I am so sorry for making you all wait so long for this update, please let me know if I lost my touch...

IIIII

Chapter 28

Forgive, Release, Communicate and Restore

"What's her name?"

"Alicia Spinnet"

"How old?"

"Seventeen"

"Do you know what she took?"

"She was drinking. Beyond that no idea; I did grab the needle next to her…"

"Good thinking, I'll send it to the lab for testing. Allergies?"

"Aspirin and pollen"

"Have her parents been contacted?"

"They are on their way"

"To your knowledge does she have any medical conditions we should be aware of?"

"Got her appendix out when she was eight or nine I think, nothing relevant comes to mind."

"Do you know how long she has been using drugs?"

"Close to a year as far as I know"

"Alright, I'll think this should do it until her parents get here. Since you aren't family I can't keep you updated but if you need anything ask at reception."

"Sure, thanks" said Harry rubbing his face in exhaustion. He sat down and stared at the wall lost in thought.

"Hey" said Kurt returning with Blaine from their trip to the cafeteria. He offered a Styrofoam cup without another word.

Harry blinked, being suddenly pulled back into reality. He glanced at the clock on the wall. It had barely been 15 minutes and he felt drained. He rubbed his face again and straightened up, taking the cup and giving it a small sip.

"Hot chocolate?"

"You hate coffee and I'm sure the tea wouldn't be up to your standards" offered Kurt as an explanation.

"You two should get back, curfew and all that," said Harry with a fake half-smile.

"Probably" agreed Blaine but didn't make any efforts to move. Kurt sat down on his other side and pulled his phone, absently texting someone.

Harry sighed in exhaustion once more before leaning back and letting his head rest on the wall. "Alicia is Angelina's cousin. She was adopted and since she found out she…"

"Hasn't been taking it well?" asked Blaine hesitantly.

"Understatement" muttered Harry under his breath with a snort.

"I'm not trying to be insensitive but why did she call you?" asked Kurt restarting the conversation after a few minutes of silence.

"We met around the same time Ginny and I broke up. As you are well aware my copping techniques are not the healthiest. Long story short, she started to tag along when I went out and met a guy in one of our outings. He got her hooked on some stuff and well…" he gestured to the emergency room. "She has a tendency to run away from home. She also tends to call me when things have hit rock bottom. Guilt trips me into picking her up, once tried to get me to give her some money. I refused of course."

"Oh Harry" said Blaine reaching to put a hand on his shoulder.

"I know it might be meaningless coming from us but it isn't your fault" said Kurt while Blaine nodded along.

"Intellectually I accepted it a while ago… it doesn't make it any less hard" he replied vacantly. "Also, for the record, nothing you say is meaningless to me."

Hermione, Angelina and Katie arrived not long after that, quickly followed by Ron, Fred and George. Harry filled them in on everything and Angelina went to the reception to see if she could get an update while her uncles arrived.

The silence was not only oppressing but incredibly awkward.

Harry seemed immune to it or probably too worried to care about the many looks the twins threw his way.

"She's fine" said Angelina rejoining them, visibly relieved. "She had her stomach pumped and she'll have to stay overnight but definitely out of danger."

"Can we see her?" asked Harry.

"Nurse says visiting hours are over and will only let her parents in" Angelina said sadly.

"Right" said Harry and stood up, without a word he disappeared down the hallway.

"Visiting hours" said Ron with a snort. "Like that would mean anything to him."

IIIII

"I'm done Alicia" said Harry very calmly once he stepped into her room. He had planned to just leave the phone where she would see it. This worked better, less cowardly.

"What do you mean?" she asked with a hint of trepidation in her voice. She was drowsy but a lot more coherent. He took the old mobile out of his pocket and put it on the table.

"I've always felt somewhat responsible for your situation, which is why you've fallen into the habit of calling me" said Harry closing his eyes to steel his resolve. "And like an idiot I always come to you. There's a point where helping becomes enabling and we are way past it. I want to make clear that I refuse to keep watching you destroy yourself. Next time call somebody else."

Alicia stared at him with big watery eyes. "You can't Harry, you can't!" she said. "You always come! You are the only one that comes and doesn't judge me!"

"Not next time" said Harry pained. "I have too much to lose in my life to be risking it for somebody willing to throw away theirs. I'm trying to be better. You aren't trying to help yourself and I'm not in a place where I can deal with any of this. I shouldn't have to for that matter. You are in too deep Alicia and I just can't keep dropping everything for you."

"Don't be stupid Harry. You always come! That's your thing. Hermione said so remember? You have a saving people's thing. That means saving the damsel in distress right? Right?" her hysterical giggle turned into a chocked sob.

"Goodbye Alicia" Harry said approaching to kiss her temple.

"What if I die!?" she screamed at his retreating back. "It will be your fault! I'll be in a ditch somewhere dying and you… you… it will be your fault."

For a second Harry tensed, closing his eyes and letting guilt fill him. When he turned the guilt had turned to anger and he snarled at her.

"You don't get to blame me! If you die it will be fucking sad and I will feel horrible that I lost a friend. Still, guess what? Life bloody moves on and your death will just be a sad memory. Another chapter in my fucked up existence that I'll move on from because, guess what? Losing people also happens to be my thing and no offense but you won't even be the most important person I lost."

He laughed at her surprised expression and messed his hair unconsciously.

"I take comfort in knowing that the people I've lost have been taken unwillingly from me, but you Alicia? You are practically choosing to leave all of us. I'm not going to make myself miserable for your sake" Harry said and dropped his arm defeated.

Harry's voice wavered slightly. Alicia pressed her hand against her mouth, trying to stop a sob from escaping.

"You're my friend and I love you Alicia but you need help. I don't have the energy to chase after you anymore, when you insist on…" he sighed deeply. "I don't want to lecture you. It's not my place. All I'm going to say is that I am sorry and I'm done."

Harry walked away ignoring the sobs and pleads to come back. He turned around the corridor and immediately leaned against the wall. He swallowed a few times, trying to stop the nauseating feeling in his stomach.

He felt exhausted, everything was too much. He was overwhelmed, drained and full of hopelessness. He knew it was the right thing to do, but the image of Alicia at her worst, calling for him was burned inside his mind.

IIIII

The drive back was mostly silent. He apologized for the unpleasant ending for the otherwise nice evening. Kurt and Blaine where perfectly understanding and even offered to stay the weekend. It took most of the ride back for him to convince them to go. Mostly because he desperately wanted some time to regroup and brood on his own.

IIIII

"Come on" Ron said throwing a backpack at Harry. "Pack your shit; we are kidnapping you for the weekend."

Harry blinked a few times disoriented by the rude awakening. He barely registered Hermione as she moved around the room picking clothes and other essentials, dumping them in Ron's hands. "And why, pray tell, are you both kidnapping me?"

"You need a mental health weekend" said Hermione turning to face him. "I know it's been a few rough weeks and you got hit from different directions at the same time. You needed space, we gave it to you and it worked, you managed to figure out what you wanted and went for it. We are glad you, Kurt and Blaine are working together to fix things. The twins despite their good intentions created unnecessary pressure on you three and Alicia threw your balance off again."

