Burt and Robert had escorted Judy back to her house to gather her things, as well as those of her children. Her daughter Emily, sixteen, had taken the news of her parents' impending divorce even better than her sister. She was worried about her mother, of course, but after being informed about the probable future of her sister and the other kids, all of that worry had shifted to Quinn.
Quinn had convinced Emily that she would be fine and wasn't afraid of anything, least of all something that was yet to happen and couldn't be averted. Emily's response was shrieking, hysterical laughter, and she had never before been so grateful, or so filled with sorrow, that she had no powers of her own. She wanted nothing more than to protect her sister, but she was also terrified - terrified that she would be mourning Quinn sooner rather than later - and cognizant of the fact that she was more likely to end up a hindrance to Quinn than a help.
She knew from magic, but didn't understand it. Further, she had never desired to experience it. She had come to understand long ago that magic wasn't for her, and she was fine with that. She had grown up knowing her mother was a witch and had a power, but Judy's ability wasn't fearsome. At the end of the day, it amounted to little more than a parlor trick. Quinn's own power was, well, very cool, actually, but Emily had never really given it due consideration. She hadn't thought about why Quinn needed such a power or what would be expected of her, let alone considered that more powers would be added later.
While she was terrified for Quinn, she was terrified of Kurt Hummel.
His eyes haunted her. They were so exquisite, so unique. She had never seen eyes so innocent that were also so ancient.
It wasn't natural for a child to be in possession of such power, and it certainly wasn't fair for the weight of the world to be placed on his tiny, slender shoulders. She had stared down into his angelic little face and simply couldn't posit that this boy was to become the most powerful witch in the world. It was just wrong that whatever sadistic gods or deities or forces that governed the universe had forced him to bear this burden.
Perhaps what was most frightening was how calm he was about the entire affair. He had this eerie yet enviable air of self-possession about him, and it made her feel inadequate as a person and as a human being. As she had looked around at them, at her mother and her mother's friends and their husbands, at the other children, Kurt Hummel projected an aura which suggested he was the most rational person in the room.
"I will keep your sister safe," he had told her.
The most preposterous thing was that she had believed him! She absolutely believed in him, in his power and his goodness.
It hurt her heart to see this child's innocence dying before her eyes. She wanted to protect him and keep him safe, though she knew such an idea was ridiculous. He had already lost so much, would probably lose more and, here she was, putting her faith and hope in a six year old.
She escaped the Lopez house as soon as possible, desperate to lose herself in the mall and cling tenaciously to the remnants of what little remained of her childhood.
While Burt, Robert, and Judy were at the Fabray house, Lydia had gone to the hospital to fast-track Judy's application. She rarely used the influence her position afforded, but had decided that it was more than acceptable in this particular case.
Ashley had hightailed it over to the Hummel house to assess what needed to be done. Suzanne had been in the hospital almost a month before she died, and Ashley was sure the last thing on Burt's mind had been housekeeping. Surprisingly, however, there was little to be done, and she suspected that the majority of the chores had been done by Kurt. She wasn't sure how she felt about that.
She ran the vacuum and did a few loads of laundry before heading out to the grocery and stocking up on essentials for Burt, Kurt, and Prue. It wasn't much, but at least allowed her to feel as though she were doing something for them, as well as Suzanne.
Patrick and Prue were left in charge of the children and the dynamic in the house was slightly strained. Brittany and Quinn were somewhat intimidated by Prue, having been told the legend of the Charmed Ones for as long as they could remember. Prue was beautiful and brilliant and had an air of confidence and competence. She was like an adult, female version of Kurt. Santana, well aware of own fabulousness even at such a young age, was not similarly burdened.
Kurt, of course, was much more interested in attaching himself to Patrick and being carried everywhere, and the man was only too happy to comply. He and Ashley had longed to have more children, but Brittany's conception and birth had been difficult; it was unlikely they would be adding to their family. They loved Santana unreservedly, and would probably soon have similar feelings for Quinn, but Kurt was the son they had never, and would never, have.
Patrick's world revolved around his wife and daughter, but he had always planned on having a large family. He and Ashley had talked about adopting, and while they were still considering that option, Patrick was more than happy to lavish attention on Kurt, who lapped it up with abandon. He was well aware that Kurt probably had some juvenile crush on him, but he could have cared less.
