A/N: I honestly cannot believe the response this fic has gotten, thank you all. I hope you enjoy this LAST chapter of Everything, Everything. Please come by and say hi on tumblr (I'm anyaparadox), or drop a line. As a quick warning, there is smut near the end of this chapter, before the 'epilogue' scene, just in case you wanted to skip that. Thank you again.
Caroline stumbles her way into the living room and comes face to face with both Salvatore brothers, Bonnie, and Elena. They all look shocked at her appearance, and Caroline finds herself not even happy to see them.
"Hannah!?" The name tears out of her mouth like a battle cry, and Bonnie's eyes widen.
"Who?" Bonnie rushes to her, "Caroline, what — how? Are you okay?"
Bonnie doesn't know who Hannah is, and that's about the worst thing Caroline can even imagine.
She crumples to the floor when it suddenly dawns on her that she's a vampire. She had known objectively, of course, when she had woken up with a thirst she recognized, but still.
Vampires can't have —
She clutches her stomach and cries, deep wet sobs that send Elena careening to her side, and both of them are holding her together without even knowing what she's crying over.
"Caroline — it's okay, it's okay," Bonnie's crying, "I didn't know this is how bad it would be — I didn't know, I'm sorry—"
It's after a few minutes that the words finally register in Caroline's brain, and she shakes off her grief as best as she can, and throws Bonnie and Elena away from her. Everyone is staring at her as though she's gone insane, and Caroline thinks that perhaps she has.
"What do you mean you didn't know?!" Caroline screams, "Did you do this to us!?"
Bonnie bursts into tears, and before she can choke out a word Elena steps in, Stefan and Damon at her shoulders.
"After I… turned it off, they moved Bonnie in here and gave her the house so that she had to give vampires permission to enter. Stefan asked Elijah to compel me to turn my emotions back on, and we had to make a deal with him. Elijah wanted Klaus out of the way but safe, and he didn't want us to hurt anymore of his family. Bonnie found a spell that would keep him out of the way, but it only worked on two people at one time," Elena whispers the last part, "and Elijah said it had to be someone we wanted back. So that… so that one day when he wanted Klaus awake, we would do it."
Caroline feels her anger flare again, but this time it's at Elijah for doing that to Klaus, for betraying him again, "And you picked me."
"Yes." Damon says, "Because you're the only one of us Klaus probably wouldn't kill."
It's the way he says it — as though it's a fact, as though it's the only reason she's even valuable makes Caroline want to scream.
Plus, it's not true. Klaus wouldn't have killed Elena, he wants her blood when he can get her human again. Caroline was just the better option of people to lose. Second choice, again.
She struggles her way to her feet, smacking away Elena's arms when they try to help her up. She's shaky and starving for blood, but she wants to burn the house down with everyone in it more than she wants anything from these people. Her friends.
They betrayed her — they sent her away to live with Klaus in another fucking world and she fell in love and now it's all so messed up.
"Caroline," Bonnie chokes, "how bad was it? Where did you go? You've been gone for months."
"It wasn't bad," Caroline lashes out, "We were in another reality, one where all of you were fucking normal and didn't betray your friends!"
Bonnie winces, shuts her eyes, and Elena comes up to wrap an arm around her shoulder. Bonnie looks broken in a way Caroline's never seen before, and she knows it's because of Jeremy. She's about to tell her everything, about to ruin Bonnie's life with the knowledge of their children in another reality as much as Bonnie has ruined Caroline's life with the same thing, when she hears crashing.
She turns around, and at the end of the hall, Klaus is standing outside the door, absolutely livid and slamming himself into the siding. Caroline starts towards him, ready to leave everything behind and go back to the only thing that's familiar at all, but her arms are suddenly being held back by Damon and Stefan.
Caroline screams in outrage, "Let me go!"
"Caroline, please," Stefan murmurs, and Caroline thinks that maybe it hurts more that Stefan helped betray her, because she's always known Elena has a mean streak and Bonnie would follow that, but Stefan was good.
"Let go!" She throws all her weight into him, and it's only Damon's hold on her other arm that keeps her tethered.
Klaus finally stops throwing himself into the barrier created by Bonnie's apparent ownership of the house, "Either let her go, or let me in, but do it fast." His voice is more deadly than Caroline has ever heard it, and he looks inhuman with his glowing yellow eyes, and she's never been happier to see him.
"We're not letting you anywhere near Elena!" Bonnie yells, coming to stand beside her best friend, blocking Klaus from Caroline's view.
She can nearly feel Klaus' fury from where she's standing, "I don't care about Elena, you absolute idiot! Let me in."
Bonnie turns to look at Damon, and Caroline sees Klaus pick up a handful of rocks.
"Let him in!" Caroline shrieks, pulling uselessly at her arms. She's so weak, she's so hungry, she's so heartbroken.
Klaus is livid, "If you don't let me in I will tear this house apart piece by piece, until finally it falls down around you, and I can rip your hearts from your chest."
"Let him in!" Caroline yells again, "Bonnie — just let him in, please!"
Bonnie seems absolutely bewildered, but when Klaus lines up Elena with a rock she finally says, "You can come in!"
Klaus is inside nearly before he finishes the words, and Stefan steps forward to meet him, but Klaus literally throws him through the side wall without breaking a stride.
Damon tosses her behind him, steps towards Klaus with his arms out like he wants to calmly discuss what's just been going on, but before he can even open his mouth Klaus seizes him by the throat and punches him so hard Caroline hears bone crunch. He drops his body to the floor where Damon grabs at his nose.
"You live because she wills it," he declares, gesturing at Caroline, "if it were up to me, you would be dead a thousand times over, and I would relish every second of torment you had. You should remember that the next time you think about touching her."
Caroline scrambles to her feet and steps over Damon, throwing herself into Klaus who catches her without a second thought, as though it's natural.
He feels the same as he had only the day before, and Caroline feels sobs choke her again, but this time Klaus is there, and he's squeezing her so tight she's sure if she was human she wouldn't be able to breathe. He's got one hand in her hair, and it's clasped there, as though he's not willing to let her go anytime soon.
"Hannah?" Caroline sobs, and Klaus just holds her tighter.
"I know," he whispers, "I know."
Caroline makes out the faces of her friends over Klaus' shoulder — it's so unusual for him to have his back to his enemies, but Caroline watches them carefully. She knows where her loyalty is now, and if the past hour has anything to teach her, it's that she's finally placed it in the right person.
"She's gone," Caroline says.
Klaus finally releases her, just enough that he gets his hands on her cheeks, wipes away the tears. His eyes are glossy too, and Caroline hates it.
"It's okay," he says, "they've got her. They went back, when we came here. They love her. They'll take care of her."
"We were supposed to take care of her," Caroline yells, and Klaus nods, not even flinching at her volume. Caroline wants to tell him about the baby but she can't, because her fucking heart is broken and she wants to turn it off but she can't because she hates the thought. She has to be strong.
"What the actual hell is going on!?" Elena's voice snaps Caroline out of the bubble she seems to have found herself in, and she steps out of Klaus' embrace to face her friends. They're all staring at her as though she's an alien, someone they can't even recognize anymore, and Caroline supposes that she isn't the same.
"You sent us somewhere else," Caroline hisses, "we were human."
Bonnie flushes, "It was supposed to be safe. It was supposed to be somewhere you would both be contained and protected."
"Niklaus!" Elijah appears at the door, but he walks through the barrier with no issue and races towards her.
Klaus throws himself in front of her, his face torn with fury, eyes lit up the yellow of the wolf.
"Stop!" Caroline yells, settling her hand on Klaus' shoulder, "Elijah, stop."
Elijah halts only a few feet away from his brother, and Caroline leaves her hand on Klaus' shoulder, because it seems like the right thing to do. They're alone, even now when they're surrounded by people who do know them, and Caroline hates it.
"Niklaus, you must not kill Bonnie, it's not her fault," Elijah says, calmly, "I made the deal with them."
Klaus is vibrating with rage, "And you dragged Caroline into it. Why?"
Elijah frowns, "I needed insurance they would bring you back when the time was right."
Caroline, for the first time, notices that Elijah looks as though he's been tossed into a few walls. His clothes are torn, his normally immaculate suit destroyed, and he's covered in plaster. Still, he looks better than Damon does, and Caroline thinks that Klaus probably ploughed through him in his haste to get to her, although he must have been relieved to have his brother back.
"How did you two even manage to get home?" Bonnie asks, suddenly.
"You didn't lift the spell?" Caroline says.
"No," Bonnie admits, "we were all surprised when you came down the stairs."
Klaus is silent for a moment, and Caroline can see the moment he decides to calm down, for now. "We don't know, we weren't even trying to come home."
Bonnie's jaw drops, "That's why. It was a spell to keep you safe, but you were supposed to always want to come home. The minute you stop trying to come home, the minute you want to stay, it brings you back."
It sounds like a curse to Caroline; to send you somewhere where you're unhappy, and the minute you come to like it the magic drags you away.
"I wanted to stay," Caroline admits, "but Nik didn't. He said he would."
