Disclaimer: I own nothing but my OCs. All rights go to their respective owners. Rating will probably change in the future.
A/N: I hope you enjoy!
Mystic Falls — 996 AD
The nighttime air was cool as it brushed against Niklaus's skin, raising goosebumps. Gazing blankly ahead of him, his breaths came out in short gasps, nothing but darkness and faint outlines of bushes and trees greeting him. The only sounds that he could hear came from the gentle winds and the brook that flowed near the edge of the clearing. Mikael had lost his temper for the thousandth time earlier, using anything he could lay his hands on to beat Niklaus into submission. He was beginning to lose track of the reasons for which Mikael would beat him. It seemed there were none anymore, just the inordinate amount of hatred that Mikael seemed to harbor for him. The pain that seared through his ribs from where Mikael had connected his foot again and again with Niklaus's body was aching unbearably.
He had low hopes that she would show up; he hadn't been able to meet up with her in weeks, but any sliver of hope was better than none. He wrapped an arm around his side, leaning back against the hard wood of the tree that offered little comfort. A groan escaped his lips as he shifted, attempting to find a more comfortable position. No doubt he would face more punishment the next morning from having run, but he could not have stayed a moment longer.
He almost missed the soft whisper, so delirious he was from the pain. He swiveled his head and squinted, seeing a blurry outline emerge from the trees opposite to where he was. Niklaus blinked, attempting to rid his eyes from the haze that was settling over him, but no matter. He would know that voice anywhere, the one word soothing him more than she would know.
He saw Audrea bring her hands to her face, covering her mouth in shock as she saw the state of his body more clearly as she approached.
"Who did this to you?" There was concern and anger coloring her voice.
It was a rhetorical question. She knew, from their past conversations in the same spot, that he was the object of Mikael's ire, and that this was from which the rumors of the man's cruelty had first risen to spread throughout the village.
She knelt next to him and gathered him into her arms and he finally began to relax, feeling secure for the first time in weeks.
"What are you doing here?" he mumbled, leaning into her touch. "It's late."
Audrea didn't answer him, instead brushing strands of his hair aside, a few tears escaping her eyes to roll down her cheeks. He knew this was the worst state she had ever seen him in. He had only come to her with the occasional bruises before and even then, she had been highly worried. Now, she seemed to be speechless, searching for something to say. Her hand continued to comb gently through his hair, and he closed his eyes, leaning forward to brush his nose against her neck, inhaling her sweet scent, despite the discomfort the movement caused.
"I'm taking you home with me—no, listen—" She decided, her fingers dusting over his jaw to quell his objections. "My mother and brothers aren't heartless. We'll fix you up, you needn't worry. And...and if it comes to it, I'll make my brothers confront Mikael. We'll find a way. I promise."
Niklaus struggled to sit up then, eyebrows knitting together in protest as he opened his mouth, but he was silenced when she leaned down to softly press her lips against his. He could taste the saltiness of her lingering tears on her lips.
"We'll find a way." She repeated, her eyes searching his, arms tightening around him. "Come on."
Audrea stood unsteadily, attempting to support Niklaus's weight as she helped him up. He leaned heavily on her, favoring his right side, as his left was throbbing miserably with a sharp pain. The way her soft curves pressed against his body comforted him and he selfishly tilted his head down to touch his nose to her black hair. She looked up at him, the corners of her lips turned down in a sad frown, but she didn't say a word, and he silently thanked her for that. If she had said anything, he just might have let go of the fragile hold he had on his emotions and broken down completely.
The trek to the Magnuson house was a short one, fortunately, for Niklaus wasn't a small man and he wasn't sure how much longer Audrea could support most of his weight. He could see lights flickering from inside the house and noted that the house was significantly larger than his. The size of one's house in the village was a testament to one's wealth, and despite the Magnuson patriarch's mysterious death a couple years back, that had hardly impacted the Magnusons' status, partly due to the fact that most of Audrea's brothers had been grown men and could protect and provide for the family.
"What in the—" Two figures Niklaus recognized to be Audrea's brothers sitting near a small fire shot up. "Rea? What've you got there now?"
"Please." Audrea's voice was gentle but firm as she spoke to her siblings. "I'll explain everything later...just help him. I'm not sure of the extent of his injuries."
Niklaus saw the taller of the two men narrow his eyes and mutter, "Is that one of the Mikaelsons? What are you doing with him?"
"Nathaniel." Audrea uttered sharply, her posture straightening slightly. "I said, help him."
The shorter man darted forward. "Nathaniel, stop being stupid and come here. Can't you see he's not well?"
Nathaniel rolled his eyes but strode forward, roughly taking Niklaus's other arm and putting it over his shoulder. "So I'm the stupid one now? Gods, Erik, it's like you don't hear yourself sometimes. Who's the one who fixed your bow three days ago? And who fixed your stupid necklace—my gods, I can't believe I just said that—last week? That's right...me."
