Okay, so firstly, this is a birthday present for my wonderful and perfect tumblr twinsie, Debbie (leacorymonteith) who is 18 today! (We have the same birthday, how cool is that?) and I love you, so, so much. I hope you like this!
Thank you to my amazing beta Lucy! :)
The fic is based off of The Princess diaries, and at some points it will be really similar to the film, whereas at others it kind of has its own spin.
Finn Hudson is a nobody, a non-entity. Girls ignore him in the hallways, while it feels like everyone else just looks straight though him, which is unusual, since he's a lanky six foot three, and has towered over everyone since middle school.
It should bother him, he knows, that he has such little impact on well, anything, but in fact it seems to others – those who notice him, anyway – that he enjoys his 'invisible' status, or more, accepts it as part of him, and does nothing to break from its mould. Not like his best friend, Blaine Anderson, who, despite his small size, has a loud voice and wants people to hear it, to hear him.
He smiles at Blaine as he sees him down the hallway, placing folders into his meticulous locker. Finn shoves some of his limp hair from over his eyes, pushes his glasses up, and goes to greet his friend, who smiles brightly at him, the same brightness meeting his dark brown eyes. "Hey Finn." His eyes are drawn down to his watch, "you're late again. How come?"
Shoulders sagging, he sighs and throws his tattered backpack over his shoulders again, hoisting it as high as it will go. "I woke up late. I was up all night worrying about this freakin' speech."
A look of sympathy crosses Blaine's features, and he reaches out to pat Finn's arm gently, "you'll be fine, it's only a speech."
"That's easy for you to say," Finn mumbles under his breath. Even though Blaine isn't like, football popular or anything, he's a strong member of many of McKinley's clubs, one of those being the debate team. He doesn't understand how much Finn hates public speaking, while Finn can't understand why anyone likes public speaking - all of those eyes just staring at you, waiting for you to screw up. It's intense, and weird, and he hates it. He considers faking sick, but then the school nurse is pretty damn scary and she smells weird, too. So yeah, smelly old nurse or debate over school uniforms. Really, he's stuck for choice.
But Blaine's attention is easily drawn away from the topic at hand when he sees Kurt Hummel parading down the hallway, his cheerio uniform crisp and clean, as ever, and Blaine looks as though all his Christmases have arrived at once. "Dude," he clicks his fingers in front of Blaine's face, attempting to snap said boy from his trance. "anyone in there?"
Kurt passes them, offering a small wave as he does so, and Finn can practically see Blaine's heart swell from his chest, a tiny blush sneaking over his cheeks. He smirks, "you know, if you like him so much you should ask him out."
Suddenly, he looks up and blinks, "what? Kurt wouldn't be interested in someone like me. I'm just, well… I'm - "
"Stop right there," he intervenes, just knowing what Blaine is going to say. "Look, you watch this guy when he's not looking, your face lights up when you see him, and every other word that comes out of your mouth is 'Kurt'. Ask. Him. Out."
Blaine suddenly shies, his nerves showing outwardly just what is churning on Finn's insides as he thinks about this stupid speech. Biting his lip, he finally gives a determined nod. "Okay, I will, in English."
He shakes his head, "do it now. He's like, right there."
"I need time to gather myself," he insists, "asking a person on a date is nervewrecking, not that you'd know, since you avoid girls like the plague." Finn sends Blaine a pointed look, though he knows that there's some truth in what he says. Girls are scary, especially when they travel in groups, ready to mock him if he even dared asking one out. They're like a no - go zone. For guys like him anyway. He isn't a football player; he doesn't work out every week. In fact, the majority of his exercise comes from pressing the control buttons on his Xbox controller.
With a frown, he grabs hold of Blaine's arm, "come on, we're going to be late."
"You're eager," Blaine comments, bouncing by his side as they walk, "considering that a second ago you didn't want to go anywhere near the debate room and the thought of it made your skin pale."
"You talk too much," he laughs, "you know that, right?"
Blaine's face scrunches up with annoyance, but other than that he doesn't seem too bothered about his words. They both know that he's always been like that, having been friends since they started middle school, and Blaine hid behind Finn when some kid wanted to steal his lunch money. Strangely, their friendship has grown after said incident, and now years later here they are.
His nerves only grow in abundance as each new step is taken closer and closer to the debate room. Finn clamps his sweaty palms together, trying to remember to breathe. He's been up until midnight, saying the speech to himself over and over, and trying his best to sound confident in his words. That's always been a problem; confidence.
"What are my points again?" he mumbles to Blaine as they enter, feeling decidedly light headed and sick.
"You like uniforms," Blaine says instantly, as if reading a script, "they make us equal."
When Blaine glances up at Finn, he finds his friend a ghostly pale as they watch other kids begins to file into the room, and Finn's eyes are transfixed on the podium at the front. "Blaine, I can't do this."
Blaine gives him this look, shaking his head defiantly. "Finn Hudson, you do this or I will tell your mother about that stash of special magazines you keep in your closet." The no nonsense glare on his face makes Finn worry for another reason.
"Hey!" he says, "how do you know about those?"
His eyes close for a second, as if reliving a traumatic event. "You don't want to know, Finn."
A shove gets Finn into the class quicker, though his stomach does another flip at the sight of it being practically full and in less than five minutes he's going to be stood up in front of all these people. Oh shit. He feels lightheaded again, almost as though he's floating. That morning before he'd left, his mom had told him to just imagine everyone in their underwear, as though that's supposed to help. He doesn't want to think about Blaine in his underwear. No way!
"Finn?" the cautious voice of his friend comes, and he frowns when he realizes that there are two Blaines, both looking equally concerned. "Finn, you don't look so good."
"I don't want to see you in your underwe – "
He doesn't get to finish his slurred speech as his knees give way beneath him, and his full weight comes toppling down, unfortunately doing so right on top of Blaine, who, being much smaller and lighter, is squished by the now unconscious Finn.
He hates public speaking.
"Dude, I'm sorry," he says for what must be the hundredth time to Blaine, who rolls his eyes, sick of hearing it.
"Nobody knew that you were going to pass out – it's fine." He insists from his desk chair, swivelling from side to side slightly while Finn sits on the bed. The guilt on his best friend's face is clear, and he just shakes his head at it. "Seriously, I'm tougher than I look."
Finn smirks, "that's not very hard."
Despite his red and swollen wrist, Blaine still manages to throw one of his smaller pillows right into Finn's face, earning a laugh from him. "Anyway," Blaine starts, "something good kind of came out of this…" Ears pricking up curiously, Finn raises an eyebrow at his friend, urging him to go on. "Well, I was waiting outside the nurse's office and," his smile grows, "Kurt walked past. He started talking to me, asking if I were okay, and I started thinking about what you said, so I… I asked him out."
"Just like that?" he questions in surprise. It can't be that easy, right?
He nods, that lovesick smile on his face again. "We're going for coffee this Friday."
"So I guess that means no COD then?"
"Sorry," he frowns, "not this week. I'll do double time next week – more time for me to kick your ass."
Finn laughs, "keep thinking that, Anderson."
"You underestimate me, Hudson."
Before anything else can be said, a loud knock on the door startles the pair. "Blaine!" Rachel calls through the thick wood. At that, Finn sits up straighter, his eyes more intent on a door than they've ever been.
"What?" he says, exasperatedly. The handle jiggles for a moment, before she bursts in and places her hand neatly on her hip, all the while eyeing her brother.
"Papa told me to tell you that if he sees one more bottle of hair gel in the bathroom then he's going to throw it in the trash."
Pure horror would be the best way to describe Blaine's expression. Finn can hardly keep his giggles down as he watches Blaine shoot at of the room to save his precious gel, leaving him with Rachel. She sets a look on him, "so you passed out?"
"Don't remind me," he grumbles. Rachel then smiles gently, moving from where she's leaning against the door frame and dropping herself on the bed beside him. "Hey, I didn't invite you to this pity party," Finn says, turning his head from her ever so slightly, though he knows that she isn't going to leave. Rachel apparently has to be involved in everything, and being left out makes her upset. "Rachel," he groans when she just stares at him for a few moments, not wanting to sit in silence like this.
"You just need to believe in yourself," she pulls out of the blue.
He cocks his head to the side, eyes almost squinting closed in confusion. "What?"
"Self-confidence and belief are integral in a lot of things," she says, "for instance, in my chosen career path, I wouldn't even get past a first audition without believing in myself and my talent." She nods firmly, sure of her point.
"You're making things about you again, Rach," he laughs, but the change of topic is a relief from what she's really getting at. He knows that he doesn't believe in himself – what's there to believe in? His mom always says that he's special, and his friends and stuff, but Finn just can't find it in himself to believe them. What are they seeing that he isn't?
Rachel rolls her eyes, "I was just trying to help."
"Yeah, well I don't need your help."
"Fine, I'll go then."
"You do that."
She huffs, on her feet now, "I will."
Prancing from the room, it's like her and Blaine do this weird, tag team twin thing and he replaces her where she'd left off, cradling some gel bottles in his arms as though you would a child. Finn laughs, and shakes his head at his crazy friend, which thankfully lets him forget about the mess of the day.
Unfortunately, the moment he arrives home it's practically thrown in his face again. "Mom," he complains from where he's sat on the couch and she keeps walking past the kitchen doorway, "can we please just pretend that it never happened?" Carole appears in his line of sight again, moving behind him on the couch and snatching away the bag of chips that he's clutching in his grasp.
"Finn, this isn't the first time something like this has happened," she sighs, a hand reaching out to gently run through his messy hair, "maybe if I talk to your teacher you could get extra credit from something else. I don't want you failing a class because you keep passing out, or throwing up. Or both."
With each word she speaks, he feels his body dropping even further in defeat. Why is it him who can't do public speaking? It's just like the icing on a very bad cake. "Maybe I should just stop going to school altogether and just be like, a hermit. Hermits don't have to speak in public, or worry about good grades, and they don't care when they're basically ignored by everyone else." Finn sighs, "anyway, I don't wanna face people tomorrow after what happened." It's not as though passing out is humiliating enough - the student body will make it their mission to constantly remind him that he's a Lima loser and, most of the time, it works.
She continues to look down at him, knowing that he can't see the sad smile on her face. Leaning down, she places a small kiss to Finn's forehead, "you're going to school tomorrow." She pauses, "also, you really need a haircut."
"Mom," he rolls his eyes, the smile returning.
"It's too long," she explains, "it hides your handsome face."
Shaking his head, he looks up to her. "I like it this way." He grumbles.
With a small tsk and a head shake, she starts walking back to the kitchen, his confiscated bag of chips in her hands, before she stops, returning her gaze to Finn. "Oh, I forgot to tell you. Your grandmother called."
Head snapping back, he gives her a funny look. "Mom, grandma has been dead for yea – "
"No, no, the alive one – the one who lives in Europe," she corrects herself.
Finn feels confusion grow over the revelation, and he's on his feet, following his mother in an instant. "Why did she call?" he questions. This is a grandmother who he's never met, who he's never even spoken to, and suddenly, eighteen years later she's just calling out of the blue? Something must be up.
He hadn't realized the cold tone to his voice until his mom reaches out gently for his arm, "sweetie, she's your father's mother."
"Yeah, who clearly doesn't want anything to do with you or me." It's not that hard to visit once in a while, is it? Or to make a five minute phone call, or to even send a damn birthday card. This woman has done none of these things, so why should he care about her? Finn rolls his eyes, though drops the attitude when he sees his mother's expression. "What is it?" he worries, "is everything okay?"
"Fine, fine," she waves off his concern.
"You sure?" If there's one thing he hates, it's to see his mom looking like that.
After a moment, she nods, wrapping her arms around him. He'd long towered over his mom, and it's weird that she barely reaches his chest when they hug, but he takes in comfort from the strong embrace of the only parent he's ever known.
His mom pulls back, and he takes a moment to investigate further. "So what did she want? My grandmother?"
"She's… in town," she begins.
Finn gapes, "really? She lives in Europe and she decided to just randomly visit Lima, Ohio? Is she crazy?"