Bonnie eyes Klaus shrewdly, especially after Caroline calls him 'Nik', and Caroline suddenly wishes she hadn't said a word, had just kept her mouth shut and their secrets close to her chest.
"You had to want to stay," Bonnie murmurs, "it's the only way the spell would bring you back."
Klaus flinches, almost imperceptibly to anyone but Caroline, and she goes on the offensive.
"Bonnie, do you even realize how messed up that is!?" Caroline snarls, "You are my best friends and you sent me to another reality. You didn't even know where it was sending me! I was human, I could have been killed, and did you even bother to think about what would happen to Klaus!? I mean, I know you guys aren't his biggest fans, but you could have killed thousands of vampires around the world doing this spell!"
"That was the point — the spell was safe, it kept your bodies with us." Elena explains.
Caroline can feel her hand edge towards her stomach, pain lacerating her heart. Not her body.
"It's my fault, Caroline," Elijah says again, "I made the deal because they wanted Niklaus out of the way and I was inclined to agree, temporarily. They had already taken one sibling from me, and I didn't feel like losing another, but I knew he'd never stop going after the cure for the doppelganger's blood. I was the only one who could give Bonnie what she needed for the spell, and I demanded insurance, and requested you."
"Why?" Klaus snarls, "Why her?"
"She's the only one you wouldn't kill," Elijah shrugs, "it was strategic."
"They didn't even ask me!" Caroline shouts, outraged.
Elijah scoffs, "Of course they didn't. You wouldn't have agreed out of a skewed sense of loyalty to my brother, and you're the only one he wouldn't kill. You're the most obvious choice."
For the first time, Caroline leaves Klaus' side and makes her way to Elijah. She gets into his face, mostly because she knows if he makes a single move towards her Klaus will tear everyone in the room apart, and she feels strong with him at her back.
"It's not skewed, Elijah," Caroline hisses, "he's the only person in this entire fucking room that deserves any of my loyalty."
She steps back, and turns to face Bonnie, whose got a calculating look on her face. Caroline hates her, hates her in a way she didn't think she'd ever be able to hate someone who was her best friend. She lets the hate flow through her, lets it burn away. She's still angry, but Caroline wants to remember what she learned as a human. Eventually, she's going to forgive her friends — not because they're her friends, but because they unwittingly gave her and Klaus the chance they needed.
"You listen to me, Bonnie Bennett," Caroline says, "there is only one reason that I would ever consider forgiving you for what you've done, and it happens to be the man standing behind me. So next time you try to take Klaus on, you should remember that I'm on his side, and no one else's, and I will kill you if you try to hurt him."
Bonnie gapes at her, "Caroline, you're being stupid, he's a murderer, we have to—"
Caroline grabs her throat, lifts her just enough that everyone knows she means business, and tries to ignore the blood pulsing under her grip, "We don't have to do anything. There is no we."
She drops Bonnie, holds out her hand, and Klaus delicately wraps his fingers around hers. He pauses, right before they leave, turning back to face all of the shocked expressions staring out at them.
"I should probably make it clear that I will take any future attack on Caroline very personally," he declares, "and I suggest that you don't try to recreate the spell that initially trapped us."
They step out onto the porch, and Caroline slams the door behind them, staring up at Klaus with watery eyes. He lets one hand drape over her shoulders, reeling her into his chest again.
Caroline smiles at him, and it's weak and watery, and she wishes she could recall even an inkling of the happiness she had only a week ago, "Take me home?"
They have no car, but both of them end up running towards their house from the other reality. They travel quickly as vampires, and Caroline is only slightly behind Klaus when they finally end up on the other side of town.
They're staring at an empty lot, and Caroline hates it, but she thinks she would hate it more if there were other people living in their home.
"Say the word, love, I'll build it. It'll be ours." Klaus murmurs.
She shrugs, and her heart feels like it's torn in a thousand different ways, "It's not our life. It wasn't meant to be ours. There's no point in pretending any longer."
Klaus stiffens, "You don't want that anymore."
Caroline takes a moment, sucks in a breath to quell the hurt and anger and desperation in her heart, and she throws her head back to look at the stars. She can feel Klaus' eyes on the side of her face, burning holes.
"I still want you." She admits, because she had given up lying to Klaus in the other reality, and she really doesn't want to start again.
Klaus grabs her arm, spins her toward him, and Caroline remembers a thousand times he'd done that in the other reality on this very sidewalk, in front of their house.
"Then say the word," he tells her, "I'll take you anywhere you want. We can leave tomorrow."
Caroline wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him gently; it's the same as it was before. They fall into each other as though they were made for each other, and Caroline loves him.
Vampires have amplified emotions — that was one of her first lessons of vampirism. Caroline's heart is heavy with the knowledge of her loss, and full of rage at her friends. She can also feel her love for Klaus in every fibre of her being, and she knew it would be worse as a vampire. She knew she would feel it — she knew that no matter what body she was in she would always belong to Klaus.
"We're vampires, Nik," Caroline whispers, when she finally pulls away, "and we can't play house anymore. You want the cure to get Elena's blood, and hybrids, and I don't want that. I want to travel, and date, and maybe even go to college one day."
She tries to let go of him, but he holds on tighter, and Caroline always knew he would chase her to the ends of the earth, "Then travel with me. We can go anywhere you want, and you can go to college!"
"Klaus—" Caroline chokes, "I can't."
"No!" he grabs her biceps, shaking her lightly, "No, don't say that! Caroline, just… just be with me. Date me. Choose me."
"For how long!" She bursts out, her voice surprising in the quiet night, "I can't just do this! I love you, and I feel it a thousand times stronger as a vampire, and it's a thousand times stronger than it was yesterday! I'm going to love you forever and one day you're going to get tired of me and walk away, and I won't be able to handle it. I'll turn it off, Nik, and I can't just wait for that."
He finally lets go of her, and Caroline turns away from him, trying to walk away before he can. Her eyes are blurred with tears, and she doesn't want this to end, but she also can't become the girl who waits. The girl who turns it off, who loses herself. Love is a vampire's greatest weakness, and she knows it.
"What if I told you I'd never get tired of you." Klaus says, suddenly.
Caroline turns back to him, though there's distance between them. She hates it. "You can't promise that, Nik. I know you don't want to promise that," she tries to smile, "but thank you for saying it, anyway."
His eyes go wild, and he strides towards her but doesn't touch her, "I can! I can promise that, Caroline. I can promise everything I wanted in the other reality is still true — I want you. I won't get tired of you. I trust you, I just… please?"
She can feel tears spill over her lashes, and Caroline doesn't want to cry but her heart is breaking, and for the first time in her vampire life she truly contemplates turning it off. It's too much, to lose their life, to lose Hannah, to lose the baby, to lose him; she can only bear so much before she breaks. "You're promising me centuries. It's not just forty years anymore. We're immortal."
Klaus reaches out, and something inside Caroline makes her unfurl her hands and let him take them. He is silent for a moment, and she can see him swallow down all his emotions, leaving nothing but an earnest calm.
"It's still just the rest of my life," Klaus whispers. "please, please… Caroline Forbes, I just…"
His eyes narrow, and he smiles, the way Caroline's used to; he's a predator, he always has been, and he smiles at her in that way that means he's got her cornered.
"What?" she asks, almost afraid, because she knows she can't resist anything he says.
"Just marry me."
Caroline gapes at him, before repeating shrilly: "What!?"
Klaus is earnest, "Marry me. For real this time. I know that everything in that reality wasn't us — it wasn't me. I know that I'm going to fuck this up a thousand times before I get it right. I'll kill people and run away from you, and I can't promise that I can change that because it's who I am. It's who I've been for a thousand years, and I can't change how I am… but I also — I can't just forget about it. I can't forget about how it felt to have you by my side, whether or not our life there was real. It was real. You can't tell me it wasn't."
Caroline's voice catches, "It was real for me."
"Then marry me," Klaus says again, calm and quiet, "I'm not saying for the next forty years, Caroline. I'm saying forever."
Caroline backs away, fear holding her heart captive, "You said yourself — you won't be happy with only being with one person forever. You won't be happy with me… not for the rest of our lives."
Klaus steps forward, slowly though, as though he recognizes that she's spooked. Caroline knows he's the best hunter there's ever been, and he can tell she wants to give in.
"The thought of being with anyone else makes me ill." he promises, "I'm not Elijah, Caroline, and I know my word doesn't mean as much as his, but I swear, I swear on my family, on my life, on my honour, on Hannah, I will never tire of you. You will be a queen by my side. I will love you endlessly, forever, until the day the earth disappears, or I die, because I cannot imagine a world without you in it."
Caroline's world drops away from her, "You love me?"
Klaus sighs, "What do you think I've been telling you, love?"
Caroline lets her eyes close, lets their life together run through her brain — all their losses, all their gains, all the days painting in his studio and making love at night. Maybe that life can't be hers, but she can still have him. She can still have this.
Maybe this is better.
"You only needed to say it," she tells him, eyes still closed, "Ask me again, Nik."
