A/N: this will be the last chapter of New Places, Old Haunts. I want to thank each and every person who has read and reviewed it, especially to Magic Of Every Kind who has pestered me for ages for this chapter. I promise I have been writing it ever since I finished the last chapter. I hope it serves Glee, Charlotte and Blaine justice. I would really appreciate your final reviews, I have spent so long trying to work out how to do this chapter.
Oh and also, I know that the whole thing between the New Directions and Sebastian showing his true colours at the beginning of this chapter occured before Valentine's Day which is briefly mentioned in the beginning of the last episode, I just wanted to put it there and change it around so that the tension between Sebastian and Blaine could be shown.
Songs in chapter: Glad You Came by The Wanted, Somewhere Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz, Life by Darren Criss, Missing You by Darren Criss and AJ Holmes
I do not own Glee, it wouldn't be as awesome if I did.
The letter came two weeks later. The school had closed in memory of Charlotte and none of us could bear to go into the choir room any more. We had used the tape recorder that Charlotte had obtained against Sebastian. It had only been a half-hearted performance but the Warblers, with the exception of Sebastian, had joined in and we had almost started to enjoy it, almost being the key word. Sebastian had clapped, slowly and sarcastically.
"Come on Sebastian!" David had called but Sebastian shook his head, smiling sadly.
"This is exactly what lost us Regionals." He replied complacently. "I'm not going to fraternise with the enemy. It's a shame about Charlotte, she was a good competitor, had a strong voice."
All the anger and hatred that I had tried to put away in the back of my mind and concentrate on living, which is what Charlotte would have wanted, came flooding back. I started towards Sebastian but Sam stepped in my way.
"No Blaine, don't tempt yourself." He said evenly, looking me in the eye. I resigned myself to staring at Sebastian from behind Sam.
"You don't know the second thing about Charlotte, Sebastian. You don't know anything. Just, get out of here."
Sebastian shrugged. "Happily. Warblers, let's go."
He stood up and started to walk but turned around as soon as he realised that none of them were following him. I stared at them. No one, not ever in the history of the Warblers, has ever disobeyed the direct orders of a Warblers captain, never. I stared at them in disbelief. They were looking at each other, nudging each other to be the first to move. Then, the unbelievable happened.
"We're not coming Sebastian." It was Trent's voice, one of my old best friends. He tried to sound confident but I could hear the shakiness in his voice. "We like these guys whether you do or not. It was your entire fault that we've landed in a bad relationship with these talented teens. We don't know what you put in that slushie but we do care."
Sebastian was going a little pale, losing his authority. "I can tell you when we get back to Dalton; these guys don't need to know."
I forced my way past Sam and some of the boys gave me warning looks which I solidly ignored. I looked Sebastian straight in the eye, with both eyes. "You're right Sebastian; we don't need to know from you, because we already know that you put rock salt in that slushie."
"What?" Several of the Dalton boys exclaimed. I winced as I said rock salt, the memories too painful to bring back.
Sebastian laughed hollowly. "You don't have any evidence. How did you know anyway?" he narrowed his eyes.
I dived into my pocket and brought out the tape recorder. Sebastian's eyes widened slightly but he kept his composure. "You mean like this kind of evidence?" I grinned and pressed play, my throat closed at the sound of Charlotte's voice.
I stopped after the mention of the Rockies. Sebastian looked pale and slightly thrown. I took the tape out of the player. The Warblers were looking at Sebastian with horror on their faces. So they had finally realised what kind of guy Sebastian was.
"I take it you bought your way into a captaincy." I tried to sound calm but inside I was shaking.
"What are you going to do with it?" Sebastian's fear was barely concealed. I looked at Kurt who had his hands folded over his chest.
"We don't want to kick you out of Dalton just yet Smythe. Coming from your intended victim and victim, that's quite something. Oh we know that I was the intended victim, you can't pretend to hide it." Kurt nodded at me and I took out the tape from the recorder and handed it to Kurt. He looked at it for a moment. "We want to have the fun of being you at Regionals, I look forward to it." And with that, Kurt threw the tape to Sebastian who caught it, surprised. "Now get out of our school."
Sebastian took one look at the group assembled on the stage before running out of the auditorium. The boys smiled and said their goodbyes before hurrying after their, hopefully soon, ex-captain of the Warblers.
That was over and done with and I sat in my bedroom, surrounded by posters of Broadway musicals and photographs. Over the years, I had accumulated over 2,000 photos and the ones that decorated my wall at the moment; were of Charlotte and the various friends we had made at the camps. The piece of paper in my hand was creamy and slightly rough. I could clearly see Charlotte's neat, curvaceous handwriting, covering a small amount of space. It was an hour before I had to leave before her funeral. Rory had been arrested and detained in a psychiatric unit for testing for possible mental illness. Every loose end had been tied off, at least that would how it would seem as if we were in a film. I held the last connection to the last loose end. The letter had arrived two days after I had duly posted the letters Charlotte had told me were in the drawer she had talked of. There had been several letters and she had been right, as always. I started to read it for the first time:
I don't want to think of what has brought you to read this letter. I've had it ready for quite some times, just waiting for the right moment to give it to you. If you're reading this then…well I don't think it's nice or polite to talk about those kinds of things in a letter.
I owe you, I owe you big time. I owe you an explanation and a new best friend for life. The first one is…well I wouldn't say easy but easier than the second. I want you to know that this letter is the hardest thing I have ever had to write, saying goodbye. I always knew that I would have to someday; I just hoped I'd make it past Regionals, one competition with you guys. I suppose Rory didn't want the cat to be let out of the bag, he doesn't believe in second chances.
