A/N: We've reached the end of the road guys.
I sincerely want to thank everyone of you who has taken the time to read, review, favourite, and follow. It means so much. It took me almost a year to finish so I appreciate those of you who stuck with me from the beginning and waited patiently for me to update. I broke 1,200 reviews with this story which is crazy...and I broke 300,000 words making this my most reviewed and longest fan-fiction.
The thing I'll miss most is hearing from the regular reviewers every update. Feel free to keep in touch or follow me on tumblr, my name is idiot-wind.
If you would like to read more from me, I'll be working on my prologue to Tangled Up In Blue, called Heart-Shaped Glasses (there are two chapters posted already). It's a Klaroline fan-fiction but I'm stepping out of the supernatural world for something different. I understand if AU/AH aren't your thing, but give it a chance! I hope to have an update on that in the next week or so. Livingdeadblondegirl - who writes the amazing Klaroline fan-fiction, "The Only Hope for Me is You" is my lovely beta and she's been helping me come up with great ideas for it.
I really hope this concluding chapter is satisfying. I'm so anxious to know what you think. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions!
He looked down at Caroline's body and his eyes went wide with surprise.
Her eyes were fluttering open, her lips were parted, and colour had begun to return to her skin. The wound from the stake was slowly beginning to heal.
"Klaus," she whispered again as consciousness began to return to her.
Gasping, he closed and opened his eyes rapidly to confirm that he wasn't hallucinating. He was certain he saw the hunter stake Caroline in the heart as she shot him with his gun.
When he looked back down to see her eyes staring up at him, he scooped her up onto his lap and kissed her forehead.
"Caroline," he said shakily; another attempt to confirm that this was not false reality.
As he held her he brushed the hair out of her face and stroked her cheeks.
"What happened?" she asked, glancing around at everyone else in a disoriented haze.
Tears of relief were uncontainable as they poured from his eyes.
"The hunter took you and he brought you here," he explained, unsure of her memory's capacity.
"I know...you came here...Damon...Stefan...Elena," she recalled. "Jeremy and Bonnie; Jeremy was killed," she said, as though experiencing the loss again for the first time while she glanced at Elena and Jeremy's body over his shoulder with regret. "You were injured and I helped you...I had the gun...the hunter," her eyes widened as she looked down at her chest. "I shot the hunter but he staked me with the white oak stake," she realized.
"That's right, sweetheart," he affirmed. "The hunter staked you, but you killed him when you shot him," he told her.
He panicked for a moment as he reminded himself that Caroline had killed the hunter; the hunter's curse.
Helping her sit up, he examined her carefully.
"Are you all right?" he asked. "Do you feel okay? Do you see anything out of the ordinary?" he asked her worriedly.
She looked around the cellar and shook her head.
"I see two Elena's," she said, almost laughingly, still in a bit of a daze.
He glared at Katerina standing in the doorway smugly as Elijah went to inspect the hunter's body.
"There is only one Elena. Katerina is here," he said anxiously, not wanting to burden her with too many details.
It's not like he knew any details behind her presence anyways.
"Katherine?" Caroline asked confused.
"What is she doing here?" she asked.
"I would like to know what she's doing here myself," he told her, before glancing back up to his brother and the Petrova that had caused him so much grief.
"The hunter is dead," Elijah confirmed, changing the subject.
"Shouldn't I be hallucinating?" Caroline asked.
Elijah looked at him questioningly.
"That should be how it works," he thought.
"Maybe it has something to do with what Jeremy said the other day," Elena spoke up as she wiped some tears from her eyes.
Jeremy Gilbert's death had nearly slipped his mind with what had just happened to Caroline. Elena was kneeling beside Jeremy's body with both Stefan and Damon at either side of her protectively.
"He said the hunter wouldn't hurt him because it was a code of honour or something; the hunter would be shamed if he hurt Jeremy," Elena supposed.
Admittedly what Elena was saying seemed to make sense.
"If you kill a hunter and prevent them from fulfilling their duty, you are haunted by them until another hunter replaces them. Perhaps hunters are affected in the same way; by killing the hunter you set him free from a life of torment and guilt. He no longer had a duty to fulfill because he betrayed that duty when he inadvertently killed Jeremy," Elijah proposed.
He noticed Elena recoil at Elijah's final statement; that Jeremy was indeed dead.
"None of this explains why Jeremy's ring didn't work," Damon said bitterly as he looked onto an almost emotionally blank Elena.
"Maybe it has something to do with Jeremy being a potential hunter," Stefan said. "Or maybe the ring only works against certain types of supernatural threats," he suggested.
Caroline's mind seemed to drift haphazardly as she looked back down at her healing wound and the white oak stake on the ground.
"The hunter staked me in the heart. How am I alive?" she stammered, overwhelmed by the reality of that fact.
He shook his head.
"I don't know, love. You were unconscious; your body decayed. We all thought you were dead," he revealed, choking down some more residual emotion aching to be released.
A look of concern crossed her features as she seemed to understand why he was so visibly emotive.
"I'm so sorry," she sighed as she touched his face and brushed her lips against his cheek.
He caught her hand in his before he guided her face towards him.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," he said, pressing his lips against hers, no longer concerned by the public display of affection.
He just wanted to kiss her. He wanted to know she was real.
"I told you that you wouldn't lose me," she winced under her breath with her face still intimately close to his.
"And I didn't," he reminded her. "I just don't know how," he added, still perplexed and amazed by the fact that she was now sitting up in his lap as lively as ever, when minutes ago he had thought all hope to be lost.
Bonnie stepped beside them, kneeling down.
"I know how," she said. "I know how Caroline survived the stake."
They both looked at her curiously as Bonnie leaned over.
"It's the bracelet," she said as she picked up the interlocking pieces of the dainty piece of jewellery.
His eyebrows furrowed.
"What do you mean? How do you know?" he asked.
She examined the pieces in her hand.
"I saw it when I did the locator spell," Bonnie revealed. "It's spelled; it's been spelled for hundreds of years. A woman gave it to you before you killed her. She told you to give it to someone you cared deeply for...and you did," Bonnie explained, looking to Caroline with a soft expression. "The bracelet's spell is bound by blood. You've given Caroline your blood on numerous occasions; you preserved her life; and so the spell on the bracelet was activated."
