By the light of the moon

Disclaimer: The characters and other things from The Vampire Diaries don't belong to me. Credit goes to the rightful owners.

Chapter 1: All roads lead home

"What news do you bring me?" the regal voice demanded as if he didn't already know what he was about to be told.

"She has succeeded, my liege," the servant answered with a dramatic bow, "Elijah is dead. So is a Bennett witch and that Rose as well. The older Lockwood has also been killed. But the shaman, the brothers and the doppelganger have all survived with her. Katerina has set the prophecy in motion."

"And she doesn't even realize what she has done," Klaus said his face expressionless save for his eyes that now glinted with restrained pleasure and malice, "Perfect, Katerina. Just perfect."

"How do we proceed from here, my liege?" the servant asked, head still slightly down with eyes careful never to stray to his master's face.

Klaus turned and walked deliberately to the lone window in the room, fingers dancing in the first rays of sunlight of the day, "It would be unfair to let Katerina do all the work. And besides, I should like to meet the one the prophecy speaks so highly of. We go to Mystic Falls. Poetic how it will all end where it all began. It is time to go home."

Katherine held Stefan immobile in her steely gaze, her fists clenched tightly on her sides as she carefully circled the blackness that separated them. The cave was silent, hauntingly still, save for the few drops of water that fell from the ceiling down to the bottomless pit that faced both of them.

"Stefan, don't you dare do this. Back off." Katherine hissed in warning

Stefan only smiled at her, a trace of sadness in his eyes as he did, "Don't fight my fate for me, not when I've accepted it."

"I won't let you," Katherine replied, determined but her voice wavering slightly, betraying her fear, "This is my chance at a future, Stefan. Think about it—I won't be a threat to Elena anymore. Isn't that what you've wanted?"

"Katherine," Stefan sighed in frustration, "We both know every other reason is insignificant at this point. This is my role to play. Will you please just promise me that you'll get me out of this cave and back to Mystic Falls? We don't have time, Katherine…you know that. This is our only chance to get through this alive."

"Even in the face of certain death you're still so noble, Stefan," Katherine said, "There is always another way. We can run, Stefan. We don't have to be a part of it. Let them deal with it. I don't care and neither should you because this isn't about us."

"That's a lie and you know it," Stefan countered, "The fallout from this will be catastrophic enough that we'll never be able to hide from it. Game over, Katherine. I have to do this."

"No," Katherine said sharply, "Stefan, you don't. I've waited too long for this. I've planned my entire existence around this moment and no prophecy will stop me. I don't care if the world crumbles at my feet tonight—I'm the one turning into a human, not you."

Stefan just looked at her, unsettling Katherine with his weary gaze, every inch of him resigned yet completely determined to see it through, "Promise me, Katherine."

And without waiting for a response, he plunged into the unseen depths, Katherine's scream trailing behind him. Her fear of losing him clear and piercing, a sound that clawed at his heart before he blacked out and gave in to the darkness.

"Normal is overrated," Damon muttered grumpily as he picked out popcorn from his seat before settling back in, "and I also refuse to believe that this is normal. Two vampires, a werewolf and an irritating, though breathtaking, human on a double-date will never pass for normal."

"And what would you rather have us do, Damon? Wear black, night-vision goggles and break into a blood bank?" Elena replied, her face a mask of indifference as she started on her popcorn, staring at the blank movie screen in front of them.

"I don't need night-vision goggles," Damon huffed as he turned towards the screen as well, "Seriously, Elena, this sucks. You don't even have butter on your popcorn. What does that even taste like?"

"Hey!" Elena said as she swatted his hand away when he tried to get a piece, "Eat your own. You don't insult my popcorn and still get some."

Damon stuck out his bottom lip like a child, his eyes bright with mischief as he addressed her, "Please, Elena?"

Elena shook her head, trying but failing to hide her smile, and extended her bucket of popcorn to him.

"See, was that so hard?" Damon said grabbing a handful, eating one piece and then making a face as he chewed but finished off everything with a sarcastic smile on his face when Elena raised her eyebrows at him.

"Will you two behave?" Caroline hissed, "The movie is starting! It's hard enough that I can hear every little thing in this theater but do you have to add your cheesy flirty little fight to it? It's just popcorn—relax, will you?"

Elena settled back in her seat as the lights flickered signaling the start of the previews, picking kernels off Damon's bucket every time he picked a piece from hers until the finally swapped just as the movie was about to start.

