A/N – You're not hallucinating, it's really a new chapter. I've been having a pretty shitty time, and I don't really know how, but the inspiration came from nowhere and I was writing this again. I wish I can promise that updates will be regular, but it is what I hope. As for Klaus, I know everyone is already raising pitchforks, rest assured, we do see him again, but not for a while. I hope you all like this chapter, do let me know what you all thought.

Chapter 22.

"Hearts can break. Yes, hearts can break. Sometimes I think it would be better if we died when they did, but we don't."
Stephen King,Hearts in Atlantis

There's this thing that happens; when the light at the end of the tunnel becomes unattainable, when the silver lining is obscured by the grey, when you're left with no hope, no faith, no belief, and numbness is all you feel. You deconstruct, down to un-repairable pieces that used to once make you who you are. Never to be whole again.

Caroline slept, for days on end, uncaring and unflinching, all she did was sleep. She had been strong; she had been what the situation called on her to be; the big sister, the dutiful daughter and the loyal, patient lover. She had trudged through the loss of her sister and her nephew, driven by her determination to do Katherine's wishes justice and stand tall for her family. Against the burly and brutal tides, she persevered; she didn't let them take her. She hadn't let the pain, the sadness, the absolute agony consume her. But then, the thing happened. Klaus, and his return, had been the light at the end of her long, depressingly dark tunnel, the silver lining on her dark cloud, the only hope she felt since that cold winter morning.

Klaus isn't coming back.

So, she broke. She deconstructed, she stopped fighting the violent tides and let them take her under, let herself sink into the dark, deep abyss of nothingness. She gave up on hope, on love, on happiness, on life.

So, she slept.

"A mighty pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss;
But of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain."
Abraham Cowley

"All she does is sleep," Rebekah complained, shrugging her shoulders and bending low to carefully pick the flower, cutting it off from the stem at the perfect point. Almost proud of her precision, she smiled widely, tucking the small, lavender flower over her ear and turning to face an exasperated Damon. "Doesn't even talk to me, or father. All she does is sleep."

Cocking his head to one side, Damon looked down at her, a hesitant smile creeping on his face, "Because that's what people do when they're sad." Rebekah's brow crinkled as she considered his words, but remained silent for a few minutes. And he let her, doing nothing but hovering behind her and watching as she squatted on the ground in a very un-ladylike manner, and hunted for the perfect flowers in the deeper bushes. When she found what she was looking for, she emerged from within the fauna, a few stray leaves sticking out from between her golden hair and carefully placed the flowers in her basket. For what purpose she needed a variety of flower, he knew not, and didn't particularly want to know either. All he knew was that he didn't want her so far away from home, engrossed in her own world, so he had been following after for the past two hours, watching and sighing through every bush and garden.

"I don't sleep when I'm sad," Rebekah asked innocently, pausing in her search and turning to look up at him, squinting slightly as the sun hit her eyes, "I cry when I'm sad. She doesn't cry. At all."

Sighing loudly, Damon said, "Give her some time, Bekah. You're too young to understand this. She wa-is in love," he corrected begrudgingly, "And him not returning, it-its. Just give her some time, she'll come around. I promise." He added in what he hoped was a comforting and reassuring tone.

Placing her basket on the ground, she pushed away the unruly curls falling over her face with the back of her hand, unknowingly and uncaringly smearing some faint over the side of her face, making Damon chuckle under his breath. "Have you ever been in love?" she asked him, her brows furrowing considerably as she watched him stumble over her question for a few seconds, before rolling his eyes and giving her an exasperated look.

"Yes," he answered tightly, "A long time back." he added almost as if in warning to not press the matter.

"Does love hurt?" she asked hesitantly, tilting her head to one side and pondering over her own question.

"Love feels like a thousand daggers in your chest, and also like you're floating in a cloud up in the heavens." Damon answered, his voice suddenly getting dreamy and emotional.

Rebekah stared at him for a few seconds, as if worried for his sanity and then finally said, "That makes no sense."

Laughing heartily, Damon got down on his knees, playfully ruffling up her hair to which she audibly protested. Helping her put back the flower over her ear he said, "You're just a child Rebekah. You don't understand love, not yet."

And as Rebekah watched him bend over the bushes to help her pick flowers, she realized that no matter how much she matured; whether in age or mentality, to Damon, she would always be a child.

And it stung.

"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?"
Jodi Picoult,My Sister's Keeper

"Wake up!" two small, yet firm hands rounded on her shoulder, lightly shaking them in earnest, as the same impatient voice pierced through her sleep and grief clouded brain "Wake up, Caroline!"