She gives him a look. "She wanted to see you, actually." The woman pauses, biting her lip as if to hold the words in, then replaces them with others, "she wants to have tea with you."
"Tea? Mom, I don't even like tea."
"Is that really the point, Finn?" she places a hand on her hip, eyebrow rising pointedly. "Your grandmother wants to spend time with you, and you're more concerned about what you're going to be drinking." She shakes her head, not sure whether to be amused or annoyed.
"I'm just saying… isn't it a little weird that she's coming all the way from Europe to play tea parties with me?" He purses his lips thoughtfully, "that can't just be it, right?" He looks to his mom for confirmation, but something about her expression is off, and he can't explain it. His grandmother isn't like… dying or something, is she? And this is their final chance to meet. No, he shakes his head – that can't be it. If it were, his mom would tell him rather than keeping this guessing game up.
For now, he supposes, all he can do is accept what he's been told and go for… for tea at his grandmother's house. As if he already wasn't enough of a loser.
"People are whispering about me," he mumbles to Blaine when they meet during their free period. "It's like I'm a human novelty or something." Can he just go back to being invisible now?
Blaine peers up to him sympathetically, but all Finn can do is feel guilty about the boy's arm, clad is bandage and some weird thing that keeps his wrist from moving too much. "Just ignore then. No one will remember in a couple of days."
"It could be worse. You could have thrown up again." He shrugs.
"Throwing up or passing out?" he begins sarcastically, "wow, I don't know which one is better." The frustration is building up again, Finn's questioning of why he can't manage a stupid speech loud in his mind. Blaine can do it. All the other kids can. Just not him. "I guess I'm not cut out for a job working in front of lots of people, huh?"
"I wouldn't recommend it, we can't have you falling on more midgets like me, can we?" Blaine replies with a sly smile, nudging his friend in jest. "But there are lots of things that you can do without having to face too many people. For instance, you're a good mechanic – dad said so last summer when you helped him at the shop."
"Yeah, I suppose," he agrees, his response a little lacklustre, which gets Blaine frowning again.
He pats Finn's back, a little awkwardly with his injured hand, and offers one of his soft smiles, "don't beat yourself up so much, Finn." Trying a smile, Finn knows that it doesn't reach his eyes, but makes no effort to hide that. "You're better than you think," Blaine says, certainty to his voice.
It's obvious he doesn't agree as he scuffs his foot against the concrete floor and shrugs his shoulders, "hmm, whatever."
"Finn," he starts.
But Finn is eager to change the topic, "we better get to class, before we're late again. As if I need another reason for my mom to worry about me."
"And then after school you should come over to mine and we can play COD like planned," he suggests, almost bouncing as he walks.
"I thought you had a coffee date with Kurt?" he quirks a brow, peering curiously down to his friend.
Blaine smiles brightly, "well, his dad is on a date tomorrow, so we moved ours to then so that we can go to his place afterwards, since we'll be alone." He pulls a tight face, "I really don't want him having to deal with Rachel after our first date."
"Hey come on, she's not that bad," he says quickly in her defence. Really, she isn't. Yeah, she's kind of in your face and he guesses that she can be a little annoying, but she has a good heart. She's also like, super talented, so talented that it intimidates him. How do you get so much talent into someone so tiny? And then he's here, like lurch, with absolutely zilch talent to his name.
"Yeah, well you don't have to live with her. She keeps putting my bowties on that stupid cat that dad got her."
"Oh no, the end of the world," he laughs.
Rolling his eyes, he nudges him slightly, before saying, "anyway, you up for a few hours at mine?"
He's about to agree, wanting nothing more than to get lost in the video games for a good couple of hours, when he realizes that he's already got plans for the day. "I can't," he sighs, "I've got to go to my grandmother's house."
"You're ditching me for your grandmother? Finn, I'm not that bad at video games, am I?"
With a small chuckle, he shakes his head, "come on, it's one night. I'll still see you some time over the weekend, 'kay?" By now he's reached the door to his classroom. Math. Probably his worst class, after debate that is. It was alright when until they started adding letters in and just utterly confusing him. "See you man," he says to Blaine, who gives a small nod in acknowledgement and sets off for his own class.
Finn's never been good with directions, so only being given a street name and number to find his grandmother's house has left him baffled. Why do all the streets have to look the same? He thinks that he must have walked past that big tree a few times already… With a sigh, he just keeps walking and hoping that he finds the address before he's too late.
In that time that he has to himself, and when he's not cursing under his breath because he's most definitely lost, he thinks about the possible reason why she's here, now of all times. Why the sudden want to meet him? It just doesn't make any sense. He supposes that their meeting will explain everything, but he's not looking forward to it – he sucks at meeting new people and like, she's his grandmother and stuff, but they've never actually spoken. He knows nothing about her and equally she knows nothing about him. It's going to be awkward at first, he knows, and he starts to try and think of conversational starters to aid him. But he comes up shorthanded. Everything he produces is cringe worthy and it just sucks. He has half a mind to just go home, whichever direction home is in, yet his curiosity keeps him looking for her home.
"Ahh!" He jumps at the sound of the voice, his whole body seemingly flailing from the shock of the loud sound appearing. His hands fly backwards, out of control, until they collide with something, something solid. Finn spins on his feet, watching in horror as he finds Rachel clutching at her nose with tears in her eyes, "oh God, are you okay? I'm so sorry!" He wants to internally slap himself for being so clumsy. It's not so bad when he accidentally hurts himself 'cause yeah, he's grown pretty tolerant to it over the years, but hurting other people is literally the worst. First Blaine, now Rachel. What is it with him and doing this to small people?
She gingerly pulls her hand back from her nose, which looks all red and sore, and nods her head, "I'm fine. It just – it stings a little."
That makes him feel better, if only a little, but then he spies a few drops of blood and goes into full guilt mode again. "Crap, you're bleeding." He drops his tattered backpack to the floor and starts to search through it for some tissues that he knows he has, somewhere in there anyway. He kind of just stuffs all his things inside.
"You really don't need to –" she begins, only to be cut off when he thrusts the small packet in front of her. With a tiny, hesitant smile, she takes one and delicately holds it to her sore nose. "Thank you," she tells him.
"Don't thank me," he scratches the back of his head, "it's er – kind of my fault, right?"
"It was an accident," she shrugs, reaching down to grab his back, all the while keeping the tissue flush against her nose. "Anyway," Rachel says, acting as though he hadn't just almost hurt her real bad, "what are you doing here? You don't live around here."
He smiles, "I could ask you the same thing."
Rachel giggles, "ballet practice. Now what's your reason?"
Finn hesitates, wondering if she'd think he's any lamer for going to his grandmother's house for tea. And he immediately searches for a way out of telling her where he's really going, "hey, are you sure you're okay? That looks pretty painful an –"
"Don't try and change the subject," she laughs, "I'm tougher than I look."
"Yeah…" he says, "you look real tough." He gestures to her completely pink outfit. Rachel narrows her eyes at him, jaw setting. "What?" he asks, folding his arms in a defensive manner.
She shakes her head, "just tell me what you're doing here. You're acting as though you've killed somebody and you're looking for a place to stash the body." Finn stays silent, not knowing what to say, and she promptly gasps. "You haven't, have you?" Yes Rachel, he has.
"No!" his face scrunches up, while he readjusts the glasses on his face and gives her a pointed look.
With an exasperated sigh, she says, "then just tell me. Finn, we've known each other for years – it's not exactly like you can't trust me."
"Fine," he rolls his eyes, "if you must know, I'm going to my grandmother's house."
Rachel frowns at him, "I don't get it. Why are you embarrassed about that? I often visit my Nana Elsie, though lately I've been busy, so my visits have been a bit sparse. Of course I'll reprimand that, but it's perfectly normal to visit your grandmother."
He barely has time to absorb her small ramble for it comes off so fast, and he's soon replying himself, just as quickly. "Yeah, but you're a girl. It's not lame when you do stuff like that."
"You think it's lame?" she places a hand on her hip, trying to look threatening, but with a tissue stuffed against your nose and when you're as titchy as Rachel, that's kind of hard.
"Tea Rachel," he tells her, "she wants tea."
Her eyes widen happily, "ooh, which kind?"
"I don't know - the European kind!"
"She's from Europe?" Rachel squeals, "that's so cool." Now, she stares at him in awe, "have you ever been? Is it nice there?"
"No and I have no idea," he states, wishing that she would stop talking for one second so that he can think straight. "I also have no idea how to find her house, which is why I've been walking around like an idiot ever since I finished school." Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out the paper with her address on, written in his mom's neat handwriting. It's all crumpled and worn from its stay in his pocket, and Rachel notices it while he's stares down toward it.
It's barely a couple of seconds before she says, "I know where that is."
"You do?" he looks up to her in pure relief. And then he feels like a total tool for being sort of rude to her a few minutes ago, since now he needs her help. "Could you," he clears his throat, "could you take me there?"
"Of course!" she smiles brightly, "just one second." Rachel gently wipes her nose again, making sure that it's no longer bleeding before she throws the tissue in the nearest trash can and joins him once more.
He looks to her a little guiltily. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asks, pointing to her nose.
If anything, her smile grows impossibly stronger at his concern. "I told you, I'm fine. Now let's go." He can't really do anything other than follow her, returning her general chatter about school and then Blaine. And yeah, sometimes she talks a little too fast for him to really listen, but it's just nice to hear her voice. It's all sweet and soft, and when she's passionate about something it shows – that's really cool.
Soon enough, they're on the street, Rachel demanding to see the address once more to find the corresponding house. When they stop in front of the biggest place he's ever seen, her brows dip in confusion. "This can be right, can it?"
He checks with her, and yup, there's no mistaking it. This is where his grandmother lives. "Holy shi –"
"Language," she scolds without even looking at him. It's silent, other than the birds in the nearby trees, "I didn't know your grandmother was rich."
"Neither did I." Finn's mouth is dropped open in awe, much like Rachel's.
She soon picks up her chin off the floor and turns to Finn, brushing some hair behind her ear. "Well, I should get back. My dads will be wondering where I am."
"Yeah," he replies, "thanks Rach."
"A-any time," is her almost timid reply. At that, Finn gazes down to her with curiosity, but she's already turning around and walking away from him, leaving no room to question her. He shrugs, mumbling, 'girls' under his breath, before he begins to circle the perimeter of the huge grounds. It's crazy that his grandmother lives here – she must be like, super rich.
After finding the front gate, he goes to the buzzer, pressing down on it slowly. "Er, hi?" What is he supposed to say?
It cracks to life, a nasally voice calling out, "school tours are finished for today, young man." Who is this guy? That certainly doesn't sound like it could be his grandma. Maybe he's at the wrong house after all…
"I'm erm, I'm here to see my grandmother," he tries, feeling decisively awkward as he speaks.
"Yes," he says quickly, "Clarisse Renaldi?"
"Oh." The recognition in the man's voice brings relief to Finn, glad that he is at the right place. "The front gate is open." Finn jumps as the gate beside him begins to slide open, slipping his body inside. One of the arms of his backpack gets caught on the metal railings, tugging him backwards painfully against the cold material. After that, he slides off said backpack and opts to carry it.
Each second that he gets closer and closer to the impressive building, he finds his nerves escalating. There's got to be an important reason for him to be here – he just has a feeling. And now he's going to find out if said feeling is right.
He's let inside, by this guy in a suit, who kind of looks like a butler and seriously, how come no one ever told him that he had freakin' rich family? He and his mom aren't exactly the poorest of people, but sometimes they pay the bills a couple of weeks late or they'll have to cut back on groceries.
But this, this house, it's amazing. Finn feels ridiculously out of place in it, all awkward stood in the huge room, staring from the walls, covered in old pictures and ornaments, to the dark oaked furniture placed perfectly around the room. Yeah, it's safe to say that he's never been somewhere quite like this.
