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He listened to the sound of the front door opening. The woman's gait was familiar.

He knew why she was there. She snuck into the mansion at least four nights a week, and sometimes during the day.

He wasn't sure if she believed him when he told her the reason for her increasing desire, but he had been honest with her. He thought that part of her might be accepting of the truth, but as a woman of the twenty-first century she was not quite willing to admit that she belonged to anyone else; not yet at least, but that didn't stop her from seeking her release at his hand.

She was his. His mate.

He knew she didn't sleep well when she wasn't with him because he didn't sleep well, but she rarely remained until morning.

He had felt it that first night in the quarry when he touched her, but like the self-destructive fool that he was he had gone through with his plan; believing he could live life without her because he always had. The relief he had felt on finding her alive was palpable, but it had her several weeks to come to his bed; the night of the full moon.

Her need for him seemed to increase on that particular night, and he knew to expect her.

The sound of her heart beat entering the studio was what made him glance up from his palette. The flush clinging to her skin told him she was desperate; the sight was beautiful, exquisite and enough to make his jeans feel even tighter than they were, but instant gratification wasn't everything and he was a tad upset with her for leaving the other night without waking him.

"Take off your clothes," his eyes darkened.

She complied instantly, reaching to hastily yank her black t-shirt over her head. She paused when he growled.


She shivered and popped the button on her jeans, turning around to shimmy out of the constricting material giving him a good long look at her naked core.

"Such a naughty girl," he chuckled. "Where are your panties, love?"

"They would have been ruined," she met his eyes over her shoulder while unhooking her bra, "or, knowing you, been shredded."

She let the lace drop to the floor and turned to face him, nipples pebbling in the cool air. Her eyes roamed over him quickly.

"Are you going to undress?" She cocked an eyebrow.

"Not yet," he smirked.


"I know you're desperate, sweetheart, but if you want satisfaction tonight you'll have to earn it." He held up his hand, cutting off her protest and motioning to the couch.

A wave of desire swept over her under his commanding gaze. She loved it, though she wouldn't admit it, when he was bossy, when he felt the need to assert his alpha male status.

"Lay down."

She moved quickly to follow his instructions making sure to sway her hips a little more than usual on the way to the leather sofa. With her head propped on a red cushion she met his dark eyes.

"Spread your legs," he nodded when she complied, "now place your left hand below your breasts, and your right hand on your thigh."

She trailed her fingers over her smooth skin, from her knee to her thigh, until she could feel the heat radiating from her core. Any other night when he would display this side she might have pushed him, dipping her fingers into her slit, for the promise of a punishment, but on this night she was desperate for release; if she tried his temper he would delight in torturing her, keeping her on edge for hours and if she was lucky she would get to finish, but more often than not she was left wanting in those situations until the next time she made her way to the mansion.

"Now don't move," he smirked.

She bit her bottom lip and watched through lidded eyes as he began to paint. She might have thought from his disinterested gaze that he was unaffected by her nakedness and clear arousal, but a glance at his jeans proved her wrong.

Every time he would look at her, scrutinize her, inspect her she felt her arousal grow and knew he could smell her. She wondered if he would notice her fingers slipping upwards a fraction of an inch.

She slipped her index finger between her slippery folds but before she could reach an area that might have provided her with a sense of relief her wrist was grabbed and pinned above her head.

"I told you not to move," he growled.

"You were done," she tilted her head. "Come on, Klaus," she tried to hook her legs around his waist, "I need you."

"Then you should have listened." His eyes slid over her flushed skin. "I think you deserve a punishment, don't you sweetheart?"

Her body throbbed at his tone. She tried not to make her nod too eager, but knew she failed by the look in his eyes.

Her head spun when the room blurred and she found herself kneeling on the couch leaning over the back with the hard ridge digging into her ribs. Her eyes fluttered shut when he leaned over placing butterfly kisses over her shoulder moving in a line to her ear.

His breath fanned over her neck when he tugged on her ear and told her to count.

The sound of the blow was clear, a distinctive slap of skin on skin that sent a flood of desire to her aching core. Her count came out in a whisper, and by the time he got to thirty she knew her behind had a few bruises and her juices were running down her thighs.

There were days when she liked a little pain with her pleasure, and they always seemed to coincide with the full moon. He always found some excuse to darken her skin before taking her so every thrust of his hard cock brought her delicious pleasure and a touch of pain when he hit the bruised skin.

If anyone were to ever ask her she would have denied loving it, but she did love it, and nobody ever questioned it because he insisted on healing her before she left. Full moons were the only nights he wouldn't let her sneak out without healing her body; he tended to be rougher than normal those nights.

"Good girl," he squeezed her ass, admiring the bruises and paint stains his hands had left behind, "now, tell me what you want."

She moaned when his fingers dipped into her drenched center and rocked back as he pumped in and out twice, whimpering when he stopped.

"Did I say you could move?" He pulled his fingers free.

"No, sir," she gripped the back of the couch to keep herself still. Closing her eyes to think about what she wanted most right then, but it didn't matter because she had moved and earned herself another punishment; she wouldn't receive her release for a while yet.

"Turn around," he commanded, "and sit down."

She nodded, spinning on the couch and placing her weight on her sore ass; hissing at the sudden sting. Her eyes lifted to watch as he finally tore his Henley over his head.

She gritted her teeth to keep from surging forward and running her tongue over his toned stomach, remaining perfectly still as he stepped out of his shoes, jeans, and finally his boxer briefs.

Her mouth watered when his cock sprung up in front of her face. She would have preferred the organ in another orifice but she knew she'd have to work up to that, besides she liked taking him in her mouth; it was insanely hot seeing him lose control because of her talented mouth.

She waited for his nod before taking him in her hand and pumping a few times before closing her lips around his head, swirling her tongue around before beginning to bob her head up and down taking him deeper until he hit the back of her throat.

"That's it, love," he groaned, watching his length vanish into her delicate throat, "suck my cock like the talented little slut you are."

Elena renewed her efforts spurred on by his praise and the pleased sounds falling from his lips. She wanted to grin when he grabbed a fistful of her glossy hair and began fucking her face like she wanted him to take her cunt.

He released her hair after burying himself in her throat, but she stayed still and took shallow breaths through her nose.

She licked her lips when he finally fell from her mouth with a wet pop and felt herself being pulled to her feet. The studio blurred around her and the next thing she knew her body was bouncing on the Egyptian cotton sheets of his bed.

She spread her thighs invitingly and grasped the back of his neck when he settled in the place he had claimed as his own. Her lips parted for his heated kiss, moaning into his mouth with each swipe of his tongue.

"A little anxious sweetheart?" His hand slipped between her thighs to her grasping cunt.

"Yes," she rolled her eyes. "Any other time I wouldn't mind your teasing, but not tonight."

"Good," he growled, sinking into her pliant body with one smooth thrust, "because I can't wait any longer to be buried in you."

Her back arched from the bed when his mouth fell to her breasts, tongue and teeth stimulating her nipples. She tried to keep up with him, but it seemed he was even more desperate than she was because he was moving too fast for her.

She did a marginally better job when he flipped her over unto her hands and knees and fucked her from behind. Every thrust of his thick cock into her dripping cunt hit her g-spot sending her hurtling up and over the edge.

She had just enough time to recognize the shift in his mood from dominating to giving before she was lost to her own pleasure; endless waves of it crashing over her for several minutes until she collapsed, spent, with him half on top of her.

She panted in an attempt to catch her breath and cast her eyes to the sheets.

"Is… is that blood?" She turned slightly to look over her shoulder. She didn't remember feeling him bite her, but that didn't mean he hadn't.

"No," he rolled onto his back and pulled her to straddle him, "that would be paint."

Elena gasped when his renewed erection pushed into her body, tossing her head back. She hummed planting her hands on his chest and setting a slow pace so she could relish the feel of him moving in and out of her, stretching her just right, and the ache that shot through her ass every time the flesh came into contact with his thighs.

"I'm gonna need a shower," her lidded eyes darted to the stains that had clearly come from her body.

"After," his hands slid up to her breasts, squeezing and tweaking her nipples making her cry out. "I'm nowhere near done with you yet."

The statement thrilled her.

"And when will you be done?" She moaned loudly when he reached for her clit and sat up to nip at her ear.

"I'll be done when you can't remember your own name," he growled. "I'll be done when I've marked you as mine." His teeth tugged at her carotid artery creating a bruise. "I'll be done when I've filled your womb and it overflows. Until my seed is leaking from your tight cunt," his hand slid down her back and between her cheeks, a single finger pushing into her bum, "and your pert little arse."

"What makes you think I'm gonna let you fuck my ass tonight?" She shuddered, rocking against his hand.

"You're going to beg me to take you here," he chuckled darkly. "You always do."

"Tactless of you to remind me," she rolled her eyes.

"If you want a gentleman, Elena," he pulled his finger from her ass and pressed it to her bottom lip, smirking when she sucked it clean and moaned at the taste, "then I'm afraid you've got the wrong Mikaelson brother."

"I can't stay," she hummed, running her fingertips over the feather tattooed on his shoulder.

She knew she should roll out of the bed, locate her clothes in the studio and go home, but she couldn't bring herself to move. She was so comfortable, so blissfully content, so deliciously sated.

"You're not moving," his hand ghosted over her hip.

It was a simple statement of fact. The hold he held on her was loose as he stroked up and down her back while pressing light kisses to her hair, so light she wasn't sure they were truly there. The motions were incredibly soothing and were slowly lulling her towards a fitful sleep.

"I will," she mumbled, "when I think my legs can support me."

She looked up through her lashes when he rolled onto his side.

Draping his left arm over her waist he hooked her thigh over his hip and brushed his lips along her cheek. The fact that his mouth was still swollen from their earlier activities made her feel giddy.

"What are you doing?" Her teeth sank into her bottom lip.

"Helping you regain feeling." His hand grazed the healed skin before kneading small circles into her leg.

She gasped when he tugged on her earlobe with his teeth and laved kisses down her throat.

"That's gonna have the opposite effect," she rocked down instinctively to feel his renewed erection. "Have you ever heard of a refractory period?"

"I gave you one," his hot breath fanned over her neck.

Her eyes drifted shut as her lips parted for his tongue. Her hips rolled shamelessly downwards making him slide through her slick folds.

Lining himself up he sank into her body and broke their kiss to rest his brow against hers and groan.

"You are unbelievably tight," he gripped her hip for leverage and began rocking into her; slowly and occasionally dragging his cock against swollen clit.

She moaned softly.

"If I didn't know any better…" she gasped when he shifted his angle hitting the spot inside her that always made her see stars, and for a moment was silent before finding her voice again, "… I'd think you were trying to wear me out."

"Maybe I just want to fuck you into submission," he dragged his lips along her shoulder.

They both knew he had done that weeks ago. They both knew she was addicted to him as he was to her.

"Or," he murmured, "maybe I do want to wear you out. Maybe I want you to pass out in my bed, so satisfied that you can't move for hours; your legs turned to liquid so you can't run off again, so I finally get the chance to wake you up in the morning."

Her skin tingled beneath his wandering hand. Her pebbled nipples dragged over his chest with each ragged breath she drew in.

He smirked and rolled her onto her back hoisting her legs up over her head. He increased the speed of his thrusts and heard her breathing turn to pants.

"Harder Klaus, please," she wrapped her fingers around her ankles and struggled to focus on his eyes. "I can feel your cock throbbing."

A few weeks ago she would have blushed at the vulgar language falling from her own lips, but her time in his bed had loosened her tongue; mainly because he wanted to hear her desires.

She tossed her head back when he grunted and sped up, every long thrust hitting just the right spot.

"Mm," her eyes fluttered closed. She wanted to keep them open but it was impossible with the pleasure he was causing, and she hadn't even come apart yet. "You feel amazing… oh… right there…"

Her arms gave out and fell at her sides. She was vaguely aware of his hands holding her legs up and the harsh snap of his hips as he drove into her warm body, pounding her at a punishing pace that sent her into a spiral of bliss. She fell down from a high precipice releasing a string of filthy moans and incoherent sounds as her body shook.

The next thing she was aware of was his arm slung over her stomach and something different under her body. She knew she was moments away from drifting off, but she couldn't in her current position.

"Why are the sheets wet?"

His chuckle came close to her ear.

"You didn't tell me you were a squirter, sweetheart," he kissed her shoulder.

She didn't have the physical energy to look.

"Did I ruin the sheets?" She shifted trying to get out of the spot.

"You've made them smell like you."

She blinked tiredly when he grabbed her and flipped her over onto his other side. She snuggled into the dry sheets and back into his chest.

She marveled, once more, over the fact that he was a cuddler before drifting off surrounded by the strong smell of sweat and sex.

When he came to the sun was shining through the window, warming his back and a slim body was pressed into his chest.

One of the many things he had longed to do was wake her up in the morning. He wanted to bury his face between her thighs and lick her softly so she was on the verge of orgasm when her eyes finally opened. He wanted to take her as the morning light illuminated her olive skin, but he knew she wasn't ready for that. He knew she would be mortified when she woke and discovered her body still in his arms, so he laid there in silence feigning sleep when she finally came around.

He heard the uptick in her heart and the sharp intake of breath. He knew she was looking around frantically trying to make sense of her surroundings without moving and arousing him.

He was starting to think that maybe she was getting close to being ready when she didn't move, but then she carefully slipped from under his arm and stood. He peeked through the slits of his eyes in time to see her bending over and grabbing a shirt he had placed on a chair.

The sight of her folds still glistening from the activities beneath the full moon sent a rush of desire to his cock, by the time she slipped silently from the room he was standing at attention.

He listened to her feet traveling the length of the mansion towards the study and finally to the sound of the front door closing.

He sighed before climbing to his feet and entering the shower wrapping his hand around his throbbing erection.

"Shame, shame, I know your name," a voice sang out from the porch steps.

Elena froze with her hand on the doorknob and looked up to see Damon sitting on the swing. She crossed her arms and leaned back on the hood of her SUV, knowing she didn't dare get any closer because she surely still smelled like Klaus.

"What do you want?"

"Your brother said you didn't come home last night," Damon shrugged one shoulder. "I told him you were probably fine and had likely snuck off with Stefan…" His eyes flickered over her mussed hair and the hickeys over her throat. "I was clearly right."

Elena swallowed and said nothing. If Damon wanted to think she'd had a relapse, a one night stand with her ex, then she wasn't going to correct him.

"I don't really want to talk about it," she gave him a pointed look, begging him to shut up about it.

"Fine," he shrugged, sauntering across the lawn towards her, "but next time you decide to spend the night out tell your brother, or someone so we don't send out the damn search parties."

"Fine," she nodded, taking a step back, "I've got to shower before school."

She walked around him and into the house, not noticing the way he stiffened when she passed him.

Chapter Text

She played with her cell phone. Fiddling with the length of plastic she tapped it against her palm quickly, while pressing her thighs together as subtly as she could.

He had her number. She had given it too him without thinking of it after the first time she went to the mansion. When Damon had asked about the new contact she had told him it was because he had insisted and used the connection to tell her when he would be coming by to take her blood. She didn't tell Damon the true nature of his messages; she hadn't told anyone the true nature of his messages.

Glancing at the screen once more she bit her cheek and shifted on the stone bench.

"Hey," Caroline plopped onto the other side of the bench, "what's up? You look particularly tense today."

"Nothing," she tucked her phone into her pocket.

"Don't give me that," Caroline rolled her eyes. "You're so strung out today. I swear, 'Lena, even Stefan can sense it."

Elena's brows lowered as she followed her friend's eyes to the opposite side of the lawn where her ex was sitting at a picnic table looking at her curiously.

"You know what I think you need?"

"I think you're going to tell me whether I want to know or not," Elena chuckled.

"You'd be right about that," Caroline smirked. She gave the brunette a pointed look. "I think you need to go somewhere quiet and relax. Relieve some of the tension."

"Run it off?" Elena cocked an eyebrow.

"Or some other cardiovascular activity," she shrugged.

Elena bit her lip and tilted her head. She highly doubted Caroline had meant it the way it sounded, but she still couldn't banish the thought of another 'cardiovascular activity'. She did have a free period after lunch.

"You might be on to something there," she stood up, wiping her sweaty palms against her thighs.

Caroline watched her head off in the direction of the football field while typing out a message on her phone and assumed she was heading to the track for a few laps. Her eyes widened when she saw Stefan stand from his picnic table and head in her general direction.

Guess she's going for the 'other', Caroline rolled her eyes and headed back inside. She needed a few books from the library.

Stefan tapped the steering wheel of his car while keeping one eye on the field. His gaze followed Elena's furious path around the track; she was on her third lap when she disappeared from his view. He caught a glimpse of her dark hair behind the bleachers a strong hand holding the glossy ponytail.

Personally he didn't care what she did in her free time, or how she chose to unwind anymore. It was from her recent actions and choices that she had no sense of self-preservation, but that didn't mean he wouldn't take advantage of the knowledge he had gained the previous morning.

Damon had shown up and berated him for letting everyone freak out while Elena was missing, and told him he should have just fessed up and informed them the doppelganger was with him. He hadn't corrected his brother, but he had left the house pretty quickly. He'd arrived at Elena's house while she was still inside and lingered around her car where the faint traces of sweat, sex, and a well-known vampire lingered.

A calculated risk and an offhand comment to Caroline had worked like a charm and brought the hybrid running from his house where he had all but shut himself off from the rest of the town.

Checking his watch Stefan estimated he had maybe an hour to complete his task if he wanted Klaus to get his hybrids out of town. In the back of his mind he was willing to admit that part of his actions stemmed from protecting her, but mostly it was about getting even.

The air rushed from her lungs as the cold metal met her spine making her shiver. She knew he had calculated the force he used to push her into the pillar because if he had truly used the strength he was capable of, the strength she saw displayed in his hungry eyes, then she would have been seriously injured. He might cause her physical pain to increase her pleasure and his but he had never left lasting damage, and he always, always, healed her when he was too rough; though she had never thought he was.

"Are we feeling a little daring today, sweetheart?"

Her knees melted at the sound of his deep voice that practically oozed sex. She curled her fingers around his arms and did her best to remain upright rather than sink to her knees to recreate one of the many scenarios he had texted her.

"Maybe a little," she bit her bottom lip. "It's your fault," her fingers dropped to his jeans, "sending me those messages."

"I was rather bored; love, so I thought I'd tell you all of the things I'd rather be doing." He caught her chin with his right hand and pressed a teasing kiss to her lips, grinning when she chased after his retreat. He stilled her hand after she pulled him free of his jeans and spun her around.

"I thought the first thing was watching me on my knees," Elena bit back her moan when he tore her jeans down to her knees. She couldn't hold in her mewl when he tore her panties from her body. The sudden knowledge that she was intimately exposed beneath the bleachers and the sounds of the football team filing onto the grass for practice sent a wave of desire to her core.

She bit down on her cheek when he pressed her to bend at the waist. She could see the team warming up when he pushed two fingers into her dripping pussy and pumped; his low voice was a literal growl, full of heat and promise.

"While I would love nothing more than to have you gagging on my cock right now," he curled his fingers, stroking her g-spot, "your message made it sound like you were quite desperate for release."

He pulled out and brought his fingers to her lips, groaning as she sucked them clean. He pressed his palm to her mouth to stifle her cry when he thrust into her slick heat.

"Does the thought of one of your little friends happening upon us right now turn you on, love?" He bent slightly to nip at her ear and grunted when her walls tightened, confirming his accusation. "Do you get off on imagining one of them, maybe your ex over there, walking around here and finding you with me, your pretty features contorted in the sweet agony of your orgasm while you milk my cock?"

Elena moaned softly as he thrust into her at a punishing pace. She had told him she needed a quickie and he was more than willing to provide, but it seemed there was no escaping his dirty talk.

"Maybe I should uncover your mouth," he grunted, "and let you alert them to our presence." His free hand slid under her shirt and yanked down the silk cup of her bra so he could palm her breast.

She cried out against his hand as her nipple was pinched and twisted by his strong fingers. Each tug sent jolts of electricity to her drenched pussy where he was pounding into her body, the rough material of his jeans scraping her thighs on each pass. She was close, she knew it, and longed to reach down to help him finish the job since his hands were both occupied, but she didn't; it was all she could do to cling to the metal pole and his arm as he kept talking.

"Maybe I should take you out into the middle of that field," he husked against her throat, "and take you right there so everyone knows you're mine."

Elena shuddered. The steady pace he kept combined with his sinful voice and the way he filled her completely, perfectly made her fall apart without the manipulation she had thought she would need.

"Would you like that, love?" He pressed kisses along her throat as she came down so she immediately began to work her way back up. "Just imagine it: you, naked and breathtaking, on your hands and knees while I take you from behind. Your irresistible breasts sway as you frantically beg me to fuck you harder, faster, the grass leaves stains on your hands, and the dirt digs into your knees."

She could see the situation in flashes as he pushed her through a series of orgasms; there was barely anytime in between them.

"Everyone watching wants to reach out and touch your irresistible skin, but they can't." He could feel his own release lingering at the base of his spine, but was determined to push her through one more before they were done, so he dropped his hand from her breast to her clit.

Elena moaned loudly when he touched her and fell slightly causing the bleachers to rattle. Her eyes popped open quickly but luckily the noise had been blamed on a wayward football.

Her body tensed up as he lost his rhythm, and came apart a seconds before he coated her cunt with his release. She could feel their joint fluids leaking from her grasping pussy and running down her legs.

What little breath remained rushed from her body when he spun her back around and captured her lips in a harsh kiss. She sighed into mouth while tucking him back into his jeans.

She watched through her lashes when he pulled away and bent slightly to cover her lower body with her jeans. The fabric grew damp where their fluids sank in against her thighs.

"You and I both know that'll never happen," she righted her bra.

"What makes you think that love?" He smirked, popping a finger into her mouth and groaning when she cleaned her own arousal from his skin.

She swirled her tongue around his finger suggestively and saw his eyes darken before releasing his hand and cocking an eyebrow.

"Because," she slid her hands into her back pockets, "you don't want anyone else seeing me naked."

"On the contrary, sweetheart," he hooked his thumbs in her belt loops and pulled her flush against his chest, "I don't want anyone else touching you because if they touch you I'd have to kill them where they stood and I know that would upset you. Looking though…" he tilted his head, "… the memories can be taken away after the fact, or even before the fact, so if you wanted to live out that particular fantasy, to know what it's like to have sex while being watched, then you could without anyone being the wiser to the events in question."

She met his eyes while considering the proposition before ultimately shaking her head. It was one thing to fantasize, but another to do; she found, thinking about it, that she didn't want anyone else seeing her naked either. Anybody watching her in the act would be a vital part of it.

"Better not," she smirked. "I wouldn't want you killing someone who just couldn't resist touching me, or themselves."

He growled at the thought of anyone taking any form of pleasure, emotional, physical, or visual, from her body.

Elena nodded. That was precisely how she had thought he would react. Her head whipped around when she heard approaching footsteps. Her eyes fluttered closed as he pressed lazy kisses along her cheek and down her jaw.


The warning in her voice was undercut by her breathy tone.

"… Someone is coming."

"I'm not ready to let you go yet," he chuckled.

"I'm at school," she tilted her head to give him better access to her neck. If he kept it up then their quickie would have been for nothing. "I have a class," her protests were losing ground quickly. She was half a second away from wrapping her arms around his neck and telling him to take her home and have his wicked way with her when he nipped at her earlobe.

"Will I see you tonight?"

"Pretty sure you already know the answer to that," she rolled her eyes.

"Good," he chuckled.

Elena opened her eyes when the rush of wind announced his departure. She took a few minutes to catch her breath and shrank back against the bleachers when Matt ducked underneath to retrieve the football someone had kicked that way. Luck was on her side when he didn't notice her.

He slowed down when he reached his driveway and strolled along the gravel path while thinking back on their most recent encounter.

It was hardly the first time she had needed quick release, but it was the first time she had asked him to meet her somewhere other than the mansion. His home was secluded where they ran little chance of being caught by anyone else; namely her ex-boyfriend to whom Klaus had recently restored his free will.

He froze when he reached the door and caught a lingering scent that he knew all too well. His eyes narrowed at the combination that indicated Stefan had been there and recently before pulling open the door. He followed his nose through the mansion and felt his stomach knot with worry the closer he got to the room that was always locked, the only room Elena had never set foot in.

The door was open.

Five dark rectangles were drawn on the floor where large objects had rested before he'd left the house.

He ripped his cell phone from his pocket and angrily dialed the numbers. He didn't give his old friend a chance to talk before snarling down the line.

"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"

"Just enjoying my freedom."

Stefan leaned against the wall and inspected his pilfered property. If Klaus had really wanted to keep them safe he should have taken better precautions than a locked door.

"I will kill you and everyone you've ever met!"

Stefan rolled his eyes. The threat did nothing to faze him.

"Go ahead and do that," he hummed, "and you'll never see your family again. Tell me Klaus: how does it feel to not be one step ahead of everyone else?"

He hung up before he received an answer and turned towards the stairs. A tight smile lifted the corners of his lips when she stepped inside.

"Hello, Bonnie."

"Stefan," she spun to face him. Her phone and his recent message asking for a meeting weighed heavily in her pocket. "What do you want from me?"

"Relax," he held up his hands, "I just need your help."

"Why would I help you?" She cocked an eyebrow. "Last I checked you were all buddy-buddy with Klaus."

Pretty sure you'd still help Elena if she asked and she's more than 'buddy-buddy' with Klaus.

"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret about Klaus," Stefan smirked. He pointed to the contents of the basement. "He always kept his family with him… daggered and stored in boxes. Now I have them, and I need you to help keep them hidden."

Bonnie gaped at him, her mouth popping open and closed a couple of times as she shook her head.

"Are you out of your damn mind?" She bit down her frustrated scream. "You stole his family; that's only going to make him angry… like royally pissed off."

"Klaus has been alive for over a thousand years," he crossed his arms, "he doesn't have weaknesses aside from one: his family. As long as I have them I can ruin him."

"What makes you think I've got the power to hide five Originals?" She threw up hands up.

"You're a witch, and you hate Klaus," Stefan shrugged. "I have the utmost confidence that you will figure something out."

His eyes narrowed in on the fifth coffin raised slightly above the rest.

"While you're at it, see if you can't open that last one," he frowned. "It seems to be stuck."

Elena had barely made it through the front doors when she was pushed into the wood. Her heart stuttered when she caught the look in his eyes.

"Exactly how long have you been in cahoots with him?" He glared down at her.

Her brows lowered in confusion.

"Answer me, Elena!"

She could see the struggle he went through not to yell the demand.

"I… I don't what you're talking about," she swallowed. "I'm not in cahoots with anybody."

"You lured me from this house, giving him the perfect opportunity to strike," his voice turned to a low growl. "Have you been sleeping with him too?"

It was probably a very bad idea to strike him, but the heated accusation made her blood boil. Her hand left a visible imprint that took a good minute to fade.

It took him by surprise when her slap had the opposite effect so many other people had caused and calmed his rage.

She drew in deep breaths through her mouth and fixed him with a glare that said he needed to start providing answers before she walked out the door; they both knew he wouldn't stop her.

"Stefan was here," he sighed, finally. "He took them while I was with you under the bleachers."

"Took who?" She frowned.

Klaus tilted his head. The look on her face and the beating of her heart told him she was unaware of the incident. He took her arm, gently this time, and led her through the house to the always locked door. He watched her frown at the odd choice of lighting and landscapes lining the walls of the otherwise empty room.

"He took my family love," he pointed to the marks on the floor where the coffins had been wheeled away.

It took Elena a moment to realize what he was saying. She didn't understand why they would be in a locked room until she remembered what the Salvatore's had gotten her to do to Elijah.

"You said Elijah was reunited with your family," she crossed her arms.

"I didn't lie, sweetheart," he sighed. "He was here as well with all of them. It was not the reunion he wanted, but he was reunited with them."

"So what," she shook her head incredulously, "you kept them in coffins?"

"Where I knew they would be safe," he nodded. "Only now your charming ex-boyfriend has taken them all."

"And you automatically assumed I had something to do with this?" She pointed to her chest.

"You asked me to meet you," he took a step towards her backing her towards the door; "at the same time Stefan paid an unexpected visit."

"For all you know he was watching the house," she tipped her head back to look up at him, "waiting for you to leave."

"If he was watching the house that means he's likely seen you coming and going," his thumb rubbed circles over her arm. "How long before he informs the rest of them of your midnight activities?"

"He hasn't yet," she bit her bottom lip. "Are you going to kill him?"

"If he harms any of them, yes I will, without hesitation." His jaw clenched tightly. Getting his family back would be difficult; Stefan was hardly an idiot and would have taken precautions to hide them from him. "I'm going to need your help, sweetheart."


Chapter Text

He tossed his keys up absentmindedly; they jingled each time they returned to his palm. He stiffened for a moment when he realized he wasn't alone in the house, but relaxed a bit when he heard who had entered his home during the short absence that had been his trip to the Gilbert house.

It took a single arch of his keys for him to make the deduction.

Catching the glinting metal he flashed towards the steps leading down to the basement.

"What are you doing here?" He crossed his arms.

He paused on his path upwards and gave a pointed look to the surrounding walls.

"I live here," he cocked an eyebrow.

Stefan walked around his brother and up the stairs towards his bedroom. Damon followed and eyed the bags in his hands.

"Feeling a little hungry, brother?" He kept talking when Stefan ignored him. "Remember what mom used to say? If you wat in bed you'll attract ants, or…" he tilted his head; the final word faded to a confused murmur: "… mosquitos."

Damon's eyes raked over the smooth wood of the box. The hinges on the lid faced him so he couldn't see the interior, but the sight was not necessary to make his exasperation flare. His voice dripped with sarcasm when he addressed his brother again.

"I see you're embracing the clichés. What's next, Stefan? Are you going to hiss at the son? Maybe you'll cover yourself in glitter and sparkle in it; that would make Blondie's day. You gonna cover the mirrors? Oh…" Damon's eyes grew round, "… are you going to turn into a bat?"

"No," Stefan circled the box and set the blood bags on a small table, "but I'm considering tearing out your tongue."

Damon looked from Stefan to the casket in front of him and back a few times as his brother reached inside and grabbed something. His eyes widened when Stefan yanked his arm back and silver glittered in the stream of sunlight.

"Maybe I'll cut it out," he flipped the blade around and spun the point on his fingertip. "That would be a much better use for this. Don't you think?"

Damon flashed around the side of the coffin. He gave his brother an incredulous look before turning his gaze to the satin interior. He stared at the woman's grey skin and beaded dress.

"Hmm," Stefan hummed, "you're finally speechless."

"Who the hell is she?" He pointed to the woman. "And why would you wake someone related to Klaus?"

She knew he hadn't told anyone yet. The first person that would have been privy to the secret of her evening endeavors was Damon. Everyone knew Damon was horrible at keeping secrets. If the elder Salvatore had known he would have revealed the information to her friends, probably in a scathing way that accused them of knowing all along. If her friends had known she would have been ambushed for a frientervention.

She loved Caroline dearly, but sometimes she had a habit of sticking her nose where it didn't belong, and of getting judgemental. She could already imagine the scene in one of their living rooms. Knowing the bubbly blonde she would have a special banner made up for the occasion, and would have forced everyone to write letters or something to her in an attempt to talk her out of her 'insane' choices.

Stefan hadn't told anyone.

She was one hundred percent sure.

Ninety-five percent sure.

Alright, maybe sixty.

She would have been sure of her declaration if he'd let her leave the house, but he seemed intent on keeping her inside. She might have pushed the matter further if not for the half-crazed look in his eye. She was positive he would follow her home to make sure she was safe, and remained free from the meddlesome personalities that made up her friend group. In the two hours since she had come to the mansion it had become very clear that he did not trust Stefan.

"You know I have to go home at some point?" She watched him pace the length of the 'family room', as she had dubbed it. "Jenna's not gonna buy the 'I fell asleep studying at Caroline's house' two nights in a row."

"He wants something," Klaus muttered darkly. "What does he want?"

"Revenge?" Elena guessed. "You did compel him, you almost let his brother die, forced him onto a blood high…"

"You've got a long memory," he inhaled sharply.

"It's only been a few months," she pointed out, "and Stefan's not the forgiving type. He still pissed with Katherine for compelling and turning him while he was human. The only reason he wasn't mad at me when he thought I kissed Damon is because he found out later it was Katherine." Elena tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. "He really hates Katherine," she whispered, glancing at him, "and you."

"I'm rather used to that," he chuckled, "it happens a lot."

"You might try being nicer to people." She cocked an eyebrow.

"I'm nice to you," he gave her a pointed look.

"Oh please," she rolled her eyes, "you're a jackass, you just happen to be less of one with me."

"I can be nice," he met her eyes.

Her breath hitched under the heat of his gaze that was suddenly inches from her face. Tilting her head back she licked her lips and did her best not to show how his proximity was affecting her.

"I…" she swallowed as his fingers skimmed her hip. "I thought you needed my help to get them back."

"I do," he dragged his left hand up her arm lightly, barely touching, "but first I need to know what he wants." He was waiting for the second call that he knew was forthcoming.

"You out of town," she guessed. His thumb caught her bottom lip and she melted.

"Where would he take them?" He drew his hands to her hips and grasped her shirt, pulling it up and over her head.

She released a soft gasp as his fingers began to explore her smooth skin setting her body on fire. If he was hoping to make her concentrate he was having the opposite effect. Her breathing quickened. Tiny moans fell from her lips as he pinched her nipples through the lace covering her breasts.

"Elena," he prompted, pressing a knee between her thighs.

"B-boarding house," she guessed.

"Too obvious," he leaned in and pressed his lips to her jaw. He traveled the smooth expanse of her throat with gentle kisses, teasing nips, and soothing licks.

"It's…" she bit her bottom lip. It was growing increasingly hard to think, and nearly impossible to think. She rocked down and groaned when he grabbed her hips and held her still.

"Think, love," he sucked on her pulse point.

"I d-don't know," she sighed.

He pulled back to give her room to breathe and stared down into her eyes.

She relaxed marginally, but her heart continued to pound wildly in her chest, and the fire burned deep in her belly.

"I'm not exactly privy to his inner thoughts," she pressed her hands to his chest.

"Perhaps I should send you off to pry," his eyes flickered over her flushed face.

She released a humourless laugh and shook her head while rolling her eyes.

"What was that about being nice?" She cocked an eyebrow.

"First and foremost," he took a step back, "I'm a tease. I would love to help you out, but you said it yourself: your aunt won't believe you've fallen asleep at your friend's house again. And since you have her and your brother on vervain I am incapable of compelling them."

She bit her lip, not wanting to leave, but knowing she had to because he was right. Part of her wanted to crawl right back in his bed and curl up in his arms where she had gotten the best sleep she'd had in years, but she couldn't.

Another part of her wanted to break one of the rules she had set in place and let him into her house, but there he could be seen.

"I thought you didn't want me out of your sight," she shivered as the cool air filtered around her naked torso.

"I'll have someone watching you." He bent and retrieved her shirt.

"That's not creepy," she tugged her shirt back on, "or suspicious."

"You're mine," he cupped her chin, "let your friends believe I've got you surrounded for whatever reason they want, but you are mine and I will ensure you're safety."

She was a feminist. It was the twenty-first century. She didn't belong to anyone, but still his verbal claim on her sent a thrill down her spine.

Nobody liked being confined, but to be trapped within her own body was unbearable. She had been alive for countless years and suffered horrors better left to the shadows, but nothing compared to the death sleep. Nothing was as bad as his wrath.

She was trapped, and it always felt like an eternity when she became aware of it. The only positive aspect of his 'justice' was the oblivion, but when he finally deemed the time fit to awaken her awareness seeped it and it was terrible.

Her body, for all intents and purposes, was dead. What little blood remained lurched through her veins like sludge until finally at long last it reached her heart that might have squeezed out a single beat in a minute; when it arrived at its destination she gasped.

The breath burned her lungs.

She saw nothing but red when her eyes opened; it was her body's demand for sustenance. She was so hungry that she didn't question the glass pressed into her hand. It could have been poison for all she knew; she drained the liquid and sighed in relief as her body began to function once more, but she knew she was nowhere near sated yet.

"Your brother is a real piece of work."

She licked the liquid from her lips and looked up.

"I've been saying that for centuries," she rasped. She let him help her from the coffin and took the glass after watching him fill it with blood from some sort of bag. She drank slowly while running her eyes over his clothes. "How long?"

"When did he put the dagger in?" Stefan held the blade by the point. She was wearing the clothes he had last seen her in, but she had always loved that dress.

"After the raid," she closed her eyes. Her last memory was clear as if it had happened moments before; he'd killed her because she wanted to leave him, because she had dared to forge her own path separate from him.

"1921," he murmured, "It's been eighty-nine years."

"You left me asleep for eighty-nine years?" Her body grew tense. In her long life she had only been daggered for one other long period of time; she could still remember sitting up on that table. Fifty-two years Marcel had let her, and now Stefan had left her nearly twice as long.

He saw the fire flashing in her blue eyes and reached out to hold her shoulders.

"I left you asleep for three months," he stared into her eyes. "Before he left the raid Klaus compelled me to forget you both. He only lifted the compulsion three months ago. Between his paranoia and being compelled into complacency it took me all of that time just to get your coffin away from him."

"Why he chose to wake you is beyond my comprehension," a voice drawled from behind her. "You don't look like much to me; at least your brother looked capable of helping kill your other brother."

"Ignore my brother, Bekah," Stefan glared over her shoulder, "he's an ass."

"Yeah," Damon scoffed, "ignore me. That sounds like a great plan." He eyed Rebekah sceptically. "How exactly is she supposed to help get rid of Klaus?"

"Not everything is about getting rid of Klaus," Stefan shook his head.

"I'm going for a run," she shouted towards the kitchen.

She pulled her hair into a high ponytail before bending to lace up her sneakers. With her headphones in and her phone tucked into a pocket she opened her front door.