"And you have Remus to worry about on top of everything" said Ron taking over. "You need some time out to take a breather, usually you and Luna disappear in an adventure of questionably legality and sanity, but she knows right now it would make things worse."

"Is this an intervention?" asked Harry, letting his head hit the pillow and laughing when his friends remained silent. "Oh my God, it is!"

"It's a mandatory mental health weekend" reiterated Hermione. "You think Luna would ever forgive us if we didn't let her take part in an intervention?"

"Speaking of interventions, we should have one for her, she's been…" Ron made a vague gesture.

"Oh, believe me, I know" said Hermione.

"I thought I was the only one who noticed it" said Harry nodding pensively. "I'll talk to her when we get back" he decided.

Ron shrugged, so long as it wasn't him he wouldn't complain. He carried on, putting things inside the backpack and catching what Hermione threw his way effectively. "Make your calls now Potter, we are having a technology blackout as soon as we leave."

"Sure, sounds good" he said grabbing his phone and moving to the hallway, uncaring he was only in his boxers. Hermione made a frustrated noise and threw something for him to wear.

"Don't you want to know where we are going?" asked Hermione with a raised eyebrow.

"Will I need my passport?"

"No"

"Are we going out of the state?"

"No"

"All I need to know" Harry said closing the door behind him, he hesitated for a second not knowing which number to go for. In the end he figured since Kurt would be driving Blaine was the best bet.

"Hi Harry!" Blaine answered immediately; probably concerned as to why he would be getting a call barely an hour after leaving.

"Hey, can you put me on speakerphone? Relax, nothing terrible has happened."

"Sure, give me a sec" said Blaine.

"Hey" said Kurt apprehensively.

"Hey" he said back, smiling to himself. "So, I'm calling because I'll be out of reach the rest of the weekend. Hermione and Ron are sort of kidnapping me and we have a no contact to the outside world policy for our trips unless is an emergency."

"Oh, well that sounds good" said Kurt with a hint of relief in his voice.

"Yeah, I think it's a good idea. Plus it would only be…" Blaine trailed off awkwardly.

"Fair?" asked Harry amused. He only got silence as a response. "I know you two are best friends, that's never been a secret and it doesn't make me feel jealous or left out. Ron and Hermione are my best friends and I like things that way."

"Are you sure?" asked Kurt, probably exchanging a glance with Blaine. "I don't know how I could be ok in that position if it was me."

"I guess we compartmentalize things differently" said Harry, turning around when the door opened. "It's a heavy conversation to have over the phone don't you think? We can discuss it later on, I have to go now."

"Don't do anything too stupid!"

"Couldn't even if I wanted to, Hermione will be there after all. I'll still have my phone with me but only call in case of an emergency. I'll see you on Sunday."

"Take care ok?" said Blaine.

"Same for you both," he hung up and turned around. "Hold this for me would ya?" he asked Hermione passing his phone to her. He stepped inside to wash his face and teeth before quickly dressing. He shoved his shoes on without tying them on his way out of the door and silently accepted the phone back from Hermione and the bag from Ron, effortlessly allowing them to lead the way.

"So, who wants to talk about chicks… or dudes? Hey I have a serious question, are we turning into a chick flick type group? 'Cause I can totally see Harry and myself in the roles of the evil popular girls. I mean have you seen his cheek bones and my flawless complexion? We were meant for so much more… oh my God! Plot twist! I am a lesbian and start dating the geeky girl in school. Harry put me in contact with your people, this is golden!" Ron rambled enthusiastically, making Hermione slap the back of his head in perfect synchronization with Harry elbowing him.

"He is right about my cheekbones" Harry commented casually opening the door for her.

"They are absolutely perfect" agreed Hermione easily.

"I'm so unappreciated" grumbled Ron. He smiled pleased that Harry has quickly fallen into their usual rhythm.

IIIII

"I can't believe you guys forgot to pack food" said Harry laughing while he tore a piece of beef jerky with his teeth.

"It's not our fault!" said Ron. "We usually divide stuff in three. I got the tent and the sleeping bags like I said I would."

"And I got the insect repellent, the flash lights, the compass, the water plus the water filter, the walkie-talkies, the emergency kit, contacted the rangers and packed Harry's bag!"

They stayed quiet for a minute, before Harry laughed again. "I still can't believe you forgot the food!"

"Shut up" they both hissed.

"If you let me use my phone I can get us some stuff delivered" he said reasonably. "We aren't that far we can't turn around."

"No phones!" insisted Hermione. "And we aren't going back; we are almost halfway there already. We won't stay the whole weekend, just tonight."

"Ok, but don't expect me to share my beef jerky if that's going to be your attitude" he said enjoying their resentful looks as he tore another piece.

"Technically is the twins jerky" mumbled Ron reaching for a piece; Harry tilted the bag in his direction without a word. Hermione sighed and did the same. It was probably going to be the only thing they would eat tonight.

"You are both lucky Hogwarts has such insane standards" said Harry putting the jerky away. "We had an amazing biology professor who was crazy passionate about botany."

"Can you safely identify edible plants then?" asked Hermione hopefully.

"Not only that, if we are lucky I'll be able to makes us some delicious salad for dinner. "Maybe soup if we can figure out how to cook it on the thermos."

"Harry, I am so attracted to you right now" said Ron with a dreamy sigh. "Seriously, say the word and I will do unspeakable things to you."

"It's ok with me as long as I watch" said Hermione unfazed.

"Please Hermione, like I would sleep with Ron if you weren't part of the deal" Harry said with a dirty wink.

"Hey! I take offense to that. I'll have you know I am a catch!"

"Of course dear, I'm lucky to have you" said Hermione in a patronizing manner.

They kept walking as they teased each other. The hike was pleasant and Harry was able to find them enough plants for a decent dinner. It had been a long time since the three of them had gone camping and he was already feeling more relaxed. He knew eventually the joking and small talk would lead them to the uncomfortable topics he was avoiding but for now things were pleasantly simple.

IIIII

"Hey Harry" said Ron when they had set up camp and where spread around the fire. "Can I ask what do you want out of a relationship with Kurt and Blaine?"

Harry blinked at him confused. "What do you mean?"

"Is it something you want to pursue because you have feelings for them or do you actually see yourself having a future with them?" he clarified.

"To be honest, they feel like they could be the real deal for me" said Harry after a moment. "A relationship like the one we want will always involve a lot of hard work. I know we could be great together. I have feelings for them and they will only get deeper but I'm trying to be realistic… I do hope that if we make it work, then yeah, they might be who I am meant to spend my life with."

"The fact you know it won't be easy and are still willing to put in the effort definitely means something" said Hermione with a small pleased smile. "I'm glad to see you aren't rushing into things."

"I just want to make sure we are on the same page before things turn serious" said Harry staring at the fire with a peaceful expression. "I have the bad habit of falling fast and hard, rushing things and assuming the other person is right there with me. Even now, I know we need to take it slow…"

"But?" prompted Hermione.

