A/N: I could go on and on about how sorry I am about not updating for a while (I know it must be disconcerting when I don't update for a month or two) but I'm not going to. Only know that I am terribly sorry.

I hope you enjoy the update! It's a lot to digest... a very heavy chapter. So you have that to look forward to. Please leave comments and criticisms in the review box! And thank you for being not rude and lovely (even though I partially deserved it).

Inspiration: The Cave - Mumford & Sons

Chapter Thirty Six - I Won't Let You Choke

It was so silent that I feared Kol could hear my own thoughts.

There was a shuffling outside. With blurred vision, I looked to my front door to find Klaus' form standing on the fragmented pieces of my shattered door. His expression was tight as he stared at me and his brother.

Nothing was left for me in the house; nothing but the bodies of my friends and the chilling reminder of the events that had just occurred. Bringing myself to my full height, I angled my body towards the foyer, slowly making my exit. I didn't look behind me to see if Kol followed. As I walked out of my house, I brushed past Klaus, an unspoken I told you so apparent in the air. The hybrid didn't stop me.

"Is this what we've come to, brother?" Kol questioned Klaus, his tone surprisingly neutral.

"Believe me when I say I hadn't an idea about the doppelganger's agenda, Kol," Klaus immediately returned. "If I had known she was planning to kill you-."

"Save it for someone who cares."

There was no vehicle in the driveway. However Kol had gotten to my house, it wasn't by car. Outside, the stars were masked with a layer of dull, gray clouds. The moon's luminescent light was hidden by the sheet. The weather seemed to perfectly mask my mood. Folding my arms, I allowed my pace to match Kol's, and we started down the sidewalk. Klaus vanished without exchanging any more bitter words with Kol.

We didn't talk as he led me to his car, parked two blocks away. And we didn't talk in the car. I couldn't stir any words out of me; everything that needed to be said had sunken to the bottom of my mind and I couldn't bring myself to conjure them. The ride to his apartment was quiet, and my gaze was trained on the passing images of trees and other cars.

Usually, any silence between the two of us was filled with diverse conversation, about anything and everything. Now, there was nothing, although it was more than that. It was an understanding.

The apartment was dark when I walked through the door and neither of us bothered to turn on the lights. I softly dropped my things by the door and started to shed my dirty clothes, which had collected dust and dirt from the Salvatore cellar and my sprint through the woods. A twig here or there clung to the fabric of my top. I wandered into the bathroom, turning the knob in the shower and starting the hot water.

I was left feeling as hollow as I had after I'd been shot in the throat. The sensation was so strikingly similar to how I'd felt laying in bed the next day; I was just as empty and just as broken.

It was easier to keep myself from breaking down, though. I guessed that I'd been through the grieving process so many times that I'd grown the capability to contain it.

Steam filled the bathroom and, completely bare, I stepped under the scalding water, pulling on the curtain to close off the space. It turned my skin bright pink on contact. I stood under the steady stream of hot water, deathly still, but I wasn't able to obtain any of the heat. Under the hot water, I was still chilled to the bone.

The curtain was gingerly drawn back, and I watched tiredly as Kol stepped in, too. His fingers grazed my shoulders as he stood behind me, hands drifting down to the long, wet tendrils of hair trailing down between my shoulder blades. He pulled the damp strands from my face.

With inquiring eyes, I looked over my shoulder at him. He didn't speak as he started to massage soap into my hair, white suds slowly dripping down my slick skin. My eyes fluttered shut, the feeling soothing and comforting. Leaning backwards slightly, I let the sound of running water fill my senses, the steam clearing my mind.

We stood for a while.

The knots in my back slowly loosened, my body becoming less tense. And suddenly, my skin started to grow hot, the warmth starting in my toes and growing up my legs and torso.

I cut off the water. After drying ourselves off and putting on clothes, I climbed underneath his comforter on my side of the bed - Kol always slept on the left side, and I always slept on the right. Burying myself in the duvet, I watched him get situated from within my bundle. Finally, he faced me, and studied me for a bit. I returned the favor, letting myself get lost in his immense, vast, brown eyes.

He murmured, "Say something, Madeleine. I'm afraid you've lost your voice forever."

I didn't answer straight away. Languidly, my eyes traced his facial features. A wave of calmness found me. Then, I uttered in return, "Stay."