Grumbling softly, Caroline made to turn on her back, tangling her limbs in the sheets in the process. Taking a second to untangle her feet from a painfully twisted angle, she pushed the stray curls off her face and fixed her unwavering glare at her younger sister, "What Rebekah?"

Puffing out an exasperated breath, Rebekah crossed her arms over her chest and said, "Elijah is here to see you. So I suggest you make yourself presentable." With an air of superiority, she gave her a pointed look and stomped out of her chambers.

Caroline blinked dumbly for a few seconds, trying to absorb what had just occurred. When she heard Rebekah outside her chambers, politely informing Elijah that he could go in now, she dramatically leapt out of bed, hastily grabbing a clean dress and running into the small bathroom.

When she emerged five minutes later, looking slightly less like a harried 50 year old woman, she found Elijah uncomfortably sitting on the other edge of her bed, his tense back to hers; he rubbed his hands on his thighs in uneasiness and fidgeted with the cuffs of his shirt. When she discreetly cleared her throat to announce her presence, he quickly sprung to his feet, and if this had been any other time in her life, she was sure she would have laughed. Turning to face her, he nodded in courtesy and clasped his hands behind his back. A motion that painfully reminded her of Klaus. Burying the sudden white hot slash of pain through her heart, she forced an awkward smile on her face and said, "Elijah, this is a surprise."

"I want to see how you were doing." He replied in a stoic, calm voice. When she didn't respond for a whole minute, but only looked at him with her big blue eyes, he added, "I was worried, and I wanted to check up on how..."

"Your father asked you to do this," she interrupted him, a tight, plastic smile on her face, devoid of any humor. "Didn't he?"

Elijah hesitated, shaking his head and stumbling over his words, "I-I had been thinking of it, but I didn't know if... He may have set the wheels in motion, but I was genuinely worried as well."

Caroline nodded curtly, but offered no response, the same cold, cruel smile fixed on her face. Anger flooded through her, penetrating her veins and raging through her blood, making her shake in her place. She could deal with anything, but the one thing that made her see red was pity. She did not need pity, she would not tolerate pity, she would not take pity. And somehow, for reasons she couldn't understand, pity coming from Elijah made her angrier, knowing that he thought of her as some poor, pathetic creature pinning away after some boy made her blood boil.

"There is no need for such courtesy, Elijah," she said in a chillingly cold voice, "You owe me nothing."

"That is not true, and that is not the point..."

"Yes, it is. I do not need your pity." She half-screamed, only keeping her temper and voice in check for the sake of her sister and father. Spittle flew out of her mouth as she took a few steps towards him, her hands clasped into fists, "You need not care for me, or what happens to me. Our relation ended the day Katherine died and the day..." she trailed off suddenly, as if realizing what she was about to say, and not wanting to say the words. Her brows furrowed instantly, tears clouding her eyes as she stumbled on her feet, dismissing his extended hand as she righted herself.

"Caroline," Elijah began, his voice much softer than she had ever heard before, "I do not pity you. I worry for you. And I did want to check up on you. And the truth of the matter is...," he gulped unceremoniously, searching for the words as if it physically pained him, "You would have been my sister-in-law, had everything gone right. Katherine was your si-..."

"Is," Caroline corrected, her face determined and her chin held high, "Katherine is my sister. She may be gone, but I'm still her sister."

A small smile formed on Elijah's face at her words, this was the Caroline he had heard of from Katherine and his brother. The woman with a heart of gold, that could love and love and love; never stop loving, and still have place to love more. His voice shook as he spoke now, almost a whisper, as if he was afraid to let anyone else hear him like this, "You are Katherine's sister. And-and... I have no one." He declared, with a small shrug of his shoulders. The pure vulnerability on his face softened her stance. He was in the same boat as her, as broken as her.

"I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head and looking down at her feet, "I've overreacted terribly. I apologize."

"No need," Elijah cleared his throat, his voice still a bit croaky and shaken up, "How about we start over?"

This time the smile she forced on her face, was almost unrecognizable as a fake one, as she smoothened the fronts of her dress and said, "Elijah, what a pleasant surprise to see you."

He blinked rapidly for a few seconds, before catching up and emitting a soft 'Ah!' and saying, "Yes, I wanted to check up on how you were doing. I'm sorry it's taken me a week to do so, but I wasn't sure it was my place."

Her smile increased as she softly laughed under her breath, "It is your place," she said finitely, "Now what brings you here so early in the morning?"

