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Title: Strangeness and Charm
Fandom: Glee
Pairing: Kurt/Sebastian (assorted background pairings)
Rating: NC-17 overall
Warning(s): homophobic bullying and slurs, violence in later parts.
Summary: [Hogwarts AU] Kurt Hummel never wanted to be a Slytherin--especially not when it landed him in the same house as Sebastian Smythe.

[one]


"What took you so long?" Rachel whispered to Kurt as he slipped into the seat next to her in Charms. "Was the book really that good?" She did a double-take when she saw his ink-stained hands. He'd exchanged his ruined shirt and robes for clean ones, but he hadn't had the time to scrub his hands clean, already being ten minutes late for Charms.

"Ink bottle broke," Kurt muttered out of the side of his mouth as he took out his ink-splattered books and flipped to the right page. "Had to go get changed."

Rachel raised her eyebrows and passed him a fresh sheet of parchment. "That I can see," she said, "but the Kurt I know would hardly just slip over in the hallway."

Kurt shrugged. "Just having a clumsy day, I guess," he said in a low voice, bending his head over the page as he copied out the date and title. "What have I missed?"

Rachel launched into an explanation of the past fifteen minutes in an excited whisper as Kurt fiddled with his quill and made vague sounds of agreement, not really listening to her and instead thinking about the kiss in the hallway, his cheeks heating up slightly at the memory. Vaguely, he realised that his name was being called; he looked up to see the teacher glaring at him, his arms folded and a definite down-turn to his mouth.

"If you would like to join us any time today, Mr Hummel, that would be pleasant," Professor Hemmingway said, his tone disapproving.

Kurt swallowed. "Sorry," he said, ducking his head and trying to avoid the curious stares of his classmates. "I…could you repeat the question?"

"I was wondering if you could explain to me the root of the spell we are using today."

Kurt flicked a glance sideways at Rachel's parchment, hoping to find inspiration there, but her page was filled with miniscule, cramped handwriting that he couldn't read from where he was sat. "Um...I'm afraid I don't know, sir," he said after a moment of awkward silence.

Professor Hemmingway raised an eyebrow. "Curious, seeing as I just explained it in great detail to the rest of the class. Pray, tell us what was so important that it occupied your mind whilst you should have been paying attention to me?"

Kurt's face felt like he'd stuck it in a fire. He was pretty certain his eyebrows would burn off if he blushed any harder. "Nothing, sir. Just tired."

Professor Hemmingway's other eyebrow joined the first. He inclined his head to Rachel. "Miss Berry? Were you listening?"

Kurt dropped his head into his hands as Rachel answered, wishing he could just sink under the table and never emerge. He gave Rachel a wan smile when she kicked his shin, but shook his head when she raised her eyebrows questioningly.

The rest of the lesson passed in a bit of a blur, Rachel nudging her parchment over to Kurt so he could copy, and simply staring at the table in between writing down notes.

When the lesson ended, Rachel grabbed his arm—Kurt was vividly reminded of when Sebastian had gripped him in the same place earlier—and dragged him out of the classroom, her mouth set in a firm line. She pulled him into an empty classroom and leaned back against the door, her expression serious and her arms folded. "So," she said, "what's wrong?"

Kurt put on his blankest face. "What do you mean?"

"You're never late to lessons, Kurt," she snapped, her dark eyes flashing. She pushed her hair back from her face and gave him a measured look. "You came in late, covered in ink, and then didn't pay attention all lesson—that's not normal behaviour, you know."

Kurt shrugged. "Everybody has bad days, Rachel."

"You don't."

He shrugged again and tried for a smile. "High time I had one then, isn't it?"

Rachel shook her head and took a step forward, looking up at him with an unhappy twist to her lips. "You used to tell me things, you know that. I tell you everything."

There was a crack in the floor near Kurt's foot. He traced it with the tip of his shoe and didn't answer.

"Kurt."

He was unprepared to see the hurt in her eyes when he looked up. "It's not you," he said, trying to put as much earnestness into his voice as he could. "It's just...complicated."