Klaus laughs, unexpected and bright, "Which part? Run away with me? Travel with me? Live with me? Stay with me? Marry me?"
"All of it," Caroline whispers, "all of it: yes."
This time, when Klaus kisses her, she doesn't want to turn it off — she never wants to turn it off, she wants to feel this way forever, as though they're invincible and perfect. She's so in love with him her heart physically hurts in her chest, and she can almost imagine that the rest of their life will be this perfect.
Klaus pulls away too soon, and he rests a hand on the side of her face; it's huge and warm on her skin, and he's smiling bigger than she's ever seen before.
"I'm starving, love. You probably are too."
Caroline nods, "And my mom, Nik. They didn't even tell me about my mom! Did she know where I was? Did she know I was okay?!"
Klaus leans forward and rests his forehead on hers, and Caroline stares into his blue eyes. "We go to my house first. It's closer, and we can get blood. Then I'll take you home to your mother."
Caroline nods, and this time they don't run to the Mikaelson mansion, they walk; Caroline never lets go of Klaus' hand. By the time they get to the front steps, Elijah's car is in the driveway, and Klaus only hesitates a second.
"Mikael isn't in there." Caroline tells him, gently.
Klaus frowns at her, "I know."
She shrugs, "He was an asshole, and he's dead. I figured you might need reminding. This reality seems wrong, now."
Klaus stares at her appraisingly, and tugs her forward again, heading into the house without any of the fear she had thought she'd seen. They don't run into Elijah until they're in the kitchen and Klaus has her sitting on a counter and drinking her second bag of AB positive.
"Niklaus," Elijah's voice is quiet from the other side of the kitchen where he's entered.
Klaus nods at him, barely civil, "Brother."
Elijah sighs, "I apologize, but I thought I was doing what was best—"
"I don't want you to apologize. You inadvertently did me a favour. But, Elijah, I will only warn you once: if you think to harm myself or Caroline again, or separate us, I will kill you. Don't think I won't. I did in the other reality — the one you sent us to."
Elijah's eyes widen minutely, and Caroline refrains from mentioning that technically other Klaus had killed Elijah, since she assumes that Klaus is trying to come across as threatening.
"I didn't realize we would be there." Elijah says, finally, "I am intrigued by this other reality."
"You should be." Klaus tells him, "Henrik and Kol were there. We were all human, and Rebekah had a daughter."
Elijah smiles, "She would love that."
"I don't want to tell her," Klaus declares, "knowledge of what could have been will only hurt her."
Caroline feels her eyes fill with tears, and she throws the last of her blood bags away. She feels sick, but this time it's not the nausea she had just become accustomed to. This time she's just sick with loss and pain, and even though she's happier than she's been in forever with Klaus by her side, she's mourning the life she lost.
The baby she could have had.
"I'm driving Caroline home, now." Klaus tells Elijah, "Don't follow me."
He holds a hand out for Caroline to take, and they brush past Elijah on their way out to Klaus' shiny silver car. Caroline gets in the passenger seat, and when Klaus gets in he turns down the air conditioning and sets his hand on her thigh.
"It's going to get better." He tells her, and leans over to kiss her shoulder.
She smiles at him, and even though it's a little watery he accepts it and reverses out of the driveway, heading towards her house.
They park just down from her mother's car, and Caroline feels frozen with fear. She's relieved her mom is inside, relieved her mom is okay; but she's so nervous. She's so scared to see her again; afraid her mother will be able to see all the secrets she kept and all the reasons she's hurting.
She's also afraid of what her mother will say when she tells her about Klaus.
"Will you stay with me?" Caroline whispers, not looking at Klaus.
"Forever," Klaus promises, quiet in the interior of the car, "but this time I'll wait in your room. You should talk to your mom alone. She doesn't like me."
Caroline turns to him, and smiles a little, "She will. It might take a while, but you'll grow on her. I promise."
Klaus smirks at her, and then gets out of his car faster than Caroline can blink, and opens her door for her, helping her out. Caroline thanks him, and Klaus walks her to her front door.
"Go in, Caroline. I promise she will be happy to see you." Klaus says, and then he disappears. Caroline doesn't even bother trying to look for him, she knows he'll be waiting in her bedroom like he promised.
She opens the door, and heads for the living room, because she wants to have this type of talk on neutral ground. She doesn't expect Liz to be sitting in her armchair, sound asleep.
"Mom?" Caroline says, louder than she means to.
Liz snaps to attention, blinking her eyes quickly to rid them of sleep. Caroline feels bad, because she's always known her mother was a light sleeper and she didn't actually mean to wake her up.
Still, when her mom finally locks eyes on her she whispers hoarsely, "Caroline?"
Caroline steps forward, and Liz nearly leaps out of her chair in her haste to get to her daughter. They crash together in front of the coffee table, and Caroline thinks that she missed her mother more than she could ever say.
Liz is crying, petting her hair, and Caroline squeezes her as a tightly as she can without hurting her very human mother.
"Caroline, Caroline," Liz chants, "I thought I would never see you again."
Caroline pulls out of the hug, just enough to stare at her mom's face, "Where did you think I was, mom?"
"With Klaus?" her voice catches, "Elena explained how you went with him to save everyone. I'm so proud of you — but you should have said goodbye. I tried to find you… I knew he liked Europe, and I tried everything I could think of, but I just didn't know where he would have taken you to. I saw the way he looked at you; I thought you would never come home."
It's a neat little lie; Caroline almost admires Elena for it's ingenuity. Of course Liz would believe that Caroline would sacrifice herself for her friends and family, and Liz knew Klaus enough that she would believe he would take her away.
Caroline pulls totally out of her mom's arms and sits her down on the couch, settling in next to her. She has to tell her mom — she needs her advice, needs her to understand.
"Klaus didn't take me away, mom." Caroline starts, "Bonnie cast a spell on both of us to make us go somewhere else, but they kept our bodies with them."
Liz blinks at her, speechless. "What?"
Caroline takes a deep breath, and starts to explain, "I didn't know they were going to cast the spell, neither did Klaus. We just woke up somewhere else, and had to figure out how to get home. My body has been in the Salvatore mansion this whole time, but I was in another reality."
"Another reality." Liz repeats, nonplussed.
"I know it's hard to believe," Caroline murmurs, "but it's true. You were there — everyone was there! Klaus and I had jobs, and we were human, but we had to fit in… so we were… pretending, I guess."
"Pretending what?" Liz asks, and this time she looks gentle. Caroline thinks that she knows already — maybe she's always known. Caroline got her terrible taste in men from somewhere.
"We were married." Caroline admits, softly, "We were older."
Liz shuts her eyes for a moment that feels like eternity, "You and Klaus were married, and you played along so as not to draw attention to yourself."
"Exactly!" Caroline exclaims, grateful her mother understood so quickly.
This time, when Liz opens her eyes, they're filled with tears and heartbreak and understanding, "Oh, Caroline, that's a good way to accidentally fall in love with someone."
They stare at each other for a second, and then Caroline feels herself burst into tears. Liz envelopes her in a hug, and Caroline lets herself sob into her mother's arms the way she had done when she was a child. It feels just as good now, just as comforting, as it always had then.
"I know, mom," Caroline cries, "I know it is."
Liz shushes her gently, and pets her hair, and by the time Caroline feels like she has no more tears left to cry in this reality, she feels a little better.
Liz pulls away, and runs her hand down Caroline's hair. "Does he love you?"
Caroline smiles a little, "Yeah."
"Then I suppose nothing I say could change your mind." Liz sighs, "You're too stubborn."
"And I love him." Caroline adds, and Liz smiles at her.
"I know you do," she replies, gently. Her eyes harden after a second, and she hisses: "I'm going to arrest Elena on kidnapping charges."
Caroline laughs, a little broken, "It's okay. I mean, it's not okay, but I think maybe it was for the best."
"You missed your graduation," Liz admonishes, "I don't think it was for the best."
It's so absurd, because Caroline can remember graduating, but she knows it's a memory from the other reality. She even remembers going dress shopping with her mom and Elena.
"You're going to have to trust me on this, mom." Caroline declares.
Liz stands up, pulling Caroline with her, "Look, I've been the mother that doesn't even know her own daughter, and I don't want to go back there. For the last few months, I've been the mother who doesn't even have her own daughter, and can't find her, and I hated that even more. I need you to tell me what's going on, and I'm going to try to be supportive because I trust you. I don't care about your friends, or Klaus, or anything else, Caroline; I only care about you. I don't like him, but if he's what you want, then I'll be beside you for that, too."
It might be the most Liz has ever said to her, and Caroline can't help but choke back tears and smile.
"I love you, so, so much," Caroline tells her, "and I missed you so much. I'll tell you everything about the other reality, I'll prove to you that Klaus is good."
Liz shakes her head, fond, "I don't know that you can convince me that Klaus is good, but I suppose you can try to convince me that he's good for you."
"I will," Caroline promises, "He is."
Liz pets her hair one more time, and she looks older than Caroline remembers, "I know he's hiding in your bedroom."
