Author's Note: In which Kurt puts the screws to dear Dumbles.
"I'm afraid I cannot allow that," Dumbledore said succinctly.
"Then we appreciate your time and wish you good day," Kurt easily replied.
Dumbledore blinked, shocked at the blatant dismissal, though he had known it was a risk the moment he denied their requests.
Santana shook her head, exchanging glances with her two cohorts, who gave her subtle nods of encouragement. If Dumbledore was going to be difficult, it was best they nip it in the bud quickly. In the end, it wasn't necessary for them to attend Hogwarts to secure Harry. There were legal maneuvers they could employ which would be far easier and take up much less time. Then there were the illegal ones, which would probably be a lot more fun.
"You're not getting this," Santana said flatly. "The fact of the matter is that you need us far more than we need you. Don't think we didn't notice your evasion about why you're so interested in Kurt. Your martyred reply about ensuring the children of Britain receive an education really was so much nonsense."
Dumbledore couldn't believe this child's gall, that she had so easily called him out in such a mundane way. Still, he held a grudging respect for her. He didn't want to feel it, but he also couldn't help it. Besides, she was right and she, and everyone else present, knew it. They had no need of him, not really, and though he had granted almost every request they had made, he and they knew any other magical school would concede the same and much more to ensure their attendance.
"Magical Britain makes much about their aristocracy," Quinn said, "but the bottom line is that we have political power of which they could only dream to hold, and we're still children. Over time, our influence will only grow. The Treasury of the Magical United States has already expressed keen interest in me. Should I desire, after completing my education, I could easily secure a position in the Ministry of Sweden, with the goal of becoming the Exchequer."
She wasn't bragging, Dumbledore understood, but merely stating a fact. She also wasn't employing false modesty, a trait to which Albus himself often fell prey. She simply had no desire for pretense. It appeared her friends were of a similar mind.
"Esperanza has already declared her intention to abdicate to Santana when the time comes," Quinn continued, "so she will therefore be quite busy running an empire and ruling her people." She shrugged. "As for Kurt, he's made clear his intentions of becoming a Healer. What he hasn't explained is that his ultimate goal is the creation and implementation of a global health initiative dedicated to improving and sustaining the well-being of the international magical community."
She waved a hand. "Even if he turned away from that goal, his political career is already established. He is the most successful of the Youth Ambassadors and is in high demand as a motivational speaker regarding the role of children in our society. There are those already making noise about drafting him to run for House Representative when he turns twenty-five, followed by a turn as senator, and then the presidency."
Albus swallowed heavily.
"Just so we're clear," Quinn said in a cold voice, "we may appear to be children, but we have given our futures serious thought and have dedicated years to achieving our goals." She raised a brow. "We have the magical power, the political and financial capital, and the sheer determination to do just that."
She crossed her legs and regarded Dumbledore with a cool look. "We don't know, precisely, just what your agenda is, but we know that you have one." She shrugged a shoulder. "And that's fine. We don't really care. It could be something as banal as desiring to buttress the sagging reputation of your school, or it could be far more sinister."
She leaned forward. "But know this: if you think we're going to be mindless drones, flapping about to cater to your whims, think again. We're young, but we're not stupid. We know who you are. We know your reputation. We know far more than you think." She cocked her head and smiled. "The question you should be asking yourself is not whether you can convince us to let you use us, but to what extent are we willing to be used? As well as what we'll expect in return."
"And security is only the tip of the iceberg," Kurt smoothly interrupted. "Our demands are nonnegotiable, Mr. Dumbledore." His eyes narrowed. "I would strongly suggest that you never again try to invade my mind, or I can promise you that you will not enjoy the consequences."
Quinn and Santana immediately stood, their gazes fierce.
Kurt smirked. "Just so you know, my security team has already been informed of your attempt. Should I ask, you will not be permitted to leave the premises. Instead, you will be remanded into custody to stand trial by the end of the day. Charges will include attempted psychological rape, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, child endangerment and abuse, espionage, torture, and treason. Other charges will be added to suit the circumstances and for my own amusement."
Dumbledore's breaths became very shallow.
"After you're convicted," Kurt blithely continued, "and let me assure you, you will be, my father will hold an international press conference to announce the outcome of your trial and the terms of your imprisonment. Extradition to Britain will be denied. I highly doubt the ICW will interfere, and Minister Fudge will be glad to see the back of you once and for all. Any attempts to interfere will result in an international incident which the United Kingdom can ill afford.
