It is unnatural, this thing that we are… unnatural, cursed, and eternal. And yet, it was our mother's only way to save us from the werewolves.
Until we discovered one among us.
Slivers of light penetrated the wood. Torches illuminated the darkness. Hurried footsteps carried the family into the caves. Kol went first and Mikael last, a sword in his hands. Elijah paused at the entrance, glancing behind them into the gloom. The moon rose in the distance, a haze filling the area. The scent of blood carried on the wind. He could hear the screams of agony in the distance, as the wolves turned.
Blood bound them, kept them unified even as it sustained their lives. Klaus had killed his first villager that day. He had never been as self-controlled as his elder brother. There was guilt in his countenance, shame that prevented him from meeting their father's eyes. Something lurked beneath the surface between them, a mutual distrust that often sparked to hatred on their father's part. Elijah had never understood it, but placed himself between them, as he so often did. Rebekah curled up beside Klaus, and a moody Finn retreated to his mother's side, while Kol paced like a caged beast.
"Why should we hide from them? We are as strong as they are!"
Golden hair glowing in the torchlight, their mother held out her hand to him. "Not during the full moon. Sit, my son."
The witch beside her watched them with distrusting unease. Shadows crept up the walls. Klaus moved slightly, uncomfortable against the cold rock floor. Their father guarded the entrance, sword in hand. He was a cruel man at the best of times. Elijah could remember the look in his eyes as he had driven that sword into each of their chests. Klaus had gone down first, and with a particular delight that Elijah reviled. Their deaths had been but the beginning and now it was the first full moon since their transformation.
None of them noticed it at first, a distinct change in the stale air of the cavern. But Elijah, ever in tune with his brothers, sensed the tension and glanced toward Klaus.
The pain was sudden. It tore through Klaus, anguish transforming his screams into snarls. All scattered away from him, their father staring as his son writhed on the floor. Horrified silence filled the cavern. Bones began to crack and separate as he flailed wildly, his snarls becoming guttural howls. Light flickered around them, illuminating the horrified expressions of his family.
Rebekah moved toward him.
"No!" cried Elijah, and caught his sister's arm.
She fought him, hair swirling around her shoulders. "Let me go! We must help him!"
"You can't," said Kol, his expression turning to one of distaste. "He's one of them."
Their brother's spine snapped, his teeth sharpening, eyes burning red in the gloom. Fear entered all of them as they turned toward their parents. Even Finn stepped aside, confusion written into his countenance. Sword in hand, Mikael stepped toward his wife.
"Mikael, please…" she said, backing away.
The witch clung to her arm, extending one hand toward him. "Don't come closer," she warned.
"Silence, Elijah! Take the others out of these caves before Klaus tears them to pieces."
Elijah looked at his father's murderous expression, then at his mother's terror, and finally at Klaus as he thrashed uncontrollably in pain. Rebekah was in tears. Finn was so shocked he could neither move nor speak. Kol would merely have sat and watched, in a kind of fascinated enjoyment. It fell to him to protect them, and in that moment, he chose between them, his mother and his siblings. Dragging his sister to her feet, he shoved her in the direction of the opening. Finn came blindly after them and Kol followed, but not without a backward glance.
They ran, although Rebekah was forced. Damp streamed down her face.
Slivers of light shifted around them. Shadows fled. Trees sped past. They were not alone. Elijah sensed the pack, could hear them long before their approach. He changed directions and the others followed, scaling the rocks and hillside, scattering pebbles beneath them. "There," said Finn, pointing at the ground beneath them. Dark shapes swarmed after them. Wolves could kill mere men, tear them apart, but they hadn't yet tested their newfound strength.
"Let us fight," said Kol, his fangs gleaming in the darkness.
Ravenous snarls filled the air. "Run," commanded Elijah.