"Right." Rachel pressed her lips together until they were a white line striped across her face, and shook her head. "You will tell me eventually, right?"

Kurt nodded and reached out to tug on a stray chestnut curl, smiling slightly when she smacked his hand away with a glare. "I will. I promise." He hitched his bag further up on his shoulder, and shrugged. "It's just not something I can talk about right now."

Rachel suddenly looked worried. "You're not—you're safe, right? You're not—?"

"I'm not hurting myself." He shook his head. "It's nothing like that. I’m not in trouble, either."

She narrowed her eyes. "Is it to do with Sebastian?"

Kurt gaped at her. "No," he insisted. "What makes you think that?"

She smirked. "Oh, nothing."

He narrowed his eyes. "It's nothing to do with Sebastian," he said forcefully. "Nothing."

Rachel smiled then, sudden and bright as a lightbulb in a darkened room. "Okay, if you say so." She pulled open the door and wandered out into the corridor, saying brightly, "Well, it's really quite a good thing that it isn't to do with Sebastian, seeing as you have double Potions with him next."

Fuck. He'd forgotten about that. Kurt swallowed and trailed after her, mind whirring with possible ways of avoiding having to even look at Sebastian for the entire duration of the lesson.

He was screwed.

*



Kurt very pointedly didn't look across at Sebastian’s workstation when he entered the Potions dungeon. He only looked across at Sebastian’s workstation when five minutes of the lesson had passed and he had yet to hear a snarky comment from that particular corner of the classroom.

Sebastian’s workstation was empty. The worktop was clear, the cauldron out of sight and—most importantly—Sebastian himself wasn't there. Kurt frowned and tried to remember if he had ever before seen Sebastian miss a Potions lesson.

He came up short.

On his way over to the stock cupboard to pick up some more salamander blood, he paused by Blaine's workstation. Blaine was a dark-headed Hufflepuff with an even temper and a warm personality that meant he was friends with practically everybody and knew everything that went on in Hogwarts. Kurt privately considered him a gossip on par with Rachel, although he'd never say as much to either of them for fear of having his ear hexed off.

Blaine gave him a toothy grin when Kurt leaned against the side of the table. "Hey, Kurt," he said, tone ever-cheerful. "What can I do for you?"

Kurt shrugged. "I just noticed that Sebastian wasn't here today and was wondering what's up with him."

Blaine picked up his knife and started to dice his ginger root. "Well, Santana said that he's not been in lessons the entire afternoon." He flicked a bit of dirt from his cuff and gave Kurt an apologetic shrug. "I assumed he was just ill." He frowned. "Though I've never known him to be ill before. He's one of the healthiest people I know."

"Must have eaten something that disagreed with him," Kurt said, biting his lip. "Um, thanks, Blaine."

Blaine waved the knife at him cheerily. "No problem. Why were you asking?"

Kurt forced a laugh, although laughing felt like the last thing he wanted to do. "Oh, I was just wondering why he'd decided against gracing us with his presence this afternoon."

"I'll let Santana know to tell him that you were asking after him," Blaine agreed.

Kurt frowned. "Who's Santana?"

Blaine gave him a strange look. "His cousin. They're practically brother and sister."

"Oh," was all Kurt said. "I didn't know that."

"That’s probably because you don’t really talk to the rest of your house, to be honest,” Blaine said, his voice mild. “Not everybody in Slytherin is evil, you know.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow. “I know that. I’m friends with Rachel, after all.”

“And who else?” Blaine leaned against his workstation, hazel eyes warm and irritatingly sympathetic. “You can’t ignore your entire house forever, you know.”

Kurt didn't respond to that. He just waved an absent hand in Blaine's general direction before heading over to the stocks cupboard to get his salamander blood.

It wasn't until he'd returned to his workstation that he realised he'd picked up leech juice instead.

*



Rachel settled into the seat next to Kurt at dinner with a frown on her face. Kurt gave her a curious look, quirking an eyebrow as he forked a floret of broccoli into his mouth. "What's wrong?" he asked, as soon as he'd finished his mouthful.