Nobody liked being confined. She often felt like she was caged within the walls of her house.

She loved being outdoors, surrounded by nature. She loved being outdoors, beneath the sky. She loved being outdoors, in the open air. She loved being outdoors, feeling the ground pass beneath her feet. She loved being outdoors, being free.

"That's not going to happen," he smirked. "I'm not leaving this town without Elena."

"That's cute. You think you've got a choice. Well… I suppose you do."

His anger simmered beneath the surface of his skin.

"Leave town and take your hybrids with you or you really will find your family's coffins at the bottom of the oceans."

The line clicked.

He growled and slammed the phone onto the kitchen counter. The glass shattered beneath his hand and sliced into his palm.

"That better be an empty threat," she arched her back. Bracing her hands on the headboard she stretched like a cat and fixed him with a pointed glare.

"On the contrary," Stefan dropped his phone on the bedside table, "I have every intention of dropping the caskets at the bottom of the ocean."

"Sounds like a good place for the dagger," she muttered. Her eyes darted to the length of silver.

She wrapped the sheet around her torso and sat up against the headboard. Her eyes found Stefan's gaze when he pushed her mussed hair from her face.

"Where are my brothers, Stefan? What have you done with them? You must have them, or Nik wouldn't have sounded so angry."

"They're being shielded by a witch friend of mine," he took a deep breath, "I needed leverage."

She slowed down and came to a stop as her playlist was interrupted by the preprogrammed ringtone. She braced her back against a tree and answered the call.

"I'm going to kill him and everyone he's ever met!"

"You said you wouldn't," she panted, "unless he hurt them." Her breathing slowly leveled out. "Stefan's many things, but he wouldn't hurt someone just to spite you."

"He has threatened to drop them at the bottom of the oceans if I don't leave town."

"So," she slid down the length of the tree, "he's taking a page out of your playbook? Isn't that exactly what you told Elijah you did?"

"I was lying, love. I'd never harm my family, but Stefan is angry, and angry people tend to act rashly."

"Speaking from experience?"

She dropped her head against the bark of the tree with a thump. Overhead an angry squirrel chittered and dropped an acorn. The projectile hit her forehead with a thud. The sharp point drew a small bead of blood that trickled down towards her eyebrows and over the bridge of her nose.

His response to her startled yelp was instantaneous.

"What happened? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," she sighed. "A squirrel decided my head was the perfect spot to drop an acorn." Reaching out she picked up the small nut and tossed it off the path into the woods.

"Squirrel… where the bloody hell are you?"

"In the woods," she shrugged, her shoulders scraped the tree. "I went for a run."

"With Stefan out for blood? He knows how important you are to me!"

"I thought you had me under hybrid guard?" She felt the coy smile lift the edge of her mouth and bit it back down.

"You said you were going home. I told her to watch your house and keep out any who would do you harm."

"You don't have much faith in your hybrids do you?" Elena drew her knees to her chest; a thin layer of sweat cooled her skin in the sudden breeze. She couldn't exactly blame him for questioning matters; it wasn't like the few wolves he had turned were fond of him.

"They have no respect."

"If you want people to respect you do something worth respecting," she scoffed. "Stop ordering them around, or turning them against their will."

She thought back and tried to remember the last time her blood had been used by him; it had been awhile, definitely before they started sleeping together. In fact she couldn't remember him taking her blood again after he had returned from the wolf hunt in Portland.

"You shouldn't be out on your own right now."

"What's the worst Stefan could do to me?" She ran her finger tips over the skeletal remains of a few leaves.

"Kill you, turn you: I could tell you tales of his atrocities. Stories so horrific that you would never sleep again; I could tell you tales that would shake you to your core and chill your blood…"

"Let me guess," she sighed when he grew silent and summoned her best imitation of his accent, "You happen to like my blood warm."

She heard him chuckle at her attempt.

"Hot actually."

She heard the suggestive quality of his voice and could almost see the twinkle in his eye; it sent a rush of warmth through her body to pool in her belly.

She blamed his accent. Everything sounded sexier in his husky voice, and when he decided to use it to his advantage she was a goner; he had tied her to his bed more than once and left her there, talking to her in that sinful accent, working her over with his voice until she was desperate for his touch.

She straightened her spine before she could lose momentum and wound up in a puddle on the forest floor.

"Stefan wouldn't do that to me," she shook her head as if he were in front of her and not miles away. Her eyes flickered over the path when she realized she had run much farther than she had planned.

"You have too much faith in him."

"I'm hanging up now," she stood on shaky legs. "I'm going to call Stefan to figure out what's going on, and prove you wrong."

She disconnected the call over his protests and estimated she had about twenty minutes before he found her.

Her outgoing call was picked up after a few rings.

"Do you have a death wish? Why would you take Klaus' family?"

The voice was slightly distorted as if it came from a distance, telling him she was using the headset that came with her phone. Since he knew she had Bluetooth in her car the headset told him she had likely gone out for a run.

Stefan pointed down the rickety stairs for Rebekah and stepped back to lean against the wall and take the phone call. He watched her descend the stairs and prayed she didn't take it in her head to host a more lively family reunion; it was risky enough with her awake.

"I needed leverage." He gasped in false confusion. "How did you know I took his family?"

"Cut the crap Stefan, you know."

"Oh," he hummed, "you mean I know that you're screwing him?" He glanced at Rebekah when she reappeared with a scowl on her face. "I think you should re-evaluate your priorities because it looks like you're the one with a death wish."

"I don't have a death wish."

"Oh," Stefan's brows rose, "so you're not sleeping with Klaus? That wasn't you leaving his house the other night, or with him earlier today?"

The blood drained from Elena's face. She had known it was a possibility when she had made the suggestion to Klaus, but she hadn't been convinced he had seen her until that moment. She still felt secure in the knowledge that he hadn't told anyone else though.

"What do you want me to say?" She closed her eyes and raked her hands through her hair. The microphone slid down her collarbone.

"Tell me I'm wrong and you're not in the middle of the stupidest decision of your life, or suicidal."

"Just because I'm sleeping with Klaus… it doesn't mean I have a death wish." She crossed her arms.

Her feet were about to start the return to her home when the air was suddenly knocked from her lungs. A small scream tore from her mouth as the headphones were torn from her ears and tossed aside; she thought she heard them land in the bushes several feet away.

She didn't get out a second cry. Only whispered words and loud choking sounds slipped through her lips as she stared into the eyes of an angry hybrid.

"Are you sure about that?" The short woman's mouth twisted in a malicious sneer.

Elena managed to croak out a few syllables around the hand that shifted to her throat. They were whispered and barely audible, but she knew the other woman could understand her; she thought the hybrid's name might have been Mindy.

"I thought you were a victim," she tightened her hold around Elena's neck. "I really did, but you're not. You probably gave him what he needed willingly."

She struggled to breath around the hand and pulled weakly at the arm she had no hope of removing. She had never liked exploiting loopholes but her vision was beginning to fade around the edges.

"You're… sup… pr-protec…"

"He told me to not let you get hurt or abducted from your home," Mindy growled. "You're not at home," her lips twisted in a smirk. A few more seconds and she would rid the world of his lover and his only way to make more hybrids that would follow his every order.

Elena struggled, but the fight was bleeding from her limbs. The little that she could still see blurred until Mindy was a smudge of dark colour in front of her. She was certain she was going to die right there in the woods.

She was just wondering what would be on there to greet her when she was released and her body slumped over in the dirt.

"What's going on?" Rebekah eyed the small device in his hand. She could hear the sound of a struggle on the other end of the call. The other woman's voice had been distorted but she had caught a snippet of the conversation and gathered that Stefan's acquaintance was indeed sleeping with her older brother.

It also sounded like Stefan was right; she was going to die for it.

"Are you just going to stand here and listen to her die?" Rebekah stared in horror. "She clearly has poor taste, but nobody should die because of their choice in bed mate."

He hesitated a moment before hanging up the phone and nodding.

"Stay here," he moved towards the door, "on the off chance your brother is out and about."

She nodded and watched him flash off before turning back to the stairs. The witch in the cellar had denied the existence of the coffins she knew were there. She knew the short brunette was lying, her heart had given her away; it was a minor annoyance and partially her fault. She had insisted on seeing her siblings were safe the moment she knew Stefan had them and they had rushed over without giving the young witch a warning.

Bonnie, Stefan had mentioned her name on the journey to the house, was a loyal friend and wouldn't reveal the coffins until Stefan gave her the okay, but Stefan wouldn't be able to do that for a little bit now.

She descended the stairs slowly into the cellar to wait with the witch for Stefan and the poor soul who had been foolish enough to climb into her brother's bed.

She struggled to get her coughing under control and looked up through the water clinging to her lashes. The image was still blurry but she was ninety eight percent sure of her deduction.


"Like I said," he flipped over the headless corpse with his foot, "you're…"

She didn't find out what he was going to say because he was cut off by the load snap of his neck. She watched her ex fall at her side and lifted her eyes once more.

Gentle fingers tipped up her chin. She winced when they made contact with the bruises along her throat. She didn't even grimace when he placed his bleeding wrist to her lips.

"I'm going to kill him for this," he growled while watching the bruises fade.

She grasped his arm before he could make good on his promise, but it was a few minutes before her windpipe had healed enough for her to tell him what had happened.


Chapter Text

She sat with her knees curled to her chest against the pillows. The water from her wet hair seeped into the collar of his grey Henley.

A strangled yell reached her ears and sent a shiver down her spine. Lifting the edge of the blankets up and over her bare legs she hugged the warm material to her knees and tried to block out the second cry.

"Is this really necessary?"

Her eyes found his when he appeared at the dresser. She barely registered the blood stained fabric when he pulled it from his torso.

"He'll be fine in an hour," Klaus sighed, putting on a clean shirt.

"That's not what I meant," she closed her eyes. Her knees slid open until she was sitting criss-cross beneath the blankets.

"I know what you meant."

He sat beside her and pulled a phone from his pocket and pressed it into her palm after opening the lock screen.

She took the device and tapped in Stefan's passcode before returning the phone to Klaus. She watched as he opened the call history and deleted the phone call from her earlier.

"You're coming off as distinctly paranoid," she remarked when he set the device on the nightstand.

"Paranoia has been a good friend the last thousand years, sweetheart."

With anyone else the comment might have come off as condescending, but with her it was a mere statement of fact.

"You couldn't let the vervain pass naturally?" She placed her hands down on either side of her thighs and cocked an eyebrow.

"The sooner the vervain is gone the sooner he can be compelled. My family will be returned safely to the mansion and he will forget everything he knows about you and me," he met her eyes. "Make no mistake, love, the only reason Stefan is alive right now is because he saved your life, and the only reason the remaining hybrids are alive is because they have direct orders not to harm a hair on your head."

Elena shivered when he lifted her damp hair over her shoulder. She was starting to think she must be in shock because there was no way she had heard him say he was prepared to slaughter the hybrids he had spent a millennium longing to create.

"I'll wait for Stefan," Bonnie glared, defiantly, at the blonde.

"He's clearly been waylaid," Rebekah crossed her arms. "He's been gone nearly two hours."

"And that doesn't strike you as suspicious in the least?" Bonnie scoffed. She recognized Rebekah as one of Klaus' siblings from when she lifted each coffin lid. "How do I know you're not trying to help Klaus? Don't think I didn't hear you urge him to rush off after Klaus' 'sweetheart'."

Rebekah almost laughed. That was surely the nicest way to describe the relationship between her brother and his latest flavor of the month.

"Klaus," the name twisted her lips, "has spent the last thousand years controlling me. I've stuck by his side for centuries and all it ever got me was a dagger in my heart for my troubles." She had no desire to help the villain they referred to as 'Klaus'; he was so far removed from the loving brother she had grown up with.

"She's not helping Klaus, Bon-Bon," Damon came down the cellar steps and leaned against the door. "After the things I heard back at the Boarding House I highly doubt she's holding any sympathies towards her big brother."

"What did you hear?" Rebekah frowned.

"More than I ever wanted to," he shuddered. "Where's Stefan?"

"He went to help the poor soul that thought crawling into bed with my brother was a good idea," she straightened her spine.

"And whoever it was probably contacted Klaus as well," Bonnie crossed her arms. "He's probably torturing Stefan as we speak because you told him to go play the hero."

"All the more reason to show me my brothers."

"I'm afraid I don't follow your logic," Damon's eyes narrowed. "Stefan wakes up you and less than a day later he gets taken by Klaus. Why should we show you the rest of your family?"

"Because there's only ever been one person capable of keeping Klaus in any semblance of a line," Rebekah's eyes flickered from Bonnie to Damon. "If you want to get Stefan back we're going to need help."

She bent at the waist and felt the cool metal press into her stomach as she reached down to the very bottom of the washing machine. She would have thrown more than her bloodstained clothes in the wash but Klaus, as she had learned, was a bit of a neat freak so there was no extra laundry to be found. That meant her clean clothes were now in a wet ball at the bottom.

She felt the hem of his shirt rise the further she bent until cool air was swirling between her legs. She thought nothing of it since the house was empty save for the two of them and the chained up ex-boyfriend; that was until her hands curled around her things and rough fingers sank into her cheeks, kneading the smooth flesh.

Her breath caught as her abdomen clenched almost painfully.

"You've washed everything, I see."

His tone was conversational, as if they were discussing the weather and not her near nakedness. She didn't have to look to see the way his eyes darkened when he pressed the pad of his thumb between her swollen lips. She arched her back and tried to shift her hips against him in search of friction.

"I didn't want to waste water," she sighed.

Moving to straighten with the wet clothes she gasped when a strong hand landed between her shoulder blades and pushed her forward.

"Don't move."

A low growl rumbled in his chest and sent a fresh wave of arousal through her making her lips glisten enticingly in the harsh light of the laundry room.

He'd had no intention of instigating anything after returning from the basement. His only plan was to strike up a conversation, but there was something about Elena, something about his mate, that he just couldn't resist. He adored the way her body reacted to even the slightest stimulation on his part.

She moved the clothes on top of the drier without looking and gripped either side of the open washer. Staring into the drum she braced herself for whatever he was planning next.

Her pussy throbbed in anticipation, half-expecting to be penetrated at any moment. She was aching for him and on the verge of begging to be filled when she finally felt him move behind her.

A different kind of thrill raced down her spine as he sank to his knees.

He took a moment to let the anticipation build and would have sat their longer staring at the way her arousal gathered and glistened on her thighs, but his hunger seemed to want to win out.

"Look at you," he smirked, unable to resist teasing her, "dripping wet and I've hardly touched you."

He spread her lips and pressed a chaste kiss to her throbbing clit.

"Is all of this really for me, sweetheart," he dragged his tongue through her folds and groaned at the exquisite flavor, "or does the thought that your cavalier ex can smell your arousal and hear those filthy little moans you're making turn you on?"

Elena bit her lip when he asked the question, unaware until that moment that she had been moaning at all. She heard the strangled sounds rising in her throat though when he really set to work licking long strips through her pussy lips and sucking on her clit.

Her thighs began to tremble as he devoured her pussy like a man that had been starved. Each swipe of his greedy tongue pushed her higher and higher until every muscle in her body quivered with the need for release.

"Answer me, Elena," he pulled back with a smirk.

"Klaus," she whimpered, trying to push her hips back into his face. It was no use though; he had her in a firm grip and would not yield until he had his answer. Frantically her mind scrambled for whatever question he had asked her before beginning his feast. Did he want her to tell him how much she wanted to cum? Did he want to hear what she wanted him to do? Did he want her to beg?

It took a moment of thinking before she remembered his question.

"It's for you," she panted. "It's all for you." She risked moving to look over her shoulder and meet his eyes so she could take it one step further. "Nobody turns me on like you."

She groaned when he resumed his task and kept talking through her rising arousal until her words came out as strangled sounds between heaving gasps.

"Nobody has ever eaten me out like you do," she squeezed her eyes shut when his tongue pushed inside her. "Mmm… fu… yes… Klaus…"

He had never cared much for what others had to say about him, but as the praise fell from her lips and echoed back from the inside of the machine he felt what little blood remained rush to his cock. He renewed his efforts while freeing himself from his constricting jeans. With one hand he held her lips open and with the other he jerked off to the sound of her wanton moans and pleas that he make her cum.

He couldn't resist the sweet sound of her voice so he wrapped his lips around her clit and sucked hard.

Her voice fell silent as the tension released from her body.

He worked her through the orgasm and leaned back to watch as her cum rolled down her thighs to her knees.

It took Elena a few minutes to settle her heart and breathing enough to turn around. The moment she did was the moment he stood and wrapped an arm securely around her back pulling her into his stomach.

She moaned when he pressed his lips to hers and she tasted herself on his tongue. It took all the self-control she possessed to push him away.

The sudden pout that overtook his features brought a fond smile to her lips that she quickly hid by turning to the drier. She tossed her clothes in and adjusted the settings while wiping the expression from her face so that when she turned back to him it was with a smirk.

"Having a little problem there?" Her eyes flickered down before rising again to meet his carnal gaze.

"Hardly little," he smirked, taking her hips. His breath caught when she leaned closer and nipped at his exposed collarbone.

Elena gasped when he tore his shirt from her body and lowered her to the cool floor, removing his own clothes and settling between her thighs.

"Seriously?" He grumbled, casting his eyes to the dark ceiling overhead. The distant sound of muffled grunts and soft moans drifted down to where he was chained to the wall.

The last thing he wanted was for the vervain to be gone so Klaus could compel him and he lost his leverage, but he found himself wishing the process would hurry up and end so he wouldn't have to listen anymore.

He knew why Klaus hadn't killed him, he had his family, but he couldn't figure out why he hadn't tried another tactic. Surely a bite would have gotten him to talk a lot sooner than being bled out and compelled. His answer came a few minutes later when the question was voiced by Elena in curious tones.

"The fever would have burnt out the vervain, and been an excellent motivator for information, but I wouldn't have dared do that with you in the house."

"Why not?" She curled into his chest and drew thoughtless patterns over his heart. She was glad he hadn't bitten Stefan, but her curiosity was getting to her.

"That should be obvious sweetheart," his fingers trailed up and down her spine.

She tipped her head up, inhaling slowly when he pressed a soft kiss to her brow. She blushed when she heard the contented hum rise from her own throat.

He cupped the back of her neck and rolled her over, peppering her face with gentle kisses between each murmured word.

"You are a terrible distraction," he nipped her ear, "I don't dare start anything important when you're nearby because I will forget what I was doing the moment I lay eyes on you."

She carded her fingers through his hair when he started licking and nipping her throat. She knew what was coming when he paused and propped himself on his elbow, but before he could ask the question on the tip of his tongue he tilted his head towards the door and a voice she couldn't hear.

"Not that I'm in a hurry to be compelled but I'd really like to get out of here before you start another round with my ex-girlfriend."

"Go on," she sighed when he sat up, "I should get dressed and head home."

"Do you have advanced hearing now, love?" He cocked an eyebrow.

"Nope," she sat up, tilting her head, "but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what you were listening to."

Damon rolled his eyes as the two continued to argue the point and checked his watch before clearing his throat.

"I enjoy a good cat-fight as much as the next guy, but you two are taking this way out of proportion." His eyes turned to Bonnie when she glared and crossed her arms. "Whether we agree with sexy Bex," he smirked when she snapped at him and told him not to call her that, "or not is irrelevant at the moment. Assuming Klaus has Stefan than he's bleeding the vervain from him so he can compel the location of the coffins from him, so regardless of personal opinions you need to reveal them so that we can relocate before Klaus comes barging in to collect."

"Where are we gonna take them?" Bonnie reluctantly agreed and ignored the blonde's smug smile.

"I've got just the spot," he backed towards the stairs. "A house safe from Klaus," he wiggled his eyebrows to enunciate the rhyme. "You lift the glamour and I'll bring around a vehicle."

Bonnie closed her eyes and murmured the incantation to lift the spell, knowing Damon was right and that Klaus would likely come equipped with a witch when he got the information he wanted.

"Don't get any bright ideas," Bonnie glanced over her shoulder to Rebekah. "I've sealed the caskets so only a human can open them."

"Smart," Damon came back downstairs.

Elena paused half-way down the street to her house and pulled out her ringing cell phone. Klaus had driven her half-way home after compelling Stefan and letting him go and she had honestly thought she would get through the front door before he called. It should have taken him at least a half an hour to retrieve his incapacitated siblings.

"Hello?" She leaned against the back of a bench.

"I'm going to kill him and everyone he's ever met!"

"He's met me," she heaved a dramatic sigh, "and you, and my family, so I'd really prefer if you didn't do that."

"Obviously I'm not going to kill you."

She heard some of the rage recede from his voice.

"What did he do?" She wondered at what point she had learned that she could talk him down in certain situations.

"He lied to me!"

"You compelled him to tell the truth," she frowned when she heard a distant crash come through the speaker. She inspected her nails while he tore apart the room in the old witch house.

"They're not here, love."

"Isn't it more likely that Stefan revealed the location to someone else in case you figured it out?" She pushed her hair behind her ear when he sighed in agreement. "They've probably just been moved. Now I'm going to go home, and since nobody knows I can try and find out what happened. I'll call you later."

She tucked the phone into her pocket after restarting her playlist and rolled her neck before taking off at a light jog the rest of the way. Her heart was pounding and her breath was heavy when she took the porch steps and pushed open the front door. She was on the first step on the path to taking her second shower of the day when she froze.

Slowly she walked backwards and poked her head through the door to the porch swing. Her mouth opened and closed a few times when her eyes landed on the blonde. She wore a pair of jeans and a top Elena was fairly certain she had left at the Boarding House.

"Hello. Who… who are you?" She met the blonde's eyes; the striking shade of blue was oddly familiar.

"Rebekah," she stood up and crossed her arms.

Elena struggled not to bristle under the woman's stare. The way she looked her over made her feel like she was being appraised.

"You're the latest doppelganger," she tilted her head and hummed. "The original was prettier."

"Now, now," a voice came from behind her, "be nice, sexy Bex."

Elena glanced over her shoulder to find Damon coming through the entry. He ignored the low growl from Rebekah as he sauntered toward the pair on either side of the threshold.

"Elena is playing host for us," he crossed his arms and leaned against the banister.

Elena glanced from Damon back to Rebekah and cleared her throat when she saw the small gold band on the blonde's right hand. She recognized the ring from somewhere but the location eluded her.

"As much as I'd love to chat with someone who just threw a veiled insult at me," she stepped back and up on the step, "I was just jogging and really need to take a shower. Nice to meet you, Rebekah; Damon," she paused when she looked at him and waved to the door, "I'm sure you have things to do."

"I could always help you shower," he smirked suggestively.

"I'm a big girl, Damon," she backed up a few more steps and pressed her lips together, "I've been showering on my own for many years."

At the top of the stairs she heard the front door close, and saw them on the lawn through the grass. Turning around she nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Shit!" Her hand covered her pounding heart.

"Sorry," Bonnie offered a sheepish smile, "Jeremy was in the downstairs bathroom."

"It's fine," she swallowed, managing a smile for her friend, "what are you doing here?" She felt her brows slowly rise into her hairline as Bonnie explained.

"Stefan stole Klaus' family and we had to move them before he found them," Bonnie tucked her hair behind her ears, "and since he doesn't have an invitation to your house we moved them here. Don't worry, you won't even know they're here. Just refrain from inviting Rebekah in; Damon's worried she'll try something."

And suddenly she remembered where she had seen Rebekah's ring. The image came to her in pieces: a sunny day, the bridge at the Lockwood estate, and Elijah passing her the buzzing cell phone from his pocket.

"You put incapacitated Original vampires in my house?" Elena walked around Bonnie and into the bathroom, grabbing a towel on the way.

"In your basement," Bonnie nodded. "It's just until we can be sure Stefan is alright. As soon as he's returned in one piece we'll get them out of here and somewhere more secure."

She murmured something agreeable while nodding as Bonnie turned to leave and she started the shower. Under the spray of hot water she washed away whatever smell that lingered from her afternoon activities and pondered her options.

Blood chugged sluggishly through veins on the slow path to the heart like a train over tracks. There was no way of knowing how long the journey lasted, but it felt like an eternity; driving with small children in the car who asked every other minute if they were there yet.

Finally it reached the heart.

Elena knew it was coming but she still jumped back with a tiny shriek when he jerked up with a gasp. She took a deep breath and lifted the blood bag in her hand; she had started keeping some in the house for Caroline after the ritual. A brief period after the ritual when Jenna was free of vervain meant that her aunt looked over the bags when she saw them in the fridge.

He took the bag from her hand and looked her over slowly while draining the liquid. When the colour began to return to his skin and moisture returned to his mouth he finally spoke.

"You survived the ritual."

"So did Klaus, thanks for that." She had meant for her tone to be sarcastic but she really was grateful he hadn't murdered his half-brother. It seemed in his bloodless state that he took it as a negative expletive.


"It's fine." She held up her hands in a stopping gesture. "Consider it dropped."

He frowned when she turned around and picked something up from a low table. He was out of the coffin and standing when she turned back and held out a length of silver. He wasn't sure why it surprised him since she had done it before but he still regarded her suspiciously when he plucked the blade from her hand.


"I thought you might want to put that up somewhere," she shrugged. Clearing her throat she nodded to a darkened area of the room on the other side of the coffins. "I was gonna wake them to, but then I remembered how you reacted at the Boarding House when you weren't invited in. I don't have the physical strength to move them."

"And why am I in a basement?"

"Stefan stole all of you from Klaus. Klaus abducted Stefan and compelled the location of the coffins from him. Damon moved all of you to my basement before Klaus could take you back."

She hadn't intended to do it, but she'd gotten the sense that the other two were particularly murderous from the shouts she heard drifting through the open window of her bedroom. She crossed her arms when Jeremy leaned in her doorway.

"I can't believe you did that," he shook his head.

"I only woke Elijah," she murmured when the voices cut off. "He told me to lock myself in my room while he woke his brothers." Jeremy wouldn't have known at all if he hadn't come back from work early when she was on her way back to her room. She looked out through the window to find the porch empty and estimated a few minutes before they landed.

"You should be safe to go now," she reached for her cell phone, "Elijah's the only one who actually has an invite and he wouldn't have hurt you; besides they're gone."

Jeremy opened her bedroom door but paused in the hall.

"Why'd you do it?"

Elena glanced up from her phone with a small shrug.

"I felt bad," she admitted. "I couldn't leave them like that."

"You're too nice for your own good, 'Lena," he shook his head.

"Am not." It was an old reflex and she smiled when she said it. "Night, Jer."

"Night," he left and headed to his bedroom.

She returned her attention to the phone in her hands.

Your brothers sounded murderous.

It was almost comical how fast her phone started to ring. She didn't give him a chance to ask questions when she answered.

"They were moved to my basement, and I woke Elijah. He took it on himself to wake your other brothers."

"And my sister?"

"Apparently already awake," she closed her window. "I have one question before you get angry and they get there." She pulled back the covers on the bed, suddenly exhausted. "There were five empty spaces in that room. Who was in the fifth coffin?"

Chapter Text

She was in a foul mood.

She had barely closed her eyes when a large hand landed on her shoulder. She ignored it, rolled over, and lifted the heavy blanket above her head. When she slept alone, which was all the time as far as anyone was concerned, she was cold. In the absence of limbs to tangle with she opted for blankets; piled high on the bed.

Her heavy blankets were torn from her body.

She crossed her arms over her chest, tucked her hands into the folds of the grey Henley she had donned for sleep and curled her knees up into the fetal position. She cracked open one tired eye and glared at her baby brother.

He held up his hands and backed away.

"Don't look at me like that."

She glared harder until her gaze would have melted ice and pointed with her knee to the blanket he had dropped on the floor.

"Can't," he swallowed, "you've got company."

Her head protested the movement and her shoulder begged her to lie back down, but she rose the three inches and glared at the offending numbers of the alarm clock: 3:47 AM.

On a Saturday morning.

3:47 AM, on a Saturday morning.

It was a good thing he was out of reach and she was so tired because she might have beaten her brother with a pillow if he were close enough.

"I know what you're gonna say," he grabbed a sweater and tossed it on the bed; he had enough sense not to get within swiping distance. "I already told him to get lost, but he's an entitled ass and demands to see you. It's a good thing Jenna sleeps like the dead."

"Tell him to go away," she croaked. She sat up and pulled on the sweater because she was cold; she had no intention of greeting her early morning visitor. If Damon wanted to talk to her he could wait for a reasonable hour.

"Klaus isn't one to listen," Jeremy rolled his eyes. "And he's got this manic look… like he might murder the whole town if he doesn't get what he wants."

Elena's heart skipped a beat before pounding away. She found herself filled with a confounding mix of irritation, joy and fear. The thought of his arms wrapped around her waist and the steady beating of his heart against her skin knocked her temperature up a few degrees.

"Go back to bed, Jer," she got to her feet, shivering when her toes hit the floorboards. "I'll see what he wants."

"I'm not leaving you alone with him," he shook his head, following her into the hall.

Elena spun on her heel at the top of the stairs and pressed her hand to Jeremy's shoulder, pointing with her free hand to his bedroom door. The last thing she wanted was for him to get in an argument at the threshold and wake up Jenna.

"I will be fine."

"Why the hell would I leave you alone with the evil hybrid?" Jeremy gritted his teeth. Elena was stubborn, but so was he; it was a Gilbert trait.

"Jeremy," she hissed as loud as she dared, "look at me." She was so tired that she wasn't sure what her eyes were revealing, but what he saw there made him pause. "I will be perfectly safe; he's not going to hurt me."

His eyes flickered over her, from her earnest eyes to the grey t-shirt he had never seen before. He gave her a curt nod, backed up and closed the door to his bedroom behind him. He moved into the shared bathroom when he heard her feet on the stairs and tiptoed into her bedroom to stand by the door.

Elena inhaled a shaking breath and gripped the doorknob until her knuckles turned white. Jeremy hadn't been lying about the frenzy in his eyes, but it wasn't mania.

She had seen him in many moods and could register them by the light in his eyes: anger, amusement, hunger, lust, and passion.

She saw none of the emotions she associated with him in his eyes. The gleam there was one she had never seen, but she knew what it was. The tightness around his mouth and slight tremor of his hand confirmed her assumption.

He was afraid. He was shaken to the core.

She was powerless to stop her feet from crossing the barrier to stand in front of him. She didn't even try to keep her hand from cupping his cheek.

"What is it?" The pad of her thumb passed over his bottom lip. The unspoken question hovered between them: 'did your brothers do this?'

He didn't answer. His hands skimmed over her sides, running from her ribs to the curve of her hip and around her back as if to confirm she was really before him but afraid he might hurt her it he pressed too hard.

"Klaus?" Her hand moved from his cheek to his hair, urging him silently to meet her eyes. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew they were standing on the front porch of her house with only the light from the hall to illuminate his face.

"Did you invite them in?"

His question startled her.

"My siblings, sweetheart," he clarified when her brows lowered.

"No," she shook her head, sliding her hands down his arms to his elbows. Her sweater fell open and she shivered against the cold. "Elijah already had an invite, but he moved the other two outside. They never even saw me."

He felt his brows lower in a mirror of hers.

"He was afraid they might be overcome with bloodlust having been daggered for so long," she arched a questioning brow.

"I'll be sure to thank him for that consideration someday," he breathed a sigh of relief.

"What are you doing here?" She shivered. A chill was working up through her bare feet.

"I needed to…" he trailed off, letting his eyes roam over her face. She was in front of him. She was safe. "It's been a very long night."

She could feel her fingers and toes beginning to freeze; they needed to move. She let go of his arms and stepped backwards, pushing the door open with her heel and crossing the threshold.

Her heart wrenched when she saw his shoulders sag. She held the doorknob and whispered low so her voice wouldn't carry back up the stairs to where she suspected Jeremy was listening.

"Wait five minutes," she tucked her hair behind her ear, "and then come in through my window."

She saw the surprise in the rapid blink of his eyes, but she closed the door before he could say anything about the line she had just crossed.

Jeremy frowned when he heard the door shut with a soft click and the sound of the lock engaging. He'd heard very little of the conversation and the words he had managed to make out were in no way telling.

He shook himself of his suspicions and reasoned that the shirt had to belong to Stefan; one she had 'stolen' during their relationship. His reason seemed to be weak to his mind though. Wouldn't he have seen it sometime in the laundry?

He straightened up when Elena entered her bedroom and cocked an eyebrow.


"I told you I wasn't going to leave you alone with him," Jeremy mirrored her expression.

"Why?" Elena crossed her arms. "I told you he won't hurt me."

Jeremy blinked and shook his head. He knew from her tone that she truly believed her words, and that made him want to believe her; he did believe her, but he couldn't understand why that was.

"How can you be so sure of that?"

Elena's teeth sank into her bottom lip. She was so tired and longed to crawl between her sheets; she wanted to curl up in the arms of her lover without having to worry about a sibling barging in. She wanted to come clean; obviously not to Jenna, but those in the know. Jenna could wait a few years until the physical age difference wouldn't raise her brows or until she actually learned about the supernatural and remembered what she knew.

She wanted to tell him right there in her dark bedroom, but if she did she knew they would argue; Jeremy wouldn't come around immediately, and he would definitely raise an objection to him when he came through the window.

"I'm just sure," she held open her bedroom door.


"I'm tired, Jer," she sighed. "Can we talk about this later?"

"When?" He tilted his head. He knew she was hiding something.

"Later tonight," she closed her eyes. "I'll make dinner and we can talk." Jenna would be out with Alaric.

"I hope by make dinner you mean you're gonna order in," Jeremy smirked.

"Don't insult my cooking skills," she glared weakly.

"When you can boil water without setting the stove on fire I'll stop," he stepped out into the hall. "Dinner?"

"Dinner," she nodded.

She closed her bedroom door when he entered his own room and then closed the bathroom door before crossing to the window. She unhooked the latch, pulled open the pane and felt a swift wind ruffle her hair.

A large hand closed the glass and turned the lock.

She felt his fingers close over her upper arm and spun her around. She stared up into his stormy eyes for a moment before lowering her gaze. Her heart stuttered when she saw what she had failed to notice on the porch.

There was a dark stain on his dark shirt.

Her finger found the hole, no bigger than a pin prick. She caught the spot with her nail and picked at it.

"What happened?" She lowered her hands and grasped the hem.

He didn't fight her, but lifted his arms to facilitate the removal of the soiled material. He let her pull him into the dimly lit bathroom and wipe the dried blood from his chest.

She dropped the facecloth in the hamper and placed her palm where the wound had been. His pectoral muscles quivered under her cold fingers, and his heart jumped but he didn't say anything. The amount of blood on his shirt and the location of the mark told her that someone had targeted his heart; rage flashed through her.

Somebody had hurt him.

Somebody had tried to kill him.

That person was likely still alive too because there was no blood on his hands.

For the first time in her life she felt the urge to cause physical harm.

"What happened with your brothers?" She gritted her teeth.

"I don't want to talk about my brothers now." His fingers curled around her wrist.

"Klaus…" He silenced her with a finger to her lips.

"Later, love," he turned his head and kissed the palm of her hand.

"When?" She breathed. There was a familiar light in his eyes and she knew she wasn't going to be sleeping anytime soon.

"Breakfast," he kissed the tips of her fingers. "Jeremy gets dinner so I'll take breakfast."

"Jeremy's going to need dinner if he sees you here at breakfast," she sighed.

"I don't want to talk about your brother either." Klaus' fingers slid from her lips to her throat, inching closer to the collar of her sweater.

Elena pulled her arm free and stepped out of his grasp into the bedroom. She motioned him out and closed the door to the ensuite.

She was always cold when she slept alone and so preferred layers, but she would not be lying in her bed alone. With that knowledge in mind she let the sweater slip from her arms to puddle on the floor. His t-shirt followed.

She didn't have to hold out her hand in invitation. She had barely dropped the fabric when he held her waist and bent his head to catch her lips.

Her fingers froze on the path to divesting him of the rest of his clothing. There was something different in the way his mouth moved over hers. Her desire kindled low in her belly as he explored her mouth with his tongue and her torso with his hands, sliding them up and around from her ribs to her shoulders and down to the tips of her fingers.

She murmured his name when he dragged his lips down the column of her throat and over her collarbone. She wasn't sure how to react to the slow exploration of her skin; the way he attempted to memorize the taste and feel of her made her stomach quiver.

He laid kisses across the swell of her breasts.

She dug her fingers into the hair at the back of his head and bit her lip to stifle her moan and stepped out of her pajama pants when he his fingers urged the material down her legs.

Her panties soon followed.

She backed out of his arms. Lying back on the mattress she watched him remove the rest of his clothes and spread her legs. She was unsurprised when knelt between her thighs and slid into her, joining them together with one smooth thrust.

From a human being the action would have been inconsiderate and potentially dangerous, but he could smell her arousal and knew she was ready. He needed to be inside her.

Her head fell back and she gasped.

Her spine tingled, but there was nothing animalistic about their coupling. There was none of the wild frenzy that almost always brought them together. There was no dirty talk to make her shiver.

There was only the intensity in his eyes.

She thought that might just be more stimulating than all of the rest.

It was a slow climb as he moved in her with long, deliberate strokes. His hands slowly roamed the length of her body squeezing the curve of her hip, the swell of her breast, and the back of her thigh. His mouth alternated between swallowing her louder moans and teasing her throat.

Her breath caught when his thumb slid between them.

She was flushed and covered in a thin sheen of sweat, but there was no hope of being cold with the fire he was stoking to life.

She kissed him when he started to speed up a bit. Her limbs tightened around him as her muscles grew taut.

There was no begging involved.

He felt her orgasm in the strain of her muscles and pushed her over the edge with sure flicks of his thumb. He followed her, spurred on by her fluttering walls. He buried his face in her neck to stifle his grunts and spilled inside her.

She ran her fingers up and down his spine as he panted against her throat. She switched to rubbing circles between his shoulder blades when she felt him shaking on top of her.

