Requested angst. Warning: people will die. Who exactly remains to be seen. AU/AH. Again, please forgive my alterations to history to serve my own purposes.
Fill my heart with song?
Let me sing forever more
Because you are all I long for
All I worship and I adore
Frank Sinatra- Fly Me to the Moon
New Orleans, 2000
"Why'd you never get married grand-mère? And where is grand-père? Why have I never gotten to meet him?"
The old woman straightened, turning toward the inquisitive gaze of her one and only grandchild, the child of her only son. Sometimes…. sometimes she felt nothing but pain looking at the girl's face. She looked so like another, long lost.
"Oh Nicola, that's a very long story." She said with a sigh, lowering herself into a chair.
"But I want to hear it!" The grandmother chuckled, unperturbed by the girl's attitude. She was ten, and maybe it was past time she knew anyway. And her stubbornness was so like her father's and her grandfather's.
"Alright my darling, I'll tell you the story."
Nicola clapped her hands excitedly. "Does it start with once upon a time?"
"All the best stories do, don't they? So, once upon a time…"
A great war broke out between the nations of the world. It was a time of great sacrifice, great loss, and, a miracle amidst everything else, great love.
Caroline Forbes grew up in a little town in France. She'd always hoped for a chance to be better, to do something better, and she found her opportunity in the war. She volunteered as a nurse, helping the wounded soldiers that were brought in. For the first time in her life, she left her home. Only to be faced with how horrible the world could truly be.
It was hard work, and she saw things that she'd never thought to see before. Bodies of men so damaged… so very damaged. But she stayed. She wanted to help, to fix things in whatever way she could.
One day, after a particularly bad attack, they bodies were brought in, body after body, and Caroline didn't know how they would be able to help them all. The casualties from the waiting period alone….
There was a man though. Shot five times, and yet somehow, with massive blood loss, major burns to his legs, suspected chemical inhalation, he managed to hold on. Unconscious, but alive.
She was assigned to care for him; his injuries, the extent of them, made the other nurses squeamish. She was the only one who really seemed to genuinely care for him. It didn't mean she didn't have other duties still, because she did, but her primary concern became the nameless, broken man. Every day, she cleaned and changed the bandages on his wounds. As the hospital filled with less and less men, either through death or recovery, her time became consumed with him.
She read to him from her favorite works, mostly Charles Dickens, and was glad for her education in English when a soldier from his unit came in and identified the man. Sergeant Niklaus Mikaelson. Proud member of the 3rd Infantry Division. Decorated soldier and war hero. He'd saved countless lives in his time in the army. A natural-born leader. He would recover, she was assured by Sergeant Stefan Salvatore. He always did.
So she sat and waited for him to do just that. But she couldn't help, even though she knew she should stop the budding feelings, being attracted to him. His scared face, while she knew that that might repulse the friends she had back home, was all the more beautiful to her for them. They told a story, a story of his life and his adventures. He was handsome too, she could see it.
Caroline was there when he woke up. His striking blue eyes flashing open suddenly, and she called for the doctor, moving away from him, but a strong hand moved quickly, surprisingly fast for an injured man, grabbing her hand. His mouth opened as she turned back to him, working his dry throat, and she moved to give him some water. He accepted it gratefully, muttering one word before knocking out once more. "Henrik."
To say the least, it hadn't been what she was expecting. Who was this Henrik? Why was that the first thing on his mind? Questions that could only be answered by the man himself. She waited impatiently for him to wake up once more, but her waiting was interrupted by her own need for sleep, and the head nurse ushering her out with a "You're no good to us dead, so rest up!"
When she returned to the medical tent two days later, it was to find the Sergeant sitting up, a look of extreme concentration on his face. And she could see the pain that he was trying to hide. Then, his gaze found hers across the room, his entire face lighting up in response as a slow smile spread over his lips. She couldn't help but smile back, urging herself to go faster, to get to him sooner.
"You're the nurse that's been caring for me?" He croaked out when she was at the foot of his bed, and she nodded in response. "Thank you, love."
"I'm Caroline, and I'm so glad to see that you're doing better."
"All thanks to you I'm sure."
She blushed in response, even as she leaned over his to check his bandages. "You seem to do fairly well on your own."
"I'm going to have to chalk it up to being in your presence then." She shot him another look at that, and they both burst out in laughter, until he grabbed his side in pain. She fussed over him for several more minutes, even forgetting herself momentarily and pushing his hair back from his eyes, until she decided that he would be fine.
