Author's note: So while Season 4 pretty much killed my love for Delena, I can almost forgive it because we got so many amazing Klaroline scenes. This was intended as a oneshot, but snowballed out of control (as usual) so will be posted in three parts. Picks up where Season 4 finished, so everyone assumes that Stefan left town, Bonnie's still alive, etc.
About The Originals spinoff... while I'm acknowledging its existence, I'm not referring to it any more than I have to as the whole Hayley!mystical baby storyline has soured me on the entire concept before it's even started (that, and the fact that we're losing JoMo on TVD).
I know that Klaus-shows-Caroline-the-world is the least original idea ever, but what the hell. My muse kept prodding me. Just read and enjoy.
Sympathy for the Devil
Please allow me to introduce myself
The wide, sprawling lawns of the Lockwood mansion were in the full flush of summer as he approached the house that lay still and silent under a cold silver moon. He walked unhurriedly through the garden, past the glass-smooth lake, making his way easily up the terraced steps. His fingers momentarily lingered over the scrolled brass handle, but thinking better of it, he knocked politely, like any gentleman would.
The embossed door was wrenched open savagely. A momentary glimpse of the high-ceilinged entrance hall, a sweeping marble staircase behind, before his vision was blinded by a brightness like the sun. Appearing in a slant of light that spilled through the half-open French doors. He could see the tension in the steely set of her shoulders, hear the delicious thrum of her pulse. All tightly-pursed lips and narrowed eyes and sharp edges. A stake in her hand that he knew with a single glance wasn't white oak – Klaus inwardly grinned at that – she wasn't even trying any more.
"Put the stake down, sweetheart," he said pleasantly. "Before somebody gets hurt."
"Only Matt can invite you in," Caroline said at once. "And that's not going to happen in the next ever, so you're wasting your time."
"Perhaps," agreed Klaus, "Or I could burn this house to the ground, but it would be easier all round if you just stepped outside so we could have a civilised conversation."
A pause. He had lived long enough – that old hunter's instinct honed within him and ruthlessly attuned to her reactions – to know that she was toying with the idea of resistance or outright defiance (a challenge, is it, love?) … then she shrugged, yet even that refused to be submissive. Regarding him with a (painfully thin) veneer of detached indifference.
Stiletto heels clicked against the stone portico as she primly stepped over the threshold. Her profile deliberately turned away from him, only half-acknowledging his presence. Still, she was tantalising even in the partial view he had of her face, so tenderly recreated a hundred times in his sketches and thoughts and fevered imaginings. Skin like porcelain, light and shadow in her eyes. A spill of gold hair over her shoulders. He was close enough to smell her perfume (smell her blood). His heart twisted and burned. The desire for her was a hunger that could not – could never – be satiated.
Klaus knew he had only two options – kill her, or have her. And he knew already that he couldn't let her die. That left him only the latter choice. Already, he felt himself beginning to be unable to comprehend an existence without her. But he was prepared to act the respectful suitor for a while longer yet.
"Graduation suits you, Caroline."
She had learned to accept his compliments more graciously, no longer scoffing or disbelieving or cutting him short with contemptuous glares. Merely took them in her stride (like the queen she thought herself).
"How did you know I'd be here?"
"Just old-fashioned intuition."
He saw her shift uneasily at that, and a cynical smile twisted his lips – yes, easier for her to believe he had compelled half the town to find her whereabouts than admit to herself the possibility that he might know her, understand her.
She leaned back against the door, closing her eyes. "Isn't there someone else's life you can be messing with?" she asked wearily.
That provoked him. "Messing with? When last I looked, love, I was saving it – cleaning up your mess from the witches you slaughtered! A little gratitude wouldn't go amiss."
"You want me to thank you? You have no idea –"
She was glowing with anger, burning with it, and he would have done anything to grasp a piece of that fire. Even if it consumed him whole. He had learned in his long years of tenuous alliances with witches that everything came with a price and this was one he'd willingly pay. Yet he was too arrogant not to admit that these shows of contempt set his teeth on edge. Giving her the upper hand meant he could at least bask in the heat of her anger, but sometimes he wanted to remind her that she only had that upper hand because he allowed her to. His lips curved with a slow, predatory grin. Let her have her little victories. They would be short-lived.
