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ever try to hold a butterfly?

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Caroline ends up in New Orleans.

Not as Klaus’ prize, but for the freedom of it all. Not to say she doesn’t end up wrapped up in his sheets, but no more than she ends up in Rebekah’s. She enjoys the contrast of Klaus rough hands and the touch of Rebekah’s soft skin against hers. And it’s come to a point that Elijah is not surprised to find Caroline in their home wearing one of his siblings’ clothing. He is even polite enough to offer her part of the paper and to let her annoy him into helping her with the crossword puzzle.

Marcel leaves her alone, respects her relationship with the Originals (Rebekah) enough not to try to interfere. That or he just recognize it’s good to keep her on the board when the King and Queen Originals both have a vested interest in her.

(It was the latter, of course, she wasn’t stupid.)

Other vampires weren’t so…accepting. Or respectful. She was made to remember her place on the food chain, to remember how young she really was compared to so many of them. Caroline was nothing but a baby to them.

She would usually end up sticking a stiletto through their throats, long enough to hear them choke on their own blood, before sticking it through their hearts. They were made of wood, though painted to look like they weren’t.

A gift from Rebekah.

Caroline leaves the bodies where she kills them, waits for the police in the French Quarter’s police to swoop in like they did in Mystic Falls with their clean-up crews. If you looked too closely at the papers, it would seem that New Orleans had a drug problem that something must really be done about.

She has her own apartment of course, she doesn’t bed hop every night, with the Originals or others. There is only so much freedom in that. It’s not huge but its old, the architecture perfect and nothing like what they had in Mystic Falls. And with a balcony that she can see the whole city from, the lights and the people and everything she has ever wanted.

Caroline’s not really sure how she got there.

On top of the city, able to bring two Originals (temporarily) to their knees in the night.

She still remembers before. She remembers when life was harder, when she was wading through quick sand and everyone else was wading through water. When everyone else in her life tore at her, taking piece after piece for themselves, and just expected her to smile.

Caroline had sown the stitches up herself, no anesthetic, no experience. She had pieced herself back together. She had become stronger each time someone tried to take something away.

And they kept trying.

Enemies, friends; it didn’t matter.

Caroline was built to fall to the ground and pick herself up and dust herself off and move on with life. Never losing her smile.

The thing is, you do that, you do that so many times, and you do lose things that are important. You do change. The stitches mend and disappear and so does the girl beneath. The vampires of New Orleans call her a baby, jealous and petty, and she smiles and bares her teeth. Because she stopped being young, being a baby anything before she was ever turned. She stopped being a child long before she grew to her height.

Caroline Forbes was older than they ever imagined.

People, things; they had made her that way.

Not strong, not fearless, not trained or perfect in anyway. But old. Every broken bone, every threat whispered in her ear, every bite of her skin; it had created something new. Created someone older and wiser.

Something young and still exploring the world. (New Orleans would not be her permanent home.) Something old, that would break you before you broke her. Because Caroline was tired of fixing herself. She had done it too many times.

She smiles as she climbs the stairs at the Mikaelson compound, passing Elijah on the way. Caroline can hear a door creak open behind her as she moves, slowly but with obvious purpose, and smiles as she knocks on Rebekah’s door.

Caroline is pulled inside and lips are on hers before she can say anything. But she smiles to herself and lets her get lost in Rebekah’s arms, in her lips, her hands in her hair.

Somewhere the door that opened will slam shut, but Caroline knows he’ll be listening. Walls mean so little to a vampire.

Caroline kisses Rebekah a little harder, receiving a groan in response, and she smiles into the Original’s mouth.

People, things; they had made her that way.