"When you woke up, you said a name. Henrik?" She prodded, watching as worry flashed briefly in his eyes.
"My brother. My youngest brother. He has great aspirations of being a soldier and fighting, but he's only fifteen. I received a letter just before the-" He paused for a moment in his explanation, his breathing labored, and she waited patiently for him to continue, even offering him water first which he gladly accepted. "Just before the battle. He said something about wanting to join the front lines. That was all I could picture the entire-"
"Week." She supplied.
"Yes, thank you. The entire week that I was out. I can't- all I could think of was what if something bad happened to him just because I joined the forces."
"Why would it be your fault?"
He let out a short, humorless laugh. "My father, if you can call him that, is a member of the House of Lords. My other brothers wouldn't have dreamed of joining the army, nor would they have had to. But I wanted to get away. Henrik has always been my shadow though, always wanting to do everything I do."
"Oh, I see. So if he came-"
"It would be because I joined first."
"You can't blame yourself though-" She floundered for a second wondering what exactly she was supposed to call him.
"Call me Nik, sweetheart."
"Oh! Alright then, Nik. You can't blame yourself. People make choices, and sometimes they happen because of something that we do, but we all still have the power to choose."
He didn't respond, so in resignation she turned to go perform her other tasks. A quiet voice stopped her. "I'm glad I joined though. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have met you." And she walked away with a smile on her face.
The next day, she came prepared, pencil and paper in hand. He looked at the tools in confusion until she said, "I can write to your family, if you'd like. Let them know that you're okay."
The smile he offered her let her know that she had made the right choice.
He was sweet, and she was so glad that she'd made the choice to give him a chance. She noticed though that a cold mask slipped into place whenever they were joined by anyone else. He asked about things she had never been asked about; her hopes and dreams for the future, the places she wanted to see. He even promised to take her around the world with him. She jokingly said that he'd have to propose to her first. With utter seriousness, he replied, "Maybe I will."
When news of another battle came in, every bed was needed. Caroline offered her house and her bed to the still recovering man that she was falling for.
"I'm sorry for stealing your bed."
"Oh its fine. Its for a worthy cause after all." She assured with a smile. When she walked away, in a motion similar to their first actual meeting, he grabbed her hand, but this time he spun her back around to face him. In her surprise, she almost didn't respond when their lips collided. Almost. He was very good at kissing, and she didn't know how anyone would not respond to him, the soft pressure he applied, coaxing her lips open gently. "Nik-" She breathed breaking away. "We can't-"
"I know its not proper. I know it will ruin you. But I love you Caroline, and I've learned not to lose any time. I'll marry you, if you'll have me, but I want this one night."
"I wasn't saying no. You're hurt, and I don't want to hurt you worse."
"So we'll go slow. You stay on top, and I'll let you know if I can't go on anymore. Please though Caroline. Please."
She couldn't resist him. She didn't want to.
"You seemed so happy grand-mère. What happened?"
"Life my darling. Life."
It happened so quickly. Caroline was called in when the bodies poured in once more. And Nik joined her, jokingly claiming that he didn't want anyone else making a move on his girl. All jokes faded though when they entered the tent, and he ran as best he was able to a bedside. She knew enough to know the boy- because that's what he was, still baby-faced and obviously young- was dead. And her hand came to her mouth in horror when she heard Nik whisper, "Henrik."
"His brother died?"
"Yes. And he blamed me."
"When people are hurting, its easy to place blame on people. Even on the people that we love. That's what happened. I wrote the letter. I told Henrik where we were. And he came. And he died."
"Oh grand-mère." Nicola breathed. "That's horrible."
"I understand, now. It hurt so much then, though. I was in love, I was young, a war was raging. I was all alone in the world suddenly, spurned by the man I loved. And I was pregnant with your father." Nichol's birth had been painful; she was a poor nurse, unmarried. The social stigma alone… and she had almost bled to death in labor. "I moved to America after that. I knew that I could never really be accepted in Europe, not unmarried and with a child. And that's how we got here."
"You never saw him again?"
"No, love, I never saw him again. But what hurts the most is that I never got to tell him that I love him. He'll never know how much he was loved."
So I don't think this was as sad as the last one, but it was angsty still, right? *Offers hugs and chocolates and the promise of happy things that might come eventually*