"When is a monster not a monster?
When you love it."—Caitlyn Siehl
It had taken an entire year but they had finally tracked down the last of those who had come from the Other Side. The majority of them had nothing to do with the Mikaelsons, having died before the family had even been born or never having crossed their paths while having been alive. Those ones were left alone and allowed to live out their days. Kol had wanted them dead as well but Bonnie had put her foot down, refusing to help track down anyone else if he killed those who weren't a threat. She wouldn't listen to all the ways they could eventually become threats either.
Anyone could become a threat in the future and they weren't going to kill every single being that lived in the world, no matter how much that idea had delighted Kol. Besides, there had been more than enough who were legitimate threats for him to have killed over the months that they didn't need to add more to his count.
She hadn't wanted to help when they had come across the first threat, but the woman had muttered about killing the one Klaus loved in front of him and Bonnie hadn't been able to hold back from sending a stake flying into the woman's chest. She'd known that Caroline getting mixed up with Klaus was going to be a whole lot of trouble for her friend but the amount of people who were willing to use her in order to get at Klaus was a bit too much for Bonnie.
They were all gone now though, dead and unable to ever return thanks to the Other Side being dissolved. "He still has more enemies out there in the world," Bonnie muttered as she looked down on the face of the last vampire that Kol had disposed of.
"Difference being that these ones knew what he looked like, even worse they knew what Caroline looked like because of the rip in the veil. The amount of people who know what my siblings and I look like that are still walking around isn't much," Kol pointed out as he tore off the man's head. That should do it. "To most of the supernatural world we're nothing but a myth. Part of the whole running from our father bit, we needed an air of mystery to us."
Bonnie grimaced as the head smacked down onto the cement floor. She knew he was right in his assessment. The Mystic Falls gang hadn't even known that Elijah and Klaus were siblings at first. Damon hadn't known that Originals even existed and her Grams had never mentioned anything about them. Hopefully that meant there would be less of a threat against Caroline. She had already lost everyone else from Mystic Falls bar her father; Bonnie didn't think she could handle losing Caroline as well.
"Shall I do the honors of calling home to let everyone know we're finished?" Kol continued as he wiped his hands and stood up, already fishing his cell from his pocket.
"Don't forget to tell them that we found Stefan and took care of him," Bonnie reminded and stepped out of the room. Dead bodies were still not something she wanted to get used to handling, didn't matter if it was a supernatural or a human, it was never easy to see.
Hopefully Stefan was doing better. They had met him back in California, watching him drain people for the fun of it. It was obvious that he'd turned his emotions off and they had learned quickly that Damon was gone while following him one night. Kol had wanted to let him continue on, enjoying the bloodbath that Stefan was leaving down the coastline. The problem was that Ripper Stefan didn't seem to care about whom he talked about and loose lips were a problem that none of them could afford.
Stefan had sealed his own fate when he brought up Henrik to Kol, asking him how easy it would be to skin the kid alive because why should they get their brother back when his was gone forever. It had been over in seconds, Kol's hand through his ribcage before Bonnie had been able to utter a word. She would have sworn that Stefan actually looked grateful but that wouldn't have been possible if he'd turned his emotions off. Right?
She never could quite shake that look though.
"It seems that our mission is now complete, darling," Kol informed her as he stepped out onto the street beside her, pocketing his phone.
Bonnie stared out at the people wandering by, their focus on the music that was spilling out of nearly every nook and cranny of the street. She was trying not to smirk at the disappointment that she could hear in his voice.
"I did hear that there's a new sort of magic cropping up down in Haiti though," he continued, and she arched a brow as she looked over at him. "Not so much new as embracing what used to be practiced down there for ages but fell out of favor for a while. It originated in Africa actually."
"Let me guess, you just happen to have known those who brought it over to the islands?" she asked, trying to sound bored with the question even if she did greatly enjoy the stories he had to tell about witchcraft before her time.
