Actions

Work Header

Always and Forever

Chapter Text

There are a hundred different ways a story can start. It can start in tears, in laughter, in sadness. It doesn't matter if it starts in the middle of a war or in the time of peace and prosperity. Every one of them is celebrated and filled with joy. Those whose story starts are welcomed and embraced, they get to belong somewhere and can call it their home. Their stories are one of the hundreds of happy ones with a perfect beginning and a perfect ending.

I on the other side wasn't so lucky. I never had the chance to experience any of those things. To experience family, love or acceptance. My mear birth was seen as a curse in the eyes of my village. My dear mother constantly prayed to the gods that I would be born with some luck but all of her prayers were in vain, they never were answered.

It was a cold winter night. The full moon shined brightly that night in the sky as if taunting the people. The howls of the wolf's surrounding the caves where they hid. In one of those caves laid an exhausted and scared woman. A local woman assisting her as a midwife. The moment the screams of a newborn child joined the wild howls of the beasts the mother started to cry. Tears streamed down her face, but they were not tears of joy, no, they were tears brought by fear of what might happen next. The midwife immediately handed the child to its mother as if its mear skin will curse her. The woman started to mumble prayers and mantras to protect herself against the newborn's presence.

The new mother held her newly born child to her chest. Slowly she sang an ancient lullaby to the baby. Said child quieted down and fell asleep as it was gently rocked.

"Rest my dear, my precious Astrid."

The exhausted woman placed a kiss to the small forehead.

"Do not name it. The child is cursed. Let us leave it to the wolfs. They will end the problem for us."

The midwife said cooly as she washed her hands.

"No! She is my daughter, my blood! I will not let her die!"
"You will regret this one day Ingrid! She will curse the entire village and it will be your fault."
"Then I shall take the fault, Esther."

The woman named Esther just turned her back to the woman embracing her child. She was displeased that her warning was so easily ignored.

"You shall see, she will bring bad luck to everyone. Nature said so."

With those parting words, Esther left the chamber in the caves to join her own family resting in a different chamber. Ingrid remained alone with her daughter, not knowing how those words will one day fulfil themselves. Those words defined the start of a story, the start of a not so happy story.

I am Astrid Akselsen, and this is my story. My true story.

Chapter Text

I had a hard childhood. It's the truth in it's purest form. I had to wake up early in the morning, make breakfast and do all the duties that were given to me. And there was a lot of them. Since my mother never truly recovered from my birth I had to take up most of her duties. She mostly remained inside our house, weaving father new clothes. She once was the student of a local witch Ayanna but my birth put a stop to it. Somehow she lost her ability to use the magic of any kind. The only things she could still use from her old knowledge were herbs and their properties. All she could do in her weak state of health was to raise me as best as she could. My father, on the other hand, was a hunter. He married my mother because she could do magic and expected from her a strong son. Instead, he got me. A weak, cursed daughter that had no use for him until the marriage age. And even that plan was doomed to failure since no-one wanted a cursed girl in their family as a daughter in law. I loved my father, I really did. He tried to support me and my mother but soon found it difficult since the family became 'cursed' with my birth. We because like a plaque, everyone avoided us or even refused to acknowledge our existence there. But my father still tried, as much as he could at that point. He had a heart of gold but he also had high expectations of me. I could handle anything he demands from me, as long as he was here, as long as we were family and as long as he was there to make me feel like I belonged.

But my curse got the best of me. It got the best of all of us. It took that little happiness I had in my life and crushed it. I was at the tender age of four when my father kissed my check and left to hunt our next meal. We depended on father's hunts since he was our main and only source of fresh food. So we knew that he would be gone for a while. I waited day after day at the door for him, but he never came back. My mother realised that he was not coming back after the dusk of the third day. She wept and cried after him while I, a foolish child still waited for him. It finally sunk into my head that he was not coming back after I eavesdropped on a man talking to his wife near our house. He's not coming back, the man said, there is no use searching for his body. The wolfs probably got him, his wife commented back to his. That was the day I lost my father, the head of my little family and my rock in this cruel, cruel world.

Life after that became even harder. We were avoided in eve wider circles by the rest of the villagers. Except for a few blessed souls. My mother's former mentor Ayanna helped us every once in a while and the husband of the midwife that helped give birth to me would share a small portion of his families food with us. It was a very small amount since he had a large family and his wife hated us but it was enough. Every time he brought us food I pleaded to the Gods that even if they don't care about me that they at least shield Mikael and his family. Every time Mikael would come to the house my mother would avoid him or find an excuse not to be near him. On the days when she failed to elude him her eyes would show so much shame. Me, as a naive child believed that she was ashamed because the food was given because he pitied us. Oh, how foolish I was back then and how I wish that actually was the truth. The truth was much darker than this lie. And I only found out when it was too late.

The second blow that fate did against me was dealt by the hands of the villagers. It was believed throughout the settlement that I was cursed and so the parents started to forbid and remind their children not to play or to even approach me. And so I was alone for most of my childhood however short that childhood was. But it wasn't all black in my life. It all changed when I met an equally lonely person. A boy, son of the man who constantly helped us with food, Mikael's son. His name was Niklaus but he insisted I call him Nik. And I did.

Our first meeting was an odd one. I was hiding in the bushes, crying my heart out. I refused to show my tears to mother since I had to be the strong one in the family. She definitely wasn't, so I had to be. My crying was loud enough for him to hear and he got curious. Nik crept through the grass and trees before hiding in a blueberry bush. From there he tried to silently observe me. The key word was tried. Because only a few moments after that he sneezed so loud I stopped crying altogether. I in my six-year-old head thought that I could defend myself with a weak branch I grabbed the floor. He jumped out of the bush across from me. And we just stared at each other. Me with red puffy eyes and a small branch in my dirty palms. He partially covered in leaves and grass with a small bruise covering his eye. And we just starred and starred. It seemed like time paused. Then out of the blue, we started laughing. It was such a nice feeling. Laughing like that. He calmed down first and introduced himself as Nik. He also asked if I could not hit him with my branch. I followed his example and introduced myself and replied that I won't if he doesn't tease me. We sat down next to each other and stared into the blueberry bush in front of us. As a peace offering and as a first move I grabbed onto a berry and ate it. He did the same. Somewhere between competition who could get more berries we started to through them at each other. We ended up covered in blue spots all over us. Some were in my hair as well. And we laughed so much. I never wanted it to end. Unfortunately, I had to go home to my duties. Before leaving we promised each other that we will meet again in the same spot.

That day I stopped being alone. I had him with me. Someone who understands what it means to be lonely and without parental love. I found one person who saw me as me, and not as the cursed child. The hole in me that my father's death and my mother's indifference to the village's treatment toward me slowly started to shrink. It wasn't gone completely but it was smaller. For two years he was my secret and I was his. Our friendship blossomed at that time. He would often tell me about his siblings. Never about his parents. They were a sore subject. And so were mine. As an only child, I soaked in everything he told me about his life with his siblings. When his younger brother Henrik was born he was so happy. And I was happy with him. Because his happiness became mine. To a certain degree. We were almost inseparable. Until I met his younger sister. That put our friendship to the test.

Rebekah was just a couple of years younger than us. I didn't really pay attention to her before but one day she followed us to our secret spot. I was a bit wary of her but when Nik voucher that she will keep our secret and when I saw that she was also lonely I welcome her to our secret group. I and Rebekah were soon as thick as thieves and after a while, it started to upset Nik. He became distant from me and stopped to meet me at our spot. Rebekah didn't know why so I was left on my own to figure it out. When I finally managed to corner him and asked for answers he brushed me off. Finally, I snapped at him.

"What is wrong with you Nik? Why are you ignoring me?!"

"Don't pretend like you don't know!"

"I do not! Tell me!"

"I won't. Go play with Rebekah and braid each other's hair or whatever you girls do together. I know when I'm not wanted."

I was surprised by his answer. Never in my life did I think that my first friend was jealous. I immediately regretted my earlier behaviour. With my eyes lowered to the ground, I asked.

"Is that the problem? I'm sorry Nik, I really am. I'm such a terrible friend! Please Nik, please forgive me!"

Nik just looked at me as tears started to gather at my eyes. He slowly approached me and gently embraced his arms around me. My tears have already started to soak his tunic when I hugged him back.

"No Astrid you're not a bad friend. You are a great friend."

"But I-"

"No but's. I get it. I do. It's fine Astrid."

"No, it's not. I'm going to make it up to you."

"How?"

He looked down at me. His eyes were a bit glassy like mine were. It just made my resolve to make up to him even stronger.

"I'm going to make you a promise. I, Astrid Akselsen promise you that you will forever be my first and best friend. No one will ever make me give up on our friendship, even. I'll always help you."

