The moonlight draped over the slumbering village, painting the worn buildings in white. The lingering remnants of the warm spring day had all but disappeared. The residents were tucked away early into their humble abodes just like their ancestors before them. It was an unspoken rule that no one should be out when the moon was. However, recently, some people had begun to disregard this tradition.

Caroline Forbes tightened her grip around the red silk cover as she slid to the opposite end of the street. A warm gust of wind followed her as she walked further into the night. Her wide blue eyes fixed on every building that surrounded her, investigating and finding no soul in sight. Her village was not a grand one, but at night she swore there dozens more homes and shops than there was in the day. She ignored the practically nonexistent worry of repercussions and bounded with vigor that only a successful lawbreaker could have. The first instance she had snuck out she was filled with fear. Now, being worried seemed like a tedious task that she barely performed.

She paused in front of a large wooden gate. It surrounded the tiny village with sharpened lumber that touched the stars. It had been built to protect the insiders and frighten the outsiders. The older she had grown, though, the less intimidating the fortress completely impenetrable. The young woman pressed her body against one of the large pieces, pushing forward with some effort. The wood creaked before its base slid backward slightly. The space was merely a few inches yet she managed (with only a little difficulty) to squeeze through—out of the confines of the wooden cage and into the unguarded outside world.

The rush of emotion she received from this achievement never failed to bring a small smile of rebellious success to her lips. At times, she supposed that what she did was wrong, that abandoning safety to play with fire was morally repugnant. She did not care, which frequently frightened her. Her betrayal of her home for this shaky freedom was something she did too easily without questioning. If she allowed herself to ponder it, she would begin to question her sanity. She questioned whether or not this was just some sick dream that she would wake from one day; leaving her lost and cheated out of a way to leave her simple, village life.

She walked the path with the ease of a stray dog wandering home. She had forgotten just how many times she had walked it, perhaps sixty times. Perhaps less. Perhaps more. Every trip was longer than the rest. Time seemed to stretch as her patience shortened. After what felt like an hour (but what was really only twenty minutes), the young villager arrived at her destination.

Ancient oaks peered down at the human, spreading their leaves above the ground like a canvas. Vibrant flowers welcomed her back waves at the wind whistled excitedly with them. Caroline could not resist skipping into the tantalizing, forbidden forest. The fear her people had ingrained in her was but a faded imprint. Her heart began thumping in its familiar manner of complete excitement.

"Hello?" She sang softly, gazing expectantly left and right.

Her voice replayed over as it echoed against the trees. She paused. The lack of response was out of character and worrisome.


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Victoria Donovan let loose a shriek as Jeremy Gilbert playfully chased her down the winding roads. She stumbled to a stop and her eyes widened at the sound she made. She bit her lip nervously, checking for an irked neighbor to scold her. Jeremy caught up to her and twirled her around to face him, pressing a finger to her lips.

"Shhh," He chided, eyes dancing clearly in the moonlight. "Do you want to be found out?"

She slid gracefully out of his grasp. She let out a giggle before raising an eyebrow, "You cannot expect me to believe that a strong Council Head Gilbert such as you is afraid of simple bakers such as us Donovans?"

His lips twitched, forming a smirk. "I have a suspicion that you bakers are more aggressive than you let on, especially that brother of yours." He returned the mockery.

"Oh, I would not fret," She reached forward and took his hand in hers. Their fingers intertwined and his calloused palm pressed firmly against her soft one. His eyes traveled from their grasp to her face. He pulled her close.

"Let us take you home," The young couple started off again. This time at a calmer pace as they turned a corner.

"Yes, sweetheart," She sighed in contentment. She rested her head against her betrothed's shoulder. Victoria and Jeremy's wedding was loss than a fortnight away. These midnight meetings, however, had been a common occurrence since the two had become the closest of friends when they reached the age of twelve. They had been inseparable since then. The engagement, of course, had been no surprise to anyone in the village.

They carried on in comfortable silence like many a night before, traversing the quiet town. She hummed tunelessly.

Suddenly, a pebble bounced down the rough terrain that made up their street. Jeremy stiffened at the sound, squinting at the darkness in front of them. His fiancée did not notice his change and continued on with sweet obliviousness. Jeremy's eyes flew over the edges of the homes and found the outline of a shadowy figure. It stood so dead still at the end of the street he almost doubted it was there.

He stopped their walk, pulling Victoria back and close to his side. The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention as a cold hand of fear brushed his spine.

"What is the matter?" His love whispered, cautioned by the sudden change in atmosphere.

His eyes never left the figure. His response to her was only a tighter grip as the figure moved in a leisurely manner forward.

His pulse skipped faster than the flicker of a flame. "Hello?" He called over warily.

