enchanting (DRAGON SLAYER!!!!!). Their staircase meeting got me right in my chest, elegantly done. I'm so excited for more of this!
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
<3 <3 <3

Kurt the dragon slayer is now my new favorite thing ever, basically. This is going to be so much fun to write (which, given the amount of serious angst abuse-recovery stuff in here, probably says some unfortunate things about me as a writer...) Trying to stuff in the appropriate amount of worldbuilding and backstory-revealing without too much exposition was a heck of a trial, so if it read as easy, I am so thrilled/relieved. Glad to have you along for the ride!
Feb. 17th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
Oh my god, I can hardly wait for the next update.
I like the way Kurt takes care of his suitors especially. And the way you're mixing the names around to tie in, Oiho and Ander for example.
I eagerly await the next update.
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
I had way, way more fun with the names of things in here than should probably be allowed. I should offer a prize to the first person who figures out what I did...

Glad you're enjoying it so far, happy to have you along!
(no subject) - rmcwalker - Feb. 18th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - narceus - Feb. 18th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rmcwalker - Feb. 18th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 17th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
I looove it!!! I can't wait for more!
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:20 am (UTC)
Yay! Thank you! Not sure exactly when the next update will be, but it should be within the next several days.
Feb. 17th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
i am so very excited to read this!
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:21 am (UTC)
I am so very excited to be writing it! Glad you're enjoying.
Feb. 17th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Oh my god how can I be in love with everything you write?

Kurt is so, so awesome here and I don't know if that's your cup of tea but I'd love to read a scene of him in battle at some point.

Blaine, poor Blaine. I want to give him a hug so badly.

Anyway, I can't wait to see more of this. <3
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I'm not sure, but it probably has to do with shared literary kinks and good luck on my part. Either way, you're really sweet to say.

I'm definitely strongly considering doing some battle scenes later (see the warning re: 'graphic violence'), mostly hampered by the fact that I, well, kind of suck at writing fight scenes. On the other hand, this fic is supposed to be my experimental practice in writing sex scenes, so no reason I can't add fight scenes to the list...

Blaine...I suspect that this Blaine has not been hugged a lot in this life. Poor baby. It will get better (...after it gets rather worse).

More is coming! Within the week, at least, I hope.
Feb. 17th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I'm so impressed and down with this and just lusting for this that that is all I can say. Forgive me, but holy shit.
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I'm so glad that you're enjoying it so far. This one's going to be a lot of fun. Really happy to have you along for the ride :)
Feb. 18th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Something new that is interesting and funny.
Feb. 18th, 2012 05:29 am (UTC)
Well, thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest as it comes :)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 18th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
That scene was so much fun to write. Santana, Lauren, and Puck are like a snark trifecta that could rival the Heckling Club any day.

(...oh my god, the degree to which I want to write that competition right now.)

I' really glad it's not coming off as too mood-whiplash-y, which was sort of my fear. Blaine's life sucks, and Kurt's really doesn't, and setting them next to each other is kind of...

well on the other hand, I'm ficcing for 'Glee' which put sexual assault via kiss and stalking and death threats in the same episodes as Bieste in a tutu and Holly Holiday. So I guess a little mood whiplash is expected.

Feb. 18th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. Kurt is a badass dragon slayer, Blaine clearly need some adventure in his life (ala Danny from GoT?), Puck, Lauren, and Santana were hilarious, and I can't wait to see the King of Ander get screwed.

Especially if the Queen of Slyvestra ends up kind of liking Kurt...
Feb. 18th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Hah, well, I don't know if I'd classify Dany's problem as "needing some adventure," exactly (or Blaine's, for that matter) but they both badly need some freedom and a chance to explore it. Which Blaine will definitely get. (Spoilers: Kurt gets off a lot easier than Khal Drogo.)

Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you're liking it so far :)
Feb. 18th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
You are, officially, my favorite person in the entire world.

That relationship between Daenerys/Khal Drogo was my FAVORITE piece in the entire Game of Thrones book, and I adore the way you're writing this.

“It’s an original composition,” Lauren confirmed. Hmm. Maybe next time Puck proposed to her..

I adore Lauren and Puck, and that they're here, but so are Santana and Quinn. Oh!You've got shield maidens! My heart! Not to mention Bieste! She must be so ridiculous cool here.

Dragon-Slayer-Kurt and Prince-Blaine who likes to play music. I have no idea what to do with all this joy. I think I'll just have to stare at it for a while.

I like how you write Kurt's tribe vs. Blaine's people and all of Kurt's eye rolling about the suitors who keep following him around is fantastic.

I really can't wait for more.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)
:D I like being favorite.

I loved the Dany arc so much that I'm having to be careful it doesn't map too well! Although I can safely say that Kurt will get off far easier. And Blaine will probably not end up with a pet dragon, although that remains to be decided.

Everybody is here, somewhere or another. True secret: the reason I eventually gave in to writing this prompt was all the worldbuilding I'd started to do over just how everybody fit. Just wait until we meet Rachel, is all I'm gonna say.

More is up! So I'm hoping you like it as much as you liked the first part, and thanks so much for commenting.
Feb. 18th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)

Feb. 18th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. I absolutely loved your Harry Potter AU, and this is equally flawless. I can't wait to read more :D
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! More is up, so you should check it out.