"Esperanza will have you declared persona non grata for the entirety of South America, if she doesn't simply kill you outright, and Uncle Alrik will do the same for wizarding Scandinavia. My extended family in France and Germany will do their parts, as well. Please don't forget that I am also a French citizen, and wizarding France is still monarchical and operates under a vastly different legal system than their non-magical counterpart. They are only barely not at war with your government.
"Finally, I will hold my own conference with a press corps I've hand-selected and have met throughout the course of my ambassadorial duties."
Kurt offered a pleasant smile. "This isn't your country, Mr. Dumbledore, and I will happily crucify you."
He and Dumbledore stared at one another for a very long time.
"I began studying Occlumency when I was four," Kurt said. "I mastered it when I was eight. Quinn and Santana are at my level. It was necessary, given the classified information we possess for any number of governments. We were taught by Esperanza herself, and if we can keep her out without difficulty, I am confident we can do the same with you and anyone else with very little strain."
"I am so sorry," Dumbledore said, closing his eyes and sighing.
"I don't care," Kurt said. "I won't pretend to understand your motivations, but whatever accord we may have reached has been severed. Laying aside criminal charges, I want you to give me one solid, concrete reason we should now agree to attend Hogwarts."
Dumbledore suppressed a groan. He had been hasty, had overstepped, and was now completely out of his league. He had sat here only moments before, marveling at the accomplishments of these children, vowing not to underestimate them, and then had done exactly that. He wasn't surprised they had been taught Occlumency; as Kurt indicated, it only made sense given the political power of their families.
He wasn't even terribly surprised at their skill. Esperanza's ability was renowned. No one had ever managed to breach her barriers, and if she had managed to impart that training to these children, and it was obvious she had, their minds were well-guarded.
The truth of the matter was that, though Occlumency was a demanding art, the sooner one was instructed, the easier it was to learn. If a child showed an ability, it was foolish to put off the training.
The minds of children were elastic and their memories not as complex. The earlier those memories were examined, catalogued, and filed, the easier it was to master the discipline. Dumbledore himself had accomplished this before he was sixteen, and Tom Riddle even earlier.
"I say we cut our losses here and now," Santana spat as she paced. "He's offered us nothing that we can't get anywhere else, and we can get a lot more. I never wanted to go to a school to begin with. Our tutoring has been more than sufficient."
Quinn shrugged. "Beauxbatons' offer was much more appealing."
Kurt continued to hold Dumbledore's gaze, temporarily ignoring his friends.
Or so it appeared to Albus.
"I'll tell you what I think," Kurt said slowly. "I think you did know my birth parents, Mr. Dumbledore; I think you knew them well. There is no logical reason you should have known I was adopted. Those records weren't sealed; they were obliterated." He raised a brow. "I think you were the one to do that."
Albus said nothing.
"I think you promised my birth parents that, should anything to them, you would do everything in your power to ensure that I would end up with a loving family. And you did that, so I must thank you. I love my family. I wouldn't trade these years with them for anything in the world."
Albus set his jaw to keep it from quivering as a tear forced an escape from his left eye.
Kurt suddenly realized that whatever he had previously thought of this man, he had failed to take one thing into account: at the end of the day, Albus Dumbledore was just a man and nothing more. Powerful, yes. Deceitful and secretive? Certainly. But a man nonetheless. Probably lonely. Absolutely monolithic. A man who had been shouldering a great burden from a grateful but overbearing people since his defeat of Grindelwald all those years before.
"I can only surmise that you regret your decision to send me away," Kurt continued, his voice more sedate, "wondering if it was, in fact, the right decision. I believe you probably thought of me over the years, hoping that I was well, but hesitant to interfere and terrified you might have made a mistake."
Kurt's eyes softened. "How am I doing so far?"
"A little too well," admitted a sorrowful Albus.
"Kurt!" Santana growled.
The boy raised a hand and she was instantly quieted. He cocked his head and continued to study the man before him. "By now, I'm sure you've guessed that you were expected here." He wasn't going to admit that they had expected him that day, for he still wanted to see whether his true identity would be revealed by Dumbledore. "I suspected that I would hear from Hogwarts just prior to my birthday."
"Why the subterfuge?" Albus quietly asked.