The figure neither responded nor stopped its movement. It showed no acknowledgement other than increasing its speed. It began running towards them now. Its feet made no sound against the ground. It was almost as if it were gliding, mocking the grace of an angel.

Victoria felt her chest heave in and out as she watched it come at them. Her body was an ice statue of terror. Her mouth opened to let out a scream, but no sound came out. Her fiancée pulled her back, attempting to awaken her physical control.

"Victoria!" He shouted. Panic broke his voice. "Run!"

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A feeling ran deep in her bones that something had occurred, something terrible. The early, habitual peacefulness that began the days was missing. In its place was chaos. Every citizen was awake and hurrying in streams towards the direction of the village center. Whispers and shouts collected together. Her ears could not catch what they said. The air was a mesh of nonsense.

A flash of familiar dark curls crossed her line of vision. It was her closest friend and rival, Elena Gilbert. The two girls had grown up as thick as thieves like all Gilbert and Forbes children did. The Council Head and Sheriff families were greatest and strongest in the village with a history of ruling the land together. Elena and Caroline had been closer than the stars and sky until they started playing the game of hearts. Once they entered it, their friendship changed to rivalry. A game begun with carefree minds twisted their relationship into all but nonexistent (except for simple pleasantries of two acquaintances).

Caroline infiltrated the crowd swiftly to walk beside the brunette. "What is happening?" She nudged her side softly.

Elena jumped slightly at the appearance of the other girl. Her eyes gave her a curious, infuriatingly doe-eyed look before responding, "I haven't the faintest idea. I believe they found something."

Caroline's eyebrows rose in silent curiosity and thee two followed the residents to the city center. They had to wait for the mob to disperse, but when tit did, Caroline suddenly wished to be back at the end of the crowd. The scene they entered was horrifying.

Thick blood splatters painted the ground, pooling around an unimaginable piece of stories. With a closer, sickening look; the mass could be identified as the mutilated body of Victoria Donovan. Little Vicky Donovan, Matt's baby sister. Caroline had played with her when she was a youngling. Memories of her sweet, smiling face played in her mind. Caroline's arms wrapped around her sides and tears filled her eyes. What lay before her couldn't be reality

Her throat had been torn to shreds. Pieces of blood soaked flesh littered her the area surrounding the body. The children were crying and hugging to their mothers, burying their faces into the folds of their skirts.

"No!" A shout reverberated through the crowd, hushing the spectators. Everyone's eyes flew to the speaker. Two elder gentlemen were holding a raving Jeremy Gilbert away from the corpse. His arms thrashed at them and his face was contorted in despair. "Let go of me!"

A gasp came to Caroline's right. "Jeremy!" Elena ran to her brother, pushing through the throng of people. She ignored the two men and threw her arms around him. At the comforting embrace, Jeremy fell forward with a heart-wrenching sob. The men let him go and stepped back.

"Shh, I'm here." Elena murmured, stroking his disheveled hair.

Jeremy buried his face in the crook of her neck like a child with his mother, "She is gone. Victoria…that thing….I could not…."

The citizens watched the scene without comment. The mothers hushed their children and the couples held each other close. The communal mourning had begun yet a small part of Caroline nagged at her.

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The silence in the council room was deafening. It was such an opposite atmosphere to that from behind the four walls. The twelve men at the table sat straight in their wooden seats as they considered the horrible gravity of this incident.

"We cannot permit this to escalate." Judge Lockwood implored, staring directly at the Head. His jaw was set in vehemence. "Rather we get rid of the problem now before another life is lost."

Many council members nodded and a hum of agreence spread down the long piece of furniture.

Council Head Gilbert kept his eyes forward, a whirlwind of thoughts in his head. It was in his blood to think methodically, however. Whatever decision he made had to keep his people safe. This wasn't the first incident that had occurred in their town albeit it had been many years since the last. His father had been but a child at the last event. He could still recall the recount his father told about the body he stumbled upon in the early morning.

"We shall enforce a curfew—no one shall be out of their homes past sunset." He spoke slowly and his eyes met those of each individual in the room. "Guards will be on duty around the gate day and night." His eyes rested on Judge Lockwood, who seemed displeased with his response. "And no one may leave the village without approval by me."

The judge jumped from his seat, slamming a fist to the table. "This hardly deals with the real problem. We cannot sit idly by and wait for the next attack."

"What do you propose we do then? Rally a team and visit the forest?" Sheriff Forbes spat, shaking his head. "We do not have the upper hand! It would be suicide to do anything but increase protection."

"Nonsense! There are plenty more of us than there are of them. We have everything in our favor."

"In our favor?" The sheriff stood from his seat, incredulity plain on his face. "The monsters have broken through our only security and we have lost an innocent girl. We have no true knowledge of what these creatures even are! We have no way to defend ourselves! Tell me, Judge, how in the heavens are we supposed to succeed in your sill endeavors?"