Rachel scowled at her own plate, not reaching for any food. "Brittany still hasn't asked me out," she said in a small voice, face downcast. "I was sure she was going to."

Kurt made a face. "Well, she might not have had time yet," he pointed out, keeping a reasonable tone to his voice.

"I've spoken to her twice," she replied, sounding aggrieved, "and I had Ancient Runes with her just now."

"A Hufflepuff's taking Ancient Runes?"

Rachel hit him. "Don't be so racist."

"How am I being racist?"

Rachel stole his glass of water and sipped, a mulish expression on her petite features. "Hufflepuffs are just as smart as anybody else."

Kurt snorted. "Sure. Weren’t you saying something the other day about how she thinks I’m a unicorn?"

Rachel shot him a venomous look. "See, this is why you still don't have a date," she said, slamming his glass down on the table forcefully enough for water to splash out over the rim and onto the white cotton tablecloth. "You're just too much of a bitch for anybody to want to ask you out."

Kurt blinked at her. "Okay, so maybe this isn't the best time to discuss the intellectuality of Hufflepuffs," he said slowly, laying down his knife and fork.

"No shit." She pursed her lips, a pink blush starting to form high on her cheeks. She looked away, expression suddenly regretful. "Sorry, that was harsh."

"It's okay," Kurt said, albeit warily. "We all have our bad days."

Rachel nodded, giving him a slight smile. "That reminds me—I heard through the grapevine that Sebastian hasn't been in lessons all afternoon." She raised her eyebrows, leaning forward to help herself to a baked potato. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

Kurt choked on his broccoli. He hastily finished off what was left of the water in his glass. "No. Of course not." He poured himself some more water, not looking Rachel in the eye. He was sure that, if he were to look at her properly, she would see the lie in his face.

Apparently she had mystical lie-detecting powers even without eye contact—although Kurt suspected that was called 'being a girl'—for she poked him hard in the ribs. "Tell," she demanded. "I know you know something about it. You have that look on your face."

"What look?"

"That look where you look all shifty and start doing something else other than look at me." She slathered butter all over her baked potato, watching in satisfaction as it melted and dripped all over her salad. "You've been hiding something all afternoon, actually."

Damn. He really needed to get new avoidance techniques. He shrugged, aiming for evasive instead. "I ran into Sebastian after lunch, that was all. He broke my ink bottle."

Rachel gave him a sideways glance. "You sure that's all that happened?"

Kurt paused. Should he lie here and avoid the interrogation that was sure to happen, or tell the truth and get it over with? "I'm sure," he said finally.

Rachel gave him a disappointed look. "If you say so," she said, stabbing at her baked potato with her fork.

"I say so," Kurt said firmly, giving his rather limp broccoli another half-hearted prod before getting to his feet and shouldering his bag. "I'm just going to head off to the library, 'kay?"

Rachel nodded, not looking at him, and pulled out a book from her bag.

He looked at her bowed dark head and felt a cold, hard knot settle in his stomach, although he couldn't identify which emotion that placed it there. He reached out to pat her on the head then thought better of it, instead picking up a slice of bread from the breadbasket and nodding at some third years across the table before trudging off towards the doors leading to the main hall.

He tore strips from the slice of bread as he walked, taking the side stairs up to the library on the fourth floor. It tasted sour in his mouth, but he swallowed it down, making a face as he did so.

The library was practically empty when he slipped in through a side-door, most students down in the Great Hall at dinner. He made a beeline for his usual table by a window, but was brought to a halt when he saw two people already sitting there, heads bent together over a large book. The girl looked up, her brown eyes widening when she saw him. Kurt vaguely recognised her as one of the sixth-year Slytherin prefect, the silver badge on her green-and-grey tie cementing that fact. She elbowed the boy, hissing something in an urgent undertone that made the boy look up and stare at Kurt with guarded eyes. "Hello, Kurt," Sebastian said, his tone carefully neutral. He was pale, dark bags beneath his eyes and five o'clock shadow on his jaw.

"Um." Kurt blinked. "Uh...hi?"

"Wow, I completely understand why you like him," the girl said, arching an elegant eyebrow. "You were always one for witty conversation."