No one challenged his authority, however bitterly Kol resented it. They ran, until all sped past, until the village and the cavern were far behind, until shadows gave way into moonlit grass. And that's when a wolf sprang at them from the darkness. Kol sprang upward, strong hands gripping a branch. His body spun around and he kicked the beast into a tree. Finn and he went after it, the snarls turning to yelps. Another charged at Rebekah; she fell out of the way as it met Elijah instead. He twisted it to the ground and plunged his hand into its chest. Snapping jaws tore at his skin, bringing blood to the surface, before he tore out its heart. Venom raced through his veins, dulling his senses.
"Elijah!" she shouted. Her arms wrapped around him, dragging him to his feet. All around them, bushes thrashed and branches cracked, Kol tearing one off to use it against the wolves. Elijah knew without asking that each blow was for their youngest brother. The branch spun and splintered, cracking skulls and bones and filling the air with a haze of blood. Savage sounds echoed in the wood. Finn thundered to the ground, holding a snarling jaw inches away from his face, before Rebekah went after its throat. They rolled over and over, scattering dust, until she came up victorious, dazedly licking blood off her lips.
Their enemies shrank back leaving them crouched in the clearing. Elijah felt his sister grip his arm, his attention focused on a massive beast emerging from the gloom. Klaus was far bigger than the rest, his eyes luminous as he snarled at them.
"Don't move," said Elijah.
Everything in them told them to run, yet they remained still. The wolf lowered its head toward them and moved forward. Drool dripped from his bared fangs.
"Elijah…" Kol tensed to flee, the branch cracking from the pressure of his hand. But Elijah did not respond. Instead, he stepped away from them, toward their brother, hand outstretched. Rebekah whimpered, a sound stifled as Finn covered her mouth. He held onto her, as much to steady his own nerves as her own.
"Niklaus," Elijah said, in a tone of love, of fondness. For whatever reason, perhaps because their father hated Klaus so, he had always been closest to Klaus. He had more shame, more guilt, and more sensitivity than the others, rivaled only in that respect by Rebekah. Both of them were desperate for love, for affection, for approval, but Klaus never received it. And now, he was even further set apart from them. Elijah tilted his head slightly, his eyes burning into those of the ferocious monster before him. "You know me, Brother."
Luminous eyes glowered at him, the snarl refusing to subside. Still, Elijah did not flinch.
"He's a wolf," stressed Kol.
"He is one of us," answered Elijah.
The wolf shifted from one foot to another. The massive head lowered and the snarl subsided. Dark hair brushed against the vampire's fingers, warmth radiating from the beast. Sending them a penetrating glance, Klaus moved away from them into the trees. All fell into silence, and stillness descended.
Rebekah pulled away from Finn, who looked shaken. Her voice had emotion in it, fear. "What will our father do to him?"
Moving away from them, Kol answered, "Kill him."
"No," she said.
"He has always hated Klaus and now he has a reason to do something about it." Kol lifted his eyebrows. "Do you think that what has been done cannot be undone, Sister? That Father has not the means to end all our lives if it gave him pleasure to do so? He will force us to choose, to take a side: Mother and Klaus, or him. You can wait to be slaughtered. I want no part of it."
Turning tearful eyes on Finn, Rebekah said, "He is our brother! We can't just abandon him!"
"Nor can we stand up to Father," he answered quietly. "You know his rage. Mother will be dead in a fortnight, if she has not been slain this night. Klaus will be next, and everyone who ever thought fondly of him. Kol is right… if we want to live, we must leave."
Shivers ran through the grass, cold creeping across the ground.
Rebekah turned to the oldest. "Elijah?"
"The others must go, if that is their wish, but I will remain."
Each looked at one another in the silence, and then Finn and Kol moved into the night. Leaves stirred overhead. Fur moved on the still bodies scattered around them. Elijah wiped the blood from his hands and put his arm around his sister, as she clung to him. Fresh tears coursed down her face, and she whispered, "What will we do?"
He did not answer.
And in the distance, a mournful howl split the darkness.