"That's got nothing to do with anything!"
"Focus and do be gentle!" Audrea chided, fluttering anxiously around them as her brothers dragged him into the house.
"Nathaniel! Erik! What have you done now?" A short woman pushed aside the chair she had been sitting in seconds ago to make her way towards the four who had burst through the doorway. "Who's this?"
"Why d'you always think we did something?" Nathaniel complained, pulling out a chair from the large table sitting in the center of the room and dumping Niklaus unceremoniously into it, despite Audrea's furious exclamation that followed. "No, this is Rea's problem this time."
"His father beat him." Audrea pursed her lips, pushing her two brothers aside and sitting next to lover, lifting her hands to cradle his bruised face gently, turning it left and right slowly to examine.
"Mikael?" hissed the woman, "I knew those rumors must have had some merit to them. Simply outrageous! Never mind that now. We'll talk about this later. Erik, fetch my medicinal supplies. And some food, while you're at it. Poor boy looks half-dead."
Two identical men burst in from the adjacent room, simultaneously exclaiming, "We thought we heard something. Where's the fire?"
"No fire, idiots." Nathan strode over and hit them both on the backs of their heads, drawing an 'ouch!' from each twin. "Go make yourselves useful. The man's injured."
"Is that Niklaus Mikaelson?" One of them asked excitedly, "Scandalous! What's our little sister been up to?"
"None of your business." Audrea snapped, eyes flaring. They softened when they turned back on Niklaus, who found his head was starting to spin, probably from the sheer number of people in the room. "Get out. You're confusing him."
"Here, now." The woman, who Niklaus presumed to be the Magnuson matriarch, pulled up another chair and settled in it comfortably, handing a couple bandages and what seemed to be a jar of white paste over to Audrea. "Take off his tunic, Rea. Let's see what we have here."
Niklaus tried to refrain from smirking when Audrea's cheeks tinted red, but the glare she shot him told him he hadn't fully succeeded. She set down the materials on the table and curled her fingers into the rough fabric of his tunic, tugging upwards. He lifted his arms, surprised to only feel a dull ache in his arms from the movement. His torso, on the other hand, screamed in protest when it stretched. It must have taken the brunt of Mikael's beating. Audrea set the shirt aside—it would have to be cleaned, bloodstains dotting it here and there—and her attention was drawn back to Niklaus when her mother gasped sharply.
"By the gods..." Audrea's mother murmured, her eyes roaming over his chest and abdomen. Whistles and curses escaped from the Magnuson brothers.
Niklaus glanced down. Large, discolored bruises had already spread over his skin, the darkest one being the largest. His eyes rose to look at Audrea, whose face was expressionless, though he could see the tension in her.
Audrea clenched her jaw tightly but she said nothing, instead taking a wet towel that Erik handed her and squeezing water over Niklaus's torso. He let out a deep breath as the cool water ran over him, and tried not to flinch when she gently began wiping his arms and body of the grime and dust that mingled with his blood and sweat. She and her mother worked with practiced motions, each exchanging materials and medicine wordlessly. It wasn't long before the worst of his injuries were washed and wrapped with soft, clean bandages. Niklaus remained cognizant enough to see and hear Audrea's brothers move into the next room and begin murmuring to each other, no doubt about Mikael, given the number of times his name popped up in the conversation.
Audrea's mother soon rose to take a bucket of dirty water outside, and this left him alone with Audrea. There was a short silence before Audrea spoke.
"You see?" She smiled, her hand rising to gently comb through Niklaus's hair once more, and he found himself becoming quite addicted to the sensation. "Nothing to worry about."
He leaned closer, his heartbeat quickening when he noticed she didn't seem to want to move away. It was a dangerous move, he knew, to get so close to her in her home, with her brothers mere feet from them in the other room, but he felt her breath ghosting over his skin and couldn't hold himself back when he connected their lips, one hand coming up to bury itself in her hair. Her taste, her smell, the small moan that escaped her throat...she drove him crazy. Every time he kissed her, it was like he was doing so for the first time.
The soft gasp from the doorway caused him to break away, alarmed. Audrea's mother stood there, eyes twinkling as she surveyed the scene, but she said nothing, which surprised Niklaus. Surely, her mother wouldn't want her daughter consorting with the likes of him? She wouldn't complain to his father, would she? That was a surefire way to get him murdered. He swallowed. He had nothing to offer Audrea, no pretty clothes or riches, and yet...Audrea's mother simply winked.
"Careful you don't let the boys see that," the woman whispered cheerfully, "They'll tear you apart."
"No they won't, Mother." Audrea scoffed, her hand lowering from its place in his hair to hold on to Niklaus's other hand in his lap. "I won't let them."
"No, you won't." The Magnuson matriarch let out an honest-to-gods giggle, her excited whisper softening so as not to alert Audrea's brothers. "He's a pretty one, Rea, you've chosen well."
