A/N: So hii? I know it's been forever but life got the best of me. I know this update will feel fillerish but I promise it's all heading somewhere. I also apologize for typo's, I don't have a beta, I don't know how having a beta works, and I don't think I update regularly enough to have a beta, so sorry! If it's anything horribly glaring, let me know please? Otherwise I usually proof read these at least 3 times before posting. Anyways, enjoy!

Chapter 9

Caroline's morning was spent rapidly exchanging text messages with Enzo. The stealthiest form of communication, they decided, was electronic, especially in a house full of vampires. Having decided the night before that witches were the way to go, Caroline realized she didn't have a clue where to find one. Lucky for her however, Enzo had spent his dinner with Rebekah who had let slip that the witches congregated in the St. Louis Cemetery just outside of the French Quarter.

Being evasive, Caroline shot Enzo a vague text stating something along the lines of following a lead. Waiting for Elliot to be preoccupied, Rebekah to seek her entertainment for the day, and Klaus to lock himself in some mysterious room on the third floor, Caroline took a stroll along the back gardens keen on escaping right under everyone's nose. Not hearing any heartbeats near, Caroline shot one quick glance over her shoulder and dashed to the back of the garden against a brick wall and behind a rather large bush. Using her vampire strength, she jammed her fingers in the tiny spaces where the mortar was filled between the bricks and quietly flung herself over. Landing on her feet, Caroline paused, listening for footsteps or heartbeats.

Not hearing anything, she quietly jogged down a small side street. Not seeing any hybrids, Caroline vampire ran out of sight in the vague direction of the cemetery. Not a minute later, Caroline found what had was clearly a cemetery with raised graves and mausoleums in all their withered and creepy glory a little ways down the street. On the edge of the cemetery sat a neat little home, the perfect place for a creepy witch, Caroline thought to herself.

Pushing aside all horrible thoughts she may have of witches (because really the only ones she didn't like were the ones who gave her aneurysms) Caroline straightened her shoulders and readied herself for battle. This was the most important conversation she was going to have in New Orleans: the conversation to save Tom's life, and possibly her own. Shaking off the inkling of fear she felt, Caroline stepped up to the doorstep and readied herself to knock. Just as she raised her fist, the door swung open, revealing a petite brunette with a fight in her eyes. "What are you doing here vampire?"

Jaw dropped and at a loss for words, Caroline stood there like an idiot. This is not how she planned this meeting would go. "Do you not speak?" continued the mysterious brunette.

Breaking out of her shock, Caroline bristled at the clear disdain with which the witch spoke. "I do speak, thank you very much. I just wasn't expecting to be met with the rudest witch ever."

Rolling her eyes, the witch began shutting the door while saying, "Leave."

"No," Caroline exclaimed, not willing to lose her chance at saving Tom's life. "I need your help."

Glancing at Caroline's hands, the witch spotted a daylight ring on Caroline's index finger, immediately intrigued. "With what? You're already a daywalker."

Taking a deep breath, Caroline decided blunt honesty was really the only way to get the witches help at this point. "I want to save Tom Avery's life ."

The witch took pause, once again sizing up the strange vampire before her. "What do you know about Tom Avery?" she asked slowly.

This time Caroline was the one who took pause, biting her tongue. Despite witches hating vampires, Klaus had explained the witches had a very compelling reason to be loyal to him: freedom. She didn't want to mention Klaus just yet but she knew why she needed to save Tom. "Enough to know that he's innocent. And that witches want to maintain the balance and what you're doing isn't any sort of balance."

The witch stared at Caroline in incredulity for the longest time before sighing and stating, "Wait here," before shutting the door for a moment. Caroline didn't know what to expect next but she wasn't expecting the witch to step outside, locking the door behind her. "Come on." And so Caroline followed cautiously as the mysterious witch led her to the path winding around the cemetery.