The wind started to blow harder as if nature itself was the witness to my promise. Birds were quiet for a while and the silence between us was almost defending. For a while, I thought that he will laugh at me and turn away. That I will be alone again. But that didn't happen. Instead, Nik looked at me with unshed tears in his eyes and smoothly spoke to me.

"Thank you, Astrid. It means a lot to me to have a friend like you."

All I could do was nod back to him. I was so relieved and happy that he was not abandoning me. In a stroke of inspiration, I reached for my neck where a small wooden medallion with protective runes rested. It was the last gift my father ever gave me and it was very precious to me. It wasn't bigger than my thumb and on one side were carved runes for protection while on the other side my father carved out a small head of a wolf after I asked him to do it. I handed it to Nik. He almost took back his hand when he saw me place it onto his extended palm. But he didn't and I closed his fingers around it with my smaller hands.

"Here take it. It will keep you safe from your father."

"I-I can't. It's yours."

"And now it's your Nik. Please take it. As a sign that you accept my apologies. Please, for me."

"Alright then. Thank you, Astrid."

Nik said as he pulled the medallion over his neck and hid it under the tunic. He then grabbed my hand and started running toward our secret spot.

"Now come on. I saw a whole bush of blueberries and strawberries nearby. And Rebekah doesn't know about them."

I gladly followed him while laughing. I was so happy to have my first friend back that I couldn't care about anything else that day. Nothing mattered then. It was just me and Nik. No Rebekah, no chores and no villagers to judge us or our friendship.

That was the first test that life has given me and it won't be the last one that I will have to face.

Chapter Text

The fight between Nik and me was soon forgotten. Other things took far more pressing matter than that. We both had duties toward our families to attend to. And so we slowly went back to how it used to be, sneaking around to our hidden spot and enjoying the happy memories. I never knew just how much they will mean to me. It stopped to bother me why my mother is slowly retreating into herself day by day or why is Esther showing more and more disdain toward me as I grew year after year. I was just happy with Rebekah and Nik as my friends. Nik's influence increased over me as we grew together. Not in a bad way, but every time I would break down due to numerous reasons he was always there with a shoulder to cry on. And so I confided my secrets to his and he did the same with me. He used to tell me all about how Mikael treated him until the point that it was too much to me and I broke down in tears. I cried for Nik, for all those tears that he refused to let down in order to appear strong for me. I cried because I was abashed at Mikael's behaviour toward Nik, before that man was a saviour for my family and now he was an abusive father to my best friend. After that Nik just stopped with those stories and focused more on his siblings. He even took up to drawing and making leather object to cheer me up. And it did cheer me up, for a short time. But then another tragedy happened, my precious mother died. I still remember her last words she said to me on her deathbed. They will forever be engraved in my memory.

"Do not weep after me, Astrid. It breaks my heart to see you like this. Please stop your crying."
"But how mother, how can I stop from crying when you're so sick?"
"Because I am not worth your tears my precious Astrid. I was a terrible mother and a terrible wife to you and to Bjorn."
"No mother you weren't. How can you say that?"
"Because it is true. I lied to you, to my husband and to myself for over many, many years."
"Lied about what?"
"About you my dear. You were not who Bjorn thought you were. You were mine and only mine."
"I don't understand."
"You will one day. Just promise me one final thing."
"Anything mother."
"Stay away from the Mikaelson family. They mean you harm. Especially Mikael and Esther."
"But Mikael's been giving us food and..."
"Do not think his actions were motivated by goodwill. There is something evil in him. I was a foolish woman when I didn't recognise it when he first approached me. And Bjorn paid the price."
"What price? Please tell me, mother?"

She just placed her bony hand on my cheek and gave me a tired smile. Her once beautiful face is now pale and her once rosy cheeks are now hollow. Tears started streaming down my face as I looked down at her prone body. I couldn't lose her, my mother is the only person I had left. She gently wiped the tears off the corner of my eye. With one last smile, she closed her eyes and passed away. The numbness was coursing through my body as more tears fell down. I couldn't control them and neither did I try to. I just let the tears flow. Soon after that Ayanna came in to check onto us. She placed a hand on my shoulder and let me hug her. I wrapped my arms around her stomach and wept. My tears soaked her dress but she still hugged me back.

"It will be alright, you'll see Astrid. Now let's prepare your mother for the funeral. She would have wanted you to be strong."

I don't know why, but the mear idea of burying my mother repulsed me. I broke out of her embrace and ran out of the house, leaving Ayanna alone with my mother's body. I ran through the village and into the woods. I didn't look where I was going, I just ran. In the end, my legs carried me to the secret spot. It made sense, I wanted to be somewhere safe and familiar and that spot represented just that. I crawled under the blueberry bush to the safe alcove Nik made for us when we outgrew the old one. In a move that I did almost subconsciously, I sat down on my spot and hugged my knees. Time slowly passed in silence in that alcove. The silence was broken by the sound of someone approaching and of leaves crushing under their feet. My eyes rose up to watch as a familiar hand lifted the branches of the bush. It was Nik, I knew. Somehow he could always sense when I was feeling sad. Without a single word he just sat next to me and put a hand over my shoulder. That's what I liked about Nik, he understands me without me saying anything to him. I leaned onto him as he hugged me tighter and placed his head over mine. Tears started rolling again at that comforting motion. We remained there, just sitting in peace until the sun started to set down. Nik then gently spoke without moving from the position.

"Better?"
"Yes. Thank you, Nik."
"Of course. I'm here to help you. You need a place to sleep, right?"
"How do you.....?"
"I heard father telling mother that you sold the house and the land in order to pay for food. I realised that you probably don't have anywhere else to go to, do you?"
"No. I'll manage."
"Don't lie to me, Astrid. I don't like it when you do."
"I won't lie Nik, not to you."
"Good. Now about your problem-?"
"I told you-"
"And I said I won't accept your refusal. Now, Rebekah has already spoken with father and he has agreed to her idea. From now on you will live with us. Mother insisted you do your part of the work and help Ayanna as well."

I looked up to him as he spoke. On one side I was feeling happy that he and Rebekah cared so much, but on the other hand, I was uncertain due to mother's warning. What was she trying to say to me? I couldn't stop thinking about her last words. What did my dear mother do and why did father have to pay her price? Those thoughts spun in a loop inside my head. Nik gentle voice broke the endless circle of thoughts.

"Astrid? Are you alright?"
"Umm....what? I mean, yes I'm alright considering the circumstances."
"So are you ready we go home?"
"As ready as I can be I guess."

He took my hand into his and pulled me up. Slowly we started to walk out of the woods and back to the village, back to my new home.

After that life just went on. I soon found my place in that large family. I got along with everyone, especially with Rebekah and Nik. But Esther never seemed to accept me living with them. She would every so often start to complain about me but Mikael would soon stop her in her rants. He did that quite often, and I just accepted that it will be like that. It was a quiet afternoon when it happened. Another incident that would always concern me days after it passed.

Rebekah and I were picking some herbs for Ayanna and Esther when Henrik ran to us and yelled.

"Come on Rebekah, Astrid. Our brothers are fighting again!"

The laugh was obvious in his voice and we laughed as we ran with him. We came back to the village, baskets filled with herbs and watched as Nik and Elijah fought each other playfully. It wasn't a serious swordfight because both of them were laughing. I always enjoyed when Nik would fight with Elijah, their fights were always so entertaining and no one got hurt.

"Oh look" Elijah panted as he smirked at his younger brother. "our sisters have arrived to watch my fast approaching victory!" Niklaus chuckled as he winked at me before dodging Elijah's clumsy thrust.

"On the contrary, Elijah..." Nik swung his sword, still crouched and cut Elijah's belt down to the middle. "They've come to laugh at you!" Nik chuckled, with me, Rebekah and Henrik joining in. Elijah cracked a grin at that, and I could see that he wasn't mad at Nik for pulling that move. We all enjoyed the fun. I looked around a bit and soon stopped laughing. It was because I noticed Esther and Mikael approaching us. Soon the rest of the Mikaelson siblings, now including Kol and Finn stopped laughing. I made a step back in fear when I saw Mikael's face and realised what kind of mood he was. This is not going to end well, I thought.

"Relax, Mikael. Niklaus means well." Esther said sternly as the siblings all lost any traces of laughter on their faces.

"That is precisely my problem." He spat out harshly. I flinched at his tone knowing it will not end well for Nik. He walked over and snatched off Elijah's sword off him before turning to Nik. Rebekah and I both tensed at what was to come. "So, why don't you teach me that trick young warrior?"

Mikael asked before he suddenly lunged and attacked Nik. I was starting to worry for Nik, who knows how far will Mikael go with punishing Nik before he stops. A shocked Nik just about managed to sloppily block Mikael's thrusts and attacks.

"Father, we were just having fun." Nik said quietly as he blocked Mikael's attacks.