Before I go off and explain the story that is the past you never knew about, I'd like to just…gosh, I don't even know what to call it. Blaine, you have been more of a brother to me than Michael has ever been. Every time I've been in trouble, you've been there for me, helping me. When I seemed traumatised, your beautiful original melodies would help me. I suppose what don't know is that I didn't seem traumatised, I was traumatised. I'm not an actress for nothing. I love letting my imperfect and dangerous life go and dive into a world that I never could have imagined. I suppose that's the reason for all actors out there, I just never made the big time.
I know I'm putting off telling you the story, I just want you to know how much I care about you and let you have a positive picture of me before me true train comes chugging into town. Do you remember the first talent show we won? You were in your immaculate pinstriped suit and we sung 'Lullaby Bay' from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That's the best song out there I think, professional musically wise. Nothing can or ever will beat Starkid. I will always remember the hug you gave me, your sweat on my face, the first hug a boy who wasn't my family had ever given me. Your tousled black hair falling over your eye and you tried to smooth it back into place. The famous bouncy curls that never stay straight, a little pocket of memory for me. Remember those times Blaine, remember the cookouts by the cabins, the raids on Number 17, the slushies we threw at them. Oh, maybe forget that one. When you get to heaven, I promise no slushies. I can't really promise anything in actual fact, I can only hope. Remember the four talent shows we won, the numbers we performed. Remember Lullaby Bay, Come to Me, Not Alone with Minnie and Ollie and Days of Summer. Remember the times we would see under the stars and dream of being on Broadway, singing our hearts out. Remember the times we used to dream about going to school with each other, at Hogwarts. Remember how I always said that you would be in Gryffindor because you're the bravest boy I know. I still think that Blaine and you're going to have to be brave to survive this letter and everything that happens afterwards. I know what I want on my gravestone, I'll tell you about dreams, and you'll understand what I want then.'
I wiped the tears going down my cheeks furiously. Of course Charlotte would have wanted that on her gravestone, she lived by ignoring her dreams, her nightmares. I could picture her, sitting at her desk, furiously wiping away tears as she tried to figure out what she was going to say. I could see her hair falling down her face and she trying put it back behind her ears for the millionth time. I read on, looking for answers.
'I suppose I can't delay it anymore…oh gosh, I wish I didn't have to tell you. I don't know any other way of you understanding. Alright, I'll tell you. Just make sure that this doesn't mar your judgement of me, I'd hate to go on a sad note.
Everything began when I was eight, when I first moved to Boston. It started the fall after we first met at summer camp. At my new school, there was a boy called Rory Flanagan. Now I've never been one to get on the inside crowd, as you well know, and Rory was a new transfer from Texas. His accent was deep and he was teased for it. I however, really liked it and thought he was cute in a strange way. All the girls did. That was the one thing that Rory had going for him.
Then, when we were ten or so, things started to go wrong. Things started to go missing; people complained that there must be an area of the school that was haunted. Rory kept on skipping class which was so unlike him, I was the only one that knew the truth. Rory wasn't just skipping class because he felt like it, he had to. Rory lived in such a tight regimental scheme that there were some things that he just couldn't help.
To put it in a short way, Rory had mental issues, he always has. Rory has always needed someone to be there, someone to guide him through. He was a kleptomaniac, pyromaniac in the most radical sense. I mean, if he saw a match, he would go straight towards it and tried to make it bigger, try to burn the classroom down. I was the only person who could calm him down, make him take his four tablets a day. Over the years, he also grew increasingly violent. It was like it was a progressive mental disorder that couldn't be contained. I was the only one who knew about it, the only one who he would listen to when he needed to take his medication. I was like a sister to him. Of course, a friendship that perfect could never last that long.
The pinnacle came when we went on the school trip to the Rockies.'
I choked, of course, that's what Sebastian meant on the tape about the Rockies. Checking my watch, I realised it was time to go. Dressed in only the best suit that my older brother Shane could lend me, I tucked the letter into the pocket of my jacket and grabbed my mobile phone as well as my camera. There were times when you just had that feeling that you would want to take something somewhere, that was this kind of feeling.
Looking at the crease in my duvet where I had sat miserably on my bed, I closed the door to my room and made my way downstairs. Charlotte was going to be buried in the local cemetery, just like she had asked. In fact, it was as if she had already organised the entire thing before she had died. Everything was going as she would have wanted it. I hadn't been able to look anyone in the face for days. I wanted to keep the memory of Charlotte ingrained in my memory, her dazzling brown eyes and the light going out. Fighting back tears, I acknowledged my mother before leaving the house and jumping into my car, a sleek black Porsche with an easy wheel and comfortable steering. I didn't feel like cycling or walking today, I didn't feel like doing anything nowadays. I couldn't even watch or listen to any Starkid songs or musicals, they reminded me too much of her. Everything seemed to remind me of Charlotte, I saw her in the corridors at school, smiling at everyone in her Cheerios outfit. I saw her in the mall where she had battled Jackson against the Warblers, not that I expected any of them to come to the funeral. I saw her in every cyclist that I saw, in every Broadway number that I heard on the radio, in every song that the New Directions sang. IT WASN'T FAIR! Why Charlotte?
