Caroline was never sure if it was her vampire blood stirring, urging her to move onto new hunting grounds, a purely instinctual craving. Or perhaps her heart had always been restless, that despite her desire for comfort and security, she longed for the life of a gypsy. Whatever the reason, she could never quite escape that haunting voice, offering to show her genuine beauty.
So she left, to find it for herself.
Caroline went to Paris first. She'd been entranced by Paris since she was a child, a natural affect of growing up with Charade, Funny Face, and How to Steal a Million Dollars. Paris had nothing but beauty and history to court her with, from watching the sun rise near Notre Dame to drinking champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The champagne, of course, turned out to be a fatal mistake. It made her realize she was enjoying the most romantic city in the world alone.
So she left Paris, headed straight for London. That turned out to be another secondary mistake. Not to say the city wasn't beautiful and she didn't enjoy herself—but every time someone spoke to her, whether in cool civility, friendliness, or hostility, it brought back painful memories. The accent was too much. She left again.
Greece, Switzerland, Poland, Egypt—she never stayed longer than a week. Traveling was a great deal easier as a vampire—there was never the fear of journeying alone as a single woman, not with vampiric instincts and compulsion as her tools of the trade. She was careful, staying unnoticed in the shadows, stealing blood bags from hospitals and doctors' offices.
It was in Italy she met Rebekah.
Caroline was so intent on being anonymous, on enjoying the world's treasures, that she never would have noticed Rebekah at the winery until the waiter brought her a glass of their finest merlot, laced with the intoxicating taste of an earthy-blooded Italian. The waiter's glassy expression spoke volumes and at first, Caroline was alarmed. Until she noticed the second blonde in the room tilt her floppy sunhat at her.
She stood from her stool and crossed the room towards Rebekah, folding her arms in irritation. Halfway across the world and she still couldn't escape this family.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Caroline wasted no time in pleasantries.
Rebekah flicked her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose. "You know, you're not an easy girl to find," She noted demurely. "I can't quite decide if you're running away from something or toward something—but I suppose that's neither here nor there. Have a seat."
"Yeah, I don't think so," Caroline snapped. "What do you want, Rebekah? And don't say you were feeling nostalgic and wanted to catch up."
Rebekah's eyes glittered. "Careful, darling. I'm in a good mood that only the Tuscan sun can provide, and if you irritate me out of my vacation, I'll be quite put out. Have a seat."
It was not a compelled command, but her words had that warning in them. Narrowing her eyes, Caroline tersely sat, drumming her fingers on the table.
"Oh, darling, you forgot your drink," Rebekah smartly snapped her fingers and the compelled waiter reappeared, pouring Caroline another glass. "Wonderful vintage. Thirty years old, perfectly aged." She giggled girlishly and Caroline wrinkled.
"Can we stop the small talk?" Caroline demanded. "What exactly do you want, Rebekah?"
Rebekah sighed, pursing her lips. "Dear, dear. Straight to business, then. I need your help."
"No," Caroline said flatly. "Whatever it is, no. I've had enough Originals to last me until eternity. As of my college graduation, I am officially in retirement."
"Don't be a bore, Caroline," Rebekah rolled her eyes. "Do you think I relish asking for your help? I'm afraid I'm out of options at this point and you're the only one who'd understand."
"Are you deaf?" Caroline snapped. "What part of no did you not understand?"
"Nik's in trouble," Rebekah said pointblank.
There was a slight pause as Caroline processed her words. The warm summer wind blew through the trees, and she caught a whiff of fresh oranges, hanging from the garden next door.
"Why should I care?" Caroline asked finally, crossing her legs.
"Judging by that long awkward silence, you care quite a bit," Rebekah took a sip of her wine. "He's in New Orleans. Got in a spot of bad trouble with someone he shouldn't have bothered with. And now—"
"What has any of this got to do with me?" Caroline snapped. "You're his sister. Why don't you and the rest of your psycho siblings rescue him?"
"I don't know if you've noticed, but Klaus has not exactly endeared himself to his family," Rebekah said coolly. "Elijah is doing all he can. So that leaves me—and you."
"Why on earth would you even think I cared?" Caroline demanded. "The last time I saw him, he promised he would walk away and never come back. I told him that I was building a life for myself, and it didn't include him. And up until your unpleasant reappearance, I haven't seen any of the Originals—better luck for me!"
Rebekah's lips tightened in irritation as she set down her glass. She took a deep breath.
"You little fool," She said softly. "Do you think I relish asking you for help? Do you think it causes me joy? And do you think I would seek you out if it were a mere whim?! Klaus' life is in danger. I won't deny my relationship with my brother is complex, but blood trumps all, as Elijah says. I will not let him perish at the hands of some power-hungry—" She stopped herself.
Caroline's brow furrowed. "His life…how could his life be in danger? He's an Original. Isn't there only one thing that can kill an Original for good?"
"Yes," Rebekah said impatiently. "And she has it."
A shadow passed over Rebekah's face. "An enemy. An old enemy. A witch by the name of Madame Lalaurie."
The name sounded vaguely familiar to Caroline, but she couldn't quite place it. "So what did Klaus do to piss off this witch? Or vice versa?"