"But I want to fast forward to the point where we are happy and in love. I want things to be fun and easy. I desperately want to skip this building foundations period and just get on with it" he sighed miserably and shrugged. "It'll take time, we'll get there. I just wish it didn't have to be this way."

"You'll get there" said Ron repeating the words back to him with more optimism. "Sure you have to work for it, we all know that, but I think the three of you will be fine as long as you are open about things and work together. You know what screwed you over before so you can prevent it from happening again."

"I guess" said Harry with a shrug that was half acceptance half resignation.

"Harry, I know what I'm about to say might not be well received but I really think you should consider having a few sessions with Dr. Parzen" said Hermione gently. "I appreciate how hard it is for you to open up, even to us, but a third unbiased party might be better at giving you some perspective."

Harry didn't say anything, just poked at the fire distractedly with a stick. "I can't really talk to her, not for real."

"Why not?" asked Ron.

"She is obliged to report to the school if she feels I am not coping well as an emancipated minor" explained Harry with a shrug. "The school might try to revoke some liberties, those I can easily get around."

"Are you worried they might try to take away your emancipation?" asked Hermione with a frown.

"Nah, first of all remember I am here on a visa so the US government would have no jurisdiction over me. If they were to contact British authorities I have an army of highly qualified lawyers on retainer to take my case. It's still a hassle I don't want in my life. Besides it would appear on my record and it could affect things when I decide to take over the company."

"Jesus" said Ron rubbing his temples. "Your life its way too complicated mate."

"Ok, I admit those are all very valid points but I maintain a visit to Dr. Parzen would be beneficial. There's a lot you can talk about in a session without compromising yourself; Remus, your building relationship and Alicia just to name the big ones. Don't pretend you aren't smart and manipulative enough to spin things to keep her from calling the school."

"I can't promise anything but I'll think about it ok?" said Harry with a dejected sigh.

"Very well" said Hermione satisfied.

"I think that's enough serious topics for now" said Ron shifting to reach for his bag. "It's S'mores time!"

"Are you fucking kidding me you wanker?" Harry said when he saw him take out the marshmallows.

"I figured picking plants would relax you" said Ron in an uppity tone. "I was right so I make no apologies."

"I am going to kill you" said Hermione calmly.

They didn't kill him no matter how tempting.

They did wake up early enough to throw him into the lake.

IIIII

When Monday came around, Harry felt…. it wasn't relaxed. He was struggling to put into words exactly how he was feeling but it was a good feeling. He didn't see Kurt or Blaine until lunch time. He did have an encounter with the twins beforehand.

"Alicia has agreed to enter rehab" said George without wasting time for small talk, not sure if Harry would want to talk about it or even talk to them for that matter.

"Good for her" said Harry stoically but sincerely.

"Angelina wanted to talk to you, she tried calling."

"Mandatory mental health weekend" said Harry with a shrug. The twins had never liked camping so neither was particularly upset at being left out. "I'll text her after class."

"Right, well she just wanted to thank you for getting her cousin to the hospital. Also that she thinks you did the right thing" summarized Fred.

"Huh" he said faking surprise. "Fascinating, I rarely encounter positive endorsement for my life choices."

"For how long will you be making sarcastic comments at our expense?" asked Fred with a resigned air.

"I don't know, depends how long the wound on my back takes to heal" said Harry with a smirk.

"You are a horrible person" said George fondly.

"At least I never tried to sabotage your relationships" he said with a contemplating air.

"All joking aside…"

"Are we good?"

They nervously waited for him to reply.

"Yeah" decided Harry after a moment of contemplation. "I can only focus my energy on repairing my relationship with two boys at a time. I'll give you a pass on the resentment and silent treatment this time. You will have to figure out how to make amends to Kurt and Blaine. Sounds good?"

"Deal" the twins said after exchanging a pleased look.

IIIII

"I'm going to come clean to my dad" said Kurt as soon as Harry sat down at their table.

"Really?" asked Harry surprised.

"Yeah, this weekend… it was so awkward and I had to keep lying and pretending to make sure he wasn't suspicious or worried. I don't think it would be possible to even explain what we are trying to be if I don't give him all the facts."

"For what's worth it, I think that's the right thing to do" said Blaine.

"Yeah, me too" agreed Kurt. Harry nodded but wouldn't offer his own opinion until they were alone.

"So, what did you do during your weekend?"

"Hiking, camping, stargazing, nothing too exciting" said Harry dismissively. "I really needed it to be honest."

"You do seem more… like yourself I guess" said Blaine thrilled.

"Guess you're right" he admitted. It was a pretty accurate description. He felt more centered after the weekend away, comfortable in his own skin again. "What about you? Your weekend must have been a lot more interesting."

While the two of them caught him up to what they've been doing, he let himself be comforted by the easiness between them.

IIIII

The next day Harry made a difficult decision.

IIIII

"It's been a while" she gave him a look that showed she was displeased by his less than stellar attendance. Harry smiled tightly. He liked that her professionalism kept her from truly expressing her disapproval.

"Hope you don't hold it against me if I wish it had been longer."

They remained in silence for a minute.

"Dalton has been in touch" she said glancing at her notes. "Things seem to have been hectic lately for you; would you like to catch me up?"

"A lot has happened" admitted Harry leaning forwards. "First, Ginny and I had a talk and are tentatively rebuilding our friendship so that's something" said Harry hoping that showing some progress would make his life seem more balanced.

"That's good to hear" she said smiling at him proudly.

"I started dating a new transfer student and things between us seemed to be pretty solid for a while. Then we broke up because he kissed his best friend who I was also starting to develop feelings for. I kind of went back to my less than stellar copping mechanism, but I added smoking to the list."

"Smoking?" she said with surprise.

"Yeah, out of everything that felt like the worst thing I've done to myself. I stopped already. Dalton probably mentioned Remus; he had a scare a few weeks back. He's mostly ok now but they are keeping a very close eye on him. I get the impression they are expecting him to have a real setback at some point" said Harry forlornly. "I spent time with Teddy. It was kind of bittersweet."

"In what way?" she prompted when he trailed off.

"I argued with his mom, told her that I disagreed with keeping him in the dark all the time. If Remus dies, I don't want to be the one responsible for robbing him of his last chance to say goodbye. Remus and Tonks talked and agreed to tell Teddy, he seems to be handling better than they expected."

He carried on without pausing. "I went to Hogwarts around Christmas. Got called out for being a shitty friend to the people I left there, we talked and I apologized. I'm keeping in touch with them regularly now. I didn't realize how much I've missed them…"

"Harry, I'm going to stop you for a moment" she said closing her folder and putting it aside. "It is clear that a lot has happened since we last saw each other and you are only scratching at the surface. I definitely want to hear more about both trips. It's a big step for you to have gone to Hogwarts and reconciled with your friends. However I want to go back to this boy you dated and the friend."

"Kurt and Blaine" he offered reluctantly. Of course she would focus on that.

"How are things between you three? Have you spoken to them at all?"

