My poor beautiful Enzo! TVD truly pissed me off with their latest episode and the direction they've taken Enzo's character. That being said, the new episode of The Originals was mighty interesting. I do so love to hate Mikael ;)
This story, so far, has four parts and is the third instalment to the Black Hearts series.
Please check out the two preceding stories before starting this if you have not done so already.
Also, I ask that you read with an open mind at the beginning. It is now very AU after what has recently occurred on both shows.
Thank you for your continued support. It is truly lovely to read each and every review.
I apologise for any mistakes. I have had a trying week and with no Beta to catch them, a few may have slipped through the cracks.
Happy reading :)
Morning brought with it birdsong and confusion as a soft warm light slowly filled the room. She could hear the sounds of the city coming to life. The sweet chirp of birdsong, the low roar of passing cars on the street below; it was barely six thirty in the morning and Atlanta was already awake, bright and energetic and ready for another busy day. It was on days like this that Caroline wished for a normal, boring human life. Or at least, a life without the heightened sense smell, taste and sound. She wanted to be able to sleep in, to not hear Atlanta sing her song; Caroline wished for one day, one beautiful Sunday where she could simply lay in bed and sleep the day away. It was a beautiful dream, unrealistic but beautiful.
Her life was busy, chaotic even. How she managed to juggle the conflicting commitments in her life was sometimes a mystery even to her. She had to keep moving though. Caroline liked the hustle, the busy push and pull of the city. She liked being busy, needed to be busy. To actually stop, to slow down and let it all in, to relax and let her mind wander back; Caroline hated being idle, she hated thinking of the past. It was too painful.
So she kept looking forward. She kept moving, kept busy. It was only on days like today, where her bed held more appeal than the day she'd had planned, the one that was circled in her diary and highlighted on her phone, the day that Caroline couldn't forget even if she wanted to, that she wanted it all to simply stop and fade away. Caroline wanted to sleep, to bypass the day entirely and wakeup to a new working week. Monday really couldn't come soon enough.
Warm lips found their way to the back of her neck as a pair of arms slowly encircled her waist, drawing her back into the hard planes of a chest she knew only too well. Every crevice, every defined arch and taught muscle was like brail to her touch. She was a blind fool and he a book she was only too eager to read.
Over and over again.
His lips kissed a hot trail down her back. Caroline let out a soft moan at the sensation, her hands clenching the soft blue coverlet to her chest as her hips instinctively moved back. A throaty laugh reverberated down her spine as his mouth finally stopped its decent. Caroline groaned in frustration, trying to wriggle free of her captor but strong hands gripped her hips, curling around bone, flipping her onto her stomach. She let out a squeal of surprise at the action, her feet instinctively kicking out as he straddled her.
"Stop it!" Caroline giggled as fingers slowly teased her side. He knew every inch of her body, knew how to play it like a fine-tuned pianoforte. He was the master musician and she the ever pliable, ever reliable and willing instrument. He could make her sing, make her weep, cry with unknown joy and pleasure. He could also make her laugh. "I'm serious! I have to go dress shopping with Elena in an hour."
A heavy weight settled on top of her as he leaned forward. Caroline tried to stifle her moan as teeth slowly nipped at the soft flesh behind her ear. His breath was hot and intoxicating. "The shops don't open till nine."
"We're having breakfast," Caroline kicked at his back half-heartedly, the action awkward and ineffective as his legs moved to pin her own to the bed. She could feel his smirk on her neck.
Caroline kicked out again. "No."
His stubborn grunt was punctuated by a sharp nip to her neck. Caroline stifled a groan, finally using her body weight to push back and fling him off the bed. He fell loudly and heavily to the floor.
She grinned, scooting over to the edge of the bed to look down at the naked man on the floor. "No. I love breakfast."
He eyed her with cheeky defiance, a mischievous smirk on his lips. There was a seductive spark in his dark brown eyes. It drew her in. "I know something you love more..."
Caroline rolled her eyes, grabbing a pillow from the bed. She threw it with such force that it hit him in the face with a loud thump, the force making him fall back onto the floor. Her eyes raked over the taught lines of his body. Her appraisal was far from subtle and he caught her, as he always did. He raised his eyebrows suggestively.
"Urgh," she threw another pillow at him for good measure."I have to get ready. I am not skipping breakfast. If I do, I'll be late and I am not rescheduling today again."