"What!?" Caroline exclaims, red staining her cheeks.
Liz laughs, "Caroline, you are my daughter, and it took me a long time to realize that we are very similar. I used to sneak your father into my room all the time."
Caroline flushes, "I'm sorry."
Her smile drops, but there's pride on her face, "Don't be sorry. Go on, upstairs. No funny business."
Caroline giggles, but crosses her heart with her pointer finger, "Promise, mom."
She heads upstairs, happy that her mom is trying, and happy that Klaus is waiting for her. Caroline never really thought she could have this, and she supposes that something else will come up, because this is Mystic Falls, and something always comes up.
Still, when she enters her room, Klaus is sitting on her bed and smiling at her. Caroline doesn't hesitate to slide in beside him, curling into his arms.
"My mom knows." Caroline murmurs.
Klaus nods, "I heard. I'm surprised she took it so well."
"She was worried about me," Caroline says, "sometimes when you tell someone good news before bad news they focus on the good. Now that I'm home, she's happy."
"So we're bad news?" Klaus teases, his breath ticklish against her shoulder.
Caroline laughs, "The worst."
They fall silent, and Klaus rearranges them so they're under the covers on her bed. She's staring at his face, and it's more relaxed than she's ever seen it. Being a vampire — a hybrid — is good for him in the same way it's good for her. She feels confident in her skin, powerful and strong.
Still, she feels empty, and even though she had never felt the baby move Caroline thinks she can almost imagine it. She wants to tell Klaus, but she knows he'll either be angry or sad, and Caroline can't handle either right now.
"You're still upset." Klaus says, his raptor gaze glued to her.
Caroline shrugs, "My friends betrayed me. Your brother betrayed you. I miss Hannah."
"The other Caroline and Klaus will take care of her," Klaus tells her again, "I know it. In the memories… the ones we were dreaming? They loved her."
"I loved her." Caroline retorts hotly.
Klaus nods, "I know. It's not fair."
"We're the only two people in the whole world who even know her," Caroline whispers, "and I hate that I'll never be able to tell Rebekah or Matt about her, because it would only hurt them."
Klaus reaches out and sets a fingertip lightly over her heart, "Do you think Rebekah would prefer to know? I think I would rather know — I mean, at least she got the life she wanted in another reality, and even if it's not fair… I don't know. Maybe it would comfort her."
Caroline can't even cry anymore, even though she wants to. She wants to scream and rage at his words, but something that was tight in her chest loosens, and she finally thinks she's ready to share everything.
"I was pregnant."
The words fall heavy in the room, and Klaus' eyes turn shrewd and narrow on her.
"In the other reality?"
Caroline nods, "Yeah. The other body — it's just… I keep thinking that's the most unfair part."
Klaus exhales heavily, "When were you going to tell me?"
Caroline shrugs, "I had planned on telling you when we woke up. It was so much, with Hannah—" her voice cracks, "but I was going to tell you. We needed a bigger house."
Klaus shuts his eyes, and puts in the effort to calm himself down. "Caroline, I don't know how much comfort this will be, but… it was the body that was pregnant. Think how happy they will be — you said yourself they had been trying forever."
"But I was happy! It's not fair!" Caroline cries, and shuts her eyes harshly against the sheen of tears.
Klaus moves forward, presses her close to his chest. His heart doesn't beat the same — it's not vulnerable and mortal anymore, it's running on borrowed blood.
"They'll love the baby." Klaus whispers.
Caroline murmurs, "But I loved her. You would have loved her."
Klaus flinches, "Her?"
"Felt like a girl." Caroline tells him, even though it's stupid to imagine she could tell so early on. "We were going to be so happy."
Klaus kisses her hair, "We still are, Caroline."
Caroline buries her face in his shirt, and doesn't respond, even though she knows that they probably will be happy. It will take time, but she'll get over this, and she'll dream about other Caroline and Klaus, and Hannah and their baby, and she'll be happy.
"I wanted that life." She admits, "It was perfect."
Klaus squeezes her, just a little, "I know. But, this life is good, too. Think about how much we will see, how much we will know, love. We will have forever to explore every city in the world, and we can watch it change together. I will take you to Italy, and Tokyo, and even Pescadero, and maybe one day we'll raise a child who has blue eyes like you. We have forever, Caroline."
Caroline feels herself fall asleep as Klaus details out their life together, and she thinks that he's right. Maybe this isn't the life she always wanted, but this one is hers, and no one can take it from her.
She wakes up alone again, but this time the bed is still warm from where Klaus was lying, and Caroline can see the sun outside her drapes. Her daylight ring sits heavy on her finger, and when she rolls over there's a note and a box on the pillow beside hers.
Caroline opens the box first, because she's never had much self control when it comes to presents, and she finds herself staring at the necklace Klaus had given her in the other reality before his art show. It's just as beautiful as she remembers it, and Caroline can't help but fall in love with the delicate chain and diamond pendant all over again.
The note reads: "Enjoy the gift, it was always meant to be yours. Please grace me with your company at noon for lunch at the Grill. Yours, Nik."
Caroline reads it over three times before she's memorized it, and by then she feels lighter; less heavily weighed down with grief. She supposes her grief will lessen with time, and she'll have a thousand more mornings where she wakes up to notes and presents and lunch dates.
By the time Caroline showers and puts on a sundress, her mom has left for work. Caroline waves from her window, and Liz blows her a kiss before she gets in her car. Caroline blow dries her hair and leaves it straight, and then clasps her necklace around her neck. It fits just as perfectly as it had in the other reality, and Caroline's glad that she gets to keep this.
The Grill is fairly busy when Caroline gets there, and Klaus is nowhere to be seen, but Caroline still gets a table and orders a drink. She's barely a sip into it when Elena appears at her table and slides in across from her. She looks a little gaunt, and Caroline tries to make herself indifferent to the fact that her best friend is suffering.
"I honestly have nothing to say to you." Caroline tells her. It's harsh, and Caroline's not used to being the one who doesn't apologize first, but she can't forgive Elena, not yet. Maybe not ever; every time she even thinks she could get over it she sees Hannah's face in her memory.
Elena swallows heavily at her words, and then finally says, "I can never apologize to you enough for what we did, and I hope you know that I am so, so sorry. But you don't know what you're doing — Klaus is a murderer… he's insane, Care, and he wants me dead."
Caroline gears up to attack, because she's so tired of Elena judging her when she's with Damon, who is just as much of a murderer. Plus, Stefan is a good guy now, but he used to be a ripper. Elena has the worst taste in men.
"Elena, just the person I was hoping to see." Klaus' voice is smooth, but it's hiding an undercurrent of fury. Elena jumps at his appearance, and for a second it looks like she's going to bolt, but eventually she settles back into her booth chair.
Klaus slides in beside Caroline, nodding briefly at her necklace, "Caroline, you are stunning, as always."
Caroline rolls her eyes, secretly pleased, and Klaus turns back to Elena.
"Elena, I'm going to offer you a deal." he starts, "I suggest you take it, since it's the best deal you're ever going to receive."
Elena scowls, "I don't make deals with the devil."
Klaus laughs meanly, "You'll want to." He reaches into his inside pocket of his jacket and pulls out two bags of blood. One has a blue cap, the other is green.
"What's that?" Elena's voice shakes minutely, saturated with nerves and fear. Caroline wonders the last time she was afraid of Klaus was. She wonders if she's ever been truly afraid of him.
"The blue one is the last bag of your blood I have for any future hybrids," Klaus declares, his eyes narrowed, "and the one with the green cap is a bag of my blood."
Caroline frowns and checks him over for any injuries, but he appears just as healthy as always. It's possible he had stashed some of his own blood, or else he had a lot of blood to recover this morning.
"So?" Elena snaps.
Klaus sighs, "I will give you both — the bag of your blood in good faith that I won't go after the cure or you — and the bag of my blood because it can heal you from werewolf bites, and hybrid bites, including my own."
"What do you want?" Elena asks, her eyes trained on her bag of blood.
Klaus shrugs, "Nothing. I'm done hunting you. I don't want more hybrids — at least not for the moment. I'm quite content to let you go and live your oblivious doppelgänger life without my interference. The only stipulation is that you don't go after Caroline or myself."
"I would never hurt Caroline." Elena hisses.
Caroline scoffs, "Too little, too late, Elena. You did hurt me."
"You're fine!" Elena says, her voice louder than strictly necessary.
Caroline feels rage light up inside her, and her cheeks flush instantly. She leans over the table and grabs Elena's wrist tightly, squeezing so hard she can tell it's hurting.
"You have no idea what we lost when we came home — you don't even know me anymore, Elena Gilbert, so let me help you out. Take this goddamn deal, because it's the best you're going to get from either of us."
Klaus leaves the bags on the table and stands, offering Caroline his hand. He glares down at Elena icily, whose rubbing her wrist and staring at the bagged blood in front of her.
"I suggest you keep that chilled." Klaus tells her, "And that your silence indicates your agreement on our deal. Call the Salvatores off, or I'll stop playing nice."
