Warm sunlight soaked into all the available skin on Caroline, which considering her lack of clothing was a lot. She could feel the sunlight dance across her closed eyes as it trickled through the leafy canopy above her. Birds settled in the branches, filling her ears with their songs. Caroline floated in a cocoon of bliss, laying half in and half out of the mountain lake, propped up slightly by the man behind her.
Perfect happiness and relaxation.
Of course the hours of marathon sex they just engaged in around and in the lake helped create the sense of bliss she was experiencing. She smiled, wondering if it was possible to overdose on endorphins.
There was a chuckle behind her. "I can hear you smiling love." Klaus said.
Her smile grew wider and she turned in his arms, causing little ripples to dance across the water's surface. She was met with bright eyes and a smile as big as her own. She ran her hand down his face and was rewarded with a kiss to her palm.
"It's going to start getting dark soon. We'll have to head back." He told her.
"Can't we just sleep here tonight?" She pouted.
"I seem to remember you don't enjoy getting eaten by insects."
"That was before. I think I can handle them now."
"Oh really?" He laughed, and then pinched her lightly on her side.
"What? If you don't mind insects you shouldn't mind this." He pinched her again. She splashed water at him as he began to pinch and tickle her ribs. She let out peals of laughter as she struggled to catch his hands and retaliate against him at the same time. Finally she managed to escape his grasp and pushed back further into the water. His eyes narrowed with amusement and he pushed off after her.
"No." She tried to sound firm, but the laughter in her voice and eyes gave her away. He looked at her innocently.
"No more tickling."
He gasped in fake horror. "I would never…"
"Oh please." Before she finished speaking he was by her side, tickling her. "KLAUS!" She screamed laughing. He laughed along with her, then stopped his torment and just pulled her close. She wrapped her legs around his waist and they floated together in the water.
"Happy?" He asked her.
She looked deep into his eyes. "I've never been happier." She assured him. It was true. Since they had left Mystic Falls two days ago, things had been so perfect.
Perfect. That word kept coming up when she thought of him.
She traced the smile on his face with her finger tip. The change in their relationship, along with the privacy this trip afforded her a look at who Niklaus Mikaeson really was behind the mask of 'all powerful hybrid' and 'Original Vampire'. She loved how freely he smiled and laughed. She loved listening to him tell tales from his past and from history, his voice and his storytelling captivating her much more than a classroom lecture or television. She loved the way his eyes lit up when he talked about things he loved, like horses or art or his favorite cities. He was so animated and alive here, she found herself wishing they could stay so she could keep him like this.
"Ah ah ah." He said. "No thinking unhappy thoughts, my love." He cautioned her.
She smiled wistfully. "I was thinking about New Orleans."
"I promise you are going to love it." He assured her.
"But things will be different there."
She looked out across the water they were floating in. "I just…"She began hesitantly and then trailed off.
"Caroline, what is it?" He prompted her.
"I just know there are things there you want to do, although you haven't clued me in yet." She gave him a dry look. "I hate that you won't be the same. You'll have to be in control and on guard all the time. I'll miss seeing you like this."
He pressed his lips to her forehead and then he looked out across the water and let out a big sigh. "We do need to talk about what's going on in New Orleans." He admitted. "I just wanted a few days of peace first." She nodded in understanding. Their last day in Mystic Falls had been anything but peaceful. "But you are right, I need to tell you what to expect, we should have that conversation tonight." He looked back at her. "And while in the public eye I will have to be on guard and very careful, but when it's just us, sweetheart," He paused and stared into her eyes deeply. "You've given me a home in your heart; I promise that I will always be myself with you."
"I love you." She answered and kissed him. Just then the sky deepened into a deep red and the lake lit up with the red glow of sunset. She pulled back and looked around, then laughed. "Seriously, did you plan that?"
He grinned at her. "Nope, I'm just that good."
She laughed harder and they floated in each other's arms until the red faded into a gray before they got dressed and headed back towards the house.
Later that evening Caroline sat at the bar, while she watched Klaus cook. In his time wandering the earth he had come up with wonderful dishes that incorporated the blood they needed to survive. Tonight he was making eggplant parmesan with tomato sauce and blood.