"I was angry and hurt after it happened. Then Remus thing came and it gave me an excuse to get away. I broke up with Kurt when I came back but at the same time they both confessed they loved me and each other. They proposed we should all get together. At that point it was the worst thing they could have asked me. It felt like loving me was going to be a get out of jail pass and an excuse to justify what they did…"

He carried on explaining everything the breakup made him feel and the interactions that followed. He talked about being too exhausted to stay angry; finally allowing himself to reach out to them. How they were trying to work things out and how scared he was they might fail. Worse, what if they succeed and it didn't feel right in the end?

"I am very pleased with you Harry" said Dr. Parzen candidly. "You have never opened up so quickly in one of our sessions. I can tell these boys mean a lot to you."

"They do" he agreed feeling his throat dry after talking for so long.

"I am going to ask you something and I want you to answer as honestly as you can" she paused until their eyes met. "Have you truly forgiven them?"

"Yes" replied Harry firmly. "I wouldn't be able to talk to them otherwise, much less try to date them."

"That's good and very important. Cheating devastates relationships, if you choose to continue a relationship after the fact the first step on your side is to forgive. You decided to do it already and that's amazing Harry. I know that with your history it couldn't have been easier. I'm proud of you."

"Thanks I guess" he said ducking his head to avoid her penetrating gaze. "What comes next? You said forgiveness was the first step."

"The next step is release, letting go of the pain they caused you."

"Isn't that the same thing as forgiving?"

"No. I want you to understand something Harry. Not forgiving someone you care about turns into negative emotions; bitterness, resentment, anger, etc. Those negative feelings do more harm to you than anyone else. Forgiving is a change in feelings and attitude towards them and the transgression they have caused you. Forgiving Kurt and Blaine didn't mean you would reconcile with them, you just choose to wait until you were ready to reconcile to do it."

"I get it" said Harry nodding thoughtfully. "I forgave Ginny but cut her out of my life because what she did still hurt too much to actually move past it."

"Exactly and as I mentioned, letting go of the pain and starting anew is the second step. Do you feel like you are there?"

"I am working on it" he admitted. "It gets easier the more I talk to them but it has less to do with them and more with me having gone through this twice before."

"It's good that you acknowledge you aren't ready, which brings me to the next step. Communicate. Keep talking to them about what bothers you and make sure to be open to what they have to say to you as well. Be clear on what you expect from each other and your boundaries. Be willing to compromise when the occasion calls for it. Every relationship depends on good communication to survive, more so with a polyamorous relationship."

"We have talked a lot about our communication problems" admitted Harry. "We are all aware that none of us is particularly good at talking, but we are getting better."

"It seems to me that the three of you are heading in the right direction" she said writing down something in her mostly forgotten notebook. "You also have made head way into the last step; restoration. It's the longest one and will remain a work in progress. Part of it is rebuilding trust in both of them. Trust is earned day by day. It won't be restored with an apology, no matter how heartfelt. Give it time and be patient."

"Forgive, release, communicate and restore" listed Harry as an affirmations of sorts.

"You know the steps now and your homework before our next session is to share what you learned today with them."

"I can do that" accepted Harry easily. She gave him a fond smile, probably knowing he had already been planning to do just that.

"Are you going to tell them you are in therapy?"

"Probably, I don't see why I shouldn't" he said with a shrug. "I don't mind if people know I am in therapy. That has never bothered me."

She nodded and made an annotation to ask why he had avoided their sessions later on. She had the feeling she would be seeing him more often now.

"Last notes before we leave this topic. It's important for you to reconnect and reclaim the relationship you had with Kurt. However keep in mind it will be undergoing changes to include Blaine and speaking of him, remember you are building a new relationship with him. It will be different from what you have with Kurt and have to work to move from friends to partners… I feel we have made good progress here today, what do you think?"

"It's been cathartic" admitted Harry. "I've talked to people about all this as it was happening but recounting it from the beginning till now was good; gave me perspective."

"I am pleased to hear that and I hope you agree to come regularly again. Does once a week sound good to you?"

"Yeah it does, I'll make an effort to actually come to all my sessions this time" he promised.

"I'll hold you to that. Before our time is up, anything else you would like to talk about today?"

"Yeah, it's about Kurt and his dad…"

IIIII

He followed her advice to talk to Kurt that night.

IIIII

For the second time in his life Kurt was genuinely afraid of talking to his father.

When he came out he had been beyond scared. All the stories about gay kids being kicked out of their houses or ruining their relationship with their parents had him terrified of what his dad would do. He liked to think he knew better now. He should believe that his dad would support him unconditionally. He had until now. It was just hard to picture how he would react to the whole situation.

He was going to be so disappointed in Kurt.

"You don't have to be here" said Kurt staring at his house.

"I do" said Harry, looking far too composed for his liking. "He needs to know I have your back and that we are working to solve our issues. I am serious about Blaine and you. It will take more than an uncomfortable conversation to scare me away."

"Blaine is going to be hurt we didn't include him" pointed out Kurt hoping to delay the confrontation for longer.

"He knows" said Harry and smirked at Kurt's surprised face, on cue Blaine's car parked behind him.

"Harry!" objected Kurt.

"Sorry love" said Harry out of habit. "I took an executive decision. He deserves to be here too Kurt, you can't shun either of us out. Now go, tell him he's welcome to make his case with us. It'll be nice to see him once more before my execution."

"Nobody is getting killed here today" said Kurt rolling his eyes.

"You? Of course not, you're his kid and your dad adores you" said Harry smirking. "Blaine? He has the whole dapper thing going on. Plus he's short and cuddly, like a puppy. He'd give him those big wobbly eyes and Burt would let it go. Me? I am the punk who corrupted you both."

"You have a gift with words" said Kurt sarcastically.

"Glad you noticed it. Seriously, go talk to Blaine. He thinks you don't want him here."

"It's not that I didn't want him here, it just feels like I'm ambushing my dad..."

"It's him you need to explain yourself to" said Harry reasonably.

"Right, of course, I'll go… say hi" muttered Kurt awkwardly, opening his door and exiting. He made his way to Blaine's car while Harry took a deep breath.

"Gryffindor courage don't fail me now" he whispered to himself like a prayer. He needed to keep it together for Kurt and Blaine. Both were already nervous enough without him adding his own apprehensions to the mix.

He got out and smiled when he noticed Blaine and Kurt holding hands. Their grips tight and desperate, almost afraid somebody would rip them apart. He met their eyes and once again realized he was the one who could rip them apart. Telling Burt would make things more real. It would be actual progression into the future relationship they wanted.

The three of them shared an all or nothing mentality. Without Harry, Kurt and Blaine would separate too despite how they felt about each other. It would be completely out of their hands and he understood because he was in the same situation. He couldn't be with just one; not now that he knew he could have had them both.

It just wasn't possible.

"Let's go" said Harry gently, smiling at them reassuringly. "Remember to hit the ground when he gets his shotgun out."

"He keeps it locked in the garage, you'll have plenty of time to run" said Kurt absently.