Then he leaned forward suddenly, a furrow creasing his brow as he saw the shadows of tiredness beneath her eyes. Something had knocked the edges off her bright and bouncy confidence. His voice softened with genuine concern.
"What's happened, Caroline?"
"Nothing," she said, with a sigh. "It's… nothing."
"Now, supposing you tell me what it is that's got you in such a state?"
She didn't reply but thrust a crumpled piece of paper into his hand. Klaus took it from her – momentarily allowing his fingers to linger with pulsing intent on her own before she shot him a warning glare – and began to read with interest.
I know you said Klaus is gone and we're safe, but I need to be sure. After what happened with Mom, I'm not taking any chances. I can't come back until I know I can protect us. In the meantime, I just hope this messed-up thing Klaus has got for you is enough to keep you alive.
I'm with a pack in Australia. They're showing me all these incredible things; how to stay myself when I turn, how to dreamwalk… it's like I'm finally understanding who I am, what I can do. I've spent my whole life living for other people; my Dad, Jules, being Sired to Klaus… I've gotta do this for me. I need to live my own life for a while. I know this is gonna be hard for you to hear, and I miss you so much, but we have forever, Care.
I'm sorry I missed graduation. I'm sorry for all the other stuff I'm gonna miss, but you were made to be happy. And you will be. I just hope that one day – soon – we can be happy together. Until then
All my love,
Klaus gazed contemplatively at the letter in his hand, toying between savage elation and outrage that he had allowed the boy to live long enough to cause Caroline even a moment's pain. I will rip out the heart of anyone who hurts you –
She shone, brighter than the sun, and he would allow no eclipse. Not from anyone. He should have splattered Tyler Lockwood's brains across the mansion's polished vestibule that night of the prom (because this was personal, mate, all's fair in love and war and the like). His hands curled into fists, itching to kill, to tear the young wolf's heart from his body and crush it in his palm, feel the blood spilling across his fingers –
The thoughts halted when he saw the look on her face – broken but determined, pale and earnest. Strangely enough, he found himself wanting to hold her. Comfort her. However, old habits died too hard, and too often hatred was stronger than love.
"I see his skills as letter writer leave something to be desired."
"Shut up," she said mechanically, though there wasn't much energy in it. Her gaze cut to his, sharp and accusing. "So is that why you came here? To gloat?"
"Actually the opposite, love. I came to satisfy myself that you were living the life you wanted, that you were happy, so I could return to New Orleans with a clear conscience."
"You don't have a conscience," she seethed. "If you did, you would never have driven Tyler away in the first place –"
"Then I set him free. It was his choice to stay gone."
"So tell him. Make him come back."
Klaus laughed outright at that. "And why would you possibly expect me to do that?"
Dark blue eyes widened in appeal, her upturned face softening into an expression that was painfully vulnerable. "Because I'm asking you."
Klaus stilled for a moment, regarding her carefully. Casually graceful in a long-sleeved sweater and black jacket, his hands in his pockets as he stood in the doorway, deceptively at ease. A handsome, chiselled face alive with beautiful, merciless villainy. That aura of danger surrounding him like sulphur in the air of an incoming storm. Caroline could tell by his expression that he wasn't pleased. She knew that look too well – it was the look she usually saw right before bodies started piling up…
"Given that since the moment he was turned, he has done nothing but try to destroy me, I think I've already done enough for Tyler Lockwood, don't you?"
"You killed his mother!"
"And you have all conspired to kill two of my brothers, yet instead of tearing the hearts out of each and every single one of you, I'm allowing you all to live your lives as you wish. Don't make me regret that act of mercy."
