title: lasciate ogni speranza
fandom: the vampire diaries
disclaimer: not mine
word count: 2,313
summary: They are too resolved, too stubborn to be bent as they trade in claws and fists.
notes: Prompt: To the victor goes the spoils. For simply_aly.
i. commencement thus begins as calamity
Klaus brings her a rose – red and daring and characteristically perverse – and silently issues his opponent a challenge. Arrogant and altogether bellicose, Elijah notes.
He watches as she takes his gift with a trembling hand and dangles it by her leg, over a railing where it stays: perilous and precarious.
And she looks too vulnerable herself, standing there by the grand staircase facing them.
Two men, the entire world before them and winner takes all.
So it begins.
Features chiselled stoic like stone, Elijah feigns nonchalance as the other man runs knuckles down her crimson cheek-to-throat. In another time, in another place, he may have felt incensed – murderous, all hellfire and reprisal – at the disquieting display. If only the budding affections and tensions between them (unspoken, uninhibited, undisturbed) had grown and bloomed beyond rational control. To his relief (and dreadful affliction), they have not.
And what isn't played upon is of little concern.
So when Elena turns her pleading eyes towards him (wide, watering pools of fear and grief) he can delude himself into not feeling guilty. Guilt is guilt, but guilt has no measure in his plans and whatever Elijah may have thought, holds no lasting consequence.
With sickening ease, he turns his gaze away, pushes her away. Indifference – because her circumstance is a mundane phenomenon if not unfortunate, and he has a façade of loyalty to maintain.
At her whimpers, he inhales deep (hasn't done that in years) and paints a mental picture. Something to lull, something to appease, and the sight of his distorted, hideous face – caught up in astonished ill-fermenting displeasure, turning rage – soothes him all the way to his burning core.
So he retreats to the sidelines. Immersed in design and mission, and extricated from emotion.
But then, he hears her scream.
Loud, rasping, the sound of slams and whipping – the sound of something tearing, perhaps even a limb.
Elijah's thrown back into the now with frantic, bone-jarring ferocity.
"You passed out," he states. The obvious and nothing more.
Elena opens her eyes, the last shreds of the day's light filtering through too-black, too-thick curtains. Shining so bitter and forebodingly and making lurid circles darken under her eyes. And there is a moment, short and fleeting, where Elijah considers reaching out and touching her – wondering if she'll shrink away. Wilt away like a flower in death.
But the moment is gone, just as well.
Just as well, as attractions begin to call, to plague. For the barest attractions Elijah has left are wasted on her, her, Elena, whom fate demands sacrificed and de-skinned.
And he's feeling miserable and repulsive and will not admit it (to himself).
Emitting a weary, pain-streaked moan, she begins to massage her neck, bruised and red. His eyes linger on the damage – blotches, like those from a blotched slaughtering – as he feels the inklings of nausea (guilt). Like scabs building on scabs as everything becomes a great, dreary mess. And before he can quash a sudden bout of sentimentality, of self-ruin, Elijah is reaching out and bringing her into his hold. Pressing lips to her hair and whispering: I'm sorry.
"Sorry for what?"
He can feel and hear the forced scorn dripping angry at the end of every word but he doesn't respond. Doesn't retort, continues instead with pressing his sharp dagger-fingers into her shoulders and spine.
Out of benevolence and pity (and just a little endearment).
ii. equidistant tumbling through the nine circles
It's a euphoric, sadistic rush that consumes him.
Burning and potent and exhilarating and oh, oh, how he feels alive after so, so, long. For too, too, long, the world has known and breathed nothing more than insipidness and decay–
as his old immortal bones turned to brittle and ash and dust with tedium, as the years turned grey (and ebbed away).
But Klaus has a secret hidden deep within the vaults and bolts of his brain (has a knowledge of how things will turn right again). Knows that deliverance is coming, sanguine and sweet, personified in innocence and bearing a face of beauty he once learnt to abhor and yearn and want, all for himself.
With her tiny skull in the palm of his right hand, on the cusp of being crushed, he feels life returning once again to his dead, dead corpse. And remembers how, always and forever, humanity serves only as an amusement. A trinket to toy with at his whim.