"She was in the fifth casket."

"Who?" Elena slid her toes down his calve.

He laid his head on her breast and held her arm, clinging to her as if frightened she would vanish at any moment.

She shifted, trying to see his face, but it was hard to move while he had her pinned down. He hadn't even pulled himself free from her warmth. She could feel him there, soft and still. She was in no rush to break the bubble of intimacy but she thought he might be more open to talking if he saw her face.

"Klaus?" She gave up trying to move and settled for running a comforting hand through his hair, massaging the tense muscles at the base of his skull. "Who was it?"

He had hung up before he could answer earlier; distracted by the arrival of his brothers, and later her.

She was starting to think he wouldn't answer when he murmured against her breast. Her heart skipped a beat and for a moment she wasn't sure she had heard him right.

"Your mother?" She felt him nod; something wet spread over her skin.

He nodded.

Elena slid her toes down the length of his leg once more and caught the edge of the sheet. It rose a few inches when she dragged her foot back up.

He seemed to realize the same moment she did that he was crushing her and slipped from her warmth.

She gasped when she found herself empty and clenched around nothing. He lifted the sheet to cover them and curled his arm around her waist.

He held her close, afraid she would disappear if he let go, and buried his nose in her hair. He felt her stiffen in his arms as he told her everything in halting syllables; the truth he had only told one other person in his thousand years.

Elena listened in silence as the tale unfolded. She had heard bits of it from Elijah but now she was being treated to his side of things: rage, murder and remorse.

She was silent when he finished talking, and if not for her steady heartbeat he would have thought she had fallen asleep. His grip slackened as she shifted. He expected her to run from the monster he had just revealed himself to be.

Elena saw it in his eyes when she rolled over: fear that she would leave, and the plea that she stay. It was the intense vulnerability on his face that brought her hand to cup his cheek; she leaned closer and brushed her lips over his.

In the months that she had known him she had learned a few things. She knew that he had a habit of acting without thinking.

His hand settled on her hip.

"Why are you telling me this?" She traced her fingers over his tattoo; it was her post-coital habit.

It seemed a strange time to be telling her about the morbidity of carting around his mother's corpse.

"Because," he pulled her close, "she walked into the mansion tonight."

It was not the weak warmth of the sun or the cold permeating the room that roused her from slumber; it was the slamming of her bedroom door and the subsequent gasp.

It was the whisper shriek of her best friend.

Elena bolted up to find herself alone in the bed. She clutched the sheet to her chest and turned to find Caroline staring at her with a mix of pride and embarrassment in her eyes.

"Somebody got lucky last night," she crowed as loud as she dared.

"Shut up," Elena gave a pointed look to the door and pressed her thighs together beneath the sheet.

"Come on then," Caroline tossed her a nightshirt from the drawer, "I want details. Did your one-night stand sneak out the window?"

"He's not a one night stand," Elena murmured without thinking.

"I guess not."

Elena glanced up from where she was adjusting the night dress. Her eyes widened when she saw the slip of paper in her friend's hand. She felt certain he hadn't signed it when Caroline gushed.

"Aw," she waved the note, "that's so sweet."

"Give me that," Elena snatched the note and read it quickly. Her eyes scanned the letters confirming her assumption.

I had specific plans for how to wake you this morning, but alas family obligations called me away. I know I said we would indulge in breakfast, but the first time I share a meal with you in your family home should happen after I've been introduced to your family. Until our next rendezvous, sweetheart.

"Sorry," Caroline held out her hands in a placating gesture. "It's just been so long since you've shown interest in anyone."

"Just don't be reading my notes," Elena folded the slip of paper. "He's got a habit of leaving… colourful messages."

"Okay," Caroline mimed crossing her heart, "but you gotta give me something."

"That depends on what you want," Elena cocked an eyebrow.

"Information," Caroline rolled her eyes. "Does he go to our school? What's he like?"

"He doesn't go to school," Elena shook her head, "he's… older."

"What does he do then?" Caroline leaned back on her palms as Elena moved towards the bathroom.

"He's an artist," Elena grabbed a towel. "A very passionate artist with great attention to details." She put emphasis on the last half of the sentence knowing that was what Caroline really wanted to know.

"Are you going to tell me his name?" Caroline stood and called through the bathroom door. She heard the hesitation in her friend's voice over the sudden rush of water.

"I'd rather not."

She shrugged and turned back to the room to busy herself while she waited for Elena to re-emerge. She straightened the blankets, fluffed the pillows on the window seat and did her best to ignore the combination of sweat and sex lingering in the air.

She froze though when she returned to the bed to fix the pillows. There was something else lingering over the sheets; the smell was familiar and foreign at the same time, and she couldn't place it.

It was woodsy and familiar, combined with a subtle spice she took to be the man's cologne.

The underlying smell, the unaltered scent of Elena's lover, couldn't be placed, but she knew she had smelt it somewhere before; she knew that scent like she knew her own name.

Chapter Text

Colourful takeout menus littered the dark countertops; she flicked through them, only half paying attention to the different restaurants: Chinese, Pizza, and the Grille. Mystic Falls wasn't that big and unless they wanted to drive out somewhere they were limited to the three places for decent take away.

The discussion on the table meant leaving the house would be a terrible idea. Jeremy was not going to take the news well and there would be a fight; she could feel it in her gut, twisting her intestines in knots.

He wouldn't be able to yell at a restaurant…

Driving was beginning to sound appealing.

She shook away the thought before she could let it form a plan. It was a discussion they had to have, and it had to happen sooner rather than later.

"Hey," Jenna sprinted into the kitchen, "which ones?"

Elena turned on her stool and scrutinized the shoes.

"Purple," she tapped the menus on the counter, lining them up, "adds a pop of colour."

Jenna nodded and stepped into the shoes, tossing the second pair back in the hall closet.

Jeremy gave a dutiful clap when they landed in place.

"Thank you," Jenna offered a deep bow, "I'm here every night."

"Except tonight," Elena swung her leg back and forth.

"Should I have made you guys' dinner first?" Jenna tilted her head.

Their negative responses came too quickly and far too loud. Jenna was an even worse cook than Elena; at least Elena could boil water.

"Ouch," Jenna pretended to be offended, holding her hand over her heart.

"I think we're past pretending at this point Jenna," Elena smirked.

"If it helps you make the best coffee," Jeremy called after her as she left and crossed his arms over the counter.

"Hey," Elena gasped, "I thought you loved my coffee."

Jeremy rolled his eyes and reached for the takeout menus, flipping open the one for pizza.


"Gross," her nose wrinkled, "pineapple on pizza is just wrong; I don't know how you eat that."

"It's delicious," he poked the end of her nose with the menu.

"It's nauseating," she shuddered. Her stomach turned at the thought; she pressed her palm to the flat surface and mimed throwing up. She stopped a moment later before she actually made herself sick.

"What was Klaus doing on the doorstep last night?"

The blood drained from her face. She had been hoping the conversation would wait until he had some food in him.

"We're forgoing the segue then?" She swallowed.

"A homicidal hybrid was on our porch in the middle of the night."

"He's not homicidal…" she fingered a worn spot in her jeans when he gave her an incredulous look, "… at the moment."

"So what did he want?" He catalogued her defense for a later discussion.

"He just… he wanted to… see me…"

"See you?" Jeremy straightened up and tilted his head.

She chewed her bottom lip until it was raw, unsure of how to proceed with the information she needed to give him. All she knew was that she was done lying, but how was she supposed to explain the tangled mess of her life? Coming right out with it would mean he knew everything right away and lift the weight from her chest, but it was hardly tactful. She couldn't just say 'hey Jer, I've been sleeping with Klaus for the last month… oh and by the way I'm his mate'; she could already see the expression on his face.

"Did you know wolves mate for life?" She asked instead, hoping he would get it.

"What does that have to do with your midnight guest?" His eyes narrowed.

"Nothing…" her finger poked the hole in her jeans, "… and everything. The fact extends to werewolves…"

"So…" his eyes widened, "… No…"

She could see the wheels in his mind turning and the suppressed anger in the tick of his jaw. Her heart pounded, anxiety swirled around her. She could barely breathe as she waited for him to say something, anything.

"Jeremy?" She prompted after a lengthy pause.

"The other night," his fingers curled around a water glass, "when you didn't come home?"

"I fell asleep," she swallowed, "at his house, and last night…" she chewed her bottom lip, "… last night… he slept here."

The admission hung in the air and for a moment she wasn't certain he had heard her. She rubbed her thighs, waiting with baited breath for him to yell, pitch a fit, or throw his glass against a wall; she needed him to do something, she needed him to say something.

"Jeremy," she slipped off the stool to stand on trembling legs, "say something, anything; just react… please."

He set the glass down with deliberate gentleness and turned on his heel.

She held her breath as he walked up the stairs. The only sign of his anger was the slamming door and sudden blare of music. If she had held Klaus' hearing she would have heard the thud as his fist collided with the wall.

She wanted to bury her head in her hands and let the tears pricking at the back of her eyes fall, but if she started she wouldn't stop and then Jenna would be home and wanting to know what was wrong. She knew she wouldn't lie to her aunt and finding out about the supernatural because her niece was involved with one of the oldest immortals in history was not the best introduction to the other side of the world.

So instead of crying she picked up the phone and keyed in the seven digits on the back of the menu; the call connected on the third ring.

"Hi Henry," she blinked back her tears, "it's Elena. I need two pizzas': the works and Hawaiian… 20 minutes?... perfect."

She hung up the phone and grabbed her car keys.

Normally the rich smell of hot pizza was enough to make her mouth water, but the pineapple made her stomach turn. She had to crack the window when she slid into the driver's seat. After a few greedy breaths of cold night air she put her car in reverse and backed out of the space after checking her surroundings.

She had barely gone three feet when she hit something solid. Her neck jerked and she gasped, slamming on the brakes. It took her a second to regain her bearings, but when she did she put the car in park and jumped out, darting around the side to crouch behind her bumper.

A line appeared between her brows when she took in the empty space, dread crept up her spine. It was not an uncommon occurrence for an empty space to indicate a supernatural that wanted to hurt her.

She thought of her cell phone thrown carelessly down by the pizza boxes; a single button would have sent the call and he would have been at her side in moments.

Could she reach it?

She backed up a step and turned around, but the three feet between her and the door were blocked. She barely had a chance to gasp before the hand closed around her throat and she was shoved into the side of the vehicle.

Dull pain radiated through her back and she knew she would have more than one bruise in the morning.

The hand slid down from her throat to her clavicle, pinning her to the car. Blue eyes bored into hers and if they had been several inches higher she might have relaxed, but these eyes belonged to a woman.

"Rebekah," she took a restricted breath, "right?"

"How kind of you to remember," her voice was laced with honey. She pressed a little harder; a single twist of her wrist and Rebekah would have felt her collarbone snap in two.

"Have I done something to you?" Elena swallowed. She clenched her fingers into fists to keep from shaking; blaming the tremors on low blood sugar and not the way Rebekah Mikaelson was watching her.

"You're a doppelganger," she sneered, "you're very existence offends me."

She took that to mean Katherine had done something to antagonize Rebekah in the past, or maybe the first doppelganger. Elijah had mentioned her name once; she struggled to remember the woman's name so she wouldn't have to think about the calculating gaze or the hand that could end her life in a second.

"Sorry," she gave up trying to remember, "It's not like I chose my body."

"Are you going to say you hate your face right now?" Rebekah scoffed.

"I'm not overly fond of it at the moment," Elena's teeth scraped her bottom lip. She let go before Rebekah could see the nervous tick, but she knew when the blonde's eyes darted to her mouth that she had caught the movement.

"You're the one that woke my brothers," Rebekah tilted her head.

Elena nodded, not trusting her voice to come out even. There was something angry in Rebekah's blue eyes that had her heart rising to her throat.

"What game are you playing?" Her eyes narrowed.

"Game?" Elena squeaked.

"Don't play stupid," she snapped, grabbing her chin. "Doppelgangers are always working some sort of angle. I personally believe this world would be a much better place without your kind in it."

Elena moved her head back with the force of Rebekah's grip. A gleam of white teeth tore a scream from her throat.

She gasped and slid down the length of the car when her jaw was released. She didn't know who had come to her aid as the fear abated, but when she drew her head up a few seconds later it was to hear Rebekah calling the pair of them pathetic.

She accepted the hand and stood up, letting go to hold the side of her car. She was mildly surprised to find there was not a dent in the metal.

"Are you alright?"

"Fine," she blinked, lowering her eyes and moving around him to the car. She held the top of the door and the roof of the car. "Thank you for… that," she turned her head in the direction she thought Rebekah might have gone.

"You're welcome," Elijah tilted his head. His eyes flickered over her, searching for any sign of injury.

She crossed her arms to ward off a chill and resisted the urge she had to sink into the seat. Her fingers were itching to pick up the phone and call; she wanted to curl up in his arms and break down, but she had another Original watching her.

"What are you doing here?" She gripped her arms.

"Rebekah left the house with a look in her eyes I've only seen a handful of times over the centuries," he murmured. "It's a small town with a large majority of the citizens on vervain; I followed her to ensure she didn't cause any problems. Would you care to tell me why she targeted you, Elena?"

"How should I know?" She swallowed. "Maybe Katherine ticked her off at some point." Her stomach lurched when she turned her head and caught a whiff of pineapple; she swallowed down the rising bile and perched on the edge of the seat. "I don't think she likes me very much."

"She's never cared much for Petrovas," he said. His eyes flickered over her again. "Are you sure you're alright?"

"I'm fine," she reiterated. "I just need to go home, I think…"

"And you're alright to drive?" He frowned. The blood had completely drained from her face, and she looked positively green.

She nodded and twisted around to buckle her seatbelt. She gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white.

She shut the door and rolled the window down the rest of the way so she would have fresh air on the drive and shifted the car in gear. She thanked him again and drove away before he could ask again, certain he followed her all the way home to ensure she didn't crash; she could feel his eyes on her when she parked in the driveway.

With the car off she reached for her cell phone to call, but hesitated.

If she called him he would hear the nerves in her voice and come immediately to her side. If she called him he would hold her and want to know what was wrong. If she called him he would ask the question and she wouldn't be able to keep from telling him what had happened. If she called him he would get angry. If she called him he would go to war with his sister. If she called him Rebekah would end up back in a box.

Rebekah would have a real reason to hate her then; and all because she couldn't get through an encounter with his family.

She went to her messages instead and typed out a text. His replies came back quickly.

She was thankful for autocorrect; it hid the fact that her hands were shaking.

Did you happen to mention us to your family?

My family remains in the dark. I don't trust them with the knowledge. Why do you ask, love?

No reason; I just bumped into Elijah and your sister, and they didn't mention anything, so I was curious. Why don't you trust them?

She breathed a sigh and felt the tension ease from her shoulders as she focused on his answer, counting the pulsating dots until the message came in. Focusing on something other than her violent encounter helped her hands to stop shaking, but her stomach was still shifting.

Rebekah can't keep a secret to save her life, at least not from family. Finn has been in a box for nearly 900 years. Kol practically invented the word vendetta.

She had never wanted to be the girl who demanded to know what that had to do with her, but her mind was too rattled to make the connection so she asked.

They can't hurt me Elena, but they can hurt you. How did your brother take it?

He hasn't said anything. I'm hoping to bribe him into a reaction with some truly terrible pizza.


Hawaiian… pineapple and ham.

Sounds disgusting.

The smell is making me nauseous.

She wanted to blame Rebekah's attack for her rolling stomach, but it had begun before she'd bumped into the Original.

She frowned when he sent another text.

Why didn't you call?

Why didn't you?

I've got siblings in the house with advanced hearing who wouldn't hesitate to hunt you down, and with the daggers still missing I can't stop them. What did you do with them?

Elijah took them. I've got to go and talk to Jeremy. He'll be more open to talking if the pizza's still hot.

Would it help if I came over there?

I think it might hurt

Are you sure?

I'm sure… if I didn't know any better I'd say you wanted to see me.

I always want to see you. I want to see you, touch you, taste you, and wake up next to you every morning.

The air stilled in her lungs. It was nothing she hadn't seen in his eyes, and it was nothing she hadn't already known, but it was the first time he had said it.

She left the message on read longer than normal.

Have I scared you off?

No… I wouldn't mind that…

Then I sincerely hope your brother comes around. Entering the mansion in the foreseeable future is not an option.

Then I'd better go and talk to him.

She pocketed her phone and got out of the car, hoisting the boxes of pizza and walked up the porch steps, pushing open the door and kicking off her shoes.

"Jeremy?" She called, stepping into the kitchen. She saw him bent over reaching into the fridge. "I got the disgusting pizza you love…"

"Aw, thanks," she paled when Damon straightened up, "but I'm all set." He waved a full bag of blood.

Her stomach turned.

"What are you doing here?" She relaxed a bit, remembering that this time there was no possible way she still smelled like Klaus.

"I wanted to ask you what the hell you were thinking." He cocked an eyebrow and tilted his head, pacing around the side of the counter.

"What do you mean?" Her blood ran cold. Had Jeremy told him?

"You took the daggers out of Klaus' family," he gave her the look. It was the one that said she should have known what he was talking about: raised brows, knowing eyes, and slightly open mouth. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was thinking that nobody deserves to have their lives stolen away, and that I really didn't want three Original vampires taking an extended nap in my basement." She crossed her arms after dropping the pizza on the counter.

"That was our leverage," he gripped the back of a dining room chair and the bag in his hand; a tiny drop of blood beaded over the opening. "That was how we were going to get him out of town to keep you safe."

"I'm a big girl, Damon," she took a shallow breath, "I don't need you, or anyone to protect me from Klaus; he's not going to hurt me."

"No," he waved his hand, "he'll just use you to make an army, take over the world and control every aspect of your life until the day you die."

"Now might be the time to leave Damon," she pointed to the door. Her other hand was curled into a tight fist to keep from slapping him.

"Why: so you can do something stupid like RSVP to that stupid party?"

"What party?" She frowned. She shook her head before he could answer and pointed to the door again. "Doesn't matter. I've got a night planned out with my brother, so you need to go."

He looked like he wanted to argue but turned his head when footsteps came into the kitchen.

Jeremy's eyes darted from Elena to Damon and back. The wrinkle in his brow told her he had no idea Damon had been in the house.

"Have you ever heard of knocking?" He crossed his arms.

"Didn't see much point," Damon shrugged, "I've already got an invitation."

"Remind me to ask Bonnie about removing it," Elena's eyes darted to Jeremy. "Good night Damon."

"Fine," he turned to the door, "I know when I'm not wanted."

"I don't think you do," Jeremy called as the door slammed shut. He turned his gaze on his sister when they were alone. "Him you'll uninvited?"

"He walks in uninvited all the time," she reached into the cabinet for plates.

She waited for him to say something as she placed his pizza on a plate and reached for her own slice, nibbling on the end; the sustenance did little to help her upset stomach.

"Would you be giving me the silent treatment if I'd told you I was involved with Damon?" She pushed her plate aside and braced her elbows on the counter.

"I'd be more open to it," he popped a piece of pineapple in his mouth.

"Damon killed you," she cocked an eyebrow.

"I came back," his eyes snapped up. "Klaus killed you."

"I came back," she wiped the grease from her fingers.

"That magically makes it better?" Jeremy shook his head.

"That magically makes me not dead," she deadpanned.

"What's to stop him from doing it again? What's to stop him from draining you dry to make his army?"

"He hasn't turned anyone in months," she shook her head.

"That doesn't mean he won't in the future." Jeremy gritted his teeth. "Give me one good reason I should give him the benefit of the doubt."

"My word isn't enough?" She tucked her hair behind her ear.

"I want to believe you, 'Lena," he bit his cheek, "but it's not easy, so give me something. Some reason I shouldn't have you committed."

"You wouldn't," she rolled her eyes.

"No," he sighed, "I wouldn't."

She cast her eyes to the dishes in the sink and busied her hands, turning on the water and adding soap.

"The other day…" she chewed her bottom lip, washing the dishes as she spoke, "… I was out for a run and one of the hybrids attacked me; if Stefan hadn't shown up when he did and killed her than Klaus would have. He nearly killed Stefan when he thought he'd hurt me."

"Why didn't Stefan or Damon mention any of that?" Jeremy frowned.

"Because Damon never knew, and Stefan doesn't remember," she sighed. "Does that help? If he shows up here in the middle of the night again are you going to start a fight?"

"Only if he hurts you."

She dried her hands and reached for the heavy envelop on the counter, unfolding the flaps to lift out the invitation. "What is this?"

Please join the

Mikaelson Family

Tomorrow evening at seven o'clock


Dancing, cocktails and celebration

"Invitation to the party Damon was talking about," Jeremy shrugged. "Your boyfriend probably dropped it off while you were out."

"I don't know that boyfriend is the right word," she flipped over the page. "He also didn't send this."

She stared at the ceiling and ran the tip of her finger over the screen of her phone before unlocking it. She easily found their earlier conversation and added on to it.

Jeremy knows, and he's sworn not to attack if he sees you here or to tell anyone else yet. Were you gonna mention the ball tomorrow night?

How did you find out about that? I've only just learned of it now.

I got an invitation tonight... from your mother. I don't suppose you're in my neighborhood?

Her shaking had stopped and her rolling stomach had calmed… somewhat. She felt icky enough that she wanted to be held. The moment she had the thought she heard her bedroom window clicking shut and looked up.

She propped herself up on an elbow and set her phone on the nightstand before lifting the edge of the blankets, slipping into his arms when he slid between the sheets.

He ran his fingers through her hair and massaged the back of her head. He didn't get a chance to ask about the invitation before she was sound asleep.

He dropped a lingering kiss to the top of her head and closed his eyes, reveling in the closeness of her warm body. He loved the feel of her naked skin under his hands, but there was something intimately satisfying in holding her tightly to his chest and stroking the smooth material covering her back.

He counted the steady beats of her heart and the even breaths flowing through her lungs. Each soft exhalation and quiet hum made his eyelids droop until he joined her in a sound sleep.

Chapter Text

Elena refused to open her eyes. It was not going to happen that day because she was too damn comfortable and he was warm, plus her eyes seemed to be fused shut. She could have easily stayed in bed all day long cuddled into his chest.

He took a deep breath, inhaling the rich smell of her blood and the subtle scent of her shampoo, and glanced down at her straight hair. His fingers combed through the dark strands. Now and then he paused to detangle the knots with a gentle touch, but she still grunted: a soft sound in the back of her throat.

Klaus chuckled and raised his other hand to tip up her chin and smooth the hair back from her face.

"It's time to wake up, sweetheart."

She made a sound of dissent.

"Come on, love," he smirked, "the sun is up."

She cracked one eye open and glared. There was no way she was going to move an inch. No power on earth could make her shift from her current position, and she mumbled as much in a sleep-laced voice; she was too tired and would not answer to such a rude awakening.

"Rude, huh? Very well," he rolled her onto her back and slipped her tank top up exposing the smooth curve of her stomach. "One gentle awakening coming up, love."

She was still half asleep when he placed the first kiss to her naval. The sharp stubble scratched her silky skin on his downward path. He took his time and drew lazy patterns on her heated skin, dipping his tongue into her belly button and working her shirt higher.

He dragged his fingers back down, dancing over her ribs and hooking into the band of her flannel pajama bottoms.

Slim fingers pushed into his curls and tugged the soft strands. He exposed another inch of skin and nipped the flushed flesh with blunt teeth, soothing the mark with his tongue.

She was starting to make the adorable sounds in the back of her throat that he enjoyed. The mewls traveled through him quickening his blood, and he shifted to relieve some of the tension against the mattress. He slid the material that shielded her from him down her legs and tossed the clothing on the floor.

He nearly groaned at the unobstructed smell of her arousal; it was heavenly and he knew that she would taste even better.

Dipping his head beneath the sheet he spread her thighs.

She threw her head back, tossed one hand over her mouth and tried to swallow her moans.

She wasn't sure how long he spent dragging his tongue through her folds, but he was so soft and gentle about it that she was on the verge of coming when she came fully awake.

She was a quivering, whimpering mess when he pushed a single finger inside and finger-fucked her in time with the flicks of his tongue against her swollen clit.

Moaning as her body tightened, she felt her hips arch off the bed. Exquisite pleasure washed over her, flowing through her veins and making her blood sizzle with electricity.

"Better?" He flipped the sheet over his head and propped his chin on her stomach. Somewhere nearby he heard the gentle thrum of a hummingbird's wings.

"A screaming orgasm is a better way to wake up, but now I feel empty," she managed a sleepy smirk. There was a hollow ache between her thighs.

"I think I can help you with that," he chuckled. Taking her wrist he placed her palm over the bulge in his boxers.

"I bet you can," she bit her bottom lip. Pulling him free from the confines of his underwear she stroked up and down a few times, twisting her wrist and making him buck into her hand.

The movement made him graze her soaked folds making her gasp. She lined him up with her entrance, anticipation hummed through her body at the prospect of being filled, but before he could sink inside of her the bedroom door opened and she swore.

She relaxed marginally when she remembered she was still covered by her rucked up shirt, the sheet and his body, but her fingers still tightened reflexively. He hissed, part pleasure and part pain, and she let him go, but it was rather obvious to the morning visitor what they had been engaging in: the bed sheets weren't hiding that much.

Jeremy stood in the door, having forgotten what he was going to say and his reason for entering his sister's bedroom in the first place.

Elena had to hand it to him: Klaus knew how to throw a last minute party. The mansion had been transformed into a glittering wonderland.

She had completely forgotten to tell him she would be in attendance after Jeremy had walked in on them and so had texted him later. Her brother had tried to talk her out of coming. Stefan and Damon had tried as well, and then Jeremy again when he caught her lying down with a low grade fever.

Her fever had passed, and she didn't care one bit what Stefan or Damon has to say about it since they were working with a limited amount of information. She had still gone to Caroline and asked that she render services as a supernatural bodyguard. She felt perfectly safe with Klaus in the crowd, and she was done hiding, but telling Damon her explosive secret before this kind of event was a bad idea; he would have blown up and picked a fight.

Caroline was her show of muscle to pacify the Salvatore equation.

She had been certain it would be enough because she wasn't actually in danger, but that was before she had messaged Klaus to confirm the dress code.

He had returned to the mansion with her scent all over him, so his siblings now knew he was seeing someone and the fact that he had spent the morning with her told them she was someone important. He had called and tried to talk her out of coming too.

"If they already know won't it look odd if I'm not there, especially since I was personally invited by your mother?"

She flicked through the gowns in the closet. There was the navy blue and gold dress Klaus had sent over, a white dress she'd had for a founder's event last summer, and the royal blue gown from the Miss Mystic Falls pageant.

"If my siblings learn about you they will kill you to get back at me."

"Okay…" she drew out the word and laid the blue and gold dress on the bed, "… riddle me this: how long were you planning on hiding me away? Because forever seems like a bit of a stretch."

"Not forever, sweetheart, just until they cool off, or I find the place Elijah has hidden the daggers."

"Right because daggering them again seems like a stellar idea."

"Your sarcasm is not appreciated, love."

"I appreciate it," she picked out a set of heels, already dreading the prospect of wearing them. "I would think undaggering them wins me some points, and let's not forget that Elijah has made two attempts to save my life now; one of them succeeded."


Her eyes widened when she realized the admission.

"The point is I will be fine," she waved with her shoes, as if he could see her motion, "and it would be rude of me not to go and see what your mother wants."

"Perhaps she wants to kill you."

"There is only one way to find out, and you'll be able to hear whatever she has to say anyway."

In the end he had conceded the point. If she didn't show up to the ball she had been specifically invited to there would be an inquiry as to why.

They had come to the agreement it would be better to avoid each other during the evening. He had also asked that she leave as soon as possible to which she had said no; she was beginning to rethink her stance now that she was standing in the entrance because her feet were killing her.

She just wanted to kick off her heels, rip off the stupid strapless bra and maybe sink into a hot bubble bath, but she couldn't go yet; she still had to meet his mother.

She was going to be fine, she had even used Caroline's perfume to make sure she wasn't targeted, but then she spotted Klaus through the crowd of sparkling townsfolk.

He straightened up when he saw her and even from across the ballroom she could see the light of fear and panic in his eyes. He masked it quickly, but not before her stomach clenched.

The organ turned over violently. She wanted to corner him and find out what's got him more on edge than usual but she didn't get the chance to move before she was flanked by the Salvatores and Klaus moved.

Through the corner of her eye she saw him approach Caroline; the blue dress caught the light and if Elena wasn't confident in his sentiments she might have been jealous, but she was confident and she knew better because while she had borrowed Caroline's perfume her friend had taken hers.

She shook herself from overthinking the distraction he was causing and turned her attention on to Stefan and Damon.

"What are you doing here?"

"I could ask you the same thing?" Stefan cocked an eyebrow.

Elena just kept from rolling her eyes. When Klaus had compelled Stefan he had added in a stipulation that he continue protecting her as he had before the ritual; he had admitted later when she went off about it that he shouldn't have done it, but the damage was done.

"I was actually talking to Damon," her eyes flickered to the elder brother for a moment, "you're obviously Rebekah's date."

"I was invited," Damon adjusted his sleeves, "you're not supposed to be here."

"I am actually," Elena rolled her eyes, "I was invited: you saw the invitation. Now if you two will excuse me I have a party to attend."

"Walking in unescorted," Damon cut in front of her, "is a crime we can't allow."

She looked over his shoulder to the milling forms of her friends and neighbors before sighing and taking Damon's proffered arm.

"Good evening," Klaus offered a charming smile when he approached.

"I'm gonna need a drink," Caroline took one look at him and sighed.

He chuckled as she walked away from him and he caught the unmistakable smell of Elena's perfume. It would be just enough to throw suspicion on the blonde without painting a target on her back. He had learned several weeks back that putting his mate's friends and loved ones in danger was a quick way to get on her bad side. Elena was the reason her friend still drew breath; she had told him to fix what he had done and to spare her losing her best friend he had healed the young vampire.

He had healed her and nobody knew the reason why save for Elena and himself, they only knew that he had. That combined with her shift in perfume made her perfect; all he had to do was avoid casting any longing looks in Elena's direction or stealing the brunette away to properly ravish her. He didn't dare look at Elena; her dress hugged her upper body beautifully and her hair was pulled over one shoulder revealing the elegant curve of her neck that teased him through the crowd.

Across the room Elena had managed to shake off Damon for a moment by approaching the bar, but before she could order a drink she felt the cool presence of another body standing near her. She craned her neck up and took in the features of the man who resembled Elijah; he was older, but they were unmistakably brothers. She knew because she had seen his face before; he looked better now with a modern haircut and suit.

"Elena Gilbert, I presume?" He glanced down at her. The look on his face told her she didn't need to answer; he knew her features as well as his other siblings. "I'm Finn Mikaelson; you're here to see my mother."

"Is she here?" Elena nodded. In her mind she recalled Klaus text: Finn had spent 900 years in a box.

"Her request did not include your friends." He mirrored her nod but glanced at Damon a few feet away through narrow eyes.

"He's… protecting me," she shrugged one shoulder. She tilted her head and revealed the tidbit of information. "You may not know it, but she has tried to kill me once."

She fingered the vervain charm bracelet around her wrist. She had stopped drinking the herb weeks ago in favor of the jewelry. The plan had been to drink some as well just in case but the mix had upset her stomach and come right back up leading to her fevered hour.

His expression remained emotionless.

"If you want to see her, you'll need to be alone."

Elijah's voice interrupted whatever reply had been on the tip of her tongue and she turned to the family that had taken up a stance on the grand staircase. For a moment she was distracted by the memory of those stairs pressing into her back before she forced her mind to focus on what Elijah was saying: a call to a centuries old waltz to open the evening.

She made to follow Esther when she disappeared up the stairs and everyone else started towards the ballroom floor.

"Where do you think you're going?" Damon jumped into her path.

"She wants to see me alone, Damon." Elena's hands found her hips. She wanted to get the meeting over with and find an excuse to go home and take off her shoes.

"Sucks to be here then because you're not going," his eyes narrowed.

"I was invited to see her," she glared.

"You've got to warn me before you walk into the lion's den, Elena."

"Why, so you can stop me?"

"Yeah," he shook his head with a humourless laugh. He held out his hand to which her glare heated. "It would be rude not to dance."

She wanted to dance, but the partner she desired was across the room conning Caroline into a waltz.

"I do believe you're making the lady uncomfortable."

Elena turned her head a few inches and blinked at the young man who had come up beside them. If the elder brother was Finn than this had to be Kol.

"May I have the pleasure of opening the festivities with you?" He extended his hand to Elena with a charming smile.

She knew that smile. She had seen the grin on Klaus' lips many times over the past month. She knew full well what it meant, but right now the Original she didn't know was preferable to Damon's company so she slipped her gloved hand into his open palm and prayed Caroline's perfume was enough.

"We haven't been formally introduced," he lifted her hand and placed a chaste kiss to the back of her knuckles in a show of chivalry that hadn't seen the light of day in decades, "Kol Mikaelson."

"Elena Gilbert," she dipped into the expected curtsy and smiled.

"Well Elena," he pulled her into the dance as the music started, "now that we've been introduced might I say that you look stunning this evening, if it isn't obvious?"

"Thank you," she tilted her head, "and just so were clear that's for the compliment and rescuing me from Damon." She caught a glimpse of Rebekah dancing with Stefan and felt the blonde's eyes boring into her skull when Kol spun her back around.

"Is there a reason your sister doesn't like me?" She chewed her bottom lip.

"She loathes doppelgangers on principle," he smirked, "thinks they believe the world revolves around them. What made you think she doesn't like you?"

"A few snide comments," Elena shrugged, "a less than savory encounter and the fact that she's glaring a hole in the back of my head right now."

"Try not to take it personally, darling," he glanced towards his sister and found her attention was indeed on the brunette in his arms, "she has prejudices that go back a thousand years, all the way to Tatia."

Tatia, she nodded, that was her name. She had been hesitant to ask Klaus because of how Elijah had portrayed the relationship when they had talked about it.

The music swelled, approaching the point where partners switched.

"Please tell me Damon's not nearby?" She smiled hopefully.

"Other side of the room," Kol chuckled. He twirled her around.

Elena felt a strong hand take her waist as she was directed into the arms of her new partner. The tension in her shoulders relaxed when she tipped her head up.

"Forgive me Elena," Elijah offered a small smile, "I overheard your desire to avoid the elder Salvatore."

"Eavesdropping," she clicked her tongue. "That's rather rude you know?"

"I apologize," he tilted his head.

"I suppose I can forgive you." She sighed. A line appeared between her brows. "Did I thank you for last night?"

"You did," he nodded, "three times." His eyes narrowed as he tilted his head. There was something different about Elena, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

Caroline chewed her bottom lip and smoothed her palms over the silk gloves covering her elbows. She wouldn't deny that sneaking off to break Damon's neck had been satisfying, but her mind was reeling from the events of the day.

First Elena had asked her to attend the ball and then as if on cue a dress had arrived by courier from Klaus. She hadn't understood the game he was playing until he had asked her to dance.

She stared up at the landscape adorning the wall; passionate brush strokes and a minute attention to detail had been signed off with a signature she recognized from the invitation to the ball.

She had an idea why she was there now, but how much of it was known to all parties involved was lost to her.

"I see you've found one of my passions," Klaus stepped into the room.

"Possibly more," Caroline uncrossed her arms and glanced over her shoulder before returning her gaze to the painting. "Did you know your cologne is rather… distinctive?"

"Does she know what you were doing here?" She pointed to herself and heard his heart stutter.

"Who?" His voice dropped, for a moment he considered ending her before remembering the friends and family rule.

"I don't know what rumors you've heard floating around town, but I'm not an idiot."

"I never took you for one," he stood beside her, watching from the corner of his eye. "She did not know because I did not know until you arrived."

"How homicidal are your siblings?"

"Elijah's fairly sane," he examined the brushwork.

She did not fail to notice his lack of praise for the other three.

"For the record I don't appreciate being used."


"Also," she held up a gloved finger, "if you hurt her I will destroy you."

He would have laughed but the look in her eyes told him she was deadly serious and for one brief moment he saw the force of nature that was Caroline Forbes. She would find some way to make good on her threat, and even though he would never cause Elena harm, he felt a faint shiver of fear.

"Understood," he smirked.

"So why are you in here?" She cocked an eyebrow. "Other than stalking me, I mean."

"I was seeking some peace and quiet," he turned back to the painting, "it's impossible to hear myself think out there."

"It's not much better in here," she shrugged. She had lost Elena's voice a few seconds after he walked in the room.

She paused in the middle of the hall when she heard her name and turned around to see Elijah; his hand landed on her elbow and she stopped walking.

"I understand my mother requested to see you."

"Yeah," she frowned when he glanced over her shoulder down the hall. "Why: is something wrong?"

"Well," he tilted his head. It was clear the topic on his mind was not one he had wanted to broach on the dancefloor. "Her ability to forgive my brother after everything he's done to destroy this family strikes me as odd to say the least."

"Do you think it's an act?" She tilted her head.

"It has me asking questions I never thought I'd ask," he admitted, looking back to her eyes. "Can I depend on you to tell me what she says?"

The thought to refuse him never crossed her mind; he had done nothing but help her over the last few days.

"Of course," she nodded, "I'll find you later, okay?"

Chapter Text

"You were on the Other Side for a thousand years?" Elena swallowed. A thousand years in purgatory before being released back into the world by Bonnie and her mother.

"It was nature's way of punishing me for turning my family into vampires," Esther blew a stream of sage scented smoke around the room, "but there is a way for me to undo the evil I created."

She felt her insides tremble and had to fight down a sudden desire to be sick. In that moment she knew Elijah was right to distrust his mother, but she couldn't be entirely sure what the Original witch was planning until she came out and said it. So as much as she wanted to run from the room and find Klaus, consequences be damned, she sat stock still and held her gloved hands. She needed to hear what Esther had to say because nobody else in the whole of the damn mansion could hear their conversation.