He hesitated again, gulping nervously and wringing his hands together, "You said that I was to have what Katherine wrote during my absence. I wondered if..."

"Oh yes!" Caroline exclaimed, a hand flying to her mouth in disbelief as she realized that in her wallowing she had forgotten to give Elijah the heaps of books Katherine had written. "Oh dear, I'm so sorry I forgot. They're right here," she beckoned him over with her hand, guiding him to the corner of her bedchamber, where a long table lay scattered with books and papers, "She wrote so much, all day, every day, it was like she was possessed." She sadly reminisced, running her hands over the spine of the books, "Short stories after short stories, she even finished writing a whole book." She laughed to herself, as she pulled a pile of books towards her and then shifted them towards Elijah.

"There's more," she informed him, a fond smile on her face, which suddenly turned slightly abashed as Elijah opened the first book and lightly ran his fingers over the paper, "I'm afraid to say I read them all, and others as well," she extended her hands behind her, where a stack of more books and papers lay on the table, "I couldn't help myself, I know these were meant for you, but-but I just wanted to feel some part of my sister and her writing has always..."

"It's alright," he cut off her frantic rambling, by placing a hand on her wrist, "I'm certain Katherine would not have minded," he added, widening his eyes and letting go of her wrist and moving to examine the books again. Still a bit abashed and embarrassed from her rambling, Caroline blushed slightly and nodded her head. "She never let me read anything before this you know," he piped up suddenly, "No matter how often I asked."

"Katherine, despite the picture of utmost self-confidence she painted, was very insecure about her writing." Caroline said, "She never thought she was good, despite how often we told her she was. And with you it was different; she didn't particularly care what we thought of her work. But with you..." Caroline hesitated, but Elijah raised his tailored brows, urging her to finish her sentence, "She didn't want you to be disappointed in her."

The book dropped from his hand, landing with a small thud as he let out a loud sigh and moved two steps back, sitting on her bed, and looking off into nothingness. She followed his actions, sitting down next to him and looking at his distraught face, wondering, pondering if there was any way to comfort him. He stayed silent for a while, saying nothing but staring at a stain on the wooden floors, as if it would give him the answers he seeked. She found the silence to be comfortable, her usual nagging need to dispel it non-existent, like they could sit there, doing nothing, saying nothing, but just breathing.

"She could never disappoint me," when he suddenly spoke, Caroline jumped in place, "And now she'll never know that."

"She'll know," Caroline countered firmly, "Katherine always believed that Stefan could hear her, could see her. I know that wherever she is, she see's you and she hears you." He didn't respond, only bowed his head and looked down at his feat in despair.

"Can I ask you something?" he said heavily, placing his head in his hands.


"What did she say? Before...," he stopped there, hoping she understood what he meant, and she did.

Watching him sit there, right where Katherine had laid before she gave out, bought the memories back to her. And along with the memories, came the pain and anguish. The tears. And Caroline was absolutely tired of crying.

Taking a deep breath and collecting herself, she said, "She was too weak, by the end. The fever and birth had taken most of her energy, she couldn't talk much. But she told me to tell you that she loved you very much, and that wherever she went, she would always love you."

"And...," her words choked in her throat as she waited for some sort of response from Elijah. But he remained frozen in his position, his head buried in his hand and his body tense and rigid.

"And?" he questioned, an almost irritated edge to his voice, as he lifted his head to look at her, and she could see the fine lines on his face, the way he struggled to hold himself together. Forever too proper and gentlemanlike to break down around her.

"And she wanted you to name him, she insisted it be you." Caroline said.

Elijah looked at her incredulously, his brows knotting together as his eyes wandered to and fro, trying to decipher her words. "Name who?"

Caroline eyes widened exponentially, wondering whether he was being serious or pulling her leg. But from what she had heard of Elijah from Katherine and Klaus, he was not the kind of man to pull someone's leg. "Yo-your son," she stammered, looking at him with the same confused, aghast look on her face.

Instantly, Elijah stood up. His back was tense and straight, his face set like stone and his features cold and menacing, like he was ready for battle. He refused to meet her gaze, even when she stood up to face him and said, "Katherine was adamant that you name your son. His grave marker still has no name, it just says baby Mikaelson. I-I think she would want you to..."

"I have no son." Elijah boomed, his voice and tone making his words seem finite, like there was no challenging them. "Do not ask this of me."

Caroline couldn't help but exclaim in shock, "What are you saying? Katherine loved him so much and she..."

"I said stop, Caroline," Elijah warned, his eyes turning to slits and his nostrils flaring with every breath, "I have no son. And I will not name that-that thing."

