Chapter One

Human- The Killers

My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we human?
Or are we denser?

"The pentagram represents our connection to magic. The salt is a symbol of the earth." Esther's voice was careful not to give away any emotion, but it was proud. Like a teacher with a passion for her craft.

"And the torches?" Bonnie asked.

"Five torches," Esther gestured around as Finn began to light them. "One for each of my children."

Bonnie saw Finn look to his mother on the word 'children.' She also saw Esther avert her gaze to the ground. No matter what the supernatural complexities, he was still her son. The very idea of her own mother using her as a sacrifice set Bonnie's stomach on edge. No matter what Abby had done in the past, that was unimaginable.

"What's the spell you're doing?" Bonnie asked. This was her magic that was being channeled, she damn well needed to know exactly how it was being used.

"As the witch who cast the spell that made them vampires, I can also reverse it. When they become human again, they can be killed. As they are linked as one, my brave Finn will be the sacrifice."

There was another pause as the witches once again came to terms with the fact that very shortly, a mother would be killing her own child. Worse still, it was crucial. Bonnie's motives may not have been about restoring the balance of nature or even appeasing the spirits, but she still needed this sacrifice to happen as much as Esther. Everything in her, right down to her core, knew it was her duty to protect from the Original Vampires. To end them, no matter how twisted the methods.

"With his death will come theirs," Esther finished the sentiment.

Abby turned to question the dark haired vampire, and Bonnie involuntarily stiffened."And you're just willing to die?"

"My mother's releasing me from an eternity of shame. It's not a sacrifice. It's a gift." Though he was frozen forever at early adulthood, everything about him seemed ancient. His voice, his demeanor, the way he held himself. It was all claim to the century he belonged in.

Bonnie relaxed, and took a deep breath as she continued to watch Esther prepare for the ritual. She just had to remind herself, that when all this was over, the Vampire's that had terrorized her home would finally be gone. One way or another.

"So how do we know they're gonna be at the old witch house?" Damon was willing to try anything at this point, but he'd seen his fair share of plans fall apart. One just a half hour ago.

"We don't, but if they're not, then we have about ten minutes until Rebekah tears Elena apart."

As Stefan moved to get out of the car, Damon quickly continued, "And if we sit this out, Esther completes her spell, Klaus dies, you get your revenge. It's what you wanted the whole time. The only collateral damage is..."

"Elena." Stefan turned to look out the car window.

Damon never doubted that his brother was still in love with Elena. Sure, maybe back when the switch was off and it looked like Ripper Stefan was sticking around for a few decades. But even in his weird sometimes-here-sometimes-gone humanity state, Stefan's feelings for her were still there. If anything, it was what brought him back.

"You know what she'd choose." Damon had already played out the argument in his head. She would have pleaded with tears in her big brown eyes; would have begged him to let her be the martyr again. When he refused, she would revert to her usual stubborn self and start yelling about how it wasn't his choice anyway. That's when the hate would have started.

It was the same old routine. Damon didn't even have to think. He knew what he had to do, and he would gladly to it a thousand times over to keep Elena safe. God knows he didn't want her to hate him again, but at least she'd be alive.

It was only worth bringing up, to make sure this wasn't going to be another plan ruined by his brother's humanity.

"She'd let herself be killed to save a friend," Stefan stated.


Their replies were nonchalant, but it was blatantly obvious to both parties what was really going on.

Stefan was the first one to broach the actual topic, barely taking a pause. "If we do this, it'll wreck her."

"Oh, she'll hate us." It was enough to almost make him laugh, didn't it always come down to the fear of Elena hating them? "Thing is she only needs to hate one of us. Only one of us has to do the actual deed."

Damon's mind had already started formulating his own plan. This one had him wanting to kick his own ass for being the martyr. But he knew Stefan's clap-on-clap-off humanity switch was fried, so there was no telling what would send him off the deep end again. Elena's hatred seemed like enough.

Stefan knitted his eyebrows closer together, but kept up with his act of indifference."So who's it gonna be, brother?"

Digging into his jean pockets, Damon quickly retrieved a coin. "Heads, I do it. Tails, you do it."

Stefan tried to hide his uncertainty, but it was still there in his eyes. "Awful lot of effort for someone who pretends not to care about her anymore."

"Pot, kettle, brother."

He flipped the coin, his gaze never leaving Stefan's. He wanted to gauge his reaction either way, see if it was all worth it.