"She will be with you in a moment," the butler guy says, leaving Finn to give him a half smile and quick nod. He eyes the sofa, with its floral covered seats, and wonders whether he should sit down. When he peers back to where the man had been, he sees him sitting at a desk in the corner, and sighs, holding back from conversation. Slowly tiptoeing by the bookcase, he runs his fingers over the spines of the leather bound books. What if one of these like, open up a secret room or something? Casting a sly look back to the man, he gently tips one of the books back, initially disappointed when nothing happens. So he does it again and again. Still nothing. If he had a house this big he'd definitely fill it with secret room 'cause then if there were a zombie invasion or something he could just hide in there and wait it out.
Once more, he pulls at another book, apparently a little overexcited as he tugs at it so hard that it flies off the shelf, falling to the floor with a loud clatter and tiny puff of dust.
Finn feels his heart spasm in his chest, face turning red with embarrassment. He can feel the stare of that guy on him, burning his skin. He lowers himself to a crouch, gently picking up the old book and bringing it back to its rightful place on the shelf, not before turning to the guy and saying, "my bad."
The sound of rising voices catches his attention, and he stands up straighter, finding himself face to face a small blond woman. Her smile is rehearsed, but still welcoming. "Finnley, welcome" she reaches out a hand to shake, and Finn takes it, all the while inwardly cringing at the use of his full name – even his mom doesn't call him that. "It's lovely to meet you. I'm Charlotte – I work for your grandmother."
"Hi," he begins, a small tremble in his voice, "that's… yeah, awesome – well done." Well done? He wants to kick himself for saying that.
Her eyebrows dip together slightly, before the smile springs back onto her face, as strong as ever. "Her majesty will see you now. Just follow me."
He gapes. Did she just say majesty? For a moment, he questions his sanity because, well, this all seems absolutely crazy. Shaking his head, and hoping that this is all just some big dream, he walks a few feet behind her into the garden, which is just as beautiful and well cared for as the house. He's so busy looking around that he doesn't realize that Charlotte has stopped walking, and almost barges straight into her back. After a apologizing profusely, he hears someone clear their throat.
Looking up, he finds himself staring at who must be his grandmother, who is pretty much the epitome of elegant, with her soft expression, and every hair in place. She takes a couple of steps forward, holding out a slender hand to him, her heels making loud clicks on the floor. He kind of looks like a mess compared to her.
"I'm so glad that you could make it," she begins mid hand shake, then takes in a breath, "let me get a look at you." Her smile falters, only slightly. "You look so… so… tall."
Finn shifts from one foot to another, "and you look so… clean."
Once a few moments pass – the pair just standing and not saying anything – she points to the garden table, gesturing to a seat to here, "come, sit and have some tea. We have much to talk about."
"We do?" he asks as he drops his bag quickly to the floor, insides jumbling about, and drags the chair out from beneath the table; it makes a scraping sound against the concrete as he does so. Finn peers down to the teeny, tiny tea cup in front of him, jumping back when all of a sudden someone is filling it up, "thanks, dude."
When he looks up, his grandmother is watching him again, "there's something important that I need to tell you. Something… something that could be life changing."
"I've already had braces," he shrugs with a small smile.
"No," she says seriously, "it's bigger with orthodontia."
He picks up the tea cup, taking a sip and resisting the urge to pull a face 'cause that stuff is gross. Finn tries to gently push the cup away without her noticing, which is easy as she continues to talk.
"Finnley," she begins. He looks up again, wishing that people would stop using that name. It's embarrassing. "Do you know of Christopher Philippe Georg Renaldi?"
Slowly, he shakes his head, more interested in the bee flying around his head than this guy that she's talking about.
His grandmother smiles, "Christopher Philippe Georg Renaldi was the crown Prince of Genovia, before a terrible accident took his life." She gazes downwards for a moment, a frown appearing on her thin lips. Finn frowns, too, and patiently waits for her to carry on, "not only was he the crown prince, but Christopher… he was your father."
He leans back in his chair, laughing to himself.
She shakes her head, only slightly, and asks, "what's funny about that?"
"No, it's just that," he starts, "if he was the prince, then that makes me – "
"Exactly – you're not just Finnley Hudson. You're Finnley Christopher Minuet Hudson Renaldi; Prince of Genovia."
All Finn care do is stare. Did she really just say that? No, of course not… that… that's impossible. "Shut up." he starts, and never finishes, for a loss of words.
"I beg your pardon? Shut up?" she responds, almost bemused.
"Your majesty, over here it doesn't always mean be quiet," one of the waiters interrupts, "here it can mean wow, whiz gee, gosh –"
She smiles, "Oh I understand, thank you. Nevertheless," she turns to Finn, "you are the Prince and I'm ready to take on the full responsibility of turning you into the royal that you are, that's in your blood. Of course, taken time, you'll get used to living in Genovia – it's a culture change, obviously, but it's a very pleasant place to live."
"Live in Genovia?" he exclaims.
"Why of course."
"No," he quickly insists, "I'm not a Prince, nor will I ever be one. And I am not going to live in Genovia. I'm just an eighteen year old kid trying to get through High School with decent enough grades and some sort of future. I don't know what you think you know about me, but trust me, I am not who you're looking for." With that, he's on his feet, the chair falling to the ground as he'd pulled out too quickly, and he reaches for his backpack.
And he does the only thing he knows how to. He runs away, from everything, the shock, the responsibilities. He doesn't want them.
He's not a Prince.
It's an icy atmosphere in the morning when he gets downstairs, and he tries to ignore him mom. After their small argument last night about her keeping this a secret so long, he's been refusing to talk to her and, when he has to, is being as blunt as possible. A part of him doesn't like being so petty, but the teenage side of him doesn't care.
When he can't ignore the hunger in his stomach, he moves into the kitchen where she is, finding that she hadn't made breakfast that morning, and he frowns. "You didn't tell me what you wanted when I called up," she explains, passing him the bread so that he can make some toast.
"Yeah, well you didn't tell me that my dad was a Prince for eighteen years. Looks like we're even, huh?" he replies sarcastically.
"Finn," she tries softly, placing a hand on his shoulder. He shoves it off, just in time for the doorbell to ring. "You know, you can't keep this up," Carole says as she goes to answer it. He does know that, though he's sure as hell going to try his best.
Right now, he focuses on making some breakfast. That is, until he hears his mom say, "Clarisse!"
"Hello Carole," the familiar accent comes, making Finn groan loudly. He can't quite get the rest of the conversation, as it's all low murmurs and whispers, before the two appear in the kitchen. "Morning Finnley."
He rolls his eyes, "it's Finn."
His mom sends a warning glare, "your grandmother would like to talk to you."
"Well she's had eighteen years to do it, hasn't she?"
"Now Finn, just list – "
"Why should I listen? To either of you? You've kept something as big as this from me my whole life and now you're acting as though I am the one overreacting." He stares to them, pleading his case, "have you ever considered that maybe I don't want to be a Prince? That I'm happy being Mr Nobody, okay?"
Just as he's turning to leave the room, so desperate to get out of there that he'll forego breakfast, he hears his grandmother speak. "You're the only heir to the throne," she says, "blood heir, that is. Without you, Finn, Genovia as we know it will cease to exist." Suddenly he feels the pressure weighing on him, a pressure that he doesn't want.
He shakes his head, "don't try and guilt trip me into this."
"I am most certainly not doing anything of the sort." She says, voice powerful and strong, "I am merely giving you the chance to explore your birth right, your heritage, as part of the Genovian Royal family. And I was hoping that I could present you to the press at the Genovian Independence day Ball."
"But I'm not a Prince," he insists.
"Not right now," she says, "but with proper training I could turn you into one. I could teach you languages, arts, political sciences – my team and I can make you walk, talk, eat and sit like a Prince."
I don't want that, he thinks, closing his eyes in frustration. Can he just go back to being invisible now?
"Finn," his mother says slowly, her stare boring into him.
"What?" he hisses.
Ignoring his curt attitude, she turns to his grandmother. "Finn agrees to take part in these 'Prince lessons' until this Royal Ball, where until then he will neither deny nor accept the role of being the Prince."
"Mom!" he says.
She holds up a finger to shush him, returning his gaze to his grandmother, "now, can we agree on this?"
"I suppose I'll have to."
And then she turns to him, her glare daring him to argue with her. "Fine," he mumbles, having a feeling that this can't be good.
"Now," his grandmother says as they walk out of the house, Finn's eyes immediately widening at the sight of a limousine in front of him, "here's my surprise for you."
"You got me a limo?" he gapes. He's never even been near a Limo before.
"It's yours to keep for as long as I'm here. You can use it as you wish," she smiles, and Finn's so distracted by the sleek black vehicle that he doesn't notice the man walk up behind him. "Finn, this is William. He'll be your driver." Standing up straight, he finds himself towering over the curly haired man, with a slightly worn face, but warm smile.
He smiles, "hi, nice to meet you, William."
"You can call me Will."
"Will," he nods, still kind of in awe as the man – his driver – opens the back door for him and lets him in. He's driving to school in a Limo. Can this get any crazier?
Between the newfound stress of upcoming 'prince lesson's as his grandmother likes to call them, and keeping this information secret from the prying eyes of the student population, he finds himself feeling even more stressed than usual, especially when there's another debate coming up and he's nowhere near ready for it.
Every chance he's tried to talk about it he's either been busy with planning for his cable show Blaine and the pips (really, what kind of name is that?) or he has other plans with Kurt. And yeah, he's totally happy that Blaine is all loved up and crap, but he needs someone to just vent to. So that's how he ends up calling up Blaine's house in hopes of getting his much needed release of frustration.
"Hello?" It's Rachel who picks up, sounding slightly miffed if anything.
"Hey Rach, it's Finn."
There's a sudden change to her tone, "oh hi." A pause, and then, "why are you calling?" He frowns; isn't it obvious why he's calling? He just wants to talk to his best friend. Speaking of said best friend...
"Is Blaine there?"
"Well…" she hesitates, "Kind of."
"How can he be 'kind of' there?" Finn chuckles, lowering himself down onto his bed as he speaks, and leaning further into his pillow.
In the background, he can hear movement, and then a door closing. Rachel speaks, this time quieter, "he's in, but Kurt came over about an hour ago and there are… suspicious noises coming from his bedroom." Oh. "And normally I'd be more than willing to pass you over to my brother, but I wouldn't go into that room if Barbra Streisand herself asked me to." He can practically imagine the face she's pulling, his own brightening with a grin at the thought. But then she hesitates, a different mood taking over the call, "should I tell him you called?"
"Yeah, that'd be – it'd be great… thanks."
There's silence on the other end for a moment. He wonders whether she's hung up, leaving the phone call at just that, though her voice returns once more, and he can't say that he isn't happy to hear it. Only, her words remind him of his bad mood. "Is everything okay?"
"Oh yeah, it's great," he tries, but it's as though she can see right through him.
"Finn," she says gently.
He doesn't reply.
"You can tell me, you know," Rachel continues, voice soothing and calm, so much that he closes his eyes as he listens to it, "if there's something bothering you. I've always considered us friends, even if you're more Blaine's friend… I mean, we have known each other since we were eleven and – "
"We're friends," he agrees when he feels she's just going to start rambling and like, he hates when he does that, so he's kind of helping her by cutting across it.
"I just want to know that you're okay," she admits, and Finn can feel the hesitation from her way. The last time they'd had a serious conversation like this, he'd snapped at her – she probably expects a similar response now, but Prince's don't snap at people, do they? Oh God, he just referred to himself as a Prince. He's not, he doesn't want that job. There are thousands of people who're so much better qualified to do that, to lead, and he could never in a million years be the Prince – and one day King – that Genovia needs. He's sure of that. "Finn?" Rachel's voice brings his head from his mess of thoughts and into the clear again.
Shaking his head, he says, "it's fine. I'm just a little anxious, you know, about having another debate."
Another pause, like she's trying to detect the lie in his words. He's not lying – he's just withholding the truth. "Oh, well. Just remember what I told you – about believing in yourself."
"Yeah," his shoulders sag, "It's pretty hard to just suddenly believe in yourself, when you never have before." He always just thought that some people were born with it and others weren't. Rachel and Blaine; they were both born with that confidence in themselves and what they can do, while he's just… missing it.