"Elijah!" Caroline gasped, tears spiking her eyes, "Do you have any idea how much Katherine loved that baby? And she didn't even get to hold him. She would be disgusted by your behavior right now."

"Well then how convenient that's she dead." Elijah spit, whirling around to face away from her, "How convenient that she isn't here to tell me what a horrible human being I am. How convenient that she isn't here to tell me that she's disappointed in me."

"This isn't like you," Caroline whispered, taking a step away from Elijah, not in fear but shock.

"No, this is exactly like me." Elijah bellowed, uncaring who heard or reacted. He turned to finally look at her, and she saw the glassiness in his black eyes, "I wish that child had never been conceived. Then Katherine would still be alive."

"You do not know that!" she yelled back, not caring to keep her voice down either. "If it was her time..."

"No, I do know that. I know that if she had never gotten pregnant then she would still be here. So, Caroline, I beg of you; do not ask me to name the thing that killed Katherine."

Caroline stared at him for a few seconds, her breathing hard and her emotions haywire. She opened her mouth to respond, but Elijah interrupted her, moving forward and grasping her outstretched hand in his. Squeezing her hand tightly, he pleadingly said, "Please." His face did it in for her, as she let out a strangled breath and lightly nodded her head.

"For now," she added in warning, to which he only closed his eyes momentarily, but instantly straightened his back and said, "Father has asked me to invite you and the whole family for dinner tonight. I hope you will be accepting?"

Caroline hesitated for a bit, not in the mood to dress up and play social, but knowing that it would probably be a good change for Rebekah and that it was now her turn to reciprocate Elijah's action, she smiled tautly and said, "Yes, of course we will."

"There is nothing that moves a loving father's soul quite like his child's cry."
Joni Eareckson Tada

Dinner was as she had expected. Awkward and uncomfortable. She and Elijah mostly sat in silence, eating their food monotonously and only speaking when spoken to. The elders and the children constituted most of the conversation; Kol and Rebekah yammering away about things Caroline couldn't even pretend to comprehend and Bill and Mikael talking about mundane things stretching from the weather to politics. The atmosphere was tense, stretched like a string, and any second the smallest of tugs could break it. Caroline paused her eating for a second to share a worried look with Elijah, both wondering when the dreaded topics would arise.

"So how is work Bill?" Mikael asked jovially, and to any by-stander he seemed like the picture perfect definition of happy. But Caroline knew him well; she could see the darkness under his eyes, the taut lines on his face, the sadness in his eyes. His projection of happiness was about as fake as hers.

Bill shrugged in response, poking the meat with his fork and saying, "Tough like always. What about you, how is business?"

"How it always has been; dull and boring, but prosperous." Mikael replied with a wide smile on his face, which severely faltered with Bill's next words.

"And how's your personal life Mikael?"

Caroline tensed in her seat, looking up to see Elijah carefully watching his father, who took a deep breath, folding the napkin on his lap and picking up the glass of wine. Sipping it slowly, Mikael turned his grim yet determined face to Bill, "Not the best, my old friend. Not the best."

"Hmm..." Bill murmured, picking up his own wine glass and downing it in one go, he reached for the tumblr to pour himself another glass, to which Caroline audibly protested, but he ignored her. "Well, as you can imagine," Bill spoke, a slightly disturbing smile on his face, "Mine is downright horrible at the moment. My wife is dead, well you know something about that Mikael. My eldest daughter died while giving birth to my, I'm sorry, our grandson. My second daughter was abandoned by her fiancé, who just happens to be your son. And my youngest, well she's so young I wonder how much of her life I'll get to see."

"Father!" Caroline slammed her hand on his, squeezing it tightly, almost painfully and hissing at him through her teeth, "Stop it. Stop it this instant."

"No, my dear," Mikael dismissed her, his voice sounding exhausted and his face finally looking his age, "Let him say his piece."

"Tell me, Mikael. Why did Klaus ask for Caroline's hand in marriage if he didn't intent on following through?"

Mikael sighed and closed his eyes, looking to Elijah for a second, before throwing his hands up in the air and speaking with a defeated voice, "If I knew how that boy thought, I wouldn't have gone grey so soon. I wish I had any control over him, I wish I had any power to make him come back, but I do not. I assure you, me and Elijah, we both did our best to convince him to come back. Bu-but, all I have to give to you and Caroline are my apologies."

"What good are they?" Bill accused, pointing his finger at Mikael, "What good are your apologies when my family, my daughter is the laughing stock of the town. Who will marry her n-...?"

