Actions

Work Header

The Power of Love

Chapter Text

Kelly Clarkson ~ Addicted

It's like you're a drug
It's like you're a demon I can't face down
It's like I'm stuck
It's like I'm running from you all the time
And I know I let you have all the power
It's like the only company I seek is misery all around
It's like you're a leech
Sucking the life from me
It's like I can't breathe
Without you inside of me
And I know I let you have all the power
And I realize I'm never gonna quit you over time

It's like I can't breathe
It's like I can't see anything
Nothing but you
I'm addicted to you
It's like I can't think
Without you interrupting me
In my thoughts
In my dreams
You've taken over me
It's like I'm not me
It's like I'm not me

It's like I'm lost
It's like I'm giving up slowly
It's like you're a ghost that's haunting me
Leave me alone
And I know these voices in my head
Are mine alone
And I know I'll never change my ways
If I don't give you up now

It's like I can't breathe
It's like I can't see anything
Nothing but you
I'm addicted to you
It's like I can't think
Without you interrupting me
In my thoughts
In my dreams
You've taken over me
It's like I'm not me
It's like I'm not me

I'm hooked on you
I need a fix
I can't take it
Just one more hit
I promise I can deal with it
I'll handle it, quit it
Just one more time
Then that's it
Just a little bit more to get me through this
I'm hooked on you
I need a fix
I can't take it
Just one more hit
I promise I can deal with it
I'll handle it, quit it
Just one more time
Then that's it
Just a little bit more to get me through this

It's like I can't breathe
It's like I can't see anything
Nothing but you
I'm addicted to you
It's like I can't think
Without you interrupting me
In my thoughts
In my dreams
You've taken over me
It's like I'm not me
It's like I'm not me


Chapter 1—Addicted


"Are you sure, my love?" Edward asked her as he held her in his arms at the door of her house.

Bella pulled back and produced a shaky smile. "Really, Edward. I'll be fine." She plastered a smile on her face, but inside she was shaking and crying, please… go.

A frown marred the vampire's face as he studied her for a long moment, but to her utter relief, he sighed and nodded. "All right. If you are certain."

"I am," she whispered, trying to sound firm, swallowing against the sick feeling in her stomach. "Go, Edward. You need to bond more with your family. I'll be fine."

He stared at her a moment longer before groaning like the teenager he was. "I ache at the thought of leaving you, but shall at your behest. But Bella," he intoned, his demeanor changing for the countless time almost at the flip of a switch. When he next spoke, his voice was flat, his eyes dark, his lip curled back over his glinting teeth. He reached up to grip her chin, squeezing his fingers so tight the skin underneath whitened and Bella whimpered. Tears welled in her eyes at the pain, but she forced herself to look up at him. "Do not think it wise to test me. If you were to run from me, it would not do well for anyone."

She swallowed, the sickness in her rising, the panic. She knew he could hear it, but she swallowed it back down. Knowing she had to convince him, the smile she sent him was meant to be as reassuring as possible as she forced herself back into her mate's arms. "Of course not, Edward. I could never leave you." She rested her head on his chest, breathing in his overwhelming scent. Swallowing bile and tears, she whispered, "I—I love you."

He wrapped his arms around her and smiled against her hair. "And I you."

She almost sighed. It had worked; he believed her. She leaned back and smiled. "Now go, please, you're making me nervous. You know Alice wanted you to go to this celebration."

"Of course, my love, but I cannot understand why she would not want you to accompany me."

"Because I've spent too much time at your house. We need to do this to get the pack and Charlie off our backs, before Dad ships me off to some unknown location." Her heart beat faster at the thought, though Edward misinterpreted it and smiled at her.

"I will never let that happen," he whispered, pressing a kiss to her lips.

Bella gritted her teeth as the mating pheromones pounded within her, blinding her mind from all thoughts but of him. She gave in for a moment, lost in it as she often was in moments like this, but with all her inner strength she pushed it from her mind as hard as she could. It was wrong. This was not what it was supposed to be. She needed Edward to leave. Then she needed to run. A mantra in her head, she looked up at her mate, for that, despite her feelings, was what he was to her. "Go," she said, forcing a laugh as she gave him a gentle push away from her, "before Alice comes here and drags you away."

He nodded, and with a final stinging kiss and crushing hug, he pulled away and ran to his car. She watched him, arms crossed over her chest, as the rain poured down. The blare of the car headlights hit the house and her, making her squint as she watched him leave.

She waited a while longer before the dam burst and first one sob, then another and another, ripped from her throat, her body shaking hard. She grit her teeth against the pain of the mating bond and pulled herself back into the house, walking up the stairs, movements slow and exaggerated as she fought the mating bond trying to pull her back in the direction of her mate. The last thing she needed was to fall and die.

Though a tiny part of her wondered if perhaps that wasn't such a bad idea.

It would, without a doubt, simplify things. For one, she wouldn't have to run away with the risk of Edward finding her hanging over her like a shadow for the rest of her life. For another, she would not have to feel this—the farcical bond that controlled her and made her little more than a fucking simpering pet to a man stuck in an archaic world of archaic ideas and societal structures. This bond that was warping her and changing her so much she could not recognize herself, until she wasn't herself, until there was nothing but him.

She was always running from him, and then always running back. She gave him the power, keeping misery for her company as Edward, like a leech, sucked the life from her. Ironic, since he wouldn't touch her blood, he'd take her very soul.

She had realized that in his presence she could never quit him over time. She had to get away, to be able to think without him interrupting her, be it in her thoughts or her dreams.

He had taken over her… and she was not herself anymore.

Slowly since she had met him, she had become lost and given up. His presence was constant, even when he was not beside her in person… he was there, haunting her with the pain of being separated from one's supposed other half. When he was gone, there was no room for her to question the bond with how much pain she was in, how much every single fiber of her was yearning for him to be at her side. And when she was with him, she often found herself thinking about it, but then he'd do something or say something to make her feel better or take her mind off it, distract her somehow. While her mind questioned, every other part of her gave in. So slow she hadn't realized until it was almost too late.

Because of that, she knew she'd never change her ways, change the cycle of running from him and then back if she didn't leave now.

She was hooked. Plain and simple. And it was only going to get worse.

Like he was a drug, she was hooked, fixed on him.

Addicted.

And the addiction was getting worse.

When she was at last in her room, she shook herself from her thoughts. Like a drug addict going through withdrawals, her body shook, but she pushed on, pushed through the bond.

This was the right thing to do. All she could do was hope the instinctual part of her, which was trapped in a bond to Edward, would see that someday, or warm up to the idea at the very least.

She did not pack a bag of clothes. Alice had swooped in some weeks ago and thrown out her entire old wardrobe and changed it to what was deemed perfect for a vampire mate. Stuck in the Middle Ages as the vampire species was, there was a lot of formal wear—pretty dresses, heels, all of the stuff that Bella was neither familiar nor comfortable with. When the subject had been broached, and it was said that there was no choice in the matter, it was perhaps the first warning sign to her that indeed made Bella think.

She couldn't do that. She was not comfortable with any of their other practices to begin with, but wearing formal dress just because the entire coven was together, because the matriarch and patriarch of the household were home with them? Having dinner in damn-near ball gowns?

She had already half-accepted the lack of independence, for the most part because of the pain she felt when she tried to achieve such. She'd already accepted that she would be tied to and changed by a controlling vampire and taken away from her family.

But to accept that she no longer had any say in anything in her life? From haircuts and clothes to when she'd be changed and who she'd spend her time with on top of that?

No. That was too far.

So here she was, after such a long time of contemplating and giving in, doing the right thing. She was running away, leaving everything from them behind.

Instead of packing the clothes Alice had bought her, Bella grabbed a bag and filled it with the most meaningful items in her room: her Grandma Swan's locket, her favorite oldest books, among other things. And then the more practical things—like a bank card she had opened in Seattle last weekend that she had put her inheritance from her grandmother in, and her passport, etc. The things she would need to make a new life for herself, at least until she could adopt a new one. She already knew that it was quite probable that she would have to change her appearance and do her damnedest to alter her scent when she arrived where she was going.

Something she was not allowing herself to focus on. True, Alice had a hard time seeing her to begin with, as Edward could not hear her thoughts, and Jasper could not manipulate her emotions—could just sense them, in fact, like a shield was wrapped around her or something was interrupting and producing static to his radar. But if something were to go wrong, then she was quite fucked. And against cold ones, she needed all the advantage her meager human self could get.

When her bag was packed, she looked once more around her room, hating that it was coming to this—to running away. When she had first moved here, before meeting Edward, she had been happy. She'd felt like this had been a second chance for her and her relationship with Charlie. But then she'd met Edward and he'd taken over her life until nothing of her old self remained and no one but he mattered.

Her fist clenched the bag strap on her shoulder, and with tears in her eyes, she swallowed and walked out of her bedroom. Going downstairs, she ran fast for her truck, which she'd be abandoning at the Port Angeles airport, where she'd take flight.

Become another teenage runaway.

Hatred curled in her belly at Edward, like sharp talons ripping at her insides. She blamed him for this situation. She wished, oh, how she wished she had never met him. More so, she wished she could make Edward pay in a most violent way. She yearned to make him wish he'd never been born.

In the car now, she started the engine, feeling a moment of tension as it did not start, before she realized her mistake, calmed herself down, and tried again, relieved almost to tears when the engine roared to life. She rolled out of the driveway and sped down the road. She paid attention as she drove through Forks, tears in her eyes and a sob threatening to burst from her chest as she drove past the police station and spotted Charlie's cruiser.

I'm so sorry, Daddy.

She drew breath so harsh her teeth stung from the cold air slipping through them as she scrubbed at the tears, irritated. No. She could not do this. She could not cry. If she did, she'd stop, and if she stopped, she'd give in. She couldn't.

She wouldn't.

She put her foot down harder on the accelerator and sped through the rest of town. She couldn't spare a glance at the school, because then she'd think about how she wasn't just becoming a teenage runaway, but also a high school dropout.

Anger clawed at her again, and it grew and grew as she drove further through town and toward Port Angeles. So many missed opportunities to come, because of him. It was quite probable that she'd end up alone for the rest of her life because of this fucking cursed mating bond. That was if she didn't kill herself or Edward didn't find her.

After what felt like a lifetime in slow motion, she was out of town, and then it was just her and the road. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not, but needing a distraction, she turned on the radio and flipped until she found a good station. She sang the lyrics as loud as she could to push all thoughts from her head.

It worked, and faster than she thought it would take, faster than driving through Forks had seemed to take, she was at the airport. Grabbing her bag from the passenger seat, she abandoned the car, leaving the keys inside it, and walked into the airport, pulling her thick and low-hanging hoody over her head, putting on a pair of large sunglasses. She looked like an idiot, but she didn't care as she looked up through her eyelashes to monitor the security cameras, knowing the Cullens would get them soon enough, and knowing she had to do what she could to get away from them.

Part of the reason she had also booked her ticket under a random name, and not to the final destination she had in mind. She would fly into a nearby state and then drive the rest of the way.

She knew it was inevitable that they would catch up to her, at least where she was planning to go, but she had come to terms (she thought, at least) with the idea that she would be forever on the run for the rest of her short life, never settling down, moving from place to place every few months, or perhaps even more often. All she wanted was a few months, maybe even a few years, before they inevitably found her. And when they did—when, not if—she'd kill herself. It was as simple as that.

Yes, it was a gloomy outlook on her life. But it was still better that she have a few years of a life away from that than having a life as she had until now. With Edward, overwhelming and overbearing, blocking everything else out into inconsequentiality.

Gritting her teeth, she soldiered on, and soon enough, she was on a plane. And as the plane took flight, she cried—both in relief of being—well, not free… but freer… and also in mourning of the life she could have had, the relationship she could have had with her father.

Because nothing would ever be the same again. She wasn't sure she believed her life would get better again.

Edward Cullen was the one demon in her life she could not face down.

Chapter Text

Queen ~ Don’t Stop Me Now

Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world it's turning inside out Yeah!
I'm floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me now don't stop me
'Cause I'm having a good time having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the skies
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me

I'm burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call

Don't stop me now ('cause I'm having a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm having a good time)
I don't want to stop at all... yeah!

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite I'm out of control
I am a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don't stop me
Don't stop me
Don't stop me
Hey hey hey!

Don't stop me
Don't stop me
Ooh ooh ooh (I like it)

Don't stop me
Don't stop me
Have a good time, good time

Don't stop me
Don't stop me

Ooh ooh alright

Ooh I'm burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now
I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball
Don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time
Just give me a call

Don't stop me now ('cause I'm having a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm having a good time)
I don't wanna stop at all


Chapter 2—Don't Stop Me Now


"Come, brothers." Niklaus smirked, his arms outstretched at his sides as his gaze flickered between an exasperated Elijah and mirthful Kol. Rebekah was even further away, listening in on the conversation but bored. "Sister, do you not believe it would be a perfect idea to go back to the city we built?"

She sighed and eyed her three brothers, lips pursed and eyebrow raised. "I suppose it might be. I'll join you. I'm bored of Mystic Falls. Too much bloody drama."

"Fantastic!" Klaus said, turning back to his brothers.

Kol shrugged. "I'm in. I wonder if the wolves and witches are still around. Should be a blast."

Klaus's smirk grew, and he turned to Elijah who was still thinking, his eyebrow raised as he sauntered closer to him. "Come, brother. New Orleans was the place we were happiest. After all the gloom from this town, and all that we have overcome, do you not think we deserve to go back to the city we built up from the ground? It was always the better environment for us all. Think on it, please. Or better yet, do not as there is no need. In New Orleans we can be a true family, be happy again; that is what you most desire, is it not?"

Elijah sighed and stood, pausing for a moment to look back at their other siblings before turning to the hybrid. He chose not to give a verbal response, instead nodding his acquiescence before turning and leaving to pack.

Rebekah and Klaus shared a look before she groaned, threw her hands up in the air, and left the room to follow after Elijah, muttering about her bloody idiot brothers and their penchant for spoiling a happy mood.

That left just the two most volatile Mikaelsons in a room together, and their smirks grew. Klaus got up and went to his younger brother's side, clasping his shoulder. "Well, brother… we should pay this town a final goodbye. For old times' sake, perhaps."

Kol smirked. "Of course, Nik. Let me just go get my bat…" With a final smirk reminiscent of the devil himself, he fled for his room at vampire speed, leaving a chuckling Nik in his wake.

After all, he had a score to settle. It had been an arduous task for the Mikaelson siblings, bringing their brother back to this plane after the doppelganger and her brother had murdered him. And he was in the mood for some blood and violence in the name of revenge.

But then, with Kol, when was he not?

In a flash, he was back down the stairs with his bat in hand, resting on his shoulder, a big devious grin on his face, one that Klaus donned as well as they walked out the door.

In his room, Elijah sighed and rose, Rebekah already at the door. "I'll tag along after them," she said, "clean up their mess."

He chuckled and did up his suit jacket, his fingers pushing the buttons through in a deft, smooth movement. "Rebekah, I guarantee that if you followed them you'd join in."

She raised an eyebrow. "And you wouldn't? This town has been hell for our family, Elijah."

The frown that marred his face then was slight as he sucked his cheeks in, thinking. "Very well then," he said with a smirk, "I do believe we should get our jackets and catch up to our brothers before they steal away all the fun to be had. Do you not agree?"

Rebekah smiled. "I knew there was a reason I regarded you as my favorite." She kissed his cheek and he chuckled, shaking his head as she disappeared.

The two of them were ready not even a minute later, out the door and running after their brothers.

"Ah," Klaus exclaimed as he spotted them walking closer, a smirk on his face as Kol, too, looked over. They'd already made it to the building in which Elena and Jeremy resided. Kol had not been seen by any of the supernatural residents in town since his return, so he was quite excited for the big reveal. The one thing spoiling their plans was that no one was home. "Look who decided to join us, brother."

Kol chuckled and threw a cheeky grin at the two before again looking back at the house. "Decided to join in on the fun, I see. Or are you here to spoil it as you so often love to?"

"Well," Elijah replied, as cool as only Elijah could, ram-rod straight as he stood with his hands in his pockets, a posh smirk on his face. "In light of recent events, we found we rather agreed. This town does deserve a little taste of retaliation. And of course, it was obvious you had some sort of diabolical plan in the works and it made us wonder." He looked between the two of them. "What is it?" He tilted his head to the side, eyebrow raised and a delicate smirk on his lips.

Klaus chuckled. "Relax, Elijah. We're just going to have a little fun with the Gilberts, here. Stir up a little trouble before we leave. A last hurrah, if you will."

"Well, it seems you chose the wrong time," Rebekah said, stepping closer. "They're not here. Are we to go find them then?"

"I suppose so," Kol said, standing back up straight as he turned. He inhaled to find their scents, scoffing and turning to his siblings. "Should be easy, as well. They've made no effort to hide their trails." His voice was bright then. "Come along, now. I don't believe you want me to get bored."

He walked off, Klaus following. The two others looked at one another then followed in silence. The four of them, in so much black they were invisible, movement almost soundless along the road, tracked the Gilbert siblings, Kol leading the way.

When it brought them to the Mystic Grill, Kol smirked at Elijah's hard-done-by sigh. "Kol, I am not in the mood to be compelling a whole bar full of people tonight, even with Rebekah and Niklaus's help. You will have to wait until they leave."

Rebekah smiled, arms crossed over her chest. "I don't know that he'll have to wait all that long. There they are now, coming out. Listen."

Listen they did.

Appearing out the door just a few seconds later, Kol smirked and walked toward them. Klaus walked backwards behind him, raising an eyebrow at Rebekah and Elijah. Rebekah shook her head, a long-suffering sigh escaping her as she muttered to Elijah, "Come on, let's make sure our idiot brothers don't kill everyone on site."

Elijah's lips twitched, but he nodded and followed behind the rest of his siblings.

Kol's excitement had overtaken him for a moment as he watched his two murderers. He took in the sight of them standing under the roof of the Mystic Grill and grinned, blurring to stand just a few feet from them.

Feeling the air around them as he appeared, they both looked up and gasped, their mouths dropping open in shock, color draining from their faces.

Kol smirked. "Greetings from the dead," he began with a dark, smug smile and tone to match. He stepped forward from the rest of his siblings, bat still on his shoulder as he looked between the two startled Gilberts. "Or perhaps I should say, the not-so-dead after all. Forgive me. I'm afraid I'm still a little fuzzy from my time on the other side." His nostrils flared as he glared at the two of them hard enough that they shivered, his head cocked. "I suppose I have the two of you to thank for that." He took the bat from his shoulder and patted it to the ground, smirking at them.

"However shall I repay you?" he asked them, his voice low and dangerous. But he sensed movement inside the establishment just behind them and sighed, straightening up. "Come along, then. I haven't all night. Follow me." He smiled at his siblings as he walked past them, the two Gilberts behind him following along.

There was quiet as the trio walked along the darkened road, the three other originals behind them. Elena and Jeremy were sharing glances, trying to figure out what the best recourse for their situation was, and failing. Elena, while a vampire, was nowhere near strong enough to take on four originals—especially with one being a hybrid and therefore invincible. And Jeremy, though he may have been a hunter, was new to the game in that respect and had no chance at all.

Sure, they'd taken Kol once, but he wouldn't be taken with such ease again. He was stronger, he was more aware.

And really, where was the fun in dying?

Besides, neither was fast enough to alert Damon or Stefan. Even if they tried, they wouldn't reach them in time; they were too far away for the unpredictable Mikaelson the other three had obviously decided to let loose tonight.

But curiosity was killing them as it had the proverbial cat. So Elena, sharing one last glance with Jeremy, spoke at last. "How are you alive? We killed you."

Kol chuckled, spinning around but continuing to walk. He was giddy as he looked the two of them over, a large, smug smirk on his face. "I was wondering when you would ask, darling. I suppose you really don't know so much about our family as you think you do." Then he turned and continued walking, swaggering almost in the power he had in the situation. He was biting at the chance to get his revenge, get even. It was so rare that he was allowed such without repercussions—a dagger through his heart, for example.

Klaus chuckled from behind, making the two Gilberts glance over their shoulders. All of the three other originals had identical smug smirks on their faces.

Elena looked at Elijah. "Why would you let him do this?"

His gaze hardened as he looked at her, a slight frown marring his face as his smirk dropped. He was angry, his vampire visage just beginning to come through. "I have told you before that my family means everything to me. No one hurts my family and lives. You murdered my brother. Therefore, you shall lay in the bed you made."

Elena swallowed and turned back to Kol, glancing at Jeremy. "What are you going to do to us?"

Kol chuckled, his hands out at his side, the bat still in one as he looked at her, head cocked. "Relax, darling. I plan on having a little fun, that's all. See, I was thinking that perhaps I would kill you. But then I thought I'd get even with a little torture and leave you here for your Damon—that is the Salvatore you're involved with now, yes?—to find you here, in the middle of the road. As for Jeremy… well, I am not too sure what I plan on doing to him. He is the one who thrust the stake through my chest after all. Maybe I'll kill you… maybe I won't." He grinned at them.

Rebekah rolled her eyes and sighed, arms still crossed over her chest. "Just get it bloody over with, Kol."

He scowled at her, but took his bat and smashed it across Elena's face. The force threw her into the nearby woods before he turned, head cocked, and stalked toward Jeremy, his slow movements putting Jeremy further on edge as he waited to see what the vampire in front of him would do. His face was cold, unreadable. Unhinged, the bat at his side, his hand gripped it so tight his skin was taut over the bone, white.

He saw Elena out of the corner of his eye coming toward him. Effortlessly, he stretched out an arm and took her by the throat, still smirking at Jeremy as he snapped his sister's neck and let her drop from his grip.

"Hmm," he hummed, pondering as he looked at the little Gilbert. "You know… I think I will kill you. Yes. Leave your body here for your sister to wake up and find after we're gone." A slow smirk lit up his face, and then in a flash, his face morphed into his vampire visage, and he growled low in his chest as he swung the bat, taking out his knee, then his back, before he bent down and picked Jeremy up. Holding him to his body, he sank his teeth viciously into the flesh of his skin and let the blood flow, pulling it down his throat leisurely, savoring the taste as he murdered the one who'd staked him until there was none left. The boy's heart puttered to a stop, and he let him drop to the wet cement.

"There," he said with a nod, "now we're even."

Then he stepped over his body, glancing up at his siblings, picked up his bat, and walked off back home.

Elijah crouched next to Jeremy, but Kol spoke before he could so much as touch the corpse. "Do not touch him, brother. I meant what I said. Their little protectors are to find them just as they are." Elijah sighed and stood back up from his crouch, adjusting his suit before slipping his hands in his long black jacket's pockets, pivoting and walking after him. Rebekah and Klaus turned and followed.

"Time to go home, then?" Klaus asked and Kol chuckled, turning around to face him while walking backwards still.

"Come now, Nik," he said with that devilish grin on his face, "I'm having such a good time. Why stop now? I am sure there is more we can do in this bloody town to knock it for six before we go. Where's the fun in a quiet departure when you can make a spectacle?"

Elijah rolled his eyes and Rebekah sighed, but they still followed their brothers.

Soon enough, they were walking down a street that was a little busier. It was when they turned the corner that an odd sensation hit Klaus so sharp he almost folded in half, a hand to his middle. His quick eyes darted up and around, trying to figure out just what had caused the sensation, and he breathed in to sample the scents, ignoring the glances his siblings were now sending him. First nothing, but on the second inhalation, two things happened.

He was bowled over by a scent, and then bowled over by the body it came from.

The warm female body bumped straight into him head on, her head down. He could smell the salt of her tears, hear the breath hitching in her throat. He staggered back, his arms falling around her without meaning to, and a noise escaped her. He swallowed, taking in another breath, and the feeling in his middle moved, now enveloping his heart. Looking down at the girl—brunette hair, small, supple body, sweet curves, pale skin—he was shocked to find himself aching to cup the soft skin of her cheek in his palm, to make her look up at him. An inexplicable urge was filling him to do so, somehow knowing it would do something to the pull in his chest.

He could hear his siblings behind him, wondering at what was going on. It was true; never before had he handled a woman so. But this girl, this girl was different. So bloody different.

And then she looked up.

Klaus had heard the stories. He'd heard and he'd scoffed. Soul mates, one true love at first sight—that poppycock was far more suited to his dear sister or Elijah than he. But in the brief moment that their eyes first connected, he felt it.

The surge went from his body to hers, the electrical wave now a livewire everywhere his skin pressed against hers. He felt that overwhelming need to protect and cherish and comfort the girl in front of him, possessiveness crashing into him like a tidal wave.

His lips parted, but nothing but air escaped them. He swallowed.

Before him, in his arms, was the mate that some part of him had wished for the past one thousand years but never thought he'd ever meet.

And all he could do was stare.

Chapter Text

Taylor Swift ~ Eyes Open

Everybody's waiting
Everybody's watching
Even when you're sleeping
Keep your ey-eyes open

The tricky thing
Is yesterday we were just children
Playing soldiers
Just pretending
Dreaming dreams with happy endings
In backyards, winning battles with our wooden swords
But now we've stepped into a cruel world
Where everybody stands and keeps score

Keep your eyes open

Everybody's waiting for you to breakdown
Everybody's watching to see the fallout
Even when you're sleeping, sleeping
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open

So here you are, two steps ahead and staying on guard
Every lesson forms a new scar
They never thought you'd make it this far
But turn around (turn around), oh they've surrounded you
It's a showdown (showdown) and nobody comes to save you now
But you've got something they don't
Yeah you've got something they don't
You've just gotta keep your eyes open

Everybody's waiting for you to breakdown
Everybody's watching to see the fallout
Even when you're sleeping, sleeping
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes

Keep your feet ready
Heartbeat steady
Keep your eyes open
Keep your aim locked
The night goes dark
Keep your eyes open

(Keep your eyes open

[4x])

Everybody's waiting for you to breakdown
Everybody's watching to see the fallout
Even when you're sleeping, sleeping

Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open
Keep your ey-eyes open


Chapter 3—Eyes Open


Bella pulled her bag harder across her body, head down as she walked, pace brisk, along the streets of Mystic Falls. It was well into the night now, and she hadn't meant for it to take so long to get here, but time had gotten away from her, and if she were honest, her mating pull to Edward was slowing her as well.

As feared, the pull was trying to direct her back, pulling her thoughts away from the task at hand—running—and more to Edward's pain, his anger—no, fury. It seemed Edward already knew she was gone and was now channeling their emotional connection to cause her to feel what he felt, too, in an attempt to lure her back. It almost worked, several times. But every time she made to turn around, she turned back with a shaky breath.

When she'd first felt Edward broach the emotional connection, she'd freaked at how strong it was; she could almost hear the words spill from his lips now: "How dare she defy me!" It made her tremble, but it was that control over her that pushed her to focus on what she was doing and why she was doing it. This was unhealthy, having such a hold on another being. It was not right.

But there had been a few minutes of sheer terror as the thought had struck her that perhaps the connection was so strong he'd be able to somehow, through the connection, find her whereabouts as well. But then she'd thought. Edward had told her she'd feel the connection just the same as he would, and she couldn't tell where he was, only that he was far away—so that meant she was in the clear, right?

Regardless, Bella wasn't all that thrilled at the prospect of staying here all that long. It was safer that she get to her destination sooner rather than later, have some time to regroup, and then figure out where she'd be going from there.

Tears were streaming down her face, making her a little clumsier as she tried to navigate through blurry vision. Pain warred through her and a sob built in her chest, her hand twitching to touch her aching heart. But there was also that deep-seated resentment, that anger, and she focused on that, harnessed it to keep her on track as she pulled her bag open, still walking, riffling through it to find the directions to the cheap garage. She needed to find a decent-working car that would get her where she wanted to go, or at least as far as possible.

Frustrated by her blurry vision making things impossible, as well as the dark, Bella growled under her breath, wiping at her eyes before digging back through her bag. Her paces had lengthened in her anger, propelling herself forward faster, and, without realizing it, right into someone's path.

Gasping as she felt herself knock into someone, their arms weaving themselves around her as they almost fell back, Bella closed her eyes in mortification, trying to swallow back the painful sob that was building, but a strangled sound escaped her. She was at her wit's end, so much so she didn't recognize the sensation building within her soul until she looked up, taking a deep breath, and gasped again.

The first thing she saw were blue eyes. Gorgeous blue eyes.

And then she felt it.

The surge of electricity, the war within herself as one connection to a vampire fought against a new but stronger connection to whoever this was before her—it felt almost like a dual connection, two in one, one line threaded through the other in intricate curls and whirls, pulling tight and unbreakable. Then it changed; there was the gradual decline of the pull to Edward as the pull to this man in front of her increased, the electric charge sharpening with it. All of a sudden, the pain of being separated from Edward, and the emotional onslaught of his emotions, meant to coerce her back to his side, dimmed… while a new psychological pain swallowed her as she was tethered to another.

No, she cried, no, no, no, no. Not again, please, not this! No!

She didn't realize, of course, that she had begun to fight against the man's hold, and when he let go, she had backed against the brick wall, her back descending against it as panic overwhelmed her, and for the first time since leaving, she well and truly broke down.

Freed from one, enslaved to another.

When the sobs and the panic made it difficult for her to breathe, to hear the words of the man she could feel this connection with, nor of the others in his presence, she just closed her eyes, hands knotted through her hair at the temples as she curled in on herself and willed it all away. Juvenile, but it was all she could do to cling onto some semblance of sanity.

She could just register the hand that came to rest on her shoulder, to her exhausted mind the lightest of touches, along with the American accent encouraging her to lift her head and open her eyes to meet his. Taking deep breaths at their urging, she did so, and found herself now looking at a man older than the blue-eyed one though not by much, his darker eyes connecting with hers. She didn't hear the words he spoke to compel her into sleep, nor did she feel the strong arms of her new mate lift her to take her back to the mansion he lived in with his siblings.

Safe and protected by the darkness surrounding her, she fell asleep, limp in the man's arms as she was swept into dreams of a time when things were simpler and the world was not so scary and so cruel.

~TPoL~

Light in her eyes caused her to awaken the following morning, and for a moment, Bella wasn't quite sure where she was. She was no longer afforded that blink of an eye moment where all was right in the world, where she didn't know Edward Cullen or his coven, or anything about shape-shifters or vampires. It felt like such a long time ago that she'd had that, where her dreams had happy endings and she didn't wake to cruelty and fright and vampires intent on changing the very essence of who she was.

Hard to imagine that in the grand scheme of things that was but yesterday. Hard to believe when she had been so immersed.

With a deep breath, Bella noticed something as she pushed away her other thoughts. When she didn't feel the pain indicating separation from her mate as she'd expected, she frowned and reached for her chest, then panicked and let her eyes take in the surroundings around her when a thought occurred to her.

Had Edward already found her?

But with the thought of Edward a new, strange sensation broke through. Her emotions toward him, and the pull were… lessened, muted somehow. Well, the ones indicative of a mating connection, anyway. The anger and fear—that was without doubt still there, all right.

It took a moment before it all came back to her, but when it did, it was dizzying.

Meeting someone else with blue eyes after literally walking into their arms.

Having a panic attack as she felt the new connection overtake and lessen—but not destroy—the one she shared with Edward.

And then being lifted into someone's arms and carried away, falling asleep.

Taking a deep breath, Bella looked around herself once more. She wasn't quite sure what to make of the whole situation. She wasn't all that happy about having another mate, at least it seemed that was what she had. With one still out for her, by now actively searching for her and aware of the muted and breaking bond, she couldn't say she was all that ecstatic about being tied to someone else.

But she wanted answers. She wouldn't leave without getting those at least.

If she was even allowed to leave.

Before the bubbling panic at such a thought could overwhelm her, a female British accent rang out through the room, pulling her from her thoughts.

"You're awake, I see."

Bella looked up to see a blonde woman, much younger than either of the men she'd encountered before, with her arms crossed over her chest standing in the doorway, her face cleared of any particular expression. But at the overtness of Bella's frazzled nerves, sizzled to the end of her rope, the aloof expression softened and a small, gentle smile appeared as she regarded Bella in a most tender fashion, almost as though she were waiting for Bella to break down again. "Well then, if you'll follow me…?" The words sounded almost like a struggle to come out; as though the girl was not used to asking in lieu of demanding.

Bella cleared her throat and got out of the bed, biting her lip in nervous habit as she eyed the woman in front of her, movements slow and sluggish in wariness. This blonde female looked human, but there was something about her that had Bella sure she was not. There was an edge to her countenance, an old-world air to her persona that left Bella guessing and under the impression that not all was as it seemed. It was that same edge or air that told her she shouldn't keep the woman waiting, and after summoning up her courage, she walked to her side. Without a word, the girl directed her out of the room and down the hall.

The walk was short and silent, but with each step Bella's anxiety increased, as did her determination. She would get out of this, whatever the hell this was. She just needed to keep her eyes open and ask the right questions. Then she'd figure a way out of this mess and continue on her way. She could not afford to be slowed down, not with Edward and his family on her tail by now.

All thought of that cut off, however, when a door opened and out stepped the man with the gorgeous blue eyes, a grin on his face as he laughed at something one of the room's as-yet-unseen inhabitants had said. She could now take in his blond hair, strong stature, and rugged, scruffy face. He was handsome, and a little but growing part of her was whispering that he was also hers.

She swallowed and forced the thought from her mind, hushing the irritating little treacherous voice.

"Hello, love," he said then with a soft smile on his face, his head inclined as he looked at her.

She nodded in greeting, walking into the room to find two other men, one she had seen and one she had not, waiting in chairs. The older of the two, the one she recognized, stood and nodded, a small smile on his face that she could tell was designed to be reassuring somehow. Returning a small, half-hearted smile of her own, she turned to the unfamiliar man, the younger of the two. She could not help taking an instinctive step back as soon as her eyes met his calculating gaze.

He stayed seated, head cocked like an animal eyeing its prey with his elbow resting on the arm, fist curled at his head while he stared at her, studying her. Shifting uneasily under the scrutiny, Bella's eyes strayed, flitting away from the unhinged man. She found herself looking back at the one she felt the connection to.

He smiled at her and nodded, sitting on the loveseat, the woman who had brought her here, and who was the only other female in the room, following to sit beside him. Bella looked at the arrangement of chairs before her and sat down on the vacant sofa across from the two blonds.

There was a brief moment of silence, before it was interrupted by the youngest brunet. "So, darling, why don't we start with names?" he said with a smirk, his voice laced with an unsurprising English accent that she had come to expect from the people in front of her. "We are the Mikaelsons. My name is Kol, that there is Elijah, our dear sister Rebekah, and that is Niklaus, or as some know him by, Klaus." He gestured to each person as he named them, his gaze not moving from her form.

Swallowing, Bella nodded. "I'm Bella, Bella Swan." Her voice was timid, something that did not escape any of them.

"Perhaps, Kol," Elijah interrupted, a hand on Kol's shoulder as he smiled at Bella, "I should take it from here?" A shrug was the response given, and Elijah turned back to Bella. "Bella, why don't we start with what brought you to Mystic Falls? We understand you're new here."

Bella bit her lip as her eyes flickered between the four of them. "How do you know that?"

Kol interjected with a smirk, "We've met a lot of people, and I am sure you would stand out if we had met you before." The grin on his face was cheeky, widening at Bella's reaction.

She blushed, looking down. Her heart was erratic at the thought of unveiling everything to the people before her, and she knew she couldn't tell the truth. They'd have her committed, but more than that, they'd be in danger, and she didn't feel like she could handle having that on her conscience.

"Don't bother trying to lie, love," Rebekah told her just as Bella opened her mouth.

Bella took a shaky breath, eyes flitting to Niklaus before going back to Elijah. "I…" She couldn't even think of where to begin.

"Perhaps we should begin with what happened when you first… encountered our brother," Elijah prompted, glancing at Klaus before looking back to Bella. "Tell me, when you looked into Niklaus's eyes, did you feel something?"

Kol snorted. "Brother, of course she did. Did you not hear her panicking? I would be too if I were mated to Nik."

Klaus glared at his brother before a cold smirk settled on his face. "I can only imagine what your mate will say once you find her, Kol."

Kol growled and went to lunge for Klaus, Klaus mimicking his movements with a smirk, goading him. But one call of "brothers" and a meaningful glance in Bella's direction was enough to halt them. With one look at her, Klaus calmed.

Bella's inhale had been strangled at the word 'mate' slipping from his lips, and her throat closed, choking her as her eyes watered. It was confirmed now; she was tied to another much as she had been to Edward. Fantastic.

"Don't be such a bastard, Kol," Rebekah warned him in a cold tone, looking at Bella. When she addressed her, her tone was much softer but still just as firm and unwavering. "We can tell you have some knowledge of the supernatural world. What we need to know is how much."

Bella swallowed. Looking between the four of them, tears stinging her eyes and clawing at her throat, she started speaking, and once the words begun to spill from her mouth, they could not stop. "Listen, I don't know what you are, okay? Your secret is in the dark as far as I'm concerned. I know nothing. But… well, a couple of months ago I moved to a little town called Forks in Washington state to live with my father, and on my first day of school, I met this family. Despite looking nothing alike, they all had the same pale skin and golden eyes. Turns out they were vampires," she laughed crazily, choking on her own tears and the lump in her throat, noticing it was getting harder and harder to breathe with each word. Really, of all the girls in the town—in the country—she had to be the mate to a vampire? Of all the rotten luck… "One of them…" she swallowed against the lump in her throat, pushing the words out, "Edward, he saw me and mated with me. I felt an instant connection and so did he. But it was… it was too much, okay? I was addicted to him, needed him, but he was changing me. I used to be independent, used to have my own likes and dislikes, but as soon as I met him it was like I couldn't breathe without him by my side. And suddenly, I didn't want to be on my own so much, in fact I was dependent on him and I don't depend on other people, and I was wearing freaking designer clothes and heels and I—I—I just, I panicked because that is not me."

"So you ran," Elijah finished for her, voice calm to try and ease her out of her steady-growing panic, and she nodded jerkily. "And you came here?"

"I needed somewhere to go quickly," she whispered, looking at them with tears in her eyes, almost pleading for them to understand. "No one could know where I was going. I had already made the mistake of voicing my feelings and I learned from them," she said, pulling back her sleeve and revealing a scar, neglecting to show them the others she had. She also ignored the snarl she could hear building in Klaus's chest. "I learned the hard way. But it was only getting worse. It was hard, leaving; not just because of the bond but because Edward and the rest of the Cullens… some of them had gifts, and even though they didn't really work on me, they still worked enough to be to their advantage. Edward could read every mind but mine but he'd studied me for my tells, and his sister, Alice, could see visions of the future based on decisions, but they were fuzzy when it came to me unless she looked for the more general future and tried to see if I was still included. Alice's mate, Jasper, could feel and influence other's emotions, but he couldn't pinpoint mine or change them much either… but his gift was effective enough that he could at least sense the more potent of emotions in me… sharp fear, panic, rage." She almost choked on tears remembering how they had worked against her to trap her in the coupling part of her didn't want and the other was brainwashed to want.

Bella shook her head and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. Nodding to herself, she continued, "As I said, I needed somewhere to go quickly. I needed to just disappear, and I needed to do it when Edward was occupied—when all of them, in particular the gifted ones, were occupied so they couldn't stop me. So when Edward went to a family gathering, I stayed behind, saying that Alice didn't invite me because she knew as I did that we needed to remain inconspicuous. As soon as he was gone, I got in my car and left for the airport. I couldn't fly anywhere too far because I didn't have enough money, but I also didn't have enough money for a short flight only to have to buy a car and waste money on gas getting to where I wanted to go. Plus, they're fast, okay? Like really fast. They'd be able to run anywhere too close by the time I landed, and find me, and then all of this would have been for nothing. Here seemed like a good option, so that's what I did. I was planning on buying a car tomorrow—" at that she wondered what time it was and looked to the window; she sighed at the bright light billowing from the curtains "—or today, I guess, and driving the rest of the way to New Orleans, maybe catch a bus half way through the trip, I don't know."

Her voice broke on those last three words, and she swallowed against the ball in her throat, tears prickling and stinging her eyes as they slid down her cheeks when she blinked. She scrubbed at them, and unable to contain it anymore, she gave into the urge to bring her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. She looked up at Klaus, and in her eyes he could see the words she wouldn't say.

Help me.

Elijah sighed as he looked between his brother and the young girl who was his mate. She had certainly been through a rough time, and what she'd told them explained the frantic incoherent ramblings she'd released when she'd curled in on herself in the street.

It was the last thing their family needed now, but one look at Niklaus's face, and Elijah had to scold himself. This girl… This girl was now family, too. A Mikaelson. Or at least she was going to be. And just last night he had reminded the Gilberts of what he now was reminding himself: the Mikaelsons may be willing to dagger one another, but they were just as willing, if not more, to fight to the death for one another. And Elijah knew that was what this would come down to.

From the sounds of things, they'd be dealing with cold ones, and their mating connection was the polar opposite of that of the original species. With very little regard for the female's feelings, the connection warped the female to the male's personality, and more often than not the male was aggressive in his perusal of the female. Very aggressive. And while the original species also would stop at nothing to get their mates back if their mate ever left, in the cold one's world it never ended well for the female, or indeed any she held dear to her heart.

Bella was in far more danger than she could know.

Then again, if the scars on her were any indication, perhaps she did know.

"I just had to get away," Bella wailed, voice hoarse as she swallowed, looking up at Elijah. "I was so wrapped in the connection that I was upset that he hadn't claimed me against my will because it meant he likely didn't want me," she spat, eyes wide, frantic.

"What do you mean, love?" Klaus asked, fire in his eyes as he leaned forward.

Bella glanced at him then down at her lap. "Jasper, the empath, had these friends visit. They were nomads, Peter and Charlotte. Charlotte was watching me, and when the men left to catch up, Charlotte asked me how I was doing it. I didn't know what she meant, so she explained to me what happened to her, what happens to so many of the mated couples for their kind. Peter had found her when she was human, like Edward had with me, and had immediately raped her to claim her as his mate, not giving her a choice before he turned her."

Klaus growled deep in his chest, jaw locking and nostrils flaring. Just the thought of her going through that…

"And I…" Bella continued meekly, "I guess while most of me was relieved that Edward hadn't done that, part of me—the part more inclined to connect with the emotions of a mated female—was concerned because if he hadn't done so and it was so common, then it was impossible for him to want me that way. I mean, his own father, Carlisle, was urging him to just do it as he had with his mate, Esme, but he still refused."

"And what about now?" Rebekah asked with a frown on her face.

The smile that stretched across Bella's face then was small, soft, almost bashful. All four Mikaelsons smiled at the sight of it despite themselves. Her voice was sweet and kind, in stark contrast with the horrible subject. "Now I'm only grateful. If he had raped me—" she flinched at the growl that burst from Klaus's chest "—then I never could have escaped him. I would be trapped, and trapped as this whole other person I don't even recognize."

Rebekah smiled. "Good." She then looked up at Elijah, before continuing. "I think that's enough of that for one day, but I do think that there are some things you need to know now." Elijah nodded and gestured for her to proceed, so she did.

"Our family are known as the Originals to others of our kind. We are the first, and all others are descended from us. Our story began as humans one thousand years ago, having moved from Norway to this very town when a plague struck and took our oldest sister, Freya. Our father, Mikael, and our mother, Esther, a witch, wanted to leave so that we would be safe from the horrors of the illness. But in migrating here we found ourselves in a different kind of danger.

"Some years later, our youngest brother, Henrik, was killed by a werewolf who belonged to a pack in the village. But our father was tired of running. He wanted to stay and to fight, to be superior to the wolves. Where they could bite, we had to bite harder. Where they had speed, we had to be faster. Agility… strength… senses…" Her voice was almost bitter as she told their story, and Bella eyed Klaus, noting his clenched jaw and locking it away for later. Rebekah's voice drew her attention back. "He wanted us to be able to live forever. He and Mother tried to convince a fellow witch Ayana to help them, but she would not. She warned our parents that what they were trying to do would be a crime against nature, and that nature would turn on us. That there would be consequences.

"But Father insisted. He wanted us safe, but more than that, his pride could not allow anything less." Seeing Bella open her mouth to ask, Rebekah interrupted her. "Before you ask, no, we are not witches. A witch is a servant of nature whereas what we became is an abomination. One can be either or, but never both."

Bella swallowed. "So what did she do?"

Rebekah stood and flitted to the bar, getting her siblings each a drink and passing them out before sitting back down. She twirled the liquor in the glass, watching it as she continued. "She called upon the sun for life, and the ancient white oak tree as one of nature's eternal objects for immortality. That night, my father offered us wine laced with blood, and unaware of the consequences, we drank it before he drove his sword through our hearts. When we awoke, he forced us to drink the blood of villagers to complete transition."

Bella's eyes widened, a gasp drawing from her throat. "Vampires," she whispered, looking at each of them. "But… how…?"

Rebekah smiled, glancing at her other siblings, whom all drank with expressionless faces. "There is more than one kind, of course. Cold ones are the younger species, the one you are familiar with. Another witch later tried another spell to create a better species—less thirst, stronger, harder to kill…"

"And in some respects, that backfired," Klaus deadpanned with a smirk, leaning forward as he spoke to place his glass on the coffee table.

Bella snorted in agreement, and for a moment they shared a grin before Bella remembered herself and turned back to Rebekah. "What then?"

Rebekah shrugged. "Ayana was right about the consequences. The spirits turned on us, nature fought back. For each strength gained there was a new weakness. The sun became our enemy, keeping us indoors for weeks until our mother found a solution." She lifted her hand to show the ring that each Mikaelson had on their finger with the noticeable exception of Klaus, though Bella determined she would ask later. "Neighbors who had invited us into their homes could now keep us out, unless, of course, they gave us permission to once again enter. The flowers at the base of the white oak burned our skin, prevented compulsion—a type of mind control achieved by looking into the other vampire or human's eyes and speaking exactly what you want to have occur, though only Originals can compel other vampires. And the spell decreed that the White Oak Tree, which gave us life, could also take it away if we were staked through the heart with its wood. To protect ourselves, we burned it to the ground."

Sensing something here, Bella prodded, "But?"

"But the darkest consequence was something our parents never anticipated."

"The thirst," Bella whispered with recognition.

Rebekah nodded. "Blood made us reborn and it was blood that we craved above all else. We could not control it for quite some time," with a side glance to Kol, she added, "and some of us still can't."

Kol smirked. "I can control it… I just don't see the need to deny myself." He then, in turn, threw a pointed glance at their brother, Elijah, who rolled his eyes.

"Enough," he said, his voice gentle, before turning to their brother's young mate. "I am sure you have questions."

Bella nodded. "You said you burned the white oak tree down… does that mean there is no way to kill any of your species?" It was hard to imagine anyone could be truly immortal, let alone an entire species.

It was Elijah who answered. "Bella, of our kind, we are the most powerful. We are the strongest, the fastest… every part of ourselves that the spell was created to enhance is the most enhanced of our species, and continues to enhance as we grow older… just as it does for all of our species. Given that we are the first of our kind, we are the hardest to kill, and in that, we are the only ones who can be killed by a stake of just the White Oak. Other stakes of any other kind of wood merely work as neutralizing agent for a short amount of time, at such time we awaken and remove it ourselves. Other than that, a dagger dipped in the ash of the White Oak Tree works as a neutralizing agent for however long until it is removed from the heart. There are some White Oak stakes in existence still, but we make it our business to find them and destroy them."

"So others of your kind can be killed… how?"

"Wooden stakes," Klaus replied.

Bella nodded, thinking. "So you're not really immortal then?"

Klaus smirked. "They aren't, but I am." At the crease in her brow, he continued. "I am a little something extra than my other siblings. When our family migrated to this town one thousand years ago, myself, Kol, Rebekah, and Henrik were not yet born. Because of the distance between our parents after our sister's death, our mother stepped outside of her marital bed and conceived me with a wolf—"

"Wolf? You mean shape-shifters, right?" Bella interrupted him, blushing after a moment. Though this definitely explained the dual feel of the mating connection; both sides of himself in agreement but with their own mating connection only threaded through the other to her.

"No, true werewolves," Klaus informed her, breaking her out of her thinking, cocking his head in thought. "You know of shape-shifters but not of werewolves?"

"There was a tribe at home," Bella told them, voice low, "they shifted into wolves, but could do it anytime they wanted… or anytime they were angry enough." She swallowed as memories flashed behind her eyelids every time she blinked, her breathing picking up before slowing again.

The four Mikaelsons shared a glance, unified in their decision to investigate this further at a later date. It seemed possible they would have to look out for shape-shifters now as well. Klaus almost groaned, anger and possessiveness building but he kept a tight handle on it, remarkably, reminding himself of his mate's fragile state. Even though he wasn't quite sure he could take having another species on top of the cold ones after his mate, he knew he could not risk frightening her. She would run.

"I assure you, love," he told her, his tone aloof as he reined in his emotions for her, jaw clenched tight in effort. "The werewolves I speak of are nothing like them. Werewolves can only shift on the full moon."

"But you?"

He smirked. His mate was a clever girl. "I am not like other werewolves, nor am I like other vampires—even my own siblings. I am a hybrid of both, and as such, I am truly immortal. I cannot be killed."

Tension left Bella that she didn't even realize had hit her. Knowing that her mate was not in any danger because it was impossible to kill him was a grand weight off her shoulders. One less thing to worry about.

Klaus smiled to himself, looking down for a moment.

Elijah took this as the time to jump in once again, noting how tired Bella was, how her body sagged back against the couch, perhaps in both relief and exhaustion. In any case, she needed her rest after the stress she'd been under. But there was one final topic they had to address before she could do so. "Bella, the reason we are telling you this is because, as you are already quite aware, you are mated to our brother, Niklaus."

Klaus growled, and under his breath he said, "And you say my tact has dwindled over the past millennium." His movements were slow as to not exacerbate Bella's fear any more than it already was as he kneeled in front of his human mate as she began to panic, his siblings looking on in wordless surprise and intrigue, sending meaningful glances at one another at Klaus's gentle behavior. "But I would never push you, I swear to you," Klaus interjected in a soft tone that no Mikaelson had ever heard come from him, not even with Caroline Forbes. "The mating connection of our kind is much different to the one you are familiar with. There is still possessiveness and protectiveness, yes, but there is no changing of one person to fit the other's personality. You'll find, in fact, that we are matched on that level to bring out the best in one another. You will not have to change anything about who you are to be with me, and I must warn you that neither will I."

Bella swallowed, and against her better judgment, she asked, "Warn me?"

Klaus smirked, even more so at the indication of what that look did to Bella. "Yes, love. I'm not an easy man to live with. I do not do well with betrayal, and I am quick to anger. I act impulsively, and am quick to violence. But I can give you my word that you will never see that side of me against you. In your defense, most definitely, but against you, never. I could never hurt you in any way," he stressed, relieved as he knew that Bella picked up on his meaning.

Bella paused, thinking about it all. "What happens now?" Her voice was small and Klaus's smile softened as he reached up with his hand to caress her cheek as he pushed her hair back off her shoulder and behind her ear. Without meaning to, Bella leaned into his touch, and his small smile grew.

"Whatever you want, love," Klaus promised her, his voice still uncharacteristically tender, and yet it did not seem strange—at least not when directed at her. For Klaus, it was instinct. "It is entirely up to you. My one request is that you consider perhaps staying with us. We, ourselves, are about to move to New Orleans as well, and are more than equipped with the experience needed to protect you from cold ones. You are family now, and we protect our family above all else."

Bella swallowed and looked at the others, seeing Elijah and Rebekah nod, and even Kol. Looking back into Klaus's eyes, she nodded and whispered, "Okay. I—I'll stay."

Klaus's grin grew, and Bella delighted at how the light in his eyes made him look. "Fantastic," he said under his breath.

Conversation dwindled then, and it was not long before a worn out Bella fell asleep with her head on Klaus's shoulder. With a glance to his siblings that they stay there for him to come back to so they could discuss things, Klaus lifted his mate into his arms and carried her to his room, hoping she would not be panicked by it. He stood for a moment after tucking her into the covers of his bed, marveling at the sight of her.

His mate. The one who completed not just his vampire, but also his wolf.

Sitting on the very edge of the bed, Klaus decided that any discussion could wait for a while. Right now all that mattered was the small, fragile girl asleep in his bed whose life was now entangled with his, and thus whom he had the utter privilege and duty to protect with his life, for she was indeed his. And he was hers.

Downstairs, Elijah's thoughts were on an identical wavelength. Everything had changed, yes, but he was sure it would be for the better. He was sure that this girl, this Bella, was the key to his brother's redemption. Perhaps nothing could change what his brother had become, but this girl was Niklaus's salvation, he was sure of it, and she would be the sole influence to guide Niklaus from spiraling even further downward, the one able to pull him back from the brink, when on previous occasions there had been no one else but Elijah, whose influence only worked so well.

For that alone he would protect her with everything he had.

That sleeping girl didn't even realize that she had obtained the four most powerful protectors on the planet as family. And right now, that didn't matter. She'd learn.

Because those cold ones were coming, and Elijah did not care in the slightest. He would kill each and every one of the foul species himself if it meant keeping her safe and through that guaranteed safety, his family intact.

Voicing these thoughts to Rebekah and Kol, they both nodded.

"It'll be fun," Kol grinned. "I, for one, am fascinated to see the fallout. It'll be a blast."

Rebekah rolled her eyes but she was smiling as well, and already Elijah could see that the girl upstairs would be good for more than just their brother. He was quite sure she would be the glue that would hold his fractured family together, without even knowing it.

With that, Elijah left the room for his study. It was time he place a call to the Volturi so the leaders of the cold ones to become abreast of the situation, perhaps be reminded who was truly in charge. He also needed to call the contacts he had on the West coast so that protection would be in place for Bella's parents with immediacy, for against the wrath of a cold one, they were in the utmost and unequal of danger, to be certain unequal by any human standards. Cold ones would do anything to draw their mates back, even go as far as killing the loved ones of their female as a show of power and emotional torment to punish their mate, make them subservient out of fear.

These facts together and Elijah knew it was certain that a war would be coming down on them and soon.

Klaus frowned down upon his mate, watching as she trembled, curled up in a tight ball as if, even in sleep, she were braced for onslaught. Growling low in his chest, he felt his visage morph to that of his hybrid as he at last allowed his anger to overwhelm him at the thought of what those bastards had done to her.

But he'd get even.

Oh, there was a war coming, all right. There was hell to pay for those who had harmed his mate, even if it wasn't so much physical harm. Niklaus knew the effects of emotional torment, knew them well. So he'd have the heads of the coven of cold ones who did this to her. He would not rest until it was so.

Chapter Text

We The Kings ~ Just Keep Breathing

When heaven seems so far away
And dreams are just a memory
Without the dark the light won't show
Remember that you're not alone

When you watch the world just turn away
And break the promises it made
When love is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it go

Whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing

2 A.M., too tired to sleep
When what you want's not what you need
And when these walls don't feel like home
Remember that you're not alone

The beginning's just another end
It's not too late to start again
When hope is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it go

Whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing

Ooh ooh...

When heaven seems so far away
And dreams are just a memory
When love is all too hard to hold
Just take a breath and let it...

Go whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing
Whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh, whoa whoa oh
Just keep breathing, breathing, breathing


Chapter 4—Just Keep Breathing


A long wail ripped through the false-calm of the night, and with it, a heartbeat thudded faster. In a bedroom in the New Orleans mansion of the Original family, just across the hall from Niklaus's room, Bella lay drenched in sweat and panting as tears streamed down her face while she recovered from her dream, happy dreams but a memory to her now in the face of the onslaught of all these nightmares.

The panic would not leave her, though, and with a sudden impulse, she leapt from the bed, still crying and whimpering in softly, and ran for the bathroom. She just felt the whoosh of air as Klaus knelt beside her and held her hair as she retched into the toilet, his presence and touch assuring her and calming her by the second as the fog clouding her mind cleared slowly.

Safe, her mind whispered.

It had been a mere few days since waking up to find herself mated to him and fixed, entrenched, in what she was, bit by bit, coming to realize was the most powerful supernatural family out there. It had been difficult, and Bella had found herself waking nightly, panting and sweating and aching, seconds away from a panic attack after a particularly harsh dream that Edward was sending her way to enthrall her with panicked submission until she gave up and went back to him.

She had tried—boy, had she tried, begging and crying for Klaus to let her go back to him, pleading with Elijah or Rebekah, or even Kol, to help her. But they all responded with the same pitying no, Klaus holding her as she screamed and cried, telling them of the hell they would bring on themselves because of Edward's wrath—"he will kill you all, don't you understand that?"—and Niklaus's particular favorite—"I'm not worth it."

All he ever did was hold her in his arms, secure and safe, pressing soft kisses to her skin as he assured her in a low growl that still never failed to calm her enough to sleep a dreamless sleep, "You are worth it, Isabella. You are worth everything I have endured, and everything we will endure in the future to keep you by our sides."

And when it all got too much: "Just keep breathing, love. I'm here, I have you, and I'm never letting you go. Just take a breath and let it go."

Bella was pulled back into reality when Klaus's arms pulled her in against him as the toilet flushed. A water bottle appeared in front of her bleary eyes and, blinded by tears, she reached to take it, but Elijah—whom she just realized was on the other side of her—did not let up on his hold of the bottle as she took a long drink. She felt another hand on her forehead and looked up to see Rebekah's worried gaze on her as she felt for her temperature.

"Come on, love, back to bed we go," Klaus said to her, pulling her up in his arms. He turned to the door, where Bella could see Kol leaning against the threshold, eyes on her as he murmured something she couldn't make out to his other siblings. But Bella was too tired to be as upset about that as she may have been lucid.

"W' time is it?" she slurred, looking around.

"Two in the morning," Kol replied, his voice now louder than it had been seconds ago.

Bella blinked, realizing that while she couldn't call this place home, she was now surrounded by a family doing everything they could to support her, to be her family, to prove that she was not alone in this. It gave her strength even as she pouted.

"'M too tired'a sleep," she said, making them chuckle when she yawned as soon as the words had left her mouth. She whined, "all sticky." She wiggled in Klaus's arms, glaring up at him like a tired, grumpy child once she realized why she wasn't moving. "Pu' me down."

Klaus's lips twitched at the adorable picture his mate made in her sleepy incoherence, a look he saw on each of his siblings once he looked up before going back to her. "I think not, Bella," he said in his serious tone, "you need sleep. You're exhausted, and your body can't keep up."

Bella's eyes widened before tears welled in her eyes, and a sob built in her chest. She pulled in on herself, looking down as she spoke. "I don't want to go to sleep. I can't sleep. He's waiting for me, Klaus. He won't leave me alone and I can't do that anymore. I can't listen to it anymore." Her voice broke on the words, and she pulled into herself harder as she breathed harshly, trying to control herself as Klaus observed her for a split second before lifting her face up to look in her eyes by a curled finger under her chin.

He regarded her for a second, searching her eyes before he leaned his forehead against hers. "I calm you; perhaps my mere presence whilst you sleep will rid him of the ability to gain access to your subconscious. Is that something you are willing to try? If that does not work, I can access your dreams and influence them; push him out. What do you think, love?"

Suddenly, as Bella looked into the blue eyes of the man in front of her, willing to do anything just so she could sleep, Bella felt incredibly awkward and shy. Tears welled in her eyes as she looked around the room at the strong familial unit around her, tensed and waiting for her to respond, the hope in their eyes that this would give her some long-needed relief. Irrelevant became what Bella wanted—time for herself, space to recover on her own—in the face what she needed: Klaus, and this family.

With reddened cheeks, Bella nodded and whispered, "okay," missing the relieved but knowing smirks on the other three Mikaelsons faces as they watched their brother take his mate to bed in his rooms rather than her own. Before leaving back for their own chambers, Elijah and Rebekah stripped Bella's bed and opened the windows to let fresh air into the heated room.

Kol, for his part, went to his rooms and thought. His affection for Bella was perhaps not as clear, but it was, to be certain, just as strong, and he would help her the way he knew best: anger management and violence. He knew what it was to lose what you loved, even if the differences in circumstance were vast. He knew what it was to mourn that loss, then stand again on his own two feet to reclaim who he was; even if he turned out different along the way. He smirked to himself, wondering what kind of bat might work best for his new sister at first. He'd work her up to titanium.

He grunted, however, and clenched his fists as he felt it begin again. He'd put it off for too long. Growling under his breath, he barricaded the door and threw a chair into the wall, trying to gain control as his nostrils flared and his visage played, seconds from giving up and revealing his vampirism.

The Hunter's curse was upon him.

~TPoL~

Klaus looked up from his mate's fingers on the piano keys, eyes connecting with Elijah's in unspoken sentiment. With a kiss to Bella's forehead that had her blushing, he rose. "Keep playing, love. I'll be in the study with Elijah."

"Okay," she murmured, already focused on the keys as she pressed to create that haunting melody she'd been playing with and developing since that morning. Klaus exited the room and dashed up the stairs, smiling to himself as the sound of his mate's voice permeated the air.

"You called, brother?" he asked as he entered the room to find Elijah standing in front of the desk.

"I did, yes," he said, regarding his brother for a moment before smiling. "Mating does well for you, Niklaus."

Unlike many other times to date, Niklaus's smile was soft and thoughtful rather than cold and calculating. "So it appears. What did you want?"

"I merely wish for us all to stay on the same page," he said, voice deep as his eyes flicked to the door just before it opened. Bella's voice grew louder and then softer again as Rebekah and Kol entered the room then closed the door.

"What is it, Elijah?" Rebekah asked as she sat down next to Klaus, across from their older brother. Kol stayed standing, arms crossed as he leaned back against the dark wall close to the door.

"Several things," he began, sitting down. "First, the bruises Kol noticed on Bella last night. They've faded mostly but I want to know the extent of the injuries."

Klaus barred his teeth, nostrils flared with anger, his tone clouded and dark. "They were not serious. I believe there were slight bruises on her ribs, but apart from that the bruises seemed superficial."

"Hmm," Elijah replied in thought. "When was it that you noticed them?"

"The day after our introductions," Klaus replied. "She was tender and winced every time she knocked into something. I asked her and she freely informed me and showed me the bruises."

"Was there anything else?"

He growled. "Bite marks, nine of them, ranging from her arms to the back of her neck. My guess is he bit her into submission as their kind are wont to do with their mates. I detected that he may have bitten her multiple times over the marks as well."

The others were of similar emotional stances, Elijah pulling himself back from it all to focus on the matter at hand. "When the time comes, I'm sure Bella will gladly accept your blood to heal her of those scars, Niklaus."

Klaus nodded, visibly forcing himself to calm so they could continue on. He was antsy, wanting to get back to his mate's side, unwilling to leave her alone, even in the safety of their house, for very long. "Get on with it, Elijah," he said harshly. "Why else have you brought us together for this meeting?"

Elijah sighed. "As I said, there are several things to discuss. Now that that has been dealt with, I wish to clarify that I have made contact with the Volturi and have warned them of the recent events. They maintain that they will stay out of it as long as it can be helped, however by their own decree, they must act if the young Edward comes for their aid."

Klaus snorted. "Surprising," he drawled. "Those three coots are wimps. They won't do a thing, and they'll stall even if the Cullens come to them. They are terrified of you, Elijah," he said with a smirk.

Elijah's chuckle was mischievous, his smirk rivalling that of the cheeky Kol's. "I do believe, brother, that they are rather hesitant to ignite the ire of any of us. I do not think they have yet overcome their first meeting with Kol and yourself."

Klaus and Kol shared a look, chuckling fondly.

"Good times," Kol provided.

Elijah schooled his features, even as Rebekah rolled her eyes at their antics. "What about Bella's parents?" she asked Elijah, her concern showing. She knew that if something had happened to either of them, the impact upon Bella would be great, and she hoped they'd not have to cross that bridge when they came to it.

"They are safe," Elijah said with a nod, looking to Klaus. "My witch took them both away, along with Ms. Dwyer's husband. All safe and all untraceable."

"Good, thank you, Elijah," Klaus replied with a nod of his own. "And of the Cullens' movements, the werewolves?"

Elijah's expression grew dark. "They have made leeway. They are, as we speak, en route to Mystic Falls. As for the wolves, I am unsure of their involvement in all this; as of right now, they have not made a start to secure knowledge of Isabella's location. As far as I know, Bella most likely turned to them for help before developing this plan of escape, but they turned away and left her to her own devices."

"Just as the rest of the world did," Rebekah said quietly, a frown on her face. "But why would they not help her? Werewolves are vampires' sworn enemies; surely this pack of shape-shifters is no different."

"Indeed not," Klaus supplied. "But they do have a promise to protect humans... It makes me wonder why they might break the promises they've made and held for centuries. Even the human mate of a cold one is not exempt from help."

Elijah brought their attention back, the hand on his hip leaving to grip the top of the desk chair in front of him. "Be that as it may, my point is that I do fear that we cannot hide Bella's whereabouts from either party for much longer."

Klaus smirked darkly. "But we can intercept and distract, yes?"

There was a nod in response.

"Good," he replied, his protectiveness showing through. "I will not have them near her until she is ready. Her symptoms are worsening by the day."

"How long, do you believe, until seizures?" Elijah asked, brow furrowed with worry. Five days previous and he'd had intrigue and passable interest placed hand-in-hand with grudging acceptance because of timing when it came to Isabella's wellbeing. Now, however, he very much viewed her as an older brother did his much younger and much more vulnerable baby sister.

It was the same for Rebekah and Kol as well.

Niklaus's brow was furrowed as he contemplated his brother's question with careful consideration. At last, he answered, "Not long, surely. I think, perhaps, they will start tomorrow or the next day. My continued presence at her side can only hold them so long. She is already afflicted by the night terrors, the nausea, fatigue..." He looked to his brother, determined, his voice reflecting his resolve as he spoke unwaveringly, "Once the seizures begin, I will not leave her for a moment."

Elijah nodded in thought. "And a remedy?"

Klaus ground his teeth together in agitation, his expression dark and brooding. "The only solution I have come across is bonding, but as her mating to Edward is not entirely broken as of yet and we cannot find out how to do so, her side cannot be fulfilled. And she is not ready for me to place my mark on her when she cannot reciprocate; it will no doubt leave her feeling much as she did in Edward's hands."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning she will be unable to mark me and that will make her feel like a possession." Klaus's words were laced with contempt. "As you well know, the process is as much about giving as it is receiving. She is unable to give that which is not solely hers, and therefore she cannot give me her essence until her bond with him is broken."

"But then why can you mark her if she is not free to be claimed?" Rebekah asked, looking between the two older of her brothers as they shared meaningful looks, though it was Kol who answered.

"Because in giving you give half the soul, but to receive is to have an open heart. Her heart wishes for Klaus's claim while her soul is trapped by Edward's. Once her soul is free, so is her ability to give herself to place the mark. Until then, her heart will crave Klaus's mark while her soul is unable to reach his to place hers."

At Klaus's nod confirming his words, Rebekah's eyes narrowed, her tone haughty as she replied to him, "And since when have you invested interest in the rituals?"

Kol rolled his eyes, pushing himself off the wall. "Since our new-found sister and our brother are trying to complete their own." Then he turned, wrenched the door open, and walked out, closing the door, the sound loud and abrupt. He made his way down to his chambers, blocking the door and assuming the appropriate position as he became overwhelmed once more by the curse. At least he could be grateful that he at least could control when the impulses overtook him—though of course he could not avoid for too long before they wrenched him back in a most forceful manner anyway.

Elijah stared after their brother. "It is good that you pushed him away when you did, there is one final thing I would like to discuss with you both, actually."

Klaus raised an eyebrow, Rebekah giving no verbal or bodily response.

Elijah fished in his slack's pocket, revealing a ring as he pulled his hand back out. He threw it to Klaus, who held it up and inspected it closely, a smirk alighting his face as he understood where his brother was going with this. He passed the ring Rebekah's way before looking up at his brother.

"The Gilbert ring?"

"Indeed," Elijah replied.

"So the boy is dead after all?" Rebekah asked as she placed it on the table between them.

"So it appears," Klaus supplied, the devious smirk on his lips widening. "And now that we have this ring in our possession, what are we to do with it?"

"I think you know," his brother replied, tone cryptic and smug as the smirk on his face.

Rebekah frowned, glancing between the two of them. "I don't get it."

Klaus chuckled. "The ring has protective properties for the wearer, yes?" She nodded and he smirked. "Our genius brother is proposing we give the ring to my mate for extra protection."

She frowned. "Wait... Doesn't that ring also have dangerous side effects—like, say, making the wearer go mad?"

"Indeed," Elijah once again supplied. "However, I do believe we won't have to worry ourselves with that."

"Oh?" Rebekah asked.

"Careful, sweetheart," Klaus mocked her, "your attitude is smarting again."

"Sod off," she muttered, eyes on the elder of them. "How exactly did you come to that conclusion?"

"Isabella spoke of the ineffectiveness of the cold ones' abilities on her, yes?"

"Yes," she replied.

Klaus interjected. "Elijah believes that the shield that is protecting Bella's mind will protect her from the negative side effects, just as it protected her from the attacks of their gifts." He chuckled, nodding as he leaned back. "Fantastic."

"Why didn't you want Kol in on this conversation?" Rebekah asked somewhat abruptly, looking at the ring and then Elijah again.

Elijah sighed. "Our brother is affected by the Hunter's curse but refuses to tell us. The only reason I know is because logic dictates that it would have begun to affect his mind by now and also because I caught his whispers last night. It seems he has better control over it, and can, to an extent, prevent its effect until a time he allows. How far else that control goes is the question I have no answer for thus far."

Rebekah and Klaus looked at one another before the three began to discuss at length the issue this presented. All they could do was wait until the next potential hunter was awakened; then the symptoms would clear.

With the meeting was over, the three went their separate ways. Elijah stayed in the study, door open as Bella's voice once again reached his ears and he smiled indulgently, listening in further before deciding to touch base with his witch.

Rebekah made her way to Kol's chambers, not wanting the youngest brother alone in his circumstance. She found herself met with surprisingly low resistance for her company, though Kol still had enough presence of mind to refuse to open the door to allow her entrance. However, slowly as he came to realize the pain was too much to bear by himself, and that is sister was there to support not scorn or betray, he let her in. Rebekah felt tears well in her eyes at the sight of her brother, and without hesitation, she drew him into her arms.

"I have you, brother. I'm here; you are not alone. We will get through this, together as a family; always and forever. Just breathe."

And Kol smiled to himself as he repeated the vow, a millennia of pain and anger and bitterness slowly beginning to heal as he got something he had always wanted: a sibling's love.

Downstairs, Klaus had descended the last of the stairs, following his mate's voice. He stopped at the entrance of the room, watching her as her head inclined toward the instrument underneath her commanding, talented fingers as she poured her soul into the music she was creating, emotion raw in her voice, cracking a few times as she sang the words to a melody her own experiences dictated.

And despite, perhaps, some obscurity at meaning, Klaus found his capacity to understand quite high.

" Job well done

Standing ovation

Yeah you got what you wanted

I guess you won

And I don't want to hear, they don't know you like I do

Even I could've told you

But now we're done

'Cause you play me like a symphony

Play me till your fingers bleed

I'm your greatest masterpiece

You ruin me

Later when the curtains drawn

And no one's there for you back home

Don't cry to me, you played me wrong

You ruin me

I know you thought

That I wouldn't notice

You were acting so strange

I'm not that dumb

And in the end I hope she was worth it

I don't care if you love me, you make me numb

'Cause you play me like a symphony

Play me till your fingers bleed

I'm your greatest masterpiece

You ruin me

Later when the curtains drawn

And no one's there for you back home

Don't cry to me, you played me wrong

You ruin me

We're that song you wouldn't sing

Just a broken melody

You're killing me

You "

All of a sudden, Bella cut off, her breathing stuttering before she lurched, hand curling to her chest as she gasped for air that her windpipe would not allow throw. A strange sound erupted from her throat as she tried for air but got nothing in return, but Klaus was already at her side, pulling her from the piano to lay on the ground as she shook in his arms. This was no a seizure, but it was the beginnings of one, stopped when her skin first sparked against Klaus's everywhere their naked flesh made contact—though limited, it worked, and slowly Bella was able to breathe again, her head coming to rest against Klaus's chest as she breathed in his scent, slowing her panicky breaths to steady and deep ones at Klaus's urging.

"Just keep breathing, love… that's it, little one." The soft words were murmured as Klaus's fingers combed her hair, his breath mingling there. He, like Bella, breathed in his mate's scent to calm himself.

Bella relaxed into his embrace, the sweet sound of his endearments calming her as she made herself focus on the here and now. The familiar, disorienting fog cleared from her mind, the seizure subsiding, and Bella was horrified at what she found. "Oh, god," she whispered hoarsely, a hand pressing to her throbbing forehead as she turned in Klaus's arms. "Klaus…" she half-sobbed, diving into his arms and burrowing her face in his scent. Safe, a small voice within her whispered in her ear as her tensed muscles relaxed once more. Safe.

Klaus took a moment to respond, lips parted with shock. This was the first time that Bella had initiated a form of contact in a moment such as this, when it was quite obvious she was of sound mind, and he found himself enjoying it as he felt the little puffs of her breath as she exhaled steadily. Of their own volition, unhurried, his arms weaved around her waist, pulling her tighter to him. He closed his eyes and leaned his chin atop her head. "That's it, love. Everything's going to be okay, I'm here."

"Safe," he heard her whisper, her voice almost child-like. He gave no visible reaction to her, though a small grin appeared to be playing on his lips.

"You're safe here, Bella," he whispered to her, pulling her up as he stood to take her away from the room and into the safety of his chambers. There, he lay her down and held her as she slept, the seizure having drawn all energy from her body.

There was a knock on the door, and at Klaus's soft urgings, the knocker entered. It was Elijah, his eyes worried as he took in the small form of Isabella's so close and so tiny next to his brother, the vengeful hybrid. "She seized?"

Klaus's lips turned down in displeasure. "Yes. I believe I was parted from her for too long. I won't be making the same mistake twice."

Elijah nodded. "Very well, brother. Though I wonder…" His lips parted, a frown drawing lines on his forehead in contemplation.

"What?"

"It is quite possible that the cold one is using the remnants of their bond to… persuade her in other ways," Elijah said slowly, eyes unseeing on Bella's form in front of him. His eyes flickered to his brother's, expression hardening. "Yes… I do think it's possible he's forcing these attacks on her body through their bond just as he influences her dreams."

Klaus thought a moment. "It is possible the song triggered the response… perhaps Isabella was goaded into the song just to have the reaction? He cannot force such anger as to force early onset of the next stage's symptoms without it."

"Quite possible," Elijah replied with a nod. He forced a smile on his lips, though it was grim and dark. "We shall speak more on it when she awakens. Speaking of which, would you like dinner for Isabella and yourself brought up or will you be joining us?"

Klaus looked down at his mate's body, curled in against his, a little furrowing of her brow telling him her dreams were not cleared to their entirety from the influence of the cold one's. "Here," he said flatly, not bothering to look up as his brother left them alone.

~TPoL~

Bella awoken some time later to the feel of a hard body underneath her, gentle hands around her waist, not gripping tightly but just resting there. She burrowed into it with a small smile; it was nice, she decided. Safe, another part of her whispered.

Her eyes did not fly open as they had ever since meeting Edward. Her awakening moments of bliss were not broken by pain or memories or anxiety… her awakening was slow and sweet, a leisured task made easy with the knowledge that she was indeed safe. Almost as she had before she'd ever moved to Forks and laid eyes on that boy and his family.

She sighed to herself, feeling her brow furrow before a finger pressed against the grooves and smoothed the lines. Again, the movement was comforting, the hand hot, not ice-cold.

"Hmmm," escaped her before she could help it. Stretching in the arms around her, her eyes fluttered open, tilting her head to rest her chin on that something hard to come face-to-face with a soft-smiling and amused Klaus.

"Hello, love," he said, his voice tender.

"Hi," she whispered, resting her head on his chest again, still sleepy. "Wha's a time?"

"Late, love," he replied, still whispering to her. "Just before midnight. You were very tired; the seizures wore you out."

"Hmmm," was all she could reply with.

"Listen," he said, his voice louder now, causing her to open her eyes once more and look into his. Knowing he now had her attention, Klaus continued, "I would like to speak with you about all of this. We know why you're getting these dreams, the vomiting, and the seizure."

"Okay," she said, voice quiet as his was, not wanting to interrupt the calmed atmosphere with a raised tone.

"When cold ones are separated from their mates, the punishments the females are met with at the hand of their males on their way and once they find them again, is not merely physical, but also psychological and emotional," he began, jaw twitching with tension and eyes cold with anger. But Bella knew it wasn't at her. Safe, her mind supplied yet again, a mantra growing by the day. "As the separation grows longer, the male will give the human mate dreams, influencing them heavily to terrorize their mate into returning to their side. From there, they will start to release a sort of… fog, using the connection to control their mate's moods and reactions, even thoughts on occasion. Finally, when motivated with enough anger, the next stage will paralyze the mate and make it easier for them to find them. Vomiting and seizures begin, and from there the health of the female declines."

Klaus stopped, letting the information sit with Bella for a moment. He watched her expressive face as she took in the information he'd just given her, churning questions in her mind as her unfocused eyes became a gateway into her soul, telling of her emotions, for the most part being fear and guilt.

Eventually, her attention came away from her thoughts and she focused on her mate's face.

Safe, that little voice whispered yet again, almost clawing at her with urgency, begging her to understand. Safe! Safe!

"I understand," she breathed, swallowing. "I—I've experienced all of those, obviously."

Klaus nodded, looking quite guilty for a moment. "It seems when I was in the study with Elijah, my absence allowed Edward further access to your mind. With it being too early for the final stage to begin yet, he needed to spark enough anger inside of himself to be able to force it upon you early. And thus, you sang the song and he became angry enough at the lyrics and pointed message that he could ignite that anger and force your first seizure upon you."

Bella nodded blindly, a sick feeling to her stomach. If that had occurred in a twenty minute absence from her mate, just what else could happen to her? Looking up at Klaus with unseeing eyes, her mind fretted.

Klaus, seeing her panic, made to calm her immediately. He grabbed her face gently in his hands, searching her eyes intently, his voice solemn and dark as he promised her, "I will not leave your side once until this bond with him is broken. I swear to you, Isabella. You will not fall under his influence again; I will make sure he cannot touch you in any way ever again, whether he is with us in the flesh or not, yes, love?"

Sobs clawing at her throat, she nodded, eyes wet with tears so full she could not see anything but the blurry impression of the man in front of her.

Safe, her mind chanted, now louder and panicked. Safe!

"Just keep breathing, love," Klaus urged her, voice growing more distant by the word as he chanted at her while her breaths grew shorter and shorter, her face becoming ashen. "I've got you, love, I'm here. Let it out, that's it. Just keep breathing for me. Good, love… calm… breathe, Bella. Take a breath and let it go... that's it, sweetheart; that's it. Good girl."

She focused on his voice, her mind swimming with panic and uncertainty, but her mind calmed at his touch, his smell, the sound of his voice.

When she was breathing calmly, her mind rational once again, thoughts spun in her head, but Klaus's hand rubbing soft, slow circles against her back to keep her calm blocked them all out. The little voice within her now dropped to a sweet whisper again as she fell to sleep in his arms once more.

Safe, safe, safe…

"Right here," Klaus whispered, laying back against the headboard. "I'm right here and I'm never letting go."

Maybe, she thought to herself as she succumbed to sleep in Klaus's comforting, strong arms, just maybe, even though love is too hard to hold, I can start to hold onto hope that it's not too late to start again… with him. Maybe all I need to do is wade through the dark so the light can show.

For now I'll start with breathing.

Chapter Text

U2 ~ Song for Someone

You got a face not spoiled by beauty
I have some scars from where I’ve been
You’ve got eyes that can see right through me
You’re not afraid of anything they’ve seen
I was told that I would feel nothing the first time
I don’t know how these cuts heal
But in you I found a rhyme

If there is a light you can’t always see
And there is a world we can’t always be
If there is a dark that we shouldn’t doubt
And there is a light, don’t let it go out

And this is a song, song for someone
This is a song, song for someone

You let me in to a conversation
A conversation only we could make
You break and enter my imagination
Whatever’s in there it’s yours to take
I was told I’d feel nothing the first time
You were slow to heal but this could be the night

If there is a light you can’t always see
And there is a world we can’t always be
If there is a dark within and without
And there is a light, don’t let it go out

And this is a song, song for someone
This is a song, a song for someone

And I’m a long long way from your Hill of Calvary
And I’m a long way from where I was and where I need to be
If there is a light you can’t always see
And there is a world we can’t always be
If there is a kiss I stole from your mouth
And there is a light, don’t let it go out


Chapter 5 – Song for Someone


A week later, and the Mikaelsons and Bella were still recluses inside their dwellings. Klaus was not willing to announce their arrival in a city so tumultuous at the moment since Bella was so fragile at the moment, as well as her being on the run from her mate, Edward, whom she was not ready to come face-to-face with should someone leak her whereabouts.

If there was one thing Klaus knew better than any other, it was that the world was rife with betrayal and one could never be too careful when it comes to whom you trust.

And thus, Klaus Mikaelson found himself looking down upon the city below him, arms outstretched and gripping the cold iron in fists as he stood perched on the balcony. He was troubled; half of his mind wanted to be in with his mate though he knew that she was showering (and it took all his one thousand years of control to grit his teeth against the urge of visualizing her wet and waiting for him in their shared chambers' bathroom; that would grant him no favors). The other half of his mind was taken up by the rather unsettling news he'd received from Elijah about the Cullens.

It seemed they had come to the arrival at a decision to make haste and travel to Italy. The thought of their prolonged and vast distance from Bella would have kept him satisfied, however this was not to be the case for two reasons, again both leading back to his dear little swan. It was not just that the Cullens on their way to the Volturi coven, but the increase in distance was causing Bella to react in a most unfortunate manner because of the strain on her already overwrought mate-ship to the young Edward.

The increase meant that Bella was experience a tightening sensation around her heart, almost like a heart attack in its power, and that put Klaus on edge. His wolf and his vampire in their dual connection to the young girl screamed their instincts inside of him; they wanted to mark her, at least to give her some kind of ease of mind, but the rational side of Klaus—getting slimmer by the moment—knew that this was a bad idea. The last thing he wanted was to take his mate's will away when it had already been so compromised.

The sound of the door to the balcony sliding open brought him out of his thoughts and he turned to see Bella standing by the door, her eyes betraying her nerves.

He smiled. "Hello, love," he greeted her warmly, opening his arms in silent invitation.

Bella blushed, the smile she gave him shy as she nodded and she walked into his arms quick in long, fast strides, pressing her head into his clothed chest and sighing at the release of tension once his arms fell around her and tightened just right. It was moments like this that she could see what this connection was about; they fit together so well, and Niklaus's touch was so comforting and loving despite the stories she'd heard from Rebekah and Kol of his rather demonic moments. She found it rather easy to read behind the lines and see what was going on, to break down the wall he'd held for centuries, the mask he'd created to shield his pain behind a belligerent, emotionless mask of cruelty.

Klaus smiled to himself as he pressed a kiss to her hair, breathing in her scent and closing his eyes as he, too, calmed from her easy embrace. His wolf and his vampire quieted their prolonged monologues of worry and doubt as he slipped into a sense of peace. He had time for all of that, but right now he just wanted to hold his mate.

"We should go in," Bella whispered, turning her head to the side on his chest now. Her eyes were closed and a relaxed smile played on her lips. As always when Klaus was holding her, she wasn't seeing Edward's angry eyes or hearing his voice in the back of her mind when she closed her eyes… she was just living the moment in the arms of the man she felt safest with… of the man she saw herself falling for little by little. She knew she would get there.

Without a word, Klaus picked her up in his arms, movements slow and gentle so as not to alarm her. He never wanted to cause her any discomfort. He carried her inside and lay her down on the bed, pulling the covers back before drawing them back up over her. He was already dressed for bed, so he sped around to the other side of the bed and pulled himself under the covers beside her, drawing her in against him and smiling when she pressed her head on his shoulder. His arms wrapped around her and they breathed in tandem as the fingers of Klaus's right hand danced on the skin of her arm in a slow, comforting manner designed to relax her into sleep. He found it the best method so far in relaxing her that much, otherwise she'd be a tense little ball against him, disquieted and tired but drawn by stress so much she couldn't quite ever fall into that needed sleep.

Klaus found himself once again fighting his impulses. Indeed, Bella was beautiful and alluring to him in every way, but it was not in this manner. Klaus was, as he'd told her, not a patient man, and while he did not want to push her and he was quite happy by their already-made progress, he longed for a more loving relationship than they had now.

"Would you have dinner with me?" Klaus asked her, blurting the words out on an exhale. He cursed himself when he felt Bella jump in surprise a little, her eyes popping open and a sharp inhale hissing through her teeth.

Bella's lips parted in a small 'o' of surprise, before she swallowed as she heard him speak. She pushed down on his chest to sit up, bracing her left arm to hold her up as she stared down, unseeing, at his covered chest in thought, and without realizing it causing quite the stir within the man below her when she trapped her bottom lip between her teeth. Glancing up at Klaus, she blushed seeing his eyes intent on her.

"I—" a smile played on her lips. "Yes. Okay, yes."

And then she lay her head down on his chest once again, missing the wide, toothy grin that beamed on Niklaus's face as she fell asleep in his arms. But Klaus found it hard to sleep that night, his thoughts now distinctly more imaginative as he thought of Bella and their pending date.

~TPoL~

Elsewhere in the house, the sole other member of the household awake was Kol. He sat against the door into the hall, his head laid down on his knees, bent up and braced against his chest, arms wrapped tight around his chest. He wanted to close his eyes, his face scoured by a tight grimace as growls threatened to rip from his chest; he held them in, not wanting his other siblings to hear and try to come to his aid.

Hallucination after hallucination had plagued his mind, but he found that since he'd returned from the other side, he did not have that strong desire to end his life. That was strengthened by the other words, words he remembered hearing from the spirits on the Other Side before he'd been resurrected.

"Your path on the other plane has not yet ended, Kol Mikaelson. Your destiny still awaits you."

A low knock at his door sounded, and Kol groaned. He'd forgotten himself. He pulled himself up and was quick opened the door, finding a kind-eyed Elijah standing there, a small, genial smile on his face as he took his brother's disheveled appearance.

"You should have called, brother." The words were colored with a soft tone, a light scolding; he walked forward into the room and turning to face his brother who closed the door and turned to face him.

"I am fine, Elijah," he stated and Elijah chuckled, but it was not a sound filled with amusement; it was strained, choked almost.

"Do not hide from me, Kol. You don't have to do that, not when you are suffering like this. I have spoken with Rebekah and Klaus as I am sure Rebekah has told you; we only wish to help." He was stepping forward with every sentence he gave, taking in his brother's clenched jaw and flared nostrils. He reached up to grasp his youngest brother's shoulder and leaned his forward against his much as he had with Niklaus a millennia ago. "Always and forever, brother. Always and forever. I am sorry that you have ever felt as though we are not here for you, and I know our actions in the past much support that theory, but no more. Losing you, Kol… it made us realize how much more to us all you mean than an inconvenience or an irrational, out of control brother that we must control ourselves. I am so very sorry, and I only hope that you can someday forgive us, my brother."

Kol inhaled deeply, his eyes clenching shut and his muscles froze up. It meant so much to him, far more than he would ever admit. But years of shielding bitterness and pain caused him to straighten and pull away from the embrace. His eyes were drawn downward from his brother's knowing gaze. "Thank you, Elijah," he murmured under his breath, opening his eyes and speeding to his bed, "but you cannot help me."

"I believe I can," Elijah said, the words laced with determination as he sat beside Kol on the bed. "I have noticed, and Rebekah has confirmed that the effects of the curse aren't so strong as they should be. I believe I know why that might be."

Kol's brow furrowed, just a twitch of muscle, eyes tightening in both curiosity and suspicion, but he listened to his brother as he coached him… and that night, he found a connection he'd never thought he'd have.

~TPoL~

The following morning, Kol was still asleep when the three other Mikaelsons called a meeting in the bedchambers of Klaus and Bella. Bella, too, was still asleep and since her first seizure, Klaus was hard-pressed to leave her unless there was no other option, either for her own privacy or for some pressing matter or another.

"What is the meaning of this, Elijah?" Klaus asked with quiet passion, arms tightening around his mate's waist as she lay sleeping with her head on his shoulder.

Elijah and Rebekah shared a smile before sitting on either side of the bed. "How is she?" Rebekah asked, her eyes dancing over her new sister's form. A small smile lit her face as she saw how close her brother and she were, and the most content smile she'd seen on either of their faces—Klaus in what seemed like forever, and Bella since she had met her weeks ago.

The grin on Klaus's face broadened, as did Elijah's and Rebekah's. "She is doing much better. She has agreed to have dinner with me, perhaps later this week."

"That's excellent, brother, I am happy for you," Elijah replied, before straightening.

Rebekah and Klaus recognized the moment their brother became more serious and shared a look before turning back to their older brother. A millennia together and they knew each other very well; they knew his tells, and as such, knew that their brother had something serious to share about their brother, Kol.

Klaus was not oblivious to what was occurring to his brother. He may not have approached him yet, but that wasn't just because of his time with Bella; it was also much to do with his worry. He worried about the reception he would receive were he to stand outside his brother's room and pledge his support. For the past millennia, all Niklaus had done with his brother was dagger or undagger him according to some agenda, and yet despite all, he did love Kol. He loved all of his siblings, and he could admit to himself that while he may front those daggerings as for their own safety—there were many other reasons he used as a front, and in some way, all were true—but the main one was simple. He did not want to be alone, for his siblings to leave him; and so if he had to dagger them all for their safety so he would not lose them, he would. He had, many times over.

It was explaining all of this to Kol in a way that his unhinged brother might understand and perhaps forgive him that was immeasurably harder, and yes, indeed, the prospect of baring all to any of his siblings—to anyone at all—frightened him.

Even though he knew he would have to with Bella. Though in her he knew he had found someone who would not judge him, whom he could trust not to hurt or betray him; it was hard, placing that trust, and he was slow to do so but it was happening.

"How is Kol?" he found himself asking, breaking out of his thoughts.

Elijah's smile was grim. "That is indeed what I have come here to speak with the both of you about." All three of them frowned, worry clawing at them for their youngest brother; he was irrational and flighty and unpredictable—indeed, he was most certainly dangerous… but they already had evidence of just how grave the affect may be on Kol. They'd already lost him once because of it. They were not prepared to lose him again, even if they knew how to bring him back.

"What, Elijah?" Rebekah asked, voice sharp and forceful. "Spit it out."

Elijah sighed, and when he spoke, his voice was low and gritty, troubled. "Kol does not have very long before the hallucinations get far worse than they already are. He tells me that he is not yet feeling the desire to kill himself, and he is unsure of whether he actually will or not." He looked between his siblings, taking in their worry. "However, we have discovered something that explains much of why his experience is far less than it should be."

With a gentleness long forgotten before her, Klaus brought Bella harder against him, sitting up straighter so his back was against the headboard of the bed. "And what is that?"

Elijah gave a small smile to both of them, much as he had with Bella upon meeting her again when she was more lucid; it was designed to comfort them. His voice, when he spoke this time, was cautious but far more hopeful and passionate than it had been the previous. He sat forward. "Kol has been feeling a slight pull. I have heard that finding your mate can greatly lessen the impact. At this stage, it is buried under the effects of the curse but the mere fact that he is feeling that pull means she is within this city."

"What do we do?" Rebekah asked, both hers and Klaus's minds already flying through all they'd heard of the legend of mates—Klaus taking into account his experience; he, too, had felt a pull before meeting Bella, though he hadn't realized what it was. Had Kol done so on his own or with Elijah's aid?

He was brought from his thoughts by Elijah's voice again, whom was gesturing with his hand. "As much as it may not be a good idea, we need to get him out there and finding her. Upon meeting her, the bond will further soothe the effects of the curse; he'll be in a much better headspace until the next potential hunter is located."

Klaus and Rebekah thought for a moment.

