Author's Note: Hello my loves! My first update in 2022! So, another rough year behind us, but hopefully it'll start to look up for us. Thank you all so much for your support with this story and all the stories that I'm working on. I really do appreciate all of you out there using your precious time to read my work. I do wish you all the best of luck and hope that you enjoy!
There is freedom waiting for you,
on the breezes in the sky,
And you ask, "What if I fall?"
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?
Caroline hugs her mom tightly after walking her to the front door. She pulls back and offers a small smile to the shorter-haired blonde. "Drive home safe, okay mom?"
Liz gives her arms a tight squeeze before fully pulling away completely, looking like she wasn't quite ready to go. Caroline wanted to offer for her mom to stay over but felt like with how angry she was about recent events, that she could only be good company in spurts. And spurts only. Besides, now that Caroline at least has more time than she thought she did, they can take things slowly.
In some twisted way, Caroline was thankful for what happened. The Blue Spirit part, not her childhood friends betraying her and almost getting her loved ones killed, that she was still angry about. But she's thankful that the impending doom of her very possible demise was enough to spur her into action when it came to her mom. She was taking her time with Liz way too leniently. She isn't promised tomorrow, yet she was willing to hold onto her anger for as long as possible, and it just wouldn't sit right with her had she died with her and Liz in this terrible place. She's still trying to come to terms with how in the world she was going to tell her dad, and the weight of never telling him the truth despite the fact that he also almost lost a child hits her hard.
She has to tell her dad. She just has to. She's just not sure how she's going to do it yet. Maybe sometime in the near future, she can talk to Liz about approaching him together. Caroline wouldn't mind having a bit of back-up.
"I can come by and see you again, right?" Liz asks, staring into her eyes and pulling her from her thoughts.
Caroline nods, offering a small smile. "I would like that. I'll see you later, mom."
Liz smiles back turning to leave. "I'll see you too."
"Oh, mom," Caroline says, pulling Liz's attention back to her. "I need you to do something for me. It might seem weird, and it might seem kind of cruel, but I need you to do it for me, okay?"
Liz turns back toward her, eyebrows pulling together. "What is it?"
Caroline stares down into her mother's eyes and says, calmly and evenly, "Don't tell anyone anything. Not Bonnie. Not Stefan. Not Damon. Not Matt. Not Elena. Especially not Elena. Not anyone. Don't tell them anything if they ask. If they ask if you've seen me following the full moon? You haven't. You haven't seen me in person. You haven't called me. You haven't texted me. You haven't had the time, or you think I am avoiding you or whatever you want to say. Just don't tell them anything about me."
Liz frowns, crossing her arms over her chest in worry. "Why would you do that? What's going on, Caroline?"
Caroline's not sure how much that she wants to say. Liz is her mother, and in a perfect world, Caroline should be able to tell her mother everything, but the last thing that she wants is to spread stuff that isn't her place to spread. So, she decides to withhold some of the truth for now. "Mikael, their father... he was brought to Mystic Falls. Elena and the rest of them brought him here to kill Klaus, Rebekah, and Elijah."
Liz looks worried, no doubt remembering the siblings' stories about how their father tormented them for a thousand years relentlessly. She blinks a few times, looking down at the ground for a moment, trying to wrap her mind around all of the information that she's been given. "Why..? Why would they do that?"
"This may come as a surprise to you, Liz," Rebekah says from where she's sitting on the stairs behind Caroline, "but my family is notorious for making enemies wherever we go."
Liz looks over at her, eyebrows pulling together. "I understand that a thousand years is... a long time but... why would Elena..? Why would Bonnie..?" Liz looks around the foyer at the three siblings and Caroline. She doesn't understand. And Caroline understands that. She hardly knows Caroline, but she's known Bonnie and Elena their entire lives. She's more family to them than she is Caroline. And Caroline is a piece of her, so that's saying something.