Audrea woke to the sensation of fingers gently brushing patterns on her skin. She opened her eyes and found herself drowning in Klaus's blue-green ones. Oh.
After a thousand years, he still never failed to take her breath away. His tousled hair made him look simply adorable in the morning light and she couldn't help but smile up at him.
"Sleep well, love?" He must have woken up a while before her, because though he wasn't wearing a shirt, he had on a pair of jeans that fit him very nicely.
Audrea hummed and leaned into his touch. She splayed her hand on his chest and began tracing his tattoo, walking her fingers over to his left shoulder, where the small birds separated from the feather.
"How's Elijah?" She asked tentatively, her eyes flicking up and searching his.
Klaus nodded. "He's still here, so I should think your words got through to him."
Audrea sighed in relief, mind flashing back to yesterday evening, when Elijah had expressed his desire to leave.
"My mother was right." Elijah said. He looked troubled, and was pacing back and forth slowly in his room. Klaus and Rebekah had urged Audrea to say something to him, for he seemed hellbent on ditching them to go gallivanting somewhere else. "All my talk of virtue...and yet, I took what I wanted, used Elena for blackmail, and I used my sister's hatred to my advantage. I used Rebekah. My own sister."
Audrea stepped forward and took one of his hands in hers. "Elijah, what you did was right. It was to protect yourself, Nik, Bekah, and Kol. Every one of them would have done the same, if they had been in your position."
Elijah gave her a look. "My methods—"
"Were necessary. To hell with whatever your mother said," Audrea insisted. "Listen, do you think Nik would have left anyone alive if he had been in charge?"
"Niklaus is not a good comparison of morals." Elijah replied, giving Audrea a chastising look.
"Ok, I'll give that to you, but Elijah, listen to me...your plan was failsafe. It did the least damage. Do you really think there was another way?"
Elijah only stood there silently, one hand in his pocket as he gazed into the flames flickering in the fireplace.
"Think about it, okay?"
Audrea wrapped her arms around him and he returned the hug, closing his eyes. She drew back and looked him in the eye. "I can't stop you if you want to leave. But know that you always have my love. And Rebekah's. Kol and Nik's as well, despite all their whining and moaning about you."
"We are family, Elijah. And there is nothing more important than that. I know this. I know this more than anybody."
Audrea lifted her head and looked at Klaus questioningly.
"What my mother said yesterday...she was trying to hurt you. Don't take her words to heart." Klaus said smoothly. "You have done more for me than she will ever know. I, for one, don't regret the day we met at all."
Audrea was touched as she gazed up at Klaus. She knew Klaus didn't express his emotions well to others, the hybrid preferring instead to hide any signs of vulnerability. It wasn't without reason. Klaus's choice to do so had been a product of what he had suffered through during his human days. He never again wanted to be seen as weak. He never again wanted to feel helpless. She understood that the most.
So even after centuries of existence, she was glad he continued to trust her with himself.
She sat up and snickered, "Of course you don't, you were too busy ogling my breasts."
Klaus raised a challenging eyebrow.
"I recall you were the one who had been watching me? You knew my name."
"I knew everyone's name." Audrea shifted away from him turned her nose up and away primly. "You weren't special."
"Really?" Klaus tilted his head skeptically. "Everyone's?"
"I knew Elijah's name. I knew Kol's." Audrea teased, and giggled when she heard a soft snarl. Mentioning his brothers' names while the couple were in bed probably wasn't high up on Klaus's list of things to do. It wasn't anywhere near the list, she would imagine. "So, yes, not special at all."
She yelped when two arms slipped around her and a hard chest pressed up against her back. She resisted the urge to shiver when she felt his breath next to her ear. "On the contrary, love, I think I'm very special. I'm the Original hybrid, after all."
"O...oh?" Audrea gasped, as Klaus's hands began to explore her skin, dipping under her shirt and travelling across her bare legs. The heat that rushed through her with every touch reminded her of all the times they had explored each other's bodies before. Intense memories danced around in her thoughts and they caused the heat to move down to between her thighs.
Her eyes fluttered closed and she leaned her head back on his shoulder, giving him more access to her neck. Klaus pressed butterfly kisses across it and she felt him smirk against her skin. "Yes. Special."
In one smooth movement, he flipped her over so she was on her back, looking up at him. He trapped her arms on either side of her head and grinned down at her triumphantly.
"I'm quite liking this habit of you wearing my shirts." Klaus dipped his head down and began kissing his way down her throat, to her collarbone, between her breasts, and began unbuttoning the shirt with his teeth. Audrea thought she'd died right there and then. But then again, he might just have been ripping the buttons out if she was to hazard a guess of where the tearing sounds were coming from, not that she could have checked, for he was being far too distracting with his mouth. "It makes you far more...accessible."
His words went straight to her groin.
Her back arched and she gasped, squeezing her thighs against his sides to get some sort of relief.
