I'm no fan of either Finn or Sage; I found Finn to be hopelessly dreary and Sage to be...well, rapey. I was glad when they died, but they left so many unanswered questions. How is it that a suicidal, self-loathing vampire came to turn this woman? How did Finn wind up in a coffin 900 years ago? Why didn't he come for Sage when he was un-daggered? I had to find some answers, and this is my attempt to understand.

There was no true death for him; Father had seen to that when he had damned them all. There would be no relief, no succor, no forgiveness in the welcoming arms of death. Not for them. But the witch had sworn to him that this dagger could give him the peace he so craved. It seemed strange that this slender, flimsy scrap of metal could plunge him into eternal sleep, let him seek forgetfulness in the arms of darkness.

The heavens knew Finn had tried every other path to absolution. After the transformation, after the first few years of confusion and blood and sin, Finn had fled the cursed land that had spawned them, made his exodus from the wilderness and back to the civilized, crowded streets of the Old World. There was peace in the anonymity, far from the bickering and brutality of his siblings, turned into animals by their base instincts. Perhaps if Mother had still been alive (may God have mercy on her soul), things would have been different. But the blood had changed them all, transformed sweet Rebekah and noble Elijah and proud Klaus and darling little Kol into beings that were twisted and wrong. Finn couldn't bear to look into their changed eyes, to watch them feed on the natives and destroy each other. And he couldn't bear for them to watch when the monstrous change was upon him, when the veins in his face writhed like worms and the evil in his soul was made manifest for the world.

No, he lost himself on the dirty streets of London, the crowded streets of Paris, but he finally found some measure of peace in the quiet halls of a Greek monastery. The sun shone warm during the day, and the scourge fell heavily on his back during the night. The stripes he inflicted upon himself healed at once, causing him to reach ever greater extremes in his self-mortification. Every night that he preyed on his brother monks, every day that he stole blood from the villagers to lengthen his own unnatural existence, he cinched the metal cilices that encircled his thighs ever tighter, prayed ever harder, hated himself ever more.

For years, he knelt on the hard stone floor of his cell and begged God to grant him forgiveness. Forgiveness for his own sins, for the blood that stained his own hands, but also to allow forgiveness to enter his heart. He prayed that he could understand why Father had been driven to such lengths to preserve his family, to forgive Mother for her unnatural witchcraft, to forgive the girl Tatia for giving her blood to birth a race of monsters. He prayed that he might love the twisted beings that had been his siblings with true Christian grace and caritas. And he prayed that he might be strong enough to weather the centuries alone, prayed for the strength to never inflict his curse upon anyone else. On his knees, Finn never found grace, never found forgiveness, but he found a way to survive.

The years passed like moments and the decades like days, yet Finn did not change. The charade against his brother monks could continue no longer, and Finn was forced to leave his place of refuge. Driven from his family of faith, loneliness drew him back to his family of blood. Once again, he crossed the vast and unfeeling sea to return to the place of his damnation.

The passage of time had changed so little in the barbaric land. It was full of savages, both those who wore furs and bowed before idols, and his own brothers and sister who devoured the natives with relish, bickering over the choicest morsels. They enslaved the natives with a glance, wooed them with words of love and promises of immortality. Niklaus, the sinful bastard child, had utterly dominated his siblings, corrupted them and drawn them into his hedonism and his nihilism until the laughing children Finn had once loved became haughty and bitter parasites, bloated ticks on the body of the human race. Even Elijah, his favorite brother, the only sibling who'd ever really understood him, had surrendered to Klaus' bitter charms.

Finn prayed for understanding, but God was silent.

Still, Finn tried to be a good brother and a good Christian, tried to steer his wayward brethren back to the path of righteousness, but they did not want to be saved. Rebekah laughed at him, telling him that Father had freed them all from the chains of mortality and given her a life she could only have dreamed of. The slattern.