"You call it mercy not slaughtering all of us? God, I can't believe I even thought you were capable of a shred of decency –"
Azure eyes blazed. His anger flared like sheet lightning. Rage contorted his face into something menacing. Facing her was the Klaus of old, unfriendly and vindictive (he still is, Caroline reminded herself forcefully). She could never forget his hardness, his cruelty, his egoism. This was Niklaus the Hybrid, who tortured and killed without remorse, who had driven Tyler away and was the reason she was in this whole damn mess in the first place. She didn't owe him anything.
"Oh I see," he hissed with venom. "You're angry with Tyler, so you choose to take it out on me. You should count yourself lucky that I'm so indulgent of these little tantrums, because if I wasn't, there wouldn't be much left of you now –"
His eyes burned with savage promise. "That's not really the smartest challenge you could give me."
With a boldness she did not feel, she pushed on, "Don't you get it? I'm not one of your little minions, Klaus, one of your Hybrids you can order around like slaves. You can't compel me, or control me or scare me –"
The hard lines of his face relaxed slightly, his jaw unclenching. Caroline felt the tension lift from her shoulders with momentary relief, but at the same time, she knew he wouldn't tolerate these outbursts from anyone else. There was always that disquiet beneath the skin, that thrill of fear that made her wonder what he would do the day she pushed him too far.
"Dearest Caroline," he said, that velvet drawl all-too familiar, "Has it never occurred to you that's why you interest me so much?"
There was too much suggestion in his tone, too many memories (because of you, Caroline, it was all for you…) She felt that familiar pull, powerful, hypnotic, deadly. He possessed a rare combination of charismatic grace and hedonistic abandon, and his ability to change so rapidly from one extreme to the other was what made him truly dangerous.
She sighed, the impulsive flash of temper softening slightly. She knew she wasn't truly angry, not really. But anger was easier to endure than the crushing weight of sadness. "He was the only one who always put me first," she whispered.
"Not the only one, love."
His voice had an unsettling effect on her, those cultured tones soft and sly, curling around the darker recesses of her mind that were wired to an impulse of huntfeedkill; an impulse that was generally easy to ignore – even before she was turned, Caroline had always possessed super-human levels of self-control – but those urges seemed to awaken in his presence. Perhaps it was because he had made it very evident that he saw her as so much more than just a small-town high school girl.
"Now, why is it you're here all alone? Surely your friends should be offering you their support in this trying time?"
"Elena's playing house with Damon –" Caroline made no attempt to hide the disgust she felt about that – "Bonnie's staying at her Mom's, Stefan's gone completely AWOL so he must've skipped town, and Matt's spending the summer with that skank Rebekah –"
"My sister may be a spiteful, clingy, co-dependant harlot," said Klaus, "But she is still my sister and I'll not have her insulted."
"Well, she's gone too. Everyone's gone." Her voice was dull and flat. "So – as you can see," she gave a bitter, on-edge-of-tears laugh, gesturing a hand vaguely around her, "I'm on my own."
"And what, exactly, would you like me to do about it?"
His tone was polite and inquiring. His lips were pleasant. Familiar. Sincere.
Caroline glanced at him with something close to appeal in her eyes. "Get me out of here," she said.
Klaus smiled, blood and courteousness and triumph. Extended a hand.
I'm a man of wealth and taste
"Paris?" Her voice was high with disbelief. "You brought me to Paris?"
"You were expecting the Grill perhaps?"
Caroline glanced around at the hundreds of tourists swarming around the Louvre's Cour Napoléon, aware that she was inadvertently being snapped in a dozen flashing photographs. She lowered her voice to a caustic whisper. "I did not give you permission to take me across international borders!"
Klaus spread out his hands innocently, his calmly reasonable voice making her want to crack his skull against the external glass pyramid, witnesses be damned. "You wanted me to get you out."
"Yeah, out. As in, to a bar where you can compel the busboys into letting me drink my body weight in tequila."
"I thought this idea had a touch more sophistication." His gaze lingered on her. "And you went along with it." His remark was too pointed to be comfortable.
Caroline rallied herself quickly. "Technically, I'm still seventeen," she hissed. "I could have you in jail for kidnapping a minor –"
"Easy, love," he murmured, "People are staring."