"And you think he would support this?" Rebekah asked, a small smile of hope gracing her features. "Does he even want a mate?" She could not imagine that he did, but then his knowledge about the ins and outs of the bond made far more sense if he did. This thought saddened her; it made her realize just how little she knew her brother.

A secretive smile on Elijah's face confirmed as much for her, and also Klaus, whose thoughts were on a similar wavelength. Elijah's tone was almost smug in his satisfaction as he gestured with a flick of his right hand, leaning backward as he spoke. "He has already given full consent."

Rebekah stood from the bed, glancing between her unmoving brothers. "Well then…?" she prompted, gesturing for at least Elijah to get up. "Elijah," she growled.

Elijah chuckled. "Dear sister, allow Kol some more rest; he is in great need of it. We will speak with him latter and begin the search once he feels ready. I agree that time is of the essence, but we should not force him into making a move on this until he is. Meeting your mate is quite life-changing; we do not want to push our brother into something he is not ready for."

Rebekah sat back down on the bed in a huff. "Fine," she granted them before standing once more and walking out of the door without another word. Behind her, Elijah and Klaus chuckled at their sister's dramatics.

Rebekah made her way to Kol's door once more, and she entered in silence to see the youngest of her brothers. She sat down in an armchair close to his bed, a soft smile on her face even though her brow was pinched in focused thought. She sighed to herself as she realized just how much they had to come in order to claim the relationship she shared with her other two brothers, and a swell of guilt hit her as she thought on her actions toward Kol in the past.

She would make up for it. She would guide her brother through this curse, and she would help him find his mate. Then he would get to know him and her.

They would become the family they had one been again. It was a mere matter of time.

~TPoL~

It was another week after that when Bella woke up to find a bouquet of red roses on the bedside table next to her. With a small smile on her face, she sat up in bed and reached for the letter propped against the glass vase. She pulled it away and flipped it open to read.

Little One,

I would like to ask that you agree to our dinner together tonight at seven. We will have the house to ourselves and during this time I would like for us to get to know one another.

I hope you enjoy the roses; I thought them a fitting gift for you. I would have sent you your favorites, but cannot as I do not know what they are. This, as well as many other things, is what I wish to discover tonight.

If you wish, you can find me in the room across from this when you wake.

I hope to see you soon, love.

Klaus

Bella was aware of her flaming cheeks as she read Klaus's note. Her heart throbbed in her chest, and she took a shaky breath as she read the note once more, making sense of the words on the page. His script was very fitting of his character; elegant, old-worldly, and yet edgy. She smiled to herself as she regarded it. She settled back into the pillows once more, breathing easier now that the initial shock at his efforts had died down. Part of her didn't want to leave the warmth of the bed, but she knew it would be too be so far from his side for too long. She'd been successful in previous attempts to stave off the symptoms when away from him for at least an hour given the increase in his presence at every other time since the piano incident; prolonged contact always made the small moments they were parted easier for her to bear. But neither he nor she were willing to risk it much, and so with a forlorn sigh, she escaped the warmth and comfort, pulling the covers back and got up, reaching for her dressing gown.

Curling up in it for a moment, she slipped her feet into the little house shoes Rebekah had bought for her in Mystic Falls—they hadn't ventured out of the house since arriving in New Orleans; Klaus was a paranoid thing when it came to her safety, so revealing their stay here in a city so monitored was a risk he wasn't willing to take until she was ready to see Edward in the flesh. And they all knew that wasn't something she would be ready for any time soon.

Bella walked out of the room and to the door across, and just as he had in Mystic Falls, Klaus was there before she'd even stopped, opening the door with a small smile as he took in her appearance. "Morning, love. You slept well?"

"Quite," she replied, walking on through as he stepped to the side and closed the door behind her. Bella gasped as she took in the room before her; paintings lined the walls, with few standing on easels at various places throughout. She watched as Klaus walked back over to the one closest to the window, paintbrush in hand and he stroked it across the canvas. It was faced away from her, towards the window, and Bella watched him for a moment longer before turning her attention to the rest of the paintings in the room. Taking her time, she perused them with a sense of wonder; she could hardly believe that these were Klaus's. They were beautiful. Most were abstract in fierce, bold colors of red or black, but some lighter, too; Bella could tell they were the more recent, stacked against the wall in front of the darker ones and the same style on the other easels.

After some time, Bella made her way to Klaus's side. She still couldn't quite see the painting his focus was so intense on, regarding him with new eyes; she was still reeling from what was the most insightful evidence into this man—her mate—and his emotions.

"They're beautiful," she whispered, still looking at him.

He tensed just a little, pausing mid-stroke, before he smiled at her. "Thank you, love." Then he continued through the stroke.

She watched him a moment longer, before steeling herself. "Can I see?" she asked, gesturing to the painting he was working on.

A pucker appeared in his brow. "I don't usually show unfinished works," he began, but he placed the paintbrush down and turned to face her. He regarded her for a moment and then smiled. "But I think, love, that I can make an exception for you." He took her hand and gently pulled her in front of the painting, turning her to face it in slow movements.

When her eyes fell upon the painting in front of her, two things happened: her eyes welled with tears, and a strangled gasp left her lips. She was standing in front of a painting of herself. Her hair was black, yet the strands in front of and around her face were a brown-red. Her eyes were cast downwards and her lips had fallen open. Looking at herself, she felt…

"Beautiful," she whispered, her voice choked with emotional. She couldn't stand to look at the painting; she could not believe the girl Klaus had painted was her. It couldn't be. She wasn't like that; beautiful, confident… resilient—because that is how she felt she looked in the painting. Strong, fearless, and independent; so much the way she used to be and so much the way she wanted to be once more.

"Not quite," Klaus whispered into her ear. Bella was shaking when his arms snaked around her waist and pulled her closer, his chin resting on her shoulder as the two gazed at the painting in front of them; Bella in shock, Klaus with an admiring smile. "You are far more beautiful here in my arms than you are on that canvas."

Bella swallowed against the lump in her throat, jaw trembling as the tears in her eyes leaked. "When I look at it I feel… beautiful, and whole, and strong. I want that back, Klaus. He stole it from me." Her voice was hoarse and thick with resignation. The fight had left her.

He's broken me, she thought to herself, lifting her arms and wrapping them across her waist, over Klaus's. Her hands clenched his as she fought the whimper building. Her face screwed up with the pain she was feeling at that realization. Edward Cullen had ruined her, utterly and with complete abandon; she would never have back all that he stole from her.

Klaus turned her around in his arms, looking into her eyes with that intense blue gaze of his before drawing her in. His arms formed a protecting barrier around her, shielding her from everything else as she laid her head against his chest. "You are still strong and beautiful, Bella. You ran from him; you saw what he was doing, and did what most others in your situation never would have had the gall to do. That speaks of your courage, your will and determination—your drive to fight his hold." He drew back and took gentle hold of her chin, bringing it up so she'd look him in the eyes. Pain clawed at him, seeing her own staring back at him. "You may not be whole, not now, but you will be again one day. I will make sure of that. Trust in me, Bella; I am speaking from experience."

She frowned. "What?"

Without a word, Klaus's hand reached up to the neck of his Henley, and he pulled on a cord to reveal a silver bird. He let it rest against his chest as he spoke to her. "When I was young, my mother gave me this necklace. She told me that Starling birds were very important to Vikings and that this necklace would protect me; that if I ever needed her, I only had to clench it in my hand and she would come. I asked if any of my siblings were to be given one, but she said I was special," he spat the word, a sardonic smile on his face, but Bella could see the pain in his eyes; concealed so well, and yet never to him. It was as if he didn't have it in him to pretend around her. "What my mother failed to tell me was that the necklace was far more important than that; it was designed to hinder my werewolf abilities and limit my aggression, to hide the affair she'd had with my father from Mikael.

"I was the bane of that man's existence," he said with a humorless chuckle. "He was ashamed of me, of my weakness; no one but my mother knew that the reason I was weaker than any of my other siblings was because of the necklace she had given me—one that I fought so hard for against my father. I was angry when he tried to take it from me after I'd challenged him. I cherished it.

"The necklace stopped working after Esther made us immortal. Still, I had no idea of what it could do. Only became aware of much in recent years, as a matter of fact. I had once given it to a boy I was… quite fond of, whom I later changed into a vampire. It is now in my possession again and I wear it every day as a reminder that what once made me weak now only serves to strengthen me." He looked at Bella, his darkened expression lifting at the tears in her eyes; she felt pain in his place. The smile gave her was sad and full of understanding and gratitude—never before had a woman cried in his name—coming forward again and cupping her cheek. "Bella," he whispered, searching her eyes. "To my father, I was always weak… and that was because of my mother. I have told you that I do not do well with betrayal, and that is because I have been surrounded by it my entire life, some in ways that I am just now coming to understand. I have been broken—perhaps a part of me still is—but I have overcome it, I have built myself back up. You can and will do the same, and I will be there with you every step of the way. And trust me, love, when I say that I would never betray you, never hurt you; because I know what it is like to be hurt and betrayed by those you should be able to trust and those you love. I never want you to experience that; it pains me to know that you already have once. I will shield you from that so that no one can ever touch you again, least of all him."

"Why?" she whispered, tears falling down her cheeks.

Klaus's smile widened and he cupped both her cheeks now. "Because you are my salvation. You are who makes me whole, who fills that last broken part of me. You bring me light and happiness and a sense of belonging I never really knew I was missing." He chuckled. "I used to scoff at the thought of mates; I never believed it, thought it was a fable for the younger generations my siblings and I have created over the past millennia. Until you," he whispered, his thumbs stroking her cheeks. "You break and enter my imagination, and whatever is in there is yours to take. You've got eyes that can see right through me, and you're not afraid of anything they've seen. And yet you know from my siblings the very worst of me."

Bella's breath was shaky as she looked into Klaus's eyes. He was so different from that perfection that was Edward; he was real, and whole, and he wanted her. Her—the real her, not the one that Edward wanted, the broken doll. He wanted all of her, always and forever. His face was not spoiled by the beauty that had her dumbstruck when she looked at Edward, which broke her train of thought and yet he did that anyway. And yes, she was scarred from where she'd been, from Edward and his lies and his domination. But looking into Klaus's eyes, she could feel that melting away, fading into nothing.

They were a long way from what they had both been—Bella in her strength and naivety, and Klaus in his pain, his weakness, his hard exterior burning all around him but most of all himself. And they were a long way from where they needed to be.

But there was a light, a hope, in Klaus's eyes, reflecting back in her own as she imagined her life with him… and she could not let it go out. There was a darkness there, too, within him and hell, within her as well, she was sure. But in the other they found their solution.

Klaus whispered her name, and she his, their eyes not breaking from one another's gaze as he leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers.

Chapter Text

Demi Lovato ~ Catch Me

Before I fall too fast
Kiss me quick but make it last
So I can see how badly this will hurt me when you say goodbye

Keep it sweet, keep it slow
Let the future pass and don't let go
But tonight I could fall too soon into this beautiful moonlight

But you're so hypnotizing
You've got me laughing while I sing
You've got me smiling in my sleep
And I can see this unraveling
Your love is where I'm falling
But please don't catch me...

See this heart won't settle down
Like a child running scared from a clown
I'm terrified of what you do
My stomach screams just when I look at you

Run far away so I can breathe
Even though you're far from suffocating me
I can't set my hopes too high
'Cause every "Hello" ends with a "Goodbye"

But you're so hypnotizing
You've got me laughing while I sing
You've got me smiling in my sleep
And I can see this unraveling
Your love is where I'm falling
But please don't catch me...

So now you see why I'm scared
I can't open up my heart without a care
But here I go, It's what I feel
And for the first time in my life I know it's real

But you're so hypnotizing
You've got me laughing while I sing
You've got me smiling in my sleep
And I can see this unraveling
Your love is where I'm falling
So please don't catch me

If this is love please don't break me
I'm giving up so just catch me


Chapter 6—Catch Me


It was heaven and it was hell, a terrifying dichotomy that had somehow come to a beautiful joining in the slow, sweet, synchronized movement of Bella and Klaus's lips against one another.

She was drowning. She was struggling with the terror inside her as it waged war on the part of her—equal in size and fighting for domination—that was convinced this was perfect and right. It was, of course, but it was in that touch of their lips which felt like an eternity that Bella found a name to all the feelings she'd been shielding herself from ever since meeting the hybrid in her arms.

And it was that realization that caused the revolt, and found Bella ripping her lips from Klaus's moments after they'd first joined.

They stared at one another for a long moment, Bella's fright clear in her eyes, the emotion making them glisten with tears—an image Klaus would never forget. And then Bella looked around, her face crumbling as she backed away, her instinct for flight winning over fight as she fled the room, leaving Nik stranded in his own storm.

She raced to her old bedroom, just down the hall, barely opening the door and throwing herself against it on the floor before the tears started falling down her face, and she was lost in a sea of confusion.

Her mind was in turmoil, and her heart wouldn't settle down, beating hard in her chest as if she were still running as she wanted to. Her lips tingled as she felt the urge to run far, far away so she could breathe. She lifted her hand and pressed her fingers to them, feeling herself flush at the memory of how Klaus's felt against them. The kiss had brought up emotion that Bella was not quite ready to face just yet; she had known that she would fall for him, could feel herself beginning to, but that kiss… it had told her just how far she had already come. She was not on the edge of the cliff looking down, she had already jumped and was making her descent. All she could do was pray that Klaus was there to catch her.

And by god, from that kiss and the look in his eyes and the way he spoke to her… the way he painted her, it looked as though he would be. She knew they both had trust issues, both had enough issues in general that it would seem probable they were too broken to fit together but Bella also felt that maybe, just maybe, there was a hope that she could perhaps be safe with Klaus and she was sure he felt the same way. He had never let anyone in the way that he was letting her in; she wasn't even quite sure if his siblings knew some of the things he was beginning to tell her. And they'd just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.

Bella waited as her breathing slowed, eyes closed as she turned away from the real world in favor of her thoughts. She needed something definite, something to pull her back from the brink of insanity she could feel clawing at her in the aftermath of that kiss. And she found it, within seconds—the threads wrapping around her soul and her heart and her mind, pulling her to Niklaus. She felt them, strong, and yes, battered, but glowing. She prodded at them, taking in the difference between the two threads woven in together—his wolf and his vampire, she recognized. To be certain, it was different to the one she shared with Edward; worlds away. Stronger and more unbreakable but not in a way that would bring the same immeasurable fear that Edward's had; this connection was not oppressive and overbearing—it was light, like being wrapped up in a cloud but somehow with the knowledge that you were safe—you could never fall through the cloud. This wasn't suffocating at all.

The connection was sweeter, more tender—building up her confidence and happiness, those emotions—her own emotions, wants, dreams no longer the sacrificial lamb awaiting atop the alter for slaughter. It was rather another way—she could still see that alter, but on it was Klaus—his love, his comfort, his passion… his safe arms and his desire to love and protect her always, to journey to the moon and bring it down to her just so she could touch it with the tips of her fingers. But he was not awaiting slaughter; he was being offered to her, if that was what she desired. She didn't have to give in and surrender to the bond, but she could… if that was what she wanted. And it was; itwas his love that she wanted to fall into.

She had a choice. Therein, she was granted the one thing she'd never be afforded in any kind of relationship with Edward Cullen.

Away from the fog of Edward's influence, Bella could discern many things. The pull to Klaus was stronger—not just because the bond offered what she desired in her life, but because of the dual connection; his vampire and his wolf both in accordance as their joined soul called for hers. The bonds were not marred by any kind of frightful fits of forced submission given in moments of turmoil of the mind. Indeed they were at the very core what the little voice that was ever growing inside her claimed to be; these bonds—two connections forged and entangled into one—was safe and comforting, sweet and tender, reassuring and loving; it was no bars, no conditions. It was Niklaus and Isabella, happy and confident and equal.

And Bella smiled despite the tears streaming down her face because yes. That was what she wanted, despite all her fright and all her worry that perhaps she shouldn't—perhaps she couldn't. So she wasn't ready to seek it just yet, that was fine; in time she would be and she knew that Klaus would be there waiting, his arms outstretched for her. And she would walk into that embrace, feel his arms enclosing around her, encasing her, and for the first time in his one thousand years and her near two decades on earth, the two of them would be home.

Bella winced, coming back into the real world; her remorse for her reaction, already bad, had only grown worse, especially as she heard the crashes coming from elsewhere in the house, far more distant than just his art room. But the thought of going to him left a sick feeling in her stomach that she couldn't quite comprehend, the memory of looking into his eyes and her stomach dropping with so much more than just a slight fear was too much for her, and so, without much thought, she dragged herself up from the floor and got on the bed, content with the idea of hiding away in bed for the rest of the day.

And just as she was falling asleep, she felt it; Nik's arms wrapping around her and pulling her in against his coiled, tensed frame. She slipped into a dreamless sleep with the safety of his arms around her.

Niklaus fled the room as soon as time caught up with him and he realized his actions. He cursed himself as he entered the bedroom they'd been sharing, his thoughts such a mess it was hard to string two words together. What had he been thinking? He hadn't. It was a spur of a moment, and before he even realized what was happening, his lips were on his mate's and then he was lost in sensation. He winced at the memory, pulling himself from his thoughts. His hand connected with the wall hard enough that the paintings hanging on them fell and the glass in the frames shattered. But he couldn't stop there. He didn't want to think; he wanted to be as far from that as possible. So he created enough noise that he couldn't focus on his thoughts, could just hear the glass shattering as he threw vase after vase into the wall across from him.

He whipped his phone out and pressed a key, listening with very low patience to the dial tone, grow irritated when all he heard was the sound of his brother's voice before that familiar beep. He hung up with a growl and threw his phone into the wall, hearing the thud as the phone smashed upon impact. He whooshed to the phone on the desk and called Elijah again. "Elijah," he said, "when you get this, come home. I need to speak with you… I believe I've cocked this up." He ended the call and walked at a human pace over to the bar, not bothering with a tumbler glass; instead, he took the bottle and settled into a chair, his jaw set as he looked out the window and waited.

It was not too much longer before he had sufficiently calmed and realized that his brother was not going to be coming for a while and his mate needed his presence. Glancing around the room, he grimaced and cleaned up the mess he'd made before he could resist the call no longer. Slipping out, he made his way to the room that inhabited his mate. Even upset with himself like this, he could not stay away from her. He knocked on the door, quiet and unimposing, but upon garnering no answering call for him to either leave her be or enter, he listened closely. A small smile appeared on his lips as he took in her slow, deep and even breathing, the slowed, relaxed beat of his Bella's heart. She was sleeping. He opened the door and slipped through the small space, closing it behind him before making his way to the bed. There, he sat on the edge and watched her, mournful blue eyes fixating on her flowing brown hair, glinting red in the sun, the small grimace on her face urging him to flit to the window and close the blinds. His heart sang at the answering small smile on her face as the light fell away from her closed eyes.

He would never tell a soul but this woman before him had Niklaus Mikaelson wrapped around her fingers.

He chuckled under his breath to himself as a pout settled on his mate's face while he reached for him; even in her sleep, even after all that occurred, she still wished for his presence. Perhaps it was just the mating bond, but he knew there was at least a small hope left there yet. He prayed his actions had done nothing to tarnish it. He knew he would be very lost without her.

It was when Bella whispered his name that he gave in and took off his shoes. She sighed when he pulled the covers back and settled into bed next to her, wrapping her up in his warm embrace. He'd not had to pull her close at all as she'd already been turning toward him in her sleep.

Klaus sighed as the girl, the object of such strong emotions manifesting inside of him and growing more powerful by the second, lay sleeping in his arms. As chaotic as his emotions were at the moment given her reaction to his kiss, he knew he'd never let her alone with the threat of Edward's presence in her mind so fierce, so he bit back the violence in his mind, the need for a more physical purging of such heavy emotion. Instead he focused his attention on Bella, his breaths matching hers as he, too, drifted from the world into a dream state.

~TPoL~

Rebekah wiped her lips and licked her fingers clean of blood, pushing the body of the man she'd just drunk from off her. She looked toward the youngest of her brothers, rolling her eyes as she spotted him at the opposite end of the alley, almost jumping in his shoes as he looked around and scented the air. She watched him a while longer before her eyes connected with Elijah's, who had come to stand next to her. Her arms crossed over her chest and she raised an eyebrow. "This is bloody pointless," she said.

Elijah chuckled, a small smirk remaining as he faced her. His hands in his slack pockets, that annoying posh look on his face as he regarded the sole sister he had with a look of indulgence, that same look increasing when he watched his brother. "Have faith, sister."

She groaned, her head falling back as she gazed up toward the heavens before she straightened again and spoke low and fierce. "There is not one cobble stone of this godforsaken quarter that we haven't yet covered. It's late, we've been at it all day, and we are no closer to finding the girl. Why shouldn't we just call it a day and head back?" That sounded about bloody perfect to Rebekah at the moment; a small, wistful smile danced on her lips at the thought of peeling her clothes off and slipping into a hot bath. She couldn't decide if she wanted a glass of red wine or blood, and she glanced at the body at her feet. Red wine, she decided, fancying herself full for now when it came to her more primal desires.

She looked up to her older brother and found his eyes tight as he contemplated her words. A degree of hope glimmered inside her, that image of a nice bath growing clearer. But just as one brother was about to speak, the younger hopped to it.

"Come on!" Kol called from down the other end, a wide grin on his face. He was bloody near bouncing on his feet yet again, his enthusiasm not having left him the entire day since they'd set out that morning.

Elijah looked down the alley and back to his sister, quirking an eyebrow. "It seems he has found something," he said, "and who are we to deny our brother this."

He continued walking down the alley after Kol and Rebekah stood there for a moment, a grimace on Rebekah's face as the lovely idea of a bath floated away. Elijah watched her, waiting at the end alongside Kol whom he was now trying to hold back in all his exuberance—"but I've found something, Elijah; we're close!"—and her response was a sigh as she set the corpse beneath her alight. Feeling a little evil, she decided to watch her kill burn but Kol was having none of it.

"Come on, Bekah! Your age is showing," Kol quipped and he ducked down the street before Rebekah could throw the lighter at him.

She growled under her breath, materializing at Elijah's side, turning her glare on him when he chuckled at the put-out expression on her face. "I swear to god, if he calls me old or says he has another false lead one more bloody time, I'll—"

Elijah's face flickered with emotion a moment before he interrupted her, lifting a hand to halt the words coming out of her mouth as he quickened his pace behind Kol. "Patience, Rebekah. Kol is merely excited and understandably so; finding your mate is a wondrous occasion. Perhaps you should simply extend your boundless compassion toward your brother and find delight in his happiness, yes?" His tone was cheeky and light, sardonic as he played her in that last sentence, but his words held weight behind him, reflected in his serious brown eyes.

Rebekah stopped and looked up toward the moon, eyes turning mournful. Her beautiful face crumpled and her eyes slid closed, a trembling breath clawing at her throat as she fought back against the pain in her chest—the pain she dealt with every hour of every day, sighing with the air of someone beaten down one too many times. She looked back down toward her brothers walking side by side, and couldn't find it in herself to smile as she walked at a slow pace behind the two of them again. "Yes, of course… wonderful," she muttered under her breath. She wallowed just a little longer before pushing it all away so she could focus on the task at hand.

Kol was further up ahead than the two of his siblings, and while he was of half a mind to tell them to hurry it up, he was too determined to follow his newest lead. There was something different about this one, more powerful; the taste in the air, the call in his soul—he was getting there, he was close to finding her, he knew it and he could not believe it. A thousand years—albeit a good deal of them spent in a box—and he was so close to finding the one woman who was sure to give him what all others lacked.

A foolish want, he'd always thought it, even as he recognized that some other part of him was craving for it so deeply. It was almost the same as the part that had always been crying out for his siblings' attention; he'd always felt abandoned by them once they'd turned—hell, perhaps even before then. He'd always wanted even just one iota, one glimmer of something reminiscent of care in his name from any of them. He'd never gotten it, but now here he was with it from at least two of his siblings and he was reveling in it. He was included, finally. Loved, surely. Elijah and Rebekah were now giving him the one thing he'd always wanted, the response he'd wanted when he got a little too out of control, and the embrace he longed for hearing their pledges of always and forever. So what if Nik wasn't in it yet? They were getting there, and bugger it if it only took his death for them to realize what was missing.

Kol grinned as he turned the corner, letting those thoughts drift from the forefront of his mind. He was far more interested in the renewed pull than his siblings at the moment, and so without a hint of hesitation, he followed it as it pulled him down familiar streets. He was almost running now as he stopped across the street from a church, his siblings at his side.

He stared at the building in front of him, a small puckering of his brow hinting at his confusion. What the bloody hell had brought him here? The place was deserted, no sound of heartbeats anywhere in the building in front of him and it was clear as day that that was where he was being directed to.

And then he saw it, a rustling of a curtain in the floor above. The light was off, but he narrowed his eyes and peered closer for a moment before a grin broke out across his face and the confusion cleared. There! He had seen it. A figure in the shadows of the curtain, looking out the window. He stepped closer slowly, and had to restrain the violence curling inside him as Elijah braced a restraining arm across his chest.

"Careful, brother," Elijah warned him lowly, his eyes taking in their surroundings. They should be able to hear a heartbeat in the building across from them, be it that of a human, a vampire, or a werewolf but alas there was none, meaning the building was protected; the being in there was protected and heavily, but why?

"Can you feel that?" Rebekah muttered under her breath. "That magic; it's more powerful than anything I've ever felt—even from that of a Bennett witch." She stole glances with Elijah, both of them serious before turning to their brother. "It's coming from up there," she said, nodding toward the same window Kol had seen the shadow out of.

"We must take our leave, Kol," Elijah spoke for the both of them, beating her to it. "Your mate is protected and we need to know how best to approach the situation. We cannot simply walk through the door and attempt to get her. We have no idea who she is being protected by or from but whomever they are, the person protecting her has gone to great lengths. Just because we cannot sense any near does not mean there are no more creatures lurking in the shadows. We know where your mate is now and trust me, when the time is right, we will come back for her. But as of now, we must take our leave." He was going to say more when his phone rang and he whipped it out, a frown appearing on his face; there were several missed calls from Niklaus, and a few from the house phone as well. Without delay, he dialed the house number and walked away.

"Bella," he answered, hearing her heartbeat over the phone the moment she answered. "What is the matter?"

Kol and Rebekah watched their brother, frowns on their faces as he walked away from them, back the way they had come. Kol glanced their surroundings and the last remains of his delight left him as he realized just how right his noble brother was. Entirely too bloody sensible, but right none the less. His mate was in that room, but there was no way of knowing just how much danger was around them and there was no reason to be brash; Kol knew now from experience that it was wise to act with far more caution than he would have in previous times. He wasn't certain that he would be allowed back on this Side no matter what the spirits had been telling him about his unfulfilled destiny. Far be it from him to ignore the real risk in finding his mate and then dying so quickly; it was safer for everyone involved if he listened to Elijah.

Rebekah smiled at him and nodded despite the tension that was radiating from the area and indeed all three Originals. "Come, brother," she told him, watching him carefully. "We'll be back here soon enough. It's best we leave now… besides, we need to know what's going on with Nik and Bella."

Kol took one last look toward the window, hoping for another glimpse at his mate's shadow. But all he saw was the billowing curtains and he sighed, turning to walk with his sister. They disappeared down the alley and found their oldest brother leaning against a brick wall.

"What's the problem?" Kol asked.

"It appears that both Niklaus wishes to speak with me," he said, looking between the two of them, his brow furrowed.

"What's the problem?" Kol repeated, eyes narrowed as he raised an eyebrow. Rebekah crossed her arms over her chest and raised one of her own.

"You're being awfully cryptic, Elijah," she commented, eyes narrowed as she appraised him.

"It appears that Niklaus is in a rather bad mood and Bella wishes to speak to someone that is not him alone," Elijah elaborated, pulling away from the wall. All three of them walked down the alley at a slow pace, the moon's shining gleam lighting the path well enough for their advanced eyes. "Niklaus mentioned that he thought he'd made a mess of things. He sounded quite upset and Bella did not sound much better just now."

Rebekah sighed. "What has our idiot brother gone and done now?"

Kol chuckled; despite having to leave his mate behind, he was in quite the chipper mood. "Dear sister, I do hope you don't ask after me with that tone," he smarted and she glared at him, a growl in her chest. "Touchy," he cheeked, ducking out of the way from her hurtled shoe, which he caught instead and threw back at her.

"Enough, the both of you," Elijah got out hastily. "I do not know what Niklaus has done or if he has in fact done anything. Rebekah, I believe it may be of benefit if you could speak to Bella. This may give you some time to bond but also she is far more likely to open up to you than she is to either of us," he said, gesturing between Kol and himself.

Rebekah's lips quirked and she drawled, "What, because of our shared gender? Elijah, she feels intimidated by me. I highly doubt she is going to come crawling out and go into great detail as to what exactly has upset her or our brother." It hurt more than she would ever admit to say the words, but there was truth in them; Bella had not made any effort to spend time with her so far no matter the blonde's attempts to help. She could say that was largely due to her own attitude, but she wasn't in the mood to go about analyzing things and to say she'd never had a friend with whom she would need to discuss these sorts of things would be the understatement of her bloody life. She was, after all, the girl who'd had to compel herself a friend.

Kol and Elijah shared a look, Elijah sighing as he saw their sister wince at something she'd thought. He could in all honesty say that he was perhaps the one who understood her best and he knew that she'd never had a platonic friend. One thousand years had not done well to his sister in any case of romance or friendship, but he knew all he could do to begin with was encourage her to try.

As it was, Kol beat him to it, his tone a mix of seriousness and sarcasm. "Bekah, the girl isn't going to turn to either of us. For whatever reason, she is the mate to our brother and he has somehow done something to upset her. Whatever it is, she's even more intimidated by me than she is by you and she's not really interacted with Elijah all that much. Besides, as you pointed out, you're both women and that should help when it comes to your delicate sensibilities because I'm afraid us men have no way of knowing just what to do with you lot when you throw such a fuss."

Elijah smirked. "I believe what our brother is attempting to help you see, Rebekah, is that Bella is a part of our family and as he rather hinted to, she would be in far more capable hands with you than either of us. I am sure you would be able to help her in a way that Kol and I, perhaps even Niklaus would be hard pressed to. Besides," he stepped closer, the small smile on his face meant to be comforting as he looked into her eyes, "if you wish for her to be your friend, you cannot expect her to come to you. She is simply not that kind of girl, I'm afraid. And Rebekah, you are so deserving of our brother's mate's friendship I would hate to see it turn out otherwise because the both of you are too hesitant to approach one another. In times of need in light of emotional turmoil, it is easier to be reached out to than reach out to others, yes?"

Rebekah swallowed, looking between her two brothers. "You two talk too much," she said, and then she had flashed down the street, making her way home ahead of them. The two brothers shared a look as they, too, flashed home intent on helping their brother and his mate.

~TPoL~

Bella sighed at the sound of knocking and the cold of an empty bed and contemplated her options for a moment; she knew it wasn't Klaus, because he would have woken her with his arms around her as he held her secure in his arms, light caresses and a smile greeting her upon opening her eyes—though Bella wondered if perhaps that was different now and was filled with sadness at the thought, worsened by the fact that she had not seen him once all day and it was now well into the night. Either way, she was convinced that Klaus wasn't the type to knock at the door while offering no reason behind it, no verbal accompaniment at all (she didn't believe he would knock at all, to be honest, with anyone but herself at least). That left one of his siblings. From the persistent knock, she'd wager either Kol or Rebekah—Elijah was far too reserved for that—so she was colored surprise when she beckoned entrance to find Rebekah standing coyly with a small smile braced on her face and a wary look in her eyes.

Pulling the covers up, Bella sat against the headboard, watching her as Rebekah came forward and sat on the edge of the bed without a single word. They shared a look for a few moments longer, neither of them willing to speak first. It was about the time when the front door slammed, causing Bella to flinch and tears to well in her eyes. She knew it was Klaus; she could feel it. And she hated herself for it all.

Rebekah sighed at her reaction, an eyebrow raised as she took in the girl's countenance. No doubt her brother had sure done a number on the girl, and she hoped her brothers dealt with him accordingly. Regardless of their friendship status, Rebekah was already quite protective of Bella and, after the hand she had been dealt, she didn't want to see her hurt. "What happened with Nik?"

Bella laughed tearfully, wiping away the tears that were sliding down her face. She took a deep breath, looking down at her hands as she replied with false bravado, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice as she replied with light humor. "Wow, you guys really don't play around, huh? You just dive right into the heart of things." She was trying; it was a poor attempt in her frame of mind, but she was trying and a small smile graced her mate's little sister.

Rebekah smirked, looking down as she studied her fingernails then traced patterns on the bedspread. "Oh, you will fit well into the family, Bella."

Bella swallowed and looked away. "Yeah," she replied dryly, biting her lip. "And in answer to your question, we kissed… and I freaked out."

Rebekah blinked, lips pursed as an odd confusion came over her. She hated it. That was it? Her brother had kissed the girl and all of this rubbish was the result? An eyebrow rose in answer. "And why did you do that?"

The sigh that passed through her lips was harsh this time, frustrated. Words escaped her, tears rolling down her cheeks to drip onto the bedspread below; Bella made the true picture of a woman at the end of her rope, unsure and lost to what was happening around here and Rebekah was not too far behind. "I freaked out because of how it made me feel. I didn't realize how far gone I already was on your brother, I'm already starting to fall for him. I didn't realize that," she whispered. "I felt like I was drowning, Rebekah. I've never felt that before or at least... I have never felt it in a positive way. I wanted to lose myself in him."

Rebekah's nose screwed up; this was not the sort of thing she wanted to know when it came to her brother. She cleared her expression and smiled. "What are you afraid of, Bella?"

Bella blinked and looked at her, to which Rebekah quirked an eyebrow and cocked her head in an almost condescending manner, one that spoke volumes and screamed 'yes, it's obvious so come on, tell me.' This made the brunette sigh and she looked down at her hands. "If I fall how do I know he'll be there to catch me?" The words were whispered. There was still that worry in the back of her mind that Klaus would somehow be able to leave her; that the man she'd found such a good connection with would say goodbye. It was all she'd ever known, after all, and it was not something she was sure she'd survive if it happened with Klaus. That scared her.

Rebekah sighed. "My brother is painting," she began, making Bella look up at her, "and I'm not talking about moody streaks of color with meaningless shapes, I'm speaking of light and happy colors with one meaningful shape—you. No woman has ever reduced my brother to a man who paints serenades. My brother is controlling his temper, if he even has one these days at all. He hasn't snapped at you once, and there's not one person that my brother has not snapped at." She smirked to herself, eyes far away as she looked around the room. After a moment, she focused back in Bella and was serious in a way she hadn't been before, her voice becoming soft and quiet. "My brother is opening up and he's never willingly done that with anyone. My brother is not making immediate plans to storm the Abbatoir and steal back the city; his attentions are elsewhere—his attentions are focused almost solely on you. My brother is trusting you and being tender and loving with you; he is taking care of you for nothing in return, instead finding reward in your smiles and your trust and in the hope that, one day, you will let him in completely and love him the way that all of us have always wanted yet always lacked, none of us more than Nik. If those are not signs that Nik is in love, then I don't know my brother and I've lived a thousand years at his side."

Rebekah got up off the bed, leaving Bella now crying on the bed as she digested the blonde Original's words. She made it sound like Klaus was already in love with her, and that scared Bella just a little. While she'd already told her own life story and they'd begin to explore his, she still felt like they barely knew each other. This just wasn't something she could think about right now. Alas, she looked up at her mate's sister and before she knew what she was doing, she called, voice hoarse, "Rebekah, wait." She waited for her to stop and turn and gave her a small, tentative smile. "Thanks." All she received was nod before the vampire attempted to leave once more. "Would you—Would you stay with me?"

Rebekah's mouth fell open and it took her a moment to snap it shut. She tried to speak but found it hard and instead nodded and sat back down. The both of them stayed once more in awkward silence before Bella giggled.

"What?" Rebekah asked.

Bella shook her head, still giggling so hard her body quaked and tears leaked from her eyes. She gasped as she tried to speak, "I-I don't know why-why I'm la-laughing!"

Rebekah's lips quirked and just a few seconds later she caught the bug and was, too, laughing. The two of them laughed together for a good while, both trying to stop until they looked at one another and the damn would burst again.

Eventually, their laughter died down and Rebekah wiped a tear from her eye. "I have not laughed like that in years," she gasped, her mind trying not to acknowledge that the last time had been in the 20s, decades earlier, a decade she'd declare as the best of her life.

"Neither have I," Bella agreed, a small smile on her face. "I never had friends in Forks; Edward wouldn't allow it." Her smile faltered just slightly and there was a moment of silence afterwards.

"I've never had a friend," Rebekah replied quietly, staring down at the bed covering. She regretted the words the instant they came out of her mouth, irritated by the swarm of embarrassment she felt stinging her gut.

Bella smiled to herself. "I never really have either. The only friend I had was my mom and she's not really all that interested these days. Even then, she was always more of a friend than a mom and I needed the latter." There was sadness in her eyes, and Rebekah could relate; for all the hurt her mother had caused, she was her mother and the little girl inside missed her.

Rebekah took her hand in a silent show of support, and the two shared a grin. Feeling the conversation was unfinished, she tried again, nervous as she took a deep breath before speaking. "I am not good at this; I have never had a friend. But I would like to try… with you."

Bella smiled as she saw the girl in Rebekah that she knew not many were afforded a glimpse at. Behind that façade of confidence that any one thousand year old immortal—and indeed, first of their kind—would have, Rebekah was just a young girl around her age. She was still searching for the same things any girl her age was; companionship, love, approval. Maybe the blonde Original wasn't so intimidating after all. "I'd like that," she replied softly.

Rebekah allowed but a small smile to grace her lips, but inside she was beaming. She had a friend. She looked around the room. "So what now?"

Bella giggled. "I think maybe a girl's night would be a good start."

Emotions swarmed within Rebekah and her mind swirled. This was murky territory and again, Rebekah wished she'd had more experience. "What does that entail?"

But Bella sighed and lay back down on the bed. "I don't know, I've been to one I've liked before." And she shared a look with her, rolling her eyes before the two laughed together again.

~TPoL~

Klaus looked up from the painting he was working on when Elijah and Kol entered the room. They both regarded him for a moment before glancing toward one another and coming forward. "Should we take this elsewhere, Niklaus?" Elijah asked, his voice soft and encouraging like he was calling a scared kitten out from under a bed—a comparison that made Kol smile as he thought of it—and Klaus sighed hard, setting his things down.

"I see no reason to leave here," he replied, his head back as he stared at both his brothers with sharp eyes.

"Rebekah's gone to speak with Bella," Kol told him, surprisingly serious, "and we think it might be a good idea to give them some privacy." Elijah nodded his agreement and Klaus growled, knowing they were right. He grabbed his jacket and without a word, left the room and slammed the front door to mark his leaving. Elijah and Kol sighed and darted off after him, hearing the hitch in Bella's breath as they passed her room.

"I hardly think that was necessary," Kol interjected once they'd caught up to their brother, who was walking down the street like a man on a mission. The brother in question grunted in response and continued on in his journey. The two brunets followed him in silence and waited to see where he was going, but they already had some idea and were not surprised at all to find themselves soon outside a building called Rousseau's. Their brother didn't hesitate to go inside and made a b-line for the bar, ordering and paying or a bottle of the oldest whiskey the bar had on hand. He took it with him outside into the alley and turned to his brothers.

"Talk," he growled.

Elijah sighed, hands in his pockets as he widened his stance. An eyebrow rose as he regarded his younger brother and his petulance. "Brother, you are the one who asked for my help. What is it that happened?"

"I kissed Bella and she ran from me," he muttered, looking down as he took a swig from the bottle.

"Did you flash your fangs?" Kol asked mirthlessly after a moment of silence. His façade broke and he laughed at Klaus, who growled and at least had the foresight to put the bottle on the concrete before lunging for the youngest male Mikaelson. Elijah caught him. "What? It was an honest question," he continued, a grin on his face that had been present to some degree since that morning. He couldn't wipe it off his face, but Klaus wanted to try.

"I did not," Klaus said through his teeth, grinding them together and locking his jaw. He picked the bottle up once more and continued to take swig after swig. "I showed her the painting of her. She was upset and she needed comfort; I was trying to tell her that everything would be okay—"

"By shoving your tongue down her throat?" Kol baited him.

"—so I told her about Mikael and Esther," he continued, sending a pointed glare toward Kol but then turning to Elijah, the more rational and, thank heavens, silent of the two. "We were talking about—" he refused to share that; his siblings didn't know about it and he liked it that way, so he left it at that and sighed, turning around and closing his eyes, squeezing them shut. "I kissed her," he said quietly, "I kissed her and she was kissing me back and then she pulled away and ran out of the room—ran to the room she had by herself before the epilepsy."

Elijah sighed, looking down whilst he thought. He had some idea why Bella may have fled the room, considering her history as well as the fact that she was kissing Niklaus back. He simply was not sure if this was something he should share with his brother in lieu of allowing him to piece it together or be told as much by Bella as they got closer. However, one more glance toward the blond Hybrid's back—and the almost empty bottle of whiskey in his hand—and he knew it was a good idea for him to speak his thoughts.

"Niklaus, I do not think you have made a mess of anything," he began, stepping forward to grab his distraught brother's shoulder. Once he was looking into his eyes, he continued, "I rather believe that you have made Bella realize some things that she had not before, and perhaps things she was not ready to see just yet. Give her time, brother, and all will be fine. I can guarantee that." A small smile played on his lips as he took in his brother's wide eyes, and he shared a grin with Kol, patting their brother on the back.

"Exactly what I was going to say," the cheekiest of the Mikaelsons affirmed. "Your kiss made Bella realize she's just not that into you and—"

Elijah closed his eyes in frustration as Klaus growled and threw the empty whiskey bottle to the concrete, hearing it smash upon impact. His hand flew up to point at his brother, jaw locked and eyes wide and furious as he advanced. "I swear to god, Kol, if you don't shut up—"

Kol smirked, arms outstretched and a playful eyebrow raised. "You'll what, dagger me again? Really? Do you really not have any other threats in your arsenal? A thousand years and you'd think you'd have quite the collection." He chuckled and looked to Elijah, putting a mock-confused expression on his face. "Isn't finding your mate supposed to make you happy? It's done nothing for him," he said, pointing toward the blond.

Klaus growled and lunged for him, but Elijah blocked the attack, stepping between them with his arm wrapped around his volatile brother. "Niklaus, control yourself. Kol is merely joking and whilst I agree that this is hardly the manner in which he should try to comfort you," he sent a pointed look toward the youngest of the three, who held his hands up in surrender, a wide smirk on his face, "I will have to ask you to excuse him. He has been like this all day and I fear it has only grown worse once he found his mate before we received your call."

Klaus sighed and forced himself to relax, nodding for Elijah to let him go. "Fine," he grunted, "let's go back to the manor. We've left Rebekah and Bella alone well enough, and I don't want to risk the distance any longer." With that, he turned on his heel and stalked off back in the direction he'd come from. The two others followed after him, easily catching up, and chatter settled between the three of them as they wandered home, unknowing of the eyes that were watching them.

When they made it to the house, Elijah made his way inside, but Klaus stopped and pulled Kol aside. Kol watched his brother, who seemed oddly nervous, as he pulled him along further away from the house before turning back to face him.

He took some time to talk and when he did, the words shocked Kol into silence.

"I wouldn't dagger you again," Klaus admitted in a low voice, so low Kol almost hadn't heard him.

It took a moment, and his response was none too sharp when he spoke. "You… what?"

Klaus sighed and rubbed a hand over his features, opening his eyes once more to stare into his youngest brother's. "I won't dagger you again, I swear to that. I… Losing you, Kol, it was hard and what I hated most was that you thought I was going to kill you before you died. I could never do that. For all that you vex me and test my patience, I love you and you are my brother. I would never kill you. Most of the time, the reason I dagger you is because I want to protect you. But Mikael is dead and there is no other threat like Silas for us to deal with. I have a mate now, and I have you back and we are all living together and I like it. I want it to stay that way. So I will not dagger you again and if you wish for me to do so, I will burn those daggers—every last one of them—in front of all three of you."

Kol blinked. This was not what he'd been expecting. An apology, certainly, also some recognition of their siblinghood and how much he'd been missed and how Nik had come to realize his numerous mistakes in the time that Kol had spent on the Other Side (although that had seemed a bit ambitious). But this—a vow to never dagger him again and a small insight into why he had done it as well as a heart-to-heart—was never something he would have anticipated. It was almost too good to be true.

And then Klaus muttered the words that sealed his vow, three words that Kol himself had never been included in, had never had directed toward him prior to his death.

"Always and forever."

His mouth ran dry and he cleared his throat, a myriad of emotions playing in the depth of his eyes as he stared at the blond man before him. He stared for but a moment longer before nodding and muttering those three words back. "Always and forever," he whispered into the night just as he had a few times before, but this time it was to his brother and those words had been said to him first.

Nik smiled at him, just a small almost pensive smile but it meant a lot to Kol and so he returned it.

"All is not forgiven," Kol said after a moment, "but we'll get there eventually, Nik."

Nik nodded, echoing the sentiment, and after sharing a quick hug—that would take some getting used to—the two followed their brother into the house and up the stairs. They found Elijah outside Bella's room, and listened to the sounds of a movie playing on the television as the two girls laughed. A light smile was playing on Elijah's lips, one that was returned by the other two when they looked at one another. The smile on Elijah's face only grew as his two younger brothers looked away and began to chatter about Kol finding his mate's location and glimpsing at her shadow.

Their family was finally coming together.

Later that night, Bella smiled as she fell asleep in the arms of the man she was falling in love with. She knew what was happening now and she was accepting it; she wanted it more than anything. She was trying hard not to be scared; she knew this wasn't the same as with Edward—for the first time in her life, she knew that what she was feeling was real. She smiled in her sleep, she laughed as she sang, and she was calm and felt happy and safe and loved even as she felt terrified by the feelings Klaus had awoken in her.

But Klaus, in the way he held her, the way he kissed her forehead and stroked her hair, promised not to break her.

So she gave up and let herself fall, knowing Klaus would be there to catch her.


 

Chapter Text

Hilary Duff ~ Fly

In a moment, everything can change,
Feel the wind on your shoulder,
For a minute, all the world can wait,
Let go of your yesterday.

Can you hear it calling?
Can you feel it in your soul?
Can you trust this longing?
And take control,

Fly
Open up the part of you that wants to hide away
You can shine,
Forget about the reasons why you can't in life,
And start to try, cause it's your time,
Time to fly.

All your worries, leave them somewhere else,
Find a dream you can follow,
Reach for something, when there's nothing left,
And the world's feeling hollow.

Can you hear it calling?
Can you feel it in your soul?
Can you trust this longing?
And take control,

Fly
Open up the part of you that wants to hide away
You can shine,
Forget about the reasons why you can't in life,
And start to try, cause it's your time,
Time to fly.

And when you're down and feel alone,
Just want to run away,
Trust yourself and don't give up,
You know you better than anyone else,

In a moment, everything can change,
Feel the wind on your shoulder,
For a minute, all the world can wait,
Let go of yesterday,

Fly
Open up the part of you that wants to hide away
You can shine,
Forget about the reasons why you can't in life,
And start to try,
Fly
Forget about the reasons why you can't in life,
And start to try, cause it's your time,
Time to fly.

In a moment, everything can change.
 


 


Chapter 7 ~ Fly


The next week flew by and things were strange in the mansion the Mikaelsons and Bella were calling home on a temporary basis. Bella and Klaus were recovering from the drama over the kiss, but an almost unnoticeable distance had formed between the two.

"Niklaus," Elijah said one morning as he broached the subject over a breakfast the two were sharing. Bella was asleep in bed, and Klaus had left her to sleep undisturbed—odd in itself, really, as a week before he would have waited for her to awaken before leaving the room or even getting dressed for the day.

The blond hybrid in question sighed and looked away, his jaw locking as he guessed from his older brother's tone what he might be about to ask. It was a subject he wasn't very interested in and the glare he sent the brunet's way gave that impression.

Nevertheless, Elijah had never been one to back down from his younger brother, and as such did not heed his warning. He fiddled with the tablecloth atop the table they were sitting at, eyes following his movements though he glanced up once when he was speaking. "I have noticed that Bella and yourself have maintained a distance since what happened… I was merely going to ask why that might be. I had thought that the two of you were getting along better, that Bella had in some way explained her reaction?"

"She did," Niklaus replied in that tone of his, the haughty, above-the-topic-of-conversation one he so often used with others. It was often in matters such as these that he used it, when he was so emotionally invested he felt the need to remove himself from the situation. Elijah knew it well from the centuries of dealing with a vampire Niklaus trying to remove his curse. "And yet the distance has indeed maintained, Elijah. I thought you were above pointing out the obvious." He rose an eyebrow, cocking his head just slightly, the ghost of a smirk playing on his lips.

Elijah allowed his own smirk to take over-two could play at this game, and they had played it for centuries-and settled back into his chair, hands gesturing in an almost surrender. "All right, Niklaus. There is no need for that. All I was going to say was that you should approach her. There is no harm in trying. You have opened up so much to her, I worry about you and this distance. It cannot be good for either of you, nor the connection you share or indeed the one she shares with Edward Cullen."

Klaus snarled, eyes flashing, and nostrils flaring as he glared at his brother with even more heat. "I never said that I was maintaining a physical distance from my mate, brother. In fact, dare I say it, I have almost never let her out of my sight. I know how vulnerable she is to that bastard's whims and I would never allow harm to befall her on my watch."

Elijah did not even flinch as he replied steadily, "I never said that either, brother." He sat forward in his chair, a touch of concern alighting his features. "If you wish to talk, Niklaus, I am here for you." His voice had lowered, his tone matching the concern his brother could see in his eyes.

The sigh Klaus released was heavy as he looked toward the door beyond which Bella lay sleeping. "I can feel the struggle inside her," he began, his voice quieter now and his brow furrowed even as his jaw still clenched in tandem with his fist on his thigh. "Almost as if it were my own, I can feel the connection between us… she is close to giving in."

"That is good, brother," Elijah said with a small smile.

His brother unblinkingly turned his gaze back upon the older. His entire countenance grew darker, the pain of thoughts Elijah knew not of which were haunting him clear in Niklaus's eyes. "Is it?" he asked in monotone, and Elijah's brow furrowed. He opened his mouth to reply, sitting forward once again in his chair when the door slammed open and both looked to whom caused the disruption.

"Kol," Klaus said in greeting. He almost rolled his eyes; of course his brother had to make such a theatric entrance. Kol had been on cloud bloody nine the past week, the best mood any of them had ever seen him in and indeed for so long. "To what do we owe the pleasure?" he continued, his voice still haughty and Elijah had a feeling they'd all be seeing quite a bit of that today. He sighed to himself, the sound muted.

It seemed their youngest brother's good mood had survived another night as the brother in question swaggered to a chair, in high spirits with a large grin on his face as he sat down and looked between the two older of his siblings. Behind them, Rebekah had appeared at the door, a raised eyebrow at Kol's countenance signaling to the seated that Kol had something to share and Rebekah knew not what it was.

"It's a fine morning," Kol replied, "not a cloud in the sky, not a hallucination in sight. Now when I think of killing something, I am not overwhelmed by guilt at Jeremy Gilbert's death. I must say it's good to be back."

All three of the other Mikaelsons shared alarmed looks, Rebekah appearing in the seat across from Kol. They watched as their brother ate, now back to his normal self, all the while grinning from ear to ear. The dark mischief in his eyes told them that he had plans for later that day, but they hadn't it in them to worry about those, especially with his earlier words ringing in their ears.

"What do you mean, Kol?" Rebekah asked, biting the bullet and beating her other brothers to the punch. If his hallucinations, hell, if all his symptoms were gone then that could mean just one thing… but it was, to be sure, quite impossible and far too soon for that to be so, surely.

Kol chuckled. "I mean, dear sister, I have not had one hallucination in two days and I am itching to kill something. It's fantastic." He took a bite of his toast, and watched his siblings with amusement as they regarded him, brows furrowed with worry. "It seems finding my mate's location has done well for me. The curse is lifted."

Klaus and Elijah shared a look before Elijah turned to their youngest brother. "Kol, finding your mate has not caused this. It would have lessened the symptoms, not erased them entirely. There has to be something else… it's impossible for another hunter to have awakened already; it's barely been a month."

"Indeed it is," Klaus contributed with a raised eyebrow, "unless one is already needed."

Rebekah's brow furrowed. "But why would they be? Silas has been defeated, has he not?" She looked to Kol for an answer, and he nodded, now much quieter as the solemnity of the situation hit him and he thought for a moment.

"Could it possibly have something to do with us?" he asked after the four of them had been sitting in silent contemplation for a few minutes.

"Can't say," Klaus said, almost in a trance as his mind raced. If a threat was so dire that a hunter had already been found so soon after Jeremy's death to replace him, then he was quite certain it had to be because of them. But then again, perhaps the Cullens had been smarter than they had thought-they could have woken a hunter in an attempt to eliminate the Mikaelsons and get to Bella. Both possibilities greatly troubled him, and either way, this meant that protection would need to be heightened… he couldn't risk anything now, even more so now, with Bella.

His thoughts were panicked for a split second before his eyes flew to the chest of drawers across the room in remembrance. His siblings had noticed his inner struggle and watched as he whooshed to the drawers in question and pulled open the bottom draw. They heard the sounds of Klaus moving things about and then watched as he lifted the bottom board. Seconds later, his hand reappeared and the draw was closed as he walked back over to the table, his eyes now studying an item their seeking eyes could not find purchase on.

He sat at the table, his hand curling into a fist around the object as he looked to each of his siblings and brought that same hand onto the table. There, he unclenched it, and the clang of metal hit their ears as their eyes fell to the Gilbert ring and understanding lit all three Mikaelsons eyes.

"You'll give it to her," Kol stated, his gaze moving from the ring on the table to his brother. "What of the risks involved?"

Klaus shook his head, and explained what Kol had missed from one of their first meetings after he'd left the room. "Elijah has informed me of his suspicion that the shield protecting Bella from the gifted Cullens' tricks should help protect her mind from the side effects. I'm inclined to agree with him. That shield of hers is strong." An admiring smile graced his features as he looked down at the ring sitting on the table; the one thing that could protect her best in his stead. No matter what happened to her, it would keep her alive-or being her back-if it remained on her finger.

Kol and Rebekah looked at one another as one brother continued with his thought pattern while the other sipped his tea and finished his breakfast. With things the way they seemed to be turning and this new foreboding sign of threat, the two of them were determined that they'd help Bella and they knew Klaus would most likely be unable to aid her in developing skills of self-defense, incapable of teaching her in the way she needed. That was their job, they decided, sharing a nod before turning back to their own breakfast.

The Mikaelsons finished the food on their plates in silence, though Klaus had lost his appetite in lieu of thinking about just what had to occur now. When Elijah got up from the table to leave, he spoke to the three of them. "We are going to increase protection here, starting with the wards." He looked to Kol, knowing his relationship with the witches was strongest. "I want the most powerful witch in the quarter working on those wards this afternoon—no vampire or cold one should be able to enter these grounds without us being notified as well in advance as possible."

Kol nodded and stood, whooshing out of the room and indeed the house as fast as possible, heading to the part of the quarter he knew witches were bleeding from. He would need to work his best Mikaelson charm on the new generation of witches but it was worth it.

Klaus turned to the two remaining, in particular at first to Elijah. "Go after Kol, make sure he doesn't do anything rash. I'd rather you send him straight home afterwards. Also, I know that you have plans in town today; I want you to be vigilant. Keep your eyes open for anyone following you, Elijah, and tell me immediately but do not alert them to the fact that you know. I want you to garner as much information as you can without giving away too much of your own. Just to be on the safe side, after today, there are to be no more visits into town if it can be helped."

Elijah nodded, grabbing his phone from the table and leaving though at a much slower pace than his youngest alive brother. It was once he was out of the house that Klaus at last turned to Rebekah, who was already waiting and watching for him to speak. "I want you to be with Bella as much as you can; you'll be with her when I am otherwise occupied. She is not to be left alone for even a second, understood?"

"Yes, brother," she replied with a small smile. She stood from the table, walking to the door before turning. "Do I begin surveillance now?"

Klaus rolled his eyes. Rebekah could be so bloody insolent. "No, not yet."

She nodded and left Klaus sitting there at the table, his thoughts now turning inward. His fingers curled around the ring, twirling it on the table and then catching it over and over.

The sound of rustling from the door into the bedroom broke him out of his thoughts some thirty minutes later and Klaus looked up, caught the ring, and pocketed it, a soft smile curving his lips as he saw Bella's sleepy form appear at the door. "Hello, love."

She hummed and came closer, sitting in the chair Kol had used before. She curled up on it, resting back against the chair as her thin arm reached forward to pile her plate with a small collection of fruit. She never ate much now in the mornings once Klaus had informed her he wouldn't be forcing her to eat if she didn't wish to. He'd realized her need for that when she'd been piling her plate and then looking toward Klaus before she would eat, only doing so once he had smiled or nodded to her.

As if Niklaus needed another reason to want to see Edward Cullen burn to ash.

Klaus watched Bella as she ate and waited for her to finish before he chose to speak. She had just finished and was about to get up and leave the room, perhaps find Bekah—any time apart the past week since their friendship had begun was scarce and Bella found herself truly enjoying the female Original's company.

"Bella," Klaus called softly, his hand once again a fist on the table, the other on his lap as he cocked his head and gazed at her.

She turned around and looked at him, swallowing as nerves rose in her chest and, unconsciously, her teeth ensnared her bottom lip. Klaus smiled and gestured for the chair she just occupied. "Please sit, love," he asked of her.

She hesitated for a moment before wordlessly moving to do as requested. She curled up in it much like before, an unsettled furrow in her brow as she rested her hands on her knees and eyed her mate. "Is something wrong?" she asked, voice so soft he wouldn't have heard without his enhanced hearing.

He smiled a right smile. "Not quite. It seems that my brother's curse has lifted."

Bella's featured colored with relief and she smiled wide. "That's great!" she enthused, tone sweet. "He must be so happy, all of you must be."

"We would be," Nik replied, "if it weren't for the fact that it has come far too early. My brother assumed it was his mate who cleared him of his ailment however this is incorrect. The only thing that could fully release him from the curse's influence is the awakening of the next hunter."

Bella was confused, Klaus could tell, and so he continued, leaning forward. "The curse traditionally is designed to drive the vampire who killed the hunter to death. It deters the race from killing them. Once affected, the curse drives you with guilt and hallucinations of your past victims, including the hunter themselves, to death. Only the strongest can overcome it. The only way the impact is lessened is by the vampire's mate, and the strength of such is determined by the stage of the connection. Kol's curse was lessened by the pull to his mate, which slowed it, but then his mate's presence was needed. Finding her would have helped some, but the curse would not have been lifted; the only cure is a new hunter but they are rare. It isn't possible that another could be awakened so soon after the Gilbert boy's death unless he was greatly needed but the Brotherhood of the Five, as they call themselves, biggest priority is Silas, who was defeated even though they were originally created to kill vampires and hybrids. Therefore it is clear that there is more danger coming and my siblings and I are sure that we are the reason. Kill an Original and you kill their entire line."

Bella was quiet for several minutes as she processed the information. After a while, she spoke. "Why did Kol kill this Gilbert guy and who is Silas?"

Klaus looked down at the table, clenching his hand around the ring as the memories flashed behind his eyelids every time he blinked. Seeing his youngest brother's scorched body had hurt more than he could describe. Added to that, the impression he's left on Kol; that he was going to kill him. The guilt had wracked through him worse than any hunters curse could or had-and he'd experienced that himself.

"Silas was a powerful being from two thousand years ago," he began, voice low as he stared down at the table. "He was the first immortal, and had betrayed his witch, Qetsiyah, in lieu of the first Petrova doppelgänger, Amara, who was his mate and Qetsiyah's handmaiden. When this came to the witch's attention, she made Silas believe she had killed Amara. Silas tried to attack her but she used her magic to entomb him on a remote island for the next two thousand. She buried him and gave him the choice-take the cure she had created to his immortality, or rot as an immortal forever. To spite her, he chose the latter.

"Soon Qetsiyah became unsatisfied, especially when she realized that if he took the cure, he would be able to pass peacefully. So she created a special purgatory known as the Other Side for all supernatural creatures, binding it to Amara, needing something eternal who could never die so it would never fail. That way, he would never be reunited with his mate, instead having to spend eternity with her.

"Eventually, she died and joined the other side, forced to watch not only as Silas refused to take the cure but also the consequence of their immortality-nature created doppelgänger's who resembled them. They would find one another and fall in love for the next two thousand years. Two doppelgänger's survive today, both vampires-Elena Gilbert, Jeremy's sister, and Stefan Salvatore. But they are not mates; Elena is bound to Stefan's brother and as yet Stefan has not found his mate.

"Silas was supposed to be the most powerful witch of all time, and all witches knew of him; some worshipped, some feared. News got out that some were trying to wake him for the cure and my brother made it his mission to stop this as Silas wanted to destroy the Other Side to be reunited with his presumed-dead mate, Amara. This would bring hell on earth as all the dead supernatural creatures would be brought back to life. Kol meant well, and we all wanted the same thing, but he can be bloody insensible, so impulsive, and he was at his worst because he was scared. He came back to Mystic Falls and was shortly thereafter killed by Jeremy and his sister, the last Petrova doppelgänger, Elena."

Bella's eyes widened and remorse filled her eyes. Nik looked away again, hating the pity even if it was from her. "Dead? But—"

Klaus smiled bitterly. "Yes, quite dead. I was forced to stay in a room with his decrepit corpse for days. When it was over, I took his body to Rebekah and Elijah. They both vowed revenge but I stopped them; the days had calmed me enough to think, even with his body so close driving me insane. I told them that Kol would be the only one to seek retribution on the two for taking his life after we'd brought him back using the Bennett witch, Bonnie. The Bennetts are an incredibly powerful line of witches and one of the oldest, Qetsiyah being the first known of the line. It was only Bonnie who would be able to help us. She was reluctant at first, but…" He trailed off, a wicked smirk curling his lips as he looked down, nostrils flared and Bella knew that if he looked up into her eyes, they'd be dark and dangerous. She knew he would do anything for his siblings and thus she didn't quite want to know how he got the reluctant witch to agree.

"So you… you brought Kol back?" Bella prompted in a hushed voice. She wanted to reach for Klaus, to comfort him somehow, but she didn't know how best to do it. She knew he was the type to turn away from pity—as he'd see it—and possibly react harshly. She just didn't know, and that saddened her.

Klaus cleared his throat and looked up. "Indeed," he smirked, "suffice to say, he was quite shocked. My brother thought I hated him, that in some way we all did, and that we all only saw him as a nuisance. I cannot blame him; in a thousand years, I have daggered him the most though intermittently… only ever to protect him, sometimes from himself but most of the time from Mikael. Kol is theatric and his bloodlust rivals and, in some ways, bests my own. He drew too much attention and Mikael would find us. So when he was getting out of control, I would dagger him to keep him, and to keep all of us, safe. So that none of them would leave me, and I suppose in part because I feared betrayal, having experienced it so badly by my family's hand in the past." Klaus looked away, remembering with sadness how founded that fear had been one hundred years ago. He brightened, however, at the reminder that those days were behind them. Their relationship was building once more. "My hope was that we'd escape Mikael long enough for me to break the curse Mother and he had placed on me one thousand years ago when my true parentage had first been discovered. If I broke the curse, I would be able to deal with him and protect this family."

Bella watched her mate sadly, again longing to comfort him but knowing how. She bit her lip before blurting out in as soft a tone as possible, "I am sure they know that, Klaus."

He looked up at her, eyes glistening and jaw clenched, a frown marring his forehead. Bella's arms ached when he spoke, his voice gruff. "They are starting to understand, but no. They always thought it was just because of betrayal or resentment for one thing or another. Perhaps it was in part, but I knew it was my responsibility to protect this family. In this form, as a hybrid, I cannot be killed—they can. And besides, it was me that Mikael wanted. Not them. I was to blame for it all."

Bella shook her head. "Bullshit," she said, voice inflamed with passion and causing her mate's eyes to widen. "They wouldn't have abandoned you, Klaus; you're their brother. Ergo, Mikael would have had no choice but to kill them or otherwise, there would be no need to protect them."

"He would have used them to get to me," he muttered, eyes dark.

"Because they are important to you and because they were helping you," she said, insistent and leaning forward. She touched her hand with the tips of her fingers, grasping down on it when he tried to slip it away. She forced him to look in her eyes. "They know, Klaus, and they feel the same way. If you want to improve your relationship with Kol, then show him that you trust him. Actions speak louder than words, right? Allow him to run his own errands instead of sending Elijah after him." She raised an eyebrow and Klaus chuckled. She ignored it. "If something happens, he knows how to get ahold of you for help."

The grin fell from his face, and he shook his head. "I was too late and he died last time, Bella. I cannot lose my brother again."

"Bekah tells me he's being more careful," she said, "he's learned from his mistakes. He's maturing—he may never stop being more reckless, but he's better, right? And if you don't let him go in that way, your relationship won't get better—you want trust, you gain it by giving an example. I don't think after all the backstabbing your family has endured that you know the meaning of the word or have much experience with it. Just try it-forget about all the regrets of the past, of why you can't and just try. You'll be surprised by the results."

Klaus looked at his mature, insightful mate for moments longer before he gently took his hand from hers. She sighed as he pulled back and leaned away in his chair. "We are getting off course," he said, reaching for his pocket and clenching two items in his fist. "This was not what I wanted to speak to you about. I was telling you what happened so that you knew why I had to give you this."

Bella watched as her mate pulled his hand up onto the table and her eyes fell on a rock—at closer inspection, a wolf carved from blue stone. It was resting in his outstretched and open palm for Bella to look at before Klaus reached for her wrist. She held it out and Klaus looped the leather band around it, tying it securely. She turned her arm over as he retreated to gaze once more at the wolf. "It's beautiful," she murmured, sending him a smile and glance before her eyes were drawn back. "But I don't understand the correlation."

Klaus smiled, pleased that she liked the gift. He cleared his throat and leaned forward, his elbows on the table and palms meeting. "It's for protection. A wolf carved from a blue stone called lapis lazuli—the vampire stone we use for daylight rings so we don't burn. You'll notice a fair few of the kind have them. They are spelled by witches and protect the wearer."

"But I'm not a vampire?" she asked, looking at him again. She left out the 'yet' that her tone implied, and both of them bit back a smile.

"Indeed. However, at this stage it is more a symbol of claim and an object to ward off any who may harm you. A wolf carved in the vampire stone; it's a giveaway who your mate is and many know of my reputation and that of my family's. They'd have to be imbeciles to threaten or hurt you." He grinned wolfishly, though it turned darker when he continued, more into a smirk as his eyes glinted. His tone, as well, was darkened. "And if that doesn't deter them, in the event that something happens and I am not there to help you, I want you to wear this at all times," he told her, holding up a ring which he promptly placed in the palm of her hand. "Elijah took it from Jeremy Gilbert. If you were to die, it would bring you back as long as you were wearing it." He almost neglected telling her of the side effects, knowing she may not wish to wear it if she did know of them, but he did not want to seem at all comparable with Edward. So after a moment's hesitation, he continued. "There are some side effects-the ring can make the prolonged wearer become crazy and even experience black outs after which you'll not remember any of your actions-however we believe that the shield that protected your mind from the Cullen gifts will work to aid you in this instance as well."

Bella looked at the ring for a moment then back at Klaus. She was pleased that he did tell her the risks even though she knew he didn't want to in case she didn't wear it. However, unlike the Cullens, she trusted him and thus she smiled and slipped the ring onto her left thumb, the opposite hand to the one on which she had the wolf pendant.

"Thank you," she whispered and they shared another smile. He nodded after a moment. "Will this work against the Cullens?"

"It works against any supernatural creature," he confirmed. "Though I don't think you'll have much trouble with the Cullens for a while, love. Before we left Mystic Falls, my siblings compelled the town; they know nothing of our existence even if that mind reader should access their thoughts, and this have no idea where we were going. We told no one. In addition, we also placed quite a few false leads to intercept and distract the dear coven in the thoughts of random people—I am sure they will overlook it the first time and then come back after some time and that is when they'll uncover that information." It was just Caroline, Stefan, and Damon who had not been compelled at that stage, as they had been out of town or in the case of the Salvatore brothers, quite busy with a grieving Elena, Klaus imagined. He smirked at the thought.

Bella looked down and swallowed, quite blown away at the thought of what his siblings had done for her so soon after finding her. "Thank you," she whispered, unable to think of what else there was to say.

Klaus nodded again, then stood and came closer. He kissed her cheek, taking in the blush of her skin and the skip of her heart as he did so. His smile broadened and he walked to the door. "If you wish to find me once you're dressed, love, I'll be painting."

Bella sat in her chair, breathing just a little harder and quicker, her heart thudding in her chest and her cheek tingling from his kiss. She grabbed her water, blinking out of her trance, and downed it in one before taking a deep breath.

God, how does Nik do that? she thought to herself, calling him by the name she only used in her thoughts as she got up on shaky legs to go the bedroom to shower and change.

~TPOL~

Kol looked up as Elijah entered the room and sighed, irritation building as he looked back to the witches and growled, stepping toward them. The angry glint in his eyes had the witches stepping back and one raised her hands, ready to send an aneurysm his way.

He was undeterred as he muttered darkly, "What do you mean you won't help us?"

The oldest glanced at the newcomer—she recognized him as the oldest surviving Mikaelson and thanked the spirits. He'd be able to rein in his brother. She spoke. "We mean that we can't; the ruler of this city has forbidden the use of magic in the quarter and has the most powerful of us under his heavy guard. She knows when we use magic and she tells him. We are punished for it."

Elijah stepped forward, eyes narrowed in contemplation and suspicion. "Why would she betray fellow witches to a vampire?" Witches hated the species, as an abomination of nature, the thing they held so dear.

The witches shared looks, and this time it was a pretty dark-skinned witch who spoke, her tone cut with hatred as she glared at the elder. "Because she was supposed to be the fourth witch sacrificed in the Harvest Ritual. But the vampire came and saved her. Now unless she is returned to us, the souls of the other three are trapped and they'll stay dead."

Kol smirked. "That's a lie, darling. The elder has no intention of bringing any of them back. The girl was smart to get help."

"She didn't get help," the witch spat, his earlier words not registering, "did but Marcel showed up too late and now the three other girls are—" It was then that the words he'd said caught up to her, and with wide eyes, she turned to the elder. The other witches followed suit, and soon there was a shouting match right in the center of the room.

Kol and Elijah shared a look, their eyebrows raised. Marcellus? Klaus's progeny? "I'm sure Nik will be delighted to hear about that," Kol murmured and Elijah grit his teeth. He turned to the witches and shouted for them to quiet, speaking once they did. "Why don't we strike a deal then? You help us and we will help you; the most powerful witch in this room will strengthen the wards this afternoon and in return you all will be granted protection from Marcellus and his witch."

"You don't understand," another witch said, looking between the two of them. "When we use magic we get killed. We can't risk that!"

Kol sighed hard, a hint of a growl coming through. His patience was starting to wear thin. He'd had enough of this. "I'm a Mikaelson, darling; nothing will deter me from getting what I want, nor will it for any of my siblings. If you want to be able to practice magic, you will help us; if not, I will kill every last one of you right here and now." Kol's hands clenched at his sides and he snarled, his entire countenance growing dark as he stepped forward, violence at the forefront of his mind.

"Kol," Elijah called softly in warning and the younger grit his teeth, breathing in and forcing a smile—one that sent shivers down every single witch's back—as he turned to face his brother.

"Nik wants—"

"Niklaus wants the most powerful witch available to strengthen the wards. He cannot do that if you slay every single one of them." His eyebrow was raised and head cocked before he tuned to them. "We will first have one complete the job. If it is not done as asked, the deal is void, and you can deal with them as you see fit." He turned to his brother. "Yes?"

Kol growled a low, "fine," and turned to the witches. "Do we have a deal?" he ground out.

"Fine," the older witch agreed and his eyes were dragged to her. "I will be there in the afternoon. I will bring the items needed."

Kol nodded then spun on his heel to leave. He continued to ignore the brother shadowing him until the man in question spoke.

"You know he does it with good intention," Elijah said, voice cool as he stopped just as Kol did.

Kol spun to face his brother, anger far clearer now as he growled. "The reason he sent me was because he knows I have a good rapport with witches, better than any of you lot. I would not jeopardize that. I'd prefer it if he didn't send you to babysit me while I perform my duties, Elijah."

"It's a habit," Elijah supplied, now in front of the fellow brunet. He bit back the words he longed to say about Kol's violent manner—that wasn't going to change and thus it was redundant to bring it up. His brother was already quite angry enough as it was. "Kol, he doesn't do this because he does not trust you—it's for your protection. A thousand years we have run from Mikael; he has not broken out of the mold that has created. Please calm yourself and see reason."

Kol glared up at him but Elijah remained unfazed, still gripping his shoulder until his youngest brother's jaw relaxed and the tension left his body. The glare slipped from his face and he even smirked mischievously. "What are you up to, Elijah? You're not headed back so soon, I take it?"

"Indeed not," Elijah confirmed with a nod. His hands slipped into his trouser pockets. "I have some errands to run in town. I shouldn't be long."

Kol nodded. "I'll be back at the house, then. Nik isn't going to be pleased, so I better get this over with. Plus, it's about time I get to know our new sister, don't you think?" He smirked and then blurred away from Elijah, who sighed and shook his head, raising his eyebrow as he continued down the street for some time. He kept an ear out and eyes peeled, noting quickly the presence of a vampire not quite out of range due east. He fired off a text to Niklaus and the reception of correspondence was prompt:

Walk around town for a bit and try to lose them before going about your tasks.

He continued along the road as told, pretending he was on a simple stroll through the town as he took in the sights. It was once he heard the presence leave that he took out his phone, a smile on his face as he dialed the number. He put it to his ear, the grin growing as she answered.

"Elijah?" she breathed, and he could hear the smile in her tone just as well as she heard his a moment later.

"Beloved," he sighed. He felt his being calm for the first time since last they spoke, the pain in his chest disappearing. "It is good to hear your voice."

"And yours; I was beginning to wonder if you'd forgotten me," she replied, dryly.

He chuckled, looking down the road as he crossed it. "I could never," he purred and she giggled. The sound warmed him and he closed his eyes, letting the contentment bathe him for a moment. God, how he missed her. "There is so much to tell you," he said, his voice quiet and yet happy at the same time.

"Oh?" was the reply he received. "Am I going to be happy or upset?" Her tone was warning and he chuckled.

"I should hope you'd be happy to know that our separation will not last much longer," he informed her in a matter-of-fact tone, a smirk on his lips as he heard her breath stutter.

"Elijah," she breathed with passion and it set him alight.

"He has found her, beloved. The wait is over. It should not be too much longer before we can move forward and you can come to me—to stay, this time. No more secrets." His voice was rough and his eyes wet as he delivered the news in a low, rasping voice.

Her eyes welled at the information and she struggled with breath for a moment, a whimper escaping as she closed her eyes. She sniffled and then rubbed at the tears to push them away, emotion clawing at her throat. "You better be serious—"

"I am. One hundred present," he said powerfully. He looked around and sighed. He had spent long enough away from the house and knew he'd best get back before Niklaus sent a search party. He sighed. "I have to go. I will speak with you soon, beloved. I love you."

She sighed as well. The one thing she hated was that there was never enough time. "I love you, Elijah. Call me sooner rather than later, okay?"

He smiled, though the look was a touch sad now. "I will, my mate. I will."

She smiled and hummed at the sound of him calling her that, the possessive twinge in his voice. She loved it, being claimed, no matter how much she might say otherwise. And he knew it, too. "Good. Soon, Elijah."

"Soon," he echoed. "I can feel it," he said after a moment and he smiled when she replied quickly.

"So can I; always."

Then the line went dead. With a sigh, Elijah looked around and was efficient in performing his tasks before continuing back to the house. He was unknowing of the eyes that had watched him from a far enough away distance to be undetected.

Those same eyes haunted him back to the house, and it was once he was inside did the being turn and leave for his own dwelling. It was there that his phone rang and he answered, listening for the European accent on the other line. "Well?"

He swallowed. "I know where they are and yeah, I heard one of Klaus's brothers talking on the phone to some girl—" he left out the detail of her being his mate "—and he told her that Klaus had found his mate. I'm assuming it's this Bella girl you're interested in…?"

"You assume correctly," the European replied haughtily. "But not another word. Your next task is an ambush, tonight. Distract the Mikaelsons and I will come for the girl."

"Fine," he answered gruffly.

"Good… now if that is all?"

He grit his teeth, feeling his visage change. "I want to talk to her. Put her on the phone, now."

"You are in no position to be making threats—"

"Please," he spat, running his hand over his bare head. "Just let me talk to my mate, Demetri, so I know she's okay." His hand curled into a fist and he raised it to his chest, pressing it hard against the skin over his heart. He wanted to thrust his hand in and clench said organ in his fist just to relieve himself from some of the pain but he didn't when he heard a sigh and then, after a long moment of silence, her voice.

"Marcel?" she gasped, clutching the phone.

The vampire's eyes closed and he breathed in hard, pain disappearing. "Camille," he whispered, falling into the chair under his feet. "God, baby, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I'll be fine," she replied, correcting herself as she knew he'd be upset when he came for her later to find her quite un-fine.

He winced. "I'll see you soon, okay? I love you."

"I love you, Marcel. Please be careful."

There was another moment of silence before the European's voice was back, his tone smug. Marcel wished he could rip the cold one's heart out of his chest, rip him to shreds and then burn the pieces. A damn pest, their kind was. "Is that all now?"

"Yes," he hissed and the phone cut dead. He growled and threw his phone into the wall, then gathered up his boys to let them know about the suicide mission he was sending them all on. He hoped that he would be able to find and reason with Klaus before he was killed. He had Camille waiting for him and that vicious bastard could have done god knows what to her.

He didn't want to go against the man who had raised him… but he would.

For her.

~TPOL~

Bella sighed as she lay back on the couch, thoroughly involved in the book in her hands. It was a newer book, crime fiction instead of the damn Jane Austen books Edward had tried to get her to read. She had once loved Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, but after Edward she found herself moving further and further away from classics.

She was alone in the house. Nik had just stepped outside with the witch to work on the wards, as she'd been informed when he left the painting room—it was the first time they had spent time in there together since the kissing debacle and it was nice. Things were different as they tried to grow accustomed to this new normal of theirs, but just now did Bella feel as though things were going back to the way they had been pre-kiss. She liked it.

Rebekah had gone missing; she hadn't seen her all day, in fact. She had wondered at this as it was the first time since they'd been here—though then again, it was also the first time Elijah and Kol had been able to leave the house. They'd still been practicing the same caution, at least until circumstances proved too dire for them to adhere any longer.

"I see your still avoiding my brother," she heard at her ear, Kol's breath cascading over her neck and cheek.

Bella jumped and turned quickly, slamming the book shut as she looked up at the cheeky Mikaelson. "Kol? I thought—I thought it would be—"

He smirked and blurred to the armchair across from her, plopping himself down into it. "Elijah? Bekah?" He chuckled. "Well, not so long ago and you would have been right. But things have changed." He grinned at her, the look almost wicked on him. She was coming to understand that this was just part of his character. "It seems I am the last to get to know my new sister and I thought it best to change that. Now." He sat forward and rubbed his hands together.

Bella rolled her eyes. "So you mean you were bored and 'needed entertainment?'" she asked, her eyes twinkling with mirth as she repeated his words from two years ago—Bekah had told her all about their time in Mystic Falls before meeting her. Then she turned serious. "And by the way, I'm not avoiding your brother. As a matter of fact, I spent the entire day with him. It was quite pleasant until he started throwing things about because he was pissed at you." She sent a pointed look at him.

Kol rolled his eyes but ignored the jab. "And yet you two are still walking around one another on egg shells. It was funny to watch the first few days; now it's boring," he informed her.

It was her turn to roll her eyes, and she was sarcastic when she spoke, eyebrow quirked. "And you're here to remedy that?"

His response was not one she had been expecting and it threw her for a loop when Kol leaned forward, the smirk falling off his face and the mirth in his eyes dimming. "I came to knock some sense into you."

Bella blinked. "Are you always so—"

"Handsome? Yes, darling, I assure you I am," he interrupted her without blinking, eyes once again twinkling as he cocked his head from one side to another, a smirk on his face. He leaned forward and stage-whispered, "though don't go telling Nik you think that. He'll get jealous."

She huffed, laughing as she threw the book down the table between them before sitting straight once more. "I was going to say 'are you always so chop and change?'—"

"He is," Rebekah answered her, and Bella turned to see the blonde at the door, grinning at the two of them as she came to sit down beside Bella on the loveseat. "You'll soon find that's all just a part of my dear brother's… charm." She side-glanced the man then back at Bella, her grin growing. "But I agree. It's been too much, this past week, watching the two of you. It's time we do something about it because apparently neither you nor my idiot brother will no matter how much you bloody want one another."

Bella blushed, looking down as she wrung her hands. She wet her lips and then looked between the two of them. "Out with it then," she said as firm as she could and the two Mikaelsons grinned.

"As you wish, darling," Kol supplied. He again glanced at his sister before looking back at Bella. "We can tell you want to be with Nik. So why not just go for it? I can tell you now that he won't refuse."

Bella sighed. "I'm not—"

Rebekah scoffed. "If you try to tell me that you're 'not ready' I will scream, Bella. That's bloody ridiculous. You and Klaus are both ready you're just too scared to bite the bullet without an extra… push. Which the two of us are more than happy to supply just to stop the pathetic, annoying glances the two of you send one another when you think no one is looking."

Bella's blush deepened and she sighed. "How do I know it's not just the bond?"

"Does it really matter?" Kol asked. "You can never know whether or not it's the bond. But my brother loves you, Bella, and you're both idiots to pass that sort of love up."

"Think of the bond as a security blanket," Bekah piped up and Bella turned to look at her. "That love between you will never lessen; if anything, it'll get stronger as the time passes. The mating connection was supposed to find us our one true mate, the perfect other half that would complement and further us in every aspect of our life. To make this life truly worth living, to make it meaningful." Bella almost missed the wistful, far away glaze that took over the blonde Original's eyes for but a moment before it was gone and she was grinning down at the human in front of her once more.

Bella heard their words but there was still a swarm of doubt inside her. "But—"

Rebekah was getting frustrated and it showed in her voice. "Bella, you are giving my brother the one thing he has never actually had from a woman; love—you are giving him love, even if he's too blind to see it. All you need to do is talk to him and show him to get him to see it. Then you'll see just how strongly he feels for you. You said you wanted more than what Edward could over you. There is more. As long as you have another breath left in your lungs and your heart finds its next beat, there's always more. And that more is with my brother, so go get it—go get him, Bella, and stop being so blood afraid! Take your own advice and just try," she urged her, raising an eyebrow as she referenced Nik and Bella's talk from this morning.

Kol just nodded in agreement when Bella looked to him. "You've heard the old adage, where there's a will, there's a way? Utter bullshit; where there is a will, it happens—even if you have to work to get there. And trust me, if this connection I am just beginning to understand and feel is anything like what you and Nik have, then it's worth it. It's worth everything." Bekah nodded along with his words, her thoughts in agreement even as she had to hide just how much she knew what he was saying to be true.

"But Edward… there's too much pain there. I don't know that I can do it all again, give myself to someone like this—so completely. It scares me. What if I'm not enough? I'm just some weak… and Nik's…" She was so consumed in her worries she didn't notice her slip, but the two siblings in the room did and they grinned at one another.

Kol got her attention by calling her name. "Bella, trust me. When I was human, I had magic—more than any of this lot had hopes of tapping into—and I loved it. The rush, the power, the feel of it running through your veins, the connection I felt. But when I turned, I lost that. I wanted to give up, but I knew that I couldn't. So I channeled the pain of losing that connection into something else. One thousand years later and here I am," he grinned and his next words made both girls roll their eyes, "more attractive than ever and a cheater of death itself." He turned serious again. "So take it from me when I say that you're not weak. The weak are broken and they give up. The strong break, give up, and then drag themselves up and build themselves back up piece by piece. Like I have done, like Nik has done, like you have done. Just as every single member of this family has had to do in the past millennium."

Bella sighed, quiet for a moment as she thought. "Let's not talk about this anymore," she said, shaking her head. "I don't want to think about all this." She grinned at them. "What's next?"

The two Mikaelsons grinned at one another, Bekah whooshing out of the room and reappearing a few moments later with a cup in hand. "Kol and I have taken it upon ourselves to train you in self-defense. Our brother would be completely unable to do so since he's so in love with you and wouldn't want to do what it takes to get you ready to at least have a chance against our kind." She glanced down meaningfully at the new jewelry she adorned. "Though I see his efforts aren't totally useless."

Bella smiled. "A carving of a wolf in lapis lazuli stone; he said any wolf or vampire would have to be an absolute idiot if that didn't deter them. And if it didn't, then I have the Gilbert Ring to protect me from death at a supernatural creature's hand."

"Quite right," Kol said with a nod. "Our brother has quite the infamous reputation, in fact the whole family does. A lot of the older vampires respect us and most of the supernatural world as a whole fear our mere name." His grin was wolfish and Bella giggled before turning to Rebekah.

"So you guys are teaching me—what?" she asked.

Bekah rolled her eyes. "First, we'd like you to take this—it's called vervain. It's an herb that'll ward off any vampire of our kind though it has burning properties that will affect a cold one as well. It won't affect you in any way and as Klaus's mate, it won't affect him either."

"Okay," Bella replied, taking the cup from the Original's hand and downing the vervain-infused water. "How often do I have to have that?"

"A cup or two a day, just in case," Kol supplied. "You never know how old the vampire may be. The older they are, the more resistant."

Bella nodded at the information. "Now what?"

Kol smirked, hopping up off the chair. Rebekah rolled her eyes but got up as well, gesturing for Bella to do the same. "Now, we go outside and play with some bats. I think we'll start you off with wooden, although those are very handy; smash them across a vampire's face and you have a weapon that turns into a stake. Jab it in their heart and they'll burst into flames."

Bella giggled and shook her head at Kol's exuberance, sending Bekah glances as the wily fox pulled her out of the room, his sister following after them to supervise. After Kol worked with her on the bats, Rebekah would help with hand-to-hand combat. "Best you not break the girl, Kol; I doubt Nik will take too kindly to that and you're already in hot water with him."

Kol growled and glares at his sister. "It's not my fault the witches couldn't deliver on his demands. Don't shoot the bloody messenger, especially since Elijah didn't approve of my preferred methods and wouldn't let me get the answers out of them—Nik's fault, by the way."

Bekah rolled her eyes. "Of course, Kol, it is Nik's fault that your 'preferred method' would have wiped the quarter of its witches. How could I forget?" she asked her brother, tone dry as she shared a look with Bella that sent the girl into a fit of giggles. Kol sighed hard, biting back another growl, but followed the two out into the backyard anyway.

It was time to have some fun and rid himself of some of his aggression.

~TPOL~

Later that night, well spent from hours' worth of training, Bella found herself in front of the piano again. She was trying to build up the courage to confront Klaus because she knew that Kol and Rebekah were right and that all she needed to do was bite the bullet and tell him how she felt. But there was just one thing she had to do first, and so she pulled out of her head the first song she had ever written about Edward; it was right when things were turning bad and she was starting to see the side of Edward she had never known existed.

This was a form of goodbye so she could move on with Klaus, letting go the last of the confusion and pain as best she could before starting anew.

Never mind the fact that by now everyone had returned and could hear her.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and let the music pour from her heart, her fingers dancing over the keys and in her mind she could hear her imagined accompaniment. She didn't know that four Mikaelsons were at the door watching, listening.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and let the music pour from her heart, her fingers dancing over the keys and in her mind she could hear her imagined accompaniment. She didn’t know that four Mikaelsons were at the door watching.

I let it fall, my heart,
And as it fell you rose to claim it
It was dark and I was over
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me

My hands, they're strong
But my knees were far too weak
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet

But there's a side to you that I never knew, never knew
All the things you'd say, they were never true, never true
And the games you'd play, you would always win, always win

But I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cry
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

When laying with you
I could stay there, close my eyes
Feel you here, forever
You and me together, nothing gets better

Cause there's a side to you that I never knew, never knew
All the things you'd say, they were never true, never true
And the games you'd play, you would always win, always win

But I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die, 'cause I knew that
That was the last time, the last time

Sometimes I wake up by the door
As if that heart you caught is still waiting for you
Even now when it's already over
I can't help myself from looking for you

I set fire to the rain
Watched it pour as I touched your face
Let it burn while I cried
'Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die
'Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time, oh
Oh, oh

Let it burn, oh
Let it burn
Let it burn

By the time she was finished and she finally opened her eyes, tears were coursing down her cheeks and the room was deserted but for her. She wiped the tears away with shaking fingers and stood from the piano. She let her fingers rest on the piano as she whispered, "Goodbye, Edward," and then she walked out of the room.

Klaus was on the balcony yet again when she found him, his thoughts on the song his mate had just allowed them all to be witness to. He knew that she was aware of their presence in the house and wondered if they were all meant to hear that—her goodbye to Edward as she, to quote the song, set fire to their relationship.

Some part of him picked up on the possibility that it was a message to him—a warning just before Bella came to him. She was ready, done fighting it any longer. His body thrummed with the information, his wolf and his vampire gleaming. Their mate was ready, she was coming for them. She wanted them. She… she loved them?

"Lilies," he heard her say behind him and, startled out of his thoughts, he turned to her.

"What's that, love?"

She smiled, the action nervous and followed by a nervous bite to her lip. His fingers twitched at his side; he wanted to pull her lip away from her teeth, but he kept his distance. Bella noted this and came forward, slow enough to give him time to stop her if this was something he wasn't ready for. But he was; his heart ached with each step she took toward him, his body thrumming and his soul clenched tight. His wolf was howling, his vampire growling; both crying out for him to draw her into his arms and lay his mark on her neck for the world to see.

How bloody frustrating it was that he couldn't.

"My favorite flower," she said, now standing in front of him, once more breaking him out of the intense struggle festering inside of him. "It's lilies."

There was silence and then—

"Nik, I—" She took another step forward, mouth open to speak again, when they were both literally pushed back into the house. Klaus growled and looked out the window, unclear for a moment as to what was happening before he understood and his eyes widened. The wards were closing in; someone was coming.

"Niklaus!" he heard from below at the same time a knock sounded at their door and he flitted to the door to open it. Rebekah was standing there already waiting, and Klaus spared just a second-long glance toward his mate, a look that gave all away as she returned him with the same before he was out the door and downstairs.

Bella turned to Rebekah. "What now?"

Rebekah was a blur at the windows, closing the patio doors and locking them, shutting the curtains. She turned back to Bella as the sound of a couple dozen vampires approaching the house reached her ears. "I have no idea, but I need to keep you safe." At that, she was whooshed over to the adjoined bathroom, and the door was shut in her face.

She sat down on the toilet, head in her hands as she tried to breathe. It was obvious that someone was attacking, but she had no idea who or why—Klaus had said they'd be safe from the Cullens and with all this hunter business, maybe it wasn't about that?—but it was enough for them to be worried. Was it just because of her? She didn't know.

Suddenly the sound of the bedroom door being smashed in jolted her, and she jumped, a whimper clawing at her throat. She hated feeling so damn powerless as the family she had just found fought for her. She could hear it all over the house. She heard the sound of a European voice and then Rebekah's and she crept forward to the door, watching the next several minutes of fighting until a sight reached her eyes that she was sure she'd never forget. A dagger was pulled from the man's cloak and thrust into Rebekah's chest, who screamed as she turned grey, clutching the man so she didn't fall as streaks of a darker version of the same grey formed all over her body before she slumped to the ground.

The next minute, the bathroom door was ripped open and she was in cold arms, her only thought of Nik and their family.

In a split second, everything had changed.