She struggled free of Klaus's grasp and her hands immediately flew to grip his hair, pulling him up violently to collide her lips with his. His tongue traced against her bottom lip and she easily allowed him in. It was a heated battle, her tongue fighting for dominance but soon losing as Klaus growled against her and surged upwards, his hips jolting against hers. Audrea threw her head back then, crying out in need when she felt his hard length pressing aainst her.
She flung a leg over his waist, digging her heel into his lower back to coerce him closer than he was already. His fingertips were scorching her skin as they roamed underneath her shirt, travelling across her hips and dipping into the lace underwear she wore. She reached down to unzip his jeans, slipping a hand into them to grip him.
Rebekah burst into the room and Klaus's eyes filled with disbelief at his sister's audacity. They soon closed as he groaned, forehead dropping to meet Audrea's.
He whipped his head around to snap, "Bloody hell, Rebekah, I'm in the middle of something!"
"I can see that, but this is important. Good morning Rea, you're looking especially radiant under my brother today," Rebekah pointed at Klaus and continued, "Get off Rea, you depraved dog, and get dressed."
"I would like to get her off, but I can't very well do that with you hovering there, can I?"
Rebekah scowled. "Don't be such a degenerate, Nik, you knew what I bloody well meant."
A dark look filled Klaus's eyes and he growled in exasperation.
Audrea giggled at his disappointment—not that she felt any differently—but pulled her hand away from him and poked her head out from where she was being shielded by Klaus's body so she could see Rebekah more clearly. "Morning, Bekah."
"What's the fuss?" Kol sauntered into the room, followed closely by Elijah. At the sight of Klaus's brothers, Audrea quickly pulled what was left of Klaus's shirt—she'd been right, he had just been ripping it open—together. "Why've you gathered us here, Rebekah? Christ, put on some clothes Nik, nobody wants to see you looking like a fucking prostitute."
Audrea's mouth dropped open and she let out a stunned laugh. Truly, Kol could be quite the character.
Klaus's lip curled in distaste but he zipped his jeans up and slipped on a T-shirt anyway, getting out bed and hunting around for another shirt of his to give Audrea. She took the one he handed her but didn't move to get out of bed, instead choosing drag the sheets over her so she was mostly covered, and pulled up her knees so she could prop her chin on them.
Elijah shook his head in disapproval at Kol's crass words and turned to Rebekah. "Rebekah, why have you called us here?"
Rebekah stretched out her arm and wiggled something in front of her. She looked serious.
Audrea squinted at the phone her sister-in-law was holding out. "The doppelgänger bitch? What about her?"
"Not her." Rebekah stabbed a finger at the screen. "Look behind her. On the wall."
Audrea took the phone and stared at it, eyes narrowed. Klaus sat down beside her to look at it as well. "What is it?"
Rebekah replied, "A native worshipping at the great white oak tree."
Kol and Elijah's heads snapped towards Rebekah's direction. Elijah said slowly, as if his sister had forgotten, "We burnt the tree to the ground."
"Look at the markings that precede it. The native calendar."
Audrea's face paled as she slowly realized what Rebekah was getting at. She flicked the pads of her index finger and thumb at the screen, enlarging the screenshot of Rebekah's video. "The date...that's not possible."
"Three hundred years after we fled back to the old world. There must have been a sapling, a new tree to replace the old."
Rebekah shifted so she could look at each of her siblings. "There's white oak out there. And it could kill us."
The room was dead silent. Only Kol was moving, his head tilting backwards as he threw his hands up.
"Can't we go one bloody day without potentially dying?"
One Week Later
"Bekah!" Audrea flung the door to the the normally unused room open, grumbling in annoyance at how long it had taken her to track Rebekah down. "Nik tells me you're here."
Her sister-in-law looked up briefly from where she was working to wave a hand at her. "Right here."
"Good. I'm bored. Nik and Elijah are handling that upstart witch and I've no desire to be around that silly little bint again, not after the mess she helped put me in."
Rebekah let out a laugh. "She'll get what's coming to her. Nik will make sure of that, I'm certain."
"What's this mess then?" Audrea asked pleasantly, waving to the body of one Damon Salvatore that was currently strung up and bleeding all over the polished floor.
Rebekah pursed her lips. "Just a bit of retribution. He took me to bed and didn't even stay the morning after."
"I do keep telling you to choose better men, Rebekah." Audrea gave Rebekah a chastising look. "You keep bringing home trash."
"Not everyone can have what you and Nik have," Rebekah scowled. "Besides, your husband always seems to take pleasure in offing all my lovers."
Audrea picked at her fingernails. "He always becomes my husband when you're angry with him."
"And he always becomes my brother when you're cross with him." Rebekah shot back, waving the machete she was currently wielding at Audrea. "What's your point?"
The brunette Mikaelson rolled her eyes but asked, "What'd he really do?"
