"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
“What are you doing here again?”
Bonnie asks, already on the edge and geared for a fight. Honestly, she had thought they were over this … stage, if you want to call it like that. Naïve on her part, most certainly. People don’t change, not really, not that fast.
She should have known better, but damn, she hates that inescapable feeling of disappointment in her heart, the way it makes all of her to ache, proving that yes, she can’t hide from herself that she already cares too much.
Damon is stretched on her couch, drunk, bottle of scotch in hand. In a fully despondent mood too.
I should have shut the door on him the moment I smelled the alcohol on his breath. I had a bad feeling.
Just the glint in eyes had told her he was in one of those peculiar fits of his, needy for affection but goading for a fight at the merest hint he could receive anything but reproach.
She should have sent him on his way. Or she should have armed herself with patience and complacency.
Play Elena for a bit?
But that’s not her way. And now all his turning and twisting from affectionate to aggressive on a dime just gives her an headache and makes her equally irritable.
“The Boarding House is too full for me, my secondary misanthropic personality and all those other vampires. Pearl thinks she can boss me around, Harper broods harder than Stefan and does anything but watching everyone else in silence, which is fucking creepy if you ask me. Jeremy and Ben are all about ripping into each other for Anna’s favor, all the time, and we can’t seem to put a definitive stop at that. It’s a fucking invasion!To top that, whenever Elena is around, which is often, she does that lamia thing of hers that just … douses the air with calm and soothing … rosiness . I swear, it is like we are all high… everything around starts looking lovely and rainbows and sunshine. Can you believe Stefan is content with that? He thinks it keeps our guests subdued. ”
Bonnie rolls her eyes even if, in the end, she can get why Damon would be disturbed by that. As a witch, Elena’s power does not affect her that much and even when it does, she can usually still know it is happening and shutting it out with decent mental shielding. Vampires have not her advantage, and Elena’s presence seems to specifically … draw the human out of them, whereas on regular humans tends to have a more erotic effect .They tested that. Bonnie can’t say she was not relieved at the discovery. For more than one reason.
“You are just pissed that your crush on her was not what you thought it was.”
Low blow. They don’t really talk about Elena or Katherine, not since they agreed to give their relationship a public shot.
A fact that had sent Caroline in a flood of perfectly justified rage.
I am dating a man that physically and mentally abused her. I feel like apologizing every time I look at her.
“My house is not even really my house anymore! – Damon nearly screeches, before going and taking another long, hard swing of liqueur. --But you know what? That’s nothing! What I really am pissed off about is that everyone is acting like it is just fine and dandy that Katherine left untouched, after all she has done to every single member of our group. Not one of us wants to go after her and … destroy her. It was our goal but nooo, now big bad Klaus is coming to town so screw that. Screw all the months we spent protecting ourselves from her, laying low like fucking bunnies as she ripped us apart and won time after time. Suddenly nobody cares about that. Klaus is the most important thing now and we are again laying low and waiting. I didn’t sign up for this! This is why I hate small towns! ”
What does living in small towns has to do with the rest?
She doesn’t ask, because it does seem awfully silly to seek to get in a normal discussion with a drunk.
“Just how many bottles it takes to get a vampire this smashed?”
She is a bit curious about it.
“ It is a secret.”
He pouts, bats his eyelashes at her, and makes a strange crossing gesture moving his fingertips over his lips. For a moment he is entirely too endearing for his own good.
“If not for my lovely witch girlfriend, whose safety I prize above all the rest, I would take my car and fly after her, wouldn’t stop until I tracked and killed her.”
He sounds like he resents her for it, and he looks at her almost with reproach.
We are back to square one.
He has been like this all the night long. Nearly up normal human contact one moment, verging on mean as the hell when he most liked it.
“I am not stopping you.”
“I am not leaving you alone in this mess, no matter how I want to, at times. ”
“I would thank you for not being a bastard over it, but frankly… a total bastard is exactly what you are being tonight.”
“It comes easily to the likes of me, did you not know? I thought Caroline was singing it in your ears at night, at least until she decided I had ruined you enough and you were not worthy of her time anymore…”
“Caroline and I will patch things up, eventually.”
As soon as she finds the appropriate words to explain this mess without exposing their lovely supernatural masquerade.
“Sure. As soon as you dump me. She will come running like the sweet little pet she truly is at heart-”
Instead of one aneurysm, she sends two. It’s a reflex.
Her boyfriend curls on himself and howls with pain. His beloved bottle smashes against her carpet.
This is not how a healthy relationship looks like.