She moved off the bed, ignoring the way his eyes travelled over her body. It was not like she was ashamed. He had seen every inch of her and loved her despite the scars. Being a vampire was not as easy or as danger-free as other supernaturals liked to believe. Perhaps it was her choice in friends or her inevitable attraction to beautifully broken things. Whatever it was, Caroline almost always found herself in thick of it. She could hardly remember how many poisoned blades had cut through her skin over the years. Vervain laced ropes, sharpened stakes; all her wounds tended to heal flawlessly but there were some, the very worst of them all, that did not.
His eyes ravished her as she leaned forward to pick up a discarded robe. She tried to ignore him as best she could.
"I need a dress," she told him matter-of-factly, flipping her hair over her shoulder. Caroline eyed him as she tied the silk sash of the robe into a bow at her waist. "Otherwise, I might as well walk down the aisle naked."
"Now that is an idea I'm quite partial to."
She pursed her lips. Of course that was what he got out of the conversation. It's not like she could really be that surprised. He was incorrigible, after all.
She continued to stare at him, watching with inner satisfaction as the self-assured grin slowly fell from his face. Caroline moved toward the bathroom, shaking off his hand as it tried to snake its way around her ankle.
"Oh come on love. It's a good idea. We'd save on the gown and –"
Caroline grinned in triumph at the slight pleading in his voice. She grabbed a toothbrush from the cup holder on the sink and looked at her smiling reflection in the bathroom mirror. "Finish that sentence, Lorenzo, and you'll save on a lot more than the gown."
He was behind her then, arms encircling her waist. Enzo smiled at her in the mirror, his lips moving to kiss the arch of her neck. His mouth moved to her ear, eyes sparkling with a mischievous glint. "You don't need a silly white frock to make you look gorgeous, love."
Caroline bit her lip, trying to stop the bright smile blossoming on her lips. Something inside her twisted at his words though and while she was happy, so unbelievably happy in his embrace, the smile did not reach her eyes. She felt loved, felt happy and protected and safe in his arms. Enzo had been a fixture in her life for such a long time now. He was the constant, the ever reliable friend turned lover turned fiancé that was always there to pick her up when she needed it most. He knew her better than anyone else and the subtle shift in her mood did not go unnoticed.
His smile faded slowly. She could see the understanding in his eyes and hated it. She hated that he had to understand anything at all. "Look, I know that this is hard for you and if you want to postpone –"
"No," Caroline shook her head adamantly, turning in his arms so that she could look him in the eye. Her chest pressed against his, the soft warm comfort of his naked skin against her own grounding her in reality. "I don't want to postpone the wedding again. I can't."
He stared at her for the longest time. "Are you sure?"
No. She wasn't.
"I don't want to go dress shopping without her. I don't want to do this without her but...I have to," tears formed in her eyes despite her resolute determination. You would think that with time it would become easier, that the pain would ease and the past would simply fade into the background. But it never did. Not really. "My mum's dead and there's nothing I can do to bring her back. So I have to do this without her whether I want to or not."
All little girls dreamt of that 'silly white frock'. They fantasised about all the ruffles and tulle, envisioned the way it would billow out at as they twirled and twirled and twirled until the world spun on its axis and they could twirl no more. Or at least, that was what she had done. She had dreamt of finding that silly white dress ever since she was a little girl and while the image in her head changed as she did, morphed and grew as the years went by, the presence of her mother never wavered. Liz Forbes was always there.
Except that she wouldn't be.
Caroline hated thinking of that day. It was so long ago but it only seemed like yesterday. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the phone ringing in her mind. She could hear Elena's voice and Damon in the background crying. The sound of the sirens, the murmur of a dozen voices; Caroline wished she could forget that day and that phone call. Most of all, she wished that she had been there. Maybe, just maybe, if she had been then none of it would have happened.
It had been a drunk driver. Of all the things that could have happened, it had been something as simple as an idiot jumping behind the wheel after one too many celebratory drinks on game day.
She'd been in Spain with Stefan when the call came. They'd been celebrating their two year anniversary, eating out at some tiny restaurant by the seaside. She had shattered like glass at the news, broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Caroline had blamed Stefan for taking her away. She'd blamed Matt for serving the man more alcohol, Damon for not getting there in time to give her his blood. Caroline had hated them so ardently.
She'd hated herself more.
She had been so close to turning it off, to simply flipping the switch on her emotions. It would be so much easier to feel no pain. Caroline had never understood Elena's decision to turn it all off after Jeremy's death. She could never comprehend getting to that point. When her father had died she'd cried and screamed and felt as much pain as anyone else at the death of a loved one. Caroline had never once considered turning her emotions off. But with her mother, with Liz's death, it was different.
