May, 2032, South Hadley MA
Kurt hoists Noelle up onto his shoulders so she can see above the crowd of women in white. Her voice is tinged with excitement. "Where's Bethie? I can't see her!"
He modulates his tone, trying to calm her. "We have to wait, Sweet-Pea. It's going to be a while. There's going to be a parade first."
"Oh. I guess that's okay."
The crowd presses around them, parents and siblings and families of the women there for their reunions. It isn't the first time Kurt and Noah have brought Noelle to the campus; they've come every fall for Family Weekend, and before Christmas to hear Beth sing with the Glee Club. They've hosted her and her girlfriend for Fall Break, and the occasional weekend escape. But this is the first time they've been here with Will and Shelby, and it's the most important visit of all.
It's a nice event, this alumnae parade. Kurt keeps hold of Noelle's legs while Noah reads the program aloud, talking about how the women all wear white to honor suffragettes, and how the colors that pop against the mass of white represent each class. After the parade, the seniors will wind a thick laurel chain around the fence at the college founder's grave, and everyone will sing to welcome the seniors into the ranks of alumnae. A lot of pageantry, Noah grumbles under his breath, even though Kurt knows he's secretly so proud of Beth that he could just about burst. A lot of tradition, Kurt thinks, and sisterhood, and he can't help wonder what all of this might mean to Noelle someday when she's old enough to understand.
Just when Noelle is getting restless above him, the trill of bagpipes pierces the air and the sea of white is moving. The oldest classes first, in antique cars, down to the class that's two years out from their own graduation. And then the seniors are in front of them, four across and swathed in green laurel. Noah is anxiously craning his neck next to Kurt, seeking out the telltale curl and sparkle of Beth's hair.
It's Noelle who finally spies her, about halfway down the line, her girlfriend Jamie on one side and her best friend Kelly on the other. Noelle is screeching in that way she has reserved for princesses and pink and her doting sister.
Kurt doesn't understand how Beth can hear anything over the bagpipes and shouts of people around them, but she turns then, all open smile and sad eyes. Kurt's heart breaks a little, because she looks so much like Noah in that moment, but when Beth smiles and drops Kelly's hand to wave, he smiles and waves back. Noah blows her a kiss, and Kurt can hear Will bellow over everyone. Love you, Beth!
Kurt feels Noah searching out his hand between them, and when Kurt reaches for him, he's met with a crushing grip. It's not nerves, or fear, not anymore and not for years. Kurt knows it like he knows his own heart, the wonder and pride and sometimes overwhelming disbelief that they are still here, together, with their crazy-happy-decidedly unconventional family. Kurt knows that life is completely random most of the time, a reflection of choices made and chances taken. All of it is like a maze; his own maze started long before Noah, but he also knows that Noah's started with the young woman in white. Despite all the chances they've both taken over the years, if it weren't for having Beth and losing her, Kurt knows Noah never would have taken the first step into his life.
He's grateful for that, and that they both got to find her again.
Today is a day for celebration, and for family. They'll all greet Beth before she's swept off to other obligations, and when Will sweeps Noelle off of Kurt's shoulders and flips her over before setting her on the ground, Kurt can hear her asking "Uncle Will, can we feed the ducks?"
Shelby pulls a small baggie of bread out of her purse, and Noelle hugs it to her chest as she skips ahead of them on the sidewalk.
This isn't the family Kurt used to dream of when he was a little boy. It's better; it's unique, and it's all his.