He knew there was a reason the bracelet had managed to remain in possession for all these years; why that encounter with that princess had remained so vivid till this day. It was almost as if the spell had willed it so; as if fate had known that he would be in this very situation long before even he himself did. The princess's actions still confused him. Why had she let him kill her? Why did she give him the bracelet?
"Can you determine if the pieces are still spelled?" he asked Bonnie.
"I can try," she offered, placing the pieces in her coat pocket.
"I guess it's a good thing I decided to wear that bracelet tonight," Caroline said, trying to make light of her situation, even though the thought of her deciding not to wear the bracelet tonight made his stomach turn.
Caroline tugged on the edges of his jacket.
"We should get out of here," she suggested. "Take me home?" she requested before managing to stand on her own successfully.
He followed suit as she dusted the dirt off the front of her dress.
There was nothing more he wanted than to return home with a safe Caroline.
She motioned her head discreetly in Elena's direction.
"Just let me talk to her first," she whispered before turning to console her distraught friend.
Elijah approached him while Katerina remained fearfully by the exit as though she was plotting her escape in the event she needed to use it.
"We should talk. There are pressing matters that need to be discussed," Elijah urged him.
He gave his brother an uneasy look before glancing unfavourably in Katerina's direction.
"Later," he hissed. "I assume the Petrova isn't going anywhere. Caroline wants to leave and Kol and Rebekah should have gathered the Council and what hybrids they could by now," he reasoned.
Elijah appeared ready to protest, but he brushed by him before he could.
Caroline was hugging Elena while the others stared blankly between nothing and Jeremy's lifeless body.
He moved to the hunter and leaned over to pick his body up. It would be one of many tonight that would have to be dealt with.
"Leave it," Elena said sternly.
He glanced over his shoulder to see Elena's demanding stare.
"We'll take care of it," she said coldly.
Nodding, he let go of the hunter's arm and dropped him back down to the ground. The hunter was dead, Caroline had seen to that. He didn't need to see him buried. He was certain Elena would want to take special care of that.
"Nik! Are you down there?" he heard Rebekah call from the entrance down to the cellar.
Intrigued and annoyed by Rebekah's arrival, he swept by Elijah and Katerina.
At the top of the stairs he found Rebekah, now dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain white shirt which was stained with blood. All signs of prom were evident in her hair which was still perfectly coiffed. The sight probably would have lent him more amusement under more lighthearted circumstances.
Behind her he noticed several Council members, including the high school principal Mr. Nighman and Pastor Young, all bound by rope with their mouths sealed by cloth tied tightly around their faces. They all looked positively terrified.
"We killed what we could find of your hybrids. They weren't exactly easy to restrain," Rebekah said, explaining why the Council was only present. "Is Caroline okay?" Rebekah asked before giving him a chance to respond.
He nodded and Rebekah sighed curiously with restrained relief.
"Jeremy Gilbert is dead. Caroline killed the hunter," he said vaguely, only realizing when he said it that Rebekah wasn't aware of all the details.
"What about the hallucinations?" Rebekah inquired.
"We're not quite sure. It's a long story. Suffice it to say we're fine, along with Elijah and his Petrova doppelganger," he mused.
"He's with Katherine?" Rebekah asked, momentarily surprised. "Kol and I couldn't get a hold of him for the longest time. He was nowhere in the house. Apparently he was banging the Petrova whore during that time," she seethed.
It unsettled him. However, it was hard not to forget the fact that Katerina had knocked the white oak stake from his hands before he could use it on himself. Surely it was an action of self-preservation, but had she not made that move, he'd be dead and so would everyone else.
"Where's Kol?" he asked.
He saw a slight frown come to Rebekah's face.
"He went back to the house," Rebekah explained.
"Why?" he asked suspiciously.
Rebekah's face contorted with depressed emotion and he started to worry.
"He wanted to deal with Dean and Tyler's bodies," Rebekah pointed out.
Her face was turned to the ground so he knew she was either lying or spilling half truths.
He flashed in front of her, disregarding the startled and frightened expressions of their Council captives.
"Why did he return home, Rebekah?" he said, grabbing her chin and forcing her to look at him.
Wet droplets began to fall from Rebekah's eyes.
He heard Caroline emerge from the cellar behind him but he remained focused on his sister.
"Caroline's mother," Rebekah stammered.
"What about her?" Caroline demanded worriedly.
He shook his sister for an answer. He didn't like where this was going and he almost hoped Caroline had stayed down in the cellar with Elena.
Rebekah sucked on her bottom lip as she tried to contain her emotions.
"She helped us locate the Council members like you asked us to do," Rebekah started. "She would lure the Council members out of their homes under the guise of an emergency Council meeting and then we'd take them."
"What happened?" he pressed, knowing deep down that he didn't want to hear the answer.
"We were at Pastor Young's...she told us to let her handle him...she brought him outside under the pretense of an emergency. She confronted him instead about everything. They got into a verbal argument. Before Kol or I could intervene, Pastor Young pulled out a gun and before Caroline's mom could react with her own, he shot her...in the side of the head," Rebekah said, breaking down instantly to spill her tears now that she had spilled the story.
He heard a shocked breath fill Caroline's lungs before she broke down into a similar state as Rebekah.
"Why didn't you grab him before anything could happen!" he demanded.
Rebekah winced as she shrugged.
"She told us she wanted to talk to him first; that she had it under control. Kol and I let our guards down. We thought she could handle it," Rebekah sobbed.
"Well you thought wrong!" he scowled, shaking his sister violently.
He was amazed at how the night could go from great, to terrible, to good, then worse, then great again, to devastating in a matter of hours.
Guilt hit him instantly. He shouldn't have even given Caroline's mother the option of becoming involved. He had forbid her from coming with him, thinking she would be safer helping Rebekah and Kol; apparently not.
Unexpectedly Caroline shoved him out of the way, separating the two of them.
"Stop!" she shouted, her own muffled cries cutting the tension between him and his sister.
Rebekah stepped back ashamedly.
"Kol took her back to our house since we couldn't get into Caroline's," Rebekah finished explaining. "I'm so sorry Caroline. We tried everything to bring her back."
Caroline stood in between them silently now. Her cheeks were tear-stained but she appeared to be in the same emotional state of shock Elena was enduring.
"Caroline," he said softly, attempting to extend his hand to touch her shoulder.
She recoiled and pulled away from his touch.
Her eyes clenched shut as she covered her mouth with her hand.
