Title: Your Honor
Fandom: The Vampire Diaries
Category: (drama, romance, adventure, etc)
Summary: Elena leaves Mystic Falls to protect those she loves, goes into hiding, and seeks a way to pay for the damage she's caused. Two years later, an unexpected visitor walks into Bree's bar and threatens to destroy the fragile peace she's created. Elena/Elijah, mentions of other ships
Spoilers: Up to and including 3x15
Warnings: Language, violence
Show/Bookverse: Show 'verse, up to and including 3x15
Disclaimer:The Vampire Diaries belongs to its rightful owners and sadly, none of those people or companies are me. I'm only borrowing them, but I promise to return them once I am finished.
Author's Notes: Thanks to midnight_burn for beta duties. Mistakes are all entirely mine.
Title is taken from Bon Iver's Blood Bank.
Chapter title is taken from Des Ark's My Saddle is Waitin'.
Following Abby's transition, Elena packs carefully and quietly, preparing over the span of a week.
There are a few mementos to pack: the diary that she hasn't had time or desire to write in for a while now (what would she want to look back on now?), a few pieces of jewelry that had belonged to her mother (emotionally too important to part with), a handful of photos (she had the faces contained in them committed to memory, but she wants these people with her, physically, selfishly).
Clothing is chosen from a utilitarian point of view; what will hold up and last is folded neatly and placed in the suitcase hidden beneath her bed, out of the sight of any prying eyes.
She withdraws a massive amount of money from the account her parents had established for her, and the crisp bills are tucked in between layers of clothing.
The letters are the hardest part. Unbidden, she recalls Elijah's words (they are burned into her mind, inscribed on the insides of her eyelids, echoed constantly in her thoughts) and knows that whatever she decides to write to her friends, it will never measure up to what he wrote.
Each letter is different, but they boil down to the same thing: she loves them. All of them. As she writes the letters, the pile amasses, and her hands become cramped and ink-stained. In the end, the mass of paper – each one a person she endangers – puts to rest any doubts she had about her plan.
Elena owes her friends and family so much for all that they have done and given up for her, and somehow they have to keep sacrificing more. Leaving Mystic Falls is the best thing she can do for them.
It's not walking away, she tells herself.
It's not abandonment.
The letters are left tidily in rows antithetical to the messy, complicated nature of friendships, on the living room coffee table (Damon's, she leaves on her bed, propped up by her stuffed bear - she's ruined whatever they could have had, she knows this and it hurts, but she needs to say 'goodbye' to him differently).
The meeting with the family lawyer is done discretely in his office, and since his family name can be found beside Gilbert and Salvatore and Forbes in the oldest cemeteries of Mystic Falls, he asks no questions when she requests the house to be signed over to Matt, and her brother when he turns eighteen. At least by doing this she can provide them a little protection. Her parents' accounts will more than suffice to cover the bills.
Matt's new, small and spartan apartment is in a complex that is virtually empty in the afternoon; while Matt is returning from the breakfast shift at the Grill, most of his neighbors are at work. He opens the door cautiously, and while he tries to hide his concerned frown, it appears on his tired face.
"I'm not here to ask any favors or anything," she promises him quickly. "I wanted to give you this."
He studies the offered keys and document with weary suspicion, then after a moment sighs and leans against his doorway. "Don't do this, Elena."
When did it come to this? Part of her desperately just wants to go back to the way things were, three years ago. Thinking of their younger, happier selves makes her think of them younger still, when she and Matt couldn't see over her kitchen counter, the world was big but not scary, and their inevitable wedding had ambitious plans that involved dirt bikes and all the Mondo they could drink.
Present day Matt, with troubles and thoughts she doesn't know about because they haven't had a conversation like that in a long time, reluctantly agrees to sign the document. She knows now she should have asked him to move in months ago, when the bills for the Donovan home had proven too much for him.
"I will see you again," he declares, muffled by her shoulder in their hug. "I'm not saying goodbye."
Elena lets out a shaky breath she had not known she was holding when she passes the town's limits. Her suitcase is on the backseat, a bag of stakes and other hunting gear shares the front passenger seat with the white oak ash and dagger she found at the boarding house.