Blaine chuckled and stopped when neither of them joined. "Wait! Are you serious?"

"I saw it" said Harry smiling. "He was cleaning it on his office when I was picking Kurt at the garage once; never said anything. He just glared at me trying to make me sweat."

"Did you?" asked Kurt with a chuckle.

"Nah" shrugged Harry. "I was polite to a painful degree, talked about the weather and asked about his American football team" he added when they stared at him expectantly. This made both of them laugh which worked towards his plan of getting them to loosen up. "He finally gave up and told Kurt I had arrived. He seemed disappointed."

"Let's hope he didn't bring it home" said Blaine nervously. "I am not comfortable with guns. My grandfather is in the NRA and he always wanted to teach me. I just can't. I see one and immediately think of Bambi and his poor mom."

"I can't see Bambi, it just breaks my heart" admitted Kurt.

"Don't worry Blaine" said Harry coming close enough to bump shoulders gently. "Kurt's dad or not I won't let anybody threaten you with a gun, even passive aggressively... and we'll put a ban on Bambi in our dorm."

"Our knight in shiny armor" said Blaine rolling his eyes; he noticeably relaxed none the less. His eyes shined pleased at Harry's promise.

"Kurt?" asked a voice from the porch and Kurt jumped startled.

"Finn!" said Kurt relieved and moved towards his stepbrother.

"You're telling them tonight?" asked Finn, glancing at Blaine and Harry awkwardly. "Mom went out to buy groceries and Burt is still at the garage."

"Thanks for letting me know and… yes, we're telling them tonight" said Kurt, feeling relieved he had an hour more to figure out what to say.

"Everything?" asked Finn shifting from one foot to the other.

"I don't know yet" said Kurt biting the inside of his cheek. "Finn?"

"Yeah?"

"I just… I never thanked you for… for having my back during all of this" said Kurt staring up at him. "I know cheating is a sensible topic for you but you… you had my back, even when I was the one in the wrong so thanks for being there for me."

"We're brothers Kurt" said Finn smiling proudly. "I know I messed up a lot of times when it came to us, and that I haven't always been a good brother or friend, but I am here now. For anything you need."

Kurt smiled and they hugged each other.

"Do you want me to stay or disappear?" asked Finn when they separated.

Kurt turned to see Harry and Blaine talking with each other, deep in conversation.

"Thanks Finn" he said smiling softly. "I got enough back up and it might be easier with less people involved."

"Alright then" said Finn. "I'm going to Qui… Puck's!"

"Say hi to Quinn" Kurt said laughing. Finn gave him a guilty look. "No judgment from me."

Finn nodded thankful and stared at Kurt with a frown. "Do you think Rachel and Quinn…"

"Never going to happen" said Kurt immediately.

"But it seems to be working for you!"

"Finn, look at me while I say this" said Kurt patiently. "The three of us have the same feelings for each other. Things don't revolve around one person and we aren't competing for each other's attention. Rachel and Quinn have improved their interactions with each other a lot thanks to Glee, but they aren't the type of people who would be willing to share… it's just my opinion, you can ask if you want but don't expect either of them to take it very well."

Finn shot Harry a look and then turned to Kurt. "He's fine with this right? I mean… he's ok with Blaine and you and…"

"He's ok" said Kurt giving him a reassuring look. He could tell Finn was still considering asking Quinn and Rachel if they could somehow work things out and decided to take a different approach.

"Besides can you imagine what it will be like for Harry to have two high maintenance boyfriends? To remember two favorites of everything, take me shopping and Blaine to American football games he doesn't care for, make sure he makes both of us feel appreciated and happy, and that when we fight he doesn't take one side."

"Blaine's high maintenance?" asked Finn surprised.

"Like you have no idea" said Kurt laughing. "I know he doesn't seem so but he gets really bitchy if he doesn't get coffee in the morning. He also needs constant attention and don't get me started on his hair products… it wouldn't bother me as much if he at least used the right ones! But every time I try to correct him he gets offended."

"What's this I hear about my hair products?" asked Blaine bouncing towards them and staring at Kurt defiantly.

"I'm talking about how you are killing your gorgeous hair with all that gel" said Kurt immediately.

"Because all the hairspray is doing wonders to yours" said Blaine sarcastically, narrowing his eyes.

"Excuse you!" snapped Kurt. "I only use the best and I recently switched to organic hair spray."

"That's a complete lie" said Blaine crossing his arms. "I know you hate how organic hair spray makes your hair smell. You just keep it in your dresser so you can be one of those people."

"Those people?" asked Kurt raising himself to his full height. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Kurt, Blaine" said Harry placing a hand on the small of their backs. "Why don't you get in and put the TV or something?"

Kurt and Blaine paused, turning to Harry and giving him looks of annoyance. Finn shivered. He was very familiar with Kurt's bitch please face but he was completely unprepared to see Blaine's. He usually looked so proper and… what was the word Rachel used to describe him? He had never seen him and Kurt arguing like this.

Harry stood his ground, looking at both of them and raising an eyebrow in respond. Both of them seemed to hold themselves tense for a second, before relaxing and nodding to Harry's suggestion. Almost in sync, they reached for each other's hand and walked past Finn.

"It was nice seeing you Finn!" called Blaine cheerfully from the inside… dapper! That was the word Rachel had used when describing Blaine to them. He wasn't 100% sure what it meant, but he was pretty sure Blaine hadn't been behaving dapperly when he and Kurt had been arguing about hair products.

"Dude" said Finn to Harry. "Are they always like that?"

"Worse" Harry said smiling.

"I thought they were like best friends… aren't they supposed to like each other?" asked Finn confused.

"They do" said Harry laughing. "They are both very stubborn people and they love to argue for the sake of arguing. At the beginning they were just trying too hard to be perfect. Now that they got comfortable enough to be themselves, they just… well, they like to be very vocal about their opinions."

"Right" said Finn slightly less confused.

"They act like an old married couple" simplified Harry.

"Oh! I can totally see that!" said Finn grinning.

"We are not putting on a movie!" said Blaine loudly.

"I wanna see a movie!" said Kurt back.

Harry rolled his eyes fondly. "They do that a lot when they are nervous; arguing with each other takes their mind off of things."

"You're a brave man" Finn said when he saw Kurt and Blaine's murderous expressions. He wanted nothing more than to be away from the tense aura in the room. Now that he thought about it, Rachel and Quinn in the same relationship was a massively bad idea. Like the worst idea ever. He shivered, scary thoughts.

"I am just a fool in love" said Harry more to himself than the tall boy and entered the house.

Finn watched with nothing short of awe, as Harry got himself in between them and quickly calmed them down. He noticed Kurt and Blaine smiled to themselves afterwards and couldn't help wondering if their arguing was just a cry for attention. Like what Kurt had described Rachel or Quinn did when they behaved extra difficult. He had never seen Kurt and Blaine arguing like this. He wondered if they would still do it without Harry around.

He got a text from Quinn that distracted him from what he was thinking. He quickly grabbed his keys.