"I believe in you," she mumbles, in such a tiny voice that he barely hears.
But he still does, and he a genuine smile grows on his face. "Thanks Rach." It's almost foreign to have someone who isn't his mom saying that to him. Now this person, who has no reason to believe in him (like being his mom and therefore being obligated to say that) and it's just odd to him. Why? He has no idea, but her words uplift his mood. He's smiling again, this time brighter.
"No problem," she says happily, "oh, Blaine's here, do you want me to put him on?"
"Actually, it doesn't matter anymore. You kind of helped me enough," he confesses, and he can practically imagine her huge beam at discovering that. "See you around, Rach," he says, "and tell Blaine hi for me."
"Will do!" she says eagerly.
As Finn hangs up, staring at the phone, he realizes that he does in fact feel much better. He doesn't know why the sudden change, but he's not going to argue with it.
He stands under the watchful gaze of his grandmother. She's not talking, nor is her assistant. And he doesn't know what to say, so they're all just standing in silent. He raises his eyebrows, as if asking what's going to happen next and why she has him standing in the middle of the room, but she only smiles and steps nearer him. "Alright Finn, let me get a proper look at you."
"Well…" he says, "here I am."
With a small chuckles, she taps his arm slightly, "yes, I know you're there. You're not exactly hard to miss. Now, just spin around for me please." He starts, doing so in a couple of seconds and facing her again to find the woman shaking her head, a soft smile gracing her lips, "slowly."
Finn grows a sheepish look, "oh."
"Just spin," she makes the movement with her finger, a gentle smile making him feel more at ease. He does so now, just as she wants, completely self-conscious of well… everything. "Hairstyle needs to be altered," she says, "and those glasses are…" Trailing off she doesn't say anything else as she sees his face fall, "the figure is wonderful. Tall, well built."
Her heels click against the marble floor as she walks, "complexion… hmmm. Ears, just like his Father's."
Finn tries to find a mirror to look at his ears, smiling when he learns this news. His mom always said that he looked like his Father. "Really?" he asks, bringing a hand to his ear.
His grandmother lets out a small gasp, reaching for his hand, "how long have you been biting your nails?"
"Since I was like, five," he says, "it's a nervous habit."
"Well, that's a habit we're going to have to drop, thank you." He sighs, jumping back as she brings a finger to his chin, tilting it slightly, "yes, very nice."
Thankfully, he's saved by one of the butlers stepping into the room. "Excuse me your majesty, the tea is ready." He's never been more thankful to hear those words in his entire life.
"Splendid," his grandmother clasps her hands together, "come along Finnley, we can discuss things further while in the garden over tea."
"Great," he mutters under his breath.
He groans when Blaine leaves their game for probably the tenth time to text Kurt, again. Seriously, what's so important that he has to leave him to kick some ass all by himself? Isn't he supposed to be his best friend?
But then he actually turns around to look at Blaine, and he sees the blush and bulge in his pants and just no. Just yes. He knows exactly what Blaine and Kurt are texting about. "I'm err – going to get a … a drink, yes! I'll be back soon." With that, and a great amount of relief, he slips from the room so Blaine can finish off his … business. He shakes his head, not even wanting to think about it.
From having been to the Berry's house at least once every week since middle school, he knows it like the back of his hand, and comfortably makes his way into the kitchen. It appears to be empty, for now, but he knows that the rest of the family are in, and so keeps quiet as makes himself a quick drink.
And yeah, he waits there for a little while just to be safe.
His momentary peace is broken when Rachel and her dad walk into the kitchen, obviously in a heated discussion about something. They barely break from it to greet him before it's back in full swing. "Dad, please."
"Honey, let me talk to your dad first an –"
"Pleeease," she whines again, bringing out the puppy dog eyes.
Finn just peers on curiously.
"I promise I'll be good!" she insists, hopping up on down slightly with eagerness. Her wide eyes are intent on her dad.
But he gives her a look, eyebrow rising, "you said that last time."
"I was good."
"The neighbors called the police because you and your friend were outside singing at full volume at three in the morning." He shakes his head at her, making it clear that he's more than worried about sending her to sleep at her friend's house again.
Though this is Rachel, and she gets what she wants. Mainly because she's like, the biggest daddy's girl ever and with two of them she has two men wrapped around her little finger. She apparently pulls out the big guns this time, seconds later her eyes brimming with tears and a sad face making him feel like he just squished her kitten or something. And that look isn't even aimed his way.
She then says, in the quietest voice he's ever heard her use, "I just wanted to go and have fun with my friends. B-Blaine can do that. Why can't I?" You know, the answer's pretty obvious. Blaine doesn't get a warning from the police for singing the Spice girls at a ridiculous time in the morning (he'd already heard that story from Blaine the morning it happened). Yet he starts to see her dad waver. Yeah, he probably couldn't resist the tears either – he'd cave the second he saw them.
Rachel reaches out, putting a gentle hand on his arm, and says again, "please daddy." Normally he's just dad, but when she really wants something she can easily just revert to 'daddy', and that seems soften him even more.
"I'll think about it," the man sighs and Finn watches as Rachel tries to hide the smile from her face, letting the unshed tears remain. She watches her dad finish up in the kitchen, before he leaves and a full grin springs to her face.
Though her parade is soon rained on when Finn says, "you know he didn't say yes, right?"
Rachel scoffs, "when someone says 'I'll think about it', it always means yes."
"No it doesn't…"
She begins in his direction, leaning against the cabinet beside him. "It does," she insists, "doesn't your mom ever say it?"
"She uses the conventional way of saying yes," he laughs, "sorry to burst your bubble."
"I know I'm right," she pouts.
"Sure," Finn drawls, nudging her side ever so slightly.
After a tiny huff, she peers up to him. Her arms slowly slide across her chest, and she stands staring for a second. "So how come you're in here rather than Blaine's room?" she asks him curiously, her forehead creasing with thought, "you get bored of playing those violent, crass video games?"
Finn raises his eyebrow, already having heard what Rachel thinks of video games many a time, despite the fact that she's never actually played one. If she did then maybe she'd get why they're so entertaining. Still, he sighs, whole body moving with it, "Blaine is kind of distracted with… well, Kurt."
"Oh," her face glows with realization. "He does that to me, too. We'll just be talking and then Kurt will text or call and – "
"It's like he doesn't even realize you're in the room with him," he finishes, gaining a knowing look from Rachel. He then adds, "I'm kind of too scared to go back into his room, you know?" His nose scrunches up a little.
Rachel giggles, her hand gently grazing against his arm as she shifts to face him. Suddenly she looks almost nervous, teeth tugging at her lower lip. He never really noticed it before, but it's actually kind of pretty when she does that. "Well, I was just gonna watch a movie in the den… i-if you want to join me?" Pausing, he weighs the options. Going back to Blaine where he could be doing anything (it makes him cringe just to think about it) or spend an hour and a half with Rachel, though that probably means watching some musical…
He turns to her, finding that she's using the same look on him that she had her dad, and he wonders whether she knows that she's doing it. Who's he kidding? Of course she does. She gets everything she wants, after all. His eyes move from her own incredibly wide ones, then to the softly pouting lips, and he doesn't have it in him to say no.
"Yeah, I guess that'd be cool." Rachel instantly bursts into a grin, clapping her hands together excitedly. "Only can we watch something that isn't a musical?"
Her grin disappears, "b-but…" Upon seeing Finn's expression, she sighs and relents to his wishes, "fine. We just got The amazing spider-man?" Yum, Andrew Garfield.
Much better than a musical, he thinks. "Great." He doesn't really get chance to say much else as that huge smile in back on her face and she's pulling him downstairs (with strength that no person that size should have) to the basement, which has been a sort of den/entertainment room ever since he can remember. There's like, this stage and a huge ass TV, and it's pretty damn awesome. All his basement has in the washing machine and a few old boxes.
Rachel sits him down on the plush couch, setting up the DVD before she dims the lights and jumps down next to him. He can't help by notice how she sits up right next to him, when there's a whole couch to take up space on, but he doesn't focus on it for long and watches the movie.
She squirms at the scene where there are hundreds of spiders in the lab, scrunching her eyes closed and hiding behind a pillow. If he would have looked closer, he's see her slightly leaning into him, too. "You okay?" he laughs at her antics.
"I don't like spiders," she complains.
He chuckles, "so you thought watching a film about a Spider man was a good idea?"
"He isn't really a spider though," she corrects, "he's a hybrid of the DNA." She then says, "and he doesn't have all the creepy legs like a spider. That's the worst part."
"You're such a girl," Finn says.
"You say that like it's a bad thing," her voice teases, face so close to his that he can feel her breath gently brush past his chin. And there's just something different, something unfamiliar about this situation. The charged air between them sets Finn into panic mode, especially when he can't seem to find his voice to say anything. So he comes up with a plan B.
All Finn does is shake his head at her, before ruffling her hair as he knows that it's the best way to irritate her. She instantly shrieks, moving away from him with a scowl on her lips. "Finn," she growls, "what was that for?"
He shrugs, keeping his sigh of relief to himself.
Before anything else can be said, the door leading out of the basement bursts open and Blaine enters, followed by a small black cat.
"Fiyero!" Rachel squeals, pausing the movie to go and pick up her kitten. She nuzzles him against her cheek, smiling brightly.
"Well hi then," Blaine says sarcastically.
Finn ignores that, instead asking, "Fiyero?"
"Yes," she stares simply. He stares to her with a blank expression. "From wicked?" Nothing. She gasps. "Your lack of musical knowledge astounds me." Then her attention turns back to the back, "I think it's time for someone's din dins." Her voice is almost song like and way too excited to be talking about feeding a cat some dinner. Finn shakes his head.
He watches her jog up the stairs, not before shouting, "don't start the movie again without me!" and disappearing from the room.
Blaine rolls his eyes when she's gone, "her and that cat, I swear." He sits himself beside Finn, where Rachel had just been sat.
With a laugh, he shrugs, "that's just Rachel though, isn't it?"
"I guess." He looks to the TV screen in front of them, "what's she got you watching? Funny girl? The sound of music?"
"The Amazing Spider-man," he says casually.
He frowns deeply, "there's no singing in that. Is Rachel okay?" His gaze moves up to the door which she'd just walked through, "she never watches movies like this. I mean, obviously Andrew Garfield is in it… so it's not like there isn't any hot lead, but a superhero movie? Really?"
"She's full of surprises," he chuckles, then explains, "we both kind of agreed on it anyway."
"She gave you a choice?" Blaine gapes.
Shaking his head, he says, "it's just that she never lets anyone else have the privilege of choosing, so it's weird that with you sh– oh."
His ears perk up, along with the rest of his body, and he turns to Blaine, gesturing for him to go on. "Yeah… what is it?" The way that Blaine clamps his mouth closed and quickly shakes his head doesn't help his curiosity – you can just start saying something and then completely drop it. People are bound to want to know the rest. Like him, right now.
"You don't remember?" Blaine asks, the ambiguity of his question leaving Finn further baffled.
With a frown, he shakes his head, "no, I should… if you don't know – I –"
"Blaine," he says, "come on, dude. We're best friends. We tell each other everything, don't we?"
"Don't guilt trip me," Blaine nudges his side.
"If you tell me this," he offers, "then I'll tell you one of my secrets."
"You don't have any secrets."
Finn gives a wry smile, "you'll just have to find out for yourself, won't you?" He can see Blaine hesitate, wanting to know whatever it is Finn is talking about, if there is in fact anything to know. Finn smirks, "I need an answer."
"Fine," he groans, "I'll tell you, but you can't mention this to Rachel, okay? She will literally kill me."
Now Finn really wants to know the secret. Leaning forward in his seat, he nods quickly. "I'll take it to the grave with me," he jokes, resting his hand on his heart. "Now shoot."
"Okay," he finally agrees with a sigh, "it's just that I think Rach has such a soft spot with you because well… she used to have like, this huge crush on you." Upon hearing this, he stares at Blaine like he's crazy. The thought of anyone having a crush on him - let alone a 'huge' one – seems completely surreal and impossible. But to hear that it's Rachel, who could like, get someone so much better than him, makes his head spin. Though she may not be super popular, she's totally out of his league, and she should not be crushing on him.