Tentatively removing his hand, Damon watched as Stefan looked down at the coin, then back up at him. He was still trying to wear his mask of indifference. But once again, his eyes gave everything away.

"They're coming, Mother." Finn's warning quickly broke the stillness of the night. Up until then, it had just been the crackling of the torches and the brief chanting of spells.

"No, not now! It's almost time. The moon has almost reached its apex." Worry crowded Esther's mind, but only for a second. She set her mouth into a firm line and turned to the Bennett Witches, "Go quickly!"

The witches were wise and quickly obeyed in just enough time for Esther to make her way inside the pentagram and brace herself. "My sons, come forward."

"Stay beside me." Finn's command had all the wavering tones of a warning.

"It's okay. They can't enter." Esther's voice was steely cold, but she brushed her hand against her son's in brief reassurance.

Her other three sons continued to step forward, stopping after realizing she was right.

Only Kol continued to saunter back and forth, resembling a lion stalking his prey. "That's lovely. We're stuck out here while the favorite son plays sacrificial lamb. How pathetic you are, Finn."

Finn's eyes narrowed at the words, but Esther was quick to his defense. She needed him to remain strong, it was too late for everything to be ruined now. "Be quiet, Kol. Your brother knows virtue you cannot even imagine."

"Whatever you think of us, killing your own children would be an atrocity." Elijah stood calm, his voice sensible.

"My only regret is that I did not let you die human a thousand years ago, when you were supposed to." She just needed to stall long enough for the moon to rise a little more, and then she could fix everything.

"Enough. All this talk is boring me." Now it was Niklaus who was stalking, making his way in front of the other two. "End this now, mother, or I'll send you back to hell." His lips curled up in a devious smirk.

It was enough to spur her into anger. She'd been restrained to silence as her children slowly turned into monsters, but now, no more.

"For a thousand years, I've been forced to watch you, felt the pain of every victim, suffered while you shed blood. Even you, Elijah, with your claim to nobility... you're no better. All of you... you've been cursed and you've become a curse on this earth for generations. If you've come to plead for your life... I'm sorry. You've wasted your time."

Digging her feet into the dirt, Esther reinforced her stance in the center place in the middle of the pentagon. She closed her eyes, and slowly rolled her head back. She felt the earth around her. The power from the crackling fire, the natural quality from the salt, and the strong tether to the Bennett line. She let it all course through her; dancing in her bloodstream and sparking at her fingertips.

"Laxo vomica of preteritus."

She heard them shouting in the distance, along with a guttural snarl she was sure was from Niklaus. But she had already begun, and there was no going back now. The magic flowed through her freely now, bending at her will effortlessly.

"Restituo pondera." The torches flames flared and the spell increased in difficulty. The spirits were all on her side, but it required physical difficulty as she struggled to push through the binds of the past.

"Indulgeo meus erroris." Her body quivered as the power was beyond her control now, obeying the commands of the spirits. She grimaced as it channeled through her, and then burst into Finn.

The torches blazed even brighter before suddenly flickering out. Esther was done speaking, and done channeling the magic. So for one moment, all was silent again. No one dared speak or move, or even breathe.

"That's it?" Kol interrupted with a dark chuckle. "That's the great surprise you had planned for us, Mother? It would appear that you failed."

Esther was not worried, but she held her breath in anticipation. Elijah and Niklaus had long ago learned not to underestimate a witch's magic, so they did not join in with Kol.

Certain enough, just a few seconds later, Finn's body went rigid. His spine straightened and stretched, his bones popping into perfect place and then holding. He had enough flexibility to turn his head and look at his mother one last time. His eyes were searching for approval, a conformation that this what they had discussed.

Esther wasted no time with details, she hadn't before, and she wasn't about to start. She nodded once, slowly and surely. As Finn closed his eyes, his face turned pale gray and he collapsed. His heart was stopped, his breath gone and his veins protruding thickly through his skin.

Her other sons barely had time to gasp before their bodies hit the ground as well.

"This place has some serious vibe in it," Abby said, looking tentatively around the abandoned house.

"The Witch Spirits will protect us from the Originals, but we should get into the basement." Once again, Bonnie was focused. She'd known the risk that came with being channeled, so she prepared herself for anything.

Anything except her mother disappearing inside the witch house. Bonnie barely made it into the basement before noticing the older woman wasn't following her. "Abby?"

