A part of him didn't want to know, it wished to believe in the twisted fairy tale that was his current existence. It wanted to believe as wholeheartedly as his older brother. Elijah appeared to believe in earnest; the dutiful brother, who was willing to let his own love die in order to further Klaus' cause and now claimed to have left her to be at his side once more, believed. So then…what if it was a lie? What was one to think of the dutiful brother then?

Was it simply a case that Elijah was so set upon Klaus' "redemption" that he was willing to believe any tall tale that furthered such a cause? Or was it all just fabrication? Had the dutiful brother finally reached his limit and taken up with the enemy to be rid of Him. Had Klaus pushed his brother so far as to turn him irrevocably against him?

There was a part of him that went so far as to hope that this happy family portrait that Elijah peddled was real because if it wasn't…if it wasn't…then there was no coming back from this, not for the witches, not for Haley and certainly not for his brother.

So that part of him didn't want to know, that part of him wanted to believe that his drunken one-nighter was telling the truth, that the witches were telling the truth, but mostly that Elijah was – always and forever.

A thousand years of betrayal, manipulation and blood had taught him however that when he went so far as to hope for something to be true it enviably wasn't. So though a part of him was begging to embrace ignorance, a larger part, which had held governance for the most of his existence, demanded answers.

Which had led him to the house that wasn't.

It was eerie; everything seemed hazy, like a memory from youth. One or two details perfectly clarified, but the majority obscured. Klaus knew it wasn't real, it was a fabrication perpetrated on him by his own mind - an invention created to make something familiar from the unfathomable.

Klaus knew fear, he had lived with it long enough, but this, what he was feeling now, was something else. He was beyond afraid, he was petrified and yet…he had to know. And so he stepped closer and then, without knowing how it came to be, he was inside.

There was a woman before him and as obscured as his surroundings were she was vivid. They stared at each other unspeaking, time seemed to creep along. Minutes dragging like hours as the silence extended.

"How long has it been Niklaus?" she startled him, and though he gave no outward sign, she chuckled darkly.

"Now I wonder…" she trailed off and the silence stretched. She moved closer or perhaps the space between simply shortened, he could not be certain. "Are we not to play today? Will you stand silent before me and force me to demonstrate my wares?" she smiled widely.

"I am to be a father," he told her his expression as dark as her smile was wide.

She laughed lightly, like a stream skipping over stones. "Since when do you have a sense of humor?"

"The witches of New Orleans assure me it is true."

The smile disappeared and she was suddenly within touching distance her black eyes boring into his. "Witches you say?" she moved back slowly, breaking eye contact. "What of the mother?"

"Werewolf…drunken one night stand." he shrugged noncommittally.

She circled like a large cat, "you have a bit of a problem."

He smirked, "you don't say."

"Hmmm, werewolves can procreate, vampires cannot." she stopped in front of him again, head cocked to one side.

"I'm a hybrid; they say the pregnancy is one of nature's loopholes." He spread his hands bowing slightly.

She snorted rudely, "you shouldn't believe everything witches tell you, they are entirely too gullible." She smirked knowingly, "you disappoint me."

"Elijah believes it, and I heard the heartbeat." He informed her and waited.

She dropped her head, and just for a moment the smirk slipped, "I see." She began slowly pacing back and forth before him. "So you want to know if your brother compelled the werewolf into believing that you and only you could be the father of the unborn burden or if the witches have played him for a fool?"

"Or should I be buying cigars?" for reasons he couldn't comprehend he asked.

"Did you happen to nail the werewolf in the middle of full coven of chanting witches?"

"Not that I recall"

She stopped pacing and smirked. "None of mine participating?"

"I think I would have noticed."

"Well then, on to your brother…betrayal or stupidity?" she held out her hand to him and he took it reluctantly. He felt a faint vibration run through him and watched as her eyes became a darker shade of black. "Neither."

He felt a chill creep up his spine, and he who hadn't been cold in a thousand years shivered.

She was not smirking now and looking in her eyes it seemed so unlikely that such a being could have ever smiled. She was cut from stone, her eyes a black abyss, voice was as icy as the grave. "You will have to go back, claim ignorance."

He felt as though he had missed a part of the conversation, "and why would I do that?"

Her eyes lightened ever so slightly, the face softened as the voice warmed "do you need any other reason than that I am telling you to?" The semblance of smile drifted across her face.

He sneered and her eyes narrowed in response.

"Whatever you may think, you are only here because someone sent you." She looked at him expectantly.

He nodded once in understanding. "Marcel is monitoring the witches somehow."

"So you are to discover how to withdraw Marcel's yoke and in exchange they will protect your unborn heir. " Her lips pressed together.

"I thought we just established it isn't mine." He managed a small smile.

"Indeed. Desperate times and all that." She patted his hand almost consolingly and then she abruptly inclined her head, her eyes almost sparkling. "I want to meet her."

He was baffled, "why do you want to meet Hayley?"

She laughed, slapping his arm lightly. "I wouldn't. I want to meet her." Curiosity danced in her eyes.

His expression darkened measurably. "No."