Smirking at his fortune, he brutally presses lips to hers as his world erupts in flames, burns, and is reborn anew.
Like a phoenix. Like a God.
Klaus laughs and laughs and laughs.
"She is a resilient little thing, isn't she?"
"I suppose she is," is Elijah's response is all too blasé.
Klaus scrutinises his features, deciphering them for some veiled truth, a thing he may have missed, a–
"A shame. Though I may take particular care not to break her entirely."
"How much longer do you intend on toying with her?"
"As long as I please." A stagnant pause. "Lamenting for her plight, Elijah?"
"I wouldn't know how."
He hums a response and continues to observe him with placid disinterest, notes the barely-there twitch at the corner of his lips. The forced and rigid bearings of nonchalance, hiding internal squirms and strains and really now, he should give him a little more credit – he's had eternity to learn the signs of deceit.
Still, Elijah meets his gaze and holds it (a challenge), thinking he is so discreet. So noble. And so resolved, Klaus decides that he – traitor – must be destroyed.
Gutted and open (twisting and winding), hung upside-tipsy-side toward the sky.
Klaus grins at the mental picture.
Brandishes his weapons and prepares for bloody war.
Like a clean, swift blade cutting into muscle and skin, Klaus strikes first with cruel and deadly accuracy.
Intent on devastation, castigation. Instant gratification. And it's all crashing down in giant waves, hits her hard, a resounding slap across the face. With deep-incised, fuchsia-slit bruises, bites and kisses, he ups the ante knowing full well Elijah is never far away. Never far from the chorus of her cries and pleas, echoing his way.
A tenfold gift.
And Klaus can only chuckle along, admiring the trickles of blood trailing down her back to her thin thighs and coltish calves, slithering along her silhouette and onto marble tile. And resigns to wait, counting the days before Elijah cracks. Burnt up, charred, and left to rot; the natural closure of a thorn removed, of enemies decapitated and pieces asunder, of–
"Please… I don't want to die," Elena chokes out.
Pulled from his reverie Klaus turns to look at her, viciously and beautifully and full of merciless villainy. "What was that, now?"
With slow, calculated steps he closes the distance and weaves a living hell, just for her (him). With a smile, full of secrets and promises (of the very worst), the fear hits her between organs and she ceases to breathe.
His velvet voice purrs, his blue eyes gleam, and just like that he compels her and moves her to his will. Strung up by strings, like a marionette and dangling from emaciated arms and legs.
"Ask me again, my sweet," he whispers, bending at the waist. The soft pad of his thumb tracing over her swollen lips, claiming them. Relentless, like a conquering conqueror of old.
"Only, this time, with a little more supplication."
iii. culmination what appears only once a century
If he were on the verge of death and decrepit, hungering for measly power gains or revenge or the mordant, divine taste of blood and cognac tricking down his throat, Elijah would have indeed agreed that he had lost his mind. Or was teetering dangerously close on becoming insane. Or harbouring an unfulfilled ache inside. Or–
longing for a girl soon to be dead, dead, dead.
He is young – still, even with thousands of years behind him – and has vigour still in abundant supply within his tiring, shelled out corpse. And is driven to recite, like a mantra, that Klaus will pay (for every tear he causes to slide down her cheek). He is in the right, of that he is certain.
With perfect, divine clarity.
Klaus needs a taste of his own ruin; know agony and suffering and then… then everything will be right again, then she will be free. And as for her, whatever happens, whatever fate decrees, will happen (but that is a lie, a vicious lie, because desires-turning-obsessions never truly die, and he cannot rightly abandon the girl to the barbaric hearts of banality.)
Out of sight, out of mind, Elijah tightens his jaw and forces himself to ignore the chorus of her cries. Obsesses a little more and hastens his move, plunging lay daggers and enchanted swords into Klaus' imaginary back.
The last twists in–
he falls: pop goes his spine, goes (in showers of hail and hate) down in cascades to his vertebrae – pop goes the weasel!
