Disclaimer: I don't own the Vampire Diaries and I apologize for the inconsistent writing in this chapter, side effect of adding lines here and there over years. This has a slightly longer but improved arc, but still no more than a total of ten chapters. Things will really start to heat up in the next few chapters.

When the Fireworks Start: Part Three

Elena fiddled with the radio stations at first, desperate for anything to fill the silence and distract her from the hollowing knowledge that Stefan was in the boot of the car, gently put there by the brother who had sworn undying misery on his little brother. Losing a love was one thing but to lose a brother... if she had lost Jeremy, Elena didn't know what she would have done. Her biological father owed his life to the arrangements for Stefan to have a dignified burial, not that Elena cared about Uncle John at the moment. The human cost had taken Tyler's dad, the mayor she had known her whole life and no matter how reasonable and calm Elena could be, she couldn't forgive the man she had been raised to see as an uncle. John Gilbert would never be her father, not where it counted.

"Just pick one, you hear a melancholy drenched pop song, you've heard them all" said Damon tiredly and his usual bite, natural sarcasm had gone missing. Sure, the vampire was trying to maintain the facade that everything was fine but his chiselled features couldn't disguise his anguish. For someone with over a century of vampirism under his belt, Damon was losing control as tiny spidery veins flourished around his reddened eyes.

Abandoning the radio, the teenager mustered an apologetic half smile as tears slipped unbidden down her face. "I didn't mean to-"

"I know Elena" Damon silenced her and swallowed. "I have a whole list of people to blame for Stefan's death, just like I did when Katherine was... I thought she was sealed in the tomb. But I could always tell myself Katherine knew how I felt about, her and that I loved her, back then of course" Interrupting would have given the suave vampire a chance to bury how he felt and Elena stayed silent as Damon turned off an exit. "He was my brother Elena, and I loved him- Katherine as conniving and manipulative as she is could never take that away. Although Stefan never got to hear from me how much I cared, what I'd give up for him- that my humanity doesn't exist" At that Damon eclipsed reproachful and pure pain entered his voice.

Pushing Damon Salvatore could be dangerous and Elena didn't know quite how to say what she was thinking, but she squeezed Damon's shoulder, offering him the comfort she needed to provide him as the vampire brought the car to a stop. He leaned in and Elena embraced him and the closeness wasn't romantic despite the feelings left unsaid. It was solace.

They had arrived at the crematorium and they stayed in the car for what seemed like hours as Damon broke down and Elena comforted him. When Stefan's brother was ready to admit to whatever followed his humanity not existing despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, she would be there. And this wasn't something either of them could do alone.

"I haven't got anything else to say to you, only that one day Jeremy- you will regret what you are doing"

Once upon a time, Uncle John's visits had been fun, unanticipated visits and comfort after the deaths of his parents. Jeremy missed the fun loving uncle but the man in the hospital bed, glaring at Anna and trying to get under his skin wasn't the same man. Grayson Gilbert might have been ashamed with his son for a relationship with a vampire and Jeremy couldn't control that but neither of them would ever know the answer. John didn't have the right to drag the dead into the argument.

Jeremy checked outside in the hospital hallway and when he saw no one, he closed and locked the door, confusing his girlfriend. He pulled out the vial in his pocket. "Do know what this is Uncle John- this is Anna's blood that I refused to take at the same time she wouldn't kill you because of me. Stefan wouldn't kill you because of Elena, my sister" Resolved, Jeremy quickly unscrewed the vial and drank the blood.

"Don't do it, Jeremy, you don't want to" Anna pleaded, she was frightened, and fear was finally registering in John.

"I'm doing this because I want my uncle to know something" said Jeremy to reassure the vampire and turned back to his uncle. "That blood- I'm going to keep drinking it. I want to stay human Uncle John but if anything happens to Anna or Damon, I'll kill myself and then you'll have a problem" It could have been considered desperation although Jeremy knew he had hit the marker when it came to his uncle's Achilles heel. Indeed, his uncle reclined back into the hospital bed and closed his eyes, as though pained.

Finally John sighed. "I understand" He cast a strange glace at Jeremy's girlfriend as though he were contemplative on her staying with his nephew despite a want to remain human. "Katherine wasn't supposed to stay in Mystic Falls after the tomb vampires died- Isobel tells me it's for Elena's own good"

Anna scoffed. "Nothing Katherine does is for the good of anybody... except for Katherine's own good"

"Your mother was leaving Mystic Falls and taking you far away from Jeremy, it wasn't my idea to kill her and the other one- although Katherine doesn't want you dead because of something she needs. It's why I'm telling you this because Isobel said that Katherine knows you wouldn't risk him and Elena by revealing her survival- they won't tell me anything else"

Salvatore Estate, Mystic Falls- 1864

Katherine had been running for a long time and she would let most people die for her. Better them than her and she acknowledged it with a heavy heart as she watched Pearl and John Gilbert escorting her, forever the gentleman from the window.

Speaking of perfect gentleman, the former doppelganger giggled in delight at Damon, who she knew wasn't asleep- restless in her rejection in her bed that night. Oh, Damon didn't understand she had come off Stefan and knowing that both the brothers she loved were hers.

She had spent days planning a compulsion dismissed as a dream the day the elder Salvatore brother became a vampire after his admission of wanting a human life with her. A blink of an eye for a vampire, so she compelled in a half asleep daze as he groggily awoke, that he would want to be with her forever, whatever the cost, covering it up with gentle kisses.

Unlike the others Katherine had led on, the Salvatore brothers meant something to her in a way nothing had since her suicide to escape the sacrifice and the slaughter of her family in Klaus's revenge.