She sat in silence and listened as Esther filled in the blank pieces that Elijah had left out all those months ago when they had spoken at the Lockwood Estate.

"I used the balance of nature to turn my children into vampires so I could protect them from the werewolves, but in no time at all they began to feed on human blood." Esther's eyes took on a far off look as she lost herself in the memory. "They ravaged the town with no remorse and eventually Niklaus turned against me."

The dread prickled at the base of her spine. There was something dark in Esther's gaze when she spoke of her children; no maternal love shone through.

"What are you going to do?" She squeezed the fingers of her left hand to keep from shaking.

Esther leaned forward and lit some candles on the table. Elena watched as the flickering light hit the runes etched into a thick piece of parchment.

"My children believe that I am holding this ball to celebrate our reunion, but in truth I have gathered them together to perform a ritual." She picked up a long thin knife from the table. "The first step requires the blood of the doppelganger; only a drop," she assured Elena, misreading the horror in her eyes. "Its essence will be in the champagne toast later on this evening. Will you do it, or will I?"

Elena resisted the urge to scoot away from the ancient witch and met her eyes.

"What will it do? What are you going to do?"

"I have to undo the evil I created Elena," Esther lowered the knife. Her voice was soothing which instantly put the brunette on edge. "The spell tonight will link my children together as one, so that if one of them goes, they all go?"

An alarm bell rang in the back of her mind. She didn't need Esther to clarify anything else; she understood perfectly, but try as she might she couldn't get inside the woman's head. Sure, she had made the Originals into vampires and they had done terrible things but they were still her children and she had seen good in them, not so much Rebekah but she hadn't spent much time with the sister yet.

"You're gonna kill them," she shook her head.

"I love my family, Elena," Esther smiled sadly, "but they are an abomination. I betrayed nature when I created them, and now it is my duty to kill them."

She shook her head again and stood up.

"You can't kill them," her heart thumped, "they're immortal."

"I can," Esther assured her, "it will take time and magic, but it can be done. And there is a failsafe; I believe that is what you call it in this century, in the spell that will link my children to you, so even if I fail they will die when you do."

Elena stood on aching feet and backed around the edge of the coffee table, shaking her head all the way.

"I'm not going to kill you Elena," Esther stood up, once more misreading her actions, "you can live out your human life, for my children will be tied to you and not the other way around; their deaths will not affect you."

"I won't help you," she shook her head. Turning on her heel she reached for the handle of the door; it rattled but refused to open.

"I had hoped to have your assistance," Esther sighed. She held up her hand.

Elena's muscles froze. She was not in charge of her limbs when they turned her back around. She gritted her teeth but no amount of will power let her lower her hand.

Esther pulled the long glove from Elena's hand. The silk whispered over her skin and left behind goosebumps. There was a sting as her finger was pricked with the knife.

Esther tipped her finger over a chalice filled with liquid and squeezed out a single drop of blood.

Elena could do nothing but watch as she lowered the chalice and chanted. For the first time she noticed a name written in English in the center of the page: Elena.

The crimson liquid was poured in a puddle on the page and branched out as Esther chanted. It circled and crawled until it speared every runic name on the page, but something was wrong. Elena could tell by the way her name was clean of liquid, and from the confused expression on Esther's face.

"Your life is tied to another," she lifted her head, scrutinizing the brunette.

It was a second before Elena realized that Esther wasn't looking at her, but at the air around her body. She seemed to find what she was looking for because she met Elena's eyes with a look of disbelief.

"You're with child." She looked over Elena in a new light.

Elena found her tongue free once more.

"I can't be…"

"You can't be pregnant because you've been sleeping with my son and my son is a vampire?" Esther guessed.

Elena didn't bother lying. It was clear Esther already knew; she might have known before returning to the land of the living.

"Niklaus is not just a vampire, my dear," Esther shook her head, "he's a werewolf as well, and you…" she trailed off, examining the aura around Elena again, "… you are his mate."

Her stomach knotted.

"How long have you been sleeping with my son, Elena?" She followed the brunette's backward path until she was pinned against the heavy wood door. Her hand landed on the flat expanse of Elena's stomach. "You're probably already feeling the effects: nausea, exhaustion, perhaps even a fever."

Elena paled.

"You're not drinking vervain, are you?" The look in Elena's eyes confirmed the question. "Your body rejects it to protect the baby."

Elena was certain she was going to faint. Any moment now she was going to keel over and be at the complete mercy of Esther Mikaelson, the woman who wanted to murder her children. What would she do to the child of the son that had killed her? What would she do to Elena – because she wasn't entirely convinced Esther was right?

Her voice trembled as she looked into the older woman's eyes.

"What… what are… what are you going to… to… going to do to me?"

"For now," Esther lowered her hand, "I'm going to do nothing to you. I still need your help. I might not be able to bind my children to you, Elena, but I have succeeded in binding them to each other. I need you to ease Elijah's suspicions because they must all drink at the toast in order to finish the spell."

"Even if I wanted to help you…" Elena pulled on her glove with shaking hands, "… I couldn't convince anyone of anything right now."

"You'll help me whether you want to or not, Elena," Esther crossed the room and opened a door leading out to the balcony.

Her heart leapt into her throat when Finn stepped back into the room. She recognized her mistake in fingering her charm bracelet when Finn tore the delicate metal from her wrist.

Elena stood with her shoulders back and looked down at the bracelet in her hand. Her mother had given it to her when she was twelve years old. Every year she had added a new charm to it until the accident. The silver had rested in her jewelry box until she stopped drinking vervain and had a small sprig of it placed inside a heart shaped charm; oddly enough the charm had been a gift from Klaus: an apology after the incident with Caroline. It had shown up in her mailbox with a letter that promised he would never harm her friends again because he would never break her heart.

Her heart was definitely broken, at least the silver one was. Her actual heart seemed to be beating just fine.

She would have jumped when Elijah sidled up beside her, but she had been compelled to remain calm; plus she had seen him from the corner of her eye.

"So, how was my mother?" Elijah plucked two champagne flutes from a passing waiter.

Oh fuck, she turned to face him, tell him the truth.

"Intense," her eyes narrowed for a second. It's a start… now out with the rest of it.

"And for what reason did she need to speak to you in private?" He offered her one.

Tell him the truth. Tell him the truth. Tell him the truth. She didn't think before taking it. Your mom wants to kill you. Your mom wants to kill all of you. She should get a fucking Oscar for her performance because she wants to kill you all.

Her eyes found Esther on the staircase looking at her coldly. Finn was beside her; his words echoed in her mind.

… You will reassure him and not interfere in the ritual …

"Elena?" Elijah grabbed her attention. There was something distant in her eyes, but it faded when she looked at him. "Should I be concerned about my mother's intentions?"

Tell the truth Elena.

"She just wanted to apologize for trying to have me killed," she smiled. It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the truth she wanted to share.

"So it's true then?" Elijah frowned. There was a furtive look in Elena's eyes; like she wanted to say something, but the words were stuck on her tongue. "She's forgiven Klaus?"

Tell the fucking truth.

"It's true," her heart skipped a beat.

Elijah didn't get a chance to address the obvious lie before they were interrupted. Crystal rang, cutting off the low chatter of the assembled townsfolk and drawing their attention to the stairs where Esther stood with a glass of red-tinted champagne in her hand. He was too busy watching his mother to notice that Elena's eyes were at the foot of the staircase.

She stared at Klaus as Esther spoke about the joys of a family reunited. She willed him to turn around and look at her. To read the panic she hoped was shining in her eyes and rush out of the mansion after her to find out what was wrong, but he was listening to his mother.

He was listening to his mother and she was panicking. Thanks to Finn she wasn't allowed to freak out over the ritual while she was in the presence of Elijah, but that didn't stop her from trembling on the inside because there was more for her to freak out about then Klaus and his siblings dying at the hands of their mother; there was a potential mass of cells swirling deep inside her creating a human being, or something resembling a human being.

Eighteen years old and potentially pregnant by her vampire-werewolf mate while said mate's mother wanted to kill him was something to freak out about; she had also done some quick math on her way down the stairs that had her head spinning.

More than anything she wanted someone to see her anxiety and hopefully misinterpret it, but Klaus still hadn't turned around.

"Cheers," Esther lifted her glass with a tight lipped smile.

She turned back around when she sensed Elijah moving and clinked her glass with his when he said 'cheers'. She wanted him to see her anxiety, but her body was calm when she looked at him; a by-product of Finn's compulsion.

She lifted the glass to her lips when Elijah hesitated and pressed her mouth firmly to the glass. She tipped the flute up but no liquid passed through her lips.

In that moment she was torn. On the one hand she didn't want him to drink and complete the ritual, but on the other hand if he didn't Esther might take it out on her and there was a really good chance she was right about the baby. Nobody was going to hurt her baby and that included her, so she couldn't drink.

He didn't notice and sipped his own champagne.

Damn it, she dropped the flute on a passing tray.

"Excuse me," she cleared her throat, "I think I need some air… I feel a little light headed." She didn't wait for his reply before slipping out into the night.

She sucked in greedy mouthfuls of the cold air and shivered; the goosebumps lifted on her skin, forming tiny bumps. Her black shawl was draped over her shoulders.

She relaxed for a beat. Her charm bracelet slipped from her palm as she tugged the material closed, but her sense of ease evaporated a moment later because it wasn't Klaus who had broken the rules of the evening and followed her outside.

"Come on," Damon took her elbow, "we're leaving. You can tell me all about what Esther wanted on the drive home."

"Let go of me," she tried to pull her arm back but he was too strong for her. Her eyes looked back over the crushed rock but she couldn't see her bracelet; it was even harder when Damon guided her into the seat.

He hopped in the other side of the Camaro and turned over the engine.

"I can walk on my own Damon," she sighed, "I've been doing it successfully for seventeen years now."

"You didn't look like you could have taken a step without keeling over," Damon scoffed.

From the corner of her eye she spotted Elijah on the steps.

Damon was peeling out of the driveway when Klaus knelt on the gravel and picked up a length of silver. Several charms hung from the chain, but the one that caught his eyes was a broken heart.

They were passing through town when she saw the glowing sign indicating an all-night convenience store.

"Pull in here," she pointed.

"Why?" Damon cocked an eyebrow. "You taking up smoking now? That's bad for your health."

"I need to pick something up," she reached for her seatbelt before he'd even put the car in park.

"What do you need that can't possibly wait until morning?" He stopped the car and turned to look at her, eyes roaming over the sparkling bodice of her dress and full skirt.

"Just… stuff," she pushed open the door and got to her feet. She made it three steps before she stopped and groaned.

"There it is," Damon called through the window. "You don't have a purse Elena."

She knew exactly where her wallet sat on her nightstand, but if she went home and then back out she'd have to answer Jenna's questions.

"Damon," she turned back with what she hoped was a smile, "may I borrow twenty dollars, and I will pay you back when you drop me off."

"Tell me what you need," he got out of the car.

She panicked and said the first thing, it probably the only thing that would keep him from following her inside, that came to her mind.

"I'm out of tampons, okay?" She snapped. "Is that alright with you?" She recognized that her tone did not suit the situation and added it to the list of symptoms that she needed to confirm, but Damon took it as a sign of PMS and handed her a crisp twenty.

"I'll just wait in the car."

She kicked off her heels the second she stepped through the door and nearly sobbed in relief. She bent slightly, lifted the hem of her skirt and started up the stairs.

Normally she would have been ticked off that Damon was hovering, but her light head and shaking legs made her grateful; especially when she stumbled on the stairs and he caught her under the arms.

"Thanks," she murmured, clenching the paper bag tightly in her hand; it crinkled between her fingers. He followed her up the stairs with a look of concern on his face.

She stepped into her bedroom and placed the paper bag on the bed and got out a ten to replace the money she had borrowed.

"Are you alright?" He frowned when she nodded absentmindedly.

"I just wanna get out of this dress," she reached behind her for the zipper. It was awkward because she had picked up the bag again.

She moved around him into the bathroom and shut the door. Her fingers found the zipper and the material pooled around her feet. Her strapless bra followed the dress. She knew she should shower and wash the hairspray out but she just reached for the grey Henley in the drawer. It fell to the middle of her thighs.

She tore into the cardboard box she had purchased and ripped off the plastic wrap. She uncapped the lid and shimmied out of her panties: a black lace thong she had donned when she had fantasized about him catching her in some private room of the mansion during the party.

She was washing her hands when Damon called through the door, effectively distracting her from the ticking seconds.

"What did Esther want?"

It was over. It was done, and even if it wasn't she knew Damon wouldn't try to stop it.

"She wants to kill them all," she choked on the words, tears forming in her eyes. "She used my blood to link them together as one."

"Great." She could hear the grin in his voice; it fell away as he kept speaking. "Why do you sound like you just watched someone shoot a panda?"

She knew she had to tell him. She had sworn to herself that she was done lying. She had only planned to continue keeping the secret from Jenna; at least until she left for college when it would have been less strange to see her dating an older guy.

She had to tell Damon though. She suspected Caroline already knew; her friend played dumb at times, but she was one of the most perceptive people Elena had ever met.

"I don't want them to die," she whispered, knowing he could hear her. "Klaus and I…" the closed door gave her the courage to say the words because she knew there was a barrier between her and Damon which she would need because he was likely going to break something; probably the bathroom door. "Klaus and I are together."

"Come again?" She heard the confusion in his voice and suspected he thought he had heard wrong no matter how impossible the scenario was. "I think I must have had too much to drink tonight. You're together… together as in…?"

She chewed her bottom lip and stared at her reflection as she wiped off her light makeup. Dating wasn't the right word. Committed came closer to the truth, but she didn't want to lie anymore. She had lied enough that night.

"I'm his… mate…"

It was the first time she had said it out loud, and it felt good; it felt right.

"We've been together for the last month," she dropped her eyes to the counter. The dual lines in the tiny screen meant she nearly missed Damon's reaction, but it was impossible not to notice a bathroom door being pushed off its hinges.

"You're sleeping with Klaus?" He shrieked.

Elena counted her blessings that Jeremy wasn't home and Jenna was out with Alaric.

She nodded.

"You're sleeping with the enemy?" His eyes narrowed in an icy glare.

"He's not my enemy Damon," she shook her head.

"He killed you," he scoffed. "He killed you and used your blood to make hybrids. He's probably just compelled you to believe whatever crap he told you about being his mate so you wouldn't fight back or run."

"He hasn't made a hybrid in months," Elena shook her head. Her fingers curled around the thin stick, "and Klaus hasn't compelled me."

Damon noticed.

"I might not be an expert on the matter but I'm pretty sure that's not a tampon," he snatched the box from the counter, reading the label. He then grabbed the stick from her hand and read the results before she could protest. "Who else are you sleeping with?"

"Nobody," she took the stick back. "I've only been with Klaus."

"There's gotta be someone else," Damon followed her into the bedroom. "Otherwise he inseminated you while you were sleeping."

"Not that this is any of your business Damon," she sat on the edge of the bed, "but the baby is his. His mother confirmed it tonight before she had Finn compel me not to interfere with her ritual: vampires can't procreate but wolves can."

Elena wanted to sink back on her bed and call Klaus. She wanted him to come in through her front door and tell him everything because now that the ritual was over she could. She wanted to find a way to stop Esther because she couldn't lose him. He and his siblings, who were by no means innocent, didn't deserve to die.

"I…" the words were on the tip of her tongue, but it felt wrong saying them to Damon, or anyone, before she said them to him. "He's important to me, and I can't let him die. I don't want to hurt his siblings either. Esther's spell will kill them all."

"You don't know what you're saying," he shook his head.

"I know that even if you hate Klaus you'll want to protect Rebekah." Elena pushed her hands through her hair. She felt her frustration grow with his disdainful tone; it was clear he couldn't have cared less about the Original sister. "There's got to be a way to stop it."

"Stefan will get over her if her death means killing Klaus," Damon scoffed. "You're forgetting how much he hates Klaus. Why the hell would you want to stop it?"

And because she was tired, and cranky, and scared she got to her feet and said it; her teeth clenched together and her fingers curled into fists.

"Because I love him!"

"No you don't," Damon shook his head. He grabbed her arms and used his body to pin her to the nightstand.

"I do," she glared up at him.

"No you don't," he growled. "You don't love him. You've never loved him, and you've never been 'involved' with him because you hate him. Klaus Mikaelson is a monster Elena, and that's exactly how you see him." He pushed a hand through his hair; exasperation shone in his eyes. "Just get some rest and forget I was here."

She exhaled in a rush when he let her go and dropped onto the bed. When she looked up Damon was gone.

Her eyes fell to the thin stick in her hand before darting to the vibrating phone on her nightstand. She read the caller ID and felt her stomach knot.

Ignoring the call she crossed to her window and turned the lock, pulling the curtains shut. Her phone was still vibrating when she layed back down. It continued, pausing for a few seconds between calls, for an hour.

She just stared at it and fingered the soft material of her large t-shirt, inhaling the comforting scent; for the life of her she couldn't remember where the Henley had come from.

Jeremy groped blindly for the phone and nearly fell out of bed. He righted himself and answered the call.

"'lo?" He rubbed the sleep from his eyes; he floated on the edge of consciousness until the brisk accent brought him awake. "How'd'ya ge' my number?"

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, padding silently down the hall and pushing open Elena's bedroom door. The voice on the other side of the line making him confident stepping inside was safe.

"She's not answering cause she's sleeping," Jeremy rolled his eyes. He tilted his head and listened to the voice, only getting about half of the words. "She probly jus' fell 'sleep when she go' home," he tried to stifle his yawn. When he could speak again he rubbed the back of his head. "She was sick earlier; she'll call back tomorrow."

"No I'm not gonna wake her up. Last time I woke her up for you I nearly lost a limb. She'll call back tomorrow."

He hung up after the grudging agreement and stood there a moment longer, staring down at his sister in a daze until she moved. One eye cracked open enough to see who was watching her. She sleepily patted the side of the bed and he did something he hadn't done since they were kids; he walked around and stretched out on the other side of his sister.

He was going to ask if she was feeling any better, but he drifted off before he could open his mouth.

Every instinct told him to break open her window and tear back the curtains, but common decency said no. She had shut him out for the night, and even though it killed him to not see her he respected her decision.

It helped that he could hear Jeremy's heart beat coming from her room and knew that someone was watching over her. They could talk about his mother in the morning.

Chapter Text

There was a heavy pounding behind her eyes and a dull ache in her body. Every limb felt like it had been weighed down to the point where she would need vampire strength to lift them. It certainly felt like she'd invoked some supernatural ability to force her eyes open.

She squinted against the light and rolled over; the action was the hardest one she had ever taken.

With the sun behind her she was able to stare at the open door to her bathroom and allow her mind to wander. It took a moment for everything to come back to her, and at first it came in flashes: Elijah, a blonde woman, a knife, and pink tinted champagne. She remembered dark eyes in a face devoid of emotions and the lie.

The guilt came back in a rush, turning her stomach. She launched out of bed with more speed than she should have possessed and scrambled into the bathroom in time for the bile to burn through her throat. She heaved over the toilet for several minutes until there was nothing else to come up and a last memory surfaced.

She wiped her mouth with a square of toilet paper and thought of how she had sat on her bed before going to sleep with a pregnancy test in her hands; she remembered it being positive.

Her hand shook as she flushed the evidence of her illness and spotted a cardboard box hiding under the claw foot tub. She flattened one hand on her stomach and swallowed before reaching for the box. There was an unopened package inside that she ripped into with shaking hands, not trusting her memory of the previous evening; there was too much chaos in her head.

The Boarding House loomed ahead, large and foreboding with secrets lodged in every nook and cranny.

She fiddled with the edge of her scarf and swallowed down her guilt induced morning sickness. There were other ways to assuage it than by purging her feelings – she hoped – because the nutrients she had managed to choke down at breakfast needed to stay in her body.

Part of her wanted to stay in the car and just stare at the building, but time wasn't on her side. She had no way of knowing how much time she had to fix the mess, but she just knew it had to be fixed before she could even start to think about anything else.

So she jumped out of the car, immediately regretting the swift action when her stomach churned. She paused and willed her stomach to settle while reaching for her vibrating cell phone. She stared at the screen for a moment before muting the device and putting it in her pocket.

A steadying breath passed through her lips before she walked up the steps and into the Boarding House. She made it three steps into the foyer before coming face to face with Rebekah.

The blonde just looked her over before smiling and walking out the door. She was gone before Elena could open her mouth in greeting.

"You missed the audio show," Damon's voice drifted out from the living room.

Elena followed it and stepped down to find him pouring himself a drink. She was mildly surprised when he didn't offer her one like he always did.

"What are you doing here?" He took a swig of his bourbon and narrowed his eyes. It was his second glass, and looking at her he knew that it would not be the last; he could hear an infuriating flutter and was determined to drink until the sound stopped assaulting his senses.

"I need help," she whispered.

"That's an understatement," he muttered so quietly that she didn't hear.

"It's Esther," she began.

His eyes narrowed further as he contemplated what the Original witch bitch was up to now.

"She's planning on killing her entire family," Elena continued, encouraged by the furrow in his brow to keep talking. "She linked them all together with a spell so whatever happens to one, happens to all."

His eyes widened momentarily as he remembered the previous evening.

"Do you remember how you got home last night?" His sudden question startled her.

"You drove me," she blinked. "How much did you drink last night? Don't you remember? You dropped me off at the door, and I went inside and went to bed thinking about Esther's ritual. She wants to kill her children, Damon!"

She couldn't stop herself from repeating the horrific statement.

"Great," he smirked, testing his sudden theory. "Klaus will finally be dead. We win." He tilted his head as her expression remained aghast. "Why do you look like someone just shot a panda bear?"

Her mind scrambled for an answer, for a reason that justified her all-consuming need to save the Original family. Rebekah had tried to kill her the other night. Finn had compelled her to comply with Esther. She didn't know Kol well enough to form an opinion. Klaus was a monster. Her brain lit on an acceptable answer that was true, but didn't feel like the full reason; she sensed there was more to it, but she couldn't figure it out.

"Because to kill Klaus she has to kill all of them, including Elijah," she gripped the back of the couch, "and he doesn't deserve this."

It was true. The Original in question had dealt with her fairly in the past. He had tried to save her life before the ritual, and he had saved her from Rebekah the other night. He didn't deserve to die – at least not for crimes committed against her. She had no reason to want him dead.

"I'm supposed to care about Elijah?" Damon scoffed.

"Shouldn't you at least care about Rebekah?" She cocked an eyebrow. "And if you don't then Stefan should. Where is he? I'm sure he'll want to help her."

"Did she try to kill you the other night?" He dropped his glass on the coffee table.

Elena spun on her heel with the intention of either hunting down Stefan or leaving to find someone else who would listen to her, but she'd barely made it to the step when Damon was in front of her.

"Don't do anything to screw this up, Elena." He had been hoping she would meet his eyes, assuming that she hadn't replaced the vervain trinket he had believed her to be wearing the previous evening, but she stared at his chest. The glare made him feel uncomfortably hot.

"Why are you doing this?" She finally looked up. The fire in her eyes would have melted ice.

"He's right, you know." Elena whipped her head around to where Stefan had entered the living room. "Klaus has to die." She saw something guarded, and possibly broken in his eyes when he sighed. "They all do."

"See?" She didn't have to look to know Damon was grinning from ear to ear. "Democracy in action."

Elena gritted her teeth and shouldered her way around Damon, knocking the vampire aside in her haste to get out of the Boarding House.

Elijah entered the study and circled the room slowly until he found what he was looking for. A small bundle of sage tied together with twine and blackened on one end. In his mind he heard the echo of a skipped heartbeat.

"He was giddy," Elena stared at Bonnie's grimoire and the tray where she was burning sage, "actually giddy over the impending deaths of five people."

"They're not people Elena," Bonnie frowned. "Is it working?"

Caroline opened Elena's bedroom door and walked in, shaking her head. "It's not working, I can hear every word you're saying."

"It's a tricky spell," Bonnie sighed.

"When Esther did it she kept the sage burning," Elena nodded to the tiny bundle. "There was a lot more smoke."

Bonnie relit the sage and motioned for Caroline to leave the room again which she did with a scoff.

"Speaking of Esther, you should know that she came to see me and Abby this morning," Bonnie watched the smoke rise.

"What did she want?" Elena felt her stomach churn at the possibilities.

"She just wanted to introduce herself," she shrugged one shoulder; "since we brought her back she's channeling our entire ancestral bloodline for power."

"Is there a way to stop her from channeling you?" Elena's brows rose as hope shone in her eyes.

"Why would I want to do that?" Bonnie looked up from the spell.

"I…" Elena floundered for a second before coming back to the first argument she had used at the Boarding House. "I just keep thinking about the ritual. Elijah found a way to keep me alive, and now I'm in the exact same position. Am I just supposed to let him die?" She shook her head. "It doesn't feel right."

Nothing felt right. She glanced up when Caroline came back in the room.

"Your privacy spell is totally not working," she began. "And Elena, you are not the one doing this; Esther is the one doing this."

"There's no time to do anything Elena," Bonnie blew out the candles. "He'll be dead by the end of the night."

"What?" Her head snapped up.

"It's a full moon," Bonnie's brows drew together. "Esther needs to harness the energy of a celestial event and she asked me and Abby to join her." She checked the time on her phone and stood up. "I'm actually supposed to meet Abby now."

Caroline watched her clean up and bid the witch goodbye before sitting on the bed across from Elena and leaning forward on her palms to watch the brunette.

Elena started to fidget after a moment under the vampire's stare. "What?" She whispered, tugging on her wrist.

"Have you told any of them what their mother wants to do?" She tilted her head. "I know you said Finn compelled you not to tell Elijah at the time, but he's hardly the only Original you could have spoken to."

"Who was I supposed to go to with this Care: Kol – I don't know him, and Rebekah tried to kill me?"

"What about Klaus?" Caroline looked at Elena slowly through inquisitive eyes. There was something different about her that she couldn't put her finger on, some change in her normal scent. She had noticed it off and on recently but it was more pronounced now that she wasn't wearing her perfume.

"Why would I tell Klaus anything?"

"Because…" Caroline frowned at the look in her eyes. There was a cloud covering the normally vibrant mahogany that unnerved the blonde. It reminded her of the daze she used to experience while she was human and Damon had been in her head.

"Tell me about the artist you've been seeing," she changed tactics. The cloud behind Elena's eyes grew, but there was a glimmer of light in the dark depths.

"You know who I've been seeing?" She dropped her voice to a whisper, as if afraid that someone on the street could hear the conversation. "Please tell me you know who because I'm very confused right now."

"You never told me his name," Caroline hesitated. Her eyes followed the brunette's subtle hand movement. "Elena… are you?"

She leaned forward and moved her friend's fingers away. She bent until she was close enough to hear the gentle thrum that sounded like a hummingbird's wings only it was coming from inside her friend. She sat back up with wide eyes.

"I guess that means it wasn't a false positive," Elena felt a hysterical sob bubble in her throat when Caroline shook her head. "I can't remember it, Care."

"Elena…" Caroline passed her some tissues, "… have you been drinking vervain?"

"I t-t-tried this morning," she sniffled. Fat tears started sliding from her eyes until she couldn't see anything. She managed to choke out how she had thrown it back up five minutes later.

She didn't hear Caroline's sigh, but she did hear what she said.

"I just want to apologize in advance for this." Elena felt her chin gripped and suddenly a pair of blue eyes came into focus; the pupils dilated. "Calm down."

Immediately her heart slowed and her breathing began to level out. She dried her tears and went to thank Caroline only to see her friend no longer on the bed. Elena spotted her a second later coming in from the hall with a familiar perfume bottle in hand.

"Here," she spritzed some behind Elena's ears and inside her wrists before adding a dab to her shirt collar for good measure. "You should start wearing it as perfume so you don't throw it back up."

"Probably a good idea," she sniffled.

"Probably," Caroline agreed. She stood up and deposited the perfume bottle on the nightstand. "Why don't you lie down and rest for a bit? You look like you could use it."

"I can't rest, Care," she shook her head. "Esther…"

"I'll make you a deal," Caroline cut her off. "You lay down for one hour and I will go out and try to find a solution."

"You'd do that?" Elena frowned.

"Sure," she nodded, "you said it yourself," she masked the worry in her voice, "Elijah tried to save you. Now lie down, and if you go out put on more of that perfume."

Elena followed her instructions, vowing to just stare at her ceiling until the time limit was up, but then the front door closed and everything went black for a while until she heard a decisive knock that roused her from sleep. She opened her eyes and rolled over to peer at the alarm clock revealing that she had been asleep for at least an hour and a half.

"Will you put that bloody device away?" Kol groaned at finding his brother once more with the tiny box pressed to his ear. He set their drinks down on the table and pulled an identical device from his jacket pocket. "I don't understand the draw of these contraptions."

A glance around the establishment showed everyone around his perceived age with some sort of mobile device in their hands.

"You've missed a lot," Klaus hung up his phone. It was the fourth call that had gone unanswered that morning.

"Whose fault is that?" Kol's smirk turned dark.

"Whatever happened to bygones?" Klaus sighed. He couldn't shake a feeling of worry in the back of his mind and had no desire to add Kol's anger to the things he was juggling.

"You shoved a mystical dagger through my heart, brother," his tone remained bright, "and you've made no attempt at an apology, so we have yet to reach bygones."

"I can put it back," he snapped, taking a long pull of his drink.

"I'd love to see you try," Kol's eyes narrowed as he tensed.

Klaus could tell his brother was prepared for a fight that would have been nearly evenly matched. He also knew that such a spectacle would have resulted in the deaths of everyone at the Grille which was simply unacceptable since three people inside were on the 'never-harm-a-hair-on-their-heads' list; one of them was currently storming towards their table.

"Not here Kol," he shook his head. He had barely gotten the words out when a pair of hands slammed down on the wood. He examined the lapis lazuli on her finger before looking up to her fiery eyes.

"Hello, love," he smiled the charming smile that always had Elena shivering. "What are you up to this wonderful afternoon?"

"Cut the crap," Caroline snapped, "and come with me." She spun on her heel and paused at the door when she realized he wasn't following. "Now," she looked back over her shoulder, "there's something I need to show you."

From any other baby vampire he would have ignored the request, or removed a few limbs for the insolent tone, but Caroline Forbes was different. She happened to be his mate's best friend, and she also happened to be one of the few people who knew of his involvement with his mate, so rather than do exactly what any of his siblings would have expected he drained his drink and stood up.

"I'll meet you back at the mansion."

"Gonna follow a baby vampire?" Kol sought Caroline with his eyes, knowing full well she could hear him when he smirked. "Is she the one you were out all night with?"

"Shut up, Kol," he growled, walking away from his brother. He shoved his hands in his pockets when he was close and fingered the broken charm.

He waited a few minutes before issuing a second knock and tilted his head to listen to the light footsteps as she came down the stairs from her room where she had been.

The door was pulled open a few seconds later and a small, tight smile lifted the corner of his mouth.


"Elijah," her mouth barely opened around his name before morphing into a soft smile.

"I don't mean to intrude," he glanced at the slight wrinkle in her shirt too quickly for her to see. It was the only evidence that betrayed the nap he knew she had been taking. "I was hoping you might accompany me." He lifted his chin when she hesitated. "I want to show you something."

"Just…" she nodded slowly. "Just give me a second."

He watched her walk back up the stairs to retrieve her jacket. The door remained open as she took the short trip, but he didn't cross the threshold.

"What could possibly be so important that you felt the need to interrupt an afternoon of brotherly bonding?" Klaus smirked when they came to a stop. It took him a second to realize where they were, but then he smelt the intoxicating combination that drifted from Elena's bedroom window.

"I was hoping here that you wouldn't pitch a fit," Caroline shrugged. She opened the door with the spare key Elena had given her years ago and stepped inside. She cocked an eyebrow when he stood outside. "Don't pretend you're waiting on an invitation."

He nodded before stepping inside and shutting the door. His nose wrinkled when he caught a lingering scent on the wood; he shook it off though and followed Caroline up the stairs.

His frown deepened when he was in Elena's empty bedroom and saw the flabbergasted expression on the blonde's face.

"She was right here," Caroline frowned. "I left her right here."

"Well, she's obviously stepped out." Klaus frowned. There was a lingering smell of anxiety and fear littering her room. He couldn't remember her ever wearing either scent, not even during the ritual. "What's going on Caroline?"

She wondered for a moment how far his concern for Elena extended to her friends before throwing caution to the wind and spilling everything she had learned during the morning. She told him everything Elena had revealed about his mother's intentions.

"Why didn't she tell me this herself?" His expression shifted. "Why hasn't she been answering my calls?"

"That's the other thing," Caroline swallowed. "She hasn't been drinking vervain – that's how your mother got her to fool Elijah, she got Finn to compel her. I think somebody found out about… well…" she gave him a pointed look. "Somebody compelled her because she has no memory of being with you, and she seemed downright confused when I asked why she didn't tell you everything."

He clenched his hands into fists and resisted the urge to shatter Elena's bedroom mirror.

"Why isn't she drinking vervain?" He pulled the charm bracelet from his pocket and set it on the vanity with deliberate care.

"She's pregnant," she held up her hand when his head whipped around, "and before you make some sort of accusation that she would most definitely slap you for you need to listen." She could see the rage in his eyes but he nodded all the same for her to continue. "She is pregnant, and my first instinct was – I'm certain – exactly what you're thinking, but she's not drinking vervain because she can't hold it down. Her body is rejecting it."

Through his rage flooded vision he saw the look on her face. It was pointed and said that he should have worked it out by now, so he did. The second her words registered he knew what she was implying.

"That's not possible," he growled through gritted teeth. Had he learned that any other lover had been with another he would have taken out his anger on them and anyone they cared about, but he couldn't bring himself to attack the blonde vampire.

"For vampires," she rolled her eyes, "but you're not one are you? I swear Elena has this smell lingering on her and it's you, or very similar to you." She had realized it when she'd walked up to him in the Grille. "I'm pretty sure you weren't here last night, and she definitely took a shower today, so there is no logical reason for her to still smell like you, but she does; plus I could hear the heartbeat. It sounded like a hummingbird."

His breath caught in his throat and he turned to look at the bed with wide eyes. He could see the image as clearly as if he'd had models on the bed: her thighs over his shoulders, her stomach below his chin, her face flushed above him, and the distinct sound of a hummingbird's wings fluttering near her naval.

"When is this ritual of my mother's, love?" He gritted his teeth.

"Tonight beneath the full moon," Caroline swallowed, "but I don't know where."

"Who would?" His eyes cut to her. He couldn't get the fluttering sound out of his head.

"Bonnie," she blinked. Klaus had yet to kill her and had even saved her life; Caroline prayed his do-no-harm mentality extended Bonnie as well. "Maybe…" she added.

"Thank you, Caroline," he turned to the door, already contemplating the ways to end his mother's plans, but he paused at the top of the stairs. His mother would need to be dealt with first, but once that was done he would need to take care of Elena. "How many vampires have an invitation to this house?"

"Including you," she tilted her head and thought about it, "five. There's me, the Salvatores and Elijah." She figured she knew what he was thinking so she made sure to add. "Finn had access as well during the ball."

"And Elijah was at the door," Klaus muttered. He took one last look at Caroline before flashing from the house to find his siblings.

Chapter Text

Bonnie heard the unmistakable sound of desiccated leaves crunching underfoot. The sound held a note of finality, a precursor for imminent death. She thought it was fitting considering what would soon transpire in the yard; she could already see the pentagram drawn out with salt and other herbs.

"Who's the creepy, lurky guy?" Abby nodded across the lawn to where Esther was stepping from the dilapidated mansion.

Bonnie followed her mother's eyes. "That's Esther's son, Finn, he's a vampire so…" she looked at her mother and pointed to her ear.

Abby nodded and held in her sigh. "Wonder what your Grams thinks about the part we're playing in all of this balance of nature stuff."

"She's probably on the other side," Bonnie smirked, "screaming about getting involved in vampire business."

Abby cracked an involuntary smile before sobering and facing Esther. She could feel the energy of her entire ancestral line as it was drawn through her body to the Original witch.

"Thank you for coming," Esther's smile was tight, concealing a secret in the corner of her mouth. "I can think of no better allies than the woman who sent Mikael into his long sleep and the girl who fought Niklaus so bravely."

Stop shaking!

Elena continued to scold herself in her mind until her muscles gradually relaxed. It wasn't like Elijah had hurt her. She had been certain he was going to. She had been sure he was going to knock her head from her shoulders or tear her heart from her chest for the part she had played in his mother's ritual, but he hadn't. His head had tilted to the side for a beat before he had grabbed her and stomped a hole in the earth.

She tilted her head up toward the waning light and stared at the jagged opening. There was no possible way she could climb back up; the walls were too steep, the dirt too loose. Even if she could find a toe hold she would just slip back down and probably injure herself in the process.

She whipped out her phone and stretched her arm as high as it would reach in search of a signal, but there was not a bar to be found.

Admitting defeat she tucked the phone back in her pocket and repositioned herself in what she thought was the place she had stood above ground. She closed her eyes and tried to pull up an aerial view of Mystic Falls to try and place herself in relation to the Lockwood Mansion where she knew the tunnels eventually let out. She was pretty sure it was to the right.

She took a deep breath and started down the tunnel, making no attempt to stay quiet. It would have been impossible anyway with the various rocks littering the floor. She tripped more than a few times before hugging the wall and slowing her steps.

She swallowed nervously when the tunnel curved around and opened into a small cavern. There were three branching passages. She walked up to each and stood at the opening for a moment before feeling a cool breeze coming from the last.

She was just about to start down it when there was a whoosh of air and suddenly the path was blocked by a familiar blonde.

She jumped back and stifled her shriek.

"Going somewhere?" Rebekah tilted her head.

