A/N: All my Klaroline feels came back full force and I almost didn't write this the way I planned to. Not that I had planned it extensively or anything.

FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH CHEESY GOODNESS. Ye have been warned.

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hello again, friend of a friend

trois

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how very untimely

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"This is stupid."

"You're not even giving it a chance."

"Give a chance to what, earwax-flavoured sweets?"

"That is so not the point of thi—"

"Why the hell would I want to bite into a piece of chocolate that hops."

"Were you even paying attention to—"

"And since when do witches need wands?" Kol splutters, waving an imaginary stick at the laptop screen mockingly. "I feel the need to eavesdrop on their conversation—better transform into a beetle! Accio! Oh look, the book lying three feet away that I so direly need is instantly in my hands!—" He points his 'wand' at her lamp, "—Blasphemous curse! You die now!" He snorts derisively. "What if you lose those sticks? Or they snap? Then what? They become useless, that's what."

"Just—just shut up and keep watching."

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"What a surprise. Nobody believes that poor orphan boy."

"'That poor orphan boy' has a name, Kol. Harry."

"Who?"

"Harry Potter."

"Come again?"

"Ha—Harry Potter! The main character whose book is named after? The person we've been watching the past five movies?"

"..."

"...The guy you said had a chicken wing scraped on his forehead."

"That's Harry Potter?"

"Are you sure you read the books?"

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"That is not how it bloody happens!" Kol rages, flinging popcorn kernels at the laptop screen. "The Death Eaters don't twirl."

Caroline groans exasperatedly after her failed attempts of trying to suffocate herself with her pillow. "The Burrow burned down which totally did not happen in the book, and you complain about that?"

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"That was absolute rubbish. I'm not subjecting myself to this torture any longer." Kol slams the laptop close, effectively cutting off Half Blood Prince.

"But—but you liked the books!" Caroline blurts out, flipping open her laptop and pressing play. "And look, Emma Watson!" She grabs the back of his head and pushes it towards the screen. "Prettyyyy…"

"I can't tell the difference between her and that Hagrid bloke with all that hair," he says, brushing Caroline's hand aside.

She looks put out, and slumps back against her pillow with a pout on her face. "She's supposed to be quietly beautiful," she mumbles. She tries again (though a little defeated), "There has to be something you liked?"

He leans back against her headboard, frowning. He's silent for so long that Caroline's beginning to think she's wasted eight hours trying to turn him into a Potterhead. She's about to pick at his extremely horrible taste (in everything), when he finally speaks up.

"The… headless ghost. Nick. He intrigued me," he admits. "He chose to stay behind where so many people move on. I just wondered why."

Caroline bites her bottom lip.

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"Do you miss him?" Kol asks, and Caroline jumps at his sharp tone. On screen, Harry is in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, looking lost and defeated. "Do you?"

"I..." Caroline trails off, shifting slightly to the left she isn't resting against his shoulder anymore. "I don't know. I can't miss him, because of all the things he's done."

"But you do."

She just shrugs, eyes flitting to the screen, fingers playing with the edge of the empty bowl of popcorn.

"He fancies you, you know," Kol says offhandedly.

"Fancied, you mean."

"Right," Kol agrees quickly, gaze shifting back to the laptop screen. "That's what I said."

"Do you?"

"He's my brother," Kol says deliberately. He glances at Caroline, who's giving him an encouraging smile. He lets out a quiet groan, staring up at her ceiling. "The day before he died, we had a row."

Caroline's eyebrows crinkled together. "Row?"

"All these books and you still haven't picked up British English?" Kol offers a teasing smile, though it's fleeting. "A fight," he corrects himself. "He said he should have let Esther kill me, since all I do is waste my life away, begging him to get pissed at the bar."

Caroline rests a light hand on his arm. He doesn't shake it off.

"You know what's funny?" Smiling ruefully, he fixes his eyes on the shadows in the corner of her ceiling. "My life is a broken record strewn atop a pedestal I built myself. I have all the time in the world, and I don't know what to do with it. He's right."

Her nails press into his skin. "Kol—"

"The first thing I did when I learned of Esther's plan to kill us was to run to my room. The first thought I had was how I haven't even done what I was born to do. I haven't lived yet." He laughs lightly. "Pathetic, isn't it? When Stefan stabbed my brother, he didn't even close his eyes."