His lips hovered at the nape of her neck. Not close enough to be indecent. Too close to be comfortable. Caroline shivered at that touch, insidiously familiar, that lingered uncomfortably on her skin the way his face had in her mind these last few weeks. She had felt his absence ever since graduation. Haunted by moonlit whispers and dark memories and unfulfilled promises. But she had told herself scornfully that his fascination with her had faded, that he had gotten bored, moved on. But now she realised that he truly hadn't been exaggerating that night of the Mikaelson ball. He really did want to show her the world.
"We can go home, if you like. I can take you back to Mystic Falls, leave you to work through your break-up issues and not come near you for the next half a century. You just need to say the word. Or," he continued softly, "You could take a risk, and embrace the opportunity to finally live for once."
She fell silent. It was impossible not to be impressed – awed – but the imposing classical architecture, the realisation she was standing outside one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Which was, of course, probably exactly what he had intended. And she would rather be force-fed vervain than admit it, but she was curious about this side of Klaus that only revealed itself at the rarest moments – those occasional glimpses of what he might have been (what he could be) under different circumstances.
"Tell me, Caroline. Has anyone ever taken you anywhere? Or do they all still continue to take you for granted, content with the knowledge that you're so willing to bend over backwards to save their lives, time and time again?"
"They would do the same for me."
"Would they?" His lips twisted into something like a smile, only much worse.
"Yes. Because they're my friends. Something I guess you don't know much about."
The glint of his teeth as he regarded her challengingly. "What are you so afraid of, Caroline?"
She felt her blood rise at the provocation. A flicker of amusement danced behind his eyes. His audacity was maddening, infuriating –and even acknowledging that, allowing herself to admit that he had gotten under her skin, was dangerous.
"If I agree to this," she said firmly. "There have to be conditions."
"Conditions?" he said amusedly. At his arched brow, she rushed on.
"One, no killing anyone. Two, no Compulsion –"
"Now really, love –"
"Three, you take me home as soon as I ask. Four, no getting handsy. Five, you don't get to talk about Tyler, ever –"
Suddenly, he caught her wrist, forcing her attention. Holding her gaze, and she didn't blink, didn't look away (couldn't). Even though she was on vervain, Caroline thought his eyes had no need of compulsion to be deadly. They were a strange shade of blue – sometimes more grey or green or black depending on his mood. Mesmerizing. With the power to strip away her forced indifference and manufactured scorn within moments.
"You've only seen the worst side of me, Caroline," he said, so earnestly she was uncomfortably certain he was being sincere. "Let me show you the best."
Her heart was in her throat, fluttering. She would rather have dealt with Klaus the murderer than Klaus the ardent suitor. His hand was warm on her beating pulse. She struggled to sound offhand, careless (she would never let him know he affected her). "Does this mean you'll be on good behaviour?"
"A perfect gentleman," he promised.
"I assume this is your first time in the Louvre?" he asked conversationally, as they weaved their way between the throngs of people meandering through the gallery (Cattle, Klaus thought derisively, mere pawns to be used at will).
Caroline shrugged. "I read The da Vinci Code."
Klaus smiled. "I hope my rendition will be a little more faithful than that."
"So, I guess this is like the hundredth time you've been here," she said in a studiously bored tone.
"Not quite. But let's just say it was very different the last time I was in Paris."
It had been too long since he last been in the Louvre or anywhere he could immerse himself so fully in art and culture, indulging in timeless beauty to forget the ugliness of the last ten centuries. Too many long years fleeing his father, hearing whispers of doppelgangers, acquiring witches, pursuing old enemies, old blood, old feuds, old resentments. His heart beating a constant pulse of revenge and hate.
And she was lifetimes away from it all. Innocent and so young to his old eyes. He knew deep down that he wasn't worthy of her, that he was the darkness behind her sun. And yet… it was that strong, bright, incorruptible quality that drew him to her. To let a little chink of that light in, to let it spill golden and bright into the dark corners of his blackened soul, drenched in the blood of too many murders.