"My mom's dead," she said to herself disbelievingly as she paced slowly in her ruined prom dress and bare feet.
He noticed Elijah and Katerina emerge from the cellar, along with Elena and Stefan who was carrying Jeremy's body.
Caroline released another painful sob, making his whole body clench for her in sympathy.
"My mom is dead!" she cried as though she was trying to convince herself of the statement's truth.
A low gasp of surprise echoed through everyone just emerging from the cellar, hearing the news for the first time.
He tried again to console her, but she rebuffed his attempt.
She paced and cried some more while everyone else stood there helplessly, unsure of what to do or say; the only one who probably understood better than any of them of what Caroline was going through right now was Elena, who was still going through it herself.
And then Caroline fell silent. She was staring absently and standing stoically.
It wasn't until he realized what - or who - she was staring at that his body froze.
Pastor Young was firmly in her line of sight.
He could almost feel the heat of her anger scorching his skin as Caroline continued to dissect the man with her eyes.
He should have killed the man when he had the chance. Ironically, it was Caroline's mother that had prompted him to back down when he and Elijah originally confronted the Council.
Now Caroline was left to experience the heartache of losing her mother. She was forced to have the internal war with herself that he knew she was having. The urge to kill, for a vampire, was always there within them just beneath the surface, but it was highest in the midst of hunger and higher yet still when coupled with the desire for revenge.
She was debating whether or not to kill and indulge in her need for vengeance.
He sometimes forgot that she was first and foremost, a vampire.
Pastor Young would die regardless. It was up to Caroline at whose hands. He wouldn't try and stop her. He wouldn't baby her or try and shelter her from what she was. She was strong enough to handle this without letting it consume her.
Rebekah eyed him frantically as Caroline stepped towards the shaking man.
He expected her kill to be something ceremoniously slow and drawn out given her barely ripe experience, but was surprised instead when she flashed directly in front of him.
She ripped the tie from his mouth and pulled him up by his jacket.
He made no effort to struggle or protest.
Her eyes were gleaming red and black, the veins protruded from under her rosy cheeks, and her fangs dropped.
"You're an abomination," the pastor spat.
"And you're a murderer; my mother was human," Caroline retorted.
"She was also a sympathizer. She was collateral damage," he replied plainly. "She was better off dead than having you for a daughter."
Caroline scowled in anger, swiping the back of her hand hard across his face.
He fell to the ground on his side.
"The only thing my mother was guilty of was loving her daughter," Caroline said enraged. "She was a human and you killed her!" she snapped, pulling him up once more. "What would your god have to say about that?"
She gave him no time to respond. Instead, she buried her fangs deep into his neck as she clawed through the material of his jacket and drew blood.
In shock from the attack, the pastor was barely able to manage a groan to call for help or plead for his life.
Throwing him to the ground, she tossed her weight over his dying body and tortured him some more by mauling the flesh of his neck and digging her fingers into his chest.
To humans, the sight of her slowly ripping his heart out from the inside as she tore ruthlessly at his neck with her fangs would have been a horrific image. As a hybrid, it was a fulfilling and strangely erotic sight to behold. As her lover, however, his body ached in physical pain at the sight of her emotional torment - that he was powerless to abate - being unleashed upon her deserving victim.
Despite the fact that the pastor was clearly dead, she continued to mutilate his body.
"Niklaus," Elijah said, urging him to do something.
Rebekah's expression mirrored Elijah's insistence.
He moved quietly behind Caroline.
"Sweetheart, he's dead," he informed her.
He bent over to caress her shoulder as a means to get her attention.
She disregarded him.
"It's done," he said more firmly this time, using his superior strength to pull her away from the kill.
He fought her physical protests by wrapping his arms around her waist and bringing her body up against him.
"Let me go!" she fought.
"It's over now. He's gone," he said sternly, dragging them both backwards away from the body.
Her body tried to work its way out of his grasp despite his ability to easily overpower her.
"You killed him for your mother. It's over," he said softer this time as her body slowly stopped thrashing against his.
She went completely still in his arms.
"I killed him," she breathed. "I killed him," she repeated. "I killed him because he killed my mother," she stammered as her chest began to rise and fall with increasing speed. "My mom's dead," she sobbed, nearly buckling over.
He held her up and she turned before falling into his chest.
"She's dead," she bellowed, crying hard into his shirt.
Her small fists pawed bitterly into his sides while his own tried to lend her some comfort by stroking her hair and her back as he hushed her cries.
This was new territory for him. He was the emotionally damaged one who sought comfort in her. It had never been the other way around on such a drastic scale before. Truthfully, he felt a little helpless and unsure of what to do.
A firm hand rested on his shoulder. He knew almost instantly that it was Elijah.
"Take her home, brother," Elijah told him.
He looked around at the other frightened Council members awaiting their fate.
"She needs you to take her home. We will deal with this," Elijah assured him. "Take her Niklaus," Elijah repeated encouragingly.
Nodding, he tried to move forwards, but Caroline wouldn't budge.
Rather than force her to walk, he improvised and picked her up instead.
The dress was a nuisance that made it difficult to hold onto her, but he managed.
She seemed to accept this direction in their plans as she wrapped an arm around his neck and held onto his jacket.
They walked by the barrage of solemn faces before he sped them back the way he had come with the Salvatores and Elena.
He went to the front of the house, avoiding the backyard knowing there was a possibility Tyler and Dean were still there.
Without a word, he let her back down onto her feet and opened the front door for her.
She walked past him as quiet as he had been.
Decorations and mess from prom still lingered everywhere; another celebration gone awry.
Caroline and Rebekah had been so excited for this night.
He sighed as he followed her inside.
Kol stood immediately from the stairs when they entered. He looked as dishevelled as they did; his hair was mussed and his shirt was stained red with blood.
There was a mix of fear, regret, and sympathy written on his face.
"Caroline," Kol stuttered anxiously.
"Where is she?" Caroline asked.
Kol nodded his head towards the hall.
"She's in the parlour," he said. "I don't even know what to say. I'm so sorry. Rebekah and I were careless."
Caroline said nothing.
He followed her as she headed reluctantly for the parlour, glaring at Kol as they passed.
The room was dimly lit by the glow of the fire and dim lamps.
Caroline paused in the entrance and he stood behind her as he waited for her to enter.
Her mother was on one of the sofas, still dressed in her police uniform, and it almost appeared as though she was in a deep sleep.