"I am about to die," Harry says, and puts forward a resolute step.

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"That's not how he's supposed to die," Kol remarks in a soft voice, Caroline curled up beside him. He'd been strangely quiet for the last two movies. "He's not supposed to turn to ash."

"It's totally cool effects, though," Caroline argues, gesturing at the screen. "He's gasping and choking and suddenly—gone with the wind." She blows into his ear. "Whoosh."

He places a hand on the side of her face and pushes her away, not as roughly as he would have done a week ago. "The film missed the point of the books."

Caroline frowns. "In the books, he just drops to the ground. Nothing special."

"That's the point!" He leans over her to reach for the book, flipping through the pages until he finds the part he's looking for. "' And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward.'" He sets the book down and turns to Caroline. "He dies a normal death. A mortal death. There's nothing remarkable or fearsome about him in the end." He smirks, flicking a curl from her face, "Nothing special."

Instead of getting angry at being mocked, Caroline sort of sits back and blinks a few times. Then she looks at him, lips quirked upwards, head tilted ever so slightly.

"That's something to think about," she says genially, but Kol isn't sure what exactly she means.

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Kol bounds into the kitchen. "Elijah!"

Elijah looks up from the pot he's stirring—

"Elena likes chilli," he had explained, but Kol lets it slide because a) it's Elijah, and he has many eccentricities like making chilli and making friends with human girls and making chilli for human girls, and b) there are more pressing matters at hand.

—and stares at the manic expression in his brother's eyes.

"I need to know everything about Facebook," he demands (because Elijah's been undaggered the longest and he's bound to know at least something) while Klaus flits in and out of the wall, looking puzzled, and doesn't stop pestering the eldest Original until he takes off his flowered apron and lets Kol drag him to the computer.

After many taunting suggestions from Rebekah, patient explanations from Elijah and many bottles of Black Label Jack Daniels later, he finally manages to click into Caroline Forbes' profile.

"Great idea, Kol," Klaus smiles looking impressed, thumping on his brother's back. Klaus comments (but none too inappropriately) on the pictures of Caroline in her cheerleading uniform, but Kol barely notices, busy clicking through her interests and info.

The cursor—("But this looks nothing like a mouse!" he had whined, knocking it against the wall)—freezes over Caroline's newly added interest: Being read to.

Slumping back in his chair, he blinks in amazement. This girl, he realizes, is starting to become a dull, omnipresent ache in his chest.

He looks at Klaus' content face, then back to the picture of her smiling face, absolutely glowing in the sun. He's starting to see why.

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Caroline catches up to him after Calculus the next day, which is odd, since if anyone's doing any catching-ups it's usually him. "Is there something you need?" he questions, voice saccharine, but she rolls her eyes and pushes his jacket onto his chest.

"You left this in my room," she explains (without a trace of anything, he realizes after a moment of scrutiny), and he just stares at her, feeling rather, well… stupid.

"Oh." He can't think of a single thing to say.

She's looking back at him strangely. "Is there something on my face?"

He reaches a hand out to brush away a stray lock of hair, and she nearly retreats in surprise.

"There," he says softly. "All better."

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Klaus looks over Kol's shoulder and rolls his eyes. "That's not how you find the second derivative, Kol."

"Piss off," Kol grumbles, and swipes his hand through Klaus' face. "Calculus should not be this hard."

"So give up." Klaus flings his arms out as he falls back against Kol's bed. "That's what you do best."

Kol grips his pencil so hard it snaps in half.

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"So I was thinking," Caroline announces as he's fumbling with his locker code. "I want to start on the Hunger Games. Dark and twisty; totally your style."

"I'm dark and twisty?" he asks absently, cursing his locker combination inwardly.

Caroline beams. "Yep!"

He lets out a sharp breath of frustration and slams his fist into his locker. It finally creaks open, severely dented. "Good luck with that."

The baby vampire's smile falters. "Aren't you... going to watch with me? Also, I could use a reading buddy. I'll even let you choose the snacks this time—but I draw the line at Marmite."