Kurt was adorable and loving and so very smart, but there was also a sense of fragility and sadness about him. Kurt had never lacked parental attention or affection, so Patrick understood that he was not a substitute for Burt, who was one of the best fathers he had ever known. Kurt was just somehow more relaxed and freer with him than he was with his parents or surrogate aunts. Perhaps it was because Kurt sensed Patrick knew he was gay and was unbothered.
"How are you doing, baby?" he whispered to Kurt.
"I suppose I'm all right, Uncle Ricky," the boy replied. "I think that everyone expects me to fall apart because Mommy died but, for whatever reason, I just can't." He stared down at the floor, not blinking. "I saw her in the hospital after Lila died. I saw her as the cancer took more and more of her away. She was in so much pain, Uncle Ricky. She hurt so badly." He sighed softly. "I miss her - I'll always miss her - but she doesn't hurt anymore." He frowned and nodded to himself. "That's a good thing."
Patrick was unable to respond.
"And I know that she still exists," Kurt continued. "She lives in me. She'll live in my children. She'll always live, as long as there's someone to remember her."
Prue sat rigidly at the kitchen table as the girls ate the rather pathetic lunch she had prepared for them. She had no idea what to do or say. She wanted to help Kurt, but was completely out of her depth. His experience most definitely did not resemble her own. When Patty died, Prue had buried all of her rage and anger and resentment, holding it tight to her, as though by doing so, she was holding on to her mother.
But that was her and this was Kurt, and Kurt, at six years old, the same age as she when her own mother had died, was far more wise than she had ever been. He was wiser than she was now.
"I'll be able to see her soon," Kurt said confidently. "I will summon her, or one of the girls will, and she will come." He looked up at Patrick. "Magic is so extraordinary, Uncle Ricky, and I feel badly for people who don't have it. They have to fear and wonder and be angry, but I don't. I feel the loss, but I accept it because I know she continues. The fact that she does, the fact that I still have Daddy, is so much more important than my hurt feelings."
Patrick blinked back his tears and hugged Kurt tightly to him.
Prue said nothing and hung her head.
Judy, with Burt and Robert, returned to the Lopez house with little more than her clothes and those of her children. As she had packed up her life, she had reached the depressing conclusion that she'd had little to show for it other than her children and her home.
After she had gotten pregnant with Emily, Russell had insisted that she stop working, even though she loved her job and was an excellent nurse. She supposed her first act of rebellion had been keeping her credentials current without Russell's knowledge. Either that, or she had somehow known this day would come. All of her paperwork and jewelry she had deposited in a safe-deposit box at the bank, one under her own name and at a bank which Russell did not patronize.
Packing her children's belongings had been difficult, as she understood that kids tended to value their possessions; still, she knew there was little they would need in the short-term. Quinn had been easier as, outside of her Barbie collection, her youngest had never been much interested in toys; she, like Kurt, far preferred books. As far as Emily was concerned, Judy had packed her daughter's music, books, trophies, and the few stuffed animals the girl had kept. Anything else could be retrieved later.
She was most startled by how easily Quinn and Emily had gone along with everything, which only suggested she had waited far too long to leave. Neither of her girls had expressed so much as a thought that they would miss their father. It troubled her.
Burt and Robert helped her put the boxes in the appropriate bedrooms; she would make the girls unpack their things later. She was so thankful that Robert and Lydia had opened their home to her family, and she thanked the universe that they had enough room to do so.
She looked in on the children and found them dog-piled on the sofa in the media room, watching a documentary on Mars. All of them appeared perfectly at ease with their surroundings and with each other, no trace of the earlier friction between Santana and Quinn. In fact, Patrick had told her that once Kurt had arrived, the girls had ceased fighting altogether, far more interested in keeping him appeased than in their rivalry.
"How did everything go?" she asked Prue, who sighed.
"Just fine," the woman answered.
Judy raised an eyebrow. "Are you okay?"
Prue blinked and turned to look at her. "Did you ever look at one of your daughters and get the feeling you were the one who knew nothing?"
Judy snorted. "All the time."
"Oh, good," Prue said, sighing again. "Kurt's making me feel very inadequate."
Judy laughed. "I imagine he makes quite a few people feel that way."