"What are you doing here?" Elena willed her heart to settle down, but the organ had a mind of its own.

"Not much," she sighed, as if being in the tunnels was the biggest inconvenience of her life, "unless you try to run," her lips lifted in an excited smile, "in which case I get to kill you."

Fear curled down her spine. She curled her gloved hands into fists to keep them from trembling and reached for her flat stomach.

"I can't find her anywhere," Stefan called, entering the Boarding House. He froze at the entrance to the living room when he spotted Elijah sitting in front of the fireplace talking to Damon.

"Hello Stefan," the Original smiled.

"He has Elena," Damon gritted his teeth.

"Actually, she's with Rebekah," Elijah stood up and fastened his suit jacket. "She has a predisposition to dislike doppelgangers – not the best history I'm afraid – so as you can imagine, my sister is just dying to tear her throat out. If you want to save her life, I need you to help me stop my mother."

He highly doubted his sister would cause lasting harm to Elena. She would terrorize and perhaps threaten to maim, and even wish to maim, but in the end Rebekah would hear the same thing that had stilled his own hand. The Salvatores, however, didn't need to know that. All they needed to know was that he held Elena's life in his hands and if they wanted to save her they needed to cooperate.

He knew the moment he had them, but Damon being Damon needed to make everything difficult.

"I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but when it comes to killing thousand year old resurrected witches, I'm a little rusty," Damon scoffed.

"Yes," Elijah sighed. He ran the tip of his finger over the mantle, picking up a letter opener to twirl between his fingers. He would not have been opposed to burying the point in his mother's throat. "Unfortunately, even when killed my mother doesn't seem to want to stay dead – not with the witches of nature on her side."

Esther needed to be stopped, not killed – at least not until she could be properly contained.

"What are we supposed to do, then?" Stefan crossed his arms. He remembered Rebekah to be both loving and vindictive; he wouldn't have been surprised to see the blonde go after his ex-girlfriend for the fact that she was his ex-girlfriend, and in spite of everything he still wanted to keep Elena alive.

"The witches that released my mother are providing her with power," he fiddled with the letter opener, "she's drawing it from their bloodline, so that line needs to be broken."

"Broken?" Stefan frowned, cocking an eyebrow.

"Yeah, he means…" Damon dragged his finger across his throat.

"You want us to kill them," Stefan's eyes narrowed.

"You know I'd do it myself, but I have absolutely no idea where they are. Besides," he waved a hand, "seeing me, they'd immediately know my intent. They will not expect to be harmed by either of you, so you have until six minutes after nine to find them."

"Specific," Damon glanced at his brother.

"Well," Elijah smirked, "by 9:07 the moon will by full, and my mother will have the power she needs to kill me and my family. If she is not stopped before then, Rebekah will kill Elena."

"Alright, love," Rebekah held up her cell phone, "look into the camera."

"What are you doing?" Elena stared at the phone, a line between her brows.

"Shooting a picture to inspire your boyfriends," she shrugged.

Picture, Elena took half a step back, how long was she in the box?

"Why don't you tell them how delightful it is being stuck in a hole with me?" Rebekah smiled, the very picture of innocence.

She reminded Elena of that one quote from Shakespeare about being the snake beneath the flower. She hardly knew Rebekah, but she knew she was dangerous.

"Why do you hate me so much?" Elena met Rebekah's eyes. The blue was nearly black in the dark of the cave. "I've never done anything to you."

"Yet," she sneered. Tilting her head she busied her fingers relaying the text message. "You know, I don't know what I want more, to find out we're saved or to find out it's alright to kill you."

"This isn't my fault Rebekah," Elena shook her head. "Your mom forced me to go along with the ritual. I tried to leave when she told me…"

"Sure," Rebekah scoffed, "you tried to leave. You didn't want to do it." She sauntered around the brunette slowly as the hunter stalks its prey. "Do you really think I want to spend what could very well be the last hours of my life having idle chit-chat with you?"

Elena swallowed. She moved with Rebekah to ensure her back was never to the Original.

"Of course not," she went on, "but for some reason, everybody seems to want to bend over backwards to save your life, which is incredibly annoying, but makes you the perfect hostage. So sit down and shut up before I ruin everything by ripping your head off."

Her grin was feral when Elena braced her back against the cave wall and slid to sit cross legged on the floor. Once the doppelganger was still and silent Rebekah was able to hear herself think, along with the distant rush of the waterfall, the scurrying footsteps of some small animal, and the rapid thrum of a hummingbird's wings somewhere nearby.

Elijah had hardly opened the door to the mansion when he was slammed into the wall and held by his throat. The force of the impact dislodged several picture frames and cracked the back of his skull. It healed before he could work up a good headache, but he could smell the trickle of blood on his collar along with the blood now adorning his brothers' necks.

"Niklaus?" He grunted around the hand now restricting his windpipe.

Klaus' eyes widened when he felt his own airway cut off and immediately loosened his hold. He growled when he could speak again.

"Where is she?"

"There are many women you could be referring to," Elijah straightened his shoulders, "I'm going to need you to be more specific."

"Elena!" He snapped.

"Ah yes," Elijah brushed off his sleeves, "the doppelganger," his lips twisted around the word. It was the first time he had referred to her as such since they had struck their first deal in her bedroom. "I've tucked her away to ensure the support of the Salvatores in our current endeavor. Mother…"

"Is planning on killing us all," Klaus cut him off.

"We know," Kol glowered.

"How did you two find out?" Elijah frowned.


The feminine voice drew his attention to the stairs where Caroline Forbes. She had been leaning over a map of Mystic Falls and fiddling with her cell phone, but now she had him fixed with a glare that – had she been a witch – would have killed.

"You abducted my best friend?" Her voice was deadly quiet.

Kol leaned against the banister. Part of him wanted to try and calm the baby vampire, but another part wanted to watch her take a good chunk out of Elijah. There was something truly terrifying about her stance, and he hadn't felt true fear since the fourteenth century.

"Where is she Elijah?" Klaus tried to swallow his rage. The only thing that helped was the knowledge that whatever damage he inflicted on his brother would also be inflicted on himself.

"As I've said," he straightened his jacket, "I've tucked her away. As soon as mother has been stopped she'll be freed and you can continue your quest for a hybrid army."

"You think I care about bloody hybrids?" Klaus roared, slamming his brother into the wall once more. He felt several of his ribs break with the impact, but he didn't care.

"Nik, this isn't helping matters," Kol spat out a stream of blood as it flooded his mouth.

A deadly sense of calm settled over the room as Klaus stepped back and brushed off his brother's sleeves. He took a deep breath and tilted his head, contemplating the options he had before coming to a decision.

His arm moved in a blur. The cries were simultaneous from Elijah and Kol.

"Was that necessary?" Caroline sighed. She frowned when he stumbled and fell to his knees. "Klaus?"

Elena's head whipped around when she heard Rebekah's sharp cry. Less than a second after locking eyes with the blonde she saw her skin turn grey. She leapt to her feet as Rebekah fell over, dead, and ran for all she was worth. She ran until her un-stretched muscles ached.

Elijah's eyes snapped open to meet blue ones. He might have attacked if the eyes had not been set in a feminine face, so instead he got to his feet and turned to where his brothers were mirroring his actions.

"Have you lost your mind?" He approached Klaus.

"I assure you brother I am in complete control of my mental faculties," Klaus got to his feet. His eyes flashed gold. "She is my mate, and she is carrying my child."

"That is impossible," Elijah scoffed.

"Actually…" Kol cut in, holding up a finger. He smirked when Elijah turned to him with an incredulous look. "Nik broke his curse, so he's not infertile anymore."

"Caroline, love," he turned from his older brothers, "have you found where they might be?"

"I've got an idea," Caroline cleared her throat. "Bonnie said your mother was channeling her entire family. Now, I don't know much about magic, but I'm pretty sure proximity is key."

"It would help mother's spell to be near the dead witches," Kol nodded. "Are you thinking the cemetery?"

"No," Caroline pointed to a section on the map, "I'm thinking of the place where a lot of the Bennett witches were massacred after the civil war."

Elena stumbled over a rock. Her hand scraped the rough stone wall and she hissed; blood bubbled to the surface. She cradled her injured palm and kept running.

"You can't hide, Elena!" Rebekah's voice echoed over the walls. She sounded like she was strolling along with all the time in the world to find her prey.

Elena took a sharp right and tripped. She felt her ankle twist, but ignored it and climbed to her feet. She limped a few steps before seeing something that made her heart leap into her throat.

Safety was a mere six feet away and she scrambled for it. She was at the entrance when arms curled around her waist and she was spun around.


Her reaction was to head-butt Rebekah and jump backwards. She could see the faint outlines of Native American drawings on the walls as Rebekah shrieked and called her several names that she hoped the little one in her womb couldn't hear.

"What the bloody hell is this?" Rebekah tried to enter the cave, but found her way blocked by an invisible barrier.

"Sorry," Elena fell back against a wall, gulping in greedy breaths. "No vampires allowed."

"Kol?" Klaus' voice was strained when he turned his attention on his youngest brother. "Are you capable of handling Finn on your own?"

"I should think so," his eyes narrowed. "Mother's ritual failed and there is no white oak nearby." He could hear the sobs of the younger witch coming from the confines of the house, but she was unlikely to get involved now that she was quite literally on her own and their mother had fled in the chaos.


"Bonnie, I'm sorry," Caroline tried to comfort her friend. She reached out her hand, but it was immediately slapped away.

"Don't," she choked on her tears, "don't, Caroline, don't do that." She swiped at her cheeks. "You told them where to find us!"

"I had to," Caroline shook her head. She couldn't bring herself to look at Abby's body. "Esther was going to kill them all, and Elijah had Elena, and…"

"They were going to be dead!" She shrieked. "Dead, and gone, and out of our lives; that was the whole point. Elena would have been safe from Klaus."

"Elena was never in any danger from Klaus, Bon," Caroline sighed. "And this spell wouldn't have just killed them."

"What are you talking about?" Bonnie stared at the awkward angle of her mom's neck. "Esther wanted to undo the evil she created."

"Vampires," Caroline looked down, "are a 'plague' on the earth. She was going to kill them all, Bonnie." Kol had explained the spell that had created them on the journey to the witch house, along with what would happen if any of them died.

The smell of gasoline was making her head swim, and causing bile to rise in her throat. She fought it down and focused on the match in Rebekah's hand. She was starting to think the Original sister was a little unhinged.

She could see the match getting ready to fall when Rebekah paused. A line appeared between her brows as the match burnt itself out.

Blue eyes dragged over the length of her body before settling on the layers that covered Elena's stomach. Under the fabric came the distinct thrum she had heard earlier in the tunnel.

Before she got a chance to swear, or groan at her misfortune a voice ripped through the stone caverns. It was loud and full of a rage that put her in mind of silver daggers coated in ash. She gripped her box of matches and turned around to flash him a smile.

"Nik," her eyes twinkled. "You're just in time to watch the doppelbitch burn." She heard Elena's audible gulp from the cave and smirked, but her brother's narrowed eyes made her falter.

"Leave, now," his eyes flickered from the matches in her hand to her face, "before I do something I regret."

"What's the problem?" Rebekah frowned.

"You're attempting to burn his mate alive," Elijah spoke so quietly that Elena didn't hear him in the cave.

Elena saw Rebekah look back to her with nothing but confusion in her eyes.

"Her? Are you bloody joking?"

"Rebekah," Elijah appeared and took hold of her arm, "come away now." He pried the matches from her fingers.

Elena was still staring at the space when Klaus took his sister's place. She felt a rush of pure hatred run through her followed by a shiver of fear.

"Are you alright, love?" He stood as close as possible to the barrier. He could see the fear and revulsion in her eyes; it was a light he had seen many times over the last thousand years, but never had such a look come from her.

"What the hell do you want? Haven't I been terrorized by enough Originals today?" Her eyes narrowed. She gripped the hem of her soaked coat.

Caroline's words came back to him then, and he found he now believed them. There was no recognition in Elena's eyes, no sign that he was anything to her other than the monster who had sacrificed her in his misguided attempt to feel complete.

"You've been compelled, love," he met her eyes.

"Tends to happen a lot in this town," she crossed her arms.

"Elena, please, listen to me?" He swallowed. He could hear the sound of a heart beating deep inside her body, and he wanted to kick himself for not figuring it all out sooner.

She weighed her options. There was no way she could get around him, and he was not going to step aside to let her leave until she heard him out so she nodded; the motion was stiff.

She shook her head as he spoke, refusing to believe his words.

"I've never…" she sputtered over the words. "I wouldn't…"

"You have," he met her eyes. "The child you're carrying is mine."

"No…" she shook her head.

"You were compelled to forget Elena, but there are ways to bring the memories back, spells," he searched her wide eyes, "you can even have your friend Bonnie go over them and cast them if that will make you more comfortable. Now will you please come out here?"

He saw the hesitation in her eyes and the small step she took backwards.

"You have nothing to fear from me, Elena," he stepped back from the cave opening to give her room, "and none of my siblings will harm you."

After the night she had endured she should have scoffed at the promise, but looking in his eyes she found she believed him, so she took hesitant steps until she eventually crossed the threshold. She tipped her head back when he didn't move, but blocked her path.

"Take off your jacket."

"Excuse me?" Her eyes narrowed.

"It's soaked," he fingered the sodden pocket, "you'll be down sick if you stay in it much longer."

"Because my t-shirt is so much better," she muttered, but peeled the sleeves down her arms. She didn't get a chance to feel cold.

A warm jacket was draped over her shoulders and she dropped her coat to slip her arms into the too long sleeves. She hugged the wool closed and inhaled the heady mix of scents that instantly put her body at ease.

Klaus picked up her discarded jacket and caught a smell he hadn't noticed over the fumes from the gas. He looked at her with narrow eyes.

"Are you hurt?"

"I scraped my hand," she shrugged. Her mind told her to be revolted when he took her wrist and flipped it over, but her body warmed at the touch. "It doesn't hurt anymore."

He ran his thumb over the smooth flesh wiping away the dried blood until he could see her palm.

"That's because it's healed." He let her hand fall to her side and placed his palm on the small of her back. "This is the way out."

Chapter Text

There were tiny weights attached to each of her eyelashes. Every individual hair seemed to be coercing her eyelids closed, but there were too many things going on for her to succumb to what was sure to be a restless sleep. There was a gaping hole in her memory, a baby in her womb, and a hybrid in her living room.

She could still smell the faintest traces of gasoline on her jeans that was making her head and stomach spin. She would have left to take a shower but there was a very good chance that she would keel over if she stood up from her precarious position on the couch.

"Bonnie has refused to come," Caroline sighed. She came up and took a seat on the other side of Elena, picking up the full water glass on the way. "Drink."

A line appeared between Elena's brows when the crystal was held against her hand. She took it in her shaky hand and sipped; snippets of conversation floated around her.

"… told you to make her drink…"

"… doesn't trust me… Bennett…?"

"… angry… grieving…"

"What happened to Bonnie's mom?" Elena perked up. She forced her tiredness onto the backburner and focused on Caroline before turning to Klaus when her friend didn't answer. "What happened to Abby?"

He heard her heart accelerate in the way it did when she was working up to an angry rant. The fire was beginning in her eyes and for the first time in a thousand years he felt his tongue twist in a knot.

"That Salvatore turned her," Kol's voice drifted in from the porch, "before we made it to the old witch house: the one with the black hair. Apparently he got it in his head that it was the way to break the link. He was right, but still…"

"Abby's dead?"

"In transition," Klaus reached for her hand. Relief flooded him when she didn't recoil, but it was short lived because she climbed to her feet a second later.

"I have to go see her."

Caroline flashed to block her path and crossed her arms. "You need to eat something and lay down."


"No buts," Caroline pointed at her before motioning to the stairs. "Go upstairs and take a shower, or go upstairs and call Bonnie, and I'll make you a snack."

"Anything else mom?" Elena crossed her arms, rolling her eyes.

"You could invite me in," Kol leaned in the open door, a smirk on his face.

"I think I've got enough vampires with access to my home," she shook her head.

"I'd be offended," he straightened up, "but considering one of them is probably the culprit who did a number on your head I'll let it go."

Elena pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed on the way up the stairs. It went to voicemail twice before Bonnie finally answered as she was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.

"You might want to call another witch," Caroline stepped onto the porch with Klaus. "Bonnie's not going to be in any shape to do anything for a while, and…"

"And?" Kol prompted, tilting his head.

"And," Caroline sighed, her eyes flickering to Kol for a second before returning to Klaus, "she's not likely to want to do anything for you right now."

Her head whipped around when she heard a car door slam. She wondered how she had missed the sound of the vehicle pulling up.

"I'd offer one of my many witch contacts," Kol cocked an eyebrow, "except I don't have any at the moment, what with spending the last century rotting in a box."

"How long until you let that go?" Klaus sighed.

"At least half the length of the imprisonment," he smirked. He turned slightly when the approaching steps came to a stop. "I don't believe we've been introduced."

"Jeremy," he crossed his arms and turned his inquisitive gaze to Klaus and Caroline.

"Jeremy this is my brother Kol," Klaus leaned against the post, "Kol this is Elena's younger brother." He cocked an eyebrow. "You wouldn't happen to know who was here last night before I called you."

"I'd ask how you're doing," Elena ran the tip of her finger over the metal tap, "but I know from experience how much that question sucks."

"I don't want to talk about it, Elena."

She could hear the weariness in her friend's voice. It sounded like she had given up on everything.

"Okay," she tilted her head, "do you need anything?"

"What I need is to be left out of vampire business! I never should have gotten involved in the first place."

Elena's mouth turned dry; she chewed her cheek, but it didn't help.

"That's why you called isn't it? You want me to come over there and get involved."

"I called because you're my friend," she felt tears prick at her eyes, "and I wanted to help."

"Caroline told me you'd been compelled."

Elena blinked rapidly but a tear still dropped from her lashes and rolled over her cheek. She stared at the bathroom counter and the thin stick she still hadn't gotten rid of.

"There are spells that can help, but I can't…" Bonnie's voice cracked on the other end of the line. "… I can't be around you right now."

"Why?" She sniffed.

"Because she also mentioned the baby and who you made it with; I'm sure he's got plenty of witches at his beck and call."

Elena shuddered at the disdain in her best friend's voice.

"I'm sorry about your mom, Bonnie."

"Thanks. Sorry about your head."

She didn't get a chance to respond before the line went dead.

She could feel a sob threatening to rip from her throat, so she started the shower, dropped her phone on the counter and stripped out of her clothes. She managed to hold it in until she was under the spray that would mask the sound from the vampires she was sure were still in earshot.

"Someone compelled her?" Jeremy gritted his teeth. "Who would do that?"

"Well…" Kol smirked, glancing over his shoulder. "Evidently there are only five vampires with an invitation, and I highly doubt Nik did it. Caroline seems unlikely as well since she was the one that pointed it out."

"Unless I'm playing a really complicated game," she rolled her eyes. Immediately three sets of eyes focused on her. "I'm not," she held up her hands. "It was just a joke."

"Elijah's clear as well," Klaus inhaled sharply.

"How could you know that already?" Jeremy stepped around them and opened the door. "Don't just stand on the doorstep, come inside."

"Thanks mate," Kol grinned.

Jeremy paused in the middle of hanging up his coat and eyed the satisfied look on the Original's face. "Elena didn't invite you in, did she?"

"No she didn't," Klaus shook his head. He stepped over the threshold and shut the door. "Elijah didn't do it because I daggered him earlier today."

"In a very counter-productive move," Caroline scoffed.

"That also clears Finn, Kol and Rebekah," he carried on.

"Which leaves Damon and Stefan," Jeremy tilted his head, "or…"

"Or?" Klaus' eyes widened. "Or who?" His eyes flashed when he turned them on Caroline. "You said only five had invitations to the house."

"I thought it was only five," her hands landed on her hips.

"It was," Jeremy cleared his throat, "and now – by my count – it's seven: Damon, Stefan, Caroline, Elijah, the two of you, and Katherine."

"Katherine has an invitation?" Caroline bit back her shriek.

"It's a long story involving Jenna, Damon, a stolen kiss and mistaken identity."

"Scandalous," Kol snickered. "I'm assuming Katerina tricked everyone into believing she was Elena."

"It helped that nobody knew she was in town," Jeremy nodded.

Her eyes fluttered open slowly to focus on the late morning light filtering through the gauzy curtains to the body curled up on her window seat. She hadn't realized how tall her baby brother had actually gotten until that moment. Sure, he towered over her all of the time, but it was one thing to have to look up at him and another to see him folded into the confined space.

It took her a moment to remember why he was there, but it came back when she sat up and saw Caroline stretched out on the bed.

They had all filled her in while she'd polished off a midnight snack. The knowledge that someone out there had an invitation to her house and had compelled her had made her nervous to be alone. Klaus had offered to stay after she said no to going to the mansion, but his presence was so confusing; her head said to hate him while her body whispered other things that just messed with her mind. Caroline had stayed instead, and Jeremy had taken up residence on the seat with one of Alaric's crossbows; it wouldn't do much good if a vampire showed up, but it was nice to know he was prepared.

"Do you feel any better?" Caroline cracked open an eye. She stifled her snicker when Elena jumped. "Sorry."

"No you're not," she pressed the heel of her palm over her thundering heart. "And I feel okay."

"Okay," Caroline sat up. "Do you remember anything else from the ball? Like who might have compelled you?"

"No," she sighed, leaning back against the headboard. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes. "I remember meeting with Esther, Finn compelling me, talking to Elijah and then going outside for air."

"How'd you get home?" Jeremy mumbled around a yawn. He stretched out his limbs and rolled his neck from side to side. "I doubt you walked in heels."

A line appeared between Elena's brows. Her fingers curled around her elbows mimicking the phantom touch she could feel. "Damon drove me," she opened her eyes. "I asked him to stop at the drug store and then he brought me home."

"Did he come inside?" Caroline whipped her mussed curls into a messy bun.

"He brought me home," Elena repeated. "He parked the car, and then…"

Caroline exchanged a quick look with Jeremy when Elena went silent. She dropped her hand on Elena's knee and bobbed her head encouragingly.

"Then… then I was in bed," Elena chewed her bottom lip.

Kol's eyes shifted from left to right following his brother's furious pacing across the sitting room. There was a very good chance that the floor was going to give out at any second and Klaus would fall through into the basement, and as amusing as that would be to watch he didn't want to deal with the broken bones – no matter how short lived the pain would be.

"Have you ever considered Tai Chi or Yoga?" He cocked an eyebrow. "I'm given to understand both are relaxing activities."

"Shut up Kol," he snapped and continued to pace.

"What has Kol done now?" Rebekah sighed. She crossed the room, dropping to sit in an armchair across from Kol. Her brows lowered. "Nik?"

"I believe he's ignoring you, Bex," Kol sighed, turning his attention from Klaus to the grimoire in his lap.

"You're ignoring me, now?" Rebekah cocked an eyebrow. "That's very mature of you," she drawled. "What have I done to earn such childish behaviour?"

Klaus gritted his teeth. He came to a stop at the window and glared out at the driveway. His appointment was late and it was setting him on edge since all he wanted to do was hold Elena and in her current state it was the one thing he couldn't.

"You did attempt to set his mate on fire," Kol tilted his head, not looking up from the spell.

"His pregnant mate," Elijah leaned in the door to the study. He rolled his eyes when his presence went unanswered. "Really Niklaus?"

"You kidnapped her and left her with Rebekah," Kol frowned at his book. "The pregnancy might be an issue."

"Right," Rebekah rolled her eyes, "because that's the only issue with her."

"What is your problem with her?" Kol sighed. "You hardly know her."

"And you do?" Rebekah scoffed.

"I know she spent the entire day trying to help a family she saw as monstrous – thanks to whatever bastard compelled her – and to keep them alive." He rolled his eyes. "And last I checked she hadn't done anything to you. Unless you're upset that she was involved with that lover of yours while you were sleeping; you can't really blame her for that. It's not like she knew."

"What is the issue Kol?" Klaus cut in before they could start bickering.

"Yes," Rebekah smirked, "what's the problem with the evil spawn?"

"The spell to bring back compelled memories is… it's a strain on the body," Kol flipped the grimoire around, "you'd be better off finding the vampire that did it."

"Son of a…" Elena jumped out of bed and jammed her feet into her shoes.

Caroline watched her fly out of the room around Jenna who stumbled out of the way and called after her back. She stood and slipped on a pair of flats before racing after Elena. She mumbled a quick excuse to Jenna on her way down the stairs and caught up with Elena at the car.

"What exactly are you planning on doing?" She slammed the door shut before Elena could climb in. "Do you have a plan or are you just going to yell at him?"

"Yelling sounds good," Elena crossed her arms. "Yelling and maybe maiming."

"Wow," Caroline whistled, "you might not remember being involved with Klaus, but I think he's definitely rubbed off on you."

"Don't be ridiculous, Care," she rolled her eyes, "Klaus would kill him, or compel him."

"Which is what Damon's going to do to you," she leaned on the hood of the car. "If it was him he'll just compel you again. It won't be hard since you're not drinking vervain, and you ran out without putting on Jenna's perfume. You need a plan."

"He messed with my head, Care!" Elena pushed her hands through her hair.

Across the street the curtains parted, but they were heedless to the stares of the neighbors.

"I know how that feels."

"He compelled you, used you like a blood bag," Elena nodded. She remembered finding the bite marks.

Something flashed in Caroline's eyes that tugged at Elena's heartstrings. She got the sudden sense that there had been more to the relationship than what Caroline had previously let on.

"Get in the car," she motioned Elena around the vehicle, "you're in no state to drive." She sent a quick text to Klaus before sliding in behind the wheel.

"Your brother's right," Daphne frowned at the page and tucked a glossy lock of red hair behind her ear. "I wouldn't do this on her while she's pregnant. You'd do better to find the vampire that compelled her."

"Thank you, Daphne," he sighed. Reaching into his back pocket he pulled out his cell phone.

"I can come back in nine months if that's not possible," she closed the grimoire and stood up.

"It doesn't look like that will be necessary," he shook his head. "The other issue?"

"I'll need blood from each of you for the unlinking spell." Her eyes flickered to his siblings.

"We're down a brother at the moment," Kol stood up, "I'll get some phials."

"In the drawer," Klaus waved to his desk. "I'll be back."

Caroline put the car in park. She sighed when Elena jumped out of the vehicle and flashed to block her path.

"Really?" She crossed her arms. "Why'd you come along if you weren't going to let me go inside?"

"To make sure you didn't get hurt, and I'm not gonna keep you from going inside; I'm just waiting for…" She trailed off when the wind shifted and brought a rich smell of her nose.

"Care?" Elena frowned. She crossed her arms to ward off the cold and cursed herself for not grabbing a jacket. "What's wrong?"

There was a rush of wind and suddenly a warm presence at her back. She fought down the urge to turn and look at him, knowing the strain it would cause her head.

"Whose blood is that?" Klaus frowned. He clenched his fists to keep from reaching for the small of Elena's back.

Caroline shook her head. She turned slightly and started towards the house with a growing feeling of dread in her belly. She could sense them moving behind her when she opened the door to the boarding house. The smell intensified and she heard Elena gag.

Elena's eyes widened as she took in the scene. Broken wood littered the floor along with spattered blood and in the middle of everything was a prone body with dull blue unseeing eyes. Bile burned the back of her throat when she spotted the extracted heart.

She bolted through a side door into the downstairs bathroom in time to fall on her knees and heave. Her hair was pulled back as she was sick and soothing circles were rubbed over her back until she sat back with a groan.

"What happened?" She mumbled, too scared to open her eyes and look through the open door to the mess in the living room.

Klaus smoothed back her hair and listened to Caroline's conversation when she found Stefan. He clenched his fist without thinking.

"Ouch," Elena winced.

"Sorry, love," he sighed, letting go of her hair.

"Klaus," she could feel his heart racing under her cheek, "what happened? I know you can hear them."


Chapter Text

She propped her chin in her hand and stared at the tray on the table. Her stomach growled, demanding the chicken sandwich and carrot sticks, but her tongue was of a different mind. She wanted something and she had no idea what it was.

Her classmates were scattered around the cafeteria, eating and socializing in whatever clique they belonged to, but nothing on the surrounding tables appealed to her either.

It was so frustrating. She briefly considered tearing out her hair just so she could do something, but thankfully a distraction arrived at her table before she could.

"Elena, darling," Kol smirked, leaning over the table, "eat your veggies."

Elena picked up a carrot stick, and eyed it with disdain. "My veggies are not speaking to me," she sighed.

He cocked an eyebrow and leaned back a few inches. Over the last few months he had learned to pick his battles with his brother's mate, but even so he had never excelled at holding his tongue.

"I see," he bit down his smirk. Amusement flashed in his dark eyes. "Do your vegetables normally speak to you, love? Because if that is the case, we may need to visit a different doctor next week."

She flicked her wrist and the carrot turned around, spinning like a baton. If Kol had been human the projectile would have made contact with his nose, but he wasn't. He moved a little too fast to be considered the human he was posing as and caught the vegetable between his teeth, making Elena roll her eyes.

"Are you trying to start a food fight?" Caroline dropped into the chair beside her friend. "You might want to choose a different target."

"He insinuated that I was crazy," she shrugged one shoulder. Shifting in her seat she inspected Caroline's tray and the plastic cup in the corner. Her mouth watered at the sight. "Are you going to eat that?"

Blue eyes followed the motion of Elena's nod. A line appeared between the blonde's brows. She shook her head.

Elena grinned and picked up the cup. Goosebumps rose on her arms as she plucked a cube from the plastic and popped it in her mouth. It wasn't quite what she was looking for but it was still the best thing she had eaten all day.

Jeremy sat in the empty chair next to Kol and eyed his sister's lunch choice.

"I'm pretty sure ice has no nutritional value."

"The veggies weren't speaking to her," Kol stage whispered. "I'm thinking of getting her head checked next week." His hand came up to catch the carrot Elena threw at him.

"Jeremy's got a point, 'Lena," Caroline frowned, "you've gotta eat something." She speared her pasta salad and took a healthy bite.

"Kol's not eating," Elena pouted, popping another ice cube between her lips. The cold flooded her mouth and succeeded in somewhat cooling her skin; she had felt a nearly unbearable warmth since waking up.

"I don't need to eat," he pointed out, waving her carrot to make his point.

"Neither does Caroline," Jeremy gave the blonde's full tray a pointed look.

"It helps curb my hunger," she shrugged, "and push off those lovely 'kill-everyone-who-looks-at-me' urges." Her eyes narrowed into a glare focused on the other side of the cafeteria.

Kol glanced over his shoulder and bit back his laugh when he spotted his sister holding court over some sort of committee. He considered listening in to find out what was so interesting to her, but ultimately decided against it because he really didn't care about his sister's social circle.

"You haven't had those in a while," Elena murmured. She finished off the last of the ice cubes and frowned at the empty cup.

"I've got an Original pain in the ass hosting a hostile takeover," Caroline scoffed. "No offence," her eyes flickered to Kol.

"None taken," he waved off her concern, "I've no illusions when it comes to my sister. She can, as you've said, be a real 'pain-in-the-ass'."

"Should I bother asking what she did?" Elena tilted her head. Her eyes landed on a shallow bowl in the corner of her brother's tray and she picked up a carrot stick.

"She's gone and rearranged the decade dance order," Caroline threw up her hands; the salad on her tray forgotten.

"That doesn't seem so bad," Elena reached across the table. She dragged the carrot stick through the bowl and popped it in her mouth. Her teeth came down breaking through the vegetable and spreading the combined flavor through her mouth; it was euphoric and she very nearly moaned.

"Except that we've already done all the planning and prep work for the 80s." Caroline continued to rant, gesticulating with her hands and holding the boys' attention. "Now she's gone off and changed it to the 20s and the dance is on Friday. Do you have any idea how much work this is gonna be? I swear she wants to turn the gym into a freaking speakeasy in two days!"

"You do know you're a vampire, right love?" Kol smirked. "Even if you're still clinging to every human moral and refusing to use compulsion you could have the gym decorated in no time."

"There's a committee and cameras in the gym," Caroline rolled her eyes. "I had to compel one of the AV kids to erase the footage after Klaus came back to town. There were a few shots that just couldn't be explained."

"Who'd you get?" Elena dipped another carrot.

"Do you remember April Young?" Caroline reached for her water bottle.

"Of course," she mumbled around her carrot, "I used to babysit her."

"Turns out she's quite the techie," she grinned.

"I knew that, actually," Elena bit her bottom lip. "I caught her hacking her dad's emails before she went off to Boarding School."

"She's upped her game since then," Caroline tilted her head. Her eyes dropped to the table where Elena was dipping the last of her carrots in Jeremy's chocolate pudding. "That's disgusting."

"The carrots are speaking to me," she grinned.

"Don't worry darling," he reached across the table to pat Elena's hand, "we'll get you a nice therapist."

"Shut up, Kol," Elena rolled her eyes.

"After you've eaten your sandwich," he smirked.

Elena pointed around the table. "You three do realize that I don't need a babysitter, right? I've been successfully taking care of myself for many years now."

"And how many attempts have been made on your life?" Kol leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms behind his head.

"This week?" Jeremy smirked.

"Or over the past year?" Caroline nudged Elena with her elbow.

"I can take care of myself," she insisted. She would have crossed her arms, but the chicken sandwich suddenly looked really good. "I don't need supernatural protection."

"Nik's got no shortage of enemies, darling, and when word spreads about you – which it will – they will flock to Mystic Falls."

"She's got me for when that happens," Caroline gave him a look, daring him to contradict her.

"True," Kol nodded, "and you can be very intimidating." It was true; her confidence and fire had even given him pause from time to time. "However, in a physical altercation you would stand no chance. Every vampire that would dare to make a move against him by attacking her has the arrogance that comes from centuries of living. The youngest of them would probably have four centuries on you."

"What: he didn't make any enemies in the last few decades?" Jeremy frowned.

"If he had been making new enemies the supernatural community would have known about it and Elijah wouldn't have had to use Elena here to draw Nik out of hiding." Kol nodded to Elena.

"So," Elena lowered her sandwich and met his eyes, "he's basically a dick to everyone he meets for centuries and as a result I get a body guard?"

"That about sums it up," Caroline shook her head. "You really know how to pick 'em."

"I don't know that I did much picking," Elena rolled her eyes. The details of everything were still gone.

"You would have," Kol tilted his head. He uncrossed his arms and leaned back across the table. "There's always a choice, Elena. Just because you're mates it doesn't mean you have to be together. I've seen pairs that never completed the mating bond; they even went on to marry other people. There is no mystical pull forcing the two of you together. There is desire there, and since Nik's a hybrid it would be stronger during the full moon, but if you really wanted to you could resist it."

"Just for argument's sake," something flashed in Caroline's eyes, "he could have compelled her," her voice hardened just enough that the human's didn't notice.

"He'd never do that," Kol shook his head. He had the strangest feeling she wasn't talking about Klaus anymore.

"You're his brother," Jeremy sipped his water, "don't you have to say that."

"My relationship with my brother is different than the one you two share," Kol's eyes flickered between Jeremy and Elena. "Nik locked me in a box. The cumulative years make up a third of my life. Do you really think I'd rush to defend his character?"

"Fair enough," Caroline dropped her eyes. She could feel Kol's inquisitive gaze and hurried to change the subject before he could ask. "I think I could take them."

"I don't," he shook his head. "The older a vampire is the more strength they have."

"I took Stefan down once," Caroline crossed her arms.

"150 years is nothing, and if I understand correctly he only feeds on animals, which makes him weaker than he should be," he glanced across the cafeteria to where Stefan had taken a seat with Rebekah.

Kol returned his sharp gaze to Caroline. "If I didn't know any better, love, I'd say you were trying to get rid of me."

She offered a sweet smile.

"Wouldn't Rebekah have drawn less attention?" Elena tilted her head. She could see the cheerleading squad at their usual table whispering behind raised hands and shooting looks at Kol that made it perfectly clear what they were thinking.

"Maybe," Kol grinned. He could easily hear what the girls were saying about him. "However, Nik hasn't spoken to her since the gasoline and matches incident, and anyway…" He cocked his head towards his admirers, "… I happen to like being the center of attention though," he saw a light flush stain Caroline's cheeks and smirked. "Is that why you're trying to get rid of me, darling? Are you jealous and wanting me all to yourself?"

"When pigs fly," Caroline smirked. She broke eye contact to take a long pull from her water.

"Stranger things have happened," Kol's eyes flicked back to Elena, roaming to the swell of her stomach that was hidden under her shirt. He was ninety-nine percent sure the grey Henley was one of his brother's. "Finish your lunch, love," he flashed Elena a bright grin, "You're eating for two."

"Say it a little louder Kol," Elena glared. "Announce it to the entire school."

"I think they're gonna find out soon anyway," he looked down at her midsection, recognizing the mistake the second he made it.

Elena sucked in a sharp breath. Her eyes narrowed to a dangerous slit. Her voice dropped to a deadly hiss.

"Are you calling me fat?" Her body quivered with indignation.

Caroline resisted the urge to laugh when she heard Kol gulp; the sound was loud enough that she was certain Rebekah had heard it too.

He held out his hands and attempted to back track before her deadly hiss turned to hiccupping sobs or hysterical laughter.

"Of course not, darling," he tried to placate her. "All I'm saying is that you're going to be showing soon and you won't be able to hide it."

"Don't you think I know that?" She leaned back in her chair. "It's impossible to forget when I'm throwing up every other morning, and when she's twisting somersaults inside me." She motioned to her stomach with her chin.

"She?" Caroline just held back her squeal. "Did you find out?"

"No…" Elena shrugged one shoulder. She blushed when she felt their eyes. "I've just… I've got this feeling. I can't explain it… I just feel like it's a girl."

"And is my niece spinning around right now?" Kol tilted his head.

"Always," Elena rolled her eyes. "I'm never alone anymore, and I can't even pretend that I am because she just twists and turns." Her brows rose when Caroline's hands landed on her stomach.