Mikael just ignored Nik and continued to swing his sword at him. "We fight for our survival!" Mikale spat as he thrust again. "And you find time for fun?! I want to have fun!" He barked enraged. "Teach me! Come on!"

"Father, it was nothing-" Nik attempted to yield from his father but was interrupted when Mikael swiftly disarmed him without any effort and slammed him on his back. Mikael's sword was positioned at Nik's throat. Never in my life was I more scared of what might happen to Nik. I wanted to run, to push Mikael away and help Nik but I couldn't. I was too scared to even move.

"You are foolish and impulsive, my boy." Mikale informed the quaking Nik. "What? No more laughter?" He demanded angrily.

"You've made your point, Mikael!" Esther said sternly as she watched the scene. Mikael let loose a roar and struck the sword next to a wide-eyed Nik.

"Some days," He breathed as he slowly stud up, "It's a miracle you're still alive, boy." He spat before he turned around. I wanted to run to check if Nik was fine but he beat me to it. Nikstud up and without a single word ran into the woods. I blindly followed after him, leaving my basket with Rebekah. I already knew where he was headed to. He was going to our spot, the only place where we could be completely honest with each other. By the time I got there, Nik was already sitting on his spot just starring into the empty space.

"Nik!" I yelled to gain his attention. He lifted his head toward me but never replied back. "Oh thank gods you are alright. I was so scared that...."
"Why do you care?" Came back his pensive answer. I immediately recognised that he was in one of his worse moods.
"Why? Because I care for you Nik. I do." I said as I kneeled in front of him. I placed my palms on his cheeks to force him to look me in the eyes. His eyes showed so much pain and hurt, that it hurt me as well.
"I care about you Nik. You are an amazing man, so brave and talented. Don't let Mikael tell you anything otherwise."

I said the last part as a whisper. Our foreheads were gently touching as I tried to show him my support and faith in him. I wanted to show him just how much he meant to me. His blue eyes slowly searched for something in mine. I didn't know what but after a while he seemed to find it. My heart was beating so fast that I couldn’t get a breath. His head that just seconds away. I could feel Nik's breath on my cheeks. He watched her eyelids flutter, then close. Then Nik slowly pressed his lips on mine. All I could think is how warm his lips were. When I felt him withdrawing his lips I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his. I never wanted this kiss to end. But it did and we slowly distanced out heads, our bodies still remained close to each other.

"Wow." Was all I could whisper. That one kiss left me speechless. Nik continued to look into my eyes, not breaking eye contact. He swallowed a lump in his throat before speaking.
"I wanted to do this for so long." He admitted.
"You did?"
"I did. And now, I don't care what happens next. I can die as a happy man."

A slap filled the silence that was created after his words. "Don't you ever say that you'll die. I can't bear the thought of it." I said while tears filled my eyes. Seeing my reaction to his words Nik hugged me. He rested my head under his chin. "I can't stand the thought of you dead. I love you too much."
Nik raised my head at the last comment. Yet again did our eyes meet. Grey eyes met the blue ones.
"Say it again."
"I love you."
"Again."
"I love you Nik. You and only you. For years."

Nik pressed his lips to me again. This time with far more passion and less innocence than before. This kiss left me wanting more, so I wrapped my arms around his neck and into his blond hair. We continued to kiss until the need to breath was too great.

"I love you too Astrid. Ever since we were little."

I smiled at him with my cheeks flaming red. He chuckled at my look and stud up. He offered his hand to help me up and when I accepted he gave my hand a gentle squeeze. "Now come, I want to show you something."
Nik lead me away to a series of caves and lead me inside. On one of the wall inside were carved all of the names from the Mikaelson family. I read each of them slowly. When I reached Nik's name I notice that mine was written right next to his. "I carved all those names myself. Except for Rebekah's, that one she did herself." His action warmed my heart. I turned back to face him and with a smile on my face hugged him.

"Thank you, Nik. This means a lot to me."
"Anything for you my dear."

We remained in that cave for a while longer. Just enjoying each others company. Without any worry from the outside world that was cut off from us.

Chapter Text

I cannot claim that my life changed completely since Nik and I kissed, but it would also be a lie. My chores remained the same and Esther still continued to treat me like a servant. It didn't change, and yet it felt different. I guess love changes everything and at the same time nothing. Our behaviour didn't change, it was just like in the past. We were just happier in a way. Those small moments between us that we ignored before just continued to happen again, but now we enjoyed them. A smile there, a small joke then and so on. It was normal and it made me happy.

 

Nik even started a challenge for himself, because he claimed that he loved how I would blush after a mear kiss. It didn't matter what time of day was, every time he managed to find me alone he would steal a kiss. Often it was just a chaste one, but there were times when it would get slightly out of hand. It was as if we were addicted to each other. On one of those occasions, we were caught by Henrik, his younger brother who with a bright smile still promised us not to tell a soul. Of course, me bribing him with a blueberry cake helped as well. We tried to hide it from the rest of the family, especially Esther and Mikael. They just wouldn't allow us any joy of being together. Rebekah might have understood us, Kol would just tease us and laugh, Elijah would mostly be impassive about it and Finn would straight out show his displeasure about us. Only Henrik, that sweet boy, would truly be happy about us. And so life continued on as usual. Unfortunately, it only stayed that way for a very short time.

I packed the last of the supplies and with the rest of the family started to head toward the caves. There we would hide for the night since it's the full moon tonight. Rebekah and I were talking as we walked and Nik was entertaining Henrik with another hinting story. It all seemed so normal, so safe, and yet my magic screamed danger. I felt as if something bad would happen and that it would cause more bad things. Ayanna once told me that I have a slight gift of foreseeing the future. That I can sense when something will happen and that I should trust my magic. And right now a very bad feeling was creeping up my spine as we walked toward the caves. I tried to suppress it but Rebekah noticed.

"Are you alright Astrid? You look pale."
"I'm fine Bekah. It's nothing, just worrying about the moon."
"If you say so."

I knew she wasn't convinced but didn't press the matter further. When we finally arrived at the caves we unpacked our stuff. As I was laying down my sleeping mat I didn't notice a figure approaching me from behind. Suddenly without a warning, two large hands covered my eyes and Held me tight against them. For a moment I was so startled that I didn't know what to do or how to act. Then the stranger lowered their head right next to my ear and blew hot breath into it.

"Hello my love, miss me?"

I instantly relaxed at the familiar voice and when the hands loosened up I spun around. My grey eyes came face to face with a pair of blue ones, which were filled with mirth and love.

"Don't scare me like that Nik, you know I don't like surprises."
"I'm sorry love I couldn't resist. You looked so relaxed and I just had to approach you."

Nik said as he leaned down. I already knew what he was planning to do so I met his lips halfway. It was a brief one because I knew that anything longer than that could risk it. His eyes showed disappointment due to the lack of privacy we had.

"Now is not the time to get distracted Nik."
"So I'm a distraction now am I?" He teased me.
"Yes, that is exactly what I am saying Nik." I replied in the same way. "Now let me finish unpacking since after that I must go and help Esther and Rebekah."
"Alright then, I'll let you be. But not before I get something in compensation."

Quickly I planted a soft kiss on his lips and made a shooing motion with my hand. He gave me one last smile before leaving to join with his brothers. I returned to my given duties, forgetting about the sinking feeling of dread that was there mear minutes ago.

Soon the sun came down and we all went to sleep. Several hours have passed and the eery silence that followed it did not help me with falling asleep. So at the slightest sound of someone moving I was wide awake to see who is approaching or moving. What I saw surprised me. It was Henrik sneaking out with Nik.

"Where are you going at this time on night?! Can't you see that it's the full moon or did you already forget it?"
"Please don't tell mother and father Astrid please."
"Nik may I have a word with you?" I harshly whispered as I dragged Nik away from Henrik.
"Calm down Astrid. Henrik just wants to see the wolfs."
"And that is what worries me Nik. What if something goes wrong?"
"It won't. I'll be there to keep an eye on him."
"But-"
"Astrid, do you trust me?"
"Of course I do Nik. I would trust you with my life."
"Then trust me that I will keep Henrik safe."
"Alright. But I have a very bad feeling about this Nik, a very very bad one."

Nik placed his hands on my shoulders and gave me a kiss on my forehead. He then turned around and together with Henrik left the caves into the forest. Still feeling uneasy with anxiety I laid down on my cot and fell into a tormented slumber. Next morning we all woke up and returned to the village. Nik and Henrik were still missing and I tried to distract myself from fretting by helping Ayanna at her house. At one point in time, Rebekah stopped by to observe the necklaces that Ayanna hanged on the window. Her hand went around one, it was decorated with small lines and a small jewel. Ayanna told me that this necklace was special and that no one was to touch it. So in order for that necklace t remained untouched, I used a small bit of magic by focusing on the necklace itself.

"Ouch. Astrid, you burned me."
"That is not yours to touch Rebekah. Ayanna said so."