"I'm Sophie. The head of my clan here. I don't know if you're delusional or have a God complex but what you want is impossible. I suggest you stop entertaining those ideas before Klaus, the big bad I know you've heard of because you wouldn't be in this city if you didn't, finds you and makes you stop."

Caroline wanted to believe Klaus wouldn't kill her–that he hadn't had his fill of her yet– but a small part of her knew he'd grow sick of her resistance soon. And that part didn't want to find out what would happen when that happened. Instead, Caroline played Sophie's game. "Is that why you're walking me, very slowly, around your cemetery? Just to tell me to stop?"

"No. I want to hear your plan. Hear how much thought you put into it, how viable it is."

"So you can tell Klaus," Caroline dead panned.

Sophie paused, considering her words carefully. "So you do know Klaus?" Sophie asked, noting Caroline's nod in assent. "Then you're clearly delusional if you think you can stop him. Klaus is not the perfect ally, but he freed us from Marcel's tyranny. At least now we can practice freely. Witches keep the balance. If allowing Klaus to make hybrids keeps us close to our magic, then it's a sacrifice we have to make."

Caroline listened, realizing Sophie wasn't one to reason. She had responded well to shock and it's seceding intrigue. There were many things Caroline knew about Klaus and the hybrids that Sophie probably didn't and while shock was probably the only thing that got Caroline this audience in the first place, she had to be careful what she revealed. Glancing over the tombstones of the graveyard, Caroline contemplated her best course of action in seconds. "The threat to Tom's life isn't Klaus."

Sophie didn't miss a beat. "Look, I know you're a baby vampire and think you can take on the big bad with some older friends or a few stray witches, but you can't. So stop entertaining the idea. The last thing New Orleans needs is another war."

Now Caroline was annoyed. "The threat to Tom's life isn't Klaus because it's the Travelers," Caroline ground out, which seemed to have caught Sophie's attention enough to get her to stop walking. "I can help you, and you can help me, I just need your word that whatever is said here is never repeated to anyone, especially not Klaus." There it was. Everything that could get Caroline killed by Klaus' hand if Sophie didn't agree. It was a terrifying risk to take but she'd do anything to save anyone as innocent as Tom.

This had clearly thrown the witch for a loop. "Who are you?" Sophie asked, puzzled, sizing Caroline up once again.

"I'm Caroline, thanks for finally bothering to ask." Caroline said with her perfect Miss Mystic Falls smile, holding herself together with the last bit of her nerves. "So, do we have a deal?"

"What? I keep us being in cahoots a secret and you help me end the creation of new hybrids?"

"And save Tom's life," and probably mine, Caroline didn't add.

Sophie gave Caroline an imperceptible nod, followed by, "So what's the plan?"

"I double cross Klaus."

"I don't follow."

"The Travelers want Tom dead. Klaus and I want him alive. He thinks I want him alive here. You are going to help me get Tom the hell away from here when the Travelers arrive."

"Wait, what?" Sophie asked in a panic. "The Travelers are coming here? To New Orleans?"

Caroline couldn't understand the sheer horror on Sophie's face. "That's what they told me," she trailed off in response.

"What they told you? Do you even know anything about the Travelers?" Sophie accused, her eyes wide.

Offended, Caroline stood straight and spoke with no hesitation. "I know they're ancient witches who are threatening my friend's lives and that's all I needed to know in order to recognize that they are a threat."

"They're not just a threat to you, they're a threat to everything supernatural."

"Well than all the more reason for you to help me," Caroline huffed, not liking the tone Sophie was speaking in to her.

Sophie took a deep breath, as if to calm herself before she spoke again. "What do the Travelers want with Tom?"

"They're not exactly chatty so sorry, I don't know," Caroline sniped a little unnecessarily. "All I know is Klaus struck a deal with them to bring Kol back in exchange for Tom which I'm assuming he's gonna weasel his way out of which is where you'll probably eventually come in and instead of keeping Tom just alive, I want to make sure he's far, far away where Klaus cannot find him."