There was a loud rustling movement behind her, and Bonnie snapped her head back around, ready to defend herself. Stefan had materialized in front of her, looking every bit of his old self. Without thinking about it, she let her guard down. "Stefan, what's going on?"

"They took Elena. They're gonna kill her unless we stop Esther," he said his words slowly, as if each breath pained him.

"God, Stefan, I... I can't stop her. She's channeling us."

"Bonnie, if you can't stop her..." His voice trailed off as he closed his eyes and brought his hands up to press against them.

"What?" she asked, before realizing she already knew the answer. The moon had already reached, and gone past it's apex. Bonnie couldn't focus on what that meant for Elena, she just knew Stefan was too late.

"I have to find another way," he said, but his eyes were still heavy lidded, and his face contorted with pain.

That didn't make sense. Bonnie hadn't heard Stefan was acting human again, was his guilt overwhelming him that much? She hoped so. She could reason with him then.

"Stefan, no." Her voice was pleading.

He blinked and his eyes glazed over.

"What are you gonna do? Even if you kill us, Esther's channeling every witch in our ancestry, living and dead."

She never did tell him that he was too late, or find out what he planned on doing. In that next moment, he fell to his knees, gasping and coughing. She moved forward to help him, dropping to the floor alongside him. As she knelt beside him, she noticed his skin turning a grayish parlor. Stefan gave one last shuddering gasp before his head hit the floor with a hard thud.

Bonnie fell backwards in shock. Before she could even try to figure out what was going on, she heard a similar thud upstairs, followed Abby calling for her help.

Leaving Stefan's body, she quickly ran back upstairs. Her chest heaving from confusion and panic, she quickly saw Abby standing in a similar position. Only the body she stood over, was Damon's.

"What's going on?" Abby asked frantically.

"I-I have no idea." She should have known nothing could ever be this simple.

The front door flew open, and Esther stormed in, bringing a chilling breeze with her.

Esther pursed her lips as her cold eyes scanned the room and immediately fell on Damon's fallen form."Why is he here?"

"He and Stefan-"

"Both the Salvatores?"

"Stefan's in the basement."

"What were they doing here?

"They were trying to save Elena... I think."

"Why did the doppelganger need saving?"

"I-I..." Bonnie's mouth seemed to be continually hanging open. She hated being confused, and she especially hated being confused when it came to her friends' lives. "I don't know. I don't even know if she still does."

"Why did he die?" Abby's voice was rougher, less worried and simply more determined for answers. "I didn't do anything to him, and he hasn't been staked."

"It moved quickly through the bloodlines."


"Quick, move the bodies outside. It will be best to do this all at once."

"Do what?" Abby continued to press.

Bonnie didn't like this one bit. She felt like she'd been used, and she wasn't sure what she was being used for. "What the hell is going on here!"

"The curse has been lifted."

She'd heard the thud.

Elena's body was already pressed tightly against the coarse, stone walls. As her heart pounded in her chest, her eyes roamed over the tiny cave once more. The walls seemed to shrink, and suddenly there was no room for her. There was nowhere to hide and nothing to fight with. Only an empty coffin Rebekah would burn without a second thought. Though Elena managed to talk Rebekah out of killing her the first time, she highly doubted she could do it again.

There was no other choice then. If that thud was Rebekah coming back with her lighter, she was fucked.

Elena had to run for it.

She knew it was pathetic and futile, so much so, that she didn't even hope it to work. She just hoped that when Rebekah caught her, she'd just snap her neck. It seemed like a good way to die; quick and easy, no time to feel pain. Better than burning to death, anyway. Wasting no more time, Elena bolted from the crevice she'd been hiding in.

Her heartbeat throbbed in her ears. Adrenaline coursed through her veins, making her shaky, but determined as her feet pounded against the rock. She ran as fast as she could, scrambling over stones and around corners.

Elena didn't make it very far before her foot caught on something hard, and she hit the ground. Flailing her arms to protect her head, she avoided cracking her skull open, but scraped up both her arms and her side.

"Shit. Shit. Shit!" she continued to curse her big feet. She flipped her body over, ignoring the twinge of pain in her ankle.

It wasn't until she was on her hands and knees that she was able to look behind her. When she did, she immediately recognized what had tripped her. Rebekah's body.

Rebekah was slumped against the wall, with her legs extending across the width of the cave. Her blonde hair was covering her face, and her head slumped to the side. It may have been dark, but it didn't hide her grey skin, or the veins sticking out of it. Elena had come to recognize a dead vampire all too well, and Rebekah was definitely dead.

