Kurt’s funeral is on a warm, sunny June day. he was only twenty-five years old.
“Blaine, man, hey—”
Another set of hands appears in the mirror, bigger and broader than Blaine’s own. They bat his away, and Blaine watches as they fall to his sides, trembling like desperate leaves on a bare branch. Those broader hands clumsily—but steadily—finish tying Blaine’s bowtie, and when it’s done Blaine nods, biting his lower lip. It’s a hair crooked, but he can’t find it in himself to really care.
“Thanks, Finn,” he says weakly, smoothing down the lapel of his suit. He looks over and gives him a flimsy tissue-paper of a smile. “I didn’t know you could tie bowties.”
Finn shrugs, his hands slapping against the fronts of his thighs as they fall. He manages a smile that’s steadier than Blaine’s but just as hollow. It may as well be painted on. His tie is slim and dark plum, no doubt picked out by Rachel. “I, uh. Kurt…taught me. Right before you guys got married.”
Kurt. Like the name has physically struck him Blaine recoils, shoulders hunching as he shrinks in on himself. He swallows hard, closes his eyes and nods, raising his chin up. “Of course.” He lets out a sound that could be a laugh, could be a sob, could be the very sound of Blaine’s heart and world shattering like delicate china figures.
Blaine reflexively finds the simple silver cool of his wedding band; he begins to twist it around the knob of his finger, over and over, spinning faster and faster. His fingers squeeze so tight but the metal remains unyielding.
A hand on Blaine’s shoulder, and he aches to shove it off, to step away and get out of here; he can’t do this he can’t stand by his husband’s body in a room full of people and expect to keep it together he’s going to suffocate he can’t breathe he can’t think he can’t he can’t—
“Boys.” Carole’s voice, smooth and reassuring. She steps into the small room in the back of the funeral home where Blaine and Finn have been getting ready. Blaine opens his eyes, unaware that he’d closed them, and takes a deep, shuddering breath. Burt must still be in the parlor, must still be—there.
“It’s almost time for family to begin arriving,” Carole continues. She looks great in her simple black dress and sensible heels, and normally Blaine would be the first to tell her with a warm, genuine smile, but smiling hurts too much anymore, and he can’t find it in +his heart to compliment.
She steps over to Blaine as Finn leaves the room; her fingers are gentle on Blaine’s elbow where she catches it. Her red-lipsticked lips are pulled into a frown, and her slight makeup already bears the strain of tears.
“Are you okay?” she asks softly.
“No.” Blaine shakes his head. He remembers, once, when he would have lied and put on that mask, squared his shoulders and put his chin up. But his head, his body and heart, are too heavy, and he slumps forward, shaking his head again. He sniffles and fights back tears as he stares at his shoes, the hideous print of the carpet that Kurt would have made fun of the entire time, his body pressed close to Blaine’s and his laugh a musical whisper in Blaine’s ear. “No, I’m not.”
“Oh, honey.” Carole slings an arm over his shoulder, pulls him in close. Blaine inhales the sweet, heady scent of her perfume and tries not to cry. Her hand rubs his back in soothing circles. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not.” Blaine’s voice teeters, and it’s taking everything he has to hold himself together. “Kurt’s gone, Carole. He’s gone and he left me and I have no idea what to do.”
Carole makes a sympathetic sound. “Being left is never easy, Blaine, but it will get better, I promise.” She grips his shoulders, pulls back and looks him square in the eye. Hers are red-rimmed, and for some reason the sight comforts Blaine, lets him know that he’s not the only one hurting. “We all miss Kurt, sweetie, but you have to remember that you had good times with him, too.”
“Mom?” Finn’s voice, unsure and thick with tears. He’d been out there with Burt, and Blaine knows, lets out a whimper and wraps his arms around himself. How is he going to be able to go through with this? “Burt said it’s—it’s time.”
Carole grabs Blaine’s hand and squeezes. She offers a smile that Blaine isn’t able to return, and he reluctantly follows her out of the room. Finn is a comforting presence at his side, but Blaine isn’t aware of anything other than his heartbeat, his breathing, how very alive he is.
The parlor is still empty, rows and rows of chairs unattended. The casket is at the far end, framed by two tall windows with flowing white curtains drawn against the brightness of the sun outside. Blaine swallows, hard, and steels himself, controls his breathing and counts his steps.
Two rows away, the mahogany of the casket gleaming in the shine of the potlights overhead.
Burt, smiling tightly, Finn at his side now. Everything seems tinny, far away, and the ground doesn’t feel quite as solid underneath Blaine’s feet.
And now Blaine’s here. The wreath of flowers on the lid of the casket are bright reds and yellows and it makes Blaine’s throat tighten, sends him back years to a bouquet and concrete steps and a heartfelt congratulations. His eyes trail, slowly, slowly, over the lid, the white silk of the lining, and, finally, to Kurt’s face, the sleek black of his suit, the white unfurled lilies of his hands crossed over each other.
Blaine sucks in a breath, closes his eyes. He trembles as he steps up, tries to imagine those eyes, so steadfastly closed now, open and shining with life, with happiness and love. He touches the silk, slick and cool like water under his hands, and tentatively touches the smooth material of Kurt’s suit sleeve.