I drew my Porsche alongside the church where the service was to be held. I could see the New Directions standing outside the church and Kurt came over to me as I climbed out of the car and started to walk, feeling as numb as if I was on numbing drugs. I could feel Kurt's hand squeeze mine in comfort but it didn't work, nothing would. Everyone was in black, there was no attempt to try and make this a happy occasion. I recognised most of the people there, school friends and teachers, Principal Figgins and even Sue Sylvester was there, in a black tracksuit with a calm and mournful face on for once. The church itself was beautiful. With stain glass windows and plenty of light being let in, it was hard to imagine they were here for a funeral. I stopped at the sight of the casket. It was red and gold; the colours of Gryffindor, with small black writing that I could spot were Starkid quotes. I quickly slid into my seat on the front row. Charlotte's parents had asked me to say something and the New Directions to sing something and all of us had agreed. Even without a need for rehearsal, it was clear that a mash up was needed and a rehearsal wouldn't be necessary. With Quinn, Kurt, Tina and I taking the leads, Charlotte's closest New Directions friends, it was going to be beautiful. The church quickly filled up, it was surprisingly full for a girl who had only been at McKinley for a few months.
Just as the service was about to begin, two people entered at the back of the church and stood there. I failed to notice them until I got up to say my piece, right before the New Directions sung. There were people now standing at the back and I frowned in disapproval as I scanned the navy blue and red blazer boys for one in particular. There he was, looking more solemn than I had ever seen him. He looked at me and nodded in recognition of the solemn occasion. Then my eyes fell on the two people standing a little to the side, looking decidedly awkward. My jaw wanted to drop to the floor, was Charlotte really that gutsy? Trying to ignore the people in front of me, I stood up at the lectern and started to read the piece of paper I had in his hand, the piece I had written for Charlotte.
"I've known and been best friends with Charlotte ever since we first met on summer camp on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. There was something about the educated, fluent in French, definitely not American girl that struck me as she walked into the dining area that first afternoon. She looked at me and gave me this dazzling smile that told me that I was cool and she liked me, which frankly for an eight year old boy with frizzy hair that was completely unruly and big glasses that made me look like a geek, was quite something." There was laughter from parts of the room and I smiled, despite everything and continued. "Although we only saw each other every few months, living on the opposite sides of the country, it didn't stop us from having a great friendship. Charlotte was the person that I could Skype, Facebook, or even more horrendous, Bebo," there were a few smiles from my contemporaries at the memories of Facebook before its time, "Charlotte, no matter what she was doing or if she was asleep, she would be there to guide me. Wise beyond her years, Charlotte was a rock that I could hold onto and never let go, until now. Year in, year out, summer camp could always be expectant a star quality performance at the annual talent show from Charlotte and Blaine. There was something about her that made her shine that made her so individual and unique."
I looked at the casket directly for the first time and held my gaze.
"Charlotte, I wish this was happening all in my head and that you'd wake me up to watch the morning sun rise on the lake like we used to. I wish you'd come bouncing back into the choir room with yet another Starkid song to dazzle us with. I wish that you hadn't gone to the Rockies; I wish a lot of things. Sometimes you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you'll find, you get what you need. It will be impossible to forget Charlotte Rachel Walker; no one can forget a girl who can recite the 50 States of the US in perfect alphabetical order in under 40 seconds in three different languages. No one can forget a girl who can sing everything from Starkid to Les Miserables to Katy Perry. No one can forget a girl who, after listening to a song three times, will be able to sing it back to you, note perfect, word perfect and with her own little harmonies. No one can forget a girl who helps you when you have to tell your parents that you're gay. No one can forget a girl who gave her life to stop a psychopath from killing everyone else. No one can forget a girl who dreamed of being on Broadway or in the West End and would have done anything to do that. No one can forget a girl who ensured that her friends' needs were always put in front of her own. No one can forget you, because you will always be ingrained in our memories forever. So, in response to your call, I answer. I say one thing Charlotte as I say…" I choked back a sob and Kurt made to get up and be there with me but I shook his head, knowing I had to do this and swallowed. "As I say goodbye. I say that no matter where you are, how old you are, you have to make the most of your life. It doesn't matter if you've led the perfect life or whether you think that God might strike you down at any moment, it doesn't matter. We have only years left in this life and we have to live each day as if it our last. We may leave Charlotte here, but if she was going to say something to us, she would say that we should move on, remember her but move on. Live our lives and go and do what she never got a chance to do. No one can predict the future, not even a dead Albus Dumbledore," there were a few chuckles from the A Very Potter Musical fans in the church, "can tell us what is to come so we have to expect it, go forward into every day as if we don't expect it to finish. We can't change the past, we have to live with it, but we can make use of what we have to go into the future. We can go and perform on Broadway for her, we can go and climb Mount Everest for her, we can go and try to perform with Starkid for her, we can do the things we always wanted to do or she wanted to, for her. I'm going to leave you with Charlotte's dying words. Remember Blaine, it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Tears unashamedly rolling down my cheeks, I took the piece of paper and made my way down to the front where the New Directions were due to sing now. As the rest of the group got up, Sebastian sent me a look that clearly said 'we'd like to pay our final respects as well, may we?' Thinking about it, I slowly shook my head but made a little gesture to say that they could later. I would have liked to perform for Charlotte with the Warblers, but they wouldn't know one of the songs and it was a mash up, not the Warbler style. Everyone now in place, the four soloists at the front, the New Directions let out one note of varying harmonies and Quinn stepped forward.
"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby."
Joining her, Kurt changed it to the other song. "It's a big, big universe. So many dimensions and unanswered questions, life."
The voices of the New Directions rose up as we made the hairs on the backs of our own necks stand on end. Starkid had been essential in choosing the song and we wanted another song that we could say goodbye to her in as well as show off her love. There was a production of The Wizard of Oz on in the West End and it was a memory of London for her. The song flowed beautifully, making the perfect combination of a lament for freedom joined with a song about visualising freedom and saying goodbye, enough for anyone to weep. Our two visitors were pleasantly surprised by the combination and were one of the loudest applauders at the end of the performance. I took my seat, that was me over and done with. We just had to survive the burial after the funeral and then the after party, as Charlotte had called it.