"Kurt, can I borrow your car?" asked Finn crossing his fingers. Kurt tensed and frowned before his shoulders dropped in resignation.

"Alright, but just this once and you are not allowed food inside the car" he warned. "Also, if I see a single scratch on my baby you will rue the day you were born!"

"Awesome! Thanks man!" yelled Finn grabbing the keys and rushing outside.

IIIII

In hindsight things could have gone a lot better.

For starters, Harry and Blaine could have chosen a better moment to have a meaningful conversation that made it look like they were about to kiss while Kurt wasn't in the room.

Second, Kurt could have eased his dad into the concept of the three of them. Instead he let his nerves get the best of him, causing him to blurt out the general idea of the three of them dating, with no explanation whatsoever.

IIIII

Burt tried processing the words over and over again before he reacted.

"What did you say to him!?" he asked pushing Harry against the wall like he had done to Karofsky once before.

Harry winced and raised his hands in a peaceful gesture. "I didn't…"

"This was your idea, wasn't it!?" asked Burt loudly.

"Dad no!" gasped Kurt horrified and tried to separate them.

"No Kurt! I knew there was something going on with you lately" he said outraged. "He's clearly been pressuring you! What did he do? Did he give you an ultimatum? Did you!?" he asked at Harry with a furious voice.

"Dad!" yelled Kurt while Blaine joined him in his attempts to get him to let go of Harry.

"I am going to call that school of yours and get him expelled" said Burt letting go of Harry abruptly and starting to pace the room. "You've been acting weird for a while and after everything, I should have known to do more. I should know better by now! This ends now Kurt, he's a bad influence and you deserve better!"

Harry didn't say anything to defend himself. His head was hurting, after having accidentally slammed it against the wall. It had been instinctual to try to get some distance from Burt and he miscalculated how far away the wall was. He knew the man needed to vent his anger. He was fine as long as he remained the target. He had taken worse. Kurt was almost crying at this point. He stared at Harry, passively letting himself be blamed for everything and he felt sick.

"Dad" said Kurt pleadingly. "It's not Harry's fault. It's mine."

"Like hell it is!"

"I cheated on him!" yelled Kurt finally, letting everything he's been bottling burst out. "I cheated on him with Blaine and he broke up with me. I didn't tell you. I was ashamed and I wanted to fix things… he… he didn't do anything! He was the perfect boyfriend and I screw that up dad. Me, not him! And I was the one who brought up the idea in the first place!"

Burt and the three boys froze on their spot, not sure how to react. Burt's eyes flickered towards Blaine for confirmation, who was guiltily staring at his shoes. He frowned, opening his mouth to say something but not knowing where to start.

Harry stepped in front of Blaine and walked backwards, with the younger boy instinctively following his lead. He stopped once he had put some distance between them and Burt. He remained standing slightly behind Kurt. The perfect spot between them; Burt noticed that Harry made sure Blaine remained unseen and was alert, almost ready to take Kurt out of harm's way.

It was clear he had been ok being the scapegoat, going as far as allowing Burt to push him against the wall without resistance. However, his tense body language made it clear he would go ballistic if he tried to lay a single finger on Blaine, or God forbidden, Kurt.

He was really confused now. Kurt, his son who was too embarrassed to even say the word sex, had confessed to cheating on his boyfriend with his best friend. Yet, Harry seemed equally concerned with both of them. He dropped on his couch and stared at Kurt.

"Start at the beginning" he ordered. Kurt swallowed, before nodding and taking a seat on the big sofa. He threw a pleading look at Harry, which he understood completely.

"We'll wait in the kitchen" said Harry and ushered Blaine inside, his body always angled in a protective manner. Once they closed the door behind them, Blaine stared at him with a no nonsense face.

"Sit" he ordered.

Harry blinked at the tone but complied.

Blaine looked around for a clean towel and dampened it. With careful movements he pressed the towel against the wound he had spotted.

"Must have been the picture frame" commented Harry, with his attention completely focused on the other room. First sign of trouble he'd be there.

"It's bleeding a lot" said Blaine frowning and carrying on with his task. "I am making sure there's no glass or that you won't need stitches. It doesn't look good."

"Head injuries never do" said Harry calmly.

"He shouldn't have done that" said Blaine starting to get angry.

"Hey" said Harry grabbing his arm and forcing him to move in front of him. "None of that ok? Burt had every right to get upset, in his eyes his son went from happy to depressed and withdrawn to coming up with this idea, all after being bullied and having his life threatened at his previous school. He could have handled it better, but if I was a father and that was my son or daughter, I would probably react worse. He is listening to Kurt now and I honestly think he will accept us once he understands we love Kurt and nobody is pressuring him or trying to take advantage of him. It didn't help we looked like we had been fooling around when he came in."

Blaine pursed his lips together displeased. He sighed and nodded, returning to check Harry's wound. "Kurt shouldn't have just blurted it out. And he should have told him about the cheating when it happened. Burt would have supported him no matter what."

"I don't disagree with you but this is still Kurt's dad. It was and is Kurt's decision what he shares with him. Our job is to support him" Harry said firmly and winced at the fingers poking the wound.

"Ok, we need to take you to a doctor" said Blaine. "There's a very nasty gash and the bleeding is getting worse" Harry was going to protest, he really was, but Blaine got in front of him with his arms crossed. "You always take point on how to handle situations that make Kurt and me panic. It's great that you are can think on your feet so fast, but let me repay the favor this time. I am your future boyfriend and as your future boyfriend it's my call whenever or not you go to the hospital. So as you would say, I am making an executive decision and we are going. We both know if it was me with the head wound, you would have dragged us there already."

Harry sighed and glanced at the kitchen entrance. He didn't want to interrupt Kurt and his dad, not when they were talking so seriously. The fact he was injured would only make Kurt freak out, more so because it was his dad who had injured him in the first place.

"Alright, first wash your hands and then go out there and tell Kurt…" started to say Harry.

"No" said Blaine with a hysterical tone slipping into his voice. "You didn't let Kurt keep me out and I won't let you keep him out."

Harry smiled, trying not to be condescending. Blaine was horrible at crisis management. "And tell Kurt where we are going, that is not too bad and not to freak out."

Blaine blushed. "Oh…"

"Don't worry sweetie, I like it when you mix things up and go all commanding on me" laughed Harry giving him a leer.

Blaine blushed even harder and glared. He walked to the sink, washed his hands and dried them on his jeans. "Keep that towel on your head" he snapped when he saw he wasn't doing it already.

Harry leered again. "Sir, yes sir!"

"You need professional help" said Blaine trying not to laugh.

"Don't get me started on what I need" Harry said softly and with that voice that drove them up the walls.

Blaine refrained from hissing like an offended cat; that was Kurt's move. He sighed. "Can you stop that? I am really worried."

"I know you are, but being annoyed or angry at me is something you handle better than being worried" said Harry smiling.

"You are unbelievable" said Blaine, noticing the edge of panic that had been threatening to take over had disappeared. His eyes softened. "You should worry more about yourself."