"I'm not particularly interested in being your anything, really." Kol slams the locker door shut. He expects it to drop to the linoleum floor, but it just hangs there instead, looking kind of pathetic. He slings his bag over his shoulder and makes his way down the hall, where, predictably, Caroline follows.

Interesting, this new turn of events.

"Kol," Caroline calls out. He hears the rush of her footsteps as she catches up to him, the beginnings of a frown dawning on her face. "Dude, what's with the 'tude?"

"For a girl permanently on honour roll," he says as he tugs his hand out of her grip, "you can be remarkably daft."

"Hey, wait." She dashes in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. "What's going on? Look, I totally didn't mean what I said about you being a heathen; but who doesn't like Marie Antoinette?"

"Apparently I don't. Now if you'll excuse me," he says curtly, "I have somewhere else I'd rather be."

Caroline lets him pass this time, her hand reaching out for his, but at the last moment thinking better of it. "Kol," she tries again.

He keeps walking.

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They're staring up at the ceiling fan again, Kol chewing on the inside of his cheek and Klaus just staring passively.

"I don't want to do this anymore," Kol begins, eyes following the slow revolving of the fan. "I mean it this time."

"And why not?" Klaus' voice slides like silk in the moonlight.

Because she's warm when she's drunk, he wants to say. Because she tilts her heads when she's thinking, he wants to say. Because she drives him into a rage one minute, then drops him into a vast, empty sea the next, he wants to say. Because she pouts like a child when she doesn't get her way, he wants to say. Because, like you said, she's beautiful, and strong—full of light, he wants to say.

"Because she bores me," is what he says instead.

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He pulls a suit out of his closet one day, and picks a daisy from one of Rebekah's vases in her room. Klaus appears beside him, taking in his dark clothing and set jaw. "Going somewhere?"

"Visiting you," he replies shortly.

"Oh." Klaus scratches the back of his neck and takes a step back. "Don't let me stop you."

Kol mutters an inaudible reply and walks out of the house, sucking in the morning air. Klaus had never really liked to join them on their "little visits", as he called them. He had decided that his burial was enough of a reminder that he was six feet under, dead; flat out dead.

"What does it feel like?" Kol had asked once, when they were staring up at his ceiling fan as usual.

Klaus was silent for the longest time, and Kol had wondered if he had crossed a line—wondered when he started caring about such things—and was prepared to let it slide when Klaus says, "Like closing your eyes."

Kol stops midstride and closes his eyes, trying not to feel the sunlight on his face, trying to imagine nothing but velvet linings around him. He can't picture it.

"Kol."

He opens his eyes, and Caroline's before him, another rose in her hands.

"Caroline?"

She averts her gaze. "This is the first time I'm visiting him since…" She gestures with her apple-white hands. A month ago. Of course.

He shrugs, walking up beside her. He doesn't offer his arm like he knows Klaus would do, doesn't ask about the weather; just walks.

"So. How are your classes?" Caroline asks tentatively.

"Enlightening," is all he says.

"The committee really liked your idea," she tries again. "The Swinging 20's. Who would have thought, right?"

"Who would've thought," he repeats flatly. They're a few metres away from Klaus' grave, but he finds he can't move because Caroline's stepped in his way.

"Did—did I do something?" she asks, hands on her hips. "I know we're not the best of friends or whatever indefinable thing we have between us, but you haven't so much as looked at me since a week ago—"

"I thought you'd be rejoicing," he says coldly, sidestepping her. "Now if you don't mind, I'm going to mourn my brother's dead, cracked body while you simper on about insignificant things."

Caroline blinks her big eyes up at him as he passes, clearly stung.

He's laying down his flower when he lets out a cry, feels the thorns pricking the beck of his neck. "Are you fucking kidding m—?" he has her up against a tree before she can even lower her hand, the rose she had chucked at the back of his head brandished in her face. "What were you expecting to gain from this, Miss Forbes? Exactly what?"

"An apology, you prick," she spits back, feet kicking uselessly at his knees. "I haven't done anything remotely hostile to you, and you're acting like a huge ass douche. Talk about a one-eighty."

"In case you haven't realized," he says, tightening his hold around her throat with each word, "not — everything — is about — you."