She breathes through the heavy haze of her rage, and fights to create some distance between her and the horrid words he just said.
“Don’t ever talk about Caroline like that, ever again, I don’t care what aganst you are rolling in! She is a wonderful friend and a wonderful, loving person, and you don’t get to make light of her or of how you- ”
She stops abruptly, words dying in her mouth as her brain catches up with what she is seeing: Damon keeps rubbing his closed eyes … both of them are bleeding. Profusely.
“I am sorry. I exaggerated.”
He says flatly, voice roughened by the receding pain.
I hit on both the ophthalmic arteries. I am an horrible person and the worst girlfriend on the planet.
“God, your poor eyes.”
Panic creeps in, gets her hands unsteady as she touches the side of his face, softly, turning it to see better the damage she has done. The ease with the which he lets her, even leaning into her touch a bit, just makes her to feel worse.
“I am sorry, I am so sorry.” His blood is on her hands, and she shaking as she tried hard to recall any and every healing spell she knows.
She is the worst, an abusive girlfriend of all things, and she has hurt him, no matter what he said, and she used her powers to shut him up without seeing how wrong it was until now. Her mind is a blank and she can’t stop apologizing.
“I am so, so, sorry. It will never, ever happen again. I am-”
“It’s so not, I am the most horrible-”
“I am the vampire here, witchy!”
She is crying, and he is actually reaching blindly to grab her, hold her, to comfort her. Bonnie is so ashamed she can’t breathe. This not the way her powers should be used, and she never believed herself in danger to abuse them, or to use them to hurt the people she loves, until this very instant.
She has never been afraid of herself, or of her powers, until now.
It’s a terrible, sobering sensation, that she hurt Damon like this, without meaning or realizing until it was too late, without having the time to process what she was doing until it was done. It flows right into an urgent feeling that she has to find some manner to make this to never happen again.
The healing spells she knows come back to her and she is reaching to mend what she broke nearly instinctively, with fingertips that trace his bloodstained eyelids and sunlight that pours from her skin to his wounded flesh.
She looks down on those tiny, tiny beams of light that weave translucent cowebs over his face, seeping inside to seek and find the broken blood vessels, she feels their mending in every part of her body as it happens –cells that were brutally tore apart knit together again and his pain becomes hers to absorb.
Her magic laps it up eagerly, nearly but not quite erasing her shame. The witch in her is satisfied, the girlfriend is still frozen in silent horror.
All while Damon is still giving himself over to her ministrations, his visage leaning into her touch, her magic, still so trusting despite what she just did.
I might become a monster and he would let me. Worse, he would follow me right down in the rabbit hole.
A terrible sort of responsibility and yet…. her shoulders straighten under its weight, and she can feel something deep in her soul shifting to accommodate it.
She won’t let herself to become that kind of person.
She apologizes a lot that night, and with every time she does she feels a lot more alike to those men who beat their wives in tv reportages. Truly, Bonnie feels like the worst person on the planet.
Damon gets tired of her babbling promises , fast, and reverts to a mix of strained aggression and uncertainty. They scoff at each other until she cries despite of her determination to not, and then it is his turn to babble apologies that never end and reach out to hold her. They end up nestling in each other arms until the dawn, soft caresses and soft tones settling still raw nerves and soothing bruised hearts, kisses mingling with promises and tenderness.
They forget why they were at odds until she remembers to ask.
“Are you really so wound-up about not getting to kill Katherine? ”
It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but it’s an opening good as any if he wants to talk about it, civilly.
Damon rolls his eyes, then presses his cheek in the crook of her neck, looking straight ahead with singular focus before answering.
“I goddamn lived for that woman, Bonnie. For almost two centuries, she was everything I thought, everything I breathed for … I worshipped her like a goddess and I loved her as a woman. When she was gone, I was so desperate to keep some part of her alive in me that I molded my vampire self and lifestyle after hers. She was in my head and in my heart every second of every day since the moment I believed her to be buried alive and forcefully parted from me. When I was not grieving and missing her, I was busy punishing Stefan and the rest of the world for her absence, her suffering. I was … outraged that the life dared to go on for everyone else when for her, my oh so special lady, everything had stopped. She truly was everything to me, in a very literal way. What was I to her? Even then I didn’t assume she felt the same for me. I blamed Stefan because she favored him. I thought, if I could prove I could love her so much better than my perfect brother, nothing would stand in our way. She would have loved me like I loved her. But Stefan was never the problem at all. She just didn’t love me … she just felt what amounted to less than nothing for me. I was meat. A fucktoy. A passing amusement. One in a long series of- ”
“Can you imagine it, Bon? Really imagine it? To build your whole being around your affection for someone, and to be so certain it is significant and utterly right for years, to never suspect otherwise until you turn around and realize it was all nothing, all you lived for, raged for, suffered for, for most of your adult existence? ”
It kills her, that now he does not even sound sad about it. He just sounds … empty.