She rushed towards her mother with one shrill gasp.
He remained where he was to give her space.
Caroline kneeled on the floor beside her mother. She picked up one of her limp hands and curled her fingers around it. Her other hand ran hesitantly through her mother's hair as she examined the fatal wound.
A flood of tears began to pour from Caroline's eyes.
"Mom," she whimpered under her breath as she placed her head against her mother's arm.
Memories of Henrik's death easily came flooding back as he watched Caroline grieve from a distance.
He walked over to the table quietly to pour himself a drink.
Images of Rebekah and his mother sobbing over Henrik's body flashed in front of him with every mournful sound Caroline made.
Kol appeared in the entranceway and he could tell by the pained expression on his face that he was thinking about the same thing as he was.
Taking his drink, he decided to step out of the room to give her time alone and to confront Kol.
He shut the doors behind him and they returned to the foyer.
"Rebekah told me what happened," he stated.
Kol shook his head.
"We weren't expecting a Council member to pull a gun on Caroline's mother. She managed to lure out all the other members without a problem, we had no reason to expect that Young would be any different," Kol said defensively. "It happened so fast."
"You should have been more careful," he spat. "You should have been ready. I let her go with you two because I thought she'd be safer. Caroline just went through hell and back and now she finds out her mother is dead," he groaned.
He really had no strength or desire to physically lambast Kol in the way he wanted to for something he knew was out of all of their hands.
Instead, he allowed himself a moment to sit on the stairs like Kol had been before he returned with Caroline.
He hung his head and took a sip of his drink.
"I know, Nik. We shouldn't have let her talk to him. We should have just nabbed him as soon as she had him out the door, but she insisted she could handle it," Kol informed him.
"What did you do with the hybrids?" he asked, changing the subject.
"The ones we found Rebekah and I killed. I buried them in the woods off the property with Dean and Tyler Lockwood," Kol revealed. "I know you wanted them alive but it was easier to kill them all than restrain them," he reasoned.
"The rest must have already fled town," he said angrily, only now having the time to scold himself for letting the issue slip right under his nose. "We'll need a cover story for Lockwood and that Hayley wench he was hanging around with. She was working with the hunter," he said filling in the details vaguely for Kol.
"Did you deal with the Council already?" Kol asked.
He shook his head.
"Caroline dealt with Pastor Young," he said, recalling the brutal way she had attacked and killed the man who shot her mother. "Elijah offered to handle the rest."
"So he met you? Rebekah and I couldn't reach him," Kol confirmed.
"He was with Katerina Petrova," he informed Kol.
Kol glared at him with surprise.
"Christ. Did you them time to explain or did you tear Katerina's head from her body?" Kol asked intrigued.
"I had other things on my mind. If Elijah still cares for her, he wouldn't have let her in my sight if there wasn't a good reason. We're going to discuss things when he returns from dealing with the Council," he explained.
"So where's the hunter now?" Kol asked.
"He's dead. Caroline killed him," he said, waiting for Kol's shocked reaction.
Kol's face contorted in confusion.
"How did she manage to kill him?" Kol asked. "And why isn't she hallucinating?"
"The Salvatores and Elena distracted the hunter while I broke Caroline free from the shackles he had her in, but the hunter was able to overpower them with his weapons. He shot me in the chest with some device that probably could have ripped my heart out had he got the chance. Jeremy and Bonnie conveniently showed up at the same time. He shot Jeremy before Bonnie could subdue him with a spell," he explained.
"So Jeremy's dead?" Kol asked.
He rolled his eyes.
"Don't act so upset, brother. I know you have a thing for the witch," he groaned. "Anyways, after Caroline helped me remove the weapon from my chest, she left me to heal while she tended to her friends. She picked up one of the hunter's guns. Bonnie's spell only kept the hunter down for so long. The hunter attacked Caroline with the white oak stake. She shot at him as he did, but it was too late. He staked her as she killed him," he revealed.
Kol sunk further into confusion.
"So not only is she not having hallucinations, but she survived the white oak stake?" Kol asked.
"According to Bonnie, Caroline surviving the stake has something to do with the bracelet I gave her. As for why she's not hallucinating we suspect it has something to do with the fact that the hunter killed Jeremy - a potential hunter - before she killed him," he said. "And that's about the time Elijah and Katerina made an appearance and we ran into Rebekah and found out about Caroline's mother," he sighed, not bothering to divulge the fact that he had nearly killed himself prior to discovering that Caroline was still alive.
He took another long sip of his drink.
"It made me think of Henrik," Kol said lowly.
Remaining silent, he concentrated on the burn of the liquor as Kol said their younger brother's name.
"Henrik wasn't your fault, Nik, and neither is this. Caroline's mom wanted to help," Kol said, trying to reassure him.
He rose from the stairs.
"Then why do I feel guilty?" he muttered as he trudged back for the parlour to check on Caroline.
He found her in the same spot he had left her, curled up against the front of the sofa with her head resting against her mother's arm. Her eyes were closed but he could hear her whimpering softly under her breath.
They opened when she heard him refill his glass.
He took another big swig to work up the courage to approach her.
Saying nothing at first, he simply sat on the floor behind her.
"Can I get you anything?" he asked, knowing it was the least intrusive thing he could probably say right now.
She shook her head against the cushion of the sofa.
"I knew this would happen one day," she spoke, her voice cracking from a dry throat. "I just didn't think it would be this soon. I thought would have more time together."
He let the palm of his hand rest cautiously on her back. She didn't shrug him away.
"She was looking out for you tonight," he said, "at first she wanted to come with me to confront the hunter, but I convinced her to stay with Rebekah and Kol thinking it would be safer. I'm sorry, sweetheart," he murmured, swallowing another lump of guilt.
"I wish everyone would stop saying how sorry they are," she complained as she sat up. "You don't have anything to be sorry for. My dad is dead and now my mom because of me," she concluded as she rubbed her eyes. "My dad came to town to look out for me and my mom confronted Pastor Young because of me. Jeremy is dead because of me."
"Hey," he said, tucking a few frazzled strands of her hair behind her ear. "Your parents loved you. Their deaths aren't your fault," he tried to tell her. "Jeremy's death isn't your fault."
She fell back against his chest as she shed a few more tears.
"I feel so empty and alone," she cried.
He brought her closer and cupped her face.
"You're not alone, sweetheart. I'm here... and I love you," he said.