"As opposed to—to everything being about y-you?" she manages to choke out despite his grip, and he realizes a normal human being would have died by now. He steps back and she drops at his feet, clutching her neck and coughing.

He thinks he feels guilty, but he's not sure—he's not really sure what to think anymore.

When Caroline looks up from the grass, he's already gone.

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"Brother," Kol says coldly as he steps into the sitting room, "I'll have you know I stumbled upon sweet Caroline visiting your lonely, cold grave."

Klaus sits up, eyes sharp on Kol's hard expression. "What did you do?"

"I strangled her."

"You st—what the fuck is going on in that head of yours?" Klaus is immediately in his face, snarling and spitting in his fury, but Kol sidesteps him and drops mechanically onto the couch. Picks up the remote. Clicks on the television. Jersey Shore's on, he notes with mild interest, and settles back against the cushions.

"Feet off the table," Klaus snarls. "It's antique sandalwood."

Kol ignores him, flipping to another channel—he'll never get over these remote control things, they're so fascinating—and Rebekah's favourite movie plays across the big screen. He watches, transfixed, as the poor writer catch up to the striking brunette and they proceed to argue in the rain, arms gesturing, tension palpable, eyes harried.

He feels himself being slammed off the couch, across the room, all the way to the mantelpiece where the fireplace promptly cracks down the middle. Klaus is swinging a brass lamp across his face, and he ducks—the metal clangs heavily into the marble instead.

"Defending Caroline's honour?" Kol grunts as he heaves an armoire at Klaus' face. "How noble—but in case you haven't realized, she's not the damsel you make her out to be."

"If you weren't so utterly pathetic—" Klaus swings his arm and the armoire crashes to pieces, "—I wouldn't have to all the time."

"If I were utterly pathetic?" Kol yells, ripping a shelf off the wall and slamming it into his brother's back. "You were the one making me chase after her like a dog, pestering her about you day and night, and I just followed blindly like an idiot—"

"Which you are," Klaus spits, using the precious coffee table as a shield and swings it into Kol's stomach. Kol clambers backwards, spluttering, and Klaus takes the chance to roundhouse kick him in the gut. Kol splutters out a curse laced with blood and crumples to the ground, but not before kicking out Klaus' legs under him. He realizes with desperation that he can't win—Klaus is stronger, so much stronger—

"Caroline never loved you," he chokes out, reaching for the discarded lamp post. He grunts, using it to stand up, before using all of his shoulders to thwack it across Klaus' forehead. "Not the way you wanted to—never the way you wanted t—"

Klaus has him by the throat—

"Shut up—" he snarls, dealing out punch after punch after punch, and Kol's laughing, cursing every so often, telling him how Caroline never mentions him; not if she can't help it, never mentions him except when he prods her about it, stop it—yeah, bring on the punches, deal them out like cards—that's all you ever know, stop touching me with your stupid han—

Kol blinks, and Klaus' fist crashes into him one last time. He manages to find the strength to grasp Klaus by the collar and throw him off of him, spluttering, coughing, wheezing, "Nik—Ni—for the love of—will you STOP?"

Panting heavily, Klaus backs away, furiously swiping the blood off his cheeks. "What? Does Kol need a time out?"

He tries to shake his head, clutching at his gut. Raising his bruised head at his brother, he says— "You punched me."

"Observant," Klaus says, drawing back his fist—but Kol catches it.

"You—punched—me," he says, looking his brother in the eye.

Klaus looks at his arm, held in place by Kol's grip. Shakes it off.

Backs away. Catches his breath.

Runs.

There's a grunt in the hallway, and Elijah suddenly appears, taking in the state of the living room, his face completely aghast. "Was that—I just saw… Was that Klaus?"

Sighing, Kol makes his way back to the couch, the only piece of furniture still intact. "No, brother. Just a vivid memory."

Onscreen, Paul and Holly kiss in the rain.

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Caroline's leaning into her mirror, seeing the last of Kol's bruises disappear before her eyes, when he hears the sounds behind her, but she's ready. She moves to the corner of the room in a blur and grabs her lamp, ready to swing—and lets it clatter to the floor.

"Klaus?"

"Hello, Caroline." He steps away from her and she takes him in, his torn jacket and the blood staining his shirt.