"I think you need to forget all your other plans and open a restaurant." She teased him. "Cater to the vampire clientele."
"This is just one of my many talents." He boasted.
"Is there anything you can't do?"
He thought for a moment. "Knitting."
She burst out laughing. "Knitting?"
"Yes, I've tried it several times; I thought it would be easy. All I ever got was a knotted mess of yarn." She couldn't stop laughing. "To be fair, though, that was women's work in my time."
"Oh, so you're saying you're genetically predisposed to NOT being able knit?" She asked.
His eyes lit up. "Exactly."
He pulled the pan out of the oven and topped his creation with more blood before portioning it out on the plates, which he handed to her. She carried them over to the table and he followed with the silverware, two glasses and a bottle of wine.
They sat down to eat. "Someday I would like to have Thanksgiving Dinner here with your siblings."
Klaus started coughing on the drink of wine he had been about to swallow.
"I don't know about that." He managed to get out once he had stopped choking.
"You built this house for them." She insisted. "They need to see it and feel welcome here. I think it would be nice."
He looked out the windows. "We don't really celebrate holidays." He said quietly.
"Well, maybe it's time to start some new traditions." She stated.
"We'll see." He conceded and she was pleased he didn't just reject the idea out of turn.
"But if they are here, I won't be able to get you to walk around naked as much." He whined with a smile.
She scoffed. "You won't be able to get me to walk around naked at all outside of our bedroom."
"Then definitely not."
He laughed and she knew he was teasing her.
"So," She said, after their laughter died down, and she took a bite. "Oh my god, that's so good."
He grinned in pride.
"Anyway," She got back on track. "Tell me about New Orleans and your plans there."
She noticed the way his eyes darkened and she was reminded that even though he was relaxed and happy here, he was still and would always be the man she first met in Mystic Falls.
"An old protégé of mine, Marcel, was entrusted with the keeping of New Orleans when we had to leave due to Mikael's arrival." Klaus explained. "It seems he has forgotten that this was only done temporarily and that I always intended to come back and claim the city. He thinks he is an untouchable King down there."
She studied him. "Obviously, there is something that is keeping you from killing him outright and just taking over." She observed.
He smiled wryly at her. "He has managed to control the witches in the city. Something that is almost unheard of. The amount of power in the bloodlines down there, they should be able to destroy him themselves, yet they don't. For whatever reason, they are terrified by him and are completely at his mercy."
"And you don't want to kill him until you know what that reason is?"
"And this is why the witches wanted to control you?"
"Also correct. They believed if they had control over my unborn child, I would do their bidding and get rid of Marcel for them. Since the child isn't mine, they don't have any hold over me. However, I made a deal with them, if they help me get rid of Marcel and reclaim the city; I will leave them in peace as long as they don't interfere with my goals and they don't come after me or mine."
"Ok," She said slowly. "And you don't have the desire to find out his secret and control the witches yourself?" She asked.
"Desire?" He grinned. "Most definitely. However, I believe that it would be more trouble than it's worth. While I have in the past had witches and warlocks in my employ, some willingly, others…not so much, I would rather not anger this many. It may work in the short term, but in the long term, they will find a way to break the control and witches can be quite creative in their revenge."
"And there is no way to talk to this Marcel and get him to share the city and convince him to release control of the witches?"
Klaus' grin turned very cold. "I turned him, I trained him. There is no way we could share power. He knows better than that."
"So you are going to wage war on someone who was once your friend?"
"Yes." He simply said.
She stared at him for a while, eating and digesting both the food and the information. He respected her need to think and was silent for the rest of the meal while they ate. When they were finished he cleared the dishes and put them in the dishwasher while she took a seat on the couch and stared into the fire he made earlier. It was warm enough that a fire wasn't necessary, but they both enjoyed the atmosphere it created. He turned off the lights in the kitchen so only the fire's glow lit up the room. He joined her on the couch pouring her another glass of wine.
"There is no other way?" She asked. "Another city you could claim?"