Rebekah stuck the blade into Damon's abdomen casually and folded her arms. "He helped Finn's trashy whore, you remember Sage, get into my mind while I was sleeping. I don't know what they were looking for, though. I don't believe they just took a little stroll in my mind for the fun of it."
"Sage is back in town?" Audrea smiled. "Delightful. I've always enjoyed a bit of boxing. Perhaps I could brush up on my skills with her."
Rebekah groaned. "You still like her?"
"I've no reason not to." Audrea shrugged.
"Rea, she's...she's basically a harlot!" Rebekah griped. "She came looking for Finn."
"Well of course." Audrea sighed. "I don't like Finn, not after what he did to me—the amount of blood I had to get out of my hair was hell, mind you—but I can see she loves him and he loves her. She's just looking for her lost love. Let her! Maybe Finn'll come to his senses and not want to die constantly. Gods, he's like a bloody rebellious teenager. But anyways, back to this disgusting mess that's ruining Nik's floors."
Audrea felt a wave of resentment roll through her. She didn't like anyone messing with Rebekah. She had suffered enough as it is, from Klaus, and Audrea had always felt guilty that she couldn't do more to protect the younger vampire. Raging at Klaus every time he daggered Rebekah was the farthest she'd ever gone. Because, in the end, she knew that Klaus loved his family, more than anything. Sure, he played the protective big brother card a little too intensely, but Audrea knew that all the lovers Klaus got rid of...they weren't good for Rebekah. She'd seen each and every one of them, watched them. None of them were good enough.
And especially not this piece of garbage that had dared violate Rebekah's mind.
Audrea pursed her lips as she watched the blood drip steadily onto the puddle surrounding Damon's feet. She furrowed her eyebrows. For him to antagonize Rebekah, however vulnerable she may be at times, didn't seem right. Rebekah was right. He wouldn't do that just for the hell of it, not when he knew Rebekah could so easily attack the doppelgänger bitch for revenge. He had been looking for something. And he must have been desperate, to enlist Sage's help and use this particular method of obtaining information.
She thought to herself for just a brief moment longer before rolling up the sleeves of her blouse. "Give me the machete."
Rebekah's eyes widened. "Are you...?"
"I may not be as...unprincipled as my dear husband, but I've been around him long enough to pick up some tricks."
Rebekah's smile was positively wicked as she pulled the weapon out and handed it to Audrea. But before the handle could touch Audrea's hand, Rebekah pulled back and pouted, "Don't kill him, Rea. He's still my toy, after all."
"Oh...I'm sure there'll be bits of him left over."
The blonde Mikaelson shook her head in exasperation but gave the machete to Audrea. As soon as she gripped the handle, she lashed out with the blade in a severe, slicing motion. The Salvatore barely made a noise as blood gushed out of his body. The pain had yet to set in, given the speed with which she had cut him open with. She wrapped her fingers around Damon's neck and forced his chin up.
"Open your eyes, love." Audrea murmured. "I've got a question for you."
A scream echoed across the entire house, and Bonnie flinched, her hand gripping the edge of the table in front of her for an anchor.
Klaus closed his eyes. He clearly looked annoyed. "Bloody hell, Elijah, could she be any more dramatic?"
Elijah was leaning against the entrance to the living room, looking quite displeased at the sounds that they were currently hearing as well, though his dissatisfaction probably stemmed from other reasons than just the volume. Like perhaps what was causing them.
"What was that?" Bonnie glowered at Klaus.
"I ask the questions here, Miss Bennett." Klaus's lips twitched in amusement. "Now. About this little dilemma I seem to have. You see, I don't quite fancy being linked to my siblings. They're rather annoying, I admit, but they're family and I would prefer if they didn't all die on me. As a side note, I'd rather not die, either. So. The fact that I'm not hearing chanting and seeing witchy things happening is vexing, Bonnie. I am not a patient man."
"I'm still studying the spell." Bonnie snapped. "And the screaming isn't helping my concentration that much, you know? It bothers me."
"It does!" Bonnie whirled around to face Klaus. "You bother me! The way you use people to get what you want! It's not right."
Klaus touched a hand to his chest, looking as if he was mildly offended, but the faux expression soon faded away and he moved so he was standing right in front of her. "You're being emotional, Bonnie. I get it, your mother has left you, once again, but let's focus on the present, shall we? I wouldn't want Jeremy to have a little...accident. I'm sure Kol's just dying to cause a little trouble."
He lifted his phone up as if to remind Bonnie of the danger Elena's brother was in.
"Niklaus." Elijah's voice was stern and he gave his brother a pointed look. "That's enough. I'm sure Miss Bennett will comply, without all this...unnecessary talk."
Klaus rolled his eyes but turned to look at Elijah. "Fine. Take care of Rebekah, would you? She can bleed Damon out some other time. This can't wait."
Bonnie froze. "Damon?"