"I got you and Kurt to cover that… and Hermione" said Harry with a shrug.

Blaine exited; Kurt and Burt were still talking quietly, but stopped when they spotted Blaine.

"Uh… I… Harry kind of needs to go to the hospital" said Blaine, not looking at Burt. Kurt stood up in a flash a concerned expression taking over his features. His eyes drifted to where Harry had been pushed against the wall and immediately spotted the blood and the cracked frame.

He was bolting towards the kitchen a second after, where Harry had the bloody towel against his head. His eyes watered and his lip quivered.

"I am so sorry" he whispered afraid Harry would be mad at him.

"It's not your fault" said Harry.

"It is" Kurt said getting close enough to pry the soaked towel away from him and check the injury himself. "Shit, shit, shit… I should have talked to my dad, shit… he… shit, he did this… dad did this."

Kurt looked more disturbed by that realization than by the blood. Paling and looking on the verge of either throwing up or fainting. Harry snapped his fingers in front of his face a few times. It made Kurt jump into action, getting a clean towel with ice and fussing over Harry. His boyfriend allowed it, knowing it was the only thing keeping him from a full on break down. Blaine had been doing a better job at keeping it together before. However he was feeding on Kurt's emotions and was rapidly moving towards panic too.

It would never seize to amaze him how Kurt and Blaine had evolved from friends, to best friends and then something else entirely. He didn't want to think of them as the same person, because they weren't. Not even close, but they had bonded in a way he was still trying to comprehend. They were completely and absolutely open with each other, no secrets, no lying, no hiding anything and they could reach the other's emotions better than their own. Hell, Harry was pretty sure they could feel them sometimes. Just like Blaine was doing right now.

It seemed like once it was appropriate for them to be close in all levels, they had jumped at the chance to make up for all the time they hadn't had someone that understood them in their lives. At the beginning he had been puzzled and envious that he was being left out, but the more he looked at how they interacted with each other, the more he realized he just couldn't be with them in that way. Sure, he was starting to open up and he wouldn't lie to them, but he didn't know how to combine the role of best friend and boyfriend. He needed to separate them or he wouldn't be able to make things work out.

"I didn't know we would have guests today!" said Carole chirpily from the entrance. "I'm sorry I am so late. I'll start dinner straight away."

"Let's go" said Harry when Blaine and Kurt seemed too far gone to be rational. He passed Burt without looking at him. "Carole, could you please drive me to the hospital? I'm afraid Blaine and Kurt are a bit in shock and I don't feel they should be driving."

Carole dropped the groceries on the table and moved to examine him. "What happened?"

Harry shifted away from her out of instinct.

He didn't do motherly concern.

"I need a few stitches, nothing to worry about" he said and walked past her, Kurt and Blaine quickly going after him. Kurt couldn't look at his father and when the man reached out to grab his arm, he yanked it back. He glared at him for good measure. How could his dad have done something so awful?

"What happened?" asked Carole while picking up her keys; she gave a few steps to the doorway, torn between wanting to be there for Burt and the kids. Burt dropped on the dining chair and covered his face. She sighed. "We'll talk more when I get back."

The three teenagers were in the back, with Harry in the middle, stoically allowing Blaine and Kurt to fuss over him. Any attempt from her to get what happened out of them ended up with silence from Harry and Blaine, followed by a broken look from Kurt. She was also confused by the new way they interacted with each other, something was going on and she didn't like not knowing.

"What's your… oh Carole!" said the nurse and her tired expression turning concerned. "Everything's ok? It's not Finn is it?"

"No, this is Harry" said Carole. "My stepson's boyfriend, he needs some stitches. He doesn't seem to have a concussion so I don't think a CT would be necessary."

"I'll see who can come over right now" she said picking up the phone.

"If you don't mind I'll start cleaning up the wound" said Carole receiving a nod from the nurse at the desk.

Harry was moved towards the emergency rooms, while Kurt and Blaine had to be forced to go into the waiting area. It was more for the sake of getting them away from the blood enough to calm down. Carole went with Harry, but the moment he sat on a gurney he smiled tightly.

"Could… could I get another nurse?" he asked as politely as he could. "I don't feel very comfortable with my boyfriend's stepmom here."

"Oh" she said a little disappointed. "Sure sweetie, no problem. I'll be waiting with Kurt and Blaine ok?"

The doctor arrived with enough time to hear the exchange. He remained silent until Carole was gone.

"So, wanna tell me what happened?" he asked after examining his head, applying local anesthesia and starting to work.

Harry forced himself not to react. He was still technically a minor, even if he was emancipated. If he told the truth, Burt could get into trouble and he just couldn't do that. So he did what he did best in this kind of situations.

"It's… it's really embarrassing" said Harry pretending to look away. "Like… really, really bad and Carole can't know, ever."

The doctor had moved from wary to curious. The heaviness in the room eased a little. "If you tell me, I am bounded by doctor-patient confidentiality and won't be able to tell anybody without getting in trouble. I do need to know so…"

He bit his lips, looked away in faked consideration. "You won't put it in the chart? Like… she won't find out by accident?"

"Not unless it's something serious" he said as amicably as possible.

Harry sighed, seemingly coming to a decision. "Ok… Kurt is Carole's stepson and he's my boyfriend and well… we… uh… we were in his room, and the house was alone and we rarely get to be alone and I swear we were just making out! We hadn't done much really and it's cool, but… please don't tell Carole we were alone" said Harry pulling his best rambling Ron. The doctor nodded, clearly amused. "Anyways, we were… we… bloody hell" muttered Harry and fiddled with his sleeve. "We were making out and Kurt was against the wall, but then we kind of… eh, rolled? Yeah, I guess and…" Harry looked away. "It's really stupid, but then we were doing… uh… more, he did… he well, he did… something and my head kind of snapped backwards, because it was really good and there was a frame behind me, and it was awesome, and totally worth the trip here, but… yeah…"

The doctor was biting his lip not to laugh, he could tell. He had sold his story and it explained why he hadn't wanted Carole anywhere near him. His acting had been flawless and seriously, there was no better excuse than hormones and teenagers to sell a stupid story. He wrapped it up by covering his face with his hands and groaning.

"Please don't tell Carole, she will tell Burt, Kurt's dad and I will be a dead man, killed for real, like, he would get his shotgun and hunt me down… or I don't know, but it won't be pretty" he gave him pleading eyes. "I mean, I think I suffered enough, this is karma, I know it."

The doctor laughed a little and clapped Harry's shoulder in a friendly manner. "I won't say a word, when I was your age I sprained my ankle trying to climb to my girlfriend's room. It's part of being a teenager, just be more careful and you know, always use protection."

Harry smiled shakily. "Thanks"

"Now, normally we wouldn't do a CT for a bump like this, but looking at your file it seems you have a history of head injuries?"

Harry sighed.

IIIII

While Carole handed in his paperwork, Harry sat next to Kurt and grabbed his hand.

"What did you say to them?" asked Kurt staring at the floor. He had been half expected cops to come talk to Harry or a social worker, or something like he had seen on TV shows.