They walk out of the Grill and leave Elena alone at the table. Caroline catches a glimpse of Matt's eyes as she's leaving, but it's too late to go back now, and besides — she's not quite ready to face Matt. He's different here, but he's also the same, and Caroline remembers how she felt when he died.
Klaus turns to her when they get onto the sidewalk of the street, "Caroline, I'm glad to see you wearing the necklace."
"I love it," Caroline tells him, "thank you."
Klaus waves off her thanks, "Don't worry, love. I'm sorry lunch was ruined. Shall we find somewhere else?"
"I'm okay for now, we can make something at my house later." Caroline says, "Walk with me?"
Klaus takes her elbow and they cross the street towards the part in the centre of Mystic Falls. Caroline's been there with Klaus before, but not as allies, and certainly not as lovers. They walk silently, for the most part, and Klaus lets Caroline lead. The sun is hot on their skin, and Caroline dreams of beaches and oceans thousands of miles away from here.
"I think I'd like to go to Bora Bora." Caroline declares after they've walked for a while.
Klaus chuckles, "Would you? I suppose it makes sense that you're a beach person."
Caroline shrugs, "Don't get me wrong, I'd like Paris and Venice and Tokyo too," she throws a playful glance at him, "but Bora Bora seems quiet and peaceful."
"Different from Mystic Falls, then." Klaus murmurs.
Caroline nods, "Yeah."
Klaus pulls her gently towards a smaller path on the left, sloping downwards into some trees, "For our honeymoon, perhaps?"
Caroline stops and stares at him, "Our what?!"
"I do believe you agreed to marry me last night, Caroline Forbes." Klaus smirks at her.
Caroline crosses her arms, blushing madly, "I didn't think you were actually serious, I mean— Come on, that's crazy… I can't — we can't get married, I'm only eighteen, and — and — where's my ring even? That's not a real proposal!"
Klaus' smirk only grows wider. He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small box, and Caroline's heart starts pounding faster than it ever had even as a mortal. She reaches out; she's not sure if she's trying to stop Klaus or hold him or catch herself should she faint, but either way her hand stops before she even reaches him to hover in the air.
Klaus goes on one knee, and Caroline's so grateful suddenly that Klaus chose this path, because it's quiet and private, and the trees are green in the sunlight all around them.
"You once told me that you believed it possible to love someone forever," Klaus starts, "and I told you that I never wanted to tie myself to the same person for eternity. Do you remember that?"
Caroline nods, but can't quite manage to say anything past the lump in her throat.
"You said it had to be the right person, love." Klaus smiles, "I've waited a thousand years for you, Caroline. I would be honoured to tie myself to you for the rest of my life — even longer if you'll have me."
Tremulously, Caroline whispers, "I only waited eighteen years for you… I hardly think that's fair."
"I would wait longer," Klaus murmurs, "please say yes, Caroline."
"You haven't even asked me anything yet." Caroline protests.
Klaus huffs a breath, "That's because I'm terrified."
Caroline can't believe he even admitted to his fear, and happiness bubbles up within her at the thought that he's just as scared as her, just as in love as she is. She smiles at him, swallowing down tears because she's cried too much in the past few days, and Caroline refuses to cry now when she's so happy.
"Yes," Caroline says, mostly to spare him, "I will marry you, Nik."
Klaus stands and pulls her towards him, sliding the ring onto her finger without hesitation. Caroline grins at it; it's an intricately detailed white gold band with a single solitaire diamond on it, and Caroline loves it. She barely has time to memorize the feel of it before Klaus has her face in his hands and he's kissing her, gentle at first, and then deeper, as though he's addicted to her, can't get enough of her.
Caroline pulls away gently, "There is one condition."
Klaus frowns at her, but Caroline notes that the suspicion is gone from his expression. He trusts her. "What?"
"You have to ask my mother for her blessing."
Klaus' frown turns into a truly devastating smile, the one that Klaus wears when he just knows he's beaten you. "I already did."
"You didn't!" Caroline's torn between horror and laughter.
Klaus shrugs, "She gave it to us… but she also had a few conditions, love. It seems to run in the family."
Caroline's brain goes wild imagining a million different scenarios — she can't even fathom what her mother would have wanted from Klaus.
"What were they?!" Caroline demands, ignoring his teasing.
Klaus smirks, "First of all, you'll notice your bank account has suddenly grown since this morning; not my idea, love, I know you don't want my money. It was your mother's idea. She never wants you to feel trapped, and you have enough money to do pretty much whatever you like."
Caroline rolls her eyes, "Thank you, I suppose. That was all she wanted?"
Klaus laughs, "Oh no, she also wanted me to ruin your friends' lives."
"What?!" Caroline hisses.
"She's quite angry about our disappearance, and the fact that your friends betrayed you and lied to her." Klaus muses, "She told me that I should trap Elena away for a few months and I quote: 'see how she likes it'."
"You can't!" Caroline gasps.
Klaus rolls his eyes, "You should be proud of me. I ignored your mother's advice in favour of totalling Elena's car and sending Bonnie on a witchy little scavenger hunt to find her missing Grimoire. Child's play; I find simple pranks tedious. I would kill them if you asked it."
Caroline rolls her eyes, "You're not going to kill them!" she pauses, and then grins, "You totalled Elena's car!?"
Klaus shrugs, "One of the Salvatores will pay to fix it. No one was harmed, everyone is fine, and your mother is happy. Come on, admit it, I've done well."
Caroline can't help it: she laughs. "I'm proud of you."
Klaus kisses her as she's laughing, and Caroline remembers when she thought that the only way loving Niklaus Mikaelson would be worth it was if there was even the smallest chance that he would love her back. She remembers truly believing that he didn't, that he wouldn't, that he couldn't love her.
She wraps her arms around his neck and presses her forehead against his, grinning at the way his smile is large enough that his eyes crinkle at the corners. Caroline wonders how many people his blue eyes have watched die, and how much blood is on the hands that are pressed against her lower back, tucking her safely into his body.
She decides she doesn't care; and if that makes her evil, then so be it.
It's Stefan who convinces her it's okay to leave Mystic Falls, in the end. They've been hovering for a week, and Klaus is impatient with everyone except for her. They spend most of their days in Caroline's house, and even though she's technically graduated now, Caroline finds herself being held back by something.
Elijah has already left town, something about 'stopping Rebekah before she does something stupid', but Caroline's sure that he's finally convinced that her and Klaus won't stay around to ruin Elena's life. There's nothing left for him here.
As for Rebekah doing something stupid; it turns out she convinced Matt to travel with her all summer. Caroline's not even sure how it happened, and she just knows that Elena and Bonnie are probably absolutely appalled by his choice, but Caroline's happy. She's pretty sure that Matt and Rebekah won't work in this reality, even though they were perfect in the other reality; Matt's always been a stickler for normalcy, and Rebekah can't give him that.
So, despite the fact that Klaus is the only Original left in Mystic Falls, and Caroline's not speaking to anyone except her mother and Klaus, she just can't leave.
She's packed a thousand times; there's two suitcases already sitting by her stairs, and every time Caroline walks by them she wants to pick them up and drive away. Still, she never does.
It's driving Klaus nuts and she knows it.
Still, nothing changes until Stefan shows up at her doorstep. Caroline's glad to see him, though she tries not to show it when she opens the door. Liz is at work, but Klaus is upstairs, and he'd be by her side in a second if she called.
He nods at her, somber, "Caroline. Hey. Could I… come in?"
"Nik's upstairs." Caroline opens the door wider despite her warning, and Stefan steps through her doorway.
"I wanted to talk to both of you," Stefan explains, heading into her living room automatically, "about what happened."
Caroline waits till he sits on the armchair across from where she's settled on the couch before saying, "Oh, you mean how everyone trapped Nik and myself in another reality for months without any idea what was going to happen to us, or without even asking my permission?"
Stefan winces, "You forgot the part where we told everyone who asked us where you were that you had run away with Klaus."
"Oh, yeah." Caroline rolls her eyes, "Thanks for that by the way."
She can sense the moment Klaus appears behind her in the doorway; it's in the way Stefan sits a little straighter while she relaxes a little more.
"Stefan, mate," Klaus greets, "what's the occasion?"
Stefan heaves a breath, "To be honest, everyone is concerned, and I volunteered to come over."
"Little late for them to be concerned about us now." Klaus says, sitting down beside her. Their arms brush, and Caroline presses a little more firmly into the warmth of his skin for comfort.
"We're not concerned about you," Stefan says bluntly, "we're concerned about Caroline."
Klaus stiffens minutely, and Caroline is furious. "Now you're concerned about me? You sent me away so I could help you keep Elena safe, and the worst part is you didn't even ask! I love Elena too, maybe I would have agreed on the plan? You didn't even give me a chance."
"You wouldn't have agreed." Stefan tells her, sadly, "We knew that you liked Klaus, despite the fact that he ruined everyone's lives. We knew you wouldn't help Elijah betray him. You wouldn't be able to keep the plan a secret."
It's true — even though Caroline had barely tolerated Klaus before they were spelled, she had already felt guilty about Kol. There was no way she wouldn't have caved and told him.