"I thought you said she was twisting?" A pout marred Caroline's features.

"She is," Elena bit back her laugh. For a moment she caught Rebekah's unreadable eyes across the room, but the Original looked away before she could make sense of the expression. "You just can't feel it yet."

"Come on, baby," she leaned closer and whispered, "kick a little harder for Auntie Caroline." She sighed when nothing happened and the only thing she could feel was the soft thumping of the baby's heart. "Kol's got a point," she smoothed Elena's shirt down, "I can feel it; you're already showing."

"You might want to tell Jenna before she catches on," Jeremy reached for his water. "I swear she's starting to think you're depressed with all of the oversized shirts."

"You haven't told Jenna yet?" Caroline let go of Elena's stomach and crossed her arms. "Elena Gilbert!"

"I told Ric," she held out her hands.

"Ric walked in on you and Klaus while you were reviewing doctors," Jeremy pointed out, "and you made him swear not to tell Jenna."

"I don't know how she hasn't figured it out yet," Caroline shook her head.

"I've been hiding the full tampon boxes in the back of my closet," she chewed her bottom lip.

Caroline nodded. She remembered doing that when she had first turned so her mom wouldn't see the unused boxes and assume it was for another reason that would have resulted in Matt being shot, by the time she had started dating Tyler her mother had known.

"You've got to tell her, Elena."

"I know," she sighed, pushing her hands through her hair. "Hey, here's an idea," she held up a finger. "Why don't I wait a couple of years and then the baby can tell her?"

"The idea has merit," Kol chuckled, "but, unfortunately, you happen to live with your aunt and she's definitely going to notice. It might be a giveaway when you go into labour."

"I say spoil the surprise and tell her tonight," Jeremy stood from the table and picked up Elena's empty tray, "before Ric caves and tells her everything."

"Why are you hesitating?" Kol offered her a hand up from the table.

"I'm not," she slipped her hand into his. She didn't need the help by any means but over the last few months she had learned not to argue with Kol when it came to manners just as she had learned not to argue with Klaus when it came to her safety and that of the baby.

"You are," he followed her into the hall.

"It's not just the whole 'I'm-eighteen-and-pregnant' thing either," Caroline came up on her other side.

"No," Elena admitted, "it's the 'I'm-eighteen-and-my-Original-hybrid-mate-knocked-me-up-and-oh-by-the-way-witches-vampires-and-werewolves-are-real-and-my-baby-is-all-three' thing."

"That's a lot of information to take in." Kol nodded. "How has she gone this long without learning about the supernatural? You keep blood in your fridge."

"Compulsion, mostly," Elena tucked her hair behind her ears. "Compulsion, denial and half-truths."


Chapter Text

You can do this! She's not going to freak out!

Elena paced behind the sofa, worrying her bottom lip. Her hand flattened over her naval; she could feel the tiny bump where her belly button had started to protrude.

She's not going to freak out.

She was only eighteen and pregnant.

She's not going to freak out.

Her baby was only three supernatural species.

She's not going to freak out.

"You're gonna wear a hole in mom's favorite rug," Jeremy sighed. He glanced up from his homework.

"She's gonna freak!" She chewed on her thumb nail.

"If you ruin that rug, yeah," he rolled his eyes, "she'll come back just to haunt you."

"I'm not talking about mom, Jer," she shook her head. Her hair whipped around when she spun towards tires over gravel. She struggled to draw in a breath.

Her numb fingers curled around the hem of her stolen shirt. She wondered if she would have reacted in the same manner had she been in the same position ten years down the road.

The door opened and she finally stopped pacing. She gripped her shirt tighter to keep from shaking and turned to the kitchen entry, freezing when Jenna dropped a couple of takeout bags on the island.

"What's up with you?" She reached into the cupboard for plates before unpacking the Chinese containers. "You look like a deer in the headlights."

Elena's teeth sank into her bottom lip, but it still trembled. Her eyes darted to Jeremy when Jenna reached into the fridge. He gave her a look that said 'don't-you-dare-chicken-out-just-tell-her'.

"Did something happen at school?" Jenna carried a pitcher of iced tea to the table. A smile lifted the corner of her mouth. "Did you get caught smoking something under the bleachers?"

"Wouldn't the school have called about that?" Jeremy packed away his homework.

"Only if it was a teacher that caught you – someone other than Ric who'd give you a chance to come clean first," she laughed, turning back for the plates. "No…" she reached for the takeout, "… did you cut a class and get caught…"

"Jenna…" her voice came out as a whisper. Jeremy urged her on with a small wave of his hand. "Aunt Jenna."

"Yeah," she placed the last of the containers on the table and groaned. "I forgot the glasses…" she hurried around the counter, "… probably gonna need utensils too. I still haven't figured out chopsticks…" She started rifling through the drawer.

"Aunt Jenna," Elena inhaled sharply. The words stuck in her throat; she closed her eyes and forced the syllables out in an unintelligible rush.

Jenna froze, unsure if she had heard that right. Slowly her eyes came up to her niece's face. "Come again?"

Elena took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, keeping her eyes closed. Her hands released the hem of her shirt to cradle the swell of her stomach. "I'm pregnant."

Forks slipped from her loosened grip onto the floor, bouncing with a clatter. Her pulse slammed in her neck, but she bit down on her tongue when she saw Elena's wide eyes and Jeremy's expectant look.

"Okay…" She got the sense there was more to it.

Elena pressed her lips together and took in Jenna's pale features. She wondered at what point telling her guardian she was pregnant was the easiest thing she would have to do. It was the most believable of what she had to tell her.

She took a deep breath and met Jenna's eyes.

The Grille was nearly empty in the typical after dinner lull that always struck before people came out to socialize. It was nearly empty save for a stool at the bar where Alaric was grading papers with a glass of bourbon beside him. He glanced up when the glass was snatched and drained before being slammed back down.

"Rough night?" He cocked an eyebrow.

Jenna reached over the bar for a full bottle and stared at the glass for a second before pulling off the spout and tossing her head back. She drained a quarter of the liquor and grimaced, coughing against the burn.

"Elena's pregnant," she hopped on a stool and gripped the counter to keep from falling over.

"She finally told you then?"

Jenna paused with the bottle halfway to her lips. "You knew?" Her eyes narrowed.

He sighed and set down his pen. "I walked in on her going over doctors with him. She asked me not to say anything until she got a chance to tell you."

"So you've met him too?" Jenna shook her head and took a large gulp from her bottle. "Do you know what he is?" She smiled. There was a pleasant buzz starting in the back of her mind.

"Do you?" He countered. "How much did Elena tell you?"

Jenna closed her eyes and drank. Swallowing she tilted her head and met his eyes. "Everything," she exhaled in a rush.

"Ah, so you're drinking until you forget she died," he was reached for his pen when he saw her freeze from the corner of his eye. Something flashed in her unfocused eyes. "Jenna?"

"She died?" Her voice was a deadly whisper. It rose to a shriek when he didn't answer. "She died?!"

"I think she took that rather well."

Elena propped her chin on her crossed arms so she could stare up at him through her lashes. "She went dead quiet and then stormed out."

"Would you have preferred it if she screamed?" Caroline plopped her elbow on the table and set her chin in her hand.

"No," she sighed. She had called Caroline when Jenna didn't want to believe what she and Jeremy were telling her. A few vampire tricks later and Jenna believed it all.

"Look on the bright side," Caroline stood up, "at least you don't have to lie about your doctor's appointments anymore."

Her forehead rested against the cold window pane, but the glass was doing nothing for the fire running through her veins. It had been rising all day, growing stronger as she approached moonrise.

She folded her arms over her chest, hissing at the sudden contact of her forearm on her breasts. The soft fabric might as well have been sandpaper when it dragged over her stiff nipples.

It seemed that every month without fail she was insanely aroused, but it was only her lunchtime discussion with Kol that put her feelings into perspective.

Her eyes flicked up to the full moon. She knew there had to be more memories involving him and the full moon, but the only one she could come up with was the night of the sacrifice. Even through the horrific images from the evening she could feel the first strains of attraction; it had always been there from the second she had locked eyes with him: a connection.

A throb started between her legs and she found herself reaching for the phone like she did every full moon.

Kol had told her it was a choice. How soon after he came back to town had she made that choice?

As if on cue, like he could read her thoughts, the phone started ringing. She licked her lips and took a deep breath.

"Hello," she exhaled.

"Hello, love."

She could hear the smile in his voice along with an underlying hint of a growl; the sound sent a wave of desire down her spine.

"Hey," she chewed her bottom lip. From the corner of her eye she saw movement under the tree by her window. "You're not gonna start quoting Shakespeare are you?"

"Juliet is the moon compared to you."

She rolled her eyes and reached up to unlatch the window. She hung up the phone and leaned out a few inches so she could see him better. "What are you doing here?"

Again she felt the strangest mixture of emotions as her brain whispered one thing and her body craved another.

"I wanted to see you before I left," he tilted his head and met her eyes. Her skin seemed to glow in the moonlight.

"You're leaving?" She frowned.

"If I didn't know any better I'd say you were going to miss me," he smirked at the slight pout.

She might have blushed if the blood wasn't already flooding her cheeks. She pressed her lips together and tilted her head.

"Where are you going?" She braced her hand on the window sill and looked down when he came closer.

"I've gotten a lead on Finn's location, so I am going to find him."

"Doesn't the blood have to be given willingly for unlinking?" Her brows lowered.

"I've got that worked out love," he smirked, "don't worry; he'll hand over his blood willingly."

Her teeth sank into her bottom lip.

"How are you feeling? Kol mentioned our little acrobat was keeping you awake," his eyes flickered to her stomach.

Elena flattened her palm over her naval. "Kol's a bit of a chatterbox."

"He never did learn how to shut up," he chuckled. He watched her expectantly.

"I feel fine," she sighed. "Kol also mentioned that you weren't talking to Rebekah."

"She tried to kill you," his eyes hardened.

"She's hardly the first one," Elena shrugged. "How long are you going to be gone?" She lifted her hand to tuck her hair behind her ear and instantly lost her balance. The scream died in her throat when she fell, but her body didn't meet the ground.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and gasped. Her breath fanned over his cheek: "Thanks."

"Perhaps leaning out the window was not the best of ideas," he cleared his throat.

"Are you going to put me down?" She swallowed.

"In the mud?" He clicked his tongue. "You'll be frozen solid before you make it to the door."

He walked around the house and set her down on the front porch. "To answer your question: I will be gone for a few days. And because of the spell Daphne used to locate Finn, Kol will be out of town as well to retrieve blood from Elijah. He'll be back by Saturday."

She pressed her hand to her chest with a small gasp. "Am I finally losing my babysitter?"

"You'll still have Caroline," he smirked, shaking his head.

"I've always had Caroline," she rolled her eyes, and lowered her brows. "Are you holding your breath?"

"Yes," he met her gaze, "because between your blood and…" his eyes darkened and flickered down to her legs, "… you smell intoxicating."

The hunger in his eyes made her heart flutter and her body throb. Her abdomen clenched when he stepped closer and reached around her to push open the door.

She looked over her shoulder, breaking eye contact to peer into the darkened house. "I should…" she motioned with a vague gesture to the stairs.

"You should…" he murmured, watching her step over the threshold.

She paused inside and turned around to face him, bracing her arms on the door frame. She glanced down at his feet now pressed to the line that should have kept him out. "Be careful," she finally murmured.

"It's not as if Finn could hurt me without hurting himself," he spoke quietly.

"But he was in cahoots with your mother," she blinked, "and it's been a few months. She could have found another bloodline to channel, so please…"

"I'll be careful, love," he nodded, "just so long as you swear to be careful as well."

"Who's gonna hurt me?" She bit down her laugh.

"Give me a month and I'll get you a list," he inhaled, straightening his shoulders.

Kol's words echoed in her mind: "Nik's got no shortage of enemies, darling, and when word spreads about you – which it will – they will flock to Mystic Falls."

A small smile lifted the corners of her mouth "You've been alive for over a thousand years," she teased, "I think you'll need longer than

"Are you calling me old, sweetheart?" He cocked an eyebrow.

"No," she shook her head, "I'm calling you ancient."

He chuckled, shaking his head. "Goodnight Elena," he backed up, "I'll see you in a few days."

She chewed her bottom lip, watching the line of his shoulders as he took the first step. She knew from experience that he would take off at vampire speed when his feet hit the ground.

He descended slowly and she bit her cheek, gripping the doorknob.


He froze with his foot an inch above the ground. Her speed impressed him when he turned around and found her standing behind him on the porch.

Her hands cupped his face. She pressed her lips to his and groaned into his mouth when he grasped her hips and stepped up so they were flush against each other.

He took advantage of her open mouth to slip his tongue inside. Her arousal doubled, flooding his senses as he kissed her senseless in front of her house.

He rushed her backwards, pressing her against the side of the house.

She gasped, breaking the kiss so she could suck in air. It did nothing for her light head since he began trailing kisses down the side of her neck.

He could taste her arousal in the hollow of her throat.

His hands stole under his stolen shirt. He'd had every intention of exploring her flushed skin with his fingers, working her over until she moaned and begged, but he lost his train of thought when he felt her stomach and the fast 'ba-bump-ba-bump' of the baby's heart.

Elena closed her eyes, sighing as she felt him drag his mouth back up her neck with slow kisses until he made it to her lips. She traded languid kisses for a moment before her head caught up with her body.

He stopped when he felt her hands on his chest, pulled back and drew in a ragged breath. His forehead rested against hers; he listened as she regained her breathing and tried to calm her pounding heart before opening his eyes to meet her conflicted gaze. He knew what he would find before looking at her: confusion, fear, and arousal.

"I'm sorry," he exhaled slowly, "I shouldn't have…"

"I started that," she shook her head. "It's not your fault."

His thumbs stroked the swell of her belly. He could hear the slight tremor in her voice and changed the topic before she could break down. "Should I be able to feel something right now?"

She reached down and flattened his hands over the side of her stomach where she could feel the now familiar flipping of the baby. "She's twisting around right now."

"I don't feel anything yet," he frowned.

"Maybe by the time you get back," she tried a small smile.

"Maybe," he agreed. His brows rose when he looked at her, a small smile played at his mouth. "She?"

She shrugged one shoulder, not sure how to tell him about her dreams. "It's just a feeling I've got. It's probably stupid, and I'll look like a fool when it comes out and it's a boy."

"Never underestimate a mother's intuition," he chuckled. "I understand gender is something that can be learned in this century."

"At the next ultrasound," she nodded, chewing her lip, "assuming that she's in the right position."

"Am I invited to this ultrasound?" He cocked an eyebrow. So far she had attended appointments alone or with Caroline and he hadn't pushed her on it because of Damon's compulsion.

"Do you want to go?" Her brows lowered.

"I would like to be as involved as possible," he nodded, searching her eyes. "I would like to be as involves as you'll let me be."

She released her lip before it could swell and nodded. "It's Tuesday. Will you be back by then?"

"I'll make it my life's mission," he smirked. He tilted his head to press a kiss to her cheek; an outraged shriek straightened his spine.

"You died?"

He turned slightly to see her aunt bearing down on the pair of them, blind to his presence. Alaric came up behind Jenna and caught her under the arms when she swayed and nearly fell flat on her face.

"She's had a little bit to drink," Alaric helped her stand.

Jenna ignored him and pointed a shaking finger at Elena. Outrage flashed in her unfocused eyes as she continued to repeat the question along with promises of a grounding to come.

"This seems like a discussion to have while sober," Klaus placed a hand on the small of Elena's back. He regretted opening his mouth a second later when Jenna's eyes turned on him.

"Who are you?" She slurred, followed by a few expletives when her knees buckled.

He glanced at Elena, wondering how much she had revealed to her aunt. It had been enough to drive the woman to a bottle of bourbon.

"Well?" Jenna's eyes narrowed.

"Klaus Mikaelson," he offered her his most charming smile and held out his hand, lifting her fingers to press a kiss to her knuckles.

"You…" She yanked her hand back and glared. She tried to come up with the proper words to express her thoughts but they were too jumbled.

Klaus cleared his throat and looked between Elena and Alaric. "Is there any objection to a little instant sobriety?"

"How is that possible?" Alaric frowned.

"Blood?" Elena guessed. She mirrored Klaus' nod and followed him into the house, watching as he filled a glass with water and bit into his thumb.

Four drops of blood fell in the water, dissolving on contact. He passed the glass to Jenna.

She assumed her aunt hadn't noticed the blood because she didn't object, downing the liquid. Elena watched as Jenna's eyes cleared.

Klaus turned to Elena as Jenna recuperated, pulling her aside. "I should get going if I'm going to make my flight."

"Are you afraid of my aunt?" She cocked an eyebrow.

"I do have a flight," his smirk didn't quite reach his eyes, "but I'd be lying if I said I wanted to be present while you explain this."

"It's not like she could kill you," she smiled, drawing a laugh from him. "Goodnight Klaus."

"Goodnight Elena," he bent slightly, pressing his hand to her stomach. "Goodnight to you as well; try to let your mum get some sleep, alright?" His only response was 'ba-bump'.

With one last look he vanished, closing the door behind him.

Elena took a deep breath and turned back to Jenna and Alaric. Her eyes narrowed when she looked at her step-father. "You told her?"

"In my defense," he held out his hands, "she said you told her everything, so I assumed you had told her."

Chapter Text

Fourteen weeks. It had been fourteen long weeks.

She had a thousand years under her belt and endless time in front of her, but never before in her existence had life passed by so slowly. At first she believed he would relent and speak to her, but she had underestimated his dedication. She shouldn't have. She knew his temper. She had watched him turn on a dime during the centuries at his side and suspected the only reason he had chosen the non-violent route he did was because she was his sister; anyone else would have been violently disemboweled and strung out for the carrion.

He had kept his silence for fourteen weeks. Elijah had left him to his devices, but she seemed to be a sucker for punishment; she had stayed and tried at every turn to get him to talk to her again.

It was ironic, really, that after the events of the previous century the only sibling Klaus trusted was the one that had plotted to 'kill' him.

She had learned a few terms in the time since the ball that had changed everything: cold shoulder, radio silence; both were terms that could describe her current relationship with her brother.

She was used to getting what she wanted from him when she wanted it whether it was his attention or whatever trivial thing she had set her eyes on at the moment; the only thing he had ever denied her was her love because according to him nobody was good enough for her. She was the one who always gave him the 'cold shoulder', but the tables had been turned and she didn't like it.

He wouldn't talk to her. He wouldn't acknowledge her existence.

She was sick of it.

He wouldn't listen to her. He wouldn't listen to Elijah. If it had anything to do with her or Elijah he wouldn't listen to Kol.

The way she saw it she had only one way to get back in her brother's good graces and the only chance to take it was during the time he was out of town. She knew Kol wouldn't stop her unless she attempted to cause physical harm, the chances of which were slim since there would be a threshold between them.

She put the car in park and took a deep breath. Licking her lips she got out of the vehicle and made it three steps before taking in what she hadn't seen before. Elena's brother was sprawled on the swing, but the angle of his neck told her that he was not sleeping. The history teacher was a few feet away with his neck at a similar angle.

Rebekah wasn't too worried about them because she could see the glint of blue on their hands, but the disturbed shrubbery by the stairs was troubling. She gave up the pretense for the neighbours and flashed to the barren bushes. Her stomach dropped as she pulled aside the broken branches.

She swore, closed her eyes, listened and swore again.

"Would you mind explaining the circumstances that led to all of our blood being used?" Elijah glanced up. He flexed his wrist to keep the wound from closing before the small jar could fill.

"Finn vanished and got a witch to cloak him," Kol shrugged. "It took two witches and all of the gathered blood to locate him. He could have made this easier and answered his phone."

"Perhaps twenty-first century technology remains a mystery to him."

"Or, like Nik, he's ignoring all of us."

"Niklaus is not ignoring you," he cocked an eyebrow.

Kol closed the full jar as Elijah wiped his wrist with a pristine handkerchief. "Nik's not ignoring me because I happen to blend in at the high school. I'm fairly certain that, and the fact that Elena happens to like me, is the only reason he's 'forgotten' my 'betrayal' in 1913."

"How is Elena?" He re-buttoned his cuff, straightening the sleeve.

"She's got a gaping hole in her memory," he scoffed, "and her head is at war with her body whenever she's around Nik, so…"

"Not the greatest," Elijah shook his head.

"No," Kol sighed, tucking the blood in his pocket. He extracted his vibrating cell phone and read the caller ID.

"Are you going to answer?" Elijah nodded to the phone.

"Come on, pick up," Rebekah muttered. She held her phone between her shoulder and ear so she could drag the bodies over the non-existent threshold; she needed to get them inside before a neighbour looked over. She had very little time before the sun rose and she lost the cover of darkness that masked the recently 'deceased' as drunk.

"Come on, Kol," she blew a strand of hair out of her eyes.

She would have just picked them up, but there was a slim chance that people had seen them on the porch and locating those people would have been a pain in ass.

She deposited Jeremy in an armchair and rushed back to shut the door. A growl ripped from her throat as the dial tone continued.

"It's Rebekah calling again to try and get me to play mediator," he rolled his eyes. She had tried several times during the last few months despite knowing that Klaus wouldn't listen to anything he had to say if it involved her name.

"That's a new role for you."

"And if I take it seriously I'll be in the same position as you and Rebekah," he shook his head, "or I'll wind up back in a box."

"Not necessarily an issue at the moment."

"It will be soon." The call ended before he could answer, and before he could call back there was an incessant buzzing from Elijah's kitchen table.

She ended the call with an angry stab and scrolled through her contacts for a brother that would answer; at least she hoped he would answer.

He watched his older brother flip over the mobile and frown at the tiny screen.

"Perhaps it's about something else," Elijah murmured, raising the phone to his ear. "Good morning Rebekah."

"Elijah," Rebekah sighed, closing her eyes. She opened them and cast her gaze from the armchair to the loveseat and the couch. "We have a problem."

She flashed through the house, confirming again that it was empty and that her heart was the only one beating. She came to a stop in the undisturbed room she assumed belonged to Elena.

The sound of speeding hearts came from the living room.

"We've got a big problem."

Elijah hung up the phone and reached for his jacket. He ran out of the house to catch up with Kol and snatched the keys from his brother's hand.

"I'll drive," he opened the car door, "you call Niklaus. He won't pick up if it's me."

Kol nodded and slid into the passenger seat. He pressed the phone to his ear and gritted his teeth as a woman's tinny voice filled the vehicle.

The number you are calling has been switched off. Please try again later.

He swore and hung up.

"Was there nobody watching her?" Elijah accelerated upon reaching the highway.

"Nik left her in her kitchen," he tried again, getting the same message. "She was in her house. She should have been perfectly safe until morning when Caroline was going to drive her to school."

He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed thinking of a pregnant brunette when he heard the approaching footsteps. He didn't bother straightening up, choosing instead to adopt a relaxed stance and a cocky grin.

"Hello Finn." The exasperated look on his oldest brother's face sent him back a thousand years to his childhood.

"Haven't you got anything better to do than orchestrate an unwanted family reunion?" Finn focused on the task of unlocking the door.

"Personally I could go without family for a decade or two," Klaus tilted his head, "but I need your blood before I can let you disappear into the ether. I'd rather not have mother, or any other witch, make another attempt to kill us all."

"Personally," Finn's lip curled as he stepped into the rented apartment, "I'd welcome the attempt."

"Unlike you," Klaus shifted to stand in front of the door, "the rest of us are not suicidal." He moved to enter and found his way blocked by the threshold. "Clever," he nodded to the door.

"Makes closing the door on you so much easier," he sighed. "Go away Niklaus. "I'm certain you're pregnant mate is missing you."

"Thanks to your actions," his eyes narrowed, "she lacks the memory required to miss me, and can barely stand to be in my presence because of the war waged between her body and mind."

"If you've come to accuse me of taking her memory…"

"I know you didn't compel her Finn," he clenched the doorframe, "at least not to forget, but you killed the vampire that did, and all because he was the one to kill the witch and keep you from killing yourself."

"What do you want Niklaus?" Finn glared. He would have shut the door, but there was nothing keeping his brother from kicking it in.

"I've already told you," he smirked. "I want your blood and I won't be leaving without it."

"Then you'll be standing out there for the rest of eternity because I have no interest in helping you." Finn's jaw ticked. "You left me in a box for nine hundred long years while the rest of you went free, terrorizing anyone in your paths."

"So angry," Klaus shook his head, "it's not as though you felt the years or anything at all, until waking up; they've said its equivalent to a dreamless sleep."

He saw something flash in his brother's eyes, and nearly recoiled when he spat the words at him.

"There is a difference between being daggered for decades and being daggered for years. Eventually I started to feel again; trapped in my own body, unable to breathe or move or do anything but hear the occasional snippet of conversation." Finn's brows lowered. He felt the door splintering beneath his hand. "Every time I close my eyes I go back there, so you'll have to forgive me for not wanting to aid you or any of the family that abandoned me to the prison you left me in."

He inhaled slowly and forced his fingers to uncoil from the door before he did enough damage that it wouldn't close. Slivers of wood floated to the ground.

"What are the odds you'd accept an apology?" Klaus cleared his throat when Finn glared at him. "Right, a trade then?"

He reached into his jacket pocket, unfolding the photo paper before flipping it around. He knew precisely what Finn saw when he looked at the image with widening eyes: a tall woman with flaming red hair and piercing blue eyes.

"Very much alive," he flipped the picture around and refolded the paper. "I have her address, as of three days ago, and I'll hand it over on one condition." Klaus pulled a small knife and a glass vial from his other pocket.

Ten minutes later he was tucking a full vial away as he moved back towards the rental car. His phone buzzed before he could start the vehicle and race back to the airport. He pulled it out to check the calls he had missed during the flight and felt his heart stutter.

Caroline frowned when she reached the driveway. Kol's car sat along the curb along with a red convertible she had seen around school. Stepping out of her blue Ford she heard the unmistakable sound of Kol, his sister and his brother all speaking over each other.

She found them in the living room.

"What's going on?" Her eyes flickered from Kol to his siblings before finding the unconscious human's in the room. The blood drained from her face when she saw the still body on the couch.

"I suppose it was too much to hope Elena was with you," Kol sighed.

"She's not here?" Caroline drew in a quick breath. "What happened?"

Jeremy chose that moment to wake up. His frantic eyes searched the living room before focusing on the vampires in his house; one of which he was certain had never been issued an invitation. In his peripheral vision he saw Alaric come awake.

"I think we're about to find out," Elijah cocked an eyebrow. Over his shoulder he heard a heart stutter before threatening to break free from its owner's chest cavity.

There was a dull ache in her head, knocking behind her eyes, pounding in her ears. She could sense that she was lying on her right side and attempted to roll over, certain that the pressure would ease if she could move onto her back, but her arms refused to go with the rest of her body.

She tugged experimentally without opening her eyes. Something thin dug into her wrists. She pulled again, half convinced she was dreaming; trapped in a nightmare that was about to turn deadly. She was only half convinced though because nothing actually hurt in a nightmare and her headache was quickly being joined by a burning sensation in her wrists.

She pushed away the welcoming darkness and its promise of slumber to force open her eyes. It took a moment to blink away the last of the sleep before she was able focus and take in the thin white lines encircling her wrists, holding her arms above her head.

She stopped tugging on her arms and used her elbows to push up as much as she could and swung her legs around so she could sit on the side of the bed.

Her heart thundered in her chest as she took in the unfamiliar room. It was sparsely furnished in dark wood with heavy curtains hanging above the window to block out the world. She had no way of knowing if it was day or night; her only hint to the outside was the steady tap-tap-tap of rain against glass.

She swallowed the thick lump in her throat and turned her attention back to the bed on which she sat. The question of how she had gotten there could wait a moment. There was a far more pressing issue at hand: the zip tie binding her hands had been threaded through the cast iron headboard. Three rungs over and she could have used the ornate fleur-de-lis to break her bonds, but whoever had deposited her in the bedroom had thought her imprisonment through.

She took a deep breath. She could get out of this. She had practiced in the past.

She distinctly remembered going over the many ways to free herself if someone ever tied her up; an event that was likely to happen given her supernatural status.

Zip ties had been lesson number one. She bent her head and twisted her fingers around to feel through her hair, quickly locating the bobby pin she had used to hold her hair from her face. She gripped it, full of determination and shifted to take the metal between her teeth, but before she could bite down she heard the door knob turning.

The pin fell into her open palm. She clenched her fists to hide her means of escape and turned to glare at the door. Part of her was hoping for a rescue, but the other part thought it was unlikely to come so soon – assuming she had been gone long enough for rescue to be considered soon.

She felt the first strains of relief when she saw the neat lines of the blue suit, but her heart dropped before she could release a sigh because the man entering the room was not Elijah. She wasn't sure she trusted Elijah after the events following the ritual, but she knew if he had learned she was abducted he wouldn't have hurt her; at least, she doubted he would have hurt her. The man that actually entered was a mystery.

"Who are you?" She clenched her jaw. There was something savage in the man's eyes. He stood balanced on a precarious fence and she didn't know which way he would sway when the wind hit.

"Have you such a short memory lass?" He strode towards her, power in each step. "Or is it merely the compulsion wearin' off?"

Her eyes narrowed as she followed his nod to her necklace, placed with care on the nightstand. She chewed her cheek as the memory slowly crept back in.

"I do apologize for that," he picked up her locket, "but I couldn't run the risk of you attemptin' to run off before I got what I needed from you."

"Let me guess," she breathed through her mouth, "you want some blood?" She banished the sudden image of Jeremy and Alaric, dead on the porch. They would be fine. She knew they would be fine because the man in front of her, the man she now remembered as breaking their necks, wore a lapis lazuli ring.

She tried to remember what had happened to Jenna, but couldn't recall anything after rushing onto the porch so she could push her aunt back inside.

"What I want, Miss Gilbert, is revenge," he turned over the locket in his large hands, "but I am not a heartless monster."

She shuddered when he looked at her; if she had been able to she would have covered her stomach in a foolish attempt to protect the baby because she already knew who he must want vengeance against.

He lifted her chin and she felt her skin chill. His breath fanned over her face; the hint of his accent clicked when he met her eyes.

"There is every chance you are no more than a victim yourself, and until I can prove otherwise you will remain my guest."

"Is it customary to tie up your guests in Scotland?" She pulled on her wrists.

"That would make me a terrible host," he smirked.

She refused to look away when he stared her down. Her eyes widened a fraction of an inch when he snapped the tie holding her wrists together.

"Try anything," he pocketed the white plastic, "and you'll be right back here."

She blinked at his hand when he held it out.

"The hair pin lass," he sighed.


Chapter Text

Rebekah cocked her head, keeping an ear on the conversation happening inside the house. The majority of her attention was focused on the ground, but she could see their silhouettes through the fluttering curtains.

"I don't know what happened," Jeremy rubbed the back of his neck. He could feel the phantom hands that had grabbed him on the porch, grasping and twisting his neck sharply to the side. "I came home late and was ambushed before I got to the door."

"I got a look at him," Alaric worked the kinks from his neck, "but I didn't get much more before he killed me."

Rebekah shifted her weight onto the balls of her feet and dropped into a crouch. The ends of her fingers traced the trampled grass and small bits of overturned earth; the trail led towards the driveway. She followed it and knelt again, this time beside Kol's car. In the dark, before she had known to look for the signs, she hadn't seen them.

She flipped over a rock that had been displaced by at least two vehicles that had driven over it. There was a small bead of blood staining the stone; the smell all but gone.

Elena got to her feet, blinking when her heel came down on a gritty substance. Lifting her leg she saw the hardwood floor was spotless, so she bent her knee and stared at the crusted blood on the bottom of her foot.

A small shriek tore from her throat as the pain sliced through her sole. She gritted her teeth when her chin was tipped up and her necklace torn from her throat.

She released a shaky breath and turned her attention from the door her host had exited to the other two. The first opened to an empty closet, but the second revealed an en-suite.

She stepped onto the marble tile and quickly located the linen closet. Selecting a white wash cloth she moved to the sink and flipped on the faucet. She soaked the cloth in warm water and wrung out the excess before bracing her hip on the counter and lifting her leg to wash away the caked on blood.

The baby turned a lazy circle so out of character that Elena felt her heard stutter. Her wet heel slid over the tile as she rinsed the blood down the drain before casting her eyes to her stomach.

She was still wearing Klaus' stolen Henley and her leggings, but there was something different about the material. Her eyes quickly zeroed in on the dark stain just above her naval.

She gripped the shirt's hem with shaking fingers, willed her heart to slow down. It wouldn't do her any good to panic until she knew for sure that there was something to freak out over; so what if the baby was moving slower than normal? She might have been tired.

Her lips formed a thin line as she forced herself to breathe and drag the shirt up.

His pulse slammed in his neck, pounding wildly through his body it carried his indignation to every cell making him quiver. There would be hell to pay when he found whoever had taken her; heads would roll, blood would soak the earth, and if she was hurt – or worse – her captor would suffer endlessly.

His fingers drummed against the arm rest. The plane – racing at 575 mph – was going to slow, but it was still faster than driving or running.

She braced her hands on the kitchen counter, squinted against the too bright light. Her head was killing her, and every muscle ached as if she had run a marathon without training. She was in serious need of a spa day, but she would settle for something cold to take the pain from her gums.

"He had an accent," she murmured, swallowing, "it was faint…" she squinted, trying to summon up the hazy memory. "He had me. Elena was inside, but she came out… pushed me back in…"

"Please go on," Elijah tilted his head. He watched her tongue run along her gums.

"I… I got back up and ran outside. She was struggling and he said something to her," she bit her bottom lip, "and she just stopped. I tried to stop him and he…" her fingers traced her throat. She could still hear the loud snap. "I should be dead."

"Technically you are, darling," Kol sighed. His eyes cut to Caroline.

"It wasn't me," she held out her hands.

Jenna latched onto his words, fixing him with horror filled eyes. "I'm dead?"

They say there are five stages of grief, and they all watched as she cycled through the first four before collapsing on a bar stool.

Elijah was the first to approach her, slowly with one hand in front of him in a gesture of peace. He stopped a few steps away and ducked his head to meet her eyes.

"I understand that everyone processes their transition at a different pace, but I'm afraid I must interrupt. That man you saw, the one you fought, has Elena," he saw her eyes flash. "I'm not sure how much she told you, but the father of her child…"

"Is a colossal dick," Jeremy finished.

"I was going to say he has a lot of enemies," Elijah held back his sigh.

"I like Jeremy's definition," Kol smirked.

"I told you all I know," Jenna shook her head. "What else can I do?"

"You can let one of us," Elijah motioned towards his little brother and sister, "into your head so we can see who it is."

Rebekah leaned on the counter, braced by her elbow. She could read the confusion in Jenna's face.

"It's a neat little trick of vampires," she explained. "Speaking of… if you want to live then you're going to need to drink human blood."

Caroline moved to the fridge and returned with a bag of blood.

"That can wait a moment," Elijah murmured. He held up his hands and nodded to Jenna. "May I?"

She eyed his hands nervously and swallowed. The thought of someone in her head had never before crossed her mind and she wasn't entirely sure how she felt about the reality of it, but she didn't have time to dwell on the full extent of her situation.

"What do I do?" Her teeth sank into her bottom lip.

"Just think about last night, and I'll see it," he nodded, "with any luck I'll recognize him."

He should have killed her the second he laid eyes on her. She was the doppelganger. He knew it. He had met Katerina Petrova during the seventeenth century and heard rumors of another in Mystic Falls when Klaus broke his curse. He knew the girl was vital to any future plans the hybrid had and even if the tales of the child in her womb were unfounded she was possibly the most important woman in Klaus' life aside from his sister.

He should have killed her, but he couldn't.

There was something about her that had stayed his hand. Something that reminded him of the man he had once been before an Original had made him a monster.

She had fought him. She had struggled against him, knowing he had come for her, in order to protect the people she cared about. She had fought him to protect her baby and the last person in the world that she loved.

She reminded him of his wife. Bridget had fought him to save their child, but in the end she had not held the strength or power of the goddess with whom she shared a name. Elena possessed the same sort of fire.

He should have killed her, but he wouldn't – not yet.

He hadn't been able to stop from harming Bridget, his child, or anyone on his estate, but he could stay his hand where Elena was concerned; nobody had compelled him.

He was pulled from his thoughts when the bedroom door banged open, and turned to look at her. The fire in her eyes was back.

"What did you do to me?" Elena held her stomach protectively and stopped a few steps away – just out of arms reach.

"Tested a theory," he tipped his head to the left. "Should it prove to be fruitless you are free to go."

Elena's eyes narrow for a second before she steels her nerves and tiptoes around the counter. The first thing she sees is an empty syringe with a drop of blood clinging to the tip of the needle. The second thing she sees is an overturned foot.

Her breath comes in quick pants as she moves closer, eyes following the length of a denim clad leg. She takes the images in slowly: plaid shirt, unruly curls, and a neck bent at an awkward angle.

"You… you…" she swallowed. Every instinct told her to spin back around and keep the vampire in her sight at all times, but her legs refused to move.

"I told you I wished to prove your child's paternity," he poured a glass of scotch and took a sip. "If it is indeed Niklaus Mikaelson's child then he shall awaken soon enough as a hybrid in transition."

"You killed him!" She managed to find her voice.

"I wish I could set your mind at ease and tell you he volunteered for this, but alas I cannot," he swirled the amber liquid in the glass.

"You murdered him!" Elena inhaled sharply.

"You should be grateful for my actions," he moved closer until he was in her personal space and looked over her shoulder to the dead werewolf. "If you are correct in your accusation and this young man remains dead then he will be free from the curse that plagues his pack and you will be free to go."

She could feel her internal organs shaking, but outwardly she was calm. The only sign of her fear was the slight tremor in her voice.

"If he wakes up?"