Sophie looked on in incredulity. "You have no idea what you're getting yourselves into. I don't know what the Travelers want with Tom but all witches know that they want to destroy our supernatural world. They think our magic is perverted and needs to be cleansed. So if they want Tom, it must be something to that end."

"You're the witch, not me, so magic is your problem. I just want to save Tom."

"You don't get it," Sophie laughed in desperation. "You are magic. Vampires were created from magic. They want to cleanse the world of the magic that created you."

The idea seemed impossible but if there's one thing Caroline knows, it's that nothing is impossible anymore. The Travelers wanted to cleanse the supernatural world? They'd take it stride. Just let them get to New Orleans first so she could figure out their M.O.

"It looks like the only way of stopping them is protecting Tom, doesn't it?" Caroline asked, reveling in Sophie proving herself that she could, and very well should, help Caroline.

"Klaus is going to come to me soon to ensure Tom is well hidden, to create an escape plan for him if things go south," Sophie continued, looking as if she was finally piecing things together in a calm, collected manner. "I'll pretend it's the first I'm hearing of it. In the mean time, I'm gonna do some research on the Travelers."

Sticking out her hand, Caroline asked the witch, "So we have a deal?"

"God help me," Sophie muttered under her breath before slipping her hand into Caroline's, "we have a deal."

Feeling the most accomplished she'd had in days, Caroline left the cemetery with her spirits higher than they probably should have been for simply striking a verbal deal. That is until she realized someone was following her. Taking a deep breath, Caroline began evasive maneuvers her mother had taught her with a bit of a vampire flare.

Taking a leisurely right into an alley, Caroline quickly slipped behind a dumpster waiting to surprise her attacker. Peering over the edge of an incredibly smelly dumpster, Caroline was relieved and annoyed to find Enzo standing in the middle of the alley with that annoying smirk on his face.

"Well hello, gorgeous. Fancy meeting you here."

"What are you doing Enzo?" Caroline huffed in annoyance. "Why are you following me?"

"Just making sure Klaus' hybrids didn't follow you to your secret meeting with the witches. Which I'm assuming you weren't telling me about, right?"

He said it in such an indignant way Caroline almost felt remorse. Almost. "You also, I assume," he continued, "weren't going to tell me your plan all along was to keep Tom alive."

Shutting her eyes briefly to collect her thoughts, Caroline didn't quite know where to go from there. She had hoped Enzo would never know of her plan. That he'd think Klaus had outthought them and Caroline could celebrate her victory silently. "So you heard that," is what decided to come out of her mouth.

"I heard quite a bit. But no worry, I won't tell Klaus because frankly he's of no use to me, but I will kill Tom. Whatever it takes, he will die."

And this made Caroline's blood boil for reasons she'd suppressed for quite some time. "Why? Why can't he live a normal life away from all this supernatural crappy crappiness? He didn't ask to be a doppelganger. Why can't he have what we never did? What we can't?"

Enzo looked at Caroline in what resembled pity and it forced Caroline's spine to stand a little straighter. "I'm sorry love, but the Travelers have something I need. They will give it to me in exchange for Tom's life."

"So you lied?" Caroline asked incredulously. "They never saved your life, you just wanted something from them?" she continued, disgust obvious in her tone. "Did it ever occur to you that we could help you get that? Without the travelers?"

"What, you and your misfit gang of supernaturals all of whom have some sort of complex?" Caroline was poised to protest but Enzo continued. "I've taken the liberty of notifying Klaus you've snuck out of the compound. Your security detail will be arriving soon."

And with that the conversation was over. Enzo walked out of the alley leaving Caroline frustrated and more alone than she'd ever been. Despite that, it took her half a second to realize standing in an alley a few blocks from the cemetery was not where she wanted to be found by Elliot, it would raise too many questions. Stepping out onto the main road, Caroline headed to a mass of green with a white archway with the letters 'Armstrong' written on it. It was a quiet park and being found in a park was infinitely better than an alley.