"What?" he gapes, "when?"
He shrugs his shoulders, "I don't know, two years ago? One year?" he looks shocked, "you really don't remember? Every other word that came out of her mouth was Finn this and Finn that." He narrows his eyes, "seriously?"
"No, I didn't even know. Are you lying…?"
"Dude, she was so obvious."
"Erm, no," he insists, still not quite believing it, "it's kind of insane."
Blaine nods along. "Tell me about it. Anyway," he adds, "she got over it, but I think you'll always, you know, have a special place in her heart." Chuckling, he pinches Finn's cheek, "you were her first crush after all." He slaps away Blaine's hand, face scrunching up in annoyance. "Now, you have to tell me your secret."
He blinks furiously, "what?"
"Hey," Blaine points his finger, "don't play dumb."
"Okay, okay," he gives in after little prompting, "so my secret is…"
He's actually excited about being able to tell someone, and Blaine is his best friend, so he knows that he won't tell another soul, which allows him to be his normal self for a while and at the same time having the support of his friend. To be honest, he's been waiting for this moment to admit it to someone, and now it's finally here. Finn takes in a deep breath, "I'm a prince."
"I'm the Prince of Genovia," he says simply, shrugging his shoulders and then patting at his stomach, "do you have any popcorn? I'm hungry."
His friend stares, before his eyes narrow suspiciously, "Finn, you are a terrible liar. I can't believe you tricked me into telling you that."
"I'm not lying."
"Sure," he responds, "there isn't even a place called Genovia, is there? You just made it up."
Incredulously, he looks to Blaine. He just spilled out the biggest secret of the century and Blaine doesn't believe him. What else is he supposed to do? He can't exactly prove it right now, sitting at Blaine's house in some running pants and a sleep shirt. Blaine gives him this look, then shakes his head, "I can't believe you tried pulling something like that on me. I'm not that gullible, you know."
Finn resists the urge to facepalm.
And he's given no further room to explain to his friend that no, he isn't lying – he's actually trying to tell him something really important – as Rachel steps into the room once again. She's all smiles and enthusiasm as she bounces down the stairs, and Finn's mind is instantly dragged back to what Blaine had said, about her crush. It's crazy and unthinkable that she used to have a crush on him, but for some reason, he finds himself hoping that the revelation was true.
He practically runs into the house, his new shoes skidding on the floor, as he tries not to go face first into the wall. As he jogs, his arms kind of flail a little, until he halts dead on in the middle of the room, finding his grandmother and Charlotte already waiting.
"You're late," she says impatiently.
"I know," he sighs, "I was helping my friend out with his cable show."
The excuse quickly accepted, she claps her hands together, "Charlotte, send in Paolo if you will."
In a flurry of excited speech, an Italian man enters, continuously complementing his grandmother in this really creepy way that makes Finn cringe. He finds himself staring at the man with judging eyes 'cause she's like at least sixty something and that type of talk is weird.
Eventually, she smiles graciously and gestures toward Finn, "Paolo, please meet my grandson, Finnley."
The man turns to him, containing a small shriek, which makes Finn's eyebrows dip together in confusion. Then it feels as though Paolo's eyes are seizing him up, seeing him as something to 'makeover' rather than a person. Finn doesn't like it at all.
He almost doesn't want his grandmother to leave him alone with this guy, 'cause he'll admit that he's a little creeped by him, okay? But in the end, she does, and she isn't there as this guy breaks his glasses and then begins to cut his hair. Finn watches as more and more disappears, no longer hanging in front of his eyes, which is a strange sensation – he's grown so used to his haircut over the years, and had never bothered to change it.
By the time he's finished, Finn is bored out of his mind and wishing that he had some video games to play, but no such luck.
Paolo calls his grandmother back in, putting some 'before' pictures in front of his face and dramatically beginning, "Paolo is exhausted your Majesty, because only Paolo can take this and this, and give you." Finn blinks as the pictures are removed from before him, and he now finds himself staring at Charlotte and his grandmother. "A Prince."
"Wonderful," she announces, "much better."
He feels nervous now, wondering what on Earth had been changed, other than his hair and glasses. He's never really focused on looks – he's not a jock or anything, and he doesn't want to be vain, so he just sort of had a look that he stuck with.
Now, he's about to be faced with a whole new one.
Taking a deep breath, he turns in the swivelling chair and finds himself looking in the mirror at the 'new and improved' Finn Hudson. His hair is so much shorter than it was, gelled into perfect position atop his head, while the removal of his glasses had opened up his face, which seems a whole lot brighter than before.
Even though he doesn't feel like much had been done, staring at himself now… he seems like a whole other person. And he doesn't know whether he likes it.
Finn stares at himself in the mirror, knowing that there's no way that he can hide the changes made. He knows that they're necessary, in order for him to be presentable to the press, as he is representing Genovia too, and he needs to set a good impression. Now that he looks the part, he's half way there. The next step is playing the part, the one that he's most scared of. Yeah, the 'prince lessons' with his grandmother are helping, but he's still a loser at school; he's still clumsy as ever and he stumbles over his own words. He's not fit to be a leader, and anyone can see that.
It's kind of weird seeing himself with contacts in and they're like, super uncomfortable too, but his glasses are broken and stuff. He can't use them anymore. With a sigh, he finished straightening out his tie and grabs his backpack – new, of course. He actually has no idea what his grandmother did with his old one. But like, the one that he has now is all shiny and clean, and it's probably the only designer thing that he owns.
He trudges downstairs, instantly confronted by his mother, who thrusts a piece of toast into his hands, saying, "you're going to be late," before she kisses his cheek and continues getting herself ready for the day. She was totally blown away by his transformation, happy that he can show the world how much of a 'handsome boy' he is. Finn had only grumbled at that and walked away. He doesn't want to show anyone anything.
With everything ready, he moves outside and finds Will waiting by the car. "Good morning," he says, raising an eyebrow as he taps his watch.
Finn sighs, "I know. I woke up late." Will opens the door for him, and he quickly climbs in, wincing a little when the top of his head grazes the roof. "I was up all night worrying about what people are school are gonna say," he admits.
"You shouldn't care about them," Will advises, now in the front seat and starting the engine, "you should only want to please yourself."
And my grandmother, and my mom, and all of Genovia. He thinks, deflated.
The drive to Blaine's house is quiet, with Finn deep in thought and Will not wanting to interrupt him. He's nervous, really nervous, about Blaine seeing him like this, knowing that his friend is all in support of diverting from the crowd, being an individual. Right now, Finn looks like he could belong in the football team – all he needs is a letterman jacket and he'll look the part.
When the car begins to slow, and he sees the house, and Rachel waiting outside, his whole body feels drowned in nerves and anxiety, and he hates it. Blaine steps out of the house after Rachel, rolling his eyes at something that she says. She moves first, Finn manages to smile as she skips down their garden path until she reaches the door, which he opens from the inside.
The smile on her face wavers. It doesn't leave, just turns into one of shock and surprise, before she breathes out, "Finn?"
"Yeah," he shrugs, "it's… me."
It's strange, how the way she's looking at him – a way which would normally make him feel uncomfortable and self-conscious – but right now he kind of likes the attention. That's something new. And he actually finds himself smiling back at her.
Then Blaine arrives, his voice boisterous and sudden, "you know Rach, this isn't your own taxi service. You can't have a ride with me and Finn every – dude."
Finn moves his gaze from Rachel, who looks to him almost entranced, and then peers to Blaine, who is less so. "What…happened to you?"
He frowns, running a hand nervously through his now short hair. "Why? Does it look that bad?"
"You should sue," he says emphatically. "Right Rachel?" She blinks out of her trance, looking to Blaine in confusion, so he sighs and says, "I can't believe you actually let someone do that to you. You look ridiculous."
"Well, I dunno…" he mumbles, moving his gaze from Blaine, "it could be worse, right?"
Just as Blaine's about to speak, Rachel budges him to the side, "don't you listen to him, Finn. He's just jealous because his hair takes about a gallon of gel to tame in the morning." She's quicker than Blaine for getting in the car – and secretly Finn's a little thankful that he gets to sit next to her rather than Blaine for this ride – before she adds, "not to mention that you suit your hair shorter, and now you don't have any glasses to hide your face."
Blaine huffs, pushing at his own glasses, muttering something that only Rachel hears, but he suspects that it's not good as she proceeds to nudge Blaine harshly in the side.
"Everyone in?" Will casts a glance over his shoulder, before he starts the car forward.
"All I'm saying, Finn," he begins, "is that you used to care more about the important things, rather than the vanity of 'fitting in' and looking like all those other guys - the guys who slushy us – and now all of a sudden you're practically a clone of them. You sold out, dude."
And so it begins, Finn thinks, leaning his head against the cold window as Blaine's rant continues. He doesn't want to look like that type of guy. It's his grandmother who wants that, to make him look like a real Prince.
The car ride is tense, and Rachel balanced giving Blaine glares of 'shut up' and sending sympathetic smiles his way. When the car parks, a couple of blocks from school as usual, he couldn't get out of there faster. But, unfortunately, Blaine is out just as quickly, and Rachel gently holds his arm as she says, "don't listen to him. He's being an idiot." She sighs, "Jacob's coming this way. My cue to leave." She then begins to walk away to meet up with her own friends, while he turns and simultaneously pulls his beanie hat from his bag.
"You really think that's going to help?" Blaine says, "you know, the student population may be a bunch of morons, but they're not blind."
"Blaine!" he yells, "just lay off. I'm sorry that you're all jealous or bitter, but stop lashing out at me because of your stupid hobbit hair." The instant he says it, he regrets it, seeing the way Blaine completely halts and glares at him, though there's a tinge of sadness to his eyes. "Look, man, I'm sorry, I– "
"No, it's fine. Completely fine," he shrugs, but the upset is clear on his face, "it's just pretty obvious that there's something going on with you and you won't even tell me. I thought we were best friends?"
He rolls his eyes, "sure. That's why you've told me everything, right? And that's why you don't keep blowing me off to go to your grandma's house."
"I told you, it's somethi – "
"No you didn't tell me, Finn. You don't tell me anything these days." His shoulders sad, face becomes crestfallen, "it's like I don't even know you sometimes."
He feels sadness at the pit of his stomach; that kind of hurt and like, he tries not to show his emotions, but he's sure that Blaine can see right through that. They both stare at each other, standing their ground. This is not the way he wants it to be, they're supposed to be friends, and they're not acting like it.
With an inward groan, he knows that he's going to tell Blaine the truth, and this time he's going to make sure that he believes him. Making sure that no one else is around to hear them, he grabs Blaine by the collar of his shirt and brings him nearer. "You can't tell anyone, got it?"
Curiosity peaked, he nods and looks expectant.
Finn takes a deep breath, hoping this time works better, "I'm a Prince." The reluctance to believe from Blaine is obvious, and Finn closes his eyes, "I'm not making this up, okay? My grandmother is the Queen and I'm like, the only heir to the thrown so she's come here to turn me into a real Prince or whatever and that's why I've been acting all distant and there's the sudden change."
He blinks, eyes wide, "are you serious? So when you said it at my house you weren't joking?!" If Finn isn't mistaken, it sounds like Blaine is excited.
"You believe me?" he breathes out, staring to his best friend hopefully.
"I – I know that it's kind of crazy." Finn is inclined to agree. "But I don't know… it all seems to make sense and I – you're really a Prince. Gosh." He looks almost star struck, "my best friend is a Prince. Will you come on my cable show?".
"Dude, I can't. This is a secret and no one is allowed to know." Still, the fact that at least Blaine knows means that he can talk to someone about it, someone who he's totally comfortable with.
"Not even Rachel?" he asks as they slowly start toward school.
His eyes widen slightly, before he hisses out, "especially not Rachel." He doesn't want her treating him any different. He wants to be just Finn to her; not a Prince. But he doesn't say that to Blaine and quickly lies, "if you told her then she'd let it slip at one point."