She nodded and sniffled, trying hard to hold back more tears and cries that were threatening to come out.
Looking back at her mom, she cried a little harder again.
"What are we going to do? How are we going to explain this?" she said stressfully. "I mean my mom was the town Sh..."
"We'll take her to the Young farm," Elijah interrupted from the entranceway.
They both glanced up at his brother.
"Your mother's patrol car is still there. Rebekah and Kol are going to bring the other Council members there. A fire, that will be the explanation," Elijah said calmly.
Caroline looked at her mother's body and then back to Elijah. He could tell she hated the idea of having her mother's body go up in flames at the Young farm. She wanted a proper burial for her.
To his surprise, she nodded.
"Okay," she agreed.
"I know this is difficult for you, Caroline. And I don't want to make it any harder, but we don't exactly have a lot of time," Elijah said, trying to handle the subject delicately.
"Just give me a minute," she requested, looking between him and Elijah.
They both nodded and he stepped out of the room with his brother.
When they were well within the privacy the hallway offered, Elijah began to talk.
"How is she doing?" he asked.
He rubbed a hand through his hair and shrugged.
"One minute she's inconsolable, the next she's in denial or blaming herself and the next after that she seems completely fine...like just now," he said.
"So did Katerina disappear already?" he said, ensuring that his brother would know he had not forgotten of her appearance tonight.
Before Elijah could give him a reply, Caroline was standing in the hall, apparently having all the time she needed to say her final goodbyes to her mother.
"I'm done. You can take her now," she said meekly.
"Thank you, Caroline," Elijah spoke softly.
He stepped forwards.
"Let me take you upstairs," he offered.
His drink from earlier was still waiting on the table in the sitting room, alongside the drink he had poured for Caroline. The music he had put on to drown out the prom noise was now silent.
It was hard not to think about how differently the night would have played out had they met in this room like they had planned to.
They probably would have been fast asleep by now - exhausted from a night of lovemaking, and eager to reach tomorrow; the day they were supposed to depart for New York City.
He briefly glanced at Caroline's suit case. He supposed that trip would have to wait.
She was quiet, but almost too serene and he found it unnerving.
"What can I do?" he asked, a little unsure of what would be the most helpful.
He discarded his jacket as he waited for her reply.
Did she want to talk about things? Did she want to soak his shirt with her tears a bit more? Did she want to try and rest?
She started for the bathroom.
"I want to take a shower," she decided. "I need you to help me," she said.
Normally he would have perked up at that request but he knew that tonight it was far from sexual. She needed to cleanse herself of the night she had just been through. She needed to wash away the guilt, the pain, the sadness, and the fear...all of it. Removing the physical signs of it - the blood and dirt - would be the first step.
He followed her into the bathroom as she stood at the vanity and removed the expensive earrings he had gifted to her. It surprised him that they had not fallen out at some point during the night. Next, she started on the pins that had somehow remained in her hair. He hadn't even realized how many had helped produce her hairstyle for the night until he saw them all sitting in a pile on the counter.
"My head hurts," she commented with a soft laugh as she patted her scalp and curly ball of hair.
He made an effort to smile faintly, though he felt uncomfortable.
Caroline had just been through a traumatizing night - he himself had almost believed he had lost her - he wasn't sure they should be smiling or laughing.
"Can you unclasp the top of the dress and unzip me," she asked casually, reaching behind her to point in the direction of the fastener.
He put his one hand on her shoulder while he undid the clasp and pulled down the zipper with ease.
"Adrian would probably have a heart attack if he saw this dress now," she mused.
He nodded in agreement as she shimmied out of the gown.
Underneath she had on a cream coloured lace bustier and a matching thong, which under different circumstances he would have appreciated more than he could now.
He helped her unclip the bustier for her before went ahead and started the shower for her.
She stepped out of the dress at her feet and met him at the shower door.
"Are you coming in?" she asked.
He tried his best to hold back his judgement. Truthfully, he could use a shower, but he would wait until she was done. He wanted to give her space. He didn't want to suffocate her or make it seem as though nothing had happened tonight, even though she was apparently at that stage of denial.
"No, I'll wait. Take your time," he told her before slipping back into the bedroom.
In the meanwhile, he returned to his earlier spot on the chaise with the remainder of his drink.
For the briefest of moments he closed his eyes and tried to bury the chaos the night had brought. It worked easier than he had expected. When he opened his eyes next, the clock on the mantel informed him that more than a half hour had passed.
The shower was still running and that concerned him.
He knew Caroline had a habit of indulging in lengthy showers, but not this long.
Too concerned to knock, he pushed open the bathroom door.
There, in the shower, Caroline was sitting on the tile with her knees pulled up to her chest, sobbing uncontrollably as the spray of the shower rained down on her.
It seemed her earlier placid mood was merely the calm before the storm.
He flung open the glass door and promptly turned the showerhead off.
"Caroline," he sighed. "Come here, sweetheart," he said soothingly.
Disregarding the fact that her body was dripping with water, he picked her up off the tile.
She clung to him desperately, clutching his shirt with her hands as she cried incoherently into his shoulder and wrapping her legs around his waist.
He grabbed a towel from the rack and draped it over her back.
Carrying her into the bedroom, he sat with her on the bed.
He just sat there. He stroked her wet hair, he tried his best to dry her off, and he whispered what he thought she might like or need to hear. He told her that it would be okay; that it would get better; that he was here for her, but still she cried.
And when he thought she was close to giving up from exhaustion, she cried some more.
He was growing frustrated; not with her, but with himself. Nothing he was doing or saying was helping.
This almost seemed worse than hunter induced hallucinations. At least they granted you brief reprieves. Caroline's emotional pain was ceaseless and ever present.
When it became almost too overwhelming, he lifted her head from his shoulder and looked her in the eye pleadingly.
"She's gone," Caroline whimpered.
"It hurts so bad," she whined through muffled sobs.
"What can I do, love? What can I do?" he begged her.
She balled her fists into his chest.
"Make it stop. Please make it stop," she moaned hoarsely.
He looked at her helplessly. The only thing he knew that would make this better was if he could bring her mother back and that was impossible.
"Compel me," she said. "Compel me to forget," she urged.
He eyed her reluctantly. Her suggestion made him uneasy.
"Caroline...I-I..." he hesitated.
"Please," she begged. "If you love me you'll do this for me," she reasoned.
