Burt Hummel thought he was a pretty good father. Granted, it took a while for him to become one; when his little boy started asking for heels and singing Cinderella's part in songs instead of playing in the dirt and wanting a new G.I Joe, it took him some time to get used to it. But he never, ever loved his son any less than he would have if Kurt had been the boy he expected. Kurt was his child, his baby, and if his baby wanted to be Belle for Halloween then Burt would line up at the costume store with a yellow dress tucked up under his arm. No matter what looks he got when Kurt waltzed into the garage wearing it one day.
After his wife died, things got harder. He was used to being the protector and the provider, the one who went down to the school to shout at the teacher when Kurt came home in tears and who bought home ice cream and a Disney movie afterwards. Kate was the comforter, the confidant. Kurt went to her to dry his tears and confess his secrets, not Burt. Then suddenly Burt was on his own, left to be the confidant and comforter and provider and protector all at the same time.
He tried to do it, tried to be the parent Kurt needed, but how could he relate to a kid he never understood? Burt was all engine grease and flannel and football. Kurt was perfume and silk and singing. He managed, he thought; he made it very clear that Kurt could come to him for everything, and once they had gotten over the whole coming out hurdle, they were pretty close. They talked at dinner and watched movies together, Kurt often curled up next to his father like he'd done when he was a kid. Burt loved going to assemblies where the Glee club performed, seeing Kurt's face light up on stage and how he shone in the spot light. He wouldn't have traded his son for anything in the world; not even his wife back.
But it was hard. It was hard to watch his son come home with bruises and stained clothes, knowing that the stories about falls in Glee and clumsy friends were crap. It was hard trying to work out what he needed to talk to Kurt about, sex and dating and boundaries that he didn't understand from Kurt's point of view. It was hard knowing that his son felt so alone, that no matter how his friends loved him, they couldn't really understand how lonely he was. That's why Burt was so happy when Harry Potter burst onto the scene.
Kurt had come home with a wide smile on his face, humming to himself and practically walking on air. Burt was nervous, at first. Nervous that some punk kid had gotten it into his head to lead Kurt on for kicks and giggles. Instead, a story had burst out of Kurt's mouth like a song, of a tiny boy who stood up for him and didn't care that he was gay, an English kid who did was what right and didn't care about being popular, who turned Santana down and apologised for startling him. He sounded like an ordinary kid, good hearted and short tempered but ordinary, but to Kurt he was his Knight in Shining Armour. Burt worried about Kurt being too pushy, about him hanging his hopes on someone who couldn't love him back, but then Harry started coming over.
He was quiet and polite, opening doors for Kurt and keeping his voice down. He made shy small talk with Burt while they waited for Kurt to get out of the shower, and it was enough that Burt was impressed by this thoughtful, quiet boy. Burt watched Kurt paint Harry's nails with shimmery paints in front of Disney musicals, saw Harry carry Kurt's books into the house for him, watched them bake and sing and laugh together and yeah, he began to assume. He assumed that soon he'd catch them necking on the couch, or holding hands under the table, or even something horrifying in Kurt's room which made him consider forcing Kurt to leave the door open. Harry wasn't openly flamboyant like Kurt, didn't dress to the nines or any of the exceptionally gay things Kurt did, but he wore nail polish and hugged Kurt hello and listened to musicals... and maybe Burt was making generalisations, but you just didn't get teenage boys that comfortable with themselves in Lima. He admitted it; he thought Harry was gay. And that's where he got himself into trouble.
Because it was hard being the only parent to a gay teenager he knew. He didn't understand his son, despite his best efforts, and he had no one to talk to, to commiserate with, to trade advice and worries and secrets with, and it was really, really hard. So when he finally met Harry's guardian, Remus, he jumped the gun a bit.
All the parents of the glee clubber's were sitting in a huddle to one side of the choir room, after having been informed that someone was stalking the glee club. Carole was talking to Hiram Berry about security measures, Mr and Mrs Abrams were staring as Mr Pierce attempted to talk Mrs Pierce out of becoming a superhero to catch the stalker, and across the room, Harry and Kurt were painting girls' nails. Harry's guardian, Remus, was sitting next to Burt quietly, looking a little pale and out of place. Burt remembered overhearing Harry telling Kurt that his guardian was ill, and he could see it; the man's face was drawn and thin, and there was an unkempt wildness in him that spoke of chaos under the calm. Burt felt an idea forming, and the words were falling from his mouth before he had thought them through.