"I built this city, Caroline. It is mine; I never intended to leave it forever. Marcel has overstepped and he is slaughtering these witches on a whim."
"But you aren't doing this to defend the witches." She commented.
"What will this mean for us? For me? Will it be very dangerous?"
"Quite possibly, this is why I want to start to teach you to defend yourself. I will also have the witches cast protection spells on you." He paused; he knew she wasn't going to like the next part. "It may be necessary to have someone with you who can protect you."
"I will not compromise on your safety, Caroline." He stated firmly.
"What about us? Will they know about me?"
He hesitated; he wasn't sure how she was going to react to this. "You are my mate; I can't keep that a secret. However, they will expect a certain behavior, even from a woman who is my mate."
Her eyes narrowed. "What sort of behavior?" She asked acidly. "Am I supposed to be some docile arm candy? Some accessory that does nothing but simper and serve?"
"WHAT?! No way!"
"Hear me out. If you act the part of docile, little woman, but throw in some naiveté it could give us the upper hand."
She didn't say anything which he took to mean she was listening.
"You are extremely smart, something they wouldn't expect. You are also crafty and a good judge of people and their motives. If they think you are some sort of harmless piece of fluff, they will underestimate you and who knows what they might say or do in your presence."
"So you want me to be the 'Blonde Distraction'?"
Klaus smirked. "I wouldn't be as combative as you were with me." He chuckled. "Another case of you being a good judge of people, you never played it easy. It was always the challenge that enticed me."
She grinned back at him. "That wasn't being a good judge of character. If I let my guard down with you, I knew I'd be in trouble." She blushed.
"Really? Do tell."
"Caroline…" He sang her name.
She sighed. "There were so many times, that if I didn't argue with you, I was going to kiss you. There was twice, that I can think of that, if you hadn't walked away when you did, or distracted me I would have kissed you." She looked into the fire. "I always felt so horrible afterwards. The one time, was right after you got freed from Elena's living room and came up to me on the porch. It was right after Tyler left town. I was so terrified and at the same time, I felt such a pull towards you, which scared me even more and made me feel so horrible." She seemed to shake herself from the memories. "Will they really believe that you have a mate that is a blonde ditz?" She asked pulling the conversation back to New Orleans.
"I don't think that's any harder to believe than the truth. Our relationship in itself is going to be completely shocking. And traditionally, don't older men fall for the naïve, ditsy type?" He joked.
"All right." She agreed. She was actually pleased that he was including her. That his plan took her into consideration. "Just don't get used to the idea of me being docile."
"Never." He promised. "After I win, we will take some time and establish our rule, let you finish school, if you insist. Then we will have the freedom to travel knowing we have a home to return to."
"You make it sound so easy."
"Easier than subduing a group of teenagers in small town Virginia." He joked. She smiled. "It won't be easy though." He looked at her. "New Orleans is a vampire city, Caroline. I created it and Marcel has taken it even further."
"What does that mean?" She asked.
"You'll find that it's a lot freer in feeding. Humans actually volunteer. There is a level of decadence you can only find by those who know they have eternity." He hesitated. He knew that the next thing he was about to say was not going to be well received. "Caroline, I would like you to consider learning how to drink from humans."
"NO!" She snapped.
"NO!" She snapped again and stood up suddenly.
"Caroline, just think about it." He spoke loudly, trying to get her to listen as she walked away from him and outside onto the deck. He gave her a few moments before he followed her out. "Sweetheart, I don't care that you drink from animals or blood bags, but you need to learn how to control yourself in case you are ever in a situation where those two options aren't available. How would you feel if you killed someone?"
"Stefan…." She began.
"You aren't Stefan." He interrupted her. "You are underestimating yourself. You have more control and you don't have some split personality, part of which was brought on by his refusal to ever learn control when feeding from humans. He did a good job of teaching you, but he taught you all he could. I'm not asking you to start hunting humans, just become familiar with drinking from them."
She was silent.
"Just think about it." He said when she still would not respond.
"What if I hurt someone?" She whispered. "What if I kill them?"