She smiled so broadly she put him in mind of the clinically insane. "I want to meet her, so you can have her come to me, or…"

He found himself outside glowering at the house that wasn't. He turned and walked away, back to New Orleans as instructed, hoping that by doing what he was told she would forget her sudden curiosity.

Of course that was as much of a fairy tale as his unborn heir.

The buildings before her had seemed somehow regal every other time she had stood before them, but now they just looked old, tired…dull…just like everything else. The world had dimmed, it was missing something essential, something as vital as oxygen to a human, but it seemed as though she was the only one that noticed. Everywhere she looked she saw the blissfully ignorant, the air vibrated with nervous excitement of freshman at their first day at college.

She was meant to be one of them, this was supposed to be a moment of wonder that first step into a bright new world, but it wasn't, she wasn't

Not for the first time she wondered why she came back, she had escaped; taken her mother away as promised seen just a glimpse of that world Klaus had spoken of. She had been happy, her mother had been happy, so why on earth did they ever come back? Summer break had been blissful, everyone had been well, everyone had been happy, and the world it was full of genuine beauty. It was as close to perfect as she had thought she could ever get, but then…

Sheriff Forbes needed to get back to her flock, the town needed her and wasn't Caroline supposed to go do the human thing with Elena and Bonnie? Get a degree, meet new people, have fun? Wasn't she supposed to want those things that people her age wanted? Well, yes mum, that was the plan. And so, she came back and that's when it all just ended.

Of course, it was over before then she just hadn't realised it. She should have, she knew that, but somehow, she just didn't. She'd heard it in Bonnie's voice, she'd seen it in her eyes, she knew. On some level Caroline had known, but she wasn't ready to acknowledge it. Caroline had needed more time, more space between disasters she reasoned, because there was no other explanation as to why she could take her mother and go out into the world and enjoy herself so soon after one of the most important people in her life had died.

Bonnie had died, and on some level Caroline had known, she had to have because otherwise how would she have just smiled unquestioning when Jeremy told her that Bonnie was spending her summer with Abby? How did it not alarm her that all through summer break Bonnie was out of contact? Bonnie, who she had rarely gone a day without speaking to, was gone and if she didn't know, why didn't that terrify her?

So she knew, on some level or other she knew, but that didn't stop her world from crumbling when Elena and Jeremy turned up at her door step upon her return to that hellhole formally known as Mystic Falls. Her world had shifted on its axis the moment they told her; colour fled from the world, everything just went away, and her heart shattered. Yet somehow, it was her that was wrapping her arms around them, her that was comforting them. She had lost, as she always did, and she had comforted those that had gained.

Yes, Elena and Jeremy had lost Bonnie too, but it wasn't the same. Jeremy got his life back, Elena got her brother, what did Caroline get?

She had laughed later, when she was alone, she had laughed until she cried and then she just couldn't stop. She wailed, she riled and she raged. Oh how she raged. And then she stopped, she stopped and she didn't feel like she could ever start again.

When Tyler arrived hours later she had managed a smile, she had hugged him tightly, she had told him how she had missed him and writhed beneath him when he took her to bed. And if he didn't notice how that smile didn't reach her eyes, how her hug was more desperate than loving, how her voice sounded hollow and her moans forced, then what did it matter? He was there; he had come back for her.

So she gave Tyler what he needed and then she did what she always did, she smiled and was strong so that others didn't have to be. And Elena, who had lost, but not nearly as much - not even close - she was allowed to fall apart again and all those people that orbited her like the sun stood back while Caroline, who could barely breathe when she was alone, comforted her, piecing her back together and delivering her back to them.

Only alone and once with her mother did Caroline let herself properly grieve. Her mother had cried with her and then watched her fall to pieces with a concerned expression that made Caroline feel somehow guilty. So barring that one moment of weakness with her mother, she had played the bright bubbly girl of old. It was all an act though, she didn't feel it; she felt empty and alone.

Where was her other best friend? She had gone to talk to Stefan once or twice, but he had problems of his own, what with the whole losing the love of his life to Damon thing and she couldn't bring herself to add to it. He looked kind of like she felt, he seemed to ooze darkness and she found herself wanting to be anywhere but in his company. She felt bad about that too, but nowhere near as bad as felt about Bonnie.

What had she been doing when Bonnie was busy sacrificing herself? She'd been busy planning one of those human rights of passage, like college was supposed to be.

Whitmore College, not too far out of the jurisdiction of the hellhole, was supposed to be a shared experience. Bonnie, Elena (post compulsion acceptance) and Caroline were meant to be here together, that was the whole point in going to a school so close. Caroline had eternity to go Stamford, Berkley or any other of the colleges that had accepted her she had reasoned, but she had only one chance to do it the first time and she wanted to do it with Bonnie and to a lesser extent Elena too. She would stay close to her mother as an added bonus.

Right now, however, she wished she was miles away. Whitmore so too close and her wounds were too fresh. She never should have come back, not to a world without the best of her best friends. She sighed heavily.

"Get busy living, or get busy dying," she muttered, plastered on a sunshine disposition and went to find her new roomy Elena.