His calculating gaze glazed over for the briefest of moments, remembering a situation too similar to this. But this time, he didn't shatter me. There was no hesitance. Instead, he said so surely, "Anything for you, darling."

The once hated pet name rolled off of his lips, but instead of cringing as I had before, I welcomed it. It was no longer annoying; it was endearing.

So much time had passed between the day he'd left and the night he'd stayed. An eternity. Yet there was such a difference in the way our eyes met. Because, once hollow, I now felt complete.

Everything had gone wrong that today. Everything except for Kol.

To think that he had almost died that day. To think that I could have been lying in that bed without him, cold and empty. Beneath the blankets, I reached for him and drew closer to him, just to remind myself that he was really there. If he had died that night, I think a part of myself would have died, too.

Because I could no longer deny it; I was his, and he was mine. And there was nothing that could replace him. There was nothing that could fill me the way he did, nothing that could consume me as he could.

And we both knew it.

I liked waking up next to someone. To hear their gentle breaths and feel their chest rising and falling beside you. To feel their warmth under the blankets and intertwine your own body with theirs. There was a feeling that no arrangement of words could describe. Nothing could convey the exact comfort it brought me.

His scent lingered on my skin. My face pressed against his chest gently and his arms were around me, caging me. For a moment, I forgot all of the happenings of the previous day and was content to just lay there with him. I didn't open my eyes, even though I knew he was awake, and he knew that I was, too. I stayed still, only shifting slightly to bring myself even closer.

Kol's heart beat within his chest. It was a slow, lethargic, relaxed heartbeat. It was lulling and slightly captivating. I listened for a time, caught by the humanistic essence of the sound.

His fingers touched mine. Eyelids fluttering, I finally opened my eyes and found that he was looking down at me.

"How'd'you feel?" was the first thing he muttered, his voice throaty and scratchy.

Sighing heavily, my hands wandered up his chest and rested on his neck. Softly, I pecked the lower corner of his lips; a gesture of gratitude and affection. "Better."

"Good. I was afraid you'd been broken."

"For a while, so was I." Gingerly, I unhooked myself from him and stood up. The apartment was quiet and it felt warm; even the hardwood flooring beneath my bare feet brought a sense of familiarity and comfort. It was terrifying to compare Kol's apartment to the house I'd left last night, where it had been uncomfortable and cold and unforgiving.

Gaze wandering, I found a familiar piece of art hanging from his wall, one I had failed to notice before. I remembered it from our first morning-after. The painting, a work of art completed by Klaus, was still quite fine. I looked over the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-Elysees again. Inquisitively, I turned to look at him over my shoulder. "You kept it."

Kol fell onto his back, looking up at the ceiling. After a moment, he too threw off the duvet and wandered to my side, studying the piece.

"I don't think Klaus tried to kill you," I finally murmured, peering at him.

"Perhaps not," he breathed. Glancing down at me, he continued, "But he held you in that disgusting dungeon, and we can't forgive him that easily for being so heinous, can we?" His fingertips grazed my throat. "And he marked up your pretty neck. I suppose those bruises will be gone the next time you feed."

Clueless, I shuffled into the bathroom, curious and anxious to see what my reflection had in store for me.

It was devastating.

My hair was in knots and bruises discolored my pale skin, an ugly shade of purple. Bags hung underneath my eyes, which were slightly swollen. "I look like a junkie," I whispered in horror, staring at my semblance in the mirror.

I heard Kol's laugh as he walked towards the kitchen. "Coffee?"

"Mhmm," I said affirmatively, trying to fix myself up. After two minutes, I gave up, trailing out of the bathroom after Kol. The smell of coffee perked my senses as I leaned myself up against the island in his kitchen.

Looking down at my hands, I bit my lower lip, breath slowing as I finally unleashed the memories from the previous evening. I began to reflect on what had happened and what words had been exchanged. And it didn't matter that I had been bracing myself; they still hit full force. An ache erupted at the pit of my stomach.

"You alright, love?"

Eyes flickering to Kol, I shook my head, as if it would clear my thoughts from my mind. "Yeah." Releasing my lower lip from my clenched jaw, I stated, disconcerted, "Elena has the White Oak stake."