"Mm," Rebekah looked slightly mollified now that she'd captured Caroline's attention. "At first, we thought it might be the usual power struggle he's had to fend off. He's a bit of a tyrant in New Orleans, it shouldn't be surprising that an upstart might appear every once in a while—but this one…she had some very singular tastes. She was like our mother, channeling witches energies for her own machinations. But unlike our mother, Madame Lalaurie didn't quite have the same respect and appreciation for those she was channeling."
Caroline looked a little lost and Rebekah rolled her eyes.
"Her slaves," Rebekah said in a deadpan voice. "She channeled the energies of the slaves she had, during that romantic antebellum south your precious Mystic Falls is so intent on reliving."
Caroline's stomach turned. "But wait a minute, you said that this was a recent uprising. And you're talking about a witch who should be dead for—"
"We thought she was dead," Rebekah said impatiently. "But it turns out we were misinformed. She was apparently biding her time. And now, she's got her sights set on ruling New Orleans again."
"Ruling," Caroline scoffed. "It's not a kingdom. Klaus is not the dictator there."
"You of all people should know that the laws of the supernatural work differently," Rebekah interrupted again. "Suffice it to say, there has been a power struggle. And Klaus went missing."
Caroline's stomach knotted nervously. "That's not really—abnormal, is it? He disappears without a moment's notice all the time. Maybe he decided to take care of this witch on his own."
"Things have changed," Rebekah cleared her throat. "We're trying to rely on each other more. Elijah and I have tried to call him a hundred times with no answer. The Quarter has gone silent about his disappearance, too afraid of offending Madame Lalaurie. If he had decided to take care of her on our own, we'd at least hear a whisper…she's got him. I know she's got him. And she'll kill him—when she's done with him that is."
"When she's done with him?" Caroline swallowed.
"The Original Vampire/Werewolf hybrid has quite a bit of energy she'd love to channel for her own purposes," Rebekah shuddered. "And her methods of extraction are gruesome."
It shouldn't have mattered. Klaus' quest for power and control over the city of New Orleans and its result in pissing off some racist slave owner witch shouldn't bother Caroline. She had her own life to lead, didn't she? A life away from the drama of Mystic Falls, where she could explore and discover on her own.
But Caroline had seen the humanity in Klaus. She was one of the few who had. She'd seen his tears, she'd seen his brokenness, and despite all of the evil, she'd seen his love for her. And if humanity was so important to her, shouldn't her compassion for him prevail?
"All right," Caroline took a deep breath. "What do you want me to do?"
For obvious reasons, Caroline had avoided New Orleans in her travels. She'd always had terrible luck and it would just figure that the one time she visited the crescent city, she'd run into Klaus.
And yet, here she was, on her way to rescue him.
Klaus had once called her, told her that this was his favorite city, and someday he'd love to show it to her. Upon her arrival, she couldn't help but be captivated by its beauty. Sunshine, bright colors, interesting characters littered the streets. She could sense magic in her bones, vibrating through her chest—she wondered what it might be like for Bonnie to inhale this presence.
"All right," Caroline said in a measured voice. "Where's Klaus? Where is this Madame Lalaurie?"
"Patience dear," Rebekah brushed a strand of hair from her face. "First we check in with Elijah."
A cab ride later, Caroline found herself in front of a huge, ornate mansion. It looked like something straight out of Gone with the Wind, and it took a great deal of effort not to be awed. Roses entwined the balcony, and Caroline's heightened senses could smell jasmine and lilacs as well.
The front doors opened and Elijah stepped forward onto the porch. "Caroline. Welcome to New Orleans and to our home. I'd like to express my gratitude that you agreed to help us."
"Oh, save it, Elijah," Rebekah rolled her eyes pushing past him. "It was like pulling teeth to get her here."
"Nevertheless, we are grateful," Elijah said steadily. "Not many would have your grace, Caroline, not after all that's happened."
There was nothing really to be said to that. So Caroline shrugged a little. "This is just—this is just a one time thing. We save Klaus, I get out of town."
"Of course," Elijah nodded. "Please follow me." He led her inside the mansion, into the study where he offered her a blood bag. She took it, after all a nine hour flight with no blood made her very hungry, never mind Rebekah's suggestion they feed on the crew.
"Okay," Caroline swallowed the blood and exhaled, feeling revived. "So—neither one of you know where Klaus is. That's not exactly a good place to start."
"No, it's not," Elijah acknowledged. "However, we've a witch who can find him. And Madame Lalaurie."
"A witch," Caroline said slowly. "Wait a second. What witch would be willing to find Klaus? Isn't he the abomination of nature? Why would they even want to?"
"Because no matter how much we hate Klaus," A voice intoned. "We hate Madame Lalaurie more."
Caroline turned to see a woman who looked around her age—give or take—step into the parlor. She would have been pretty had it not been for the sour look on her face. Beautiful tattoos with the most curious designs decorated her bare arms and her dark brown eyes were the color of coffee. Her skin was tanned and there wasn't even a particle of fear in her gaze as she looked at the tree vampires.
"Who are you?" Caroline asked, crossing her arms.
"This is Kylie Celastin," Elijah introduced. "She will be assisting us."
"Careful, vampire," Kylie glared at them both. "I'm no ally to you or your family. We just happen to be in a similar position of wanting Delphine Lalaurie dead."
"Kylie's family had a bit of a row with Madame Lalaurie back in the day," Rebekah examined her fingernails.
The witch rolled her eyes. "Yeah, something like that." From the fire in Kylie's eyes, it was no small strife. For perhaps the hundredth time, Caroline wondered what she'd gotten herself into.