"Why, yes." Klaus smirked and lightly traced his fingers across the back of the couch she had been sitting on a couple hours ago. "You see...my sister's rather upset with him, so I hope you understand. He hurt her feelings. A woman scorned, and all that. Besides...he's the man who effectively killed your mother, isn't he? I see no problem in his presence here. In fact, I should expect that perhaps this would make you happier. Bit of righteous retribution for your mother."
Bonnie was far from happy. She despised Damon for turning her mother to save Elena, and it was something she would probably never be able to forgive, but she loved Elena with all her heart, even despite all the recent events that had occurred. What the Salvatore was doing here couldn't mean anything well for her friends. She wondered if Stefan was aware of the predicament Damon was in.
The pained screams suddenly cut off, and the silence that filled the huge mansion was suffocating.
Klaus raised an eyebrow at her. "Well? You got what you wanted. Get on with it, love."
Bonnie swallowed, turning her hateful gaze on Klaus back onto the spell in front of her. The candles flickered, but cast a glow over the table. It provided little comfort for her. Klaus's presence terrified her, though she was trying her best to keep her composure. She wasn't succeeding very well. With each second that passed, Bonnie could feel the turmoil her emotions were in even more.
She braced her hands on the table and looked down at the labelled vials of blood laid out in front of her. Elijah. Rebekah. Kol. Finn. And in a goblet sitting in the center of the table, was Klaus's.
Before she could even begin, however, a gigantic crash made her head snap up in the direction of the commotion.
"Tick tock, Miss Bennett!" The female voice was mocking and cruel. Bonnie was stunned to see Audrea Mikaelson saunter into the room, tossing a frighteningly large piece of warped metal onto the ground. It looked...to be something like a medieval torture device. Blood splattered the floor. What was even more terrifying though, was the Original's arms. Dark red blood coated both her arms, leaving not an inch of them untouched. Audrea looked severely pissed off, an expression Bonnie had not seen even when the vampire had been fighting Finn.
"Now this is a surprise." Klaus raised his eyebrows, stepping towards his wife and lifting his hands to hover around her shoulders. He looked her up and down. "You don't usually like to get yourself dirty, sweetheart. I could have done whatever you did to poor Damon if you had asked."
Audrea's gaze never left Bonnie's, who took a step back in trepidation. "Yes, I know, Nik, but you see, this couldn't wait. Were you aware, Miss Bennett, that your friends have taken it upon themselves to make twelve white oak stakes? All, I assume, meant for my family and me."
Bonnie barely heard the enraged 'what?' that ripped from Klaus's throat. She was in shock.
Were Stefan and Damon crazy?
What had they been thinking, endangering the lives of everyone around them?
It was enough that her mother had suffered the consequences how much danger Bonnie's friendship with Elena meant. Bonnie was beginning to think that there was nothing the two Salvatores wouldn't do to protect Elena. They must have a death wish, to be coming after the entire Original family so blatantly. And now that they had uncovered the brothers' plan, there would be hell to pay.
"I..I didn't know. I swear."
The woman suddenly relaxed and the absence of the tension that had been coiled up in her body made her look far less dangerous, though Bonnie knew that to be far from the truth. Her lips curled up and she began walking towards Bonnie. When she stopped in front of her, the Original tipped Bonnie's chin up and narrowed her eyes at her.
"I believe you." Audrea twirled a strand of Bonnie's hair around her index finger. Bonnie swallowed, hardly daring to breathe. Audrea Mikaelson had seemed to be far less intimidating than her husband or her brothers-in-law, but right now, with the Original's arms coated with Damon's blood, she seemed far more dangerous than any of the other Mikaelsons.
"But you see, your little friends have just moved things up a bit in our plans. So you best get going on that spell, little witch."
Salvatore Boarding House
Stefan followed Elena into the large living room.
"What are we going to do about this?" Caroline stood in front of them and raised her eyebrows. "Even after all our stakeouts, we haven't caught sight of a single Mikaelson."
Elena sighed. "They're bound to leave the mansion at some point. It's not a big town. We'll see them sooner or later."
Stefan agreed and added, "We just need one Mikaelson. And use as few stakes as possible to try and kill him. Or her."
"You make it sound so easy." Caroline scoffed.
Elena opened her mouth to say something else, but she felt a buzz in her pocket and pulled out her phone to see Bonnie's name on the caller ID. She answered it.
"Bonnie? Where have you been?" Elena frowned.
"Klaus has Damon."
Elena gasped in shock and looked up to meet Stefan's gaze. From his expression, he'd obviously heard what Bonnie had said. "What? Why? How do you know?"
"I heard him screaming in the Mikaelsons' house. Klaus told me Rebekah took him. You know what else? I also found out that Damon and Stefan made twelve white oak stakes." There was a slight pause before Bonnie hissed, "Are you all insane? Do you not remember what happened to my mother? And that's not the worst that could happen! Someone could die! Like, permanently!"
Elena's mouth was dry. She licked her lips before asking, "What...what were you doing in their house, Bonnie?"