Kurt gave an unapologetic shrug. "I wanted to see how truthful you would be without being prompted or coerced. Admittedly, I'm disappointed."
"My dear boy, you must understand..."
"Nothing," Kurt interrupted. "I must understand nothing, because it's obvious that my adoption was illegal and engineered by you." He shook his head. "That is, however, ultimately irrelevant." He drew himself up. "I am Kurt Hummel, and that is the only name to which I will answer. Further, I am not, have never been, and will never be your boy."
He nodded to himself. "I won't allow my family to be torn apart. I won't allow my father to face possible kidnapping charges. I won't have my mother's memory dragged through the mud. I won't be responsible for tension in the marriage of my father and stepmother, nor will I allow Finn to be subjected to the spectacle this could become. Those things would happen were I to press the matter, so I won't."
"Kurt," Quinn softly said, "are you sure?"
The boy nodded. "Very. There is absolutely nothing this man can do to me or my family, Quinn, without exposing his own misdeeds, and I think we all know he has no intention of doing that. He has no leverage." He arched a brow. "I, on the other hand, have quite a bit."
Albus sighed. "What are your demands?"
Kurt shook his head. "It's no longer that simple. I will admit that I am curious about Britain because I was born there, but as I've already stated, I have no real affiliation with that country. I'm a dual citizen of the United States and France. Your faculty is adequate, but not overly impressive, not compared with the tutors I've had and those I could procure. The idea of being separated from my father, stepmother, and stepbrother for the majority of the year does not appeal to me.
"So what do you have to offer me, Albus Dumbledore?" he asked.
"What is that you want, Mr. Hummel?"
Kurt clucked his tongue. "Everything to which we've already agreed, for a start, and that will be finalized in a magically binding contract which you will happily sign."
Albus nodded. He no qualms with this.
"The security measures you outlined are completely unacceptable," Kurt continued. "However, I am willing to negotiate on certain points. I will agree with you that General Sylvester's presence at Hogwarts could be disturbing and prohibitive to the other students, so I will not insist on her presence."
He said nothing about her presence in the environs of Hogwarts, however.
"That said, I must insist that she be allowed to inspect your school from top to bottom before the fifth of August. You will give her unfettered access. She will draft an exhaustive report which will detail all of the shortcomings, and we both know she will find them. Copies of that report will be given to both you and myself. You will have two weeks to implement her suggestions. If you do not, we will know and we will not attend. The cost of such improvements will, of course, be met by me."
It was actually an intriguing demand, Albus ruminated. He would be very interested to see how an outsider judged the wards of Hogwarts. If there were weaknesses, and there probably were, he should be made aware of them. He wanted to be made aware of them. Despite how poorly he had comported himself in this meeting, the safety of his students was paramount. Even if Kurt and the girls declined to attend, such a report was nonetheless a good idea.
It would also go over well with the Board of Governors, who would never turn down a free upgrade.
He cautiously nodded his head.
"Excellent," Kurt nodded. "Next, in lieu of General Sylvester, I still require a small staff." He held up a hand in a bid of silence. "Nonnegotiable. You must understand, Mr. Dumbledore, that being a student does nothing to mitigate my other obligations, which are many. The structured environment of a formal education will impair my duties as Ambassador, especially in a temporal matter.
"I am willing to keep my speaking engagements to a minimum and hold them in Western Europe, but I will have to attend said duties. I fully expect to be excused from classes when the need arises without any protestations or reprisals. Transportation expenses will be met by me."
"Whom would you bring?" Albus asked.
"William Schuester, my personal assistant whom you earlier met," Kurt said. "He knows my schedule, my commitments, and my duties almost as well as I do. He will be given a suite at Hogwarts. Since you are currently operating at approximately one-fourth of your capacity, I presume this will not be a problem."
Albus nodded absently. "He has your complete trust?"
"He does. William Schuester is also my uncle, my mother's half-brother."
Dumbledore's eyes widened.
"Additionally, Nadia Goodacre, my cultural and press attachée, will be in attendance," Kurt continued. "Nadia is an elf, whom British citizens would refer to as a House Elf, though she is no such thing. She is bonded to me in friendship, not slavery. She is well-educated and well-paid for her services. She will also be afforded a suite, not a broom cupboard in the kitchens. I will, of course, be providing the school with stipends for room and board for my staff. I do not expect you to bear the costs of their care."
