A/N: I hope you enjoy this final chapter and please leave a review of what you want to see in the sequel.
Italic Bold = Dreams/vision things/memories
Italic = thoughts
Chapter Ten: A Girl Named Caroline
His cold hands were wrapped firmly around her neck. Sending tremors of terror down her sides as she stared into his luminous eyes.
His entire face was shrouded in darkness, but his eyes-gleaming with the intent of malice could not be hidden.
Her muscles tensed as he brought a long, callused finger to her lips.
"Don't worry Caroline." A feminine voice whispered from somewhere far off behind her. Out a sight-and reach. "The stone will protect you."
The girl shook her head. Trying to clear her mind-attempting to remember where she was. And how she had gotten there.
"Protect me..." She began. Frantically trying to form words.
The man sighed audibly and twisted his hands. Turning her head sharply with his swift movements.
Caroline's eyes flew open. Her heart beating rapidly, skin moist with sweat. Sitting up in bed as a shiver crept up on her she brought a hand to her neck .
The dream had felt so real. She cringed at the memory of his fingers wrapped around her. He always seemed to bring the fear out of her-ever since the dreams started. The girl took a deep calming breath before reaching out into the darkness for her bedside lamp. Flipping it on and illuminating her bedroom.
She sucked in a breath as her eyes fell upon the crescent moon shaped scar blemishing her wrist.
Her skin prickled at the memory and she pulled her arm out of the light. She couldn't allow herself to dwell in nostalgia. She lifted the thin cotton sheets off of her, swinging her feet out from under her comforter.
"Caroline!" Jenna's voice rang out from the other side of her bedroom door with a knock. "Get up. I have breakfast downstairs."
Caroline blinked. Fingers curling around the edge of the mattress. Trying to find her voice.
"I'll be down in a minute." She managed to choke out. "Hey, is Elena up yet?"
"Yeah," the older woman laughed. "Attempting to salvage our cookware."
Caroline bit her lip. Our. There was that word again. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate Jenna and Elena taking her in after-but she still felt a little guilty about it. They'd had their own lose and they were amazing with adding hers to their own emotional baggage. If it wasn't for them she'd be living in some small town, smaller than Mystic Falls, with her dad, his partner Stephen, and his young daughter Pauline.
"Hey, you okay?" Jenna asked in her maternal tone. "You don't have to go in today if you don't want to...we could have a total Ben and Jerry's day."
Although the idea of a Sex and the City marathon over some Chunky Monkey sounded very appealing, she hadn't seen her friends all summer. And truth be told she kinda missed their bitching.
"I'm fine," she said, raising her level of false enthusiasm with each word. "I haven't seen Bonnie or Meredith in weeks. Plus I miss cafeteria food."
That last part was laced with sarcasm but saying it put a smile on her face.
"Okay," Jenna said with a lite chuckle. "I'll see you down stairs."
Caroline listened to the woman's steps retreating down stairs before she rose to her feet. Lifting her hand, she ran her hand through her blond locks with a sigh.
"You can do this Care." She mumbled to herself as she circled around her bed. Pulling open one of her drawers.
How could she have not one clean shirt? Not one-ridiculous.
She rapped her knuckles twice against the younger Gilbert's door.
"Jer, open up!"
She would have asked Elena for a lend but the girl was a few sizes too small for her tastes.
There was the sound of movement in the room, feet padding around the floor, the sound of a door opening and closing. And then, finally, the door opened. Jeremy peeking his head of disheveled hair out at her. Wearing a familiar scowl on his face.
"I need a shirt." She said simply. Rolling her eyes as he ducked back into his room and she heard more rustling.
"Here." Jeremy muttered. Throwing the shirt at her as he reappeared at the door. When she didn't move out of his doorway he added, "anything else?"
Her lips twitched. "Tell Vicki I said hi."
She took a step back and smirked as he slammed the door in her face.
Maybe today won't be so bad after all...
"So, how do I look?" Caroline inquired the moment she entered the kitchen. Wanting a full assessment on her outfit for the first day back.