"That bad on the other side?" she tries to joke, but it hangs awkwardly in the air when he doesn't laugh. She swallows and crosses her arms over her chest. "You have exactly thirty seconds to tell me why you're in my room, all…"—she glances down at his feet, where he seems to be… hovering?—"…floaty."

"Well." He raises an eyebrow, wonders how to answer, before deciding on the obvious. "I died." He waits for a reaction, a jump of joy, a scream of surprise, (even prepared for some tears, he was) but she just stands there blankly.

"I know," she says, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "But why are you here, in my room, and so…" She runs her eyes over his face. "Not dead. Wait—is this a Lexi thing? Unfinished business and the like?"

"Unfinished business," Klaus agrees. "What else is there?" He walks to her vanity, flicks open her jewelry box, touches the bracelet lightly. "You came to my funeral."

Caroline grips the corner of her bed. "You were there?"

"You looked lovely," he says in lieu of an answer. He turns his head to look at her, her arms clutched at her sides like she could fall apart any moment. Sniffing, she asks bewilderedly, "So while I was mourning your dead body you were checking out mine?"

That's all it takes. He walks up to her in two strides and starts to pull her towards him, but Caroline's already crashing against him, already standing on the tips of her toes, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her face into his neck. Breathing in. He almost wants to stop her—he's the one who's exacted it, after all—but it's over as soon as it's started. She blinks, a little surprised at herself, and steps away almost shyly.

He pushes a lock of her hair away, marvelling at the way his skin skims her cheeks, feeling her smile against his fingertips. Her bottom lip quivers—he remembers with a pang what it means—and she takes a deep breath before asking, "What now?"

"I cross over," he says, a little bemused.

"Um. Okay." She stands back, watching. Waiting. He looks down at his hands quizzically. She tilts her head to the left. He taps his foot. After a while, she bursts out, "Aren't you going to fade away? Burst into flames? Something?"

Klaus frowns. "I'm not sure." He looks back at her almost accusingly. "Did you do anything?"

She raises her hands, backing away—I got nothing. "Don't look at me. I don't bother with the tribulations of the dead—too busy living."

"Technically, you're d…" Klaus steps back from the window, swearing loudly. Turning back to Caroline, he can only groan, "That fucker. It's not you."

"Excuse me?"

"It's not you. Just—shit," he says, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "My apologies, love." He steps up to her, presses the lightest of kisses on her lips, then makes his way to the window. "Good bye, Caroline."

She doesn't make him stay—she just looks at him, with that small smile she always seems to reserve just for him, and says, "Give 'em hell."

He chuckles. "Oh, I always do."

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"I thought you'd be dead by now," Kol drawls, kicking the rubble aside to rip the now-useless door from the liquor cabinet. "Or at least deader than you already are."

Klaus scowls and fades out, appearing next to Kol in the blink of an eye. "Don't make this more difficult than it already is, Kol."

"Nothing's ever difficult, Nik." He tries to find a glass that isn't broken, but gives up and swigs his Scotch from the bottle instead. "All a matter of perspective. Your exact words, remember?"

Klaus sighs. "Kol." He knocks on Kol's head, making the younger Original splutter his drink. "Remarkable. Makes me wonder how it wasn't clear to me before."

"What, that the spirits of the other side wanted you to shag Caroline?" He takes a bigger gulp of the alcohol, drowning in the slow burn of his throat. "In that case, why are you here?"

"For my moment of enlightenment, idiot," Klaus says. "So tell me. Do you feel any different?"

"I feel bruised, that's what I feel." Kol rubs the back of his neck. "I think there are still some splinters stuck in here."

Klaus just shakes his head. "In the month since my death, you've actually gotten off your arse and done something; gone to school, made friends—"

"I would hardly call Caroline Forbes a friend," Kol interjects snidely, ripping his tie off. "In the month since you've forced me on her, I've witnessed her getting drunk most spectacularly, been assaulted by her jibes, and even failed an art class because you didn't want to be tethered to me."

"I was tethered to you because I was supposed to be tethered to you," Klaus wonders out loud. "Not Caroline, not Elijah—no. Because—"

Kol ducks out of Klaus' reach, glaring. "What, because I needed your help? I don't think so. I'm not a child."