"How long have you known that Harry was gay for?"
The man's head snapped around, and he looked at Burt with wide eyes. Some of the conversations around him quietened as their ears latched on to potential gossip, but Remus just tilted his head a little, as though he hadn't heard, "I'm sorry?"
"When did you find out that Harry was gay?" Burt repeated, feeling his cheeks flush a little at the eyes on him. "Like, did he come out to you or did you just know? I mean, I kind of knew with Kurt, but-"
"I'm sorry?" the man repeated, confusion giving way to a kind of dawning horror. "Did you just say - Harry's gay?"
There was silence amongst the parents. Every man and woman turned to face the men, expressions mixing from confused to curious to concerned. The Mr Berrys caught one another's hands, sharing a worried, horrified look, and Mrs Jones leaned forward as though to comfort Remus. Burt froze, horror making him unable to speak for a moment, and for a second he was terrified that the man was going to flip. Instead, he just collapsed back in his seat and began to mutter.
"I mean - oh Merlin, he never said a word, I had no idea! But no, he's not, he dated that Chang girl - but it went so sour so fast, and he's never talked about - no, he'd tell me. He isn't gay. But what if - does he - I didn't know. I never had a clue. Should - should I have noticed? Did he tell other people? Merlin, I'm a terrible guardian. I never should have taken him on."
"Hey, now, hey!" Carole interjected, shooting the still frozen Burt a frantic look. Remus looked up at her with what could only be called puppy-dog eyes, looking so forlorn and panicked that Burt's guilt just intensified to the power of ten. "I'm sure you're not a terrible guardian, Harry speaks very highly of you. I'm sure he would have told you eventually."
"You think?" Remus looked slightly hopeful at this, and he seemed to think it over. "I guess he might have. He's only been living with me for a few months. But - God, what would James think?"
"Where did he live before that?" Mrs Jones asked curiously, leaning over Burt's shoulder to talk to Remus. The group listened in with fascination, as Burt remained frozen with horror, because he had just outed some kid to the man who was effectively his father and holy shit, Kurt was going to kill him. Remus answered her question in a daze.
"With his aunt. His parents, Lily and James, died when he was small, but she took him in. They were horrible, though, she and her husband. He doesn't talk about them much but when they come up, he gets really angry."
"That poor boy," Mrs Abrams murmured, and there were a few muffled agreements before people remembered that they were eavesdropping and looked away sheepishly. Conversations picked up again, awkward and strained as everyone politely ignored Remus' continued muttering and the frozen Burt. Carole took his hand gently and he looked at her with wide eyes. Kurt is going to kill me.
Burt looked down at his hands until the police started speaking. He managed to focus on that until he had to stand and walk over to Kurt. He was standing with Harry, having helped the smaller boy to his feet, and the sight of the smile they shared (albeit it was a little hard to see through Harry's veil of hair) made Burt's heart ache. Please don't let me have messed up this kid's life by telling his guardian.
Burt grabbed Kurt's arm when they got there, mumbling a hasty "Sorry." to Harry before dragging his son away. Kurt huffed at the rough treatment of this clothes and frowned at his father.
"What's wrong? Why did you just apologise to Harry? Did you have an argument with Remus or something?" Kurt demanded, straightening his sleeve and glancing over to Harry curiously. Burt buried his face in his hands for a second, trying to calm down.
"I messed up, Kurt, and I know I did," Burt rubbed his face tiredly, wincing at the growing suspicion on Kurt's face. "So you don't have to tell me that what I just did was stupid, okay? I know."
"What did you do?" Kurt hissed, eyes narrowed. Burt took a deep breath.
"I may have... okay, I did..." he cringed in preparation. "I just outed Harry to Remus."
Harry looked over at them when Kurt shrieked, looking worried. Burt rubbed the back of his neck as Kurt stared at him in horror for a moment, before looking around, blushing, and dragging Burt further into the corner by his arm, hissing at him the whole way.