"You're right," Blaine agrees, then squeals happily, "Oh man, this is so exciting. Tell me everything! From the start."
Finn sighs. This is going to be a long day.
He hopes it doesn't look creepy, waiting for her outside of her ballet studio, but he'd rather do this without Blaine suddenly popping up, or one of her friends interrupting. It does. This way it can be just the two of them, and without an audience he'll hopefully be confident and smooth. Well, more so than usual anyway.
Rachel is the first one out, an eager bounce in her step, and he quickly sets in motion, moving up behind her. "Hey Rach."
A look of complete shock crosses her face upon seeing him, though it's quickly overshadowed by a flustered smile. "Finn," she says, the slightest hint of a blush on her cheeks, "what are you doing here? I thought you were getting picked up from school?"
"Yeah I was, but I told Will not to bother today, 'cause I wanted to talk to you."
Her smile brightens, "you waited all this time for me?"
"It's kind of important," he offers as an answer.
She then straightens up, nodding eagerly. "O-okay."
"Are you alright? You seem nervous…"
"Oh, I'm fine," she gives a little forced laugh, reaching up to push some stray hair behind her ears, "it's just you make me a little nervous – I mean… not nervous per se, just you know – "
He breaks her rant with quick, frantic words, as if pushing them all out at once, "you wanna go out some time?"
"What?" she balks.
Finn smiles down at her, the expression on her face making said smile grow. He's thought about it a lot – well, he's thought about her a lot – recently. How eager he always is to see her, how much the thought that she once had a crush on him makes his heart thump about, and how the way she smiles makes him smile, too. And the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he cares for her, a lot.
And maybe it could like, turn into more. So yeah, he's going to ask her before anyone better than him comes along and steals his chance.
"Like, a date," he says, trying to sound like his whole body isn't quaking with nerves.
"You want to go on a date with me?"
"Well, yeah. That's kind of why I asked…you."
She frowns, "but there are so many prettier girls out there than me."
In an instant, his brows knot together, "Rach, you're beautiful." Her gaze snaps up in his direction, like she can't quite believe he's just said that. "Anyway, stuff like that doesn't matter. I want to take you on a date because you're you, and you know, I like you." She's smiling again, which he takes as a good sign. "So, you wanna do something then?"
"I'll think about it," she responds with a sly smirk.
But Finn frowns: he'd kind of been hoping for a straight out yes, rather than having to worry on waiting for her answer. Upon seeing his expression change, she lets out a few short giggles. Oh great, now she's laughing at him.
"You know, if you don't want to, you can just tell me instead of laughing," he snaps, wiping the smile right off her face.
"Finn," she starts gently, "do you not remember what I told you? That time when we were at my house and I was trying to persuade my dad to let me stay over at Tina's?"
He tries to go back to the conversation, to relive it, and then realization hits his face, mouth slowly forming into an 'o'. "You said that when a person says 'I'll think about it', they mean yes." He shakes his head, laughing, "oh okay, I almost thought that you didn't want to for a moment then."
"I thought you'd remember the conversation," she defends herself.
"Sorry Rach, I've slept since then." Finn gently nudges her side, chuckling when she returns said nudge just as quickly. "You in then?" With a bright smile, she nods. "Awesome! We could go like, bowling or something? I dunno…breadsticks?"
"Bowling sounds like fun." Rachel bites her lower lip, eyes moving over him slowly, while he nods, a burst of happiness surging through him. He always thought that asking somebody out would be the hardest thing ever, but compared to his 'Prince lessons' that was actually easy. Really easy. A part of him thinks that's due to it being with Rachel, and by now he's completely comfortable with her. "Maybe this Friday?"
"Oh, I can't. I'm busy. How about next Friday?"
Rachel smiles softly, "sure. It's a date."
And the conversation just slips on easily, as if he hadn't just asked her on a date, and it's no big deal. "You going to your grandmother's again?" she asks. He nods slowly. "You know, you go there a lot, considering how you didn't want to go the first time I saw you…" Rachel's eyes narrow, "it's weird."
Finn shifts uncomfortably, clearing his throat. "Yeah well, she needs some company and stuff. Like all grandmother's. Nothing wrong with that, right?"
"I'm scared," he says while they're on their way to the state dinner, Finn's palms are sweaty and his pulse beating wildly. This is his time to show how much he's learned, to prove to his grandmother that this all hasn't been a waste of time. He wants it to be perfect, for his clumsy tendencies to disappear for the night. He wants to do something right. So it's only natural that he's nervous, his stomach twisting with those nerves.
Will peers at him through the rear view mirror, "that's okay. It's normal." And with a quick smile of reassurance the conversation in over, leaving Finn deep in thought in the back seat, until Will is opening the door beside him. He looks up, their eyes meeting, and the man nods. Finn straightens out his tie, before stepping out of the vehicle.
Well, here goes nothing.
The inside of the venue is nothing short of magnificent, the style matching that of his grandmother's home, with its dark woods and grand rooms. He tries not to let his mouth hang open in awe too much as they step inside, Will on his tail.
Looking down the stairs, he nearly jumps out of his skin at the sight of the other guests, torn between wanting to prove himself and being so nervous that he could just run away. Will's hand clamps down on his shoulder. "Just breathe and take it easy," he advices, gently patting his back.
Finn nods, repeating the mantra over in his head. He can do this. He can do this. With a steady hold on his nerves, he begins to descend the stairs, trying to look as confident as possible. Normally this would be the point where he'd want to throw up, or pass out, but for some reason that feeling isn't as strong now, even with all those eyes on him.
He gives a genuine smile as he reaches the bottom, Charlotte meeting with him in an instant and introducing him to people that he'd learned of from his grandmother, including the prime minister of Genovia. By the end of it Finn's cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, dinner is served."
At this announcement, his stomach growls hungrily, reminding him that all he's eaten that day is a measly sandwich. He follows the other guests into the large banquet hall, spying his grandmother at the head of the table. Finn tries a not so subtle wave in her direction, watching as she gives him a look, but still waves back, with much more grace than he had.
"Welcome," she stands proudly, eyes moving over all of the guests, "it's an honor to be dining with you all tonight. Please, sit and enjoy." He follows suit, smiling as the first course is brought out. And yeah, for a while he thinks that maybe he can do this. People talk to him, and he manages to engage back, smiling and nodding in all the right places. If only Blaine could see him now, being a social butterfly. Hah!
The problems start, however, after he's been to the bathroom. Finn doesn't notice the small trail of toilet paper trailing on his shoe. Well, not until it's too late. He's reached the table now, and he has to get rid of it subtly, without gaining any attention to himself.
Slowly, he tries to use his other foot to tug it off, only sighing in frustration when it just gets stuck to that foot. And this proceeds, making Finn more frantic and clumsy, and that's never a good mix. Somehow, he still doesn't know, he manages to trip up on his own feet, falling to the floor.
But not only does he fall. His hands uselessly reach out for something to hold onto, something solid. The only problem is that he grabs onto the table cloth, pulling down with him a large pile of the food, plates and glasses, all shattering when they hit the wooden floor.
Finn sinks down where he's sat, trying to hide the shame.
"No mom, you don't understand. It was mortifying. They were all just staring at me," he relives the experience, shuddering, "like they knew I was gonna screw up and they were just waiting for it to happen." Finn drops his head into his hands where he's curled up on the couch, "I quit."
"You quit what, honey?" she smiles gently, moving to sit down beside him.
He sighs, barely looking up. "I quit this. The dinners and the keeping up appearances and the whole just being royal thing. I am not cut out for it."
"Finn," his mom says, more forcefully now, "you're being too critical on yourself. You can't just know it all over night. Those people you were with tonight have been surrounded by a lifestyle like that all their lives – they don't know any different. But for you it's so different, and you're asking too much of yourself."
Finn finds himself frowning. How is he expecting too much of himself? All he wants is to make his grandmother proud and not to embarrass himself, and the royal family, in front of the press. But he did embarrass them. He just had to trip and fall because he's a big, clumsy idiot. He sighs deeply, body wilting.
His mom wraps her arm around him, offering a small smile. "You want to do right so much, I can see that. It's what your father was always like." Finn lifts his gaze slightly, eyes just managing to meet hers, "and just like him you think you're a failure if you do one thing wrong. But Finn, sweetheart, you're not a failure. I'm so proud of you – look how far you've come." Her fingers brush through his short hair, "you've grown so much in these past few weeks, and at some point you'll see that." She then kisses his forehead, gaze hovering for a moment before she's smiling again and standing up.
He watches her go, a smile twitching on his own lips.
Now, he doesn't feel so scared, so daunted. He feels… almost hopeful.
Maybe he can do this.
He's just putting his books in his locker when he turns around, almost getting knocked out of the way as Santana Lopez barges past him. His eyebrows dip together in annoyance, though it's instantly turned around when he sees Rachel moving down the hallway in his direction, clutching pink and purple binders to her chest. She beams when she sees him, and he quickly returns it.
"Hi Finn," she bounces right up to him, leaning against his now closed locker and peering up to him, "you look like you're in a better mood."
"What? Oh yeah. Sorry about being kind of down this week," he says, thinking back to how he'd been the first few days after the dinner. But he'd just felt like a total disappointment, and such thought had left him in a bad mood.
Now, having a few days to mull over his mom's words and with the upcoming date with Rachel, he feels happy once more.
"Is everything okay?" she asks with care.
"Fine, fine," he says, but she sets a look on him. "Hey, you don't need to worry about me." He smiles just as she does, "anyway, you want a ride home? Will's waiting a couple of blocks away."
"Sure," she agrees, "let's go."
They set off for the small walk to the car, deep in a conversation about their upcoming date, when they hear Blaine's voice.
"Hey guys, wait up for me!" The pair turn, seeing Blaine run towards them at a frantic pace. He passes two freshmen, pulling a face, "not you, I don't even know you." And then proceeds to run through them until he reaches Finn and Rachel. "Hi," he pants.
"Hey Blaine," he laughs at his friend. "I thought you were working on your cable show tonight?"
He shakes his head, "I'm going to Kurt's house for dinner with him and his dad. I need to go home and pick out the perfect bowtie." Finn notices Rachel roll her eyes, chuckling to himself. "Anyway, what are you two doing?" He observes them suspiciously.
Rachel looks up to Finn, "he keeps asking me about our date. He seems to think that you have ulterior motives."
Finn raises an eyebrow toward Blaine, "you do?"
"I'm just wondering why this has all of a sudden come from. I mean, I understand her asking you out, but you asked her," he smirks, "if you have feelings for her, then you could have at least told me." Blaine almost pouts, readjusting his thick rimmed glasses.
"Yeah," he laughs, "and get the 'big brother' talk from you? No thanks, dude."
A scoff comes from Rachel. "Big brother talk? He's two minutes older than me!"
"I'm still older," he mumbles, adding, "and taller."
Watching the interaction with amusement, he shakes his head. "You know, sometimes I'm glad that I'm an only child." And that's when he receives the same glare from the twins, making him laugh further.
Things are definitely looking up lately.
Finn checks his appearance again as he moves past his mirror, staring at his blue striped sweater and jeans. He wonders what Rachel is going to wear.
It's so crazy, he considers as he slowly makes his way down the stairs, that this time a few months ago his throat would've seized up at the thought of even asking a girl out, and now he's going on a date with Rachel of all people, who's super pretty and smart, and just plain awesome. He grins, feeling nerves again. Not like the type of nerves before that state dinner though. Good, excited nerves. He honestly can't wait.
"Mom, I'm going now!" he shouts through the house, grabbing his wallet and jogging toward the door.
Before he can get out of it, she seems to appear out of nowhere and hugs him, "oh, let me take a look at you."
"You're so grown up, going on your first date," she brings a hand to her mouth, staring at him with watery eyes.
He sighs, "mom."
"Remember to be a gentleman, like I taught you." She starts to primp his clothes, still babbling on.
"Mom, please. I'm going to be late," he insists.
"Fine, fine," she smiles, "you go and whoo her, honey."