“It was not for nothing. It was for you. It made the man you are now. You-”
“It was for nothing, Bonnie. I made myself a complete fool over someone who had not even the capacity to love me, maybe, and I didn’t fuckin’ notice. I dress it up nicely in my head now by pet-calling Kat a slut and a frigid, unfeeling bitch but I liked those things right fine before. I adored her for being promiscuous, devious and cruel. It excited me. The more perverse she proved to be, the more I was happy to accept her the way she was. I was just so stupid to think what we had was so pure, it couldn’t possibly to turn against me. I thought it was all proof – she wanted for me to see her, how she really was. Unlike Stefan, I got the whole package and I could deal with it. It had to mean we had something true, special, unique. I just had to show it to her, and then we could live happily even after in a remorse-less sea of sex, adventure and gore. That was the fairytale I had painted in my head, and I utterly believed in it. Katherine probably laughed at me all the time.”
There is nothing in that monologue Bonnie can exactly deny with good reason, unfortunately, and she has to repress the instinct to try and make excuses for … him? Katherine and the love-story that never was?
Her arms instinctively reach to shelter him against a past he can’t change anyway. Perhaps she should judge him for the lengths he went to in pursuit of just one woman, but, even if she can’t say she gets his being so fascinated with Katherine that he would forsake both his humanity and his family for her … his capacity to love so wholly, beyond right and wrong, is something she respects too much to speak against it.
“I am sorry this happened to you, Damon, but honestly I don’t know if there’s anything in the world you can do to Katherine that will really make you to feel like you evened out the score. Killing her won’t … erase anything that happened in those years, or the fact you once loved her or how cheated you feel of the time you lost… ”
Here, she feels almost guilty to be saying this, but again, as his friend first and foremost, she feels she should be pointing it out. Whatever happened, it happened and there’s no going back … she is afraid that if he channels all of the hurt he is feeling now into vengeance, the wound will only get deeper.
Damon scoffs into her neck, utterly unconvinced. “Maybe, but it will give me back some respect for myself.”
Her fingers tread through his hair, weaving patterns into a caress, almost an apology for the retribution she can aid him with. Regardless of what she is set on convincing him of, for his sake, something in her also bristles at the idea of Katherine getting away with everything she has done utterly unscathed. There’s no denying the injustice of it, but focusing on it now won’t help anyone.
“I need something Bonnie.”
He is entitled to that, but it is just one thing she can’t help him with.
Elena might. With her approval and friendship and compassion. A perfect anti-Katherine to validate all the pain and the time wasted over the real thing.
The thought paints a fierce scowl over her face, but she silences the doubt, the answering fears, as they rise in her mind. She can’t think of that now, not when their relationship is so fresh and new and so promising. It’s too soon to add unnecessary drama and insecurities to the mix.
“I deserve a win.” Damon goes on, nibbling on her neck, and she smiles, genuine and bright.
“Well, you know what they say … the best revenge is living well. In the end, who wins is who is the most happy.”
She kisses the tip of his nose to make her point a bit clearer, overcame by a fit of unexpected tenderness.
You are loved, here and now, and that’s nothing Katherine can take away. You maybe cannot see it yet, but you are going to be fine, with or without your revenge.
And Bonnie would be scared by the depth of the feelings she just expressed, even just inside her mind, but Damon’s eyes glitter in the dark, his arms tighten around her smaller frame, and he is suddenly grinning at her. She is utterly distracted by that impish, wild grin.
He is looking down on her in a way that is …. Different, in a way she can’t quite pinpoint.
“I think I got good chances with that one.”
Her cheeks heat and flush at the velvety warmth in his voice, the undertone almost more affectionate than seductive.
It’s one more thing that is different, that confuses her, because … well, they have been having sex for months and she should be far away from the blushing and shying zone.
But she is not, and the heat that spreads in her body as he leans in and they kiss is not what she knows, it is more, a fuller and softer version of what she used to have with him.
She doesn’t understand it yet and perhaps she is not ready to, just yet, but she likes it a bit too much to push it away.
Chapter 2: Katherine and Klaus
Love for Katherine is a wound, and home is the open road.