Elena looked over her shoulder. The blond wore a short, black skirt and a pair over-the-knee boots that emphasized her long legs. A dark blue plaid shirt belted at the waist. The top two buttons undone, with minimum cleavage.
"Cute." the brunette said through bites of toast. "Jenna left a plate for you."
Caroline suppressed a grimace as she looked over the counter at the plate of soggy looking eggs and burnt bacon.
"Um...I think I'll get something at school." She said truthfully as she gathered her jacket and messenger bag. "Are we riding together?"
The brunette's smile fell slightly. "I er...Meredith's picking me up."
The blond nodded slowly in understanding. "Right...the car thing."
She really had to be a little bit more sensitive about cars, especially after the crash Elena had been in only four months ago.
"Caroline..."Elena began, but her words fell on deaf ears.
"Hey, did you know Jeremy was having sleeping with Vicki?" Caroline asked after a moment of awkward silence.
The brunette's eyes widened in surprise, answering her question.
"Wha-what? Since when?"
Caroline shrugged on her cropped leather jacket.
"I don't know. But she's upstairs right now. I recognize the sounds of quick hiding when I hear them."
"Wow. That's just...really weird."
Yeah, it was weird. Until four months ago Elena had been dating Vicki's brother Matt. Before the accident.
"Yeah, um...I'll see you at school," the girl said, snatching the last piece of toast off of Elena's plate. Taking a bite out of it with a wide smile as she retreated out of the kitchen.
"Caroline!" shouted a petite chocolate-brown haired girl in a colorful cardigan. She stood in the center of the hallway wearing a wide smile.
"Bonnie!" The blond exclaimed with ample enthusiasm. She hurried toward her. Arms enveloping the smaller girl in a tight hug. Before pulling away to get a better look at her.
"You look great."
The girl's smile widened.
"Thank you." Bonnie grinned, "so do you."
"Of course I do." Caroline said jokingly as they fell into step beside each other. Making their way down the crowded hallway.
"Have you noticed the major lack of male real estate?" The girl inquired. Which was sadly true. They had yet to come across any hotties that weren't already in their tight knit group-and that weren't complete jerks.
"Not really." Caroline answered as they turned a corner. "But-oof."
The girl's eyes widened in surprise. Her books had been knocked out of her hands by the jerk who'd run into her. And as she braced herself for the emanate pain of hitting the floor a pair of hands reached out for her. Arms clad in leather sleeves.
Caroline's eyes trailed up her savior's arms, meeting a pair of deep green eyes.
"Caroline," the tall, lean boy whispered sweetly as he pulled her closer to him. The warmth of his erection pressed firmly against her core. "I want you."
"Are you okay?" He asked her softly as his hands held her firmly by the waist. Helping her regain her balance as she blinked a few times. The image in her head disappearing. She nodded slowly as he pulled his hands away suddenly. Gathering her books up off the floor and handing them back over to her.
Caroline couldn't ignore the shiver that went up her spine the instant their fingers touched. It was possibly the strangest feeling she'd ever gotten as she stared shamelessly at him in awe. She felt like she...knew him.
"Do I-know you?" she asked hesitantly, holding her books firmly against her chest. "I think I've seen you...somewhere before."
He stood silent for a moment before responding.
"No, I just moved...I'm Stefan."
She smiled. Tucking a loose lock of blond hair behind her ear.
Bonnie cleared her throat behind them and Caroline suppressed the urge to roll her eyes at her friend. She'd missed the strange look that flashed across Stefan's face before quickly disappearing as both girls turned to him.
"Stefan, this is Bonnie-" the blond began before being cut off by her friend.
"Bonnie Bennett." She informed him with eyes wandering to the tight t-shirt he wore under his black leather jacket.
"Nice to meet you." he said quickly, something over her shoulder catching his attention. Without even sparing one last look in their direction, Stefan turned swiftly and made his way down the hall. A chorus of sighs erupting the moment he was out of earshot.
A pout graced the smaller girl's lips.
"What was that about?" She inquired sending Caroline a sideways glance as she watched the Salvatore boy walk away.