Klaus smirks. "Indeed you aren't."

"Is this your moment of enlightenment?" Kol asks, leaning against the upended armoire. "If it is, the spirits are being incredibly vague about it. I would have thought you'd just fade out. Burst into flames. Something."

Klaus looks like he wants to smack him upside his head or at the very least roll his eyes, but he puts his hands in his pockets instead. "These things you've got going on," Klaus says steadily, "mind you don't mess them up." He stands to leave, but Kol catches his arm.

"Is that it, then?" he asks. Takes another sip. "You're going?"

Klaus smirks. "Why, worried you'll miss me?"

"Elijah's not much of drinking partner." Kol shrugs, but the front he puts of crumbles soon after that. He looks eerily like the little brother he is when he asks, "Was it me all along?"

"Didn't you ever wonder why I left you daggered so long?"

"Because you knew you'd have hell to pay?" Kol asks hopefully.

"Idiot." If possible, Klaus' smirk seems to grow bigger. "I was worried you wouldn't be able to handle the new world."

"Always looking out for me." Kol rolls his eyes. He drops the bottle to the floor and shoves his hands in his pockets awkwardly. "Well—good bye, Nik."

"Do more than just exist. Build an army or something—just don't let the Salvatores find out." Klaus knocks his forehead one last time, and adds, as an afterthought: "Oh—take care of Bekah." Kol nods and watches his brother, but he doesn't fade away like in those scandalous novels he catches his sister reading sometimes. Nor does he burst into flames or fall into a gaping hole that's suddenly opened up in the ground.

No, Klaus walks through the foyer and out the door, closing it soundly behind him.

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Klaus is right, Kol thinks absently as Caroline walks towards him, a mug in her hands and a smile on her face. The colour really did complement her well.

Hair in casual disarray and a pencil behind her ear, she stops just a few inches away from where he's standing, paint-splattered and filled with the oddest sensation of having accomplished something. She hands him the mug—it's filled with O negative, his favourite—and stands back to survey her house. "So you blew off studying for finals for this?"

"Someone taught me to sort out my priorities recently," Kol says, drinking languorously. "What do you think?"

"It looks good." She tilts her head to the side, then peeks at him from the corner of the house. "Thanks. My mom's going to be real happy about this."

He nods, looking back at the house. They stand that way for a while, their shadows growing longer and darker under the sun burning low in the sky.

"So," Caroline begins conversationally. "What now?"

"Ever read Tolstoy?" Kol asks. "I figured we could skip the Hunger Games—" he makes a face—"in lieu of something substantial."

"Finnick Odair is so substantial!" Caroline gasps, bristling. "And I'm adept in pop culture, not weird Russian dudes with wiry beards."

"Very well." Kol holds the empty mug out at her and raises his eyebrows. "Have fun finding a reading buddy for your food book."

"Hunger Games," she growls, sending him a glare. "And for the record, it's about a highly advanced metropolis which holds absolute power over the nation, and deals with oppression and the effects on war and—and Liam Hensworth is totally hot, alright?" She snatches the mug from him and starts to stomp away, but Kol still has his hands wrapped around the handle of her I'm the Fucking Queen of Everything mug.

"So convince me," he dares. He leans closer, and finds himself drawn to the tilt of her head, the way she licked her lips—his eyes trail upwards to her eyes, still so sharp, still so blue. "Persuade me with your… product—" He runs a finger tantalizingly down her arm and her eyes follow, her breath caught in her throat. "—and I might humour you."

Caroline swallows and ducks her head, before returning his heated gaze. "Fine. Tonight, our usual time. Don't be late," she snaps.

"Wouldn't dream of it, love." He flashes a quick smile and leans down to let his lips to brush lightly against her fingers.

She's still so warm.

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fin

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A/N: All the awards for a half-assed ending goes to…ME. Well, I did say it was cheesy /cringe.

I'm deprived of sleep as per usual, I'll fix all of the stupidity when I wake up/get back from holidays. Yes, I'm going away for a few days! So no updates with my other fics… unless you guys happen to help inspire me :3

You with the face, leave an author some feedback won't you?