The service seemed to go on forever and the sun was setting as made our way outside to the burial. There were very few dry eyes in the group assembled. I knew that if the Warblers were going to want to pay their respects to Charlotte, they would need to do it now. I had spoken to Charlotte's parents who were eager for more farewell songs for Charlotte, it seemed that they loved our voices and it reminded them gladly of her, her school friends and the people that she had grown to love and trust. The group of Warblers were standing to one side as we left and church and as the procession made its way out of the church; I wound my way over to Sebastian and the Warblers. They seemed to stick out in their navy blazers but I noticed that they all were wearing black ties and black armbands on their blazers. I nodded in thanks to Sebastian who smiled at me.
"Thank you for not killing us for gate crashing Blaine. You were all really good up there, although Porcelain didn't manage to quite hit the right note pitch perfect." I started to feel myself getting angry and Sebastian quickly backtracked. "But that doesn't matter, it was fitting and we enjoyed it. I know I barely knew Charlotte and we haven't come to ruin it for you all, we've come to offer our service and condolences." He stuck out his hand. "I'm sorry for the slushie Blaine."
I looked long and hard at that hand, the one that had been responsible for Charlotte's terrible state when she had returned to school. Would she forgive him? WWCD, what would Charlotte do? I knew the answer deep inside my heart and I breathed, before taking the hand and hoping that there wasn't some kind of practical joke attached.
"You guys want to help us?" I asked as casually as I could and Sebastian raised an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?"
"You guys want to send off Charlotte, so do we. Why not…combine forces. Two Warbler captains together leading a New Directions and Dalton Warblers combination." I choked back a sob, not wanting to cry in front of my friends and my assailant at such close quarters. "I always wanted to perform with you guys for her; I was going to drag her along to meet you all." I could see the last of the people coming out of the church. "We have five minutes."
The boys followed me and we were all handed a black carnation, black lilies with petals as soft as Charlotte's skin. It didn't take long to combine two of the strongest groups in the state, despite the obvious hostility towards Sebastian coming from the New Directions. I almost looked like a Dalton boy, wearing a blazer, tight trousers and black shoes with a tie. It was the signature emblem on the pocket and the lack of colour in the blazer that distinguished us. The vicar was a good friend, well family friend, of both our families and I had a small talk with him that confirmed our small performance.
The pall bearers, Michael, Colin (Charlotte's father), Nathanial (Charlotte's best friend in London) and Kurt (I had decided to opt out as I was doing the eulogy) came solemnly out, carrying the coffin. I didn't want to look at it, but I forced myself to, remembering who I was and who was in that coffin. Lying at the side of the freshly dug grave, Charlotte's coffin lay on the soil, ready for being lifted into the pit. My tears flowed freely down my cheeks as it truly hit me that I would never see her again. Every year after camp, I would fantasise and have nightmares for weeks that I would never see her again, that a year was far too long. Now a lifetime seems far too long, it is far too long. The vicar said some prayers that I could barely hear the words blurry like my vision. The only focus I had was on the quote-studded Starkid and Harry Potter coffin that lay in front of me. I could hear Michael say a few words before his crying took over and he couldn't go on. Michael and Charlotte were, and had been, like another brother and sister to me and I went over to comfort him, his body shaking as the tears rolled down his cheeks. I didn't want to leave him but if the Warblering New Directions were going to perform, they would need their lead singer for sure. Patting my 'brother' on the back, I stood up from where he was kneeling beside her grave and the group behind me started to hum. This was our final farewell to Charlotte, our final mark to send her off. I knew Starkid best of all and this song always brought me to tears. It was a strange mash up, everyone agreed, but as long as we made it work, it would. I stepped forward out of the ranks of black dresses and ties to start the song off, I insisted.
The sun goes down, the stars come out.
And all that counts is here and now.
My universe will never be the same,
I'm glad you came.
Quinn was the first person to go and put her carnation on Charlotte's coffin. She carefully placed it down with a photo that we could see was of the two of them in photography class, mucking around. "Thank you Charlotte for being there for me." she whispered, tears falling fast and furiously as she rejoined us.
There it is she's gone
and she's hung me out to dry
Tina and Mike went up together and put their carnations, intertwining, onto the coffin. "Thanks for teaching me some incredible moves Charlotte." Mike whispered, breathing heavily to hold back the tears that were escaping.
"Thank you for being such a kind and thoughtful friend." Tina blew a kiss at the coffin as she buried her head in Mike's shoulder, still humming the background tune.
The joy she said she felt well, I guess it was a lie
but when I had her my life was fine
when I had her she was mine
Sebastian had a posy of black lilies from the group, twenty to represent each Warbler there. He didn't say anything; he didn't know what to say. He had only met the girl twice and he felt so bad for telling her that he knew her secret. Placing the posy on her coffin, he knelt down, put two fingers to his lips and then touched the coffin, a Warbler sign of saying goodbye. Although most of the people assembled there wouldn't have known what it meant, the Warblers, Kurt and I did know and it meant a lot to me that he did that. As far as I was aware, he hadn't been the nicest guy to her.
She'd share her thoughts be a friend
stick with me until the end
watch a movie, roller-skate
fill the world with love and friends
Slowly, each of the New Directions made their way to the coffin, one after the other, placing a carnation on the coffin and whispering a few words. I had never seen Finn or Puck cry before, but there they were, crying unashamedly as I was. "Thanks for giving yourself to save us." Finn whispered.