"I have no ide-"
"Who was that?" Elena's voice sounded behind them. Bonnie turned quickly on her heel. Flinging her arms around the girl.
"Elena!" exclaimed Bonnie, her smile returning quickly. "Where have you been?"
Pushing away from Bonnie she noticed a familiar brunette standing behind her.
Said brunette smiled widely. "Hey."
"Oh, my god Meredith!" Caroline gasped, reaching out a hand and brushing it through the girl's loose dark locks. "Your hair..."
"I know." she chirped. Adjusting the light blue ribbon in her hair. "I wanted to try something new."
"What she really means is she wanted Tyler to notice her." Bonnie said bluntly with a knowing smile. Meredith rolled her eyes before turning her attention to the blond.
"Caroline," she began gently, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "How are you?"
The girl's face fell for a moment before returning a small smile.
"Great." she replied halfheartedly. Shrugging the strap of her bag onto her other shoulder.
For some reason she couldn't shake the thought that she knew Stefan. She could still see his lean, flat-muscled body in her head...his mouth...an upper lip sculpted by the gods...sensitive and yet very sensual...she could just imagine herself kissing them.
"Caroline." Elena's impatient voice snapped her out of her pleasant day dream. "Who was that guy?"
Oh, no! She has that interested look on her face.
"His name is Stefan Salvatore." Bonnie informed the two. Linking arms with Meredith with a wide smile. "We can talk more during lunch. We are off to class."
Elena chuckled as the girl dragged Meredith away, down the hall.
"I'll see you at lunch." Caroline said simply, turning on her heel to go down the long corridor stretched out behind her.
"Yeah," Elena nodded, though her attention was glued on Matt who stood at his locker watching her. "See you."
Aw, French. The language of love.
Caroline thought as she settled into an empty seat near the back of the room. She was really glad school was almost over. She really didn't think she could take one more person asking her if she was okay after her mother-
She felt a pair of eyes watching her. The girl looked around her until they landed on something outside of the classroom window. A black bird...a crow. It oddly seemed to be staring at her. Which was impossible. It sat so still that when it's head cocked to the side she jumped in surprise.
"Are you okay?" A familiar voice asked, breath warming the back of her neck. She jumped again, turning in her seat to see that the new boy had claimed the one beside her.
"Wha-wher-um...nothing." she mumbled quickly. Ducking her head in embarrassment. "Its just this bird-"
"What bird?" He asked, eyes snapping toward the window searchingly. "I don't see anything."
Caroline looked back over at the window, but he was right. No bird in sight.
"So...you must think I'm insane," she said sheepishly.
A smile graced Stefan's face as he stared at her intently.
"I wasn't even thinking it."
The teacher stopped pacing about the room. Turning her attention sharply to the blond.
"C'est quelque chose de bizarre Mlle Forbes?" the stout woman inquired loudly. Drawing the attention of the rest of the class to the back of the room.
Stefan stared at her out of the corner of his eye. Ready to jump to her defense if need be.
The girl sighed after a moment of thought. "Non, Mme Halpren."
The way the words rolled off her tongue sent a wave of warmth over his body. He'd heard French before. Hell, he'd heard it from actual French girls, but Caroline had a way about making it sound so...sexy.
She slid him a sidelong glance before jotting something down on her notebook. A moment later she tore it out, folded it neatly, and passed it quickly over to him.
He looked at her quizzically before unfolding it. Scrawled out on the paper was:
Are you sure we've never met?
Elena picked at her food ruefully as she waited for Caroline to arrive to complete their circle at lunch. Bonnie and Meredith were talking excitedly amongst each other, Matt was ignoring her, and Tyler...well he was sending sexual related texts to some unknown.
When she couldn't take it a second longer she cracked.
Four heads turned to look at her with a mixture of surprise and confusion. Tyler spoke up first.
"I saw Forbes with the new kid, headed for the art department."
"Wait," Bonnie cut in suspiciously. "Tyler you don't have a class anywhere near the art department."
Meredith stared at him with a frown. "That's right."