"Of course I did," Kol replied with a grin. Bonnie simply nodded, letting the silence grow between them. "It'd be a bit of a shame if they started to upset the balance of nature that's slowly been reestablishing itself."
"Like you care about the balance of nature," Bonnie muttered, shaking her head at him as they started walking down the street, easily blending in with the tourists moving about.
"Not even a little," Kol shrugged, but she was fully aware that he knew that she did care about it.
The smart thing to do would be to walk away now, to put as much distance between her and him as she possibly could. It might not work considering Kol seemed to have the same stalker tendencies as his older brother, but it wouldn't be encouraging his presence any longer. She should establish the fact that their mission was complete and she wanted nothing more to do with him.
Except, Bonnie had enjoyed learning about magic over the last few months. She had grown to enjoy his presence as they had traveled and done what was needed. Could it really hurt to keep that up for a little bit longer? Probably. She was most likely playing with fire but that didn't stop the next words from tumbling out of her mouth.
"Well, then, I guess it looks like we're headed to Haiti."
Did all good things come to an end?
Klaus couldn't help but wonder that as he hung up with Kol. For a year Bonnie had been continents away from them, Caroline's mother tucked safely away in the country villa none the wiser to what was happening, while he had been able to enjoy the last twelve months getting to know every inch of Caroline Forbes. He had watched her grow close with his youngest brother, helping Henrik learn English and struggling along with him as they both learned Italian. He had watched as her and Rebekah went from nearly biting one another's heads off to leaving for weekend long shopping trips together. He had gotten to see the way he looked at her reflected back in the way she looked at him with each passing minute.
But the threats were over now which meant that Liz Forbes would need to be given her memories back and Klaus couldn't help but worry that everything he had gained in the last year would be viciously ripped away from him. Caroline loved her mother and the good sheriff wasn't exactly his biggest fan. It was understandable and his paranoia was already beginning to creep into his veins, threatening to overtake him completely.
Could he hide this news from her? But for how long would that work? Surely Caroline would speak to Bonnie at some point and then be furious with him for not having brought her back to her mother sooner. He would certainly lose her then. There was always the option of having the witch killed so she wouldn't be able to tell but then he would need to dagger Kol as well. No doubt the others would wonder why Bonnie and Kol hadn't contacted them after a while and demand to search for them, leading back to Caroline (and his siblings) being furious with him all over again.
He was going to need to tell her and let the cards land where they would.
Hope was a fickle emotion, one that could just as easily grow as it could dim quickly until it was nothing but dust. Klaus despised it, the way it could twist inside of him, making him unsure of what would happen next. All of his carefully laid out plans meant nothing if he lost Caroline. For all his words about waiting a century for her if she wished to head off with her mother, he knew he wouldn't be able to wait that long now. Not when he had gotten a taste of what eternity would truly be like with her. Not when he fell asleep with her in his arms and woke to her bright smile every morning. He could not do without her laugh for that long, could not stand having only the ghost of her presence fill every room and moment instead of having her there beside him.
He was certain that losing her would be worse than the Hunter's Curse, a crushing blow that his heart would never truly be able to recover from. Henrik's presence would soften it some but the boy would grow and leave eventually, probably come to hate him if Klaus got his way and was able to turn him.
"What ruined your mood?" Rebekah asked, interrupting Klaus' thoughts as she entered the kitchen.
He didn't answer her, his attention being drawn out to the terrace where Henrik and Caroline were engaged in a game of checkers. They were laughing, clearly enjoying one another's company, and instead of the usual smile that brought to his face, all Klaus could do was stare at them through the glass doors and windows.
"It seems that Kol and Bonnie have finished dealing with any riffraff that came through the veil," Klaus finally informed his sister, his attention still on the cheerful two that were outside enjoying their game in the Florence sunlight.
"So he'll be coming home then?" Rebekah inquired, and Klaus could practically taste her excitement as well as sense the exact moment when it deflated as he shook his head.
"Seems they're off to look into a few witch debacles in some place or another," Klaus continued and Rebekah scoffed at that, clearly irritated with that news.