Something dark passed behind his eyes and she tried to look away, but he caught her chin in a grip that wasn't quite hard enough to bruise.

"I'll make your death swift."

Her heart hammered. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was lying. In that moment she wasn't sure what she wanted more: for the werewolf to wake up and have a chance to live, or for him to stay dead.

"It'll be a few hours at least and I've a meeting to attend," his fingers tightened under her chin. He put down his glass, reached under her hair and unhooked the necklace in one smooth movement that was too quick for her to see until the silver sizzled in his palm.

"No," she gasped, reaching for the chain. She didn't have quick enough reflexes to reclaim it though. "No, please…"

"Relax, love," his pupils dilated. "You will not go out of this apartment."

"Not gonna compel me to not jump out the window?" She reclaimed her chin. Her feet scrambled back so fast that she tripped over the coffee table and fell into an armchair.

"There's no need for that," he shook his head, "we're seven stories up."

She sat in the armchair hours later with her arms curled protectively around her stomach, her legs folded under her body, and her eyes trained on the body on the floor.

She had never doubted Klaus when he told her the baby was his in spite of her mind screaming that he was a monster and she shouldn't believe a word out of his mouth. She had never doubted him. She hadn't been able to bring herself to do so and deny he was the father to her captor because she didn't believe it wasn't true.

She lifted her hand to her mouth and chewed on her nail. She had already checked the entire apartment. She had figured it would be too much to hope for a phone, but she had thought she might find something that would give her a clue as to where she was. There was nothing, and the apartment was too high up for her to read any of the street signs below.

She had also checked for a fire escape, but had come up empty handed there as well. There was a fire escape, but the only way to reach it was to climb out the kitchen window unto a precarious ledge that she was likely to tumble off of before she could reach the rickety ladder.

She had one chance at escape and he was lying on the living room floor.

She chewed at her nail until it was bitten down to the quick and moved on to another. She was chewing on her thumb nail when it happened.

He jerked up with a gasp and sucked in greedy breaths while pushing his chin length curls from his face.

Elena didn't know what to make of the way he stared at his hands and then the sun. She uncurled her legs and carefully placed her feet on the floor feeling the antique carpet between her toes.

"Hello," she exhaled, "I'm Elena."

He twisted around on his hip and stared up at her, rubbing a hand over his dark beard. Everything in the room was too bright and there was a throbbing in his head, under his gums.

The clouds rolled across the sky making the sun shine on his face. He could easily remember the last time the sun had shone on his features nearly a decade before.

"Where am I?" He asked, squinting.

"I was really hoping you could tell me that," she swallowed, meeting his dark eyes.

His gaze landed on the syringe still sitting on the coffee table and his fingers dropped from his cheek to his neck. He could feel the rush of the blood that had been forced into his body and the hands that had wrenched his head to the side.

"I'm sorry…" Elena trailed off, biting her lip.

"Jackson," he whispered.

"I'm sorry Jackson," she moved her hands to her knees, "but you're in transition."

"Because it's not bad enough for the vampires to persecute us," he scoffed, "now they're gonna turn us too."

Elena shook her head and tucked her hair behind her ears.

"I'm not sure what you're talking about, but transitioning into a vampire," she smoothed her shirt – Klaus' shirt – over her baby bump. "A vampire didn't turn you…" she chewed her lip, glancing down, "… my baby did, and now, because you woke up, the vampire that killed you is gonna kill me."

"Your baby…" his eyes fell to her stomach.

Elena nodded and reached for the knife she had pilfered from one of the kitchen drawers. She pressed the tip to her thumb until a bead of blood broke the skin and then twisted her hand to let the blood drip into a glass of water.

"The only way you live is if you drink my blood," she sighed, pressing a tissue to the wound. "It's your choice, but I hope you do because I need your help."

He reached for the glass without a word and stared at the clear liquid. He had felt the ache in his gums when he saw the blood on her skin; his body craved it.

"What am I turning into Elena?" He resisted the urge to down the liquid and met her eyes. "How did your baby do this?"

"You're transitioning into a hybrid," Elena took a deep breath and slid from the chair to kneel with him on the floor, "like the baby's dad."

She took a second deep breath and told him everything.

He angrily punched the answer call button as he sped through the sleepy streets of Mystic Falls. The voice that filled the car made him want to hang up immediately.

"Don't disconnect the call, Niklaus."

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't," Klaus took a turn a little too fast. The car rose on two wheels before righting itself.

"Because I have his name," Elijah sighed.

"Who?" Klaus slowed down as he passed the school and got caught in the lunch hour traffic. In that moment he wasn't overly opposed to running over the students blocking his path, but he knew Elena wouldn't like that and he didn't have time to get waste on needless accidents.

"Alastair Duquesne."

He swore loudly and punched at the steering wheel hard enough to dent the circle.

"Save your outbursts for Alastair, brother," Elijah soothed. Klaus could practically hear him rolling his eyes. "She's been abducted, and as soon as you're here Miss Bennett will perform a locator spell."

"Why hasn't she done that already?" Klaus snapped.

"She has tried, but he must have gotten a witch to cloak Elena. Kol is hoping he has not cloaked the baby as well, so calm your temper until you have an appropriate outlet for it."

"He's going to kill her!"

"How can you be so sure? Who is he?"

Klaus took a deep breath and exhaled in an attempt to remain calm, but he couldn't. He couldn't calm down. He couldn't relax. The only reason he hadn't slaughtered the entire town in a fit of rage was the belief that she was still alive. Alastair would kill her – of that he was certain – but he would not accept her death until he was provided proof of it.

"Do you recall my anger when Katerina ran?"

"How could I forget? You drew Mikael straight to us and we were forced to flee once more."

Klaus turned onto Elena's street. "I thought we needed a little distraction."

"Niklaus, what did you do?"

He could hear the exasperation in his brother's voice. After a thousand years he was more than familiar with the sound of expectant disappointment.

"I distracted Mikael," he gritted his teeth, "and now my distraction has returned to haunt me."

Kol's voice joined Elijah's over the phone.


"I turned him," he admitted. "I then compelled him to slaughter his entire estate."

He hung up the phone and stepped out of the car in time to see his siblings exiting the house to stand on the porch. His eyes flickered to Bonnie Bennett and the daylight ring she was spelling in a patch of sun.

"Taking Elena seems a little more personal than that," Rebekah crossed her arms. Surprise flickered across her features when her brother actually acknowledged her statement.

"I may have included his wife and child in my compulsion."

Rebekah's mouth popped open. She snapped it closed a second later, biting back her question about what Elena Gilbert had ever seen in him; he was talking to her again and she was not going to risk pushing him away.

"Why are you making a daylight ring?" Klaus turned his full attention to Bonnie. "There is a locator spell to perform."

"It's for Jenna," Caroline poked her head out of the front door.

Chapter Text

She worried her bottom lip and leaned over far enough so she could look out the window. Everybody always said to never look down, so naturally it was the first thing she did; the ground seemed to pulse with energy, beckoning her fall.

"I don't think I can do this," she cradled her stomach. "I've recently discovered a fear of heights."

"Elena," he raised his voice to be heard over the rushing wind, "Elena," he repeated.

She gripped the window sill and forced herself to turn her head to the left. Miles stretched between her window and the fire escape.

"I c… I can't," her fingers slipped on the window sill.

"You can do this," he reached for her. "Take my hand and climb out." He could hear her heart racing, ready to explode.

"I'll fall," she clung to the window. "Caroline never put me on top of the pyramid because my balance is terrible." Her eyes dropped, dragging a whimper from her throat. "I can't do it."

"You can't stay," he leaned over, managing to brush her fingers with his hand. "That vampire will kill you."

He could see she was ready to back into the apartment and maybe find something made of wood to take her chances with the centuries old vampire. He couldn't let her do that. She had asked him to help her, to save her and her baby, and he would be damned if he didn't do it.

"Elena, look at me," he growled. His tone caught her off guard and she jumped. "Don't look at the ground. Look at me."

Her eyes snapped towards him.

"Good," he exhaled, licking his lips, "keep looking at me, and do everything I say, alright?"

She managed a jerking nod.

"Swing your legs out the window."

Elena adjusted her body on the kitchen counter, wiggling her hips until she slipper her legs out. Her feet dangled over open air and her stomach muscles tightened until she felt certain she had swallowed a rock – a very heavy rock that was only going to make her fall that much faster.

"Keep going," he urged. "Hold onto the window and scoot carefully to the left."

She couldn't see him anymore, and in the absence of his eyes she saw herself plummeting to her sudden death. Alastair wouldn't have to kill her because she would have done it herself.

"I can't see you."

The ledge dug into the back of her thighs.

"Who designs a fire escape this far from a point of access?" She muttered.

"Pretty sure this buildings been renovated," his hand squeezed her knee, "now come on, scoot."

She took a gasping breath, closed her eyes and did as she was told. Her behind inched to the left. Millimetre by millimetre she made her way until she was practically laying on her side.

"Bring your head out now," he gripped her knee. He figured he was leaving small bruises on her leg but he held tight, scared if he let go she would lose whatever nerve she had found and wind up rolling sideways over the edge.

She tucked her chin to her chest and opened her eyes, carefully maneuvering out until only the tips of her fingers were inside.

"Give me your left hand, and straighten up." He gripped her slick palm. "Don't look down," he snapped when he saw her head start to tilt.

"You're very bossy," she swallowed. Her head turned to face him.

"Alpha's are used to getting their way," he smirked, squeezing her hand, "now come on."

Her fingers left the safety of the window and curled around the ledge. The miles of space had retreated now that she was holding his hand. She moved slowly, inching her way until the metal rail pressed against her thigh.

"I'm gonna let go of your hand now," he shifted.

A strong arm curled under her knees, a second slipped behind her back. She wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed her eyes shut. For a moment she hung, suspended in the air, but then cold grating hit her feet. Her toes curled against the sensation.

"I made it?" She cracked one eye open.

"You made it," he held her hips until she regained her balance. "We're not done yet."

Elena looked down at her bare feet and the six stories of fire escape between her and potential safety.

"I think I can handle a rickety set of stairs."

"Do you want me to go first, or would you rather have me behind you?" He glanced at the window.

She followed his gaze and shuddered.

"Behind, please," she gripped the metal railing.

"You got it," he nodded.

She took a deep breath and started down the steep steps, careful not to lean too one side or the other.

"Jackson?" She murmured after making the mistake of looking over the edge.


"Can you distract me, please? Talk to me."

He caught a glimpse of her ashen face.

"What would you like to talk about?" He watched her careful steps.

"I don't know," she swallowed. Her heart thundered in her ears. "Anything, really… tell me about the city."

A short laugh burst from his throat. "That's a pretty tall order, darlin'."

She glanced over her shoulder. A tiny furrow appeared between her eyebrows. There was something in his eyes that tugged at her.

"The werewolves were driven out of this town decades ago," he explained.

"So," she frowned, "where do you live?"

"In the bayou with my pack," he waved around her body. "Watch your step."

"I didn't realize a lot people lived out there," she turned her attention back to the stairs.

"They do," he chuckled, "but we're not exactly people – at least not often. The wolves were expelled from the city and cursed so most of the time we live as wolves." He turned his head up for a moment, basking in the final moments of day. "This is the first time I've felt the sun on my skin in years."

Elena came to a stop on the last landing and stared at the ladder. She pushed, trying to lower it to the ground.

"I can get it," he motioned her aside.

She moved to give him room, and would have laughed when he dislodged the ladder in one push that caused the metal to clang against the pavement if it hadn't left a twelve foot drop between her and the ground.

"Did I mention you'd be stronger than before?" She bit her bottom lip.

"Forgot that," he rubbed the back of his neck. "Don't suppose you're open to a free fall?"

He chuckled when she shook her head and glanced at the edge of the fire escape before kicking the safety rail.

She cringed at the second clatter and squealed when he picked her up again.

"You might want to close your eyes."

"Your pacing is not helping me concentrate," Bonnie gritted her teeth. She could feel every heavy step he took around the kitchen table.

"Perhaps you lack the proper power to perform a locator spell," he snapped.

"You wanna do the magic instead," she clenched her fists. A powerful urge swept over her commanding her to give the hybrid a killer aneurysm; it would have had the added benefit of shutting him up for a short time. "I don't see any other witches lining up to help you."

She's her friend, his jaw ticked, she's her friend. He repeated the mantra until the desire to maim receded. He stepped back from the table and crossed his arms, leaning against the kitchen island, but the tension still rolled off of him.

Bonnie's shoulders stiffened.

"Perhaps you should step out of the room," Elijah lifted his eyes from the map.

"I've stepped back," Klaus growled, "don't push it."

Bonnie closed her eyes and concentrated, murmuring the spell under her breath until an ache started in her head.

"Nothing," she wanted to tear out her hair when she looked at the spell.

"Perhaps something a little stronger, darling," Kol suggested. He grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and a knife, holding it out to Klaus.

"You've got something in mind?"

"You put enough power behind this and you should be able to break through any cloaking spells." His hand flew across a blank sheet of paper as the bowl slowly filled with blood.

"How do you know all this?" Bonnie relit the candles, positioning the bowl of blood at the top of the map.

"He was a witch," Rebekah leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. "That's good for us right now."

Bonnie studied the words for a moment before saying them aloud. Kol made a few corrections to her pronunciation and then Bonnie held out her hands.

"Cerco il se ra ci," she repeated the words again and again. A trickle of blood dripped from her nose, but she didn't stop because the spell has started to work. A long line of red was crossing the country.

It was still inching it's way when her concentration was broken by a ringing phone.

Jeremy scrambled for it when he felt Bonnie's glare. He fumbled with the buttons until he managed to press the green button.

"Hello?" He rolled his eyes when everyone shifted to glare at him and gave them a look that they all read clear as day. What was he supposed to do: let the ringing continue until Bonnie couldn't concentrate at all?


"Elena?" He nearly dropped the phone. "Where the hell are you?"

The phone was ripped from his hand before he could get the full question out.

"Are you alright?" Klaus held his breath, not quite ready to feel relief. Relief could wait until she was back in his arms, cringing at his very presence, because then he would know she was safe and unharmed.

"I think so."

"Has he hurt you?"

"I feel okay, but…"

"But?" He heard her shift around as if looking over her shoulder. His heart raced, ready to burst from his chest.

"But… let's just say if I doubted you before I definitely believe you now."

"We should move on, darlin'," a second voice came through the receiver, muffled. "You need to get somewhere safe."

"Elena, love," he forced his voice to remain calm, "where are you?"

"New Orleans…" Metal clanged in the background along with several voices. He thought he heard the word mutt being bandied about but he couldn't be sure.

"I gotta go."

The call disconnected.

"The plane will be ready to go in an hour," Elijah tucked his cell phone into his pocket. "Miss Bennett, would you be kind enough to unlink my siblings and I? We shall have a much better chance of rescuing Elena without it in place."

Elena slammed the phone in the receiver and stepped out of the booth. Jackson moved to block her from view, but not before a couple of the vampires spotted her baby bump.

"Wolves in the Quarter," a tall man with curly brown hair sneered. "Don't you know to stick to your own kind? No wolves in the city."

"Didn't get the message," Elena pushed her hair behind her ear. A layer of grease had settled making her cringe.

"She's not a werewolf," Jackson's eyes narrowed.

"Just traveling with one," another vampire sneered. "You two made a mistake coming here. Marcel's gonna want your heads."

Her blood boiled.

"Do you think I made the choice?" Elena snapped. She shoved around Jackson and stormed towards the vampire, ignoring the prick of stone underfoot. "I can't remember the last time I made a choice. I didn't choose to come here," she spat the words. There was a swooping sensation in her abdomen and the vampires took an involuntary step back; she saw sweat bead on their brows.

"In the last twenty-four hours I've been compelled and kidnapped. I've been tied up and left alone with a body that may or may not have woken back up. I've had to climb out a window, scoot over a narrow ledge and make my way down a rickety fire escape, all because a deranged vampire wants to use me to avenge a centuries' old crime."

Her voice had steadily risen until the final words were shrieked between wild hand gestures. The final syllable was screamed, drawing the eyes of several passersby as the three vampires flew through the air.

She stared at their crumpled bodies with her mouth hanging open before spinning around, searching the crowd for the witch that had clearly come to her aid.

"Who did that?" She whispered to Jackson.

"You did," he frowned, taking a cautious step towards her.

"I… I'm not a witch," she whispered.

"Is the baby?"

Before she could answer a young man rushed out of the crowd and took Elena's arm. His blue eyes flickered to the incapacitated vampires before settling on Elena and Jackson.

"That was foolish," he began pushing Elena down the street. His eyes fell to the brunette's feet. "Where are your shoes?"

"Didn't you hear her screaming?" Jackson hurried after them. "She was kidnapped."

"My shoes are in my house in Virginia," Elena pulled her arm free when they were halfway down a narrow alley. "Who the hell are you?"

"Kaleb; I'm the witch getting you two far away from vampires," he crossed his arms. "It's only a matter of time before more come for you. You just painted a target on your back. Witches can't practice magic in the Quarter."

"I'm not a witch," Elena dug her heels in and refused to move another step.

"Then who used magic to help you?" Kaleb scoffed. "Everyone saw you do it, so even if Marcel didn't have a way to know who the person was practicing magic there are nearly a hundred witnesses to point their fingers at you. And you," his eyes flickered to Jackson, "you should know better than to set foot in the city."

"I'm in the same boat as her," he held out his hands. "And I promised to get her to safety."

"The only safe place for her now is the cemetery," Kaleb gritted his teeth. He could almost feel the vampires approaching. He glanced at Jackson again. "Vampires need an invitation to get in."

"It's not the only safe place," he looked over his shoulder. "You're suggesting a place they can't go, but I know one they won't."

Elena's head turned from one to the other as they had a silent conversation. Kaleb finally broke the silence when a group of teenagers laughed on the street.

"You can't be serious?" He shook her head. "You wanna take a pregnant woman out there?"

"She'll be safe," he lifted his chin. "I can keep her hidden until her friends get here."

"Would it be possible to see a doctor first?" She pressed her hand to her stomach. "The vampire that kidnapped me stuck a very big needle in me."

Kaleb fished a set of keys from his pocket and motioned them to the end of the alley.

Elena could see a car parked just out of reach.

"Come on," he walked backwards, "there's a doctor out there."


Chapter Text

Midnight came and went bringing new life to the Crescent City long after the residents of Mystic Falls had turned to the safety of their beds.

The rational part of Caroline, the part that clung to her ever receding mortality, the part that shrunk a little more every day, reminded her she was small and taunted her with her own vulnerability. A much larger part wanted to bask in the numerous possibilities such a city presented; she could get lost in the endless supply of art and culture and anonymity.

She could blossom and flourish, never having to worry about blood because of the constant influx of tourists.

She vowed to take a closer look at Tulane, but it would have to wait.

"What makes you so sure she's in the French Quarter?" Caroline's mind worked overtime, calculating the city's size, population and their odds of locating Elena in the urban sprawl without the invocation of supernatural aid.

"The background noise," Klaus said in clipped syllables. He closed his eyes and breathed in the essence of New Orleans. Time had flowed and he had changed but his city remained the same.

"You're starting the search based on 'background noise'?" She snorted, unable to hide her derision. "And the trail is hours cold. You do realize our probability of success right?"

He clenched his fists and she looked down to the white knuckles.

"In ideal conditions the chances are less than three percent," she circled around to stand in front of him, unhampered by the flash of gold in his eyes. "But then you need to factor in the tourists and the length of time, and lets not forget the maniac that by your own admission wants to tear her apart. Put all of that together and we're down to a little below one percent."

He gritted his teeth, tensing lest he give in to a baser instinct and lunge.

Elijah watched carefully in the event the baby vampire required protection; he had watched Klaus destroy stronger than her for more trivial things.

"Is your goal to vex me Caroline?" He growled low.

Bonnie's fingers twitched.

"My 'goal'," she crooked her fingers in midair, "is to have you pull your head out of your ass."

Rebekah balked, unsure if she should laugh, intervene or roll her eyes; the last person to talk like that lost their head.

"If the locator spell doesn't work then we're all going to have to work together, and working together is hard to do when you won't speak to your siblings."

"Do I look like the forgiving sort?" His eyes narrowed.

"Who said anything about forgiveness?" She snapped. Fury laced her words. "Hate them until kingdom come for all I care, but Elena is my family and I'm not gonna lose her because you won't work with yours."

She met him glare for glare as two Originals and a witch watched to see which would break first. Before either could a lilting voice interrupted the staring contest.

"Did I miss something?" Kol pointed a folded map between the simmering pair. He had a suspicion Caroline knew how rare her position was and had used it to light into his temperamental brother.

"Just Caroline ripping Klaus a new one," Bonnie reached for the map, "and shockingly living to tell the tale."

"Elena would never forgive him," he smirked. "The two of you could get away with anything."

"I'll remember that."

"Are you sure this is the best spot?" Kaleb frowned. Dozens of eyes watched them from the shadows, raising the fine hair on the back of his neck. He slapped a firm hand on his cheek and wiped the dead mosquito on his jeans; another buzzed against his ear.

"You got a better suggestion?" Jackson stared into the flickering flames in an attempt to focus on something tangible and pull his mind from the realm of the unseen. His ears picked up everything from the fast whir of mosquito wings to the steady thump of beating hearts.

A twig snapped.

Kaleb whipped his body towards the sound, jumping at the hoot of an owl.

"Something closer to civilization would be nice," he grumbled.

"Not one for camping, city boy?" Jackson pressed his lips together.

"Where would I have gone camping? The bayou is full of wild animals," his eyes cut to the cabin.

"If the 'gators don't get you then the wolves will."

"Accurate," Kaleb ignored the pointed drawl and dry expression. "I wasn't gonna say it though."

Jackson dragged a hand over his beard and up into his hair. He suspected he knew what Kaleb was getting at.

"Do you really think this is the best place for a pregnant woman?"

"Better than the cemetery," he nodded. "If magic is banned and the vampires start looking how long would it have taken to corner us there?"

"They couldn't get in."

"And we wouldn't have been able to get out."

A lone wolf edged out from the trees, approaching the circle of light on silent paws. It's coat gleamed with bare hints of gold.

"None of the wolves will harm her, even without my protection they can sense the wolf in her baby."

"That's good for her," he watched the wolf with a wary eye.

"You helped us get out," Jackson glanced over his shoulder where her heartbeat raced, "you don't have to stay."

"Helping you painted a target on my back, so as long as Marcel is in control I'm safer surrounded by wolves than in the city."

The wolf snarled, feigning towards the young warlock.

Kaleb jerked, tumbling off the log onto the cold ground. Insects skittered away from the disturbance as he scrambled up on hands and knees to the sound of a laughing alpha.

"That's not how we treat guests, Ollie."

"You ever think this might be why you don't get visitors?" Kaleb glowered, eyes darting from Jackson to Eve.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Eve grinned. "We got two visitors tonight."

She never meant to fall asleep. They had both told her to sleep, and she knew that she should sleep for the sake of the baby at the very least.

She had never meant to fall asleep, but the day had taken a toll on her body. Running from a maniac and antagonizing the local supernatural population while carrying a disturbingly still infant was exhausting work.

She hadn't meant to fall asleep, but Dr. Page gave her a clean bill of health, and the little shack in the heart of the bayou was surprisingly cozy, so when the warm quilt settled over her shoulders she let go and drifted off to the sound of water lapping near the porch.

She had to be asleep. There was no other explanation for the too bright world she found herself in.

Sunlight bathed a field of flowers behind the house, sparkled off the lake and turned the child's hair to fine spun gold.

As far as dreams went it wasn't half bad, so she leaned back and cradled the mug in her hands. Her thumb traced the infant footprint while her eyes tracked the child's path.

She cut a straight line through grass that reached her shoulder as she raced, leading her father on a merry chase that she knew she would lose and sure enough she did.

The laughter peeled out as she was scooped up and smothered in kisses. She pushed his cheek and he made a great show of stumbling backwards, taking her with him into the tall grass.

They disappeared beneath a layer of waving flowers.

She stood, no longer content to be a spectator in their joyful fun.

The grass grew tall as she walked, higher and higher until it covered her head. She laughed, calling out to them and following the answering giggles as storm clouds rolled overhead, casting the backyard in shadow.

"Time to go inside," she crossed her arms, holding her cardigan closed. A brisk north wind found a path through the indigo wool; goosebumps erupted over her arms and thighs.

"Where are you?"

An accented voice came from everywhere and nowhere, calling her name. The thick Scottish brogue formed a knot in her stomach.


No, stay with him; she wanted to scream the words but her mouth wouldn't open.

The tiny voice came again, farther away and calling for 'daddy', but that couldn't be right; she was with her father.

"Elena?" Klaus' call came from the opposite direction, loud and filled with a desperate wave of panic that had no business being in his voice.

When Alaister spoke again she could pinpoint the sound. His crooning words set her heart to racing in time with her feet.

"Mummy and daddy are over here lass."

Grass whipped her cheeks, but no matter how fast she ran she couldn't gain ground.

A blood curdling scream came seconds before she stepped free of the grass only to be sprayed in crimson. A small body fell at her feet and she stood frozen in the stare of lifeless brown eyes, unable to do anything until bloody hands gripped her.

Then she screamed.

She turned over the length of metal, running a nail over the bumps leading toward the end. The simple everyday object could have belonged to anyone, but if the vampire was to be believed then it came from the woman he sought.

"Why are you helping him?"

"He says his girl's in trouble," he shrugged. "He came home and she was missing."

"And the only thing left was a bobby pin?" She raised an eyebrow and leaned over on her bed to peek out the door. "Are you sure she didn't run away?"

"She did run away, lass," he leaned in the open doorway, "and now I need to find the young doppelganger before the Originals on her trail do."

"You didn't mention she was a doppelganger."

She looked between them, twirling the pin between her fingers. "What are doppelgängers and Originals?"

He didn't answer right away, choosing to stare at their 'guest' to measure the value of his words. The way he had inhaled on the sentence told her that those two little words were very important.

"Originals are the world's first vampires," he twisted to watch her, "and doppelgängers are extremely rare. If the Originals find her they'll use her as a blood sacrifice."

"Then I'll have to find her first," she closed her fingers over the pin. The air around her body shimmered with power; it assaulted her mind with images. "There's someone practicing magic..." she closed her eyes.

"Same person as before?"

"No..." she tilted her head. "It feels different, more... focused." A face came into focus along with a familiar sign. "She's outside of Rousseau's."

"Not the smartest, is she? You find the doppelganger and I'll deal with this. Come on," he motioned to the vampire.

"I think I'll wait." his eyes watched her. She could feel the weight of his stare.

"I think you'll go," she snapped. "I work better without an audience. I'll have a location when you get back."

Bonnie scowled at the map, white, blue, green and blood that refused to move. Three failed locator spells of increasing strength left her feeling emotionally drained.

"It looks like we're searching the old fashioned way," she pushed her hands into her hair. "Someone's cloaking her."

"If that last spell didn't break through then nothing will." Kol reached for the map, mentally dividing the city. "Bex, take the eastern side of the Quarter. Elijah, west. What do you think the odds are she's underground?"

"Underground?" Caroline crossed her arms.

"Prohibition tunnels," Klaus said, glancing over his shoulder. "We had them built nearly a century ago; they're a labyrinth."

"We?" Bonnie sighed.

"They lived here," a man's voice broke through their gathered group, "before daddy came to town and they ran away." His hard tone taunted them.

"We met Mikael," Caroline glanced at Bonnie. "Seems like a good enough reason to run. Who exactly are you?"

"Marcel?" Rebekah breathed, voice nearly drowned out by Klaus' growl.

He lunged for the man at Marcel's side, and the pair of them hit pavement.

Slowly the pin warmed to her touch, getting hotter as she poured power into it. The energy knocked up the temperature until the balmy room was stifling.

Copper assaulted her nose, so strong that when she parted her lips to breath she tasted pennies. Her eyes popped open, and she forced herself to breathe slowly and not panic at the sight of blood.

Her ears led her to the right. She followed the scream until she broke into a small clearing where feet had trampled the towering grass.

There was so much more blood here, pouring from a small body, too small for so much blood.

But a woman was still screaming. Her eyes lit on the man preparing to sink razor sharp fangs into a vulnerable throat and she acted without thinking, using magic to toss the assailant backwards.

Then she grabbed the woman's arm and dragged her bodily through the grass, far from the sound of pursuit.

Chapter Text

Her heart had dropped out somewhere behind, trampled deep into the ground by pursuing feet. Strange how she could hear the swiftly approaching predator, but not the grass whipping by in her periphery, but such was the nature of dreams, and terror had taken root.

She veered left, pulling the dead weight with her and fell. The pair of them rolled through grass several feet and she prayed it was enough space.

"C-calm down," her heart picked back up, thundering to life until she could hear it. The beating rose around them acting like a beacon, and she wanted to swear.

The woman curled in on herself, shaking in the poor hiding place. Her bloodstained fingers slammed over her ears.

"Come on," she whispered, grasping her shoulders. She urged the woman to look at her and carefully pulled the hands away. "You need to calm down."

"I c-c-can't," she trembled, bottom lip wobbling with the effort of speaking. "H-he…" her eyes darted frantically for the source of the approaching footsteps. "… Kill me."

"He can't kill you," she cupped her cheeks, forcing her head to be still. "Listen to me," her voice took on a note of desperation as the terror seeped through her pores. "You're dreaming, okay."

"It's real," she shook her head, tears shimmering in her vacant eyes. The blood clung to her, sticky and rapidly cooling. "It's real."

"It's not real," she insisted. She struggled to remember the psychology class she had begun before being forced to leave school; it was something about symbols and being different. "Look at your watch."

"What?" She sniffed.

"Look at your watch!" She breathed out when she listened, grateful that the footsteps didn't appear to be getting any closer. "What time is it?"


"Good," she urged her chin up, "now look at me. Do you know who I am?"

She squinted through her tears and the layer of blood clinging to her lashes. Porcelain skin, blue eyes and waist length brown hair greeted her in the china doll brought to life.


"Look at your watch again, and tell me the time." She drew her arms into herself, shivering as rain trickled down.

"It's…" her eyes narrowed and then widened, "… 9:36."

"There's no way you were looking at me for eight hours, therefore you're dreaming."

A twig snapped a few feet away. Grass rustled and parted for a polished shoe.

"It's your dream," she scrambled back, taking her along for the ride as their space was invaded. "Take control of it."

"I'm dreaming?" She blinked up, moving backwards on hands and heels. Her mom always said that nothing could hurt her in a dream, but then again, a witch had tried to strangle her. Her eyes flickered up.

He wasn't a witch.

It was her dream.

She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. It wasn't raining… she wasn't in an overgrown field… it was a beautiful day at the lake.

When she opened her eyes the ground was gone, replaced by worn boards. She was clean from blood and dirt. She took a moment to bask in the sunlight and let her bare toes dip into the water below the dock.

"See," she sighed. "Just a dream."

She opened her eyes, turning to take in the girl again. "You're still here?"

"Yeah, well," she shrugged, "I'm not part of your dream."

"Then what are you?" She resisted the urge to get up and run. If the girl was a witch who wanted to hurt her she would have done it already, and it wasn't like she could have escaped.

"A visitor," she swung her legs over the dock. "I used your bobby pin and slipped into your head. Got to say, I wasn't expecting that," she lifted her eyebrows. "I'm Davina, by the way."

"Elena," she straightened up, smoothing done her shirt with one hand. Her palm was met with the swell of her stomach. "How'd you get my bobby pin?"

"A vampire's looking for you," Davina sighed. She wanted to jump into the sparkling water and swim, enjoy the late summer afternoon; it had been so long since she could relax. "He gave it to me. You are the doppelganger, right? He didn't mess up and give me someone else's pin."

"You can't tell him where I am," Elena held her stomach tight.

"But… he wants to help you," Davina tilted her head. "He said he had to find you before the Originals caught up. They're gonna use you in a blood sacrifice."

"They don't want to kill me, Davina."

"But, Marcel said…"

"What did Marcel tell you?" Elena frowned, tilting her head. "Do I know Marcel? I don't recognize the name, but I've been having some memory issues lately so... I guess I wouldn't know if I did."

"If he knows you he didn't say so, and he would have said something if he did," she blinked against the sun. "He wouldn't lie to me," her eyes flickered down, "would he?"

"I don't know. Does that bug you?"

"People keep lying to me," Davina crossed her arms. Goosebumps prickled her skin.

"Why don't you tell me what he said, and I'll tell you if it's true?" She suggested, reaching out a tentative hand for Davina's arm. She listened carefully as Davina relayed what she knew about Originals and doppelgangers. Admittedly, it wasn't much, but it was enough to make Elena believe whoever this 'Marcel' was, was a decent person.

"He told you the truth. He was just missing some information," her heart broke when she saw the hope flicker back to life. Someone had broken the girl's trust. "I was already sacrificed, and I came back. None of them are going to hurt me. If the vampire who came to you is who I think he is then he's the one that wants to kill me, and my baby."

"How can you be so sure the Originals won't hurt you?" Davina glanced down to the swell of her stomach.

Elena ran her tongue over her teeth. Her fingers twisted in her shirt as she stared out over the lake. Slowly the words tumbled out; when she was done she snuck a glance at Davina to find her staring at her carefully.

"An Original vampire is your baby's dad?"

"Technically, he's a hybrid," she shrugged, nodding.

"And another vampire compelled you to forget all of it?"

"Yeah," she closed her eyes. "When an Original compels you and they're daggered the compulsion wears off, but if a regular vampire dies their compulsion sticks around, so I don't remember anything about it."

"What kind of monster would do that to you?" Disgust laced Davina's voice.

"I don't think he meant to," Elena bristled, and then relaxed. "It was an accident, but he should have undone it when he realized."

"He didn't though."

"He might have," she drew in a deep breath, relaxing further as her lungs expanded. "I guess we'll never know, but I like to think he would have. He wasn't the best person, but he wasn't horrible either; he just acted without thinking."

"We'll never know," Davina sighed. "Would you tell me where you are? I won't tell Alistair."

"What if he tortures it out of you?" Elena shook her head. "If I tell you, then you're in danger. And I don't want anyone else getting hurt."

"Then maybe you could let me help you get your memory back."

Elena twisted around to find Davina smiling at her, and stealing glances back along the dock towards the house.

Energy bristled, crackling over her skin, illuminating her from within; the power shone out of her eyes.

"So," Marcel cleared his throat, allowing his eyes to flicker over the ethereal young woman and then back to Rebekah, "she's with you?"

"Why?" Her eyes narrowed.

"Because witches are forbidden from using magic in my city," he smirked. The expression slipped from his face quickly in the face of his once family. "Punishment is death, but I'm not stupid enough to take on four Originals over one woman."

Bonnie curled her fingers into a slow fist, increasing the intensity of her spell with each miniscule movement.

"I think you got him, love." Kol stepped in front of her. "You may want to ease up."

Olive green eyes flashed.

"That dick kidnapped my best friend!" Her fingers curled tighter.

Alistair groaned, holding his head. Blood poured from several cuts Klaus had created before Bonnie intervened, but it was nothing compared to that from his nose and eyes.

Her other hand held Klaus back and out of the way, pinned against the brick wall of the restaurant. He struggled against the hold, spitting threats at his adversary.

"Best friend?" Marcel cocked an eyebrow.

"Elena Gilbert," Elijah explained, returning from compelling the last of the locals to have witnessed the fight. "She's Niklaus' mate, pregnant with his child and somewhere in New Orleans. Have you seen her?"

"How would I…?"

"She's a doppelganger," Caroline cut him off, crossing her arms over her chest. "Do you know what they look like?" She uncrossed her arms, reaching into her pocket for her cell phone.

"I saw a sketch once," he tilted his head, recalling the image he had found in Klaus' studio. He didn't remember much of her features, only that she had been beautiful. "It's been awhile."

She flipped through her pictures, ignoring the sharp cries of Alistair as she did, and settled on a recent selfie of her and Elena. She scowled at Kol as she handed the device to Marcel.

"You had to photobomb?"

He shrugged.

"I haven't seen her," Marcel passed back the phone, "but I do have someone looking."

"We'd be better off looking on our own," Rebekah nodded to Bonnie. "She's done locator spell after locator spell. Somebody is cloaking her."

"Who would cloak her?" Marcel rolled his eyes. "No witch in this city is stupid enough to use magic, and only one – aside from your friend over there – has cast any spells."

"I thought you banned magic?" Kol scoffed, giving up on stopping Bonnie from her torture. He would intervene only if she was about to kill him.

"I did, and I have a strict system to enforce it. The smallest of spells are sensed the moment they happen."

"Are you sure you should be doing that?" Jackson held the open door frame. Every few seconds he would try to take a step forward only to be swiftly reminded of his newfound limitations.

"Doing what?" Kaleb held a hand over Elena's brow, hovering above her skin. He murmured a few words, frowning as he did so.

"Magic," Eve leaned over the headboard, pulling the quilt over her shoulders.

"Marcel can't track magic out here," he clenched his teeth. Something was off. It was like she was sharing her mind with another person, but he couldn't get inside.

"Then why doesn't everyone just move out here?" Jackson crossed his arms. His eyes flickered over the slumbering brunette. Her heart had settled back down, as had her breathing.

"It's too far from the ancestral well," he leaned back on his heels. "We're weaker out here. I barely had the power to cloak you."

"Is she alright?" Jackson cleared his throat.

"As far as I can tell."

"She probably just had a nightmare," Eve smoothed Elena's hair away from her forehead. "She's had a chaotic few days, but she seems calm enough now."

"Let's hope she stays that way," Kaleb glanced out the door, beyond Jackson to where wolves lounged between trees. "Is there some cedar out there?"

"Some in the wood pile," he nodded.

"Could you get me some shavings?" He didn't wait for a response before quietly rifling through the cupboard.

He placed a metal bowl on the counter when Jackson returned with the shavings.

"What's this for?" Eve moved a soothing hand through Elena's hair.