Prue was silent for a long moment. "I don't know if I can do this," she finally said. "He doesn't really need me, Judy. He knows far more about himself and the world than I could ever teach him."
"That's not true, Prue," Judy said. "He may not need another mother, and he might not yet need a whitelighter, but he does need his family. Burt told me earlier how much Kurt had missed his cousins, you in particular. He needs to know that there are people like him. He needs to know that he is loved as more than the son of Burt and Suzanne, and more than as an incredibly powerful witch."
Prue nodded, though it was bleak.
Judy bit her lip and shook her head. "No one is expecting you to be perfect, Prue, and you still have a lot to work through, considering what's happened to you in the past few days. All Kurt needs is for you to be there. He needs to know that you will be there for him, that you're not going anywhere. He just needs you to love him, and you already do. That's half the battle. Don't worry so much about what's coming. Focus instead on what's happening now."
Prue slowly exhaled and nodded again, this time with determination. "I can do that." She looked at Judy and smiled. "Thank you."
Judy grinned. "When you feel like you're out of your depth, just remember that everyone can use a big sister. You've been one before, so be one for him now."
At mid-afternoon, they all gathered in the living room, the largest in the house and the one Robert and Lydia used to entertain. They supposed this event would qualify in some capacity.
"What do we do now?" asked a nervous Burt.
Prue smiled and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'll call upon the Matriarchs, each of whom will bless Kurt."
"Will she be there?" he whispered to her.
"I honestly don't know," she murmured.
He nodded, but looked pained.
Kurt had insisted that the girls be present, and their parents were staying mostly due to curiosity. A Wiccaning was an intensely private ritual, and the fact that Kurt wanted their children, and thus themselves, in attendance made them feel privileged.
"Stay with me," he whispered to Santana, Brittany, and Quinn, each of whom nodded. Several of the adults made to protest, but Prue merely shook her head, ceasing their murmurings. If Kurt wanted the girls in the circle with him, they would remain.
Prue, Lydia, Ashley, Judy, Robert, and Patrick each lighted a candle and stepped away from the circle. Prue stood before it and raised her arms.
"I call forth, from space and time, the Matriarchs of the entire Warren line. Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends; our family spirit without end. Gather now in this sacred place and bless these children with your grace."
Burt swallowed heavily as the ghosts entered the room, far more than the number which had appeared in the hospital.
Judy stared as Ashley's eyes filled with tears. Lydia felt the swell of power enter her home and felt inadequate to host it. Robert was stoic, while Patrick was as weepy as his wife.
Patricia Halliwell was first, followed by her mother Penelope and Suzanne's mother Olivia, all of whom were smiling. The two latter stood three strides apart, with Patty standing behind her mother and slightly to the left.
Laura, Astrid, Helena, and Grace arrived, and then Deborah, Anna, Sarah, and Felicia.
Prue was startled to find herself staring at the doppelgangers of her and her sisters, Phoebe and Piper respectively: Pandora Bowen, Poppy Russell, and Pamela Baxter. They merely smiled and waved gaily at her. Apparently whatever differences they had in life had been resolved in death.
Behind them, other Bowens, Russells, and Baxters appeared, names unknown and whose lines had been lost to history. Prue was shamed by her own ignorance. The ghosts began forming a circle. Prue frowned, puzzled by the positioning.
Charlotte then arrived, followed by her granddaughter, the first Prudence, and then Melinda appeared. She stood directly in front of Penny and Olivia. Finally, at last, Suzanne appeared, looking radiant, healthy and hale, standing next to Patty.
Kurt gasped softly and tears filled his eyes. Until that very second, he hadn't believed his mother's presence would be allowed. Santana and Brittany grabbed his hands, holding them tightly in their own.
"A pentagram," Lydia quietly observed, looking at the five witches who were, by unspoken agreement, apparently in charge.
At once, the other ghosts moved to encompass the five.
"Make that a pentacle," Judy whispered.
"A Pentad of their own," Patrick murmured.
Ashley and Robert nodded.
Melinda smiled gently at the children. "Blessed be."
Brittany gaped, Santana gave a curt nod, and Quinn offered an elegant curtsy.
Kurt merely cocked his head and stared.
Melinda broke the circle and strode toward Kurt, meeting his scrutiny with an equal intensity. She looked down into his eyes. "Such power," she breathlessly marveled.