Klaus will be delivered her blood in the morning, as well as a note in which she explains that she will send him a regular supply of it so long as he does not harm her friends and family, directly or indirectly. Negotiating with him is not the same as negotiating with Elijah, but she can only hope his desire for the ongoing security of his hybrids will be enough to make him want to adhere to her offer and its stipulations.
Georgia is a long and lonely drive away, but she arrives an hour or so before closing time at Bree's bar.
She barely makes it through the door before she finds herself unable to move; she's frozen to the spot and the crowd is so dense no one sees anything wrong with someone standing by the door. Bree sidles over, twists Elena's arm behind her back, and walks her through the bar to a storage room. Once inside, Bree locks the door and glares her down.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you on the spot. Did Damon send you to make sure his dirty work was successful? It's been long enough, figured he would have found out by now."
"What are you talking about?" Elena's voice is shrill. Death threats against herself aren't that uncommon anymore, but she typically has an idea as to why they are issued.
Bree appears suspicious, then shocked, but finally slightly angered in a manner of seconds.
"Damon killed me, just before you left to go back to Mystic Falls."
As always, the icy black chill she feels when she hears about the acts of violence perpetrated by people she knows -trusts, cares for even - creeps up her spine and into her gut.
Taking her silence as a sign to continue, Bree elaborates, "He came in here and ripped my heart out...I take it he didn't share that little detail with you?"
One of her many pieces of jewelry must be spelled like the Gilbert rings...not that Damon knew. Guilt, unbidden, rises in her gut, as well as the memory of her own brother's temporary death at Damon's hands. Her tongue trips in her guilt. "Bree, I didn't...I'm so sorry, I didn't know, I swear-"
The witch holds up her hand. "Save it," she mutters. "What do you want?"
Elena shakes her head. "I couldn't ask anything of you, not after that."
Bree gives her an impatient look. "What is it, honey? I've got a bar to run."
Reluctantly, Elena answers: "I was going to ask if you know anything about Lucy Bennett, otherwise, I was going to ask if we could a locator spell to find her."
The defensive response jars Elena. "I-I need to talk to her about paying something back." On the drive towards Georgia, she had decided this was the best way of explaining the situation.
The taller woman spends what feels like an eternity studying her. Elena holds her breath.
"Alright," Bree says finally. "You can wait until she comes at closing time."
Elena is floored. "She comes here?"
Bree nods as she unlocks the door. She seems a little more relaxed now, but only slightly. "You got lucky, kid. Luce is my partner. My car is in the shop so she's been dropping and picking me up at closing."
It takes Elena a second too long to process this, so by the time she starts walking out after the bar owner, she is being pushed back in.
"I can't have the Doppelganger seen just hanging around my bar. Lucy and I have tried to put as much of that business behind us as we can."
Isn't minimizing damage to others part of all of this? She squashes the insulted feelings before they have a chance to start. The younger woman looks around for a stool or box, preparing to make herself comfortable for the hour until the bar closes.
Bree rolls her eyes. "Come here."
Elena tries to stand still as the witch murmurs in a low voice, and it feels as if there is a light mist falling on her skin.
Eventually Bree ends her spell and stands back, surveying the work of her glamor. Finding that it passes her judgment, she turns to leave.
There is definitely blond hair where her dark strands used to rest on her shoulders. Pressing her hands over face reveals sharper angles than her own, and when she tries to slip by a storage shelf, her wider hips bang into it. Definitely different.
Lucy comes into the bar with her beautiful features, tall stature, and eyes only for Bree. They share a quick kiss and its brevity must trouble Lucy. Bree, in the middle of filling a beer pitcher, jerks her head in Elena's direction.
After the bar closes, Bree excuses herself to make a brief phone call and Lucy burns sage before sitting across from Elena in the cramped back office.
"Bree told me you are looking to settle a debt," she says.
"I don't recall ever actually doing anything to help you-" the Bennett witch says, but stops when Bree comes in.