"I knew she'd get her little claws into him," she muttered, and Klaus glanced over at her, arching a brow at her crossed arms and sour expression.
"I have a feeling it was more Kol getting his into the little Bennett witch," he told her, almost smiling at her mutterings about that.
"At least this means Caroline will be able to compel her mother to remember," Rebekah murmured, and any chance of a smile vanished, dark thoughts taking hold of him all over again.
"I know that look," Rebekah continued, stepping to get in front of him. "It's that same one you used to get before daggering one of us." Klaus looked at her then, surprised that he didn't see anger in her features. Instead there was pity, an emotion that he despised seeing displayed toward him, and wished for his sister's anger instead. "Are you going to let your fears start to control you all over again? There's no dagger for either of them, Nik. She'll come to hate you if you try and keep this from her."
Rebekah walked away before he could reply and he knew she was correct in her assessment. There would be no keeping this news from Caroline. He had promised he wouldn't lock her away in a tower and Klaus knew that she would see keeping this from her would be seen as such in Caroline's eyes.
He took a deep breath and headed out onto the terrace where Henrik and Caroline were happily playing. He cringed at their not quite yet perfected Italian. "Not all of us have been speaking the language as long as you have," Caroline reminded him and Klaus knew he had been caught in his wincing.
"You are both doing fine with it," Klaus tried to reassure as he moved to stand behind her, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek before smiling at his brother.
Henrik had grown at least a foot in the past year, his voice deepening, looking more like a miniature Elijah with each passing day. He didn't have their brother's stoic demeanor though, was far more jovial and carefree than any of them had ever been. It was a look that Klaus wanted to capture for all time, though immortality and Henrik was something none of them could seem to agree on yet.
"We should move onto chess next. We're at a stalemate on who wins this game the most often," Henrik commented and Caroline shook her head.
"I don't do chess. You get to play that one with this one," she looked up at Klaus, smiling at him for a moment, before looking back at the other Mikaelson. "I'll show you poker next."
Henrik's eyes seemed to light up at the prospect of a new game but Rebekah was motioning for him to come inside so he simply nodded to the two of them and hurried away. "Kol called," Klaus told Caroline before she could make another comment.
She was out of the chair and turned around to look at him, so much hope in her eyes that it made his heart clench painfully. "They're finished," he continued, barely getting the words out before she practically launched herself into his arms.
He hugged her tightly, breathing in the scent of hair, not quite wanting to let go when she pulled back some. Her smile was infectious. "We can go get my mom now?"
Klaus brushed the tears that were sliding down her cheeks. "As soon as you'd like."
"Now. I want to go right now," she told him and he set her down, letting her head back into their home. He watched as she excitedly told Rebekah and Henrik the news, watched the happiness practically burst from inside of her as she moved about. All the while his insides burned, twisted painfully as he wondered if this would be the last time he saw her with them, the last time she was in their home with him.
Klaus had no clue how he would cope if he lost her when they had barely only begun.
There had been an ache that Caroline hadn't quite been able to shake since leaving her mother behind. It was softened often as she lived her life, as she grew to become friends with Rebekah and Henrik, as she toured all of Italy with Klaus, as she found herself falling in love with him. She hadn't quite admitted that part to herself or him or anyone yet, but the feelings she had for him had only grown by leaps and bounds, cementing in her mind that she had made the right choice after everything had happened. She still missed her mother though, worried that she was doing alright even with the amount of protection the woman unknowingly had.
They were headed to her now though and Caroline could barely contain the joy she felt. She was pretty sure her heart wanted to burst with it. She couldn't seem to sit still, constantly fidgeting as Klaus drove through the Tuscan countryside. Caroline had been talking a mile a minute since they departed, barely giving him time to get a word in, but as they finally passed a sign saying that the village was only so many kilometers ahead she realized that Klaus hadn't tried to say anything.