Did that mean Esther had succeeded? Were all the Originals dead? Earlier this had bothered her, but now she was just grateful to have made it out alive.

At a pace that was much less frantic, Elena continued running out of the cave. Damon and Ric had taken her down there once before, and though she hadn't paid much attention, she managed to remember the way out.

By the time she'd reached the surface, she was gasping from exhaustion and relief. She was alive. Alive. Once again she'd been in an impossible situation and finished the victor. She just needed to find everyone else. She needed to make sure they were all alive as well, and maybe then things would finally be over.

When she was a little girl, she never would have dared enter the woods at night. They used to terrify her, and Jeremy teased her about it constantly. But now, with the full moon clearly lighting her path, she was no longer scared. She was confident, and, if her suspicions were correct, finally victorious.

After making her way to the edge of one the town's roads, she paused. If she turned right, it would take her to the center of town. There she could check in and see if anyone was back yet. But if she turned left, it would take her to the old Witch House. That was where the sacrifice would take place, right?

Just as she decided to turn left, a familiar blue truck drove up, moving at a speed much too fast for the dark, abandoned road. It came skidding to a stop, just a few yards away from her.

"Matt?" she called, closing the distance between them.

"Elena?" Matt's voice was such a welcome sound. Despite his confusion, he leaned over and opened the passenger side door for her. "What are you doing out here?"

She climbed in the truck. "Rebekah's dead." It was the only answer she had time for.

"So..." He swallowed thickly. "So is Caroline."

"What?" Elena's heart sank into her stomach. Now that she was in the vehicle, she could see Caroline's body placed in the back. Calm and peaceful, her hair was flat around her face, her hands resting at her sides. She would have simply looked asleep if it wasn't for the tell-tale gray veins.

"How did this happen?" Elena shouted. Once again, just when she thought everything was going to work out, her loved ones died. It was a never ending pattern. Her curse.

"I don't know, we were at the Grill waiting to hear from Bonnie, then Caroline gets a headache. The next thing I know, she's on the ground and I barely had time to stick her in my truck before her skin turned gray."

"She wasn't staked?"

"No. Nothing happened she just... died." Matt started the car again, blinking back tears. "Is she... is she really gone?"

"I-I..." Elena didn't even try to answer the question. Her own tears were starting to fall, and one of the possible answers was just too cruel. "We need to get her to Bonnie."

"Do you think she can-"

"We need to get her to Bonnie now! Hurry, Matt!"

He complied, slamming his foot on the gas pedal. Elena gripped the dashboard and craned her neck to check the back seat, praying for some sign of life.

Even with their high speed, the drive to the Witch House was one of the longest of their lives. When they finally arrived, Elena didn't even wait for the truck to stop before she jumped out. They had to be there. They just had to. When she scanned her surroundings, she saw Abby and Bonnie, struggling to carry a body. They seemed to be trying to move it to where Esther stood, in the middle of a Salt Pentagram.

Once again, Elena took off in a run. She passed by Klaus' body, a sight she would have normally reveled in, had she not been so preoccupied. Lying at Esther's feet, was Damon, and Stefan was being placed beside him. Both were dead.

She heard Matt coming up behind her, but it sounded off and faraway. She barely heard Bonnie's voice call out to her. Everything was fuzzy, and she felt like she was underwater. Blinking, she struggled to keep it together, to register what was going on. Just ten minutes ago, she thought everyone would finally be safe, now they were all dead.

Wincing, Elena nearly jumped out of her skin as Matt placed a gentle hand on her elbow. He didn't dare ask if she was okay, and she was sure her face was answer enough. Forcing all her emotion in anger, she couldn't focus on anything else. She couldn't believe it. She didn't know what she'd do.

"What's going on?" she snarled, her voice sounding feral and foreign to her own ears.

"Elena, so glad to see you're not in danger anymore. What was that whole business about?" Esther asked, just as chipper and as cordial as if they were simply having tea.

"I asked you, what the hell is going on, Esther?" She stormed up the hill to stand right across from the Original Witch.

"Elena..." Matt warned, and it distantly rang in Elena's mind that this woman was among the most powerful on earth, but she was beyond caring.

"Why have all my friends died? You never said that was part of your plan!"

Esther sighed, never losing her composure. "I suggest you calm down, Elena. We have many things to discuss."