Chapter Text

The Silent Comedy ~ Bartholomew

Oh my god
Please help me, knee deep in the river tryin' to get clean
He says wash your hands, get out the stains
But you best believe, boy, there's hell to pay
Yeah you best believe, boy, there's hell to pay, sayin'
Come on

Oh my god
Please help me, waist deep in the river, can you hear my plea?
He says, son, you come like a beggar in the streets
You might make it, boy, but by the skin of your teeth
You might make it, boy, but by the skin of your teeth, sayin'

I rambled with the worst of them 
Fell in love with a harlequin
Saw the darkest hearts of men
And I saw myself starin' back again
And I saw myself starin' back again

Oh my god
Please help me, neck deep in the river screamin' for relief
He says, it's mine to give, but it's yours to choose
You're gonna sink or swim, you're gonna learn the truth
No matter what you do you're gonna learn the truth sayin'

Ate the bread that once was stone
Fell from a cliff, never broke a bone
Bowed down to get the kings overthrown
And I'm all alone and the fire grows
And I'm all alone and the fire grows

La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la

La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la

Swing sweet charity (La la la la la la la la la la la)
Take what's left of me (La la la la la la la la la la la)
A new beginning or is this the end? (La la la la la la la la la la la)
Swing sweet Seraphim (La la la la la la la la la la la)
Take me back again (La la la la la la la la la la la)
or watch me make the messes of men (La la la la la la la la la la la)


Chapter 8 – Hell To Pay


Klaus made it to his older brother's side, both of them sending glances at one another before looking out ahead of them. The wards had worked, thankfully, and they'd been warned of an intrusion, given enough time to ensure Bella's safety in their sister's hands. It left him free to join the front line.

The fight began and he leisurely killed, taking his time in toying with the ones who dared to cross him. Looking up at the sound of a particular walk, however, his eyes connected with ones he had not seen in so long, had grieved over the loss of...

Anger and pain he'd felt hours ago after finding out that the man in front of him was alive and had not told him so returned full throttle and he lost it.

A roar left his lips and he flung himself through the room, his hybrid visage showing itself as he gave himself over to the pain and the fury, the lust for revenge and bloodshed in the name of his mate.

His brothers were involved in their own fights as he threw his arm out and through a chest cavity. He gripped the heart of the vampire in front of him, ripping it out and throwing it to the ground before surging forward again. This time, it was decapitation, and then the hybrid's bite, where he allowed the pain to sink in as his eyes connected with Marcel's pained ones as he was forced to watch the death of his progeny. The poetry of the moment was not lost on him and his fury rose at the reminder of yet another betrayal from someone he loved. He shredded the vampire in his hands to bits.

Dripping with blood, he sauntered forward, intent on ending his "son's" life... only for Marcel to swallow and flee, leaving the blond standing there in a cloudy haze of confusion and anguish. The fact that the source of his pain had disappeared caused him to snarl and he was just about to follow when he heard a scream that made his chest tighten and blood curdle. It was from the floor above and it was unmistakable.

Rebekah.

His eyes lifted to the ceiling above for but a moment, though it was enough. When he looked down once more, the vampires around them, having stormed their home aggressively, had disappeared quietly, leaving behind the mutilated bodies of their fallen.

"They've retreated," Kol muttered with disappointment and confusion, covered in blood much like his two other brothers, looking around at the bodies of dead vampires strewn throughout the house.

"Something is wrong," Klaus growled, flashing inside, making for his room. He roared at the sight of his sister daggered on the ground, the bathroom door kicked in, his mate missing. Scenting the air, his Hybrid visage, already out, glowed harder as the puzzle pieces fit together.

They had been duped; Marcel and his army were a distraction from the real agenda—a cold one, Demetri of the Volturi if his senses were not deceiving him, had been here, had daggered his sister, and had left with his mate. Fury renewed, he scorned himself for not staying with Bella as he knelt by Rebekah's side and ripped the blade from her chest. His brothers, having arrived on the scene, both snarled at the sight of their sister before Elijah whooshed en route to the kitchen for blood and Kol came to stand beside them.

"We were played," he murmured.

"Indeed," Klaus muttered back, distracted amidst the fury singing in his veins and the pain and rising panic in his chest. His mate was in danger and too far away for him to protect her. "Bella has been taken and is completely vulnerable."

"Not completely," Kol answered, making Klaus look up at him. "Rebekah and I fed her vervain for some protection at least. That will help her defenses against their mind games and also make her invulnerable to their bite. They can't have gotten her far. We will find her, Nik." He placed his hand upon his brother's shoulder, and felt him sigh under his touch.

"Thank you," the distraught Hybrid whispered.

Elijah returned and the three Originals waited for their sister to wake, who was all tears and remorse when she did—"I'm so sorry, Nik, I wasn't expecting a cold one with a dagger!"—but Nik was not angry at her; he was angry at himself. Bekah drank the blood she was given and pulled herself up to her feet before all four of them left the house for the Abattoir.

With every step, Kol felt it—the pull to his mate dragging him forward, beckoning him to run. But for now he had to ignore it... for now he had to stand by his family and avenge one sister's daggering and another's kidnapping. And he did so with a wicked grin on his face.

At the same time, Niklaus was fueling himself with self-hatred, transforming it into anger. His eyes glowed liquid gold and his fangs hung out of his opened mouth, the veins in his eyes the darkest black as he entered the building, calling his siblings off and signaling for them to wait.

"Marcellus!" he bellowed as he walked on through to the open courtyard. "Come and finish this!"

You best believe, boy, there's hell to pay.

~TPOL~

Bella closed her eyes as the man carrying her ran through the night. She could already feel new bruises developing from the tight hold and the way he'd knocked her around leaving the compound. Tears were welling in her eyes and choking her throat, but she blocked them and tried to breathe, needing to keep calm as best she could. She knew Rebekah would be okay but seeing her daggered, hearing her scream as she went grey, had been overwhelming. Her mind kept playing it over and over but as time went on, Nik took his sister's place.

She shivered and took another breath, forcing nice thoughts of her mate, calming herself down as she concentrated on their bond. It had become quite the soothing method.

Eventually, the cold one holding her slowed and she sighed with relief. It had been perhaps a fifteen minute run at what she presumed was full speed, so it was obvious they were no longer in the Quarter. She was not yet feeling the effects of being away from Nik and hoped it stayed that way long enough for him to find her. Which he would, she assured herself.

He would.

Her family would come for her.

She gasped as the air in her lungs left in a rush when she made impact with the cold and hard floor she'd been thrown down onto, her back taking the brunt with a throb. She stared up into the eyes of the one who had kidnapped her as he smirked down at her but she cataloged what she was seeing, her eyes moving over his for. He was cloaked in all black and a long robe with a hood, also of the deepest black she'd ever seen. But it was when her eyes fell upon the emblem around his neck, resting against his chest with pride, that her heart skipped a beat.

The Volturi.

A small smirk spread upon her lips as she realized what that meant. Boy, were the Volturi in for a shock when the Mikaelsons got to them. Betrayal was not something any of them were all that fond of after all and the Volturi had assured they'd keep out of the interspecies conflict as long as possible. They'd delayed for but a few weeks which was a poor attempt at best.

The guard member spoke, interrupting her thoughts. "Do you know who I am, girl?" He crouched down in front of her and Bella took a deep breath, forcing herself to stand her ground—a surprisingly easy feat for her despite the fact that she lay prone on the stone floor, too sore to lift herself from it. She glared right back at him.

"Volturi," she answered confidently, with an air of nonchalance. Her eyes again wandered his uniform again, picking up on little tells she remembered being told of by Edward. "Pretty high up, too, if my memory serves me best. What, inner circle?" A lofty eyebrow rose and her head cocked as she stared up at him.

The European smirked, huffing a breath. "I am Demetri, a tracker. Your mate is looking for you."

Bella smirked herself then. She knew who it was that Demetri was speaking of, but thought a warning would be best instead. Her voice was sarcastic and aloof when she spoke, so alike Nik's. "Indeed, he will be. And he won't be happy with the Volturi going back on their promise."

Demetri rolled his eyes. "You speak of the Original, girl. I speak of Edward Cullen."

Bella's eyes narrowed. "That boy is not my mate; I refuse to give into the connection. I choose the Original Hybrid," she said, and she enjoyed the floundering of fear she found in the guard member's eyes, a look he was hasty to hide when he saw her still staring. "I see you've heard of him. That's great. You'll be sure to understand then that your people sent you on a suicide mission. Nik's not all that happy about betrayal and his family think of me as one of them. They protect their own. They'll come for me and you'll be cowering like the pathetic wimp I can see you really are. Heed the warning; it's the only one you'll get, you doomed fucker."

A low growl vibrated in the tracker's chest as he glared down at her. Bella's keen eyes could see his palm twitching as if to hit her and all she did was smirk up at him, goading him with her eyes. She wanted him to hit her, she wanted him to hurt the way she knew he would for laying a hand on her. Something dark inside was begging her to take care of it herself, though, even as he got up from his crouch and looked to the other woman in the room, lying unconscious, whom Bella had not yet taken notice of. Her eyes followed his gaze and she swallowed a gasp at the poor image the girl made, a broken mangle of blood and awkwardly placed limbs, her blonde hair soaked with dirt and blood which was also strewn across her face. She was struck out cold and trembling.

"Careful you do not try my patience, Isabella Swan," Demetri said with a smirk, making Bella look back at him, "or you will find yourself quite in the same position as her." With that, he left the room in a blur, the weight of the situation striking Bella in the throat as she stared after him, listening to the door being slammed shut and then locked.

Oh my god.

~TPOL~

Marcel appeared at the bottom of the compound, right in the center with what was left of his nightwalkers and daywalkers standing all round, awaiting his signal. "Klaus—"

The Hybrid cut him right off, growling as he continued to stalk forward until he was standing mere meters away from his 'son'. "You have something of mine; I want it back."

Marcel swallowed. "I'm sorry, but I can't do that," he said with a dark need, desperation flowing in his eyes. Klaus recognized it and felt a glimmer of hesitation, realizing the gravity of the situation, but that was gone when Marcel whistled and another two dozen vampires came out from the building to fill the empty balconies above.

Klaus chuckled and shook his head, amused. His features had been schooled once he'd entered but his visage wasn't far off from coming out again, as volatile as he was feeling at this current moment. "So this is it? The evil bastard Klaus must be punished? For what, dare I ask? And by his own son, nonetheless. How positively biblical. Is this," he swung his hand around, pointing at all the vampires, raising his voice, "your idea of a hit? I taught you better than this paltry excuse for a takedown. Do you think you can subdue me with this?!" he roared and Marcel took another step back.

He forced himself to smirk, sounding smug as he called: "No... but I think I can with this." He whistled again and another twelve dozens worth of vampires appeared to fill the courtyard and the balconies.

Klaus looked around, shuffling on his feet, pretending to be intimidated as he re-evaluated the situation, a slow, sardonic smirk developing upon his lips. He turned back to the traitor, his own desperation reflected in the dark-skinned man's eyes but he locked away his sympathy, his own need for his mate easily trampling it. He spread his arms and smirked as his siblings appeared at his side, the four of them looking around with amusement, which rose further when they took in the fear filling their opponents' faces at the realization that they were facing far more than just Klaus.

"Don't start without us, Nik," Rebekah said with a grin. "You know how I love to kill things."

"Of course not, dear sister," Klaus replied with the same menacing smirk on his face. "I wouldn't dream of it."

Elijah and Kol shared a smirk of their own, Elijah looking around as he fixed his cufflinks. His voice was low, not quite the booming intimidation of Niklaus's, but it was still dark and playing with the psyche of the two hundred or so vampires surrounding them, commanding their absolute attention. "How many times do I have to say 'no one hurts my family and lives' before I am to be believed?" he asked his audience, only to glance to Kol when he answered.

"Perhaps if we kill enough of them the point will get across," he mused, mirth in his eyes, a smirk appearing on his lips. "After all, you are a man of your word."

An identical smirk appeared on Elijah's face. "Perhaps," was his dead answer, given with an air of nonchalance, and Klaus scowled, tired of it.

"Let's end this charade, shall we?" he asked his siblings, barely sparing them a glance. Every second made Bella more and more vulnerable to Edward's whims. He turned to their surrounding opposition. "Vampires of New Orleans! Do recall that we are Originals and that I am a Hybrid. I cannot be killed," he said, a smirk on his face as he spoke, tone aloof but fueled by fury. "Eternity is an awfully long time. How long do you think my siblings will allow Marcel to live if something were to happen to me—or me if something happened to them? How long do you think Marcel will live if a hair is touched on my mate's head? What if one of you," his hand outstretched, finger pointing to each of them as he swiveled on the spot, "were to tell me where my mate is? You would be forever in my debt. Oh, how I do pity those of you who dared to cross this family. I can assure you, your ends will be spectacular." His Hybrid visage glimpsed again, giving them all a hint of what was to come, and he delighted in the fear that rose and caused the wall of vampires around them to shiver and step back. He longed to bring them all—bring Marcel, his 'son'—to their knees for what they'd done. But alas, a single look from Elijah and he gave one last chance with a roll of his eyes, taking the coin from his brother's fingers and ignoring the protesting look Kol sent him, Bekah studying her nails as she let her brother do his thing. "To borrow a trick from an old friend. Whoever picks up this coin gets to live." He spun again, allowing them all to see it before dropping it to the ground. The sound pierced through the silence and, with a wolfish grin, he spread his arms again, eyebrows raised. "Now which of you magnificent bastards wants to join me?" The perfect picture of calm, he waited for an answer, eyebrow cocked and smirk affixed upon his lips.

Kol growled, stepping forward. He was feeling uneasy here, the call to his mate somehow stronger tonight—she was close, he could tell. Was she one of the vampires his siblings and he were to kill tonight? He pushed the thought away with a hiss, stepping forward. "Let's just kill them all, Nik. Forget this! They have Bella!"

Klaus held up a finger in a silent motion of beckoning patience and silence, looking around still with a smirk on his face.

Marcel rolled his eyes, but he felt the same uneasiness as the two Originals in front of him. His eyes leveled with Niklaus's as he spoke, addressing his vampires. "Anyone wants that coin, pledge allegiance to the Mikaelsons... take it now. Go ahead. The choice is yours."

The Mikaelson brothers looked around, not expecting anyone to step forward. Marcel was always one who could inspire loyalty—a hundred years away from a untrusting Hybrid's shadow, packing away the reputation as his surrogate, adopted son, and they were not surprised by how many allies he'd made. Rebekah continued studying her nails, her face tense as she waited for it but for the ghost of a sly smirk on her lips.

Marcel gave just a hint of a smirk as well. "Take them," he said with a twitch of his head.

The Mikaelsons were ready, though. In a blink, Bekah's hair was in a bun atop her head and she had leapt up onto the balcony. She, too, was tired of the charade and merely wanted her sister back, safe and sound, and for Marcel's—and indeed that cold bastard's sake—hopefully unharmed.

Elijah had begun ripping hearts out left and right, eyes glowing red and fangs parting his lips as he worked his way through the crowd to join his sister. His suit was a lost hope by now, blood droplets staining his crisp white shirt a deep crimson, the color splattered on his shoes and coating his hands.

All this and Kol was standing there, playing with the ones who were brave enough to lunge for him, taking his time, ducking away from hits before ending them. But he was unsure still of how to proceed. He was aching to give in and go to his mate, but felt duty-bound to stand by his family. He had already discerned that indeed his mate was not among the ones fighting; a relief, to be sure.

But it was Klaus who was the sight to behold. He was doing things the messy way; he'd taken care of the first vampires who came at him, spreading his arms with a smug grin of satisfaction as he stared into Marcel's eyes. But as soon as he did that, they took him just as they'd been told to, wrapping him in chains and yanking him back. They pulled him into a small passageway, a barrier forming as perhaps fifty to ninety of them crowded to see the event—a number rapidly thinning due to Elijah. One slashed at his cheek and Klaus'd had enough. He lifted his head just a bit and raised his eyes to stare at them all as he growled low in his chest, teeth descending, veins popping, and blue eyes glowing gold. This made every young vampire in the compound freeze, a wicked grin on Kol's face as he watched for a moment then used the distraction to wipe out another thirty or so. In the next moment, Klaus was on his feet and had broken the binds as if slicing through butter with a knife. Lightning fast, he gained the upper hand, using the chains to wipe out a few and pull another in. He ripped into the vampire's neck with savage passion, his head falling back with a roar as blood coated his chin. He wiped it away with the back of his hand then licked his lips, sauntering forward. He dealt with the lessened throng of vampires surrounding him, stalking forward for Marcel, when it hit him and the rest of the vampires in the compound.

Clutching his head at the pain, all four Mikaelsons looked at the babies around them as they fought to stand to their feet. But it was Kol who looked up first upon the newcomer. His eyes widened, staggering back. The pain of the magical aneurysm left him as the little witch's eyes connected with his, and he took it as the sign he needed.

His mate; he'd found her at last.

His eyes found the rest of his siblings as they, too, stood. Rebekah, closest to the brunette beauty, made for her but with a roar, Kol was standing in between them. His sister looked on in confusion before her eyes widened and she recognized the situation for what it was.

"Get her out of here, Kol," she warned him in a low voice. The teenage witch's power had long since been removed from the equation, her surprise showing at what was going on. But then slowly, she begun to understand it. This being in front of her, defending her from the blonde Original, was responsible for the draw she had felt the past few weeks, the same presence she'd felt outside the church just a week ago…

Kol nodded, looking toward his other siblings—Elijah was looking on, his suit jacket now on the floor, sleeves rolled up to his elbows as he gripped hearts in bloodied hands. He spared a nod before going back to his task, taking on both his and Bekah's share as their sister was still preoccupied with the development. On the other hand, Klaus had taken no notice, it seemed, as he continued on for Marcel, head low and a wicked smirk upon his lips as he, without a blink, reached out to deal with oncoming vampires, letting them fall at his feet along the way, their hearts beside them as they slipped from his hands.

The newly mated Mikaelson turned to the witch, a light smirk on his lips as he cupped her cheek, peering into her eyes. "Best we get you out of here, I think, darling," he muttered. The he grabbed her and whisked her off before she could say a word. It was time they got acquainted and getting her away from his unstable brother sounded like the best idea for now. He'd sated his bloodlust for a while, now it was his mate who was top priority.

Klaus threw another heart down before resuming his paces toward Marcel, the younger vampire merely meeting the impassive stare with a solemn look of his own. He'd say nothing, not yet. He didn't want to fight the man he called father, but he would if he had to—to subdue until he could explain. For her.

"If you wish to live, Marcellus, you should take the coin now!" Elijah shouted, having also recognized in Marcel what he had experienced before and indeed what Klaus was experiencing for the first time now. He ripped through the next two enemies' chests; he and Rebekah had depleted now over three quarters of the about-two hundred vampires who'd been their opposition.

"He won't stop until everyone is dead," Rebekah stated, pushing a vampire to the ground, balancing a stiletto heel on their chest as she ripped a piece of wood from the floorboards, shredding it before driving it through his chest. She glanced up at Marcel as she started throwing more makeshift stakes with perfect precision. "He'll kill you as well for this. If you want to live, end this now and pick up the bloody coin!"

Marcel considered this. He wanted his mate, he needed her, and he had promised her he'd be safe. His original plan already had to be scrapped; obviously he had no way of getting Klaus chained up in the Garden to get his mate and then steal Klaus's back for him. To hell with that, he needed Klaus's help. If this was the way to get it, he would do it. He'd do anything for Camille. Decision made, he lunged forward and dropped to his knees, picking up the symbol of forfeiture.

"Enough!"

The fighting stopped, silence reigning. Klaus walked forward in a slow swagger, triumphant and smug, visage now gone. "Well, well, well. Bowing before me, self-professed King of New Orleans?"

Marcel looked down, swallowing. "Please," he whispered, his voice hoarse and Klaus's interest was piqued, eyes narrowing as he looked down upon his fallen son.

"What is this?" he asked, making Marcel look up at him.

"I didn't have a choice. They have her, too," Marcel whispered. "They have my mate, too."

Please help me.

~TPOL~

Bella didn't know how much time had passed as her eyes stayed riveted to the girl sharing her cell, lying prone and unconscious across the room. The one thing she was sure of was that the girl was breathing and that she'd been put through quite the heavy beating. She'd probably been here for days, she would wager.

Her eyes trailed from the girl's form when the door slid open to reveal the tracker, Demetri, again. Bella rolled her eyes and sighed, but turned to watch him from her spot on the ground. The two engaged in a staring contest until the human got tired of it and cocked an eyebrow. "Are you going to stare at me all day or are you going to speak? I, for one, would love to know exactly what is going to happen from here. You've got me where you want me, what next? I take it you will undoubtedly return me to Edward's custody—me being a prize, an object, for two grown men to have a pissing contest over—but is he coming here or are we going to Italy? Because just so you know, I don't have my passport handy." She clicked her teeth against the inside of her cheek and did a face, shrugging.

Demetri was unimpressed. He made no move toward her, smirking. "That is something you have no need to worry about, pet—"

Bella moaned facetiously and flopped an arm over her head, sliding sideways to the floor. "No," she groaned, "not the 'pet' nickname. It's so overused, you know?" She removed the arm from her face and smirked up at him cheekily. "I mean, I get that you cold ones need to stroke your ego as much as you need to stroke your cock, be all macho-man and superior, but can't you figure out with that spacious, wide-thinking brain of yours ways to do so without being such a pretentious, predictable dick? Because that shit gets old quickly, Demetri, and I tell you now no woman can respect a man like that."

The tracker growled and stepped forward just as the girl on the other side of the room let out a quiet moan and shifted, grasping at her head in pain before sitting up. She looked around the room, groggy and disoriented, trying to make sense of her surroundings when her eyes fell on the man standing in the middle of the room and then the brunette on the floor smirking up at him. "What the hell?" she exclaimed before it all caught up to her. She looked down at herself, almost every inch of her covered in blood, then at the culprit before finally looking at the reason behind her capture.

"Not another word, little Camille," the European accent rang out as he turned his attention on her, a threatening gleam in his eye making her shiver and try to move back, but she slumped to the ground and screamed in pain when she tried to move—a hand was shattered, a rib and a shoulder out of place. "You wouldn't want that tongue of yours getting you in more trouble, would you?"

The blonde glared up at him, making the guard chuckle. "Such lovely looking girls, such terrible tempers. I should sell you both to the highest bidder regardless of my orders and watch as the vampires of our kind—the superior race—break you in." Bella sneered but said nothing and he goaded her, leaning in, "Cat got your tongue, little girl?"

She spit in his face.

He flinched back then snarled and surged forward, grabbing her by the neck and lifting her against the cement wall. She didn't flail, not wanting to give in to him, but her gaze had widened slightly as she struggled to gasp in air. Even still...

Do it, her eyes begged of him, go on… fucking do it!

But he didn't. All he did was unclench his hand from around her throat and let her fall to the floor like a limpet. He lingered, breathing in slowly then releasing it through parted lips, his breath fanning over her. Then he stood and walked out of the room, locking the door again. Bruises like the ones already formed on her arms were developing around her throat and it hurt a little to breathe but she wasn't upset or shaken, not really. She was excited; every mark on her body was one Demetri would pay for with his life—it just mattered how drawn out his death would be. And she wanted him begging for death long before it was ever granted.

She sucked in a deep breath, gagging as all that filled her senses was that bastard's smell. But his sickly sweet scent did something to her and in the next second she was shaking as she felt sharp jolts like electric shots throughout her body, her head back as she choked for breath, mouth foaming and frothing. She just felt the girl's presence come closer in the haze of it all before darkness consumed her and she fell into the bleak, cold arms of nothingness.

You might make it, boy, but by the skin of your teeth.

~TPOL~

Kol set the protesting witch down on the floor and grinned at her. She was a true sight to behold, gorgeous in her own right with beautiful round eyes, gorgeous lips, luscious brown hair and an amazing body all held together by grit, power, and determination—at a fragile teenage age. She was perfect for him.

"Stop looking at me like that!" she shouted, if anything more freaked out by the look on his face as she backed away from him, the understanding she had been feeling quickly leaving her. "Look, I don't know who you are—"

"Kol Mikaelson," he interrupted her, a hand out in greeting as he ducked his head, an attractive, smoldering look in his eyes and a playful smirk on his lips. "An honor to meet you, darling. I must say, you are quite the powerful witch for one so young." He cocked his head to the side, eyes brightening as he made the connection but a second later. "You are the Harvest absconder, aren't you?" He wasn't quite sure how he felt about that; on the one hand, his mate was powerful—had the power of three other girls, in fact… on quite another, she was wanted by all the witches in the Quarter. Not exactly what they needed at the moment, but she was his and that meant she was under his protection, of course. He'd protect her from the pesky bloody witches.

"Davina Claire," she said, placing her hand in his. Her heart skipped a beat, fluttering in her chest, as he bent down and pulled her hand up to brush a kiss to the back of it, all the while maintaining eye contact with her. "And yeah, I am. Still not quite sure who you are, though?"

His eyes widened. "I am shocked my nephew didn't inform you. I am Marcel's… uncle, I suppose you could say. My brother, Nik, saved him from the Mayor of the town a few centuries back. You've probably heard of him as Klaus: the Original Hybrid."

"You're an Original."

"Indeed I am, darling," he said, matching her step back by taking one forward. "And you, Davina Claire, are the reason I am here and alive again."

"What do you mean?" she asked, working to keep the tremble out of her voice. "I don't understand."

"When I was killed and on the Other Side, I was told that the only reason I was allowed to go back when my siblings were trying to revive me was because my journey on this Side was not yet complete. I still had something waiting for me… a destiny I had left unfulfilled. Or should I say someone I had left incomplete, who was waiting for me still." He sent her a grin, the tips of his fingers again reaching out to glimpse her face and Davina found herself leaning into his touch, the spark of their connection weaving tighter, strengthening the longer they were together. "You are my mate, darling, and the very reason I am here now in the flesh instead of rotting on the Other Side."

"I've felt you for days," Davina whispered, beginning to calm as she looked up into his eyes. "For weeks—ever since you entered the Quarter, I guess. I felt you stronger about a week ago outside the church where Marcel keeps me hidden from the witches… and again tonight. I couldn't take it any longer, I had to come out and find what was beckoning me." Her eyes slid to his chest and she swallowed, her happiness subdued as she remembered just how they'd met... and what they had left behind. She took a step back, out of his arms and out of his reach, turning away from his gorgeous face. She needed to think, to be rational, instead of getting wrapped up in this bewitching connection she could feel forming between the two of them. She needed answers.

"You and your family were attacking Marcel… why?"

"Marcel attacked my family and I tonight. In the process, my brother's mate was captured and taken away," he informed her. Incapable of resisting the call that was his mate, he took a step forward then another and another before he was standing against her back and drawing her into him. With his arms closing around her waist, his lips glimpsed her cheek as he whispered the story, trailing down her neck to her shoulder as she shivered in his arms and her eyes fluttered closed, a soft hum leaving her parted lips. "Mates are very important to us vampires, darling, and my brother is a hybrid with a dual connection to a very vulnerable, very human other half. Plus, she's being threatened by a cold one—another type of vampire. He's understandably protective and willing to do anything to get her back. He stormed in here tonight, the lot of us did, with the intention of getting her back no matter the cost."

"There has to be an explanation," she breathed, frowning slightly as she turned in his arms and looked up at him. She took a deep, settling breath to calm down from his ministrations but she could no longer bring herself to vacate his safe embrace. "Marcel wouldn't do that for no reason, and he wouldn't take away Klaus's mate like that. He loves him like a father; he's always talking about old, fond memories. He's been so happy recently, knowing you were back in town, until about a week ago when his mate, Camille, disappeared."

Kol's eyes glimmered at the new information, his eyes drawn up and away as he thought. Chin resting atop his mate's head, the Original's eyes narrowed. "His mate must have been taken for collateral by the same cold one who took Bella." His jaw locked as his thoughts took a turn, a low growl built up in his chest before he looked back down at a questioning Davina. "A vampire would do anything for their mate including betray those they love the most. For her, you'd do anything. Family, morals—they no longer matter if your mate is in danger." His hands clenched around the girl's waist, nostrils flaring, head cocked just a little as he thought of those bloody witches coming for her. He'd kill them all if he had to, to hell with Nik's bloody agenda. For her.

He looked down at the sweet girl in front of him, his girl, his destiny—for that was what she was. He'd found her now and he wouldn't let her go. She had taken priority, had usurped him for the throne as most important in his life. She was everything to him and likewise he would give her everything of himself.

Take what's left of me.

~TPOL~

Bella gasped in air and, when she opened her eyes, she had to blink a few times to clear the blur. She was on her side, held by someone warm, so it was sure to be Camille, her cell mate. Her eyes looked blearily around to determine that they were in the exact same room they had been in before.

"How long was I out?" she whispered, swallowing and wincing at the dryness of her throat. The first seizure she had experienced in full had taken a lot out of her.

"Not sure, can't really tell in this room. Not long though, I think," Camille whispered back, gingerly helping Bella up into a seated position.

The brunette looked around, rubbing her arms for warmth. "We need to get out of here," she said, getting up with a groan as her weak muscles protested. "I can't take this much longer—soon enough, Klaus's protection and the vervain will rub off and then I'll be back to the dumb fish I was with Edward. We need to get out of here and back to my mate before that happens." She paused, turning toward the blonde. "Why are you here?"

Camille shrugged from her spot on the ground. "Beats me. As far as I know, Marcel has nothing to do with cold ones and Demetri won't tell me anything."

Bella blinked. "Marcel? Klaus's adopted son, Marcel?"

"Yeah," she said slowly. "How do you know that?"

Bella paced the floor, head down as she spoke, mind turning the information over rapidly. "I'm Klaus's mate, Bella. Klaus has told me about him... he really loves him as the son he sees him as... I think that he was happy, underneath the hurt and betrayal, when he found out he was alive today." Bella stopped mid-stride, then shook that away, focusing on the other prisoner instead. Her eyes widened as it came to her. "Was there anyone weird around? How were you taken?"

Camille sighed and looked down as she thought. "There was. Marcel added a new recruit about a month ago, he's been watching me… I told Marcel. He had words with him and the issue went away but then I went out a week ago... just in the Quarter. The same guy grabbed me and then, the next minute, I'm here and Demetri is standing over me." She shuddered.

Bella frowned, silent for a while as she paced and tried to think of a plausible explanation. The ideas were limitless, but then things kind of clicked. Marcel's position… Camille's involvement... "Marcel is in charge of the Quarter, so he has that really powerful witch who can sense when witches do magic. They're freaked out, refuse to do it and are still hesitant even with the promise of protection from the Mikaelsons, the Original family. That means there was a chance that our plantation wouldn't be protected, that they'd be able to get in and get out with no warning at all. But this is the Mikaelsons we're talking about here—the oldest vampires alive... powerful, untouchable; especially when united. No one would go up against them without the proper incentive and vampires would do anything for their mates." She looked up at the blonde, pointing at her. "You were collateral damage, you were taken to drive Marcel so crazy that he would risk anything just to get you back—he would betray the man he calls father, knowing the odds are high that he'd be killed in seconds flat. Then he and his army—which he'd have to have as the ruler of the French Quarter of New Orleans, the biggest hotspot for supernaturals in at least America... they would act as a diversion for Nik and his family while Demetri got in and abducted me. Cold ones are the weaker species; an older, better fighter could take on an Original but not all four of them and the Volturi are well-versed on their 'family above all' attitude. They know that threatening one means facing all."

Camille blinked and sat back against the wall, her brow furrowed and mouth open. "That… actually makes sense… but why wouldn't Marcel just go to Klaus?"

Bella thought for a moment, eyes widening as the last piece falling into place. "The new recruit—he was a spy to make sure Marcel was doing as he was told. He was first told to scope out the situation, how willing Marcel would be plus your involvement and your importance to Marcel. That's why he was so interested and only backed off after Marcel forced his hand. That gave him all the information he needed—take care of you, and they had Marcel on his knees, willing to do anything they asked of him. And after you were taken, Marcel would have to keep to his word and not deviate because of the spy. Sure, he could have figured out who it was but he'd be so completely focused on you that he wouldn't think clearly; he'd just do it."

Camille sighed and nodded. "You're right. Okay, so now we get what we're both doing here… but how the hell do we get out? There's a cold one out there and just the two of us—human and vulnerable."

Bella smirked. "Oh, I wouldn't say that. All we need to do is play the game." She marched to the door and banged on it with her fist. "Hey, some of us have to eat, you know! Food would be much appreciated, thank you!" And then she threw herself back down on the ground, sitting against the wall and waiting. "I distract, you run," she murmured. "Demetri is all talk with me; he can't do much if he doesn't want to become chopped liver after the Cullens get their hands on me." She sneered. "Which they won't, because we'll get out of here. You run and find a way to get Marcel... he must have a phone or something you could use. I'll hold him off from coming after you—just lock the door on your way out, okay?"

Camille nodded and steeled herself. Minutes later, Demetri entered the room with a tray of food which he let drop to the floor as he looked between the two of them. "Your food, ladies," he said, voice haughty as he glared down at Bella. "I'm sure you'll be most satisfied. Now if that is all?"

Bella took hold of the tray, taking off the lid and looking down at the soiled fruit. "Are you kidding me? It's spoiled, you idiot. We can't eat that, we'll get sick. Neither of my mates will be happy with you if you give me that."

"I can't say I care, pet," he sneered, taking hold of her and looking into her eyes. He only let go when his phone beeped and he took it out of his pocket, reading the message and grinning a Cheshire grin. He missed the pointed look Bella gave Camille, who swallowed but nodded. "Ah, excellent." He turned back to Bella. "Well, little thing, it appears it's time."

Bella's eyebrows rose. "Time for what?" Demetri reached into his pocket to pull out a plant and she looked up at him. "Is this supposed to be some weird gift from Edward? Tell him thanks but no thanks; gifts won't help him get away with the fact that he's a manipulative, controling, abusive ass."

Demetri chuckled. "This is indeed from Edward, but I'm afraid it's not a gift." And then, in a flash, he'd shoved it in her mouth. She choked, heaving as her body's natural defense mechanism kicked in, trying to drive the plant out of her, some part knowing it to be of threat but not knowing how. But the cold one was relentless and in seconds she'd swallowed it anyway. She was slumped on the ground as she panted for air, glaring up at him. Her eyes connected with Camille's for but a second before she launched herself at Demetri.

"Change of plans—gimme the lighter!" she shouted and she caught the silver object the girl had taken from Demetri's back pocket, Camille right him. Bella flicked it open and the flame licked at her finger momentarily before she threw it at a grinning Demetri—perhaps what should have been the first sign that something was amiss.

It was a few seconds after this, as she stared at his burning body, that it began—the sharp snap resounding in her ears and a scream flooding the room, followed by many other snaps and one continuous scream as her body bowed to the floor in pain. As she looked down to her hands she heard a howl as she saw paws and it took her a moment realize the sounds were coming from her. Hearing someone's breath hitch, she looked up, smelling the fear and flesh and blood of the human in front of her, seeing a blonde girl she felt she knew somehow but under the haze wasn't quite sure… She got up to go to her but was struck down by two pains—a burning inside of her that was growing worse by the second (more howls released as a result from this new unknown form) and a sharp pain in her abdomen. She whined and looked down to see a silver object jutting out of her body, unsure of how it got there. A growl trembled in her throat as she glared up again at the girl, wanting to lunge for her but she couldn't. She was feeling weak, and getting more so by the second.

What the hell was happening? What was this?

A haze of unconsciousness befell her again as she heard the door slam closed, the sliding of metal on metal as it was locked. The scent of fear, of human, was fading now as she gave into the pain weakening her by the second, this time craving the bleak abyss she found herself falling into just to get away from this... whatever it was.

I'm all alone and the fire grows.

~TPOL~

Elijah and Rebekah covered the dead vampires in white shrouds, placing them in rows on the stone floor in the courtyard and a connecting room. A vampire named Diego and several others poured alcohol over them before taking swigs of the bottle for themselves, eyeing the two Originals watching them like hawks. They fled the scene.

Marcel stood a level above, Klaus coming to stand beside him. "Look at what you've wrought?" Klaus said, angry. "Why not simply come to me for help?" He had to admit, it hurt that his 'son' didn't think he could lean on him for support—that he would betray him instead to get his mate back. That hurt almost as much as the fact that he'd lived for a hundred years, allowing him to think he was dead even after they'd arrived back in their city... It had been his brother to tell him that he still lived, off of the word of a witch. Not him. Why? Did his son hate him that much?

Marcel had no clue of the turn in his sire's thoughts as he sighed, feeling tired as he looked down below. His voice was just as withdrawn and defeated when he spoke. "Look, if you're gonna kill me, let's get this over with."

Klaus tilted his head back as he regarded the man before him, tone again lofty. "Why would I kill you? You picked up the coin. There are rules of engagement in battle, Marcel. Without them, you'd have anarchy. I would, however, like to talk about accommodations." His eyes glazed over the walls around them and a glimpse of a smile settled upon his lips. The Abattoir was to be back in the hands of its rightful owner, he would see to it. So many happy memories already in these walls, and so many more to come once he had his mate back. The smile on his face fell off and he focused back upon Marcel. "Your living quarters, for example; I believe they used to be ours."

Marcel waved him away. "You own this? Fine. It's yours. You can put me on the street for all I care. Just help me, I beg of you." He reached forward and grasped his father figure's hand, looking into his eyes. "As long as I have my mate, I don't care."

Klaus pushed him away, a growl building in his chest as he stepped forward. His voice lowered to a menacing murmur as he met his son's gaze. "Why should I when it was you who distracted us so they could take mine?"

Marcel threw his hands up in the air, turning away and then back again. This time when he spoke, his voice was loud and filled with exasperation or desperation, Klaus wasn't sure which. "Because I was double-crossing them. I was gonna bring her back after I subdued you. I didn't have a choice, they have eyes everywhere—eyes that are now among my dead guys!" he shouted, arm gesturing to the bodies and ash below. "I will do whatever you want, Klaus, just help me. Camille is human; she is innocent in all of this!"

Klaus growled and came forward again. "So is my mate and yet here you are!"

Marcel shook his head. "I wasn't thinking clearly! Surely you can understand that, Klaus," he said with a pointed look, "they have her and they were more than willing to kill her if I didn't comply. She doesn't have a cold one mate wanting her unharmed!"

Klaus's eyes narrowed for a moment but he forced himself to calm, breathing harshly, jaw clenching and unclenching. When he spoke again his voice was low and calm as he stood side by side with Marcel. "I ask again: why not come to me for help? There are other ways to ensure the spy would not be watching. Send them all out to complete a task and then come to me!"

Marcel shook his head. Too much time had passed and so much had happened; they were not the same as they had been a hundred years ago before things went sour in 1919 because of Mikael. "How was I supposed to know you would help?" he whispered with a little shame, not looking at the man, averting his gaze downward before closing them to escape from the sight of the bodies below. But he growled as he saw Camille's face behind his eyelids instead. At every point, he was being tormented by his choices. He opened them and looked up at the rooms straight ahead, voice quiet and weary. "I think you can relate when I say I wasn't thinking right."

Klaus gritted his teeth, nodding as he looked around. His eyes tracked his siblings for distraction and he wondered absently where Kol was. But the tightening of his chest and the distraction frustrated him, his tone cold once more as he pushed away emotion and thought, focusing on the problem at hand. "I concede to your point. Now, do you know where they have them?"

"I know where they have Bella… if we are lucky, Camille is there, too."

Klaus sighed hard, running a frustrated hand over his face before gripping the bannister so hard it cracked beneath his hand. "I taught you better than this, Marcellus." He knew better than this, too. He was so bloody ashamed of himself tonight—being played so easily, being proven weak again.

Marcel glared at him, mood swinging back to anger as he turned on him and shouted in desperation: "My mate was taken from me, just gone! In the blink of an eye! That was how I found out about the spy but I couldn't risk it since I haven't been able to find out who it is and believe me, I was looking! One word was all it would take for her body to turn up somewhere and by now my blood is long gone out of her system even if she took the vial I tucked into all her jean pockets. She would have had no. chance. Can you really say you wouldn't have felt the same, have done the same? You were easy tonight, Klaus and your mate is to blame!"

Fury mounted in his veins, Klaus's eyes glowed gold as his visage took over again and a loud growl broke from his throat as he stepped forward, intent on ripping Marcel to pieces. But in that second, Elijah was there in front of him, a hand braced on his chest. They shared a look, Klaus begging him to move and Elijah begging him to stand down. After a moment, Elijah felt Niklaus relax under his touch and he turned his head to Marcellus, still blocking the dark-skinned man from his volatile brother's view. "How did you know when to attack? And where?" That was what he wanted to know. He'd been so careful this afternoon and he didn't know how else it was possible.

Marcel sighed, backing away a step and visibly relaxing. "I didn't know when. After I sent away the eyes I had on you today in town, I watched you myself from a further away distance, far enough that you didn't notice. I saw you talking on the phone with someone," he said with a meaningful look and Elijah's jaw locked, eyes narrowing. "As soon as you were done, I followed you back to the plantation before I came back here. There was obviously nothing to gain from watching you. Either way, you were being too careful to take any chances. When I got back, I received a call from Demetri, the Volturi's best tracker." Elijah's jaw locked at this, and a growl of his own mirrored his younger brother's but Marcel continued. "He told me to move forward tonight, to attack you guys so he could get the girl, your mate," he said, moving into Klaus's eye line to look in his eyes. "I was able to talk to Camille. She was hurt but for the most part she was okay. I couldn't take any chances so I took what he said and ran with it. I had the plantation double-checked for a magical signature today by Davina. I was more than a little desperate by then." His tone strengthened. "But as I said, I was gonna double-cross them."

Klaus and Elijah looked at one another, both of them with their jaws locked and thinking the same thing. When Klaus spoke what they were both thinking, he spoke through clenched teeth. "We were not informed of Demetri's gift."

Elijah nodded but laid a hand on his brother's shoulder, making the younger meet his gaze. He tried to soothe him even as he was aflame with anger himself. "Patience, brother. The Volturi will get what is coming to them. They know our stance on betrayal and it appears that despite warning, they've grown rather confident. A little too confident, if you ask me; that will be... remedied."

Rebekah appeared beside them, eyes on her former lover. "How were you going to double-cross them if they have eyes on everyone? They have your mate, how can you honestly say you were going to take the risk?" She, herself, could without a doubt confirm that she would not be taking chances. Forget anyone else, her mate was most important.

Marcel nodded toward Klaus. "I was gonna lock Klaus in a place I call the Garden... I use it to punish vampires. They desiccate because they can't get out. You'd be there long enough for me to go get my mate and then get yours to bring back to you. From there, I'd let you get your revenge after I'd wrought my own." He looked down at the covered bodies below. "Seeing as you've killed nearly all my guys, however, and everyone else fled when they had the chance, I'd say we're safe. Plus, there is obviously no way I could detain all four of you. So here we are. Take it or leave it, but I know where she is. What do you say?"

It's mine to give, but it's yours to choose.

~TPOL~

Her head tossed from side to side, resting on mahogany paws as a low whine filled the room. The scent of the human was gone by now, but with every clawing breath, which felt like boiling water being poured down her throat, she was weakening. As she slipped in and out of consciousness, she dreamed of a time gone by, forgotten memories unlocked.

The little girl of five years old looked up at the full moon, unable to understand at her tender age that the fascination held in those big doe eyes had everything to do with what was buried in her heritage. She knew not about the wolf in the shadows watching her, not attacking because it recognized her as kin.

The girl, Bells, wondered where her father was. She looked around outside then, with a small, cheeky grin, leapt from the porch and into the trees surrounding her home. Her momma was upstairs having a bath, her Gran in the kitchen, cooking. She was supposed to be playing with her dollies but her Gran had told her dinner was almost ready and her daddy still wasn't home.

She snuck behind a tree, looking back with a wide-open mouth toward the house. She giggled quietly and in the next moment turned around at the snapping of a twig, backing up against the tree as she stared into the amber eyes of the wolf in front of her.

She cocked her head to the side and took a step forward, watching as the animal whined and stepped back, scared. She grinned at it and reached forward still, wanting to pet it. She was spellbound and awe-inspired; it was so pretty, drawing her in like the draw of the moon.

"Isabella!" she heard and she flinched back, her hair swinging around as she did to look at the door leading back inside. It was her Gran at the back door, white hair pulled back tight in a bun. She was surrounded in a glowing halo but, as lovely as that looked, Bells wanted to stay out here with the wolf. "Isabella, come on, now! It's time for dinner, sweetheart!"

The girl sighed and pouted, looking back at the wolf. "You stay therew, okay? Gwan says I have to have dinner but I'll come back out afterw, kay?" The animal immediately sat on its hind legs and she giggled, running back to her Gran who greeted her with an admonishment as she closed the door, sighing as she looked out into the woods. She spotted her son who watched on from behind a tree.

Later that night, Bells lay in her bed as she waited for her Gran to come in and tell her a story. She would have preferred her daddy, but he'd at last called and said he was busy at work. She hadn't spoken to him, which had made her cry, but Gran said he promised to be there in the morning to give her lots of hugs and kisses if she was a good girl and went straight to bed—though the elder knew he'd be there to do so regardless. Her son did love his daughter.

The little girl's grin was wide as her Gran entered the room and came to sit by her bed, but there was no book in her hand. The younger frowned, her big brown eyes filling with tears as her chin wobbled and she sucked on her lip, immediately thinking she was being punished for going outside. She couldn't help it... the moon was so pretty, and the wolf was her friend. "I'm sowwy, Gwan! I won't go outside again, I pwomise!"

Marie Swan smiled and rested her hand over the young child's. Her eyes the same as her granddaughters, she told her in a sweet, gentle voice: "Don't worry, little one. Everything is fine. You shouldn't have gone outside, but you were already told and everything is forgiven. I thought for tonight I'd tell you a story about our family. Would you like that?"

"Yes," the girl said quietly, and she lay back when her Gran prompted her to do so, sleepy eyes closing as her Gran started to tell her the tale.

"A thousand years ago, our family was still here in America in a town known these days as Mystic Falls," she began, her tone soft as she stroked the child's hair. "We were a family part of a larger community that many of the town feared—the men and some women, too, turned into beasts when the moon was full and high in the sky…"

No questions met the beginning of her story and the older lady smiled and rose quietly, realizing that the child was already asleep. She pulled the covers up over here and then went to the window, smiling down at the man outside in wolf form watching from the same tree. "Good night, son," she whispered before she turned in for the night.

The wolf outside let out a soft howl, leaning his head back to the moon where he would stay until morning, where his mother and his wife would greet him with clothes before he joined his little wolf to fulfill the promise he'd made. For now, however, he was bound to the moon. He could just hope his little Bell never had to experience a torture as horrible as this.

The wolf whined again. Amidst the burning of the wolfsbane in her belly, the silver embedded, and the fire of the cold one Edward's venom flowing through her veins… she was coming to realize just what was happening to her.

She was a werewolf… and she was dying because of it.

You're gonna sink or swim, you're gonna learn the truth.

~TPOL~

Klaus looked upon the man he'd saved so long ago and sighed. "Fine," he acquiesced, his jaw locking. "We will discuss terms and conditions of all this later, but fine. If what you are saying is true, if you do know where my mate is, then let's get on with it. She doesn't have long until Edward's control takes over even with the aid of vervain in her system."

Marcel nodded. He motioned with his head for the three of them to follow him and all four flashed into a room that Klaus had always thought of as a war room. It was where they had all negotiations during times such as these where they had to be vigilant and prepared at all times for anything. Marcel continued around the room as the three Originals stood in the room in silence watching him. A few minutes later and the dark-skinned surrogate son came to stand beside Klaus again with a map in his hands. "Bella's here," he said, gesturing to a spot a ways out of the city as he glanced at them all. "It's about a ten minute run for me, so…"

"About seven for the rest of us, or five for Nik," Kol confirmed as he entered the room, his mate on his arm.

The four looked toward the pair, Kol standing with a grin on his face by the door as Davina looked at them—paying special attention to the three Mikaelsons—with a faint blush on her cheeks. Marcel's brow furrowed. "What's going on? Davina, what are you doing with him?"

"We are mates, nephew," Kol informed him, pulling Davina alongside him as he snatched the map out of the man's hands and laid it down on the table. He examined it then glanced fleetingly at Davina. His gaze settled on Marcel. "How do we know that she is really there? Do you not think it would be easier to ask Davina to perform a spell to make sure? It would save us the precious time we are in dire need of."

Marcel shook his head. "I tried that already; Camille is cloaked… You could try it for Bella, though?" He looked at Klaus who nodded.

Kol turned to Davina with a soft smile. "Do you think you could do a quick spell for us, darling? Just to make sure our sister is really being kept where Marcel says she is? We don't have a lot of time and every second counts, seconds none of us would rather waste trying to find her if we can do this instead."

Davina looked at the map and nodded, her nerves showing in the flutter of her heartbeat as she turned to the hybrid. "Um, I would need something of hers," she said.

The Originals looked between one another, before Klaus sighed and pulled out a trinket he'd taken from their room before leaving. He threw it to Davina who deftly caught it and took a quick look, thumbing the engraving of Bella's name on the locket. "It was her Grandmother's," Klaus murmured as he looked, uneasy, around the room.

No one said anything as Davina used the trinket over the map, chanting to find the girl's location. A few minutes later and she nodded, looking up at first Kol then the rest of them. "She's in that warehouse," she confirmed, pointing to its position on the map.

Klaus ran out of the room, leaving the others to look at one another before they all left, Kol grabbing Davina up in his arms to run with her. They ran as fast as they could, knowing they wouldn't be able to catch up to Klaus who was running like a man on a mission, which of course he was.

Klaus's hybrid visage was out again as he ripped the metal barrier away with ease and threw it aside to stalk into the building. He could hear her, smell her, and it calmed the ravaged beast inside him, but he also knew that something was very wrong and it pushed him harder and faster as he disappeared in a blur up the stairs, appearing in front of a thick metal door.

Standing outside of it with a phone clutched in her hand was a blonde woman but he paid her no mind as he ripped the metal lock off and dropped it, making the girl flinch and move away as he wrenched the door open… only to stop short at the sight in front of him. In the next second, a howl-like roar of rage left his mouth as his mind sped up to comprehend what his eyes could scarcely believe they were seeing: his mate unconscious and surrounded by ash... as a mahogany wolf.

A new beginning or is this the end?

Chapter Text

Seether ~ Broken feat. Amy Lee

I wanted you to know I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away
I keep your photograph, I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

'Cause I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I am strong enough
'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away

The worst is over now and we can breathe again
I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away
There's so much left to learn, and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

[2x]
'Cause I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I am strong enough
'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away


Chapter 9 ~ Broken


Klaus was frozen in the doorway, not even able to draw breath, eyes glued to his mate's form. Disbelief echoed through his hazy, chaotic mind. He was brought out of it upon hearing a terrified whimper fall from wolf's lips as her head dropped onto her forelegs once more, eyelids heavy with exhaustion and pain making her form shiver. When she whined a low, mournful howl, he knew something was wrong and just the thought of it...

In front of her now, he dropped to his knees, ignoring the sounds of his siblings as their gasps hit his ears. No one had been expecting this. He paid them no mind as he lowered himself even further at her side to inspect the wounds, smelling her fresh blood and seeing it spilt in a puddle below her gorgeous chocolate brown fur. It enraged him but, as he gritted his teeth and took in a harsh breath, he forced himself to put Bella's wellbeing first; he had to make sure she was all right before he exacted revenge—she was the priority.

Confusion creased his brow as he took in the low, erratic heart rate and the continuous, scratchy moans of pain that at times rumbled through her body so low that even he, with his exceptional audible range, was straining to hear it. His shaking hand felt her fur and he was quick to find the source of the blood he could smell as his hand encountered warmth and stickiness. The find was punctuated by a wolfish yelp that jolted her body and filled him with remorse as he removed the silver dagger from her stomach cavity. Tears of anger and pain pricked his eyes at the sight of his beautiful other half weakened so, even as he didn't quite understand how—and indeed why—she had deteriorated so fast. It was true that silver weakened the wolf kind—their kind—but the symptoms were far too exaggerated for that to be the sole reason in this case. He sniffed again, leaning in against her to smell for anything else that would have caused it, and the growl he released upon finding the answer was loud. It promised pain to those who'd harmed his mate.

Wolfsbane.

So, his mate had been given wolfsbane and then stabbed—both combined were sure to cause her this amount of pain, this amount of weakness and this slow a heartbeat that indicated just how drained she had been from the ordeal… but there must be something more amiss.

With a renewed urgency, he looked up into his mate's eyes, his pupil dilating and an answering film taking over her eye as he murmured words to her. "Change back to your human form, love, now."

In all the time that he had known his mate, he had, to be sure, thought up numerous ways her sweet flesh would be revealed to him for the first time. Never in any of his wildest imaginings had it been the result of an attack that made her activate her werewolf gene. It was for this reason that as fur gave way to milky skin that he gazed at her without seeing her, without being able to witness her beauty with the true admiration and attention she deserved. A part of him mourned the thought that the first time he was seeing her like this was in this circumstance, in front of his family no less as they waited by the door. But he paid it all no mind as his sweet Bella let out an ear-splitting screech, her body bowing under the pain as sobs wracked her body.

His eyes were wide, crazed, and tear-filled as he took her into his arms and pressed a hand to her cheek, feeling her skin—she was flushed, and heating up more and more by the second. Confusion dominated before another screech echoed through the concrete room and understanding lit his blue eyes.

The bastard's venom.

Upon her next cry, his roar mingled with hers and, joined, their twin sounds of pain and anger shook the building. Edward Cullen would rue the day he ever met Isabella Swan, ever dreamed of biting her and tarnishing her with his venom. His fate had been sealed long ago, upon Bella's first encounter with him so destined was her meeting with Niklaus… the sole thing that had changed was now instead of a rather quick death to hastily obliterate him from the face of the earth, he would beg for his death long before such a gift was received. The three other Mikaelsons at the door itched to move forward and help but knew that in this state they had to stay back.

"N-Nik?" he heard a whimper. Broken out of his thoughts, he looked down at his mate to find her glassy eyes on his face, her hand reaching for him even as she shook in a most violent manner. His hand swooped down to capture hers and he leaned down over her as if to shelter her from any other threat. "Nik, I… I have to tell you… I'm sorry I couldn't before…"

He knew. He knew what she was going to say and the tears in his eyes streamed down his face because he knew what she was doing; she was saying goodbye. But that was not allowed; a thousand years of torment and pain… he wasn't allowing the one good thing that had ever happened to him to slip through his fingers so fast after finding her. His mate was destined to be his Queen, at his side as they ruled over New Orleans for the rest of forever. Her leaving him was not part of the equation.

"Don't," he whispered to her, his voice hoarse as he shook his head, a fear in his gut rising to grasp his heart and clench it in its tight, unrelenting fist. "You will not die, Isabella. You mustn't say it."

She ignored him. "I love you," she whispered and, on the next breath intake, a violent cough shuddered through her body. She began to turn on her side and Klaus helped her, cradling her so tenderly in his arms that tears pricked her eyes anew.

"I love you, too," he whispered in her ear, leaning down to press a kiss to her forehead and a brief peck to her lips in quick succession before he forced himself to lean back. He glanced at her hand to make sure she was wearing the ring that would bring her back to him just in case, but he was a stubborn mule and so he would not admit defeat so quickly. In the next second, he raised his wrist to his mouth and bit down hard then brought the blood-dripping limb to her mouth. Her eyes were unseeing as she drank what he offered her, her eyes sliding shut. The wound healed, source of blood removed, and a sigh left her as she drifted into unconsciousness, the intensity of the pain becoming too much for her, it seemed.

A stony expression took hold of Niklaus's face and he lifted his precious mate into his arms, holding her with gentle grace but still gripping her with enough strength that everyone knew just how affected he was. He swept past the rest of the onlookers, unseeing as he flashed his Isabella back home, to the Abattoir.

Little did any of them know that she would not awaken for longer than any expected, and the loneliness, the brokenness, fracturing Niklaus's very soul would worsen.

~TPoL~

Three weeks.

That was the amount of time that had passed since the last time Nik had seen her gorgeous brown eyes, since he'd felt her warm embrace clutch him to her as they slept in their shared bed, since he heard her sigh those three words that tethered them together forevermore.

Three weeks had passed since Niklaus Mikaelson had lost his mate.

She was not dead. She was breathing, and her heartbeat filled the entire manor… but she had not awoken for even a second since that fateful night she had turned for the first time and no one could figure out why. Her condition had not improved nor had it worsened; instead, it appeared to be stuck in a state of stasis.

And as for Niklaus, it appeared the same could be said for him as well. He had not moved from his mate's side even once, he had not raged, he had not slaughtered, he had not fed on anything but blood bags his siblings had brought him. He'd not even spoken a word. He was… silent, and the light his eyes had held with his mate had died alongside his mate's unconsciousness. He was blank, with a hand clutching his mate's and his eyes riveted to her being, it was just the slow heartbeat and steady breathing that confirmed he was in fact there at all.

His siblings were there to remind him of the ring firmly affixed upon her finger, of his healing blood running through her veins and replenished daily, of the fact that her condition had not worsened (unspoken was the ringing true fact that neither had it improved, of course)—these reminders they gave so often even as their eyes were plagued with a deep-rooted pain as they watched their brother lose his mate and with her his sanity and there was nothing they could do to stop it. But his eyes never strayed to even glance at them.

He was there… but he was not there.

He was broken.

And he would continue to be until his mate awoke.

But inside him was a whole other story.

The wolf and vampire within the hybrid were pining for their mate and, with each day that passed, their anger rose to a bubbling under the surface, the pain and the loneliness of not having her with them unraveling Niklaus's mind. The echo of her laugh drove him to insanity, and the distraction—the reprieve, the healing balm—she was from his own pain, which she stole away with a grace and ease he had never seen before… it all tormented him. The absence of her was enough evidence to him that he was now broken without her, the loneliness he had always felt crippling him now that he knew what it was to be with her and without it.

All this—the façade that he held on the outside—crippled, gave way to the hurricane inside, the day that Marcellus Gerard came to visit him.

Niklaus's 'son' had been summoned by Elijah, who'd not just wanted to speak with him himself but had also hoped his presence would awaken his younger, fractured brother in one way or another. Right now, the three other Mikaelsons could not find it within themselves to care whether or not it was through violence, anger, and pain that their brother was snapped out of his state because the truth of the matter was that any reaction was an improvement.

And thus began a long-winded speech of hope, of apologies, of "just say the word and I'll do it for you's." The speech was met by the same reaction any of the others from his siblings had and, with a sigh and slumped shoulders, an upset, defeated Marcel turned to leave. It was a low murmur—the voice gruff and thick from three weeks' disuse—that stopped him, made him raise his head and straighten his posture as he stood in the threshold.

"If she dies, Marcel, this city will burn... and everyone with it."

The threat made Marcel turn to his maker and he was met with hollow, weak golden eyes and fangs. The gaze was held between the two for just a few more seconds before Niklaus broke it and turned back to his mate, his expression now cleared and his visage no longer visible. Marcellus took that as an indication for him to take his leave, turning on his heel and walking out only to be stopped again.

"And Marcel?"

He pressed his lips together in a grim line denoting his irritation then appeared again in the doorway. There was no shared glance this time as Nik traced his fingers over his mate's features in sweet and tender movements, almost reverent in his touch and gaze—a stark difference to his cold voice.

"Bring your mate to me. I wish to speak with the girl who shared a cell with my mate before—" he cut off, gesturing to Bella's body, unable to say the words that would complete the sentence. His tone left no room for argument even as Marcellus hesitated, his mind a war against having just promised to do anything he could and the need to protect his mate. He heard the sigh and glimpsed rolling eyes from his 'father,' the next words spoken with light amusement. "I will not harm her, Marcellus. I merely wish to speak with her, as I said. It is time we did something about my mate's less-than-desirable state." He had been awoken from his stasis, from his freeze, his entrapment. He was ready now to do as needed—anything—to bring her back to him.

Marcel was still hesitant as he turned on his heel and made his way downstairs in a flash, finding his mate, Davina, and the three Mikaelsons with expectant looks trained on him as soon as he appeared. He smiled and nodded at the Original vampires with false-sincerity, knowing they had heard the entirety of the encounter, Elijah stepping forward. "He will not harm her, Marcel, you have my word."

Camille's brow furrowed and she stepped forward, wrapping her arm around her mate, who curled his arms around her waist and pulled her into him. She knew that he was upset about something from his tight hold and the tension residing deep in his every muscle so she worked to calm him with her own deep breathing and reassuring grasp, her arms coming down to lay over his around her as she leaned into him.

"What's going on?" she asked him, her lips at his ear as she strained her neck.

Marcel's arms tightened even more around her and he only tensed further upon hearing her question. He glared ahead at the three Mikaelsons for a long moment before sighing as his words to his own 'father' figure echoed through his mind. He'd promised anything and this was what Klaus wanted; granted nothing with Klaus was ever fucking easy, but he'd said no stipulations behind his offer and he'd been promised his mate's safety… even though it was technically after he'd threatened Camille and any others he had ever cared for.

Camille's brows furrowed as Marcel descended into his own thoughts, her eyes straying after a few minutes of reigning silence in the party to the three Mikaelsons, questioning with the crease of her brow and her parted lips.

The three looked between themselves then up toward the room that held their brother and his fallen mate. Elijah took initiative, nodding and stepping forward, a pleasant smile on his lips as he, in not so many words, threatened Camille into compliance. "It would appear that our brother wishes to speak with you, and I believe it would be a good idea for you to do so."

Her frown deepened and she glanced at her mate, wondering at both his tense posture and the reason behind it. She'd heard of Klaus—Marcel spoke of him often, and almost always favorably. So it didn't make sense that he was now, all of a sudden, concerned about her meeting him—it made her cautious, suspicious, too. "Why does he want to speak to me?"

Kol and Rebekah snorted, a smirk appearing on Elijah's lips. "It may have something to do with the fact that you shared that cell with her, darling," Kol answered with a raised eyebrow.

"And now she's unconscious," Rebekah continued in a much darker, lower tone than Kol's false-unbothered one. Her arms were crossed over her chest as she regarded the fellow blonde in front of her. She was missing her friend and sister, and bloody furious at the thought that she wasn't getting better. If it wasn't for the fact that Bella had already killed that bastard Demetri—and thus unlocked her werewolf gene—she would have him hanging upside down and dripping venom until he ran dry for weeks… and then pull fingers and toes, then limbs and all until, at last, he was in pieces and ready for her to light him up. Her fingers twitched and her anger raced burning hot in her veins at being denied such a vindictive pleasure.

Kol glanced at his sister, seeing the fire in her eyes, and he brushed her hand against his in a silent show of support, smiling at her when she glanced up at him. He was hurting, too. The past three weeks since he'd met his mate had been focused on his siblings rather than her because, like it or not, family was important and his brother was hurting, his newest sister in a coma. He was alike Rebekah in his desire to punish Demetri but he waited, knowing he'd have a chance at the rest of the treacherous Volturi later on... hopefully. He'd harness his anger into doling out their punishments when the time came.

Camille looked between the blonde and two brunets, her eyes unfocused as she thought through what they were saying. It made sense, of course, now that she thought about it. She'd been with Bella before and during the time she'd been hurt and they'd bonded over their mutual captivity—even if it was just a little and even if Bella was to blame for Camille being there in the first place. "Okay," she said with a nod, "I'll meet him."

Marcel's arm tightened around her waist as she moved to step out of his hold and she turned to look into his eyes. The three observers didn't even pretend not to be watching their every move with interest, Bekah in particular as she watched on at how different Marcel was with this Camille to how he was with her a hundred years ago. Not because she was interested in him—not at all—but rather because he was the first mated male she'd seen that she knew quite well apart from her brothers and it intrigued her to witness his side of the connection… to perhaps see how—

She bit the inside of her cheek and swallowed, ripping her eyes from the couple as Camille negotiated with Marcel about seeing Klaus alone. The pain was swelling inside her again and her breath hitched on the next inhale; she blocked every thought of him, unwilling to go down that road for the thousandth time. That road meant nothing but pain and there was enough of that going around in the Abattoir at the moment.

Elijah and Kol shared a glance over their sister's head at her strange reactions, light frowns adorning their alike, handsome faces.

"Fine," Marcel's barely-restrained frustration rang through the four letter word as he looked over his mate's head, releasing a harsh sigh. "But I'll be right outside the entire time, okay?" His eyebrow was raised in a manner that told Camille that he was not going to be denied that no matter how she tried to sweet-talk him.

The blonde nodded without a word, a small smile on her face. She turned to Elijah, Rebekah, and Kol, who left their own thoughts and smiled back—though Rebekah's seemed more like a grimace, she noticed—and then Elijah came forward to take her and Marcel upstairs. When they reached the door, Elijah opened it, Niklaus already having beckoned them to enter, and in walked Camille, leaving the other two to wait outside.

Camille stopped just a few steps inside the doorway to look around the room, taking in the scene. Klaus's attention remained on his mate while he caressed the top of her head. The only sign that he was paying any attention to the human who'd just entered was in his raised, tensed shoulders and locked jaw. He sighed after a few minutes of silence and spoke, never even turning to look at the new girl in the room—his "son's" mate. "Sit," he told her in that low, gruff but still somehow exhausted aloof tone and Camille took half a step back before doing as he asked, opting to sit on the other side of Bella, in an armchair against the wall.

"You asked to see me?" she said in a quiet voice, watching him closely.

"Indeed," he confirmed with a nod. "I understand you were held by the tracker as well. I wanted to see what happened during that time."

Camille's brow creased, and she leaned an elbow on each thigh. She swallowed and looked down then back up at him as she asked, "See?"

He smirked. "Yes, see. If you would come here, I would like to use my ability to enter your mind and see your memories for myself—I need to know everything and it's faster and easier for the both of us if I simply look upon them myself rather than have you tell me." He glanced at her for but a nanosecond, raising an eyebrow. "Don't be shy, love. I won't bite."

Camille blinked at him, her heart thudding with an emotion she could not quite identify. It wasn't fear, per se, more intrigue with a little trepidation. But knowing this was not something she could say 'no' to, she rose from her seat and came to stand at his side in slow strides, her unease at being so close to the Original Hybrid, alone, was clear as day in her every move and the beating of her heart. Klaus sighed, knowing he'd have to disengage himself from his mate, and moved his eyes with a slow distaste to the blonde woman in front of him that reminded him far too much of Caroline for his liking. His next exhale was another harsh, impatient sigh as he reached forward and touched just the tips of his fingers to her forehead. He closed his eyes and pushed forward into her mind with his own. He knew he'd entered it when he saw the flashes of memory and he sorted through them with a quickness that gave an indication of just how uncomfortable he was in this somewhat-vulnerable state—never mind being disconnected from his mate for the first time in three weeks.

When he was finished, his eyes snapped open, Camille's doing the same at a far slower rate. Klaus's eyes flashed amber as his mind raced, the images of his mate's captivity still at the forefront of his mind and he looked down at her, his jaw locking and nostrils flared as his left hand came down to rest with sweet gentleness atop Bella's forehead, the fingers of his other hand lacing through the fingers of one of hers where they rested on her abdomen. He breathed in harsh, short pants of air in a skewed attempt to calm himself, leaning in to kiss Bella's cheek, his forehead resting against it as he breathed in her scent, his breaths slowing as the images glimpsing behind his fluttering eyelids drifted. It was then that he knew what he needed to do and, without looking at her, he dismissed Camille, his eyes never straying from Bella as he began to do as he should have done three bloody weeks ago.

A few seconds later and he had entered Bella's mind with his own, a smile lighting up his face as he stalled on memories of a much younger Bella, but he became serious once more when he saw memories of her in the woods outside her house with a werewolf—her father—and then as she was told the story of their family. He gasped upon hearing that her ancestors had resided in Mystic Falls a thousand years ago and had indeed been one of the prominent families in the wolf pack that he'd been born from.

He raced to her older memories of when she was preparing to leave Forks, and growled so loud the sound bounced off the shaking walls at her fear, her tears, and her pain—from the connection to Edward, and from Edward's hands, too. But he was intrigued to come across the answer to his silent wonder—indeed, it was so that her appearance in Mystic Falls had not been a mere coincidence. Her then-dormant wolf side had been pulled to Mystic Falls and to her mate, the pull unrecognizable to her—the sole reason being that she had no idea of her heritage. But the pull was strengthened again by the fact that ancestors from a thousand years ago had also come from Mystic Falls, and her wolf longed to be in the place of her ancestors, of her true home, her origin. He was shocked she had not spent any time there earlier in her life, the pull just as strong to her (unconsciously and without her gene unlocked) as it had been and still was for the past thousand years for him—a call, an ache, from the wolf to go back.

With a concentrated frown, he went back to her earlier time with Edward, starting at when they had first met and through the rest of their relationship, his anger rising more and more as he watched the many withering encounters she had endured from Edward—the abuse, the terror, the feel that she was powerless… all things he himself had experienced over and over for the past thousand years at the hands of Mikael. It enraged him to think that his mate had suffered the same fate also at the hands of someone who should have loved her instead of instigating such unadulterated fear.

With a deep breath to try to calm down, he forced himself to leave the collection of memories of her time with Edward and instead concentrate on the memories he'd seen from Camille's perspective beforehand. His eyes clenched shut tighter, his lip pulled back in a snarl, as he felt from her what he'd felt when he had changed—confusion, fear, and pain, these emotions warring within her before the haze took over after he had arrived… her love for him and her hatred at his pain, the will she had to speak those three words he'd longed for his entire life if it bloody killed her.

But upon watching the events occurring within just her mind after she fell into her sleep, he gained even more answers—perhaps the key to breaking her from this stasis. As Bella had feared before going under, it was true that Edward was breaking through the walls built from her relationship with Klaus and her shield—Klaus's prolonged separation from her had allowed Edward to get in. His presence in her mind as he fought her for control over her actions was what was keeping her in this stasis, and his venom still flowing in her veins from the bites along her arms and the back of her neck was keeping her weakened enough for no one to get through; it was Klaus's superiority to the cold one as an older and more powerful being and his status as her mate that allowed him to break through to see these memories… otherwise, Edward would have been able to block him just as his venom was currently battling Klaus's blood, his domination over her strong enough somehow to make his blood in her system null and void.

Thus, for them to awaken Bella, they had to relinquish the hold Edward had on her psyche long enough for her to strengthen and rebuild her shield and her connection to Klaus. Because Edward had been her mate for longer, had been with her longer than Klaus, he reigned supreme—much to the Original Hybrid's considerable ire. Gone was the importance of personal strength; the fact that Edward had infiltrated her psyche and taken over as her first-found mate meant that Klaus's attempts by himself would not work.

He needed to speak to Davina and Kol.

With a sigh, Klaus left his mate's mind, hating that he was abandoning her to more torment from Edward but vowing to get down to the bottom of it and rid her of him as soon as he bloody could.

It had gone on long enough.

~TPoL~

"And what can you tell me of Isabella's parents?" Elijah asked, the phone on loud speaker as he undid the cuffs of his dress shirt, the suit jacket on the back of his study's chair. He sat down with a deep, tired sigh into the seat, his hand curling into a fist, bent at the elbow which rested on the arm of the chair.

The witch on the other line sighed also, making Elijah frown and lean forward. "They are all fine as far as I can tell, though I can't say I believe they would tell me if things weren't dire. Charles is more worried than Renée and Phil, and he has been quite agitated the past few weeks—he seems unsettled."

Elijah sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. He now knew that the reason for that was because the wolf was recognizing a threat had caused harm to his daughter. "Keep an eye on him, if you would; notify me if there are any issues. I trust there were no problems with the latest move?"

"None," the witch confirmed, her short answer making Elijah smile.

"Very good," he praised her, his hand staying, a light pressure against the 'end call' button. "Thank you for this, Denise."

"Of course, Elijah," she said and then the dial tone sounded.

Elijah stared at the phone for a moment with a deep frown, his tongue peeking out of his mouth to lick at his lips. He raised his gaze toward the door then smirked. "There's no need for you to stay outside. Please do come in," he said in a nonchalant tone, his eyebrow rising as the door opened and in walked Rebekah, Kol, Davina, Marcel, and Camille.

Rebekah's arms crossed, a frown on her ire-riddled face as she regarded her brother. "What are we to do about the Volturi?" she inquired, the question leaving her mouth in a heated burst that spoke of how long she'd waited to ask it.

Elijah let out another sigh, his teeth gritted as his eyes narrowed as he contemplated her question. He shook his head. "We can do nothing. They are for Niklaus to deal with as he pleases once he is in the right frame of mind and Bella has regained consciousness. Our attention must reside solely on Bella's state until her condition is no longer so dire."

Rebekah's eyes flashed and Kol's fists clenched, his arms rising to cross over his chest, a matching pose to his sister. The two had always had a connection, so alike that some thought them twins and that was not only due to their close age—the rest spaced by years whereas Rebekah had been born when Kol was not even two. Granted, it was at some points in time that Kol's protectiveness when it came to Rebekah was worse than Nik's.

"Speaking of Bella, what is it that you think we should do?" Rebekah asked. "It's been three weeks and there's been no change in her. We've all tried to figure out why Nik's blood was ineffective and why she wasn't getting better or worse but we have been met with nothing but dead ends and let's face it—this is not something we've ever witnessed or experienced ourselves, thus we have nowhere to begin. Please tell me you have discovered something useful."

Elijah nodded. "It was not me. I have spoken with Niklaus. After meeting with Camille, he entered Bella's mind and made some… interesting discoveries. It seems that the primary reason that Bella is locked in this state is because of Edward—Bella had sensed that he was coming through when she was separated from Niklaus. When she was weakened further, he was at last able to break through and has since assumed utter control of her psyche. It was due to that control that none of Niklaus's efforts thus far have worked. Our brother believes that we will need a spell or two to relinquish Bella from Edward's grasp; only then will she wake once more."

Kol's brain worked double-time, his one thousand years worth of knowledge coming in handy as a smile lit his face a mere few thirty later. "Nik's right. We need to perform two spells—they're tricky and I doubt even Davina could perform them on her own—no offence, darling—but they'll work. I've heard of five or so witches performing them together on cold one mates to break them from their undesirable hold—the first one is not permanent; it doesn't break the connection, but it's more of a temporary reprieve when the mate is vulnerable and must be followed immediately by the second spell in order to hold. The first one is a twist on the classic unlinking spell. In cold one connections, biting the female into submission is very common so the spell will drain most of the venom to loosen the cold one's hold. The venom acts as a tangible means for control through the mind if so desired. It's a very popular spell." He looked at the other occupants of the room and knew that their other brother was also listening, so his voice was loud and clear the entire time he spoke.

"And the second spell?" Elijah asked.

Kol grinned, preening under the attention not to mention the thrill he got out of using his vast magical knowledge and putting it to the test; he always felt closer to the magic he had long ago lost when he did this. "The second spell is a binding spell. This is the more long-lasting of the two; it will ease the strain and make her mind utterly impenetrable to Cullen as her life force is connected to Klaus's; his strength as the Original Hybrid becomes hers. Thus, with Edward's influence broken, Bella will be released and able to wake up—I suspect within minutes."

And for the first time in three weeks, ecstatic grins and light-hearted, happy chuckles resounded through the building as the three Mikaelsons' hope was renewed. Their sister would come back to them.

No one bore witness to the wide grin and the excitement that colored Nik's eyes as he looked down at his mate. Knowing she would soon be present with him again lessened the strangling loneliness, the maddening brokenness. His entire being was thrumming, feeling almost alive again.

Marcel looked on with a small frown on his face, feeling uncomfortable being in the room—hell, in the damn building—during this obvious familial moment. He wasn't so sure that either he or Camille should be present, and he wondered again why Elijah had called him to the Abattoir. When he spoke his worries, he was shocked by the growl that tore through Elijah's throat. The Original was a blur as he stood from his seat at inhuman speed, veins webbed under his red and black eyes, his fangs poking out of his forced-apart lips. "You will stay, Marcellus," he said, his voice dark and threatening as he took precise steps forward. "If you do not help—for let no one be under the impression that you are not considered to blame for this situation we find Isabella in—then you and your mate will be among the first to die." He pointed to the ceiling. "The entire city will burn at his hand if he loses her, and I will not lose my brother."

"And nor will we," Kol spoke, knowing that his speaking for Rebekah and himself rather than the fairer of the two would have more weight in Marcel's eyes. The dark-skinned man knew of the fractured family politics that had played out the past thousand years, how removed from the rest Kol was—so for him to speak up would assure him they were as much the united front as they appeared to be.

Elijah smirked, his gaze, having gone to his brother and sister upon their brother's words, now returning to Niklaus's surrogate son. His eyebrow was raised as he spoke, voice gritty and yet so smooth it sent shivers down Marcel's spine, his mate, Camille, already shaking in his arms, her heart pounding at a most furious pace. "So if I have to force you to stay here, I will—by any means necessary."

Davina stepped forward then, taking a deep breath as all eyes shifted to her. "In order to perform the spells, I'll need contact with the spirits—they might be willing to send their power through me so I'll be strong enough to do them by myself. I'd rather that than contacting the elders to get a witch or two sent over from them. I'm still technically a threat as far as they are concerned and I'd rather not stir that up if I can help it."

The reminder caused Kol to sneer and step forward, his arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her against him with a fierce possessiveness, his expression dark, sinister, as he leaned his chin atop her head in a show of protection. This did not scare her, however; Davina was calm within his hold, his sure arms a reminder of how safe she was, how safe she would remain as long as she was with him. Safe, a voice within her sighed, and she settled deeper into his arms.

Davina and Kol were quick to leave in order to prepare for the spells—Davina would contact the spirits while Kol worked on finding acquiring the ingredients. Rebekah lingered for a little longer than them but, after a look from Elijah, she found herself escorting Camille to the kitchen for lunch. Thus Marcellus and Elijah found themselves alone and eyeing one another.

All of a sudden, Elijah rose once more and gestured for the other to follow him. Wearing his suit jacket, he led Marcel some ways into town though he did not stop there—instead deciding to journey further out still, away from prying ears. It was some time later—once they had reached their destination—that he turned back to Marcellus. When he did his brown eyes were darker than usual, his expression devoid of any emotion but irrefutably intense. His tone matched the intensity of his expression and darkness of his eyes when he spoke.

"The conversation over the phone that you heard between myself and my mate," he begun, stepping so close his body was inches away from being pressed into Marcel's, making the other man uncomfortable and quite intimidated, "you will erase it from your memory. You will speak of it to no one, and I mean no one. Any you have mentioned it to will be compelled to forget and if they are vampires they will be disposed of." He rose an eyebrow. "You will do this if you want your mate and yourself to live… without question."

Marcel's nostrils flared, his expression unreadable but eyes tight as he considered the words, eyes on Elijah. "I take it no one knows then?"

Elijah's eyes flashed then cooled. "No, they do not, and I would very much like to keep it that way."

Marcel sighed and nodded, his shoulders falling with resignation. "I told no one. You can compel me if you won't take my word for it."

Elijah's posh smirk glinted as he glanced away then returned his gaze to the man before him. "If you don't mind, I will take you up on that offer." He stepped forward again, in utter seriousness as his pupil dilated and the compulsion took hold with the binding words, "Who knows of my mate's identity?" he asked, searching Marcellus's eyes.

Marcel did not even blink as he answered. "No one."

His chin rose and his eyes narrowed then widened again in a movement alike a twitch. "And who knows I have a mate?"

"No one," was the monotone answer received.

Satisfied, a pleasant smile overtook the serious expression of Elijah's face as he gripped Marcellus's shoulder. "Thank you, Marcellus. You have indeed surprised me." His grip tightened, his eyes hardening. "I do hope you keep it that way, but just so we are safe…" His pupil once again dilated as he stared firmly into Marcellus's eye. "You will tell no one that I have a mate. If someone should ask, you will deny—even if it seems they have knowledge of their own about her. If someone should enter your mind, they will find no memory of the conversation you witnessed; it will disappear and instead they will find that I had no phone conversation at all with anyone. You will not find a witch to break this compulsion and you will deny the witch at any cost by any means necessary should they offer. Should any compel you for an answer, it will not work. In return, you will accept my promise that you and your mate will find safety and refuge in the hands of the Mikaelson family should you need it so long as you have not betrayed us in any way. Say 'yes' if you understand."

"Yes," Marcellus replied, again in the monotone typical of a compelled person.

A dark smile lit Elijah's face. "Good. Now return to the Abattoir."

Marcel disappeared with a whoosh from sight. Now by himself, Elijah took out his phone with a smile and dialed the number he had memorized but, for her safety, never saved. He sighed, far more relaxed in the moment he heard the sound of her voice as she answered than he had been since the last time he spoke to her.

"Elijah," she said, and he could hear the smile in her voice. "It's nice to hear from you."

"You have no idea just how nice," he replied, his voice tensing again at the mere reminder of just why he had not called her in three weeks.

"What's wrong?" she asked, her tone lowering with concern, and he could hear her pause in her motions. He could hear the others speaking in the background and his lips twitched.

"You're in China," he said, voice light as he ignored her question, stalled answering it. He knew she would not let it go, not if it was affecting him so.

"Yes, I am, now answer the question," she said, and he could picture the raised eyebrow as she bit her tongue, her head cocked and a hand on her hip as she waited. She was impatient and stubborn—in a word, she was perfect for him.

So he explained, leaving nothing out. When he was finished, he heard his mate sigh.

"I may hate your brother, Elijah, but no one deserves that kind of pain," she said, her voice quiet and he knew what she was thinking; his own thoughts had drifted much in the past three weeks to the very same thing. "I can't even imagine what I'd do if… how I'd feel if…"

He sighed her name. The two said nothing for a few minutes, as always happy enough to be able to merely hear the other breathe, hear the sounds of the other's life—even as parts of them mourned at that life not yet being shared.

When their conversation ended, it ended as it always did; with those three words that were as close to an "I love you" as the two would get until they were reunited permanently. "I feel it," Elijah said, his mate echoing. They stayed on the line for a few more minutes before Elijah resigned to the fact that the call had to end there.

The dial tone sounded after drawn out goodbyes and Elijah broke out of his daze, determination now taking over as he left for the Abattoir.

~TPoL~

Davina sighed hard, the sound only heard by Kol over the cluster of witches all speaking at once in the small room due to his superior hearing. She glanced up at her mate and they shared a look of exasperation; first the spirits had refused to help, and now all of the living witches were causing a fuss as well.

"Look," Kol said, raising his voice to silence the witches., "all we are asking for is a few of your bloody witches to help us with two spells—we have all the ingredients for them already, all we need is two able-bodied witches for the job. I should think since you have already met with not just myself but also my brother before that you would know you should not refuse." He rose an eyebrow as he ensnared the elders with a dangerous look. "As you can hopefully tell, there is no cause for your worries about performing magic; those rules no longer apply."

A witch named Agnes was about to speak when the doors burst open and Elijah, with his vampire visage out for all to see, stalked into the room, the power and anger he oozed making every single witch—including Davina—step back. Even Kol was not unaffected to such a complete degree, his eyes widening as he took in his brother's ire.

Elijah stood in the middle of the room and spun as he pointed to the witches. His voice was booming, resounding off all four walls as he spoke. "Every single one of you will volunteer to aid Davina with no stipulations about her situation. She is the mate to my brother, here, and is thus not to be threatened. Any who threaten her will lose their lives. If you do not decide to help us, you'll quickly find yourselves without a heart."

A wicked smirk quirked Kol's lips at the appearance of the fabled Beast behind the Red Door. Indeed he was most curious as to what had caused his brother's lapse in control, but he was wise and shut his trap, choosing to watch without a word—in awe, he had to admit—as half a dozen witches stepped forward at a time. Elijah turned to Kol with a smirk and nodded with smug satisfaction at his own success before leaving the room just as intently as he had entered.

It was just a few minutes later that Kol and Davina walked out of the door with two weathered but powerful witches in tow. Kol hung back to speak to his brother, who had been leaning against the wall waiting for them, as they walked back. "So what had you so incensed, brother?" he asked with a cheeky grin and quirk of an eyebrow. "I don't believe I have seen you quite so angry since… well, since I died—even if Nik's nefarious planning meant you'd had to hide it far better than you did just then." Unsaid was the awe at the unexpected reaction he'd received.

Elijah's lips quirked and he glanced at his youngest brother. "Oh, it was nothing," he said, waving the query away with a gesture of his hand. He was quiet for a few more minutes before speaking. "I am tired of this, Kol; our brother is a shadow of his former self and Isabella lays in a bed in a coma she cannot wake from, tormented by her cold one mate. To come home after a few hours and find that almost no progress had been made was… difficult. I found myself here upon catching wind of the situation with the witches to help quicken things along."

Kol nodded in agreement; he, too, had found this whole ordeal taxing for a plethora of reasons—not the least of which being the toll it was having on his family. He was just thankful that it was all coming to an end soon; it could not come quick enough. He let out a low chuckle at an errant thought and, feeling Elijah's questioning glance, licked his lips and smirked as he spoke said thought. "You must admit though, the difference between the last meeting and this meeting in terms of our stances," he gestured between the two of them, "must have been quite the sight for the witches. I hardly suspect they were expecting me to be the restrained one and you to be the homocidal one."

Elijah chuckled and nodded, looking down though he was so unashamed. The two continued along the road behind the three witches without another word.

When they arrived at the Abattoir, the two brothers called upon Rebekah, Marcel, and Camille, bringing them all up to the room that Klaus and Bella were in. The two witches trailing behind, Kol disappeared and reappeared in a blur with the ingredients needed for both spells in hand. He lay them down in front of the witches, leaving and coming back with a bowl and a chalice in hand, the bowl large enough to encompass the entirety of the knot for the first spell with ease, and the chalice one designed for when Bella and Klaus were to drink the concoction created of their mixed blood.

He then came to stand beside Davina, on her left, with Elijah and Rebekah. Their eyes were on Klaus, who seemed to the outsider to be off in his own world and utterly inattentive of the surrounding beings but of course they knew better as he stroked his mate's hand back and forth, a small smile on his lips of excitement. The three were relieved to see such a drastic change in their brother, their own bodies thrumming with impatient exuberance at the thought that this emotional cloud hanging over them all would soon be no more.

An additional few minutes later and the witches separated to stand beside one another, Davina, as the most powerful, in the middle to create the balance needed. The three stepped forward and begun preparation for the first spell, lifting the sanguinum knot and then lowering it into the bowl that was filled with Bella's venom-laced blood. Once the knot was soaked, they laid it out as needed and each held their hands out at their hips, palms to the ceiling, as they begun to chant the incantation: "Phasmatos omnio ligor coldate sangorium...Phasmatos omnio ligata soluto...Phasmatos omnio ligata soluto vingulia cordit." The words fell from their lips as one and they chanted over and over, growing in force and power, until finally the knot levitated and untied itself to signify their success in reducing the venom in Bella's body.

The first stage was complete.

The Mikaelsons exchanged relieved smiles, their eyes on their brother as his eyes widened, his body leaning forward over his mate and a smile—a genuine, happy smile—on his lips. It was obvious to them that it had indeed worked. Niklaus could feel it.

It was quick work as Davina and the other witches prepared for the second spell. They mixed Bella's and Klaus's blood then held their hands out over the chalice, not shouting but raising their voices as they chanted, "Phasmatos Tribum, Melan Veras Raddiam, Onu Pavadus Ponemus" over and over again. Finally, with the spell done and the blood bound, they brought the chalice to Klaus first, who took half and swallowed it, the blood staining his lips as he lifted Bella's head with a gentleness no other had been touched with by him and he pressed the lip of the cup to her mouth. He fed her the blood at a slow pace, making sure she swallowed every drop and sighing as the last of the blood was drained from the cup. He set it down on the table and they waited with baited breath.

It was but a minute later when Bella's eyelids fluttered and Nik's eyes were filmed over with tears as those eyes opened and her cracked lips parted then twitched into a slow building but blinding smile, her own eyes matching his as they searched and fell upon him on instinct within seconds. "Nik," she whispered, her voice thick with emotion and from disuse, just as much as his was when he answered her in a sigh, taking her into his arms.

"Bella."

And they were broken no longer. The feeling that had encompassed Klaus's every particle drained, receding to nothingness as their lips met, hearts beating as one. When they parted, Klaus leaned back to gaze down at her, taking in her every feature like a blind man seeing the sun for a first time. Likewise, Bella gazed upon her mate with new eyes, the effects of her werewolf gene having strengthened the bond and a sob burst from her chest as she felt everything she'd ever felt around and for Klaus so much stronger than ever before.

She burrowed into his arms as the others left the room, leaving the two reunited mates to one another. The sorrow and pain and fear of the past three weeks, the brokenness the two had felt, was forgotten as they drowned in one another, feeling strong again.

The worst was over now and they could breathe again. 

Chapter Text

Avicii ~ Addicted to You

I don't know just how it happened,
I let down my guard...
Swore I'd never fall in love again
But I fell hard.

Guess I should have seen it coming,
Caught me by surprise...
I wasn't looking where I was going,
I fell into your eyes.

You came into my crazy world like a cool and cleansing wave.
Before I, I knew what hit me baby you were flowing through my veins...

I'm addicted to you,
Hooked on your love,
Like a powerful drug
I can't get enough of,
Lost in your eyes,
Drowning in blue
Out of control,
What can I do?
I'm addicted to you!

Midnight blows in through the window,
Dances round the room...
Got me hypnotized,
I'm getting high on the perfume.

I couldn't live without you now,
Oh, I know I'd go insane,
I wouldn't last one night alone baby,
I couldn't stand the pain!

I'm addicted to you!
Hooked on your love,
Like a powerful drug
I can't get enough of,
Lost in your eyes,
Drowning in blue
Out of control,
What can I do?
I'm addicted to you!


Chapter 10 ~ Addicted To You


They didn't speak. There was no need to as Klaus moved to lay beside his awakened mate, taking her into his tight embrace—one that neither wanted to part from for quite some time. He breathed her in and she did the same, curling into his touch, trying to control herself against the new wolfish impulses attacking her mind. Bella wanted so much in that moment—she wanted to mark her mate and be marked by him, she wanted to give into these enrapturing emotions… but most of all, she just wanted to lay in Nik's arms and never let him go.

Three weeks of psychological torture at the hands of an insane ex, even despite her new courage to stand up to him, and she was ready to scream.

A deep frown pulled her features together at the thought and she curled harder into Niklaus's touch, resting her head on his chest. She took a deep breath in of his scent and tried to calm herself from the overwhelming memories, her nails digging into his skin as she settled down on top of her mate.

Safe, a voice whispered in her mind as she closed her eyes, sighing. The word repeated and it was now that she realized who it was, who it had been the entire time whispering in her mind. It was her wolf, feeling its mate close and thus knowing everything was okay because of the senses every wolf had for their kin.

Klaus looked down when he felt her unease and watched as her expression calmed to a lighter frown. He, himself, had been in a whirlwind of painful thoughts, his mind unable to accept the fact that his mate was truly here, safe and unharmed, after so long without her. He had never realized just how much more content he was so long as she was around until the moment she woke and he gazed into chocolate colored eyes he had missed so bloody much. He knew now that to live without them, to live without her was impossible—he could not stand the pain of it, his need for her too much. He was already addicted to her reassuring presence in his life… already addicted to her light. He'd go insane if he was without her. The past three weeks was but a mere glimpse of what would happen to him should he truly lose her.

Feeling her upset, he ached with a familiar impulse to comfort her. And thus, in a soft tone aimed at eliciting calm but still strong enough to brook no resistance, he asked her: "What is it, love?" His eyes studied her form as she tensed then sighed and moved again in his arms, resting her chin on his chest to look into his eyes.

With pursed lips, Bella deliberated, staring at her mate—a sight for sore eyes, he was, after so long without him, starved for his addictive presence, his own light—though perhaps harder to find it was still there—making her forget because of how safe she felt with him, how all the problems, all the anxieties and pulls of the other connection melted away at his calming touch. So different to Edward in such fundamental ways, the young wolf could not be sure how she'd ever felt any genuine attraction toward the Cold One… and she had, in the beginning… before he'd made it known that he was a misogynistic, abusive ass.