"It's complicated," Caroline says evenly. "But they sent him against my family, and he almost killed all of us. I don't know what they think, but it might be that I'm dead, and I don't want them to know otherwise until they come to face me themselves or I'm ready to say something. Please, mom. You don't know anything, okay?"
Liz raises her eyebrows, looking uncertain. "That much is true," she admits, under her breath before sighing and reaching out to take Caroline's hands tightly in her own. "Listen, sweetie, I don't know what's going on, but just be careful, okay? I just want you to be safe."
Caroline offers a little smile, squeezing Liz's hands. "I'm okay. I have Rebekah, and Elijah, and Klaus." She hesitates for a moment before her smile grows a little bit more. "And I have you too, mom."
Liz smiles back, worry still shining in her eyes as she leans forward and places a kiss on Caroline's cheek before pulling away. "I'll come back and see you soon, okay? And don't be a stranger, either."
Caroline agrees, letting go of Liz's hand before closing the door after she's left. Caroline stood around, staring at the front door for a long moment, mentally working her way through her feelings about everything that happened the last few days - sort of. But she keeps getting stuck on what she should do. She's mad. She's so mad at Elena and her friends for what they did. Just thinking about them makes her see red, and honestly, she can't breathe. Give her the opportunity to be alone with even one of them would be a terrible idea because she would definitely rip them to shreds.
She could understand if it was Tyler's idea, because of what Klaus did to him - sort of. But as far as she knows, Tyler wasn't there or had anything to do with this. All she remembers seeing there was Damon, Stefan, Elena, and Elena.
Wait, Elena and Elena?
"Why don't you sit down, love, you're making me dizzy with all of your swaying. You aren't well enough to be moseying about just yet," Rebekah says, walking over to take her arm. Caroline blinks out of her thoughts and follows Rebekah back into the sitting room where Klaus and Elijah were day drinking without a care in the world. Rebekah leads her over to one of the couches and sits down next to her. Rebekah gives her a sideways look as Caroline blinks back into herself more and more, asking, "How are you? That was a rollercoaster of the last few days that you went through."
"I'm okay," Caroline says, rubbing at her forehead, pulling her legs up to tuck them underneath herself, and leaning against the arm of the stiff couch that she doubts were hardly ever used before. Either because it's new or the Mikaelson family doesn't really strike her as the type of people that stay in one place for too long. Or, at least, long enough to wear down couches.
She wraps her arms around herself, closing her eyes, trying to work her way through her emotions. Caroline would like to think that she's a pretty rational and straight-forward thinker. She doesn't overexpress or step beyond her means - except with Klaus, but he's the exception, he always is - so she's thought that she's usually pretty easy-going. But she can't remember what that control feels like. She's so utterly mad, she can feel her hands flexing against her arms, shaking with anger as they clench and unclench.
But Caroline isn't an angry person, so the only way she can express this white-hot anger boiling inside of her is through the heat on her face and the painful prickling of her eyes as tears well up in them. Angry tears slide down her face despite her trying to reign them in. She feels so emotionally beat down. It's not fair. They don't deserve this. Sure, Elijah, Rebekah, and Klaus aren't the pinnacle of perfect people, but that doesn't mean that their greatest demon should be allowed to tear them to smaller shreds than they already are. It's not fair.
"They shouldn't have done that," Caroline hears herself saying over and over again. "I can't believe this. How could they do this?"
Rebekah puts her arm around Caroline's shoulders, lowering her head against the side of Caroline's. "They're scared, love. Fear makes people do terrible things. Besides, as I said, my family doesn't tend to make friends, especially that bastard brother of mine. But Kol also has a decently terrible record. Not as bad, obviously."
Caroline can only imagine the look the Hybrid was sending his younger sibling, but she couldn't blink away the tears fast enough to be able to see it. Caroline does appreciate that Rebekah was trying to bring some levity into this, despite how mad Caroline knows that the blonde is - and no doubt is speaking nonchalantly for her sake - but Caroline isn't amused in the slightest.