The door to his bedroom is open, and Katherine is not surprised. Rebekah smirks, cold and complacent, pale eyes crinkling in that familiar expression of I-am-better-than-you-dear-and-I-like-it,
“He is waiting.”
She says, like if Katherine didn’t know already, and Elijah had not just sent her up after receiving a full briefing over the situation she left in Mystic Falls.
Still, it is the gleeful inflection in her tone that gives her true meaning away.
Predictable, and Katherine hates her for it, but her face shows nothing of her disdain. Instead she nods like she doesn’t care and goes in for the kill, steps light and spine straight, past the threshold and toward her sire.
Finding exactly what she expected.
He is naked in his bed, barely covered by the pale sheets tangled around his legs. The light that filters through the heavy curtains of the tall window catches in his blonde hair, falls over the golden skin and the taut muscles she is far too familiar with. Oh, she remembers the days she was in love with that body, that chiseled jaw, that perfect lying mouth.
Thanks to his chew toys, I also remember why I am not, anymore.
Sure enough, *they *are there as well, just as naked, one on each side of her sire. Greta Martin, teenager witch prodigy Klaus stole away from her family and brainwashed with promises of greatness. Gloria Esteban, centenary witch and bar owner in his pocket since the 1920’s. Black bodies cushioning Klaus’ pale one, littered with bites and hickeys but still spent with satisfaction. Gloria snores softly, face pressed against his back, while Greta keeps her head under the pillow, breathing a bit too deeply to be anything but genuinely asleep.
Exhausted and near-drained, it is not a wonder they didn’t hear her entering.
Klaus is another matter entirely. He keeps his eyes closed, feigns flawlessly the lax abandonment of real sleep, but Katherine knows him. It’s all a show, the very same he has been running since she was a fledging.
He is giving her the time to appraise the scene properly.
Almost cute. It’s been far past a century since I felt any real jealousy.
She waits, looks down on the bed and its occupants without blinking, and she nearly convinces herself that she can appreciate the picture on a purely aesthetical level.
She would like nothing better than being able to say this particular game grew amusing.
Nope, despite their utter lack of any significance, I would rip them both to shreds and enjoy it.
But Klaus would like it too much. They already danced that dance far too many times for her to pretend not knowing the rules.
He fancies himself to be an artist, her sire. He took her from a whorehouse, delighted from her perfect resemblance to his first dream of love, and he offered another life to her, molding her in his image. He dressed her up as the finest lady, taught the right manners and all his vampire tricks, seduced her out of whatever innocence she had left… he persuaded her to play-act his fantasies of Tatia in return, as the most sinister, meaningless game.
Be Tatia today, be Klaus’ flawless blood-daughter tomorrow, and forget the real Katherine Pierce ever even existed. Let him believe he erased you and remade you in his image like a god, let yourself to forget you were ever anything but a woman in control of her fate. Let it be a children play.
Except she remembers how bitterly it burned, once she realized she was hardly the only one and he took to shove it in her face on purpose. Once he called her a masterpiece, kissing every inch of her with reverence before taking her like a man possessed by a fever and she believed their play was … something.
Until she gave a more careful examination to his collection of pretty supernatural treasures and noticed, finally, that the most of them were female, and all of them were tortured or seduced or tempted into a new mold. To be a weapon or lover, a slave or a servant or just an ornament to his court. They were all tools to show to the world that the great Nicklaus Mikaelson could afford acquiring the very best and twisting it in his image. The heat of the passion her sire could spare on his prize the moments he was inspired to, it could feel searing, but it was never the person underneath the flesh he saw, only the reflection of his inspiration, his so called art.
My poor Stefan, you have no idea of what you are in for. Nobody leaves this circus once your name is on his list.
Katherine is not certain what she feels about it. Stefan rejected her, and she is petty. He is in love with a stupider, weaker, colorless, passive lookalike of hers, and she judges him as vulgar for it.
Just another ordinary man in the end, picking the woman that allows him to not feel emasculated with her outdated pretense of maidenly modesty.
Stefan has disappointed her greatly.
But even with that … he probably does not deserve the hell that Klaus’ imitation of love and friendship will bring in his little, trivial, so-neatly-organized-life.
Not my problem, anyway. Not anymore.
With some luck, now she has done what she was supposed for, he will allow her to be on her way. She longs for the open road, the wind in her hair and the illusion of freedom from his chains. Spain is lovely during this time of the year.
Klaus faux-stirs, his hand rubbing in false distraction Greta’s back, and Katherine bites on her tongue to not snort.
He used to savor the pain in her gaze when she saw him in his little harem, and he has never stopped trying to resuscitate it ( everybody knows that much to her constant humiliation) but he won’t find what he is looking for in her today.