Our small moment was interrupted by Nik stumbling into the village. His clothes were covered in blood and in his hands laid Henrik's bloodied corpse. I froze at the sight that I dreaded the most this entire day. Meanwhile, Rebekah ran toward Nik who was screaming for Esther. I followed her in a step.

"Mother! Mother come help!"
"No, no, no!! What happened?!"
"It was the wolfs! I am sorry, I'm so sorry!"

Ether turned to Ayanna who appeared as soon as the yelling started. She had her palms around Henrik's head. I kneeled next to shaking Nik, who kept repeating the same phrase of apology over and over again. With my equally shaking hands, I embraced him and tried to calm him down, not caring that anyone could see us.

"We must save him, Ayanna! Please, there must be a way!"
"The spirits will not give us a way, Esther. Your boy is gone."
"No, no!"

Esther cried as she held Henrik's body. Rebekah was drowning in her own tears. Even I couldn't repress my emotions any more and I burst into tears while clasping onto Nik. We were all weeping a lose of a very special boy. Ayanna then stud up and grabbed my hand. With a compassionate look on her face, she leads me away from the weeping family. It was another sign that I wasn't considered a member of that family. I wasn't allowed to mourn with them. Later in the evening, after she gave me a calming tea and ordered me to rest, Mikael and Esther came to see her. Even under the mild effects of the tea I still stayed awake in order to listen in on what they were talking about. What I didn't notice is that Rebekah was listening onto this conversation as well.

"Please, Ayanna! I implore you! You must call upon the spirits before the next full moon!" I heard Mikael beg Ayanna.
"I will not! It is a crime against nature."
"Ayana, we have already lost too much. We cannot lose any more...The spirits can help us find a way to protect our children."

After hearing those words being said by Esther I returned to my bed as quietly as possible. I didn't want to be discovered by Ayanna or anyone else. With the sound of Esther and Mikael leaving the house Ayanna approached my bed, where I pretended to sleep. She stud next to me in silence for a short time. Then she spoke up.

"I know you have heard what they were saying, didn't you Astrid."
"What did they ask for Ayanna?"
"They asked me to go against nature itself. All because they selfishly wish to protect their family. Mark my word Astrid, nature will not allow it. There will be a price to pay, there is always going to be a price."
"I understand."
"No, you don't. Until you experience it yourself you will not understand it, Astrid. Now go sleep, you had a long day."

I laid down while thinking about her words. The words of Esther, Mikael and Ayanna turned in my mind as I tried to understand just what were they talking about. It felt as if I was missing a big part of it to completely and fully understand it. Slowly with those thoughts and worries, I slipped into a dreamless sleep brought by Ayanna's tea.

Days have passed since Henric's tragic death and the entire family is still mourning. I am as well. No one smiles or laughs any more. It was as if our source of joy was gone. Worse of us all was Nik and his response to it. Guilt was eating him alive from within and there was nothing I could do to help him. My presence and comfort helped a bit but that was it. He still had that grieving appearance on. But life had to go on and soon everyone was back to their regular duties. A week has passed since then and Mikael gathered the entire family for a supper, surprisingly I was included as well. While Rebekah and I placed the food on the plates from the corner of my eyes I saw Mikael whispering something to Esther. She left and returned with a jug of wine. Slowly she poured them into every one of her children cups but went to retreat before she reached mine. Mikael saw that and looked between me and Esther.

"You forgot to pour Astrid a cup dear."
"Mikael-"
"Pour her a cup, Esther. She is family as well. She drinks with all of us."

Altho she was reluctant Esther still poured me a cup of the weird looking wine. Once that was done Mikael rose his cup to make a toast. The family followed his example.

"To family. May we never be apart."

To that, we all took a sip from the cup. Immediately a foul taste hit my tongue and I almost reached to puke it out. But I didn't and instead, I swallowed it. The aftertaste was almost as bad, maybe even worse. Looking around I saw that I wasn't the only one with that reaction. They were all confused, all of them except for Mikael and Esther who calmly sat down. Mikael held a sword in his hands as he rose up and approached me first. Slowly he came to my back and placed a hand over my shoulder. Sensing that something is wrong I tried to move, to stand up but I couldn't. Something was holding me back. restraining me onto the floor.

"It is time."

Those were the last words I was aware of before a blade pierced my back and everything went black.

Chapter Text

All I could see, feel and hear was dead silence. It was as if the sun has disappeared. Black was all I could see. I couldn't feel my limbs, there were so heavy. My chest hurt as if something was stabbed me there and the pain wouldn't stop. Time became irrelevant as I lost track of it. A whisper suddenly broke the silence. The voice sounded so familiar yet so haunting that is sent chills down my spine. I tried to sense from where it was coming for but I couldn't. It always came from all directions, like an echo in the caves.

Astrid.....Astrid.....Astrid.....
"Who's there?! What do you want from me?!"
Cursed...You are cursed...
"I don't understand? How am I cursed?"
Your birth...Your mother...
"My mother? What does she have to do with this?"
Your father....sin....quilty...
"My father is long dead. The wolfs killed him years ago."
Deception...Lies...Alive...Not dead...
"So my mother lied?! She told me that he was dead!"
Alive...Mikael...still alive...
"What does Mikael has to do with mother? He helped us."
You...Proof...Alive...
"I'm a proof? Of what?"
Bastard born....affair...cheater...
"No, no, no! It can't be! My mother would never!"

At that moment when I tried to defend my mother from these accusations, a memory came to my mind. A memory of my mother on her deathbed saying her last words.

"Do not think his actions were motivated by goodwill. There is something evil in him. I was a foolish woman when I didn't recognise it when he first approached me. And Arnlaug paid the price."

Her voice echoed in my mind. Tears started streaming down my mind as everything the voice said started to click inside my mind. Mother lied to me, lied to her husband. She cheated on him and out of that affair I was born. I wasn't Arnlaug's daughter like I thought I was. I was Mikael's bastard daughter, Nik's own half-sister. How could this happen to me, to Nik? I truly am cursed, my birth was scorned, my existence was cursed since the day I took my first breath.

Not true...Niklaus...Cursed...Lie...
"What are you talking about? Is Nik cursed as well? Is it my fault?"
Do not blame yourself...Astrid...Not your fault...
"What am I to do?"
Wake up...Wake up...WAKE UP!...

Suddenly my eyes flew wide open. I could feel, hear and see again. But everything seemed different now, almost brighter and sharper than before. After blinking a few times I could distinguish Nik's form kneeling over me. His long hair framed his face as he looked at me with worry. A stray tear went down his cheek. I wiped it with a palm of my hand and he clasped it with his own.

"Finally my love. I was getting worried you would never wake up."
"Why Nik? What happened?"
"Mikael killed us, love. With his sword. He killed you first."

I immediately placed my hand at the spot from which I felt the pain and found it covered in dried blood. My blood. My grey eyes looked back at Nik wanting for an explanation.

"How? Are we truly dead?"
"I do not know how to explain this...but Father made Mother do something with her magic. She made us stronger, faster and we can heal far quicker. We had to die for the change to happen. That is what they told us."
"Where is Rebekah?"
"She's feeding with brothers. Father...he-he made us feed of blood."
"Blood?!"
"Yes. He made us drink human blood. As will he make you as well."
"But what if I don't want to drink someone's blood? What would happen then?"
"Then according to Mother, you will die. We need blood to live now. You also need this."

Nik said as he presented me with a small ring. It was a simple ring, with a small blue stone in the middle. Gently he placed it on my finger.

"It will protect you from the sun. I have one and Rebekah has one as well. Without them, we would burn in the sun love. Altho I wish I could have given it to you at a different reason, for a different occasion."

My heart skipped a bit at the confession but then I remembered what the voice said. I remembered that I was Mikael's bastard born daughter, Nik's half-sister. Just I was about to confess it to Nik about everything Mikael came in. Behind him walked one of the village girls, she seemed as if she was in a trance.

"Has she feed yet Niklaus?"
"No Father. I was just telling her-"
"You were wasting time. I will handle it myself."

Mikael then approached me with a girl and brought her in front of me. With a knife, he made a deep cut on her arm. He then forcefully pushed my head onto the wound and didn't release me until I drank a mouthful of her blood. Satisfied he walked away from the two of us. Nik remained on the floor next to me as I tried to spit out all the blood from my mouth. When I realised that it's futile I burst into tears. With my hands wrapped around Nik's torso, I cried at what I was forced to become. Nik remained silent, he just gripped me tighter as an attempt to support me. And that is when I realised that the life I used to have was gone, taken away from me.

Days have passed and slowly I adapted to my new life. I and Rebekah watched out for each other, now more than ever before. Nik tried to help as well but he was struggling with his bloodlust as well. Taking care of me and missing his hunts just made it worse for him. And he soon paid the price for his care.