Kol scoffed, "Do you really believe I'd be stupid enough to fall into one of your sister's traps again?"

"Don't underestimate Elena and her ability to get what she wants," I muttered. "And she really wants that cure."

"We need a plan, before anything else falls apart," Kol said mindfully, looking at me with a brooding expression.

Nodding with agreement, I prompted him to share any ideas by jutting my chin towards him and gazing at him expectantly.

Running his tongue over his teeth, he said with a slight smirk at the thought, "Life without arms wouldn't be so terrible for young Jeremy. He could adapt."

Giving him a discouraging look, I said exasperatedly, "Terms and conditions, Kol. Terms and conditions."

He shrugged nonchalantly. Kol retrieved two mugs from a cabinet, its contents barren with the exception of a few cups and plates. He poured two cups of black coffee, sliding one towards me, which I caught with my hand and downed a mouthful, ignoring its scorching bite.

Scheming had never been my forte. I had a difficult time drawing the line between how far to go and when to stop, a factor that had always stopped me from digging too far deep into my plans. Unfortunately, my siblings needed to be stopped, and I hadn't realized how far things had gotten out of hand until last night. I had never felt so much contempt from my sister before, not directed at me. It was a bloodcurdling feeling, one that had sunk to the pit of my stomach and had yet to dissipate.

All they had to do was complete the map on Jeremy's arms, and then they would be able to decipher the cure's location. And Silas' tomb. They had Shane to read it and guide them and Bonnie to perform the magic necessary to complete their quest. They had all the key components and we had nothing except fear for an immortal being that they didn't believe in.

Something had to be sacrificed.

"I know what we have to do," I told him finally, heavily, gaining his attention. "I know how to stop them."

Kol beckoned me to continue.

"They can't get to the cure," I breathed, "if Bonnie is dead."

"What?" Even I could see that he was shocked to hear those words come from my own mouth.

"We have to turn Bonnie," I started, eyes widening as the plan knit together in my own mind. "That way, they lose the only one powerful enough to enter Silas' tomb. That's what Shane has been training her for. And, if we turn her, then she'll be a part of your bloodline. Elena won't be able to kill you without killing her best friend. Two birds with one stone."

Eyes narrowing, Kol looked at me, and questioned, "She's a powerful witch, even too powerful for me to resist. How do you suppose I feed her my blood when I can't even get within 10 feet of her?"

"You can leave that part to me," I sighed.

"And you would do it? Strip Bonnie of her powers and turn her into a vampire?"

"If it means ending this search for the cure," I said lowly, averting my gaze to my hands. And saving you, I thought, but I didn't repeat it out loud.

Kol put his empty glass down, and a devilish grin sprouted on his lips. "I like the way you think, darling."

Bonnie was going to hate me.

The guilt was nearly crippling, but my motives behind my choices fueled the fire that kept me going.

Teenagers walked across the school lawn, so captured in their lives and daily routines and relationship dramas... As I watched them, I remembered sullenly what I was like, only two years ago. A sophomore in high school, fifteen years old, whose greatest concern was whether or not she was going to develop bigger boobs and if any boys would ever like her. How puzzling it was to try and recollect what it felt like back then. It was hard to return to that simplistic view of life.

A part of me wished I could go back to those days. The supernatural world had destroyed and ruined my humanity. I didn't even have the privilege to say I was human; even that had been taken from me.

But my other half argued and said Don't lie to yourself. You like being powerful.

I bit my lip.


My attention diverted, I looked to the dark-skinned witch, who stood an inch or two higher than me in heels. I greeted grimly, "Hi Bonnie."

"You didn't come to school today," she said, inching closer to me warily.

I noticed a nasty bruise on her forehead and winced, stating apologetically, "I'm sorry about that." I gestured towards the wound. "It wasn't my intention to hurt you, Bonnie, but my thoughts were incoherent and I was acting instinctively."

Lightly, she brought her fingers to her head. "Oh, it'll go away by tomorrow, with the right herbs. Did Elena do that?" she asked, pointing at my own arrangement of purple spots at my throat.

"No. Klaus." My voice took on a bitter twinge.

The school parking lot started to empty as the number of students started to dwindle. The knots in my stomach tightened and breathing became harder as I attempted to soothe my guilty conscience. It's for the best. It's for the best.