"The pain will still be there deep down, sweetheart," he explained. "And it might not even work because of the vervain you ingested earlier."
She shook her head.
"Anything is better than this," she argued through some more tears. "I'm asking you to do this...please Nik, just try," she repeated.
Curling his lips, he searched her eyes for sincerity.
He was conflicted. He wanted to do this for her because it was the only thing he knew he could do at this point besides being her shoulder to cry on. However, the idea of erasing the entire night from her memory didn't seem right.
"I can't compel you to forget everything, love," he said shaking his head, "because at some point you're going to want your memories back and the pain will be a thousand times worse," he explained.
She sighed disappointedly.
"But I can compel you to believe certain things; to feel certain things to ease your suffering, if that's what you want," he offered.
"Yes," she said, "please do it."
Nodding, he swallowed hard and brushed his fingers under her eyes to wipe away the tears.
Exhaling sharply, he focused his eyes and caught hers immediately, bringing her under his compulsion.
He held her face in his hands.
"Caroline, you need to listen to me," he instructed, "you had a great time at prom tonight and you looked beautiful, but a lot of terrible things also happened tonight; the most terrible being that your mother was killed by Pastor Young. It was an unfortunate tragedy for you especially. You're sad, but you know that your mother loved you deeply and was only trying to help. You know that she wouldn't want you to be sad. She would want you to move on and continue living your life without guilt or remorse over her death. You want to honour her wishes," he said before releasing her from his compulsion.
He sucked in a breath as she blinked a few times in an attempt to process what happened. He had compelled her, but he hadn't compelled her to forget what he had done.
She released a long sigh of relief and hugged him tightly.
"Thank you," she murmured against his neck.
The compulsion had worked seemingly.
They stayed quietly like that for a few minutes until she pulled back and kissed his lips before asking him for a t-shirt to wear to bed.
He nodded and left her on the bed to track down a t-shirt of his for her to wear.
Selecting a white one, he tossed it to her and she dressed herself.
"I should go talk to Elijah," he noted. "Do you think you'll be able to get some rest?" he asked.
"I'm exhausted," she said. "Tuck me in?" she requested as she pulled back the covers.
He walked over to the right side of his bed - the side she had grown accustomed to sleeping on.
Her body curled into the mattress and her head sunk comfortably into the pillow.
She looked up at him with a small appreciative smile as he brought the covers up to her shoulder.
Her hand clenched his before he could leave her side and he sat down on the edge beside her.
"I want to have a private service for my mom tomorrow at the cemetery," she said.
"That can be arranged," he said.
"And then I want to leave for New York like we were supposed to," she continued.
He arched an uncertain eyebrow.
"It's what my mom would have wanted us to do," she concluded.
"If it's what you want," he confirmed.
She nodded back with her eyes now closed.
The grip on his hand loosened.
"Klaus?" she spoke as he went to stand. "Remember what you told me about Elijah and Katherine," she stated before rolling over towards the centre of the bed.
He had been reluctant about compulsion at first, but now as he watched her drift off to a relatively peaceful sleep he believed it was worth it. Nothing he said to her during the compulsion had been a lie. It was all truth. The compulsion just did a better job of getting through to her than anything else.
As he left the room it surprised him that their short conversation about Elijah and Katerina had even entered her mind given everything that had happened tonight.
She wanted him to recall the fond way he had spoke to her about understanding Elijah's betrayal for Katerina in lieu of his feelings for her. In other words, she wanted him to hear Elijah out before jumping to conclusions. She wanted him to go easy on his brother by relating to him. She had a soft spot for Elijah. He assumed that mercy extended to Katerina, but he wasn't sure he could muster mercy for the woman who had caused him so much grief over the centuries. He wasn't sure Caroline could for the woman who had turned her into a vampire. Regardless, he was curious to hear Elijah and Katerina's explanation.
He found them in the parlour. Caroline's mother was now gone and Katerina was sitting on the other sofa anxiously while Elijah stood at the fireplace mantel pensively. Both had drinks in hand.
When Katerina noticed him standing in the entranceway, he could have sworn her face went a lighter shade of white.
Even Elijah seemed less than his usual calm and confident demeanour.
"Caroline?" Elijah inquired.
"She's resting," he said, musing at how Katerina flinched when he walked past towards the liquor.
Elijah's eyebrows rose.
"That's good," Elijah commented.
"I compelled her," he revealed, unconcerned if Katerina heard, she knew too much just by being here anyways.
Elijah's face quickly turned to one of disapproval.
"She asked me to," he said fast, coming to his own defence.
His brother's tense and contorted expression relaxed.
"So she doesn't remember tonight?" Elijah confirmed.
He shook his head as he poured himself a drink.
"She remembers everything, I just compelled her to come to terms with it quicker," he explained. "It seemed to calm her down."
Watching Elijah's reaction as he sipped from the glass, he could tell that his brother was just as uneasy with the idea of compulsion in this case as he was.
"Caroline was beside herself. She needed something," he reasoned.
"Kol took her mother's body to the Young property," Elijah said. "He's meeting Rebekah there with the rest of the Council," Elijah explained.
This seemed like as good a time as any to confront his brother about the vampire doppelganger sitting on his sofa.
He walked back around so that he was in her sight line.
"I had asked Kol and Rebekah tonight to get your assistance with the Council and my hybrids. They told me they were unable to reach you. If I'm not mistaken, you were here during the prom for most of the night. Dare I ask what was occupying you, Elijah?" he asked, exchanging looks between both Katerina and his brother.
"It's not what you think, Niklaus," Elijah assured him, glancing at Katerina as he sipped from his own glass.
"Is it not?" he asked with mild amusement.
"Katerina came to me," Elijah explained.
He laughed, eyeing Katerina with intrigue.
"So after your relentless pursuit of her, she finally comes after you instead," he mused.
Despite Katerina's fear of him, he could still see the disdain and look of protest on her face.
"It's not..." she started.
"Did I ask you?" he demanded sternly.
Elijah tensed and urged Katerina to back down with a subtle glare.
Her eyes rolled discreetly as she fell back against the sofa with a frustrated huff.