"Yeah, thanks. I never told you, but I thought you were pretty hot." Puck half laughed and Finn smiled at his best friend. That was such a Puck thing to say.
And I'm missing you (I'm glad you came)
You cast a spell on me, spell on me
Sam was crying as much as I was. He and Charlotte had grown close to each other over the past few months, living only a few doors down from each other. "Thank you for being my Good Samaritan Charlotte." He whispered, letting the carnation fall like the tears down his cheeks.
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me. (And I'm missing you)
And I decided you look well on me, well on me.
Rachel seemed to be trying to hold it together as she laid a Broadway musical playbill on the coffin with her carnation. I could see the playbill was for Les Miserables with Charlotte's face on the front. My heart came up into my throat. As far as I had known, Charlotte and Rachel were the ones who had competed more for the solos. Everyone had been so supportive and kind but that was the best sendoff that anyone could give her, a playbill with her on it. "I won't be performing on Broadway for the audience Charlotte; it'll all be for you. I hope they have a Broadway equivalent wherever you go."
So let's go somewhere no one else can see, you and me.
Can you spend a little time? Time is slipping away
Away from us so stay, stay with me I can make
Make you glad you came.
Eventually I was the last person left. With a small nod, Kurt indicated for me to forward as I had my big solo. The bridge to the song was the hardest part of the song and, having seen the musical a million times and known the song the longest, the others were very happy to give me that part.
Now I'm all alone
Now you're gone for good
now I'm stuck right here wishing I understood
You gave me hope when my spells weren't right
You gave me someone to hold every night
but I had her and life seemed fair
yes, when I had her and she was there
to give me strength show concern
ask for nothing in return
say hello talk me through
do the things that friends should do
I went down to the coffin and just stared as I felt my world being torn apart. Never more would I be able to Skype or phone her over a problem I was having. The pain was so intense; I dropped down next to the coffin and sung to her. I didn't care that everyone was watching me with sadness and pity, I hated the pity. I just wanted to be alone with her. The words rang out clear and true as I was guided back by Kurt, letting my carnation form an S shape on the coffin with the other carnations, an S for Starkid, an S for superstar. Trying to regain my composure, I looked to the sky where I imagined her looking down on me, smiling at my choice of song. My heart poured out as I sang that I was missing her, I did. Words were never enough to describe the pain and the anger and the longing I felt. I wanted to find Rory and punish him so badly for the pain and cause he has brought. But I knew that neither Kurt nor Charlotte would/would have allowed it so I decided to take my frustration out in singing the words to Charlotte, from the heart and hope that she can hear me.
And I'm missing you, (I'm glad you came)
I'm just missing you, (I'm glad you came)
The sun goes down, the stars come out
And all that counts is here and now.
My universe will never be the same
I'm glad you came but I'm just missing you.
Collaborating as two soloists for the first time, Sebastian and I took the lines each and the whole group finished the song in an unprepared four or five part harmony that only the New Direction and Warblers would be able to pull off without a rehearsal. Our voices lifted, joining and supporting each other, creating a harmonic sound that had even our two unexpected guests on their feet. I refused to accept the praise though. To me, I hadn't been singing at all, it had been Charlotte singing, I was just mouthing her words. The praise was for Charlotte, it couldn't have been for anyone else. I looked at the assembled group as the applause went on and Mr. Schue caught my eye, nodding in praise and recognition of how hard the song would have been for me to sing.
I could recognize most of the people from Charlotte's last few months at McKinley and clearly some of her London friends. Principal Figgins was there with most of the faculty. Coach Sylvester was there with the Cheerios, most of Charlotte's home room was also there including Alex Denver who had been allowed out of the hospital for the funeral only but was in a wheelchair still and he wore a black flower in his buttonhole. As the coffin was lowered slowly and carefully into the grave, I looked to see everything that had been put on the casket. Rachel's Broadway playbill was there, a Cheerios outfit from the cheerleaders, Quinn's photo, several messages and the black carnations covered the majority of the coffin. I had been surprised that our two unexpected guests had put something there, a figurine of a girl on a broomstick. She looked uncannily like Charlotte, wearing Gryffindor Quidditch robes and reaching her hand out. It was as if she was reaching out for someone, something. A lump rose in my throat as I watched the coffin with Charlotte's body stop at the bottom of the grave. The vicar said the final prayer and it was all over. She was gone. The soil was thrown over the coffin, covering her and all the memoirs. The headstone read Charlotte's name, her birth and death date and the inscription she had asked for.
Breaking ranks from my friends, I couldn't bear to look at the grave any longer. I ran off to the right blindly, down the side of the church. There was a beautiful cedar tree that Charlotte and I had come to once, wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of our family homes. Throwing myself down under the tree, I closed my eyes. I pictured every special moment I had had with Charlotte. I didn't care that I was getting my clothes dirty, grass stains could be rubbed off, friendship and grieving couldn't. I pictured all the memories from summer camp, from all the year round times that we had met up, and most recently from the last few precious months here in Lima. I probably should have run out of water in my body from all the crying I'd done, but there was more. The tears flowed like a river, letting it run freely and quickly. I could feel each drop run down my cheek and fall into the wet grass as I looked up between the branches at the clear blue sky. It was only the sound of voices that made me stop, that woke me from the nightmare I hoped I was having. My heart sunk heavily as I pinched myself time and time again to check I was dreaming. I pinched myself so hard that I started to bleed. The sight of my own blood brought back the memory of Charlotte lying in the choir room, in a pool of her own blood. In spite of myself, I just started to cry again. How bad was this going to get? Could it get much worse than this, where my own blood made me bawl like a baby? Charlotte would have wanted you to stay strong, I said to myself. But how? I was only brought back to my thoughts as the voices got closer.
