It was like falling back into a life he should have been living all along. Lazy days all meshing together in a kaleidoscope of effortless summer; entire days spent hunting, trekking to obscure corners of the forest, swimming in the stream- speckled light shining on clear water and Blaine's open face, for a time nothing to occupy their thoughts but each other. Freedom and joy and love and and Kurt couldn't believe how lucky he was, like living a dream. Kurt wished he could scoop up those happy moments and keep them safe in his chest for always, their happiness brighter and more perfect because he had no idea when it might end.
Blaine kept their 'adventures' to a minimum, a few carriages- halted and 'taxed,' the odd robbery of isolated mansions in the middle of the night, but Kurt couldn't help thinking that Blaine was nervous, more on edge than he had been before.
It didn't help that his men kept coming in with report's about Kitty's increasingly erratic behavior; the manic, dangerous edge to her actions becoming ever more clear.
"She won't stop until she's caught you," David, face etched with worry in the twilight, hunched over a camp fire of cooking meet, shadows playing across his face.
"We don't know that." Kurt said defensively, too quickly, David raising an eyebrow at him. Blaine just sighed, looking sullen.
"Is it getting worse?" Kurt asked.
"She's got a massive price on his head, she'll pay for any scrap of information people can give. The people's loyalty to you can only go so far, they'll cave to the temptation, its only a matter of time, we can't expect them to turn down that kind of security."
"As long as the camp is kept secret," Blaine intoned.
"I'm afraid its only a matter of time before she takes this obsession she has with you out on people in the village," David said.
"She wouldn't do that," Kurt said, side eyeing Blaine as his face drew tighter in concern. He wouldn't forgive himself for anyone coming to harm because of him.
"Its Kitty, we have no idea what she could do," David said.
Blaine shivered, drawing Kurt's attention to the chill of the night, the bite of autumn in the air.
"You might have to consider moving on Blaine." David said it softly, like he didn't want to believe the truth of what he was saying. Kurt's fingers convulsed where they were wrapped around his elbows. Blaine, moving on, leaving Nottingham. And he knew, he knew their time together was bound to have an expiration date in one form or another but he didn't want to think about Blaine leaving, didn't want to think about just going home, alone, while Blaine disappeared from his life.
"I won't leave, not when- not when I haven't even really done anything not when..." Blaine drifted into silence his eyes on Kurt.
"You might not have a choice."
"Enough of this," Blaine said suddenly dismissive, getting to his feet and brushing dirt from his pants, "we haven't been out of the woods in weeks."
"The pub is calling to me boys," Blaine added with forced cheer, the tone ringing wrong after their tense conversation.
Kurt jumped to his feet letting his elbow brush against Blaine's as he stood. The two of them waiting for a response from David.
"You two go, I have meat to roast," David said pointing down at his spit, "Wes left a while ago though, he's probably still there."
Kurt twined their fingers together as soon as they were outside of the camp, walking quickly through the growing dark to the village.
Kurt stopped them at the edge of the forest line. Pulling Blaine into a dark grove and giving him a fierce kiss, the heavy stillness of the forest like a pleasant weight in the air around them.
"What was that for?" Blaine asked dazedly once they'd surfaced.
"Do I need a reason to kiss you?"
"No," Blaine shook his head smiling. "So it doesn't have anything to do with what David said? Because I'm not leaving. I won't leave you."
"Thats very flattering and all but, um, Kurt toyed with where their fingers were laced together, using his other hand to trace along Blaine's knuckles, "I was thinking, that if you did go, maybe- maybe I would go with you."
Blaine's mouth opened into a little 'o' eyes wide, "you- you would leave, to come with me?"
"Blaine theres nothing I've ever actively wanted for my life. I had a set of expectations, I knew what my life would probably be like and I accepted that because I thought thats what people did, but then you come along and I see what it means to- to deeply love and what that can mean, and God I'm not making any sense."
"Yes you are."
"Am I? Its just, I think, that this," Kurt looked at their entwined fingers, "what we have, God, you. Its, you're worth changing things around for. Like just loving you is more than anything else my life could have been."