Kol had listened with half an ear, eyes trained on the lithe, sun-drenched form of a native girl. "Excuse me, dear brother, but there's mischief to be made. Even for immortals, there's no time for regrets." Finn turned away, but the girl's screams haunted his dreams.

Finn and Elijah lost themselves in the forest, speaking soberly of issues of the soul. "How can you fall in with them, Elijah? You're a good man, in spite of all this. How can you let Niklaus lead you by the nose? How can you follow him into the very mouth of hell?"

"Our siblings are young and foolish; they will learn control and restraint in time. As the eldest, it is our duty to guide them in the proper behavior. I endeavor to help them all—and yes, Niklaus most of all—to embrace both sides of our dual natures," Elijah said.

"Then you are teaching them to embrace evil, my brother, and you shall all burn together. I will pray for you," Finn said.

"Please do," Elijah replied.

Niklaus had listened as Finn begged him for restraint, begged him to see the light and come back to the flock of the Shepherd King and the path of humanity. Finn had begged him to take only what he needed and no more, to spare the lives of their victims and take away their fear. His bastard brother nodded thoughtfully, but when Finn had spoken his piece, Klaus clapped him on the shoulder.

"Come with me, brother. There's someone I want you to meet."

"I do not wish to meet anyone, brother; we should sequester ourselves, interact as little as possible with those we might harm," Finn replied stiffly.

"We've been given forever, Finn. God gave us forever. If he didn't want us to enjoy what we are, he would never have allowed us to become as we are, would he? He and his witches would have restored the balance of nature. So come, do try to live just a little."

Grudgingly, Finn had followed his brother to the village green. Since Finn's departure, more and more immigrants had crossed from the Old World to the New. They stood out like beacons among the dark natives, with their pale skin and pale eyes and hair that shined like gold in the sun. But this woman, this woman who dressed like a man and drilled with a sword on the village green, she shined brightest of all. When she looked at him, cheeks flushed with exertion and eyes shining, Finn knew she'd stolen a piece of his soul.

That didn't mean he'd give it up without a fight, however. "Why do you show me this hussy? Does she think she's better than a man?"

"Oh, she is," Klaus said. "The village has appointed Sage to keep them safe from the wolves when the moon is full, and from other...creatures that prowl the night. Enchanting, isn't she?"

Sage. Even her name spoke of dark magic, just as her eyes spoke of dark, carnal secrets."I shall pray that she finds her true place," Finn said.

Klaus just sighed. "Of course you will."

Finn knelt in the tiny chapel he'd constructed just off the village green, wincing as the metal bands of his mortification cut into his legs. But there was sweetness in the pain, and it focused him as he came before the Lord. "Dear heavenly Father, I come to you to beg You to shine Your light on me, an unworthy sinner," he prayed aloud. "I pray that you give guidance to the girl Sage. Be with her and remind her that it is woman's place to-"

Laughter rang out from the doorway of the chapel. "Oh, this is too good. Tell me—well, and tell God, because I'm sure he's unclear on the concept—what a woman's place is," Sage said.

"You defile this place with your blasphemy," Finn said. "Join me in prayer or leave."

The infernal woman grinned and slid to her knees beside him. It was easy for her, clad as she was in breeches like a man, her shirt cut to reveal certain other assets God had given her. She crossed herself, fingers lingering just a moment too long on her breast. Pious as any nun in posture but wicked in her affect, Sage bowed her head. "Blessed Virgin Mary, grant protection to this village. Guide my blade as I hold back the horrors of the night. Bring retribution to our enemies and comfort to our allies. Help those who surround me to understand their purpose in life, as I understand mine. Amen."

For most of his life, Finn had denied himself every pleasure. But seeing this woman beside him, hearing her sweet, earnest prayers, seeing her certainty and her laughter and her beauty, he wanted her more than he'd ever wanted anything in his life. Not for the blood that sang in her veins like milk and honey, but for her lion's heart and her succubus' body.