She sighed, coming out of those thoughts with her Nik still watching—and what a distracting thought that was; her Nik… the wolf in her thrummed. "I'm fine," she breathed, huddling closer into him as she willed the memories away. Safe, her wolf told her and she relaxed, believing it. Everything else was unimportant when she was here in his arms.

But Klaus was not to be persuaded so easily. With his mate against his chest, he sat up against the headboard and gripped Bella's hips while she curled her legs around him. He looked into her eyes. "No," he replied in a low insistent tone, raising an eyebrow as his head tilted, "you're not."

Bella sighed under the weight of his gaze, feeling as though he was piercing through her soul and seeing right through her. "Edward was in my head… the entire time. I thought maybe when we were separated that it was helping him along and then I went under after…" she trailed off, swallowing as a blush heated her cheeks all the while she smiled a small smile, "after I told you that I love you." She looked up at him, her clear brown eyes full of the love. "I do, you know… I love you."

The look in his eyes was soft as his lips formed a small, genuine smile. "I know," he said, voice still quiet and making it all so much more intimate. Bella felt emotion ball in her throat and tears prick in her eyes and, when he whispered the same sentiment back to her, her breath intake was shaky. She'd never thought she'd hear it again; hell, in what felt like her dying moments before he found her she thought she would never hear them.

But she would. She had.

Neither knew just how it happened, falling in love with one another. They'd never wanted to fall in love again—their battered hearts knowing the dangers now and never wanting to be so weak as to love another so much that they lost themselves. That they changed. And yet, they would not change this—it was right, their wolves connecting and forcing them to lower their guard even before Isabella awakened hers because they knew that, with this sole person, they were guaranteed safety and security.

Thus, somewhere along the way, they had fallen and they had fallen hard.

From the girl tripping into his arms and into an immediate panic attack, something neither had ever seen coming—the surprising moment that would forever change their lives and their very beings—to where they were now and where they were headed in the future, they could not say they wished it hadn't happened.

The instant she fell into his eyes, she was struck. It was him, her Nik, her mate. The right one this time. And then she found him—then he found her—coming into her world in a crazy wave of fresh, vital air at a time when she was in such need, giving her a family she never thought she'd have.

Before either of them knew it, their need for the other, the very essence of the other, was flowing through their veins.

Indeed, they had changed… but this time, it was for the better.

The both of them broke out of their thoughts, Klaus speaking as he raised an eyebrow. "Tell me, sweetheart."

Bella swallowed and looked away, her voice shaky when she began to speak. She rushed through the words, anxiety rising within her as they stirred memories she was trying so hard to suppress. "He was… taunting me, most of the time. At first he was there but he wouldn't say anything, just making sure I knew he was there… and then he showed me things—he showed me how he planned to punish me when he got me back, what he was gonna do to you…" She swallowed and closed her eyes, breathing in Klaus's scent. Safe, her wolf confirmed. "I know you're stronger, Nik, but… I just, the visions were so real, it was almost like he'd done it already and he was showing me the memories… like when I finally woke up you wouldn't be there." Her voice trembled and she sniffled as she breathed in again, looking at him, eyes glazed over, as the tears streamed down her face. The visions the Cold One had sent her playing in her mind, she breathed in Klaus's scent as he crushed her to his chest, reassuring her in an instant.

"But I am, love; I am here," he whispered to her, trying to control his own wolf as he longed for revenge—he wished Edward Cullen was there right now so he could rip him apart and burn the pieces; it would be slow and in the most painful way his one thousand years of knowledge had given him. He gripped her chin, his arm around her waist depositing her higher up his body as he pulled her face down. His eyes moved to her lips and that was when it happened—their wolves snapped, and animalistic growls ripped from their throats as, at last, their lips connected, hard and passionate.

She raised up on her knees, fingers splayed on his cheeks as she possessed his mouth, tongues intertwining and fighting for dominance. But she wanted him to mark her, she wanted to forget, to feel him there with her so she knew it was real, and thus her wolf backed down to his. Their foreheads leaned upon one another's as their breathing grew harder. She moaned as he bit her lip hard then soothed the sting with his tongue, his whole body arching up to her, wanting and needing closer. He leaned back as she taunted and denied him, his eyes flashing gold as he growled, lips twisted in a snarl. Flipping them with supernatural speed, he pressed her down into the bed as he thoroughly ruined her mouth.

Bella's head was spinning. She grasped his hair with a fiery hunger, arching up into his body, whimpering as Klaus balanced himself above her on an arm, the other drifting down her subtle curves. He leaned back, nipping at her lips and looking into her eyes with his own darkened ones. A growl ripped through his mate's chest and she pulled his shirt over his head with a speed she'd never had before—though still slower than that of the Original Hybrid. The shirt was forgotten as soon as it left his body, and Nik allowed it when Bella pushed him onto his back so she could explore, glancing into his eyes with a wicked grin as her hands trailed over him.

But that was gone a moment later when Klaus smirked up at her and dominated her again, flipping them once more as he removed her own shirt—far more impatient than she had been, he ripped it straight down the middle, glancing up at her with dark eyes as he leaned in to nibble and kiss her breasts. This was not the slow reveal he'd thought their first time would be but it seemed they both were content with that.

He pulled back, Bella panting as she lay back and watched him through hooded eyes, licking her dry lips as his hands glided over her skin, savoring her. He could not resist leaning down to press kisses along her frame as he moved down her body, nuzzling her with his nose and soft locks, his lips searing her skin and making her breath hitch every time she felt them on her. He pressed kisses everywhere, some close-mouthed and some open until he had made his way down to her hips. There, he paused and looked up at her, only moving his hands from her back to the waist band of her pajamas upon her jerky nod. He breathed in her scent as he pulled the layer between them away, finding no underwear underneath, and his eyes traced every single centimeter of her skin, admiration within them. He swallowed hard and glanced up at her again as he pulled the pants all the way off.

But his brows pinched as he revealed a mark on her right hip, just on the inside of her pelvic bone. It was a mark that he'd overlooked upon first seeing her naked when she was dying, but he knew in an instant what it was.

The birthmark was not too big, a few centimeters long and wide. It was a circle then two fang-like triangles descending from it to be met by two smaller, more equilateral, triangles pointing back up toward the circle.

It was the symbol of the wolves that roamed Mystic Falls one thousand years ago—his pack.

"What is it?" Bella asked, noting how he'd stopped and stared. She glanced down and then rolled her eyes. "Weird birthmark," she told him, a little self-conscious.

"It's more than just a birthmark, love," he replied with a scarce glance to her face. Reading her confusion, he continued, his finger pressing into the mark as emotion welled inside him. It had been so long since he'd seen the mark and to have it on her skin, further proof that they descended from the same pack… "Rebekah left markings in a cave in Mystic Falls… amongst our names written in Old Norse were symbols used at the time for witches, werewolves, and vampires." He brushed his thumb over the mark. "This is the mark of the werewolf, love. Of our pack, now known as the North East Atlantic."

Bella swallowed, surprise making her eyes widen as she sat up. "I… Really?"

He nodded, looking over her in thought. "If I'd seen this mark, I would have known instantly that you were not only a werewolf but also a member of the same pack—or a descendant, rather. Though I still cannot comprehend how your line survived. Mikael was supposed to have slaughtered all of the werewolves in the village." He looked away, a glimpse of the memory of finding his father for the first time—only for him to be dead at the hands of the man who'd beaten him his whole life.

Bella shook her head. "I have no idea either… I don't even know if my father does." She frowned. "I also don't know why he told me none of this," she continued, looking down as agitation colored her tone.

"Not many know of the symbol anymore; it's in a Secret Cave only recently discovered in Mystic Falls," Klaus said thoughtfully, and he missed how Bella tensed for a moment at the name. He was still distracted by the mark on her skin. "I imagine the information was lost within your family in order to protect your line from Mikael. If he'd known you'd survived..." He growled, eyes flashing. He may never have met her if that had happened. As far as he knew—and it was limited knowledge that he had—once your mate was killed, you received no other. He'd have been alone. One touch from Bella and the heavy thoughts left him, his light restored.

"I'm here, Nik," she told him as if sensing his thoughts and she leaned in slow as her arms came up to lock around his neck. She hummed as their lips brushed against one another and she lay back, their lips separating. Klaus stayed above her as she settled into the mattress and watched him intently while he moved down her body. His hands gripped her hips softly.

Then he leaned down between her thighs, eyes never leaving hers, lips curled up at the corners.

Twin sighs left their parted mouths upon the first touch of his mouth to her skin, Bella's eyes drifting closed and then squeezed shut as her body arched from his light touches. Her hand drifted down to his hair and she moaned low when he flicked her clit, exhaling as he looked up at her. The feel of his breath made her whimper and her hand in his hair tightened. Her back arched, begging him for more.

The whine that left her throat when he denied her, pulling back and licking his lips, was wolfish and made Niklaus smirk. She raised herself to her elbows, waiting for him to do something, almost vibrating with need while he watched her, his expression smug. She growled at him and raised an eyebrow, making him chuckle—only for it to cut off when she tilted her head and smirked, lifting her foot to ghost over the fabric confining his length.

He gripped her foot and the look on his face now was dark, wild, and possessive as his hand trailed up her leg while he leaned over her, crawling up her form to crash his lips down on hers. His tongue wasted no time in entering her mouth, a growl in his chest, and she released a hum of satisfaction against his lips, an idle arm slung around his neck as she pulled him in further. She wanted his body on hers. All of it.

"Pants off," she breathed against his lips.

Klaus leaned back just a little, and lifted a hand to her cheek. "Are you sure, love? If I do that, I won't be able to control myself."

She giggled, the look on her face devious as she pulled up on her elbows once more and breathed against his lips, "who said anything about having to control yourself?" Seeing him still unconvinced, her eyes softened, as did her tone. "I want you, Nik. I need to know this is real… My… My wolf," she whispered, looking down, "I need this."

Klaus swallowed and looked into his mate's eyes. He felt what she felt; the need, the compulsion, to know this was real and to claim her and make her his. But… "I'll bite you," he told her in a low tone, a serious expression on his face. "I won't be able to help myself, love. The wolf in me needs to mark its mate… so does the vampire."

Bella's eyes glazed over for a moment before she nodded slowly. "Something inside me—the wolf, I guess—knows I won't be able to mark you yet. That's okay, I can wait. I know my connection with Edward isn't broken but… it doesn't matter to me that you'll mark me and I won't mark you. I still want this, still need this. You. Please," she whispered, eyes begging and voice thick with emotion.

Klaus regarded her, a light frown on his face at her pleading. "As you wish, love," he breathed and then he leaned down and pressed his lips to her skin, this time slow and soft. His hands made their way to the back of her bra where he unclasped it then removed it, dropping it somewhere over the side of the bed. He was sweet as he worshipped her, showing her the admiration she deserved, just as he should have been able to the first time he'd seen her naked.

But every touch melted away bad memories. As he removed his jeans, eyes on his mate as she touched his chest, eyes soft and matching the small smile curving her lips… he was touched not just by her skin, but by her soul as it met his. That was when he realized it, as he came to lay back over her, their breaths coming in pants as their skin touched for the first time and he looked into her eyes as he entered her with caution…

She was his light.

His forehead came to rest upon hers as he embedded himself in so much more than her mere body. Their skin was on fire, their hearts pounding, and they felt it as their souls—worn by their own histories—became whole again. The light in each affected the other, and none of it mattered any more—Niklaus was no more paranoid as he loved his mate, pulling back and thrusting in again and again, lifting her thighs to wrap around his body as he ravaged her mouth. He was content, he was safe. He was loved, the one thing he'd always wanted but never felt he'd ever receive. He would never, ever doubt her—her, the one thing he now knew he could trust without fear.

Bella arched into him, needing more contact, the wolf inside keening as their bond was solidified. She knew by the savage look in Niklaus's eyes—the raw emotion no other had ever been trusted enough to see—that he was experiencing much of what she was. Her soul was light again, pure as it had been the day she was born, untainted by Cold Ones and abuse and liars. Anything negative left her until she was buoyed by only the good, the feel of it too powerful as her Nik angled his hips just right and drove in hard enough to hit that spot inside her that sent her screaming and her head tilted back for him to see her neck.

Niklaus circled his hips as he was flush against her, grinding and eliciting delicious friction, both of them moaning as he leaned down to nip and lick at the skin just behind her ear—the place he intended to mark her. He drove her higher in her own pleasure, waiting for it as he left her mouth in lieu of her breasts, lavishing them with perfect attention and making her sob his name as she clutched him to her. He smirked against her skin, loving how responsive she was, the possessive wolf inside him wanting all to hear what he did to her. He licked his lips, moaning at the taste of her on them then set back to work as he angled their bodies and drove harder still into her, fists on the bed now to give extra momentum. Every thrust made her clench around him… and his visage appear.

"Nik!" she cried, arching up into him and smashing her lips to his with a desperation that ignited him. She pushed him back so they were sitting up and his arms wrapped around her, keeping her around him. They were both so out of control, addicted to one another and needing more. Nik redoubled his efforts, each thrust up jolting her body as she clutched onto him and her head dipped back, tips of her curly hair touching the bed. She whimpered and writhed from the pleasure he was giving her. It was too much, even more so when his hand came up to cradle the back of her neck and make her look at him. She looked into his eyes and she drowned in the blue, lost, unable to get enough of his love.

He was the same.

She gripped him hard as she began to quake, and a sob burst from her chest as she climaxed. Niklaus joined her a thrust later, continuing on as they rode their orgasms. But the feel of her tightening around him, the sight of her below him, the sound of her screaming his name, the smell of their scents mingled in the air and on each other's skin combined with the taste of her on his tongue and he lost it. A growl burst from his lips and vibrated on his chest as his double fangs descended and he dove in, the momentum pushing them both down with her over him on the bed as he bit into her neck just below her left ear, eyes rolling back at the first taste of her blood. He savored her taste as she screamed again and jolted, her cries lessening to moans and then whimpers as he took her blood, searing his mark on her skin forevermore. He pulled back, not wanting to but knowing he had to, licking the mark closed, her skin clean of her blood. At last he licked his lips of last of her blood as he pressed his forehead to hers and panted. His body rested on hers, all of his weight pressed on her, but Bella didn't mind. She wrapped herself around him and huddled into his touch, a smile on her lips.

Niklaus rolled over so she was on top of him, and held her tight as the two lay in bed, not sleeping but rather exchanging soft touches. Not willing to part from one another, they stayed utterly intertwined, knowing soft grins on their lips as they rekindled their fire again and again, addicted already.

~TPOL~

In another part of the house, sometime later, the three other Mikaelsons stood in Elijah's study. They were discussing what would need to occur now, considering their options because one thing was certain: it was time for Isabella to be introduced as Niklaus's mate to the supernatural world.

Davina was curled up on the couch, listening to them but not engaging in the conversation. She instead found herself staring at her mate, a fond smile on her face. Three weeks had passed and the feelings she was beginning to have for Kol were quite intense and all-encompassing, despite not being able to spend quite so much time alone with him as she'd hoped. There was something magnetic about him… she was drawn in without question and she never wanted to leave his reach.

"We need Nik here," Rebekah said with a sigh as she poured herself a drink. She was tired—all four of them were. The past three weeks had been hell, and they were weak with relief now. But life continued on at full-pace for the Originals. She took a long swig. "We can't decide anything about his own mate without him here. Especially something like this."

Elijah nodded. "She's right," he told Kol, who moved to sit on the sofa with his mate, a possessive arm curling around her shoulder, the other laying along the raised back. "Just a few weeks ago, Niklaus was adamant that Isabella remain a secret until she is ready to face Edward."

"Just a few weeks ago, Bella was human," Kol answered back before growing serious for a rare moment. "Elijah, surely you can see how important it is that we do this now. Bella will only be under more threat and the Original family viewed as weak if we don't present her, if we choose to hide her away." He smirked and looked up at the ceiling, mischief dancing in his dark eyes, eyebrow raised. "Besides, it'll be the perfect time now that she's marked and claimed."

Rebekah's eyebrow rose. "I'm not going anywhere near that room. If you want to continue this conversation now, one of you will have to go and separate them. I refuse." She sat down in an armchair, taking another drink and downing it.

She looked up at the breeze that drifted through the room and sighed, her gaze meeting Elijah's. Kol had taken her words and decided to do as asked, apparently. She shrugged. It was his heart at stake.

Kol appeared in front of Nik's bedroom door, a wide grin on his face. He tapped his knuckles on the door twice then waited for the response.

Sure enough, he heard a growl. A few seconds later, the Original Hybrid's voice sounded from the bed, impatience singing in the word he spoke. "What?"

"Brother, we need to speak. So if you would be so kind as to remove yourself from between Bella's thighs, lovely as they are—"

He never finished his sentence when the door was pulled open and a half-dressed Niklaus had sped out, a hand curling around his brother's neck as his head was pushed against the wall with a violent thud. The two could hear Rebekah's sigh and her muttered words of Kol being a "fool" but they ignored it as the enraged Hybrid glared into his younger brother's eyes, a murderous glint in them. "Finish that bloody sentence—"

Kol's chuckle was strained as he raised his hands in surrender. "I was only going to ask you to come downstairs, brother. The both of you; dressed and ready for serious conversation…" His smirk lessened and his eyes lost the gleam. "We need to speak about what to do now, Nik. It's important for all of us that we choose right. There is more than just Isabella's safety depending on it."

Klaus sighed and lessened his grip on the bloody bastard's neck. "Give us a few minutes," he commanded gruffly, turning and walking back into the room.

Kol waited until the door clicked shut and his brother was a safer distance away before he grinned wide again. "Is that really how long it takes you? You know, Nik, it's nothing to be ashamed of…" He leaned against the door, looking up at the ceiling for but a second as he thought. "Don't they have pills these days for that kind of thing...?"

He waited with baited breath and was not disappointed.

"Kol!"

Klaus's roar trembled through the Abattoir, Elijah closing his eyes and Rebekah shaking her head and sighing hard as the wily fox fled the scene, his answering gleeful laugh echoing through the halls.

"What did you say to him?" Davina asked with a twinkle in her eye at the same time that Rebekah asked "was that really necessary?" The blonde's head was tilted as she stared up at him, lips thin and an eyebrow raised.

Kol looked quite proud of himself as he settled beside his mate, bringing her onto his lap as he leaned against the back of the sofa. He didn't bother replying to either question, instead kissing Davina's neck and wrapping his arms around her. His amused grin was answer enough.

A few minutes later, the door opened, and Klaus and Bella entered the room. The two sat in an armchair, the female wolf perched on her mate's lap. Kol opened his mouth to speak but Elijah beat him to it, sending him one of his looks as he sat in the office chair. He looked down as he thought, a light furrow of his brow indicating how serious he was. His voice was low when he began to speak. "Brother, I understand that you want to keep Isabella's very existence a secret from the rest of our world, but I cannot say that this will work much longer." He looked up at Niklaus as he finished the sentence, his eyes concerned. "We need to present her to the rest of the supernatural community and now that she is both a triggered werewolf and marked, we believe—" he gestured to their siblings, glancing at them and pleased to see the two far more serious than they had been mere moments ago "—that it may be time."

Klaus's arms tightened around Bella as he looked down, his expression vacant. His thoughts streamed back to the fact that his mate had been attacked, Marcel used against him despite having seen in Camille's memories that the boy he'd adopted as his son was still very fond of him. His mate had almost died. His eyes flashed, nostrils flared, but he buried his nose in his mate's neck where her mark was and breathed in their mingled scents, the anger dwindling a little—a slow tease of their tangible connective trait coming forth.

"I see your point," he conceded, looking at his brother then down at his mate. "It seems I was mistaken in keeping you a secret, love." He turned to his brother. "I suppose you have an idea of what we could do?"

Elijah smirked and inclined his head. "I do, brother. As a matter of fact, the three of us thought that perhaps a ball might be in order. And where better to do one than right here, in New Orleans. We would invite known figures from around the world. Present Isabella—Davina as well if she is agreeable—and make it clear that any threat against the two of them would not be taken lightly by setting an example…" His fingers trailed on his desk then paused as his lips curled and he pressed his lips together as he leaned back into his chair. "Speaking of which, there is the matter of the Volturi to consider."

Klaus nodded, standing with Bella at his side, his arm around her waist and no space between them whatsoever. "Very well, then. Make plans for the ball to be held in a week… invite the Volturi and their guard. Make it clear they have no choice, Elijah." His smirk was wicked as his head cocked to the side and he spoke in a dangerous, low tone. "It seems we must take our stand in the world… show the Original and Cold One vampires, the werewolves, and the witches who is truly in charge." He then straightened and looked toward the others in the room, his tone lightening and voice growing in volume. "Now, if you'll excuse us…" his faux-innocent tone beseeched of his siblings and, with a devious hunger in his eye, he then sped away in a blur with his mate in his arms to the bedroom, Bella squeaking.

Rebekah moaned, her nose turned up. "Living here is going to be unbearable with those two," she said as she rubbed her temples. She was gone in a flash as she left the house, throwing herself into the coming ball's plans.

It was going to be quite the important one after all.

~TPoL~

Edward Cullen looked up as his adopted father entered the room, his shoulders sagging as he read Carlisle's thoughts.

They have asked us to meet with them, son. The entire family. They have… news.

The bronze-haired Cold One snarled. "What could they possibly have to say for themselves after ruining the best chance we had at getting my mate back?" he growled at his father, pacing, his hands in his hair. He tugged at it as the pace of his walk sped up with every spin. The anger inside of him—no, the fury—at being denied his mate so long was maddening. He'd not had the chance with her parents, either, before the Mikaelsons had taken them away. Then, just when they gained knowledge of a possible residence, they disappeared without a trace a-fucking-gain! He growled louder, the sound becoming a roar as he threw an arm out and an unfortunate nearby antique lamp smashed against the wall. He panted, eyes black and glaring holes into the wall across the room.

He needed his mate back.

For the girl to have the gall to leave him…

His eyes closed, every muscle in his body tense. In times such as these he would have prodded at the connection with his fury and possessive jealousy, checking for any holes so he could seep in and attack. But there was no such reprieve this time because they had lessened his fucking bond with her!

Carlisle watched his son with concern, making no move toward him. Within the construct of his mind that Edward never gained access to he was cursing the fact that the boy hadn't just claimed Bella to begin with—her consent be damned. With her claimed, there would be no threat and, although Carlisle had never met an Original, he was sure their connection would have still reigned supreme. The girl would have learned her place and never run away.

All of this he never dared to speak aloud, however.

Edward grasped at his control and sighed, crossing his arms over his chest, the picture of a sullen child moments away from another tantrum. He glared out the window again, his thoughts on their now-soiled plans. "We can't—"

No, Carlisle continued, a frown marring his too-perfect pale features as he came to stand beside his son. He lay his hand on his shoulder, taking in Edward's worn appearance with slight distaste before continuing in their conversation. It seems the Mikaelsons have come to an unexpected decision. To do as we had planned would be too risky now. I am afraid our best bet may be to leave Europe for the Americas, but instead of going to New Orleans perhaps we should retrace our steps.

Edward thought for a moment. The three weeks he had spent locked inside his mate's mind, punishing her with his silence, with his visions, and later with information he'd garnered not long ago had been a delightful experience. It had held back some of the hysteria building inside of him. To be pushed out all of a sudden and then for their connection to lessen as it had—for him to have no way of taking over her mind and steering her back to him—was causing him to descend into the slow madness he would never recover from at double the speed. Carlisle could see it in his child's eyes, the dark orbs gleaming with a powerful rage and insanity that could only be a result of your unclaimed mate leaving you.

There was a knock on the door and the two turned toward it as Esme entered, hesitant, her eyes lowered to the ground. When she spoke, hands clasped in front of her, her voice was just high enough for them to hear. "They are calling us in now," she told them.

"We will be there in a moment," Carlisle replied, his voice rough as he dismissed his wife. She fled the room without so much as a peep, a single nod of her head as an answer. The blond turned back to his son, making sure the boy was looking into his eyes as he spoke. "Edward, I know what we can do. No matter what the Volturi have to say, we will retrieve your mate. All I ask of you is a little more of your outstanding patience. Distract yourself—think of how you will train her once you get her back because, Edward, when you do it would be wise to claim her immediately. From then, her fight will be nothing." He rose an eyebrow, his entire persona authoritative.

Edward grit his teeth and nodded once, his form shaking with restraint. Then he brushed past his father figure and headed out the door to meet the rest of the family for their little meeting with the three leaders of their race.

~TPoL~

The next few days that passed marked the beginning of November. It had been eight weeks since Bella had entered their lives.

The days since their meeting had been somewhat stressful with Bella's awakening and thus her coming to terms with not just her heritage but her new-found identity. Even with Niklaus trying to help her, her much more fluctuant anger was difficult to control, sporadic at its best… as was a certain other aspect that had come to light the very day she woke. It made the training she was doing with Rebekah and Kol quite difficult most of the time, as did another factor.

Niklaus and Isabella could not keep their bloody hands off one another.

It had been amusing at first—or rather, that was how Kol felt.

But upon hearing—and in Davina's case, walking in on (the poor girl and her human senses)—the two going at it at all hours in any of the multitude of rooms across the Abattoir, Rebekah's presence in the building had become scarce. It was obvious to her and to Kol—who welcomed the distraction with open arms as it meant more time with Davina—that Bella's volatility would only harm her ability to learn and thus lessons had been called off. Instead, all of her attention had been thrown into the ball's preparations with Elijah.

Thus, it was a Thursday afternoon when the very reluctant female Mikaelson entered the compound with her hand over her eyes—werewolf blood had done wonders for Bella's confidence, it seemed, and indeed they had been caught just yesterday having a round against one of the walls… in the middle of the courtyard.

But an Original's hearing was a definite positive and Bekah sighed and lowered her hand, relaxing as she not only sensed them nowhere in the close vicinity but also nowhere in the entire compound together. She grinned and dashed up to their bedroom, barging in when she had double-checked that Bella was the sole one inside. Nik had the ability to sneak up on them all.

"Bekah," the brunette grinned, looking at the blonde's reflection in her mirror. She spun around and rested each hand on the chair on either side of her thighs. The expression on her face was amused since she'd heard the Original's entrance. "I'm surprised to see you here…"

Rebekah's eyes narrowed, arms crossed over her chest as she raised an eyebrow. "I'm surprised you're not moaning out my brother's name, love… or screaming it. I'm pleased you've decided to take a break."

A whoosh sounded as Nik appeared behind the two, head dipped as he leaned against the threshold with his arms crossed over his shoulders. "There'd be a reason for that, sister. I'm meeting with Marcel soon and I knew you'd come sooner or later to shop for dresses."

Bella's shoulders slumped and she sighed, leaning back against the desk she was sitting at. "Shopping?" she asked, tone flat as she raised an eyebrow at the stubborn blonde.

"The ball is in three days and the three of us need dresses," Rebekah told her, matter-of-fact. There was no way she was backing down on this. It was happening today.

Bella grimaced and tried a different angle, hoping. "Where's Davina?" she asked, and she used her senses to try and see if she was here, but she wasn't and neither was Kol. Perhaps there was a chance.

There wasn't.

"With Kol, but she agreed to come when I called her," the female Original insisted. "Come along. The sooner we leave, the sooner we each find a dress and the sooner you can be back here and in my brother's bed." The pointed look she sent Bella was received by a smug grin and the brunette licking her lips, humming as she remembered just half an hour before when—

Rebekah tugged on her hand, ignoring her brother who was chuckling behind the two as she broke through the young wolf's train of thought, forcing her to stand. She looked into her eyes. "We're leaving. Now. Think about my brother later, would you?" Her tone was snobby but Bella simply rolled her eyes and sagged in defeat.

"I'm coming," she muttered. Rebekah nodded and turned to wait outside their bedroom. The pair lingered, turning to one another, and Klaus opened his arms for his mate, kissing her softly and nibbling her bottom lip before leaning back. "Red, love. Blood will be spilled and we wouldn't want to stain your dress with the blood of our enemies."

Bella grinned, leaning into his touch as his fingers trailed up and down on her back. "You just want to see me in your favorite color, Nik." She raised an eyebrow as she leaned in as though to kiss him only to end up whispering against his lips: "Luckily I am more than happy to oblige." She grinned as she leaned back and flashed out the door, laughing as she left with Rebekah, Niklaus standing in the room with his lips parted.

He chuckled and shook his head, looking down before turning and leaving the room as well to prepare for Marcel's arrival.

The girls met a grinning but somewhat tentative Davina waiting outside the first of many stores that they'd be visiting. The two brunettes felt somewhat awkward around one another, strangers due to the fact that Bella was spending all of her time with Klaus. Rebekah bridged the gap between them and the three entered the store. They were just as quick to depart, having no luck when Rebekah verbalized her disappointment—there was a particular 'look' the Mikaelson strove for when it came to these occasions and the dresses fitting that 'look' would not be found in that store. Indeed, it was then that the two brunettes realized, their friend had expensive taste.

The next few stores were no better. It was not until they reached the last store, a mere twenty minutes since beginning their search, that they found some luck.

The girls dispersed and made their own way through the racks, picking out an array of different colors and styles that they liked. There were many to choose from, and the three soon found themselves in dressing rooms, trying them all on before picking out the few they liked best to show the others.

Rebekah was first to emerge, standing in a gold-colored sequin dress which was tight to her thighs and then flaring. Though pretty and very flattering, it was turned down fast.

A few minutes later she came out again in a green number—heavily embroidered and beaded down her entire right side with a strap over the same shoulder and a sweetheart neckline. The color had drawn her in like a beacon despite it being the same as the one she'd worn to the ball in Mystic Falls. And though she ached at the reminder of him, somehow she couldn't resist it.

"What do we think?" she asked, her tone cool.

"That one," Bella said, her tone decisive as she nodded, Davina bobbing her head along with her when Rebekah's gaze turned on her.

"Absolutely, you look fantastic. Green suits you," the younger of the two added, a wide grin on her face. "My turn!" she said, jumping up, and the two left Isabella as they changed—Rebekah back into her normal clothes and Davina into her first choice.

Bella sighed as she waited, her thoughts drifting as they often did these past few days to unpleasant memories. Something had been bothering her ever since Edward had mentioned it in her mind in such a harsh, taunting manner—it was the last thought he'd left her with before she'd woken up.

She tapped out a furious pace with her foot as she waited, arms crossed over her chest and a frown on her pretty features. When still neither girl had come out, and her curiosity gained the upper hand on her, she bit out "Bekah, who is Caroline?" in the lowest voice she could manage.

She heard the blonde pause as she buttoned up her shirt. A muttered curse later, she finished the buttons in a flash then opened the door. "Where the bloody hell did you hear that name, Bella?" she asked. She came to sit by her new sister and friend's side, her face serious and eyes narrowed as they wandered over Bella's uneasy expression before taking in her body language. A thought she had to speak struck her. "This is why you and my brother haven't stopped all week, isn't it?"

Bella swallowed and looked down under the weight of Rebekah's knowing stare. "Edward mentioned it while I was under…" she said in a whisper, looking up at the blonde. "He said that Nik loved her or something; that he had promised to be her last love before meeting me…" Her eyes flashed at just the thought and a growl built in her chest, her lips tugging back over her teeth.

Rebekah sighed. She was just about to answer when Davina's door opened and she walked in, swathed in white. "Well?" the powerful teenage witch asked.

The two on the couch snapped out of their thoughts—Bella of her anxiety and possessiveness, and Rebekah of her anger. Rebekah's nose scrunched just a little and she shook her head. "Not that one. You look like a bride…" Her narrowed eyes widened and she grinned then, the curve of her lips almost wicked. "I think Kol would like to see you in purple, love."

Davina nodded, a light blush and shy grin on her face as she turned and entered her changing room again. The two girls waiting for her to disappear before they turned back toward one another, and the look in Bella's eye had Rebekah sighing again. "She is nobody; Nik fancied her until she helped her friends kill our brother. That's all. She milked his attention and he allowed it until then." She looked into her eyes for a moment longer. "But if it worries you that much, speak to him. He'll reassure you that you have nothing to worry about. Edward was just trying to cause trouble; you can't let what he said get to you." Her eyebrows rose. "Any of it."

Bella nodded absentmindedly and the conversation was dropped, the two girls sitting in silence as they waited for their third counterpart to re-emerge—which she did a few minutes later, this time in a gorgeous lace-up number. The white beads over her breasts narrowed down to her stomach over the bodice of a deep, ruched, rich purple that ended at her left hip but continued in a diagonal curve down and over to her right calf. The rest of the skirts was a beautiful violet taffeta material while the same purple organza fabric on the bodice continued with white-beaded flower-like patterns down over the left side. Bella and Rebekah grinned and glanced at one another then nodded; Kol would love it and, more than that, the girl looked fantastic. Though the blonde Original mused that perhaps it made the witch look even younger in its more juvenile design, she also felt this could be beneficial—if people were to underestimate Davina this could work to their favor. If they thought her more vulnerable then perhaps they would fear Kol's response more than wish to see for themselves what she could do. But yet, if something were to happen, the girl could obliterate her opponent with the wave of a hand.

With Kol for a mate, however, with his reputation, the Mikaelson sister very much doubted anything of the sort would happen. Kol without a mate was violent and unpredictable, acting on instinct without fail… so for him to be defending his mate would make him incalculably more dangerous. Rebekah could only imagine.

"Guess it's my turn," Bella said in an almost morose tone, far less enthused than the other two. Though the truth of the matter was that she was glad she had something to take her mind off her less than content thoughts. The wolf inside her wanted to be back at the Abattoir with her mate, fucking him senseless. It had been torture all week, being unable to mark her mate when this was part of the drive for their sex campaign. Writhing against him and breathing in his intoxicating, addictive scent was almost too much to bear and considering her mate was a possessive man, he reopened his gorgeous mark behind her ear every time they climaxed together. She wanted to be able to do that, too.

She shivered at the thought, a heat in her abdomen searing her skin. With a breathless chuckle, she rolled her eyes and turned back to the task at hand—finding a dress that would bring Nik to his knees while also displaying the mark. With that thought in mind, she dropped her clothes to the floor and stepped into a tight red number that was of a similar style to Rebekah's chosen dress.

It was immediately rejected.

"For another occasion maybe," Rebekah told her, brows pinched as she stared at the dress. "It's nice—Nik would love it on you—but I think something a little more conservative…"

Bella nodded and, with a grin, ducked back into the dressing room to try on the dress she adored. It had a look to it that was woodsy—something she'd always loved—hinting at her werewolf heritage with the rose and leaf patterns on a red velvet bodice over nude material which gave an effective illusion of revealing her skin without doing so whatsoever. It reached almost to her wrists, the same nude from the bodice on the inner arm. The waist had a sash of the same red and material in folded pleat at her right hip before the dress flared out into a sea of blood red velvet. The neckline was high, but with Bella's hair out and over her shoulder on her right side, the mark would be displayed in a taunting manner—not quite so tacky as the full on visual of the last dress.

She left the changing room to see the girls and they nodded, sporting huge grins just at the sight of it. Rebekah and Davina both seemed to see where she was going when it came to the feel of the dress with her heritage as well as the display of her mark. And thus the three were walking out of the store not ten minutes later. Their dresses were left behind to be fitted but, all in all, they had been successful.

Davina bid the two farewell as she headed back to spend more time with her mate, the two taking every chance to get to know one another better now that the stress of Bella's condition was no longer a setback—though they couldn't blame the wolf for their limited time together.

~TPoL~

Klaus stood at the top of the stairs overlooking the compound when Marcel walked in—alone, which was a surprise. The younger vampire looked up at his father figure upon entering and Niklaus motioned for the man to join him. He flashed to his father's side and a silence reigned for a few seconds as they each took the other in.

"It is good to see you well, Marcellus," Niklaus told him in a quiet tone, a soft and pleasant smile on his face as he looked his son over. A hundred years had of course not changed his appearance much, but after so long without a boy that meant so much to him, the father inside the Original Hybrid found himself hard-pressed not to look upon him with a plethora of emotions—ranging from the positive to the negative.

"That it is, Klaus," the dark—skinned man told his father, a grin on his face as he clutched the proffered hand. "How is your mate?"

The Original nodded, a smug smirk light on his lips. "Well," he said with loaded meaning. His son chuckled in understanding and the two turned to walk at a slow, content pace toward Niklaus's office.

Once there, the two sat in chairs across from one another, Marcel leaning his elbows on his knees as he stared into Klaus's eyes. For his part, the Original Hybrid had resumed his position in his desk chair, features pulled together a little in concentration as he thought, one arm bent up at the elbow and the other flat and pressed down onto the desk. The intensity of his gaze made Marcel nervous.

"Klaus—"

"Allow me, Marcel," he said as he leaned forward. He looked down for a moment, settling his thoughts and then looked back up at the boy he had raised and sired. "You may think I felt nothing when I walked away from here one hundred years ago without you, but you are wrong. In the days after I fled this city, I thought you were dead. It was years before I could speak your name so keenly did I feel that loss." He searched his son's watery eyes, both men swallowing, regret a strong emotion in their hearts and minds. "I love you, Marcellus. You are my son. And your rightful place is here, by my side."

Marcel was hunched forward, heart clenching as he heard the man he called and saw as his father speak of his grief. To be honest, he had felt as though his loss had been nothing to the man so many in the world saw as a cold, heartless monster. But he knew different, even if evidence was scarce. His paranoid father figure did love and he loved strongly. He swallowed and looked back up at Klaus, who was waiting for his response, eyes keen on his form. "I'm sorry—"

Klaus raised a hand to halt his speech. "I know," he said, and the look in his eyes—a haunted look that was reflected in his own—told Marcellus all he needed to know. He nodded once, stood, and the two met for a brief but consoling embrace. Klaus was reminded of Marcellus's younger years when he was much the scared little boy Klaus had been—and in some ways, still was. This connection, this part of himself that he saw in the other was the driving force of their bond, but memories shared strengthened and conditioned it, nurturing it even as they were apart.

Klaus let go of his son, a hand resting on the man's shoulder as he spoke. "If you are so inclined, I ask that you consider joining us in living here. You'd be welcome."

Marcel swallowed, nodding slowly. "I'd like that. I'll talk to Camille. We'll think about it," he said, tone soft.

The two spent a little more time together, speaking of this and that including the ball, before Marcellus's bond with Camille was drawn too tight and the need to be with her again was too difficult to ignore. They bid their goodbyes and parted ways, Niklaus walking back to his and his mate's bedroom as he pulled out his phone, stopping abruptly as the screen lit up.

Fourteen missed calls and a new voicemail—all from Caroline Forbes. Features twisting into an angry sneer, he gripped the phone tight, growling under his breath as his eyes closed. He breathed in deeply as his visage took control for but a fleeting moment.

He pulled the phone up to his ear and sighed as he listened to the voicemail, curious as to what the blonde could possibly want. He'd made his feelings clear and as positive she knew he wouldn't want contact with her after all she'd done. So what was the bloody woman thinking?

Her voice was tentative, answering his questions and irritating him to no end; it was clear that she felt she could still manipulate him, regardless of the words they'd had. "Klaus… Hi. It's Caroline. Listen I know you haven't been answering me because you hate me now but we… I need your help. After your brother killed Jeremy, Elena went a little… well, she wants revenge and she wants Jeremy back… so she decided to wake up Silas… but things didn't go as planned—" Klaus rolled his eyes; of course it bloody hadn't, he thought as his anger flared "—and for some reason, Silas doesn't want anything to do with the Other Side. He said something about knowing she was still alive? I don't know… Anyway, he's left and we can't find him so—"

Klaus pressed to end the call, disinterested once he'd heard that Silas did not want to end the world as the supernatural community knew it. With no threat to worry about, Klaus decided to discuss it with the others later and see what they thought. As far as he was concerned, the Mystic Falls gang were on their own.

He had bigger and far more important issues to deal with here.

He smiled as he heard Isabella's return, looking up in time to watch her enter his study in a blur—she loved her newfound speed and strength. With a grin stretched across his face, he sped to the room and opened the door to greet her. "Hello, lo—"

The reception he received was not one he was expecting. Disgruntlement was apparent on her face and that was putting it mildly. The girl looked almost possessed with one hand on her hip, the other curled into a fist as her pointer finger jabbed into his chest. If looks could dagger, Niklaus would be grey and unconscious.

"Who the fuck is Caroline?" the girl forced from her lips, possessiveness coloring the words and turning them into an almost unrecognizable snarl.

Klaus's brows pinched in confusion and his lips pursed before he looked away. He was quite shocked by the question, confused as to where she'd ever heard the name from. It wouldn't have been any of his siblings for they knew of his hatred for the Forbes girl ever which had risen as a result of her distractions; his brother had died in direct correlation. He still ached to kill her for what she'd done, the wolf in him rising at the threat to his family.

Isabella was having quite the different reaction; upon watching her mate for any tells, she was far been more than displeased when he simply looked away. The wolf inside her—new and a little more unhinged due to every sensation that came with awakening your wolf—was fuming, rising up and demanding she claim her mate as hers. But she couldn't. Her breath was shaky with the anger she was feeling and she trembled as she tried to breathe in deep without success.

Klaus watched with interest, his blue orbs lighting up at her obvious anger and possessiveness. It was perhaps the sole reason why he wasn't setting her straight; he wanted to see where her emotions would take her, knowing how volatile a wolf could be. Wolves were quick to anger anyway, especially with the darkness of the wolf inside baiting you, craving it—it was in their very nature. For a new wolf, this was all amplified and to try to control it was a lost cause—though Nik was not one to do so considering his wolf had been trapped for so long, a feeling he could never give into, instincts he had that could not act upon. A mated wolf was worse; being so attached to their other half as for their very lives to depend on the other, the need to possess and protect was impossible to control. There had been many deaths for those who tried to come between a mated pair.

But Isabella was both new and mated, a rare combination.

When he could see that the need to claim and kill was overwhelming her, he wrapped his arms tight around her frame and pulled her in close, letting her breathe in his scent as he gave her the needed answer. "Caroline Forbes is a young vampire from Mystic Falls. She is the girl who distracted me while Kol was murdered and after that any feelings I had for her vanished."

Bella was calmed but at the notion that he ever felt something for her, she descended once more. Thrashing a little in his arms to lean back and look at him—or perhaps get away to find the bitch—the one thing that kept her down was Niklaus's strength as he flipped them over and pressed himself into her. He took her hands and wove his fingers through hers, stretched above her head as he straddled her on the couch. "Yes, I fancied her, love. I thought she was someone full of light, a true good vampire who had not let the allure of darkness we all struggle with to overcome her—something that is hard to come by. But she played my feelings for her against me countless times to her friends' advantage as they plotted against our family. When she helped murder my brother, my feelings for her vanished," he repeated, driving home that he was hers and hers alone. He had pressed his forehead against hers, looking deep into her eyes the entire time he spoke in a level tone aimed to calm and console his possessive mate. To bait a wolf unable to claim their mate never resulted in anything good... not to mention the fact that to do so was cruel.

His words, however, had no effect. Bella was still too out of control and she gnashed her teeth together, breaths coming harsh. The ache of being unable to mark her own mate was taking its toll. It had plagued her all week, the thoughts of Caroline—this 'light' bitch her mate was supposedly in love with and had pledged himself to. And now, all of a sudden, it was too much.

With a growl, Bella pushed Klaus back into his office chair and straddled him, a hand on his chest keeping him down as she crashed her lips on his. He responded just as fiercely, the both of them moaning as her thighs clenched around his whilst he removed their clothing to get closer to her. He wanted her just as much as she wanted him.

"You're mine," she panted, her lips and teeth harsh on his skin, marking as best as she could without leaving that one mark that would forever stay an imprint of herself on his skin, forever combine their scents as one. She chanted the single word possessively, gripping him hard as she lifted herself up, the two of them now both naked. Then she guided herself down on his lap, taking charge as Nik allowed it; he could see and understand how much she needed it in this moment. Edward had done more damage than he'd thought. He wondered for but a second before his thoughts were overtaken by her actions what else the Cold bastard had said and done.

Her claiming was fast and rough, full of biting and clawing skin and sucking kisses, both of them thrusting hard into one another as they tried to get closer and closer, needing it, their wolves driving them for it. Bella screamed and arched her back as she clenched around him in orgasm, Klaus following hard with a snarl of his own, his teeth embedded in her neck, a hickey on his own as a temporary claim—something Bella had not been doing so much of in their previous escapades.

"Yours, my love," he told her as he panted with her curled up against his chest in his desk chair, the both of them calming down.

Bella sighed as she lay in his arms, her head on his naked chest. Calmer now as her fears had been dealt with, she fell asleep in her mate's lap, wrapped in his embrace.

~TPoL~

A nervous energy overtook Isabella as the night of the ball arrived. The three girls were upstairs getting ready together while the boys stood below waiting for them, already dressed in their impeccable tuxedos. Bella closed her eyes as her hands shook in her lap while Rebekah, all done with her hair flowing down her back and long dangling earrings hanging from her earlobes, did her makeup—dark lashes and lined eyes with a lovely red lip bringing out her natural beauty instead of constructing it. Isabella's hair was also staying out, straightened and brushed over her right shoulder so Niklaus's mark behind her left ear was visible. Just as predicted, the blood red velvet of the dress so high on her neck framed the mark in a tasteful but still impactful way.

She calmed down as her wolf chanted the now-familiar 'safe' mantra, feeling Nik's presence within the Abattoir. Being able to feel her family when they were close was something she had never thought would feel so nice but it was a true comfort and she smiled in knowing that Nik felt it as well.

"Don't bite your lip, Bella," Rebekah said as she brushed the red gloss over the brunette's bottom lip again. "Be confident, not shy. That goes for the both of you. You're members of the most powerful bloody family in the world, mates to the two most feared men in the world." She raised an eyebrow and cocked her head, a smirk on her lips.

Bella nodded, a grin on her lips as the two turned to Davina who came from behind the screen Rebekah had in her room for them all to change behind. "You look great," she said as she took the other girl's appearance in, her hair in a neat bun at the back of her head with white beads matching the ones on the dress in her hair. "I really do love that purple on you. The innocent look on such a powerful witch will drive Kol wild." She laughed a little as she heard Kol curse downstairs, Rebekah pressing her lips together as she looked in the mirror and fixed her nude lip. Her hand brushed down the right side of the dress where the lighter green gems and flowery embroidery were. She grinned at the color, his face flashing in her mind, making her sigh at the painful reminder that he was absent.

"Can we go down now?" Bella asked, raising an eyebrow at the blonde as she rose from her seat, fiddling with the thick red velvet skirts of the dress. She could not wait for the look she'd see in Nik's eyes all night when he looked at her.

"Yes," Rebekah said, rolling her eyes. "Just remember that the Volturi are going to be here tonight. In fact, a lot of well-known members of the supernatural society will be here. You have nothing to worry about, either of you, but when it's Nik we're talking about and the Volturi are here, you must know there's going to bloodshed and death. We don't take well to traitors and that's what we consider the Volturi now. They'll be punished for their part in last month's events." At Bella's nod she turned to Davina. "And please keep my brother from misbehaving, would you, sweetheart? He has a tendency to cause spectacle wherever he is, especially at large gatherings. It's the last thing we need tonight."

The brunette laughed and nodded. Then the three left the room to greet the Mikaelson men.

Rebekah was the first to go down, wanting a front row seat to her brothers' reactions to their mates. She stood beside Elijah as Davina appeared and Kol took a step forward only for the blonde Original to beat him back and nod at the witch. She had a grin on her face as she walked down the stairs slowly, giggling at Kol's impatience as his greedy eyes took her in and he whooshed to her and gripped her to his side when she was at last at the foot of the steps. He met Bekah's eyes, knowing what she was thinking in helping Davina choose this dress, and he nodded. Rebekah smiled.

Then it was Bella's turn.

Klaus's eyes lit up at Bella's appearance and then darkened as he took in her look. The deep red on her pale skin was gorgeous and he stared at her as she descended the stairs, taking in the elegant but somehow still… earthy air she had. He loved that her hair was flowing down over her right shoulder and that his mark was put on artful display. His fingers twitched, a multitude of desires running through his mind. He wanted to paint her. He wanted to touch her. He wanted to claim her again.

"Behave," Bella whispered in his ear as she pressed into his side, and his arm came to wrap around her waist on instinct.

"A difficult task," he whispered back, the look he sent her dark and wanting. It softened rapidly, a smile appearing on his lips. "You look beautiful, love." But again his eyes strayed, flitting over the flower and leaf patterned velvet. The illusion caused by the nude fabric had his wolf clenching her tight to him. She was a dark vision in red and he knew it. He would be hard pressed to control himself tonight.

"Niklaus," Elijah called and the Hybrid rolled his eyes as he turned to look at his brother. "The guests are starting to arrive." He inclined his head as a reluctant Kol began to walk with Davina and Rebekah to the balcony overlooking the courtyard.

Bella laughed at the expression on Nik's face because she knew he was looking forward to tonight. Despite not quite being a people person, the Volturi would be here and Nik always had liked displays of grandeur and prowess. Plus, he was looking forward to announcing his mate, to showing her off… even if that was the part Bella herself wasn't exactly looking forward to, having eyes on her all night—for all who'd been invited knew why they were coming. She grasped her mate's hand and stepped out of his hold, raising an eyebrow as she pulled him along to join the rest of his siblings.

Among the first their eyes fell upon were Marcellus and Camille, the blonde bartender in a very pale yellow dress of organza fabric. A strapless, A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline that had lace accents, the dress also had lace patterns down the front and a darker, gold-colored ribbon wrapped around the waist just before the dress flared out.

Niklaus called the two up, leaving his other siblings to greet others who'd arrived. His arm wrapped around his mate's waist as they waited for the pair to make their way up to them. When they had, Klaus and Marcel shook hands while the girls nodded in greeting, smiles on their faces as they saw the other was all right despite their ordeals.

"Bella, love," Nik called for her attention and she turned her gaze from Cami to him. Her mate's arm was outstretched still toward his son and her eyes found his as the blond spoke again. "This is Marcel. Our family took him in during the 1800s."

Marcel grinned at his father and then turned his attention back to Bella. "This man saved me. I was a slave boy, illegitimate son of the Mayor of this city. Klaus saw how they were treating me and put an end to it."

Bella grinned at her mate, taking Marcel's proffered hand. "It's nice to meet you," she said in a warm tone. "Nik said you might be joining us here. I hope you will. I'd like to get to know the both of you better," she said, and she glanced toward the blonde on Marcel's arm once more.

"I'd like that as well," Camille told her, and the two left their mates as they descended the stairs once more, Klaus and Marcel looking on with grins.

Klaus clapped the dark-skinned former King of New Orleans on the shoulder, gripping it. "Have you come to a decision?" he asked him, stopping in front of the boy he considered a son.

Marcel nodded. "We have," he said seriously, looking over the surroundings, a smile tugging at his lips. "I have such fond memories in this place, with this family. I'd like to create more." He looked back at Klaus and nodded. "If you and the others really are all right with it, Camille and I would like to join you here."

Klaus grinned and nodded. "Fantastic," he said fiercely, gripping his son's shoulder tighter. "I'm glad, Marcel." And the boy could tell he was.

Downstairs, Davina was gripping Kol's arm tight and gritting her teeth in anger. Her mate looked up and saw a plump, middle-aged, dark-skinned woman by the name of Agnes was standing in the center, and congregated around her were a band of three younger witches Kol vaguely recognized from earlier meetings with them. It was the pale Elder standing next to Agnes that he kept his eye on, knowing from Davina's stories that she was the one who'd wanted his mate for the Harvest. He stepped forward and in front of Davina, his movement slow and laced with a danger warning as his expression grew cold. He stood up to his full height, intimidation and power rolling off of him. The younger witches swallowed and looked toward Agnes, who steeled her nerves and stepped closer.

"We mean no harm to Davina," she began, taking a glance at Bastianna Natale, the lead Elder.

Davina snorted and took a step forward, halting when Kol held out a hand. "Don't," he told her in a low tone, his eyes never moving from the people in front of them, brow furrowed, head high, and eyes narrowed with his lips pressed together. He was paying close attention to the red-headed Elder whom had been in charge of the Harvest. Then, his expression cleared and a charming smile overtook his features as he looked to Agnes. "To what do we owe the honor, darlings?"

Agnes took a step forward, the others staying back. Her eyes were on Davina for a moment before she met Kol's gaze. "We have come to tell you that we will not be hunting Davina any longer. The spirits came to us and have informed us that she is to keep the power she has for now. The Harvest will be held off."

The volatile Mikaelson's eyes narrowed once more as he listened to the carefully chosen words, turning them over in his head. He pulled Davina into his arms, still staring into Agnes's eyes. His voice was still faux-pleasant but laced with an undeniable threat as he replied, "And what happens when that power is no longer needed?" He could tell there was more to the story—witches he had come across in numerous countries used Harvest rituals. It was a very important one, meant to strengthen their connection to the ancestral spirits for magical purposes, generally to give them more power and keep the ancestors, who gave them that power, appeased. Considering it was done once every three hundred years, he knew they'd not forsake it for another three hundred years or even for a few months just for one mate—even if she was the mate of an Original. Witches, after all, could be quite helpful in taking an Original vampire down and, due to their relationship with nature, they were quite willing when it suited them.

However, hearing this was valuable. After all, what could Davina possibly need the power of three other witches for? And why had the spirits come to them to tell them this? He turned the thoughts about in his head then pushed them to the back of his mind. His eyebrow rose at Agnes when she gave no response, her eyes downcast and her heart rate peaking.

Davina sneered, voice hard when she answered for them. "When I'm no longer useful, you'll kill me, right?" She shook her head, shaking with fury. Kol held her tighter to him and pressed a kiss to her temple. He knew from the witches' reluctance that his clever little witch wasn't too far off the mark, though that was not the part of this that his mind was focused upon.

It was then that the red-head spoke, glancing at the others. "The spirits informed us that we were to bring her back after she is sacrificed," she said, eyes perusing as she looked at Davina without really seeing her. She shrugged her shoulders. "What they say we must do."

Davina didn't like the response though she was relieved that the ancestral spirits wouldn't let them kill her when she was no longer valuable. But she still wasn't about to trust any of the coven she had once belonged to. She looked around the room and spotted Bella and Camille speaking, so she tugged on his arm to pull him away. He acquiesced, his eyes dark and jaw set, muscles tensed. He eyed the witches as they passed them, the perfect picture of walking danger.

Meanwhile, Bella and Camille had struck up conversation. "So you're doing well then?" the blonde asked her as they each took a drink from a tray one of the many staff were carrying around.

Bella took a sip of the champagne and nodded, clutching it in both hands before her. "Yeah, I am." She looked down. "Look, I'm sorry about…"

Camille shook her head and laid a hand on her arm. "Please don't. It wasn't your fault. If the Volturi wanted to do something against Klaus they still would have used Marcel and me."

Bella nodded. "Still," she offered, leaving that hanging in the air for a moment before she grinned. "So I hear you're moving in with us then? Shall I give you some warnings before you pack your boxes?" She giggled at the muttering she heard from Rebekah from just a few yards away, winking at the blonde.

"Don't listen to her, darling. There's nothing for Bella to warn you about and Rebekah is just jealous—the strumpet," Kol said to both girls with a mischievous grin as he and Davina stopped at Bella's side. He ignored his sister's low growl, grinning wider at the feel of her glaring daggers into his back. He stuck out a hand to greet Camille, brushing a kiss to the back of her hand. "Kol Mikaelson."

"Camille O'Connell," Camille returned, sharing a look with Bella and making the young wolf laugh.

The expanded Mikaelson unit drifted throughout the room, greeting and mingling with guests as they waited for the Cold Ones to arrive. And thus, Bella was standing close to Nik, toward the center of the room, when the three Volturi leaders and a significant portion of their guard entered the compound.

Bella stiffened on his arm, swallowing as she clutched it. Her heart sped a little but she leaned in closer to her mate and allowed his light to flow through her, calming her and making the memories drift away again. Niklaus watched with interest; it appeared this was the connective trait announcing itself.

He, himself, had to hold on tight as his anger exploded, the wolf recognizing the traitors—the reasons why his mate almost died—and wanting to exact revenge without delay. He was infuriated as he remembered the ash of their guard member—one the Mikaelsons had not been informed of which was another direct betrayal—permeating the air of the cell Isabella had been held in as she unlocked the gene the first time, terrified and alone, unknowing as he had been.

Because of them.

He breathed in his mate's scent, drawing her close for a moment as he stared at the three leaders and fought to keep himself from slaughtering them all on sight. He could tell they were nervous, the extra number of guard as clear a hint as any. But the arrival of more members of their guard than had been expected was not having the intimidating or warning effect that Aro had perhaps been striving for. It had only added numbers to the amount that would be killed this night.

Under his breath for only his siblings to hear, he breathed the new plans. "Remove all guards with a known power including those bloody twins," he sneered as he watched Jane and Alec from a distance. "I want every member of the guard but for a select few dead. Be careful—if they lied about the tracker, they no doubt have lied about others as well. Be sure before you kill or spare them."

His siblings looked toward him and nodded once with solemn expressions before turning back to their conversations.

Bella was still staring at the Volturi. The dark influence inside her—the angry wolf—wanted to approach them, cause a spectacle, but she knew that Nik was going to have his fun tonight. She'd enjoy watching the revenge he had planned, having an idea of what it might be. Nik had quite the theatric and violent streaks after all.

But their presence in the compound enforced a line of thought that the wolf had been urging her on all week since awakening. Her brows furrowed as she looked away, her eyes taking in the rest of the room which was filled with vampires and witches. Nik had invited the bayou wolves but to his chagrin they hadn't replied in any form—even with the invitation stating her heritage. She had consoled him but knew her mate was determined enough to succeed eventually in getting in contact with the wolves. She was understanding; her own wolf was crying out for kin as well.

She grit her teeth against the need the wolf was pounding her with, the urge to just ask him making her lips fall open, the words on the tip of her tongue. But she couldn't, not here; she would wait until after the party. Instead, she turned into him and whispered against his cheek, lips brushing his ear, "I'm going to speak with them," and then she disappeared toward them before he could say anything on the matter. A waiter walked passed and she grabbed a flute of champagne.

Klaus grit his teeth and kept the growl in his chest low, glaring daggers toward his mate's back. He didn't want her anywhere near the Volturi if he could help it, but his mate was bloody stubborn and thus he knew he'd not be able to persuade her otherwise.

"Niklaus," Elijah called in a warning tone under his breath, making Klaus look up at his brother, jaw clenched and eyes flashing gold. "It is good for her to confront them. It shows no weakness—quite the opposite in fact—and that is our goal tonight. Given what we are about to face, the world needs to know that you have not been weakened by your mate and that she is the perfect match for you. This paves the way for allies in our coming war. Remember that, brother."

Klaus nodded, his face still dark as he turned on his heel and walked upstairs to watch from afar with the perfect view. He grabbed a flute of champagne and downed it in one go then put it back on the tray, wishing he had something stronger. With how angry he was in that moment, his bloodlust was barely under control—and Nik felt no need to control himself most of the time.

Bella was no longer nervous as she approached the hoard of Cold Ones. She smirked and rose an eyebrow as two guard members stepped forward upon meeting her eye, and she cocked her head as the raven-haired Aro—the ring leader of the Volturi triad—waved them back with a short motion of his hand. Sick, misogynistic pests, their whole damned species was.

A delighted grin graced her lips as she came to a stop in front of them, remembering Rebekah's words of encouragement as she acted cool. "Aro, Caius, Marcus," she said in greeting, voice warm but still aloof as she nodded to each of them.

Marcus nodded back, his eyes drifting while Caius sneered at her. It was Aro's rather flamboyant response that made her eye muscles twitch and her hand flex at her side. "Ah, Isabella! Such a delight to meet the girl that has both vampire species in such a state!" He took her hand in his cold one, Bella just able to withhold her disgust as he brought it to his lips. His eyes were dancing with childlike joy, though Bella could see the anxiety in his demeanor, the way his eyes flashed edgily around the room when Klaus's chest vibrated with a possessive growl. At the sound, he dropped her hand and stepped back while the young wolf grinned.

"I'd like to say the same, but…" she trailed off, exhaling as her eyes once again drifting over the group. She shrugged her shoulders and grinned once more, inclining her head. "After my recent experience with one of your guard members, I find it impossible to be pleased to make your acquaintance."

"Ah, yes, bella mia," Aro gushed and Bella tensed at the familiarity, the joking tone of his voice. She hated it already, the wolf recognizing the threat of the other species of vampire in ways she never had with the Originals. "I am quite sorry for that, but you must understand we had no choice. Our laws dictate our actions."

Bella hummed, her eyes narrowing and the threat clear in her faint, thinking tone. "Strange… I would have thought your rather more powerful allegiances would dictate that." She rose an eyebrow. "After all, we all know who truly rules your kind, don't we?" The grin on her face was patronizing but she was thoroughly enjoying herself, a malicious glint in her eyes. She could not wait to see—

"Silence, if you please."

Her mate's charming, accented voice pierced through the compound and she turned to look at him, stepping away from the Cold Ones in front of her. Klaus's eyes connected with hers and she grinned, looking forward to the moment they had been waiting for.

Klaus looked down upon the audience in front of him, his siblings at his side and waiting for his signal. Davina was with Camille downstairs, not too far from Bella and the Volturi. His eyes connected with his mate's again for but a moment and they twinkled with anticipation. Then he turned his gaze to the rest of the guests, a pleasant smile on his lips as he raised his champagne flute. Though he was only naming the vampires, every witch listened, knowing his words served as a warning for them as well. "Let us begin with a toast to our shared gifts... immortality... After a thousand years, one might expect life to be less keenly felt, for its beauties and its sorrows to diminish with time. But as vampires, we feel more deeply than humans can possibly imagine. Insatiable need. Exquisite pain. Our victories and our defeats..." His eyes had roamed over all in the room, the grin on his face as he held his flute up high widening as his voice dipped. "And yet there is but one rare, extraordinary privilege that can truly impact us in ways not even the supernatural can fully comprehend—a mate." His eyes sought out Isabella; the look they shared was soft and meant for just them. "At long last, we can announce that this is a pleasure my brother, Kol, and I have come to know. Isabella, Davina, loves, if you would join us," he asked and he inclined his head as he grinned at Bella as Kol gestured for Davina, his voice sultry to her as she licked her lips.

The two brunettes made their own way to their mate's side in slow steps that echoed on the stone ground. Isabella reached for Niklaus's hand as she finally made it to his side and Klaus wrapped his right arm around her, left still holding his champagne. There were murmurs flooding the room at this point, and Klaus stayed silent a few moments as all eyes were on the two girls. He then spoke again. "A thousand years on this earth is a very long time. In all of our years there is but one thing that our family stands by and that is one another." He glanced at his siblings, raising his glass. "Always and forever," he said, his voice softened just a little for them to know the sentiment was not for show. Each Mikaelson dipped their head and saluted him, murmuring the words back, pleasant grins on their faces as they presented the united front they now were to the rest of their world.

Klaus's tone darkened a little even as his expression cleared, becoming a little innocent perhaps, the tone of his voice still light even as his words held a certain weight to them when he spoke again. "And thus, when a member of this family is threatened or harmed, we do take action. Do recall the stories of my brother Kol, my sister Rebekah… myself, even the noble Elijah… having slaughtered countless in the name of protecting this family. To the story of 1864 for our eldest brother if you haven't heard it," he said with a grin. The Mikaelson brother in question stared ahead, passive, as his brother grinned at him, but moments later he smirked as he looked down at his glass. He raised his head to make eye contact with the Volturi members. His cold smirk grew at their fear and he cocked his head just a little to the left, raising an eyebrow as he turned his attention back onto his Niklaus. "It is now as we find my mate, Isabella, in her own war against a Cold One connection she does not want that it is especially gratifying to know that you are surrounded by those you can trust. For, as we all know, in times of war treachery does run very deep." His eyes met with Aro's and the Cold Ones froze, seeming to comprehend what was about to occur. As the three leaders moved leave and the guards fluctuated, the Mikaelson siblings except for Klaus disappeared in a blur downstairs, cornering them.

Sounds of shock and the beginnings of terror filled the courtyard as the siblings held members of the Volturi guard, ready for Niklaus's word. The Hybrid looked down upon those around him and spoke, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize for the disturbance. But for the traitors within the room, I would like you to know… your ends here, tonight…" the grin on his face turned malicious as his eyes flashed, and his voice was aloof and proud, "they will be spectacular."

It was with that simple line and Klaus's malicious grin that the Mikaelsons ripped into the Cold Ones, the screeches of their bodies being ripped apart causing screams of fright and murmurs throughout the crowd as all watched the warning. As Davina joined in, using her power to bring the Cold Ones to their knees, the message was clear.

To attempt harm was to forfeit your own life.

With the grin still on his face, Klaus's eyes met with Aro's wide and frightened ones, a cold gleam within them as he left his mate's side and descended the steps. The audience watched on, murmuring and speculating.

All pretense was gone now as Klaus glared at the three Volturi leaders with his Hybrid visage out for all to see, nostrils flared, head cocked and lips twisted in a cruel smile as he stalked toward them. His hands were at his sides, his lips pressed together as he reached the bottom of the steps. He took a moment to watch his siblings—Elijah had removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, Kol likewise, to avoid getting Cold One venom on their suits. Their visages were out and mouths open, faces snarled in anger as they ripped through the lesser, younger species muscle as if they were butter. The cracked, mangled bodies fell to the ground and Davina raised her arms, chanting words and igniting fire for Rebekah to throw the bodies into, her own grin on her face as she enjoyed getting revenge for her sister's ordeal. She looked up at Bella and the brunette smiled and nodded before she heard Klaus on the move again.

From then on her attention was solely on him as she leaned against the balcony, her eyes and the lick of her lips telling of how enthralled she was by her mate. She'd never seen him in action before and god was he a sight to behold.

"Aro," Klaus greeted, his tone cold as the grin he gave the man. It fell from his lips just as fast and turned into a sneer as the Greek took a fearful step back. "It seems that we have to remind you of your place," he said, inclining his head and raising his eyebrows. "I was quite… upset to hear that a tracker had joined your ranks and you never told us. I was also quite upset to hear that you used Marcel's mate and pitted him against me to bring my mate back to Volterra and into the Cullen family's possession." He stepped forward until he was toe to toe with the older Cold One, his head tilted back as he regarded him with calculating eyes. "You are lucky tonight. Had you succeeded in taking my mate from me and placing her in that child's hands, your entire city would be burned to the ground; but, since your secret tracker was too incompetent, it appears your lives are safe… for now."

Aro went to say something, perhaps beg for understanding… but he was interrupted by the pale blond beside him, who was sneering despite his own fear as he stepped forward and dared to challenge the Original Hybrid. "You think you can defeat us, Niklaus? Defeat the Emperors of the superior race? You are nothing but a bastard, a coward!" Caius hissed.

Isabella's growl echoed through the compound and Niklaus chuckled, the sound cold and hard, sending shivers of horror down the spine of every being who heard it but Bella's—hers was a shiver of delight before she calmed herself, clenching the wooden balcony railing in her hands as she breathed hard, nostrils flaring. In a split second, the Original Hybrid's visage returned and he grabbed the Cold One by the throat, forcing him onto his knees, the struggle he gave nothing when pitted against the strongest and most deadly being on earth. With ease, he ripped his head off at the jaw and threw him into the fire. It was then that he turned back to Aro and Marcus, the two bewildered as they stared at the place their fallen brother had taken up but moments before. "You would do well to remember what has happened here should we meet again. I expect all of your kind to hear of this within a week—and you can be sure that we will know if you dare to defy us again. We will not be so forgiving a second time."

Aro was the first to recover, swallowing as his red eyes moved to meet with Klaus's. "Of course, Niklaus… If you would permit it, I believe it is time we take our leave," he said, voice faint, almost disbelieving. His eyes met Marcus's slowly but it was only at the Hybrid's nod and tight smile that they turned, leaving without a word and with but two of the fourteen members of guard they'd arrived with. Their entourage had been quartered in mere minutes.

The rest of the bodies were dealt with and then the Mikaelsons, having fixed their appearances, took to the floor beside Davina and Bella. Klaus made it to his mate's side and resumed his hold around her waist as the guests below took moments to recover. His own attention was on Isabella, whose eyes were glazed over, her face flushed.

"I want you to change me," she breathed, pulling her eyes away from the chaos below and swallowing as she turned to face her mate, a definitive hunger, a lust for him, in her eye. Seeing him in that frame of mind—oozing danger with precision as he withstood opponents—was like a powerful, hypnotizing drug, and she could not control herself around him. She stepped closer, pressing her lips against his neck, knowing that despite the inappropriate setting he could not push her away. For, as much as she was drugged by him, he was the very same. "Tonight. I want you to make me a hybrid tonight after the ball."

Klaus swallowed and leaned back to study her, his brow furrowing and eyes narrowing in suspicion at her strange request even as his wolf applauded the idea. He went to speak when the upset below at last concluded and the two broke apart and looked back down. He grinned and raised his glass. "To my city, my home again... may the blood never cease to flow." All took a sip of their drinks, the vampires in particular enthusiastic while the small group of witches, uneasy in the presence of so many foe, simply watched. Kol grinned down at them, raising his glass in a salute before downing the contents.

"If you are so inclined, I urge you to find yourselves a partner and enjoy a dance," Nik finished his speech in a pleasant way—as if the violence that every present guest had just witnessed never happened.

The guests were slow to do as he suggested while each Mikaelson took their partner—the younger two brothers with their mates while Rebekah was arm in arm with Elijah—down to partake in the festivities themselves.

Klaus guided Bella, lifting her arms to grasp her hand, the other wrapping around her waist and pulling her close but still at a respectable distance. Their eyes connected and never strayed as Nik began to twirl them in a sweeping waltz.

Midnight blew in through the compound as they danced around the room. They continued, drowning in the other's eyes. They ached to hold each other closer.

Kol had fun twirling a laughing Davina, a genuine smile on his lips. This put pleased smiles on his siblings' faces as they watched their brother, never having known him to be this content.

Rebekah made herself focus on that rather than her own thoughts as she conversed with the eldest. She did not want to dwell on how much she would have preferred being in her mate's arms than her brother's.

It was far easier for Elijah, who had been down this road much longer and thus was already accustomed to being without his mate when he'd rather her over any other. Even with the mention earlier of that dark year—the worst of his one thousand years—bringing his thoughts back to her, he pushed them back and concentrated on their heartbeat, their connective trait. He felt it flutter and relaxed, a smile on his lips as his mate sensed his need for comfort and gave it with the steady and strong beat.

Before long, the guests began to disperse, and they waved goodbye to Marcel and Camille, who made plans with Nik to move within the coming week, both happy to have this chance.

Rebekah was the first to go upstairs, her gloomy thoughts too much as she looked down at her glittering green dress. Her throat clawed with pain and tears threatened to expel from her eyes as she drew herself a hot bath before going to bed.

Elijah, too, departed for his room, as well as a tired Davina with Kol in tow. This left Isabella and Niklaus alone in the courtyard.

Isabella's head was lying on Nik's chest, her eyes closed as he swayed them, long ago having dropped her hand and taken her in both arms. There was a smile on his lips at such a productive and enjoyable night. But now that they were alone, he wanted to ask her the question dripping from his lips for the past hours since she'd begged. The memory of her breathless voice speaking words he'd hoped he would one day soon hear propelled him into action. "Why do you want to become a hybrid now?"

Bella sighed and lifted her head from his chest, wrapping her arms around his neck. She looked into his eyes, an almost shy smile on her lips as she thought through her response—it was endearing, Nik thought with a growing smile. "My wolf… It's strange having this beast inside you trying to direct your every action, huh?" she started and Klaus chuckled, nodding and waiting for her to continue. She looked down. "I guess… my wolf has been begging to be closer to you, to mark you—this entire week has been so hard because I can't do that. And I need it, I really do, but I know we have to somehow get rid of this connection I feel to Edward." She sighed, shoulders sagging, making Nik frown.

"Talk to me, love," he urged her in a soft tone Bella always found difficult to refuse.

"I just," she mumbled, swallowing, fisting the lapels of his jacket. "I can't explain it, Nik. I need it. I need you to change me and I have no idea why. Every time you bite me when we're—" she grinned but it was fleeting "—every time the wolf inside screams for me to drink your blood, for you to snap my neck. I can't explain it but it's this drive, this constant keen inside for you to do it. After tonight I just—I can't hold it in any longer." She looked into his eyes with her brown orbs wide open, the desperation clear. "Please," she whispered, "please, please, please, please, please…"

Klaus leaned in and kissed her roughly on the lips, pulling her in close for a brief moment before looking into her eyes, serious. "Tonight?" he asked her.

She grinned and nodded, leaning in close, hold on him tightening. "Now…?" 

His answer was to lift her in his arms and speed the both of them up to his rooms, pressing her into the door as he devoured her mouth for the countless time in the week gone past. He was addicted to her heady scent and taste, the air swirling with their desire as they panted into one another's mouths, unable to handle separating, unable to get enough of her, getting high on the perfume, on the taste, of her.

Desperation driving her, Bella's fingers were making quick work of the tux, ripping fabric as she removed first his jacket and then his shirt before dropping his trousers. Klaus wasn't any better with the dress—while gorgeous on her, he preferred her in nothing and he hadn't the patience to handle it with care. It lay a little ripped on the floor after he threw it away.

He grabbed her underneath her thighs and lifted her, his visage coming forth as she hit the back of the closed door with a thud and a rush of breath escaped her parted lips. Bella licked them, every move meant to be seductive as she challenged him, her head back against the door. She bit her lip, knowing how it affected him. His wolf and his vampire were pleased by her request, and he was more than willing to give her what she wanted so badly. He plunged into her, his lips never leaving her skin. His movements were frantic and so were hers, her over-used voice growing hoarse as he fucked her into the door as if possessed. Their climax was quick, but this time he did not remark her—instead he bit into his wrist, eyes connecting with hers and, despite how sexually charged the moment still was, it felt right and perfect when he placed his wrist to her mouth and she began to take in his blood, holding his stare.

Bella moaned and drank his addictive blood. She could feel its power singing in her veins, feel her wolf howling in delight, her whole body trembling from the moment; something inside her was changing even before Klaus pressed his lips to hers and kissed her in a far more sweeter way than before, a hand coming to rest against the side of her thin neck, cupping it in his hand for a moment before his grip tightened for but a second before he flicked his wrist and then she felt nothing.

But she never hit the ground as his grip on her tightened. He pulled her away from the door and laid her down on their bed, getting in beside her though he knew he'd not be sleeping.

By morning, his mate would wake up as the one other hybrid in the world.

~TPoL~

In Mystic Falls, Virginia, the bar door opened and in blew the scent that every vampire of the Original species screwed their noses up to.

Cold One.

Damon took a swig of his bourbon, looking toward the door as unfamiliar faces walked through the threshold. His intense ice-blue eyes were thoughtful and narrowed in suspicion as the seven people who'd just entered made their way toward him. The scents were known but he'd never seen these people before in his life.

He stood from his leaning pose against the bar and crossed his arms over his chest, head back and eyes narrowed as he watched them, curious of their motives but wary.

"Damon Salvatore?" a musical voice intoned.

"Yeah, that's me," he said, cocking his head to the side as his eyes roved over his sudden company. "I'm more interested in who you are."

Lips twisted into a smirk and crazed golden eyes raised to meet the elder Salvatore, bronze hair and stone features haggard. "Let's just say that we have interests that align with yours. My family and I think we could be of mutual benefit to one another."

Damon snorted, not believing that for a second. He widened his eyes and pressed his lips in a line, shrugging. "Not interested," he told Sparkles and he turned to leave.

But words from the same mouth stopped him in his tracks. "So you're not interested in taking down Klaus Mikaelson and finding Silas's cure then?"

Damon sighed and looked down, clenching his jaw as he spun back around and plastered a smile on his face. "It seems we do have to talk," he told them. "I'm Damon."

"Edward Cullen," Sparkles said and he grasped Damon's hand and shook it quickly once. "Now if you'd like to find a more convenient venue, I have some information and a plan that might help us both."

Damon smirked and nodded, thinking as he turned and walked out of the bar, motioning for them to follow.

He was hoping this would knock the grief out of Elena and give her some hope. Maybe the illusive cure wasn't so impossible to find after all. One could only hope, though Damon didn't care what it took just so long as the end result was the same.

Because for her, for his mate, he would do anything.

Chapter Text

Imagine Dragons ~ Radioactive

Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It's a revolution, I suppose
We'll paint it red to fit right in
Whoa

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

All systems go, the sun hasn't died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive


Chapter 11—Radioactive


 

"Just how exactly are we going to find a thousand year old pile of bones here?" asked one of the younger witches as she looked around the empty forest. The turn of her lips and scrunched nose denoted her disdain, as did her tone when she spoke to no one in particular.

Unfortunately for her, she was answered by Sophie Deveraux, who was walking alongside her sister, the both of them rolling their eyes. Sophie turned to her, a cool look on her face. "If you had been listening you would know that the ancestor left a mark so we'd find the site relatively easy considering we're too far out to use magic. All you have to do is look." The word rolled off of her tongue as she raised an eyebrow then turned to smirk and roll her eyes again at her sister.

At their ages—older than the little witch who'd spoken—they knew better than to question the will of the ancestors. There were, after all, always consequences.

And it was for that precise reason that the entire coven had listened when one ancestor approached the Elders through use of a spell. Said ancestor had ordered them to turn their cheek against the Harvest and its missing girl, Davina Claire, for the time being—even though this was an order that upset the Deveraux sisters and those members of the community close to the fallen three witches sacrificed for what seemed now to be no reason. Jane-Anne and Sophie wanted Monique back and back now rather than later. But they had to wait, and wait they would, for neither had the courage to evoke the anger of the ancestors on a topic that held so much importance.

Although, as Sophie Deveraux had pointed out to her elder sister, that did not mean they had to lay down and take it. Thus the two girls had been in a foul mood since the reveal of the new plans the night before the Mikaelson Ball.

And what a doozy that show had been.

The wispy sound of their movement through tall grass stopped when the two Elders at the front of the herd halted in the middle of the open field, right in the center of the forest. The group of perhaps twenty witches behind them stopped as well and watched, speaking in whispers as they waited for the older women to speak. They were not left waiting for long as Bastianna and Agnes continued walking then turned some yards away. The red-head raised her chin as she spoke in a loud voice. "Our ancestor spoke and asked that we resurrect a fallen werewolf on this night. You are all familiar with the Original witch's resurrection spell, I trust?" At the harmonious nod of twenty heads, Bastianna continued. "Good; that is the spell we will use tonight once we have located the bones and brought them back to Lafayette Cemetery."

"What's the nexus vorti?" Jane-Anne Devereaux asked as she and her younger sister stood with their arms crossed over their chests.

"We will harness the power of the Comet Ison," Agnes answered with patience, glancing at Bastianna as she stepped forward.

Another young witch asked her own question, features scrunched up in confusion. "How is this comet a miracle?" She had been under the impression that it was a supernatural miracle needed for power and if they were to resurrect a werewolf who had been dead a thousand years, then they would need a lot of power.

Sophie sighed, making her more even-tempered sister look over at her and step closer to rest a restraining hand on her arm. Neither wanted to be here in the first place, still sore over the fact that the Harvest Ritual would be held off but, unlike her sister, Jane-Anne had taken it in stride as much as she could, satisfied enough with the reassurance Bastianna and Agnes had given her that the Harvest would go ahead as soon as it was allowed and they would indeed be reunited with Monique, despite Kol Mikaelson's troublesome words that the Elders—or, at the very least, Bastianna—were not going to bring the girls back. Sophie was of a different mind all together; she was still immensely distrustful of the Elders after what the youngest Mikaelson brother had said. After all, Kol was notorious for his good relationship and knowledge of witches and their craft all around the world and one hundred years ago, he'd apparently even mentored a number of New Orleans witches. With that knowledge, it was difficult to so much as be in the Elders' presence and remain calm. Thus, if they were going to do this, Sophie wanted to get it over with. She turned to the younger witch. "This comet only comes around every ten million years or so and we'll probably never see it again. If that isn't miraculous, I don't know what is," the brunette said, a raised eyebrow and crossed arms completing her picture of supremacy. Then she turned back to the two Elders facing her and the rest of the present coven. "Can we get this over with now?" she asked with steel in her voice as she ignored her sister's hushed urgings to quiet.

The Elders' eyebrows rose at her tone but they said nothing. Instead, they turned toward the rest of the field, their keen though aged eyes taking in all they could see as they felt for the magic of the ancestor's presence. Despite the distance from their center of power, it was easy to find. "Come this way," Agnes said and the group approached a tree at the far edge of the forest, standing a few yards away.

"As we cannot use our powers, we will have to dig his bones out," Bastianna said, and the witches set to work. Sooner rather than later, bones were uncovered and the red-headed Elder nodded at the Deveraux sisters. They wrapped the bones in sheets and carried them between themselves back to the road.

The crowd dispersed to a multitude of cars before they drove toward the French Quarter. Each witch worked in quiet harmony to gather everything needed and bring it all, along with the bones, within the gates of the City of the Dead, their actions methodical as two witches set the bones on fire to gather the ashes and captured them using the magic they now had access to within the Quarter. Once that job was complete, the Deveraux sisters drew a circle on the floor while the Elders passed off the ashes onto a few of the younger girls, who dusted them into a smaller circle within the confines of the one the Deverauxs had drawn.

Once ready, the coven linked hands—Esther Mikaelson had been powerful enough to perform the spell on her own given her lineage but the ancestor had specified the need for perhaps twenty witches to perform the spell to balance out the power and make sure none suffered from any ill effects that could have been caused.

As one, they chanted the incantation, drawing on the power of Comet Ison.

"La cendre à l'os, de la chair à la vie. De la cendre à l'os, de la chair à la vie. From ash to bone, from bone to flesh, from flesh to life!" the band of witches called. Despite their precautions, the witches fell unconscious just as well-built limbs and an as-well-built torso then a grizzled face, worn by the hard conditions of Middle Age wartime, became of the ash and dust.

Blue eyes popped open and a rasping breath was drawn into lungs that had not breathed air on this plane for one thousand years, the power of new life singing deep in his bones as he woke. The return of his werewolf instincts took his breath away as a growl ripped from the man's throat and he leapt up, standing at his full height of just a little over six feet. His eyes took in the cemetery around him before he looked down at the twenty bodies surrounding him.

A message that had gone unnoticed by the witches was left written on paper. It was trapped by stones and sitting perched on the closest tombstone to his right. He reached down and took it, eyes narrowed as he read—a thousand years on the Other Side and adaption to some things was in no way difficult even as the ways of his own time stayed ingrained within him. Once he was done, his head whipped up to take in his surroundings once more, his wolf on edge inside of him as it picked up on an impulse he'd felt in his previous life but had promised to ignore. After his death, he had been released from his word, able to give in, spending almost every waking moment watching. But he could not give in now; the urge to encounter when he was unsure he'd be allowed to stay—no matter what the note said—would destroy him.

He pushed the thoughts away and sat down on the stone covering the grave next to him, waiting for the witches to awaken. Gripping the parchment in his hands tightly, he re-read the words again and again, his impatience reaching new heights each time.

Welcome to the new age, Alpha.

The witches unconscious at your feet will explain everything if you wait for them to wake up.

You are under no threat and will be united with the one you have longed to meet.

~ MAC

~TPoL~

Elijah sighed as he leaned against the wall separating him from his Hybrid brother and his mate, waiting for his other siblings to appear. By now, all were aware of last night's happenings once they'd departed and thus they were prepared but concerned. One question was resounding through all three Original's minds.

Rebekah was the first to arrive, her hands clenched into fists at her side and face closed off in her anger as she stalked to her older brother's side. Stopping by the door, she could not help the persistent tapping of her foot against the wooden floor. They were waiting for a far more sluggish Kol, the blonde Original vibrating with need to see her dead sister and reassure herself with the knowledge that everything would be okay.

I swear, if this is another of Nik's self-destructive phases I will bloody—

"Sister, I suggest you wipe the glower off your face before we go in…" Kol's words rang through the hall as he turned the corner, a grin on his face though it didn't quite meet his eyes and both knew he was worried as well. "I don't think Nik would take kindly to it given the circumstances—"

A growl ripping from Rebekah's throat told each brother just how bloody much she cared about what Nik would take kindly to and she turned her gaze on Elijah, taking in his grim expression with a sigh. "She has begun the transition then?" Rebekah asked the one question she did know the answer to, her hair flowing down her back, arms crossed over her chest, eyes tight and jaw clenched.

"Indeed," Elijah replied, though his concern matched Rebekah's. "Though I have no clue how he proposes to have her complete transition. You said you destroyed the last of Elena's blood that Niklaus had in his possession?" He rose an eyebrow, his mind wandering to ponder just why the female may have done that though he was quite sure he knew the answer. To ask would but induce more ire he did not want to face at this point in time.

The door opened and their brother stood in the shadows of a blackened room, hand still gripping the door handle as he looked between the three of them. "Not quite," Klaus replied in a tone that gave nothing away. Then he spun to return to Isabella's side, leaving Elijah to frown slightly and swallow, teeth gritting in preparation. It was going to be one of those days. He motioned for his siblings to enter the pitch dark chamber before he did, Rebekah marching in to see how her sister was fairing. She glared at her Hybrid brother. Though the room was without light for Bella—so as not to overwhelm her when she woke with all the new sensations racing through her body—it did nothing for their eyesight, Klaus fully capable of seeing the glare sent his way.

"How the bloody hell is she going to properly transition, Nik?" she asked, her voice loud and commanding an answer. It had little effect on her older brother, who rolled his eyes at her dramatics as he turned to his sister, halting her before she could continue her rant.

"Obviously, Rebekah, I have more of the doppelgänger's blood," he said, raising an eyebrow at her. There was a light smirk playing the corners of his lips as his sister's eyes widened then narrowed. The blonde Barbie Klaus, as she had been dubbed before, clenched her jaw to trap the growl building in her throat as she stared at her brother in disbelief, sinking with grace into the chair on the other side of the bed.

Kol had a grin on his face, amused by the two blonds of the family, whereas Elijah stood close to the door, both hands in his suit pockets as he peered at his brother. "How exactly did you come into possession of it?"

"You are no fool, brother. Surely you can work it out," Klaus said, growing frustrated by his siblings and their questions. At least Kol had been wise enough to keep his bloody mouth shut.

It was Rebekah who first responded, her tone incredulous and tinged with more than just a little outrage. "You hid it!"

Klaus's smirk was full blown as he turned to his sister. "Of course I did," he told her in a smug tone—as if the words alone were not enough to enrage the blonde further.

Her features twisted into a picture of fury, eyes darkening a little as her visage peeked through. She jolted up out of her chair and stepped forward. "You bloody—"

Elijah stepped forward and spoke over their sister, knowing the word about to come out of her mouth just as he knew the understandable reaction that word would garner from their half-brother. Ever the one to try to maintain peace and preserve his siblings' sensibilities, he steered the conversation away from Rebekah's ire and more to the curious question now playing on his own mind. "Why would you do that?" He watched his brother for any reaction.

Kol scoffed and smirked, turning from the lot because he already knew the answer and thought the question was preposterous. He may not have spent much time with his siblings between long stretches in a box and his travels visiting witch covens around the world, but he was aware of his siblings and their tendencies all the same. It took a paranoid brother to know one; Niklaus and he were far more alike than either cared to admit aloud.

Niklaus's eyes narrowed and his tone was somewhat bitter even as his expression grew stony. "Before recently, I had little reason to believe so whole-heartedly that my siblings would not betray me. Kol has done so before, as have you, Elijah, and I knew of Rebekah's feelings… thus, of course I had a contingency plan." The three brothers ignored Rebekah's muted growl and mutterings about the "paranoid wanker" as Niklaus spoke over the top of her with a raised eyebrow. His tone was dark when he spoke again, his eyes having escaped to his mate, the words ringing true just from recent events alone. "I may be powerful but I am also hated." He turned to Kol. "Where's Davina?"

"She's with Marcel and don't try to change the subject," Rebekah demanded with vehemence, a fire in her eyes as she stood. Her hands were on her hips as she glared at him. "I cannot believe you hid this from us." Unspoken were the added words "from me;" the sister who had stuck by him for the past thousand years without fail. She had never left his side despite daggerings and killed beaus even as Elijah had.

Elijah was consumed by his own thoughts, his eyes narrowed as he regarded his half-brother. The 'tainted' blood had never meant anything to any of the Mikaelson siblings as much as it had to Niklaus; having grown with him, they ignored it for the most part, in fact. He drew in a deep breath and stepped forward as Klaus's eyes flashed and he rose to reply to their sister, the eldest surviving brother's cool tone washing over them like a wet blanket to fire. "You kept the blood hidden so that you could change your mate were you to ever find her," he stated, his tone slow and thoughtful as he regarded the younger with new eyes. "Isn't that right, brother?"

Klaus looked away, back to Isabella, but the stiffening of his shoulders and clenching of his jaw, the sight of his eyes hardening to an impenetrable, unclear ocean in the moment before they were removed from Elijah's sight gave the rest of them the answer they sought.

Kol cocked his head to the side. "How could you have been so sure your mate would be a wolf?" he asked Nik, his eyes narrowed as he thought. His mind was racing and buzzing with questions, calling for an inquisition of his own.

Klaus's head turned back to the younger brunet. "Given the discord Mikael caused between the wolves and vampires after killing my entire pack when he found out about my true parentage, it is a logical assumption. I've never heard of any vampire mating with a werewolf. Have you?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at the end, his expression clear in telling his siblings that he was both not in the mood for this conversation and not prepared to admit anymore.

Kol didn't care.

He studied his brother while he rose an eyebrow of his own, lips twisted in stubborn disbelief. "But you're also a hybrid," the brunet countered. "Half werewolf... half vampire."

"Doesn't. Matter," Klaus spat, voice dark. He stood roughly from his seat, causing the chair he'd been sitting in to skid into the wall, that tell-tale anger bubbling within and threatening to explode like a volcano. Sensing that dangerous ire, Rebekah swallowed while the two male Mikaelsons remained impassive and closed-off against it, though a small amount of fear pooled in Kol's eyes making Klaus growl in frustration when he saw it. "I said I wouldn't bloody dagger you again, Kol!"

Kol bristled, anger causing his jaw to lock. His voice was quiet and distant when he replied with: "Well, I guess you're not the only one who has trust issues in this family, Nik."

Elijah stiffened and stepped forward whilst Klaus looked away, eyes tight as he swallowed. Rebekah turned her attention to the still-unconscious girl laying in the bed to whom they should have been giving their attention in the first place, her blue eyes sad.

"Kol—" the blond brother began in a murmur, his head turning just a little back to look at the youngest Mikaelson brother, but Kol shook his head and was about to begin a rightful tirade… only to be interrupted when Isabella's eyes snapped open and she gasped in a breath.

Bella's head lifted off the pillow underneath it as she tried to breathe, filling her lungs and then letting it out in a quick rush. Her actions were sluggish when she looked around the room as she sat up. Her eyes were quick to fall on her mate and she whimpered as now both the wolf and the new vampire inside her called out for him. They seemed to know something she did not.

Klaus snarled at her discomfort. Curbing his fiery impulses, he grit his teeth as he forced himself to speak in low tones so as not to cause the just-woken hybrid more pain. "Leave us," he breathed to his siblings, eyes never wavering from his mate, nostrils flared. The sole sign of their departure was the light breeze which was accompanied by whoosh sounds. Even that was too much for the girl and she turned on her side as her hands raised to clamp over her ears. A low whine left her, tears beginning to flow down her cheeks and, in that moment, Niklaus knew he'd been right to lower all the blinds; she was struggling enough as it was without harsh light.

"Bella, love," Klaus whispered and, though pained, Bella dove for him as she felt the bed dip when he sat on it. The Original Hybrid caught his vulnerable mate and pulled her in. His arms closed tight around her form, his lips pressed against her forehead. He did nothing but hold her for a time, both hybrids sitting with their eyes closed as the younger relaxed, her mate's light scaring away the pain and new sensations to a less-overwhelming presence in the back of her mind. Eventually, Niklaus was too unsettled and he drew back to look with tender and understanding eyes—a look not many knew from him—as he pressed a palm to her cheek. "Sweetheart, let me get the blood for you to complete transition."