"I can't believe it," Caroline whispers brokenly, turning teary eyes toward her best friend. "It's because of me. Because they were scared of the Blue Spirit. They brought Mikael here to kill you."
"Don't say that," Rebekah says, squeezing her shoulder, still keeping composed despite the growing anger in her eyes. Caroline's not sure if the other blonde is mad because they are still talking about how she almost lost her life and the lives of her brothers to the man that has hunted them like animals for the last thousand years, or because of how emotional this is making Caroline, or what, but it almost hurts more to see her still containing that anger while Caroline cries angry tears because she doesn't know how to express it otherwise.
She's always just bottled things up. She always just pretended that things don't bother her even when they really do. She's not sure if it's the stress from the last few months or because of the situation she's in now, or because she finally has people who seem to genuinely care for her, but she can't seem to control herself. Just the thought of Mikael succeeding It hurts too much to think about.
"We don't make friends, love," Rebekah says firmly. "It's not easy for us at all. We are very set in our ways. My guess is, had there not been a time crunch for it happening right now, Mikael would have eventually gotten to us. It's only a matter of time. Mikael always finds us. No matter where we are. So long as we are making people hate us, and Mikael is still around, people will use him to scare us away. Or they did. But now they can't. He's dead. You killed him."
"The Blue Spirit killed him," Caroline mumbles, wiping some tears from her cheek onto her shoulder.
"Either way," Rebekah says flippantly. "You saved us, that's all that matters."
"But what if that didn't happen?" Caroline asks, her voice rising in pitch as the fear and anger swell in her chest again, her watery eyes turning toward Klaus, who was standing over by the fireplace, next to Elijah, watching her. "What if I lost you?" She asks him. "Any of you?" She directs toward the other two Originals in the room.
Klaus lowers his eyes for a moment, swirling the bourbon in his glass for a moment before placing it onto the mantle and walking over to Caroline. He scoots between her and the coffee table in front of her, sitting down on the edge, reaching out for her hands. Caroline sniffles, reluctant to unwrap her arms from around herself, but her mind reminds her of her fear. She could have so easily lost Klaus. Just a few short days ago. He would be gone forever, and she would be alone.
But Caroline also thirsts for the connection. Klaus was the first person that she could stand to be around for long periods of time since her aunt ran off. He was the first person that made her feel like she belonged with him. That them being together was effortless. Perfect. Her reflection shined in his eyes, and she felt at home there.
Even now, she can see herself so clearly in his eyes. But that's always been the case. He always gave her his full attention. Caroline isn't sure she doesn't believe that they aren't meant for each other. There is just something about him. About the connection that they seem to have together.
"Give me your hands, Caroline," Klaus orders softly, elbows resting on his knees as he leans forward, looking up through his lashes at her.
Reluctantly, Caroline unwraps her hands from her arms and places them into his. He closes his hands around her own, enveloping them in a comfortable warmth that accompanies his werewolf nature. Rebekah pulls back a bit to give them some space.
Klaus opens his mouth, about to say something when Caroline blurts out, "I almost lost you, Klaus. I was so, so scared. I never wanted this to happen. Had I known, I never would have tried to get along with Elena and her friends. I never would have wanted to be around them. It's one thing to try to hurt you, or to kill you, I guess, but Mikael? Mikael? That's so so so so so cruel. I would never ever be so cruel to someone, even if I hated them. I am so sorry, Klaus. I never wanted any of this to happen. Never, ever." Caroline looks over at Rebekah and then Elijah, working herself back up again. "I'm so sorry, Elijah. I'm so sorry, Rebekah. I feel so horrible. I never should have come here. I never should have tried to force everyone to get along. I am so so so sorry."
Klaus releases her hands and grabs hold of her cheeks gently, rubbing away the angry tears with his thumbs. "Hush now, love. You're working yourself up. You don't need to apologize."