Blindly, he reached for her. He took her in his arms, and she took him right back. And on the floor of the crude chapel, Finn damned himself again.

Finn was unworthy of love from anyone, even from God, yet somehow, Sage loved him. She teased him for his dour ways, and her brashness and bravado were the only things that could steal smiles from his lips. When they met together at the chapel, it became a place more holy than any Finn had ever known, even as they reveled in the sins of the flesh. Finn knew he should feel guilt, but he couldn't. Not when he found more absolution in Sage's eyes than he'd ever found in his prayers.

The seasons turned, and every day Finn loved her more. There was a wildness to her, an unconquerable spirit that called her to walk her own path, the costs be damned. Together, they fought side-by-side to protect the village from the dangers of the night. Every injury the wolves struck against her in the light of the moon caused him more pain than any mortification. One day, as he examined a vicious bite mark on her thigh, he broke. The monster within him wanted to lap up that blood like a dog, but the man within him was full of terror. This time, the man won. "I cannot lose you, Sage."

"You're going to lose me if you just keep looking at it," Sage said through gritted teeth. "Give me some blood or put a bandage on it already."

"It's not enough. They'll come for you again, and again. There will always be a new danger that threatens to steal you away from me."

"Finn, you know I love you, but can we save the heart-felt talks for when I'm not bleeding?" she asked.

"I wish to keep you with me always," Finn said. Niklaus had told him how it was done. Such a simple thing, really. A last supper, a crucifixion, a resurrection. The oldest story ever told, but with a different ending. There would be no heaven in this transformation; he knew that by doing this, he would steal Sage's chance for true eternal life. But without her, there would be no life at all for him.

Finn felt his demon rising up within, transfiguring his face into a mask that held only horror for him. But Sage always stroked his face, kissed him until his fangs cut her tongue and they both drank deeply. "For once, let me protect you, my love. Let us join our fortunes and walk this world together."

Sage turned to him, and though lines of pain still marred her face, a beautiful glow seemed to shine from within. "I thought you'd never ask."

He fed her his blood in unholy communion. Blood smeared across her face, she smiled at him. And he killed her.

The moments before she opened her eyes were among the most terrifying he'd ever known. All night he kept vigil over her body in the chapel, begging the Lord for forgiveness, to redouble his efforts to atone if only God would give him this woman back to be his Eve, forever and always. And for once, the Lord provided.

Those first heady days after Sage turned were perfect. Together they were strong and beautiful and eternal, creatures spun of pure shadow. Finn taught her to follow his path, to take sparingly and gently. But Sage could not be content.

Hunger overtook her every thought. Not only hunger for blood, though she was insatiable, drinking her victims to the dregs and throwing them aside like empty goblets. But her hunger for flesh increased a hundred-fold, an unquenchable wanting. Finn tried to satisfy her, to control her and check her hand, but he was only one man, and it was never enough for her. Men, women, children, Sage devoured them all in every way and laughed at Finn's anguish over their suffering.

When she was human, Finn had loved Sage's strength and courage and verve. But in death, her best attributes were twisted and perverted until only a murderous, dangerous, unfeeling husk remained. All his entreaties and pleas could not shake her from her path—the path he'd set her upon. One moment of weakness had destroyed her for all time.

Even now, he could hear the cries as she slaked her thirst. Whether the cries were of pleasure or pain or some terrible amalgam of the two, Finn didn't know. He only knew he could no longer bear to look at this creature he'd created, this woman he'd destroyed. The dagger was cold in his hands as he knelt on the floor of the chapel.

Finn was weary. So weary. He deserved no rest, but he would seek it anyway. Niklaus had promised to claim him, to protect him, but Finn did not care what became of him. If he were strong, he would put an end to his progeny before he retreated, but Finn was not strong. It took all his courage to press the dagger to his breast. "May God forgive me. And may He forgive her."

The pain was brief but sweet. Oblivion beckoned.