At the mention of it, the ache built within her and her mouth opened as her visage shifted just a tad. She looked up at him with wide eyes but he grinned and kissed her then disappeared. Bella breathed in and out as she settled back against the pillows, but Nik was already back by the time her head hit them.

He took the blood bag and made a slit, watching with avid attention for Bella's reaction. It was instant as her breath hitched and she swallowed then cried out as her fangs pierced through her gums and lengthened for the first time, black veins swimming under her amber eyes as she looked up at Klaus with unadulterated hunger. She panted, a whine mingling with the sound as his grip tightened on the glass and he raised an eyebrow telling her to wait. She did so though both were surprised by her restraint. Klaus smiled at her, seeming to be pleased.

When he was finished, he binned the bag and sat on the bed again, reaching up to capture his thumb between his lips to suck away errant blood drops. Bella growled at the action, coveting both the blood and him but he chuckled, smirking, and lifted the glass to her lips. "Doppelgänger blood," he informed her as he pressed the cool glass to her lips. "Drink, love."

She did as told, moaning and clenching her hands in fists as her whole body slumped in pleasure at the first taste of the blood. Klaus chuckled and licked his lips as his body reacted to his mate's pleasure. "She does taste exquisite, doesn't she?" he asked and the moan he received was more than enough of an answer.

Bella took the glass from his hand when it was finished, licking her lips and swallowing to get it all before she let her head fall right back, tilting the glass, arching for the very last drop. Klaus's eyes trailed down her body as she did that and the sheet fell, revealing her naked torso. A wicked grin darkening his features, he surged forward, throwing away the glass and ignoring when it shattered against the wall. He pulled her in and lowered them onto the bed, mouths ravaging as their bodies joined. The conversation Niklaus was supposed to have with his mate about being a hybrid and all it entailed was no longer important as they were consumed by one another.

"Bloody hell," they heard a female voice mutter before she exclaimed much louder over the sounds of pleasure and breaking furniture echoing through the walls, "they're at it again!"

~TPoL~

The eyes of seven Cold Ones watched Damon Salvatore's every move as he poured himself and his mate, Elena, a drink before sitting down on the couch across from them. Their friends stood around them but their penetrating gazes did not affect the Cullens at all as Edward leaned forward.

"It is my understanding that you want to awaken the powerful Silas for the cure, yes?" he began, his crazed eyes eager as they flashed from face to face. He was irritated that he couldn't read a single mind of the Original vampires he was sitting across from, the frustration worse considering the added threat of their superior strength. However, he had learned due to his mate how to read people and thus he did not miss the brightening of the doppelgänger's eyes.

"That's right," Damon replied, not giving in to the urge to look down at his mate or pull her close as he felt her tension as well as her hope. He could not afford to give away that his words were only a half truth given the fact that Silas was very much awake already. He perused the Cold Ones to distract himself only for his head to cock to the side as a question came to mind. He met Edward's posture as he leaned forward as well, putting his glass down on the coffee table all the while holding the amber gaze. "The question is why do you want the cure?" he asked with a smirk, his arms outstretched as he shrugged. "What's your problem with Klaus?"

Edward gritted his teeth and his head twitched in his father's direction, indicating for the blond to speak. A pleasant smile blessed the doctor's face as he sat forward. His warm voice would have set any human at ease but these were vampires of the so-called 'superior' race and they were used to reading between the lines of Cold One manipulation. "My son's mate has recently fled and we have come to understand that she has found her mate in the Original Hybrid."

Caroline's breath hitched and she inhaled sharply, spinning and leaving the room. Stefan followed after her in worry—though not before glancing at his brother.

"How is that possible?" Elena asked in husky tones, features pinched in confusion as she looked between them, her arms crossed over her chest. She leaned into Damon's side, having felt through their own unique connective trait how the older vampire's emotions had risen to surprise.

The doctor smiled again and a huff of air left him, causing Damon's eyes to flash, his expression hardening a little as he knew Elena was being mocked for not knowing when the blond Cold One spoke. "As the lesser of the two species of vampire, our mates, if they are human, are able to find another mate in your species."

"So this mate of yours is human," Damon drawled, his disbelief growing. He could not picture Klaus Mikaelson, the Immortal Hybrid, having a human mate.

"Not quite, as it seems," Edward continued for Carlisle after a look. "She is a werewolf."

"I'm more interested in what this has to do with us?" Bonnie asked, raising an eyebrow at the Cold Ones as she crossed her arms over her chest, gaze narrowed at them. She knew there was more than met the eye, that there was something these Cullens weren't telling them. "So you've lost your mate—that sucks and I'm sorry for you, but how the hell are we supposed to help and what's in it for us if we do?"

Edward looked down, a smirk on his lips before liquid gold met first the brown of the witch then the ice blue of Damon Salvatore. "We have information, as we said before, that will help you in gaining what you want—retribution and Silas."

Damon's eyes narrowed. "What about the cure?"

Edward matched his expression, voice strong. "We will be using it for my mate; at some point, the monster will turn her into a hybrid, I'm sure."

Damon scoffed, shaking his head. He felt Elena clutch his hand as his anger rose and he pushed away the calm she was trying to give him. "No dice; we use the cure."

Edward's face twisted into a snarl and a growl burst from his chest, but that was all halted by Carlisle. The blond patriach shook his head at his son then turned back to Damon, taking the reins as Edward breathed in and out hard, trying to calm himself. He felt radioactive—uncontainable, uncontrollable, impossible to reason with, angry and violent... ready to explode. "There is always another option. But it requires a powerful witch," the blond father figure said.

Bonnie stepped forward, head high. "I'm the latest of the Bennett line."

Carlisle perused her through narrowed eyes. "That may not be enough."

The dark-skinned witch's eyebrows raised. "Then who else would you need?"

The doctor looked down as his eyebrows twitched and his lips curled up in a smirk.

Damon growled. "No, no way; we are not using the Original Witch in this plan. I don't know if you're aware but all she wants is to kill off the entire Original species and I, for one, am pretty damn happy with my life right now," he spat, tone sardonic and eyes dark as he picked up his glass and took a long swig of the bourbon to calm his anger and bloodlust as he, at last, let Elena's influence wash over him, sending his gratitude back. He could not afford to lose his cool. For her, he reminded himself, glancing down at Elena as she smiled up at him with a warmth he had missed. This was for his mate; he couldn't screw up a good chance at getting her what she wanted—what she needed—to be happy again.

Edward's jaw locked as he was shut down again, not used to it in his hundred years on earth. "Then we will need to gain alternative help for your little Bennett witch," he said and the witch in question bristled at his tone, glaring at him in indignation as his eyes swept over her body. His lips twitched before he turned his attention back on Damon when the Original vampire spoke.

"What exactly is your plan here? Why do you need so much power?" he asked, and suspicion colored every syllable as his narrowed eyes never strayed from the two who had spoken.

The bronze-haired boy glanced at his father, who spoke again. "If both of us have uses for the cure we are unwilling to forsake, then we will need to go back in time in order to gain additional supply. We will need to get three cures."

Edward blinked at his father's ingenious plan, the man glancing at his son as his plan echoed in his mind and a grin blossomed on the angular face of the youngest Cullen teenager. It was he who spoke, his awe at such a well-rounded plan coloring his breathless tone, eyes far away as he pictured the results. "Indeed… one for my mate, one for your own use—whatever that is, though I must say I would be surprised if it's for your mate—and… one for Niklaus Mikaelson." His smirk was full blown now, eyes dark as they met Damon Salvatore's, who was trying not to glare at him with that little dig about the cure being for his mate—which it wasn't. Edward shrugged. "If he is a mere wolf then not only is he mortal but he's also a thousand times easier to kill."

"Sounds like you're planning a vampire revolution," Damon uttered, eyes narrowed.

Edward smirked. "I suppose you could call it that... The Mikaelsons are a necessary presence, but they're a pestilence easily taken care of in ways that do not hinder the rest of your species."

Damon Salvatore gaped in incredulity. He leaned back, shock and regret at such a brilliant plan that they had never been able to quite perfect echoing through the bond he shared with Elena. He looked over in time at her to see her grin for the first time in two months and the Cullens watched with amused eyes how he, all of a sudden, jumped at the plan just from that reaction. They would never understand Original vampire mating ways.

Bonnie, unaffected by madness—as in Edward Cullen's case—or by a mating bond—as in Damon's—was more skeptical. Her eyes were narrowed and she sighed, the voice of pessimism as she spoke her own immediate thoughts to their plan in a slow voice, surprised no one else was thinking this way. "But… that could also make the rest of your species mortal, Damon—at the very least everyone descended from Klaus which is every vampire in our immediate group. Then we're all targets for not only our own enemies gained over the past four years—and yours and Stefan's from the past one-fifty—but also the rest of the Mikaelsons. After Kol's death, we know how they'll react if harm is brought to one of their family. It means we have no chance against them."

Seeing that Damon and Elena's eyes dimmed under her logic, Edward's own orbs narrowed as he jumped in with a lighter tone than the witch. "Unless… we have the right leverage," he said with a raised eyebrow. A slow smirk graced his lips as he leaned back against the couch he was sitting on, shrugging. "Say, an Original's mate?"

Elena frowned, looking down as she spoke, brows pinched. "If we take Klaus's mate he'll just come after her… and kill all of us."

"Of course," Alice spoke for the first time once Edward and her own mate had given her permission. "But she is not whom we are speaking of." Her elfin features were childlike as she grinned at the three of them from her perch on her mate's lap.

Bonnie was confused as she sent Damon and Elena—who were still and not looking at one another—looks, wondering what the Cullens knew. "None of the other Originals are mated," Elena said in a careful tone, peering at them. Her hand gripped Damon's hard as panic welled within the both of them.

Edward chuckled and the two knew that he knew. "But that's where you are wrong. It appears all four Originals have found their mates… only one is hiding theirs from their terrible Hybrid bastard brother while the other remains… according to rumor, utterly unaffected, strangely enough." His eyebrow rose.

The number four went off in Elena and Damon's minds and they relaxed infinitesimally even as they picked up on that last bit; if what this Edward was saying was true, they were somewhat safe… they were sure they would be able to deflect attention from one of the mate's in lieu of the others. They hoped.

Damon snorted. "And you think they won't come after their mate?" he asked them, looking between each Cold One as he raised an eyebrow. "Obviously, you don't know a lot about our kind."

Oh, but we do, Carlisle thought in a wicked, smug tone and Edward glanced at him, his own expression as impassive as his father's though inside he was much the same as the doctor. "It's a risk we are willing to take… however, given what we do know, I am sure there is a lot that can be done so they wouldn't try to track the mate down."

Damon's eyes narrowed as curiosity sparked. He regarded them all for a moment longer, Bonnie's intense gaze on the side of his head almost begging him to leave all alone while the memory of his mate's pain the past eight weeks spurred him into action. He smirked slow and leaned in, confident and cocky as always. "What's the plan?"

Bonnie sighed hard, but she was ignored as Damon and the Cold Ones began. All the while, Elena grinned for the second time that morning. Her happiness filled Damon up and that was all he needed to know. The little kinks such as Silas already being awake would be sorted out later... when Elena was safely out of the Cullens' reach.

What did I tell you, son? Carlisle thought to Edward, who never reacted to his father's pointed thoughts though the elder knew that the bronze-haired boy was listening. The most detrimental feature of the connection between Original species mates is their willingness to do anything for their mates to be happy. This is something we will use in our plans going forward.

And the blond was more than satisfied when the frozen seventeen year old immediately brought this up with Damon Salvatore as they developed their plan. No one was phased when Caroline entered the room with her own hidden agenda as Stefan Salvatore trailed behind, his green eyes sweeping over the room and a frown on his face as a familiar voice ghosted in his ear, straight from inside.

You shouldn't be here…

All the while, Edward felt a hum he'd thought he would not feel again until after Niklaus Mikaelson's death build inside of him and he trapped the knowledge within, knowing what was occurring but unwilling to share with any just yet as he focused.

They were planning a revolution far more than Damon Salvatore realized... cloaking themselves in disguises to fit right in and lock away their true intentions.

None would be able to check out from the prison they had locked themselves in until it was too late and the bus had arrived at its destination.

~TPoL~

"We mean you no harm!" Agnes shouted as she and twenty other witches backed away from the enraged and impatient wolf in front of them.

"You have resurrected me," he said in a low and dark tone, his piercing blue eyes glaring at each of them as he took another step forward. "I want to know why."

"We must do as our ancestors say," Bastianna answered in a far more calm tone as she stepped forward, not even flinching when a snarl burst through the air in response.

"And what did they say?" The wolf hunched over, knees bent and arms outstretched in a position that screamed he was ready to attack at any moment. The impulse, the urge to seek someone he'd never even met before but had watched for a thousand years—someone his wolf felt without a doubt—was blooming, becoming harder and harder to ignore by the second and a wolf was not one to ignore his impulses to begin with.

"We were to resurrect you and reunite you with your son," Agnes said, her voice level even as she shook and her wide eyes were filled with fear. At one motion, the rest of the witches dispersed and left the two Elders there with the new-resurrected werewolf—all three unknowing to the ancestor watching them.

"Why?" he asked in a rough tone that demanded his question be answered with immediacy.

The witches glanced at one another, cursing the ancestor for their task. "We cannot tell you. That is not an answer we were given. All we can tell you is that you are free from stipulation for your resurrection. All we can tell you is to wait until tonight before you approach your son."

The wolf peered at the two, curious. "Who was it that demanded my resurrection?"

The witches swallowed. "We were told we were not allowed to share."

The answer displeased the Alpha, and he growled then breathed in and out. "Then tell me everything you can share."

Sharing a look, it was Agnes who spoke though the wolf watched Bastianna, eyes unwavering. "You are going to have to fit in with society, so we are to dress you and speak of the rules... You may have observed on the Other Side but in order to live here, you must truly embrace and be in this century. If you wish to fit in you will do as we say."

He relaxed but only just; although he knew he could not trust them in the long run, he could sense they were at least speaking the truth now. His shoulders dipped as he nodded once, ready to listen to what he had to do.

And as they spoke, he sweat the rust of a thousand years, having woken this time into rich color and life instead of the ash and dust of the afterlife and all its forgotten, isolated members.

~TPoL~

"Now, sweetheart, as a hybrid of the Original species, it is important that you remember control comes easiest through the consumption of two things: alcohol and normal food. Both of which you are free to consume as much of as you'd like," Klaus said as he introduced her to the topic of being a hybrid as Kol had called it on his brief interlude in their room before he had been kicked out for telling her all sorts of sordid details of vampirism—among which being how he'd "painted the town red" a dozen times over. It was all poppycock that the Original Hybrid felt his newly-turned mate was not ready to hear.

Bella watched her mate with an indulgent smile as she hugged the sheet to her naked body while Nik lectured her, enjoying his little show. "When does all this… heightened sensation go away?" she asked.

"It doesn't, love," he told her but he rushed to her side when her eyes widened. "You get used to it… as you get used to the thirst for blood you are now experiencing. You should speak with Elijah; he has excellent control if that is what you want."

Bella swallowed and looked down as she took in a deep breath, nodding. "Why did you give me the doppelgänger's blood?" she asked.

Klaus chuckled, looking down as a broad grin lit up his face. He could not say he was surprised that she had picked up on that. "When my mother bound my werewolf side through the curse, she forced upon me a stipulation. In order to free my werewolf side, I had to sacrifice a werewolf, a vampire, and a Petrova doppelgänger as the blood my siblings and I had in our systems when Mikael murdered us belonged to the first doppelgänger." Teeth gritted, his eyes burned with anger and when he spoke again his tone was far darker. "But, in order to prevent me from ever making other hybrids, she also added the stipulation that any werewolf I tried to turn would have to consume the doppelgänger's blood in order to complete transition."

Bella's eyes narrowed as her hate for the original Witch rose. If Nik hadn't found that out, he would have been forced to live without any of his kind around him and, were he to ever have found her, she'd have been stuck as a wolf once she'd triggered the curse, dying a human lifetime later and leaving him to an eternity alone—but this time, he'd have opened himself up to love and would have to adapt to life without her once she was gone. The thought made her anger mount and threaten to overcome her, her need for blood rising again already but she swallowed it back as she leaned into Klaus's touch. She gasped and jolted back a little.

Noticing this, Klaus frowned. "What, love?" he asked her but she shook her head with an errant "later" before she steamed ahead in her questioning.

"What do you mean 'complete transition'?"

"A newly transitioned vampire must consume human blood within twenty four hours of waking up after they have died with a fellow vampire's blood in their veins. If they don't, they die." He regarded her with narrowed, analyzing eyes as he brushed his lips over the skin of her cheek and Bella whimpered at the touch as the feelings welling within her lessened at his contact—just as the thirst did.

"What else do I need to know?" she asked in a faint voice, breathless as she burrowed into him, climbing into his lap, the sheet shielding her gorgeous body be damned.

Klaus traced patterns on the exposed skin of her back as he spoke in a soft, far away tone as he thought through what all he had to inform her about. "You're faster and stronger than any creature but my siblings and you will only get stronger and faster with age. The full moon will boost you even more… Your supernatural senses are just as strong…" He chuckled and the sound sent shivers down Bella's spine as his voice lowered to an even quieter whisper though it was still quite loud compared to what it may have been before she had died as asked. The seductive tones had her throbbing with want all over again when he told her, "Your stamina… your flexibility… your reflexes, agility, and dexterity are stronger than any but my family as well…"

She moaned at the thought of what that meant and she leaned back to look at him, leaning closer but he leaned out of her reach, lips quirked in smug satisfaction as he rose his eyebrows at her and spoke in that haughty tone of his that told her just how pleased he was by her reaction. "Do you want to know this or not?"

She swallowed her growl and nodded, making him chuckle.

"You will not die by stake or arrow and you're able to resist the bullets of hunters should they ever find you," he said though he growled at the end, expression darkening as he sneered. "Which they will not…" He pushed her back on the bed, hands drifting over her skin and she arched into his touch with a hum as her eyes fluttered closed while she bit her lip. "You're immortal… you have no use for the daylight ring my siblings and the rest of the Original vampire species need… you can turn off your humanity—"

"What's that?" she asked, eyes snapping open as she sat up on her elbows.

Klaus frowned, not wanting to elaborate. The thought of this sweet woman without her humanity was daunting... and not something he'd ever allow to come to pass. However, he had to tell her; he could not allow his protective tendencies and fears to confuse his intentions as being anything like Edward Cullen's. "It's a switch. Every vampire has it. If you turn off your humanity you are no longer susceptible to emotions…" He then switched gears, continuing his heavy petting of her skin as he continued on in his speech of all the advantages she now had. "Emotions are felt keenly, far more than any but our family… love, joy, happiness… pain, anger… every emotion is heightened.

"You'll have claws sharp enough to penetrate skin with ease, you'll have both vampire and werewolf fangs just as I do… even in human form. You are no longer forced to transform into your wolf during the full moon; instead, you can choose to do so at will and you can transform partially, manifesting single features of your wolf form… you can compel humans… you can enter the minds of others.. create illusions and manipulate dreams… your bite is fatal to vampires except for my siblings and can cause great pain and hallucinations and death to Cold Ones, though they succumb much faster than the vampires of the Original kind."

Bella leaned in closer to him, biting her lip, only for her eyes to widen as she realized something.

Seeing the look in her eyes, Klaus raised an eyebrow. His brow furrowed as she looked down between them, her fingers playing with the bedspread.

"Love, what is it?" he asked, trying not to let his worries consume him. Was she already having doubts about transitioning?

She swallowed. "You said everything is heightened, right? When I became a wolf, the... scars weren't fixed, but I've changed now, haven't I? Does that mean…?" She chanced a look up at him and swallowed at the expression she was met with.

The worry in his eyes had dimmed, but they did not show the emotion she had hoped for and tears suddenly stung her eyes, disgust making her swallow rising bile.

"They're still there, aren't they?" she whispered in defeat.

Klaus sighed, nodding. "I'm not sure why, love, but yes… they are…"

A bitter little laugh left her and she refused to show her face, but Klaus would not allow her to hide from him. Cupping her jaw, he lifted her chin. "You are still beautiful to me, scars or not." His eyebrow raised as he leveled her with a challenging look, daring her to convince him to feel otherwise.

Then he leaned in close, finally brushing his lips to his mate's, rekindling the emotions that had been brewing prior to her discovery. Pulling back ever so slightly to whisper against her lips: "the last thing you must know, sweetheart, is that you are now immune to silver," he then crashed his lips to hers as he pulled her body up to mold against his, the two rolling in a now-familiar fight for dominance before Bella gave in but, just as things were getting good, they were interrupted.

Klaus tore his lips from his mate and growled at the door. "What?" he asked with his usual amount of tact and grace making Bella giggle into his shoulder.

"Just wondering exactly what time of day you're planning on gracing us with your presence?" came the words out of Rebekah's mouth on the other side of the door.

Bella pressed her lips together as Nik's forehead fell upon hers and he sagged in defeat. He could not deny his sister this. Thus, the new hybrid decided to make things easier for her mate; she flipped them over then sat up on him while she reached for her dressing gown. She slipped it on then rose off of his lap, sending him a coy smile over her shoulder as she did it up then went to open the door to Rebekah just as Klaus disappeared to get dressed for the day.

"Hi," Bella said to the blonde Original and she bit her lip as Rebekah sighed at her appearance—mussed hair, swollen lips, and obviously naked under her bloody robe.

"Get dressed and meet the rest of us downstairs," she told the girl before she disappeared.

"Okay!" Bella shouted after her. She rolled her eyes then turned and used her heightened speed for the first time to do just that, releasing a stunned "whoa!" She had just gotten used to her werewolf speed but this… this was somethin' else.

Klaus watched on with a fond but amused grin on his face, content—something that was difficult for him to get used to and even more so as he felt this old feeling within him strengthening throughout the day. He'd felt it since some time last night as he lay holding his mate and waiting for her to wake and complete transition. He wasn't sure what it was and the paranoid side of him, the product of both Mikael's treatment and one thousand years on the run surrounded by a continuously unravelling web of lies told him that this contentment he was feeling would not last long… that he should prepare.

But every look, every touch from his mate and those thoughts drifted from his mind, strengthening his conclusion that this was the connective trait he shared with his Isabella.

Bella's arm wrapped around his waist, pulling Nik from his thoughts as he shifted to circle her waist with his own arm and the two walked at a leisured pace down to meet the three Mikaelsons awaiting the first sight of their transitioned hybrid sister. Over in a corner of the open-roofed compound—making it an ideal place for Bella to first come and interact with everyone—Davina was working on her magic, testing it with narrowed eyes on something she herself had been feeling all day.

Control.

"You called?" Klaus asked in a loud voice as he and Bella appeared on the balcony, whooshing down to stand in front of them. He rose an eyebrow at his siblings, taking in Davina's presence. "Hello, little witch," he said to her with a charming smile. "I was not aware that you were here." Kol had taken to leaving the compound with his mate almost every day for one reason or another.

"That is why we wish to speak with you, brother," Elijah said as he stepped forward while Kol darted to his own mate, watching over her as she worked—and from her enhanced hearing, Bella could hear every whispered word that fell from the teenager's lips as if they were spoken right into her ear. Though as Niklaus had said, already she could feel herself adapting to the heightened… well, everything.

Especially when Rebekah handed her a glass of blood and she downed it in a flash, her visage peeking before she reined it in to the surprise of all watching.

"What's the matter?" Klaus asked, narrowed eyes darting over everyone in front of him.

"The witches approached us during the ball," Kol said, his tone now of even volume considering his proximity to Davina and Bella's supernatural hearing; there was both no longer a need for raised voices and also the threat of Nik lashing out at his mate's pain should they overwhelm her enhanced senses before she had a chance to readjust and thus gain control over them. And as already expressed, Kol still worried about the state of his heart should he evoke his brother's ire—even accidentally.

Klaus's expression darkened. "What did they say?"

"They won't hunt Davina for the Harvest any longer," he said in a happy tone even as he turned to face the rest of them, his expression betraying his true and far more worried emotions. "An ancestor asked them not to."

"An ancestor of Davina's?" Klaus asked with a raised brow.

"We don't know," Rebekah interjected, her arms crossed over her chest and she glared at the wall, not meeting his eyes. She was still upset with him, then, Klaus noted with a grin. "They won't bloody tell us."

"What's the issue then?" Bella asked as she looked between them, failing to see what the big deal was.

"The problem, darling, is that for some reason the ancestors want Davina to have four times the power she is supposed to have," Kol informed her. "And we have no idea what those reasons are. Furthermore, we have no idea what the ancestral spirits are so worried about that they would call for the delay of a ritual performed once every three hundred years to strengthen the coven's power and their hold over them. It makes no sense."

"And," Davina interjected, making them all turn to her as she looked up. "I woke up this morning with complete control over all of my powers. Instead of being overwhelmed by them, they feel... right, now. The balance is restored."

Each Original stiffened and Bella looked up at Klaus then at their expressions to try and figure out the impact of that statement. Her eyes narrowed. "Well, that's good then, right?" She looked to Kol with her eyebrow raised.

"Yes, it is," Kol agreed at once, though his eyes shifted to Nik's over her head to share a meaningful glance that Bella could not begin to interpret. "However, we want to know why. Especially considering having this amount of power is normally extremely dangerous. Once the ancestor stops helping Davina control it, the Elders won't need to kill her; the magic will do the job itself." The look on his face told them all that he would not let this happen, but it was a troubling thought—how could magic, something about nature, kill one who held the power within themselves?

It was a question that Bella voiced, a frown on her face as she eyed the witch working away on small spells to test her control—something Bella could tell Kol didn't like by the way his eyes kept trailing back to her, his face impassive but for the infinitesimal pull of his brows.

Kol's lips were pulled tight and his face devoid of emotion in a way that would have made anyone shiver at the sight of such an unhinged, dangerous creature. But then his expression cleared and his tone of voice was even as he spoke to Bella as a teacher would a student. "Witches are only ever supposed to have a certain amount of power. After that, if they have too much, they can't control it, the balance tips and things get nasty. Certain witches are more powerful than others but their power has been mastered and survived generation after generation, handed down through the centuries; the Bennetts for example – they're one of the most powerful families in history. The latest witch, Bonnie, has so much more power than most others because her bloodline has been around for at least 2 thousand years and the bloodline is far less polluted than others. Our own lineage we have never traced but we already know that we come from a powerful bloodline as well. Davina, however powerful she may be with just her own power, is both a new witch to the craft and holding four times the amount of power her lineage is ready for at this point in time. Without the control of the ancestral spirits we would have a real problem on our hands – the magic would begin to overwhelm Davina's body, looking for an out. Soon enough just coughing would set off an earthquake."

Bella swallowed, stiffening now as the realization of how severe the situation was hit her. Her mind was racing as she tried to think of what they could do, but she was coming up with nothing so she asked Kol.

He shook his head and went back to his mate's side. They shared a grin before the young witch turned back to her work and Kol to Bella after dropping a kiss to Davina's temple. "There's nothing we can do until the time comes to complete the Harvest Ritual. Right now, there's no danger and though I would like to know what they're hiding from us, there's little we can do if we want to maintain the peace needed for the coming war. All nine covens of New Orleans are powerful and would make extremely good allies but my relationship with them only goes so far, and with some covens more than others. Besides, Davina's coven has already promised she'll be returned immediately with a simple spell when it is time to complete the Ritual… and when she does come back she will have only the amount of power she is supposed to have right now. The balance will have been restored. Everything will be fine."

There was silence for a few minutes as each pondered Kol's words before Rebekah sparked to life, stepping forward as she gripped the hybrid's hand and then turned back to Davina with a smile before facing her brothers with a raised eyebrow. "Now to get away from all this depressing talk about death… how about my idiot brothers leave us girls to ourselves. I, for one, would like to spend some time getting to know my newest sister," she said, referencing Davina as she aimed a look at Kol for the last bit. His eyes narrowed and he stiffened, about to rebut, however, the blonde sighed and smiled. "She'll be safe with the two of us, Kol," she said and she gestured between herself and Bella.

It was only when Davina confirmed that this was something she wanted that he relented, and the brothers disappeared into the town together for an afternoon of god-knows-what while Rebekah turned to the two brunettes in front of her. "What shall we do now, loves?"

~TPoL~

Silas looked around at the people he was surrounded by, dissatisfied as he tried and failed to get a read on his mate's location. He knew she was still alive; Qetsiyah, in her drive to break them apart and unleash eternal hell, had overlooked the mating bond that had been strengthened by the spell that had turned them into the first Immortals.

Indeed, upon first waking up surrounded by strangers and a girl who was the spitting image of his mate—and yet someone he could tell in an instant was not her—while also facing a man just like himself, he had known that she was still alive, that there was hope for him to cling to of reuniting with his mate, his Amara.

Thus he took the first chance he could to escape the company of a group of vampires of the Original species—created after himself and Amara by a spell modeled upon theirs, he had later come to know. Their desires for him to destroy the Other Side—a creation of the lovely (note sarcasm) witch he'd been betrothed to—were not his concern. He was wrapped up in the feel of all the ways he was still connected to her.

Amara.

All he wanted—all he needed—was to find her. Then they'd spend forever together, never dying and always together. Consequences be damned.

The Cure was irrelevant now, no longer needed in the face of the truth that his beautiful soulmate was alive, waiting for him to awaken her from her entrapment. He was all systems go. The sun had not died and until it did, taking life on earth with it, he would be looking. Though the feeling he had deep in his bones, coming straight from inside, told him that in this new age, he would find her in due time—and fast.

His features twisted in anger and bitterness as he looked down and tried to control his mounting anger. He longed to see Qetsiyah again, to be able to kill her for what she had done to them; keeping him away from his mate for two thousand years.

But first, to find Amara.

That was most important now that he had become knowledgeable of the world around him in the just-over-a-month since his awakening. Knowing of hunters designed to kill him, of two species of vampire, of the witches and werewolves still roaming the earth after all this time… he knew what to look out for and he would be careful.

He closed his eyes as he let himself feel the multiple connective traits that sprung from his mind, body, heart and, indeed, his very soul, stretching out to encompass his Amara. The joined heartbeat, the emotions, the confidence, the light, the telepathy… among countless others. As the first Immortals bound by a soul mate bond, they had them all and, when the time came, he would use the healing touch they both had for just one another to wake her and free her from her binds.

He breathed in the chemicals he no longer needed to stay alive, simply enjoying the feeling as he scented the air. His eyes snapped open as he sensed something closing in on him. All the while the feel of the bond, reaching out to his mate, calmed him.

He vanished in the crowd.

~TPoL~

That night found the Mikaelsons and Davina and Bella in the sitting room together, enjoying one another's company. Davina and Bella were curled up in their mate's sides as they watched and listened to the banter of the Original family with amused and indulgent grins, sharing looks every now and then in reaction to whatever was being said.

Bella leaned into Klaus when she felt him stiffen and she looked up in worry; he had been like this all day. Stiffening for no reason and when she asked, he would give no explanation—he would just take a swig of yet another glass of his scotch or bourbon or whiskey (whatever the hell he was drinking; it was changing as the night bore on). "Tell me what's wrong," she demanded under her breath, having felt him relax at her touch.

"It's nothing, love," he told her, avoiding her eyes since he knew they'd make him give in.

"I want to help," she whispered back.

He paused then put his glass down and turned to look down at her with soft eyes and a small smile. "You are, sweetheart."

"How?" she asked, raising an eyebrow and crossing her arms over her chest. The look in her eyes made Klaus smile and sigh, resigning himself to explaining because he knew—and loved—that his mate was just as stubborn as he was himself and she would thus not back down until she knew. Plus, she'd be able to tell if he was lying.

Klaus stood, downing the rest of his glass. He took her hand and the two flitted from the room to go upstairs. He sat on their bed, pulling her with him, and looked into her eyes as he began to explain. "Mating bonds are unique in that each bond manifests a different way the two who are mated will be connected," he began and Bella's eyes narrowed before she nodded a second later, understanding him so far though she could already tell it was a confusing topic. "It is generally something that both need and personal to the couple; no two couples have the same connective trait though they may be similar. For Marcel and Camille, it's a confidence they feed off of from one another because their own paths have caused doubt. For Elena and Damon from Mystic Falls, it's emotions because that is where both—though in particular, Damon—feel weak in relationships, the reason why they close off. In order for them to function, they are able to feel one another's emotions and perhaps manipulate them a little as a security in their own relationship—Damon needs it because he was played by the older Petrova doppelgänger, Katerina. She told him she loved him but she did not… and now he finds it hard to trust. This connective trait, as they are called, allows him to feel confident in their relationship just as Marcel and Camille's does."

"What's ours then?" Bella asked, wanting confirmation rather than to voice her own thoughts. Considering this was all new to her, she was hoping that she was correct in her assumptions but she would rather Niklaus tell her than for her to have to guess.

As it was, her mate disagreed with that method. Klaus inclined his head a little as his eyebrow rose, a faint smirk ghosting on his lips. "I think you know, love," he whispered and Bella licked her lips as he pressed his fingers against her cheek. Her breath hitched and her eyes fluttered closed as their bond's connective trait washed over the two of them, healing old wounds by swathing their souls in a light they were already addicted to and unashamed of admitting that they very much needed.

Bella pulled away a little though not enough that his touch was nowhere on her body. She looked into his eyes for a moment as the light within dimmed a little but did not dissipate. She swallowed, her voice a whisper when she spoke. "I felt it earlier, just before we started talking about... my scars... Whenever you touch me, whenever you talk to me… I… Anything negative goes away. I feel safe and loved and sure… of myself, of you… your love—it's this light that scares the darkness away."

Klaus nodded. "That's right," he told her in a soft tone, leaning forward. "It makes me feel the same."

A knock on the inner wooden doors interrupted them before they could go any further and the two groaned, Klaus chuckling as he pulled his mate up and the two whooshed downstairs to the courtyard where the rest of the family was waiting in front of the doors.

Klaus, ever paranoid, knew they were not expecting anyone and the feeling within him—the one he'd felt yet ignored for almost twenty-four hours now—exploded deep inside him, making his wolf keen as he hesitated in front of the final barrier. He shifted Bella behind him, gripping the door handle. At last, at soft prodding from Elijah, he pulled it open.

A gasp left his mouth as he saw a face he'd not seen in a thousand years, though now well-shaved and dressed in modern clothing to adapt him to the new age. Klaus stepped back involuntarily as emotion welled inside so strong he was breathless. It caused his voice to shake as he spoke just one word, unaware of how all the others watching questioned him on what was happening and who this person was.

"You…"

The werewolf swallowed and stepped closer. "Niklaus," he breathed, his eyes drinking the man in front of him in as he saw him without the veil of the Other Side hindering his view. He was so different now without the veil dimming what he saw.

This propelled the Hybrid into motion and the tears which had welled in his eyes were kept at bay as he shouted, sounding strangled and hoarse with emotion. "No, no! You're not real!" he said, eyes glazing over as flashes of memory from a thousand years ago continued to plague his mind. He backed away, arm up as he could not remove his gaze from the man in front of him.

"Nik—" Bella whispered, looking from her mate to his siblings. Klaus couldn't hear her.

"Niklaus—" the man tried again, his tone sad and almost breaking under the weight of the Original Hybrid's anguish.

"No!" Klaus shouted and then he spun, eyes crazed and darting to his eldest brother. "Elijah, call the witches; I want them here. I know that thing is not real and whoever has done this—created this phantom—they will pay for it with their lives!"

"Niklaus—"

"Now, Elijah," he growled, halting whatever placating words had been about to come out of the Original's mouth.

Elijah pursed his lips as he stared at his brother then looked toward the man and, seeing the similarities, he made sense of the situation almost instantly. He promptly froze.

All the while the newcomer continued to step forward, trying to reach Klaus. His tone was gentle but commanding as he ignored Isabella's hiss. She tried but failed to comfort her mate all while the younger Mikaelson siblings looked for guidance from their eldest brother. But he, too, was lost in a sea of incomprehension. He knew not what to do, had no idea of just how to comfort his brother, just how to help him in this time of need…

He was powerless, they all were.

"Look at me, Niklaus," the man beseeched and Klaus had to obey. He clenched his eyes shut and turned around, forcing them open to stare at the man before him though he could not see him clearly through the haze of tears.

There was a small smile on Ansel's face as he looked at his son, their eyes boring into one another's for the first time in one thousand years. "I am flesh and blood. Your flesh and blood."

 

Chapter Text

Demi Lovato ~ Skyscraper

[Verse 1:]
Skies are crying, I am watching
Catching tear drops in my hands
Only silence as it's ending
Like we never had a chance
Do you have to make me feel like
There's nothing left of me?

[Chorus:]
You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass
Like I'm made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper
Like a skyscraper

[Verse 2:]
As the smoke clears, I awaken
And untangle you from me
Would it make you feel better
To watch me while I bleed?
All my windows still are broken
But I'm standing on my feet

[Chorus:]
You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass
Like I'm made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper
Like a skyscraper

[Bridge:]
Go run, run, run
I'm gonna stay right here,
Watch you disappear
Yeah, oh
Go run, run, run
Yeah, it's a long way down
But I am closer to the clouds up here

[Chorus:]
You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass
Like I'm made of paper
Oh Oh
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper
Like a skyscraper

(Like a skyscraper)

Like a skyscraper
Like a skyscraper


Chapter 12—Skyscraper


The words rang through the house, the response silence. No one knew how to respond. Eyes fell upon the Original Hybrid, wondering for his reaction. It took a moment but Niklaus shook his head, drawing in a shaky breath as he stared at his 'father' with a bewildered frown on his face. "You've been dead a thousand years," he whispered, voice weak and breaking on the last word. He swallowed, looking down. His mind was reeling, so many questions running through his psyche, not the least of which being why was he here now? So many times he had wished for this, so many times he had ached with the fact that he had not known his father—his true father and not the monster who, in turn, made him the monster he was today… For him to be here now, it was too good for him to comprehend; a dream come true.

But Niklaus knew that his dreams were usually shattered before they ever came to pass, before he was allowed to enjoy them. It set his mind on edge and his eyes narrowed as he shook himself from the haze.

Identical blue eyes softened as Ansel watched his paranoid son, sadness making his heart lurch. His voice was a little louder than his son's as he spoke, stepping forward. "And through that time I lingered on the other side, watching you… regretting so many things. Until I woke the night passed in the City of the Dead, surrounded by witches."

Klaus growled, distrust dominant as the other emotions he felt rose even further, far too much for him to bear. He shook his head, a hand coming up to halt any further movement toward him. "No… no," he ground out, shaking his head. Dark blue eyes bore into their match, and the tears were almost too much for the elder wolf. Klaus's breath was hitching, his tone rough but shaky and unconvincing even to his own ears. "No… you're just… in my head." He nodded, the momentum gaining. This was a line of thought his frazzled mind could handle, could cling to. He pointed an accusing finger at the figure in front of him, letting a blanket of reassuring anger take over him, his voice stronger when he continued. "You're an illusion meant to sway me to some bargain with the witches, perhaps as part of their scheme against my brother's mate."

Ansel stepped forward, ignoring the growl he received from Isabella as she, too, stepped forward. His whole attention was encompassed by his son as he begged to be believed. The hybrid refused to meet his searching gaze. "I do not speak for the witches. I know nothing of their bargains." His tone softened again and in a flash, he was before his son, reaching out to grip his arm. "But you are my son…"

Klaus tensed and growled once more, feeling caged—and when the Original Hybrid felt caged, he reacted negatively, impulsively. His lip curled up in a snarl as he glared at the slightly taller brunet. His hand flew out and caught the elder wolf's hard, his superior strength keeping it still, almost breaking it in his grip. He met those eyes for one moment before the older wolf was looking down between them. There was a small smile on the Ansel's lips despite the crushing pain in his hand as he, for the first time, touched his son. So many times he'd felt that need, that desire whilst on the Other Side…

Seeing that made the hybrid swallow and look down also, turning the arm over. Flashes appeared when he closed his eyes at the sight of the tattoo—the final piece of evidence. But he was not ready to believe, was not ready to accept the connection to a father he now knew had known of him all along and still left him to—

His anger reignited and soared to new heights. With an almost unheard growl, he shoved the arm back, letting go of it as he once more glared at Ansel. "Even if what you say is real… you are nothing to me. For all I care you can crawl back to hell…" he breathed, his fury coloring every word. He lingered a moment longer, the stare held between the matching pairs of eyes intense. Then he stormed past the wolf, running upstairs for his study. The entire party he'd left behind breathed in at the slam of Klaus's office door.

It was then that Bella took out the phone she'd taken from Klaus's pocket. She scrolled through the contacts until she found a name she recognized and then pressed 'call,' the phone now at her ear.

"What are you doing?" Elijah asked, coming forward. The rest of the siblings eyed the man in front of them calculatingly, including Bella until she huffed and glared at Elijah.

"I'm calling the witches like he asked you to," she said with aggravation. It disappeared when a voice spoke on the other line, and she smiled pleasantly even as she eyed the wolf in front of her with hard brown eyes. A short conversation and a couple of the Quarter's more powerful witches had agreed to come soon, having anticipated the call. She looked up at Elijah and sighed. "If this is the only way for my mate to have some peace of mind, then by all means get the fucking witches here. Does it really seem so ridiculous that he'd need that? Nik is paranoid after a thousand years on the run and this is his father—the man he's always wanted to meet and have some sort of relationship with. Of course he's questioning it; he's scared. And I don't blame him."

With that, she glared at the wolf in front of her, standing taller as she walked to stand in his face. Hand still holding the phone raised, she gestured to him with it. "I'll believe you, but if you hurt him, I will kill you," she promised, flashing her visage. She looked over her shoulder at the rest of them then flashed away, up to her mate who was in need of comfort.

There was silence for a few moments before Kol spoke.

"Well… I believe it's time for another drink. Anyone?"

~TPoL~

Bella paused just outside the door and sighed. She hesitated a few seconds before turning the knob and opening the door. Her lips twitched at the corners as she eyed her blond-haired mate, a small fond smile forming on her lips as she saw his tensed form in front of the fireplace. His arm lifted, head tilting back, and she frowned as she saw him drink scotch from the bottle—even more so since it was already empty. He threw the bottle into the fire, watching as the flames intensified and hissed from the last remnants of liquor clinging to the glass.

He turned to her and that was when her heart ached, her eyes burned, and her throat closed up. Her Nik, her strong Nik, staring at her so… broken and lost. Like the tortured little boy he once had been, and sometimes still was. Tears in his eyes that he'd long kept in escaped, and she zoomed forward, thumbing them away before they could streak halfway down his cheeks. He swallowed, his breath hitching as he breathed in and gripped her hips, leaning his forehead against hers.

"The witches are coming," she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck and he dove for her, lifting her up his body and breathing her scent in deep as he buried his nose in her neck just at her mark. Little by little, the tension left as her touch sparked the light of their connection and he shuddered as all the emotion that had caused such chaos was released. "We'll figure this out, Nik. Everything's going to be okay, I'm here," she repeated the words he'd told her just after the almost-seizure. They had helped ground her and she hoped they had the same effect on him in his time of need. She leaned back, pressing her lips to his, caressing his cheek, staring into his tearful eyes with her wide and understanding brown. "I'm right here."

"What if he is here? If this is not some… trick?" he asked, his tone small, the words almost mouthed the volume of his voice was so low. His brow was creased, but his eyes showed some hope—and, more than that, belief—that it was true. That his father was finally here for him. Alive. That he'd have the chance he'd always wanted since the morning after he turned and he found himself not quite part of the family he'd grown with. His grip tightened on her, needing more of her pressed to him, needing more of their connective trait—their light.

A soft smile on her lips, Bella nodded, gripping him tighter in return, her legs squeezing around his waist. Her voice was just a little louder when she replied, the tone so gentle, meant to comfort him. "Then we'll figure that out, too. Okay? Everything's going to be fine." Her hands pressed to his cheeks as she stared into his eyes, willing him to believe her—believe in her.

And he did. For some reason, he found it so easy to trust the woman that was meant for him. In her arms, he found his solace, he found the person he used to be—the person he always hid so buried within him that even those closest did in fact think he was gone. He was not; he was sheltered, protected by the hard, outer shell that was Klaus—the Original Hybrid. So he found himself unhesitant as he nodded, closing his eyes and sighing a large gust of air. "Thank you," he whispered and she smiled at him, kissing him again.

"I love you," she told him so quietly none but he would hear and he grinned, making her heart sing.

He breathed her in slow, his nose nuzzling against hers, and these were the moments she lived for—when it was just them, undisturbed, and she got to see the tender side to her mate that he locked away from the rest of the world. "I love you," he whispered into her ear and they kissed once more before they heard the doorbell ring and they withdrew from their embrace.

His arm wrapped around her waist and held on like iron. There was a meaningful look that passed only when she nodded and smiled a small smile that was just for him. She was right here, not letting go; she wouldn't until he wanted her to.

They were downstairs in a flash, opening the door for the two witches—Agnes and Bastianna. They looked around, nervous, as they came in. Klaus's grip tightened around Bella's waist and she leaned into him as they observed the elders who were looking at Ansel.

Agnes turned to Klaus. "You called?" she asked, trying to seem brave and unaffected by being in his presence but it was her eyes and her heart… they were so telling of her emotions.

Klaus nodded, gritting his teeth. He refused to look at the wolf across the room. "I did. This man came here and said you two were the ones to bring him back. Now, I couldn't help but wonder why two witch elders would resurrect the real father of the Original Hybrid—surely it couldn't be out of the kindness of their hearts…" he drawled, his eyebrows raised as he looked between them.

The witch swallowed, looking at her red-headed counterpart for guidance.

Klaus growled, stepping forward. He let go of his mate, his hands clenching into fists as he stared at the two elders. He was not a patient man to begin with and, his patience having already been tested tonight, he was not in the mood for a game of words. He wanted answers and he was Klaus Mikaelson; he would bloody get them.

Bella stepped forward as well, her face expressionless but for the tightening of her eyes as her body faced Nik's. She looked between him and the witches, concerned and angry.

"We were told to," Agnes answered, voice full of trepidation. "An ancestor… she said we were to bring him back and reunite him with you."

Klaus growled and, in a flash, he was gone from one side of the room and reappearing at the other, gripping the witch by the neck as he slammed her into a wall. He could hardly think past the fury, past the agony—he had known this was all too good to be true. His eyes flashed amber as he glared at a startled Agnes, tightening his grip. "Who?" he snarled, voice inhuman. All he could think was Esther… she had connections, it was more than possible that his bitch of a mother would do this. He had no need to think of why…

"We cannot say," Bastianna said in a more level tone as she stepped forward a little. Her hands twitched with the desire to save her sister witch, using her powers to weaken the monster before her but she knew better. The last thing they wanted was a confrontation, and if she were to hurt him—or try to—she had a wolf, a hybrid, and three Original vampires to deal with… including another, younger but exceedingly more powerful witch in Davina. They would all rise to his defense. "The ancestor asked that we not give her name and you know we cannot disobey."

His anger grew and he used his speed to turn Agnes into his body, hand tightening ever further. Any struggle she gave was futile as she gasped for air she was not privy to, hands clutching for the one around her neck. The hybrid holding her captive glared at the redhead, a wicked smirk on his lips. "Humans are so vulnerable… All it takes is one little snap and then it's 'toodaloo, Agnes'." He chuckled before his expression turned deadly. "Answer me or she dies…" he said, jolting his wrist and smirking when Agnes whimpered. His eyebrow rose as he stared at Bastianna.

"It wasn't Esther," she countered, eyes flitting between his face and Agnes's. "Please let her go. We cannot tell you who it was but they have no ill will against you. It was an act of kindness, the righting of a wrong…" she pleaded with him even as her tone was ever so slightly questioning why she'd ever had to do something like this for something as terrible as him.

Klaus huffed, suspicion still clear at her words.

"Brother," a voice called and all were surprised when it was Kol who stepped forward, serious. "Nik, if it's the ancestor I believe it to be, then she also allowed you lot to bring me back… If she allowed that, do you really think she has some greater plot at hand?"

Klaus glared at him then at the witches. "And what would an ancestor want to do with our family if not to eradicate us and thus all vampires? To rid the world of the abominations of nature? You expect me to believe they'd bring back our brother and my father with no sordid plan against us?" He chuckled humorlessly, his hand tightening around Agnes's neck and she wheezed.

Elijah voiced his thoughts then, also stepping forward as he eyed his brother. He was ready to act if need be, but was hopeful he'd not have to. The last thing any of the Mikaelsons wanted was another rift because of a perceived betrayal, especially when they were, at last, back on track. "That is a thought for more consideration at a later date, Niklaus. It is obvious they do not know what the ancestor wants so leave them be…" Then his gaze turned on the two, his eyes narrowed just a little, his tone detached. "For now…"

It was a threat that made the elders shiver just as it was a promise that convinced the Hybrid to do as asked. Klaus sneered, growling in frustration as he threw the dark-skinned elder in his hand like a ragdoll away from him, stepping forward. The sound of her rasping for breath broke out in the otherwise quiet room and the redhead nodded. His gaze then turned to his father, who was watching him with an unreadable expression but he could see the understanding in his eyes. It confused him.

"Leave," he told them in an unyielding, hard tone, blue gaze never meeting either witch's as he stared at Ansel. "Now."

The two scurried away as Klaus walked to stand in front of his father, movements slow. He stared into his eyes, the look mirrored. The younger opened his mouth to say something as his brow furrowed but then shook his head. He left the room, this time followed by Elijah.

"Niklaus…" the brunet began but the blond shook his head.

"Spare me the heartened speech, Elijah," he said in a rough tone, turning to his brother. His expression was clear. "His return changes nothing."

His brow creased, the elder of the two surged forward, gripping his younger brother's shoulder. His tone was insistent and yet still tender when he spoke, "his return changes everything, Niklaus. He is your father, your pack. You have always wished you had a connection to that part of you and here it is before you. Even if you choose not to see that now… you will later. This is your chance, brother… to right the wrong afforded to you all those years ago. I urge you to take it."

The blond's emotive eyes bore into brown and he opened his mouth again, almost defeated. He sagged a little. "How can I, brother?" he whispered. He looked down. "How can I trust him? He who abandoned me to Mikael? So many times over the past thousand years I have thought of what it would be like…" He shook his head and breathed in deeply, shaking out of his brother's touch and backing away to arm's length. The walls he had let down for a split second rose once more, his expression impassive. "Leave me be, Elijah," he said in that telling, stony tone of his.

And with a heavy sigh, placing a supportive hand against the hybrid's shoulder as he looked into his eyes, he did.

~TPoL~

The next two weeks passed by in a slow, tensed fashion. Marcel and Camille had become part of the ever-growing number that lived in the Abattoir, keeping mostly to themselves. The blonde had ceased work at the bar after the Volturi scare, but Marcel had begun to feel comfortable enough that she picked up a few shifts toward the end of the second week. Even still, the dark-skinned vampire was never too far away from his mate, and many of the meetings he held for business or such took place at Rousseau's during Camille's work hours.

After Ansel's sudden arrival, it was clear he had nowhere to go. He was ostracized by the local wolves for his clear connection to Niklaus and, while this hurt the once-Alpha, he knew he had no choice but to adhere. Thus he found himself with a place to stay in the compound, a forced offer made by a removed Klaus from atop the balcony as he saw his father walk back inside. Their eyes connected for but a moment before the younger looked away and reentered his studio—a room he'd stayed in for most of the hours of each day.

Kol and Davina spent some time together, getting to know one another and going on small dates around the Quarter now that they had the time. The love between them grew every day and Rebekah and Elijah were happy for their brother, even as they fought their own pain being away from their mates.

Klaus, for the most part, was oblivious to his siblings' plights and triumphs. The entirety of his attention was focused on the elder wolf in the compound—or, more aptly, the many questions raising by the minute. His wolf felt the pull to his father, but the vampire ignored it. He had no wish to be close to a man who had abandoned him when he was supposed to love him. Thus, instead, between bouts of drinking and feeding and painting, he stayed with his mate, keeping a watch over her as she adapted to her new abilities with a grace and speed he'd never seen the likes of before.

But none, not even he, knew how Isabella struggled.

Klaus shouted in pain as the White Oak stake slid through his heart, eyes connecting with her as he greyed. He fell to the ground, impervious to her screams of his name as flames took his body and made it ash…

Her breath hitched as she paused in the hallway, eyes wide and filled with tears. Her hand raised to her head, face crumpling as she grasped at the wall. Her knees gave in and she tried to control herself so as not to alert Klaus. He couldn't know.

Bella shook as she righted herself, beginning to walk again. She had passed three doors before the next vision came and she whimpered, falling to the ground on her knees, clutching her head in both hands this time.

The bodies of her family all around her, accusing eyes flashing through her mind just a second before they were burned to nothing. Ash covered her, choked her as it clung to her throat and the roof of her mouth, and she huddled in on herself, flinching when a cold hand gripped her hard…

With a growl, she pulled herself up, shaking a little as she ran for Klaus, feeling him in his studio. She was relieved to hear the brush working the canvas; there was no way he'd have heard her plight then. Her mate always zoned out when he was painting.

A hand thwacked her and she fell to the ground, grasping at her cheek as it stung.

"You're mine, Isabella…"

The new hybrid sighed, jaw locked as she walked into her mate's oasis, the harrowing images swirling in her mind. The persistent prodding dissipated as she spotted Nik. Now relaxed though still a little shaky from the ordeal, a small grin played on her lips as she found him shirtless and painting nearby the window. He looked up at her and grinned, only to find himself in the arms of his mate from behind, her face buried in between his bare shoulder blades.

"Hello, love," he greeted her in a quiet tone, his concentration once more on the painting he was working on.

The brunette sighed with contentment this time, relaxing as his touch, his smell, their connective trait worked like a charm. He was here, he was alive, and she was with him. Everything would be okay. Bella smiled as she closed her eyes, lazy against his back. "Hi," she whispered, stretching to her tip toes to press a kiss to the back of his shoulder, right in the center of his triangle tattoo.

There was a comfortable silence as the younger hybrid leaned on the elder, the Original painting in movements aimed not to jostle his mate too much. As always, their simple touch had taken away the more paranoid, tensed thoughts that swirled in his mind on repeat, and the smile stretching his lips was wide and genuine.

However, he also knew that at the moment his mate was getting to know the new additions to their family—that being Camille and Davina. Ansel was left more or less alone, no one having the energy to deal with a disquieted Niklaus should he find out they were interacting with him. No one felt it was their place to be the first to do so either; that spot was reserved for Nik and Nik alone. For his mate to be with him now…

"Where are you going, sweetheart?" he asked her with a knowing smirk. He set the paint brush down and turned, wrapping his arms around his mate in a very possessive manner. But his brown-eyed lover did not mind; instead she grinned and leaned her chin on his chest, neck craned so she was looking up into his eyes.

Then she sighed, slumping. "They want to go to Rousseau's," she mumbled, arms tightening around Klaus's middle. "Camille doesn't like being so cooped up here and Davina wants to get to know Camille more and they both want to get to know Bekah… I said I'd go… I mean, they're human and Davina's a witch—a damn powerful one but still… we all know what Kol is like."

The blond hybrid frowned. "Is that the only reason you are going with them, love? If it is, I'm sure they'll be fine with Rebekah…"

"No," she said with a shrug. "It would be easier to get to know them and get Davina to talk about Kol when the Original in question isn't…" She sunk her nails into Klaus's sides, giggling at the little jump he gave, a snarl on his lips as he looked down at her. She smirked and leaned up to kiss his lips, moaning as he deepened it within a second of their lips first touching, selfish hands bringing her closer. "Don't," she breathed, pressing a finger to his lips. "If you do that I'll not be able to leave and we both know I should. Plus, I want to, Nik." She pouted and Klaus groaned, letting go of her. He turned back to the painting and began work, listening as his mate whooshed down the hall to their bedroom and into the adjoined bathroom, stripping herself of clothes before the shower turned on.

With a slow-stretching smirk, he placed his things down, silent, and flashed after her with a growl. A squeal and a chuckle sounded, before moans and other, more pleasured sounds ensued and they were gone to all but one another.

And that was why Camille and Davina stared at her with twin pursed lips and raised eyebrows as she walked down the stairs, an hour later—half an hour late for the time they'd agreed upon to leave.

Bella groaned. "I'm sorry, okay!" she offered, shooting them looks that showed she couldn't help it. And she really couldn't… her mate was…

"Stop thinking whatever you're bloody thinking about my brother!" Rebekah said from behind her and she jumped unexpectedly. She lowered her tone when she continued, none too amused. "I think it's safe to say we all heard what you were up to; we hardly need to watch your face all night as you relive it…"

The brunette hybrid looked down and blushed, biting her lip. "Sorry," she offered, but there was still that pleased smile on her lips, a small giggle building.

Rebekah sighed. "You're as bad as Nik," she mumbled, sauntering to the gate before turning to the three still loitering at the corner of the compound. "Coming?"

Camille, Davina, and Bella all looked at one another and then nodded, catching up with the blonde Original as she walked out into the street.

~TPoL~

Edward growled, clutching at his head as he glared straight ahead in the small hotel room. He'd been in an abysmal mood ever since Damon had finally told the Cullens of the 'Silas' complication. That darkness was now mingled with impatience. It had been over two weeks now since he'd first felt it and there had been no progress made. This was his last chance; he knew all would be lost should this one encounter fail.

The door opened, the scent blowing in meaning he did not have to turn and break concentration. He growled. "When can I do it, father? I do not wish to wait any longer."

The Doctor sighed, running a hand through his blond hair as he flashed to his son's side. "Edward, you must be patient. You must wait until she is away from the Hybrid; you will know when as the connection with strengthen. Only then can you strike."

The petulant seventeen year old snarled and threw his fist out, smashing through the wooden headboard of the bed he was sitting on. His breath was harsh as it hissed out through clenched teeth, eyes black in anger.

"She has been away from him plenty of times, Carlisle; each time she returns to him as soon as she becomes aware of me."

And then he felt it.

There was an ease in his chest as the connection flared and he felt the ghost of it that had remained deadened inside him reshape once more. He could almost see her, almost sense her mind again.

A dark smile slowly slithered across his face, eyes glowing as they stared into nothing.

Now all he had to do was wait for the connection to rebuild enough for him to access her mind, hoping that this time it would.

~TPoL~

Bella's breath hitched, her wolf whining to return to her mate. She shook the impulse off as her eyes refocused on the three girls with her. They were having quite the nice time actually. A mere two hours after leaving the compound and Davina was already inebriated and answering every nosy question the protective Rebekah was asking. She blushed when she confirmed that she was indeed in love with Kol but denied any physical consummation of that love.

Camille was laughing as she teased the younger of the two brunettes. Her questions stemmed more from curiosity than nosiness or protectiveness where the youngest Mikaelson brother was concerned. Marcel had shared a story or two about Kol, and she was interested to see what he was like to the woman meant for him. Already he was different to what she had thought he'd be given the tales her mate had told.

None of them saw the wince that crossed Bella's face every so often, so enraptured by the secrets little Davina was spilling about her devilish mate. The pain in her head increased, spreading to encompass her entire skull. She gripped the glass of rum and coke in her hand harder, breath hitching at a powerful prod that made her whole body jerk. The liquid spilled over the lip and into her lap. She sighed, placing the glass down on the table as she rose. At this, the girls looked around.

"Are you all right, love?" Rebekah asked, brow furrowing and eyes tightening at the tight smile she received in response. The other two, sharing the other side of the booth, also watched on, leaning over to look at Bella as the hybrid took a breath.

"Yeah, Beks, I'm fine," she placated but then a pounding, tightened sensation stabbed through the back of her skull, wrapping around her head. Her features screwed up as she stopped breathing, a growl rising in her throat as she cried out, her hand flying up to her forehead just above her right eyebrow. Her other hand slapped down on the table as the pain disappeared. She opened her eyes as she licked her bottom lip and swallowed, feeling weak as her body trembled slightly. The amber ring in her eyes flared to encompass the entire iris and she saw nothing but a blur of colors as the weakness worsened, head heavy as she felt herself sway.

The other three gasped, eyes flying wide as they rose to grab her. But they were too late as she fell to the ground, writhing; her neck arched and head digging into the ground below as she shook her head. She whimpered as she felt someone standing over her, unable to breathe as tears welled in her eyes. Then she was lifted and she tried to look up at the one carrying her as she felt herself being adjusted in the hold. "N-Nik," she whimpered and then she groaned as the pain returned while she weakened further. Her wolf howled but it was quickly dimmed to a whine-like whimper as she, too, was utterly weakened. Her eyes closed as she curled up into the arms holding her now, feeling them begin to move. Every second that passed, her awareness dimmed until she could do nothing but hear voices—including her own continuous whimpers for her mate—near incapable of recognizing who spoke as she succumbed.

"What the hell is this? What's wrong with her?"

"This shouldn't be happening; hybrids don't get ill like this… Davina, try a spell… something… we have to keep her awake…"

"I-I-I can't… there's nothing—I don't know how…"

"You're a witch, love; bloody figure it out!"

"Nik…"

Drifting still, she could feel them quickly going back to the Abattoir, sensing her mate closer with each second but it wasn't fast enough as her wolf whined, the sound weak.

"Nik…"

"Klaus! Come—quickly!"

A whoosh of air and she had no energy for anything but a whimper as she felt and smelled and sensed her mate with her, at last. But still, she was fading.

"Bella… love, stay with me…"

She choked on a liquid she realized in a heartbeat was her mate's blood, her throat rubbed to make her swallow for she hadn't the ability to perform the action on her own.

"What the bloody hell were you lot doing?"

"Nik, we were drinking, that's all—"

"Then why is my mate like this, Rebekah?"

"I-I don't know…"

"Please, Klaus…"

More voices sounded as she struggled to stay awake, darkness swirling. She could not open her eyes…

"Nik, stay away from her or I swear—"

"Then get her to do something, Kol; she's supposed to be the most powerful bloody witch after all—"

"She doesn't know enough, Nik, not yet."

"Then she's of no use to me—"

"She's my mate—"

"Yes, and mine was out with her only to return like this…"

"Niklaus, that is enough; Rebekah can vouch that no physical attack has caused this…"

"Then what?"

"Nik…"

A pause in the shouting as she whimpered for him, there was a whoosh of air before she felt his touch.

"Love…"

She calmed even as she sunk into nothingness, sighing into his touch to her cheek.

"Nik…"

"Everything will be fine, love. I'm here… I'm right here… I have you, little one…"

She hummed her acknowledgement of his words, feeling strength somehow even as, in the next moment, she felt, she saw, and she heard nothing, growing limp and silent, oblivious to all.

A few states over, Edward Cullen smirked and closed his eyes with a deep breath as he felt his mate fall into the nothingness he had constructed, locked within her own mind. He followed her…

It was time they spoke face to face.

Awareness came slowly. Her brow creased against a piercing light that caused pain in her temple. She whimpered as she sat up, feeling the light dim as her eyelids fluttered, still a little heavy as she breathed in and out. Unwilling to open her eyes, she gasped when she did, springing up in a flash as she looked around. Thick mist clouded everything around her but she could tell she was in some sort of fake, entirely-white setting; or at least that it was so bright that was what it appeared to be.

"Ah, Bella, my love… there you are…"

She stiffened, a growl rising in her throat as she spun around… His voice had been right in her ear. Her eyes connected with golden hues and her features twisted into a grisly snarl, nostrils flared as her hand clenched into fists, going on the defensive. Her back straightened, her shoulders sliding back as she faced him. Compared to the last time she had seen him, she was not the slightest bit scared.

She was fucking furious.

"Edward."

He chuckled, smirking. He was standing but inches from her then; the movement, once a terrifying blur to her, was nothing now; she saw every millisecond of it, her keen eyes able to track him as the superior being.

"Hello, my love," that annoying, too-perfect voice said. A hand lifted to caress her cheek but she growled, capturing it in an unyielding grip.

"Where are we? How the fuck are you doing this?"

He snarled at her language, sighing and shaking his head in disappointment as he took a step back. "We shall have to punish that out of you. No mate of mine will be so disrespectful. I see father was right; I should have claimed you when I had the chance."

Bella huffed a laugh, shaking her head as her wolf flashed in her eyes, growling inside her at the threat. She said nothing as she glared at him.

She watched as his jaw tightened, his features pulled into a furious scowl at her perceived impertinence. She could not care less.

"As for your question, love, there are two parts to my answer—one: I am able to do this because when you became a full hybrid, the vampire part of you strengthened our connection. My species is, after all, a spin on your own. Two: we're inside your mind… only this time, right now, am in control." And then he smirked at her, so smug and full of himself. Images echoed in her head of all the times she had received that same look from him and she snarled, stepping forward as her wolf called for violent retaliation. She wanted blood in the name of all the blood she'd bled by his hand. But she held off, feeling that surge of strength again. Nik…

She stopped, watching him.

Edward met her gaze. "Come, my mate… we shall move to a better setting…"

Her wolf bared her teeth, furious bloodlust rising within her. But she held off, willing to play his game. She had quite a lot of things to say to her former mate, after all, and she had a feeling this meeting would end… well.

She began to walk after him, her eyes watching his every move. She would lie in wait…

Halting half-way through a step when she heard familiar voices, she smiled. Edward and herself were inside her mind, meaning she could still, if she was strong enough, if she concentrated, hear the voices of those surrounding her.

Her family…

She resumed her gait behind her unknowing target, licking her lips in eager anticipation as her surroundings morphed to thick, lush green and deep brown wood. Her wolf grinned as she did, knowing instantly just where she was. The hybrid relaxed and breathed in the fresh air.

She chuckled and turned to the Cold One watching her, gesturing around grandly with a raised eyebrow. "You pretentious prick… Was this supposed to scare me? Was this a tactic of some sort to sway me or intimidate me because we're so close to your house?" Her eyes flashed amber as she licked her bottom lip and shook her head, eyes smoldering in her anger and pleasure at having the upper hand, at the strength she could feel flooding inside her. "You brought me to the one place I know better than anyone else; I spent all of my childhood in these woods… they're my home."

She sighed, shrugging her shoulder as she watched him sneer at her in displeasure. "If you want to intimidate me… or whatever it is that you were hoping this would achieve… you're gonna have to try harder than that." She stepped closer and closer until she was nose and nose with him, smugness dancing in her chocolate, amber-specked eyes. "You're gonna have to know these woods just as well as I do if you want to catch me… but I'll humor you. Let's play a game, Edward—it's one you like, if I remember well enough… only this time, I believe we are far more evenly matched."

And then she disappeared, speeding past him and through the forest she'd ran through as a little girl.

Edward snarled and spun 'round, chasing after her.

Game on.

~TPoL~

Shouting had long ceased in the Abattoir, Klaus's frustration turning inward. He stayed at his mate's side, staring at her features, the sole comfort he could cling to to stay the madness raging being the strong grip of her hand. He was at a loss as to what he should do, musing as he stroked her hair away from her face, watching it for any changes.

Elsewhere in the compound, he could hear his siblings in a heated discussion, Davina with them as they tried to find a way to coax Bella from her confusing comatose state. Kol was trying to defend his mate from Rebekah's growing fury, while also trying to calm a grief-stricken Davina who wanted to help but did not know how. Elijah was watching on in that controlled, silent manner of his, only interjecting when Rebekah was becoming too forceful and he could tell their youngest brother was growing dangerous.

Klaus's breath hitched as he felt something, the wolf inside him standing and growling at a threat he could sense as he looked around. His eyes, now amber as his visage crawled, were drawn to his mate, and they narrowed. Without knowing what he was doing or why as instinct guided him blindly, he leaned down, his forehead pressing to Bella's as his hand rested stationary on her cheek. His eyes closed and he felt his mind push forward into hers, breaking through easily.

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, peering at the woods surrounding him, not recognizing his location or seeing his mate. He snarled at the Cold One scent in the air and the hint of Bella's mingled with it, a dark, wolfish, teeth-showing smirk on his face as he realized what was happening.

He vanished with a whoosh.

~TPoL~

Bella grinned and laughed as she ran, feeling the breeze on her skin as it swept her hair back into a smooth, brown curtain behind her. She leapt over rocks and logs without having to look down, rejoicing in being reunited with ground she knew so well. And now that her wolf was awake inside her, she felt the pull she'd always had to the earth strengthened, finally able to make sense of it.

She could hear Edward some ways behind her, hear his growls as he tried to speed up to pursue her but, even as the fastest of his family, the animal blood combined with Cold One characteristics were not leading to his success. He was falling behind fast and Bella could not care enough to slow, to make the game a fair one.

Edward never did…

The brunette hybrid smiled as she emerged from thick bush to a wider clearing, stopping. Breathing in deep once more, she hummed and closed her eyes as she repeated the action, memories flickering through her mind of doing just this but at a much younger age. Other children had played with toys in their rooms; she had played in the woods, had run through it, gotten lost in it… but even then she was never disquieted to have lost her way… Rather, she'd cried when her Daddy—it was always him—found her and had to take her home. She saw now, looking back, the understanding in his eyes, the ache there, the deep sorrow that he had to drag her away from the place she understandably felt so drawn to, so at home in.

She gasped but remained unalarmed as she registered the breeze of an approaching supernatural from her left. A split second later, their arm was winding around her waist, pulling her in close to their body as they continued forward. She found herself crouched behind a rather high bush on the far side and she smiled, despite being confused, when she saw her mate there in front of her, finger pressed to his lips and eyes serious as he listened for Edward.

"Nik…" she whispered as she ignored the warning, her joy as a wolf at running through her home woods amplified by the sight of her mate. She launched herself into his arms, knocking him back onto the forest floor. Straddling him, she pressed her lips to his, purring when his arms locked around her waist, a growl in his own throat as he met her kiss with just as much passion.

He licked his lip as he leaned back, blue eyes dark. Beginning to scan her for injuries, his palms twitched and growl turned angry. If he'd touched her…

"I'm fine," she soothed gently, pecking him on the lips again. She smirked when she heard Edward closing in on them, angry at her speed. She jumped up in a flash, holding her hand out for her mate's, and the two disappeared just as Edward reached them, a furious snarl emanating from his chest once he realized who was with his mate.

"Why exactly are we running, love?" Klaus asked as he glanced at her, leaping alongside her over another log and weaving through low hanging tree branches and bushes.

A smirk curled her lips and she chuckled, eyes flashing to his. "We're playing Edward's favorite game…"

Understanding precisely what she meant and what she was playing at, the Original Hybrid hummed, that dark pleasure rising once more. They would enjoy this. The mated pair sped up, becoming indeterminable streaks across the landscape as they raced to an area that sprung to Bella's mind. It was the perfect setting for what she had in store.

~TPoL~

Davina frowned as they stopped just under the entrance arch of Lafayette cemetery. "Kol, what are we doing here?"

"We're getting answers, darling." He walked through the gate with no trouble then promptly turned to face her, waiting. She sighed and followed, stopping beside him just on the other side of the iron gates.

"How?" she asked, looking down as she felt tears well, Rebekah and Klaus's words echoing in her mind. "I can't do anything; I'm untrained, useless."

Kol swallowed back his anger, cursing his siblings as he drew his mate into his arms and a purr rumbled in his chest. He pressed his lips to the powerful teen's temple then cupped her cheek in his hand, looking into her tearful eyes. "You're nothing of the sort, Davina Claire. This spell you're about to do will be easy for you, and I'll guide you through it." He kissed her, sweet but too fast for their liking, Davina sighing as he pulled back. He smirked. "Time for that later, darling," he informed her in a smooth tone as his eyes swept her form and she grinned as he took her hand and led her through the cemetery.

Her eyes widened as they entered a specific mausoleum, her brow furrowing. "Kol?"

"The answers we want… I have a feeling we'll get them from her," he said, looking at the tombstone with a fond but sad smile, memories flashing before his eyes. Feeling her gaze, he turned his attention back to his mate and the smile became a grin as he took her hand and pulled her closer. His hands gripped her hips as he leaned his forehead against hers. "All you have to do is chant 'Ven el forte es cufe' four times, love. With the grimoires in front of you, if there's a spell there that will help us find the answer, she'll manipulate the grimoire to that page. Either that or she will show you." He paused, pulling back a little to look her over properly, waiting until she nodded her understanding before he continued. "Ask her what we need to do to help Bella…"

She took a deep breath and nodded as she blew it out, intimidated as she glanced once more at the tombstone, reading the name again. "You really think it's—"

"Yes," he said with a firm nod. "She was familiar when she approached me on the Other Side, though I have no idea how she did that as an Ancestor… the two planes are not connected. Then again, she always was powerful…" The grin returned as his gaze turned from the tombstone to meet his mate's curious gaze. She was always so curious, so eager to learn, another something he loved about her. "But she has nothing on you… even without your extra power."

She blushed, looking away as that familiar fluttering in her heart and her stomach blossomed. She was falling for him—if she hadn't already. Davina swallowed and closed her eyes to focus her thoughts, stepping away from the intoxicating Mikaelson that made her feel safe and loved and so much more. She took small, almost hesitant steps toward the tomb before kneeling in front of it. She lit the candle waiting on the stone floor and placed it on the top of the witch's tomb. A glance back over her shoulder, she calmed at Kol's reassuring nod, the faith she could see in his eyes; it strengthened her, made her confident, and she squared her shoulders and narrowed her gaze. Wind picked up as she began the chant, her hands open on her thighs and palms facing up, Kol's grin only growing at his mate and all her magnificence.

His witch was determined and she was beautiful.

"Ven el forte es cufe… ven el forte es cufe… ven el forte es cufe… ven el forte es cufe…"

And it was in that moment that he knew he loved her.

~TPoL~

Arriving back at the Abattoir, Kol and Davina stormed through the gates in a rush, the former bellowing his siblings' names. A whoosh of air and the two appeared, Rebekah's intrigue far more evident though they knew Elijah cared just as much.

"What? What have you found?" the blonde Original asked, looking between the two as she approached.

Kol grinned. "We have the answer. Well, Davina does…"

The three Originals turned their gaze to the young girl and she took a deep breath, glancing at Kol in a way that made him laugh. He was in trouble but he didn't mind; on the contrary, he loved to spur his witch on. "When Bella transitioned, it made her connection to Edward stronger because of her vampire side. He's pulled her into a coma by entering her mind."

Rebekah's arms crossed over her chest, anger clear on her features. "How do we get him out?" she drawled.

"Bella has to…" she started trailing off when Elijah stepped forward, a small frown on his face as Rebekah raised an eyebrow. Davina sighed, once again glancing at Kol but he smirked and said nothing. The witch turned back to the other two Mikaelsons to explain. "This is her chance to end their connection; all she has to do is push Edward out of her mind. It's the only way their connection is still activated so if she pushes him out or kills him in her mind, making the choice of choosing Klaus, then the connection will die. After that, his hold will break and she'll be able to wake up again."

Rebekah nodded, speeding upstairs but Elijah continued, taking a step forward. He was unwilling to take the words at face value without gaining more information. "And how do you know this?" he asked, looking between his brother and his mate.

"We contacted the ancestors; they helped us," Davina said, keeping eye contact despite how intimidating he was.

Elijah's eyes narrowed in suspicion, his lips parted. But, before he could speak, he was interrupted as Rebekah called his name. Looking over his shoulder, seeing the look in the blonde's eyes, he said nothing as he nodded. Rebekah was right; the ancestors strange willingness and even desire to help his family would have to wait. What mattered was the fact that they had the information they needed for now. Everything else could and would be handled in due course. He turned back to Davina. "Thank you," he told the witch before he, too, flashed away.

Kol grinned and turned to his mate only to grunt when he was met with a glare and an aneurysm. He chuckled when the pain went away just as fast as it had appeared, wrapping his arm around her as he flashed them upstairs to join his siblings outside Bella and Klaus's chambers.

"What now?" Davina asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Nik is already in Bella's mind, so he's with her and Edward," Rebekah answered. She turned the doorknob, frowning when she found it was locked.

Davina watched with a confused frown as the blonde muttered under her breath then reared back and smashed through the wood, making Davina flinch. She glanced at Elijah and Kol but neither reacted to the display, impartial and unaffected. "So?"

Rebekah smirked as she reached through the hole she'd made, unlocking the door and then opening it. She stepped through the threshold and the three followed behind her as she walked to the other side of the bed that was occupied by their brother and Bella. "I think it's time we meet the wanker that hurt our sister."

"Rebekah—" Elijah began, stepping forward with an obvious plan to dissuade her but she shook her head, placing her hand on Bella's head.

"No, Elijah. We have no other way of telling them… besides… don't you want to be there for our sister?" she raised an eyebrow, already knowing the answer. "It's been too long since we met a Cold One. What year was it, Kol?"

The wily fox chuckled, stepping forward as well. He liked this plan, much to Elijah's chagrin. "1912, I think, sister?"

Rebekah nodded, turning to the eldest Original. "Too long then. Come on, Elijah; where's your sense of adventure?"

"Rather displaced, I'm afraid; especially when our company will be the other species," he quipped, not missing a beat. "You know of my distaste for them all too well."

Kol chuckled at the phrasing. "Distaste? Elijah, don't be coy. Loathing is a far better descriptor for your opinion on Cold Ones." He paused to share a look and smirk with Rebekah. "Now, don't be such a spoil sport… we know you want to meet the boy who destroyed our sister just as much as we do. It'll be… fun." Kol's words were light-hearted, but the look in his eyes spoke of violence.

Elijah rolled his eyes even as he made his way to Niklaus's side, also placing his hand on Bella's head. He could not refute their beliefs; he was indeed quite keen and it seemed this was the one way they could help. He closed his eyes as Rebekah did.

Kol hung back for but a moment as he saw them slip into Bella's mind. He turned to his mate, seeing her setting up to do a spell in order to join them. He sped to her side. "No, darling, you stay here just in case something goes wrong; if it does, we'll need you to wake us up."

"You want to protect me from Edward, don't you?" she asked as she saw right through his words, raising an eyebrow. It was clear she was ticked off.

He nodded, not sorry for it. She was his mate, the woman he loved.

Davina sighed. "Fine…"

He kissed her fully on the mouth, enjoying the way her hands came up to hold his to her face. His smile was crooked as he looked down at her, pulled free from her hold, and then flashed to Bella's side, placing his hand on Bella's other cheek. Then, with a wink to Davina, he closed his eyes and entered his sister's mind.

Opening his eyes, Kol grinned as he found Rebekah and Elijah waiting for him—one impatient and the other rather apathetic as he eyed their surroundings.

"Well… I can't say I was expecting a forest," Kol said as he, too, looked around. He then smirked at Rebekah, glancing at her shoes. "I think it's safe to say those will be ruined by the end of this. What a shame…"

"Another word, brother, and the next thing to come out of your mouth will be your teeth," Rebekah spat, then smirked as she added, "and I don't think, even as handsome as you are, that Davina would like that look on you…"

With that, she turned and whooshed away.

Kol growled, stepping forward in anger, only for Elijah to stop him. They shared a look before the younger forced himself to relax. Moments later, they were following after their sister, catching up with ease as they ran through thick wood to find their other sister and brother.

What they didn't know was that Davina, as soon as she saw her mate enter Bella's mind, had sought Ansel out for the task Kol had given her. He would stand outside the door and keep watch as she joined them in Bella's mind. With the spell that Kol had taught her, she was able to land at the precise location she saw her vision occurring. Opening her eyes to familiar landscape, she took a deep breath and waited.

~TPoL~

Alice gasped as the vision hit her, glassy eyes widening. With the men out of the room, it was just Rosalie and Esme as they flashed to her, sitting on either side of her and waiting. The spiky-haired Cold One blinked as the images dissipated and, with a frown, she grabbed her cell phone, pressing speed dial for Carlisle. She waited for him to answer.

"What?"

"Sir, I apologize for the interruption, but I just had a vision… for reasons I cannot determine, I see Edward being unsuccessful," she prattled nervously, Esme and Rosalie rubbing her back and her arm in comfort. She'd never liked speaking to Father, the head of their coven, when she had seen something go wrong.

A snarl left his mouth and she bit her lip hard, wincing as she broke through skin, stinging venom hitting her lip. She righted herself in an instant, knowing Jasper would be upset with her now if she didn't. His punishments were always brutal, more so than even Father's. 

"And if we join him?" Carlisle asked after some moments.

Alice closed her eyes, a small smile on her lips as she saw a possibility…

"That could work, Sir," she answered after a moment, eyes fluttering open again.

"All right. Call that Bennett witch; we will need her help in this endeavor."

"Yes, Sir."

The line went dead and she immediately did as told whilst the other two females zoomed around the place to get ready, Rosalie contacting Emmett and Jasper to tell them the news.

None were aware of the raven-haired woman watching and waiting.

~TPoL~

Bella and Klaus burst through the bush, stopping all of a sudden and looking around to find Davina sitting against a tree. The brunette hybrid was standing in front of the younger girl in a heartbeat, displeasure on her face and coloring her tone. "What are you doing here? Kol told you to stay and watch…"

"You could hear us?" the witch asked, brow furrowing.

Bella nodded, looking back at Klaus who was facing and staring in the direction they'd just come from. She trained her hearing and understood; Edward would be approaching soon, as would the other three Mikaelsons. She turned her attention back to Davina, grabbing her elbow gently as she guided her back behind the tree.

"Stay there, okay? And don't make a sound… in fact, don't even make a sound when Kol gets here. He'll be furious."

Davina went to object when Klaus appeared at his mate's side, expression serious. "I'd listen, love; Edward will be here in less than a minute and the last thing we need for this confrontation is Kol being his usual psychotic self in defense of his mate, little witch." His eyebrow rose and she sighed, giving up with a nod as she rounded the tree, crouching and placing a protective spell on herself.

The two hybrids turned back toward the approaching Cold One, waiting, their expressions hardened as they took one last glance at each other. Anticipation soared in Bella's heart and a slow grin appeared on her lips just as Edward broke through on the other side of the clearing.

"Hello, Edward." She greeted him in just as demure a manner as she once had to. "I'd like for you to meet my mate… Klaus Mikaelson." She turned to the hybrid in question, her eyes wide and innocent but devilish as she tilted her head. "Nik, this is the asshole I was once mated to," she continued in a pleasant tone.

Klaus eyed the boy and couldn't help but chuckle, the sound quick to morph into a laugh. A snarl from Edward and he stopped, still smirking. His eyes were dancing with amusement as he eyed the Cold One but, in abrupt change, a g rowl of his own sounded as the amusement dropped, fury in his eyes and a sneer twisting his features as he stalked forward. In a flash, he had Edward gasping for air against the rough bark of a tree, his visage out.

"Hello, mate," he jeered just as his siblings arrived upon the scene.

"So this is him, darling?" Kol asked. There was a large grin on his face as he appeared at Nik's side, peering over his shoulder, his brown eyes studying. "Hm… Even Nik is more handsome than he is, and he's certainly not the easiest on the eyes."

Klaus snarled at him, half turning as he held Edward back with a hand. He said nothing as Kol raised his hands in surrender, cheekiness pouring off of him in waves as he slowly backed away a few steps then flashed to Bella's side.

"He is certainly… something," Rebekah drawled, arms crossed over her chest as she leaned against the tree next to Edward. It was clear she was unimpressed as she rolled her eyes, shaking her head. She looked to Bella. "You do know how to find them, love…"

"I think that's quite enough, Kol… Rebekah. Let us try not to anger the young Cold One too much…" Eljah intoned as he stood at Bella's side.

"Heaven forbid he try to fight back and find himself gettng nowhere, Elijah," Kol dead-panned.

"Would you lot shut up? Another bloody word and I'll tear out your tongues," Klaus growled, glaring at them.

The younger hybrid was watching with great amusement at their bickering, unaffected as she leaned against her own tree across the small clearing. She did love it when Klaus defended her and went all… hybrid-y…

Edward growled, giving a weak push against Klaus's chest but the Original's superior strength meant he made little if any progress in his attempt to break free. Kol laughed at the action and Edward's attention turned on Bella, fury ignited at the smug look in her eye, palm twitching. "I thought you'd want to fight your own battles now, my love…"

Bella growled and, in a flash, Klaus was replaced by her. But they did not stay in the same position for long as she wrenched him away from the tree trunk by his shirt and threw him across the clearing back toward her family, watching him skid in the dirt. A hungry smirk on her face, visage out, she stalked forward. "Don't you dare call me that! You want me to fight you, Edward?" She raised her hands, a smirk of true bravado on her face as her arms were outstretched at her sides. "Okay… let's fight…"

With a growl, she sped to him again, her nails digging into the marble of his neck as she picked him up and smashed his head back into the tree then threw him onto the ground. She waited for him to stand, licking her lip, and she disappeared again, blurring to his side as she dragged him back, her teeth bared at his neck and other hand scratching at his torso. He tried to grasp for her flesh but she kicked him away, sending him flying, meeting him there before he even met the ground. She grabbed both his arms and wrenched them behind his back, hardly panting as her teeth embedded in his neck. She delighted at the scream he let loose as her werewolf venom caused an explosion of sheer, shocking agony through his system.

Dropping him to the ground, she panted as she looked over him, the irony of the reversed roles not lost on her.

"I like seeing you on the ground for once… at my mercy…" she muttered, wiping her face clean with the back of her hand. "You always had the ability to make me feel like there was nothing left of me… I wonder what will happen when you feel the same…" At this point, she couldn't even remember that she had an audience. Her wolf was calling for more of his screams, wanting him to experience the pain that she had at his hands. With a growl, she smirked, picking him up and shoving him against another tree. She looked over his too-pretty features, humming at the flash behind her eyelids of them looking far more mangled… just as hers had been time and again…

"I wonder, Edward… do you remember the first time you struck me?" she mused, turning his face from side to side. She was just aware of the reactions of shock behind her, the furious growl. She heard Klaus step forward and then Elijah's hushed words to halt him. She was thankful. "It was… my cheek, wasn't it? Not too hard, but there was a bruise…"

She struck him.

"I know you won't bruise but your bones can definitely dislocate and break, can't they?" she asked with a dark chuckle. "Well, I suppose we'll find out because I believe the second time you struck me, you dislocated my jaw… Do you remember that?" she asked, and she threw him on the ground. "I screamed and even that hurt… I pleaded you with my eyes, obviously incapable of speech… and you did nothing. Told me it was my fault for goading you—how? Because I wanted to drive myself to school." She squeezed his jaw and then, with the flick of her wrist, dislodged it. She grinned as she received the same exact reaction that she'd given him, without the tears of course…

A pity; she would have loved to see him cry.

"I like you not being able to talk—perhaps just a little bit more than I like watching you… leak venom the way you used to love watching me bleed. It made you feel better." She thought for a moment and sighed, shaking her head. "Nope, for me it is definitely your inability to speak that is golden right now. By the last few months of our… relationship, I fucking hated the sound of your voice… Was that ever an issue for you?" She chuckled, shaking her head. "Hmm… well, you said you punished me because I was too mouthy, that I had to learn my place…" A memory flashed in her eyes and she looked down at him, her fingers forcing through his stone lips as she grasped his tongue in sharp talons. "Do you remember the time you threatened to remove my tongue? You didn't, of course, and I'm ever so thankful for that but… well…" she growled, lip curling up in a snarl as her nails pierced and she tugged, pulling the muscle from his mouth. She eyed it and sighed apathetically, throwing it away.

Her hand struck out at his face then, werewolf claws scarring and ripping, causing more pain but he could not scream. He could only whimper and grunt because of his dislocated jaw.

She leaned back, her hand resting on her knee, and a hoarse sound as close to a scream as was possible for him erupted when she twisted his hand and a sickening pop sounded. "Yeah… that one hurts like a bitch, doesn't it? You walked away after you did that… that time. It's probably a good thing you'd chosen my room for your venue, Edward, though I suppose in one respect it wasn't…" She sighed, standing and kicking him in the stomach, turning around and eyeing her surroundings, neglecting to look at her silent audience yet again. "See, the thing you found infuriating was that everything you did to me kept fucking healing… you know how?" she growled when he didn't look at her, kicking his stomach again and humming at the short shout of pain. "I didn't even know how at the time… All I knew was my daddy had a supply of a special medicine that healed me, no matter what you'd done to me. I just had to have a mouthful or a little more, depending on the extent of the damage, and all the pain and the injuries would disappear. Of course, now I know that it was vampire blood… Hm… I'll have to ask who he got it from… werewolves and vampires aren't supposed to get along after all, are they?"

Her tone was dry and she rolled her eyes as she looked down at him. "'Course, after that little knee thing where you left me completely unable to move, having also kicked me in the stomach," she emphasized the word by doing just that, "and scratched at my face," she swiped at his features again, "hmm… dislocated my shoulder…" He keened and groaned at the screech of her affording him the same injury. "You got curious," she spat. "You got curious as to how I was healing… you quickly found out how and then you used your mind-fuck thing to stop me from using it, only allowing it when I pleaded and told you that if you didn't, my daddy would send me away."

She thrust her foot into his ribs then, growling at the sounds of pain as they cracked. Panting, she pulled away and turned around, trying to control her anger—it was so powerful she shook with it, a permanent growl trembling in her chest and her eyes the brightest amber she'd ever known. Her eyes found her mate's and in that moment she wanted nothing more than to forget, to feel him and feel safe.

She sped into his waiting arms, sighing and burrowing into him as she inhaled his scent. His arms wrapped around her, gentle but firm enough that she felt truly safe, his chest rumbling with a soothing purr that, paired with their connective trait, relaxed her in seconds.

"I don't want to be here; how do we get out? I wanna wake up, Nik…" she whispered, her forehead pressing into her mate's shoulder. Vaguely, she could hear Edward healing at last now that the ordeal she'd been dealing him had stopped, the rustling of leaves underfoot as he stood, a growl growing louder and louder in his chest.

The other three Mikaelsons looked at one another before Rebekah came forward. She growled at the slight flinch Bella could not help when her hand came to rest on her back, but her tone was soothing when she answered her sister. She eyed Edward with fury, wishing she was the one who'd be able to hurt him… be able to kill him… but alas, it had to be Bella. "You have to kill him; either that or at least somehow push him from your mind. As a vampire, you have the ability to accept or deny a vampire entrance into your head. This is the only thing keeping you tied to him, the last remnant of your bond. If he's expelled from your mind, it's gone once and for all."

The brunette sighed and nodded, taking a deep breath as she drew on the little strength she had left. It was then that the sound of six others approaching met their ears, the bodies there just a few seconds later. They lined up, all uniform in their outfits and as intimidating as she remembered.

"I'm glad you still wear the styles our family approves of, Isabella …" Carlisle said as his eyes critiqued Bella, and she swallowed at the sounds of shock from the Mikaelsons' as they glanced at one another. But his attention remained on Bella, a smug look in his eyes. "At least that is one thing Edward will not have to punish you for when you return home to us."

Isabella swallowed, her jaw locking as she stared at him for a moment before her attention turned to the rest of the Cullens. All of them were staring at her, eyeing her in that way they always had—the way that never ceased to cause a tendril of fear down her spine. She shook lightly but took a deep breath, trying to calm herself even as the images of that past life as a pin-up doll in their coven flashed through her mind.

She had, indeed, been wearing the types of clothing approved by them rather than her own style. It was true the clothes she wore day in and day out were not as fancy—no ballroom dresses, no dresses and skirts and heals… but they still fit the profile of a Cullen.

She had tried not to, but found it impossible… so stupid that this was one thing she could change but she just… couldn't.

Feeling the concerned looks of her family behind her, she locked her jaw as her wolf growled, the growl resounding in her chest for the others to hear. They knew how damaged she was now, the extent of it; or at least, they knew more…

And Bella did not like being so damn exposed.

"You're weak, aren't you?" Jasper asked, smirking as his eyes trailed her form. Bella took a step back, her breath hitching even as Klaus's furious growl broke through the air, a comfort. She felt him behind her, leaning into him as his arms wrapped around her waist as he glared, visage out, at the Cullens. Jasper paid him no more than a glance before he was back on her again, his tone goading as he stepped forward, stalking her as she backed away. "You may have escaped, Isabella… but you're still weak, you're still Edward's… Admit it."