She did not harden her heart for nothing.
His eyes meet hers, and she smiles while she leaves to him the first word.
“You are home.”
He smiles back, voice throaty and sure, totally unconcerned with waking up his… morsels.
Her home is the open road, the memory of Kai and Nadia always warm in her heart, the grandiose pride she takes in being herself every time she looks into her mirror.
“I am home.”
She lies so well, sometimes she even believes herself.
Klaus slides out of the bed with the elegance worthy of any predatory feline, grins at her almost impishly as he covers himself with the chrisom silk robe over the leather armchair in the corner.
“I have missed you.”
His lips brush her forehead, his arm surrounds her shoulders to bring her against his chest, and it is a bizarre parody of a gallant embrace between father and daughter.
Katherine barely tenses in his hold, her dark eyes remaining trained on his arrogantly handsome face, but she remains acutely aware of the two women still in the room, passed out on the king-sized bed.
The hitch to kill them underneath her skin reminds her that they don’t belong here, in this picture that frames her with her sire, and the blood in her veins that screams out like a child ‘father, stop hurting me’.
Moments like this, Katherine feels she should go back to Damon and prostrate him to her feet, to force him to acknowledge that she did to him a great courtesy, by leaving him alone for whole a century to cradle and cherish his little dream of her. So easily she could have taken him to New Orleans instead, to dance with her and Klaus. To be killed horribly, because Klaus did not share, or to live and be the cause of her punishment, for the very same reason.
Like I would be ever that masochistic.
To get attached to him or Stefan was never the plan, but with Damon … parts of him were just too much like the woman she used to be for her to either truly care or stay indifferent. She has liked him and wanted him, but she could never have loved or respected him. Hencefore, between them there was never a chance of it ending any differently.
“I didn’t go that far away.”
Or far enough for my taste.
Her smirk is saucy and malicious, a studied reflection of the one he bestows occasionally on his bed-warmers. Flirty, but also a weapon to distract and ensnare. She knows it will get his blood going.
“And yet, I find your reports of Mystic Falls only made me envious I could not be there with you, to enjoy the scenery and the entertainment.”
He opens the cabinet, takes out twin flutes and a bottle of sparkling white wine. From the slightly fruity scent, she recognizes it as a favorite brand. It’s a welcome she favors over any empty pretty words.
Yet, the tang of iron lingers in the air, along with the slow sound of their heartbeat, and Katherine can’t relax or enjoy it properly, not even as she sips the lovely offering. Those off-key details grate on her nerves like a repeated wrong note spoiling a decent symphony.
She might be over the jealousy or the delusion of believing in his love, but the constant realization that her sire aims his sadism her way does things to her spirit she can’t quite define. It’s not quite pain, but rather the ghost of an old, worn suffering visiting and keeping her on the edge.
She doesn’t fear him anymore but he is still danger.
“Well, you will be there soon enough, and I suspect you will enjoy what I sowed in Elena Gilbert more than in your old boyfriend. ”
Lie, lie, lie.
Elena is soft, tender, and a bit vain like the Tatia even Elijah gets nostalgic over, on occasion. Klaus will enjoy that.
Stefan is an addict hopelessly in denial of his affliction, with monster sleeping under his skin, waiting to be awakened with a kiss or lulled with an illusion of goodness. Both are delicious perspectives for Klaus’ collection.
Katherine has done what she was getting paid to do – to divide the group before the conqueror could sweep in and reap his new toys- but she mostly applied herself out of self interest. The more Klaus gets interested in them, the less he is likely to focus on her.
“Will she be powerful, by what you saw?”
Those baby blue eyes are already glowing with impatient greed.
“Oh, she has every promise of greatness. Just … spoiled by a good heart and aspirations to decency. Of course, she adores Stefan. Once you get him, she is likely to follow where he leads.”
Maybe. Katherine has a feeling her double might be far less mellow than she appears, and not at all a stranger to the art of subtle manipulation. But Klaus doesn’t need to hear it or to guess it, right now.
“Sounds like perfect prey! – he laughs, pleased- The Bennett witch?”
“I made you a proper necromancer. Be grateful.”
He leans in to kiss her, and it is not at all the sort of gratitude Katherine craves, but she takes it, melting against his mouth for a moment.
Her mind is still on Spain, or maybe Paris, but there’s a kind of release and warmth to be found in her tongue battling for dominance with his. It’s familiar but it is not home. It’s gravity but not comfort.
In the background, she can hear them stirring. She pretends to not.