So as they wandered around the Richelieu wing, Klaus's hand resting lightly on her arm (that she hadn't snatched it away caused a sly tug of triumph in his heart, made his blood croon) he recounted to her the history of the palace (he had found time to attend the grand opening in 1793, momentarily allowing himself a respite from the banquet of blood running through the streets like uncorked wine during the violence and terror of the Revolution). He exerted himself, made an effort to be courteous, polite, civil. He knew that she was impressed in spite of herself, he saw it in the flicker of interest that lit her eyes, the way her lips forgot to maintain that expression of sulky boredom and half-parted expectantly…
This was all he had wanted. To show her the world, to have someone to share all these incredible sights with. Beauty. Extravagance. Intrigue. To experience that faint nostalgia that stirred when he looked into her ingenuous eyes that drank in these things for the first time. Lulled by the brilliancy of her presence, and left with the faint sense of regret that he could not have met her centuries, lifetimes ago. Would it have altered the ferocious and despotic course of his egoistic nature?
Watching Caroline covetously as she stood before a Caravaggio, reading through the information pamphlet in her hand with the fierce concentration with which she did everything, Klaus could almost believe it.
I've been around for a long, long year
His voice was in her ear like a charm, his hand on her arm like a vice. Caroline civilly allowed him to walk her through the gallery, listening with an interest she pretended not to feel. This was Klaus in his element. All those elaborate, intricate courtesies, playing the gentleman, so charming and sophisticated. She caught glimpses of great knowledge, great experience, and felt an intense, curious longing to see the world through his eyes. To be able to fascinate someone of such culture and insight was flattering, though she would never admit it. She was certain he was trying to court her. She was (almost) certainit wouldn't work. It had been easier back in the days when she had firmly believed his pursuit of her to be a cunningly calculated move, designed only to manipulate – target the weakest link in the group, the baby Vamp who was still idealistic enough to buy into all that sugar-coated, fairy-tale crap –
But the way he looked at her, like she was the most beautiful thing in the world, like nothing and nobody else existed. And he didn't want her because she was some mystical doppelgänger, or because she was an infamous Ripper or just another soldier for his Hybrid army… he wanted her. Viciously determined to possess her, relentlessly determined in his pursuit of her. She was scared because, deep down, she knew she couldn't resist him forever. Scared because a part of her didn't want to.
But for now, he had been a perfect gentleman through and through. This was the Klaus she had glimpsed at the Mikaelson ball – that she had forced herself to believe was an elaborate façade, designed only to ensnare her – bright-eyed and eager, glowing with fervour, his voice hushed with a respect she had never seen him show towards anything… except her. It was all too smooth, too guileless, too good to be true. Caroline smiled politely, but her nails dug into her palms as she silently vowed that she was not going to be fooled by these gestures of civility. She was not the weak, fragile little girl of her pre-Vamp days who jumped at the chance of any boy showing her attention. Not anymore. Not now that she had Tyler (and she bit down the pain of that, bit down so hard she tasted blood, sharp and bitter).
She paused in front of a painting where a woman in a gold dress was caught in a struggle – or a furiously passionate embrace – with a man bolting shut the door. The four-poster bed lay to the left in decadent disarray, billowing red drapes tangled among the sheets where an apple lay subtly exposed. She didn't need Klaus at her shoulder (always too close, lingering) to explain the symbolism of that. Want. Temptation. Desire. Intensity.
"Ah, now look at this. Fragonard was known for the hedonistic eroticism in his Bolt, or Le Verrou –"
She glanced at him, an eyebrow raised curiously. "You speak French?"
"Mais naturellement, ma chérie. I spent some time in the French court in the Eighteenth Century. It was very… illuminating. You should have seen it, Caroline. Extravagant, ambitious… decadent." His eyebrows arched up as full lips curled into an appreciative leer. "You would have flourished there."
Caroline felt the surface of her skin tingle with the beginnings of anger. It was an insulting compliment or a complimentary insult – she wasn't sure which. A scathing comment burned on the tip of her tongue, but Klaus had resumed that air of politeness and courtesy, regarding the painting with something close to reverence.
"Look at the brushwork. Isn't it exquisite?"
