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“What did you do to me?” Katherine demanded, looking at Damon. Elena thought that was probably a good call: Damon was more likely to break down and brag, even if he recognized Katherine as the enemy. If he started blabbing real information, Elena could shush him, but for now he deserved a little bit of enjoyment.

“We used the uber-witch’s recipe for turning vampires into humans on you,” Damon said, which was more succinct than either of the women had necessarily expected.

Katherine blinked a few times. She’d have to have known that she was human now—again, that was. Elena remembered waking up changed; given what she’d known, there’d been no mystery to it. She wondered what it would be like, the absence of the hunger always riding in the back of her head. She thought she remembered—it had only been a few months—but she hadn’t known the difference, really, between vampires and humans until she’d crossed the line. It was like breaking a leg: no one notices the absence of pain on a regular basis. Katherine had gone both ways, and Elena bet that it was much more surprising than finding out that vampires existed in the first place.

“That was a spell to link all the Originals so they could be killed,” Katherine said slowly, demonstrating that her information was still good. She looked pale, which Elena’s English teacher probably would have called irony. Maybe she was still hoping that this was some sort of illusion spell.

“You’re missing the intermediate step,” Damon said with what passed for him as patience. “Step one: link the Originals. Step two: turn them into humans. Step three: kill them. Point being, the spell can restore a vampire to her humanity. Physically, anyway. Can’t do anything about being a lying bitch.”

“Damon,” Elena said chidingly.

Damon rolled his eyes but continued: “So, Klaus needs a human doppelganger in the Petrova line. We now have a human doppelganger in the Petrova line. Just the one. He’s sending a few minions to pick you up. I suggested that he compel them to be deaf to you, just in case you tried to talk your way out of this again, but I don’t know whether he listened to me.”

“You wouldn’t,” Katherine said, but she didn’t sound convinced. She turned so that she was only looking at Elena. “You know what he’ll do to me!”

“What he wanted to do to me, because of you,” Elena pointed out. She wondered what Katherine would say if Elena revealed that this had been her suggestion. Something cutting and manipulative about family, no doubt. Katherine didn’t get that you could opt out of family just like you could opt out of the human race. As for Klaus’s potential plans, Elena also didn’t see any need to tell Katherine that Bonnie wasn’t entirely sure what would happen to the blood of a human who used to be a vampire. If it didn’t work to create hybrids, all the better. If it did, well, they had some thoughts about to try next, none of which involved Katherine having any further information to share with Klaus for some hope of advantage.

“Are you even going to try to convince him you’re Katherine?” Damon asked, arranging his features into an expression of curiosity. “He has different reasons to be mad at you, but I’d kind of like to see you explain how you’re now the human and Elena’s the vampire. Not enough to stick around and watch, of course.”

“Damon,” Elena said again. He liked that; he courted that; but she couldn’t stop giving it to him. ‘Off switch,’ yeah, right.

“Fine,” he sighed. “Are you sure you don’t want to gloat just a little?”

She accepted the arm he held out to her. “How about,” she said, low enough that it was clearly not intended for Katherine even if the other woman could overhear, “we wait until later?” Damon didn’t believe that there were any risks to tempting fate; as far as Elena could tell, though, fate loved to kick her friends for even hoping in happy endings, so she wasn’t going to relax until Katherine was firmly locked in whatever dungeon Klaus set up to hold her. Maybe not even then.

Katherine was still yelling something about how they needed her experience when they left. Elena might look at the recording later. (Bonnie and Jeremy had set up a webcam so they could watch the action while being elsewhere; that was another thing they hadn’t bothered to explain to Katherine or Klaus. Elena didn’t expect to learn useful information, but it didn’t hurt to try, especially since if Klaus showed up himself they might get a real monologue.)

Stefan joined them outside the abandoned building. There was a time when Elena would have worried about whether Stefan could stand sacrificing someone he’d once loved to Klaus. But that Stefan was not coming back, and when it came to Katherine, Elena was glad of that fact.

“Long drive back to Mystic Falls,” was all Stefan said. “Want me to take first shift?”

To be a vampire is a terrible thing, she thought as she shrugged and let Damon give her the front passenger seat by feigning an absolute need to stretch himself out across the car’s back seat. She’d thought she’d loved Stefan—and, yes, Damon—before. But now the need to protect them from Klaus’s vengeance was as consuming as the blood hunger. With all they’d done to Klaus, and with his newfound ability to jump bodies, the only choice for now had been to appease him, and that required a sacrifice. It helped that the sacrifice was Katherine. Elena didn’t want to think about who else she might have offered up for their safety.

She understood them both a lot better now. Stefan, trying to protect her by destroying himself. Damon, trying to protect her by destroying everyone else. Neither of those choices were acceptable.

She’d just have to shape the destruction herself.