Where we stood was partially hidden by trees. It was a sitting area, atop of small hill, usually used for study sessions. The weather was too nippy, though, and the outdoor spot remained untouched during the winter months.

That was why I had texted Bonnie, asking her to meet me there.

No witnesses.

Neither of us apologized for the previous night. I knew she wasn't sorry for trying to kill Kol and that she'd do it again if it meant helping Elena find the cure. And she knew that I wasn't sorry for saving Kol. But there was a silent understanding between us, one that promised mutual, kindred feelings.

At least there would have been one. I was on the verge of throwing it away.

"Why'd you ask me to meet you here?" Bonnie questioned.

"I know you mean good," I started slowly. "I know you want to help Elena reclaim her humanity. And I know that you hope the cure will bring back your best friend."

She gave me a look.

"I also know that you trust Professor Shane with your life. And that's wrong."

"You don't know anything about Shane," she said unhappily, crossing her arms, trying to fight of the winter cold. "I'm not going to stop helping them find the cure. I'll do whatever it takes. So what do you want from me, Madeleine?"

"You know that Shane wants to resurrect Silas," I deadpanned.

"You don't know anything," she repeated through gritted teeth.

"I know enough."

"What do you want?"

"You said that you would do whatever it takes."

Bonnie waited for me to continue. Sighing, I felt the palms of my heat up. The energy grew from my fingertips, snaking its way up my arms and to my core. It was so fluid now, its touch a caress rather than a fiery singe of power. Tearing my eyes from her, I looked over her shoulder.

"So will I."

She followed my gaze as Kol appeared behind her. She gasped as he pinned her up against a tree, his face contorting, fangs unsheathed and eyes bloodshot. He made a hissing sound, opening his jaw, fearsome, like a predator, yet he held back. He waited only a second too long. Grunting, she glared up at him and immediately he fell to his knees, groaning. Kol stared up at her in shock, teeth retracting as she brought him pain.

"Are you trying to kill me?" she shouted, voice betraying anger but also sadness. She didn't dare tear her eyes from the struggling Original in front of her.

"I'm not trying," I said solemnly as the Kol in front of her vanished, and the real Mikaelson captured her from behind, forcing a bloody wrist to her mouth and then snapping her neck. Her lifeless body fell to the ground, disturbing the pine needles and leaves, black hair covering her face.

Clenching my fists, I willed my powers to retract. Suddenly, I was left feeling cold and weak. The exertion had taken a toll on me and I hadn't realized how much it had hit me until then. I lolled to the side before regaining my balance, staring at Bonnie's body, shame gnawing on me.

"You've gotten stronger," he noticed, drawing closer to me. "Is that really what I look like?" Kol added distastefully.

"You need a haircut," I said softly, but even I could hear the dejection in my tone.

I felt his hands on my shoulders as he forced me to look at him. They moved to my face, one covered in his own blood. My eyes shut tiredly, letting him inspect me. "You're not well," he finally muttered.

"I'll be better once this is all over."

"You need to feed," he noted.

"How can I let myself get better when I know that my friend will hate me for the eternity I've cursed her to?" I whispered.

"She won't hate you forever. You took away her powers but you also healed her."

"What do you mean?"

"Bonnie's heart was dark, corrupted by the expression Professor Shane had taught her. She wouldn't be able to control herself much longer. I have seen too many witches and warlocks become malevolent, consumed in evil magic. I have watched them destroy themselves. If it makes you feel better to know that."

I let his words sink in. I slowly opened my eyes; such an odd way to bring comfort. But he had. "Okay."

"Let's put her somewhere safe."


"You look terrible."

"I feel terrible, I guess."

"Tell me everything that's happened."

I didn't waste time. I dug into the story, repeating it with almost a strangled voice.

It wasn't uncommon for my father and I to meet up after school. Sometimes he helped me, taught me how to control my magic and tutored me on how to be a succubus. Other times, he acted like a psychiatrist, and we would talk for hours. This was one of those times; I relayed the story of what had happened over the past few days, carefully evading the ending that had brought me so much remorse.

"And Elena still has the White Oak stake," I finished, looking to my father and waiting to hear his response.

Samuel scratched his chin with thoughtfulness, then peered at me through the lenses of his glasses. "So, your sister went behind your back, locked you in a cellar with Klaus Mikaelson, and tried to kill Kol Mikaelson, but you escaped just in time to save him and by doing so, you ruined your family permanently."

