For Laura

I Was a Lonely Soul

Chapter 1: The Girl in the Water

Katherine never intended to return to Mystic Falls. She doesn't like the town. It only brings back bad memories, and there's always the chance that one of the Salvatore boys is lurking about.

It may have been almost a century and a half since she'd stepped foot in the town, but it's still rotten to the core. She hates it here. Hates the traditions, the secrets, the paranoia, the Southern hospitality, and small town pride. She hates the Founding families and the stupid family friendly, down-home vibe it gives off.

She used to want to ruin it. To destroy it, burn it to the ground and make it rain blood. But it hadn't taken her very long to realize that she didn't have to lift a finger, this town will destroy itself. She'll leave the self-righteous bastards to destroy themselves.

So why's she back? Why's she traipsing through pitch-black forest and cursing her choice of shoes? Simple; Damon fucking Salvatore.

He can't leave well enough alone. She heard through the grapevine that he's hoping to 'free' her from the tomb. So Katherine's back in this wretched little town, she needs to get that stupid crystal before stupid Damon arrives and finds out Katherine isn't in the stupid tomb.

"Fuck!" She screeches as she trips over a branch. Heels are not the best choice for hiking through forests at night. She neatly hops a fence and sighs in relief as her feet hit the solid road. She takes a deep breath, the Lockwood estate isn't too far away. All she has to do is gain entry, find the stupid crystal, and haul ass before stupid Damon or stupid Stefan can show up and ruin it.

She stiffens as the smell of blood fills her nostrils. Human blood. Someone's hurt. The smell is weak, watery almost. Abandoning her mission, Katherine follows the smell of blood. It seeps into her brain, and she feels a little unhinged. It's been too long since she last fed. She's been so preoccupied with her mission that she forgot to fulfill basic necessities. The smell leads her to Wickery Bridge. It's all paved and shiny and new. But somehow still the same.

She follows the scent straight to the edge of the bridge. She scans the cold black water hungrily. Finally her eyes land on a floating body. Long dark hair obscures her face, but Katherine doesn't care. The smell of her blood is relatively fresh; she'll do just fine. Katherine kicks off her heels and dives into the water. In a few smooth strokes, she's right beside the unconscious girl. She hooks her arm around her waist and buries her face in the girl's neck briefly, inhaling the scent of her wet skin. She moans. She moves her face away from the girl's neck, and easily tugs her to shore.

She drags the girl up to the pavement. She wraps her arms around the girl's waist again and is about to bury her fangs into her neck when she registers the familiarity of the girl's neck. And hair. And figure. With mounting unease, Katherine gently pulls the long dark hair out of her face. Her own features stare back at her. Katherine's arms weaken, and she almost drops her, but she regains her grip before the unconscious girl can slip from her grip.

"The doppleganger," Katherine whispers reverently. She sinks down on her knees, and lays the girl down on her back; gently she pulls the rest of the girl's hair out of her face. Easily she begins to pump air into the girl's lungs, leaning down to sip water from her cold blue lips, pulling it out of her lungs. The girl comes to life and begins to sputter for air as she coughs and heaves up water. Katherine soothes her with gentle hands, pulling her hair back out of her face, rubbing her back, and whispering comforting words.

"It's all right sweetheart, you're all right," she murmurs automatically. Her mind is reeling. Right here, lying sprawled across her lap, is her ticket to freedom. She just has to hand the girl over to Klaus, and she will be free. She'll never have to run again. She can settle down somewhere. Have a home. All she has to do is hand over a lamb for slaughter.

Katherine has been a lamb, once upon a time, and out of necessity she became a lion. But somewhere in her dead heart, there lived the little lamb she once was. And that little lamb in her heart is the only thing keeping her from sending this girl to her death. So Katherine halts her decision. She'll have to wait to make her choice. Her first priority is to make sure this girl, her doppleganger, is okay.

The little lamb sits up, and Katherine can see blood seeping through her shirt, her jeans, her head. Katherine gulps. She must control herself. The girl turns to thank her savior, but words freeze in her throat. Katherine holds her breath. The human examines her face dully. Her lithe fingers raise, and slowly she nimbly walks her fingers alone the vampire's jaw, up her cheekbones, along her forehead, down her nose, across her lips, before falling away.

"You look like me, I look like you, we look alike," the girl states dazedly. Katherine nods. The girl sways despite her seated position. Katherine places strong hands on the girl's hips and holds her in place.

"Yes we do, sweetheart," Katherine agrees easily. She reaches up a hand to absentmindedly fix the girl's hair. She's endearing in her vulnerability. "But that's not important right now," Katherine continues, she praises the gods because she can hear sirens approaching. "Someone called for help, you're going to be just fine, sweetheart. I'll sit with you until they get here, but then I have to leave," Katherine explains slowly, stroking the girl's hair.

"What's your name, sweetheart?" Katherine asks, realizing she doesn't know it.

"Elena, Elena Gilbert," the girl answers tiredly. A founding family member? Excellent. She's probably friends with the latest Lockwood brat. Katherine can get in and out quickly. Katherine shakes the girl gently to keep her awake.

"You have to stay awake, Elena," Katherine scolds. Elena nods her head dutifully.

"My parents, where are my parents?" she croaks weakly. Katherine's dead heart sinks.

"I don't know, sweetheart, I don't know," Katherine admits. Elena moans and sinks her head into the crook of Katherine's neck. Katherine strokes the back of her head comfortingly. This is not who she is, she does not comfort people, she is not gentle. But she needs this girl to trust her. (She ignores the voice in the back of her head that whispers liar.)

"What's your name?" Elena asks. Her voice is muffled by Katherine's hair.

"Katherine Pierce," she answers. The sirens are close, only moments away. She gently pulls the girl away from her. She wraps her fingers around the girl's jaw, and forces her to meet her eyes. "I need you to pretend you never met me, you don't know how you got out of the water, okay?" Katherine implores seriously, she doesn't want to compel Elena, but she will if she has to.

"Okay," Elena agrees. Katherine sighs in relief and bestows the human with a kiss to her forehead before she leans her against the side of the bridge, scoops up her heels, and turns to run off into the night. "Wait." Elena's voice stops her; Katherine turns to look back at her.

"Will you come back?" Elena asks timidly. Katherine nods her head and then dashes off into the night. She has a crystal to retrieve, and a decision to make.