"I still wouldn't have let him hurt Elena. Which, by the way, you're overlooking the fact that despite everything you did to us the last few months, we came home and Klaus hasn't retaliated at all."
Stefan rolls his eyes, "I wouldn't call destroying her car not retaliating."
"He could have done worse." Caroline hisses, "Hell, Stefan, I wanted to rip the hair from her fucking head and you're worried about the car!?"
"No!" Stefan raises his voice just a little, "That's the thing! You could have done worse, Klaus!"
Klaus hasn't moved an inch, "What do you mean?" His voice is mocking.
"Even when you first came — you destroyed things, you made me turn it off, and Jenna… you were terrible," Stefan pauses, "and then even after, you weren't… good. You were never good. But you were better. You could have levelled this town, and you didn't."
"Your point, mate." Klaus' voice has gone cold, and Caroline hasn't heard it this way in a long time.
Stefan sighs, "You're torturing us, Klaus. None of us can sleep, we keep expecting you to come back and get your revenge for casting that spell. Then you offer Elena this deal… but you destroy her car. You send Bonnie on a pointless hunt — and yet, she's fine. Just — if you're looking for vengeance, don't hurt Caroline, okay? She didn't have anything to do with it."
Caroline can almost feel her jaw drop at his last sentence, and she just knows that Klaus is going to absolutely lose it at the idea that people can even think he'd harm her. Stefan will be lucky to walk away unharmed; at the very least, Klaus will probably throw him through a wall.
"Stefan," Klaus scowls, and Caroline watches his eyes light up with yellow and Stefan flinch, "you are an absolute moron. I'm going to say this only once. I destroyed Elena's car and sent Bonnie on her adventure because Caroline's mother wished it. She's furious that you kidnapped her daughter and held her against her will for months. I didn't harm them because Caroline didn't want me to. I have no interest in 'torturing' you."
Stefan's expression is hard, "And as for the deal you offered Elena?"
"I meant it." Klaus snarls, "I honestly never want to see your precious doppelgänger again, and I have no interest in ruining her life any longer."
The living room falls silent, but all three of them are on the edge of their seat, tension flowing through them. Stefan looks determined, and Caroline knows now that he's been sent by Elena or Damon, and he's trying to find the ulterior motive for Klaus' actions. He's probably honestly concerned about her too, although Caroline can't quite understand the hypocrisy of them trusting Klaus not to hurt her in the other reality and yet not trusting him here.
It's Stefan who finally breaks their silence, "But why? I don't understand — you came here with a plan, you destroyed anyone who stood in your way, and now suddenly you just don't care anymore? What's the reasoning here, Klaus? What's your angle!?"
Klaus stands suddenly, fury evident in every line of his face, "It's because of Caroline you moron! What about this don't you understand?!"
Stefan stands too, and Caroline's suddenly concerned about the living room around them, and the quickly closing space between them. "I don't understand how you just changed your mind so quickly about Elena! I don't understand how Caroline forgave you, and I don't understand what you're trying to get from her!?"
"I'm not trying to get anything," Klaus snarls, bordering on yelling, "I want her."
Caroline stands, because she just knows this is going to end in blows. She sets her hand on Klaus' arm gently, and Stefan watches her movements like a hawk.
"Elena forgave you, Stefan." she keeps her voice gentle, "This isn't that different. I haven't forgotten the things Nik's done, but I'm looking past it. We've got a good thing, and right now you're trying to destroy it. You think that this happened overnight, but you forget that we spent months away from all of you in another reality where all we had was each other. Who did you expect me to trust?"
"Not Klaus." Stefan says bluntly.
Caroline shrugs, "You trusted him once, even if you don't remember it. I can't help what I feel, Stefan, and I won't walk away from him."
"He'll destroy you, Caroline." Stefan whispers, and this time he's not angry. This time he's the friend Caroline remembers him to be, and she's so sorry that she's hurt him, and that Elena's still hurting him.
She straightens her spin and looks him straight in the eye when she says: "Elena destroyed you, and you still love her. If you could go back you would do the exact same thing, make the same mistakes, and you know it."
Stefan steps forward, "I don't want that for you, Caroline."
Caroline lets the hand on Klaus' arm drop down and twine with his fingers, "But I want this, Stefan. This is good, this is mine. I'm happy."
Stefan watches their fingers before he raises his eyebrows, "Obviously, judging by the ring on your finger."
Caroline flushes bright red and stares down at where her ring sits on her wedding finger — she's taken to wearing it in the house because Liz and Klaus both know, and she loves it. But she wasn't going to make it public knowledge for a while. She's convinced Klaus that they need to wait to get married — she's immortal, but she's still only eighteen. It's ridiculous to rush it when they have forever.
"I repeat: I'm not trying to get anything," Klaus says, his voice calm now, "I just want Caroline."
Stefan moves towards Caroline then, and even though Klaus watches him carefully, he doesn't make any move towards him. Stefan stops just in front of her and she untangles her hand from Klaus so she can grab the hand he extends to her.
"If you're happy, I'm happy." Stefan tells her, gently. He looks sad, but Caroline smiles at his words anyway, "I hope that this is everything you were looking for and more."
She hugs him, because it feels right and she can't be that angry at Stefan for long. They've always been close, and this is the first olive branch her friends have extended for her.
"Thank-you," she tells him. He picks up her hand with her ring on it again and stares over her shoulder.
"I'll kill you if you hurt her." He declares.
Klaus laughs, "I'll do my best not to."
Stefan lets her hand go and smiles at her, "Caroline, if you are holding back from leaving town to travel because you're somehow worried about me or Elena or Bonnie… stop. Just go, have fun. They're fine. If I need you I will call you; plus, you guys need time outside of Mystic Falls. This town is toxic."
Caroline can almost feel the moment she realizes that there's nothing holding her back anymore. "You'll call? If you need me?"
"Of course," Stefan nods, "and I'll make sure your mom is okay."
She hugs him again, because this was what she was waiting for.
"Thank you," she whispers again, "and… when Elena and Bonnie are ready to stop hating Nik, you can tell them everything."
Stefan lets her go, and she follows him towards her door with Klaus hovering silently in the corner.
"Caroline," Stefan pauses before he leaves, "about this other reality?"
Her stomach drops, and Caroline forces herself to nod, because she just knows where this is going. "Yeah?"
"Was Elena…?" he doesn't even finish his question, and it makes it a little easier for Caroline to break his heart all over again. She's never hated her best friend as much as she does right now, and she wonders if she'll ever be able to get over it.
"She was with Damon," Caroline says gently, "they were married. Really happy. But Stefan, I think you were happy too."
Caroline regrets the fact that she never really got to know Stefan in the other life — she wishes she could tell him about his job, or if he loved anyone, or anything. She wants to give him this, and she has nothing to give.
Stefan nods once, decisively, and then murmurs, "Thanks, Caroline."
Caroline thinks that maybe one day he'll be able to look at Elena without it eating away at him that she doesn't love him anymore. She hopes that maybe Stefan will find someone else, someone that doesn't remind him of his past, and everything that was wrong with Elena will be right.
Either way, when Stefan leaves her front porch and heads down her street, Caroline thinks he's finally realized that Elena isn't his anymore; she can't be, and she won't ever be again. Not as different as she is now.
Caroline turns to look at Klaus, who seems deceptively calm leaning against her wall. He doesn't have the easy-going nature of Matt, or the desperation of Tyler — he's different. He's better.
"I love you," Caroline tells him, "you know that? Right?"
He's by her side in an instant, pressing her gently against the door and kissing her collarbone, close to her pulse point. "I know that."
Caroline sighs, lets her head loll gently to the side so that Klaus can continue kissing her skin. Heat shoots through her every time his scruff scrapes softly against her, but there's no rush.
"Caroline," Klaus says, kissing her neck.
"Yes?" her voice is just a touch breathless.
He lands another kiss on her jawline, "Do you trust me?"
It's a big question, and even though Caroline knows that she's decided to trust Klaus despite anything, she's never really said it out loud. Saying it gives him the power to destroy her, but Caroline's in so deep that she's not sure she'll ever escape him. Not sure she'll ever want to.
"Yeah," Caroline whispers, and Klaus pulls back to look at her, softness apparent in his eyes, "Of course I trust you."
Klaus' hands snake up her neck to rest against her jaw, and he kisses her just once, "I want to… I want to do something I've never done before."
Curiosity burns through Caroline, because even though she knows objectively that feeling this way towards anyone is a first for Klaus, there's a millennia of years before Caroline even existed where he could have done whatever he liked — could have been with whomever he liked.
"Tell me." Caroline says, raising her hands to rest on Klaus' chest.
"Have you heard of blood sharing?" Klaus asks, "It's where you both drink from each other at the same time."
Caroline frowns, "I didn't know it was a thing."
"It's an intimate thing, love. Most vampires don't allow it — it's rare for a vampire to drink from another vampire as it is, but it's quite possible."
Caroline mulls over his words for a second, "You want to do this? You want to blood share with me?"