Sebastian didn't take his eyes off Kurt, although he coloured slightly. "Shut up, Santana."

"Just pointing out a fact," she said, rolling her eyes and picking up the tome they'd been poring over, struggling to tuck it under her arm as she got up from the table. "I’ll go, then?”

It took Kurt a moment to realise that that would effectively leave Sebastian and himself alone, but he had barely opened his mouth to protest when he saw the hunted look in Sebastian’s eyes and closed it again. "Sure," he heard himself saying instead, his mouth seeming to move of its own accord.

Sebastian looked at him with a wary expression, his face closed and as shuttered as the windows of a cottage preparing for a snowstorm. Kurt swallowed and moved forward to take the seat that Santana had vacated, settling down and dropping his bag by his feet. "I owe you an apology," he said, his mouth suddenly dry and his heart fluttering like a trapped moth inside a glass jam-jar. "I acted like a dick and I shouldn't have done."

Sebastian didn't say anything. He had his arms folded across his chest, leaning back in his chair as if trying to move himself as far away from Kurt as he could. Kurt ignored the pang of hurt this sent through him and ploughed on, fixing his eyes on a particularly interesting knot of wood on the table-top. He traced it with his finger, his nail scraping against the slightly-sticky varnish. "I should have given you the chance to explain yourself," he said, his cheeks warming slightly at the memory of how he'd simply turned tail and fled. He looked up, hoping against hope that Sebastian wasn't going to just laugh in his face and swagger off like he half-expected him to do.

Sebastian stared back at him, his expression still as wary as before.

Kurt swallowed nervously, licking his lips. He didn't miss how Sebastian’s eyes flickered down to track the movement before snapping up to meet his eyes again. Kurt shrugged, gripping the edge of the table and spreading his fingers across the top, resisting the urge to tap his fingers impatiently. "This is your chance to explain," he said lamely, looking down again. The knot of wood was really quite fascinating, he decided. It deserved his full attention.

Sebastian’s voice was low and rough when he spoke. "What makes you think I want to explain?"

Kurt paused, momentarily thrown. "I...I don't know," he admitted, cursing his conscience for ever suggesting that it would be a good idea to sit down and try to talk this out with Sebastian.

"Well, I don't," Sebastian said, still looking at Kurt with an intent look in his sharp green eyes. "I've already told you everything I want to."

Kurt snorted, feeling irritation coil, lazy and unpredictable in his belly. "Enough with the enigmatic bullshit, Sebastian. I'm giving you a chance here."

"How generous of you," Sebastian drawled, his customary smirk sliding back into place. "I don't know how you get by when you give out so much to any poor bastard that doesn't even ask for it."

"Fuck this." Kurt got to his feet again, hefting his bag over his shoulder and glaring at Sebastian. "I was going to offer to help you with Transfiguration again, but I'm glad I didn't get that far because I honestly think I would have ended up killing you before the end of the first session."

"Nice to know we're back to death threats," Sebastian said idly, a glint in his eyes. "It quite honestly creeps me out when you're all caring and sharing."

"I don't do caring and sharing. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go and get some actual studying done rather than wasting my breath on you."

Sebastian’s eyebrow quirked. "A waste of time, am I? Nice to know what you really think, babe."

"Fuck you," Kurt said automatically.

Sebastian paused, clearly remembering the kiss in the hallway. Kurt knew his own cheeks were a furious shade of red. "Well," Sebastian said slowly, "I would take you up on that offer if it wasn't for the fact that I'm pretty sure you believe that I'm a liar."

Kurt didn't know what to say to that. "I never said you were a liar," he said, when the silence got too much to bear. "I just don't trust you."

"You don't trust me?" Sebastian looked and sounded genuinely surprised and hurt by that. "What do you think I'd do—murder you in your sleep?"

Kurt narrowed his eyes. "What proof have you ever given me that you wouldn't do so at the first opportunity you got?"

Sebastian stared at him, his mouth hanging open slightly. Kurt tried not to think about the way that full mouth had felt against his own and failed miserably. "You really think that little of me?" he said, his voice bereft of its usual teasing lilt.