"No," she snarled, the old claim too much for her as Klaus's snarl mingled with her own. Her visage appearing once more, she surged forward. "No, no, no—you get out of my head!" she screamed, the winds picking up as she clutched at her head. She glared at them, furious at having been exposed like that to her mate.

Edward grinned as he saw her react, stepping forward. His tone surprised but pleasantly. "I have broken you… you're mine…"

"No, you haven't," she screamed. "You can never break me, Edward. You can go ahead and try to tear me down but I will always get back up. You taught me how…" Slowly, she pursued him, the words tearing from her with abandon. "You can take everything I have… break everything I am like I'm made of glass… of paper like I used to be compared to your strength—" she laughed, "you already have… but I will always rise above it. I have risen above it. And you can't touch me now. Mark my words, Edward Cullen, this is not the end—I am coming for you… So go—run… you can't hide from me and I won't run from you, I won't hide anymore. I'm gonna stay right here and watch you disappear in fear of what you've made me become—what you have brought upon yourself."

Then she focused on him, pushing him with her mind, clutching at her head as she glared at his unwanted presence. She screamed with the effort of purging him from her mind, killing their connection once and for all. Her eyes closed, she heard everything—heard his screams, his words, the flashes of memories from past times—every kiss, every touch, every hit, every look, until—

Nothing.

Only silence as it ended.

She dropped to her knees as the skies cried, eyes opening as tears slid down her cheeks, caught by her hands. She stared at the place he had been just moments ago, looking around and seeing nothing but smoke. Strength returning now, she stood, feeling the ghost of the connection inside her but it was easy to untangle him from her… She was drenched by the pouring rain as it mingled with the tears streaming down her face, but she smiled despite it all.

She was standing on her feet.

She blinked and it was all gone, instead her eyes were trained on the ceiling of the familiar Abattoir… her home. She looked around, searching, sitting up. Her eyes fell on him, and her breath hitched, tears filling her as she felt nothing but her love and connection to him. The one she wanted; the one she chose.

"He's gone," she whispered hoarsely, her breath hitching as a happy but shaky smile appeared on her lips. She let out a sob as the tears in her eyes expelled and began to slide down her cheeks. "He's gone… I'm free…" She breathed in deep and whimpered, burrowing into his arms as they wrapped around her, pulling her in against him and she did not fight it. "Nik, I'm—I'm yours… I'm really yours, now… I'm free… He's gone…"

~TPoL~

In a hotel room in Virginia, Edward roared, the sound of glass smashing as a lamp met its end by the opposite wall filling the room. He was surrounded by shredded bed sheets, glass, and sharp shards of utterly decimated wood.

He had failed.

He had lost her.

He clutched at the long hair atop his head, tugging as he closed his eyes and breathed in and out deeply. The Cold One searched for the connection he had once felt, the hollow fulfilment in his chest where, even though weakened, he had at least had a sense of… of having a mate out there somewhere. But now... 

There was nothing.

There was nothing left of him without her…

The woman watching smiled.

It was time.

Muttering Latin, the door opened, allowing her to walk through. She peered around at the destruction with an impassive gaze, her eyebrow raised as she met Edward Cullen's eyes.

"Who are you?" he growled, and he made to flash to her but her hand raised; he cried out at the aneurysm she caused.

She smirked. "I have a solution for you," she said. "I have my own interest in the Mikaelsons… I would like to present to you another way to fix your problems… you have lost her but that does not mean you are doomed to live a hollow life with no mate."

He snarled but said nothing, suspicious as he was. "What's this plan?" he asked in a more subdued tone some minutes later.

She smiled pleasantly, nodding. "A child with your original mate's DNA would re-spark the connection you once held with her…"

"She is unable to have children now that she is a hybrid," he growled, frustrated by another dead end.

"Not quite…" She walked in, her pace measured as her thin form skirted around upturned and destroyed furniture. "There is a spell that I think you'll find will work in your favor. The question is how much do you wish for your mate to suffer for leaving you. And… are you willing to give up on her for the chances of a mate in her child?" Her eyebrow rose, her features pulled into a superior, disdainful way; aloof in her knowledge, the power she had over him.

Edward mused, "it would kill her to think she had escaped me… built a life with her mate," he sneered, "only to find that her daughter was enslaved with no way of saving her. It would be too late by the time they realized…" He smirked, a sick pleasure inside him egging him on. "The ultimate punishment."

He stepped forward, nodding. He cared not why she was doing this, what possible motive she might have. He was hungry for revenge, and this was the sweetest. "Do it."

The witch smirked, turning to the fireplace as she reached for her neck. Long fingers wrapped around the talisman at her neck as she knelt, her eyes closing as she chanted the incantation like a prayer, over and over.

"In Unum Edito, Dominus Sae Domina. Cuplas Sino Liberos."

And, back in New Orleans, sleeping safe and sound in the arms of her mate, Bella's breath hitched and her brow creased as the change came upon her.

Chapter Text

Metric ~ Eclipse (All Yours)

Other lives always tempted to trade 
Will they hate me for all the choices I've made 
Will they stop when they see me again? 
I can't stop now I know who I am 

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid 
And you're all mine, say what they may 
And all your love I'll take to the grave 
And all my life starts now 

Tear me down they can't take you out of my thoughts 
Under every scar there's a battle I've lost 
Will they stop when they see us again? 
I can't stop now I know who I am 

Now I'm all yours, I'm not afraid 
And you're all mine, say what they may 
And all your love I'll take to the grave 
And all my life starts 

I'm all yours, I'm not afraid 
And you're all mine, say what they may 
And all your love I'll take to a grave 
And all my life starts… starts now 


Chapter 13—Eclipse (All Yours)


Kol Mikaelson's keen eyes scanned the room he'd just barged into. The snarl on his face, which was concealing his panic, deepened as he found nothing. Upon awakening and removing himself from the proximity of his brother and Bella, he'd quickly ascertained that his mate was not in the room. Originally confused, it was only once he had ventured out of the room and found Ansel standing vigil that confusion became concern.

Now, however, he was feeling particularly murderous. His visage was barely held back and that familiar lust for carnage was rising—the need to destroy as something he considered precious (someone in this case) was held from him. Whether by her own designs or not, it was of no matter. He extended his hearing and sighed with relief, worry defused when he heard her heartbeat. She was inside the compound at the very least…

And then his brow twitched, eyes tightening as he cocked his head. He concentrated on the sound of her heart.

Fluttering, quick…

He could not hear her crying which meant she was nervous. The reason, however, was—

The Original breathed in sharply as something that he had neglected whilst within Bella's mindscape suddenly sprung to the forefront of his mind. Hands curling into fists, he tried to abate his anger as it burned through him again. He knew that going out and unleashing his anger was out of the question; despite his knowing the reason why she was nervous now, her wellbeing was still at the top of his priorities. And wasn't that strange? Kol Mikaelson could not remember the last time another's wellbeing had been placed above his own, even with the Silas business…

When none had cared for him, he'd had to do so himself.

But now… now he believed he had found someone who would care for him. That in junction with the better relationships he was building with his family, and Kol felt hope he'd never had before.

Taking another breath, he pushed his thoughts away, powering himself with the familiar—a pounding anger. But he lowered it to a level that was manageable as he neared his mate. His witch's heartbeat grew louder with every second, her scent stronger, and he inhaled it with greed, allowing it to calm him.

At last he stood in front of the door, clutching the handle for a moment before turning it and pushing. He was stealthy and silent as he entered the room, watching her with a small smile on his face. But every second of it only harshened his anger, to know that this innocent image could have been taken from him forever because she had not done as he had asked—knowing the reasons why he had.

Davina bit her lip, looking down at her hands. She knew he was there, knew he was watching her. Her eyes filled with tears that were harder to hold back the longer he remained silent. It was some minutes before her expression crumpled and a little sob broke from her chest as she looked over her shoulder.

"I'm sorry."

Kol gritted his teeth, swallowing at the small whisper his fierce mate spoke in. He breathed in deeply, growling at the smell of her, swallowing. "Davina…" he began and then he trailed off, unsure what he could possibly say. He was feeling so many things: anger, hurt, concern, and an abundance of love—the combination of which threatened to overtake him. His hands twitched, muscles in his whole body bunched in anticipation for the reaction that, this time, he could not give. It took some time, but he realized what he'd have to do. Gritting his teeth and refraining from releasing the growl of frustration and almost… embarrassment—for he was so unused to this method—he looked at her from a distance.

Then he spoke.

"Are you all right?"

His tone was clipped and Davina looked away, sniffling at how so very cold it sounded. It was unlike any tone he had ever used with her thus far in their time together. She bit the corner of the inside of her lip as tears swam in her eyes and, unable to speak, she nodded.

Kol breathed a sigh of relief, looking her over for himself and breathing in her scent. Sensing her magic in the air, he nodded to himself. "Protective spell… that's how you hid yourself…" He smiled despite his anger and upset; his girl was a masterful little witch and the grin only stretched wider across his face as pride grew. The light in his eyes dimmed, however, the grin fading, at the little whimper he heard. He swallowed. "Darling…"

"I'm sorry!" she cried in a sudden burst, spinning around to look at him. Her eyes were wide and red, cheeks colored as well, and her shoulders were slumped. He watched almost in awe as a determined gleam overshadowed her shame, jaw locking defiantly. "I wanted to help. I thought maybe… maybe if you needed me, I could help." She swallowed, the determination and confidence that made him breathless gone in the same rush it had appeared in. She looked down and mumbled, "And then I could prove that I'm not useless…"

Kol growled, gritting his teeth as he cursed Bekah and Nik again. Their words had messed with his mate's head and once more he felt that impulse to give in and do things that in the past would have ensured a very long stay in his designated box.

But he stayed himself.

"You're not useless," he told her, his face set in a way that, when her head flew up and her eyes took him in, made her breathless. "Love, you are not useless. You are the most talented witch I've ever met; you show such raw promise, power, you're just… untrained." His hand cupped her cheek in a move most tender when she began to look away, his voice still soft as he continued, encouraging. "That's because of the ritual; untouched power is strongest, needed for something only performed every three hundred years. We're working on it." He smirked. "Once I'm through with you, Davina Claire, you'll be the most powerful witch there ever was."

A small smile lit her face as she looked down, the tension between them gone. Anger left Kol the longer he brushed tears from her tear-streaked face, the longer he held her, smelled her scent, and came to terms with the fact that she was safe with him and uninjured. He pulled her in closer and the kiss he pressed to her forehead produced such a blush that he could not help but kiss her again… her cheeks, her lips… everywhere he could reach. His hands gripped hers and brought them up to his mouth, brown eyes smoldering as he looked into her blue ones. That unmistakable mischief was evident when her breath hitched and her tongue peeked out to wet her lips as his teeth scraped her wrist. The sting was then soothed with a wet kiss before their lips sought one another's again.

A rush of breath was released from both and the passion overtook them in a second, a frenzy building. Davina gasped as she found herself pressed against the bookcase of old and new grimoires. Her hands already in his hair, she leaned into him, shaking a little from her nerves. Kol's eyes seared through her and she bit her lip, waiting for him to find whatever it was he was so obviously searching for.

"I love you, Davina Claire," he whispered but a moment later. His large hands framed her small face, the smile on his face gentle. The look in his eyes was tender but afire with passion, the vehemence of his voice even at the lowered volume something that resonated inside her in this little room that had become not just his, but theirs.

It was surprising, the confidence inside her at that moment. She could not find even an ounce of shock at the words. Instead, a blinding happiness before the words brimmed on the tip of her tongue, ready to be expelled from her own mouth in a rush of breath that was no more or less passionate than his own declaration had been.

But then he continued, almost desperate and a whole lot chaotic. It was the side of him that she had never seen before, only heard of from his siblings. The pang that that thought alone caused made tears well in her eyes as she tried to hush the words he spoke, all to no avail whatsoever, so acute was his need to say them.

"I wilted without magic, Davina; for a thousand years I tried to find something that would equate to that rush of power, that rush of… of life. I wanted so badly to feel that again." His hands tightened just a little on her face and he was vaguely aware of her speaking in a low and steady, urging tone, the feel of her hands on his face, on his chest, not pushing but soothing. But the sensation of that was overwhelmed by the images of his life as they flashed before his eyes every time he blinked. Refocusing on her, he grinned. "You've given me that, darling. You make me feel alive again. You are what I was searching for." The grin was gone just as quickly as it had appeared, a desperation creasing his brow, clenching his jaw. "I don't want to go back to living without that, Davina. I never want to go back to that," he whispered so none other than the one the words were intended for would hear. His eyes stayed connected to hers, searching for answers.

"You won't," she whispered back, lowering her voice as much as she could. Her hand lifted to his cheek and this time he calmed at her touch, leaned into it even. She understood the importance of this moment and she swallowed as the words that had been on her mind and that she had admitted to in her head so many times already, that had been on the tip of her tongue but that she had never had the strength to speak... finally fell from her lips. They came in a whisper but it was the strongest whisper Kol had ever heard, every word meant with a ferocity and sincerity that was undeniable. "I love you, Kol. I. Love. You."

Now it was his turn to feel a shock, and it was evident in Kol's eyes as they tightened, his brow pinching. His breath hitched at the words as they repeated in his mind. His mate loved him. Another desperation filled him, the words spilled from his lips before he could even think to hold them back. "You're mine." He'd never had someone who was his before—never had anyone at all, really. Thus it was only natural and right, in his eye, that he was thoroughly possessive of his little witch already. But hearing those words from her lips… he knew now that any who so much as dared to look in her direction would be dead in the next second. Davina Claire was his and his alone.

The teen witch blushed and looked down. It was undeniable, how much she loved to hear those words, how much she needed those words… how much she wanted to hear them over and over again. The look in her eye as she glanced back up at him made him growl low in his chest, but she was nodding. "I am," she answered, swallowing and lifting her head. She wasn't afraid. That familiar determination he loved so much in her eyes again, he drew her in closer, swallowing her words as she spoke them, "I'm yours…"

Kol's need to protect the witch only grew at her admission. Finally, he had someone who loved him, who wanted him, who was his. He would allow nothing to jeopardize that.

The growl in his chest rose and vibrated through her as he pressed her into the wall harder, stepping closer. She gasped and swallowed at the way it made her feel, her eyes staying on his as they darkened, and a small smirk curled the corners of his lips as he smelled her. "Davina…" he began, his hands coming to rest on her hips as he looked into her eyes, not saying the words and not needing to.

His little witch knew exactly what he was asking.

Davina swallowed, licking her lips, nervousness rising a little at the thought. But she could not deny the fact that it was something she utterly craved, something she ached for not only physically but emotionally and mentally. She wanted to be closer to him, she wanted the experience of…

"Yes," she breathed, the word a whisper as she slowly lifted her hands, running them up his arms to loop around his neck. Her eyes dropped from his face to follow her actions which were filled with trepidation, her heart once more fluttering quickly as she pressed her lips together. She was shaking ever so lightly as she let her eyes slowly trail from his chest to his face, connecting with his eyes as the dark brown orbs watched her.

"You're sure?" he asked, locking his jaw as he stepped closer. "Because darling, once I start, I don't know that I'll be able to stop. The need to…" he growled, licking his lip at the low moan she let out as it shook through her body which was pressed hard into his.

"Please, Kol," she asked him, her eyes showing determination then, her voice louder and level. "I'm sure. I want you…"

A possessive, pleased, rumbling purr built in his chest and her breath caught as Kol used his extra speed to grip her legs, wrap them around his hips, and flash out of the room. In less than a heartbeat, they were inside his room—the room they'd been sharing for a while now—and he had let her back down onto the ground, walking her back to the bed. "I've wanted to make you mine since the night I first saw you up on that balcony bringing every vampire of the Quarter to their knees, darling…" he told her, his tone proud and seductive, making her lick her suddenly dry lips.

And yet, despite this, she could not help but giggle at his words, blushing a little even as she raised an eyebrow at him. He gave no verbal reply as he shrugged his shoulders, barely concealing his lopsided grin as he stepped forward just once more, causing her knees to hit the side of the bed.

She sat down on it, making him have to look down at her, and her up at him. The gaze held for but a second before he pulled her back up to stand so he could slowly begin to undress her. Her breaths became pants from the first glimpse of his fingers on her skin as he took his time, running his hands down the sides of her dress to the hem. He paused again, his eyes as soft as his touch as they peered into nervous blue.

It was a request, she knew, and the witch nodded. Immediately, his fingers slipped underneath the hem, skimming the backs of her thighs and then her ass as he pulled the cotton up her body. He moved slowly, his eyes remaining on hers the entire time as the dress was pulled up her torso, up her chest and then over her head. Even still, he did not look down to view what was being revealed to him, wanting to set her at ease first.

"Lay back," he told her quietly and she swallowed before sitting again, shuffling back with both her hands flat on his King sized mattress. She watched him from the center of the bed as he shrugged out of his jacket, his fingers then curling around the hem of his brown long sleeved shirt to pull it over his head. Her breath hitched as rippled, muscled skin was unveiled, her eyelids growing heavy as her teeth scraped her bottom lip. His lips curled at that image, at the evidence of her want, and he inhaled deeply, a rumble vibrating his chest on the exhale, his eyes flashing.

"I'm glad you like, darling," he told her, his tone perhaps a little smug, the smirk on his lips curling wider. She blushed but didn't look away, her nails digging into the palms of her hands at the urge she felt. Something that Kol noticed. "Touch me, Davina Claire. Don't hide away those pretty little fingers…" His eyes softened infinitesimally, as did his smirk and the tone of his voice. There was a soft burning heat in his eyes that wasn't quite possessiveness, or lust, or love, but somehow a combination of all three and more. "I'm yours to do with as you please."

That knowledge seemed to make her grow bold as she glanced up into his eyes before slowly rising to her knees, still on the bed. He sighed at the feel of her palms pressing against his chest before they moved down, running over his abs, fingers tracing and eyes following every single move she made as she explored her mate's torso for the first time. With her distracted from her shyness, this gave Kol the perfect opportunity to finally lower his eyes and feast them upon the skin newly revealed to him, the dark brown darkening further, his cock twitching at the sight of her tanned skin, the swell of her breasts framed by the light grey cotton bra. Her curves were subtle but gorgeous, her skin tantalizing and obviously soft, his fingers aching to touch.

Feeling his gaze, she looked up to see that he had been looking at her just as she had been looking at him. With a light blush, she nodded at the request she could see in his eyes and, finally, Kol let his fingers whisper against the softness of her collarbone. They curled around her shoulders and skimmed down her arms before winding around her waist and pulling her just a little closer in his greed.

Davina paused what she was doing at the action, glancing at his face again to see the soft curve of his lips as he leaned in. His lips brushed the side of her neck and her eyes widened then fluttered closed, lips parted as her breath left her in a slow, shaky rush. She arched her neck a little more without even deciding to, a move made on instinct, the ends of her hair skimming his fingers on her lower back as she did so. In response, Kol hummed and breathed in her scent, exhaling over her skin to make her shiver. He grinned and moved his lips down to her collarbone, parting them slightly to take the bone between his lips, swiping his tongue and sucking before grazing his teeth, a swish of his tongue to play with the raw skin immediately after. She let out a tiny whimper at the teasing kiss he finished with and the sound made him close his eyes, pull back, and lock his jaw against the desire to throw her down and see exactly what else he could pull from her lips by his own design…

But his little witch was a virgin—the possessiveness at the thought that she would be all his for eternity nearly making him purr—so he had to be slow, gentle. Which he could be… for her.

If there was anyone in the world that Kol Mikaelson could be those two things for, it was Davina Claire.

And with his own needs eclipsed by her own, it was easier than he'd once have thought it to would be.

The youngest Original brother leaned back to take his mate's face into his hands, looking at her for a moment before leaning in and taking her lips with his. She sighed into the kiss, moving closer as she wound her arms around his neck. This was something she knew, something they'd done countless times, and it was easy for her to lose herself in his kiss. His hands skimmed up her back and, knowing what he was going to do, she hesitated for a split second before pressing further into him, tilting her head as he deepened the kiss, his tongue tangling with hers and exploring her mouth with more gusto to distract her from what his fingers were doing. Unclasping her bra deftly, he slid it off her shoulders, not looking down as she moved back slightly so he could take the wretched thing and throw it somewhere, anywhere—he didn't care. He just wanted it off her. He surged forward again as soon as it was gone, Davina giving a short hum as her breasts skimmed his chest, nipples already hard. Their lips met with even more passion, their need for each other rising with every layer of clothing they removed.

His hands grew bolder on her skin, moving down to cup her behind and bring her closer and she couldn't help the moan she released as his growl caused a vibration on her nipples. She rubbed them harder against his chest, stimulating them as desperation built. Sensing this, the tips of Kol's fingers dipped into her matching grey underwear whilst he nipped at her lips and her fingers threaded in his hair, breathing shaking nervously when he began to pull them down. She paused and gripped his shoulders as they reached her knees, standing unsteadily so he could pull the material the rest of the way off, balancing herself as she looked at him. His eyes darkened as he looked up her body, the angle making him groan and lick his lips. Letting the wet material fall to the floor, his fingers traced her skin on the way up to her breasts, and she inhaled sharply, breath a hiss as her core ached when his thumbs rubbed over the sensitive nubs. He purred as the smell of her arousal intensified, his mouth watering; she was right there for the taking and bare before him. He licked his lips pointedly, making her whimper and grip his shoulders harder. She wanted his mouth on her skin, feeling herself pulse, harder this time, just at the thought of what he could do to her…

The temptation too strong, he hooked his arm behind her knees and yanked with a wicked grin, catching her as she fell, chuckling at she squeal. Lowering her onto the bed, he raised an eyebrow and licked his lips as she immediately crawled backward 'til her head was at the pillows. Then she watched as he crawled up after her, reaching for him, her body knowing what she wanted, needed, even if she didn't exactly.

"Not to worry, darling… I'll take good care of you…" he said, eyes dancing, and he smirked at her when she swallowed and bit her lip, not doubting him for a second. He parted her legs, growling as he looked at her core with pure want, closing his eyes with a shake of his head. She was so wet and now her scent was so much thicker in the air, he could taste it, taste her… "Hmm… mine," he said, moving closer, stopping at her knees. He settled himself down between them, trailing his hands up her legs and grinning at the tremor that ran through them. "So responsive…" His eyes grew slightly playful, pupils blown with lust as he stared into matching, needy blue. "I wonder how you'd respond if I did this…" He swiped his hand hard through her lips, curling his fingers to flick her clit. She cried out softly, jolting into his hand and he moaned at the feel of her wet, heated, velvet skin, immediately bringing his hand to his mouth to suck her juices off them. The first taste of her and he growled, moving fast as he settled closer, hooking his biceps under her upper thighs and tugging her closer before descending.

Davina cried out even louder this time as his mouth full on devoured her, bucking into him as her fingers found themselves in his hair. Her thighs were already shaking, her expression crumbled, and she wanted to move away from so much pleasure just as she wanted to press harder for so much more. She screamed his name as he growled harder and raked his teeth along her clit then sucked, his tongue flickering out against her skin to lick up more of her essence. Gone was the need to go slow as he lost himself in her taste, in the feel of her so needy for him, his virgin mate feeling things she'd never experienced before because of him.

It made him all the more possessive, the last growl melting into another, this one louder, before he pulled back. Breath sawing out of her chest, her skin was flushed and eyes glazed over as she looked down at him, her core pounding for more. "Kol…" she whimpered, shaking. "Please… more… don't stop, give me more…"

He hummed, leaning in and licking her again, swiping his tongue hard from her entrance and up over her clit. "Is that good, darling? Do you like that?" he murmured against her flesh, his thumb pulling the hood from her clit and rubbing slow circles.

"Yes!" she moaned, gyrating her hips just a little, the pleasure making her bold. "Kol, please… I need—"

"Oh, I know what you need, my little witch…" he practically purred as he pressed a finger against her entrance. She was wet, drenched, and she quivered as he rubbed his finger over her, looping it in circles around her entrance then dipping it in before continuing the same maddening cycle. He eased his pointer finger in just a little, rubbing his hips into the bed at the feel of her. He swallowed as he fought for control, reminding himself that he didn't want her in any pain, that he had to take this slow, be gentle. Thus he paused and gave more attention to her clit as his finger slid into her, giving her plenty of time to get used to the new sensations. He paused, only giving her more pleasure as he curled his finger and searched. He knew he'd found it when she groaned and jerked her hips, pressing into his hand and mouth as he rubbed her g-spot, loosening her for another finger and then eventually another.

She came like that around his fingers, making him moan and lick all of her up as she shook and called his name, driving him crazy and making him all the harder. His breath was quick as he pulled back, sucking his drenched fingers into his mouth as he moved slowly off the bed—remembering again that he still needed to be slow, that he could not get caught up, the risk of scaring her still there. His fingers undid the button of his jeans, pulling the zipper down, and he felt her eyes on him as he pushed his jeans off of his hips before they flew to the floor. He was bare before her, not wearing any underwear, and she swallowed, clearly nervous at the sight of him.

He crawled back onto the bed, frowning a little, not liking her worry, however understandable it was. He smiled at her, taking her face in his hands and kissing her, smiling as she hummed and melted back into the covers at the touch of their tongues meeting in a dance they now knew very well. He lowered the rest of his body against her slow and easy, pausing every time he could tell her nerves had risen a little until she was relaxed and languid on the bed, his body pressing completely against hers.

They shared a sweet smile, his fingers skimming her body—up her legs, over her waist, dancing across her breasts to curl at her neck. He would mark her, and she him, the magic of the mating bond giving her the ability to do so. He could only hope that she wouldn't react negatively to such a need that was both alien and natural at the same time.

Her eyes were his prompt, the love in them calling to him, and he pressed his lips to hers as he moved his cock to her entrance. She tensed only slightly before forcing herself to relax, her hands shaking as they combed through hair then linked around his neck. She inhaled before nodding just once. He whispered those three words she already loved so much just to see her toothy smile as he entered her, pressing his forehead to hers at the feel of his mate. Even at a thousand years lived on this earth, this was a first for him in more ways than one, unlike anything he'd ever experienced.

It was a thousand times better.

Her brow furrowed and he grunted as she tightened around him in pain whilst he pushed through to the hilt, slow but determined. He paused once he was buried inside her to the hilt, lavishing her skin with his lips and teeth and tongue, making her whimper and moan and hum in pleasure. He only moved again when she whispered for him to, and her breath hitched at the feel of him moving back a little only to thrust shallowly forward, rocking more than thrusting to allow her to get used to the sensation. It was soon that she was gripping his shoulders hard, nails digging in with pleasure, as began to move with him. And then their lips met, adding to the frenzy as he made love to her harder, passionately, both of them needing and wanting more, more, more…

Then they reached it, her clamping around him and arching into him, taking all of him as they came together, riding their orgasms. She cried out his name louder than she had any time before when his teeth pierced skin to mark her as his forever more, startled but understanding as the need rose for her to do the same. She did so without hesitation after a brief look into his eyes and, now marked and bound utterly for eternity, the pair melted into one another, Kol pulling his witch under the covers as they fell asleep in one another's arms…

~TPoL~

Silas gritted his teeth, suspicion clawing at him as his eyes swept over each person in front of him, analyzing the circle of witches in front of him. They were nervous, worried they were disappointing him, and scared of what he would do to them now that they had given an answer he obviously did not like.

"You have no idea where she is?" he asked, his green eyes piercing through the elders.

"Qetsiyah has not made it public knowledge… in fact, she has been quite careful about concealing the whereabouts of your Amara's body," one of the younger ones—still older than Silas in physical age—answered, her tone quiet, head bowed.

He reacted first in anger, bristling at the word from her lips. "She is not dead so how about we stop the talk of her 'body.' I will find my mate alive, not dead," he spat scathingly. Her breath hitched and, had she been strong enough to look up into his eyes, he would have seen the naked fear within them at the tone. So inhuman, so cold… a sneer on his attractive face. "Of course the bitch is secretive. She always knew I'd get out and when I did, she'd be gone… She doesn't want me to know where she's hiding Amara because she doesn't want her little ruse to be up. She wants me stuck on the Other Side, forever separated from the love of my life…" He smirked. "Unfortunately for her, she underestimated the power of the bond of soulmates."

Finished with his rant and now calm enough to think, the witch elder's words gave him pause. She stiffened slightly as she felt his gaze on her as he turned toward her. He said nothing as he walked slowly to stand in front of her.

"Look at me," he ordered her, his voice gruff with displeasure.

Hesitating before she did so, Silas swallowed thickly at the sight of brown eyes. so much like his beautiful Amara's… This witch resembled her strongly but his soul, for all the similarities, remained indifferent; she had the same olive skin, but a thicker build, and the same colored eyes but they were different. Her features were the same and yet so innately different as well. He swallowed and looked away, the sight of her unnerving for if he looked hard enough he could see his mate and not the woman twenty years older than he truly there before him.

And some part of him wondered how much his mate would have looked like her had they simply been content with what they'd had.

Suddenly not feeling comfortable amongst this coven any longer, he took a step back. He eyed them fleetingly, glimpsing over the one that so looked like his mate and yet didn't, before his eyes found the lead Elder. "If you can't tell me anything else, I'll leave now. Perhaps another coven of witches who kiss the ground I walk on can help me…"

"Why can't you find her yourself?" a young witch blurted out, feeling offended by his words. That offence added heat to her tone that she'd have never spoken with had she controlled herself and, her eyes going wide, her hand clapped over her mouth at her own gall.

Silas gritted his teeth. He wanted to kill the girl, but instead he answered after a calming breath or six, tone gruff and irritated. "We've been separated too long; Amara is too weak and the cloaking magic that Qetsiyah is using is too powerful for such a strained bond."

The lead Elder looked meaningfully at the younger peer, who blushed and nodded once with an apology that Silas ignored. He turned his eyes back to the leader. "I'm leaving," he told her.

The older woman dipped her chin in acknowledgement and respect, keeping eye contact with him a moment longer. She looked to the east. "Go that way. You may find guidance there. But I do urge you to be careful… There are some covens in this world that fall under Qetsiyah's influence, and there are supernatural beings that have the sole purpose of—"

"Killing me. Yeah, I know. I got the memo," he said with a pissed off, bracing smirk as he revealed a healing scar on his shoulder. He shrugged. "No matter. It's easy enough to confuse them and since I got the last batch killed, it's probably going to be a while before they find five replacements. I can't imagine them finding five hunters smart enough to handle a psychic Immortal."

"I would be more concerned about your jilted ex," the lead Elder warned, raising a contemptuous eyebrow. "She may be dead but she still has eyes and ears…" Her glance at their surroundings was meaningful and loaded.

"The Other Side, I know…" Silas answered. "If she wants to stop me, the bitch is gonna have to come out and face me," he said, and he raised his voice, sure his 'jilted ex' was most likely watching from the other unseen plane. He almost got caught up in wondering where she was standing before him, the need to kill her just itching at him… He was so frustratingly close to getting the answers he desperately needed, his mate suffering every second he spent trying and failing to find her.

He refocused on the coven in front of him, smiling pleasantly. "Thank you for your help."

The witches nodded as one, watching as he turned and disappeared.

"Why did you not tell him of the Harvest Girl, the newest mate to be found of the Original vampires?" a younger girl, barely in touch with her magic, asked. She had of course not been present at the Mikaelson ball herself, but the coven leader had sent one of the other elders in their place as representation just as every other coven in the world had. By now, every supernatural being world wide knew of Isabella Swan and Davina Claire, and the dangers that swarmed them—in particular the Original Hybrid's mate. Witches all over were also aware of the war brewing. "Her magic would be strong enough to find his mate…"

The lead Elder shook her head, sighing and rolling her shoulders before turning back to the group. "Kol Mikaelson would kill anyone he deemed a threat before they had the chance to come near his mate. And do not forget he is spawn of the most powerful witch this world has had since Silas and Qetsiyah. He himself was a prodigy. His passion for witchcraft never left him and he has run with our kind, mingled, for centuries. He knows more than any one coven from his travels. Thus, he is far too knowledgeable about Silas… He knows exactly what would need to be done to make the unkillable killable."

She left it at that, leaving in silence back for her own tent. She paused, one hand draping back the curtain, as she turned to look at the moonlight sky, a small smile on her face that gave way to a worried frown at the stars. The lead Elder turned back to her fellow witches. "We will leave tomorrow, prepare your things tonight. I fear it is no longer safe for us to stay here…"

And true to her word, the nomad coven were gone without a trace by dawn the next day.

~TPoL~

"When will we know she is pregnant?" Edward asked, his eyes following the raven-haired witch's movements almost obsessively.

The woman paused, a look of distaste and annoyance on her face as she stood to her full height. Her expression cleared just before she turned to him, a small smile on her lips instead. "You will hear about it, I am sure. The news of a miracle child will travel fast, cause a ripple in the supernatural community that will undoubtedly reach you sooner or later. You must simply be attentive and listen." Then she walked for the door. "You will not hear from me again; my role here is fulfilled…"

"It isn't if you have not given me a mate," the Cold One growled, speeding to stand in front of her. The witch was not intimidated. Quite to the contrary, it seemed she couldn't care less about the fact that a being stronger and deadlier than her, was angered and seconds away from an outburst. It gave the copper-haired teen pause, made him frown, belatedly suspicious of his new sort-of ally, but he recovered quickly and stepped forward. "If Isabella is not pregnant you have not succeeded, you have not given me what you have promised."

She smirked, unfazed as he stepped closer. Instead she watched as the coven gasped and fell to their knees, clutching their heads. She walked through the threshold. "If she is not pregnant, I will return to you. But do not accuse nor insult me before you have received your gift, Edward," she warned. "I have the power to give just as I have the power to take away…"

And with that final word of almost foreboding warning, she was gone.

It never even once occurred to the impulse frozen seventeen year old child that the witch's agenda was far different to his own… so tempted to trade one life for another, he never thought to wonder why this stranger was so inclined to give him a mate.

Never realized that perhaps she had her own machinations for the child to come.

~TPoL~

In New Orleans the following day, a mated pair woke to the serenity of a full bond in one another's arms, still recovering from the trauma of the night previous. The sun hidden by clouds, the room was filtered by a soft glow as Klaus, the first to wake, held his still sleeping mate.

But not for long as her breathing indicated only minutes later the first sign of her awakening, a smile on her lips as she began to move a little.

"It feels different…"

Bella's voice was but a whisper as she lay in her mate's arms, head on his chest as her hand traced patterns on his side. She sighed contentedly and made no move to open her eyes, burrowing closer as she felt her Hybrid's arms around her tighten, shift. A shudder ran down the brunette's spine as his large hand slid up from her behind to wrap around her waist, hoisting her up his body.

"What does?" he asked, his own voice just as quiet. Hand curling around her cheek, his thumb rubbed back and forth as his eyes wandered her features, taking in the smile on her lips, the sparkle in her eyes. His hand twitched with the desire to sketch, to paint—somehow immortalize her beauty in this moment as they lay bathed in muted sunlight.

Brown eyes widened a little, plump red lips parting as she shifted to lay higher on his chest. Her elbow rested on his body as she cupped her jaw to look down at him, memorizing just as he was. Both his hands came to rest on the small of her back as she inhaled and looked away as she spoke. She was quiet, the conversation not something she wanted others to hear. It was just for them as the two shared their own world. "You… this…" she tried to explain inadequately, and he smirked, amusement dancing in his eyes.

She gasped as she found herself on her back, laughed softly and grinned as his stubbly lips pecked at her skin, lavishing it with attention as her hands came to his hair, to pull him back.

"I think if anything, love, you feel quite the same…" he breathed between kisses to her flesh, innuendo strong as the purr in his voice when he leaned back to look at her. His hair was mussed, eyes smoldering but light with happiness at the sound of her carefree laugh. There was a hint of a growl rumbling in his chest as he leaned down again, scraping his teeth along her neck, making her moan and wrap her legs around his hips in a flash, thighs squeezing.

"Nik…" she hummed, licking her suddenly dry lips before tugging on his hair and dropping her legs from around his waist. "I'm serious… it's different now; I'm all yours…" Her hand combed through his hair, scratching at his scalp, and she grinned and bit her lip as he leaned into her touch with a loud and proud purr emanating from his chest.

"That you are…" he whispered, eyes glinting a dark, attractive amber that sent shooting arousal through her body. "All mine…"

She swallowed. "And you're mine…" she whispered, gnawing on her lip almost nervously. And just like that, the atmosphere changed, heating up as a searing feeling rose inside her chest and spread through her entire body. Her lips parting as her eyes narrowed in on his neck, her body seemed to throb in time with his heartbeat, with the throb of the artery in his neck, her gums aching. There was a drive within her, something she felt compelled to do, and her breath hitched, a whine rising as the image of her teeth buried in his neck flashed behind her eyelids with every blink. "Nik…"

The Original in question licked his bottom lip, eyes amber and head cocked as he stayed above her, arms locked to hold his position. He could feel it, the urge inside her, and his cock twitched at the phantom feel of her lips on his neck, of her fangs sinking deep and searing her mark on his skin forever…

"Follow your instincts…" he told her, eyes serious but hooded with need. "You want to claim me as yours as I've already done to you... and you can now that the connection you once felt to another is gone… making you mine and mine alone…" The words were a growl, his jaw clenched, eyes flashing as he glimpsed at her neck, the desire crippling to reopen the mark that was on excellent display. He forced his eyes back up to hers to continue, muscles bunched. This was about her; she carried his mark already whilst he was without hers, and he wanted it… he wanted her teeth buried in his neck. "Give in to your urges, little wolf…"

Bella licked her lips, the need in her making her clench her thighs and the moan that emanated from his chest was coarse and desperate, released just a bare second before he lowered himself over her, their lips crashing together as she arched up into him. Her fingers threaded through his hair and she growled, flipping them again and straddling his hips, on her knees above his lap. She tugged the thick curls atop his head once, her breath quickening as his hands ripped clothes from her body effortlessly before drifting over the bare skin of her torso. They ran firmly up her sides, conforming to her breasts to play with hardening nipples and she whimpered, nipping at his lips as she bore down on his clothed erection. A split second later it already wasn't enough, a growl in her throat as she ripped the jeans and every other article of clothing that she had not allowed him to pull away from her last night to remove off his body in seconds, the shreds surrounding them as she settled above him, pushing hard on his chest.

"Mine," she growled, the wolf inside her rising, eyes flashing and nostrils flared.

"Yes…" He smirked and wrapped his arms around her, using his superior strength to bring her in against him hard, her breath hitching as he rolled his hips against her pussy. Her hands clenched his shoulders as she righted herself and moaned, crashing her lips onto his as he continued his ministrations. She let him as she sucked his tongue into her mouth, hand in the soft tufts of hair at the back of his head as she wrapped her legs tight around his waist, sitting in his lap. She smirked when he snarled as she leaned back, pulling away to look at him, to run her hands along smooth, rippled, lightly-muscled skin, her eyes taking in every centimeter of him with such greed, such possessiveness, that the cock pressed against her entrance only twitched harder.

"I want to mark you everywhere."

Klaus hummed his acquiescence and understanding, knowing the urge well. He gripped her hips and brought her down on his length harder, a hand escaping to wrap around himself briefly before she slapped the hand away. He looked up at her, somewhat annoyed she could tell by the lock of his jaw, and she smirked, eyebrow raised as she replaced the hand with her own, stroking hard, teasing, running her nails lightly on the underside before she positioned herself and slammed down.

The younger hybrid cried out, arching into her mate, head falling back as her features crumbled in pleasure. She rocked her hips as his fingers wound through the hair at the back of her head, fisting it with a possessive growl of his own. He yanked her back to see more of her body, raking his teeth over her nipple before sucking it into his mouth, flicking his tongue just to feel her clench around him. His eyes smoldered as he looked up her gorgeous body, feeling her fingers in his hair pull him closer. The other arm at her waist wrapped around her tighter to control their thrusts, fucking her deep as he pulled her down onto him again and again, occasionally switching up the angle to hit her sweet spot dead on.

A plethora of moans, gasps, and whimpers left her mouth as he controlled the actions of her claiming. It was minutes before she remembered the fact that this was her time to make him hers, that she should be in control and that she damn well wanted to be. She wrenched him off her breast at that point, pulling off his cock with a hum, and shoving him back into the pillows hard. On all fours, she crawled over his body, smirking like the predator she was at the heated, wanting look in his eyes as they moved over her, seeming to catch on her swaying breasts. His nostrils flared and then his dark blues flashed to her brown, but she caught his wrists in a binding grasp and pushed him back.

"No, Niklaus… I'm already marked, remember… and yet your skin is entirely bare…" she growled, eyes narrowing, her tongue flickering over her top lip before she bit her bottom one with her fang. He moaned as her hand encircled his cock, stroking hard and rough just once, twisting to catch the precum on his head in the palm of her hand. She hummed, eyes flashing as she smirked at the way he thrust into her hand with a snarl, eyes fluttering closed as he was pushed down once more into the mattress. "Stay just like that, my mate… it's my turn to fuck you…"

He grunted at her words, eyes flashing once more with his wolf as he raised an eyebrow. The hint of a smirk on his lips, he gestured to his lap. "Then by all means, love…"

A purring growl, she was on him in a flash, her fingers threading through his on either side of his head, pressing them harder into the pillows for leverage. The younger hybrid ground her pussy down along his cock, riding him and smirking as Klaus raised his hips into her, wanting more, but she rose off him until he settled himself back down on the mattress, jaw clenched with impatience. She hummed and leaned down over him, licking her lips, his eyes flickering between them and her eyes. His hands clenched into fists and his eyes rolled back into his head as she lowered her body over him again, still not taking his cock inside her, a moan that vibrated through his body also passing through her parted lips.

"Do you want me to fuck you, Nik… hmmm… want me to claim you?" she whispered against his lips, rolling her hips, her whole body settling higher on him as she leaned her forehead against his, her hair cascading around them, shutting them out from the rest of the world. Every breath and he could only scent her—her arousal, her skin, her breath… it made it all the harder to let up his own control so that she could play him, when he wanted so much to turn her onto her stomach and fuck her hard into the mattress, stake his own claim…

"Isabella…" he spoke, voice low, a growl in his tightly controlled voice. His eyes bore into hers. "Yes…" he hissed, jolting his hips against her pussy, making her moan.

"Hmm…okay," she breathed, and then she was gone, sitting up straight again, hands on his chest as she slammed down onto his cock again. He groaned, moving his hands without permission though she didn't care as his fingers plucked at her nipples, twisting and rubbing and rolling them in his palms to heighten her pleasure as her walls clamped rhythmically around his cock. She whimpered. "You feel so good… Nik-klaus…" she cried slightly, voice cracking, bearing down on him harder and biting her lip as she rode him, rocking her hips back and forth, unrelenting and fast and needy.

He purred, a smirk on his lips as he dug his heels into the mattress. With a snarl that matched the satisfaction in his eyes, he jolted up into her and they rutted against one another like animals in heat, his hands ever moving on her skin, to yank and pull her this way and that for their combined, shared pleasure. He watched the sway of her breasts, watched her expression as she grew closer, growled at the way she tightened and tightened and tightened around him, the coil in her abdomen almost growing to be too much of an ache that was unfulfilled…

She needed more.

And when her eyes opened, blearily looking down below her at the man giving her so much pleasure, she knew what was missing the second her eyes fell to his neck. A growl burst from her chest, filling the room as she swooped down, fingers under his head curling into hair and tugging him to a good angle. She slowed herself down as she felt his nails dig into her hips, using the extra leverage to thrust harder and faster. Her tongue swirled along his skin, her teeth joining to suck and bruise the column of his throat. His own growl matching hers perfectly, he brought her down harder onto him, pulling her head closer as he tilted his head and arched his neck for her, offering himself up on a silver platter, ripe for the taking.

And take she would.

"Mark me, love," he urged her, pleading, the three simple words all the encouragement she needed. She whimpered as she bared her fangs, moving back before slamming forward, nearly falling into him completely as his blood burst on her taste buds, filling her mouth then sliding down her throat like the warmest hot chocolate, sweet and rich and perfect. She cried out into his neck as she came around him, the taste of him as she claimed him, teeth searing a mark onto his skin that was permanent and binding combined with the feel of his cock inside her, massaging her as he moaned hard and long and loud from the sensations she was evoking in his body all overthrew her. She descended into a haze of pleasure as their connection flared to the highest of heights, finally entirely complete and secure.

For now he was hers just as much as she was his, one connection eclipsed by another, this one finding its foundation in choice and love and equality. Now, she was not afraid—and she had no true reason to be...

The feel of his release inside of her caused a purr and she pulled back to lick and seal the mark, her eyes wide as she took in the sight of it. The pleased rumble in her chest grew louder as she calmed, the frenzied unease she'd had brewing inside her ever since awakening her wolf now gone. In its place was a serenity she could never have imagined.

She collapsed on his chest as they panted, grins on their faces as they each nuzzled the marks on the other's skin. The feel of them being touched provided sensations not there previously and they quickly became lost in one another again.

All the while, they were entirely unknowing of the life they had already created, the witch's spell having taken affect.

~TPoL~

Some days passed and they were in the week of Thanksgiving. A calm had once more engulfed the inhabitants of the Abattoir, only this time it was genuine and long-lasting, accompanied by a sense of victory that had everyone in good spirits.

It was on a slow but sunny weekday that Isabella sat reading a book in the open courtyard at the heart of the compound. She was content in the light breeze, the heat staving off any cold to hit her pale skin, supernatural perks meaning she could feel the dual sensation of cold and hot without truly being affected. She was content to be on her own during this particular hour just gone midday, her wolf able to sense her mate, attuned to the sound of his paintbrush on canvas, comforted by it. The fingers of her left hand rose to play with the mark on her skin and she sighed, calming even further.

The various other vampires and witches and werewolves of the building were off in their own world, two mated pairs wrapped up in each other whilst the two Originals without their mates were out conducting their own business… meaning Rebekah was most likely compelling herself a new wardrobe while the eldest was off no doubt holding some meeting, presumably with the city council on some issue or another.

Bella refused to touch on the subject of Ansel, whose presence within the Abattoir walls could have only been described as ghostly. Near three weeks he'd been here now and there was no sign of him ever venturing out to find his son. Though the younger hybrid could only presume he was waiting for her stubborn mate to come out of his damned art studio to find him.

Men, she sighed, frustrated, her lips pulled up into a lopsided, sardonic smile. She had no idea if it were the werewolf gene that made obstinacy more pronounced—for she, too, was known to be quite stubborn—but those two idiots would never find a resolution for their relationship if they kept away from one another and pretended the other didn't exist. Well, at least it was Klaus who was doing that… she had seen the look in Ansel's eyes whenever all three resident wolves somehow managed to be in the same room—a rare occurrence to put it mildly. She knew that the former Alpha's greatest desire was to be more acquainted with his son but damn if he wasn't going about actually telling his insecure son as much in entirely the wrong way. But there was nothing she could do, anyway; she hadn't it in her to push Nik toward his father when the Original Hybrid had not a clue what to do with a father he'd wanted all his life. She just couldn't do it.

She was fucking Team Switzerland, she decided with a decisive nod, her expression steeling before she turned back to her book, almost glaring at the words, daring them to provoke more of these maddening thought patterns as she determinedly set about reading once more. She allowed her body to relax as much as it could back into the chair, her legs bent at the knees and tucked under her bum, a serene smile on her face in minutes. It was nice, but something she was still not quite used to... this freedom from prodding and sudden harrowing visions of the family she had come to be a part of, come to love, all dying around her as she was made to watch by Edward. She honestly doubted she would ever truly get used to it.

Finally settling into the book in her hands, Bella was off in her own world, reading and thinking and relaxing in the sun. Thus she did not hear Klaus's phone ring, or the sound of him zipping away from the canvas he was currently working on to answer it.

"Elijah," he commented in greeting, his tone even as he sauntered back to the easel and collection of paints. He pressed the phone to his ear with his left hand as the right took up another paintbrush, this one thinner, which he swiped through a muted, sedated blue then dabbed repeatedly on the palette to spread the paint evenly on the brush. Then he plotted it onto the canvas, adding extra detail here and there to his latest work. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I was merely finishing up some business, Niklaus, and thought I would call to see if your mate was still where she was when I left this morning," was the elder's response. His tone was cool, revealing nothing as he looked around then crossed the street, entering a café just outside city limits.

All this the blond in his art studio could hear as he paused mid-stroke. His eyes narrowed as he put the paintbrush down, suspicion fighting anger. Edward's invasion into Bella's mind had caused his protectiveness to soar to new heights as of late. "And why do you want to know that, brother? What concern is my mate of yours?"

A smirk appeared upon Elijah's lips as he sat at a table pre-agreed upon, listening out for the person's arrival. He could hear the purr of the car, meaning they were close and this conversation could not last much longer. "Do you recall, Niklaus, the conversation we had perhaps a week ago?" he prompted. He had taken Klaus's answer before to mean that the dear Isabella was indeed within Abattoir walls and as such he had no intention of spilling the beans prematurely.

It was a short second before The Hybrid answered, his posture straightening, his voice lowering in volume. "You said you would keep me informed of any developments," he said, his anger barely concealed. He stretched his hearing to his mate, taking in her calm and even breathing, allowing it to calm him.

"I said I would, yes, and I am," Elijah calmly responded, used to his brother's jumps in suspicion and anger. Thus, he worked to placate him with solid fact and a strong tone that was unyielding just as it was even. "I placed the suggestion immediately after our conversation and have only received confirmation of movement this morning."

The car stopped on the other side of the road, both Mikaelsons listening as the door opened and then closed, footsteps following.

Klaus's jaw locked and he took a hard breath, exhaling as he picked up his brush. He repeated his process of acquiring paint onto it then dabbing and stroking it onto the canvas, swirling the instrument firmly in water before changing to another color; a violent, murderous blood-red. "Keep me informed, Elijah," he warned heatedly then he hung up before the brunet could so much as fill his lungs in preparation to speak, focusing his energy on the easel in front of him, listening to the breeze play with his mate's hair, the calm even pumping of her heart his ideal musical accompaniment.

It was not fifteen minutes later that he received a simple line of text from Elijah and he took a breath, opting to leave the easel as it was so the now-complete painting could dry. He again listened to his mate's heartbeat and breathing, smiling to himself as he whooshed down to join her.

She grinned as she looked up, the breeze picking up and the noise of his arrival bringing her out of her book-induced haze. The grin on her face influenced one of his own to stretch across his lips, and the Original Hybrid leaned an arm on the table, watching her then glancing at the book she clasped loosely in her lap.

"What are we reading, love?" he asked her softly, raising an eyebrow and leaning forward to catch the book which she used her speed to blur out of reach. Instead, she moved her fingers to reveal the title. "Another classic…" he said with a chuckle, amusement playing in his eyes as he stared at the worn cover of Dracula.

"I figured it was one of the must-reads for any relatively new addition to the vampire community," she giggled, folding the top corner of the page she was halfway through then closing the book in her lap.

"Of course," he said with a smirk. "Kol and I were quite amused by Bram Stroker's interpretation of our species. Kol was contemplating meeting with the author but Elijah quite vehemently refused… although that may have something to do with our younger brother's desire to compel the writer to include the true version of a vampire in his next book…"

Her lips twitched. "I can see why that might have been a problem…"

"Indeed…" he answered, tone somewhat more serious. He looked back at the book. "Are you enjoying it?"

She shrugged. "It's quite a bit tamer than I thought it would be. And very amusing as a half-vampire, I'll admit. I don't think I'll read it again though…" She grinned. "I'll stick with my Austen and Bron..." She trailed off as her breath hitched, her wolf rising as a powerful tug straight from her heart almost lurched her from her seat. The hybrid gripped the arms of the chair hard, analyzing the sensation, vaguely aware of her mate's arms closing around her, a rumbling growl aimed to comfort and calm emanating from his chest and vibrating through her entire frame.

But the sensation was not bad. In fact…

"Daddy?" she whispered, gone in a blur, the loose arms around her easily broken of their hold as she whooshed to the gate. She swallowed thickly as she stretched out her hearing, eyes wide as she heard the car, the heartbeat, felt the tug forward again, that awareness of family expanding to engulf another person. Someone she never thought she'd see again.

Her father.

A whimper straight from her wolf left her, a tremble in her frame, emotion clawing at her throat and stinging her eyes. She remembered vaguely, what seemed like a lifetime ago, driving past the police station with a whispered goodbye on her lips, an apology as she ran for her life, abandoning her beloved father, the parent she felt a stronger connection to.

Now so much had happened and the thought of seeing him again did not have her in nervous stitches, afraid for his anger as perhaps she should have been. She was nervous in the regard that she worried what her werewolf father would have to say about her running, but about Nik… she was not afraid; Charlie Swan could say whatever he wanted. She only feared he would hate her for the choices she'd made.

Even then, she knew she could not stop now that she knew who she was, who she wanted to be, and Nik made her shine.

Her life had only truly started when she found him, fell in love with him, unlocked her wolf, and thus had started the journey to become who she was always meant to be…

The only thing she wanted was to give in to the overwhelming need for her father to just hold her, for her to breathe in his scent and let his calm wash over her. It was a triumph within itself that she would see him again, a thought she'd have never thought possible not too long ago.

Emotions lost to her now, she felt arms around her waist and her breath hitched as she turned into Nik, again blindingly happy and feeling so fucking lucky. Another window had opened back up to her because she'd had the ability to choose and she had chosen him.

Then the car stopped just meters away and she swallowed, shaky as she looked over her shoulder, turning just a little in her mate's arms. The tears in her eyes dispelled as she squeezed them shut, the figure in front of her getting out of the car nothing but a blur. But that was okay, because she knew… she simply knew that it was him.

"Daddy…" she whispered thickly, becoming a blur as she moved into his open arms and she finally let out a sob as she felt it. Warmth, safety, security—her father's arms locking around her and pulling her closer, a grumble in his chest straight from his own wolf.

"My little Bells," he whispered, his hand on the back of her head as he pulled her closer, pressing a kiss to her hair then resting his cheek against her head, his eyes closing. He could tell that she was a wolf now and his heart ached at the thought that his little girl had unlocked her gene, something he'd never wanted for her, something Renée would have, if she knew, been devastated by. He leaned back to take his daughter's face in his hands, looking at her, seeing the amber of her wolf just as she saw his. He smiled shakily and traced under her right eye. "My beautiful baby girl…"

"I'm sorry," she whimpered, burying her face in his chest and biting her lip hard to keep from sobbing, her body antsy in her upset. "I… I had to leave, I didn't know… I had to so he wouldn't… he would have… I thought he could have killed you… I didn't want to l-leave…"

"I know," he whispered, the words strong and understanding, and it was all she needed to hear. With a low whine, she settled in his arms, her own wrapped around him as she breathed in his scent over and over. She didn't think of the fact that this could only be a temporary visit; that her father would have to leave once more at some point—at least she thought he would. Wouldn't he? She sighed and pushed the thought away, burrowing harder and squeezing her eyes shut. She didn't want to think about that right now.

Internally, Charlie's wolf was growling, hackles raised as he took in the obvious emotional turmoil his daughter had been through. He half blamed himself, but most of it was directed at the Cullens. His eyes raised as he felt another wolf he seemed loosely connected to nearby, and they narrowed on the blond watching them steadily, expression removed but eyes a storm as they stayed focused upon his daughter.

Feeling this, Bella straightened in a flash, her intelligent father immediately picking up on the fact that her supernatural speed was faster than it should be. He cast that question aside for later. That mattered not half as much when compared to the fact that his little girl was leading him toward another man, the love and nerves in her eyes only equaled by what he could see in the blond's.

"Daddy," she said, tone falsely strong as she stood between the two males. "This is my mate, Nik. Nik, this is my father, Charlie."

There was silence for a while, the Original Hybrid eyeing the wolf in front of him, Charlie Swan doing the same, his eyes narrowed. Then he sighed. "You're something extra. So is my daughter, but you're more powerful. I'm presuming you changed her?" His tone gave nothing away, hard and unrelenting, expecting an honest answer and promising anger if it was not readily given. He could also sense that the man in front of him was infinitely more powerful than he was, but that didn't matter at all in light of the fact that this was about his daughter.

Klaus glanced at Bella. "I did, yes..." He swallowed, locking his jaw. "My name is Klaus Mikaelson. My family and I are—"

"The first vampires in history, and you the first and only Hybrid," Charlie blew out in a breath. He was more than a little shocked. His daughter, mated to the Original Hybrid. Every parent knew their child was capable of greatness and deserved the world, but… the Original family now his family? That was a hard pill to swallow. "So my daughter is a hybrid now?" he asked, his voice harder, louder.

"I asked him to change me, Dad," the younger hybrid in question answered, her own voice firm as she saw Nik's eyes tighten. She stepped between them, pressing her back into her mate's front, taking his hand and feeling the Original's muscles relax as their connective trait soothed him. "There's a lot to catch up on…"

"So it would seem…" Charlie said, officially dropping the topic—at least for now—at his daughter's glare. But he sent one final look back to her mate, one that said this conversation was not over, the stare matched and understood. He sighed. "All right, let's… sit somewhere. Have a nice catch up or somethin'…"

Bella nodded sharply, jerkily; she turned to Klaus. "We can do that. Nik…"

Charlie took a moment to stare at her though, not moving as he did so, looking his child over again and then frowning. "You still dress like them…"

Bella swallowed, abruptly uncomfortable as she felt Nik stiffen behind her, his arm wrapping around her waist. She could hear the almost imperceptible growl rising in his chest. She sucked in her cheeks and bite the left side as she looked down. She shifted under the weight of her father's worried stare and her mate's actions. "I…" She glanced up at him. "Can we please sit before we do this?" she begged him.

Charlie nodded with a sigh, incapable of saying no to her, and Klaus led them to a more comfortable setting. Seeing the look on his mate's face as well as her father's, Niklaus refused to leave them alone together as he'd thought to a moment ago. His mate needed him, and even her father could acknowledge that. Instead, he sat beside her, his arm around her tensed and nervous form bringing her comfort as she sighed and leaned into his touch, their light a balm to her soul.

"I know their mold his hard to break out of so... I brought you something," her father began once they were all settled, his tone soft. He rose just as the door opened then abruptly paused at the sight of some minion bringing in the bag he'd left in the boot of the car, sitting warily as the vampire put the bag down in front of Bella then flashed out. There was a moment of unease before he decided to simply ignore what had just happened, focusing his attention to watch his daughter with a small smile as she opened the bag. Her eyes widened.

"My clothes…" she breathed, swallowing as she glanced up at her Dad then picked up a flowy, floral top and a pair of leggings, dropping them as she brought out a loose, relatively plain dress. She frowned in confusion. "How…? I thought Alice torched them that day…" Flashes of memory hit her as she remembered coming home to an entirely new wardrobe, the clothes she'd loved so much—some hand made by her grandmother, some gifts from her family—and the style that was so entirely her swapped out for designer bullshit that screamed of another girl. It had hit harder than she ever would have expected it to when she was already floundering with so many other changes that she had no ability to thwart and rebel against at the time.

"She did most of them," the wolf answered gruffly, "but not all. I managed to… persuade her… to give me some things." He took a moment to simply enjoy his daughter's reaction as she smiled to herself and picked at the pull of a cotton dress's hem, one that she remembered with a grin that her Grandmother had given her the last Christmas they'd had together. It still fit. Her eyes were drawn away as she heard her father shifting, leaning forward, his elbows braced on his knees. "I know that it's hard, baby girl, something as fundamental as dressing the way you choose. It's why I thought this would work. Instead of buying new things I wanted to give you back what they stole from you, at least as much of it as I was able to save…"

Bella smiled at him, the look watery, her hands shaking slightly as she held the clothes in a tight grip. She knew he was right. Buying new clothes for herself would have been difficult, and she never would have worn them, not with the ease she could wear these—what was taken from her in the first place, now rightfully returned. Already she wanted to run to the bedroom, strip off the clothes she had on now, and immerse herself in the small hint of pre-Cullen, pre-broken Bella, wearing clothes in the style she adored. "Thank you," she whispered, pressing herself harder against her mate as her emotions overwhelmed her, needing the light only he could give as it pushed everything away.

There were several minutes of silence before Bella could not take it any longer. The brunette cleared her throat and seemed to steel herself, wiping her eyes a final time before looking up at her father. "How long are you staying?" she asked as she rose from her mate's side. Her father stood as well, seeing that she wanted to escape, her wolf feeling caged.

"Not too long," he told her softly. "Elijah said that we should stay in hiding still just in case. We all know I don't need to be there, but we also all know your mother will pitch a fit and leave if I don't return." His tone was dry, full of exasperation as he shook his head. "You know what your mother is like, Bells…" There was a hint of that old anger, that resentment that Bella had never uncovered the reason for in his voice, and that familiar feeling of her father once again meaning more than he would ever fucking say.

"Yeah," she whispered vacantly, trying not to let the tears spill over at his confirmation of what she already knew. She took a breath and beat back her emotions, smiling blandly then turning and taking her clothes, flashing out of the room. Klaus was already on his feet to follow but stopped at the door when he heard Charlie address him.

"I think it's time we had a chat," he said, his tone firm.

Klaus's jaw locked at the order—for that was what it was—and he took a breath, looking down with his hands in fists before looking over his shoulder. He flashed to stand in front of his mate's father despite every particle of his being calling for him to go after her and comfort her. The two stared at one another, their eyes tightening at the sound of Isabella's sobs from their bedroom. The Original Hybrid said nothing as he waited impatiently for the man to speak, wanting him to be done with it already so he could comfort her; it was painful for him not to be there with her already.

And start Charlie Swan did.

"What's happened since my daughter ran away?"

It was a simple question but it was spoken in such an iron tone that Niklaus Mikaelson, the Big Bad Wolf, had no choice but to tell him everything; their meeting, the symptoms getting worse, her kidnapping, finding her in wolf form, the condition she had been in... all the way up to her ending the connection to Edward by choosing him.

Once down, Klaus waited but received nothing like the reaction he'd been expecting.

Instead, Charlie Swan sighed and sat back down, taking several moments to think before he looked up at the blond still standing in front of him, his gaze hard.

"Look, I don't know you, but I know of you. Every damn werewolf out there does. Your origin story is something every wolf kid hears of in our world. And I'm telling you now that if you hurt my daughter, bring that little girl up there any more pain than she has already experienced, I will find a way to fucking kill you. Because she means more to me than you will ever understand."

"I love her; I would never hurt her," Klaus answered, his tone clipped and angry, a growl disguising the words into something barely understood. His eyes flashed amber, nostrils flared as he stepped forward but he took in a deep breath through his clenched jaw to calm himself. This was Bella's father, he reminded himself. "I would tear apart cities just to make her smile, kill every single being on earth to keep her safe. Make no mistake that I am every bit the monster you've heard of… but I would be far worse for her, if that was what she wanted... if she were threatened."

Brown searched blue, the two locked in a long stare before the father answered with one word.

"Good."

They parted ways then with a terse shake of hands, the Original Hybrid flashing out of the room with a speed the Chief had never experienced. With that conversation out of the way, Klaus now focused on his mate and his need to get to her, the older man's daughter.

And Charlie Swan smiled as he listened to the man he hardly knew, but the man that he knew his little girl loved, take her into his arms and comfort her. His wolf calmed as he knew then that his Bells would be taken care of just as she had always deserved to be.

~TPoL~

A few more days passed until the twenty-eighth, Thanksgiving, fell upon the Mikaelsons. It was just dusk as a nervous young hybrid looked in the mirror, biting her lip as she smoothed the cotton fabric of her knee length dress. She smiled to herself as her eyes took in the older image of a much changed girl in the clothes she loved.

The past few days as Bella had woken, this was her ritual—trying on clothes from another time before vampires and Cold Ones and mating bonds. Only this time would be the first time she walked out of the room with them on, the clothes of the Cullens gone.

She was not afraid.

Taking one last breath, she squared her shoulders, smiling as the nicely falling fabric spun around her as she turned toward the door. On her feet were ballet flats that her father had also managed to save for her; they were a little worn from the amount of love they used to get from frequent wears.

But they were hers, her choice, not one made for her.

A knock sounded on the door and she turned to see blonde hair peeking through and then blue eyes as Rebekah slipped through. She took in the sight of the girl, smiling to herself at the very Rebekah style dress. "You look good," she complimented warmly.

The youngest Mikaelson sibling smiled. "Thank you. So do you, although we may have to do something about those shoes, love…? They're looking a little worse for wear…"

Bella shrugged. "I like them."

The blonde said nothing more on the subject, instead sighing as she pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. "Nik is complaining downstairs," she informed her sister. "Something about having agreed to a little sprucing up and not the bloody parade of decorations that's engulfed his lovely home. Wanker… if he was going to be so prissy, he should have done it his bloody self," she growled under her breath.

The male in question's mate pressed her lips together to hide the budding grin, amusement dancing in her eyes. Rebekah, seeing this, raised an eyebrow, unimpressed, only for the hybrid to shake her head, the grin released from captivity as she passed through to venture to her mate. Maybe she could lift his spirits…

Of course, she already knew that was exactly what the blonde had come to see her for.

"Just make sure he doesn't kill anyone tonight, would you? He likes to take out his aggravation on the staff and I'd rather they all remain intact and alive at least until next month is over. Christmas is a bitch of a time to be getting new maids in, bloody impossible… not that Nik would care…"

Brown eyes rolled. "Yes, Rebekah," was the placating if not dry response Bella gave before she flashed off.

"Holy…" she muttered, her expression aghast as she took in the utterly remodeled downstairs. No wonder Nik had mouthed off about it… it looked like someone had literally thrown up a garden of flowers, all consisting of some variation of the color of vomit. Her nose wrinkled at the scent of the flowers and her eyes fell upon her mate's face, the look shared as he chuckled, feeling better despite it all.

"I see you don't like it either, sweetheart," he smarted as he downed the rest of his drink and Bella, having straightened her features, gagged as he whooshed to stand in front of her, the action stirring up the flowers in the room and making the scents all the more potent.

"Stop that," she grumbled, slapping at his arm, walking into them as slow as she could manage. He chuckled in that way that made people want to punch him as she buried her face in his chest. "I don't fucking blame you…"

She didn't see the smirk on his face, but she felt the laughter in his chest as Rebekah appeared with Elijah. "Not you too," the blonde teen complained, growling as she turned to Elijah who was barely able to mask his own reaction, his features taut.

"The scent is… quite overwhelming, Rebekah…" he offered. "Perhaps some adjustment is needed," he suggested, looking around quickly as he took a long sip of his drink, licking his bottom lip as he tried to stave off the need to breathe.

"By 'overwhelming scent' our older brother means 'terrible stench,' sister. And I agree; change it lest you kill all the guests," Kol interjected, gesturing around with a grin before leaving his siblings and mate to get a drink.

Davina, on the other hand, was confused.

"What smells?" she asked, looking between the other supernaturals.

Rebekah brightened, vamping in front of the girl. The poor thing looked like a deer caught in headlights, not used to having the only female Mikaelson all up in her face like so. "Do you like the decorations, Davina?" the blonde asked, her tone hinting at something that made the younger teen swallow nervously.

"Um…" she responded, her lips pursed as she snuck a glance toward Bella, her eyes wide. She grinned, brows pulled up. "Sure…"

"No, she doesn't," Kol responded as he appeared behind her, winding an arm around her waist and pulling his mate into his chest as he sipped his liquor. A smirk appeared on his lips. "Even with senses not as keen as ours, the orange and red and yellow is still too obvious for human eyes, Bekah." His lips twitched, eyes lit up. "You're an Original, sister, how on earth were you blind to the colors you picked?" he goaded her, letting out a laugh as he dodged a hit.

"Shut up, Kol!" she growled, glaring at him before her expression cleared to a grin as she spun to watch Ansel and Charlie descend the stairs together. She flashed to stand in front of them. "You like the decorations, don't you?" she asked, flashing them a smile as she tilted her head.

The pair of wolves glanced at one another then looked toward the courtyard, Charlie shrugging his shoulders as Ansel nodded. The Original in front of them deflated.

"It's more the smell than anything else," Bella commented, her tone light even as it was muffled by her mate's chest. She swallowed thickly.

"Let's just get this over with," Klaus grumbled, the hint of a growl in his throat as he flashed to the table, Bella following behind. He looked up with a grin as the last pair descended the stairs, Camille as oblivious as Davina in stark contrast to Marcel's scrunched features. They expression cleared as he smiled and nodded to Rebekah, who sighed and straightened to her more 'confident' self. The three approached the table as Elijah joined their youngest brother and the witch Davina, Kol commenting loudly to Camille for her to just nod if Rebekah asked her opinion.

"Stop with all the fuss, Kol, Rebekah…" Niklaus demanded, glaring at his siblings then replacing the look with a pleasant smile as he turned to the other side of the table where the rest of the guests stood. "Please, sit…"

Everyone did so as the meals were brought out, the traditional Thanksgiving food enjoyed. Wine and champagne and an array of non-alcoholic drinks were handed out as the group conversed and ate, the decorations debacle forgotten.

Soon another conversation began, everyone with their own opinion.

"We should go around the table," Bella argued, raising an eyebrow at Rebekah.

"Or we could just continue with dessert," Klaus suggested.

"No," Elijah responded, looking between his siblings. "We should indulge our guests…"

"Why, brother? I for one have no desire to hear all about what Nik is grateful for…" Kol complained, arm thrown over his mate's shoulder as he swirled the amber liquor in his glass. He took a swig, leering at Davina with a smirk that made her blush. "I say we have our own party, darling…"

"Come on, Nik, please?" Rebekah tried, siding with Bella as the two pouted for him, eyes pleading. "It's tradition."

"It's not our tradition," he denied. "We've never religiously celebrated Thanksgiving, sister. And we certainly haven't gone around the table and asked what everyone is thankful for."

"Might have something to do with none of us being thankful for you repeatedly storing us in boxes, Nik," Kol smarted under his breath despite the fact that everyone but Camille could hear him. Smirking as the hybrid growled, the wily fox watched from his chair as Klaus stood, bringing Bella with him.

"This is silly," Davina mumbled to Camille who shrugged.

"I'm starting to understand that the Mikaelsons just bicker for the hell of it. It's like it's a habit or their weird way of bonding or something…" the therapist replied, leaning into Marcel who smirked and nudged her for a kiss, silently agreeing as he waited it out.

Poor Ansel and Charlie, who'd bonded some over the past two days as the fathers of the mated hybrids, just looked at one another and sighed. They didn't truly care either way, although Ansel hoped that this would be allowed. He did have something to be thankful for after all, and he thought maybe this might get his son's mate to stop grumbling under her breath quite pointedly about idiot Alphas…

"Let's just go around the table. We can only say one thing. It's simple and done, and everyone is happy. Okay?" Bella suggested, raising an eyebrow as she stared at her mate unyieldingly.

He sighed and took another long swig of his drink, Kol groaning obnoxiously as Bekah grinned, both knowing he was giving in.

"I'll go first!" the blonde exclaimed as the party settled. They waited expectantly, facial expressions ranging from politely interested to bored to annoyed. "I am thankful that Kol is still with us, and I am thankful for the way your death and resurrection has brought us back together. I'm also thankful for Bella… our sister." She grinned at the girl, Davina mutedly slapping Kol's hand as he went to interject with a witticism.

Rebekah turned to Elijah who sat next to her, looking expectant. The eldest Mikaelson smiled and looked down as he thought. "I am grateful for Isabella and our family's revival. Family above all." The sentiment was echoed by his siblings as Elijah regarded Kol, the warning look for him to behave making the youngest brother pout.

"It's going to get repetitive if we keep saying the same things," he pointed out, his smirk becoming a smile as he shrugged his shoulder. "But I'm thankful for the same as you two and for finding my little witch…" He looked down at Davina with a grin, eyes full of the love he had for her, and she blushed and slapped her hand over his mouth as mischief rose in his brown orbs.

"Don't even begin that sentence, Kol, or I can promise you, you won't have anything to be thankful for… for a long, long time…" she promised.

Klaus chuckled at the look on his brother's face, leaning forward, not bothering to hide his enjoyment of the way the little witch was able to shut up his mouthy brother.

"I'm thankful for this past year," Davina said when it was her turn, looking at Marcel with a smile that he returned. "I'm thankful for Marcel saving me. I'm thankful for finding Kol… and I'm thankful for all of you guys." She was returned with smiles, only one person speaking, their voice quiet but not enough…

"Darling, that was more than one…"

"Kol…" she deadpanned, eyes serious as she looked at him, raised eyebrow. "I meant what I said earlier," she told him pointedly, though inside she was really hoping he'd stop. She did not want to withhold sex.

"I think we'd all be thankful if Kol would shut up," Rebekah suggested sarcastically, shooting him a glare before turning to his mate. "Maybe you should withhold sex regardless, Davina. We all know Kol is addicted already if the last week hasn't been evidence enough. Might teach the wanker something."

The witch flushed as she looked away, pointedly keeping her eyes on her mate. She was going to ignore that suggestion…

The smirk on his face told Davina that the wily fox knew how much she did not want to keep her promise even as he raised his hands in surrender, eyes mockingly innocent. "I was only saying…" Thankfully, he left it at that.

The teenage witch sighed, looking at Charlie with a polite smile.

"I'm just grateful my little girl is happy and alive," he said, looking down at Bella, who smiled and looked down, her hand squeezing Klaus's fingers as they threaded through hers. Given that she was looking at her mate's hand as she felt emotion welling up again, eyes stinging, she missed the warning her father gave the Original Hybrid to make sure he kept her that way.

Klaus gritted his teeth as the eyes around the room turned onto his father, his own following as he sensed identical blue on him. He seemed to be trapped by that gaze as soon as their eyes connected, this time gripping his mate's hand hard for support as he curled his hand into a fist, his expression cold and betraying nothing. He was as guarded as he could be under the light of his mate's touch.

The former Alpha's eyes were warm, his voice gentle. "I have only been resurrected a few weeks ago, so my list is short. But I am thankful for receiving the chance to right my wrongs, to be able to live with my son and tell him how proud I am of him, how sorry I am that I was not there for him before, and how much I wish to be there now. How much I hope he will be able to forgive me for my past failures and how much joy it brings me to see him complete with his mate after centuries of anger and betrayal and let downs. You deserve everything you have now and more, Niklaus. I am thankful, perhaps most of all, to have you as my son."

The Original Hybrid breathed in deeply, locked jaw flexing, his stare into his father's hopeful gaze heavy. Ansel watched the glimmer of… something grow, developing into a storm before those blue eyes the Original had inherited from him were ripped from view.

It hurt, yes, but the elder wolf understood and was pleased that his words seemed to have some effect at the very least. He only hoped it was the right one, and if he were to trust his wolf—which he did—then he could rest easy knowing he'd been successful in taking the first step.

He turned to the dark-skinned protégé of his son next to him and nodded.

"I'm thankful for my mate… I'm also grateful for my place in this family," he answered, feeling just as awkward as most everyone else at the table did after the deep, personal admission from the Alpha next to him who was still looking at his silent, struggling son.

Pretending to be ignorant to the awkwardness still flowing through the room, Camille grinned. "I'm grateful for the way my life is right now," she generalized, kissing Marcel's lips and leaning into him as she looked around the room, gaze meeting briefly with Rebekah, Davina, and Bella.

Another short silence overtook the group as they all looked to Klaus, who took a moment before he raised his head and looked to his mate, caressing her cheek with his free hand. "I'm thanking for my siblings, for our safety and unity, and I am thankful for you…" He spoke quietly, ignoring everyone else as Bella leaned into his touch with a gentle smile, kissing his palm.

"You can get a room in a minute, Nik. Bella has to tell us what she's thankful for first and then we're all free for far more interesting pursuits…" Kol said with a gleaming, cheeky look as he wiggled his eyebrows at his mate, whose lips twitched even as she tried to give him a look that said 'shut up'.

The youngest brother was only slightly disappointed when his older brother didn't answer, Klaus's attention still stolen entirely by his mate.

Feeling his need to be alone with her after Ansel's admissions, Bella laid a hand on his thigh and squeezed to reassure him.

"I'm thankful for choices," she began, her eyes sweeping over every person in the room. "I'm thankful for this new family, I'm thankful for my freedom… I'm thankful for being gifted with you, Nik, and for your love, your protection, your guidance… I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to see my father again," she said, grinning at the man. "I'm thankful I'm alive," she continued, her voice shaky. "I'm just… thankful for everything I have right now and thankful for the fact that despite the scars that litter my skin, despite the fact that they represent every battle I've lost, they also represent the fact that I'm here now where I was always meant to be." She blinked, a tear streaking down her cheek that she wiped away with a watery giggle, shaking her head. "Damn emotions…"

Soft smiles met her speech, words left unsaid. They weren't needed. The group disbanded soon after, returning to their own living quarters.

All except one…

Elijah Mikaelson slipped out of the Abattoir gates, phone in hand as he disappeared to the city limits, away from prying ears and eyes. He was perched on top of a building looking out to the moon as he brought his attention back to the device in his hand, smiling softly to himself as he raised the phone to his ear after pressing a button.

She answered after a single ring.

"'lijah," she sighed, happiness and contentment seeping into her tone, the throb of their shared heartbeat, their individual connective trait, lessening at the sound of his breathing and of her voice.

"Beloved…" he greeted, his voice quiet as a whisper. "Happy Thanksgiving."

A smirk curled her lips, her head tilting, a remark on the tip of her tongue. But she said nothing for a moment, tone soft when she spoke. "Happy Thanksgiving, Elijah. Here's to five hundred years…"

"And here's to five hundred more…" he finished. "I feel it still; I always have."

His mate swallowed thickly, her breath shaky as memories made her look down, lips pursed. "I feel it, too," she whispered, and his jaw clenched at the tone of her voice, knowing what she was thinking. Those three words they'd never managed to exchange, knowing they'd never let go if they did, were on the tip of his tongue. But he knew he could not do that to her.

"Go, 'lijah…" she prodded him, making him growl just a little. He closed his eyes, lips parted as he exhaled, shaking his head and swallowing. His eyes burned as he waited but a moment longer, listening to her breathing, to her heartbeat despite also feeling it inside him… He listened to the sounds of her life without him for as long as he could before it grew too painful, the hour too late, and he truly had to go.

He hung up, wrenching himself back to reality with a pained exhale.

Not long, Elijah pledged, the vow silent as he stared at the glowing moon for a minute, unwilling to leave this safe space. If he did, he would have to return to a life without his mate...

As much as he didn't want to, he turned and disappeared back into the city, returning home.

Soon, was the thought his mate never voiced before she smiled wistfully to herself and shook out of the gloom of her thoughts. She could not wait for their life to start, to be all his and have everyone know it… even if she was beginning to think she'd be taking the knowledge of his love to the grave, in secret as it had already been for so long…

Swallowing at the thought, she glanced around, taking in her surroundings. Growing a little antsy, she slipped on the mask she portrayed to the world easily, sauntering off with a smirk as she slipped through the crowd and disappeared.

~TPoL~

On the other side of the country, another group was secretly planning an attack.

Two teens grinned as they shoved playfully at one another then sat down next to the rest of their friends. The herd of absurdly built teen boys surrounded the bonfire, some sitting with their imprints as they waited for the tribal meeting to begin. Their skin glowed from the campfire, illuminating the tattoo present on each pack member's right shoulder. The atmosphere was serious as a man in his wheelchair came to a stop in front of the group. They would be leaving in perhaps a week, some sure to not return.

But they were devoted to the cause.

"You will attack in two weeks exactly," the Chief told them, his tone quiet but demanding a respect that was effortlessly given, quieting the more rambunctious in a second.

Several of the russet skinned teens looked to their Alpha, whose eyes were narrowed as he turned to the Chief. "Why then?"

Beady black eyes took in the group before him, exchanging looks with the other elders, eyes falling upon the tribal tattoo on the shoulder of each half-naked young warrior before him—the reminder of their duty.

"We have received new information on the whereabouts of a certain man once considered a friend to this tribe. We wish to send a message to him."

The look he sent each of them told everyone just what that message was.

Chapter Text

Queen ~ Another One Bites the Dust

Oh! Let's go!

Steve walks warily down the street
With the brim pulled way down low.
Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
Machine guns ready to go.

Are you ready, hey, are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you, too
Another one bites the dust

How do you think I'm going to get along
Without you when you're gone?
You took me for everything that I had
And kicked me out on my own

Are you happy, are you satisfied?
How long can you stand the heat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

[Chorus]

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust

There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him, you can cheat him
You can treat him bad and leave him when he's down

But I'm ready, yes, I'm ready for you
I'm standing on my own two feet
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
Repeating to the sound of the beat


Chapter 14 ~ Another One Bites The Dust


"You called?"

Elijah looked up to see his brother in the doorway, waiting for a response. They'd seldom seen one another in the two weeks that had passed since Thanksgiving evening. But then again, none but Isabella had been able to share in the hybrid's company for longer than an hour since that night. Or, more pointedly, since Ansel's little speech and thus it was that wolf who was avoided like the plague and had seen Niklaus not once.

Shelving that fact for another verbal battle down the line, the brunet replied with, "I did…" He shuffled the papers on his desk, raising an eyebrow as he stood straight. He glanced to the clock on the wall pointedly. "Three hours ago, Niklaus."

Smirking in response, the hybrid in question looked down, his blue eyes gleaming with mischief as he sauntered forward. "Do excuse me if I prefer my mate's company over yours, dearest Elijah." He raised his eyebrows. "Now that I am here, however… perhaps you can tell me what was so important." It was not spoken as a question but rather a soft demand. Niklaus stood in wait, a slight pleasant smile on his lips, his hands clasped behind his back.

"This," Elijah deadpanned, throwing a folder down on the table, using his pointer, middle, and ring fingers to turn it then push it toward him. The blond stepped forward and picked it up, glancing at his brother as his jaw locked, brow furrowing.

A quick read through and he sighed, his eyes closing. "The shapeshifters…" He sat down, gripping the arm chair, raising an eyebrow at Elijah. "They're in town then?"

"They are on the outskirts of the Quarter," the older Original corrected as he sat in his desk chair, his tone serious and quiet. "And they have been for a week. There are six that have been spotted so far and they appear to be settling on the other side of the River. None of them have made any effort to cross it."

He watched Klaus, eyes tight and lips pursed as he waited for the response. It took moments for the hybrid to calm himself enough to speak, for they knew that these were the creatures who'd refused his mate help when she'd sought it.

That thought alone started him up again, his wolf demanding action. In a blur of movement, he was standing.

Elijah inhaled as his eyes followed that movement, giving nothing away until he sped to stand in front of the door and block his brother's exit. The blond growled at him, nostrils flared, jaw locked, hands in fists, and his eyes flashing amber. "Elijah…"

"We cannot storm them, Niklaus. Our best bet is to wait, to see what it is they want," the brunet tried to reason, though he already knew it would do no good. An unmated Niklaus was impulsive but somewhat capable of reason, but past situations from recent times had shown him to be much worse where Isabella was concerned.

Paranoia clawed, flashes of previous circumstances echoing in Klaus's mind as well. Anger rising to catastrophic proportions, his wolf and vampire both reacting to the threat to their mate, he snarled. "I know what they want!" he shouted, eyes crazed and furious. "They seek my mate, Elijah. I will not allow them the chance—"

"I am not saying you will," was the more level-toned response given. A steadying hand was flinched off Klaus's shoulder and Elijah sighed. He could hardly fault his younger brother; with a mate of his own, he understood more than the other knew. "Niklaus… nothing will happen to her."

"And yet every time you say that, brother, something does happen," the hybrid growled. Left unsaid was the fact that each time, the events had been utterly out of Niklaus's control. But this... this was something he could control, and he needed to. Eyes amber and veins crawling, Klaus stepped forward, centimeters away from his brother. "I refuse to do things your way any longer. So if I want to storm them…" he stepped closer, "I will…" The words were a chilling, emotionless whisper. His expression was impassive, but the emotion he was hiding was obvious if you knew his tells. And Elijah did, seeing the gritting of his teeth which revealed the bottom row and the too-blank stare. There was a second before the impassiveness was gone, exploding into the anger present just seconds ago. He shoved Elijah aside and flashed off.

But the brunet was prepared and made after him, pushing him against the wall and pressing him into it as hard as he could without turning the wall to mere rubble. "Niklaus, there is no reason for it; I have four of our men stationed within the Quarter, and another six watching each wolf for any movements whatsoever." He took a moment, making sure the still younger Mikaelson was calmer before he let up some of his hold. When he spoke again, his tone was softer, his voice quieter. "Your mate is perfectly safe."

Emotion stung his eyes and his voice, when he spoke, was a fearful, fragile whisper that spoke of his expectation…

One way or another, she would leave him.

"For how long?"

~TPoL~

Bonnie sighed as she walked through the door of the Boarding House, rolling her shoulders as she adjusted her grip on the pile of old grimoires in her hands. The last of the group to arrive, she groaned as she threw the books down then sat on the couch next to Caroline.

"They're not here yet?" she asked, the blonde shaking her head and sighing.

"Nope. We're not really sure when they're supposed to get here…" A small frown appeared on her face. "Where's Stefan? I haven't seen him for a couple days and he isn't answering any of my calls or texts…"

"Relax, blondie; my brother is probably off on one of his broody buzzkill little finding himself trips," Damon replied as he and Elena walked in. His arm around her waist, she smiled at her two best friends and sat across from them.

Caroline glared at the elder Salvatore. "Without saying anything to anyone?" she asked skeptically, shaking her head as she looked at Elena. She didn't get their relationship, their bond. She was positive that it was just the sire bond they were feeling since the brunette's relationship with Stefan had been so epic—it was a true love, the kind that doesn't come by every day… But with Damon—

"I'm sure he's fine, Care," Elena replied, her husky tones meant to soothe as she dismissed the girl's worries. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked toward the window, lips in a thin line as she peered out of it. "I'm more worried about where the Cullens are… weren't they supposed to be here by now?"

Bonnie went to answer, knowing just what had caused them to be late, when Damon replied with a shrug and that usual up-himself tone. "They're Cold Ones, Elena. Ego and arrogance are part of the package. I'm sure the Sparkles family is only trying to prove a point by making a grand entrance."

"Kinda reminds me of someone," the witch mumbled under her breath, her lips twitching as Caroline's did. Neither of them liked the raven-haired vampire all that much for their own well-known reasons but they kept their mouths shut—most of the time—for Elena's sake. She'd bite their heads off if they spoke ill of her mate even with all the crap he'd pulled the last couple years.

Silence reigned as the four waited, growing restless. Damon whooshed away to get alcohol as he felt his mate's discomfort rise, bringing her with him to get it. Personally, he didn't have much of an issue with Elena taking a bite out of Witchy, but since he knew she would…

"Drink it, get some more if you need, and then come back in, all right?" he said, that little lopsided smile on his lips. He leaned in to kiss her when she nodded, the pair getting lost in one another before Elena pulled back.

"Thank you," the doppelgänger whispered, holding onto his fingers as he moved away and he winked, throwing the words off and zipping away.

The front door opened sometime later, and in came Edward Cullen followed by his little Cold One family. The four waiting gave each other looks before standing, watching the bronze-haired teenager as he sat himself down in an armchair with a flourish.

Bonnie sat forward. "Did it work?" she asked, voice a murmur but still drawing attention to herself.

Edward grinned. It was malicious, his eyes flashing as he thought of just how successful they had been in a way he was starting to prefer much better. Why fight for the girl when you could torture her with her child instead? "Not exactly the way we wanted, but rest assured, I will have my mate soon enough."

Carlisle sat down as well, harsh as he brought his Esme into his side as the other four remained standing. "Indeed. I think this is rather more favorable even if my son will have to wait longer than planned."

The three vampires and the Bennett witch exchanged looks that were missed by the Cullens, wondering but not caring too much either.

"So what now then?" Damon asked, taking control as he once more named himself leader of the group.

"Now we move on to the other stage of the plan," Edward answered, thinking a moment as he leaned forward. "Though of course there will be some modifications needed. As there is no longer any reason to feed Isabella the cure, we won't need as much of it. I think two in total will suffice." A glance at Carlisle, he was granted a nod, the two checking with Alice, her eyes glazed over. It was but seconds before she gave them her own nod and a pleasant smile.

Not missing the exchange, suspicion clouded the other four's minds. "If you're not giving the cure to Isabella—which I'm guessing means you won't need it for Klaus, either—then why do you need one, too?" Elena asked, glancing at her mate as she stared at the two Cold Ones for answers.

Twin musical chuckles that set them on edge sounded, and Carlisle and Edward Cullen seemed honestly amused by her question. Damon sneered, tightening his arm around her, knowing she was being mocked again, the growl in his chest at their attitude slow building.

"It is true that we don't wish to use the cure on any of the Originals or on Isabella, yes," Carlisle lied, turning toward her in his explanation, seeing her calm at that admission. Of course, the Cullens knew that the other party had been researching whether or not turning an Original human would do the same to the rest of their line. Thus, Carlisle and Edward had worked out that they needed to set their allies at ease. "However, we have thought on our ideas for the Original mate we wish to take from underneath them, and we think that perhaps a vial of the cure would be useful there. At the very least to force compliance."

Elena and Damon froze a moment, their thoughts flashing, but they swallowed their panic due to the eyes they felt watching them.

"Just so we're clear, that means we're getting one of the cures for Elena and then the other for whatever plan you have, right?" the elder Salvatore asked, raising an eyebrow as he looked between the two. "As we agreed."

Nods were their answer.

Caroline frowned, still thinking. "But why would you want to give the cure to one of the Originals' mates?"

"Why don't we focus on actually finding the cures?" Bonnie asked, growing tired of the conversation. She gestured toward the books. "I got everything I could find on short notice to help us with our search, both for a spell and for where the cure might be." She paused. "I'm worried that Silas might have destroyed it somehow… the legend says that it was buried with him but we couldn't find it."

"Well, that's quite the issue there, Witchy, isn't it?" Damon asked, glaring at her for speaking. The muscles of his arm that was wrapped around Elena tightened, and, feeling his anger, she calmed him as she laid a hand on his thigh.

The dark-skinned witch glared at him with the force of the aneurysm she was dying to give him. But instead, she looked away, back toward the Cullens who at least now seemed more reasonable than the ass sitting across from her. "We need to find a spell that can show us where the cure is now and maybe what happened to it later on… but before we do that, we need the cure to use for the spell to get the second one."

"That's where these come in," Caroline continued, bubbly again, grinning as she took a grimoire and passed them around. She ignored the Cullens as they eyed the old artifacts with distaste, hesitant to take them. "Everyone is going to help by reading through and trying to find the spells we need."

"Wait up, what exactly are you planning here?" Damon asked, looking at the Bennett witch.

She sighed. "I'm planning on entering another dimension. I've been doing some reading," she looked to Caroline, "we both have while you two were here doing whatever you've been doing. We found out there are different dimensions of this world. Because they're exact copies, they duplicate everything, meaning there's a duplicate cure."

"We already knew that," Edward interjected, raising an eyebrow.

Gritting her teeth, the witch gave a terse smile. "You might have but we didn't, at least we didn't know for sure. And considering these types of spells are supposed to be pretty dangerous and it's not your ass on the line…"

A growl ripped through the air as Edward stood, but Bonnie's hand was already raised, sending the mind reader to his knees. She cut the aneurysm off after a few moments, leaving him panting as she looked at everyone else. "Anyway… I'm not saying the answers are in these books—" she bit back the part where not one witch on the Other Side would help her "—and I'm not saying we're gonna find the answers immediately at all. I'm sure it will take time. But considering I'm the one doing this, we're going to look and be thorough."

"So," Caroline said as she leveled Damon and Elena with a pointed look, "let's get to work."

And with sighs, they each hefted a large grimoire on their laps to a more comfortable position and began their search.

~TPoL~

Bella grimaced as she adjusted her bra cups, frowning at the little amount of pain she felt when she did so. She looked at the bra, wondering if it was the material or the size that was wrong, but no; it molded to her breasts perfectly, and it had been comfortable up until yesterday.

With a growl of frustration, the sound of tearing fabric rung out in the room as she ripped it off, going for another bra that was a little too large for her, but she hoped it would feel better for the inexplicable sensitivity of her breasts. She winced as she leaned forward into it, clasping the back then readjusting. Stupid hybrid sensitivity.