"You bet your ass we do."

In that moment, the body closest to her jolted awake. Damon was coughing and sputtering, but he was alive.

Elena was down beside him in a second, her hands on her shoulders, on his back, his face. Anywhere to feel him. To have proof that what she'd seen before wasn't true. That he was alive and breathing next to her.

Within seconds, Stefan did the same. And Elena slowly noticed all of the dead bodies were once again alive, coughing and taking shallow breaths.

"Mother?" Finn's coarse voice ground out as he dragged himself through the dirt.

"Hello, Finn."

"What's going on? I thought we had a-"

"The plan succeeded."

Finn rolled over, rising slowly to his knees. "I'm afraid I don't understand."

"Everything..." Damon sputtered. He slowly brought one hand up to Elena's face, his thumb making lazy circles on her cheek.

"What? What is it?" Once again, Elena was desperately afraid, and she locked her hands around his wrists, clenching them tightly. "How do you feel?"

"Everything's off." He hissed in pain from the way she was crushing his hands.

"He means to say, everything's dull," Stefan replied.

Quickly, Elena was by his side, staring into his eyes. "What do you mean?"

"Nothing's clear. I can see and hear, but nowhere near as lucid as normal." Stefan placed both his hands on Elena's shoulders and pulled her close.

"I'm afraid that will take some getting used to. It's because your senses have reverted back to their human states," Esther finally started providing answers.

"What good did that do you? You didn't kill anyone, just made us all useless?" Damon groaned and rose to his feet.

"Of course not. Your senses are human, because once again, you are all human."

Quickly, all of the former vampires were on their feet, and making their way to Esther. Loud questions and exclamations could be heard from all directions. Caroline was the last to arrive, shouting, "That's not possible!"

"Mother..." It was the only thing Elijah said. Elena noticed that he had done a good job keeping both his brothers at bay. But at that point, they were ready to snap, no matter how different they were feeling.

"What have you done to us?" Klaus demanded.

Bonnie and Abby stuck close together. "There...There's no spell for that," Bonnie finally muttered.

Out of all the exclamations, that was the one Esther chose to answer. "Of course not. But as I said, as the witch that turned them into vampires, I can return my children to their human state."

"That's all fine and dandy." Damon swung his arms impatiently. "But why does what you do to your kiddos affect all of us, Mommy Dearest?

"Simple. My children are the Original Vampires, from them, all other vampires were created. Obviously, your bloodline began with one of them." Esther gestured to her four sons, who were now standing in a row. "What happens in a bloodline affects all. If you killed one of them, their entire bloodline would die. If you lift the curse, the curse has been lifted from the entire bloodline."

There was silence as everyone processed that knowledge.

"But why would you tell us you planned on killing them?" Elena questioned, stepping out of Stefan's embrace.

Esther raised her shoulders the tiniest bit, indicating a shrug. Elena nearly laughed at the absurdity of the movement.

"I could not be certain you would be on board. I had no reason to believe any of you wanted to be human."

"We don't!" Klaus interjected, as he and Kol stepped around Elijah. "We were the most powerful creatures. I was the most powerful creature on the planet! Why would you take that from us?"

Frowning, Esther looked genuinely sad as she looked at her son. Her look almost resembled pity. "No, Niklaus. You were cursed."

"Forget this!" Kol shouted. "Even if we are human, I can still kill you!"

Elena flinched as Kol launched himself at his mother. He didn't get very far, and in the blink of an eye, Esther's magic had thrown him across the field.

"I did you a favor!" Her eyebrows narrowed, and now Esther simply looked angry. "I could have killed you all. But, because you are my children, I spared you. I love you and wanted to be together again. I wanted to be a family with my real children. Not the monsters you became."

"But... mother," Finn muttered, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because, my brave son, I couldn't be sure it would work. The power of the spell might have been too much for your body. There was a great chance that I would kill you."

"So wait..." Damon raised one hand. "What does all this mean?"

"It means," Esther turned to face him, and for the first time ever, her eyes softened. "That you all get to go live your lives. Your human lives."

So what do you guys think? This is an idea I've had playing in my head since 3x15 aired, but I've finally sat and planned it all out. It's a bit of a ride, do you guys want me to go ahead and tell you the couples? Or just surprise you all? ;)

Props go to my awesome beta, amygerrard, who has written some pretty awesome stuff. You should check her out. ;D

Let me know what you think! :)