"Klaus kidnapped me." Bonnie's voice was humorless and she was barely concealing her fury. "He forced me to do a spell that unlinked all the siblings."
Elena, Stefan, and Caroline all closed their eyes in collective dismay. This put a major dent in their plans. This meant that they now had much fewer chances to use the stakes on the Mikaelsons.
"It's bad, Elena." Bonnie's voice was choked up. "He threatened Jeremy. And my mom..."
Elena's forehead creased in concern. She didn't sound too good. "Are you okay, Bonnie?"
"I don't know." Bonnie scoffed. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears. "I...I'm sorry. I have to go. I just...I have to go."
"Bonnie, wait..." Elena tried to stop her, but the line went dead. She pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at the screen. She looked up at Stefan. He looked concerned about Bonnie for a moment, but then the gravity of the situation set in and his expression quickly turned to anger. Elena held up a hand. She knew this Stefan all too well and she could practically see the gears turning in his head. He stalked towards the door, flipping a white oak stake in his hand and tucking it into his belt.
Elena said, "Stefan. Wait, come on. We need to create a plan."
"They have Damon, Elena." Stefan looked at her as if she was stupid. Elena flinched. "And I'm going to get him back."
"Stefan, you're acting out of anger!" She tried to grab onto his arm, but he just shrugged her hand off and flashed out of the house. "Stefan!"
Elena turned back and stared wordlessly at Caroline, hands raised as if to ask 'what the hell?'. The blonde shrugged. "Your boyfriends all want to die really badly, apparently."
"Caroline!" Elena chastised.
"I know, I know. Sorry. It was just a joke."
"In bad taste, Caroline. In bad taste."
The blonde suddenly looked at the door, and her expression seemed puzzled, as if she was trying to figure something out. Elena asked, "What's wrong?"
Her question was answered when the double doors were flung off their hinges and Caroline barely managed to tackle Elena down as the two huge pieces of wood went flying straight over their heads. Three figures flashed into the house.
Elena nearly fainted when she looked up to see the intruders. Klaus, Audrea, and Elijah stood in front of them, expressions varying from being amused to serious. Klaus's hand was gripping Stefan by the throat and the hybrid was holding him off to the side, like he was just a mere inconvenience.
"Now, I hear you have a very interesting collection of stakes." Klaus grinned, baring his teeth. "I'd like to take a look."
Damon could barely see anything. There was blood dripping into his eyes, and he could barely think. He was pretty sure there was probably more blood outside his body than inside.
He groaned. What a mess he'd gotten himself into.
Insane. They were all insane. Even Klaus's wife. Especially her. Fuck. He was pretty sure he'd been traumatized. And that wasn't something that happened to him every day, if at all. The torture methods she'd subjected him to...had the fucking Original been studying medieval torture methods?
He heard footsteps making their way into the room he was strung up in. From the clicking of heels, it had to be Rebekah. She'd been the only one visiting him consistently the entire day.
He was barely conscious, but he could feel and hear his wrists being freed from the metal traps they were clamped in.
He collapsed on the ground, legs too unsteady to hold his weight up. He was so drained that he noticed his wounds were barely healing at all.
"You're free to go, lover boy." Rebekah sighed. Her foot collided with his stomach and he fell to his side with a groan. "Your brother's saving your life by handing over the stakes. All twelve of them. Pity. Your grand plans never do seem to work out, do they?"
Damon coughed and wiped away the blood that he could feel coating his face. He struggled to sit up on his knees and looked up at the blonde Mikaelson, spitting out, "Bitch."
"Now, now." Rebekah flipped her hair over her shoulder. "That's not a very nice thing to say to someone who's letting you live. Off you go now. I'd have you wipe up this mess you've left on the floor, but I don't really want to see your pathetic face in my house any longer."
Damon staggered to his feet, feeling some sort of relief when he towered over Rebekah. Not that he could do anything to her though, he could barely move his fingers.
The blonde smirked at him and gestured to the doorway. He saw Stefan standing there, bag of stakes slung over his shoulder, staring at him. Stefan looked bruised and battered, like he'd put up a fight against someone. Klaus, Audrea, and Elijah stepped in the room with them. Klaus looked annoyingly smug, and there were bloodstains on his shirt. Ah. That was why.
Damon groaned internally. All their hard work in preparing those stakes...and they were just going to hand them over to the Originals.
"As you can see," Klaus said. "You're getting your brother back. Fair trade. Be a sport and hand over the bag, won't you?"
Stefan looked resigned as he slipped the strap off his shoulder and held it out. Elijah took the bag and disappeared from the room.
Klaus clapped his hands. "Well this just turned out fantastically, don't you agree? Take Damon, Stefan, and do try not to show up in front of us. Preferably ever again."