The boy smirked. "I like to check out the tennis team when they get out of class. They have the same period together."
Matt stared at Elena for a moment. Following her reaction-jealousy was seeping from her pores.
He growled out a string of curses as he got up, leaving his try behind as he stormed off.
"What's with him?" the brunette inquired, snatching a cold fry from his tray and popping it into her mouth.
"Must be his time of the month." Tyler joked. Looking over his shoulder as his friend exited the lunchroom.
"I'll go check on him." Meredith volunteered with a sigh. Picking up a bag of animal crackers off of her tray before quickly moving to catch up with him.
"She totally wants him." the boy said between bites of his burger. A smug grin on his handsome face.
Bonnie scoffed, "You are such an idiot."
"Favorite book?" the girl wanted to know. She was actually having fun. Ditching lunch to hang out with Stefan was...nice. She actually felt normal. He didn't talk to her like an ass or as if she was on the verge of breaking. He was just comfortable.
"The Great Gatsby." Stefan said, watching her as she flipped through a discarded art book. Back to him.
"Fitzgerald," she couldn't suppress the smile forming on her face. "Favorite movie?"
"That would be Taxi Driver."
Caroline closed the book and spared him a glance over his shoulder.
"So, you were born in Mystic Falls?" she asked. It was possible that's how she knew him. From childhood play dates.
He nodded. "And moved when I was still young."
"Parents?" She guessed. She'd heard he came from a military family.
"My parents passed away." Stefan informed her with a tight lipped smile.
The girl tore her gaze from him, twirling on her heel to face him completely.
He nodded slowly his appreciation. Eyes locked on hers.
"Any siblings?" she knew Elena was probably going through the same thing and if it wasn't for Jeremy and Jenna she'd have gone crazy.
"None that I talk to." very vague. But he was smiling again.
"That's too bad."
Stefan couldn't believe it was her. Actually her...and not some carbon copy like Elena Gilbert. Who was a dead ringer for Katherine.
She was Caroline Forbes. The girl he'd been in love with. The girl his father and the other founding family members found with a broken neck in Fell's Church. The girl Katherine had been suspicious of.
A crow came burgling through the open balcony door of his room. Swooping down near Stefan's head before landing on top of a banister.
He froze, eyes dropping as the bird cawed sinisterly.
He spun around slowly. Trying to keep his face neutral as he stared into the eyes of a familiar man.
The man who'd shared his love for Caroline. The man who feigned a year of loving Katherine in the hopes of being reunited with her. The man with a gleam of malice in his eyes.
A smirk twitched at the corners of his mouth. "Hello, brother."
He entered the room briskly.
"The crows a bit much. Don't you think?" Stefan asked as the black bird cawed yet again. "You had Caroline freaked out."
The older Salvatore looked up from Stefan's desk of trinkets with suspicion.
"Stefan," He began. Noting the way his brother's throat tightened in anticipation. "I hope you do not forget about our little arrangement."
Stefan's eyes darkened considerably.
"Elena's a dead ringer for Katherine...Don't you remember how much you loved her?"
Damon's playful expression quickly evaporated. And he stood suddenly before Stefan. Face morphed into that of a demon. Hand wrapped tightly around his brother's neck. Squeezing roughly.
"I get Caroline." he reminded Stefan dryly before tossing him across the room.
"I have some unsettling news," Giuseppe sighed as he claimed the seat behind his desk.
"Father, what is it?" Stefan inquired, sharing a look with his brother as the older man continued.
"Miss Forbes was found at Fell's Church last night...she..." he stammered, eyes going to Damon who sat uncomfortably in his seat beside Stefan. "She is dead."
A/N 2: Well, the final chapter of this story, To be continued...I've decided to the sequel name A Girl Named Caroline...why? It's pretty self explanatory. All of the little questions you have will probably be answered in the sequel but if you just can't hold them in, please, ask away...in a review. Sorry if my French is terrible or incorrect. I'm more of a Spanish girl myself.
Important Note: For some reason I kept seeing Michelle Trachtenberg as Meredith. I have no idea why but she is an amazing actress so I thought, why not?