Also, I love your icon. It's a duckling in a Ryan Murphy hat! What's not to adore?
(no subject) - chocolate6969 - Feb. 22nd, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
:) I'm glad you're enjoying it! Hopefully it'll all fall out from the setup and live up to your expectations. Thanks!
Feb. 19th, 2012 12:11 am (UTC)
LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Kurt's suitors, Blaine, poor Blaine, and just so much AWESOME. Can't wait to see more =)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
:D :D thank you! And yeah, poor Blaine. It'll get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid, but there's light at the end of the tunnel yet.
Feb. 19th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
Enjoying this!
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Feb. 19th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC)
Loooool, Tumblr of the Internet XD I love the world building here. I have to admit, the stories I read more often than not are focused on Kurt angst, but I'm relishing this Kurt who reigns supreme in his world and slays dragons and dispatches suitors with a sword and I just want to hug Blaine. I loved Puck, Lauren and Santana, and how everything's changed but Kurt's still a worry-wart when it comes to his father and Carole/Burt is still on. Everyone voice was awesome. I hope Blaine gets rescued from his horrible life soon. I'm really looking forward to more!
Feb. 20th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)

As a prize, I offer you one:

(no subject) - ileliberte - Feb. 20th, 2012 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crown_of_weeds - Feb. 20th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - narceus - Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 20th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
Oooh, this is very promising. Can't wait for the next update! :D
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Feb. 21st, 2012 06:55 am (UTC)
Oh my god, such an amazing first chapter! So excited for the rest of this story.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
:) I'm writing as fast as I can, promise. Thank you so much!
Feb. 21st, 2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
im so ready for kurt to save blaine and get him the hell out of there. the whole interaction with kurt was leaving me cheerful enough but then we got to the end and the last little paragraph hurt. :(
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
Mmm, yeah, there's going to be a fair amount of little hurty bits like that for a little while to come. Kurt will get Blaine the hell out, though, it's true. There's hope!
Feb. 21st, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD AM I OBSESSED WITH THIS! I'm dying to read more!
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
ahaha awesome! Thank you! And the next part just got posted, so you're in luck if you want to go check it out!
Feb. 27th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
Freaking A! I didn't know HOW the hell I missed this!!! This is brilliant! I'm going to read Chapter 2 now.

Btw, this is going to sound stupid but I'm a little confused by this passage "he’d had to sneak into the servant’s quarters, apologetically, the morning after the dinner with the Sylvestran envoy, for sheets that didn’t have blood on them". What sheets are these referring to? I got a bit lost there.

Mar. 2nd, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
Told you I'd get around to your other comments :). Thanks, again, for your enthusiasm; it really means a lot.

Sorry, that passage was meant to be oblique, but not unparseable. Basically, Blaine had to replace his own bedsheets because he bled all over them. Why he was bleeding that particular night...is left as an exercise to the reader, really. Poor bb.
(no subject) - deanryker - Mar. 2nd, 2012 02:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 28th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC)
I have never read or seen Game of Thrones, but I must say, even this first chapter is simply diving and enthralling and you have me enraptured. Lovely start. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Also, Kurt is a total BAMF and I'm so happy you included Pizes :) I miss them.
Mar. 2nd, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
Like I said about GoT in comments...somewhere: If fantasy that is dense, dark, gritty, complicated, and full of moral ambiguities appeals to you at all, get on reading that shit now. If you don't like seeing bad things happen to your characters, give that a miss.

As for this: 'enthralling' is one of the best compliments I could ask for, so thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying this, and I hope you keep finding it so entertaining.

Thanks so much!
Feb. 29th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
THis is... absolutely amazing ! The writing goes like the stream of a river, the world is so well build up, the characterization is purely awesome... And just imagining Puck, Santana, Lauren, Beiste, Carol, Burt and Kurt in leather "barbarians" outfit is like even more awesome and my heart is so full of pain for Blaine and the little references, and the stair meeting...

Seriously my heart is bursting because this is so powerful and amazing, you just knocked me down !!!!
Mar. 2nd, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
Thrilled you're enjoying this so much!

Worldbuilding is my crack, and getting characterization right is kind of my obsession, so I'm glad that's paying off for you. As for the outfits...yeah, the mental eyecandy is kind of half the reason I'm writing the story, it's true ;)

Thank you!
Mar. 5th, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
I've been saving this story to read and enjoy in a larger chunk, and I'm so glad that I did! The world-building in just this chapter alone is fantastic, and I know there are at least two more chapters already out that I can read, I'm sure it only gets better! I also love the idea that Blaine is still so drawn to music in this world, even when he knows it's not what a Prince would be expected to enjoy.
Mar. 5th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm glad it's working for you so far! Hope it keeps living up to your expectations :)

I think music and performing are both a love and a coping mechanism for Blaine, and I couldn't strip this Blaine of all his coping mechanisms, not and expect him to survive. And it's nice to be able to keep all the music from the show in here at least a little.

Thanks for commenting! I hope it keeps working for you just as well.
Mar. 15th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)
Just found this thanks to your lovely fan artist. I'm loving it, and it is one of my top fics that I just can't wait for another update for!

I really like your writing style for this story. I want to say that it seems deliberately fairy tale-like, but in any case it feels somewhat whimsical to me and I find it absolutely charming and entertaining, and an interesting, creative choice given that Daenerys/Drogo is ANGST ANGST ANGST.
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