It was a dark night, the clouds covered the sky as I sat outside the house. Nik left a while ago to hunt since he couldn't control his hunger any longer. I gazed up at the clouds, wondering what disaster will approach us next and what will be the price for it. A painful scream broke my thoughts. For a short time I thought it was just one of the villagers that ended up as Nik's meal but then I heard Elijah yell Nik's name. That one sound made me run as I've never run before toward the source of those painful screams. When I arrived in the woods I realised that the disaster has already happened. There on the forest ground kneeled Nik, who was in deep pain, and nearby were Elijah and Mikael. I ran to help him.

"Nik!!"
"Astrid don't approach him!"

Mikael yelled at me. When I tried to approach Nik yet again he held me back in his arms. I screamed as I tried to get to Nik. He was shaking in pain and painful sounds of his bones breaking were heard. Mikael pushed me toward Elijah who grabbed me, I guess he thought he could protect me.

"Father! It hurts!"

Nik yelled as he looked at us. His blond hair was messy, his face covered in blood and the worse part of it all, his eyes, which were once blue were now yellow. The moment I saw those eyes I knew, that Nik was truly cursed like me, just like the voice said. He was a bastard as well, which meant that Esther had an affair, with a werewolf which is even worse.

"He's a beast, an abomination."
"No, he is not! He's your son! He is not a beast!"

I tried to defend Nik but as a response Mikael backhanded me. The force behind it wasn't that strong, but the fact that Mikael, my father hit me caused me to reel back in shock. Elijah was also speechless since he never saw his father strike a woman.

"Go back to the village! Now!"

Mikael ordered us and with the help of Elijah, I managed to reach the house where I passed out. The shock of becoming a monster, discovering Nik's true parentage and Mikael striking me was enough to make my body shut down. I remained without conscience for two days straight. When I woke up it was night and Rebekah informed me that Esther was about to seal away Nik's werewolf side as an attempt to lessen Mikael's wrath on her for the fact that she cheated on him. Without a second glance, I raced out of the house while avoiding the rest of the siblings. I hurried to the clearing where Mikael was tying Nik to a wooden post. Esther was on the ground just a few steps away, casting a spell over a fire. And the worst part was that right there next to Mikael was Elijah, helping him tie Nik down. Even from a distance, I could hear Nik begging his brother to help him.

"Stop! What are you doing?! Let Nik go!"
"This must be done! Elijah do not let her come any closer! I'll restrain Niklaus myself."
"No please don't! Please don't let them hurt Nik, he's your brother Elijah!" I begged Elijah as he moved in front of me.
"I'm afraid it must be done. It is better for everyone this way."
"Better for who?! Nik?! He's the one getting cursed! For me?! I do not want this Elijah! I never will!"

I screamed at him. I pried, I scratched but he would not let me anywhere near Nik, Esther or Mikael. When I tried to push Elijah again, something in me snapped. I felt something akin to a flood course within me. I did not know what it was but I accepted it. I embraced it fully hoping that it will help me save Nik. But I was wrong. What I thought was just a glimpse of time was actually much longer in reality. When I regained my bearings, Elijah, Mikael and Esther were already gone. The only person remaining there was Nik, still tied up onto the stump. I ran to him, hoping that he was alright. My hands went up to his face, which was covered in tears he cried out. He was so cold to my touch, what for a second I could have misplaced him for a corpse.

"Oh, Nik I am so sorry for what they have done to us."
"Astrid?... Is that you?!"
"It's me. Let me help you, wait a moment."

I said as I tried to release his bounds. The ropes cut deep into his skin and blood ran over them. I focused on the power I felt before inside of me and the ropes caught aflame. The fire didn't burn Nik and he immediately fell to the ground since they weren't supporting him any longer. He looked at me with a mix of awe and betrayal.

"You have magic?" He said, his voice hoarse from the yelling.
"I do. I felt it just now when Elijah restrained me. I wanted to help you so bad Nik, but the spirits didn't let me. They blocked me on purpose."
"Can you remove the curse?"
"Maybe, I'll first have to know what she exactly did. That by itself will take time."
"I see. I guess I will have to wait then."
"You mean we will wait, together?"
"Are you sure? It could take a long time. Centuries even."
"Then I guess I'll wait those centuries by your side Nik. I promised you a long time ago, I'll never leave your side."
"Thank you."
"There is one thing we can do right now."
"And what would that be my love?"
"We can punish Esther. She's the one who cursed you Nik, maybe she has some answers we need."
"True. So are we ready to deal with Mother?"
"Yes, I'm ready. It's just that...there is something important I discovered recently. I just don't know how to tell you."
"What is it, love?"
"You aren't the only child born from an affair."
"You mean Mother-"
"No, I'm referring to Mikael. My mother admitted to me on her deathbed that there was something between her and Mikael. There are also the voices-"
"What voices?!"
"When Mikael first killed me, I heard voices before I woke up. They were telling me how my mother had a secret and how Mikael was involved in it. I pieced the pieces myself. Don't you see, that's the reason why Mikael was sharing food with me and mother, why he took me in when she died. He knew this entire time that I was his daughter, and he didn't say a word. You hate me now, don't you?"

Instead of a response from Nik that I expected he did something completely else. He kissed me, and quite passionately as well. We remained there, on the floor, kissing like it was our last day. When we finally separated for breath, Nik touched my forehead with his and looked into my eyes.

"I will not hear those words leave your beautiful lips ever again, do you understand me, Astrid? I love you, now and until the end of the world. Never doubt that."

My eyes filled with tears at his words. I went to wipe off the coming tears but he beat me to it. Gently he wiped the tears away and kissed my palms in a sweet gesture of love.

"You ready then?"
"Yes, let us get revenge."

We stud up and ran toward the house. Before we entered we checked if anyone was nearby, which they weren't. All of the siblings and Mikael were absent from the house. So we entered it. There near the fire, sat Esther. She was calm as if she didn't curse her own son mear hours before. With no sound, Nik and I approached her. I decided to speak first.

"You have a lot to answer to Esther."
"What are you doing here? I don't want to see any of you here. Leave!"
"No Mother, we won't leave. You have a lot of answering to do to us."
"So you are some kind of pair, are you? And why should I answer anything to you? You don't deserve anything."
"Maybe because he is your son Esther."
"He is a bastard!"
"Well so am I!" I yelled back.
"You-a bastard? Well, that would explain it, I always knew that your mother was a whore. You are proof of that. I pity the man who laid with her in her bed."
"Well ain't that appropriate. You cheated on your husband and got caught, so you were punished. While your husband did as well but he covered his tracks much better."
"What?"
"Oh, please. Haven't you realised?! I am the proof, the proof of your husband's infidelity. Living under your own roof for so many years."
"You are lying you-"
"If you dare insult her Mother, I will kill you."
"Oh please Niklaus, I am your mother. You wouldn't dare harm me over some bastard whore!"

Those were the last words that left her lips before in the blink of an eye, Nik appeared in front of her and ripped her heart out. He then dropped that very heart into the fire that was still burning brightly.

"No one will ever insult my love, no one!"

He then turned toward me.

"I'm sorry Astrid, I didn't mean to-"
"No, it's alright Nik. She deserved it. Not for insulting you but for doing this to you. We will find the answers in a different way."
"Thank you, love."
"Now the question is, how will we explain her death to the others?"
"Leave that to me. Finn and Kol have already left, so we only have to deal with Elijah and Rebekah."
"As you say."

Chapter Text

The wind blew steadily as a lone carriage went through the foggy woods. The sky was covered in clouds and the moon shone vividly through layers of fog. A horse troated across the mud-covered road toward its destinations, toward a large looming castle in the distance. The man managing the horses seemed like any other, dark-haired with pale skin and simple servant clothes. Altho he wore simple clothes, they were well-made with quality. The carriage itself was highly decorated with dark wood and covered in gilded flowers. It was pulled by four, midnight black horses. Interior was equally magnificent. With seats covered in soft fur, it provided comfort for the two dames travelling in it. On one seat sat a regal looking lady, dressed in fine clothes and expensive jewellery. Her light brown hair was exquisitely arranged in a snood, which was done out of gold and covered in pearls. The dress she wore was made out of red silk with puffed sleeves trined with fur and pleated fabric. Her bearing emitted the urge to bow and praise the divine woman. She often was the centre of every gathering or party she attended. In her lap rested a small wooden chest, that was carved with many motives of flowers. The noblewoman held tightly onto that chest. Opposite of her rested a woman, clothed in much more plain attire that her counterpart. Her skin was much darker, her hair eyes dark brown. The gown she wore was plain looking with no accessories, which indicated that she was a servant. On her hair laid a simple cloth what bound her locks. The two women travelled in peace, without uttering a single word between them.