"Father enough!" surprisingly, this strong reprimand came from Rebekah, who turned in her chair and thoroughly yelled at her father. Taking her chance, Caroline quickly stood up, trying in vain to control her tears and hastily made her way out of the dining room.

"I know," Elijah said before his father could say a word, as he got off his seat and made to follow Caroline.

"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."
Mark Twain

"You can walk with me you know; you don't have to follow me. I know you're there." Caroline called out into the warm summer night, slightly tilting her head back as she continued her trudge through the woods. "You're not exactly quiet back there, Elijah." she added when there was no response.

"I didn't want to intrude," he said gruffly, finally revealing himself and walking towards her, "I just wanted to make sure you were alright. The woods aren't safe at night."

She laughed softly, almost in a mocking manner, and wrapped her hands around herself, the warm night still chilly enough to make her shiver slightly. "I apologize for my father." She said finitely, rubbing her hands over her arms.

"And I for mine."

"Your father didn't do anything wrong," Caroline pressed, "Mine on the other hand, is not finding it easy to cope. He's looking for someone to blame. And that person is most definitely not your father."

"Caroline, I'm certain there are many things going on in your head, about Niklaus. And why he didn't come back, I just want you to kn..." Elijah began explaining, but Caroline cut him off sharply.

"I don't want to know."

"Caroline, I fear what you believe is not..."

"Did you know Elijah, that when I was 8 years old I wanted to marry Matt Donovan." Caroline suddenly digressed, turning to look at him with a dreamy gaze.

"What?" he was effectively startled and distracted by her sudden declaration, as he shook his head and motioned for her to explain further.

"I thought he was the most beautiful boy in the world. He had a wonderful smile, and such blue eyes, I truly thought I was in love. One day, he came to talk to me, out of the blue, and I was elated." A small, reminiscent smile formed on her face. Her voice a mix of amused and sad, amused at what her wishes once had been, and sad that life could never be that simple, that easy again. "As it turns out, he only spoke to me because he wanted to talk to Katherine. All the boys flocked to Katherine, and I never resented her for it," she suddenly found the need to stress that to Elijah, who listened raptly, "She never made me feel inferior to her in any way. But that is one of the few incidents that taught me something about myself."

"Taught you what?" Elijah ventured.

"That I'm not the best at anything." Caroline said with surety, like god himself could not revoke this fact, "I was never the prettiest, nor the smartest, nor the fastest, nor the kindest. There was always someone better than me, always. I was never the best. I was always the second best."

She turned to face him then, and he saw the defeat and exhaustion on her face. If he looked close enough, if he really looked; then he could see that she was broken, that she had deconstructed into the elements that once made her whole, he could see the little pieces of her, all scattered and un-tethered, missing the glue that bought them together.

"I abided by your wishes today. I beg of you to show me the same gratitude. I do not want to know who was better than me." Caroline said, her tone pleading and begging him to understand, but her face still harsh and brutal.

"I won't," he assured her, raising his hands up in surrender, "I will abide by your wishes. But I want to tell you this, what you fear is not the truth. My brother loved you, still loves you. He isn't off somewhere with some other woman," Elijah continued talking even when Caroline violently shook her head and started to walk away from him. Like a disobedient child, she put her hands over her ears to block out Elijah's words, but he grabbed onto her wrists and pulled them down. "Caroline, listen. He isn't gone because he chose to be with someone else. There is no one else, never has been. And if I know my brother, there never will be."

She looked at him disbelievingly, like she didn't believe what he said, but really, really wanted to believe him. Elijah let go of her hands, carefully wiped the tears off her cheek as he said, "I won't tell you why he hasn't come back, not until you're ready. But until then, you need to know that this doesn't mean he doesn't care about you."

"Is he here?" Caroline suddenly shouted, taking a step back and extending her hands out. "Hmm? Is he here, right now? Your fiancé died, your son died, your whole life fell apart, and yet you're here."

"Where is he when I need him the most, Elijah? Is he here? Or is he somewhere else, somewhere that is more important." When Elijah didn't respond for a whole minute, but only looked down at his hands in shame, she spoke again, this time her voice low and cold, "Is he here?"

"No." Elijah replied in a huff.

She resolutely smiled at him, and that smile made him ache for her.

"Then, I was second best to him."

"The heart was made to be broken."
Oscar Wilde

If you don't know what to say after another angst chapter just follow my lead:-

Dear Tanya,

How dare you make Elijah hate his son?

How dare you with all the Katherine angst?

How dare you with all the Klaus angst?

Just how dare you?

insert name here