Finn handed Kol a champagne class and they continued to stand on the outskirts of the dance floor while the rest of their family indulged in the fantasy that they could be at peace again. Elijah had only ever wanted them all reunited. Rebekah chose what she believed to be the winning side, and Klaus had never outgrown his childish ways. The fact that he now believed that bygones would simply be bygones because their mother had returned to them was laughable. Being killed and carted around in coffins for years was easy to forgive compared to the years they had all spent grieving for their mother. And now their father was dead at the hands of Klaus. Their brother's eyes drifted over to them as he danced and Kol raised his glass to him. Klaus dropped his gaze quickly, staring intently at the girl in front of him, and Kol nodded at the way Klaus's smile faltered.
He was smart to be afraid.
"I cannot understand how Mother expects us to forgive him after all he's done," Finn snarled in his gravelly voice. Kol could not either but he also did not see the point in being so obvious about it so he merely nodded and let Finn continue on his rant. A little while later, much to their annoyance, Klaus had apparently worked up the nerve to approach them.
"Brothers," he greeted with a smarmy grin. Finn glared and Kol inclined his head without looking at him. "Are you lot having fun? It's been too long since you've enjoyed yourselves."
"And why is that?" Finn asked taking a step closer. Kol put a hand in front of his chest. It was not restraining but Finn heeded him nonetheless. They had all learned to fear Kol over the years, even before they were made into vampires. Finn had killed many. His rage was violent and explosive, but Kol's was a quieter anger. He would leave you alive, yes, but without a reason to live and like the clever man he was, he would have you convinced you were indebted to him for showing you mercy.
Kol opened his mouth to speak but happened to look out at the crowd and spot two women with light brown skin entering the ballroom. He paused. Elijah had told him about how the times had changed in regards to the treatment of black people, how through their valiant and intelligent protests they had fought for their rights as people. It was all a shame, really. He never understood how the Europeans had fashioned the notion that people of color were beneath them when the color of one's skin was of little significance in Kol's time. He watched one of the women make her way through the room until she found the doppelganger. Her arms extended out as she praised the brunette for her gown choice and they embraced. This was as it should be but it still amazed him that a day had come when a black person could attend the same ball with whites.
Klaus noticed Kol was distracted as did Finn who chose to continue their argument. Kol watched as Damon offered a hand to the doppelganger and led her out onto the dance floor. Before the woman could make it to a blond her eyes were fixed on, the youngest Salvatore surprised her by taking her arm and spinning with her until they reached the center of the couples. He held her waist firmly while she reoriented herself and Kol, with his vampire hearing, could hear the girlish quality of her laughter ringing as she giggled. His lips spread in a smile at the sound.
They seemed to enjoy each other's company and trust each other a great deal. They murmured conspiratorially, and Kol did not desire to listen to their conversation. They spoke to each other in an intimate manner as though they alone knew the gravity of their situation and could depend on no other. The faith that shone in their eyes as they looked upon each other caused Kol's brow to furrow in confusion. Were they lovers? He deduced soon after that they were not though from the respectable amount of space kept between their bodies.
The doppelganger's dance partner, however, quite inappropriately closed the space between their bodies, and she repeatedly had to step back with a blush. The woman finally huffed and ended the dance altogether.
The man leaned down and whispered something to the woman, nodding in the others' direction and though she hesitated, the woman nodded in assent to whatever he had suggested.
A minute later, they had switched partners with the doppelganger with Stefan. Kol continued to watch the other woman with her new partner. He only looked away when Finn barked a threat a bit louder than usual and stomped away. Kol gave Klaus a droll look and turned back to the witch.
"Her name is Bonnie," Klaus supplied. He shuffled his feet for a moment and explained further despite his uneasiness. "She was dancing with Stefan who is in love with Elena, the doppelganger, also loved by her current dance partner, Damon." Kol gave him an expectant look and Klaus said, "She's a Bennett witch, brother. You don't stand a chance."
"Is that a challenge?"
"Of course not. I wouldn't want you to lose a bet so quickly after you've woken up from your little nap." Klaus laughed nervously and Kol smile humorlessly at his attempt to joke. Too soon. But he allowed Klaus to speak and decided this time he wanted to know what the witch was talking about.
"Come on. You're gorgeous and I'm sure that witchy juju comes in handy in the sack," Damon reasoned. Bonnie was torn between laughing at how much of an ass he is and wanting to put him in his place for trying to pimp her out. "I'd owe you one."
"You already owe me," she pointed out.
"For what?" He asked, surprised.
"You shouldn't have compelled Jeremy to leave town. You knew better and you did it anyway to score points with Elena."