"You started this," Kurt said. "Thank you."
Melinda blinked. "You are welcome, young one," she said, caressing the apple of his cheek. "I am sorry only that you have been beset with such burdens, but I am confident you will meet and then surpass them."
He nodded. "I will."
His tone was absolute, brooking no argument to the contrary, and it was obvious that he had not only accepted his task, but expected to triumph. He wouldn't allow himself to do any less.
Melinda beamed. "Call for your Book, Kurt Elijah. It awaits its master."
He frowned. "I am master over nothing."
"You are the master of your magic," Melinda said. "It is yours to command." She paused. "You must understand this, Kurt. You must not allow your magic to control you, for it will seek to do so. The amount of power you hold is astonishing, far more than any witch in this room has ever, or will ever, possess."
Kurt continued to stare at her for another long moment and at last nodded. He held out his hands, closed his eyes, and silently called for his Book. He almost collapsed from the weight of it when it appeared in a shower of golden orbs.
"My god," Judy whispered, looking upon the Book with awe.
"This is the history of our family, Kurt," Melinda said, voice grave, her eyes once again meeting his. "This is your legacy."
He slowly shook his head. "No," he said, looking past her toward the Matriarchs. "I'm theirs."
The other women smiled with delight at his comment.
Melinda smirked. "You are worthy."
"I will try," he said solemnly, though his voice was tinged with a heretofore unknown vulnerability.
"You will succeed," Melina said staunchly, "and we will help you."
"Thank you," he whispered, clutching the book to his chest.
One by one, the Matriarchs stepped forward, the circle they created moving and shifting like sand, as they blessed Kurt and, at his insistence, Quinn, Brittany, and Santana.
"They are his family," Melinda said to those in the room who doubted Kurt's wisdom in the matter.
"More witchiness can't hurt," Brittany said, shrugging a shoulder.
A delighted laugh escaped Melinda's mouth. "Indeed."
Quinn nudged Santana, who turned toward her and frowned.
"She talks like Kurt," Quinn whispered, tilting her head toward Melinda.
Santana cocked her head and finally nodded, acknowledging that particular truth.
The blessing ceremony ended with Suzanne, who cupped her son's face in her ghostly hands. "You will triumph, my darling."
He nodded solemnly. "Will I be able to summon you?"
"You call me when you need, baby, and I will come," she said warmly.
He frowned. "You have to go."
She nodded. "For now, but I will always be with you."
He looked up at her with large, dewy eyes. "Why doesn't it hurt more?"
"Because you understand that life goes on, and it goes on for all of us. Death isn't the end, Kurt. As I told your father, nothing ends. We go on; we become better."
"Do you miss us?"
Her smile was radiant. "I have no need to miss that which I haven't lost."
He dwelled on her words for a long moment and at last nodded before throwing his tiny arms around her waist. For those few seconds, she became corporeal. "Bye, Mommy."
As they embraced, the others silently observed.
Charlotte, who it could be argued began the line when she birthed Melinda, was stoic. She had borne witness to her daughter's suffering and the losses their entire family had endured. She was proud of them, of course, of their triumphs in the face of crippling adversity, but until this moment, she had never experienced awe of what magic was, of what it could do, and of those who could truly wield its power.
Kurt Bowen Hummel awed her.
Melinda watched with a calculating gaze. This boy was easily the most powerful witch the Warren line had ever produced, yet she didn't fear for him as she had many of those who had preceded him. She suspected this was, in part, due to the prophecies which surrounded him. Kurt had been bred to hold this power, but he was also determined enough not to let it rule him. This was a rare combination, a delicate balance many witches ten times older than Kurt had yet to realize.
Patty was saddened that Kurt's destiny would be as troubled as that of her daughters. She was disgusted that so very much would be expected of him. After her death, after Penelope had bound the powers of the Charmed Ones, Patty had been furious, enraged her mother had so hindered her daughters. Now, however, she considered that perhaps her mother had done the right thing after all, allowing the girls some semblance of a childhood. Were it up to her, she would bind Kurt's powers immediately and spell him back into ignorance.
Penny was enthralled by the entire affair. She could sense the magic within Kurt, could literally see it rolling off of him in waves, and it had yet to be released! Such power was unfathomable, yet there it stood before her, housed in the slight body of a child, a male child. Oh, but this boy was unlike any other she had encountered. He had wisdom and determination coupled with a generous compassion that was not consumptive. Yes, he would do well. She was looking forward to watching him as he matured.