Stefan flashed over to Damon and slipped an arm around him, as he was on the verge of collapsing again. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
Stefan flashed the two of them out of the mansion, and Damon nearly sobbed, nearly, when the cool night breeze touched his face.
He had never wanted to just stand in a hot shower more than he wanted to right now.
Audrea smiled as she watched the stakes burn.
Finally, they could get some rest. Not a whole month out of her coffin and she'd been pummeled with one thing after another: a whole new century, threat of death, and threat of death again. What she wouldn't give for a whole day of undisturbed peace.
She propped her chin on Klaus's shoulder and tightened her arms around him. He was watching the fire as well, his fingers stroking her hand and lightly playing with the wedding band on her left hand.
She nipped his ear and he turned his head to look down at her, his eyes flashing playfully.
"Take me to bed, Mr. Mikaelson?"
"But of course, Mrs. Mikaelson."
Finn looked up from the heavy tome he was holding and saw his mother make her way into the house they had taken up residence in. She set down on the large mahogany table a small bag of what seemed to be herbs.
"Did you get it?" He shut the book and stood, making his way over to where his mother stood.
Esther shrugged off her jacket and hung it up on the coat rack, distractedly nodding as she eyed the set-up on the table. She placed a finger on the crinkled parchment that lay in the center of all the materials and traced over several of the words, words that Finn recognized to be the more crucial aspects of the spell.
"Apparently, Niklaus has found a way to unlink us, which is unfortunate."
His mother didn't take her eyes off the spell as she waved a hand nonchalantly in his direction. "No matter. I had expected him to, as soon as we left."
Finn placed a hand on his mother's shoulder. "Mother."
Esther snapped out of her small trance and scrutinized her eldest son. "What is it, Finn?"
He hesitated before continuing, "This...this is a dark spell, mother. Granted, your knowledge of spells and rituals far surpasses mine, but even with the ones I do know, few are darker than this one. Are you...certain that this is the way to go about eliminating the others?"
"You have asked me this a thousand times, Finn." Esther covered his hand reassuringly. "I see no other better option. Bringing back your father will take some time...and much magic, but it is necessary. This spell provided to me by a descendant of the deceased Les Morts-Vivants' leader is far better than I could have asked for. It seems my children had unknowingly caused their own downfall when they antagonized the New Orleans witches two hundred years ago. There is still much hostility in the few who remember the history. Much of the spell was lost in a fire, so the original ritual's intent is impossible to carry out, but that is not our goal. This remaining page is enough for me to bring back Mikael."
"But the potential consequences—"
"Would be necessary." Esther looked Finn in the eye. "All I wish is for my mistake to be undone. And then I will leave this world in peace. I do not intend to stay around for the spell's ramifications, though unknown, to take effect."
"The witches helping you right now...their ancestors do not worry that you will be creating yet another imbalance in nature by resurrecting him?"
"These witches? No. Their philosophy aligns with mine," Esther said. "They too agree that vampires...must be destroyed. Nature will balance herself out. Though how she will compensate for Mikael has yet to be known."
Finn nodded and circled the table so he was standing by his mother. "And...Audrea?"
Esther noted the faint hint of doubt in his voice and gave him a look. "Don't tell me you hold sympathy for the woman. She tried to kill you, remember?"
"For all my hatred of Niklaus and his vile ways...there is a shred of me that believes this may be...overtly cruel. Even I can understand the love they hold for each other. It is unlike any other. To possess her and use her to—"
"He will not live long enough to even comprehend what has occurred." Esther lifted her chin and stared hard at Finn. "Their love is toxic, Finn. They have destroyed the best parts of each other. Ending their existences will be the greatest favor I am doing them...and the world."
Finn still went on. "But wouldn't it be easier to use Rebekah? Klaus knows Audrea like he knows himself. It would be far too easy for him to sense if something is not right."
"And I have watched them for a thousand years." Esther voiced. "Besides, all I need is one opening, and knowing Niklaus, he would never hurt her. She is the best possible option."
At that, Esther began walking towards the fireplace, signalling to Finn that their conversation about his doubts needed to come to an end. She halted in front of the seat Finn had been occupying earlier, where a black bag lay.
"My source proved useful, I assume?"
Finn nodded and folded his hands behind his back. "Indeed. Alaric Saltzman, or rather, his...alter-ego...delivered. His little group had more, it seems, but my siblings have destroyed them."
"And they are all unaware of the last?" Esther unzipped the bag.
"I believe even the Salvatore brothers do not know he made a thirteenth one." Finn nodded. "I hear my siblings have...taken it upon themselves to torture and drain the eldest Salvatore of vervain to question him under compulsion."
"But of course they would be nothing but barbaric." Esther pursed her lips.
"As it is, he will be unable to get this information from Damon Salvatore even with compulsion."
Esther made a satisfied noise, and raised the thirteenth white oak stake up, turning it to look at its smoothly cut angles.
A/N: Thank you for reading. Please leave a review if you enjoyed this chapter or have any feedback!