"She confronted me earlier tonight, informing me she had something she thought would be of use to us...to you," Elijah informed him. "She had the hunter in her possession. He was bound in your study. She wanted to use him as a bargaining chip for her freedom. She even gave me the white oak stake as a further sign of good faith," Elijah continued. "I decided to oblige her, so I instructed her to go wait in my room while I sought you out to negotiate. I made the mistake of wasting time by trying to speak with the hunter first. One of your hybrids, Chris was it? He ambushed me and daggered me," Elijah said, clearly embarrassed that he had such a lapse in judgement.
"That is why Kol and Rebekah couldn't reach you..." he observed as he waited for Elijah to continue his story.
"After a time of no reply, Katerina returned to the study and found me. Chris was dead having used the dagger on me, but the hunter had escaped with the white oak stake. By that point all of you were gone in search of Caroline, your hybrids, and the Council," Elijah said. "Discovering this from Rebekah, Katerina and I rushed to the Lockwood cellar, knowing that the stake that could kill you was in the hunter's possession. Ironically when we arrived, Katerina had to save you from yourself," Elijah finished.
He bit his tongue in contemplation as he mulled over the details Elijah enlightened him with.
"So you wanted to use the hunter and the white oak stake you apparently stole from me in a bargain for your freedom?" he questioned as he stepped in front of Katerina.
She nodded and he cocked his head curiously to the side.
"I'm curious to know how you became involved in all of this in the first place? How did you know of the hunter? How did you find him?" he wondered, feeling a little outshone by the conniving doppelganger.
He waited for her to speak expectantly.
"I'm always searching for a way to secure my freedom," she shrugged. "Just because I ran from you and Mystic Falls when I had the chance didn't mean I stopped keeping tabs on things. I overheard that you were searching for a particular hunter thanks to the naive Matt Donovan. I couldn't figure out why a pathetic hunter would be of any interest to you until I suspected that he could be one of the Five," she said.
"How do you know about the Five?" he asked.
She looked past him towards Elijah.
He glared at his brother from over his shoulder.
"I told Katerina of them once when I first brought her to stay with us in the fifteenth century," Elijah revealed.
A devious smirk struggled to break upon Katerina's lips as he rolled his eyes at his brother's past gullibility.
"So while the hunter was focused on you, and you were focused on dead end leads, I was focused on the hunter," she said proudly. "After you sabotaged your chances finding the hunter at his house on wheels, naturally, he sought out the Council for help. Once I used some deductive reasoning, it wasn't that hard to find him at one of the Council member's rental properties. I did my best Elena impression, got myself inside, and took him by surprise," she mused.
He scowled, feeling slighted that the doppelganger had managed to secure the hunter before he had the opportunity.
"Only it seemed you had underestimated how my hybrids factored into the equation," he said, recovering his ego to some degree.
"It seems you did as well," she countered.
He hissed under his breath and glared at Elijah.
"So what would you have me do brother? Why have you dared to bring Katerina to me when all I've desired for centuries is the sight of her mutilated dead body?" he asked, smirking when he heard Katerina's breathing catch in her throat. "I mean, she really has nothing to negotiate with now, does she?" he pointed out.
He tensed as Katerina stood up from the sofa and moved towards the fireplace. She removed the white oak stake from her jacket and pitched it into the flame.
"Because I want to do this right, Niklaus. I didn't betray you then and I don't wish to betray you now. I ask that you show Katerina mercy in lieu of her efforts; in lieu of the fact that she saved your life," Elijah proceeded.
"She saved my life as a means of self-preservation," he countered.
"Do her motivations really matter? You are still here, aren't you? Still here with Caroline, all because of Katerina's quick reflexes," Elijah pointed out to him. "And can you really hold her desire to preserve her own life against her?" Elijah continued. "What happened was centuries ago, and if I recall, you slaughtered her entire family. Isn't that enough? Why have you not treated Elena in the same manner? Or scorned our sister for driving Elena off of Wickery Bridge?" Elijah wondered. "Are you really still that furious over Katerina, or is your desire to see her dead the result of your uncanny ability to hold a grudge?"
He grimaced at Elijah's own uncanny ability to decipher his flaws and inconsistencies in a reasoned manner.
Elijah always had a way of being right and that annoyed him to no end.
He moved closer towards Katerina and it provoked the reaction from Elijah that he was expecting. In an instant, Elijah's arm flashed protectively in front of her.
Smirking, he stepped back.
"After all these years, you still care for her, don't you, Elijah?" he asked.
Elijah's jaw clenched hesitantly, but he still nodded nonetheless.
"I do," Elijah responded. "I'm told it is a vampire's greatest weakness - one that I apparently am not immune to."
He stood there silently, contemplating his next move; trying to find a balance between his resentment and Caroline's desire for him to be understanding.
"From one weak vampire to another, if you will not spare Katerina in lieu of her deeds, than I ask that you spare her out of empathy and compassion for me," Elijah pleaded.
And that was it; Elijah had found the persuasive line of reasoning that he would find difficult to resist.
He glowered down at the glass in his hand.
"A vampire once told me that love could be a vampire's greatest strength," he chuckled to himself.
His eyes met Elijah's and he became ignorant of Katerina's presence.
"You are my brother Elijah, and it is the brotherly affection and loyalty I have for you - that you have had for me - however misguided, that gives me the strength to tame my desire for revenge. I empathize with your affliction more than you know and I pity the both of us with equal measure," he said, pausing to empty his glass. "Before Caroline and I depart from this god forsaken town tomorrow evening, there will be a private service for her mother. I expect that you will be there. After that, you...and your Katerina are free to do as you please," he said.
An immediate sigh of relief escaped both Katerina and Elijah's lips.
He darkened his expression for one final warning.
"Mark my words though, Katerina Petrova, if you should ever decide to betray my brother's unwavering graciousness or my irrational generosity towards you, I will not hesitate for a moment to rescind my kindness. My mercy for you comes by your significance to my brother only. The day you become deceitfully insignificant is the day I will hunt you down and destroy you," he threatened her with a pointed finger.
She nodded with a quivering lip and trembling body and for a moment he half expected her to bow to him and address him as her lord.
Despite his foreboding, Elijah seemed satisfied with his terms.
"I am grateful, Niklaus," Elijah nodded, "thank you, brother," he added.
He shrugged and tipped his glass in Elijah's direction.
"Family above all," he conceded.
She awoke to the sound of a door clicking open and shut. Her eyes fluttered open against the soft pillow her head hadn't left since it rested there the night before.
The sun was dripping into the room and without stepping outside she knew it was going to be a warm spring day.