Klaus smiles then, and it's unlike any smile she's ever seen from him before. It's good, it's something Caroline's sure only his family had seen from when he was mortal. It was a smile reserved for Henrik, or Rebekah when she was young and splattered in mud, or Elijah during mock sword fights.
Caroline knows that she'll agree to anything he says when he smiles at her like that. No one looks at her the way Klaus always has, and now he looks at her as though she is the sun.
"I want to share everything with you, love."
Caroline pushes him enough that she can step away from where she's pressed against the door, and she snakes her hand into his to pull him up the stairs. He follows without question, and it's a nice change of pace to have her leading him around.
"Will it hurt?" Caroline asks when they reach the top of the stairs and Klaus heads into her room, "When you bite me? Cause I've done the whole werewolf bite thing, and I was not a fan."
Klaus laughs and shuts her door, stepping towards her again now that they're surrounded by her room, shut away from the rest of the world. He tugs gently on a curl of her hair, and then leans in to press a kiss to the base of her neck.
"It won't hurt, love," he promises, "and my blood will heal the bite, anyway."
Caroline raises her arms at his words, and Klaus takes the initiative to slip her tank top off her body. He slides out of his own shirt while she takes off her shorts, and by the time she's undoing his belt, he's trying to get her out of her bra and panties.
She likes that he doesn't rush; there is a time and a place for speed and desperation, and while Caroline likes that too, this is her favourite. She loves that he kisses her between removing articles of clothing, and that he laughs if she does something stupid, like trip over her pants. She likes that he stares at her the same way he stares at artwork, whether she's dressed or not.
He picks her up when she's finally bared to him and tosses her on the bed, chuckling a little when she bounces on the mattress. Caroline laughs ridiculously loud when he leaps on the bed and pretends to stalk her; his eyes light up yellow, a sign that he's in his hybrid state, but Caroline's not afraid.
Klaus has iron control, and the wolf has never hurt her.
He pulls her towards him when he gets to the top of her bed, and Caroline lets herself curl around him easily, legs tangling together. He strokes down her back with one huge hand, the other coming to play with a single breast, and Caroline burns with want.
"Don't tease me." she breathes.
Klaus leans forward and nips at her skin, fangs sharp but not drawing blood. He laughs when Caroline hisses in a breath, "You're fun to tease, sweetheart."
Caroline pushes him onto his back, sitting up and swinging a leg over his body. Klaus doesn't protest, just rests his hands on her thighs and smirks up at her. It's infuriating that he's always so confident, and Caroline wants him to be just as out of control as she is inside; she wants him to pant her name, forget everything about himself.
She leans forward, the tips of her hair brushing against his chest, goosebumps rippling outwards as she licks the skin of his collar bone. Caroline grins against his nipple when she hears the intake of breath, and drags her fingers down his rib cage, stopping only when she can spread them out on his lower stomach.
One of his hands is squeezing harshly on her thighs where they're surrounding his waist, and Caroline sucks a wet kiss onto the skin of his neck, exactly where she plans on biting him later. Klaus says her name on a whisper, and Caroline never wants to hear him say anything else.
She reaches a hand down to guide him into her; he's hard and flushed, and it feels incredible when he finally slides home inside her. Caroline sets herself fully on him for a second before she's pulling almost all the way off him. Klaus makes a noise under his breath that Caroline memorizes, and she lets herself sink back onto him before starting up a slow grind.
Klaus' hand moves from her thigh to her breast, and Caroline's suddenly struggling to keep her steady tempo; heat is pooling in her lower stomach, and Klaus has yet to stop moving his hands all over his skin. He settles on her breasts, driving her crazy, before suddenly dropping his hand to rub against her as she rides him.
Caroline's moving quickly now, up and down on him, about to burst apart, when Klaus tugs her down and kisses her hard, biting her lip gently. Caroline's struck by the idea of the blood sharing as she falls apart, and she pulls her hair to the side so Klaus has free reign of her throat.
It's easy to see the moment her eyes darken, and the veins around them come out, because Klaus automatically mirrors her. It's the strangest thing; Caroline's never thought that this part of vampirism was beautiful, but there's something intrinsically sexy about the way Klaus' eyes suddenly devour her in more than one way.
She bites him without thought, sending her teeth into his neck easily; it's a rush of pleasure, the taste of his blood on her tongue. It's heady and rich, and Caroline remembers thinking that it was the best thing she had ever tasted the one other time she had drank from him. It doesn't compare at all to how he tastes now.
Klaus strikes seconds later, and the sharp sting of pain before the fall of pleasure is just enough to send her spiralling over the edge. Klaus snaps his hips up twice more before he finally comes, and then he's seizing her closer than ever while they share their blood.
It's absurd — they're heaving breaths through their noses as they lie pressed against each other unmoving, and yet Caroline feels as though her whole world has suddenly spun on it's axis. Klaus' blood ignites her with energy, but more than that, she can almost feel him. There's a far away anger — it's not present in the moment, but Caroline knows that it's a part of him now, after being there for so long. There's also pleasure swirling around, and Caroline's sure that she's sending those vibes Klaus' way as well; but more than that Caroline can sense the adoration Klaus has for her. It's overbearing, filling her up with his almost obsessive attitude towards her, and it's one thing to hear him say that he loves her, it's entirely another thing to suddenly feel it.
Caroline can barely wade through everything she's feeling, but she hopes Klaus can see how much she loves him too; she prays he's experiencing the same waterfall of everything.
She's ready to stop blood sharing, satiated in more ways than one, when the final emotion hits her and overwhelms anything else. Caroline didn't think that anything could be better than the force of Klaus' love for her, but she was wrong.
Klaus is happy.
It hits her gently, bubbling around her until it's all Caroline can feel. Klaus is warm and content, and he's so goddamn happy that Caroline wants to cry, because she knows that she feels the same way.
Her teeth retract easily, and the mark on Klaus' neck heals quickly; Klaus is already done drinking her, and instead he's tracing obscure marks on the skin of her back. A deep exhaustion hits Caroline, but she's thrumming with energy from Klaus' blood. She's probably never been this strong.
"That was fantastic." Caroline tells him after her heart stops jumping around in her chest. "I can't believe you've never done that before."
Klaus smirks, "Are you surprised? It gives away so much. I wouldn't allow anyone else that close to me."
Caroline smiles into Klaus' skin, because she knows that he's never done that with anyone before. No one before her. And if she has her way, there will never be anyone after her.
Caroline kisses his shoulder, "You were so happy."
Klaus sits up, pulls away from her just enough to stare in her eyes and send her the same smile that nearly killed her before they even got in the bed, "I am so happy."
He reaches out and pulls her hand towards him, fiddling with the new ring on her finger, "I'm going to be this happy forever. But Caroline?"
Klaus levels her with the devastating smirk she's coming to accept he'll never stop giving her, "Can we please for the love of all that is good get the hell out of Mystic Falls?"
Caroline throws back her head and laughs, "Yes."
Nik dives down to kiss her between her laughter, and when she finally sobers he quirks one eyebrow at her and murmurs, "Pescadero? You said it was your favourite when you were younger, and I promised."
Caroline grins at him, soft and shy, "Sure. You told me once that there was a whole world out there waiting for me, and I could have all of it. I intend to hold you to your promise of showing it to me."
Klaus turns his head to grin at her, and Caroline thinks that she wouldn't trade this for any other reality.
Ten Years Later.
There's something addictive about being home after being away for so long. Caroline never thought she would miss the sounds of Mystic Falls after being awoken by waves crashing on the beach of Bora Bora, or the traffic on a late Tokyo afternoon. She never thought that she'd want to grab lunch at the Grill when she'd eaten at every fine restaurant she could find in Venice, and London, and Hawaii.
Actually, she'd never thought she'd still consider Mystic Falls home when she owned a house off the coast of Australia, one she adored and helped design herself.
Still, there is something about knowing every in and out of a town, and Caroline also thinks that another big reason she loves Mystic Falls so much is that her mother is here.
It's not that she hasn't seen Liz; she's visited, and Liz has flown out to meet her many times, bringing with her pictures from home and news about her friends. Elena moved away long ago with Damon, especially after things settled down and there was nothing left for them anymore. They're someplace down South in Brazil, and Caroline's only seen them a few times in the last few years.
She's sees Stefan often, but that's probably related to the fact that in the end he gave into Rebekah, and they started dating. Caroline wouldn't exactly call them serious, but they haven't left each other's side in the last few years, and no matter what she knows they'll be lifelong friends now. Still, she's hoping it does work out. Stefan deserves a little happiness.
Matt finally got out of Mystic Falls and followed Tyler up to Canada where a big pack was situated just outside the Rockies. He ended up marrying a werewolf, and Caroline's still a little bitter about the fact that wolves were normal enough but vampires couldn't be.
Tyler is an alpha of his own pack. He seems happy, although he and Caroline haven't spoken in nearly nine years. Caroline can't exactly blame him, but she's glad that at least he's alive and as far away from Klaus as possible.