The door opening distracted her from her thoughts and a fleeting smile appeared on her lips as her mate walked in. One look at his face and already Bella knew something was wrong, flashing to stand in front of him, grasping his face in her hands. Klaus's came down to grip her hips, his blue eyes wide and intense, ever moving on her face.

"Nik…"

She was quieted by his lips as they pressed upon hers, almost desperate as his face slanted in an instant, wanting—needing—deeper, his left hand threading through the wavy tresses at the back of her head, bringing her closer.

The Original Hybrid was trying to calm himself as her light shone through, making him breathless. It was when he stood in its comforting brightness, stood in her arms, breathing her in, feeling her lips give under his, hearing the whimper she let loose as he picked her up only for her to take control with a growl and push him against the door that he could see there was no need to fear. His mate was strong, she was a Hybrid; these shifters would be nothing against her.

The frenzy calmed, slowing to sweet kisses, the fire building no longer the burning inferno of desperation and fear that it had been moments ago. The mated pair panted as they pulled away from one another, a grin on Bella's face as she curled her arms around her mate's neck, raising an eyebrow at the more relaxed, if not smug, expression on his face now.

"What was that about?" she mumbled, leaning forward again, the purr in her chest growing a little louder when Nik ducked down, teeth grazing the mark on her neck. He gave no answer and whilst this troubled her, she allowed it, pleased that he was at least calmed now.

She would find out the issue sooner rather than later and they would deal with it in accordance; she knew Nik would come out with it at some point… even if it was when tensions were high.

And by the quick-measured steps toward their room, she thought perhaps that time of tension would be coming sooner rather than later. A sigh left her mouth as she unhooked her legs from her mate's waist, dropping to the ground and kissing him just once more on the lips before ducking into their joint wardrobe to grab a shirt, returning to his side in a blur. He turned, allowing her to leave his embrace a second time but staying close, becoming her shadow as she opened the door at the same time Elijah appeared in front of it, his hand raised to knock.

A pleasant smile on the brunet's lips, he greeted the younger hybrid before glancing toward his brother. The tension in his shoulders dropped however minutely when he saw the smile on Niklaus's face, able to tell by the light in his eyes that he was no longer so fraught with disquieted emotion.

One half of the reason that he came to their door now eased, he pressed on with his other concern.

"Have either of you seen Rebekah?"

A light frown pinched Bella's brow as she shook her head, the concern that was clear as day in Elijah's tone worrying her. The cool-headed Original seldom showed the true emotion he was feeling, ever-patient and calm in facing anything, even the most troublesome antics of his own siblings. For him to be showing any level of worry—and more so, an amount so obvious—was telling. The brunette looked back at her mate, Klaus's face showing the same almost-panic that she could not begin to comprehend, suspicion rising; it was as though they knew of a true reason to be worried that she did not.

"I haven't either," Klaus answered needlessly after a moment, his tone gruff as his arm came to wrap around Bella's waist, pulling her closer. The two brothers were staring at one another, seeming to have their own non-verbal conversation, and it was putting the new hybrid on edge.

"Nik, what is it?" she asked, looking between the two Mikaelsons. "You know what Rebekah is like; she goes out on a shopping spree for hours. She doesn't always tell anyone…"

Klaus's jaw locked at that because bloody hell, but his mate was right. Their sister could be off gallivanting about the quarter with no knowledge of the shapeshifters lying in wait.

By the look in his eyes, Elijah was thinking the same thing and though they both knew their one thousand year old Original sister could take care of herself…

They were not taking chances.

A whoosh signaled the elder Mikaelson's departure, the mated pair beginning their search a second later.

~TPoL~

Sam growled in aggravation as he looked around at his pack, sitting down on a log and beginning to smash one sharp rock against another, trying to work out his anger. He was beginning to get impatient, feeling the constant eyes watching their every move. He could not help but feel like they were cornered by the Originals and it was really starting to bother him.

Every time one of the watchers came too close, they would just stay there, almost seeming to wait for the wolves to make the first move. But no matter how much their anger tempted them into shifting and fighting them to the death, to rid the world of the leeches this city was rife with, they wouldn't do it.

They had a job to do.

He glanced back over his shoulder, lips pressed in a thin line as he saw the smirking vampire standing there, visible as he leaned languidly against a tree, not intimidated by Sam's growl and glower.

It was a show of power, he decided after a moment's contemplation. They wanted them to know that they were there and that they didn't feel threatened enough to kill them on sight.

He waved, turning back to the rock in his hand to be interrupted by a call from a member of his pack, Embry.

"Sam!"

His head turned to meet the serious gaze of a wolf who was usually anything but and his own gaze narrowed. A phone appeared in his hand and he checked the caller ID before raising it to his ear.

"Chief?"

"Sam… prepare yourselves. Old Quil sees it happening today."

He stood, looking at his pack as they rose to attention, eyeing him, listening in on the conversation without even trying to hide the fact. He allowed it. "When? Where?"

"Stay where you are… they're coming to you in a matter of hours."

The call cancelled and Sam looked up toward the vampire…

He was gone.

~TPoL~

In the dungeon below the Abattoir, a blonde woman's body was motionless for but a moment before she gasped for breath, her eyes snapping open. Looking around in panic, she licked her dry lips and groaned in response to the pain she felt in her neck and abdomen when she turned onto her stomach to try to get up off of the stone floor. She reached down, feeling something wet and sticky, her hand shaking from weakness as it withdrew and revealed to her the blood, both fresh and dried, that was coating her loose white tank top.

Her brow furrowed in confusion, the substance afflicting her mind and body wreaking havoc upon her memory. She knew all of this already; she knew why she was here in the basement, tucked away so no one would hear… she knew why she was bleeding, why she was aching, what would happen soon all over again…

She would discover the truth all over again.

Her fingers ripped at her shirt to reveal the gash, blood seeping sluggishly. There was no sign of healing, and there wouldn't be. Her whole body stung, felt weak, almost as though she had been injected with vervain…

But she hadn't.

The female swallowed as the answer came to her. The knowledge she had been missing these past few minutes hit her just a second before her head snapped to the side by cause of an invisible force, a crack ringing out in the cold chamber before Rebekah Mikaelson fell to the floor, unconscious.

~TPoL~

With Elijah out meeting and receiving calls from their watchmen, Bella and Klaus had split, the brunette taking the downstairs whilst the blond tore through the upstairs floor of the compound. Door after door was flung open, calls of Rebekah's name ringing throughout the building. Determination was giving way to frustration and fear rather fast, and fresh blood dripped from the walls of some of those rooms where Niklaus had found servants instead of his sister.

Many thought Niklaus Mikaelson did not care, that his love for his siblings had long since died as he descended into nothing but a monster.

Even his own siblings had all, at some point, come to that conclusion.

But to see him now, in this frantic hour, would dissolve any disillusionment, any ridiculous belief in that notion.

For the Original Hybrid was afraid, and only growing more so the longer his one sister remained missing.

"Rebekah!" he roared, his eyes a blazing amber as he barged through his father's living quarters. His hands in fists at his sides, arms tensed and ramrod straight as the rest of his body, his eyes fell upon Ansel. And in his worry for one family member, he forgot—for but a moment—his self-imposed distance from another. "Have you seen my sister?"

A furrow of his brow, the brunet shook his head as he rose from the armchair. "I haven't." The answer was unsatisfactory, that much was obvious from the snarl given in return, and he stepped forward, impulse and wolf instincts telling him to calm his offspring. The look in those stormy blue eyes seemed to note how much he desired it in that moment before the look was gone, replaced with cold denial.

He turned to leave, but was halted by the former Alpha's words.

"I can help, if you're in need of it. The more help you have, the faster you will find her." There was a small smile on Ansel's lips that went unseen for Niklaus had turned away and found no desire nor need to turn back again, to meet the gaze of the one who had abandoned him… left him to Mikael's rage. He swallowed.

"Stay out of my way," he growled at him in warning, taking the help but placing a boundary.

Baby steps.

As much as that answer made Ansel sigh, it also gave him cause to smile, his son's dimples appearing on his own, similar features.

His wolf could feel the other caving, accepting…

It did not matter to him how long it would take, nor what he would have to do to prove himself. Whatever it was, he would do it.

Starting with finding his son's only sister.

Downstairs, Bella's nose wrinkled, a sick feeling rising in her throat as she scented the air, hoping in vain that she would catch her sister's recent scent. Pressing a hand to her mouth when she felt the urge to hurl, gagging, she sighed. She had been through every room, every nook and cranny…

There was nothing…

Her mate appeared moments later, the look on his face telling her he'd had the same amount of success.

"I can't find a single thread of a lead to even begin a search, Nik," the new hybrid said, crossing her arms over her chest and shaking her head. She didn't want to say it, but… "It's like she's disappeared off the face of the earth. Every scent I've found is old and they all seem to run in circles, there's nothing definitive at all."

Klaus swallowed, his jaw locking as he took his mate into his arms, calming from her touch and feeling her do the same. The two had but a moment of silent calm before hearing the whine of the front gate as it opened, signaling Elijah's arrival before his suited form appeared in the doorway.

"Nothing?" he asked, eyes analyzing their facial expressions before he gritted his teeth. "No one has seen her; Marcellus and Camille say they haven't seen her in or anywhere near Rousseau's bar as well. There's no trace of movement. Niklaus…"

The hybrid locked his jaw, growling in warning as his eyes flashed to his mate. She was not to know a thing…

Too late.

Suspicion rising, as well as anger at being in the dark about something, Bella looked between the two Mikaelson brothers as she stepped away from her mate, eyebrow raised and arms crossed over her chest. "What's going on? Why are you two so worried, so determined that something bad might have happened to her? Rebekah goes out every day because of the three mated pairs that currently share living space… she never tells anyone where she's going unless she's complaining that she has no one to go shopping with."

She growled low in her chest as just the thought of their sister outside the safe walls of the Abattoir, shopping nonetheless—for Niklaus in particular knew how single-mindedly focused their sister could be when she was doing that—caused panic to flare on their faces. "What are you hiding from me?" she demanded.

Elijah looked with unknown meaning into his brother's eyes, knowing the ruse was up even if the blond refused to admit it. Locking his jaw and removing his gaze from his brother to his new sister, he answered, "The Quileute tribe's pack of shapeshifters have settled on the other side of the Mississippi River, Isabella. With Rebekah missing after their arrival… we believe it's possible they may have taken her or injured her, for leverage."

Bella swallowed, flashing images echoing in her mind before she shook her head, looking between the two of them. That famous hybrid temper rose, apparent on her face as took another few steps away from her mate, standing now directly between the two brothers. Her voice was raised when she spoke, echoing through the halls.

"And you neglected to tell me?" She looked to her mate. "Is that why this morning…?"

He looked away.

"Klaus…"

The more removed version of his name that his mate seldom used anymore made him swallow and there was a beat of nothing before he nodded.

Guilt pounded into her like a freight train, followed by another wave of fury.

"So Rebekah might have been taken because of me and no one told me? Why? To… To protect me?" she snarled. "I'm a hybrid now… I don't need nor want to be blinded to what is happening around me. You of all people should know I don't like being cornered or having my choices taken from me, Klaus…"

She stared at him a moment longer, her hybrid ire enough that she could only shake her head when her mate refused to so much as look at her, let alone speak. "I'll be back later…" she said, instincts forcing her to give him at least that comfort before she turned and flashed out of the compound.

~TPoL~

Many a tear was shed as the enraptured audience watched Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet acted out in the open air, filling the streets of New Orleans.

Among the gathered was Davina Claire, the young witch looking rather bored, her arms crossed over her chest as she waited for her mate. She checked the time again, frowning… only to grin when, a second later, she felt his presence just as his arms closed around her, pulling her back into his chest.

"Davina Claire, I did not think you would be the kind of girl to…" he trailed off when she turned in his arms and her lips met with his. Smiling into the kiss, for he was much more interested in her mouth than he was in finishing his witticism, Kol Mikaelson lifted a hand to her cheek. "Hello, darling," he purred with a mischievous look in his eyes as he leaned back.

She grinned, raising an eyebrow. "You were saying?"

Kol looked over her shoulder before shrugging, head ever so slightly tilted when he met her gaze. "I was saying I want to kiss you again…" It was a lie neither of them cared to correct. Especially when he leaned in to do just that, smug as his witch whimpered and leaned into him for more.

Then the teenager pulled back, stabbing a finger into his chest. "You're late," she informed him, lips twisted with disapproval, her eyebrow raised as she backed out of his arms. Kol allowed it, smiling at the full blown grin on his mate's face. He liked it when she was happy; she was radiant. Her brunette locks shone in the sun as they cascaded down past her shoulders, blue eyes light. He could almost feel her happiness, it was so palpable.

And he was the cause of it.

"I apologize, love, for being late… but I promise I had good reason…" He reached into his pocket, bringing out his peace offering—or rather, the reason for his tardiness in the first place—thinking it a good way to barter for her forgiveness and give her a present at the same time.

Her eyes widened and she stepped forward, looking from the crystal to his eyes. "Is that—"

Kol grinned. "You said you wanted to learn…" His eyebrow raised in question though there was no need. He knew she had not changed her mind.

"I do!" she exclaimed, her tone excited and her eyes wide. "When do we start?"

"N—" He gritted his teeth when his phone rung, interrupting the moment. Pulling it from his pocket, he frowned as he saw Elijah's name. Knowing his brother knew that he was on a date with his witch—he had warned them all not to interrupt—he also knew to answer it where once he would have growled and acted as a child by ignoring the call instead. He sighed, giving her a look. "Later…" he amended, answering the call, looking up and around at the festivities surrounding them. "Elijah… this had better be important."

"You've been out since early this morning, Kol… have you seen Rebekah at all in your ventures?"

Brown eyes muddied with confusion for a split second before it was replaced with worry. His eyes followed Davina as she moved back to the front of the crowd to catch the ending of Romeo and Juliet's tragic love story as he replied. "No, I haven't. But you know what Bekah's like… just because I haven't seen her doesn't mean she's not around here somewhere."

There was a brief pause. "Kol—"

The Original sighed. "You're calling us home, aren't you, brother?"

"I am…" was the reply Elijah gave, his tone regretful but even more so grave. "There are… reasons for concern."

Kol's brow furrowed, instinct causing him to take long strides to his mate and pull her close as he continued to speak with his brother, now on his way to the Abattoir. "And what are these reasons, Elijah?" he asked, his tone vague but insistent. His eyes darted around.

"Do you see the man stationed up ahead past the Old Opera House?"

Kol's jaw locked. Yes, he did but he hadn't before now—and wouldn't have had Elijah not pointed him out.

"Our men are spread throughout the city—"

"Why?"

"They're watching for the shapeshifters that denied Isabella help when she asked it of them, Kol."

A growl left his mouth as he pulled Davina along faster, the witch worried and panicked as she looked at him, murmuring his name. He shook his head at her, concentrating on getting answers, ire rising. "And you think they've taken our sister? Why wasn't anyone informed of this?"

"Niklaus—"

His nostrils flared. Of course. "Nik isn't the only one with a mate, Elijah, and mine is more vulnerable at that. If they've taken our sister as leverage, that only proves their prowess. Bekah would not have gone down without a fight; she has father's anger. It makes her powerful—"

"It also makes her vulnerable to blindness. You know that."

There was another pause in the conversation as Kol considered his elder brother's words with no small amount of growing worry.

"Just come home. Quickly, Kol. We need all the help we can get to find her… Our men have not seen Rebekah at all, and she's no recent scent leading anywhere inside or out of the Abattoir."

The countless possibilities ran through Kol's head. A cloaking spell of some kind seemed a probable bet, but then that was but cause for more distress because last time he checked, shapeshifters weren't magical creatures as well… Any magic involved in this meant they had a real possibility that one of the New Orleans' covens was working with yet another enemy of theirs.

"We're around the corner."

The phone call went dead.

"Kol? What's going on?" Davina asked, her eyes watching her mate with worry, seeing the rage tinging his eyes red and black, flaring his nostrils, locking his muscles tight. She was not fearful he would hurt her… she was worried about its cause in the first place. Only seconds ago…

Hearing the emotion in her voice made Kol stop and turn to face her. "Bekah's missing, love…" he informed her, casting edgy glances around; now, with his eyes open, he could see his brother's scouts with ease. It made him see just how careless he still was and it angered him for he had true reason to be careful now.

His witch followed his eyes as she looked around as well, seeing a vampire watching them. She swallowed, feeling her magic, harnessing it, ready as she looked back at her mate but she found him smiling at her. "Elijah's henchmen, darling; he's there to protect us…" He smiled. "My brother's a little overprotective, you could say," he grew serious, "but he has good cause to be."

"What's going on?" the brunette said, her tone stronger, insistent that he answer her.

"Shapeshifters…"

Her eyes lit with recognition. "Bella—"

He nodded, having to interrupt her; there was little time for this conversation. "They're in town."

There was a moment of panic as her eyes widened at the new information and her heart beat faster in her chest. Then she squared her shoulders, took a breath, and nodded. "Okay."

The smile he gave her was full of pride and she blushed at the sight of it. "Let's get inside before Elijah calls again, worried about where we are…"

A short few minutes later and they were walking through the iron gates and into the courtyard, the other two Mikaelson brothers standing by the fountain. Kol's anger swelled and then dimmed in quick succession as the mere sight of Nik reminded him that the hybrid had kept the secret, putting his mate in danger… and yet, by the looks of things, and the noticeable lack of Isabella in the compound, the blond had already been made quite aware of his mistakes.

"What are we waiting for?" Kol asked, anger coloring his tone as he looked between them. "We should be finding them—"

"We know where the shapeshifters are," Klaus answered. He glanced at Elijah.

"Then please explain why we're still standing—"

Nostrils flared, blue eyes flashed amber and Niklaus stepped forward only to be halted by Elijah as he stepped in front of him to keep the peace, answering for him. "We thought it best to have a locator spell done first, just in case we are wrong and Rebekah is safe and sound elsewhere."

"It should have been done hours ago—"

"Well, it wasn't—"

"Shut up, Nik!"

"Kol…"

"If you had just pulled your head out of your ass—" the youngest of the Mikaelson brother's shouted, visage crawling as he stepped forward only for Elijah's hand to stop him "—none of this would have been an issue! Rebekah would not be out there with no clue about the latest new threat we're faced with—"

Klaus scoffed. "I'd hardly call a pack of little werewolf wannabes a threat, brother."

Kol seethed, glaring at him before continuing. "If you had told us instead, Rebekah would not be in danger, your own mate would not be pissed off with you, and we wouldn't have to waste our time now when we could be looking for or better yet killing shifters."

The look on the blond's face was infuriatingly smug as he gestured toward the elder brunet in between them with a smirk. "Well, considering our older brother only informed me a few hours ago, I think you're holding the wrong person accountable for your ignorance and the lack of bloodshed this past week… Don't you think, dearest Elijah?"

"It was you?" was Kol's shocked response before his eyes narrowed. "Pulling a Nik, Elijah, really?" he asked, eyebrow raised and arms crossed over his chest as he glared at the "Noble One." 

A sigh left the Mikaelson in question. "Kol, Niklaus… that is enough. We can argue later, preferably after the shapeshifters have been taken care of if the both of you could find some vestige of control that will allow you to focus. First, let us have the locator spell performed so we know what we are dealing with."

The two younger brothers were obviously displeased by this directive—that displeasure made worse by the fact that it came from the one who had caused the delay in the first place. But after a moment, Kol turned to his mate. "Davina?" He was a little regretful that all she seemed to do for them was spells but she shook her head and smiled.

"Your sister is my friend. I want to help find her, Kol," she reassured him with a smile.

He nodded, saying nothing more on the subject. "You know which spell to use? The one I taught you the other day is probably the best option…" She nodded in agreement and he sped off to get what was needed.

He was back in a moment, helping as he drew the circle and the symbols for her with the salt to save time, drawing arched lines that met in the middle of the circle around each of the eight symbols. He gave her the candle, and the brunette lit it then placed it in the very center before taking a breath and closing her eyes as she began to chant in a low but strong voice, her hands outstretched over the salt to draw from its power.

"We du le mon ennemi on ton… We du le mon ennemi on ton…"

Her brow furrowed as no images came, no presence at all; there was nothing to grasp onto… Pursing her lips, Davina's head tilted as she mustered her determination, voice raising in volume as she chanted again.

"We du le mon ennemi on ton… We du le mon ennemi on ton…"

Davina shook her head and sighed, opening her eyes and dropping her hands to her lap as she looked at Kol, frustrated. "There's nothing; it's not working…"

"She's cloaked…" Kol concluded, the word almost a curse as he spat it. He gritted his teeth, lips drawn in a thin line and his brow furrowed as he looked at his brothers.

"Are you sure, love?" Klaus asked, his eyes burning into her head as he eyed her, his tone patronizing and barely hiding the concern that was mounting. This wasn't good.

Kol and Davina looked up to glare at him, the witch's eyebrow rising. "I know how to do the spell, Klaus."

"Perhaps you can try a different one?" he suggested, both eyebrows raised as he looked between his brother's mate and the Original himself. "You see, we don't exactly have a lot of time on our hands, sweetheart, and I, for one, would prefer to be absolutely certain."

Kol sighed, growing irritated as he stepped forward to defend his witch. This was the exact kind of talk that had upset her before and caused her to put herself in danger; he would be damned if she was going to do it again. "Nik, she did the spell just as it was supposed to be done. If you won't trust her, trust me. Bekah is cloaked." The words were strong but the look in those brown eyes…

Klaus's jaw was locked and his nostrils flared as he met the stare before breaking it, gaze moving to Davina. "Very well then…" He turned, missing the pleased shock on his younger brother's face, his hands out at his sides and rising in exasperation as he circled the courtyard. "What are we going to do? If not another spell to attempt to find our sister…"

"Considering our sister is cloaked, Niklaus," Elijah said as he stepped forward, his tone dangerous and dark, a cool hint of a smirk on his lips. "I suspect the next thing to do would be to pay a visit to the witches…"

A slow, cruel smirk that matched Elijah's twisted the Hybrid's lips, Elijah and Klaus about to flash out when they were stopped.

"What am I to do?" Ansel asked as he appeared at the top of the stairs, staring at his son. He wanted to help, though he knew he would be refused if he offered to come with them. Still, he had to do something.

Klaus's jaw locked and it took a moment for him to raise his head and meet his father's gaze. "Stay here… if Rebekah returns, call us."

Then, after a shared look, Elijah and Klaus whooshed out to begin their hunt as Kol and Davina followed at a slower pace.

And downstairs in the basement, Rebekah swallowed as she considered her brothers' plan, knowing she had to move now and leave in order to get the help she needed. Not even bothering to cover the red stained top she wore, she looked around at her surroundings before flashing out of the compound without a trace, movements slower and weaker from residual vervain.

~TPoL~

Bella snarled as she ran faster through the relatively thin forest of the bayou, making a slow, winding arch toward the River whilst keeping away from the city populace; she wasn't in the mood to be killing innocents, her aim rather focused upon a specific strain of the supernatural. With her speed—and her aggravation doing nothing but enhancing it—she was at the bank in minutes, looking around for a split second before she leapt to the other side. Her eyes flashed amber as she sensed creatures close, not quite wolves, but…

She tilted her head, eyes narrowed and a pissed off smirk on her lips as she huffed and shook her head then sped into a small clearing.

"If you're out here, come and get me!" she shouted, turning slowly so she was eyeing every angle. Her hybrid eyes glared into the distance, seeing as far as she could as she expanded her hearing. They were nowhere to be found… until she heard a faint rustling somewhere—

She sped toward the sound as quietly as she could be. Her eyes widened as they fell upon a small community of shifters she knew all too well…

Brown eyes were filled with tears as she pleaded, long-sleeved shirt rolled back to reveal bite marks. She prayed the evidence of the abuse she had suffered would call to the Alpha's instinct to help victims such of herself of vampires. "Please… Please, you have to help me!"

Apathetic gazes stared at her from all angles, analyzing her. After a moment, they all seemed to direct to one person.

Sam.

"No."

She could not help the sob she released, shaking her head as she backed away, her hands raising to her head as her knees began to give. "But… I thought… I thought you protected people… Why? Why won't you help me?"

They gave no answer, instead a look passed through the Alpha's eyes followed by a murmur of something, the wolves filing out and running back toward the reservation instead. Sam stared, watching as Bella's heartbroken gaze followed her childhood friend who was entirely uncaring of her plight as she began to unravel. This had been her last hope. Now… Now she had nothing. She would have no choice but to—

"No!" she screamed, her eyes crazed as a woman right at the end of her rope seeing the last hope she had for salvation. She stared into Sam's eyes. "Please," she whispered, voice thick. "Please. You have to help me."

"No. We don't."

And Bella Swan could do nothing but cry and watch as he turned his back on her and walked away, leaving her at her lowest point.

The much-changed girl breathed in deep, eyes glimmering. She locked her jaw against her raging emotions but she had little success in controlling them or lowering them to a degree where she wouldn't slaughter them all the second they looked up and saw her.

She wanted answers first.

Stepping out from behind the tree, Bella made sure to make sounds denoting her arrival, smirking as she leaned against a thinner tree at the fringe of the clearing. Confidence sparking just as it had when she'd been kidnapped, she spoke.

"Now, isn't this great…"

Everyone's heads swiveled around to her, growls starting in their chests, but she remained impassive.

Instead, she laughed in the face of their threatening gazes. "I'm in the mood to kill and here we have a pack of wayward shifters just waiting to die." She shrugged off the tree, eyes surveying them. "What are you doing here? Surely you didn't come all this way just to try to do some damage to little ole me?" The look on her face was mocking as her eyes widened, her hand placed upon her chest. "I find that a little hard to believe considering if you'd wanted to kill me, you would have finished the job when I was living just a few miles away…"

The hybrid growled as none of them spoke, her visage swimming on her cheeks. She hummed, licking her lips as fear began to tingle down their spines. She was raging and uncontrollable, this being the first time she had really let loose as her wolf wanted to since she'd unlocked the gene.

Sam cleared his throat, now in front of his pack as he stood at his full height of almost seven feet, arms crossed over his naked russet chest. "Ask your father," he told her in that deep voice of his.

Bella appraised him, her expression not showing the shock that was pounding through her. Her father? What did her father have to do with this? She raised an eyebrow in question, waiting for him to elaborate.

But he did not.

She shook her head, a disappointed sigh leaving her, an almost sad expression on her face as she looked down for a fleeting moment. But then deviance washed over her, a smirk appearing on her lips and eyes alight with malevolent intentions as she peeked up from behind her eyelashes. Her tone was innocent but the words she spoke made it impossible for her to seem so.

"If you don't give me a straight answer, Sam, I'm going to kill every last one of your pack in front of you." She shrugged a shoulder, standing tall once more as she crossed her arms over her chest. "I might even compel you to help me."

He shrugged. "Then you're as bad as them." His tone made it clear that he was not surprised by the thought, as though she were a traitor somehow.

Eyes narrowing and suspicion rising, Bella tried to think of something she could have done to cause this. It wasn't as though it was her choice to be mated to Edward, and she had tried, once that initial spell of his had broken, to do everything she could to break away from him.

She'd succeeded... with none of their help after months of further torment and near death experiences…

So his words… that she was as bad as the people that had done so much to her…

A roar left her that echoed through the woods as she shoved him, sending him flying and crashing into a tree. With a wolfish sound of satisfaction, she caught him as he fell to the ground, then smashed the back of his head against a tree trunk, bloodied bark falling when she pulled him forward. All of his strength, which had at one point been so terrifying to her, was nothing against her own as she forced him back against the harsh bark hard enough to rip up his back, the scent of his blood filling her nostrils.

"I am not as bad as them," she snarled in his face, her rage causing her to forego her earlier plan as the hand not wrapped around his throat thrust into his chest cavity. For the first time, she held a heart in her hand, the vital organ throbbing, sending a wave of power through her; she was the one who held this being's life in her hand…

It was up to her to decide whether he lived or died.

And unfortunately for him, there was nothing he could say to change her mind.

She smirked and licked her lips at the way he gasped and arched, only further pushing himself onto her arm. She squeezed his heart in her hand, her wolf in her eyes and directing her actions. A hum emanated from her throat as his pained, tear-filled eyes stared into hers with unadulterated fear.

"P-Ple… don't… Emily…"

She tilted her head, eyes wide with mocking confusion again. The sound of his imprint's name did nothing as she clutched his heart harder. He and his pack and come to this city for her, without sparing a thought for the damage they'd do to her mate. "I'm sorry, are you begging for me to spare you?" Her eyes darkened considerably as that same memory of their last encounter came back and he cried out as she tightened her fist hard enough to almost burst the fragile muscle in her hand. "Did you spare me, Sam Uley? When I cried and begged and pleaded at your feet?" She snorted. "No! You didn't! So…"

She ripped her hand—and his heart—from his chest, clutching the organ tight as she turned to face the pack in front of her, all members frozen in shock as they stared at their dead Alpha. "Here's a question—who is going to fight back instead of becoming a little bitch and begging? Hmm?" She threw his heart on the ground between them, watching as the trembles wracking their frames grew stronger as their eyes left Sam's body and moved to stare at his heart. Their eyes then returned to her face, watching as she sucked the blood of their Alpha from her fingers. Humming at the look in their eyes, she smirked, arms outstretched. "Come and get it…" she whispered.

The two closest were Paul and Quil and they launched themselves at her, phasing on the fly. She growled, kicking one into the tree to her left, a whine and a fatal snap ringing out as he turned human again, immobile.

Another one bites the dust.

The other she bit into, ripping away at fur. She threw him down, wiping the fur from her mouth on the back of her unbloodied hand, licking blood from her lips as her chest rumbled.

Another one bites the dust.

"Is that really all you've got?" the hybrid spat, smug, the bloodlust from her vampire side increasing her wolf's anger and need for violence. She needed this, she needed blood on her hands; she needed it now! She shouted: "Don't disappoint your Alpha now—fight. me!"

The three remaining wolves came at her all at once this time and when they leaped at her, her hands smashed through two rib cages to clutch at beating hearts. The brunette used the bodies as a barrier against the russet colored wolf, throwing them both against one another—shattering the bones throughout their bodies from the force of her actions, making them phase back. The wolf behind them tore at their human backs with his claws, either in his blinded need to get to her or his panic to tug them down but it was no use. Bella smirked as she held onto their hearts and then raised her arms above her head, their weight nothing to her as she threw them forward, the momentum sending them crashing into the one wolf left alive. 

And another one down, another one down…

Her arms up to her elbows now in blood, she looked down to find blood on her shirt from injuries afforded to her by their paws. The wounds stung slightly but she paid that no mind, steeling herself as she let the two hearts in her grip drop. Lips twisting, she finally looked up to find the last wolf eyeing her. 

She knew who it was.

"Jacob…"

It was his betrayal that had hurt the most. Since the second he'd phased for the first time, he'd treated her like the pariah his father had before him. He had promised her he was different. He was supposed to be her personal sun.

And yet, it meant nothing in the end; he'd abandoned her.

Remembering the glimpses of their childhood together when things were different even after their fathers fell out, Bella herself was hesitant, but her wolf… she was crying out for revenge.

She stared at him, hoping to see something in the boy she'd grown up with that would convince her wolf not to kill him. But there was nothing, the look on his face an unrecognizable snarl of hatred and prejudice she didn't understand for she knew it went beyond the fact that she'd just killed his pack. It was the same look on his face from months ago as he'd walked away without looking back.

The snarl in his chest building to a growl, his body trembled as he lost control and threw himself at her. She readied herself for the impact, arms out, hands ready to grasp and snap, but nothing ever came.

Instead, Bella opened her eyes at a squelch, seeing a pale hand smash through his body from behind and out the other side, clutching his heart. The life left his glassy eyes as he stared into hers and Bella swallowed thickly as the arm disappeared.

Standing up straight in almost slow motion, the hybrid watched as the shapeshifter fell to reveal a weakened, pale, and staggering Rebekah. Bella gasped at the sight of the blood on her shirt, the shaky smile on her sunken face.

"You better not be killing shapeshifters without me, love," the blonde warned, her voice a whisper.

Bella blinked. "Rebekah?"

The girl gave a tired smirk as she lifted her heavy arms, head tilted. "In the flesh."

Relief made her huff as she tried to speak, but she struggled to do so. "Wh… Where the hell—The shapeshifters, did they—?"

"Kidnap me?" she asked, looking around. "Please. Even you got rid of them easily. No, the little pack of teenage mongrels did not—" She cut off with a grunt, swaying, her brow furrowing as a haze of pain washed over her, and, knowing where it was coming from, her eyes filled with tears. Her thoughts were encompassed by one name…

Then she cried out a second after the pain faded, falling as she felt her knee slide out of place.

Getting over her shock, Bella growled as she flashed to her sister, ripping at her jeans to uncover the dislocated knees as she looked around, trying to figure out where the hell that had come from.

The female Original tried to tell her that it was no use, that there was no one harming her, but she was incapable of speech as she panted in pain.

"Rebekah…"

"Get me to a witch," she demanded, her face ashen, eyes filled with tears as blue rose and connected with brown.

"What the hell is going on? Who did this to you? Where the fuck have you been, Rebekah?" The questions were fired off one after the other in a breath, leaving the fading blonde to blink in confusion, her comprehension slow.

"I was… in the dungeons…" she panted after a long moment before she moaned, writhing as another round of torture invisible to the eye began. Bella watched avidly, brow creasing at her words, wondering why she wouldn't have sought help. Her brothers would have jumped at the fact that she was threatened… as it was, Bella's wolf was growing more restless by the second about the fact that there was nothing they could do; there was no physical threat to rid her of.

"Wh—"

"I needed somewhere my brothers wouldn't hear my screams," she rushed. "You have to take me to the Regent, Bella. She's the lead witch; she's powerful. Please… She can help; she has before." She let out a shout that was mixed with a cry, the sound unintelligible but Bella thought she could hear part of a name…

"What is this?" she asked, not moving in the slightest as she stared into the Original's eyes.

Bekah's lips pursed, fright welling, and she shook her head. "I can't… I can't, I have to—"

All of a sudden, her expression went blank for but a moment before she began to gasp for air, lungs burning. A garbled, choked scream left her as the sting of the phantom vervain engulfed her body inside and out. She thrashed.

"Rebekah!" she heard, and she opened her mouth again to answer but nothing but wordless sounds of pain left her. She writhed as she choked on air until the fight was gone, nothing left in her body to give…

It was seconds later that the spider web veins and grey skin appeared, her body growing limp.

Shaken, Isabella looked around, fear making her sob. Her sister was dead, except…

Nothing but a white oak stake could kill an Original.

So her death was temporary? Her shoulders trembled in her grief as her head shook of its own volition, disbelief and dumbfounding shock disabling her thought processes.

She had to fix it but—

The Regent

The witches…

Home…

She clutched her sister tight as she grasped onto the final instruction she had been given, disappearing for the Quarter with Rebekah in her arms.

~TPoL~

A shrill scream left another witch as Klaus's teeth ripped into her neck with savage passion, not bothering to hold her still as she thrashed to get away from him.

Kol and Elijah watched on with blank faces, the former's arms crossed over his chest as Elijah leaned against a tomb's side wall, reaching into his breast pocket with the tips of his fingers and flicking his wrist to open the handkerchief so he could clean his hand of blood.

Davina sighed hard. "This isn't doing anything. Klaus can't just kill them because we aren't getting answers, we need…" Her thoughts were encompassed by finding Rebekah and the time they were wasting, though Klaus jumped on her words for a different reason.

Blood dripping from the corner of his lip, his visage out and eyes burning, his tone was scathing. "Upset I'm killing your little witch friends, sweetheart?"

She glared at him. "Hardly. Believe me when I tell you that I'd love nothing more than for them to die. But I am 'upset' that you're wasting our time," she snarked and Kol moved closer, worried, even as he smirked at her tone and her words. His witch was a feisty little thing with a sharp tongue and he loved it.

Klaus sneered even as he dropped the witch he'd fed from, his tone airy. "And what do you suggest instead?"

Davina looked around at the witches surrounding her, thinking. "Kol has a spell I could use to try to break the cloaking spell. It would give us an idea of who performed it. If I can't then the witch was stronger than me." She looked up to her mate for clarification and he nodded.

"She's right, Nik. It'll save time."

"It's no use," a newcomer called, her tone level. The four turned to look at her and she smiled, the look on her face pleasant. "You will not be able to find her."

"And why is that?" Klaus asked as Elijah and Kol approached to stand at his side, the latter bringing his mate with him, keeping her behind him.

"Because performed the spell," the Regent announced as she leveled them with a cool look.

It was Elijah's turn to respond, the Beast behind the Red Door rising at the threat to his family. For the Regent to have performed the spell… "And why might you have done that?" He smirked, lips parted, as he glanced between his brothers. "Why would the Regent put herself at risk by making becoming an enemy of the Original family?" His head twitched to the side in consideration. "Not exactly the smartest idea and I thought you witches were so full of those…" His tone was gritty, almost a moan as the Beast's always was, his eyebrow raised.

The witch chuckled, shaking her head as she looked down.

"Enemy, you say, Elijah Mikaelson? Hardly…"

Her eyes fell to the phone in his pocket just a second before it rang and they stared at one another as he got it out and answered it, holding his raging brothers off with a raised hand. There was an almost smirk on his lips when he heard their frustrated growls even as they stayed put.

"Marcellus. Please tell me you have something of use to tell me."

"I just checked in with one of our guys overlooking the Mississippi River. Said he saw Bella pass through. They thought she headed for the pack but no one could get in contact with the scouts watching them. We just got here and… they're dead, Elijah. All of 'em; the shifters, too."

A knowing look crossed the Regent's eye as he glanced at her and his eyes tightened.

"Stay where you are, all of you," he answered, ending the call as he stared at her.

The Regent smiled.

"I would focus my attention on that, wouldn't you?" she suggested, eyebrow raised. Her eyes ran over the witches surrounding her and the look made them turn to leave before she did the same.

Incomplete intuition clicked in Elijah's mind and he turned to his brothers and Davina before walking toward the gates.

Kol and Klaus sent one another a look before following after, the youngest voicing their shared thoughts.

"Elijah, you're not actually going to take her word for it, are you?"

Sighing, Elijah, the Red Door now closed at his realization, stopped, pausing a moment before he turned toward his brothers. "I am, yes."

"Why?" Klaus demanded. "She performed the spell on our sister."

"That she did," he agreed. There was no point in denying that. "But for now, I'm rather more interested in seeing this little gravesite your mate has constructed, Niklaus."

"Instead of finding our sister?" Kol growled, his visage showing through as he clutched his mate closer. "That makes no sense!"

"I agree," was the hybrid's short addition, fisted hands swinging at his sides as he walked before coming to a stop. "You'd think you would be a little more worried that our sister has been cloaked by powerful magic—the most powerful in New Orleans, in fact."

"And that is also true, brother," Elijah answered as he walked toward them. "However, do we not think it somewhat… strange… that the vampires watching the shifters have been killed as well? That sounds like someone covering her tracks… and we all know when Rebekah does not wish to be found, she won't be."

Klaus gritted his teeth. "It could have been Bella herself—"

"And why might she have killed the very vampires appointed to protect her, protect this family?" He stepped closer.

A snarl left the hybrid as he evened the playing field, also stepping closer. "Were you not listening when she made her anger at your actions quite obvious?"

This time, it was a chuckle. "I suppose we shall have to agree to disagree, Niklaus. That is perfectly fine. You… continue here," he said, tone light and mocking as he gestured toward the cemetery entrance, "and I shall find your mate's scent along with our sister's in that forest."

He smirked then flashed away.

Kol and Davina could do nothing but watch as the brothers engaged in a verbal tennis match, Kol turning to Klaus as the eldest left. "Well?"

And Klaus, incapable of concealing his annoyance and having no desire to do so in the first place, snarled as he flashed after Elijah.

Kol sighed, frustrated, grabbing his mate—who had stayed silent during the fight as she took Camille's words about sibling quarrels just being the Mikaelsons' thing to heart—and following after.

~TPoL~

Bella looked down at her sister as she saw the veins disappear again, her skin returning to a healthy color. It had done so countless times in the pretty short run back to the Abattoir, the reprieve lasting mere minutes before she was dead again.

Blue eyes snapped open, a harrowing gasp drawn in.

"Call… Regent…" Bekah whispered as the hybrid placed her down on her bed, propping her up against the pillows when she sat up. "My phone…"

"What's her name?" she asked, tone urgent. They had seconds left at the most, Rebekah's eyes growing unfocused.

"Josephine LaRue," rolled off her tongue and she looked as though she was going say more before she jack-knifed back into the pillows, screaming for a second before the sound cut off and she grasped at her throat as she began to choke again. Bella, with tears in her eyes, turned away as she scrolled through the contacts, incapable of watching her sister die again.

Her shaking hand pulled the phone up to her ear once she'd found the name and she closed her eyes, searching for calm. She needed to be practical; Rebekah was going to be fine.

"Hello Rebekah."

She breathed in sharply, not bothering with interruptions; everyone werewolf, vampire, and witch in the city knew who she was by now. "Not Rebekah. Listen, she told me to call you. She needs you to come to the Abattoir. Now." She wasn't about to apologize for being so short and demanding, she found it hard to fucking speak as it was, trying to listen out to see if Klaus and the others were on their way in or if Ansel had managed to hear her despite her efforts to keep a low profile until she'd reached the sound proofed bedroom... Rebekah's words of hiding from everyone—whatever the reason—echoing in her mind.

There was a brief pause.

"I'm on my way."

The phone call ended and Bella swallowed as she sat down, rocking back and forth as she eyed her sister's still body covered in gashes and bruises that were not her own. So many questions were running through her mind…

She was so deep in her thoughts as she stared at her sister that the sound of the witch opening the bedroom door made her snarl. In a flash, she had the frail woman against the wall.

"I am Josephine LaRue," the witch stated, her entire persona calm and aloof as could be despite the volatile new hybrid's hand pressed against her chest, a flash away from gripping her heart and ending her life. Her glassy eyes gave the impression of a crystal ball or all seeing eye, as though she saw more than most.

Bella let her go, backing away. "I'm sorry." She gestured toward the bed. "She's there… She keeps… She keeps dying and I don't know why…" She swallowed against the painful ball in her throat, clearing it, her voice far stronger and level once she had regained composure, turning her gaze back to the Regent. "She said that you could help."

The woman nodded, not saying any more on the subject as she approached the Original under the covers, her hand resting upon her temple. She closed her eyes, body huddling in on itself, before she gasped and let her go. "You will need to leave."

A protective growl left her throat and she shook her head. "Not happening. My mate's father"

"is incapacitated and will be until I leave. He will not know."

Bella swallowed, glancing back at her sister's body before meeting the witch's gaze once more. "I'm not leaving you alone with her."

Josephine sighed, stepping back. "Then I cannot help her."

Wetting her lips, Bella blocked the Regent's way as she made for the door. "Fine. But what's wrong with her first? How do I know you won't hurt her?"

Josephine smiled, the look peculiar in its warmth as she glanced back at the blonde. "Because I am Rebekah's friend and a witch she has preference for in her dealings with our kind. I know more about her than even her brothers…"

Eyes narrowed in suspicion, the hybrid's head tilted. The words seemed to go hand in hand with what was causing her to die over and over again in such an excruciating way—it was like she was drowning. And they fit with what Rebekah herself had confirmed before, about hiding from Klaus, Kol, and Elijah. "Would that include what's causing this?"

Her eyes dimmed, giving away nothing, and when she answered, her voice was low. "Yes."

"Rebekah was going to tell me the last time she… she died. Tell me," she demanded. "I swear to you that I won't tell her brothers but I have to know something… I need something I can tell them, and the only way to figure something out is to know what the real problem is."

Lips pursed, Josephine considered the younger girl's proposal. She sighed. "Rebekah's mate is the cause. Whatever is happening to him… she is experiencing it. She has been for at least a day; that's when she approached me again, asked me to cloak her so no one would find her and then she resolved to stay in the Abattoir dungeons for a while. In the meantime, I was to prepare the spell that would… abate her symptoms without harming their connection."

Bella's eyes narrowed, arms crossed over her chest in complete disbelief. She said nothing as she looked at her sister with new eyes, wondering why she had a mate and had never said anything… and why he wasn't with her now.

It appeared Josephine knew the answer to that, too.

"He doesn't feel it, the connection…" Her eyes, also, fell upon the Original, the look in them sad and her tone reflecting as much. "He has no idea."

Heartbreak and pity made Bella swallow. She couldn't even fathom the thought of being connected to Nik, needing him as she did, and for him to feel nothing whatsoever. She breathed in deep, shaky. "Is that why she's experiencing what he is, whatever it is?"

"No," the old witch commented. "It is because of their connective trait. It… It heals them of their ailments, offers comfort for the troubles and insecurities that plague their minds. But in order for them to know what to heal, they must feel what the other feels."

Bella's brow furrowed in confusion; it made no sense. How would one be able to heal the other if they're incapacitated like Rebekah is?

Josephine smiled. "If they ever complete the bond, it will be stronger; therefore, they will no longer be so affected."

"And that's what you aim to do today? With the spell?" the brunette asked, breaking out her thoughts.

"In a way, yes. I won't actually be tampering irreversibly with the bond. Rebekah wanted me to erase her ability to be affected, at least outwardly, by what is happening to him. She still wants to feel it, but she doesn't want the physical effects that give away the bond. She also wishes for me to transfer some of her strength to him, a sort of manifestation of their connective trait, to help him get out of whatever mess he is in. I gave her my word I would, but she wants no one to witness it. That is why you must go." Bella went to protest when she nodded toward the door. Josephine smiled, her expression soft. "I will tell you when I am done."

Knowing when she was defeated and also knowing she had to abide by her sister's wishes, Bella nodded, flashing out of the room. She waited there for moments before she looked down at herself and sighed; she was a mess, in great need of cleaning up with her arms, her clothes, her torso covered in shifter blood as well as her own. With nothing else to do, she found herself in the bathroom.

Staring herself in the mirror, she could not find it within herself to regret what she had done. Not in the slightest. She had been wronged first.

Looking away with a sigh, she stripped her blood streaked clothes off, checking the healed wound on her abdomen and then the rest of her for any more injuries. With none there, she stepped into the shower, watching the blood wash away from her skin and swirl down the drain as red-tainted water.

Once out, she changed into a white singlet and black button up with a plain but wavy maxi skirt, barefoot as she sat against the door, hands in her hair as she tried to push back the emotions hitting her.

~TPoL~

Elijah looked up, a vaguely smug albeit small smirk playing on his lips as his eyes fell upon his brothers and Davina. Then he looked back down at the shifter bodies surrounding him, eyes narrowing as he studied them further while he addressed his siblings and the witch. "Brothers… Davina, I am glad you decided to join me. Marcellus and our men are already in the Quarter searching again."

Klaus and Kol inhaled, scenting the air. "Bella…"

"Indeed…" Precise and slow steps found the eldest Mikaelson standing at the body of—

"Jacob Black…" was the sad announcement made by Charlie Swan, the four in the clearing turning to look at him as he entered, eyes on the dead teenager at Elijah's feet. "He was Billy's boy…"

"You sound as though you were close to them," Klaus commented, eyeing his mate's father, wolf flashing in his eyes as a thought came to mind. "Perhaps you can tell us why they decided to come here then?"

The grieving wolf swallowed and raised his head, meeting the hybrid's gaze. "They came because I'm here."

His tone was so sure… Niklaus snarled, stepping forward then stopping himself; he could not attack his mate's father, no matter how angry he was. He gritted his teeth, Kol speaking in his stead as he stepped forward as well.

"How did they know you were here? It seems… suspicious… that they would know so soon after you arrived…" He raised an eyebrow, shrugging with a small smirk ghosting on his lips. "Just a thought…"

"One that I second," Elijah inputted. "It does seem… strange…"

His wolf feeling caged as the three Originals boxed him in, Charlie's eyes flashed amber and he snarled. "Are you insinuating that I drew them in to bring harm to my own daughter?"

The three looked at one another, their expressions and little nods rather pointed confirmations.

"Let's just say it wouldn't be the strangest thing to have happened…"

"I am not like your parents; I love Bella!" he bit back, receiving a snarl back from Niklaus, Kol now holding him back.

"Then how do you know, Charlie?" Elijah asked him, raising an eyebrow, a pleasant smile on his lips as he looked to his brothers, seeing the witch behind the youngest with her eyes narrowed on Charlie's form, protective of her friend and their family as she readied a spell in case it was needed.

His sigh was more a wolfish growl than any sound a human would release.

"The pack and I… Well, the tribe and I have a complicated relationship. I used to be friends and a welcomed honorary member, courtesy of being friends with the Chief, Billy—Jacob's father," he commented, nodding toward the boy. "But things happened and that changed. Not even my daughter knows what happened and it will be kept that way." He looked to Niklaus in particular, watching as the hybrid's expression stoned… all except his eyes. No, they were filled with rage.

"How do they know you're here?" Kol questioned.

"An elder of the tribe; Old Quil," he answered. "He's the shaman. He sees things… I'm guessing they saw me come here. The tension between us and the tribe got even worse with the shifting of the younger generation of wolves... and the relationship between my daughter and that Cold One, Edward," he growled, nostrils flared.

"You're the reason Bella was abandoned by those she thought friends," Klaus growled as he pointed an accusing finger. "She begged them for help and they denied her… because of you and this bloody 'tension'!" he shouted, voice getting louder with each word. He stalked toward him, getting in his face and staring into his eyes with his furious blues. This time his voice was a heated, gritty whisper. "I want to know what it is."

"I haven't told anyone, not even Bella—do you honestly think I'll tell you?" Charlie seethed, backing up a step. "No… This… This destroyed my marriage. I'll be damned if it destroys my relationship with my child."

Klaus growled, his visage coming out to play as he stalked forward again in his rage, the wolves of both men at the forefront as Charlie, too, began to come forward.

With a whoosh, Kol sped between them before they could meet in the middle, glancing at them both. "Now as much as I love a good fight, I think Bella would hate you if you even tried to kill each other." He looked to Elijah. "Let's focus on the dead shifters and then find her and Rebekah."

"Excellent idea, Kol," Elijah commented with a smile as he approached the two wolves. "Isabella killed all of them except Jacob. His heart and his body have Rebekah's scent on them." He looked to Klaus pointedly. "And so do the gentlemen I had watch each member of the pack."

The blond's brow furrowed. He locked his jaw as he looked away, thinking. Their sister had killed six of their men—and for what? No answer came to mind. "In any case, they aren't here…"

"They left together."

"We should burn the bodies then get out of here. Return to the Abattoir; perhaps they went there," Kol suggested, arms relaxing as he stepped out from between his brother and his sister's father and made his way back to his mate's side.

"Agreed…"

And leaving the bodies burning to ash once Elijah had placed the call to have a lackey collect them, they left.

~TPoL~

Bella stood up and turned in a blur when the door opened again and Josephine stepped out with a smile.

"She is resting, but she is recovering. She will need blood for her wounds to heal…"

The young hybrid nodded. "Thank you, Josephine," she murmured, a small smile on her lips.

The Regent regarded her for a moment with her wise, pale eyes before nodding. Her long dress spun out around her a little as she turned to leave, feeling the eyes that followed her the entire way.

It was not until she was gone that Bella whooshed down to the kitchen, grasping a few bags of blood and heating them. She passed Ansel on the way back and smiled at him, ignoring the confusion on his face as she quickly explained that Rebekah had returned. He accepted the answer but watched her all the way back to Rebekah's room and a relieved sigh left her once the door was closed behind her. Turning back to her sister, a smile appeared on her face as she took in the differences, the grey skin and death veins no longer in sight, the blonde sitting up in bed. She gave a thin, slipping smile, still weak and plenty tired from her ordeal.

Bella held up the warmed bags. "I brought you a little pick me up," she said as she approached the bed, sitting on the side.

"You bloody angel," Rebekah exclaimed, the words a sigh as she reached for the first bag. She ripped at the plastic with her teeth, moaning as the thick liquid hit her tongue and slid down her still-sore throat. She sucked, draining the bag slowly, humming as she felt her strength slowly returning to her.

The brunette watched her in silence, speaking once another bag was emptied and her sister's strength had returned in full. "What am I supposed to tell them?" she asked, voice quiet and soft. "I'm sure they'll be back soon…"

The blonde Original sighed. "I would say you could tell them I was shopping but they know about the cloaking spell…" she mused.

"Add the fact that you don't actually have any new clothes…"

"Nik wouldn't believe it anyway," Rebekah commented with a small smile as she thought of her overprotective, paranoid older brother. "Perhaps that I was attacked—"

"And they got a witch to perform a cloaking spell? Could have worked, had the pack actually even tried to enter the city." Bella shook her head. "Elijah was adamant that he had enough watching them."

Bekah nodded, remembering the conversation she'd overheard between her brothers. "He had one watching each of them." She threw her a smirk and a raised eyebrow. "I should know; I killed them all." She sighed hard, swallowing as a little fear rose.

Bella caught it, grasping her hand. "Don't worry, Bekah. We'll think of something… For whatever reason, you're hiding the fact that you have a mate. And as much as I hate the thought of keeping something from him…"

"Perhaps it's best we say nothing then," the blonde decided, shifting in the bed and meeting the brunette's eyes. "We say nothing at all."

Her eyes going wide, she shook her head. "Bekah, are you—"

"Mad? Yes. My mate is mine to protect; I won't drag you into it any more than I already have. I refuse to make you lie to my brother; I refuse to be a reason for your relationship with Nik to suffer even a little. You both deserve more, to be happy, and I fear that Nik thinking you've lied to him will only turn him away and reopen old, jagged wounds." She searched the girl's eyes, holding them, her tone strong and urgent. "Tell my brothers the truth; that I found you, and that I killed that bloody shifter. Tell them I was injured so I had you call Josephine but she sent you out of the room at my request so you know nothing of what happened or what caused this."

"What will you say?"

Rebekah swallowed, her expression calm, eyes hinting at nothing and her shoulders set, stubborn just like Nik.

"Nothing."

~TPoL~

The brothers, Charlie, and Davina had arrived in a rush, the three Mikaelsons all in varying states of distress at the sight of their sister in a bloodied shirt. Of course, they immediately started demanding to know where she had been and why she had been cloaked.

Klaus had been about ready to charge down to the graveyard, haul the witches together and kill them all, Kol rather wanting to force his sister's hand to explain, and Elijah… well, Elijah merely sat and stared and took care of her.

Bella had explained her side of it, of course, but it only made them wish for more answers; Kol and Klaus demanding again whereas Elijah pleaded.

It was a few days before Rebekah replied with the answer that shut them all up.

A tearful, "I can't."

And just like that, not another word had been spoken about it.

Of course, Klaus still sulked and threw in the occasional threat, Elijah still doted upon her with a pleading but calculating look in his eye every now and then, and Kol still growled and locked himself away with his mate, to whom he ranted and raved...

But for the blonde, who loved all her brothers but feared for her mate—even if he did not feel the connection between them as she did—it was enough.

"Are you sure you have to leave?" Bella murmured a full week after that day as she stood with her father, watching the sunset with him. Her arms were crossed over her chest, a forlorn expression clouding her features.

A sigh left the older wolf as he nodded. "I'm sorry, baby, but yeah… I do. At least for a little while. Your mother won't stay locked up without me there, too, forever. You know that."

Tears welled in the emotional hybrid's eyes and she sniffled, her breath hitching in that way that made the heart of every father who loved his daughter ache. A sad little sound left him and he murmured so low she could just hear him as he took her in his arms and held her as she wept, tears in his own eyes that slid down his cheeks in silence.

"I'll be back soon, Bells; I promise…" he pledged, rubbing her back and rocking her.

She whimpered, a small and broken "mm-hmm" her best answer as she clutched him tight, fingers almost tearing through the back of his shirt as she leaned into him, her body heavy. Taking a deep and shaky breath, the brunette cleared her throat and wiped her eyes, pulling back as she looked down.

Another sigh left Charlie and he lifted his hands to his daughter's cheeks, cupping them and bringing her face up to look into her glassy eyes. He combed his fingers through her hair. "Everything will be okay. I'll be back before you know it. I just have to make sure Renée will stay."

She nodded, saying nothing, looking down again as he let go of her, toward the almost-gone sun. She sighed. It was time for him to go.

He was at the doorway when she spoke again.

"Daddy?"

He paused.

Bella bit her lip, swallowing as she turned to look at him. "Sam said… Sam said to ask you why they wouldn't help me. He said that you knew…"

She could see the way his muscles tensed, the almost mute growl that she would never have heard were it not for her superior abilities. Her brow furrowed and she stepped forward. "Dad?"

He cleared his throat, tone strong and somewhat removed as he answered. "It's nothing, baby girl. Ignore him."

Her breath hitched and she shook her head, voice raising. "If you know something, you have to tell me," she pleaded, speeding to stand in front of him. "Please… I need… I need to know why they hated me so much. Why one day, Jake was my friend and then he shifted for the first time and he hated me—before Edward, even. Dad… please."

Images flashed behind his eyelids, guilt in his naked brown eyes once they opened for her to see. She stepped forward to try to understand as though her impeccable eyesight would be improved further by closer proximity.

But then he shook his head, the look gone, and he leaned down to kiss her forehead.

He didn't see it as he walked out of the room, but he sure heard it when she let out a quiet sob against her hand, shaking as the tears that had welled in her eyes spilled over. He knew… He knew, all this time, and he'd never said anything… he still wouldn't.

Why?

She sank to the ground, shoulders shaking as she folded in on herself. God, it hurt so much…

Charlie's eyes found Klaus's, the tension between them thick.

"Protect her," he near growled, the words clearly an order.

"I will."

He eyed the hybrid for a moment, jaw locked, the two wolves echoed in their eyes as they sized one another up. Then he sighed, a man defeated as his shoulders drooped, the look in his eyes growing sad and weary.

"You're a good man, Klaus… to my daughter. You're what she needs."

A small smile played on Niklaus Mikaelson's lips, happiness in his eyes as he nodded once. "Be safe… It would kill her to lose you."

Charlie smiled, however fleeting it was, and nodded at the gesture. "Always am."

And then, with a final look up toward the ceiling, Charlie Swan left the Abattoir and New Orleans behind… at least for a little while.

~TPoL~

Aro sighed, turning toward his sole brother left with less of a flourish than Marcus was used to. "Such a shame…" he muttered to himself, brow furrowing as he thought of the Cullen child's little mate. So much power, so much potential…

All wasted now on the other species—the Originals themselves no less, the eternal thorn in the Greek's side.

"What is it?" Marcus rasped from his throne. His listless eyes watched as the flamboyant Aro was drawn toward him with sluggish footsteps while he contemplated upon the scrap of embellished parchment in his hand.

A long inhalation and clouded red eyes rose to meet their match, a sigh on his lips. He twirled, the fabric of his robes flying out around him as he sat in his throne and passed the letter on to his brother.

Raising an eyebrow, the brunet took it, his expression unchanging as he read.

Your Majesties,

I am writing to give  y ou  t he unfortunate news that I have in fact lost my mate to the Original Hybrid, Klaus. I was able to enter her mind but with her new status as a hybrid now, she was able to thwart me as a member of the older species.

I thank you for your help on this matter. Your care for your species is ever acknowledged and received with the highest gratitude by your dutiful followers.

My one request is that you give me some time before I am  called  to work with your guard on any matters. I shall send word again when I feel I am ready, but if you are not agreeable, I will of course come at once to your aid and help as best I can. It would be my honor to continue work with you.

A faithful servant,

Edward Cullen.

Passing the parchment back, he felt Aro's eyes on him. He missed the locked jaw and look of annoyance on his younger brother's face as he thought, his aged mind giving nothing but apathy. "It is most unfortunate indeed," he supplied, his voice thick from disuse, hardly a model for the Cold One's stereotype of sounding like bewitching music. Marcus tried to give the notion of being sympathetic as he smiled at him without feeling. "I know you planned to use her and Edward on the guard."

"I did, yes," Aro answered with a nod, his fury locked away but growing at the thought of being denied. How dare she? She, this insignificant human girl... how dare she turn away from the species that had claimed her as their own first? Pushing his thoughts away, he smiled at his brother. "But I am sure everything will be fine. Edward must have his own plans if he is not here already begging for a place in our insanity wards." He eyed Marcus as he said this, the face of his dear sister Didyme in his mind.

It is such a shame I had to kill her, dear brother, just to keep you and your power within my grasps…

A grim line of his lips was the sole response he garnered from Marcus before the old one fled the room.

And it was once Aro of the Volturi was left alone that a cruel, twisted smirk slithered across his lips.

Indeed, he had his own plans for the fair Isabella… and he was determined that they not change. He had heard of the circumstances with the girl and Edward, knowing why it had been so difficult to draw her back, even more so since she was with Klaus.

It made him think, made him plan, but he would wait… he had all the time in the world to wait for his plans to come into fruition without him having to do much of anything to ensure it.

He was sure she would be worth it, though.

For what use was a Cold One with a shield when you had a Hybrid of the Original species with one instead?

~TPoL~

Green eyes snapped open, a strength and urgency he'd felt building for a week now at last at full force. He grunted, throwing himself up against the metal surrounding him, again and again, hearing the muted, underwater groans as it began to give way. A final impact that was harder than the others and the obstruction was gone, leaving him free to move. He pushed himself up to a crouch then kicked off the bottom to swim up to the top.

All the way, every little action had him screaming in pain, though after however long of being trapped underwater, the vampire had enough sense to keep them inside, reverberating through his mind instead of opening his mouth to the vervain laced water he was so deeply submerged in.

A loud, rasping gasp left his mouth as he broke through the surface, coughing and spluttering. Memories and a connection that had been blocked from the beginning came at him with such a force that he screamed in pain as he clutched his head. He panted as the pain began to fade, rationality returning to him before he stilled, silent for a second before—

He gasped a single name, his voice hoarse from the burns of the vervain he'd ingested.

"Rebekah."

Chapter Text

Pink ~ Run

Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh [x18]

Remember make believe in you
All the things I said I'd do
I wouldn't hurt you, like the world did me
Keep you safe, I'd keep you sweet
Everything that I went through, 
I'm grateful you won't have to do
I know that you will have to fall
I can't hide you from it all

[Chorus]
But take the best of what I've got
And you know no matter what
Before you walk away, you know you can
Run, run, run, 
Back to my arms, back to my arms
Run, run, run, back to my arms and they will hold you down
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh, oh oh [x4]

See, here's the bloody, bloody truth 
You will hurt and you will lose
I've got scars you won't believe
Wear them proudly on my sleeve
I hope you'll have the sense to know
That sadness comes and sadness goes
Love so hard and play life loud
It's the only thing to give a damn about

[Chorus]
But take the best of what I've got
And you know no matter what
Before you walk away, you know you can
Run, run, run, 
Back to my arms, back to my arms
Run, run, run, 
Back to my arms and they will hold you down

All this time I swear I'll never waste it
All your smiles I'm always gonna save them
Put it in the back of my mind
Whenever I'm away from you [x2]

Run, run, run 
Back to your arms, back to your arms
Run, run, run
Back your arms and they will hold you
Whoa, whoa, whoa
Back to my arms, back to my arms

All this time I swear I'll never waste it
All your smiles I'm always gonna save them
Put it in the back of my mind
Back to my arms, and they will hold you down
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh, oh oh [x2]
They will hold you down
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh, oh oh [x2]


Chapter 15—Run


The sound of carolers filled the night time streets of New Orleans. Countless children and their parents all singing along to the favorite Christmas songs of the millennia, the fever was at an all-time high in the week leading up to that splendid day. Christmas cheer spread through the Quarter, decorations lining the colorful streets as men and women went about shopping for Christmas presents, their troublesome children trying to peek into the bags.

For Niklaus Mikaelson, there was no exception as he glared at the child staring at him blatantly, eyes flickering between his face and the bag in his hand. In packed streets, he had to be careful—especially due to the far more sinister note that his gift carried for the people who would receive it. He smirked as he headed into Rousseau's, sliding into a seat at the bar in front of Camille. He could see Marcel watching from the corner, standing to come to his side as he motioned for him just as he'd said he would that morning before his son left the compound.

"Klaus," he greeted him, a grin on his face as Camille served them each their usual before redirecting her services to other customers.

"Marcel," he returned, taking a sip of his drink after swirling it in the tumbler. "I have a favor to ask of you and Camille." The smirk had slipped, now slight as he looked down at his glass, eyebrow raised as he turned his head to look into his son's eyes. "Something I need delivered personally."

Marcel's brow furrowed. "Why not do it yourself?" He was not being rude, instead he was genuinely curious. He knew Klaus well, and knew that he liked to deliver the sorts of 'gifts' he knew the hybrid was speaking about in person—himself.

"It's Christmas week and my mate is adamant I stay with her. Understandably; it's our first Christmas together…" There was a smile on his lips that the dark-skinned vampire knew was real as the Original thought on Bella. "I thought, perhaps, that you and Camille might want to take a little road trip, have some time to yourselves and escape the never-ending drama our family provides. Whilst you still can, at least." The smirk on his face was almost evil as he said that.

Marcellus had to admit, it was a tasty offer. But his eyes narrowed at the thought of taking his mate anywhere, even as he was not completely comfortable leaving her back here. It still had been rather recent, their issue with the Cold Ones, and even though he trusted Klaus and the rest of the Mikaelson family… no one could protect his Camille like he could. "Where would we be going?"

There was an almost coy smirk that stretched the blond's lips then as he glanced at Marcel before taking a swig of his drink. "A little town by the name of Forks, in the state of Washington. But, more specifically, you would be driving through Forks to get to the Indian Reservation of La Push."

Recognition sparked in Marcel's eyes. "This have anything to do with the shapeshifter issue?"

Klaus's eyes filled with deadly satisfaction, a low growl leaving him like a hum as that smirk on his lips grew. "Of course. And, for their sacrifice, I believe the imprints of the fallen should receive a little… Christmas present. And I want the two of you to deliver it to them." As he spoke, he looked over his protégé's shoulder, eyeing another child with a strange gleam in his eye, drawing the dark skinned man's eyes to the same person only for Marcel to frown in confusion and look back to his father. Klaus was back to himself when his eyes were cast upon him once more, hand reaching into the the decorated bag and revealing a large crystal jar.

Marcellus looked at it, understanding lighting his eyes. He looked back at Klaus to see a smirk tugging at his lips, strange moment over. "When?"

There was a chuckle. "You leave tomorrow."

With that, Niklaus straightened, knocking back the rest of the liquor and patting Marcel on the shoulder as he walked out into the sea of Christmas cheer, heading back home.

~TPoL~

Bella looked out the window, trying to see Klaus through the fog and snow. She yawned, bleary gaze cast around the room as she searched for something that would tell her the time. But her efforts were for naught and then forgotten as her phone lit up with a message from just the man she wanted to see right this moment. She grinned, the previous anxious feeling she'd had—since her mate had left, actually—gone and she flashed to the bedside table in her exuberance, only to hiss as she felt a dizzy spell come on out of nowhere.

What the hell?

She sighed and rubbed her forehead as it creased, she yawned again, turning to sit down carefully and slowly on the bed. She'd already eaten, so she had no idea why else she might be dizzy… until she felt a craving for blood. It hit her strong and hard in the stomach, in the throat, a wolfish whine leaving her. She hadn't the energy to get up though, and since Nik was still out, as was Rebekah who had seldom been home since the incident concerning her mate, Elijah was working in his office, and Kol and Davina were—ahem—busy, there wasn't really anyone she could ask to get it for her.

A glance toward the bedside table and she has to give a whispery chuckle. Her mate… ever the alcoholic. Though she supposed that was probably a good thing, at least right now as she brought the bottle of rum to her lips.

She took one gulp before dragging it away from her lips, body dispelling it immediately. She dry-retched over the puddle of alcohol, her stomach muscles heaving. All the while, a blinding panic began to overwhelm her. What was happening to her? She shouldn't feel so tired, so weak, so unreasonably hungry… and her body certainly should not be dispelling alcohol for no reason.

But then, it wasn't for no reason…

She gagged at the taste of it left in her mouth, snarling as anger she might have once been able to push back overwhelmed her. Fire ignited, she pulled her arm back then flung it forward, growling with the exertion, panting as the glass bottle smashed upon heavy impact with the wall, liquor spraying. Her anger—perhaps rage—was just as quickly gone as it had risen.

That is it…

Shaking her head, Bella did her best to throw back the exhaustion she was feeling. She wasn't ready to go to sleep. Lately she was too on edge to do so without Nik, hard-pressed to leave the room if he wasn't around. And now she couldn't drink alcohol? Wanted to eat and drink blood more and more? Something was not adding up and she wanted answers.

Steeling herself for what she now knew after the past week would be an increase in anxiety as soon as she stepped out of the door, she flashed away. She did not stop until she was at Davina and Kol's door, pushing back a whine as her eyes flashed amber. She knocked on the door.

She heard a giggle from Davina, her nose scrunching up in disgust at the images that filled her head. She knew exactly what they were doing, especially as a slap sounded and then the young witch moaned before telling him to wait. Bella had to work to keep back the chuckle rising when she heard her brother genuinely whine with petulance.

"But darling—"

"Now, Kol."

The door opened and scents hit Bella, making her swallow, itch to go back to her room and surround herself with her mate's scent. For some reason, the scent of another male—even one she knew well—induced her every instinct, caused them to rise to the surface. But her desperation was so that she pushed it back with all she could, reaching out and grasping her friend's hand. Wide brown met worried blue, and when Bella spoke her voice was a low whisper, tone begging.

"Davina, I need your help."

A whoosh and Kol was behind her, also concerned, both of them watching as Bella whined and stepped back.

"Are you all right, darling?" Kol asked, his fingers itching for his phone, first impulse to call Nik. If something was wrong…

"I'm all right," Bella said immediately, clearing her throat and stepping closer. It took everything in her to stay where she was as she looked to Davina. "Just need to borrow your mate for a bit…"

The Harvest witch's lips parted, brow furrowing with worry and confusion in equal measure. She couldn't say no. She turned back to her mate and gave him a smile, kissing his cheek. "I'll be back soon," she reassured him before she walked out the room, taking Bella's hand and guiding her away. The further they walked, Bella starting to take the lead as they made their way down to the dungeons, away from everyone else, the more relaxed the female hybrid became.

When they entered the garden, Davina looked around then back toward her friend, seeing the panic in her rise. "Bella, what—"

"There's something wrong with me. I-I don't know how to explain it."

The witch swallowed and nodded. "Okay, well, why don't we get Klaus—"

"No!" the hybrid yelled, making the younger brunette freeze. She took a breath, her voice much quieter when she continued. "No… I don't want to concern him when it could be nothing. You know what he's like."

Davina nodded. Knowing what he was like was the exact reason why she wanted to call him.

But… she supposed, as his mate, if Bella didn't want to tell him just yet…

She sighed. "Okay. Why don't you tell me what makes you think there's something wrong?"

The wolf, pacing, nodded. "I am tired all the time. I hate the taste, even the smell, of alcohol, as well as some foods. I'm really, really anxious when Klaus isn't around… I'm a lot hungrier. My breasts are tender—I can't even wear bras anymore—and they tingle. I'm having mood swings…"

Davina listened patiently, but her eyes widened as Bella finished and she thought about what it could be. If she didn't know any better, she'd say she was pregnant…

But she did know better and that was impossible… right?

"Bella, I really think we should get Kol," the witch insisted, her eyes wide with the stress she was feeling at that moment. Her mouth opened to continue but she was overturned by a harsh sigh and the shaking of the hybrid's head.

"No, we can't. I… Isn't there a spell you can do? To figure out what this is—if it actually is anything? Please?" Bella asked, swallowing as she thought she heard something upstairs, her instincts almost forcing her out of the room in hopes that it was her mate. She growled, hand smashing through the stone wall right next to the door, panting as she extracted her hand to see if there was any damage as it stung. There were only scrapes and some blood, the injuries already healing they were so insignificant. "This is not normal," she muttered, the words mostly directed toward herself as she turned her hand over then let it drop to her side. She flashed to a chair on the other side of the room, looking up at the strong thud of Davina's heartbeat. She was scared of her, and the older brunette smiled bracingly. "Sorry…"

The Harvest Witch gave her a small smile, taking a deep breath as she tried to calm down. "No, it's—um—it's fine." She took a moment to think then sighed and nodded. "There is something I can do, but we have to go the cemetery…"

A beat of anxiety hit Bella but she breathed evenly and nodded. They needed the answers and there was no way she was going to worry Klaus with this if it turned out to be nothing, no matter how much she doubted that would be the case. In addition, despite her nervous energy, Bella's wolf was restless and impatient, demanding they seek their answer now and not later. The sooner Bella knew what her wolf was trying to tell her, the better.

"Let's go," Davina urged her quietly, her tone gentle as she smiled at the young hybrid. She walked to the door then opened it, motioning for her friend to follow, and the older brunette did so in a nervous flash, almost as though she was pushing herself to do it before she lost her nerve entirely.

Thus begun their travel to the cemetery.

Keeping half an eye on her, Davina allowed the cool December night's air to aid her as she focused her mind on the spell she would have to do. It was a simple communication spell with the ancestors, something she'd done a few times now, but she was still a learning and vastly inexperienced witch with untold amounts of power. The first thing her mate had told her was that she needed to take that into consideration and be extra vigilant. Anything could go wrong and, with the amount of power she had, if it did go wrong it could have any number of disastrous effects. And not only on herself.

But Davina was doing a lot better now than she had been a mere week ago. After the scare in Bella's mind when she'd gone against Kol's wishes—and could very nearly have been killed for it—he'd figured he wouldn't be able to stop her, and he really didn't want to… he liked his witch feisty. However, he did want her safe, so the amount of time he spent educating her had increased tenfold. If they weren't making love, they were properly immersed in the world of magic and all its capabilities.

It might have gotten annoying sometimes but, seeing the way Kol lit up, livened as he was surrounded by the world he'd been shunned from through no fault of his own, Davina really wouldn't have it any other way.

Arriving outside the gate, Davina looked around, seeing Bella do the same as she glanced back toward her. The whine of the gate made the wolf jump but a reassuring smile in her direction was enough to calm her for the moment. Bella was so close to understanding what her wolf wanted her to know and that was enough for Bella's wolf at the moment.

"Come on," the witch whispered, and Bella needed no other instruction. She flashed through the metal gate and, as Davina led her further into the graveyard, it was clear how uneasy she was about her surroundings. The witch could see the amber of her eyes was more prominent, adding that to a possible list of symptoms. She knew nothing about being a werewolf, but she thought it made sense that they would be like this if they were pregnant, especially mated. They were vulnerable. And considering Bella was mated to none other but The Hybrid, she was more vulnerable than most.

Stopping at the crypt, the two carefully entered, Bella looking around as Davina stopped in front of Mary Alice's tomb. She ignored the candles some other witches must have left handy about the room—if you could call it that—and pulled out one of Kol's from her bag. The spell she had in mind would only work if she used this candle since one of Kol's old witch friends had it charmed for a specific purpose. The only way that her ancestor would be able to answer was using this candle to channel her power to. It was essentially the witchy version of a pregnancy test.

The Harvest witch methodically lit a candle on the first try, placed it atop Mary Alice's tomb, and relaxed her body. "I'm going to try to commune with my ancestor specifically. Hopefully she'll answer me and, if she lights the other candle, it means you're pregnant…"

"Wait, pregnant? Davina—"

"I know… but its the only thing that fits… if this doesn't work, the next spell is a lot less specific so I can ask if it's something else then, okay?"

Frowning because of the way her wolf perked up at the mention of pregnancy, she swallowed, sighed. "Okay," Bella said with a nod, stepping forward. With great anticipation, the older brunette waited for the sign, but nothing happened. Minutes later, Davina opened her eyes and sighed, shaking her head.

"Nothing," was the only thing she said. She stared at her ancestor's name on the tomb, her thoughts full of frustration and confusion. She'd thought for sure that the witch who'd saved her mate would answer this one question, especially if she was looking over the Mikaelson family.

Bella frowned, stepping forward as she noted the crease of Davina's brow, worried that something averse might be happening to the witch, but blue eyes popped open a moment later. Muddied with confusion and a little irritation, they brightened a second later.

"I guess we'll have to go with the other option," she said tiredly.

"As long as it doesn't hurt you, Dav…" Bella said, her worry clear as she used a nickname she'd slipped on a few days ago that the witch had said she'd liked. "Kol would have my head if anything happened to you, and then Nik would have his."

Davina shook off her worries with a roll of her eyes and a grin. "I'll be fine."

"Davi—" Isabella tried, her eyes widened as she came forward, but it was no use.

Laying down, she lolled her head towards the hybrid."I'm ready," she said quietly, her gaze meeting her friend's briefly before she closed her eyes and begun the next spell instead, wind blowing around her, rendering anything she might have tried to say useless. Davina could not hear a word.

Over and over again, she chanted, "attendez notre appel…"

But there was nothing.

Her brow furrowing, Davina gritted her teeth, not giving up when she should have. She chanted louder, "attendez notre appel… attendez notre appel…" Growing more frustrated, she started to plead, "all we need is the answer… please, we just want to know if she's pregnant or if there's something wrong… she's my friend! Attendez notre appel… attendez notre appel!"

The energy flowed around her, surging, but before she could breathe a sigh of relief and think they would answer, she noticed a distinct 'flavor' to it. This was negative. The spirits were angry. Pain exploded in the young one's head, making her scream as her hands clutched it, her eyes squeezed shut as she felt warm liquid seep from her eyes. Opening pained blue ones, she felt the blood with her fingers, and sobbed a final, "please!" before hearing a growl of her name.

Just like that, the wind died, and she was in the arms of a very angry Kol, who was wiping the blood from her eyes and ranting about the bloody ancestors. "And you! Dammit, Davina, you should have ended the spell the first time they didn't respond. You only anger the ancestors if you have a death wish and I prefer you very much alive!"

Davina was more focused on recovering than she was on listening to Kol rant his 'anger'—she knew it was just a cover, and a poor one at that, for his fright that he might have lost her. Which was ridiculous, in her opinion, but she knew better than to voice that. She did not want to fight with him. "I'm fine now, Kol. But we need answers… We have to see the Regent. She's the only one who might be able to get the ancestors to answer us. This is impor—"

"Later," Kol demanded, his tone strong and features tight with both the need to protect his weakened mate and some anger. "Tomorrow, maybe. Tonight, you're having a bath, and you're resting. Any longer in that spell and they could have bled you to death. I don't care what you wanted to know—it's not worth it."

Isabella swallowed thickly, tears pricking her eyes with guilt. "I am so sorry, Kol. I told her, but she wouldn't listen."

Kol paused, sighing, looking at his sister, his eyes making it clear that he wasn't angry with her. "I can believe that. Davina is too bloody stubborn and determined—it's one of the things I love most about her." He sighed again. "Nik's home."

With that, he lifted his witch into his arms and left the crypt, Bella following after, eager to return to her mate.

~TPoL~

Surrounding Mary Alice were three witches, all opposing what had just occurred.

"Why did you not simply answer their call?"

"How could you harm your own flesh and blood?"

"We know she is pregnant—why are we not acting? The baby should be terminated and Isabella Swan with it. That child is an abomination. It spells the greatest disruption to the balance of nature since the creation of vampires!"

The Claire witch had been fully prepared to ignore her companions, but at that, she broke her silence, turning on the witch with a glare, her voice strong.

"No harm will come to that child, or its mother. In fact, none of the Mikaelson family shall perish… why do you think I would invest so much time saving one of them only to allow another to die?" she asked, turning to her coven. "I have my reasons for my actions. I did not wish to hurt Davina, but she is a spirited child; it was the only way to end the spell. None of them can afford to know the answer to the question they seek, not like this…"

"And when they go to speak with the Regent?"

Mary Alice sighed, lips twisted as she thought, walking to the stairs and exiting the crypt. She looked up the sky, ignoring the other witches swarming around her for the answer she would give, but she focused upon the streaks of light signaling dawn's arrival.

"They cannot know what is coming, nor that the child was made for Edward's purpose. Klaus's desire to protect his mate knows no bounds. To keep her with him, he would kill any who threatened her safety, her happiness… even his own unborn child, at this point. He would not allow himself the chance to love it if it were a danger to Isabella's wellbeing. If he does kill the child, he puts the future of the supernatural community at stake. That baby is key to the balance you seek to preserve." she said with a withering glare sent in that witch's direction as she remembered the words that had come from her mouth. "No one knows the good that child will bring."

"No one but you?"

Without a blink, she replied: "Precisely."

"Then what shall we say?"

"Nothing… except to confirm that she is pregnant."

"The Hybrid will want to know how it is possible."

"And when that question comes, leave the answer to me."

~TPoL~

A few hours later, and the new day was well and truly upon New Orleans. Among the many who woke early were Marcel and Camille, downstairs and dressed in winter clothes, ready to deliver the fallen shifters to their mates—or the equivalents, as the vampire was telling his blonde bartender.

"I don't understand it. How are there two different kinds of werewolves in the world?"

Ansel, always a morning person, was already in the kitchen as they entered. A coffee in hand, his eyebrow raised as his wolf bristled at the comment. He knew what they were speaking of.

Marcel, with a grin on his face, shook his head. Eyes falling on the elder, he beseeched him, "come on, man, help me out here… you're the wolf."

The former Alpha nodded with a small amused smile on his face, turning to the psych-in-training. "That pack were not wolves, not truly. There are distinct differences that make that obvious. We are what the cold one leaders call 'children of the moon' because we are the traditional werewolf, the true werewolf. The Indian shapeshifter packs can transform into whatever form that tribe's spirits decide upon. For the Quileutes, it is the werewolf. But as they are not bound to the moon as we are, they are not true werewolves. Their bite does not kill a vampire as ours does."

"Okay… and why are we going to the middle of nowhere?"

"That would be my son… he wishes to issue a warning to the tribe."

Camille's response was somewhat sarcastic. "Ah! So it's not the kind-hearted gesture of returning the men that Bella killed to their rightful resting place as I thought."

"No," Ansel agreed, "but it is just as important. If not more so. That tribe was here with the goal to kill his mate. It is best they know what one of us is capable of. It may persuade them not to try again and, considering the war we have brewing with the Cullen coven, that would be best."

Marcel pitched in. "I know Klaus. He's all about messages and he doesn't do subtle. He's protective and he's strategic. He's been protecting his family for a thousand years at whatever cost it took—even their hate. He's not about to stop now that he has a mate—he'll have only gotten worse." He didn't continue, instead turning his mate and kissing her. "Let's go. We have a long way to travel." He turned to Ansel. "Tell the others we said goodbye and that we'll be back before Christmas celebrations start. Wouldn't wanna upset Bella's first Christmas with this family."

"Of course… Safe travels," was Ansel's response, accompanied by a nod, and the two departed, leaving the old wolf to his morning rituals.

~TPoL~

Green eyes darkened as the person they belonged to stepped inside the establishment. He'd been bar hopping ever since he'd woken with a clarity that had been missing for, if he had to be honest, most of his very long life. His mind was a storm of guilt, of pain, of anger and of betrayal.

Stefan Salvatore had been used by those he loved, and kept from the only one who deserved that love.

Rebekah…

As always, a surge of pain and guilt flooded through him as he thought of her name. His mate, he allowed himself to think. The pull to her was strengthening every day, his resolve to stay away dampening just as quickly.

But despite that, he knew he had to do as he planned. The only thing was, he had to build the strength back to do so.

He had to build strength to be able to lie in his brother's face, in Elena's face, for just a little longer—long enough to know more of their plan before he could reunite with Rebekah.

He'd already be there if it weren't for the fact that every time he thought of his brother and the doppelganger, all he wanted to do was rip someone's throat out, rip someone's head off. Tear, claw, rip—destroy. So that was what he did until, he hoped, he felt that impulse no longer.

It was like his ripper days only he was in control. He wasn't doing it because he didn't care. He was doing it because he did. Because he wanted to maim. But he could pull back, if he wanted to.

He didn't know how it was possible but for the first time in his life, Stefan was in control of his impulses. Able to dance along the threshold of losing himself to blood and death… to choose whether or not he gave over or kept his control. Able to feed without tearing apart.

He loved it.

~TPoL~

Bella could feel Klaus's watchful gaze on her as she dressed, his arms crossed behind his head, sheet riding low upon his hips, displaying his tattoo and stomach muscles tantalizingly. Her lips quirked with amusement even as she felt a flash of nervous energy.

"There a reason you're staring at me, Nik?"

His eyes seemed to smoulder as he licked his lips, the tone of his voice lowering as he answered. "Do I need a reason, love?" In a flash, his naked body was pressed against her scantily clad one, her lips at his neck and arms around her waist. Isabella gasped as she found herself turned, amber-glinting eyes staring into hers. "I didn't think I did…"

Then his mouth descended, nipping, pressing sucking kisses to her breasts. Her hands rooted themselves in his hair as she breathed his name, and he caught her legs as she leapt up to wrap them around his waist. They gyrated together, breathing heavily, until…

Never pausing, Niklaus asked, "Where were you last night?" His wolf had been abuzz with anxiety and unrest for a while now, scarcely comfortable with the thought of leaving their mate alone. Unprotected. And try as he might have, he could not understand what his wolf was trying to tell him.

It was frustrating—beyond so.

At his question, Bella, unlike her mate, did stop. Her heart gave a nervous thud and she swallowed, slowly unwrapping her legs from his waist. She wasn't about to keep it from him, but… "Klaus…"

His jaw was locked, that much she could tell as she looked at him, his face still turned away, his breath gushing over her naked flesh. "I would demand to know now, but… I have a feeling you'll tell me soon. All I ask is that you, of all people, do not try to deceive me, sweetheart."

Tears pricked in her eyes, her body sagging into his for a moment before her hands were at his jaw, pulling his face up so she could look into his eyes. They were blue, and they were vulnerable.

"I would never," she whispered, pressing a short, passionate, but chaste kiss to his lips. It took him a moment to return it but then he did, his lips leaving hers for the mark on her neck, his hands tightening around her, digging into her flesh.

He paused as though readying himself to speak but, unable to find his tongue, he nodded instead.

Letting go of her slowly, Klaus gave her a small smile, kissing her forehead. He made to leave the room, perhaps go to his studio—considering his mood—but Bella spoke before he could do so, asking the question she would have before he attacked her.

"Where's Rebekah?"

The blond closed his eyes at the sound of his mate's concern, his own emotions matching. Ever since her near death experience, Rebekah had scarcely been at home. Adding to that what Bella knew to be the cause that none of the Original men did…

"Somewhere in the Quarter, I hope," was the answer her mate gave before he sighed. "Perhaps with Elijah; they've been spending quite a bit of time together."

This was news to the brunette.

"Okay… well, I'm going to go see her—"

A panic hit him that was inexplicable and he spun back toward her. "I am sure she will return soon, love. There's no need for you to find her if my brother is already with her. Stay…"

Bella's brow creased at the sudden change, lips pursing as she stepped forward. "Nik, I… I'm worried about her. I wouldn't be out for very long. I'm not about to ask for permission…" she said, chin lifting as she remembered doing so with Edward. "But perhaps you could tell me why you don't want me to go?"

Klaus swallowed, blue eyes avoiding the brown of his mate's as he tried to reason with himself. Incapable of doing so as—to his knowledge since he had no idea what his wolf was upset by—there was no reason for him to feel this way, he sighed. "I don't know," he answered, his voice gruff as it always was when he was 'admitting weakness,' though of course it had a softer twinge since he was speaking to his Isabella.

Brown eyes softened and, in a flash, she was dressed in dark wash jeans, a thick sweater, flat tan-colored ankle boots, and a thick, white winter coat with fur on the fringes. standing in front of him. She pressed a kiss to his lips. "I'll let you know when I find her, and what state she's in."

A thin, wry smirk appeared on his lips. "That is what Elijah said this morning when he left to find her. I hope you have more luck, sweetheart."

There was a hint of something in his eyes that Bella could very well name but chose not to. It was like a realization, however muted, echoed in her mind as she knew that Niklaus knew Elijah had found their sister but had chosen not to say a thing.

The only thing she could think was, why?

That was pushed away by the sensation of Klaus's lips upon hers for the briefest second. Then, as Nik walked away, she watched his gorgeous ass retreat, lip caught by teeth and head tilted. Her wolf rising with unrest now that he was no longer by her side, her eyes were encompassed by amber for a few moments before Isabella took a deep breath to steady her instincts then flashed out of the building.

She didn't catch the tight growl that left her mate as his eyes flashed strong amber, his wolf in much the same predicament.

In the street, it was easy to catch her sister's scent, even more so to follow it—almost as though the lost blonde desired as much from whomever decided to seek her out. Elijah couldn't have possibly had too much trouble, for his senses were even better than Bella's, and she felt a flash of anger that had her, in her hormonal state, growling as she remembered that he'd said nothing once he reached her.

Then again, Bella had to consider, perhaps Rebekah did not want to be discussed between her brothers like that. She was still healing, not from the physical wounds she had received—those had left her in seconds. It was the mental ones that had obviously remained… the deep-seated emotional trauma of being so attached to a mate who did not want you. It was something the brunette could only imagine. And it hurt so much to do even that, her sensitive wolf whining, trying to force her back home.

Once she had gained control of that impulse, Isabella continued to the end of the block. Around the corner, she looked up to see the Original sitting at a cafe table overlooking the street, her blonde hair in loose waves, cascading down her back. Though unperturbed by the cold, for appearances sake she was dressed much the same as Bella was—jeans, boots, and a furry coat that reached her hips. Her eyes were following the people on the streets, her lips together but downturned, eyes sad. From where she was, the hybrid could hear her breath hitching on every other inhalation as she tried not to cry.

She was not okay.

A pitying smile upturned one corner of the girl's lips before she stepped into the street, texting Nik as she did so to let him know she'd found her. Pocketing her phone immediately after, she walked toward the first friend she had made after meeting Klaus. She remembered, sparingly, the first conversation they'd had, how nervous Rebekah had tried not to seem. Isabella Swan was the blonde's first friend—ever. And that fact made the hybrid even more protective than the average friend might be.

"You're pathetic if you think I didn't notice you the second you set eyes on me," was Rebekah's greeting, a small smirk on her lips that did not reach her pretty blue eyes when they met Bella's brown. Lips twitching, the brunette rolled her eyes, passed the Original—whose eyes trailed her every move—and sat down in front of her. She frowned as Rebekah's attention returned to the street full of people. "Or that you texted my brother…"

"He'd never admit it and don't you dare say I said this, but… he's worried about you." She tilted her head, eyes slightly narrowed. "We both are," Bella admitted after a moment, her eyes running over lovely features that had stayed the same for a thousand years. She sighed. "How are you?"

The sigh was returned, Bekah's lips twisting as she silently contemplated the question. After a moment, her shoulders sagged. When she closed her eyes, unshed tears streaked down her cheeks. "I can feel him. He's safe… well, safe as he can be," she amended.

"That's good," Bella said, reaching forward and grasping the Original's hand, urging her to look at her but she was stubborn, refusing.

"I thought…" She huffed. "I'm an idiot. The fool who loved too much," she spat, and the tone of her voice told Isabella that this line had considerable meaning attached to it.

"You're not an idiot for wanting love."

Rebekah scoffed. "You are if you only want the love of a man who will never love you back…"

Bella smiled softly, her voice tender. "Never say never."

Blonde wavy hair bounced around the Original's head as she shook it, her tone forlorn and upset. "He's bewitched by Nik's precious doppelganger." There was a growling tone to her voice when she continued, "every bloody man around her is obsessed with her—even my brothers." She glimpsed at her friend. "Not romantically, of course. Nik wanted her blood for his hybrids while Elijah wanted to save her from her cruel fate… until she was the reason for Kol's death, of course." There was a slight smirk on her lips as she remembered Elijah's skilful manipulation then.

It may have been Nik's plan they'd followed, but it was because of her brunet brother that they'd succeeded.

Bella nodded knowingly, saying nothing on what she'd said about her brothers. "Her blood gave me life."

"Don't be so thankful," was the snooty response. "She's a little bitch."

An amused chuckle was given in return. "I can see why you'd feel that way about her."