Standing at the edge of a pond with her arms crossed, Caroline felt him enter the park. Simmering in her discontent, Caroline didn't bother turning around, she waited for him to approach. Once he spotted her, he made his way over at a leisurely pace. It infuriated her. She'd expected Elliot to find her, not Klaus himself.

"I see you didn't listen," he announced, standing dangerously close to her back. "Not that I should be surprised, but no matter, imagine how unpleasantly surprised I was to be told in the middle of my dear brother boring me to death about strategy and logistics that I discover you have completely disregarded my concern for your safety and snuck out of my home, and for what? To spend time with the ducks?"

There was a fury festering under each word he spoke into her ear as he stood behind her. Caroline shivered, recalling the last time he spoke directly into her ear, an unbidden memory. Quickly clearing her head of thoughts she had no business remembering, Caroline hoped her drama and acting skills were truly as good as her friends deemed. "I needed time alone, to think," she declared.

"I see," Klaus replied evenly in that chilling voice he used on his prey while walking around her to stand beside her, his eyes never leaving her. "And it wasn't within your astounding capability of knowing everything to let anyone else know this little piece of information. Perhaps Elliot? Or even myself?"

Nothing had been going right as of late and Klaus berating Caroline like a child was so not happening right now. "Was it in my capability? Yes. Did I want to? No. The point of wanting time alone is actually being alone or is that beyond your astounding capability of understanding?" Caroline spat.

Taking a deep breath, Klaus positioned himself right before her, his eyes hard and angry and commanding every bit of her attention. "The conversation we so pleasantly had last night cannot have escaped your memory—"

"What conversation?" Caroline cut in immediately. "From what I recall you were sitting on your high horse telling me what to do, like I was a child, expecting me to listen."

"I expect you to be concerned for your safety," he asserted

"And I expect you to recognize that I'm an adult and I can take care of myself."

Sighing out a deep huff of air, Klaus stepped the slightest bit closer so the two stood toe to toe. "You are not safe here, Caroline," he spoke slowly, his voice vibrating in a low, dangerous tone. "To my dismay, there are people who are out of my control. I cannot stop you on your painstaking endeavor to save Stefan's life, but I can however protect you from ending your life in the process. Do you understand?"

Unrelenting, Caroline stared into Klaus' hard, angry eyes for a beat before realizing she in fact did have an advantage. "I want to meet Tom."

Stunned for a brief moment, Klaus took a step back. "Are you negotiating?" he asked incredulously.

"Well it seems like that's the only way we'll both get what we want," Caroline replied. "So if you want me agreeing to your ridiculous security protocol, I want to meet Tom first." She didn't realize how sound of a plan it was until the words had come out of her mouth. So long as Klaus didn't wipe Tom's memory, meeting Tom in Klaus' presence would further incline Tom to believe her when she intended to meet him privately later. What she would say later, she had no clue, but for now, meeting Tom with Klaus sounded like the best plan she'd had, after striking a deal with the witches, since arriving in New Orleans.

"One condition."

"You so do not get conditions," Caroline interjected angrily. "I'm already compromising more than enough."

"Oh contrare, love. Negotiations have various conditions," Klaus drawled, smiling as if he was declaring victory. "You'll agree to my security and will see Tom today if you so wish, so long as you accompany me to dinner tonight."

Caroline paused, mulling over Klaus' words. "Like a date?"

"Come now, love," Klaus smiled patronizingly, "don't sound so repulsed. It wouldn't be our first."

She so did not consider the pageant last year a date, even if she did have a wonderful time—something she would never admit to the man in front of her. Even so, she was putting herself in a precarious position. Agreeing to be surrounded by security would make Caroline's ultimate mission infinitely more difficult. Not only would Klaus ensure she wouldn't have time to herself to sneak away, he'd make it so it would be near impossible for her to shake Elliot of the other hybrids off.