Well, that's not strictly true. Normally, Canada isn't somewhere Klaus goes a lot; Europe and Australia are his favourites, and they're about as far away as he can get. But Mystic Falls is close enough to Canada that Caroline gets a little nervous.
"Caroline, can you come here for a second?" His voice breaks into her thoughts, and Caroline turns to see Klaus holding open the backdoor of her mother's house. He still looks as young as the day they met, and Caroline knows this is the last time they can come to Mystic Falls. She's trying to pull off twenty-eight, and it's not really working for her when she still looks eighteen.
She zips to the door, and leans forward to kiss Klaus quickly before slipping into the kitchen. Liz is sitting at the table, scowling down at some papers in front of her. Caroline never realized how beautiful her mother was until she moved away; it seems like time moves so quickly now that she's a vampire, and Caroline's trying to treasure each moment she gets with her mom. It's impossible sometimes to look at her and not imagine what it will be like when one day Caroline doesn't have her anymore.
She'll eternally be eighteen, and one day she might forget what Liz even looks like. It's a terrifying thought.
"What's up, mom?"
Liz looks up at her and smiles tiredly, "I hate paperwork."
"Is it for the house?" Caroline asks.
"Yeah," Liz answers, "I don't know that I want to sell it, but it's going to be hard for you to keep up from far away, and it'll definitely be confusing when it goes to you in my will."
Caroline sits down beside her and catches her hand, "Don't worry about that! Seriously, we'll hire someone to keep it up. And as for your will, I don't plan on you going anywhere for a long, long time. And when that happens a long time from now, Nik and I will take care of it."
Liz squeezes her hand, "I know. I'm being ridiculous. I'm just nervous."
"Me too," Caroline confesses, and shares a quick glance at Klaus. He's hovering by the doorframe, looking a little bored, but nothing that spells impending bloodshed for anyone. "It'll be nice though, living close to each other for a while! I'm glad you're moving with us."
"I'm excited about Maine, too. I think we're all going to like it there." Liz says, and pulls her hand away to write something else down on her papers, "That is, if the department will let me retire on time."
Caroline laughs, "They will. They're just having a tough time coming up with a solid replacement for you, mom. You're the best Sheriff this town has ever had."
"At least it's been quiet here for the last few years now that you two left," Liz winks at them, "should be an easy job — oh, no! You two are going to be late! Go on, get going. I'll make dinner for when you get home."
Caroline looks at the clock at her mother's words. They're nowhere near late, but she's excited anyway so they might as well get on the road. She stands up and Klaus follows her out the front door.
"I have a surprise for you, love." He says when he's sitting in the drivers seat.
Caroline grins at him, "Another one? I can't wait."
It doesn't take her long to realize what roads Klaus is taking as he drives Mystic Falls, but she holds her tongue because she knows how he loves to surprise her. Still, it takes her breath away when they finally turn the corner and park outside.
It's just like she remembers it, though her memory has faded a little over time. It's white with dark trim; the windows are bare of curtains, and flowers are growing rampant in the garden.
It's just as beautiful as she remembers.
"Our house." she whispers, awe in her voice.
They own houses all around the world; some of them they've designed together, and yet none of them even remotely resemble this house. It's special to them, a little sacred, and Caroline can't imagine this house sitting anywhere but where it is.
"I've owned the land since we returned home, but I never built on it. I didn't like the thought of anyone else having a house here." Klaus explains, "Three years ago I was contacted and told that I had to build on my lot since this was a newly developing area and they wanted to keep it up. I had the plans in the next day."
"Can we look inside?" Caroline breathes.
Klaus grins and drops a set of keys in her hand, "Of course we can. It's identical to the one from before, but I added one bedroom."
An old hurt wells up inside her; Caroline is happy, has been happy for the last ten years, and even though she wouldn't trade this life for anything, sometimes she remembers having mortality. She remembers Hannah and the baby. They had needed an extra bedroom.
They go into the house. It's empty — none of the furniture from the other reality, although everything else is identical. There is a painting on the wall, stationed exactly where the painting of her and Hannah was before; this one is just Caroline, leaning against a balcony over a sea of city lights. Caroline remembers the moment — it was the second time Klaus officially proposed; she had been twenty-four, and it had felt like she'd been waiting forever for Klaus to tell her he still wanted to get married.
They'd been in France, and she'd been drinking champagne wrapped up in a sheet, and Klaus had come up to her, asking if six years of wearing her engagement ring had finally given her the courage to add the wedding band to it. Caroline hadn't even hesitated when she said yes.
"This is stunning," Caroline tells him, "I love it."
Klaus wraps a hand around her waist, pulling her close to him and kissing her hair, "I had a very good subject."
"I never knew you painted that moment."
Klaus laughs, "It was one of the happiest moments of my life to date, of course I painted it, love."
Caroline turns to him, and the sight that greets her is so familiar. He's standing in their house, the one that brought them together, and she's so goddamn happy she could burst.
"You never cease to amaze me, Nik." she says, and she swallows back the sudden tears that clog her throat.
He kisses her gently, "I know that we can't live in this house, we're too well known in Mystic Falls. But I thought you might like to know that it's here — we could come back, maybe."
"I would love that."
Klaus lifts his wrist and checks his watch, "Your mother was right, we are going to be late. Come on, love, we have to go."
They lock up their house and make their way to the car; Klaus drives a little too fast but Caroline doesn't bother to correct him. Even if Liz did pull them over she would forgive them, just this once.
Of course, they make it on time, because even if Klaus can be infuriating sometimes, he is almost always perfect — whether it's the perfect suit for prom, or never being late.
"Mr. and Mrs. Mikaelson, I'm so glad to see you. Please follow me." A woman greets them at the front, smiling from ear to ear.
Caroline takes Klaus' hand and they follow the woman down the long hallway, before turning into a door. The room is a cheery yellow colour, and there are two armchairs sitting in the corner. They both sit down in silence without any prompting from the woman, and eventually she leaves them in their quiet amazement.
Klaus is the first person to speak, and Caroline is so surprised she jumps just a little at his words: "She's so tiny."
Caroline can't tear her eyes away, not even to look at her husband. He's right. The baby in front of them is swaddled in green cloth, and sleeping silently in her bassinet; she's tiny, right down to her toes, and Caroline thinks that she loves her more than she's ever loved anything before.
"She's perfect." Caroline whispers. She's got barely-there blonde hair, and Caroline's already imagining that Klaus will level cities before he allows her on her first date.
Klaus grabs her hand suddenly, forcing her gaze away from the tiny person lying in front of her. "This won't always be this easy, love. You know that right? We've been lucky, mostly. What if one day people will come to get revenge on me? They'll come straight for you and her. What if we fight? What if you change your mind?"
"We will fight," Caroline tells him, "but I will never change my mind."
Klaus squeezes her hand, "There's danger, all around me, all the time."
Caroline can almost feel her heart soften, because she knows that even after all this time Klaus is still afraid of losing people he loves. He's terrified of losing his family, both those he was born with, but also the new additions.
"There's danger everywhere, Nik. I know that you have enemies, but we'll deal with them together as we always have."
Klaus lifts her hand and kisses her knuckle, reminding her suddenly of a knight in the days of old. It wouldn't surprise her if he had been a knight at one time, it seems as though he had tried everything once.
"I will keep you both safe," he promises, "I will make you happy, and keep you safe, and you won't regret this."
Caroline leans forward and kisses him, "I don't regret this," she tells him, "I never have. I know you'll keep us safe."
Caroline stands up and leans over the bassinet to pick up the baby, grinning down when she flickers wide blue eyes at her. She doesn't make a single sound, and Caroline turns to Klaus to show him. He holds out his arms; Caroline hands him the baby, and even though he moves slower than Caroline's ever seen him before, he does well. It's no surprise when she lets out a small peal of sound, and then goes quiet in his arms.
"I want to name her after your sister." Caroline says. It's an old argument, but this is her last chance to change his mind.
Klaus glances at her and scowls, but he can't hold the expression; soon enough he's grinning down at the baby. "Not a chance, we discussed this. Your mother is the one who did all the paperwork so we could get her."
Caroline rolls her eyes, "Fine."
She leans forward and kisses Klaus once, and then leans down to kiss the baby.
"Hannah Liz Mikaelson," she declares, "the most beautiful baby in the entire world. I still want to name the next one after Rebekah."
"What if it's a boy?" Klaus teases.
Caroline frowns, "Then it will have to be after one of your brothers instead. Maybe Henrik. I think Bekah would like that anyway."
Klaus laughs, tugging her close to him with one hand, fitting her tightly against him so she can stare down at their daughter. It's probably the best sight she's ever seen in her entire life.
"Say it." he commands, and Caroline is helpless to do anything but make him happy.
"I love you. I love you endlessly, forever, always."
Klaus presses his face into her hair, and Caroline wonders how in the hell she managed to have this.
"Caroline," he breathes, "you are everything."
Caroline smiles, heart pounding the same way it does every time Klaus does something romantic, "Everything?"
Klaus pulls back and looks at her, then down at their daughter, "Everything." he confirms.