"Caroline," Elijah says, finally speaking up from over by the fireplace where Klaus left him, "it is as my sister said. Our family is no stranger to making enemies and facing the retaliation that comes with it. You were trying to connect the pieces of your life together, the old and the new. You never could have foreseen such an event. You did nothing wrong, and you don't need to apologize. But you cry on our behalf, for something we brought upon ourselves. Werewolves, by their nature, are fierce and strong-willed. You, Caroline, are a very gentle and emphatic young woman. It is a great comfort to me to know that someone like you is watching over us. Reminding us to be compassionate. Keeping us human."
"However annoying that might be," Rebekah says with mirth. And finally, Caroline offers a watery smile to the blonde woman before turning her eyes back toward Klaus, who rubs away the last of her tears with his thumbs.
"My beautiful little wolf," Klaus says softly, shaking his head as he studies her face, "you fear a world of what ifs, and maybes. But your death had been a reality for me, no matter how short it was. Your death was real and when Mikael ripped your heart from your chest... my world came to an end. If it hadn't been my love for my siblings and my hatred for Mikael, I don't know how I would have pulled myself back. Holding you in my arms, watching the light fade from your eyes, the breath escape your lungs, the heat leave your skin..." Klaus closes his eyes, the memory so painful it plays across his face like a physical strike against his body.
"I'm sorry, Klaus," Caroling whispers, voice gravelly and thick. "I didn't mean to get in the way or hurt you. I thought he was going to kill you. I didn't think. I just moved."
Klaus shakes his head. "I know, love. You saved my life, and for a moment, it costed you your own. I don't ever want to be back in that moment. Ever again."
Caroline sees the pain and worry in his eyes, shadows that haunt him from memories that never leave him. There is a deep-rooted loneliness and fear that has always followed him, that has always hung over his shoulders like a heavy blanket and it never really leaves him. Caroline feels like a part of that has to do with their connection. It's part of the reason that they bonded together so well. There isn't just a physical connection - which they definitely had in the beginning, obviously - but there was also this emotional and spiritual connection. Caroline can't speak for Klaus and his connections with other people but she's never had this feeling with anyone else in the world but this ancient hybrid.
Caroline isn't sure what she thinks about the whole 'mates' thing, but Klaus doesn't feel like he could be anything but the other half of her. One year, sporadic for a while, but the consistency of recent times together keeps reinforcing this feeling, but it's also not enough. Caroline doesn't want to jump the gun and say that they were going to be together for the rest of her life, but she can't imagine her future without him at this point. Maybe that will change, maybe it won't.
"I'm sorry," Caroline says, pressing her forehead against the ancient hyrbid's. "I'm sorry."
"How do you feel?"
Caroline glances over her shoulder from where she's sitting on the back porch of the Mikaelson mansion to look out over the backyard and the forest that lie in wait beyond to see Elijah standing at the door with his hands in his pockets. Behind him, Caroline can hear the faint sounds of the two blond Mikaelson siblings arguing from somewhere deeper in the house. She's not sure if it is about her, but she suspects that it just might be.
"Oh, hey, Elijah, I'm fine. You?"
Elijah smiles softly, walking over to where she's sitting on the steps and lowers next to her, carefully removing his jacket to rest around her shoulders. She didn't realize how chilly it was getting until that moment. She's been staring off into space for so long that it's no longer light out anymore. She accepts his kind gesture, rubbing at her eyes a bit as they burn.
"I'm fine as well," Elijah draws out slowly, turning to look out over the yard alongside her. "But how are you really?" He glances over at her, narrowing his eyes a bit, curiously. He seems very genuine in his worry, which Caroline appreciates more than there are words.
"I feel okay. I mean, I don't really feel different than before. So, I guess that's probably a good thing."