"I told them we were making out in your room, things got heated and I banged my head against a picture frame" said Harry simply.

Kurt's head snapped up, looking at him in shock. "So my dad won't be in trouble?" he asked in a whisper, not wanting to believe it.

"No" said Harry firmly. He brought Kurt's hand to his lips and kissed it. "I asked Hermione to pick me up. I'll stay at hers… I don't think it's wise for me to go back there. Blaine, I don't know what you want to do. You are welcome to come along if you prefer."

"I think I'll…" Blaine hesitated. He wanted to be there for Harry, but he would have Hermione and possibly Ron. He couldn't leave Kurt alone!

"I won't stay" said Kurt remembering his anger. "I'll go with you; I can't go back. Not right now when I am so angry."

"Ok" said Harry simply. "As long as you deal with this eventually…"

"Alright boys" said Carole. "We are all set to go."

"Thanks Carole" said Harry smiling politely at her. "I asked one of my friends to pick us up, we'll stay with…"

"Absolutely not" said Carole appalled. "You will come stay with us young man, the three of you and…"

Harry stopped her by calmly raising his hand, immune to her tone of voice. "Ma'am, with all due respect you are not my legal guardian. I say this with the highest regard and again, I apologize if I sound disrespectful, because it's the last thing I would want to be towards you but you have no say over me… or Blaine for that matter. I think once you learn about the circumstances that landed us here, you will understand why we decided not to go back today."

Carole's mouth was hanging slightly open, completely taken aback by Harry's defiant and mature way of telling her she had no business getting involved with his life. She was used to teenage irrationality, yelling and mood swings, this polite way of saying thanks, but no thanks was uncharted territory. Kurt and Blaine had an expression similar to her own in their faces, unable to comprehend what Harry had just done.

"Harry" said a girl rushing towards them with a relieved expression. She was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. She reached them and immediately examined Harry's head. "What happened? Are you ok?"

"Yeah" said Harry allowing her to worry over him with more ease and less forced passiveness that he had for Kurt and Blaine. "Just a few stitches, I'll explain in the car."

"I see" she said and looked at him for other injuries. "You really need to stop getting hit in the head."

Harry smiled with a sparkle in his eyes. "I'll do my best."

She sighed. "That's all I ask. Did they give you anything for the pain? Or antibiotics?"

"Got it all cover, let's just get out of here" said Harry standing up.

"Ron's still in the car, probably looking for a parking place. I'll have him come around" she said pulling her phone out.

Carole watched this dumbfounded. When she had tried to reach out to Harry like this, he had acted like a stray animal, jumping away and ready for a fight. He hadn't lowered his defenses since then. He had allowed Blaine and Kurt to be worried in an acquiescent manner, but from this girl he received the concern like it was normal and expected. She would have worried something was going on, if it wasn't for the complete platonic way they treated each other and the unconcerned attitude from Kurt.

If anything Kurt and Blaine looked relieved to see her breaking past the wall of controlled emotions.

"Alright, have you been discharged?" asked the girl.

"I have" said Harry standing up, his two shadows imitating him and hovering, ready to catch him if he were to fall. He threw them a look before turning to Carole. "Thanks for driving me… and don't be too hard on Mr. Hummel, it's not completely his fault and I don't take it personally."

Kurt grabbed his hand and started to pull him away, unable to keep hearing stuff like that coming out of his mouth. A while after they had drove away from the hospital, once Ron had given up on making conversation, Blaine decided to intervene and break the silence.

"Don't you think… that you were a little harsh with Carole?" he asked quietly.

Harry tensed, as did Hermione and Ron from the front. They glanced at their friend concerned but he had closed off. Blaine and Kurt exchanged a look, not sure what had prompted their boyfriend to retreat so badly.

"I don't like adults fussing over me" Harry said in a harsh tone, almost bitingly and dripping with bitterness. "At all" Kurt and Blaine would later talk about the guilt Ron had started projecting after that. In that moment they had been shocked by the defensiveness in Harry's tone. "I am happy to meet the parents. I'll always be polite and I genuinely like Carole and Burt. I don't take well when they try to, well, act like Carole did."

"Be maternal" clarified Hermione softly.

"Yeah… that" said Harry crossing his arms and looking away from everybody. He clenched and unclenched his hands, before sighing deeply. The people inside this car were the closest thing he had to a family. If he couldn't lower his defenses around them he might as well become a hermit.

"The only reason I allowed Sirius in my life and got attached to him so quickly was because he never tried to act as a parent. He understood me. He was more of an older brother or cool uncle… if he had used a different approach I would have resented him. Thankfully he didn't, despite many people telling him he was wrong. He was there for me and he never judged. He offered advice when I asked and let me go and do whatever I felt was best the rest of the time. When I screwed things up, I was never afraid to call him. I knew I could count on him" he said relaxing and feeling more defeated than anything else. "He wasn't my dad and he never pretended to be. My parents are dead and I don't need or want replacements."

Silence had never been so loud.

"At least since he's dead, my mom won't kill him. Sounds like she would have hated him, or his parenting strategy at least" said Ron and while Kurt and Blaine almost gaped at the insensitive comment, Hermione and Harry laughed knowingly.

"There's that at least" said Harry smiling fondly. Hermione reached back, holding his hand despite the awkward angle and squeezing it in a reassuring manner. It was an amazing show of trust from his part to have opened up like this.

Once she let go, Kurt immediately took it and rested his head against Harry's shoulder. Blaine put his hand on top of theirs.

"Ron, could you drop us at my flat? That way you don't have to drive us tomorrow."

"Sure, no problem" he said easily.

"You know, I've never been to your place" said Kurt trying to distract himself.

"I wouldn't consider it my place. It's just a flat I rent for convenience, can't really stay at Dalton during summer break. It also used to be necessary to have somewhere to go when Ron's snoring drove me crazy."

"Hey!"

IIIII

I hope Burt's reaction wasn't entirely out of character. I did my best to explain within the fic why he reacted like that. This chapter felt kind of heavy but had to be done to progress the characters and the plot. Next one will be happier and a return to the shenanigans from the twins.

Now to the apology...

I'm terribly sorry for how long it took me to update this. Long story short, I had a job that wasn't the most rewarding. It took all of my time and since I spent most of the day writing, I had little interest in doing that when I came home. I recently quit and decided to try and finish this story while I have the free time. (Also if somebody knows of people hiring in London... just kidding!)

I don't have the words to express how thankful I am to all of you for expressing interest in the story after all this time. I honestly feel humbled by your support.

If you sent me a message and I didn't answer I apologize, but know that I did read them all and made me motivated to continue.

I cannot guarantee when I will update next but I am writing as fast as I can!

Much love,

SweetCaroline91

PS: If you want to get in touch, I am always always happy to chat. Either here or on tumblr (thebigpurplebook). I also do my best to reply to reviews so feel free to put questions if you have them or anything else.

PS2: My beta is an angel from the heavens, I swear when this story is finish I will send her a gift basket or a choir to follow her around all day. She is the best.