"I would never let you do that." He swore to her. "Not because I hold human life in high regard, but because I know it would hurt you."
"I'll think about it, that's all I can say right now."
"That's all I'm asking for."
"Ok, what happens after you win? You are in control of the city, you have peace with the witches, what then? Will there be another city you need to win? Another war?"
"I'm not planning one, but you never know what can happen."
"You know you don't always have to run towards the fight." She said. "I'll consider learning to drink from humans, if you consider that not everything is a war that needs to be fought, a place or person that needs to be conquered. You promised me the world; I'd prefer it not be going from war to war. I don't just want that for me. I want you to be able to experience and enjoy it, like you are here, not just appreciate it from behind the mask you where."
It was his turn to stare out into the dark night. "I've spent 1,000 years it living this way. It's always been about domination, control, taking it from others, having it taken from him by Mikael. I'm not sure I know anything else."
"Now who's underestimating themselves?" She commented quietly. She saw the corners of his mouth turn up, as he continued to stare into the night sky. She stepped closer to him and he wrapped his arm around her and just enjoyed her closeness and they stood together, both thinking over their conversation.
"So this is a relationship? Constantly pushing each other?" He asked.
"Challenging each other to be better." She corrected with a smile.
"Disagreements, arguments, fights…."
"That helps us learn about each other and lead to great make up sex."
"Nagging?" Caroline pulled back and looked at him. "NAGGING?" She snapped, her voice got shrill and she was about to unleash on him when she saw he was still smiling. He looked at her with oh so innocent expression.
"I was angling for the makeup sex." He said. "Was it too much?"
She started laughing. "You are such an ass."
"And yet you still love me." He said as he stole a kiss.
Caroline was drinking the sweetest, most delicious blood she had ever had. The warm liquid poured down her throat as she swallowed again and again.
A sharp piercing cry, invaded her ears next and she opened her eyes to meet….Stefan's? He was stroking her hair and looking at her with adoration and approval. She looked away from him and realized she had no idea where she was. It was a large room, with very ornate furniture. There was a large fire in front of her; she could feel its heat pouring at her.
Across the room she saw Hayley and Tyler chained to a wall, they both struggled furiously against the chains, they were screaming at her to stop. Caroline, the part of her that was conscious, wanted to stop and find out what was going on, but the stronger part did not. She felt strong, powerful and nothing could stop her.
There was a loud crash and far across the room, two doors flew open. There stood Klaus and his siblings, with Elena and Damon? She heard Stefan laugh over the high pitch cry that still rang in her ears. Klaus' eyes when they met hers were golden and filled with rage and death. The other's looks ranged from horror to impassive, but they all promised death.
Vampires poured at her friends from all sides and suddenly they were fighting and she somehow knew if they reached her, they would kill her in an instant. The sharp crying noise and finally ceased and Caroline realized she was holding something. She lowered it to a table in front of her and saw for the first time, it was a baby. She had just drained a baby.
Caroline wanted to scream in horror and anguish. She wanted to rip her own fangs out, but once again, she didn't seem to be the one in control. She could feel power, unimaginable power running through her. She looked up and smiled at Hayley and Tyler who had slumped in defeat and despair from their captivity.
She felt a breeze against her skin and looked to find Klaus standing before her, having escaped the carnage by the door. It seemed to happen in slow motion, even though she knew it would have taken a fraction of a second. His hands were reaching for her, but suddenly hers was buried in his chest, grasping his heart.
"Not so immortal anymore, are you?" She heard her own voice say. And deep inside Caroline howled and fought against the being that seemed to inhabit her.
"Do it." She heard Stefan whisper beside her.
"Caroline…." Klaus' voice was a plea.
Caroline's eyes flew open. Horror and terror froze her in place. She found she couldn't draw a breath. Her eyes darted around and she realized she was in Klaus' room. They were at the house in the mountains. It had been a dream, nothing but a dream. But then why could she still smell the smoke, taste that sweet blood and hear the baby's cries.
She still hadn't moved and Klaus slept peacefully on next to her, unaware of the turmoil within her. She finally willed her limbs to move and almost threw herself on the sleeping hybrid; her body began to shake with tremors of fear.