As the carriage slowly passed through the woods and approached the castle one of the women moved the veil and looked outside. Torches lit up the gate of the castle and created numerous shadows across the massive entrance. The coach slowly started to pull the horses into a halt so that his lady and her servant could exit the carriage. As the carriage in which they resigned slowly stopped, the two women remained inside, not moving at all. The noblewoman spoke up first.

"Are aware of what we are about to do next, Githa?"
"Yes Mistress, I am aware. You are about to meet Lord Klaus, a very powerful vampire."
"He is the most powerful vampire Githa, do remember that. We will resign in his house now until he sees fit. After that, we will return back to our home to Lady Rebekah. Do you understand?"
"Yes, my Lady."
"Good. You are a smart witch Githa, it would be a shame if something were to happen to you due to your poor behaviour."
"I would never dare to insult you, my Lady, I owe you my life."
"I also own you as a whole. Do not forget that."
"Never my Lady." The servant said as she bowed to her mistress. Said mistress then gave the chest to her servant and adorned a black hooded cloak.
"Guard this with your life, let no one touch it unless I command you."
"As you wish."

The woman then raised her hood over her head and knocked on the door of the carriage. The door opened and the noblewoman took the offered hand and exited the carriage. The hand belonged to a male servant, he had long brown hair and a smile on his face as she looked at him. He couldn't see her face due to the hood but he was already told who she was and where he was supposed to take her.

"Lady Astrid, I bow down to your beauty and hope you had a good journey on the way here."
"Trevor, a flattered as always I see. The journey was as it should be, bearable. Now, I assume I am expected somewhere."
"Ah yes, forgive me, my Lady. Lord Klaus is expecting you. This way please."

Trevor guided her into the castle. Githa followed obediently, still holding the chest in her arms with utmost care. They walked through stone hallways, the torches lightening their way. The noises of dancing music, of talking and laughing started to get louder and louder as they walked but then Trevor took a turn to the stairs that lead up. The noises now started to reduce the same way as they rose up. When they finally stopped in front of a heavy wooden door, Trevor stepped aside and turned toward Astrid.

"I was told not to go any further than this. My orders were to return to the party. Lord Klaus is just behind this door, waiting for you my Lady."
"Alright then, Trevor. You are excused to return to your duties."
"Thank you, my Lady."

Trevor said. He then bowed and left the two women standing in front of the door. Astrid fixer her hood and dress one more time before entering the room, she didn't bother to knock. There at the desk, near the fire sat the man she travelled to see. Dressed in nobleman's clothes, he sat there drawing into a book filled with pages of parchment. Slowly she approached him, not saying a single word. Githa remained at the door, too overwhelmed and terrified to move. Astrid stopped walking as she reached his desk. At that moment he snapped his book shut and slowly walked to her, stopping only when he was close enough to touch her face. Gently he raised his arms and lovered her hood onto her shoulders. Blue eyes looked at grey eyes with love and passion, her eyes reflecting the same emotions. Before uttering a single word of greeting, he lifted her chin and kissed her on the lips. The kiss was chaste and brief, due to the voiceless guest they were with. Once their lips separated Astrid drew in a breath, as if she was holding it back all this time.

"Oh, how I yearned for you, love."
"I yearned you as well Nik. It wasn't the same without your pleasant company to keep me entertained. All those years I spent on searching...."
"And were they fruitful? Did you find it?"
"I did. And I immediately arranged to deliver it to you. I wanted to show you the fruit of my endless research."
"Well then love you better not keep me waiting, you know I do not have a lot of patience."
"Patience is a virtue Nik. You should have learned that by now. But here, before I spark your infamous temped."

Astrid motioned to Githa to approach with the chest. The witch servant brought the chest toward them and offered it to them. Astrid opened the chest, which was still in Githa's hand, and stepped away. There, on a soft pillow laid a milky white stone not bigger than the palm of her hand. With excitement, Nik approached the witch and took the stone into his hands. He looked at every angle at the stone before putting it back into the chest and closing it.

"I knew I could count on you, love. You really have outdone yourself here."
"Oh do not speak nonsense Nik. I merely did what any good woman should do and found the moonstone. It is ready to be used at any time you wish. On a small condition of course."
"And what would that be my love?" Nik said in humour, imagining what she would ask in return for the stone.
"I will be the one to perform the ritual for the breaking of the curse."
"If that is what you will, then you will get it. Altho I would have thought that you would ask for something different."
"What else could I have to ask for instead?"
"You could have asked to spend a night in my bed, my love."
"And let the whole castle know by morning, I do not think so Nik?"
"Ahh, but it has been ages since we shared a bed together have we not? A man has the right to show his love for his wife when he wants to, doesn't he?"
"Yes, he does. But if he wants to keep his wife which he married 10 years ago a secret, then he shouldn't call her so often in his chambers, does he?"
"No my love, I'm afraid to admit but you are right. Just imagine if Elijah and Rebekah were to find out."
"Oh stop speaking nonsense at once Nik. They are starting to bore me."
"Tell me, my dear, how can I possibly apologize to that?" He said in a joking manner.
"You could accompany me to the ball you threw downstairs. Some dancing might do me some good."
"Then dance we shall."

Nik offered Astrid his arm. She accepted it and before they left the room she turned her head to the side and spoke to Githa.

"Take the chest to your room and remain there. If anyone asks, my jewellery is in there."
"Of course my Lady, as you wish."
"Speaking of jewellery, I have something for you, my love. A small token of my affection toward you."

Nik said as he ran and in a second returned with a jewellery chest in his hands. He opened it and pulled out a pearl necklace, which he immediately fastened around Astrid's neck. The necklace was made out of pearls with a golden letter 'M' hanging at the middle. Astrid felt with her hand the necklace before turning around and kissing Nik on the lips. The smile couldn't leave her face.

"Oh Nik, it's gorgeous. Thank you."
"Anything for the woman that I love and adore."
"I love you too Nik. Now let's get going. We do not want Elijah to worry where you are, do we?"
"Of course not. Shall we then love?"
"We shall."

The couples then left the room and descended down a different set of stair. The music got louder as they walked hand in hand. Soon they turned around the corner and found themselves standing on a top of stairs looking down at the gathered crowd. The music now played loudly and the murmur of people talking among each other spread everywhere. As they slowly descend the stairs the crowd parts away to make way for the couple. Greeting and bows were directed to them as they walked toward Elijah who was with Trevor and a young woman.

"Katerina, may I introduce you to the Lord Niklaus, and this here is Lady Astrid. An old acquaintance of ours."
"It is always a pleasure to see you again Elijah."

Astris said as Elijah kissed her hand. She immediately after that lowered her arm and looked at the newcomer, who she could tell was foreign. Another thing that she noticed it that Nik turned on his charms to the girl, and with good reason, the woman was the one they were searching for. The Doppelganger. Of course, that didn't mean that she was free from feeling just a tiny bit possessive at the fact that he was smiling at Katerina and not her. So to deal with those feeling and stake a non-verbal claim on Nik, she gently pulled at Nik's hand in order to gain his attention. When she had it she motioned with her head to the crowd of dancing people.

"I am taking you up on that offer of dancing Nik. Of course, if Miss Katerina if feeling lonely, then perhaps you, Elijah, could dance with her."
"What a splendid idea. Brother, why don't you and Miss Katerina join us? I'm sure it will be quite a spectacle for the people."
"If you insist on Brother. Very well then, Miss Katerina, would you like to dance with me?"
"I'm afraid I will have to decline Lord Elijah. I do not know how to dance."
"Well, I am sure he can teach you, right Elijah? You can teach her while Nik and I dance."

Astrid then gently pulled Nik toward the dance floor, without allowing Elijah or Katerina to respond to her last sentence. As they got into the dancing position Nik leaned down to whisper into Astrid's ear.

"Someone seems possessive."
"Oh be quiet Nik. I did what I had to do. If I did not do it, that woman would have gotten attached to you and Elijah, to both of you. And since her death is undeniably getting closer, I saw that something had to be done."
"As you say, love."

Nik said with a chuckle before spinning her around the dance floor. They continued to dance the whole night, even as the guests started to leave toward their carriages or assigned rooms. Every once in a while Elijah would come and ask for a dance from Astrid, while Nik would dance with one of the female guests. Since he knew his beloved's feeling toward Katerina he avoided dancing with her as much as he could. But the young Bulgarian woman became persistent and managed to snack one dance with Nik. After the party ended and Elijah volunteered to accompany Katerina to her room, Nik and Astrid snuck out. They left a note to Elijah explaining that they went feeding, while instead, Astrid decided to take up Nik's previous offer and join him in his bed.