She felt like she had slept for the better part of the day but the clock on the bedside table indicated it had only been a little over eight hours. Still, she had got the rest she needed after a night like last night.
Her eyes were still a little puffy, and they stung from the tears she had shed the night before, but she felt calmer this morning. Her mind was at ease and that is what mattered most.
The bed shifted as she forced her eyes completely open.
He was sitting on his side of the bed, still dressed in the clothes he had worn from the night before.
And now that she thought about it, she couldn't recall him ever coming to bed.
She rolled onto her back.
"You haven't been to bed yet?" she asked curiously.
"I got a few hours," he told her. "I had arrangements to make and loose ends to tie up before we leave," he informed her.
She suspected some of those arrangements had to do with her mother.
"Everything is set for this afternoon," he explained.
She nodded appreciatively.
He was the reason her mind was at ease despite everything.
"Thank you...for everything," she said, referring to well...everything; for saving her.
He pushed the blankets back on his side and lied down on the bed beside her with a tired sigh.
"There's no need to thank me," he replied.
She shuffled closer to him.
"How do you feel?" he asked her.
"I feel sad," she admitted.
He glanced at her with concern.
"But at the same time I feel really happy...like I know things are going to be okay. It's weird," she described, knowing her contradictory feelings were the result of his compulsion.
"They're already reporting on the house fire at the Young farm. The town seems to have bought it. We'll be gone before the local press can harass you about your mother," he told her.
That was a relief to her. The last thing she wanted was to be here for that. The last thing she wanted was to here at all anymore. She needed to move on from Mystic Falls, especially now.
"What about Tyler and Jeremy?" she wondered, suddenly reminding herself that they had lost more than just her mother.
"I think Kol was working on a story for Tyler's mother about him leaving town," he told her. "When I talked to Stefan earlier, he had mentioned explaining Jeremy's death as a suicide."
While it was gruesome to think about, it seemed like a workable explanation. Jeremy had tried to commit suicide in the past.
"Do you know how Elena is holding up?" she asked, worried about her friend who had lost the rest of her family like she had.
"She's numb right now. In shock, I suppose," he said.
"Elena will never get the cure now unless we find another hunter," she realized.
She rested her head on his shoulder.
"You'll never have anymore hybrids," she reminded him cautiously.
He scoffed under his breath.
Propping himself up on his left side, he looked down at her.
"The last thing I want now is more hybrids, sweetheart. After last night, all I want is to get us out of this town," he stated.
She nodded in agreement.
Reaching up, she curled a hand around his neck and brought him down close to her.
She kissed his lips gently and relished in the sensation she had almost lost the privilege of last night when the hunter staked her.
His hands cupped her face securely as he deepened the kiss.
After last night she was devastated and had never felt more uncertain, but those feelings were quickly brushed aside when he kissed her as though his life depended on it. She never felt more sure or elated about anything.
"I love you," she whispered against his lips.
He studied her for a few moments before kissing her bottom lip as he reached into his pants' pocket.
Pulling her left hand down from his neck, he clutched it in his.
"I went to see Bonnie this morning. The bracelet is still spelled and she managed to fix it," he informed her. "She had to improvise though."
She expected him to clasp a bracelet around her wrist, but she was surprised instead when she felt a cool metal band hug her finger as he slid it on.
"I love you, Caroline."
She stared down at the shimmering ring, moving it around her finger with her thumb as she reflected on the day while Klaus answered a phone call beside her.
It had been a bittersweet afternoon.
A small group of them had gathered in the cemetery to say goodbye to her mother. There was no body, but Klaus had arranged for - or compelled - a beautiful headstone on such short notice.
The sun shone bright and warm and she couldn't conceive of better weather. It was a sign from her mother, she suspected.
She was thankful to see that Elena, Stefan, and Damon had all made an effort to come even though Elena was struggling with the death of her own brother. Bonnie and Matt had come too. Klaus's siblings were there also, although Elijah's plus one had surprised her.
It had slipped her mind to ask Klaus earlier for the details behind her appearance and how he ultimately dealt with her.
For obvious reasons, she had never been much of a fan of Katherine Pierce, but she respected the love Elijah seemed to have for her. It seemed that Klaus had come to understand and respect that love as well.
They all placed a few flowers and she said a few words before she said another tearful goodbye to her mother.
Their relationship had never been the best, but her mother had always loved her unconditionally, and that's what mattered most to her now.
From saying goodbye to her mother she then said her goodbyes to everyone else.
She thanked Bonnie for her help and hugged both her and Matt goodbye. She made the Salvatores swear to always look out for Elena and re-extended Stefan an invitation to come visit.
She hugged Elena for dear life and offered one last time to stay behind for her. Elena urged her to leave, assuring her that it was only a matter of time until she did the same before she promised to keep in touch.
Kol announced his return to Las Vegas with a subtle open-ended invitation to Bonnie to come visit when she was ready.
Rebekah had decided to stay behind a while longer, much to Klaus's chagrin, to finish out the school year. She also offered to keep an eye on her mother's house for her until she returned to Mystic Falls with Klaus to confront it. Right now she wasn't ready and she appreciated Rebekah's thoughtfulness.
To her amusement, Elijah informed her that Katherine was dragging him to the Barbados to work on his tan. It was refreshing to see such a playful side to him. He assured her that he would be there for her if she ever needed to talk or needed someone to help her put Klaus in his place.
She would miss the friends she had grown up with and she would miss living in a house with Klaus's siblings who she had developed such a fondness for, but they agreed the separation would not be permanent. She would see her friends again, and Klaus's siblings agreed that they would reunite in the very near future.
It was time to move forward and leave Mystic Falls behind.
"Flight fifty-seven thirty-six to New York, LaGuardia is now boarding."
"That's our flight," Klaus announced, taking her out of her thoughts. "Are you ready?"
He put his phone in his jacket pocket as he stood up from his chair.
She nodded and rose beside him.
With her carry-on bag in one hand and Klaus's hand in the other, she headed for the gate with him.
"Who were you talking to on the phone? It sounded important," she asked.
"Just an associate of mine," he replied. "How would you feel about taking a trip to New Orleans after New York?"
A/N: Muah. So what did you think? You might have noticed that I left it a little open ended. ; )
Thanks so much for reading! I love you! Please let me know what you thought. I really hope I didn't disappoint you. The majority of you wanted a happy-ish ending, so this is that.