One last ditch effort could free her and she'd have to rely on her friends as usual. "Only, and I seriously mean only, if when Bonnie comes, we get girl time. No security, no vampires or hybrids, and no you," Caroline stated pointedly. "And, I want what you said last night to stand. Subtle, very far away, security until your big bad enemy figures out who I am."

Klaus was entirely too amused throughout their entire negotiation, Caroline noted. It was mildly infuriating the way he smiled at her knowingly when she drew another condition. "As long as you and Bonnie are in the compound I see no reason why anyone should bother you. While you are out, I will only concede to, as you put it, 'subtle, very far away security', even after Marcel learns who you are. So long as you give me your word to be civil throughout our dinner, I believe we have a deal."

Thoroughly miffed about everything, Caroline nods her head in agreement thinking this is what it must feel like making a deal with the devil. "Fine, you have a deal."

"Good. Now shall we head back to the compound?"

An angry noise escaped Caroline's throat at Klaus' pleased face before she stomped off, knowing he'd catch up eventually.

They'd taken his daylight ring and kept him in a makeshift cell for what felt like days now. He hadn't talked, defiantly refused. Klaus had specific instructions about being captured: do not divulge any information that won't save your life. The sire bond compelled Perry to take the torture of the cruel mixture of wolfsbane and vervain while silently damning Klaus and praying Chereen was magically alive. If anything, all of this would have been worth it if she made it out alive. The terrifying part was waiting for the sire bond to let him speak. It wouldn't be too long after that that he'd either die or be kept just barely alive for some bargaining chip.

The door to his cell opened, revealing the hybrid Perry had never met or heard of before. His name was Tyler, apparently he'd broken his sire bond from Klaus and made the packless life sound desirable. Perry couldn't wait to rip his throat out with his pack.

"So Perry," the strange hybrid announced, that stupid smile on his face again. "Why don't you tell me how you became a hybrid?"

Even if Perry wanted to open his mouth and say something, nothing would come out. So he sat there staring at Tyler as if Perry was the sane one in the room.

"Let me guess," Tyler continued, pacing the room as he spoke. "Klaus told you not to say anything when you're captured. He told us the same thing. The thing was, we were still able to talk, just not answer direct questions. So come on, have a conversation with me here Perry."

Sitting up a little straighter while wincing, Perry never took his eyes off Tyler until he spat at his feet. Slowly, letting his anger at being captured once again be felt by Tyler, Perry sat back against the dirty wall. "You'll die for this," Perry finally spoke, his voice hoarse from no use.

Leaning forward with a smirk on his face, Tyler spoke in a low voice only Perry's vampire hearing could pick up. "Klaus hasn't got me yet, what makes you think he will?" Before Perry could even consider the words, another bucket of poison had rained down on him, burning his flesh. Tyler tossed the bucket and left Perry in a screaming, writhing mess while he blew out the breath of bravery he'd been holding for the task of torture.

A/N: So reviews are always encouraging! Does anyone have any fabulous ideas for the first NOLA Klaroline date? If so, send them my way! Also, I have to say I love the negotiation bit in the middle. I always had in my head that Klaroline would negotiate a lot in NOLA and Klaus would look on adoringly and with amusement every time that they did because this was a Queen wielding a power she didn't quite knew she possessed and Caroline would naturally be annoyed with him because she didn't get it. Anyway, I hope you liked it enough to leave a review!

I know the Sophie and witches scene may have felt cumbersome but it needed to happen because it wasn't something I could write off in a sentence. Caroline was taking a HUGE risk going to the witches while not knowing how loyal they are to Klaus. So I hoped it was believable because to be honest that scene is what really held up this chapter (aside from that tiny little thing called my life).

Also, I noticed the link to Rebekah's ballgown didn't post properly so I'm gonna give the link another go. I'm trying it a few ways, the first has x's in the place of periods. The second has spaces in the place of periods, just sure you add the http stuff into your browser because it keeps disappearing every time i try to load the document.


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