And Elijah can only feel an overwhelming sensation of vindication and anticipation and–
the hallucination shifts to Elena, all broken and dejected. A half-snapped spine, with soft, white bones sticking out.
Elijah suppresses the sudden desire to empty his stomach.
Resonating from behind glass panes, Klaus plays a sonata.
Ode to a Beginning, Ode to Finale is Commencing is Reliving.
Like a skilled virtuoso, his fingers deftly move across a row of ivory keys without hesitation or pause. A perfect melody to contort minds and twist resolves (distortion is a true art only achieved through honing, the spilling of blood and tears). He can make himself believe whatever he chooses as Elijah muses over the irony of it all.
The beginning of the end, indeed.
Turning towards Elena he extends his hand, hoping she'll take it. And observes the glassy eyes that see right through him, the sickly, pale skin marred red and purple (and resists the urge to pounce with deadly cause there and then).
After a moment – a minute, an hour, he can't be sure – she slowly places her hand in his. As the vehemence and depth of an infinity's worth of denial and irrational desire begins to bubble and smoulder, collecting in his centre and twisting out. Consuming him whole.
"Don't worry. I'll protect you."
Elena remains silent, uncertain. But it doesn't matter; he is committed to what must be done (with self-satisfied delusions in tow).
On a high, clear note with everything at last in place, Elijah prepares to clasp the casket shut.
It's curtain call.
"A threat-display, Elijah? Have you really thought this through?"
After a century of monotony and inaction, Klaus rises from the ashes with all his hell wrought furies. And engulfs him in an acrid cloud, draws from boundless reserves and batters his body down with a madman's laugh ringing deaf. Elijah falls, desperate and grasping for a ledge to stand (falls short, bruised and bloodied on the floor).
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You always had the look of someone bound to overestimate themselves and do something incredibly stupid."
A fist finds itself buried in his chest, fingers circling about his sternum as he's hoisted to his feet. His breaths grow short, his ribs contract painfully as he fights to maintain consciousness – inhale and exhale. But it is all so laborious, so onerous–
this, he realises, is what they call onus. Obligation. Sacrifice.
"I'm afraid you over finessed."
In the distance, something cracks, someone screams and he realises all too belatedly that someone is he. And Elena screams next, loud and strident; a spear to his chest–
that has him instantly seeing red.
Like a sting, like a slap, (like a flash of the afterlife and a-tumbling away from the light) Elijah springs awake and is made alive again.
With a snarl, teeth bared, the ground quakes beneath and he writhes, surfaces, out of petrified sleep like a bundled snake. And before him, Klaus looms and sways (never yielding, never dying).
They are too resolved, too stubborn to be bent as they trade in claws and fists.
Elena looks on from afar, resigned and anxious and ossified in place.
iv. epilogue ashes to ashes
In the aftermath of it all – post-war, post-death, post-calamity and finality – the first thing he does is reach out and touch her.
A strand of hair, a red tear-stained cheek. Something. To feel, to assure (allay his non-existent heart) that all this has not been for naught. That she is there, across from him and not ablated into the crisp winter wind. There–
reflecting back disbeliefs and disenchantments with wide, solemn eyes.
"So… this is it, then? This is the end?"
"The end," he confirms, running the back of his fingers down the side of her face.
She wavers slightly, threatens to shatter at the mere contact. Disperse and waft away, in a million pieces. He would have frowned at her frailty, but something deep and elusive and intrinsic has him smiling instead. Vampishly white teeth glaring luridly against the pitch-black night. Wounds and pains forgotten, he is guilelessly ensnared.
And so tranquilized, materialized (an apparition carried over from streams of blood), he pulls her to him and inhales the scent of victory through her hair. Feels her body's tremors turning pandemic (because there's no where left to run). And this is the moment when her throat chokes up, as his fingers dig deep into pliant, malleable skin. Leaving little crescent scars in their wake – a memento, a final gift – and soon, she's caught in his too-tight, too-cruel (and real) embrace.
He is pulling her away from the stench of battle and decay before she can utter a sound.
A rotting corpse lies forgotten on the floor.
So it ends.