"His best friend has just died. We can't just barge in on his personal grieving and just hand him the letter from the grave, that's not fair on him." the girl seemed to be arguing.
"I don't want to gate crash the after party though. We didn't know her well, we came here because she asked us to and we appreciate those who appreciate our work." The man replied evenly.
"I think he'll approach us when he's ready. You know, he reminds me a lot of Darren. He solo in Missing You was pitch perfect and there were a lot of sharps in that solo." The girl remarked contemplatively.
The gentleman snorted slightly. "Like that'll give him any comfort. Just because your perfectly tuned ear can spot a great singer won't be any comfort to a boy whose friend has died."
"Okay, if he approaches us before the party, we'll talk to him and then leave. If he doesn't, we'll talk to him at the party. We have to take this gently; neither of us can understand the circumstances."
I could see the two figures not 50m away from me, just by an oak tree. It wasn't too hard to distinguish between the two people, the short girl being dwarfed by the slightly younger but taller gentleman. Preferring to get them to come to the party but speak to them before hand, I forced myself to get up and go over to them. I felt really awkward doing this. It was incredible that I was talking to these two people in the flesh. Knowing that I had sung two songs of theirs, one that the boy had sung himself, I felt deeply embarrassed as I straightened my jacket and sighed as I knew that I could do nothing about the tear stains, and walked towards them. They looked up as they saw me coming and smiled sadly. I stuck out a hand awkwardly.
"Hi, I'm Blaine Anderson. Thanks for coming today." I didn't really know what else to say.
The girl took my hand. "No, we wanted to do this, Charlotte asked us to. I'm Lauren Lopez and this is Joey Richter."
In spite of myself, I smiled wryly. "I know who you two are. You guys are incredible."
They both blushed. "Your combination of Life and Somewhere over the Rainbow, was really interesting, an odd choice though." Joey smiled.
"I have to admit I was slightly scared by the thought of doing two Starkid songs in front of you guys as soon as I realized who you were." I held back a smile. "I'm glad you like it. It was a big risk with the second mash up, most of the group didn't know Missing You."
"well I was saying to Joey that Darren's the only other person whose managed to pull that song off pitch perfect and you did a pretty damn good job of it." Lauren complimented and I blushed.
"I couldn't help but overhear you guys, but you said you had a letter from Charlotte. May I ask…why?" I couldn't hide my obvious confusion.
Lauren indicated the park bench that was nearby. "Shall we sit?" I nodded and we sat cautiously down on the bench. There was a small pause before Lauren started to talk again. "About a week ago, we received this parcel with what looked like a script and a letter. The letter came from Charlotte, who had dated it two days prior to her death. She said that she had been to all four of our musicals and had met us once when we performed A Very Potter Sequel. She said that she didn't expect us to remember her but she said that she was expecting to die soon and she wondered if there was any remote chance that the attached document could be read and her best friend, Blaine Anderson, would really appreciate the feedback and help to develop it. We chose to come to the funeral. We understand that coming from the UK three years in a row was a great achievement for Charlotte and we appreciated her dedication to the group." Lauren held out a small envelope to Blaine. "This is our feedback."
"What did she send to you?" I asked curiously. What had Charlotte done?
Joey smiled. "Something that we've been looking for, for a long time." He looked at Lauren and the smaller girl nodded before he continued. "You said in your eulogy that one of Charlotte's dreams was to perform with us, so," he got out a second envelope from his pocket, "this is also for you."
I took it gratefully, still completely clueless. "Um, thank you. I am completely blown away by the fact you came here, it's a great privilege to meet you guys. You're so talented and I know that Charlotte was very much into the first few days of the website you guys had created." I directed at Lauren who smiled. "Do stay for the party; don't feel as if you have to leave unless you want to."
Joey shook his head. "We would love to, but our plane is in an hour so we better get back to check in. you're really talented Blaine, it would be worth applying for the Uni of Michigan drama course!"
I grinned slightly; there was something about these two that was really heart-warming and sincere in their condolences. "Thank you Mr. Richter."
"It's Joey and Lauren, seriously." Joey interjected before I could continue any further.
I shook both their hands again before the three of us made our way to where the gravediggers were just patting down the last of the soil. Unable to look at it any further, I forced myself to look away and concentrated on saying my goodbyes to two of my Starkid heroes and making my way to the after party which was to be held at her house.
Two months had gone by since Charlotte's death to the day and I found myself in the most mortifying position. With Regionals over and won, I had flown out to Chicago to meet the rest of the cast of Starkid. It turns out that the script-looking document had actually been a script. It had transpired that Charlotte had been secretly working on her own version of A Very Potter Threequel and had boldly decided to send it to Starkid in the hope that they might read it and enjoy it. Never, I thought, did she dream that they would actually use it for their next show after the 'Holy Musical Bman' which had been performed three weeks previously. I had been there, each night and enjoyed it thoroughly. Although never a Batman fan, I understood it clearly and laughed at all the ridiculous jokes. There was something magical about watching it live rather than at home on YouTube. I stared down at the script in my hand, the memories of the letter and the funeral racing back to me. This was Charlotte; it was her words, her lyrics and songs. She had composed an entire musical and had never told me.