"And I lost the White Oak stake," I reminded him, taking a sip of coffee from my cup. I had discovered an ugly, snapping hunger inside of me; I tried to stifle it by consuming large quantities of coffee but it remained. I didn't have time to feed, nor did I have the heart. How could I feed when I knew Bonnie was somewhere, trying to contain a new found lust for blood, mourning the loss of her magic?

"Do you think she'll try and kill him again?"

"Yes, she would have. I believe it without a shadow of a doubt," I muttered. "You have to understand, she's not the same person anymore. Becoming a vampire and this cure... it's ruined her."

Samuel studied me for a brief moment. "You say would have. Peculiar choice of words."

"Not peculiar. Because I did something that completely and utterly changed the game," I breathed. "And possibly ended their entire hunt for the cure."

My father's expression became stunned. "What did you do?"

"I turned Bonnie."

"You did what?"

Trying to justify my actions, I told him hurriedly, "I had to do it, Samuel. I had to turn her. She was the only one capable of opening Silas' tomb. I couldn't let them wake Silas. I couldn't let them get to the cure. And I couldn't let them kill Kol."

"Bonnie's a vampire," he muttered, putting his mug of coffee down. "You took away her magic?"

The crippling guilt returned, although it hadn't left me for long. "I had to."

His classroom was empty, the school quiet, with the exception of the clock on the wall above the blackboard. The atmosphere grew grave as Samuel digested the twist in my story. He took off his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Say something," I urged him.

"It makes sense, I suppose."

A sick sense of relief overcame me.

"Where is she now?"

"Kol and I brought her to her mother and father. Her mom's a vampire, she'll help."

The thought of turning Bonnie seemed distressing to him. Soon enough, though, he composed himself. His gaze wandered up and down my form, before it landed on my bare arms. "Is he the one who did that to you?"

Following his line of vision, I found my own eyes resting on the pink, crescent-shaped scars marring my arms. Typically, when I reflected back on the occurrences involving Gage and myself, shame caused my face to blot red. This time, the sight of them had no effect on me. I sighed. "Kol? No, he didn't do that to me. But you know what he did give me?"

Samuel lifted his chin slightly.

"He gave me freedom," I breathed, tearing my eyes from my father. "Freedom from the cage these scars had built. I know that sounds stupid, but it's true." I looked up at the clock to retrieve the time. Standing, I dismissed myself. "I have to go."

"Madeleine." Samuel caught my arm. "Keep me in the loop, alright? Don't forget that I'm here."

I slipped my arm from his grasp, giving his hand a little squeeze before promising, "I won't."

"The witch's powers are gone," he said. "She's of no use to us anymore."

Shane, in a fit of anger, brought his fist down on the surface of his desk, grunting in frustration. "Bonnie was the key to finding the cure!" He ran his hands through his hair, pulling at the ends.

"What do you need me to do?"

"Just... keep an eye on the situation. Don't let anything like this happen again. What good are you if you can't stop these kinds of things from happening?"

The man opposite of Shane bowed his head.

"I have to make a few calls."

He turned to leave.

"And Samuel?"

He paused, looking over his shoulder as he stood beneath the frame of the office door.

"Try and keep your daughter in check."

As the incubus left, Shane sat at his desk. Slowly, he pulled his phone from his pocket, typing in his password and staring at an icon on his screen. Then, he tapped it and dialed a number. The contact had remained in his phone, untouched for years, but Shane should have known that he couldn't avoid him forever.

"Atticus Shane," he greeted. "It's been a while."

"I need you to do something for me," he murmured into the receiver.

"I should have known you weren't simply calling to see how I was doing."

Shane's tongue flicked his lower lip. "I need your help opening Silas' tomb."

Silence, then finally, "That's a lot to ask for."

"I have a lot to offer."

"Oh, you do?"

"Does the name Samuel Westerly ring any bells?"

"You've got my attention."

"If you help me resurrect him, you can have him."


"And you can have his daughter."

Silence again. Shane heard him chuckle lowly. "You have a deal, Atticus Shane."

"It's always a pleasure doing business with you, Solomon."

"We'll keep in touch."

There was a click as he hung up.