Albus knew there was no way around this and agreed.
"Should anyone, either student or faculty member, inquire," Kurt said flatly, "they are to be advised that Will and Nadia are in my employ. They are not there to serve anyone else and answer only to me. They will not take orders. They will not be treated as lesser. Should Nadia experience any of the prejudices associated with her species in Britain, I will take steps, and I guarantee you will not enjoy them.
"I am well aware of the history of Hogwarts, Mr. Dumbledore, and I know that when the aristocracy was at its height, it was not unusual for the scions of Ancient and Most Noble Houses to bring a retinue when they matriculated. This is no different. There is precedent. I am an international ambassador and the only son of the second most powerful man in the free magical world. I am not asking for special treatment or to bend rules which already exist. However, if you cannot assure me that my staff will not be harassed, then this discussion is over."
Albus exhaled. "Mr. Hummel, you have my promise that your staff will be welcomed at Hogwarts and treated accordingly with their positions."
Kurt narrowed his eyes. "Bit of wordplay, there. I've heard of your penchant for such games. Know that all of this is going into the contract in very plain language."
Albus flinched but couldn't deny the boy had cause to distrust him.
"Other security measures will be negotiated between our governments and yours," Kurt continued. "Rest assured that both Quinn and especially Santana, given who their families are, will require their own security. In case it was unclear, their presence is absolutely mandatory to assure my own. As we are not citizens of the United Kingdom, but nevertheless hold international political power, we will be considered foreign diplomats. We will not be subject to the laws of your nation, but our respective ones. In essence, we will have diplomatic immunity.
"There is absolutely no way in hell I will attend your school under the yolk of your laws," he said, "and neither will Quinn nor Santana. We've studied the decisions of the Wizengamot; we know how it operates and how corrupt it is. We are no one's scapegoats."
Albus cleared his throat, not wanting to signal how badly that stung, but nodded. "And internal school matters?"
Kurt nodded. "A fair question. Should a situation arise in school which requires discipline, we will submit to your authority, but only when punishments are upheld by the school charter, copies of which are in our possession. We will have memorized the charter before the start of term. If the letter or spirit of the charter is violated, we will ignore the reprimand. Should matters escalate, we will withdraw from Hogwarts immediately and file any charges necessary or applicable."
Kurt stared at Dumbledore. "Is anything I've just said in any way unclear?"
"No," Albus said, "and, frankly, your demands are far from unreasonable."
"This is bullshit," Santana snapped. "I'm not going to be sequestered in some ancient pile of rocks where the head dipshit in charge, who obviously has no compunction about illegal Legilimancy attacks on minors, has unrestricted access to my person." She shook her head furiously. "No way."
Albus suppressed a groan. He could not believe how horribly he had allowed negotiations to deteriorate, simply because he had been impatient and petulant.
"I'm sorry, Kurt," Quinn said, "but I have to agree with Santana." She shook her head. "You have to know how ridiculous all of this is. We shouldn't have to do this. We shouldn't have to draft contracts and use intimidation to secure ourselves a proper education and ensure that our rights won't be ignored."
She sat back down in her chair. "I am very uncomfortable with this, and I am most definitely not satisfied. This man obviously wants something from you, and it's far more than whatever he feels he owes your biological parents. We still don't know what it is he wants, and he hasn't offered to explain it. Neither Santana nor I were born in Britain, so we have no reason to go, other than you. I know you will protect us, but that's not your job or responsibility."
Santana nodded. "There's also our parents to consider. When we present them with this contract, they're going to want to know why it was necessary. As it is, none of them wants us to go to boarding school, if simply because of the security issues at play. I've yet to be convinced why formal schooling is necessary or even important."
Kurt wanted to smirk. His girls were certainly selling this! They would push and push until Dumbledore would offer them whatever they wanted, but they all now knew the man would never admit as to why he wanted Kurt's presence at the school. He wasn't even worried about pushing Dumbledore too far, because there was no such in thing in this circumstance.
He turned to Dumbledore and raised a brow. "If you have something to sway them, I would suggest it now. We long ago agreed to make majority decisions, and they're two thirds of this triad. I turn the floor over to you."
Albus opened his mouth to offer plaintive promises, but was summarily interrupted.
"Unbreakable Vows, I think," said a lofty Kurt, "in addition to the contract." He smiled. "Better safe than sorry."