She had been so close.
The funeral had been a blur. She could scarcely remember what was said. Caroline couldn't recall, to this day, her own words as she'd stood at the podium with Stefan by her side. Everyone's faces and condolences had all blurred into one hazy tangle of emotion, a single blur of mind-numbing pain.
After it had all been said and done, Caroline had told them all to go, to leave her alone; Damon and Elena, Bonnie and Matt, Tyler, Jeremy, even Enzo. She'd screamed at Stefan to leave her be. And he had –they all had. They'd left her to her grief, her solitude and the never-ending silence of her childhood home.
Caroline had been sitting on the front porch, unable to bring herself to actually go inside when the flowers came. The delivery boy had stumbled over his words, knowing exactly who she was and what the flowers were for, but she'd hardly cared. Caroline's eyes had been drawn to the bright sunflowers the moment the boy had pulled them from the van. She'd seen enough white lilies to last her a lifetime. She held a strange hatred for the flower, even now, after seeing so many line her mother's coffin.
Sunflowers had always been her mother's favourite.
It had been the handwriting on the card, the elegant loop of the C and the swiping dash of the E at the end of her name; she would know his handwriting anywhere. Her hands had shook as she'd opened the envelope.
Your mother was an admirable woman. She was strong and brave. Just like you, sweetheart.
I am truly sorry. If you need me remember I am but a phone call away.
As she finished reading his note, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, Caroline noticed that there was something drawn on the back of the paper. She flipped it over and stared at the drawing, her mouth open in surprise.
She had let herself cry then.
For such a long time, Caroline had remained stoic. She'd thought that if she kept moving, kept busy in the lead up to the funeral that the pain would simply go away, that it wouldn't be real. But it was and no amount of make believe could change that. It had been a simple drawing, a child's drawing, to make her realise that.
A bright green field stared back at her, a distorted and overly large sunflower poking up from the grass. The flower was larger than the sun and a rainbow seemed to flow illogically from the bright orange blob. It was the writing, the messy childish scrawl at the bottom of the paper that finally made her break.
Feel better. A shaky love heart followed the writing. Eva.
She had cried for such a long time that night, her hands clutching the childish drawing to her chest as if it was her salvation, her lifeline.
And it was, in a way.
Klaus' note, Eva's drawing; they'd stopped her from turning it all off. Without even knowing it, they'd saved her.
A week later, Caroline had broken things off with Stefan and bought herself a plane ticket to Rome. She would not stay in Mystic Falls. She refused to let the pain in. And so, she kept moving from place to place, country to country until finally after a couple of years of short flings here and there, her loneliness became too great. She'd called Enzo and he was there, with her, in London not two days later. They'd continued to travel as friends, skirting around the issue of their mutual attraction for well over a year until finally their resilience crumbled.
Nine years had passed since that day; twelve since her mother's death and twenty years since she'd last seen Niklaus Mikaelson's face.
Caroline was thirty-nine years-old but she felt so much older.
Enzo's voice finally brought her back, breaking her reverie. "Are you sure that's all there is?"
Caroline smiled up at him sadly. "What else could there be?"
She tried to push away the image of blue eyes and a dimpled smile as she looked up at her fiancé, her handing running through his short dark hair.
"Nothing," Enzo replied, his hand catching hers as it ran down his cheek.
His eyes said differently.
"I was talking to Bonnie and Jer the other day and they are all good to come up next weekend for a fitting," Elena prattled on, her dark brown boots clicking harshly against the cold cement pathway.
Caroline tried to listen to the brunette as they walked through the park, but her mind wandered back time and time again to her conversation with Enzo earlier that morning. There was something bothering her. She wasn't sure what it was exactly. There was something about the way he'd so easily accepted her word, accepted her lie.
Klaus' eyes, his smile; they'd haunted her for the last twenty years and she didn't know why.
She had moved on and lived her life, loved just as he had asked her to. Caroline loved Enzo. She was going to marry him. She was going to be Mrs. Lorenzo Nardini. She was going to be Caroline Nardini. That should have excited her.
Instead, it terrified her.
"Bonnie didn't seem too keen on leaving little Sheila with Ty but, well he is her godfather so Jer kind of won that argument. Speaking of Tyler, are you and Enzo still fine with him being on the guest list? I know it's awkward and all but –" Elena continued talking, her words and her voice setting Caroline's already unsettled nerves on edge.