I wasn't just in Chicago, but in the theatre that Starkid rented out for their performances. Around me were all the members of Starkid. The first envelope had contained a short letter saying that it had been just what they had been looking for and with a few small changes and cuts; they would be honored to perform it in her memory. The second letter had enclosed two tickets for each night of 'Holy Musical Bman' and a short note, inviting me to come and be a part of the cast that produced A Very Potter Threequel, taking the part of Colin Creevey, the excited little boy who is portrayed as extremely annoying and a Hufflepuff in the musical. I loved Colin as soon as I read the script for the first time. Charlotte had included countless jokes that referred back to the two Harry Potter musicals as well as adding her own small quips. It truly had Charlotte written all over it. I felt as if I was in a dream, sitting between Darren Criss and Joe Walker, two of my favourite Starkid actors and I had had a bit of a thing for Darren before he'd cut off all his curls, but that was a LONG time ago and now I considered him a friend. (A/N: I'm sorry, I had to put that in for the amusement of anyone who, like me, finds this hilarious, I just wrote it and then realised what I had written and started to laugh so I had to keep it)
The read-through couldn't have been more of a success. Nick Lang had only edited one tiny part out and it made all the difference. As I sat on the plane back to Lima, I read through the script once again. Once I had finished at Nationals and my junior year, I would be heading straight out to Chicago for an intensive set of rehearsals for A Very Potter Threequel which would be premiered at LeakyCon12 in August. It was going to be a tight schedule but as long as I knew the script and had an idea of what Colin was like, I would be fine. Having done Tony in West Side Story, I was well prepared for quick and lack of rehearsals.
I knew that the only thing that would comfort me was the letter. I now carried it wherever I went, the final reminder that I had of Charlotte. Taking a deep breath and re-reading it for the unknown time, I looked at the paper and the marks where the tears had fallen.
'The annual school trip for 5th graders occurred when I was eleven. It was a thing for the school, a farewell before we all left elementary school and went on to our middle or junior high schools. I can't believe I can still remember all this terminology! Oh well, Rory was in my class and he was almost not allowed to go because of his mental condition. It was only my persuasion and the persuasion from his parents that allowed him to go. We sat next to each other on the flight and I didn't think much of the fact that he was pretty quiet; he had been a quiet boy for ages. I should have paid more attention to his eyes. When he took his tablets, his pupils would dilate slightly and it was obvious. I should have noticed that from the start of the trip, Rory hadn't taken any tablets. His eyes were like molten pools of chocolate and it was hard for most girls to take their eyes off him, it was easy for me as we were friends so I didn't think much of not looking at his eyes. We were there for two weeks before the accident occurred. I had noticed Rory had become slightly surly towards others and especially hostile to me. I kept asking why he seemed to be that way and he would just shrug and pretend it was nothing. Only having snuck into his room, did I realize that I couldn't find his bottle of tablets anywhere; he had 'forgotten' to pack them.
Back in 5th grade, my best friend was a girl called Angelica Dempsey. She and I were inseparable, just like you and I were. We looked pretty similar, the same brown hair, same height, we even dressed the same. The only difference was that while I had dark brown eyes, hers were more of a hazel colour. Many people would ask if we were twins, we'd had to explain it quite a few times. On the last day before we returned back to school, we were taken for our final skiing lesson. We were allowed free reign on the children's slope and many of us were pretty good, often going out of the teachers' view. I made the fatal mistake that day of separating from Angelica. She went off towards the forest; she was always a bit of a daredevil. I had skied off on my own, thinking nothing of the fact that Rory had suddenly disappeared, I now realize that was the biggest mistake I made. I was making my way down the edge of the slope, near a river when suddenly I heard a scream that was soon muffled. I had become a quick skier and it didn't take me long to find the source of the scream. To my horror and too far to call, I saw that Rory, unmistakable in his luminous ski clothes, had Angelica by the neck and had her pressed up against a tree. But before I could try to go and help her, I saw Angelica go limp, and Rory let her body fall to the floor. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead body. I screamed and Rory looked sharply up at me, first in confusion, then horror and then anger. Even behind his snow goggles, I could see the realization cross over his face.
I still don't know why he wanted to kill me. Maybe he was just getting sick of me pestering him all the time. Maybe he just had an impulse. The problem was, now I had seen the accident, I was a witness as to what Rory would later call an unfortunate accident. I took off my skis and I ran as fast as I could, through the snow that was pounding my face, hitting my like an electric shock every time one hit my face. I didn't want to leave Angelica there, but I was in as much danger as she had been.
I just kept running. My father found a job in London and we moved a week later. I didn't even come back for Angelica's funeral, I never found out where she was buried. Does that make me a bad friend? Her limp body on the floor haunts me still, I can't stand the idea that she died for nothing, I died for nothing, all for the impulse of a boy who was packed off to Ireland to a psychiatric unit and kept under close observation. I guess foreign exchange with Brittany didn't really come under close observation.
I want you to know Blaine, that I hate writing this. I hate knowing that this will reach you and I will never be there to see your reaction. I will never be there to perform with you at Regionals. I will never be there to see you and Kurt finally marry when they legalize gay marriage. I will never be there to be a godparent for your son/daughter (you know I would have forced you to) and my heart goes out to you because you have to go on. But the thing is Blaine, you have to go on. I don't want you to stop going on, just because my car has parked, I've crossed the finish line. I want to see you on Broadway, you and Kurt and Rachel and Mercedes. I want to be able to look down from wherever I am and see Mike dancing his heart out. I want to see Quinn at Yale with a happy family, a loving boyfriend.