Rolling his eyes, he opens the door, ready to go to his car when suddenly he's stopped in his tracks. There are paparazzi outside his house, all crowded in the drive and garden, and the second they see him they advance, cameras and microphones at the ready.
"Here he is," one says, "Prince Finnley! We have a few questions for you."
"No," Finn whispers in horror.
He's overwhelmed by people calling his name and flashes blinding him. He barely manages to get back inside the house, blinking profusely to get the stars from his eyes.
"Finn?" he mom questions, wondering why he's suddenly back, but then she hears the chaos outside and peers through the window to look herself. "Finn, who are all these people?"
He feels sick, and at the same time it's like he can barely feel his limbs, as though he's floating. But his body is struck with fear and anxiety. "They know," he says, "they all know mom." There's no mistaking that that's the reason they're outside his house. They'd called him Prince Finnley, for God's sake! Finn drops himself against the wall, hanging his head. He doesn't know if he's ready for people to know yet. Yeah, Blaine knows, but he doesn't treat him any different. Why would he? But he's sure to be the center of attention at school if everyone knows and to go from being invisible to that will be a huge – and not particularly welcome – change.
"What?" his mom looks again. "How?"
"I don't know!" he hisses. He knows that the paparazzi are sneaky, but why would they be learning things about some small town kid like him? It just doesn't make sense. Unless… unless someone told. But the only person who knows is Blaine, and he trusts his best friend. He just wouldn't do that to him. Peering out again, he lets that horrible feeling sink over him. This is not good.
"What I don't understand is how this got out to the press," his grandmother says from where she's sat on the couch. "We make everyone sign a confidentiality agreement. This isn't something that supposed to be flaunted on the newspapers."
The door opens, and all three look up to Will, who stands up straight and says, "your majesty, I've been informed that the person responsible for this is a Jacob Ben Israel."
"Jacob?!" Finn gapes. How on Earth did he find out?
"Do you know him?" His mother questions in concern.
"H-he goes to my school. But I don't understand… there's no way he could know… I mean, he's sneaky and stuff, 'cause he runs the school newspaper. He follows people around to get stories, but I haven't seen him following me around… how does he know?" Finn shakes his head in disbelief.
Half an hour later and Will manages to track down Jacob, bringing him into the house. At the sight of his weasel face, Finn growls, advancing on him. "How did you know Jacob?" Now Finn's not a particularly violent person, but he supposes that his height must be intimidating and Jacob flinches, especially when his fists curl around his collar, bringing him slightly off his feet.
Will quickly steps in, placing a hand on Finn's shoulder to calm him and gently push him backwards. He becomes a little less tense, his snarl decreasing in size.
"Now young man," she begins calmly, much in contrast to Finn, "how is it exactly that you stumbled across this piece of information, and then decided to share it with half the news broadcasts of Lima?"
Beneath her intense stare, he gulps. "I – I…"
She clears her throat, "yes?"
"I overheard a conversation between Finn and Blaine."
"That was private," he growls.
"It's not my fault you were talking loud enough for everyone to hear," he shoots back. "And… after that, I did some research. About you, about Finn and everything clicked. I couldn't keep a secret like that to myself – can you imagine the recognition I'm going to get for outing this?"
"Unbelievable," he mumbles under his breath. The fact that he'd be willing to ruin everything just to get some recognition makes Finn sick. People just have no standards these days.
And now they're in huge mess. Surely this is going to spread and he's going to get recognized. He could barely leave his house before for all the press, and this is just the start. School is going to be hell tomorrow, with everyone knowing - he won't be Mr Invisible any more. He's not sure that he's ready to step into a new role after all these years of the same status. Blaine will treat him just the same, like he already has, but then there's his classmates… and what will Rachel think?
His breath hitches in his throat.
He was supposed to meet her at the bowling alley hours ago!
Ignoring the funny stares that he's receiving, he shoots out of the room and snaps out his phone, going to call her. "Pick up, pick up, pick up," he repeats in a hopeless prayer that she's not upset at him. Eyes screwed shut, he begs and pleads to the phone, but it can't help him. And he really shouldn't be surprised when there's no answer.
As if things couldn't get any worse.
All eyes are on him as he enters the school, people waving to him who he hardly knows. He hitches his bag a little higher and sets his sights out for Blaine, wondering where he can find his friend, the same friend who hasn't returned any of his calls over the weekend, so that means he's pissed at him. But why wouldn't he be? Finn basically stood up his sister. He'd be pissed if he was in Blaine's situation.
Finn's forehead creases in confusion when Santana Lopez saunters by him, sending a smirk his way, then she winks. He does a double take, wondering whether he just imagined, because there's no way that a cheerio just winked at him, right?
Lost in thought over that, he doesn't notice when Blaine bounds up. "Enjoying yourself, are we?"
He rolls his eyes, "dude, I was just shocked. I'm not like, interested or anything."
"I wouldn't have thought so since you're clearly no longer interested in my sister who, oh yeah, you made wait for two hours!"
"Look, I'm sorry – "
Blaine glares to him, "sorry doesn't cut it, Finn." He leans in closer, eyes filled with anger, "she spent the whole night locked in her room, crying."
"…what?" his voice trembles. He feels like the biggest douche on the planet. Making her cry? The very thought makes his heart clench tightly in pain – he never wants to make her upset.
His friend is still staring to him, that look of betrayal lingering, "I thought that you cared about her."
Quickly, he responds, "I do care about her."
He scoffs, "sure looks like it."
"Look," he says, "I didn't do it on purpose. I was just about to leave but then – they were everywhere. I stepped outside my house and there were so many people because some punk told everyone about me. Now they all know and I – I can't escape it now." He drops his head, "you don't think I can see how everyone is looking at me differently. I hate it."
"They were at your house?" Blaine asks quietly.
Finn's jaw tightens, "for an hour, until the police came and moved them, but I had to stay with grandmother while we figured out who told." He watches the concern cross over Blaine's face, then adds, "it was Jacob Ben Israel. You know that creep who runs the school newspaper?"
"Yeah, he said he overheard us. Started digging around in stuff he shouldn't have." He shakes his head, the anger bubbling up again. "And because of it my date with Rach was screwed and now she won't even talk to me."
"I-I'll explain everything to her," Blaine offers, "she'll understand."
He quickly refuses, "I want to do it myself. "
"Okay and… sorry for being so angry with you. But you know, she's my sister, I – "
"I get it, dude, and don't worry. Do you know where she is by the way?"
"Auditorium," Blaine says without missing a beat, adding, "when she's upset she likes to sing about it. And that's the best place to do it." He smiles, "there are good acoustics." He nods, gently patting Blaine's shoulder as he heads in that direction, hearing his friend shout a loud, "good luck!" after him. He thinks he's gonna need it.
The sound of music draws him in, then the sound of her voice rising loud above it. He doesn't know what song she's singing, but she throws herself into it, her emotions obvious – those being hurt and upset. The further the song continues, the more he feels himself frowning, that guilt overcoming his body. It's not exactly like he could have helped what happened, but he can imagine it; Rachel sitting there, waiting and waiting for him to come, looking more disappointed as he doesn't. He's really going to have to make this up to her.
Despite being completely lost in the song, something gives, and her gaze moves down to where he is, like an invisible force tugging it there. The minute she sees him, her voice cuts off, while the music continues throughout the auditorium.
She quickly moves to turn it off, before folding her arms and leaning against the large speaker. Though she's trying to keep a tough visage, the cracks easily show through it, restoring his hope that she'll forgive him. "Hi," he says, offering her a small smile.
Rachel's face hardens, "what do you want, Your Majesty?"
He halts in all movement, before saying, "you know then?"
"How could I not? It's all over the news Finn?" Her frown conveys more hurt, "why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't tell anyone, Rachel." He defends himself, "I didn't want to be known as that guy. I want to be known for… me." The softness of his voice seems to make a dent in her amor, and she gazes down at him sympathetically, "not to mention that wasn't supposed to be announced until this big ball or whatever. Just…" He sighs, "and besides, you think I'm enjoying all this attention?"
She pulls a face, "what about the attention from girls?" Her eyebrow slowly rises.
"The only girl I care about is you." He finally reaches her, thinking that he's definitely made progress when she lets him take hold of her hand, squeezing it gently. "Rach, you gotta know that I didn't mean for that to happen on Friday – I feel terrible for it."
"I was so embarrassed," she admits, "I could see everyone, their amused faces… it was horrible."
"If I could do anything to help, I would. But I can't."
"I know," she whispers, "I saw your house on the news; there were so many people…"
Finn's face morphs into one of surprise, "you did? So you knew?" She slowly nods, "why have you been ignoring my calls then? I've spent all weekend just waiting for you to answer at least one of them."
"I just – I didn't want to face you. I wasn't ready." She gulps, "and I was kind of in shock upon hearing that you're a – a Prince. I still can't quite grasp the idea."
"You and me both," he smiles. Rachel manages a tiny one back.
Rachel then continues, "no offence, but you don't strike me as the kind."
He laughs, "you have no idea. No matter how many 'prince lessons' I have with my grandmother, I still manage to screw things up…" Finn stops, letting his train of thought return to what he originally came he for, "so you're not angry then? Because if it's any consolation, I feel absolutely terrible about it." His lips rise in a hopeful half smile, "forgive me?"
"Well…" His puppy dog eyes seem to sway her, "I'll think about it."
Bursting into a smile, he picks her up from his sheer relief and spins her around a couple of times. Rachel's loud squeals make him grin further, especially when she rests her head against his chest, though she soon twists her neck so that her eyes are staring up to his. Finn feels the sudden urge to kiss her.
And that's exactly what he does.
She slips back onto her feet, before he cups her chin with a soft touch, his lips grazing against Rachel's in a feather light kiss. Closing her eyes, she moves forward, her eagerness quick to appear. Finn's tongue brushes over her lower lip, begging for entrance, which Rachel allows with a sweet sigh.
He never really knew what kissing was like, seeing as he'd only ever seen it in movies or heard about it from Blaine (not that they talk about stuff like that or anything) but this… this is explosive, amazing and he deepens the action, letting himself just feel her lips and nothing else.
When she pulls back, she's wearing the most serene, peaceful smile, and he thinks that she's never looked more beautiful.
"We should do that again sometime," he breathes.
"You won't hear any complaints from me."
He totally wishes that he was somewhere else. Finn thought that parties were supposed to be fun, but all they're only rooms full of high or drunk people all making out and playing beer pong. Where's the fun in that? Moving through the crowds, and waving back to everyone who eagerly greets him, not that he knows who most of them are.
The red cup in his hand is still full of his drink, Finn only having had a couple of sips. He'd been invited to the party by Santana, who'd just walked straight up to him after his math class. He hadn't wanted to go, but then her friends had started encouraging him, so insistently that he just caved and agreed. Now he regrets it, or wishes that one of his real friends were there.
"Hey Hudson." He turns when he hears Santana's sultry voice behind him, and turns to find her in this red dress that reveals a hell of a lot. "You like what you see?" She teases the tip of her tongue against her lips, reaching out for Finn's collar before he even has a chance to say, or do, anything – other than stare at her wide eyed.
The Lopez's have a sort of pool room, which he'd quickly dragged into, passing Quinn and Brittany on the way, with the sound of the door shutting behind them as they enter. "What're you – " He squirms against her lips as she starts to kiss him heatedly, a hand rubbing over his crotch.
"Whoa!" he jumps back.
"Don't you wanna have a little fun?" she smirks, smoothing a hand over her soft curves.
Not this kind of fun.
But she's suddenly kissing him again, just as frantically, as her experienced movements cause him to lose focus for a moment. He gets lost in the thought of how wrong and dirty the kisses feel – how they aren't special. And by that time she's already tugging at his shirt, unbuttoning it in few quick motions, which allows her to easily slip the material from his shoulders.
Finn comes to his senses, tugging back from her. "What are you doing?"
"Come on," she smirks, "you can't tell me that you're not interested."
"Not with you."
"You'd rather stick it in that hobbit that me?!" she questions incredulously.