Kaleb dropped the shavings into the bowl. With a quiet incantation they began to smoke, filling the small space with freshness.

"It should purify the space, and keep out anymore nightmares."

"You want to help me?" Elena lifted her legs, curling them under her body. "I thought every spell would hurt my baby."

"You're actually pregnant?" Surprise flickered through Davina's eyes when Elena nodded. "Congrats, but it shouldn't matter."

"Why not?" She leaned forward, more than a little curious.

"You said it yourself," Davina grinned. "The memories come back when an Original is daggered – whatever that means – and from what I understand, regular vampires aren't as strong."


"If the memories can come back then they're still there, locked up in your subconscious. All we have to do is find them."

"It would be nice not to be emotionally torn apart all the time," she chewed her bottom lip. "But how exactly am I supposed to do that. It's called the subconscious for a reason; it's not exactly easy to find."

"Witches find the task easier," Davina sat up on her knees. "Haven't you ever done this? It's the first thing my m-mom taught me."

Elena leaned back on her hands, shaking her head frantically from one side to the other. "I'm not a witch, Davina."

"Of course you are," she waved a hand. "I can feel it. You're the witch who was using magic earlier tonight – that was completely unfocused by the way."

"Davina, I am not a witch." She straightened her shoulders.

"Elena," she widened her eyes, tilting her head, "I am in your head, and I can feel your power. It's different, and new, but it's your power."

"Maybe you're feeling the baby," she shook her head. "Her grandmother is a powerful witch."

"I can feel that too." Davina leaned back. She hung out over the side of the dock, snatching a floating piece of grass and a chunk of driftwood. "This is the baby's power," she held up the wet grass, and then nodded to the dark wood, "and this is yours. Both of them are magic, but they're different. If you focus then you might be able to feel it, maybe when you're awake though since dreams bend to the will of the dreamer."

"Let's say that you're right," she picked up the grass, "how do I find my subconscious?"

"Look for it," she shrugged. "You're lucid dreaming now, so you need to look for something that doesn't belong. When I did it the door was an extra closet in my bedroom that opened onto nothing."

"Then I guess I start with the doors," Elena sighed, clambering to her feet.

"I will feed you your own liver," Klaus roared. He fought against the magic holding him to the wall, but Bonnie held him all the tighter.

"You're gonna make a great dad," Caroline drawled and leaned against the wall, bracing her hip a foot away from where he struggled. She saw something flash in his eyes – too quick to leave more than a brief impression – and straightened up. "Bon, let the douche bag up so someone can compel him."

"He doesn't know where your girl is," Marcel turned to Klaus as the magic let him go.

He ignored Marcel, bending to hoist Alistair into the air by his collar. The Scot's eyes cleared slowly, but he wisely didn't struggle. He drew in a deep breath, inhaling the untainted blood where it stained his shirt, and caught Alistair's eyes.

"Is that true?" His pupils dilated. "Where is Elena?"

"I don't know," Alistair gritted his teeth, "I compelled her not to leave the flat, and when I came back she was gone."

"If she was compelled not to leave, then how'd she get out?" Elijah's eyes narrowed.

"Answer the question," Klaus' voice quieted to a menacing whisper.

"I neglected to mention the window since it was highly unlikely she would jump from that high up," he snapped, shoving Klaus' chest. "I should have killed her outside her house."

He stood rooted in place. "Yet, you kidnapped her and dragged her all the way down here."

"It would have been a shame to kill a doppelganger if the rumors weren't true," he shrugged, a task decidedly more difficult when dangling an inch above the ground.

Klaus let his eyes wander over the vampire's defiant face.

"If you don't know where she is than you are of no use."

"If you're gonna kill me just get it over with." Dread gripped his heart when Klaus smiled sending a single bead of sweat down his spine.

"Oh no," his irises flooded with gold, "there will be no getting it over with Alistair. Your death will be agonizing and slow."

Elena wrapped a blanket from the couch over her shoulders and stepped out onto the deck. Dusk had gathered while they searched. Every door had been opened, every loose floorboard pried up.

She even jimmied the secret door in her parent's bedroom, but the only thing to greet them had been weapons and Jonathan Gilbert's journals.

That had given her the idea to search through her journal, but book had been a bust; the last complete entry dated before the sacrifice.

"I thought that would be easier," Davina offered by way of apology. She slid the door closed and moved along the dock. "Sorry."

"S'okay," Elena shrugged. Her shoulders slouched as she exhaled.

"And I really thought your journal idea would pan out," she crossed her arms.

Elena mumbled under her breath. It was an unintelligible sound, and she wasn't even sure what she was trying to say, but it sufficed.

"Guess it was your conscious mind though," she kicked her foot over the dock. "The erased bits must be the lost memories."

"Makes sense; a journal's where remembered things are kept."

"Maybe we should be looking for something you don't want to remember," Davina frowned, watching Elena move towards the edge of the dock. Her voice trailed off into a whisper. "It could be with stuff you try to forget."

"Do you see that?" Elena stared into the depths of the lake; down near the mud, blinked two wavering lights.

"What is it?" Davina crouched. She tilted her head, tracing the space between lights. "It looks like… headlights…" She looked up. "What is it?"

Elena's face drained of blood. She tensed up when Davina reached for her arm.

She slowly dropped the blanket and took a deep breath.

"Nothing can hurt me in a dream, right?" She turned to Davina.

"Yeah," she swallowed, glancing back to the lake. Except it wasn't a lake anymore. "Why? What is it?"

The dock was gone, replaced by damp grass. The river flowed past their feet, shadowed by a large bridge. Davina looked over her shoulder; deep tire tracks sunk into the mud, leading down to the water.

"Something I really want to forget," she shuddered, "so knowing my luck, that's exactly where my memories are. Time to dive into my subconscious."

Chapter Text

Down she went, following the narrowing beam of light.

Pressure crushed her arms and legs, but she kept on swimming. She swam past the sound of her mom's scream and her dad's assurance that everything would be alright. She kicked her legs as her own panicked voice circled around.

She could see the shining exterior of the car, dull behind the light and empty of inhabitants; she used it to pull herself around and grasp the handle.

Her lungs burned, but nothing could hurt her in a dream, right?

She pulled.

"You were helping this guy?" Rebekah tightened the chains around Alistair's wrists, hoisting him higher. Her eyes lit on the inflamed mark on his lower arm.

"It wasn't like I knew any better." Marcel narrowed his eyes, scrutinizing the bite. He didn't have to ask if Klaus had finally broken his curse, the infection answered that question. He was surprised however by his sire's restraint. There had been a time when the Original would have ripped out Alistair's heart, or divested him of his head, but Klaus had administered a relatively shallow bite far from major arteries and veins; the toxin would take hours to reach his heart.

"You could have asked," she dug her nails into Alistair's chin, forcing him to meet her eyes. She wasn't entirely sure that she liked Elena Gilbert, or her 'relationship' with her brother, but that child was family and they hadn't had a new member of the family in so long. Her pupils dilated slightly. "You tried to steal something very special from us. Children are a precious gift, wouldn't you agree?"

He nodded a jerking movement that only dug her nails in farther.

"My brother's bite is toxic," she leaned back on her heels, inspecting the damage. "It will be slow, and it will be agonizing. And long before it's done the fever will bring hallucinations; I thought I'd help it along and give you a little head start."

Marcel resisted the urge to shudder when he caught a glimpse of her face. The angelic smile was maniacal and sickeningly sweet, painting her as a greater threat in that instance than Kol. And after Kol had put on his little Shakespeare show it took a lot for him to rank someone as worse than the psychotic maniac who had planned to kill him.

"You're going to dream Alistair," she hummed. "From now until the moment your heart stops, you will dream of your wife and your child." She reached into his mind, finding the memories he sought to hide of a young woman before a bassinet. "Nothing happy I'm afraid," she sighed, as if in apology. "Because whatever you see – however peaceful the vision appears – you will always slaughter them both, and you will re-live the pain each and every time." She walked backwards, eyes sparkling as she retreated. "Frightful dreams, darling."

Her eyes cut to Marcel, watching as he opened the door that would lead back to the main part of the basement.

"You could have asked more questions," she repeated, crossing her arms.

"He said he had to get the doppelganger before the Originals could," he snapped, shutting the cell door. "That was more than enough for me."

"You would have hidden a human doppelganger from your own family," she shoved his chest, pushing him up against rough stone. "You know how important her kind is. You know that Nik spent centuries looking for one."

"And just like that I should have handed her over?" His eyes hardened.

"She's not in danger from us!" Rebekah threw up her hands. "But even if she was you should have. I remember a time when you would have done anything to help your family – no matter who got hurt in the process."

"And I remember my family abandoning me to the flames," he grabbed her wrists, spinning around and pinning her in his place.

The light dimmed in her eyes, shadowed by a century of sorrow.

"We thought you were dead," she breathed out, slowly. "I thought you were dead."

"You never looked back long enough to find out," he tightened his hold on her wrists, eyes flickering over her face.

"We were running for our lives," she shook her head, "and you were dead on the stage."

"Only I wasn't." His jaw clenched before he shook his head, laughing softly. "You know, a part of me always thought you'd come back one day, but now it's abundantly clear that you've made a life somewhere else."

"We haven't…"

"You have," he let go of her arms and stepped back, looking away. "I'll help you find the girl. I've got people everywhere, so someone's bound to have seen her, but answer me this, Rebekah."

Her arms slid down to her hips, delicate skin scratching over stone.

"How long until you abandon her?"

Her fingers slipped on the handle. She grabbed it again and pulled, planting her feet on the side of the car.

From inside she heard the barest whisper.

"What do I want, stranger who has all the answers?"

The door gave way; the water pushed her forward into darkness.

"Caroline," Marcel shut the door to the cellar, "that was your name right?"

"Yeah," she straightened up; lowering the map she was reviewing with Kol.

He paused on the way towards the blonde, glancing around the deserted corridor; only Kol remained with Caroline and the witch.

"Where'd they go?"

"Elijah and Nik split up to look," Kol folded the map. "We were just about to set out as well."

"Did you need something?" She shoved her hand into her pocket to retrieve her ringing cell phone. "Just hang on a sec. Jeremy?" She answered the phone, pausing to listen. "No, we haven't found her yet… yes; I realize that Jenna is freaking out."

Kol lifted the phone from her hand.

"Don't bring her down her, mate. The last thing we need is a newly turned vampire in a city this big."

"We'll call when we find her," Caroline promised. She took back her phone and hung up. "Now," her eyes flickered to Marcel, sparing a quick glance for Rebekah. "What do you need?"

"A picture of Elena." He pulled out his phone, rattling off the number as Caroline typed. When the image arrived he sent out a group text.

"What are you doing?" Rebekah leaned over his arm to watch.

"Filing the missing person's report," he tucked his phone back in his pocket. "While we wait I thought your other friend here might try another locator spell."

"I tried four," Bonnie scoffed. She dragged her toes over the cobblestones, scuffing her shoes beyond repair. "I can't find her."

"Maybe you can with a power boost."

"I'm already channeling a hundred dead witches." She flexed her fingers, feeling the energy jump beneath her skin.

"So let's add something new," the corner of his mouth quirked up.

"Something new," Kol cocked an eyebrow.

"A supernatural force – the likes of which you've never seen."

Klaus flipped his phone around from the compelled local and did a poor job tempering his growl; it was almost amusing how fast the kid ran off… almost.

He regretted immediately sending his hybrids out now, and not taking the time to call them all back in – they would have been useful and cut down on search time – but he had rushed headlong towards New Orleans when she spoke, certain that finding her would be much easier.

The best thing she could have done was stepped into a human home, but without knowing anyone in the city that was unlikely, so his best hope at the moment was public places; surely she would have stuck to one of them, making locating her all the simpler.

So far the cauldron and the quarter had come up empty.

"Where are you, love?" He stared down at the phone and the only photograph he had. Countless sketches and paintings littered his art studio, for every landscape or abstract there were two of her, but only one picture. It was one she had taken herself when she discovered his phone was empty.

"What kind of person doesn't have any pictures?" She frowned down at the blank screen, but the corner of her mouth quirked up – how could it not when his fingers teased her inner thigh?

"The kind that prefers to paint," he murmured, lips against her breast. "If I want an image I'll make it myself."

"I've seen those 'images'," her fingers threaded through his hair.

"You've posed for those 'images'," he urged her legs apart, capturing a hard nipple with his teeth.

"They're too perfect," she protested. Her hips rolled towards his fingers. "People aren't that perfect."

"You are."

She had dropped the subject and his phone after that, but when he woke up the next morning to an empty bed he had found the pillow occupied with his cell phone and a single picture in the gallery.

His eyes traced the image, taking in her slight mussed hair and the shadows under her lively eyes. The text he had sent – 'still perfect' – had gained him an early morning phone call and the sound of her exhausted laugh: the by-product of their late night activities.

His phone rang, disturbing the image with the caller ID.

"Kol," his greeting was clipped.

"Marcel got word back from some of his 'guys'," derision laced his tone, "and three of them ran into Elena shortly after she was talking to you."

"Are they sure it was her?" He reached out, bracing one hand on a pillar.

"Apparently it's hard to forget the face of a woman yelling at you in the middle of the street," Kol drawled.

"Your girl's got some anger issues," a second voice grumbled in the background. It was swiftly followed by Marcel assuring 'Diego' that said girl had a right to be angry at the moment.

"Where is she?" Klaus growled cutting off the rambling. He didn't recognize the man Kol handed his phone off to.

"She was outside the Jardin Gris. That little witch tossed three vampires."

"Elena's not a witch," he sighed, rubbing a hand over his eyes.

"Maybe not, Nik," Rebekah joined in the conversation, taking the phone from Diego, "but the Petrova family are travellers. Didn't some of Katerina's siblings fight back when you were slaughtering them?"

He straightened his spine, remembering the slip of a girl who had pushed him away. Her power had been new and untampered, but there had been power there.

"Katerina is her ancestor, so technically the power would have been passed on. Plus she's carrying a little witch or warlock so she could have been channeling the baby."

"It's not unheard of for human mothers to access their witch child's power while the baby is in the womb," Kol spoke up. "It's rare, but it happens."

"The more likely scenario is traveller."

Klaus cut in before his siblings could get into a row and cost precious time. "Where is she now?" He heard Rebekah take a deep breath, and what sounded like a body hitting a wall.

"They don't know, by the time the vampires got back up Elena and the wolf she was with were gone. Apparently a couple of locals said a warlock got involved too at that point, but nobody has a name."

"May I," Marcel's voice floated through the receiver; it came out clearer after a second. "Listen, my guys said the wolf was all protective of her, so there's a good chance he's hiding her, but since your witch…"


"Bonnie," he amended, "couldn't locate her it's safe to say that whatever warlock got involved is cloaking her."

"I thought no magic happened that you weren't aware of," he clenched his fingers.

"It doesn't… not in the city anyway. Out in the bayou though…"

"The bayou would take days to scour – even with all of us looking. Don't suppose I could trouble you for some of your 'guys'?" He bit down on his tongue.

"Nah-uh, that's where my help ends. The bayou's crawling with werewolves that are cursed to be wolves on all but the full moon, and I'm not gonna subject my people to the same toxin you hit Alistair with."

"My blood can heal that bite."

"You'd have to scatter out there, and what are the odds you'd find anyone bitten before the poison kills 'em? I'm not risking that. You can head out there and start searching, and with any luck Bonnie can narrow down the location for you."

He hung up the phone before Klaus could respond and took the steps behind the reliquary two at a time, leading the way up to the attic. The door swung inwards, revealing a cluttered bedroom.

A silent girl sat cross legged in the middle of her bed. A white canopy fanned out around her.

"That's the witch that's gonna help?" Kol ran his eyes over the girl's features. She couldn't have been more than fifteen.


Rebekah attempted to take a step into the room only to find a barrier holding her out.

"You gotta ask the lady of the house for an invitation," Marcel inclined his head towards the girl.

"I don't," Bonnie approached the bed. "Doesn't look like she's going to be issuing invitations anytime soon."

"In that case," Rebekah spun on her heel, "I'm gonna go help Nik. Kol?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"I'll go too," Caroline backed up.

The sound of Kol clearing his throat made Rebekah pause at the top of the stairs and glance back, watching his back as he tensed.

"Maybe you should stay with Bonnie?"

"Bonnie just whooped Klaus and Alistair," she narrowed her eyes, "she can handle herself."

"I really can," Bonnie called, bending slightly to inspect the edge of a bobby pin in the girl's hand.

Caroline moved to follow after Rebekah; Kol stopped her with both hands on her shoulders.

"My concern was not for Bonnie, darling," he met her glare with one of his own. "Marcel's right about the risk. If you get bitten there's a chance we wouldn't get you to Nik in time, so you should stay here until we have a more solid lead."

Her eyes flashed, churning like the sea during a storm.

"Unless of course, you want to die an unpleasant death," he tilted his head to the side.

She gritted her teeth. "Fine, but the second there's an actual location I'm going out there."

"Figured you would," he chuckled.

She opened her eyes slowly, blinking in the shaft of sunlight; it filtered through the curtains, and she held up a hand to protect her sensitive vision. It took a moment before she could think to sit up.

Her breath caught as she took in her bedroom. Her fingers curled into a soft blanket covered in roses, for a brief moment an image flashed in her mind; she saw her parents larger than life and heard a baby gurgle.

She dropped the blanket and got to her feet, moving towards the shelf. Toys she vaguely recalled lined the wood along with pictures and drawings. She left them all untouched as some moments were meant to be.

Davina snapped back into her body and jolted, sucking in a lungful of air. Her eyes darted around the room from Marcel to the vampire outside her door and back before settling on the witch at her bedside.

"You were using magic earlier."

"She was looking for Elena," Marcel nodded.

"How do you know her name?" Davina's eyes narrowed.

"Because she's our best friend," the witch waved one hand towards the door. "I'm Bonnie."

"Davina," she regarded the witch carefully.

"I was hoping you'd help me find her, Davina."

"She's cloaked," she shook her head.

"I know," Bonnie reached into her bag for the map. "I thought you and I could break through it together. I'm channeling a hundred witches and you're…" her eyes flickered to Marcel. "I don't really know what you are, but Marcel says you're powerful."

Her bureau held an assortment of jewelry. A sparkling pair of ruby earrings gave her a vision of her grandmother on a Christmas morning far gone. She recognized her only from the photographs that had decorated their mantle since Gran had passed when she was four years old, but the memory played out in her mind as if it had happened yesterday.

She backed away from the baubles; they weren't the reason she was there.

She made a slow circle of the room, and found one thing to be missing, at least from her plain view.

She moved to the window, lifting the portrait of a horse away from the wall and reaching behind. Her fingers closed on cool leather.

She texted Elijah as Kol drove, speeding through winding roads.

"You like her," she glanced up.

"What?" He scanned the side of the road, selecting a spot to begin their search.

"Caroline," Rebekah clarified, pointing to a small clearing for him to park, "you like her."

"Did my blatant flirting give it away?" He rolled his eyes.

"Oh, please," she scoffed. Her arms crossed over her chest. "You flirt with everyone."

"You're not still sore about poor Georgie, are you?" The corner of his mouth quirked up in a smirk and he cast a sidelong look in her direction.

"I had my eye on him for weeks, and then found him in your bed," she gritted her teeth, but her voice still resembled a whine. She hated the way it made her sound like an insolent child.

"He still would have had you," mirth laced his tone. "Probably would have tried for Nik too."

"We're getting off topic," she punched his arm, "the important thing here is that you like her, and you're not just flirting."

"Of course I am," he stepped out of the car. "Like you said, I flirt with everyone."

"Yeah," her shoes sank into the bog, "and then you sleep with them or feed on them. You only go out of your way to protect the ones you care about."

She cradled the green journal to her chest, lowering herself into the window seat.

She had watched the Harry Potter films with Bonnie and Caroline years ago, and as she held her journal she was struck with the image of a young Harry sneaking through the restricted section while books whispered to him from the shelves.

The journal was whispering words so quiet she couldn't hear make them out; they were little more than a breath of wind rising up to ruffle her hair.

With shaking fingers she pulled the flap loose and flipped open the first page before thinking better of it and turning to the back. She ignored the looping letters as she worked backwards through entries until she found the day after the sacrifice.

Drawing in a deep breath she began to read.

Chapter Text

Elijah walked around a tree, trailing his hand over the bark as he read the message from Rebekah. His eyes flickered to the left where a stagnant swamp stretched out farther than his eyes could see in the weak light from the moon. At its current place in the cycle he should have been able to see everything, but wispy clouds blew overhead casting the world around in deep shadows.

He pressed the phone to his ear waiting for the call to connect.

Lake des Allemands stretched out on one side, but aside from the occasional hoot of an owl all was silent.

"That was fast."

"Good evening Rebekah," he chuckled, moving along a narrow path.

"Kol and I split up a few minutes ago at Houma. How long would it take you to get to the Bayou?"

"I'm already here." He followed the path around the lake. A squirrel scampered up a tree, chittering angrily at him for daring to invade its home.

"You and Nik split to look and your first thought was the Bayou?"

He could see the way her brows rose up in his mind. "It was something Elena said, about definitely believing Niklaus now."

"So you already worked out there was a werewolf with her."

"I worked out there was a chance," he cocked his head to the right. In the distance, several miles away he made out the faint strains of music, but he remained where he was, unwilling to put faith in the reliability of cell service. "However it was highly plausible that she would have remained in the city, choosing to hide in plain sight."

"That chance is gone now."

"Are we certain of the fact?" His fingers curled around the branch.

"Positive; the only way she could be cloaked is if someone did the spell out here, and then the wolf pretty much confirmed that she is somewhere in the Bayou. Kol is moving down towards Terrebonne Bay, and I was just about to move towards Lake des Allemends."

"Move towards Palourde instead," he tapped the branch. "I'm already up here. What of Niklaus?"

"He knew of a few wolf packs who kept houses further out, so he was gonna start there and work his way back to the city. If I head west I should meet him somewhere in the middle, and we'll probably still miss… three mil…"

"Rebekah?" He checked his screen as the call disconnected.

"Hello? Elijah?" Rebekah paused to check her phone. Mud coated the bottom of her heels as her weight settled in place. She cursed and took off at a run, coming to a sudden stop when she reached an empty camp site.

She picked up her foot, resting her ankle on her knee to inspect the irreversible damage.

"Of all the days to wear suede," she shook her head, lowering her foot back to the ground.

There was no sound coming from any of the tents, and the whole place stank of werewolf. She flipped open a couple of tents just to ensure what her ears and nose had already confirmed and to be certain that there were no signs of Elena.

As she straightened from the last tent a deep growl rumbled from behind. She spun slowly, letting her eyes follow her ears to a pair of glowing yellow eyes.

The wind shifted, carrying the wolf's scent to her sensitive nose as the clouds shifted, bathing the beast in weak light. The hackles rose up when she took a step towards it.

She retreated to her original position, and it calmed as much as a wolf could, but it was still on high alert.

"Alright," she put her hands on her hips, "what's the deal? Am I encroaching on pack territory?" She moved to the left and it shifted with her.

Rebekah tried to listen beyond the site, but the wolf was growling and there was a deceptively intelligent gleam in those glowing eyes.

It was the strangest of sensations: the further she read the less she saw the words on the page. Images flowed through her mind, placing her in the starring role of a movie she had only been vaguely aware existed.

She knew she was a decent writer – she had always thought she would be one someday – but she wasn't that good. Not yet, anyway.

It had to be her subconscious mind at work; releasing her memories with every flipped page.

"You were helping someone who wanted to kill her!" Davina shifted on her bed, glaring at Marcel.

"The way he phrased the information made it sound like he was the one saving her, D," he held out his hands. "I'm not perfect. I made a mistake. Luckily I realized it before he got any useful information."

"She could have gotten hurt," her arms crossed tightly over her torso. The bobby pin cut into her palm. "She's scared and lost and missing a huge chunk of her memory, and listening to you could have gotten her killed."

Caroline cleared her throat, drawing their eyes to where she still stood on the other side of the threshold.

"I don't mean to interrupt, because watching you light into a vampire is beyond amusing," she gestured between Davina and Marcel, "but how exactly did you know about Elena's memory."

Davina pressed her lips together, concentrating on the metal in her hand. She uncurled one finger first and then another until they could see it.

"I may have slipped into her head," she mumbled, using her free hand to twist her hair around her fingers. "I helped her with a nightmare, and then we talked. She's nice."

Bonnie perched on the edge of the bed, keeping her voice as level as possible. "Did she tell you where she was?"

"She didn't want Alistair to torture the information out of me," she shook her head.

"Alistair's not gonna hurt her anymore," Marcel swore. "He's seen his last sunrise."

Davina slowly reached for the map, unfolding the paper over the white quilt. She frowned down at the page for a moment, fingering the edges as she did.

"I'm not gonna help…"


She held out her hand, cutting Marcel off. "I'm not gonna help until I know this Alistair is taken care of," she clarified.

"I promise you he is."

"I wanna see it for myself."

"D…" Marcel trailed off as her jaw set. He sighed, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. "Fine," he moved to her closet, yanking grey wool from a hanger, "but you're covering up."

Davina pushed her arms into the sleeves, tucked Elena's pin in her pocket and pulled the hood up over her head.


"No," he pulled her hood lower over her forehead, "but it'll have to do."

Outrunning a single werewolf was easy. Outrunning two was child's play. Outrunning three was tricky, but outrunning four was impossible.

Especially when the fourth cut off her escape followed by two more.

She paused to route another path, spinning in a slow circle as she was surrounded.

Marcel was going to get another piece of her mind. Really, who went around inverting the werewolf curse? Sure, it freed the French Quarter of one of the species vying for control, but at what cost?

Wolves were deadly enough on the one night. Giving them toxicity for all but a few hours a month was the stupidest idea she had ever heard of.

"Don't suppose you'd respond well to 'good doggy'?" She looked from one wolf to another. In the distance came the pop of fire.

Her eyes flicked in the direction, catching only a glimpse of orange before dark fur darted towards her.

She tossed the first wolf off, bowling its body into another. The pair of them crashed into a tree and were still.

For a moment silence reined in her little clearing, punctuated only by the laboured sound of injured animals. They would be good as new by midday, but for the moment they could be counted out of any fight.

The remaining four circled, closing in on silent paws.

"Good doggies?" She held out her hands.

Her journal sat closed on her lap, lighter now as if the memories she had read once weighed down the pages.

Slow spinning started in her abdomen – whether a memory or an actual event, she didn't know – and she placed her hand there.

"Don't suppose you know what to do now?" Her question was met by silence and a quick flip. "Didn't think so. That's alright, though. You're not supposed to have answers yet."

Low growls traveled up the stairs and through the windows, making the glass tremble.

"Don't worry," she wasn't sure if she was speaking to the baby or herself, "we're okay…"

The room fell away into darkness.

Elena's eyelids fluttered open. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark room illuminated by a soft orange glow.

She sat up, taking in her surroundings by the light of the kerosene lamp while rubbing her eyes. It took a moment for the scrambled fragments of her dream to come into focus.

"What is that?"

She twisted to see Kaleb rubbing a crick from his neck and glanced to the wooden table at his side.

"Did you sleep in that chair?" She stifled a yawn. The rumbling sound continued outside.

"Guess I nodded off," he shrugged. "You okay? You had some kind of nightmare."

"I'm fine," she blinked, stretching her shoulders. "Someone helped me out."

"Subconscious manifest some kind of hero for you?"

"More like a witch stepped into my head."

"Your witch friend?" He guessed, glancing toward the screen door.

Elena swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her foot nudged a pair of boots that Eve had left her before she fell asleep. She pulled on the socks and slipped her feet into the shoes, tightening the laces to make up for the size difference.

"Complete stranger actually," she got to her feet. "A girl named Davina."

Kaleb froze, watching as she shuffled toward the door and smoothed down the mess that was her hair.

"She was nice. She helped me find my…" she trailed off as the images settled, slotting themselves in with her memories.

"You met Davina in your dreams?" Kaleb prompted. "Davina Claire?"

"Yeah," Elena pulled open the screen door, stepping out onto the porch. She wrapped her fingers around a post and looked out over the water, remembering headlights flickering in the dark.

A yelp drew her attention towards the woods. It was followed by a growl, a shriek and a familiar voice swearing a familiar expletive.

She jumped off the deck, pulling her feet free of the squelching mud and running past the trees.

"Elena?" Kaleb's cry came from behind, and she heard him running to catch up but she didn't stop. She kept going, startling a couple of wolves who were staring off into the woods.

One of them nipped at her leggings. The material tore but she kept going, followed now by a warlock and two wolves. She had to slow when she came under the canopy of trees and pay closer attention to where she placed her feet, affording Kaleb and her self-appointed bodyguards to catch up.

"Have you lost it?" He grabbed her sleeve.

"What are you doing, darlin'?" Jackson stepped out from behind a darkened tree.

"I know that voice," she pulled her arm free from Kaleb.

"One of the vampires chasing you?" Jackson guessed. "She won't get close. The packs taking care of her."

"Oh no," she shook her head, moving towards the sound of a fight. "They need to stop. She'll kill them all."

"Pretty sure they'll be the ones killin' her, but alright."

Jackson left her with Kaleb and the wolves, racing through the trees.

Rebekah snarled, a sound she recognized and hated, while throwing wolf after wolf away. Two of them laid dead at her feet – their toxic venom running up her arms. She could feel the poison starting to work, aided by the adrenaline of the fight, and stumbled on her feet.

Her knees buckled as a wolf pounced. She rolled onto her back, raising her hands in defence to hold the grey beast back.

A sharp whistle broke the night and the world retreated to the low rumble coming from the wolf. Its belly pressed her down into the soft ground as its pack backed away.

She stared at the razor sharp fangs. The powerful jaws hung suspended above nose. It would have taken nothing for it to rip into her throat; she wouldn't put up much of a fight. She doubted she could have aimed a decent punch at the moment.


The wolf grumbled, and then whined when the voice came again. The third time the name was said he backed off, slinking away from Rebekah's sprawled body.

She stared up through the canopy of trees to a sky streaked through with the first light of dawn before sitting up on her elbows and seeking the man who had spoken.

She caught his eyes, glaring as much as the fever would allow.

"Your mutts need to learn some manners."

"I'm sure he'd love to apologize, but sadly you won't be around in a month to hear it."

"These bites won't kill me," she got to her feet, staggering on her heels. Her bright eyes cut to the left as a woman stepped between two trees.

His eyes flashed gold, staring down the cat through the trees. Three hours of meticulous searching and the only sign of life was the bobcat. It hissed, but ultimately decided he wasn't worth the fight for territory and scampered off.

"How exactly did you make friends with a werewolf?" Rebekah eased herself down on the edge of the dock. "You've been gone less than two days and managed to gain an entire pack of wolves as allies."

Elena caught a glimpse of a bite through a rip in her sleeve.

"I just asked for help," she crossed her arms.

"Seriously?" Her brows rose.

"Seriously," Jackson perched on a chair. The dying embers from the fire painted his skin in light and shadow.

"Al…" Elena's tongue tripped over the name. "He said he wanted to make sure it was true before he killed me," her fingers danced over her stomach. "He… I don't understand why…"

"What do you mean?" She rolled her neck back, longing for a hot shower to remove every last inch of grime.

"Jeremy, Ric, Jen… Jenna," her voice broke on a sob. She clamped her hand over her mouth.

"She's okay." Rebekah cracked open one eye.

"What?" Elena blinked.

"Your aunt," she sat up, hesitating before placing her hand on Elena's shoulder. "She's alright. She had Nik's blood in her system."

"She's alright?" Her eyes gleamed.

"She wanted to come down here with us, but since she's still new we thought it would be better if she stayed in Mystic Falls. Stefan's keeping an eye on her – you know, make sure she doesn't take a chunk out of her boyfriend or your brother."

"But she's okay?"

"She's okay." Rebekah shivered. Gooseflesh rose on her arms, and the bites burned setting her skin on fire creating an unpleasant sensation of hot and cold everywhere. She looked to where her hand was still on the brunette's shoulder. "I carried her, your brother and Alaric into the house before anyone could see them."

"You carried them inside?" Elena turned to face her, frown deepening when she nodded. "What were you doing at my house?"

"I…" she lowered her hand to the deck, holding the edge until her knuckles turned white. "I was gonna wait on your porch," she cleared her throat, biting down on her cheek. "I wanted to talk."

"You wanted to talk to me?" She pointed, leveling her finger over her heart.

Rebekah's eyes flickered up, tracking Jackson as he moved around the yard talking quietly with Kaleb.

"My brother wasn't speaking to me," she sighed. "And I thought… I don't know what I thought." Her eyes flickered to Jackson again, tracing his features for any sign of familiarity.

"Nik's talking to me now, but only because he needed all of us to help," she pressed her heel down, thoroughly coating the shoe in mud. "Tomorrow he'll go back to giving me the cold shoulder, and it will be decades before I can talk to you again… if that, so…"

She lapsed into silence, and Elena took a moment to study her face. The fever left a thin sheen of sweat across her brow, but her eyes were still clear.

"Rebekah?" She twisted her shirt around her fingers, revealing a tiny sliver of skin.

"I shouldn't have doused you in gasoline," she blurted.

Elena's eyes widened and mouth popped open. "Was that supposed to be an apology?"

"Isn't that what I just said?" Rebekah snapped.

She felt the corner of her mouth lift up and bit down hard; Rebekah shared more with her brother than colouring.

"You'll understand my confusion," she tilted her head, "since I didn't actually hear the words 'Elena, I'm sorry'."

Rebekah closed her eyes and worked her jaw.

"I'm not good at this, Elena," she shook her head. "I've never… I don't…"

"Just say the words," she leaned closer. "If Klaus can apologize I'm sure you can."

"Nik?" She scoffed. "He's never acknowledged remorse in his life."

"Do you think I have so little self-respect that I'd repeatedly sleep with a man incapable of showing even the slightest level of remorse for draining me dry?" She lifted an eyebrow. Her right hand curved under the swell of her stomach.

Rebekah chewed over her words for a moment and watched the water ripple along the lake shore for a moment before she spoke, panting slightly around the words that were becoming harder to get out.

"You didn't do anything. You were as much a victim as the rest of us, and I stalked you through the caves and would have set you on fire," she met Elena's eyes, holding her gaze through the pressure building in her head. "I'm sorry, and… and I swear I will never do that again."

"Really?" Her brows lowered.

"Really," she sighed. "Whether Nik ever chooses to acknowledge me again or not you are family now."

"I'm not sure I want to be family." She chewed her bottom lip. "I've seen your family fall apart. Your mother wants you all dead, your oldest brother won't speak to any of you. Klaus kept you all in coffins, and Kol told me how he ended up daggered most of the time; the roles you and Elijah played in it. I don't want you to see me as someone you're tethered to, and you don't kill out of obligation."

"Then what do you want if you don't want to be family?" Her shoulders slumped. The rough deck was looking more and more appealing.

"How about friends?"

Rebekah's head snapped up so fast she was surprised the bone didn't crack. She swayed slightly and took shallow breaths.

"You'd… you'd be my friend?" Her heart stuttered. "I'm not very good at 'friends' Elena."

"Well," she leaned back on her palms, "saying sorry when you do something wrong, and traipsing through a swamp in the middle of the night are good starts."

"Sounds like you're getting more out of this friendship than I am," she laughed. The sound quickly turned into a wet hacking sound.

"Where's Klaus?" Elena rubbed between her shoulder blades as she leaned forward.

Rebekah wheezed, wrapping her arms around her stomach. She shook her head quickly. "He was further out, working his way towards me, but I don't know where he is."

Elena picked up Rebekah's discarded cell phone, holding it up in search of non-existent service.

"I've got a theory," she put down the phone. Rebekah turned bright eyes on her and nodded. "Alistair used Jackson to prove that Klaus is her dad," she saw Rebekah glance at her stomach. "If she can make a hybrid, maybe she can do the other things her dad can."

Elena pushed up the sleeve of Klaus' shirt and held out her wrist.


"Come on," she waved her arm. "Isn't it better to know what she can do?"

"If it doesn't work and I lost control then you could get hurt."

"Okay," Elena lowered her arm and stood up, calling across the yard. "Kaleb?"

"Yeah?" He paused with Jackson, both of them turning around to look at them.

She wondered if Jackson had been listening in, but then decided he hadn't – at least not intentionally.

"Have you got enough power to give a vampire an aneurysm?"

"Shouldn't be too hard," he smirked.

"There," Elena held out her hand again. "If it doesn't work Kaleb can subdue you and I'll run inside."

She saw the apprehension flicker through Rebekah's blue eyes as she struggled to regain her slipping control. She held her breath as her wrist was gently grasped, wincing as teeth sunk into her skin.

Caroline's foot tapped impatiently against the sidewalk as she waited for the call to connect.

"Are you sure they've got service out there?" Bonnie craned her neck around. Her cell phone forwarded directly to Rebekah's voicemail.

"One of them has to," she stabbed the screen. Her fingers typed in the next number, pausing when the car came around the corner. "Woah."

"What exactly does Marcel do?" Bonnie scrutinized the white sports car.

"A little of everything." Davina tightened her sweater, using the hood to hide her face as the sun rose.

Caroline returned her attention back to the phone, glancing at the young witch. "What's with the Grim Reaper impression?"

"There are some not nice people looking for me," she murmured. "Marcel's been hiding me from them."

"What do they want?" She counted the rings, hopeful when she wasn't instantly sent to voicemail.

"To slit my throat for a blood sacrifice," she held her elbows.

"What is it with witches and murder?" Caroline murmured.


"Oh shit," she straightened her shoulders. "Elena's fine."

"She's with you?"

Caroline almost hated to say no at the sound of relief in Klaus' voice, but lying never worked out well. "She's not, but the 'witches and murder' was part of another conversation. The locator spell put her west side of Lake Verret. You know it?"

"I'm about twenty miles north of it."