"Caroline?" Klaus was awake in an instant. "What is it? What's wrong?"
She tried to answer, but still couldn't even draw a breath into her.
"Caroline, answer me? What's wrong?" His voice got sharp with concern. She buried her head in his neck, needing to be closer, needing him to protect her.
"Sweetheart, was it a nightmare?" He tried again.
"Nightmare." She gasped. "It was a nightmare. Just a nightmare." She repeated it, trying to convince herself.
He chuckled, his worry eased. "Its ok, it was just a dream." He tried to pull back slightly to look at her eyes, but she wouldn't let go. She clung to him desperately.
"Don't let go." She whispered. "Please. I need you to keep me safe. I need you."
The fear in her voice made his concern come back again and he wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I've got you. I won't let anything happen to you. You are safe. I've got you."
"Just a nightmare." She whispered over and over again against his neck.
They stayed like that until about dawn. Caroline's tremors eventually subsided as did her panicked whispering and she drifted back off to sleep. Klaus stayed awake even after her breathing evened out. He didn't move; just lay with her locked tight in his arms listening for any indication the nightmare was back.
If he had heard the slightest hitch in her breathing he would enter her dreams and fight whatever it was that caused her such terror, but the dream didn't come again and eventually he drifted back off to a fitful sleep full of worry for the tiny baby vampire in his arms.
The next day Caroline woke up late and was stiff all over. She was wrapped tightly in Klaus' arms with a death grip on him. She pulled back and after a second of resistance he let her go. His eyes met her with concern.
"Are you ok?"
"I'm stiff." She giggled. "But other than that, I slept great."
He looked confused. "No more bad dreams?"
Now it was her turn to be confused. "Bad dreams?"
"Caroline, you woke me up last night almost in hysterics over a nightmare."
She blushed embarrassed. "I did? I don't remember that at all! I'm so sorry."
His concern eased a bit. "Well, I guess as upset as you were, it's for the best you don't remember." He searched her eyes.
"I'm glad you were here to chase whatever it was away." She said with a smile. She glanced over at the clock. "Oh my god, it's the middle of the afternoon. We've slept the day away." She stared pushing him. "Get up, get up, get up. It's our last day here; we aren't going to spend it in bed." She insisted.
He laughed as the rest of his lingering worry faded. "Care to join me for a shower?" He asked.
"I think I could be persuaded." She answered.
He took her hand and helped her out of bed. He hugged her lightly when she stood up. "I love you." He said.
"I'll never get tired of hearing that and I love you too." She answered and kissed him lightly. "Just think, tomorrow we'll be in New Orleans!" She squealed. She lowered on hand from around his neck to rest just above his heart.
"You are going to love it." He told her. For a moment, just for an instant, she stared at where her hand rested. There was something thing there. Broken ribs cutting into her hand, a still heart grasped tightly in her grasp, she could taste a sweet, cloying taste in the back of her throat, smoke filled her noise and screams filled her ears.
Then it was gone.
"I know I'm going to love it." She assured him with a bright smile.
A/N: Ok, first of all, whoever nominated this for the Klaroline Awards, for best debut fic, thank you so very much. The fact that someone thought that much of this to nominate it, means the world. For anyone who hasn't checked them out, Google 'Klaroline Awards 2013' and it should take you to the site. Go vote or just enjoy a great collection of fics and authors.
So you will probably notice that this is now finished. Obviously I left it with a cliff hanger to have a sequel if I can get it together, but I'm still not sure at this point. There also may be a chapter or two added on to this with the graduation party and the confrontation with Tyler.
I apologize for any typos. I really need a beta at some point, if I'm going to keep writing.
I've also got 2 one shots that I posted, Keeping Things Whole and Creature Comforts, check those out if you get the urge
IF there is a sequel, it probably won't be out until the end of October. I'm going home to New Orleans for Halloween and that may kick start my muse. We shall see.
Thank you so much to all who read, reviewed, favorited and followed this story. And again to whoever nominated me, I love you soooo much. You guys made it all worth my while.