"I can't believe you! First of all, you never, ever ever ever, out someone to anyone, let alone their parents or guardian. What if he didn't approve, dad? He could kick Harry out or hurt him, and Harry doesn't have anyone else! Secondly, I don't even know if Harry is gay-"
"But-" Burt began to protest, wincing when Kurt just rounded on him again.
"What? Just because he likes musicals and let me paints his nails he has to be gay? Honestly, I'm putting my money on bisexual but that's beside the point," Kurt cut himself off, rubbing his temples in the same way Kate used to when he did something particularly dumb. "How did Remus take it?"
"He was - upset. I dunno if that was because he didn't know about it or what, though," Burt squinted, trying to remember through the horrified daze he had been in. "He kept saying he was a bad guardian and stuff. He was pretty freaked out."
Kurt sighed again, making a little frustrated noise into his hands, "Dad, if Harry was - or is - gay, you could actually get him killed if you say something to the wrong person. Gaga, dad, what were you thinking?"
"I was thinking that it might be nice to have another parent to talk to in this town," Burt muttered back. For a moment Kurt paused, and Burt could see a tinge of guilt and sympathy in his eyes. Kurt shook his head.
"I know, and I get that, but for Gucci's sake, some parents actually beat their kids to death for being gay," Kurt's mouth was pinched and firm, and Burt had to look away; he looked too much like his mother right before she slapped him for comfort. Unfortunately his eyes landed on where Harry was watching them curiously. Remus was gone and the boy seemed fine, but it was a little hard to tell considering how much of his scarred face was obscured. Kurt turned to look at Harry too, sighing and gesturing him over, muttering, "You had better apologise properly," out of the corner of his mouth. The teenager then groaned and buried his face in his hands as Harry approached, muttering about, "Can't take him anywhere," under his breath.
"Hey, guys, what's up?" Harry's voice was cautiously cheerful, but his smile seemed to flicker a little when Burt received a vicious glare from Kurt. At Kurt's sharp gesture, Burt cleared his throat, focusing on Harry's green eyes behind his hair and his glasses. The least the father could do at this point was admit to his mistake.
"Harry, I am so sorry but I think I just... sort of outed you to your guardian."
There was a long pause, in which Kurt and Burt cringed and Harry stared at him blankly. After a moment, the boy stuttered out, "I'm sorry?"
Kurt sighed angrily and Burt cringed, wishing to god he could read the boy well enough to know if he was angry. "I asked your guardian how long he'd known you were gay for. I didn't realise he didn't know. And now Kurt tells me he's not even sure if you are gay. I've just seen you doing all this stuff with him, like the makeup and the nails and I assumed, you know?"
Burt winced a little here, feeling like the biggest moron on the planet. When he said it out loud it just seemed stupid, "But yeah, Remus now thinks you are. I'm really sorry."
"So am I," Kurt was still glaring at his father, mouth pinched in a furious line. "I had no idea he was going to do this, Harry. I'm so sorry."
"Hey, it's okay," Harry's face was slowly flushing, but he didn't seem upset by Burt's confession. Burt started to relax a little. "That actually explains the conversation I just had. Wow, that's going to be awkward. It won't be a problem, though, I'll just talk to him about it."
The conversation continued, and Burt learnt a little about both Harry Potter and assumptions. He also learned that Kurt was very much capable of making him feel like the child in their relationship, Remus was the child in he and Harry's relationship, and when it came to Kurt and Harry's relationship, he was right on the money; they started dating not long after.
Part of him wanted to chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience, but being the only capable parent of a gay teenager in Lima was still hard. Part of him really, really wished he'd been right, and Remus hadn't been so damn crazy, and maybe he would finally have someone to share worries and fears and stories with. Still, he didn't mind too much if the trade off was him not having ruined Harry's life and Kurt gaining a high-school sweetheart, getting to walk down the corridors of McKinley High holding hands and smiling sweetly, exchanging chaste kisses after dinner dates and movies, just like every kid should be able to. Burt was the parent; he could deal with hard. It was Kurt's job to be himself, be a kid, and Burt's to love him no matter what.
Because Burt Hummel was a pretty good father. He'd worked for it, and he'd got there. Even if he'd never think it, he was the father that every kid deserved but few had, and most wanted. He made mistakes and said the wrong thing sometimes, and embarrassed his sons in public, but it was okay because he was still a loving, protective, supportive father at the end of the day.