"On the contrary, Isabella, my dear sister is right. Elena Gilbert is not the girl many think she is."

Both women looked up to see Elijah standing at the table, clothed in a black suit and a knee-length black coat. There were two glasses in his hand as he gave them a pleasant smile, his brown eyes warm.

Bella took in his appearance with slightly widened eyes, denoting her surprise. Trying to ignore the putrid smell of alcohol that Elijah had no-doubt compelled from the waiter, she looked back toward Rebekah, only the blonde wasn't flustered in the least. Confusing. And here the hybrid had thought the female Original wanted none but her—and even she was a stretch—to know she had a mate.

"And, Rebekah, I know for a fact that your Stefan will discover that soon."

Guess not, was Isabella's first thought as she glanced at Rebekah, who gave her eldest brother a small smile; the only thank you he'd receive.

~TPoL~

The next day found Marcellus and Camille passing the sign that welcomed them to the small town of Forks, which boasted a small population and an even quieter atmosphere to match it. The vampire made not a sound as he drove through the streets to reach the La Push reservation, his human mate's eyes set out the window as she took in Bella's home town.

"It's nice," were the words she said of it, her tone light but lackluster.

Marcel was amused. "Tell us what you really think…"

She shot him a look, a playful narrowing of her eyes, before her gaze was turned back out onto the beach. Camille registered the car slowing down and turned to face the front, her eyes widening as the twisting road was engulfed by trees, small houses spread across the tribal land they were entering.

The SUV slowed to a crawl as they reached the center, the number of houses increasing. Finding themselves in front of the tribal Chief's home if the instructions Klaus had given him the morning they left—courtesy of Charlie—were right, Marcel killed the engine. But only after expanding his hearing and listening for a few moments. He turned to his mate.

"They know we're here and they're angry. I need to you to follow my lead and stay behind me the entire time. Just because they don't have a pack anymore doesn't mean they aren't dangerous." He dipped his head, looking into her eyes, his own serious. "Please, Camille."

She gave him a smile and leaned in to kiss him chastely. "Okay," she soothed him, eyes flickering over his shoulder just as his eyes darkened some at the sound of a door opening.

The Chief emerged.

Both were surprised by the sight of William Black in a wheelchair, a surprise that must have been obvious for the man's lips twisted with distaste. Despite this, he said nothing on it as he stopped a few yards from them, getting straight down to business.

"Vampire, what are you doing on these lands?"

Marcellus ignored him in favor of the women by the door. There were three, their names unknown, but it was obvious they were the imprintees, if their tear-streaked faces and the direction of their gaze was any indication—all three could not tear their eyes away from the bag awkwardly slung over Camille's shoulder.

Gritting his teeth as he tried to ignore the impulse to move against the threat, Marcel turned back to Billy. "We're not looking for any trouble."

"That was not the question," the Chief asked, his voice growing louder before his eyes closed with frustration and sadness as the sound of a young child's cry pierced the air.

Marcel's head whipped around to watch as the imprintees murmured amongst themselves, everyone able to hear the clumsy clumping footsteps of a toddler nearing the door. Try as they might have to hide her, the fourth imprintee slipped through, tears streaming down her russet cheeks, a hand reaching out toward them.

Billy saw this with narrowed eyes, turning to the girl. He wheeled closer to her, Marcellus swallowing back the growl building in his chest.

"I will not ask again. What do you want?"

Camille answered this time, ever the psych major as she spoke in a calm tone, meeting his gaze. "We only want to return to you what you have lost."

"Don't you mean what you took from us?!" the girl with the scarred face shouted at them. Emily Young glared at them with a fierce hatred that took the blonde's breath away, caused her own throat to close up with pain. This was only the beginning of what the coming war would cause. All she could wonder was how many people she face that would look upon her, without knowing her, with that very same emotion. Pure, unadulterated loathing.

Marcel was the one who responded this time. "Bella Swan is the one who took them from you, actually. We're just here as the delivery guys bringing them back."

They all heard the Chief's gasp, his cold mask exterior broken for a moment. "Isabella did this?"

Camille's eyes hardened with anger, her previous upset forgotten as she stared at him. "You should have helped her when you could have… maybe then, your pack would still be alive." She unzipped the bag, grabbed the jar, and threw it at him; easily, he caught it. "Good luck finding your son in that," she spat before turning to her mate. "Let's go."

Marcellus stared at her for a few moments before nodding and following after her, his arm wrapping around her waist as he led her back to the car. Behind them, the shocked silence, only broken by the cries of the youngest imprintee, ended when Rachel Black stepped forward. There was a fire in her eyes as her gaze burned into their backs and her body began to tremble.

"You go back to your family," she spat, "knowing that one day, we will come for you. We will take from you what you took from us. And we will make Bella Swan rue the day she was born."

Camille started to turn, about to say something back, but she was wrestled by her mate and turned away again. Marcel opened the door, urged her in, then flashed around the other side of the car. Getting in, he took one last look at the Quileutes, then turned on the car and threw it into reverse, leaving them behind in a cloud of dirt.

"You okay?" he asked once they'd passed the invisible border, glancing at Camille.

The blonde was in her seat, glaring out the window over the water they were driving alongside. At the question, she sighed hard, gritting her teeth and shaking her head. "I'm just so angry… they acted like they'd done nothing wrong. All Bella had wanted from them was help to get away from Edward. If they'd done it then she wouldn't be in this mess now…" She shook her head. "I don't understand how they can live with themselves. They turned their back on the people they were supposed to help, people that were once family to them without even giving an explanation!"

Marcel listened, not saying anything, his own thoughts in line with hers. Though, of course, as he was not as close with Bella, he didn't know all that his mate did. His brow furrowed as his mind drifted back to the confrontation, remembering the Chief's gasp, the guilt in his voice as he spoke his disbelief that Bella had done this. "They were hiding something."

That started Camille off on a rant. Or it would have, had her vampire not pulled off to the side of the road, threaded his fingers through her hair, and kissed her. They both panted as he pulled back, a haze of another emotion in their eyes.

"It's been a long trip…"

"It has…"

"Why don't we find a little hotel?"

A grin curled the corner of her lips, wicked in nature. "I like that idea…"

~TPoL~

Billy Black watched as the car drove away, his mind reeling. Never in his years had he thought Isabella Swan would be capable of killing an entire pack of the people she once considered friends.

Amongst the grief that he felt was anger, and he allowed it to fester, growing stronger and stronger until it overshadowed whatever else he was feeling. He barely registered his sweet daughter as she took the jar from his hand, which immediately curled into fist once it was empty. Nor did he register her retreat back into the house, the sounds of heartbreak and pain growing louder, echoing in William's ears.

Across the continent, Charlie Swan stared out the window of his hotel room. His brow was furrowed in broody thought as he ignored his ex-wife's chipper voice as she spoke to her doormat husband. He was a little bitter as he recalled that that was exactly how she preferred her men, before pushing that away as his thoughts were consumed by his daughter.

His baby girl was now a werewolf, too, and no one but the witch watching over them knew.

He still hadn't told Renee because he knew how she'd react. She'd blame him just as she had when—

The piercing sound of a phone ringing interrupted his involuntary trip down memory lane, and the brunet blinked away from the window, turning his gaze to his phone where it sat on the table.

This sent Renee into a frenzy, her shrill voice grating on the Sheriff's nerves.

"Remind us again why he can have a phone and we can't? It's a little unfair, don't you think? Charlie is the least busy of us all. My husband is in baseball—"

His wolf growled at the biting remark, the sound rumbling in his chest. Her words were left unanswered as he rose from his spot and sought out the phone, his eyes flashing amber as he saw the ID, the caller someone he'd not spoken to in years.

That was why it was with hesitation that he pressed answer and brought the phone up to his ear. "William."

"Charles."

Charlie could barely hear his own name over the ranting of his ex-wife as that one name brought forth a tidal wave of hate that not even Phil knew how to handle. The angry words became a squeak of outrage as the witch—none of them knew her name—took it upon herself to trap Renee's lips shut with magic, rubbing her forehead with a sigh of pain.

There were a few seconds of silence before the old wolf bit the bullet. "There a reason you're calling me or can I hang up now? Not really in the mood for this."

"Is that how you're gonna greet an old friend?"

"Considering you're the one who told me you'd kill me if I ever set foot on the Reservation again, yes, it is."

A tired sigh was the last thing he expected to hear, but that was what Billy gave him. There were another few seconds of silence, Charlie's limited patience worn to the point that he almost hung up, the phone away from his ear and finger hovering over the button before six words stopped him.

"I'm holding my son's ashes, Charlie."

His breath hitched at the pain he could hear in his old friend's voice and he forgot their fight. In that moment, as images of that boy's childhood passed through his mind, it seemed irrelevant.

"I'm sorry, Billy… I'm sorry for everything…"

But William Black could never forget.

"It's not enough, Charlie. It could never be enough. You betrayed the trust of a tribe that took you in—of a man who took you in like you were a brother. That's how I thought of you… and you ruined it all. You just had to bring them here, didn't you? To save your precious daughter while Harry lay dead in the dirt. Dead, Charlie."

This was an old argument, and one that had grown tiresome. As sorry as Charles was, he was also angry himself. Words fell from his barbed tongue with a special viciousness as he remembered the incident that had started all of this. "You cannot tell me you wouldn't have done the same if it had been Jacob… Rebecca… Rachel…" His voice lowered to a snarled whisper, "you know I wasn't in my right mind. You know what that rage, that protective instinct for your child does. Or should we talk about the real reason Sarah is dead?" he taunted him.

There was silence for a while, until it was broken with a harrowing warning. "It doesn't matter what you say. Your daughter is the one who killed Jacob. She killed all of them. And mark my words, you will be next."

The phone line cut off, and Charlie looked up, finding himself again. The room was empty except for Renee, who stared at him with the same hatred that Billy had.

"I don't care what you say, Charles. You will never be able to convince me that what you did didn't just bring Isabella into even more danger. You are the reason our marriage is dead. Not me."

~TPoL~

"Kol!"

"Darling—"

"No. Don't use that tone with me. I am fine now; there is nothing wrong with me—not that there was in the first place. I want to help Bella so would you please just let me?"

Back in New Orleans, Davina was glaring at her obstinate Original, her arms crossed underneath her chest as she waited for his response. Kol Mikaelson, the insufferable child that he was, pouted from where he sat on the bed, bare chested and gazing at her equally underdressed body.

Knowing what he was thinking, she continued.

"I do not need another few hours to 'regain my strength', Kol. If I am okay for that, then I am more than okay to go see the Regent about this."

"I don't even know what 'this'is," the vampire mumbled, still petulant. His shoulders were sagged with defeat though as he'd already given up. He knew better than to fight a losing battle against his spitfire mate.

Thus, he could do nothing but let his eyes soak the image of her scantily clad body for the last few seconds it remained that way before she had pulled a long sleeved purple jumper and skinny jeans over it, clothing her feet in socks before stepping into small-heeled boots.

The Harvest witch looked over at her mate, a small smile on her lips as she calmed. "He doesn't even know so there's no way you will before him. Okay?" When he didn't answer, the smile became an amused smirk and she walked over to him, straddling his jean-covered thighs. "I love you," she chirped as though that would make up for it.

But with the grin that appeared on his lips, an extra light in his eyes, Davina knew it did.

"As do I…" he answered, his tone light-hearted as his arms closed around her. He let his upper body fall back against the bed, pulling his giggling mate with him. "With a body like this, darling, how could you not?"

Rolling her eyes, the witch pulled off of the vampire. Back to the closet, she retrieved a thick winter jacket. "Are you sure you're gonna be able to behave?"

"I'll try my hardest." The innuendo was clear as he looked her over with dark brown eyes, a small smirk on his lips as he met her gaze. Of course, it was slightly flustered. "Go, love."

With narrowed eyes, the brunette did just that.

Downstairs, a discussion of sorts was underway between Klaus and Rebekah, Bella sitting and watching them with unveiled amusement over the top of her novel.

Until, of course, their attention turned upon her.

"Surely you're not going to sit there and say nothing when my brother is acting like a child who just lost his favorite shiny toy."

Klaus growled, eyes flashing with his wolf, who was the real cause of this argument. He did not appreciate the comment or the spitting tone it was spoken in and was defensive as he replied. "All I said was that I wasn't comfortable leaving Bella alone."

"She won't be alone, Nik," Rebekah answered, with the tone of an exasperated parent who'd tried to explain the exact same thing at least a dozen times to an infuriatingly obstinate toddler. Then she paused, her eyes narrowing as she looked over at her brunette sister. "Though I have to admit, it would do you good to leave the compound for a bit… get out into the Quarter…"

Brown eyes narrowed, flashing amber with irrational annoyance, before Bella sighed, slammed her book shut, and looked between the pair with her arms crossed underneath her chest. She had to fight the smirk that Klaus's distracted gaze caused as it landed on her breasts. "Just last week, both of you didn't want me going anywhere… now all of a sudden you're protesting the fact that I'm abiding your wishes? Are you kidding me?"

Left unsaid was the fact that her wolf was hard pressed to be without her mate at this time, just as Nik's wolf obviously wished to keep her close. She could feel herself about to cave the longer she looked into amber-flecked blue…

"I'll take her out with me," Davina offered as she entered the room, giving them a smile. "I won't be long and she'll get some air so everyone wins." There was a particular gleam in her eyes as they met Isabella's, one that told her to simply agree.

Immediately catching on, the younger hybrid did just that, forcing down the whine from her wolf as she did so. With a final sigh of frustration, she nodded. "Fine."

Klaus locked away the low growl, the sound showing his own wolf's displeasure as he sought to meet his mate's gaze. He said nothing as Bekah pouted and spoke for them both. "What's wrong with coming with us?"

Bella's eyebrow rose. "I have no intention of going with you two to shop for Christmas presents. The drama, petulance, and violent threats when one of you gets too frustrated because things are not going your way? No, thank you. I'd rather stay out of your sibling squabbles."

The female blonde accepted that as she pouted whereas the male, his eyes slightly narrowed and jaw locked as he stared into his mate's eyes for a moment, turned to the witch. "Keep her safe," were the words forced from his lips.

Davina's smile widened, though the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice was serious. "Of course."

Nodding, the Original Hybrid flashed to his mate's side as she rose, wrapping an arm around her waist, using the other to brush her hair from her shoulder. He brushed his lips along the mark on her neck before pressing his lips briefly to hers. Then he pulled away, looked at his sister, and the two left for their little Christmas gift shopping spree.

Despite her discomfort, Bella was the first to crack with a giggle. "I can't believe she actually roped him into it…"

"Or that he said yes."

Isabella smiled. "He was ranting all last night about it but he'd do anything to make Rebekah happy… even if he would never admit it. They all would." There was a pause in conversation filled only by Davina's hum of agreement. "Now…" the hybrid began to reply, turning toward the Harvest witch, but she was cut off as an arm tangled with hers, the younger brunette pulling her along as they began their walk.

"Let's wait 'til we get there."

Swallowing as they reached the gate, she felt Davina pause and gave her a smile of appreciation as her eyes flashed amber again, her wolf restless and whining at the thought of leaving the safety of the Abattoir… and her mate's presence. Even still, Bella wrangled with her wolf, the fact that she did not know what was happening even if her wolf did giving her the extra power she needed. Her eyes calmed to a chocolate brown again as she stepped over the threshold and into the street.

Not long after, they arrived at an area of the Quarter Bella had not yet ventured—though she supposed that was not too much of a stretch of the imagination; being the mate of an Original tended to mean you had to think safety first and that was only made worse by the hybrid's situation.

"This is her house," Davina explained as the other brunette came to a stop, unsure. "I called her earlier and she told me to come here. We're perfectly safe, Bells; she's the Regent."

The familiar nickname helped calm both herself and her wolf visibly. Her muscles relaxed, her shoulders dropping. With a nod, Bella took her friend's hand and walked up to the door, knocking before she could think twice about it. She might not have done it otherwise.

The word 'enchanting' came to mind at the sound of the doorbell, causing both girls to giggle, the laughter dying as the door opened rather abruptly. Isabella felt silly when she came face to face with a familiar person, having forgotten that the Regent was the one who'd helped Rebekah only two weeks ago—Josephine La Rue.

Though of course, it also worked in her favor that she had forgotten because none but herself, Rebekah, and Josephine La Rue were supposed to know about the circumstances around their meeting.

A thought that, apparently, the blue-eyed witch agreed with. Her eyebrow rose as she took the two of them in, purposefully lingering on Bella.

"This is my friend; the one I was talking about," Davina answered, her words causing the hybrid to realize that she must have zoned out whilst the two spoke. She was prodded gently by the Harvest witch, which only supported that notion. "Bella, meet Josephine. Josephine—"

"Yes, of course… charmed…" the Regent answered. Her voice was lilted but deep, guttural and yet also somehow smooth sounding. A voice that, once heard, would be difficult to forget. She eyed Bella a moment longer, making a show of being weary to let an unknown into her home, before opening the door wider, the barest of smiles upon her lips. "Come in…"

Both brunettes gave the elder woman a smile of thanks, dipping their heads as they did so. Bella took a steadying breath as her wolf reacted the second the door closed behind them, not liking being 'caged' in a place they were unfamiliar with, their mate so far away.

We're fine. We know her. She won't hurt us.

Her brown eyes closed with relief as her instincts calmed, a small growl of annoyance leaving her. All of this worry from her wolf was getting old—fast. She turned pointedly to Davina, a pleading look in her eyes.

One that was understood as blue met lighter blue. "There is a reason we came to you today—"

"Of course, girl; there always is. Now please, get on with it… tell me what ails your friend and I will help you."

Davina took a breath. "Bella is experiencing some strange symptoms that, given the fact that she's a hybrid, not just a wolf, don't really make sense… She came to me and we tried two spells to commune with the Ancestors, but neither worked. The second caused me to bleed; like they didn't want to answer me or they were angry with me. We're no closer to knowing what is wrong and so we would like to know if you could help us."

The response they both received surprised them. With a sigh, Josephine nodded. "Yes. I am afraid it may be difficult to get a response out of the Ancestors. There is significant unrest in their plane currently; not everyone is happy with what is happening and it is causing all sorts of issues. You are not the first witch to come to me seeking help in contacting them."

Bella and Davina looked at each other, both confused for many reasons—not the least of which being why the Regent did not ask for a list of the symptoms the younger witch had barely glimpsed over in her short explanation. Before either could ask for her to extrapolate, the older woman had turned on her heel and walked down the hall, pausing at a door right down the end. The two hesitated for but a moment then followed after her, and Josephine allowed them both to pass through before entering the room herself, wasting no time as she gathered the herbs, stones, sage, and candles needed. Lighting the sage, she placed it down, sat in the chair, then took a breath and closed her eyes.

The two could only watch as she began the spell.

"Je vous invite à répondre à mon appel... me donner la réponse que je cherche… Je vous demande..."

Her voice trailed off as she became swept up in a trance, utterly still and silent.

Bella and Davina shared a look, but said nothing as they watched. The former winced as she felt her wolf rise with anticipation just moments before Josephine was pulled from her trance with a gasp, head leaning heavily on her hand as she recovered.

"There is unrest on the other plane," she repeated, still slightly breathless. The old witch made no move to look up as she continued. "Not everyone is happy with what is happening—here or there."

Davina and Bella exchanged a glance but it was the fellow witch who stepped forward, asking quietly, "what do you mean, Madame La Rue? What unrest? What's causing it?"

Taking a deep, steadying breath, ice blue eyes rose to meet brown, Bella swallowing as she was gestured toward. Slowly but surely, she came to sit in front of the Regent, not saying a thing, her wolf knowing there was no threat—she could tell that much—but still anxious.

To her surprise, a small smile appeared on Josephine's face, her eyes slipping to her belly then meeting her gaze again. Her voice had a soft quality to its usual rasp when she spoke. "You are with Klaus Mikaelson's child."

As soon as the words were out of the witch's mouth, Bella gasped—not only from shock but also due to her wolf's reaction. That very moment, her wolf's overwhelming presence, her unrest, it all dissipated. Whilst she still was not appreciative of being without her mate, now that Bella herself knew, it was as though her wolf felt they were safer.

Though of course, Bella could understand that much at least.

Knowledge was power.

"Pregnant?" she whispered, tears springing in her eyes. She looked over her shoulder, trying to meet Davina's happy gaze, but all she could see was a brunette blob as the tears filled to the brim them cascaded down her cheeks. She let out a little happy sob, her hand immediately moving to her abdomen, feeling the child growing there. "I… But how? I thought vampires could not procreate and I haven't…" she blushed.

Josephine nodded understandingly. "You have not bled since you were turned. Of course not. I… I can sense magic surrounding you. More so than there should be."

That was where the Harvest witch stepped forward, protective of her friend. "You think someone cast a fertility spell on her? But… why? What would they gain from it?"

Josephine's lips were pursed as she considered her answer, barely getting out a syllable before a howling wind swirled in the room, high enough to cause a crystal vase of yellow roses that turned black before the trio's eyes to fall from their perch. The shattered glass dispersed upon impact, the wind stopping just as quickly as it had risen.

"I cannot say," was the revised answer the witch gave, her lips pulled together, brow furrowed. "Please leave. Now…"

Davina, understanding something that Bella did not, took her protesting friend's hand. Thanking the witch, they left the house, the younger brunette in a hurry to get home.

"What—Davina, why—"

"Black roses are a symbol of death. The ancestors were angry with her for revealing too much; it was a warning that if she went any further…"

With an irritated growl, the wolf within rising at the threat and lack of answers, Bella wrenched her arm from her friend's. "Why would they let her tell me that I'm pregnant but then not tell me why?"

Davina's blue eyes searched amber flecked brown then looked away, sighing. "I don't know, just like I don't know if they would kill you as well if you kept pressing for answers. Think about it, Bella—some of the ancestors do not like that you're pregnant and we have no idea who was in that room just now. For all we know, it could have been the very ones who want you and your baby dead."

A louder snarl left Bella, her visage on her face as she stepped forward. "Not. Happening. I don't care how many witches I have to kill, I do not care what I have to do to protect my child but I will. No one is taking this baby from me."

With that she disappeared, flashing back to the compound, leaving Davina to sigh, look around, and then leave, too.

Something was changing and the witch smelled danger.

~TPoL~

A few hours later found Klaus returning from his little bout of Christmas shopping, now with Elijah since Rebekah had left early. Their discussion was geared toward the very same sister.

"I promise you, Niklaus, there is no need for your concern. Rebekah is fine."

"You say that and yet I know you are hiding something from me," was the response he garnered, Klaus's jaw locked and eyes flecked amber with irritation as they met his brother's brown.

Knowing there was no point in trying to deny it, Elijah sighed. "She will be fine, brother."

"And your little chats help?"

"They do. Rebekah and I, we understand each other."

There was a flash of something in Niklaus's eyes before it was gone and he looked away, his stony expression clearing as they entered the gate of the compound. Elijah waited, expecting some form of response, but he received none as the very blonde they were speaking about turned the corner with a rugged up Bella, her eyes immediately meeting her mate's. The tension that was so clear to the Original Hybrid left her body and, abandoning their idle conversation, the brunette flashed into her mate's arms with a sigh, burying her face in his chest and breathing in his scent deeply.

"Going somewhere?" Nik asked as his fingers played with the hair atop her head, flashing a glance to Bekah.

"I'm taking her shopping, Nik."

Gritting his teeth, he was about to say something when brown eyes met his, round and brimming with happiness, a grin on her lips. "I'll be fine, I promise. We won't be gone long but Rebekah is right; I need to get a few things and she said she knows exactly where to go for them."

Exchanging a glance with his sister, the blond relented. "Keep her safe. There has been a string of attacks recently…" His eyes found his sister's. "An entire bar filled with people whose bodies were ripped apart, similar cases all over the country."

Rebekah's gasp was small, and she swallowed, looking away under the weight of her brother's stare. There was only person that could be, she knew it, relief clawing her at the fact that he was safe but worry as well—had he flipped the switch again?

Still looking up at her mate, Bella did not mention the flash of intuition in Klaus's eyes before he pulled away, pressing a kiss to her lips and then walked away. Nor did she miss the prolonged look that Elijah and Rebekah shared.

Whatever it was, this had something to do with Rebekah's mate, and Klaus knew it.

~TPoL~

The morning of the twenty-third, Camille and Marcellus arrived in front of the compound. Their appearance unannounced, no one was there to welcome them. But they were quick to find out that the family had already gathered, once more in Elijah's study.

"Welcome home," Klaus greeted. "You are just in time. Tell us, what tales do you bring from the West coast?"

Marcellus said nothing as he led his mate to the couch, seating her between Bella and Davina. Only when she was settled did he turn to the others and answer the question posed, giving them all the details of what had occurred. "They were angry, Klaus. I think we might have an attack on our hands in a couple months…"

"They'll be no match for us; we can kill them for sport," Klaus scoffed, hardly worried as the rest of them seemed to be; all except for Bella, who was pensive as she thought.

"I don't think it's as simple as that, Nik…" Bella said, her voice low as she met Marcel's eyes, saw the gleam within them. Her frown deepened. "You saw something…"

"One of the girls… the one who said that they'd make you rue the day you were born…" he paused at the growl from Klaus, once more watching as Bella immediately calmed him with a touch and a whisper. "When she said it, it wasn't just a girl threatening someone else. There was power… unlocked power behind her words."

The brunette hybrid looked down in thought. All of the imprints could have reacted that way, yes, but the 'unlocked power' screamed wolf to her and not all of the girls carried that gene. There was one that did, though. Even without the imprint she had to Paul.

"Rachel…" she breathed. "Rachel Black. She… She was Jacob's older sister. She carries the gene. She would be the next Alpha. It's possible there are more wolves that haven't phased for the first time yet. And if they want revenge, they will seek out vampires to incite the wolf within."

Klaus's jaw locked, his entire body tense as he fought the instinct that wanted to go to La Push and raze the entire tribe before they could even plan to hurt his mate. However, seeing that, Elijah very pointedly spoke to him as he replied.

"Be that as it may, I think it would be best that we prepare for that when the time comes. For now, Christmas Eve is tomorrow. It is time to be with family… even the Quileutes will honor that."

Meeting his brother's gaze, Klaus nodded but the tension within did not cease. Especially as he caught Ansel looking at him from the corner of his eye then saw his shoulders droop as the blond turned and walked out, pretending not to notice.

~TPoL~

In another part of the Americas, Christmas had already begun.

The sounds of pain and death drawn from unworthy and bothersome witches was accompanied by the sounds of anger and enjoyment.

Surrounded by bodies, Silas looked up at the full moon, the very same that would be looking down upon his beloved Amara—the only connection he had to her as of yet.

"I'll find you, my love. We'll be together soon, even if I have to kill every witch on this damn planet."

~TPoL~

"With how crazy this week has been, I can't believe we're all actually sitting here," Bella murmured in Davina's ear as they all sat down two days later for Christmas dinner.

"I couldn't agree more…" the witch responded, her smile turning slightly concerned as she gave her friend the once over, noting the way she swallowed as she looked around, the grimace on her face as she inhaled. "How are you feeling?"

"All the food I can smell? Nauseous… or maybe that's the nerves. I don't know."

"Why are you nervous?"

Bella gave her a look that told Davina how stupid that question was. "It's tonight. I'm… I'm doing it tonight… now, actually. Right here. With everyone," she whispered. "My wolf can't hold it in anymore, Dav. She felt better after we found out, sure, but now she's just wants Klaus to know. If he does, then…" she trailed off, not really sure what the purpose was. Was it for their baby's safety?

Or was it to heal the slight rift that had been caused by keeping such a secret?

The words that had to be said to erase such a rift rose to the tip of her tongue, the need to say them strong as her eyes flashed with her wolf. Sensing her uneasy, Klaus met her gaze, his eyes widening slightly with worry stark in their blue depths as he made to go to her.

She wanted more than anything to say it, but she couldn't just yet. It wasn't time. Thus she smiled instead, taking deep breaths to calm herself and her wolf. "I'm fine," she whispered to him, holding his gaze as she let him see that. She watched as his jaw locked as he grudgingly accepted her words, and sighed silently as he looked away.

The dinner progressed with the tension that has become a new norm over the past few days before it came time for them to wait. Bella had requested dessert, craving chocolate with strawberries and blood, and Niklaus had obliged her.

But with this waiting came the time for action and she licked her lips, slowly standing. She felt eyes on her but none of those pairs scared her as much as the pair of amber flecked blue and she suddenly felt sick, heart pounding so hard she could barely hear him.

"Love?"

Forcing herself to look at him, she saw the confusion in his eyes and smiled. "I have some news. News that I've kept from you because I wanted to tell you when the time was right…"

She saw the jaw lock, and the swallow.

"I'm so sorry I kept this from you. I just thought that Christmas would be the best time to give you your present…"

"And what would that be?"

She bit the corner of her mouth, looking down then peeking up. The elation she felt as she concentrated her hearing on the beating of their baby's heart caused a beautiful smile to light her lips.

"I'm pregnant."

Silence.

No one dared to say a word as Bella waited for her mate to react to the news, her smile dying as she saw the impassiveness that took over his face. "Klaus…?" she whispered, swallowing as she saw him look away. His eyes fell to her abdomen and the silence remained before he got up and walked out, Bella watching him go and theme shakily sitting back down in her chair as she let out a sob, not even hearing Camille, Rebekah, and Davina as they spoke to her.

~TPoL~

"The witch said you had to wait."

In another state Edward was sneering at the dark-skinned Bennett standing defiantly in front of him. "Well, I don't want to. So do the spell."

Bonnie sighed and looked over her shoulder, gritting her teeth at the look on Elena's face. The brunette took a breath then nodded, the look in her eyes more than anything telling her to just do as he asked to get him to shut up and let them celebrate Christmas alone.

"Fine…"

Kneeling in front of the candles that the cold ones had already lit for her, Bonnie did the spell she had been presented with. Only moments passed before she opened her eyes again, answer acquired. She swallowed and looked up at the eager golden eyed boy, nodding, her expression impassive.

A huff of a laugh left Edward as his whole persona changed, lighting up. "She's pregnant?"

"She is…"

Elena looked down, her lips twisted, whereas Damon came forward, clapping the younger on the shoulder. "Merry Christmas. Now get out," he said, his tone sarcastic, before he walked out of the room. Elena looked around before following him, finding her mate upstairs in their bedroom, his nostrils flared.

She sighed, knowing what he was thinking. Or rather, who he was thinking of. "I miss him, too," she said, coming in slowly to sit at his side.

Damon said nothing, shaking his head, and Elena pursed her lips before resting her hand over his, lacing his fingers with hers. She felt him calm at her touch. "Where is he, Elena?"

"I don't know…" she bit her lip. "Do you… Do you think…?"

Damon looked at her, eyes slightly wider; she stared back. "I don't know. But if he did…"

"Then he's in danger…"

~TPoL~

Elijah followed the trail of blood and screams to his brother, finding him feasting upon a girl as he held her boyfriend up by the heart. Sighing as this one image told him all he needed to know about his brother's mental state, he leaned against the wall, waiting for him to stop before he could speak. And Klaus did, pausing, watching one of his intended victims as she whimpered and stared at him, torn between running and staying.

He snarled at her. "Go."

She did, with a whimper, looking back over her shoulder with every few steps. He'd have let her go except for the fact that she tripped just as she was turning the corner and he was gone to his instincts, flashing to her, holding her against the wall, then burying his teeth in her neck, feeding until she was dead and slumped in his arms.

He let her drop, staring down at her, hearing Elijah slowly walk toward him. A handkerchief appeared in front of his face, but he neglected to take it. Elijah looked down, replacing it in the breast pocket of his suit, his voice low as he spoke.

"It will be all right, brother."

Klaus stared straight ahead at the wall, swallowing.

"Niklaus…"

"How? How, Elijah? This child could not have come at a worse time—"

"We will make it okay, Niklaus. By the time that your child is born, there will be no danger. Only peace."

Klaus shook his head, looking up at his brother. "There is never peace. Surely one thousand years have taught you that much… Everywhere we go, destruction follows. Nothing is safe—surely not my child or my mate… the rest of our family."

"We are the Originals. If we want the world to be peaceful, we will make it so," Elijah said, his Beast behind the Red Door in his darkened eyes, in his powerful tone commanding agreeance. Klaus looked into his eyes and saw that, heard that, saying nothing as his brother continued. "Return to the compound, Niklaus. Your mate needs you."

And with a whoosh, Klaus was gone.

But to his Isabella he did not go, finding himself standing in the threshold of his father's bedroom. This revelation had rocked him, and his fight against Ansel ended with it.

If he was to father a child, he needed reconciliation with his own first.

He stared at the man as he sat with his back facing the door. Klaus, after a moment of doubt and hesitation, steeled himself, righted his expression, then stepped forward. "I remember the first time I saw you. I had been waiting for Elijah…" he swallowed, hands in fists at his side, body tense as though ready for battle. "Mikael had just beaten me for the first time and Elijah had always made me feel safe so it was him that I ran to. But I suppose you already knew that…"

Ansel took a breath as he heard the tone of his son's voice, eyes closing as he sighed. They opened again as he looked over his shoulder, meeting Niklaus's gaze.

"I did…"

He saw the anger that seemed to turn the ocean blue to ice in the hybrid's eyes and shook his head. "Listen to me, Niklaus. I know because that is the first time I knew that I had a son. The day that you were born, I felt that too, but I didn't know what I was feeling, what the warmth that flooded through me meant. I didn't know that you were the reason why every full moon I awoke closer to the village than to my own territory. The second that Mikael first lay a hand on you… I felt it and I realized what a fool I had been, how ignorant, how wrong my pride in my heritage was because for all I knew I could not tell that I had a son. And the second I knew I tried to come for you, but I could not travel closer than where you saw me, no matter how I tried. Even on the full moon, and Niklaus, every full moon I tried and failed… all the while, during the days in between, I felt Mikael's rage as it was wrongfully taken out upon you. My son."

He looked away, his own eyes the same as the blond's as he looked at the floor without seeing it, too far gone in the memories playing before him. "And then, one full moon, the border was gone and I thought 'this is my chance… this is my chance to save my son, to show him all that his life could be, all that it should be.' But I was wrong. Esther had lowered the old borders and put in place a new one. Do you remember the first time she began to hide you and your siblings in the caves, Niklaus? Do you remember the wolf right outside, pacing?"

He stopped here, seeing the shadow that came over his son's face, nodding. He knew he was remembering, could see his father in wolf form right outside, mere yards away from him.

"That was you…"

Ansel nodded. "It was."

Klaus gritted his teeth, looking away, his eyes glittering with the torrent of emotions that were running through him. He met his father's gaze, a naked hope in them. "You tried…"

Ansel smiled, knowing that was as much a question as he would get, Niklaus's tone strong but the inflection… He nodded. "I did, my son. I came for you," the strength in his eyes faded to guilt, "but I could not reach you."

There was silence, Niklaus not knowing what to say to that admission as he looked away. Slowly, he walked further into the room, standing by the window and watching the snow as it fell. "Esther kept me sheltered. Mikael would try to take me hunting, to teach me, but if he was going to far out, she wouldn't allow it. I would get so angry, thinking that she thought me too weak… but she didn't. She was keeping me from you, wasn't she?"

"I cannot answer for your mother, Niklaus."

Apart from a locked jaw, there was no answer to that. "I remember getting so angry once… I began to shake. I don't remember exactly what happened, but somehow she managed to calm me down. The next morning, when I came to apologize, she smiled and told me not to worry. 'Little boys get angry sometimes, Niklaus,' she told me. 'Perhaps this will help…'" He reached into his pocket, taking the starling necklace out, tossing it to his father. "She gave me that, and told me to keep it on always."

Ansel looked away from his son, down to the necklace in his hand. His eyes tightened as he felt the magic coming from it, his brows knitted together. When he finally looked back up to ask for an explanation, his son was looking at him, eyes filled with bitter rage.

"Did you feel that, too? When my mother gave me that necklace to suppress my anger so that I could never reveal her dirty little secret…"

Now understanding the significance, the older wolf took a breath to quell the rage building, jaw locked. The look on the blond's face didn't help as he saw the slight betrayal. He looked away. "Niklaus…"

"I needed you. There were other witches around, I'm sure one of them would have been willing to help. From what I could gather, you were quite the Alpha. Had many friends… couldn't one of them have helped you out? Do you expect me to believe that you could do nothing?"

As the volume of Klaus's voice rose so did Ansel's guilt, but at the fact that his son apparently thought he hadn't tried hard enough, he growled, standing. He saw the widening of the other's eyes as he came forward and sighed, taking a step back, anger melting away. "I am not him, Niklaus. I would never raise my hand to you." He reached forward again, this time slower, watching his son's eyes as he let his hand fall to his shoulder. His grip was firm but gentle. "I tried everything. I sent some of my pack to try to find another witch who would ally with me, but none of them wished to face your mother; even then, she had a formidable name. Too many packs too close together would never work and thus the wolves that we contacted didn't wish to be involved either. Was I angry? Of course I was. I sent those same wolves back to their mates with their heads on spikes. But did I ever abandon the thought of finding you? Not for a second, even after I was dead…"

Klaus stared at his father, at a loss for words, but searching—always searching to make sure he was being told the truth. The gaze he was met with was strong and never wavered, never flickered, and he was the first to look away, unable to bear the truth of it all. Tears pricked and he swallowed thickly, hating the vulnerability—the weakness. He honestly expected the same reaction he would get from Mikael, the contempt as he was told not to be so weak, how pathetic he was.

Men do not cry, Niklaus.

But he received nothing like that at all, and seconds later he felt the hand on his shoulder loosen and rise to the back of his head, his eyes, filled with tears, widening as his father held him. His hands tightened into fists as he fought it but it was no good. They rose as he breathed in then swallowed, hands gripping the back of his shirt as a small child would his parent if he were scared.

And honestly, Klaus was scared.

All too soon, however, the embrace ended and Ansel stepped back. He looked up, more of a peek really, to see the soft smile and understanding, bewildered all the more by it.

"Go to Bella, son. She needs you…"

~TPoL~

Elijah listened to the anguished cries of the pregnant wolf inside the room he stood outside of, his eyes tight and his jaw locked. Taking a breath, he pushed the door open, his brown connecting with the blue of Davina and Rebekah, to both of whom he nodded. With one last whispered sentence each of comfort, they stood and left their sister, the noble Mikaelson making no move to enter the room any further. Her cries quieted slowly, her voice a whisper as she spoke.

"Does he…?"

Entering the room, his voice was calm and soft, understanding, as he slowly made his way toward her. He stood in front of her, looking down at her as she met his gaze, a small smile on his face as he focused upon the beating heart of his niece or nephew. A precious sound. "When I was human and my mother was pregnant with Niklaus, I was young but old enough that I had a good sense of the responsibility that came with being an older brother. Every night, I would press my ear to Esther's womb… when Niklaus was finally born, it was almost a relief… except for the fear I felt knowing he was my responsibility. I did not wish to fail him…

"And yet, for as long as I remember, in one way or another, I have…" He looked away, toward the door, and sighed. "He is not angry with you, Isabella; he never could be. Niklaus is scared, as much as he does not like to admit it. He sees such a thing as weakness, and if there is one thing my brother hates it is to be weak. It does not help that with the war brewing and looming larger over our heads every day, you are now so very vulnerable, carrying his child. He fears failing you as those in his life have failed him." He smiled. "That is precisely why I don't believe he will."

"The child isn't even born yet and already you're making promises," Klaus said, a smirk on his face as his hands clasped behind his back.

Elijah glanced between his brother and Bella then wordlessly made his departure. Klaus swallowed, looking back at his mate to see her in tears again, his eyes widening slightly with that alarmed look in his eyes.

"Sweetheart—"

"I can… I can get a paternity test… anything you need, Nik, just please don't—"

Her voice cracked and he couldn't take it anymore. Flashing to her, he knelt in front of her on the floor, taking her face in his hands. "Hush, love. It was never a thought in my mind… I know you did not betray me; I know that I can trust you. I do trust you."

The look in her eyes caused him to feel even more uncomfortable than he already was after such a profound declaration and he looked down, continuing.

"I was only struggling with the thought of being a father because I've never had a good one."

Bella, seeing that Klaus didn't want to focus on the first part of what he'd said, took a moment to think before answering.

"I think you do now… and I think you should give him a chance…" the younger hybrid whispered, her lips twisted. "I know that he left you, but—"

"He didn't actually," Klaus said, his voice gruff. "I spoke to him. Esther kept him away… a barrier. The wolf territory didn't exist before her…"

There was a beat of pain in her chest at the thought of her mate suffering another betrayal at the hands of his mother. She sighed. "I'm so sorry…"

The smirk on his face was bitter. "Don't be, love. You aren't to blame…"

She swallowed, hating that look, wanting and needing to fix it. Taking a breath before taking her mate's face in her hands, she waited until he chose to look up at her. Then she spoke.

"He's here now, Nik. You have the chance you didn't have before and now that you know…"

He nodded, the action making him trail off.

"I'm happy that you're doing this. Really. I want to help you… and I want to get to know him." She bit her lip, looking down at her abdomen. "I want our baby to know him, too…"

He said nothing for a long moment, the two moving as he saw his mate yawn. Now that he knew of her condition, his instincts drove him into action and he stood, pulling back the covers, undressing the both of them and then pulling her into his arms as they lay down. But the silence only evoked thought and Bella bit her lip, that conversation closed as another opened, bringing nerves with it.

"So you don't… I mean, you want…"

"It might not be the best timing, sweetheart, but…" he trailed off, swallowing as his eyes fell to her abdomen. His eyes widened and the brunette knew that if her hybrid looked up, she'd see the fear in his eyes. But, he buried it, reaching out slowly and laying a hand to her stomach over where their child grew in her womb. It was a surreal thought but… he found himself okay with it. More than that, if he could be honest with himself.

And, as he widened his hearing and closed his eyes at the sound of their littlest wolf's beating heart met his ears as the mother lay sleeping, he thought maybe he could be.

~TPoL~

A week later in Mystic Falls, Stefan walked into the Grill and made a b-line for the bar without looking up. He hoped none of the rest of the gang were here; it was the last thing he needed.

Sitting down with a heavy sigh, he kept his head down, signalling for the bartender. He came over, and before he could speak, Stefan said, "Whiskey."

A glass appeared in front of him, a bottle of Jack Daniels in the man's hand, tipped as he began to pour, but the vampire shook his head. "In a tall glass, please."

That was when Stefan felt Damon slide in next to him. "Feeling sentimental tonight, little brother?"

Stefan clenched his jaw, feeling his nostrils flare as he glares straight ahead at the liquor shelf he'd be depleting quite a bit of tonight. Anger snarled inside of him as he took hold of the glass and, without looking, said, "rot in hell, Damon," before taking a gulp of the drink. Little flashes danced behind his eyelids every time he blinked and a secretive smile played on his lips even as the hollow feeling swelled within the depths of his soul as it had since the moment he'd figured everything out. He set the glass down, twirling the top with his index finger, and ignored his brother sitting next to him, watching him.

this is personal

A drive-by killing

Your guns are loaded
And your lies are the bullets
So here is the trigger
Go ahead and pull it now

Are you sure you wanna play this game?
Are you sure you wanna play it?

The only thing worse than a hater
The only thing worse than a hater
Is a traitor
A traitor
A traitor
You put the knife right in my back
Killed any history we had and now it's war
War

Damon sighed, already sick of his little brother's brooding. He was impatient for the answers he felt he deserved. "You've been different lately…" he started, eyeing his brother through narrowed eyes as said vampire simply kept sipping his whiskey before ordering another tall glass of it. Oh, the 1920s; the only time drinking whiskey was so popular in a glass like that. Easily accessible in the right places... Even better in the wrong. And all because it looked like ice tea. It was clear his brother was going to be a little more difficult tonight than he usually was. He pursed his lips for a moment before possible reasoning hit him. "Ever since Enzo kidnapped you and…"

We were just like brothers
And we had each other
We were down for the good times
We were there for the troubles

Like a thief in the night
Broad daylight
You stole my sanity, and now
You are the enemy, yeah

Are you sure you wanna play this game?

Are you sure you wanna play it?

Stefan shook his head, shoving away the week's worth of memories about drowning at the hands of some psycho wanting revenge against Damon—of course—and slamming the glass down as he cocked his head over at his brother. His tone was cold and unyielding when he spoke, so unlike the normal Stefan it caused alarm bell of suspicion to ring around in the raven haired's head, especially give the words. "To be honest, since then I've figured a few things out." Or rather, my time drowning allowed some suppressed things to come to light… He stood to leave, but Damon grabbed his shoulder as he slid from his stool as well.

"Care to share?"

"Hmm…" Stefan pondered, tilting his head and crinkling his brow as he pretended to think. His head twitched a bit further over in its cocked position and his eyebrows queried as he smirked through this reply. "Nope," he said, popping the 'p'. He spun on his heel to leave, not caring if his brother followed or not. After what he'd discovered, he wasn't sure how he felt about the ass, but it sure wasn't brotherly love. That ship had long since sailed as of the instant his mind comprehended the meaning of a long dormant or blocked, should he say, part of him had awoken... And the reason why it had been so dormant.

"You can't still be mad about that, Steffie," his brother called from a distance behind him and Stefan kept on walking.

"Go back to your crying Elena, Damon. It's better she know now rather than later how manipulating me tonight into coming home to help her mourn Jeremy's death worked out for you. I would love to see her reaction to the fact that she's no longer any more to me than a manipulative bitch squished under my shoe."

"You sound awfully familiar, Snarky."

Stefan snorted and turned to walk backwards as he raised an eyebrow at his brother. "I think we both know if I'd gone Ripper again you'd know about it... The dead, ripped up bodies lining up would be a dead giveaway." He neglected to mention the fact that he had done that, actually, though it hadn't been in a fit of switch-off craze, but mindless anger. "Is it really that difficult for you to understand that I just don't care anymore? About any of you? That you seem to think the fact that you kept something so important from me not only so Elena would be able to keep me but also because you thought it was for my own good could be forgiven after a few quiet days of stalking away, glares, and the silent treatment? Sorry, brother, but it's really not that easy. Not this time. This time, I'm done." He turned back around and started to walk away, stopping and turning his head to the side to glare out his angst with a low growl building in his chest.

"What do you mean?" Damon asked, his blue eyes dancing over his brother's form.

"I'm leaving town," Stefan said with an air of nonchalance, continuing to walk toward the Boarding House. It was time to pack and get the hell out of there.

"Dammit, Stefan!" Damon mouthed off, throwing his hands out to the side, exasperated. He zoomed in front of his brother, glaring into his eyes as he held him by the shoulder with his left hand, the right hand curled into a fist with his pointer stuck on his chest. "This isn't good for you."

A harsh laugh forced its way out of Stefan, and a cruel smirk twisted his lips as he pushed his brother off. His enhanced strength registered with Damon, eyes narrowing and mouth opening to comment, but he was stopped by the words that came out of his little brother's mouth. "Since when do you decide what's good for me or not, Damon? Since when do you even care? The last time I noticed, you were busy with my ex-girlfriend—go home to your mate and let me do the same!"

Crazy eyed in panic, Damon took a moment before growling, flashing in front of Stefan and gripping his shoulder. "If you think I'm letting you leave, you're wrong. The Sparkles family have a bit of a plan brewing, Snarky. They want to take one of the Original's mates and guess just who might be on their hit list?"

The younger brother shook his head. "You think I care about that? All I want is to get away from you, Damon, away from you and Elena and all your fucking lies," he snarled, his eyes flashing. "Why do you think when I got out I didn't come straight home? That I took two weeks to do my own thing? A pity party? No, brother, I was pissed off, trying to come to terms with everything that I did to my own mate and her family because of you and Elena when you," his fingers stabbed at Damon's chest with such a fierce anger the elder was forced stumbling back,"were the ones that kept me away from her in the first place!" He pushed hard against his chest, a growl in his chest as he breathed heavily. "You know, the night that her brother was killed, I almost felt it. I held her as she cried, Damon… I led her to Bonnie. She needed me and I couldn't be there, not as much as she needed for me to be because… of… you…"

He looked away, breathing in deeply and closing his eyes, feeling his brother staring at him and choosing to ignore it. "Happy New Year," he sneered, tone dark and gritty as he glared at Damon. He watched as the ice blue eyed vampire opened his mouth, trying to speak with nothing coming out. He didn't care about the hint of remorse he could see, he didn't care about the explanatory excuses he could hear…

He just wanted his mate. He just wanted Rebekah.

Swallowing and closing his eyes briefly as he felt the call to her, emotion welling, he sighed.

"Goodbye, Damon," he muttered, green connecting with blue for what he hoped would be the final time before he left, back into town, smashing through the window of the fastest car he could find. Behind him, he left everything.

He wouldn't need it anyway.

Chapter Text

Moulin Rouge ~ Come What May

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I've never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I love you more and more

Listen to my heart can you hear it sing
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change, Winter to Spring
But I love you until the end of time

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you
Until my dying day

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
It's all revolves around you

And there's no mountain too high, no river too wide
Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you until the end of time

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you
Until my dying day

Oh, come what may
Come what may
I will love you
Suddenly the world
Seems such a perfect place

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you
Until my dying day


Chapter 16—Come What May


"I want to speak to them."

"Who? The ancestors?" Bella giggled sleepily, turning over in the bed and splaying her fingers on his chest as she raised an eyebrow at her mate. "You may be the King of New Orleans, Nik, but I don't think even you can demand such a thing…"

"And why not?" he asked, indignant as his eyes narrowed, his jaw locked, arms tightening around her. "You are my mate; this is my child…" Her heart fluttered at that, and at the hand that moved to her abdomen, which now had the barest hint of a curve to it. "I think I should be allowed to demand to know the reasons behind their actions. I need to know so that I can keep the two of you safe. You are both most important."

A strange reaction though it may be, her mood shifted in an instant following those words. A need overwhelmed her, far more important than mere fatigue. In that moment, she was not sure there was anything sexier than a demanding, protective Klaus Mikaelson. She had to have him. Her breathing now heavy, her eyes dark and amber as a purr trembled in her throat, she bit her lip. "Okay…" she breathed, her fingers knotting in his hair as a grin spread across her lips. She shifted, watching him breathe in deep and slow then growl as her scent permeated the air. She licked her lips at the sound. "We can do that, but… later…"

A small smirk curled his lips, a purr in his chest and his eyes flashed as he leaned down, her hand tightening in his hair and a cry leaving her mouth as he began to give her just what she wanted.

~TPoL~

In another state, the morning was not beginning quite so pleasantly…

As the front door of the Boarding House closed, serious ice blue eyes looked around. Damon expanded his hearing and his lips twitched with a sneer at the fact that, for once, the people he'd called had listened and weren't speculating what he might have done to be cause for a meeting.

At least they weren't, because the people he hadn't called were taking up space in his living room doing just that.

"...for the best, Carlisle," he heard Edward say at the end of a long speech that must have been placating given the tone he'd used. It hadn't worked, from what Damon could hear.

"I understand that, Edward, and of course it is smart. But I do not understand why he couldn't have simply told us over the phone—"

"Because this is more serious than that, Doctor from Hell," he drawled as he strolled into the room. His lips quirked into a half smirk as he looked at Elena, who seemed relieved that he had returned. He sat down beside her and almost let himself become sidetracked as she burrowed into his side. Almost… except for the fact that she and everyone else in the room was now in danger from the Originals just as his brother was in danger from the ice unit opposite him. "What are you even doing here? I don't remember sending any of your 'family' a message."

"You did not," Carlisle agreed, his tone dripping with suspicion. "But we were with the witch—"

"My name is Bonnie…"

"—and her friend when they received your call, and thus we thought it in our best interests to come. Especially since we were kept out of the loop on what sounded like a very dire rendezvous."

Damon's nose and lip twitched in another sneer that was begging to form. He had a witty response on the tip of his tongue when the 'friend' they'd mentioned spoke.

"Who cares about that? Why didn't you call Stefan?" Caroline insisted, her arms crossed as she stared at the elder Salvatore with a disapproving pucker of her brow and downturn of her lips.

"I'll get to that in a minute." He glanced to the others in the room, then tightened his hold on his mate. "Brady Bunch, out. Now." He flashed his visage, not caring about their anger and rebuttal, pleased when they decided to listen as he stood threateningly. At least they had enough sense not to be idiots when it came to their unmatched strength against him.

To the ire of everyone else in the room, he was quiet for the next five minutes as he stood and just listened, making sure they were alone. Over one hundred and fifty years had done wonders for his already far-reaching auditory perception, and thus he was able to make sure they were out of the three mile radius that he'd overheard Edward mentioning in regards to his telepathy.

"Well?"

"Calm down, blondie," he snarked, though it was with less bite as he relaxed his thoughts and flashed to pour himself a drink, knocking it back. Only Elena could see and of course feel the concern in his actions and she flashed to his side, gripping his wrist as he went to pour himself a second drink, her brow furrowed.

"Damon…"

She gasped as he looked up just as she was hit with a staggering amount of fear.

"What—?"

"Stefan's gone, Elena. He went to New Orleans last night and with the rate he was going, he's probably already there by now."

"New Orleans?" Bonnie interjected as she stood up and walked to Elena's side as the brunette sat down, wrapping an arm around her body as if to hold herself together. "Why would he go there?"

Damon's jaw spasmed as he locked it and swallowed, looking away.

"Why would you call this meeting if you're not even going to tell us?" Caroline asked, her voice trembling with the multitude of emotions running through her.

"Care…"

The raspy, almost warning tone that Elena spoke with, that screamed something to the beat of "you don't want to know," was what caused the blonde's blue-green eyes to stand out as they mixed with the red and black of her visage. She shook her head, voice louder as she insisted that someone answer her. At least, when she looked at Bonnie, she could see the look in her eyes, the furrow of her brow; it made her feel better that it seemed, on this topic, she wasn't the last to know.

Only…

"Is this about Rebekah?"

Three heads swivelled in the dark skinned Bennett witch's direction and her lips pursed.

"Stefan helped Rebekah kidnapped me the night that you and Jeremy killed Kol," she admitted in a low tone, gaze averted the others identified as guilt.

"And this wasn't considered crucial information before now why?" Damon asked as he and Elena exchanged a glance.

"Why would it be considered 'crucial'?" Caroline asked, her tone hard, as she caught that glance and looked between them herself. She saw Bonnie doing the same out of the corner of her eye, the same suspicion on her face as well. "What does it matter whether it was Klaus, Elijah, or Rebekah who did it? If anything, it makes sense; we all know about Rebekah and Stefan's history," she commented with bitterness, arms crossing under her chest.

"Yeah, we do," Elena said, somewhat defensively, "and we know that Stefan hates Rebekah. So why would he help her?"

Caroline rolled her eyes. "The only one that Stefan is capable of hating is Damon."

"None of this matters!" Damon snapped, that comment hitting a little too close to home. The fury in his voice and the power caused the other three to swallow. "What does matter is that he's gone, and he's in danger if they find out. You don't need to know why, you just need to know that if the Sparkles family finds out he's gone and where he's gone it spells trouble—for him."

That was good enough for Bonnie, she supposed, as she sent Elena a hard look, seeing her swallow and nod after a moment's hesitation. But the interaction was missed by Caroline, who growled, speeding to Damon and forcing him against the wall.

"Why is he in danger?" she asked only for their positions to be flipped as Damon forced her against the window instead, reaching for her ring, which caused her to start to thrash in his grasp with fright.

"Damon!"

A cry left the vampire as a searing pain rose in his skull, and he dropped the blonde, who flashed to Bonnie's side and stood just a little behind her, shaken. She watched as Elena went to stand between her mate and her best friend, causing Bonnie to cut the spell off at the last second.

"Let's go, Care…"

"Bon—"

"No, Elena! We are your best friends. Caroline cares about Stefan, too, and you're just going to stand back and let him," she pointed at Damon, spitting venom, "dictate who gets to know what? If he's in danger and you want us to help in any way, we deserve to know why."

Bonnie didn't care about the flicker of guilt she saw in Elena's eyes. Her jaw was set as she grabbed Caroline's hand and tugged. The blonde looking between her two best friends, torn for a moment before her face blanked and she followed the young witch out of the Boarding House.

"What's going on, Bonnie?" Care asked as they exited the driveway and she watched as the witch's lips thinned before she swallowed and then finally looked at her.

"I don't know," she said but the tone of her voice was carefully guarded and the look in her dark eyes as they met Caroline's told her she knew more than she was letting on. With a start, Caroline realized she wouldn't voice her thoughts until they were further away, away from the risk of being overheard.

Reeling, she followed her friend to her car, got in and watched the Bennett witch as she pulled out of the drive and made her way to Caroline's house, grim-faced.

~TPoL~

Rebekah Mikaelson sighed as she looked out the window of her bedroom over the city below, her arms crossed over her chest. She was tense, her fingers twitching and she gripped her elbow hard as she neglected the desire to rub at her chest. Turning toward her bed, she eyed the phone on her nightstand before thinking better of it. Perhaps it was better not to know what he was up to, what the cause for these emotions were…

She'd given Stefan Salvatore enough of herself already.

A knock on the door saved her from going down that line of thought and she sat up straight.

"Come in…"

A smile appeared on the blonde's lips seconds later at the sight of Bella. The happiness that was radiating from her friend, her sister, had her feeling mixed. She was jealous of the fact that the brunette had her mate and now was going to have a child—one of Rebekah's dreams since she was a little girl. And yet, she didn't want to feel that way where Bella was concerned. Instead, she chose to be happy for her, and content with the fact that she would have an adorable niece or nephew to spoil.

However happy the hybrid was, she looked worse for wear, and Rebekah's brow furrowed.

"Are you all right?"

"Oh, yes. Just, um… morning sickness as usual."

Despite her queasiness, the girl was grinning from ear to ear, and the Original's huffed with amusement.

"I've noticed. We've heard you for two weeks now…" She frowned a little in concern before the look was replaced with a small smile as she tilted her head, surveying the girl's appearance. "Well, you have put on a little weight despite all the vomiting…" she murmured thoughtfully, and Bella giggled. "I suppose that has something to do with how randy my brother is feeling lately…"

"Oh, yes. He's quite, mm… proud," was the blissful response given and Rebekah rolled her eyes. "Though I do wish he'd calm down a little. Whilst I am very happy, obviously, I'm tired and I feel sick all the time. I hardly want to be doing… that…"

"That wasn't the case this morning…"

"Well, it's the case now," she snapped, then sighed, the anger draining from her body. A small smile played on her lips. "I suppose I can't be too upset; he's more excited about the little bump than anything else…"

Rebekah's eyes widened and snapped to the girl's waist. She'd seen the weight gain, but hadn't seen a bump of any kind. She'd thought it too early. "Already?"

Her chin set defensively, anger rising just as fast as it had left moments ago. "It's just a little one… you can't really see it unless I'm… well…"

"Indecent?" the blonde intoned with a smirk that was far too similar to her brother's.

Her cheeks flushed, she carried on. "Anyway, I didn't come to talk about that—"

"I should hope not…"

"—I actually came because Nik is demanding to talk to the witches and I thought perhaps you might want to come along?" Bella asked, biting her lip as sudden nerves hit her. "It's not that I'm using you for your connection to—"

"I know," Bekah cut her off, giving her a soft smile even as her eyes warned her against mentioning such a thing again. The brothers did not know she was quite so well acquainted with the Regent, and she wanted to keep it that way. She waved off the apologetic look on her friend's face. "Of course I'll come."

An arm full of excited hybrid was not expected but Rebekah laughed and hugged her back, trying not to show just how much that embrace and exuberance meant to her. But Bella caught it and frowned, concern in her eyes as she regarded her the blonde.

"Are you—?"

"I'm fine," she answered quickly, though her sadness was easily seen in her eyes. "I just..." She shook her head and sighed. "I think I might go for a walk with Elijah… when are you planning on leaving?"

That was all Bella needed to know that Rebekah was having a bad day as far as Stefan was concerned. Of all her brothers, Elijah was the one who the female Original spoke to at length about their hidden connection, seeking comfort from her oldest brother. After another look, Bella replied that they would be leaving in an hour or so, wondering how she'd stall her mate whom she could hear pacing in their room… a telling sign of how agitated and impatient he was. She smiled as she heard the knock on the their door and then Ansel's voice as he spoke to his son, having noticed the same and wanting to calm him. Yes… even three weeks had helped their bond begin to form, slow as it was.

She could not wait to see it grow and strengthen into what it always should have been.

"I might go have some tea," Bella mused to herself and the blonde who'd flashed into her wardrobe to dress for the day's outings. Rugged up in untied sweats, uggs, and a thick, loose jumper, the hybrid left the bedroom and wandered downstairs to prepare breakfast for herself. She was quick to regret it as her stomach rolled and she flashed back upstairs, bypassing Klaus and Ansel on her way to the en suite.

A knock on the door and she flushed the toilet, going to the sink to brush her teeth, mumbling for whoever it was to come in, not bothering to check. It was Ansel, who stopped in the doorway with a look of slight amusement on his face.

"I would not be so brave as to do that… you'll most likely only repeat yourself in less than half an hour."

A mock glare was her first response, followed by the sardonically grumbled words, "thank you ever so much for your concern."

He chuckled, crossing his arms over his chest, the dimples in his cheeks showing and Bella's eyes widened some at the way he resembled Nik in that moment. Just as it filled her with warmth, the image of a little boy looking just the same filling her mind. Slight modifications appeared as she ruminated on the thought, the boy's blond locks becoming brunet then going back to the dirty blond as his eyes changed from blue to brown…

Shaking her head and blinking, the image faded and she spit the paste out before wiping her mouth and turning to him, leaning back against the counter. "Will you be coming with us, then? I dare say Nik might need you there."

Her words had the positive affect that she'd hoped they would, and he nodded after a moment.

"I would be most honored, thank you."

She giggled a little. "Just when I thought you were starting to sound a little more modern… It seems we have another Elijah on our hands."

He smirked, again looking like a carbon copy of his son despite the brown hair. "I believe my son said much the same thing just moments ago… before he stormed out in the direction of his studio." There was a slight tightening of his eyes and Bella knew the cause.

"I'm sure he'll show you eventually," she murmured kindly. "He's just…"

Jaw locking, his eyes grew cold. "I am aware, yes…"

The fury she heard made her shiver and she almost felt sorry for the people it was aimed at, just as much as she regretted the fact that they were dead. But the fear was obvious to Ansel and he quickly controlled himself, no matter how difficult such a thing was. He did not like the marks that had been left on his son from the two who'd raised him, one of them in his place…

"You have no reason to fear me," he murmured to the younger wolf in front of him. "In fact, I have great reason to be thankful to you… if it were not for you and indeed my grandchild…" he trailed off, but both of them knew what he was alluding to and she grinned at him, the tiredness she'd been fighting through the morning coming to the forefront. "I heard what you said that night and I would love nothing more than to be there for my grandchild as I should have been for my son… I would like to get to know you as well… If we were closer, perhaps you might have come to me when you were in doubt… I would have been able to tell you instantly that you were with child, just as I can teach you so much more about our kind…" his eyebrow rose, "perhaps to help you gain some understanding of, and thus endure, my son's protectiveness, which I know at the moment is bothering you despite your wolf's joy."

His words, which had been chosen with careful consideration, were delivered in a gentle tone, and Bella was thankful for that. She could tell that he did not wish to offend her, a way she might have felt given her sensitivity these days. It was, after all, a parent's job to inform their child of what he was offering. It made her mourn her father's absence even more than her wolf already did every day but she pushed that back, a weak smile flickering on her lips.

"Thank you…"

He nodded, taking that as a sign to leave her be and Bella sighed as the door closed, her eyes drawn down to her abdomen. Rebekah was right. She had gained just a little weight, a sign of what was to come. And she was immensely happy. She was glowing in her pregnancy…

But she missed her father, and her wolf did, too. At this time, even more so.

There was another knock on the door, and Bella would have told the person to leave her alone if it wasn't her mate. Needing him in that moment, she wrenched the door open and wrapped her arms tight around him, sighing as her body relaxed under his touch and the power of their connection. The light that won out against the dark. She could feel his own body respond likewise to her touch and a grin curled her lips as she peeked up at him.

"Hi."

He chuckled. "Hello…"

"Bekah wants to come, too. She's out with Elijah right now though… should be back soon…"

Klaus smirked down at his mate, relieved she was no longer as furious as she had been when he'd woken her when she fell asleep after their first round. He was proud of the serene tone of her voice as she spoke, curled up against his chest, and his arms wrapped tighter around her waist for a moment before moving as he lifted her, taking her back to their bed. He left her to lay down and rest, not surprised when she fell into a sort of state where she was not quite sleeping but not altogether cognizant either. But his brow furrowed anyway, not worried about her physically, but rather emotionally. He knew his mate was missing her father and his wolf hated that their separation was forced and best for Charlie's livelihood. He could see the deep unrest that it was causing her wolf as she, in her sleep, whined, brow furrowed as she turned over. She did not sleep easy and with the morning sickness she now experienced due to their child, her sleep was only further interrupted. She was now tired most of the time, even if her happiness made her seem not so at times, her moods changing rapidly.

It was these thoughts that almost made him hesitate in his plans for the meeting they were about to have, but he did not think that wise. They needed answers, answers that Davina and Kol had informed him would be possible should he demand a very specific spell. But he didn't want his mate becoming anemic and thus he stood and flashed out, listening to his wolfish instincts as he begun preparing a hearty meal that would not incite sickness. He would persuade her to eat one way or another whilst, he hoped, remaining… whole.

Half an hour later, Isabella was feeling better and a little less tired and his sister and elder brother were returning from their outing, rugged up appropriately for the human populace of the Quarter. Normally, Klaus would not be concerned about that, as his mate was a hybrid, but given their child…

"Bella, love, wear that coat I bought you last week," he called from the balcony where his narrowed eyes took in the red rimmed eyes of his sister. Feeling his gaze, she met his gaze and gave a shaky smile that did nothing to calm his concerns before flashing up to her room, and he went to follow but Elijah stopped him, shaking his head.

"Leave her, brother; she will be fine…"

He didn't appreciate that answer very much at all but his mate's huff as she opened the door, expression irate and arms outstretched distracted him. It seemed the extra energy she'd acquired from her nap had only aided her in becoming angry with him again, for what this time he had no clue…

But he knew better than to ask or otherwise comment.

"Happy?" she asked, feeling a little ridiculous in so many layers given that she no longer felt the effect of the cold weather on her skin either way. How convenient that her mate seemed to have forgotten that in the past three weeks since she'd told him of their pregnancy, as he had made sure to stock her wardrobe with copious amounts of winter clothing, cajoling her out of her autumn styles and into more appropriate attire for the season. She wouldn't normally be so upset as he would never venture so far as the Cullens had… but her moods these days were not rational and she felt babied, which did not sit well with her.

Seeing all that in her petulant, sour expression, Klaus sent a close-lipped grin that showed off his dimples her way, knowing how that would make her react. "Immensely."

He was not disappointed by the blink or the blush, though he could not contain his chuckle as she sighed harshly, muttering about his bewitching powers and annoying, albeit very lovely, dimples. She shot a glare at both him and his father—whom she personally felt was more to blame for this problem as he was the one who'd given her mate said dimples and bewitching powers in the first place. Ansel was confused for but a moment as he stopped at his son's side, joining them as they now waited for Rebekah. But then he smirked as he caught the reason. He was afforded another glare for his troubles before Bella turned on her heel and walked down the hall to collect the blonde. She shook her head to free it of the images clouding her mind as she stood at the door, raising her hand. But the hybrid had barely knocked on the door before she heard a sniffle.

"Bekah?"

"I'm not coming, I'm sorry…"

A deep frown set on Bella's face and her eyes narrowed as she opened the door.

"What—"

She stopped short, her eyes widening as she saw the clothes strewn on the bed in what she assumed had once been two piles. Eyes shooting up as the youngest Mikaelson re-entered the room from her wardrobe with another three coat hangers that she dumped toward the top of her bed, Bella's concern caused her chest tightened.

"What is this? What's wrong?"

With a huff, Rebekah delayed her response as she sifted through the clothes she'd just brought in before growling as she deemed none of them good enough—at least that was what Bella assumed from the narrowed gaze—then made her way back to the wardrobe. She almost got to enter the smaller room, too, but she was stopped by a raised eyebrow, the serious expression her undoing.

"I-I can't tell you… but there's nothing wrong," she whispered quietly, eyes wet and a shaky smile on her lips, growing wider before her expression changed to one of potent anxiety. "I just need some time alone, to… to myself…" she said, seeming to have changed her mind about what she wanted to say.

Her lips parted, Bella prepared to ask if she was sure. But the words never came out as they were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Elijah, a soft smile on his lips that mirrored the happiness on his little sister's face as he watched her. "She will be all right," he assured the pregnant hybrid, drawing her gaze back to him and he was not resentful as instead of trusting his word she searched his face before nodding.

"Call Nik if you need me, okay? Dav is staying behind, too…" Bella murmured.

Rebekah nodded, glancing down at her friend's abdomen. "I'm sorry…"

The brunette shook her head, waving away her concerns. "Whatever this is… I can tell it's more important."

Flashing a bright though emotional smile, Rebekah nodded, and Bella got a rush from seeing her troubled sister so happy. It made her feel so as well and she left the room after a nod to Elijah with a grin, looping her arm with her mate's and almost dragging him downstairs and out the gate, barely pausing for him to wrap a scarf around her neck and place a beanie on her head. If anything, her mate's wolfish need to protect her and their babe just made her happier though that may have been because of where they were headed given her prior reactions to his attentiveness in this area. Now that they were on their way to the witches to learn about their baby, nothing could touch her mood.

Arriving at the house, Klaus stepped in front of his mate and knocked on the door, Bella sharing a grin with Ansel as he watched his son with both pride and amusement. The door opened and the older dark-haired woman with those brilliant ice blue eyes stood in the doorway, regal.

"I've been expecting you…" she said, her voice just as memorable as Bella had thought. "Come in."

She turned her back on them, and Bella glanced up in time to see the look of surprise and then suspicion that flickered upon her mate's face. That simple action had spoken volumes of confidence and she entwined her fingers with his, tightening her grip and making him look at her, the look on his face making her eyes widen.

"She won't hurt me," she tried to calm him by saying just as Josephine La Rue re-entered the room.

"She is quite right, Niklaus. Your mate, your father, and you are safe here."

"Why?" he asked, his voice just shy of a snarl as amber swirled within the blue depths. His jaw locked as he felt his father's gaze before the older Alpha stepped forward, closer to him.

"I would not hurt a babe, or her mother. Even if she is a part of your family. In this city, we had a strong alliance until Papa Tunde… I, and the ancestors, mourn the loss of that alliance. Troubling times are ahead of us, which you are well aware of, I am sure… petty disputes between kinds do not hold importance when we are faced with what is coming…"

"And what would that be? What is coming?" Klaus demanded, pulling his mate closer as his eyes narrowed, a growl vibrating in his chest.

His questions were met with silence, and he took a step forward only to be forced onto his knees, hearing his mate shout his name in fear as snarls of pain erupted from his throat. His palms rose to his head, pressing against his temples at the searing pain caused by a witch's aneurysm, the Regent's magic potent enough to affect him in a way he could not ignore.

Finally, the pain was gone and he panted, falling forward to his hands and knees, his teeth gritted. He glanced up, meeting the witch's gaze.

"Are we done?" she asked, her tone hard and his lips twitched with words that he thought better of, hearing his mate's fear. He nodded, standing in a flash and soothing Bella as he pulled her close.

"I don't think it an unreasonable request," Ansel said, breaking the silence in low, furious tones, "to know what it is that we will be facing in due course. Especially if you are seeking an alliance with us. That would mean we have some part to play. Surely you can see why, in their condition, they would want to know."

Gaze shifting to the wolf as he spoke, Josephine's lips pursed.

"It is reasonable, yes… however, just like your request to commune with the ancestors, it is not a request that I can grant… for now. The time will come. Until then, know you are safe," she said, her eyes softening as she met the gaze of the expectant mother who was looking back anxiously. Seeing the calm that began to puncture that fear, Josephine moved her gaze to Klaus, her eyebrow rising. In response, his teeth gritted, eyes flashing, but he nodded, the action stiff.

An almost pleasant smile appeared on the old witch's lips then and she nodded. "Good. Now, I understand you are here for information on the child…"

"We want to know how this pregnancy is possible, yes…" Bella said, taking a breath to refocus her mind to this conversation. She swallowed nervously, giving her mate a thin smile as he pulled her closer, settling her in against his body so their bond's power could affect her more strongly.

"Half of the answer to that question lies in the night you were turned, Niklaus, and more so in the order in which your vampire and wolf were released, for lack of a better term," she said, speaking matter-of-factly. "You became a vampire first, correct?"

Klaus nodded stiffly.

"Yes. So, again for lack of a better term, you died—you became infertile, a member of the undead. However, upon completing that transition, you unlocked your wolf as your first prey died by your hand—"

"We came here to learn what it was we did not already know," Klaus interrupted with a growl only to grit his teeth as her eyes narrowed and he felt a flash of pain.

"Quiet," was the flatly-spoken response. "You unlocked your wolf after you died. The combination of both kinds brought you back to life, in a way; you are more alive than your siblings, that is. You are a true hybrid—a vampire who is not affected by the sunlight, and a wolf free from the bounds of the moon. But there are more than just those benefits, and one of them is fertility."

Silence reigned for several moments before it was broken by Ansel.

"That is half of the answer… what is the other half?"

In response to that question, Josephine focused upon Bella. The ferocity of her gaze was so intense that the brunette could not help but shift, her wolf growing uncomfortable, making Klaus's chest vibrate with a threatening growl once more.

"There is magic in you," the Regent said, her brow furrowing as she redirected her gaze to the table in front of her, leaning over it. "And not from the vampire half of you," she amended as she glanced up to see the looks in their eyes. "Foreign magic. Someone must have spelled you…"

Bella's eyes flew wide.

"What do you mean someone spelled my mate? I think I'd have noticed," Klaus snarled, infuriated further by the fact that Josephine remained unaffected by his anger and threats.

"This is strong, this magic; whoever it was, they were quite powerful…" Josephine murmured as though she had not heard him. Several things flickered in her light eyes before her gaze lowered, dropping to the table, and her jaw locked, muscles tensed. Her voice was low as she continued after a long moment. "A female hybrid would follow the laws of the male, one would assume. But only if they followed the same pattern. You did not, Isabella. You were wolf before you were vampire… that made a pregnancy impossible."

"What does that mean?"

Her gaze snapped to Klaus's and promptly narrowed. "It means that the only way your mate could have conceived your child is if someone cast a very powerful spell that gave her the ability…"

There was a dangerous glint in the dark amber-flecked blue orbs and he stepped forward, leaving his mate behind him as he searched her gaze. "Who?" he growled.

"It is a gift from the ancestors," Josephine lied cooly, unaffected by the Original Hybrid's agitation.

Klaus's eyes narrowed, suspicious immediately. "They seem to be giving us a lot of gifts recently."

There was no response save a flicker in the Regent's eyes as she looked to Ansel, and the uncomfortable silence stretched. Bella came forward after a long moment and reached for her mate's hand, clutching it as she tried to keep him calm. It would not do for his protective urges to take over and ensure the death of an ally they apparently very much needed.

"Does it really matter why, Nik?" Bella whispered, seeing that the Regent could give them no further answers, at least at this time. "I'm going to have your child…" She could almost feel the suspicion rolling off of her Original before their bond's power began to affect him as she pressed her body against his. He glanced back and, once meeting her watery gaze, could not look away again. The grin on her lips, the happiness… his head tilted and eyes twitched and narrowed for a moment as he saw a vulnerability there that he did not understand… Realization hit him and his shoulders fell and the storm in his eyes cleared. A small smile curled his lips as he straightened and pulled her closer.

"No… I suppose it doesn't," he reassured her, the love and happiness he allowed into his tone something she alone could hear and see as she leaned back and looked into his eyes. The tears spilled, more following as she saw what she had needed and she sniffled, her breath beginning to hitch in odd places as she tried to breathe through the sobs trying to break from her throat. "Everything will be all right," he whispered, kissing her temple, a light purr in his chest that caused Bella's eyes to squeeze shut, her body shuddering under the emotion that was wracking her frame.

His father following, Klaus pulled her away, out of the room and out of the house, barely giving the emotional hybrid time to thank the Regent who nodded with considerable warmth and bid them farewell, none of them missing the "for now," that was tacked on at the end. They also didn't see her eyes tighten with the fight she was waging against her forced silence, the secrets she'd had to withhold from them wanting to break through. She felt they deserved to know the true origin of their child's conception, and the dangers that lay ahead…

"Not yet, Josephine…"

The voice that had become familiar to her in the past weeks since the last time she had seen Bella to confirm her pregnancy made her sigh, the elder woman now growing weary.

She could only hope her life would not be forfeit to the Original Hybrid she had defied and deceived as she spoke of peace and alliances.

But they were unaware to her struggles or what was to come. Instead, as Ansel trailed behind the expectant couple, they left the witch behind and journeyed home, Bella at least content enough with the knowledge they had gained and Niklaus simply happy to bask in his mate's joy as they prepared to spend the rest of the day together in their rooms.

However, waiting at the gate were Camille and Marcel, the latter of the two's expression grim, determined and prepared. That look alone sucked the carefree happiness from the expecting couple's faces as they realized that something was wrong.

"What is it?" Bella asked, looking at her friend and then at Marcellus.

"We have some bad news," he murmured, "news we should share somewhere else… Rousseau's?" he asked, eyes moving to Klaus, whose jaw locked before he nodded. The group of five left the Abattoir once more with no questions asked, the atmosphere tense and growing more so as they sat at a round table. The dark skinned vampire waited until the group nearing their table had walked past them, leaving them alone together before he spoke, voice low.

"I stationed a couple guys around Forks and the reservation after our last conversation," he began, but Klaus cut him off, the protectiveness he'd felt before returning with ease.

"Why wasn't I informed?"

"They've only been there a few days and I was thinking—or hoping—they wouldn't see anything, that there was no need… plus, with the…" he trailed off, eyes flickering to Bella's hidden abdomen before returning to lock with his sire's once more.

"But you were wrong? There was something?" Bella prompted.

Camille nodded, looking between her mate and Bella's as their staredown continued. "Those girls who were there, including the one you said was Rachel Black, have been leaving the reservation almost nightly. They were traced only to the neighbouring towns but," she paused, lips pursing, "they seem to be… searching for something…"

Ignoring the way the intense stare off broke abruptly at those words, Bella sighed. "Vampires?"

"Cold ones," Marcel amended, meeting her gaze for a brief moment before looking back at Klaus. Instead of challenging, his eyes held some other meaning. "Apparently they think they'll be able to find them there, though I don't know why. Unless they're looking for nomads…"

"I think they're searching for any. They're more desperate than I thought they would be… for revenge…" Bella whispered. "It'll only be a matter of time before they venture further out."

Klaus growled, and Bella's eyes closed as she felt a finger under her chin lifting her head. Her eyes opened and she met her mate's furious gaze. It would have terrified anyone else, but for her it inspired nothing but comfort before he even spoke the words to back up the ferocious protectiveness she saw in his eyes.

"Nothing and no one will touch you. You are safe, sweetheart."

She swallowed, her eyes flashing with her wolf. She was far surer of the truth of that statement, given that her mate was close. He could protect them, and their child. She'd always known that and feeling his touch, all her worries and fears faded away in lieu of the light that called to her from him. Their bond's power, unique to the pair of them.

Safe.

"My son is right, Bella… shifters are no match for us… even without the full moon, our kind is significantly stronger, and we do have the stronger vampire species on our side… even if they succeed in their endeavour, we will be prepared. It will be easy." A flash of his amber eyes gave the impression of his wolf's awakening anticipation. It had been a while since he'd fought.

Evidently, Klaus remembered that as well as his jaw locked and she saw a flash of something that softened her gaze, knowing her mate was remembering the last fight his father had fought… and lost.

"Come what may, nothing and no one will harm my child," Klaus whispered before adding, or my family.

"We are the Originals. If we want the world to be peaceful, we will make it so."

~TPoL~

She was nervous. It was clear as day on her gorgeous face, the way her pretty eyes were shimmering and wavering. The way she trembled slightly as her jaw locked whilst she tried to hold herself together, feeling as though she'd fall apart any moment. Rebekah's blue eyes remained riveted to the gate at the end of the wide hall as she felt the pull to her mate lessen rapidly, his approach growing near…

Coming out of her thoughts and glancing to her side as she felt Elijah's tailored suit brush her shoulder, she gave a shaky smile that he saw right through.

"He is coming to you, sister; at last… everything will be all right…" he said, trying to soothe her.

"I wish I was so confident about that…" she whispered, wetting her dry lips as she sucked in a breath. "I wish I knew why he was coming here instead of remaining completely in the dark, vulnerable; for all I know, this could be some sort of set up. Elena chose him often enough for those when we lived in Mystic Falls…"

Elijah said nothing. His sister's words were valid; there was a possibility that this was not what she hoped it to be, but that was why he was here and why they had not asked Kol and Davina, who remained upstairs in their room, aware of the goings on, to leave. Rebekah had told him that Stefan did not even know of their bond so it would not take long for them to ascertain the reason for his visit.

The older Mikaelson went to speak when Rebekah's breath hitched and her hand reached for his, grasping and gripping tightly. An imperceptible smile curled the brunet's lips.

Stefan Salvatore was here.

The wait was not a long one. Both the outer and inner gates had been opened and kept so in preparation for this meeting; if Stefan was not here for Rebekah, it would serve as a warning… but if he was, it would be a welcome.

The female Original waited on tenterhooks for her mate to come into view. When he did, she drank him in. His staple James Dean attire, his confident walk as he squared his shoulders at the sight of Elijah, not hesitating for a second. His intense green eyes fixed upon her…

Was he drinking her in as she was him? Was she as much of a sight for sore eyes to him as he was to her?

She could not help but react, the months that it had been since she had seen him last fading, a spark of hope deep within her chest catching light and growing…

Rebekah was rooted to the spot as he kept walking toward her. She was not able to look away, not able to take a step back—not even able to breathe as he came to stand in front of her, eyes flickering over every feature of her face before he spoke, his voice thick.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he breathed, his voice so full of pain and love.

Her breath hitched, her eyes stinging with tears. Her face crumpled from the pain and happiness as they fought for dominance. And then he leaned his forehead against hers.

She was shocked into silence, knowing—knowing—what that simple, seemingly inconsequential action meant.

He knew.

Stefan said nothing, mouth open as he breathed in her scent. God, just the thought that he'd never have known if it hadn't been for his vervain hell made the entire ordeal worth it.

He loved her; some part of him always had. He'd almost flipped that humanity switch back on again so many times in the '20s from the sheer depth of what she was able to make him feel, the bond lying in wait making him fight through his determination to feel nothing. And then Klaus had removed all trace of her. For ninety years, he'd walked through life, bereft, feeling—knowing—that he was missing something, but not knowing for the life of him what it was. He tried to find it, thinking he had when he met Elena…

When he got his memories back, it was like waking up again—she was there... but then so was Elena, who took it all away again.

Rebekah swallowed, recovering at last. She stepped back, away from him, both of them feeling the loss but she neglected it as she spoke, voice faint. "If there was no hope of you feeling the bond, why would I torture myself? You were with Elena; you loved her. And it hurt so much… it would have only hurt more for me to tell you and then watch you laugh in my face before returning to her."

The shaky hatred in her voice as she spat the word, her eyes swimming with tears struck him and he looked away. He didn't know how to apologize, how to… how to make it better. Rebekah may have been daggered for the ninety years of their separation, but she had been hurt more by that fact… to have him and then wake up, close to a century later, to see he had apparently moved on and forgotten all about her, not caring enough once his memories had been returned to him to even try

"She already had my necklace," she whispered, the words adding a new layer of pain, as though he'd been flayed, shame burning him from the inside out.

"I didn't remember you," he admitted, "you're right about that. But it wasn't a choice I made… for a hundred years, I felt the loss of you and I didn't know what it was I was missing… I tried to find something that would stop it… it was maddening… and then I found Elena. I thought I'd found what it was I was missing, but I hadn't. When Nik woke you and gave me back my memories—"

"If you remembered, why did you stay away?" she asked, her eyes filled with anger and pain, grief.

"Elena wasn't happy… when you saw her, and you said…"

He trailed off, but that was all she needed to know. Her eyes, filled with shame, fell from his face, glazing over as she remembered. She'd felt nothing but triumph when her mate looked at her with love, even if it was clouded with hesitance. There was a moment when he was almost hers again… and she had to rub that in little Elena's face. Petty, and it cost her everything.

"We'll see about that…"

Eyes snapping up to his face again, Rebekah glowered at him. "What did she do?"

There was a flash of something she hadn't seen in a hundred years within his eyes before he locked it away, and with a jolt she realized what it was. Lust. Of course. He'd loved her temper back then…

A wry smile appeared on his lips, twisted with cool anger. "There's a reason why they call it the Petrova fire," he said, his jaw locking as the encounters he now so clearly remembered came back to him. "She invited Bonnie over to the Boarding House. They spoke for a little while and then… all I remember is chanting." He swallowed. "A hundred years ago, our connection didn't work because of my humanity switch. You felt it, but I didn't. The mating bond is as much about giving as it is receiving. I could not receive, so I didn't know to give…"

Swallowing, Rebekah nodded slowly. She had felt it, felt the draw to him, her side of the bond reaching out. But his switched-off humanity was not the sole problem they'd have had to overcome, though most serious of all, certainly. Rebekah's insecurities as well as her fear of Nik's reaction to her strong feelings; that was what she had thought they were initially: mere feelings.

Even if they were admittedly stronger for a humanityless Stefan than they had been for another she had met before in her one thousand years.

Their relationship of sorts, in the 20s, had not been a relationship at all, if they were to be honest. They weren't together that long before her father's appearance forced them apart—her in a daggered state, and Stefan out of Chicago and wandering for the next ninety years before they were reunited. It was once she'd woken that she realized what the connection was. It was so very rare, and she'd not felt it as she'd heard she would—there was no desire to mark him—during sex or otherwise—just an intense attraction, like a thrall… she could not stay away… and even in his spelled state, neither, really, could he, she realized as she remembered that night spent searching for Bonnie… he'd seemed to break free of it from the sheer weight of her grief for Kol's loss, even if it lasted mere moments. So he could comfort and then help her…

He was the reason why her brother was alive today, his betrayal of his friends…

"You seem to know a lot…" she said, voice faint as she came back to the present from her thoughts and looked up at him, careful to guard the emotions she was feeling. But if the look in his eyes meant anything, it was that he saw right through it.

"A hundred years without you… I did some reading," he explained gently, fingers twitching to touch her. Now that he was here, somehow, it was harder to ignore the ache. Rebekah seemed to feel the same way as she took a breath before shifting closer to him.

"And after Elena mated with your brother?" she asked, keeping her gaze firmly on his face. Even a flicker in his expression and none of this would matter.

But the jealousy, the hurt—there was none of that. Instead, his anger rose, a growl rose in his chest that caused her eyes to darken and her tongue to wet her dry lips.

"She didn't want to have to choose, at least in the beginning. She couldn't let go of me and despite reassuring my brother," he spat the word like a curse, "that she would put an end to the spells, she never did." His voice was dark as he spoke, eyes glazed as he remembered. "I suspect at least part of it was so she could rub it in your face. That she had both brothers and you…"

"Had nothing," she whispered, her voice a cocktail of emotions, not the least of which being anger and hate. "She really is quite the spiteful little bitch..."

"She is," Stefan echoed, taking his mate's hand and rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand.

"I feel sorry for your brother…"

"Don't," he snarled, and she stared at him for a long moment before filing that away for later. There were still questions that needed answering.

"You were in danger," Rebekah whispered, looking up at him, the pain and fear she'd felt weeks ago returning effortlessly, making her blue eyes shine with tears. "What happened to you? You were dying…"

A low purr rose in his chest, but it did little to make Rebekah feel better, her mind taking her back to those days, her experience… A sorry whimper left her at the thought that she had been so close to never having this and he pulled her closer, crushing her against his chest, the silence stretched out. He sighed as she calmed, pulling back and looking down at her.

"My brother has a lot of enemies," he intoned, jaw locking. "There's one vampire in particular that he really fucked over. He lost everything at his hands… and he decided to pay him back for that. A British jerk named Enzo kidnapped me, locked me up in a metal safe, and then dumped me at the bottom of a closed off waterfall filled with vervain laced water.

"The stake in my stomach allowed the vervain to rush through my bloodstream," he continued without feeling, "I burned and drowned over and over again… too weak to break out of the prison… it was very clever, really. It had another consequence he never knew about… as I died, I could finally feel you," he said, finally looking at her again and he gave a crooked smile at the look of anger and pain on her face. His hand rose, his thumb rubbing back and forth over her cheekbone as he cupped her jaw. "I don't know how, but—"

"I do," she whispered hoarsely. "I gave you some of my strength so that you could break free. I didn't know what was happening, but I hoped that would be enough…"

He smiled down at her. "It was. More than enough… the strength you gave me was enough to get out, but also enough to give me the restraint every other vampire seems to have when they feed. I can feed from humans without killing them now," he said, looking down at her with such gratitude, "so there's no reason for me to feel guilty anymore. I can finally control myself."

A beautiful smile appeared on her lips then and he couldn't help but return it with a grin of his own. He wanted so many things in that moment, but decided instead to ask something he'd also been thinking of since awakening to a mating pull.

He wanted to see his brother.

"Where's Nik?"

"Niklaus is not here at the moment… and I can't say I believe he'd be happy to see you."

The couple blinked, Rebekah's eyes widening at the sound of her brother's voice. The pair had forgotten he was there, and as she looked at the brunet, she gave an apologetic smile but the one he sent back waved away her concerns. Elijah was happy for her, and he did not mind in the least.

But then of course he didn't. He understood…

Once recovered, the spell of their bond calming for the most part, Stefan spoke, a small smile on his lips. "He will be."

The older Original's eyes narrowed, but it was Rebekah who asked the question: "How can you be so sure?"

The smile on Stefan's lips widened. "He knows, Bekah. He knows about the bond; he has since Chicago. He hated that we didn't have more time for me to flip the switch and give into the bond, even if it was probably for the best since you were on the run. He compelled me away for my safety… knowing what we are to one another."

Eyes wide, Rebekah stared at her mate in disbelief. Nik knew? Her fear had been unfounded? He had sent him away not as a punishment, but to save his life? Tears blinded her vision.

"How do you know that?" she whispered when she could speak again.

"Because I told him so before I compelled him away for you, sister," they heard, Rebekah's eyes widening at the sound of her hybrid brother's voice. The three turned toward the newly arrived entourage with varying degrees of surprise.

Stefan, however, was the most flummoxed—though not because of Nik.

"Bella…" he blurted out. The brunette hair, the pale skin, brown eyes… those same features changed and fixed in a face that was twelve years younger flashed in his mind, and surprise was paramount upon his features. For all of his distractions, he'd not put two and two together when he heard Bella Swan come from the Cullens lips until he stared at the very same woman. A warm smile appeared on his face and delight took over. "Bella Swan…"

Frowning, not liking that a vampire she did not recognize knew of her name by her appearance, Bella said nothing as she nodded.

He didn't take her guardedness to heart, instead his smile widened as he rushed to clarify, "I was the one who gave your father my blood to heal you."

Her eyes widened with surprise and recognition before they were clouded by confusion. "But I never saw you there…" she said, her eyes narrowing as her suspicion rose; this did not fit… "And Dad didn't know about Edward's… abuse… until recently."

"Edward?" he asked, frowning.

"Yeah… that's what I used the blood my dad had hidden for. I needed it after Edward would… punish me," she explained uneasily, leaning into her mate as he growled, her body relaxing at the light that wrapped around her.

Stefan, not paying attention to their obvious bond for the moment, shook his head. "This wasn't recent; it was years ago, when you were young…" he murmured only for his eyes to widen as realization lightened the emerald green. "Your father must have kept some of my blood then… I'm glad it could be of use to you…"

"You about saved my life once or twice…"

More than that, Stefan thought, even a