I wish I could say this to you in person because then you might understand it more. I want you to do two things for me Blaine; you have to promise me that you will do them. Number one, respond to the replies you receive. You won't understand what I mean until they come but you will understand. I wish there was an easier way but the second one, is possibly more important. Even if it isn't now, even if it isn't for another few months or years, even if it isn't until you are on your death bed, I want you to forgive Rory. I know you would look at me with a crazy face that would tell me that I am bonkers, and yes you should have realized that a long time ago. It isn't his fault that he's mentally unstable like it isn't Becky's fault that she's got Downs. Please, forgive him eventually. You don't have to say it to his face, or to anyone, just forgive him in your heart and I know you will find peace. I know you better than anyone, remember?
Go for it Blaine, kick it up a notch and live your life. I want you to be happy; don't take away your happiness just because I get to look at you from a different angle, like a bird. I don't know what they'll make of it, but I hope you get a chance to look at what I've been working on. I wanted you to see it before I went, in fact I'm just writing the last score, the last line. I'd put you as Colin, you know. I wanted you to have a go at playing the annoying one; you said you always wanted a challenge. Well here's your first step up into the world. Good luck Blaine and remember you can't just sit around and watch, your destiny is in your control. Go ahead and kick it up a notch, if your life is at a level too low. There's no attempt that you can botch when all you got to do is just give it a go.
All my Harry Potter, friendly and Starkid love,
P.S. I based the homework song on your constant complaints about assignments!'
I had no idea what she had been talking about when I first read it. Now the realization was starting to dawn on me. I wasn't going to try and lie to myself Charlotte had put together an amazing musical single handedly. Even Darren had sung her praises with the lyrics and score, despite some of the English words that needed to be 'translated', it was a good thing I had visited her in London. I sat back, breathing heavily. I was doing what Charlotte had told me to, I was kicking it up a notch.
The voices were clearly audible from the other side of the curtain. I tugged at my Hufflepuff tie and looked at the uniform that made me look like I was 12. I suppose that was the whole point of the costume. It was a sellout crowd with all my Dalton and New Directions friends, even Sebastian, coming from Lima to Florida to see the closing night of A Very Potter Threequel. We had done eight shows and were going to move it back to Chicago before doing another six shows. It was the last night of LeakyCon12 and so naturally everyone was completely hyper. The words came naturally to me, second nature as soon as I stepped onto the stage. The play had become another part of life. It had been the most magical eight weeks of my life. Working with people I had barely known who treated me as an equal, as best friends, I considered celebrities. My most shocking moment had come when they had told me that Evanna Lynch was going to be playing the part of Luna. Joey had gone to the Yule Ball at last year's LeakyCon11 and she was coming back to help the new production. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect cast. Bonnie and Darren had come back to do the production and everyone was there, all the actors I knew and recognized, even those who had only just been involved in Holy Musical Bman. They were the coolest bunch of people on the entire planet, well maybe the New Directions and Warblers tied with them.
Before we started the performance, the lights dimmed and I took a deep breath. Lauren and I were going out onto the stage before the start of the show to do what we did every night. As the last performance at LeakyCon12, it would be a first for me saying this to my friends, recognizing Charlotte's death in full in front of them. To tumultuous applause, we stepped out from behind the curtain, her blonde wig attached firmly on and we were wearing our contrasting Hufflepuff and Slytherin uniforms. The crowd went silent, some knowing what was to come.
"Ladies and gentlemen, before we begin tonight's performance, we have a special dedication to make." Lauren announced and there was a few mumbles as she nodded to me.
"This Starkid musical is a special one. Not just because we have actors you know and love reprising their roles as well as new and fresh talent, but because it isn't a Starkid original." There were more mumbles but I carried on steadily, knowing that this would occur. "A Very Potter Threequel was dreamt up and drafted and then written by a girl called Charlotte Walker." Suddenly the section where all my friends exploded with cheers and I felt tears in my eyes as I saw them all supporting me.
"A loyal and firm Starkid fan, Charlotte was an avid believer in all that we stand for as a company. Sadly, Charlotte died four months ago in Lima, Ohio. Acknowledging her impending death, Charlotte, without the knowledge of anyone else, sent us a parcel that contained a letter and a document. The document is what you see before you."
"so, speaking as her friend and on her behalf, thank you for coming to support us in our new musical and there will be a chance to donate to charities that help promote and fund research into psychiatric illnesses during the intermission. We thank you once again and hope you enjoy the show."
Stepping behind the curtain again, Lauren and I hugged before we left the stage, neither of us to come on for a few scenes. The curtain opened and the spotlights rose on Joe and Brian, standing in their imposing costumes, trying to create as much fear as Charlotte had put into the words. I watched from the wings, mouthing all the words and laughing at all the jokes. It was incredible to see how work from beyond the grave can make a difference. My cue line came just a few scenes later; I grabbed the bag that Colin had slung over his shoulder as he enters Hogwarts. Humming 'Days of Summer' out loud, I sauntered onto the stage, my mind fully focused on the production.
"Am I in the right place?" I asked cautiously, Colin still unaware of his surroundings.
"Well if you mean the Gryffindor common room, then I guess." Came Darren/Harry's cool reply.
The play was a storming success and as the curtain came down for the last time, the curtain call repeated twice, I let a tear escape down my cheek. This had been all thanks to Charlotte. If she hadn't sent the letter off, I wouldn't be here. I could see my friends cheering the loudest and pride swelled in my heart as I thought of the girl who made this all happen.
"Thank you Charlotte." I whispered to the photograph in my dressing gown, a photo of her at camp. "Thank you for everything."
A/N: final thoughts and words? are there any tissues? was it too OTT? Was it how you imagined it?
Oh and I am posting a new Glee fanfiction called Uniform about Kurt and Blaine at Dalton so do Author Alert me if you are interested in that!