"We are not entirely ignorant of what these creatures are," Gilbert spoke in a quiet, yet commanding tone from his seat.

The two quarreling councilmen quieted immediately. They all stared at their Council Head in surprise.

"This creature has many names, but our great grandfathers called them vampires." He sighed, leaning forward. He placed his hands on the wooden surface. "And they can be killed."

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Her dress caught against the opening of a log. She paused and tugged at the fabric until it ripped off. A howl assailed the air and she cursed at herself for her foolish waste of time. She turned back and started running as fast as she could. Her hands were balled up into fists, lifting the bottom of her dress. Her legs pumped up and down with brutal force she never knew she had. Her now bare feet slapped against the ground. Twigs and leaves cut and stuck to her skin. Her wide eyes flitted left and right while she tried to navigate in the darkness. How cruel could the gods be, leaving her oblivious to where she was in this endless maze!

"Caroline," Her name echoed in the forest. A shiver fell from the top of her head to the bottom of feet. Her heart drummed furtively in her chest. He was close, too close.

She slid past a huge oak and stumbled. Her hands let go of her dress and splayed open as she tumbled. She caught herself from slamming entirely into the ground. Her knees hit the roots of the tree and she cursed, this time aloud. She ignored the pain and started to crawl away from the roots. She pushed herself up and tried to regain her footing.

Immediately after, she was shoved into a rough embrace that made her and her attacker fall. She shrieked as her back slammed against the forest floor. Brief pain hit her, but her mind was too preoccupied to fully acknowledge it. He pinned her arms to her side, claws piercing the skin. His chest was tightly pressed against hers and she had slight difficulty breathing. Golden eyes flashed in front of her face.

He leaned forward slowly, a villainous grin on his lips, "I win."

"I almost won," She panted, laying her head against the foliage. She tore her eyes from his and looked at the tips of the trees. Between the openings in the branches she could catch glimpses of the bright stars. They shone so beautifully, almost as beautiful as two glowing embers she knew.

He tightened his grip on her wrists and she felt blood seeping from the wounds. She snapped her attention back to the beast of a man on top of her.

"You cannot beat me," He promised.

She opened her mouth to protest; "I can be-" Her sentence was cut off by another attack. This time by his mouth. His lips were rough against hers. Their kisses were always double-edged swords, bringing simultaneous pleasure and pain. She responded with equal vigor yet was unable to do much with her arms still by her side.

He moved his lips off of hers and trailed down to her neck.

She attempted to bite back a moan, but was only slightly successful. She felt him chuckle against her skin. A fiery blush hit her cheeks. Suddenly, she felt something pierce the skin of her neck. This time she didn't stop the moan at the combination of teeth and lips. He released her hands and placed his on her waist, digging into the sides. Her hands intertwined in his hair, bringing him closer.

Caroline sat up faster than a frightened animal. Her heart pounded in her chest and her body was flushed. Her golden locks were wild around her face. She squinted at the surrounding darkness, scrutinizing where she was. A sigh escaped her lips as she realized she was only in her bedchamber. A short glance outside told her it was still early night.

She chewed her cheek as her mind tugged at her heart. After the horrific attack, she wasn't sure if she should go back to the forest—now or at all. She was not positive that she truly wanted to even go. Those marks on the girl were too familiar to a certain set of teeth and she was fearful to make that confirmation. She couldn't. It would doom that little piece of non-reality she had.

On the other hand, she could have imagined the similarities. She might have fabricated it to deal with Victoria's murder. It could all have been in her head. She couldn't jump to such damming conclusions either. At least, not without talking to the suspect first. That would be careless and stupid; two traits that she did not have.

A little less than ten minutes after, Caroline was donning proper clothing and was few meters away from the imposing gate. She leaned against one of the slumbering homes, waiting to see if any of the guards were at this end of the town. She exhaled a breath slowly as she waited.

After a few minutes she determined no guard was nearby. She slid across the house to the gate as quiet as a dormouse. She ran her hand against the wood in search for her escape. Her excitement was building despite everything.

Suddenly, a hand yanked her back. Caroline spun around instantly, fear closing her throat.

"What would you be doing here, Forbes?" Damon Salvatore's eyebrows were raised expectantly.

Hello, my lovelies! As you can see, I have finally updated! Let me just say THANK YOU ALL FOR VOTING AT THE KLAROLINEAWARDS! I won! I won best one shot! I seriously love you all! The award shows that there are people who genuinely enjoy my work, which a truly amazing thing to realize. 3 I hope you enjoyed this installment. In this story, the first chapter was more of a prologue. Please review and tell me what you think! It really does help me with my writing.

I recommend listening to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Emily Browning and Sail by Macy Gray. Those two songs helped set the mood for this installment as I wrote it. : )

If you'd like you can follow me on tumblr at hotbloodedhunter!