Elijah nods slowly, taking in her words as they both stare out over the long side yard that leads to the forest that she and Klaus ran off into a few days' prior. That person feels like a lifetime ago. That's the place she died. Where Mikael ripped out her heart and tried to kill his own children for the millionth time in the last thousand years. It's also where she awakened and became the Blue Spirit. All that just a few short days ago. Most of those days were spent either as the Blue Spirit or asleep. Still, it feels like it happened to someone else. Like it was all a dream, yet the markings on her neck are proof that they aren't, no matter how light they are, even in the daylight. If she's looking for them, she can see them easily.
They both sit in silence for a few moments before Elijah finally says, "Yes, I suppose that is probably a good thing. So, I guess the better question is how are you doing?"
"I'm... going," Caroline says slowly. "It still feels like a dream. Mikael, dying, the Blue Spirit. None of it feels real. I don't feel like I died, but I trust that I did. I don't even really remember when Mikael killed me. I remember Klaus screaming for me. I remember feeling pain. But then nothing. There was no white light. No warmth. Nothing. Just empty silence. Then..." Caroline blinks. She was about to say the sound of the glass shattering was what pulled her back into herself, but that didn't feel completely true. It felt like there was something more. Something that she was only half conscious of. Something just at the edge of memory...
"Then...?" Elijah prompts.
Caroline, eyebrows pulling together as she summons the hint of a memory, turning to look at the oldest of the three siblings. "And then... I felt something. I felt... I don't know. I felt... love. I think. I felt this feeling that I get... I get when..." Caroline rubs at her forehead, trying to force herself to remember, then, like a rubber band snapping, it comes to her. Her blue eyes fly to Elijah's brown ones. "Rebekah. I felt... Rebekah. Like she was right there. Like she needed me. Yes, for a moment, I felt like Rebekah was right there with me."
Elijah's eyebrows raise a bit. "That must have been when she was pleading on our behalf with the Blue Spirit."
Caroline nods slowly. "Yeah, probably. I couldn't make out her words, but I felt like she was there with me. I must have subconsciously remembered Mikael, because I was scared for her. I just wanted to keep her safe. I just wanted her to be okay. I don't remember much else, I don't think. Just... Rebekah and then waking up in the kitchen."
Elijah nods slowly in returning, staring off over the yard in silence, absorbing the information she just offered him. He rubs his hands together slowly, mind wondering as Caroline glances over at the oldest Mikaelson sibling.
After a few moments of silence, Caroline whispers, "What should I do, Elijah?"
Elijah blinks from his thoughts and looks down at her. "About what, specifically?"
"Elena and the rest of them?"
Elijah sucks in a deep breath, letting it out slowly before asking, "What would you like to do?"
"I don't know," Caroline admits. "I'm mad. I'm so mad at them that I can't think clearly about it. I get that they were scared. I get that it felt like an impossible situation for them. They probably felt like they were backed into a corner and you guys, who have been alive a thousand years had no idea what to expect, so I get that they would be just as in the dark but... well, you're my family. I really admire you, Elijah. I think you're great. A great brother, a great friend. And Rebekah, well, I adore the heck out of her. She's my best friend and I love her to death. And well, Klaus..." Caroline lets out a little sigh, yet she can't stop the soft smile from crossing her face. "Well, Klaus is wonderful in all his complex ways. He's wonderful even when he's not, you know?"
Elijah huffs, a little smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Yes, I do believe I understand." His fond-touched smile fades for a practical, even expression. "I can't tell you what to do, Caroline. My siblings and I can't just ignore this very intentional act against us by the Salvatores and Miss Gilbert, but I understand where your hesitation comes from. I am not without reason. This is the connection to the person you used to be the person you could have been had things been different."
Caroline hadn't realized that. Was that what she was doing? Not just trying to reach out to old childhood friends, but trying to connect to the person she once was and imagine her life had it been different? Maybe they all drifted apart and had little or nothing to do with one another. Maybe they all stayed extremely close to one another for the rest of their lives? She doesn't know. She'll never know. It's not what was in the cards for her. She killed an innocent child on the playground when she was little and it set the tone for the rest of her life.