"But yours are better, right?"
"Do you really think me so arrogant?"
She lifted a brow coyly. "Aren't you?" She barely caught herself in time (flirting? Seriously, Caroline?) To recover lost ground, she added with supreme indifference, "I thought all megalomaniacs were."
Without waiting for a reply, Caroline turned and walked away, the sound of her heels echoing on the polished floor. Even from the other side of the long gallery, the image of the painting remained uncomfortably in her head, like the press of cool fingers in her mind.
A steady grey rain had begun to fall over the Parisian streets as they walked across the Pont Alexandre III, past the white-and-gold statues of cherubs and nymphs. The Seine ran slowly by beneath, the Eiffel Tower standing tall in the distance. Entwined couples wandered past, arm in arm (blissful, romantic and foolish, none of them had centuries of blood and fury and madness to contend with).
Caroline had her face turned up to the rain, the droplets trickling silver down the sides of her cheeks and threading through her hair in watery strings. Klaus could sense that she was gradually becoming more and more restless, shifting one pointed stilettoed heel and then another. Finally, she faced him, blue eyes cold as diamonds and boring into his as though she could compel him.
"Okay, what is this?"
He continued to look up at the arches appreciatively. "Well, I believe they're known as the Nymphs of the Seine –"
Caroline glared at him. "Don't be smart." Hands on her hips, her expression stern. "The truth, Klaus. Why did you bring me here?"
Klaus paused, wondering just how much to tell her. He was reluctant to lie, but instinct warned him that she wasn't ready for the full truth – not yet. And, after all, she had manipulated him before – twice. Dressed-up and drawn out to entice him (sin in a plunging black slip), allowed herself to be used as pretty blonde bait. A snarl caught in his throat at the memory (and at himself, for falling for it both times). She was not so innocent in all this, either.
"Let's just say you and I both have things we want to get away from. You had your teenage angst with Tyler, and I had a little trouble in New Orleans."
Caroline frowned, clearly unnerved at the thought of what could possibly disturb an all-powerful Hybrid that couldn't be killed. Clever girl. "What kind of trouble?"
"Just some witches that want me dead, Tyler's little wolf friend Hayley making a nuisance of herself and a former protégé who's grown too arrogant for his good and thinks he can overthrow me. Nothing to concern yourself about."
"I wasn't concerned."
"Then why did you ask?"
She pressed her lips together and said nothing. There were fissures and cracks in the porcelain of her skin, and Klaus wondered whether it was her grief over Tyler leaving or something more, something deeper that she would not admit, even to herself. How he longed to know what secret thoughts lurked beneath that alabaster surface. It was humiliating (intriguing) to realise that he couldn't just snap her spine nor simply compel her into compliance. All the supernatural power in the world couldn't make her open up to him if she didn't want to.
"I must have been crazy to agree to this," she muttered.
"Crazy or not, you still agreed."
Brilliant colour flushed across her cheeks. Arms crossed, pulling the denim tight across her chest, pretty face set in a scowl. "Just so we're clear," she said, "This isn't a date."
"Of course not," he said soothingly.
"I'm serious, Klaus."
"Then far be it from me to contradict you."
The defiance with which she faced him, displaying such strength and confidence, was fascinating. The back and forth wordplay, her sharp remarks like a slashing rapier – he was enthralled. There was something so untouchable about her like this – polished and pristine in a light, feminine summer dress (when he wanted her wild-eyed with mussed hair, blood smearing her mouth) but even in her most resistant moments, she still continued to engage him at every turn. Her lips repelled while her eyes invited. And that was why he would never, never give up the hunt. Even if it took centuries. He had chased Katerina for five hundred years, and love was a far more addictive stimulant than hatred.
He could chase Caroline forever.
And this time, there would be no Elijah dirtying his hands on his behalf, while he watched from afar only to furiously tolerate failure after failure (anyone would think your heart isn't in it, little brother).
No, Klaus would have her for himself, or die trying (and you can't die when you're immortal) –
"Come on," he said, slipping an arm through hers. "I know a perfect place to watch the sun set."