"It's not awkward, Elena," she snapped, cutting her friend off. "Tyler and I have been fine for the last twenty years."
The brunette stopped to look at her. Caroline immediately felt guilty for snapping at her friend. It wasn't Elena's fault. She was only trying to be a good maid of honour. The fact that Elena was more excited about the wedding than she was spoke volumes.
"Yeah but, I mean isn't a little weird having your ex at your wedding?" her friend persisted, offering a small smile.
Caroline frowned. "Matt's my ex too."
"Matt doesn't count."
Caroline opened her mouth, a sharp retort on the tip of her tongue, but she bit down instead. She didn't want to argue. Not today. Not now. She was too tired. Instead, she opted for logic. "Damon is Enzo's best man and he's just as much my ex as Matt and Stefan are. Tyler is a non issue."
What was an issue was her lack of enthusiasm. Not that anybody noticed.
"Point taken," the brunette conceded with a smile. Elena looked around the park with narrowed brown eyes as a thought seemed to strike. "You know, I was thinking about the venue and the flowers and... "
Caroline tuned out the other vampire, her eyes following obediently where the brunette pointed. They skimmed over the trees in the park, the playing children on the grass and the morning joggers. She glanced at everything for no more than a second, paying barely any attention to her surroundings until she saw something, in the distance, that caught her attention.
Her eyes focused the figure leaning against a large oak tree at the end of the park. A man; tall and burly, his skin slightly tanned and calloused. It was the brown hair and tartan shirt, the familiar checks that sparked her memory.
She knew him.
He was the werewolf from Rousseau's.
Caroline had thought he'd died. There was no way he could have survived that much blood loss. Even with vampire blood, he would not have healed. And yet, there he was. It had been twenty years since he'd stumbled into Rousseau's bloodied and on death's door.
He hadn't aged a day.
Caroline opened her mouth in surprise, her brow furrowed, and as his eyes caught hers and recognition sparked in their dark brown depths, she realised that her presence was just as much of a surprise to him as his was to her.
And then she saw her, tucked behind his intimidating form.
Blue eyes. Dimples.
Caroline swallowed hard. She knew those eyes. She'd know them anywhere. And that smile –
"Earth to Caroline?" Elena's hand waving in her face startled her. She blinked in surprise. The other vampire smiled at her curiously. "Where did you go just now?"
"Umm," Caroline struggled to find an excuse for her mental departure, but as her eyes found the blonde girl once again, she could find none. "I uh – sorry. I got distracted."
She was beautiful. Dark blonde hair, almost a light brown in colour, glimmered in the sunlight. Her eyes were his bright blue. Her smile soft and sweet and dimpled. There was recognition in the young woman's eyes as she looked at her, looked directly at her and waved.
Caroline felt hollow and full all at once.
This was Eva. There was no way she could possibly be anyone else.
All Caroline could see was Klaus as she looked at the young woman.
"By what?" Elena asked, turning to look in the direction Caroline's eyes seemed fixated on. "Oh, him? He's nice."
Caroline turned on her friend with wide eyes. Seriously!? "Elena!"
"What?!" her friend smiled cheekily, winding her arm through Caroline's. "You can appreciate, you just can't touch. Think of it as window shopping."
She internally flinched at the brunette's choice of words. Caroline saw Jackson stiffen and wondered briefly at his hearing capability. Wolves had heightened senses but even their hearing was not that good. She watched as Klaus' daughter elbowed the werewolf teasingly in the ribs.
A part of her still couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"You're incorrigible," Caroline offered half-heartedly, trying to steer Elena's attention away from the duo.
She had never told anyone about Eva. As far as Elena was concerned, Caroline had never been to New Orleans and as to Stefan and Enzo's understanding of her trip, well...she'd never told them why she'd left. It had seemed like a smart idea at the time. Even in her heartbreak, her anger and pain, Caroline had known that Eva was a weakness, a bargaining chip to some that could and would be used against Klaus. It was better that they did not know of her existence.
"I remember a time when you were too. Now you're just the boring married one," Elena laughed, letting Caroline pull her down the path, the brown-haired stranger already forgotten.
Caroline chanced a look back at Eva and Jackson. She was worried at their presence in Atlanta and tentatively excited by what it could mean.
Why were they here, of all places? And what if they weren't alone? What if –
She didn't dare think it.
Caroline looked for the pair but they were gone.
"I'm not married yet," she replied softly, eyes still searching.
Her stomach fluttered at the thought.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Thank you for reading.
Till next time :)