Chapter Text

Life went on in the Mikaelson Mansion. Astrid received her own wing of the mansion as a permanent quest there. Her chambers were connected to a lesser room, where Githa, her servant rested. A massive bed has been given to her as a welcoming gift by Elijah, and not wanting to be overshone by his brother, Klaus gifted Astrid a portrait. The portrait was of her and Nik together sitting in the garden. It showed them laughing and being at complete peace. Astrid knew that Nik's painting of him being more exposed than normally is a high token of faith. He portrayed her surrounded by flowers and sunshine. To Astrid, it was the most beautiful portrait ever presented. Elijah, as a courteous host, provided for the additional servants to be at her beck and call. So she has been attended similar a queen herself. Katerina, on the other hand, did not receive the same luxurious treatment as Astrid did. Her room was large as well, but she did not receive the wing for herself. Every day Astrid would send a servant to Katerina, with a letter asking her to accompany her for a walk in the gardens or for a small ride on the horses Elijah let them borrow them. Satisfied with Astrid's company, Katerina did not question when Elijah or Klaus would disappear at times. She enjoyed Astrid's company and walks, during which Astrid taught her all about etiquette and current English gossip. During the days when either of the brothers wasn't around, the two women would have the whole garden for just themselves. Due to their constant proximity of each other, the two guests started to open up to each other. Katerina opened more than Astrid did, but only because Astrid knew deep down that there was no reason to connect any deeper. Katerina was, after all, supposed to be sacrificed soon. It was during one of their daily walks when Katerina once more started to ask questions about her companion.

"Lady Astrid? May I ask you something?"
"Of course Katerina, what is on your mind?"
"My Lady, I was just wondering, how did you exactly meet Lord Klaus and Lord Elijah?"
"Ahh, that question again Katerina. I believe you asked me that question last week."
"I have asked My Lady. Please answer me this time?"
"Very well, what exactly do you wish to know?"
"When did you meet them? How do you know them so well Lady Astrid?"
"Well, it is quite a long story. I guess I can start at the time when my father passed away. With the help of the House of Mikaelson, my widowed mother managed to receive compensation for my fathers' loss. We became their Vassals. Then after my mothers'early death, I was taken in by the two brothers. The rest is, as they say, Katerina is history."
"I see. Forgive me for asking My Lady. I did not want to stir any bad memories."
"It is alright Katerina. Just do not mention that topic ever again understood?"

Astrid said as she stopped and snapped one of the roses of a nearby rose bush. The red petals of the flower made an immense contrast with her black dress. She twirled the flower in her hand before walking to a nearby marble bench. There she sat under the light shade of a tree and waited until Katerina was seated next to her.

"I understand you have come from Bulgaria Katerina."
"Yes, it is true My Lady."
"And you have learned how to behave similarly to a proper English matron as well, but have you learned the way a lady must conduct herself at a place like this?"
"I do not understand My Lady. What are you trying to say?"
"Take this rose as an example, Katerina. What do you see?"

Astrid said as she turned the rose around her hand and then offered it to her companion. Katerina took the rose from the offered hand and as she did not look where she grabbed the rose, stabbed one of her fingers on the sharp thorn. With a sudden sting of pain and a yelp, she took her hand away from the offered rose.

"I am so clumsy. Please forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive. You, like many others, have fallen to the trap of what this rose embodies."
"And what is that Lady Astrid?"
"This rose" Astrid started to explain in a tranquil and profound voice "embodies what a woman should be. In a place like this, in this time, a woman cannot survive solely on her virtue. Rather than that, just like this rose, it must acquire hidden thorns in order to protect herself against the others. Such is the time in which we live in, dangerous enough to oblige from women to be prepared for any danger approaching, even from the house she lives in."
"I do not understand what you are trying to say to me Lady Astrid."
"It does not matter, you will understand it one day when the time comes, or pay the price for the folly."

Katerina remained quiet at the words uttered from her better escort. She was confused and did not know how to take the words of wisdom that were said by the noblewoman. Seeing as her companion was not going to respond, Astrid stud up.

"I believe our time in the garden is slowly approaching its end. We should head back to the feast hall before Elijah sends one of the servants to come and find us."
"As you say, Lady Astrid."

The two women started to walk back toward the castle once again. To a person walking by, they seemed like two opposite pictures. One dressed in a simple brown dress, her curly brown hair dangling in the wind, lacking any big jewellery. The other one, dressed in a fine black dress, with her hair covered by a French hood, wearing a pearl necklace. Sun shone through the tree branches and bathed them in its gentle light. A lone red rose remained there to lay at the cold marble bench, forgotten by all.

Time passes once more. One day, to Katerina's utmost surprise, a servant comes to her room telling her that she should not expect to accompany Astrid out again, for she has already left the castle in the company of Lord Klaus. Katarina remains in her room, understanding that Astrid has other responsibilities to tend to rather than consuming all her time with her walking in the park. The same notice arrives the next day, and the day after that, and so on till an entire month has almost passed. By this time she has grown bored and starts to feel trapped inside her chamber. When Trevor passed her chambers one day, she begs him to tell her where Astrid was. To her shock, she discovers that Lord Klaus and Lady Astrid have returned to the castle over a week ago. Just as she was about to ask Trevor to accompany her somewhere outside, a servant appears, carrying in her hands a letter in which Lord Klaus is inviting her to dinner later on in the evening. With newfound joy, Katerina starts to get ready and when the clock strikes 5, she heads off to the dining hall only to her disappointment to find that Lord Klaus has once again left in the company of Lady Astrid. He had evidently left her a letter in which he vowed to make up for the lost time by spending a day with her tomorrow. And so with little hope in her heart, Katerina returned to her chambers. The next morning a servant lead her to the library where sat Elijah, and not Klaus, whom she expected. Seeing her distressed spirit he requested if he could accompany her to the gardens for a little past time. There they are now, him running after her as she laughed and ran ahead of him.

"You have to chase me! Come on Elijah! You're meant to catch me!"
"But if I catch you, the game will be over."

He explains as they both stop at the bench where Astrid had the talk with Katerina.

"Thank you for entertaining me."
"You looked lonely inside, so I took pity on you."
"Klaus promised to spend the day with me, but he never returned home from the night."
"Yes, Klaus does not live by any rules but his own."
"He is a very charming man. Hard for anyone to resist, I suppose."
"And yet..."
"I know not why he courts me. He seems to not care about me at all. All his time he spends with Lady Astrid."
"Astrid is very special for me and for my brother. That I can not deny in any way. But remember, a union has been build on much less."
"Is it wrong then to want more?"

Elijah made a pause before sitting down and replying.

"Do you wish more with Trevor?"
"Trevor believes that he loves me, but true love is not real unless it's returned. Do you agree?"
"I do not believe in love, Katerina. Astrid has tried to change my opinion many times and failed every time."
"That is too sad for me to accept, my lord. Life is too cruel. If we cease to believe in love, why would we want to live?"

Just as Elijah was about to respond, they were joined by his brother who held Astrid under his arm. His shirt is in a poor state, covered in blood. Astrid's dress meanwhile, is still impeccable as customary.

"Have we interrupted something brother?"
"So he returns. Glad to see you again Astrid."
"You as well Elijah."
"Long night brother?"
"What happened?"
"It would seem that some vulgar men actually ventured to attack us as we were returning back. I had no other option but to retaliate. Now, Katerina, I believe I promised you my attention for the day"

Klaus offers his arm to Katerina, which she accepts. Astrid at the same time lets go of the other hand and approaches Elijah, who is still sitting on the bench. She sat down and with her hand went to straighten any wrinkles on her black dress.

"I see you have returned. It took you quite a while, particularly this time."
"I had to make sure Nik did not make such a massive mess. After all, it would be such an endeavour to clean up following one of his feeds."
"Is that the only purpose why you took soo much time for yourself?"
"Do not act naive Elijah. You are aware that the time for the ritual is approaching. We have found and convinced the witch to do the ritual. The moonstone is just about ready to be used. Now, all we need is the lovely Doppelganger, and she is right here."
"And regarding the vampire part of the sacrifice?"
"For that, we might as well use Trevor. He is convinced that he will die for his love, and now, he can."
"I see."
"Oh please Elijah, do not tell me you are beginning to feel something for her. It is a blunder and she will die soon. So get rid of whatever you are feeling for her and concentrate on the impending ritual."
"Alright then, but do tell me one thing?"
"What is it?"
"Have you not spent time with Katerina? Came to see her as a friend, as a companion?"
"Do not be absurd Elijah. From the moment I have invited her to the first walk in the park, I had one thing in the mind. To keep her safe and obvious until the time for the sacrifice arrives."
"That seems rather cold-hearted for someone like you Astrid."
"It is what Nik wants, and what Nik wants, will happen. Now if you excuse me, I believe a bath is in the order. I haven't bathed since we left."

The fire burned inside a stone fireplace. Its light shone throughout the entire room and illuminated the standing figure of Klaus. He stands like a statue on the spot starring into the fire. When Elijah enters the chamber, he remains looking at the fire.