Her attention was on him now, even as she continued to talk about everything under the sun. At first she simply wondered if he was quiet because he was listening to her speak, letting her get out all of the emotions that were trying to overwhelm her. He did that sometimes, knowing she needed to talk about everything and anything sometimes. But that didn't add up to the way his knuckles were white from how tightly he was gripping the steering wheel. It didn't account for the flashes of sadness that she saw in his gaze when she looked at him through the corner of her eyes.
Rebekah's words as they had said their goodbyes echoed in her mind. You don't realize how easily you can break him. She hadn't understood them before, had pushed them aside in all of her excitement, but now as she looked over at Klaus as they drove toward the village she was beginning to realize what the girl had meant.
"Klaus, what do you think is going to happen after we get to my mom?" Caroline asked, watching him carefully.
"I suppose that is up to you, love," he replied, and if she didn't know him as well as she did his voice would have sounded normal. But she picked up on the slight strain to it, on the flexing of his fingers around the wheel.
"Pull over," she told him, and he looked over at her, obviously confused. She simply nodded to the side of the road. This was not a conversation they should be having while he drove.
"Caroline," Klaus started and she shook her head, nodding at the keys in the ignition which he pulled out. She had already undone her seatbelt so that she could get a better look at him.
"We are getting my mom, we're compelling her to remember, and then we are going back home." She emphasized that last word, knowing he needed to hear it. "Not going to deny that I hope she'll be coming with us. I did set up a whole room for her that like no one is allowed to enter. But if she wants to stay, which she could, she did live a whole year and some months here, then like we'll stay for a few days so I've got time to catch up with her. And then like I said we're going home." Her mother could always visit them and she could visit her. Just like she did with Bonnie.
Caroline could see the tension beginning to leave him, could see the fear of her departure beginning to dissipate. "I don't know if you've been noticing or not but I've kinda been falling in love with you over the last few months," she continued, stopping as she realized what she had just said.
"Caroline," Klaus started again, and she could tell he was going to give her an out, to let her take it back when she knew every fiber of his being was screaming at him to never let her go.
She shook her head and pressed a finger to his lips, stopping him from continuing. "I love you," Caroline told him, the honesty of her statement enveloping them, matching smiles blossoming on their faces. "I didn't really ever expect I'd say those words. Or no, well. Like I thought eventually they would in the last year because you're seriously persistent and I will never be okay with some of the things you do and we'll probably fight like mad about them. But that doesn't change the fact that I want to fall asleep with you every night and wake up with you every morning—except when I'm doing girls' weekends. Even if I do miss you during those. But like I need those weekends and so do you."
Caroline stopped talking at his amused expression. "What?"
Klaus' response was to lean in and kiss her. She sighed happily as his hands found her cheeks, thumbs caressing her skin as her hands moved to the nape of his neck, fingers moving into the curls there. There were so many emotions in that kiss, from longing to acceptance to a possessiveness that was reciprocated.
"I think I need to hear it again," Klaus told her as he pulled back, brushing a stray strand of hair from her face. His eyes were tinged with gold, a sure sign of the wolf that lay hidden beneath the surface.
"I," she pressed a kiss to his nose, feeling rather playful in that moment. "Love." Another to his chin. "You." And again to his lips. It was meant to be just as fleeting as the others but he was having none of that, his mouth demanding more as he pulled her forward.
She pushed away after a moment, thoroughly flushed and scooting so she was pressed back against her door. "Okay. No more because I am so not going to my mom smelling like sex. Not happening." She shook her head at him, swatting at Klaus when he reached for her again. "Nope. Later."
"I'm holding you to that," Klaus told her and Caroline simply grinned.
It took less than thirty minutes to get to the town after that, the atmosphere in the car much lighter than before, though a different kind of tension had fallen between them, one that they were used to being there. Caroline pushed it aside though as they parked and she spotted her mother hanging up laundry in the yard of her house.
"She looks so happy," she murmured, unsure about what they were there to do.
"She misses you and doesn't even know what it is she misses," Klaus reminded, reaching over to squeeze her hand. "I'll be with you the whole way."