Blaine leaned down to kiss at where their fingers were intertwined bringing their hands between their chests and resting his forehead against Kurt's. When he spoke it was very quietly. "We've never said it, on our own terms."
'I love you.' Kurt knew immediately what he meant. "I was afraid to," it had taken fear of death the first time.
"Me too. Its not supposed to feel like this."
"Something like that."
"But it does."
"It does." Blaine pulled back, his face vague in the darkness. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
Then Blaine laughed, the kind that bubbled up out of him like he couldn't contain the joy in the confines of his body. "I'm the luckiest man in the world," Blaine said, too loudly in the quiet, giddy almost, face lighting up with his smile, and even in the dim light Kurt could see the lines scrunching up around his eyes. "Come on, I think we have a grimy pub to get to."
'Grimy' was putting it nicely. It was the same hole in the wall place they had shortcutted through that first day in the village, dark and dingy- the whole place smelling like stale alcohol and stale body odor.
"Its the only place Kitty's people won't go to," Blaine said apologetically, accepting drinks from the toothless bar maid and sitting down at a table with a slightly off balance Wes.
"It has a certain rough charm to it I suppose," Kurt answered with a forced smile, brushing a dead spider off his chair at their corner table.
They were barely in their seats when a slippery, too-familiar voice greeted them, "evening boys, didn't expect to see you two out and about."
Smythe, helping himself to a place at their table with a grin on his face, splotches of color high on his cheeks. "Finally getting a little stir crazy holed up in the woods are we?" Smythe sat his tankard down with a thump, sloshing ale all over the table.
"Smythe," Blaine sighed, resigned "why don't you just announce to the whole tavern who I am while you're at it."
"As if anyone in here gives a fuck who you are."
"Just go, Smythe. Santana and I have made peace, she won't like you stirring up trouble with me."
"Why so formal? Sebastian, please. Granted you telling me I could call you Robin doesn't mean quite what it did at the time, still, you act like we've never-"
"Sebastian," Blaine cut in like a warning.
"And anyway who says I'm making trouble? Besides Santana doesn't own me."
"No, just her father does, is the family gold worth being squished under his thumb?" Kurt bit out, he didn't like the way anger was surging up in his chest at just the sight of Sebastian.
"Aww you two discuss my personal life when I'm not around, I'm flattered."
"What are you even doing at this dump?"
"The barmaid's son likes it up the ass"
"God, what did I ever see in you."
"I seem to recall it being something along those lines..."
"Just get out before I force you out."
Sebastian sunk a little lower in his chair, tilting back his tankard like a taunt.
Things might have gotten bad if at that moment Santana hadn't slammed her palm down onto the wooden table sloshing ale all over the place yet again, the men spluttering as they steadied their drinks.
"Blaine, you fucking bastard."
"Brittany. Kitty's got her for stealing from Lord Tubbington. Did you hear me? Arrested. For stealing. Do you need me to repeat myself Hood?
Kurt could all but see the blood drain from Blaine's face, Blaine scrubbing his hand across his face before he got to his feet. "Oh God, I- I'll fix this, I promise, don't worry, I'll fix it."
"Damn right you'll fix it, Brittany's innocent!"
"Calm down." Kurt said, placing his hand gently on Santana's shoulder while more than a few of the pub's unsavory occupants turned to look at them.
"Don't touch me!" Santana roared, jerking out of Kurt's reach, before swiping beneath her eyes, "what are you going to do Blaine?"
"I- I don't know I just need to think," Blaine muttered, swiping his hand across his brow.
"Exactly what I thought, pathetic coward, just try to weasel your way out of justice. You need to just turn yourself in!"
Kurt felt his blood run cold. "No. No way, there must be something else, something-"
Blaine looked grimly determined.
"Blaine no, no you can't."
"I might have to."
"As a last resort," Blaine said, face bleak.
"Well," Wes hiccuped from where he was still hunched at the table, "if its only as a last resort, I think we're going to have to make a pretty damn near fool proof plan to avoid it."
AN: Again, shame faced apologies about the delay. If you've somehow managed to stick around, we are almost to the end!