Kurt’s hair is carefully coiffed, swept away from his forehead like Blaine has dozens of memories stored away of mornings, both lazy and hurried, of Kurt doing the very same thing while Blaine had watched fondly from the mirror.
“Hi, baby,” he whispers. He can’t bring himself to touch Kurt’s skin. Not yet. “I…miss you already. And I’m not gonna lie: I’m kind of mad at you.” He laughs, wipes at his eyes. “You promised me you would never leave me again, but you did.”
The doors open, then, and the soft murmur of mingled voices fill the room. Burt touches his shoulder and Blaine steps back, falls into line next to him. It’s a blur for the next half-hour, condolences and sad voices, sniffling and the sound of noses being blown. Blaine clenches his fists rhythmically, smiles when he can manage it and answers the questions robotically.
Yes, I’ll be fine.
No, we were prepared for everything.
Living alone won’t be so hard. I’ll be okay, I promise.
Then everyone is sitting down, chairs creaking and a staticky sort of silence falling over the room. Blaine feels for the paper, crumpled, in his pocket and steps up to the podium the funeral director had set up sometime in the last ten minutes.
Unfolding the paper and Blaine wipes at his eyes, takes a deep breath and steels himself. He looks up, sees everyone looking, and feels an odd sense of stage fright that he hasn’t felt since his first few times performing.
He clears his throat, hears it echo in the microphone, and smiles slightly. “Um, hi, everyone. I’m so glad that so many of you are here. I know Kurt would have app—appreciated it.” His breath hitches, but he forces himself through it. “And I know that we all appreciate it. So thank you.”
His eyes lock on Mercedes, on Tina and Mike and Sam. He has to look away immediately when he sees the pain clenching with spikes at his heart reflected in their eyes. He touches the paper, looks down. “So, um, it’s no secret that Kurt and I were total saps for romantic movies.” He lets out a slight laugh that is echoed faintly in the room. “And I know that Kurt would always get really emotional when he heard this poem, so if you know what it’s from, uh, well, kudos to you.”
The paper crinkles again and trembles in Blaine’s shaky fingers as he begins to read:
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead.’
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
Blaine’s voice cracks dangerously at the end, and he feels the tear slide down his face. He lets it go, feeling its hot path cut down to his chin. “Kurt was the love of my life. And all through high school I just knew that someday I was going to marry him. Through our ups and downs there was always that undeniable spark, and as we got older it became more and more obvious just how perfect he was for me, and I knew that I could never leave him. I never wanted to leave him. Kurt w—was the most caring, talented, amazing man that I ever knew, and I hate that I—I have to say goodbye already. But I also…also know that he’s not really gone, because I’ll never forget him. He was an unforgettable personality, an unforgettable talent, an unforgettable son and husband.”
He has to pause, close his eyes and draw in a sharp breath. The tears slip down his cheeks, and when he opens his eyes again the lashes are clumped thick with tears, and the room fuzzes into oil-painting blobs of faces until he blinks and it wobbles back into focus. “I’ll never forget our high school memories of impromptu group numbers in glee and our constant sing-alongs in the car. I’ll never forget the first time we moved in together in New York and how amazing it was to know that at least one of my dreams was coming true already.
“And when he proposed, it was even better because I had already bought a ring, too.” More laughs, and Blaine joins in, shaky and octave-slipping as it cracks. He’s wearing the engagement ring Kurt had given him on his other hand, and he feels for it, now, traces over it and lets himself be grounded once more. He looks back at the casket, swallows hard and tries to imagine the man he’d fallen in love with, had planned on having a family with and growing old together with. Even in eternal rest—because there’s no way Blaine can think of it in any other way, refuses to remember when he’d first thought the words Kurt’s dead—he’s still the most gorgeous man Blaine has ever seen.
“We all lost a wonderful person today,” Blaine says. “And he will be missed, but he’s never really gone, right? No one is. He’ll always be in our hearts and our memories, and to me that’s what’s most important, remembering.”
There are a few more things Blaine had planned to say, jokes about Kurt being able to talk fashion now with Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace, but he has to stop, collect himself and step away.
He walks back up to the casket and digs into his pocket, pulls a worn weathered old ring out; the carefully-folded edges are frayed and slightly ripped, and the colors have slightly faded. He holds it in his hand for a moment more, closing his eyes and clenching his teeth. His hand trembles when he reaches out and sets the ring on the back silk of the casket.
He lets his eyes linger, now, soaks in what he can: the pink bow of Kurt’s lips, the peaceful close his eyes. His hands are still slender and delicately tapered, and the suit is one Blaine had helped him pick out years ago; it looks just as good on him now as it did then.
He looks at the two long-stem red roses on the back, the promise ring. He bites his lip and smiles, stroking over Kurt’s forehead, then his hair. He leans in and presses his lips to Kurt’s cold skin, feels another tear slide down his cheek. He pulls back just before it falls, a small dot of gray on white. A soft press to the back of Kurt’s hand, and Blaine recalls smiles and laugh-lined skin, strong, sure grips and a beautiful laugh and smile set aside just for Blaine.
“Goodbye, my sweet prince,” Blaine murmurs in a tremulous voice. “I’ll see you in my dreams.”