A/N- I own nothing associated with the Vampire Diaries or the Originals
Walking through the French Quarter on that Saturday afternoon, Caroline felt alive.
She knew she looked beautiful and a few of the men walking past were clearly checking her out but they weren't the reason she was fighting the urge to smile as she approached The Coven bar.
She sashays through the doors, not even bothering to stop and look around but making her way straight for the stairs, her hand sliding over the dusty rail as she climbs her way through the dimly lit building, nearly blinded when she steps out onto the rooftop.
Not that it matters.
He laughs and her heart skips a beat, as her centre seems to adjust so that her entire body aches to move towards him.
Her true north.
He's at the far end, at a table filled with people, but she still catches his attention and he beams as he climbs to his feet,
Caroline was rendered breathless by her love for him. When she looked into his eyes she felt as though it wasn't gravity that kept her tied to the earth but him, that it wasn't oxygen flowing through her veins and blood pumping through her heart but adoration for him.
She isn't controlling her feet but she doesn't need to, they cut a path directly for him and she throws her arms around him, pulling him into a hug, using a greeting as an excuse to touch him, to press her body against his hard planes and to feel the electricity dancing across her skin.
His hand is warm on her back, he kisses her cheek and she wants to weep,
"How's my best girl?" he asks as he breaks the embrace,
They haven't seen each other in four days, and going so long without him, even though they messaged each other several times a day, had been almost painful.
Her senses are overwhelmed seeing him again. Had his hair always been so beautifully golden and curled? Had his eyes always been such a bright blue and his lips so plush and red?
Had his smile always been so entrancing?
"I'm great," she answers as he gestures to the spot on the bench beside him, they have their backs to the edge but it's high up and there's a pillow so that the bricks don't scratch her bare back.
"How about you?"
He opens his mouth but Marcel beats him to the punch,
"Klaus here was just telling me about how we're about to start wearing his art."
Caroline frowns in confusion and turns to him, "Huh?"
"His skeleton series," Stefan explains, "A store asked to print them on t-shirts."
She squeals in excitement and grips his arm, "Seriously?! Nik that's amazing!"
He beams, "Thank-you, sweetheart," he glares at the two men sitting across from him,
"See, you bastards, that's the correct response, not 'Hey, what about thongs,' and that's why Caroline is my best friend."
His best friend.
Caroline Forbes was Niklaus Mikaelson's best friend.
Had been for six months now.
Ever since they'd arrived in New Orleans on the same day, her to start her entry level job for a local news network and him to find work as a painter. They'd both arrived just after dawn and met waiting in line for Café Monde and because the place had been so crowded mere minutes after opening, had shared a table.
They were both new to the city, hadn't known anyone so paired up as they spent the day doing all the touristy things together and by the time they were squashed into a corner booth at an overpriced restaurant in the French Quarter eating gumbo, Caroline had suspected she had a crush on this gorgeous Brit.
But she hadn't acted on it that night and now she could almost kiss the stars in gratitude that she hadn't because the women that Klaus slept with?
They never hung around.
Klaus Mikaelson was magnetic, he drew people to him. He was an artist, with an angelic face, an infectious laugh and an energy that couldn't be faked. He was living his life on his own terms and that fascinated people. They were jealous of this young man with his necklaces, his guitar he would casually strum in the bar when he was the right kind of tipsy and his ability to fit in wherever he went.
No house party in the French Quarter was complete unless he was in attendance and the bars he graced became cool in the eyes of the jaded local students and young professionals. He made an event simply by turning up, instantly surrounded by friends and hangers on.
He had an infectious laugh and flirtatious attitude that had women falling right into his bed only to find themselves forgotten a week or so later but somehow, never with a broken heart or a bruised ego.
How could they be hurt or angry when they'd had a week of romance and adventure?
Still, those few women who thought they could change him? The ones who thought they'd tame Klaus Mikaelson and turn him into a one-woman man? They found themselves waking up to an empty bed, cold sheets, all sign of him gone and their messages ignored until realisation set in.
There was only one constant woman in Klaus' life.
One eternal fixture.
His best friend Caroline Forbes.
So even though she loved him so much that her heart clenched with jealousy at the thought of him with other women, if she couldn't have him as her boyfriend, at least she could be his best friend. The one who got a part of him that nobody else did, the one who got to monopolize his time when she wanted, the one who could talk with him about whatever she wanted and pretend that her feelings for him were purely platonic when she touched him.
Klaus fetches the next round, beers for him, Stefan and Marcel and a cosmopolitan for her. The sun is pleasantly hot and Caroline sips at her drink, tilting her head back and letting the music from the streets below wash over her, along with the pleasant chatter around her. Her eyelids had fluttered closed but she opens them quickly when an arm drapes over her shoulders,
"Careful sweetheart," Nik chastens, "I don't want you going over."
She rolls her eyes, scoffing, "The wall's high enough that the only way I'm going over is by jumping." She rests her arms along the edge, showing them to be at shoulder-height, highlighting her point, "See?"
He doesn't look certain but releases her as a group of people arrive and seeing them, come over, pulling up chairs and just like that, Caroline knows that any chance of one-on-one time she'd had with Nik would be lost in this throng of newcomers, in their annoying conversations and invitations to parties and gatherings.
Lost in the flirtatious smile of the hot red head who had clearly read the promise of a good time in Nik's eyes and was more than ready to experience it first-hand.
She's beautiful and is one of those woman who can wear blood-red lipstick and make it work, whereas Caroline had to settle for more neutral colours. This woman looks like a twenties flapper and Caroline guesses that much like New Orleans during that golden age, Nik will find that nothing will be prohibited for him tonight.
So when the bar starts to get a little too full, and Marcel suggests moving the party back to his place, Caroline distracts herself with Stefan, catching up with him and pretending not to notice when the man she loves slips away with the red head.
The red-head whose name she won't even bother to learn.
But the man whose name she would tattoo onto her skin if it meant that she would be able to call him her own.