"Hey!" Damon exclaimed when the first scene appeared onscreen, "This isn't what we were supposed to watch! This is a sappy romantic comedy! Elena! You switched!"

Elena smirked and continued watching, ignoring Damon who kept muttering under his breath until Caroline finally reached over and pinched him hard on the arm, putting considerable strength in it until Damon finally reacted, "Fine! Fine! I'll shut up."

"Juvenile," Damon said in a low voice, causing Elena to shake her head as she fended off Caroline's hand from slapping Damon on the shoulder.

"Enough, let's just watch okay?" Elena said with barely contained laughter over their antics, waiting only a few seconds until the two grunted their agreement to a truce for the rest of the movie.

The peace lasted only a minute before a low grumbling sounded just loud enough for supernatural hearing to pick up, prompting Caroline's annoyance to surface again, "Cut it out, Damon. Can you just not be annoying for 2 hours?"

"What? What did I do? That's not…" Damon said slowly, finally putting the pieces together,"…me. Elena, we have to go now."

"What? Why?" Elena asked, quite confused as Damon dragged her up, protests ringing loudly in their ears as they blocked the movie screen, "What is happening?"

As soon as the question left her lips, an explosion tore through the cinema, debris falling around them as pandemonium erupted blanketed by random electric sparks that lit up the horrified expressions that surrounded her. In a few seconds chaos overtook the entire crowd that was now trying to force its way out of the room.

"Damon!" Elena coughed out as she realized his hand slipped from hers and she was slowly being dragged by the throng of people, in clear danger to be mauled over any second, "Damon!"

Panic seized her as people crushed her as they fought to get out via the lone exit that wasn't caved in from the blast. Elena felt bruises forming on her arms and her sides as she struggled against the crowd but in minutes she was being pulled under the stampede.

"Damon!" Elena called out, her voice severely muffled by the other screams.

"Don't worry, I got you," said a strong voice, steady as the grip that pulled her out and pushed back the crowd as he guided her safely outside.

"Elena!" Damon said rushing towards her, pushing people left and right, not caring if they fell or knocked over others in the process, "Are you alright? I'm sorry. I didn't know what was happening. One minute I was holding you and then you were just gone."

"I'm fine, I'm fine, Damon. This guy helped me…."Elena said turning to the stranger, seeing him clearly for the first time, struck completely by his eyes—grey, practically silver in the moonlight. His dark hair unruly but in perfect disarray, reminding him of a Damon from the earlier days she knew him but without the hard edge of a century of obsession over Katherine.

"Nick. My name is Nick," the stranger said, extending his hand towards Elena, who shook it as if in a trance.

"Okay," Damon said taking his hand from Elena's and shaking it vigorously, "She's Elena and I'm Damon. Thank you for saving her but now we're going because her friends are worried sick and are still looking for her. Right, Elena, we need to go and tell them you're still one piece, albeit suddenly mildly crazy and out of it?"

"Oh, yeah, thanks Nick." Elena said finally snapping out of it, placing her hand firmly in Damon's.

"Anytime, Elena," Nick said with a sincere smile, making a gesture with his hand as if tipping his hat to her.

"Yeah, yeah, like there are not enough volunteers to be her hero. There's not going to be another time for you buddy, not if I have anything to do about it," Damon muttered as they drifted away from Nick, holding Elena tightly with one arm.

"Are you okay?" Damon finally asked, gentle and reassuring.

"I'm fine…but please promise me you'll try harder not to let go next time?" Elena said trying to make light of the situation in a weak attempt to quell the sense of foreboding rising in her as the reality of what happened kicked in.

"I didn't let you go, Elena," Damon said darkly, stopping in the middle of the street, madness still surrounding them as he pulled Elena to face him, "You were wrenched away from my hand. I don't let go of things that matter to me."

Nick watched from a distance as Damon pulled Elena into his arms, kissed the top of her head and appeared to whisper assurances, promises or lies to her. He smiled as they walked away, arm in arm as another pair rushed towards them in a flurry of hand gestures and relieved expressions.

He stepped back further into the darkness a split second before Elena turned around and scanned the crowd, a small frown on her face, before Damon tugged on her arm and placed his protectively over her shoulders. A smile spread on Nick's face as he looked over the madness before him, a look of amusement crossing his face as he recalled how Elena looked back, seemingly searching for someone, a face in the crowd—his.

"Soon, Elena," Nick whispered, "You'll know everything. Not now. But soon."