Caroline nodded at that, squeezing his hand back. She took a deep breath, gathering her courage as she exited the car, hearing Klaus get out as well.
"Hello," Caroline called out as she closed the car door behind her.
Liz looked over at them, smiling politely though there was something about her stance that was cautious, reminding Caroline of how her mother stood when talking to suspects. It seemed that some habits were hard to break. She was speaking to them in Italian but Caroline didn't pay any attention to it as she stepped forward, eyes already dilating.
"Now you remember," she told her mother and it was as if a switch was flipped, the cautious hostility fading away to recognition and then a matching joy as the mutual ache that had been in both of their hearts was healed.
Caroline would never be able to tell who had reached out for who first. It was almost as if they had fallen into one another's embrace, tears falling as Liz stroked her hair. Caroline breathed in her mother's scent, thankful that she hadn't forgotten it. The voice was the same, her mother's hug was just as Caroline had remembered it, and she never wanted to let go.
They pulled apart eventually and Caroline noticed that Liz was looking over her shoulder at Klaus. "Thank you," her mother told him and he nodded. Her stance was still guarded toward him but Caroline sensed a commonality between the two of them and she knew it was because of her, because they both cared for her well-being.
"Now what?" Liz asked as she looked around at the place she had lived for the last year.
"Well. It's kinda up to you. You could go back to Mystic Falls. We could stay here for a few days if there are people you want to say goodbye to. Or if you want to just stay here then you can do that," Caroline told her and Liz nodded at that. "But then after, if you don't want to stay here? Then we'll go home." She looked back at Klaus, smiling at him, before looking back at her mother. "Our home."
"Caroline has had a room set up for you since we moved in," Klaus informed her and Liz shook her head at that. "I doubt you're surprised by that fact."
"Not even a little," Liz replied, managing to smile at him before she looked back at her daughter. "I just need to get a few things from inside and then we can leave."
"Are you sure? Because we can stay for a little bit," Caroline told her, and Liz shook her head.
Liz looked out at the town. "This place, as lovely as it was, as lovely as these people were to me, they're not my family." She looked back at Caroline. "That's you. The one thing I learned when all of this started is that there is nothing more important to me than you. So yes, I'm sure." She hugged her daughter one more time and then headed into the house.
Caroline watched her go before turning around to look back at Klaus, stepping forward to embrace him. His arms slid around her, holding her tightly to him as if it was the most natural thing to do now, no longer unsure how to hug someone. In some ways they had both changed in the last year or so and in others ways they hadn't at all, but no matter what there was no going back to how things had been before everything with Silas.
There was only moving forward and Caroline was more than okay with that because they would be moving forward together. In the end, despite all of the obstacles in their way, despite all of the loss they had experienced, they had found one another and had gained more than either of them could ever have expected.
Her mother exited the house with a small bag and Klaus moved so that he was holding Caroline's hand, brushing his thumb over the back of it. "Let's go home," she told him, as her mother passed, certain more than ever that giving Klaus a chance had been the right decision.
How could it not be when he looked at her like she hung the moon and stars and she felt that same wonder when she looked at him? It would be rough and there would no doubt be many trials to come for them but Caroline knew they would make it through them all.
They were both too stubborn not to.
A/N: Thank you all so much for reading. I had a lot of fun writing this one and kind of creating my own spin on what season 4 could have been. I need to say a big huge thanks to Miranda for betaing this monstrosity. She talked me through parts and made sure all of this made sense and was wonderful in her encouragement.
I kind of can't believe its finished.
There could have been a whole bunch of chapters in between the last one and this epilogue, to showcase what all happened in the year. How Caroline and Rebekah became friends, what went on between Bonnie and Kol, Henrik learning English and how to get by in the new world, how Caroline and Klaus' relationship progressed from where they were to her admitting she loves him. This story would never have ended though. There will most likely be one shots based in this universe as time permits me to write them, delving into those unseen portions. If there is anything in particular anyone really wants to see let me know.
Thank you all again for reading. I hope you enjoyed the ending as much as I enjoyed writing it.