"Maybe..." Caroline agrees hesitantly, turning her eyes back to the oldest Mikaelson sibling. "But you guys are the closest people I've had in years. You're my family and when I think about what they did. I... I hate them. I hate them, Elijah, and that's not me. I'm not built to hate people. I feel horrible for it, but... I don't think I could ever forgive them. It's one thing if it was attempting to kill you with some magical spell or something. But Mikael... after how Klaus looked when we talked about him, how much pain he was in, how Mikael hurt him so bad - hurt all of you, even - I just..." Caroline sighs. "I don't know what to do. I'm so confused. I want them to pay for what they've done, but I don't want to hurt them. It's not who I am, Elijah. It's not how I'm wired."
"I know," Elijah says, sagely. "I can't say what is going to happen, but my siblings don't take that sort of outright assault on us without any form of retribution. Nor I, admittedly. We have all been staying our hands because of you. We've been anxiously waiting for you to come back to us and to be better. I can't say what the future holds, but in honor of transparency, Caroline, it would have to be something truly incredible to prevent any sort of very sudden, very violent retribution against the conspirators that brought Mikael here."
Caroline runs her hands through her hair before pulling Elijah's coat around her, tighter. "I know," Caroline whispers, closing her tired, just exhausted from the day. "I just don't know what to do."
Elijah places a large hand on her back, offering it a little rub for comfort before standing up and offering his hand to her. "Come, you shouldn't remain outside. Let us get you back inside so that you can rest."
"Thanks," Caroline says, taking his hand. "Do you think that they are done arguing?"
"Unfortunately, not," Elijah says, with a touch of amusement in his tone and pulling at the corner of his lips.
As they walk inside, Caroline can in fact still hear the younger two siblings still arguing as Elijah closes and locks the door behind them. Caroline pulls off his coat from around her shoulders and offers it back to him. "Thanks, Elijah. I should go and see if I can break up whatever it is that they are arguing about."
Elijah offers an amused tip of the head, accepting his coat back and watching her go. It isn't until she's about to hit the stairs leading up that he calls out to her.
"Yes?" Caroline turns to look at him, curiously.
"I can't tell you what to do about your former friends," Elijah admits slowly. "For now, you need to focus on getting better. And maybe talk to Rebekah and Klaus. They might be able to be talked down from their ledge, if that's what you want. But think very carefully about what you would be asking them. Mikael was a great horror for a long time, more so for Klaus than anyone else, and they tried to use our father to kill him and in doing so, he watched the woman he loves get her heart ripped out. That's not easy to forgive. And Klaus, if I know my brother, will never truly forgive that. Not even for you. Maybe he'll allow you to stay his hand, but he will never forgive any of them for this. Nor will Rebekah. She hasn't had a friend like you since Aurora and she loves you dearly."
"Aurora?" Caroline echoes surprised that this was the first time she's ever heard of Rebekah's other friend. Maybe her best friend? Aurora was a very beautiful name.
Caroline's not sure what she expected Elijah to say or do, but the impassive shake of his head and a stern, "It's in the past," wasn't it. Caroline almost wanted to push the issue, seeing as there was obviously a story there, but decided not to. She respects Elijah a lot, almost seeing him as more than just a friend and more like a big brother - not that she would say that to him - and didn't want to push any of his boundaries. If it was important, then he would definitely say something. Plus, she could just ask Rebekah, which is probably the reason for his silence. Whatever the reason is that Aurora hasn't been mentioned yet might not be his story to tell.
In that case, it's only right to talk to Rebekah about it, if it comes back up.
"You're being a bloody wanker, Nik," Rebekah hisses from upstairs, spurring Caroline to keep on the journey she forgot about, figuring that they were close to an actual bloodbath up there.
"Klaus!" Caroline calls, carrying Elijah's words in the back of her head as she asends the stairs, "Let's go to bed, I'm tired!"