Anger became a dangerous whip in her stomach and it churned at the memory of the charming and refined man she had fallen in love with, a one sided love it seemed as all the Original vampire had wanted her for was to break the curse. Katherine had been naught but a human chit for to play with and discard and she felt only lingering regret for the two men she had led on to escape her fate. She wasn't the original vampire; she loved the Salvatore brothers for more than their immediate purpose.

Katherine couldn't believe she had made the mistake not to kill the little vampire she had used to acquire her friendship with Pearl, Annabelle years ago, an accident of course and then Pearl's loyalties would be unquestionable. All these years and the Originals were finally honing in- Elijah corresponded with Pearl and had offered his vaunted word to leave her and her daughter untouched whilst he killed the other vampires the former doppelganger had turned. And had she not discovered the letter in the apothecary delivered her straight to Klaus, like Katherine would have to save herself.

Annabelle would live for the secret she carried, of a hunter to destroy her worst enemy before her descendents bore another doppelganger.

She stepped lightly to Damon's room and her sweet and innocent boy's world just lit up looking at her although he was different than the other boys, men she had toyed with who loved her, unrequited.

She trailed her hand on his chest. "I hope you'll forgive my rudeness, I was tired from the ball and I thought one brother would be enough tonight"

"Of course Miss Katherine" Damon flirted, playing as though she were an innocent girl, a prim and proper virginal maiden even though the elder Salvatore brother was the true innocent. He trusted that she loved him and she would never hurt him and the vampire could only fulfil a single belief.

Mystic Falls, Present Day

Katherine was out of options, and with Stefan's death she was fixated on the only two lives that mattered in the dull little town, all too quick to steal what didn't belong to them. Damon and Elena. Her doppelganger didn't threaten her sense of possessiveness because the girl was her blood and for a fa├žade wanted to remain human which helped her pact with Elijah. They hated each other but they could work to save the girl with an elixir the prim gentleman had the intelligence to display shame at his presumption she should have trusted him to thinking she would die.

The elixir worked, thanks to Lucy and she had another ally even her Original vampire ally was unaware of and she glanced at her little box containing the flower appearing like a black rose bestowed by a witch in death. Its scent trapped in magical stasis inside her, broken by the ritual.

Her bloodline would turn human and Klaus would burn, unable to take her down with him. Esther apologized in contriteness but the Original Witch was hardly a pleasant woman in death, willing to murder her flesh and blood instead of restoring their humanity. Hers and her line was an apology; her crimes against nature's balance in the haughty tones of the witches were caused by damning Tatia Petrova's bloodline in addition to sacrificing her.

The ancestress had been alike to her human side and Elena's, a kind hearted person despite a man in the village taking her involuntarily, willing to love her new small child- a chance stolen from Katherine. Humanity wormed its way into an errant pain as Mason discussed offering up Brady reluctantly; it was the other werewolf's choice as the sacrifice- werewolves wanted the Originals dead for the millennia long feud. Her delusions that Mikael could save Elena dead years prior when he arrived in Mystic Falls to kill her descendent as though he had a right to shed Petrova blood.

It was easy to slip into the Gilbert house and to a sleeping Elena, Damon distracted by the finer details of a council meeting, a funeral. Katherine let up on suppressing her humanity to sit next to Elena, dried tears on her face.

"We're nearly at the end now" she whispered delicately, her only compulsion to keep her asleep and she wished that she could make her blood hate John Gilbert, so easy to turn him. The vampire sacrifice was to be Rose, Elijah unknowingly brought himself closer to destruction but it was her vengeance.

Rose had been conspiring to hand Elena over to Klaus and spidering veins crept to Katherine at a mere thought of her. "Better she die than I, and I'm sorry for what I must do but better everything in this world die than you"

Fortunately Damon was interested in getting back to her doppelganger descendent and she was quite willing to make do with Mason. His human self was pure and innocent and deserved what she stole- it would have always been Stefan because not even a human heartbeat could change the monster he had become or hers.

Katherine had carefully chosen her target, dripping vervain from vials and replacing it with flavoured water, following the quarry from the Lockwood estate. A memorial, a wake for the Mayor and Stefan and she smirked- very soon Damon would be a true human Founder without a cause except for lavish fundraisers.

Her prey was eager to get to her miraculously healed daughter and was going to play an instrumental role in protecting her from vampires. She tapped her prey on the shoulder and compelled a pliant acceptance of a slashed wrist, and then Katherine threw her into the lake, diving in a second later to drown the Sherriff Forbes of the twenty-first century, taking her last breath.

Five minutes later, she broke to the surface quietly. "Game on"

-To Be Continued-

Original writing, pun intended has become my ultimate passion but I will endeavour to complete this fic despite however many seasons. As for Katherine's dismissal of Elijah, I can see caring for the Salvatore brothers, her descendents because of how much she didn't want to give her child up (she even took Elena's place in 'Homecoming', instead of far wiser hanging back as her doppelganger took all the risks) but that's as far as it extends. And she'll swap his life for theirs or hers in a second- as much as we love the honourable Original, he didn't present Katerina with the same chance that he did Elena- and it's cruel that he didn't offer that to Elena or her to start with. One shouldn't have to prove they're willing to die stupidly.

But I loved Elijah's growth in season three to an admission of what he's done however this is based earlier, not to say his death is written in stone for this. Although, I don't think even jumping the shark would make me fond of Esther, responsible for a thousand years of misery and Alaric. Excuse me now, I must plan the next chapter, delivered sometime this century and cry about my favourite vampire hunter's death.