"What do you care? He was an idiot. Who cheats on someone with a ghost? You should be thanking me." He even had a hint of anger in his tone as he talked of how Jeremy had betrayed Bonnie. Bonnie smiled but raised an eyebrow. She knew he cared enough to want to keep her alive if it didn't interfere with his other loyalties but now he was caring about her feelings, too? She didn't know what to do with that side of Damon so she said nothing. And then he was back to being an asshole again.
"One roll in the hay, what's it going to hurt?"
"I'm not going to sleep with Stefan so you can get closer to Elena. That's not going to happen."
Damon sighed heavily. "You're only hurting yourself here. He's not as good as me in the sack but almost."
"The fact that you know that is disturbing."
He winked at her and she narrowed her eyes at him. She had definitely gotten her fill of Damon for the day. Thankfully, the song ended but when she tried to pull away, he only held on tighter.
"Damon," she warned.
"Indulge me. You're the second most interesting person at this shindig."
Bonnie didn't care. She wasn't going to listen to Damon attempt to get her to betray Elena. "Let go or I'll –"
"You'll what? Witchy migraine me in front of all these people?" Now they were back on familiar ground. She let out a small sigh of relief and inclined her head in a nod. He laughed. "They'll burn you too, you know?"
"Maybe," she conceded with a smile. "But there's always a bright side, Damon. I wouldn't have to see your face anymore." She said it softly and sweetly, yet in the next second, he grimaced and brought his hand up to his head. She stopped right before he could collapse. The smile was still on her face and there was a victorious sway of her hips as she walked away from him.
Kol chuckled and Klaus turned to him, surprised. Making Kol laugh when someone was not in immense pain was almost unheard of. It had been much longer than a century since he had heard it. Klaus looked out at the witch. She was obviously beautiful but judgmental. She would not be easy to manipulate, and he could not imagine her using her powers to suit their purposes, though she did not seem to mind doing it for the Salvatores as long as it was the name of the greater good or whatever rubbish they sold her.
Klaus tilted his head. But if Kol was interested in her then there must be a way to turn her over to their side. Kol's instincts were never wrong. He had been the most difficult among his siblings to neutralize.
"Lead your thoughts in other directions. Miss Bennett does not need to be bothered by you." He faced Klaus completely and the almighty hybrid's eyes dropped to the floor. "Is that understood?"
Klaus nodded his head. Kol followed after Bonnie, and in that moment, Klaus hated him more than he ever had. He was a hybrid for God's sake. He was invincible and they all spoke to him as if he was nothing, as if they all had not been the ones to deceive him. He would never have stabbed them with the daggers if they had stayed loyal to him. His jaw twitched and he promised himself he would make Kol sorry for treating him this way before the party was over.
"You have to be kidding me," she said walking into the foyer causing Stefan and Elena to break a heated kiss. She threw her hands up in the air and letting them drop to her sides with a slap. Elena blushed and Stefan's face which had softened reverted back to his standard Ripper face.
"Bonnie," Elena started.
"Just," she held up a hand. "I'm happy for you. I know you both still love each other but can someone let Damon know?" Stefan looked murderous and Elena contrite. Her eyes shifted to Stefan and down to the floor.
"He's aware," he said.
"I don't think so. I'm not even going to tell you his latest plan to make sure you guys don't get back together."
"Oh, I heard that," Stefan said. He gave her a lecherous smile and Elena looked between the two of them suspiciously.
Bonnie only sighed. "Don't you start."
"I'm not the one who suggested it," he shrugged. Bonnie frowned at him. He was fine when they were dancing earlier. He'd even wanted to switch partners when he'd seen Damon making Elena upset. Why was it whenever Elena was around he was determined to prove that he doesn't care about anything or anyone? Bonnie wished he would just get over himself because no one was buying it. The fact that he was trying so hard to make her let him go – both of them go – proved how much he cared.
"What?" Elena asked.
"Damon thinks Bonnie and I should start sleeping together," he said seriously, the smile fading entirely.
"What?" Elena asked again, louder, as Bonnie simultaneously cautioned, "Stefan!"
"Guess you don't know him as well as you think, huh?" Stefan asked Elena, walking away before she could answer.
There was a bit of an awkward silence and then Bonnie said, "Elena, you know I would never –"
"I know. That's not the point. I just… I thought maybe Damon had changed." Bonnie looked at her from the corner of her eyes. It was just a few weeks ago that Damon had thrown a tantrum, killed Alaric and tried to kill Caroline's father. He wasn't going to change but she doesn't comment. They've known each other a long time, however, and Elena could tell what she was thinking anyway.
She nodded to herself. "You're right."
"Elena," she said pleadingly.
"No, you are. I shouldn't be surprised by anything Damon does now." Her gaze flitted toward the ballroom where both Stefan and Damon were. She opted to leave instead. She walked away and Bonnie rubbed the back of her neck. She was beginning to wish she hadn't come to the ball at all. Everyone was upset and she was tired of it. She longed for the way things used to be, back before they knew about vampires at all but even after that, their lives felt normal enough before Katherine had shown up. She whirled around with wide eyes when she felt an Original's presence in the hallway with her.