"What happens now?" Kurt whispered to his mother.
She ghosted a hand over his hair. "It's time for you to do your homework, young man. Read your Book."
He looked up at her and nodded. She released him and stepped back.
"To whom will you grant access?" Melinda asked.
"Daddy," Kurt immediately replied, "Prue, and my girls."
Said girls swooned at his proprietary address.
"Not the others?" Charlotte asked.
"No, not yet." Kurt shrugged and dismissed the matter, unconcerned what anyone else might have thought about this or whether or not they were offended. He turned toward Santana. "If you would?"
"Oh. Yeah, okay." She conjured one and handed it over.
He placed the Book on a nearby table, took the athame in one hand, and sliced open the palm of the other. He then laid his hand on the Book, which began glowing. He calmly passed the blade to Santana, who immediately copied him. She then gave the athame to Brittany, who frowned, but nevertheless complied. Finally, it was given to Quinn.
She stared long and hard at it, understanding the commitment she was being asked to make. There was no turning back. If she did this, it was for keeps. The costs would be high. Could she do it? Well, yes, she rather thought so. Did she want to do it?
It wasn't as difficult a decision as she had feared. She cut herself.
The Book glowed mightily and then fell silent. As the children removed their hands, the cover flew open, the pages whipping about, before finally settling on the very first one.
Kurt calmly released a breath and began reading.
"Hear now, the words of the witches, the secrets we hid in the night. The oldest of gods are invoked here. The great work of Magic is sought."
He closed his eyes.
"In this night and in this hour, I call upon the ancient power. Bring that power unto me. As I will it, so mote it be!"
"So mote it be," many of the others softly repeated.
Kurt blanched and pushed the book into Quinn's arms before his knees swung together, pitching him forward.
"Kurt!" Santana yelled, moving toward him.
"No," Brittany said quietly, restraining her with an arm.
Santana glared mutinously but halted her attempt. She knew when to obey Brittany.
The house itself began to tremble: plaster cracking, beams groaning, picture frames rattling, mirrors falling from the walls, vases toppling from shelves, the foundation itself quaking. The chandelier above them began shaking, its crystals clinking together in a cacophony of musicality which was at once both soothing and grating.
Light began pouring through those crystals, though its source was unclear. A riot of rainbows danced around the room, bathing everyone in their prismatic glory before exploding, raining down upon them like diamonds.
"What is going on?" Lydia demanded of no one.
"His power is being unleashed," Melinda murmured. "I have never seen anything like this before."
"We had a small light show," Prue said, speaking of herself and her sisters, "but nothing so extreme."
Kurt raised his head, eyes glowing an eerie white, and screamed.
Across the country, a young woman screamed in tandem as she watched one of her best friends, though she had yet to acknowledge him as such, sacrifice himself to save the world.
Cordelia Chase had no idea of the gift, and curse, that had just been bestowed upon her.
Five minutes later, Kurt was standing under his own power and assuring everyone that he was just fine, thank you.
"How do you feel?" Patrick asked.
Kurt frowned, considering the question. "Whole."
He waved his hand and everything that had not been ruined during the Wiccaning returned to its proper place.
Kurt cocked his head and nodded, pleased.
Prue gaped. How in the world had he managed that, and on his first try? She'd had to channel her power through her eyes for the first year; it was only in the second that she had been able to channel it with her hands. Even then, she hadn't exhibited the strength or control her young cousin just had. As she looked toward the kitchen, she saw that everything had been restored and had no doubt that applied to the rest of the house, as well.
But that shouldn't have been possible! It was one thing to right that which had been knocked askew, but it something altogether different to knit back together things which had been broken.
Still, was it so surprising? Isn't that what Kurt was doing now, for all of them? Putting them back together in some fashion?
"Projection," Penny whispered. "My god, he has the power of projection."
"What does that mean?" Burt demanded.
Melinda released an unneeded breath. "It means that Kurt's powers are far more advanced than we had anticipated, especially given his age. Projection is the ability to bring forth into reality that which is held in the mind's eye. Kurt wanted Santana's home to be whole, and so he made it such."
For the first time since his mother's death, Kurt was afraid.