He pulls a face at her choice of words, especially for calling Rachel a hobbit, and then shakes his head. "Look, I'm gonna go. Let's just, forget this happened." He reaches for his shirt, only for his frustrations to grow when she snatches it away.
Before he can even stop her, she reaches out for his pants, unbuttoning those, too, and then shouting, "Ready!"
What? Ready for what? Finn desperately tries to resist her hands, but she's so fast and the next thing he knows, she's pulled his pants all the way down, exposing his underwear. Then, on cue, the doors are pushed wide open. His face pales when he sees the smirks of not only Quinn and Brittany, but the photographers all stood in the doorway.
He screams, reaching to bring his pants back up. He barely has time to button them as he grabs hold of his shirt from the laughing Santana and storms through the crowd to find his car, completely and utterly humiliated. Finn feels himself having to hold back the strong urge to cry. He wishes that nobody knew again. He wishes that this never happened to him, that someone else could have been 'lucky' enough to be a prince.
She drops down the newspaper in front of him, where he sees his own picture staring back, and cringes at the sight of it. Honestly, can people just pretend that it never happened?
"I'm sorry," he mumbles, head bowed and face showing his obvious regret. "I was – I was so stupid to go to that party."
"You can say that again," she agrees, placing on her glasses as she peers to it herself once more. "I bet you can imagine the damage control I'm having to do for this careless mistake." She shakes her head crossly, "it's an embarrassment to the Royal Family."
Way to dig the knife deeper, he thinks.
"I guess," he starts, "I shouldn't go to the ball then…"
She stares up at him, "why, of course you should come. Just because you're not going to become our Crown Prince doesn't mean you're banished from the family."
"Bu –" He doesn't want to embarrass anyone further, especially himself. He's had about enough of that as he can take.
"Finnley, as my grandson, I want you there, and you can invite your friends – only not the ones from this party."
With a small nod, he takes one last look at the paper, then tears his eyes away and leaves.
"She just looked so… disappointed," he tells Blaine later that day, "and that was the worst thing, you know? That I'd done that to her, after all the effort that she'd put into helping me – I repay her with that. I feel like such an idiot for going now."
Blaine nods along, "and you were pressured into it anyway. They tricked you."
He sighs, "try telling that to my grandmother." He drops back onto Blaine's bed, stretching his legs out all the way and trying to forget about the conversation with the woman. "I guess it's a good thing that I'm not going to be a Prince. Now I don't have to worry about doing something stupid like this again."
His friend's head snaps his way, mouth falling open. "You're not going to be a Prince?"
"After this? No way."
Shaking his head in a failure to comprehend, he says, "you're going to let one incident deter you from such an amazing opportunity?"
"Amazing opportunity?" Now it's his turn to stare at Blaine like he's crazy.
"Do you know how many people dream to be in the position that you're in, where you have the power to make a good change in this world?" His forehead creases, "you can help so many people, Finn. Don't you see that?" At these words, he's completely silent, having not even considered such things. And now that Blaine has mentioned them, they all seem so important, a cause worth fighting for. "What more of a miracle do you want?"
"I don't know…" he strains his face, "a different kind."
Blaine sighs, but doesn't push further as he senses that he's not going to get anything else out of Finn.
"Oh," his friend says, "before I forget. There's a Royal Ball and well… I'm inviting you…"
"Wow Finn, thanks. But… shouldn't you ask me out to dinner first?" he smirks.
"I know, I'm only joking." He smiles, "we'd love to."
He's listening to his grandmother speak and making sure that he has everything for that night simultaneously. It's sad to think that in a couple of days she'll be leaving, and this whole experience will become nothing more than a memory. He'll always be Royal by blood, but he'll remain the normal, everyday man Finn Hudson.
Yet, something she says causes him to stop dead in his tracks.
"Oh, I'll need you to say a few words, for the press."
His heart practically freezes over, "you mean a speech?" The words are squeaked out, in pure horror.
She laughs off his fear, a gentle smile lay on her lips, "it's just a formality. There's nothing to it." Yes, but she clearly doesn't get public speaking anxiety which, by the way, sucks. "Is that alright?"
Finn forces the biggest smile onto his lips, "that's fine. Totally awesome."
"Great," she smiles, "I'll have Will pick you up at – "
"No!" he stops her quickly, panicking when her expression turns to questioning, "it's just that my mom wanted to drive me. You know, my only big ball and everything." He tries to speak casually, but he's sure that she can hear the thumping of his heart.
She nods, "alright. I'll see you there then."
"Yup," he smiles, beginning to walk her to the front door, "can't wait. It's gonna be great."
But the second she's out of the door, his mind is spinning, pulse racing, and he's just scared. There's only one thing to do, the only thing that he's good at. He's going to run.
Finn really has no idea where he plans on going, or for how long he plans on going, but the main thing is that he can't stay, he really can't stay... okay? He clumsily throws his clothes into his suitcases, closing them urgently and getting them ready to go downstairs. He feels sick with nerves, but it's better than haven't to do a speech in front of the press. It has to be.
Running at full pelt, he almost makes it out of the door.
As soon as he opens it, he's about a second away from knocking Rachel straight over.
"Rachel?" he asks out in confusion. "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be at the Ball?" She is dressed for a ball, or he thinks so anyway as he can see a long gown poking out from beneath her long, red coat.
"Your mom just called me," she says angrily, "saying that you were going to leave." Then her eyes fall down to the suitcases, her theory right. Nodding, she folds her arms across her chest, "and from the looks of it that's the plan, right?"
He rolls his eyes, stepping back into the house so that Rachel doesn't have to stand out in the rain for much longer. "Look, I can't do this. I can't be who she wants me to be!"
"So you're just going to run away?" She shakes her head, "Finn, you're better than that."
"No, no I'm not!"
Reaching for his suitcase again, his mouth drops open as her hand slaps his, making him drop the case in an instant. "How can you think that?" She just doesn't understand; Finn has so much potential, and yet he's the only one who doesn't seem to see it. "How can you think so little of yourself?"
He sighs, shoulders dropping, "look, I'm not you or Blaine. I don't have all your self-confidence and talent, and I sure as hell can't be a Prince."
Rachel's face scrunches up in frustration. "How do you know that, Finn?"
"How do I know that? Ever since I started "training" to become one, I've done nothing but screw things up and embarrass my family, my grandmother." He shrugs his shoulders, "but that's just me. A failure."
She shakes her head quickly. "You're not – you could never be."
"Rach, you don't need to lie to me," he says bluntly.
"I'm not lying."
"It's okay, my mom does it too –"
"I'm not lying," she insists. "Do you remember that time when you called because you were scared about that debate? And we talked and… I told you that I believe in you… That hasn't changed, Finn. I'll always believe in you, because I see all the good things you are, and all the good things you can be. I see the leader that you -"
He sighs, dropping his head in his hands, "I'm not a leader Rach."
Immediately, she's stepping closer to him. "No, you're not. Not yet." A smile begins to grow on her lips, "all you have to do is become that leader, and we both know how you're going to do that…" Finn raises his gaze. It instantly gets stuck on Rachel's, unable to move away.
The car zooms through the roads with the heavy rain hitting down on it and making it hard to see anything. Rachel clutches onto her seat tightly, eyes wide as she stares ahead and attempts to forget about Finn's frantic driving. The relief is clear on his face when he parks the car in front of the building, getting out first before he moves around to her side and pulls out the umbrella. It's difficult to get them both under, especially with their huge difference in height, and he just ends up letting her use it instead.
He wouldn't have even been that wet. Well if he didn't step in this huge as puddle on the way in. "Son of a -"
"Finn!" Rachel runs back to him, grabbing his hand, "come on!"
Stepping inside, he's instantly met by Will, who takes one look at his soaked clothes and grimaces, while Charlotte tries to ring the water out of it. Cold, shivering and nervous as hell, he feels his feet carrying him to the Grand Hall, where he can hear his grandmother's voice.
He peers down to Rachel, who surprises him by standing on her tiptoes and quickly his sweetly, deeply, before whispering, "break a leg," against his lips and going off to stand with Kurt and Blaine. Finn catches his breath back, only to have it taken away again when his grandmother introduces him.
"I'd like to announce that my grandson has just arrived," she smiles upon seeing him, said smile faltering when she notices his clothes, "with a wonderful explanation as to his appearance, I'm sure."
Stepping down, she slowly passes him, a knowing smile on her lips as she does.
And the Finn steps out onto the podium, finding hundreds of faces staring back at him. He clears his throat, "err, hi." Oh great, what should he say now? He looks down to his suit, "it's raining…" Nothing. Maybe he should imagine them all in their underwear? Oh wait, that would actually be a really bad idea. His mom is here. And Kurt and Blaine. So no. Before he knows it, the words begin to ramble out, "I'm not very good at making speeches. Last time I passed out and I – er, I hurt my friend's wrist. And sometimes I even throw up so."
The crowd all pull the same face, stepping back from him.
"…I shouldn't have said that..." He runs a hand through his damp hair, "but I'm not so afraid anymore. No – my… someone really special to me helped me." He pauses. "Earlier today I wanted to give away my claim to the throne, and my mom helped me, by supporting me through whatever decision I made, as she has done… all my life."
His hands stretch out across the large podium. "But I started to think – what would it be like, if I did abdicate? Would I be sad, or happy? And then I realized how many times a day I use the word I, and it's like all I ever think about is myself which is totally lame because there are so many other people in this world and their thoughts are just as important as mine." His words are so rushed that even he barely gets them, but his grandmother clears her throat and he grows sheepish. "…sorry."
"And then I started thinking – if I cared about everyone else out there, then that's probably going to have a greater effect on the world, an effect that I can make. If I were Prince of Genovia, then my thoughts, and thoughts of people smarter than me, could be much better heard, and those thoughts turned into actions." He smiles, taking in a deep breath. "So this morning I was just plain old Finn Hudson, but now… I chose to be Finnley Christopher Minuet Hudson Renaldi. Prince of Genovia."
The round of applause is overwhelming and, for a moment, he just stands there and smiles, feeling relief wash over him. It's official. He's a Prince. And he thought he'd be scared, anxious, but for some reason he only feels happy, almost excited.
His grandmother relieves him from the stage, where he quickly goes to change from his soaked suit and then returns to the Ball. A soft, calming music begins in the background as his grandmother leads him to the middle of the ballroom, and he doesn't feel so nervous with all the eyes on him for one. He smiles brightly, watching as she and the Prime Minister begin to dance with one another.
Turning on the spot, he sees Kurt and Blaine break out from the circle, beginning their own dance. Then his eyes fall on Rachel, now with her coat removed, and stares at her in the beautiful white gown. She beams, maybe brighter than the gown itself, and moves toward his outstretched hand.
"I'm not much of a dancer," he says as they begin to move together.
"I don't care," she admits, resting her head against his head, "I'm so proud of you."
A warm glow starts to burn happily in his chest, and he kisses the top of Rachel's forehead, swaying with her. Not before long, he squeezes his grip on her fingers and begins to lead her out into the garden, beginning with one simple sentence. "You look beautiful," he whispers, "so beautiful."
"Thank you," she blushes. "And you look amazing in that tux." Her hands slowly run down it, and Finn can't help but grin down at her. "What?" she asks.
He shakes his head, "oh nothing. It's… nah."
"Finn," she says.
"I was thinking… - I'm going to live in Genovia." Her smile drops at this, "and well… I'm going to miss you like crazy. You think we can make long distance work?"
"I have no doubt about it," she says, eyes gazing up at his, the moonlight caught in them. Finn smiles.
"And maybe," he begins, "you could come visit some time… you know – a lot."
Her beam grows impossibly large. "I'll think about it," she whispers.
And Finn kisses her again, with no fear in his heart or guilt heavy on his mind. He's made his decision, the right decision, and he's going to make the best of his time as Prince, and one day, King of Genovia. It's all just a crazy ride forward from here.
I hope you liked it! Just a fun, little one shot :)
Annnnnd, it's my birthday (well, in Australia, but it's almost my birthday :P) so I'd love a review ;)