"Hello," he said in a smooth voice.
What did he want? She asked herself, but she settled on saying hello and moving to walk away. With his speed, he was blocking her path before she'd even taken a step. She leaned back on her heels and jutted her chin out defiantly, though he could gather from her eyes and the small gasp that he had scared her. He took a step back.
"My apologies, I only wanted a moment of your time." He sounded sincere and this surprised her more than anything else. It was practically law that vampires and originals especially loved to make everyone else afraid of them. But she could hear the honesty in his words, and it made her turn back after she'd walked a few feet away.
"Why?" She asked.
He smiled. "I have been asleep for a century but I am sure it is not uncommon in this age to want for the company of a beautiful woman."
He'd shocked her again but then her flattered expression closed, and he knew she was about to accuse him of having ulterior motives. He could not blame her for her suspicion. He reached for her hand and she steeled her back against an instinctive step backward. He brought it to his mouth and brushed his lips across her fingers. A spark of energy passed to them right through her body and her eyes fluttered up to his. He released her hand slowly, the pad of his thumb caressing it.
"Would you dance with me?" he asked.
"No, thank you," she shook her head.
"I do hope Kol isn't bothering you," Klaus said suddenly behind her, a hand at the small of her back and his mouth by her ear as he cupped her chin in his other hand. "He can be a little…" He brought his hand around to her belly and slid it across the expanse of her waist. "…forward." Klaus sneered.
Kol blinked. So it is a challenge he wants. But it will not be with the Bennett witch, he thought, the sound of her heart racing loud in his ears. He looked up to her face and her eyes were closed, her face expressionless, fighting to keep calm. She was quite beautiful, he decided, and strong. He had been fascinated by how she had handled Damon. He wanted to know more about her but he could not allow Klaus to be aware of his interest in her. He also could not simply watch a woman, particularly this woman, being treated such. He had mixed feelings, leaning toward doing something about the latter when Klaus tightened his grip on her chin. He then sucked his teeth and let go of her as quickly as he had grabbed her.
She stumbled forward and Kol moved to help her right herself. He saw for himself what made Klaus unhand her as his skin sizzled before he pulled back. She brushed her hands down the dress and patted her hair to make sure a hair was not out of place in the elaborate bun she spent hours perfecting. She turned to Klaus who was tightening and loosening his hand while it healed.
"I thought you would have learned by now how much power I have." Kol's lips upturned in an impressed smile at how steady her voice was. She really was a different sort of creature than he was used to. The manner in which she held herself was completely different to the telling drum of her heartbeat.
"I already killed you once, Bonnie. You should have learned not to cross me," he countered.
"She did," Damon said walking to them slowly.
"Damon." Kol did not miss the gratefulness in Bonnie's tone before she walked to his side. His brow furrowed. Apparently, there was more to that dynamic than there seemed to be.
"You okay?" he asked, his eyes running over her small frame. She nodded a few times, taking in a deep breath through her nose. She felt safer now that he was here.
Klaus opened his mouth – to threaten her, Kol was sure – so Kol cut across with, "Leave us."
"You do not order me around." He was a few more insults from throwing a tantrum. He couldn't fathom how after finally breaking the curse, no one feared him enough to respect him. This little witch used her powers on him and his family used every opportunity to mock him. He would make them all pay for their insubordination but not at the party and not in the house. He didn't want to risk their fight messing up the house.
Kol quirked an eyebrow in his direction and Klaus nodded. They both knew it was not over. He left the hall and Damon turned from the woman to fully face Kol, his stance slightly defensive.
"I see that you will not make the mistake of leaving her unguarded again tonight," Kol said to the vampire. His eyes shot to Bonnie whose cheeks flushed. "It was a pleasure making your acquaintance, Miss Bennett." His voice softened as he spoke to her and her blush deepened. "I hope to see much more of you in the future." He was gone an instant later.
Damon and Bonnie stood there for a moment, staring at the spot the original had been in. Damon's lips pressed into a thin line. "What was that about?" he asked, fighting to keep the accusation out of his voice.
"I don't know," she worried. "Let's just get back to the ball. They aren't going to try anything in front of everyone."
He agreed and then started, "About that plan…"
"Damon, please," she said. She was not in the mood to go back to this.
"What? I was just going to say that you're right. It's a bad idea."
She rolled her eyes. "You think? What made you change your mind anyway?"
"No way my brother could handle you," he smirked and offered her his arm, a brow lifting and falling. She shook her head at him with a giggle but placed her small hand in the crook of it. He put his hand over hers and they walked back into the ballroom.