"You're a Slytherin."

"So are you.” Sebastian shook his head. "Since when have I ever done something to you to merit this hatred?"

"Other than torment me for the last five years of my life?" Kurt shot back. "You exploded my potion only the other day."

Sebastian’s eyebrows leapt up his forehead. "You think I did that on purpose?"

"You threw something into it—of course you did it on purpose." Kurt knew he sounded sulky, but he couldn't quite bring himself to care.

"I was passing you a note!" Sebastian protested, sitting up straight and giving Kurt a beseeching look. "I just missed."

"Oh?" Kurt folded his arms, deliberately schooling his expression into one suitable cold and stony. "And what did this note say?"

Quite astonishingly, Sebastian blushed and looked down. "It was asking you if you wanted to study with me after dinner," he said, sounding as if this was something to be terribly embarrassed about.

Kurt frowned, confused. "Why?"

Sebastian chewed on his lower lip, teeth bruising the soft pink flesh. "I wanted to get to know you," he muttered, his ears turning a rather fetching shade of red. "All we ever seem to do is argue."

"Because we hate each others' guts." Kurt knew that that had sounded crueller than he had intended, and he wanted to kick himself as soon as the words had left his mouth when he saw the way that Sebastian’s eyes hardened once more.

"If that's what you want to believe," Sebastian said coolly, standing up and smoothing down his robes. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm rather late for dinner."

"Sebastian—" Kurt tried, albeit rather half-heartedly.

Sebastian swung around and glared at him with such anger that Kurt flinched. "Don't," he spat, his tone uncharacteristically vicious. "Save your platitudes for somebody who actually cares."

And with that, he spun on his heel and stormed out of the library, the set of his shoulders furious and threatening. Kurt was left feeling nauseous and with a bitter taste in his mouth.

*



He should have known that this would happen, really. Bullies never back down for good when shamed; they only retreat to lick their wounds in peace before springing another attack—one which Kurt should really have been expecting. He'd encountered enough bullies during his childhood to know that they weren't going to back down that easy.

So he shouldn't really have been all that surprised when Karofsky and his cronies jumped him after dinner one evening. They had waited until he had left Rachel—he was planning on heading to the library to collect a book on severing charms for his Charms homework, whereas she had Quidditch practice to attend—and then, when he was walking along one of the short-cuts in semi-gloom, leapt out from behind the statue of Boris the Giant Bobblehead and knocked him to the ground.

Kurt saw stars as his head smacked into the stone floor, his mouth flooding with blood from a bitten tongue.

Karofsky loomed over him, his expression maliciously gleeful. "Not so bold now, are you?"

"Fuck you," Kurt spat, feeling blood dribble out down his chin.

Karofsky made a mock-shocked expression, his mouth making an 'o' and his eyes widening. "Is the little fairy afraid?" he asked. "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Oh wait—she’s dead, isn’t she? Fucking mudblood."

Kurt growled and tried to kick his knees. One of Karofsky's cronies—Kurt really didn't give a fuck about the asshole's name—stamped on his leg. Kurt felt, rather than heard, something snap in his ankle and a sharp jolt of pain lance up his leg to his spine. There was an outraged yell, and it took him a moment to realise that he was the one making the noise. "Fucking bastard," he said, pain making his breathing shallow and ragged. "I will rip your fucking eyes out."

Karofsky snorted. Kurt's vision was spinning worryingly; Karofsky's face was coming in and out of focus like a poorly adjusted camera. He looked kind of funny.

"You think this is funny?" Karofsky asked, his voice carrying a hint of uncertainty with it. "What's so funny, you little faggot?"

Kurt hadn't realised he was smiling. He let out a sharp laugh. “Are you really so stupid as to think that you can kick the gay out of me?”

Karofsky let out a growl of rage and kicked him hard in the ribs, sending a wave of agony washing over Kurt, nearly causing him to black out. "Shut up, you sack of shit," Karofsky hissed, kicking Kurt again for good measure. Kurt closed his eyes and tried to ignore the way his lungs felt like they were on fire.

TBC

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