"She's fine, knows we'll be home in a bit," responds the bar owner to her partner's questioning look.
Assured, Lucy returns to the conversation. "Why do you feel indebted to me, Elena?"
The youngest woman takes a breath before launching into her explanation.
"I think I owe the Bennett family, actually. I owe the Bennett family...a life, I think. There was a situation where I was in danger, and in the process of trying to save me, Abby Bennett was killed...but not before being fed vampire blood."
"I haven't seen her in years," says Lucy quietly, and beside her, Bree's lips thin. Their hands seem to seek one another like magnets. "Just tell me, Elena."
"She's...she chose to turn, but she's handled it well. My friend um, and Bonnie's friend, Caroline, she's been helping her out."
She explains, as briefly as possible, what had transpired, emphasizes that they were up against part of the family of Original vampires, as well as their mother...she downplays Damon's part in all of it as much as possible, because even if she still is angry (at him for following through on his promise to 'always chose her', and at herself for not taking his words seriously), he's got enough to deal with on his own.
When she's finished, it feels like forever before Bree or Lucy says anything.
"You don't owe anyone a thing, honey," declares Bree. "And that line of thinking has got to change."
"The Bennett family has spent centuries being forced to serve vampires," Lucy sighs, "that is true, but what happened to Abby is not-"
Elena can't help it. "-I can't stay in Mystic Falls. My friends and family are in danger, and I can't...It needs to stop. I have to find a way to make it stop. Lucy, please, let me...just tell me what I can do, what could help protect the Bennetts. You and Bonnie and her Grams and Abby, all of you have done so much to try to help me, and I need to do something to help you."
Obligation, debt, guilt...whatever it should be called, Elena feels the need to do something. Can't they see this?
Lucy closes her eyes, and exhales heavily. "Maggie," she says quietly after a long moment.
Bree considers whatever her partner is suggesting, humming as she does. Whatever it is, it's serious, judging by their shared, serious demeanor. "It could work.."
The Bennett witch fixes Elena with a serious look. "Are you really willing to help us, to do something for the Bennetts?"
Elena nods, vigorously. "Anything."
The bartender shakes her head, sadly. "There will come a day where you learn to be careful about how you throw that word around, baby," she says, lowly.
"She means it, and you know it," Lucy says firmly, then continues. "Elena, you met us both at times when we were, well, we weren't our selves. Both of us were frantic to protect our daughter, Maggie, and I reasoned that helping Katherine would be a means to that end. I'd left Bree-" at this she squeezes the woman's hands, giving her a meaningful, apologetic look "-and had taken Maggie to stay with family."
"I was grieving a lot of things when you and Damon came into my bar," explains Bree, "and the loss of Lexi, one of my best friends...it put me over the edge."
Elena remembers how falsely cheerful and bright Bree had been that day, how easily she'd accused Damon of ruining her life. It all makes sense.
Lucy removes a locket from around her neck, and works at the clasp as she speaks. "I had Maggie when I was young, before I really knew anything about myself, or Bree, or what being a witch means. She's a Bennett witch, Elena, a very powerful one. We've raised her with Bree's last name to afford her some anonymity, but I only goes so far. Part of me wishes that we had introduced her to Bonnie; they're so close in age, so similar in talent.."
The photograph inside must be older, if Maggie is around her age. There's a small, beautiful, smiling little girl in the picture on one side, and Bree on the other.
Bree crosses her arms, not defiantly, but out of what appears to be a reaction to feeling so emotionally exposed. "We will do anything to protect our daughter, Elena. And if you are serious in your desire to help us keep her safe, I think Luce and I can do a little work of our own to protect your family."
A weight that Elena has not realized was there is lifted from her shoulders. "Thank you," she replies, as sincerely as possible. "What do you want me to do?" She's a little nervous, but she's promised them this, and they are willing to ensure the safety of those she left in Mystic Falls.
"First, we finish this glamor, make sure it's a strong one," explains Bree. "Then we take you back home with us and introduce you to Maggie. After that, we cast a binding spell, as a way to confirm our negotiation."
"And then," adds Lucy, "we call upon the Petrova Fire."