"The full moon is tomorrow, brother. After all these centuries, it is finally time."
"I have been to see the witches. They believe they may have found a way to spare the doppelgänger."
"What does it matter if she lives or not? She's a means to an end that is all."
"What, she should die for your gain?"
"She is human. Her life means nothing."
"I beg you to consider this."
"Are you so foolish as to care for her? Did Astrid not warn you about getting too close to her?!"
"Of course not."
"Love is a vampire's greatest weakness, and we are not weak, Elijah. We do not feel, and we do not care."
"We did once."
"Too many lifetimes ago to matter. Tell the witches not to bother. The sacrifice will happen as planned. Katerina will die. Now leave brother, there is nothing more between us to discuss."

Elijah took those words as final and quickly departed. Klaus continued to stare at the fire for a while longer before taking a few steps back and exiting the room through the door hidden behind a nearby bookshelf. The secret passage was lit by torches. Without a single sound, he went through the hall and once he reached the wooden barrier on the end of it, pushed once more. The room he found himself was richly furnished in fabrics and candles. Astrid sat on a chair facing him as he entered the room.

"I assume the talk did not go as entirely as planned?"
"If you already know the answer, why do you have to ask Astrid?"
"Because your business is my business. Remember that. I am here to help you break the curse. Nothing currently matters more than that."
"I know. Thank you love."
"My utmost pleasure Nik. Now relax, all this tension is going to make you prone to unfavourable decisions."

Astrid stands up and approaches Nik, slowly leading him toward a nearby chair and forcing him to sit down. She gently starts to press onto his back and shoulders.

"See, all this tension is going to cause your muscles to hurt."
"I love it when you start to act like a proper lady of the house, my love."
"Well I am your wife and this is your house. It would only be proper..."

In the blink of an eye, Astrid found herself in Nik's lap, him holding onto her tightly and with no desire to let her go. She laughed at his response and brushed away the locks of hair of his face with her hand. Such simple gestures of affection and care were the ones she cherished and yearned for the most since the time they could spend alone was very brief.

"You are playing with fire, my love. Do be careful or you just might get burned."
"Then let me get burn."
"You minx."

Nik exclaims in laughter before kissing her soundly on the lips. Any thought about the ritual or Katerina disappeared from both of their minds as passion overtook their senses. The next morning Astrid and Nik separated in order to check on the final details of the upcoming ritual. Day passed in the hurry as Astrid fretted over every last detail. She was in such a hurry that she did not notice that one of the key ingredients for the ritual, one of the sacrifices was missing. And while she was checking on the witches and ritual words, a catastrophe happened in a chamber near her. Elijah sat quietly in his chair, facing the fire with a book in his lap. Without a single sound, he would flip a page. He repeated the same move over and over again. Suddenly Klaus marched into the room, disturbing the silence inside of it. He looked at sitting Elijah and with barely contained rage said:

"What have you done?"
"I don't understand brother."
"Katerina has fled. She is gone."
"No."
"What did you tell her? Have we not warned you not to get close?"
"I told her nothing."

With fury fulling him, Klaus grabbed Elijah and slammed him onto the wall. Black veins appeared around his eyes as he yelled at his brother.

"Do not lie to me! I will not stand any lies!"
"I will find her. You have my word."
"If you do not, I give you my word..."

But before Klaus could finish his threat, a scream echoed the mansion. Such a painful sounding scream caught the attention of both of the brothers, who disregarded their previous argument and ran toward the source of it. What they found stopped them in their track. Their eyes could not comprehend what they were seeing. There, on the floor, in the middle of her room, sat Astrid. Her dress was soaked with blood and she was sitting in a pool of blood. In her hands, she held a dead body of Githa. The poor woman has her throat cut. Near the dead body was laying a broken wooden chest, it's content was missing. Astrid held dearly onto the corpse, her tears falling on the face of the dead woman.

"Astrid what happened?!"
"Katerina happened Elijah! She must have done this!"
"I will find her I promise."

Elijah swore to her before vanishing. He had one intention in mind, to find Katerina. Klaus remained in the room with Astrid. He kneeled next to the weeping lover and held her tightly onto himself. His arms offered comfort for Astrid. When her bitter tears finally stopped and her loss was replaced with the desire to kill and revenge they supported her.

"I want her dead Nik."
"She will die, Astrid. That is non-negotiable. I want her to die as well for her audacity to try to run away from me."
"I don't want her to just die. I want her to truly suffer. To make her feel pain the equal way that she made me feel."
"Do you have a plan? You sound like you do my love."
"I have. It's a plan you would be proud of. Fits your time of punishment perfectly, and it will send a fitting message as well."
"Then lead on my dear."

Astrid stud up from the bloody floor she was on and crossed the room toward a large bookshelf. On it, she pulled out a book, with a blank cover and opened it. She stopped at the page with a map of Bulgaria. Next, she took a book placed next to it, and from there procured out a vial filled with blood. Turning around she showed them to Klaus as she placed them on a desk.

"This is my plan. During one of our daily walks, she admitted to me that she still yearns for her family, that they still hold a place in her heart. So, as a way of paying her back for taking Githa away fro me, I will take her family away from her."
"How will you track where her family is? Katerina never mentioned from where exactly in Bulgaria she is from."
"That is where her blood comes in. With my magic, I will track a locator spell on this map. But instead of focusing on where she is, I will focus on her family. It will work, I can feel it."
"Then do your magic and we will be on our way."

Astrid spread the map on the table and started to chant. As she chanted Klaus dropped a small amount of blood onto the map. Slowly the blood started to move until it stopped over a spot.

"There. This is where the Petrova family currently resides."
"I will get the horses ready."

Astrid nodded to Klaus as he left. She rose up, changed into a simpler dress and started to pack the map, the blood and other essentials for the revenge voyage. Before leaving the room, she turned back one last time to look at the dead body and blew out the candle, emerging the room into darkness.

Chapter Text

1700's, New World

The night was dark, covered in clouds so crowded, not even the light of the Moon could penetrate it. The wind was non-existing and the flog glided across the murky water of the sea. The crickets joined in with the birds in their nightly song. A single ship slowly travelled through the mist as it approached the shore. Men gathered around the shore with lamps in their hands, wondering if they should investigate and board the ship. The young leader of those men came to the edge of the shore with his friend. The second young man spoke, breaking the silence.

"What do you make of that?"
"No banner; no flag. Floated in out of nowhere. It must be a miracle ship."
"Why is it just sitting out there?"
"Suppose we ought to find out. Men! Gather the board, we are boarding this ship."

One by one, a group of 5 men boarded the small wooden vessels and sets off toward the larger ship. Slowly they started to approach the ship, not knowing that they were walking toward their death. As the men came closer, on the ship a conversation was occurring. Two women, dressed in lavish gowns are standing near the dust-covered stairs. The first one was dressed in a light blue dress, her blond hair arranged in curls with a small piece of hair hanging down on her shoulder. Her slightly taller companion was dressed in a pastel pink dress with rose pattern spread across it. Her light brown hair was designed in a snug braid. Their appearance seemed almost angelic if only they weren't inside a dusty old vessel. Next to the woman dressed in pink was a blond man. He was dressed in a simple military uniform with a tie around his neck. The final person on the vessel was another man, this one was dressed in much simpler and elegant black clothing with a white tie. A single oil lantern illumined them. The blond woman spoke first.

"Please tell me this journey is almost over brother. I cannot stand it here any longer." The blond woman complained.
"Patience Rebekah, we shall soon arrive. The land cannot be much further."

Her older brother calmly replied back. Soon after that, the other man voiced his thoughts.

"Yes, listen to Elijah, Bekah and keep quiet. I can not stand any more of your complaining."
"Be nice to your sister Nik. I will not stand for a second more of your bickering during this journey. So stop or I will make you stop, understand Nik?"
"Crystally clear Astrid."
"Good."
The woman settled by crossing her arms. The man dressed in black spoke next, as he lifted the lantern.

"You are a Godsend sometimes Astrid."
"Only sometimes Elijah? I beg to differ. She is the only one who can stop Niklaus's temper, far better than even you."

Rebekah replied in an annoyed voice. Astrid lowered her head in an effort to conceal an appearing blush on her cheeks. Near her, Klaus let out a growl. He was displeased at the way his sister was talking about him.

"Do mind your tongue Rebekah, or you might find yourself in a coffin keeping company to our brothers."
"That is enough Niklaus!"
"I agree with Elijah Nik, now is not the time. Can't you hear? The men are already boarding the ship."
"Thank you, Astrid, now I believe is time to scatter."

Elijah said before gently blowing and putting out the fire in the lantern. With that, the darkness covered everyone as they moved to the corners of the ship. Soon the sound of the creaking floorboards was joined by the footsteps of men boarding the vessel. They opened the hatch and came down the wooden stairs. One of the men in front was carrying a lantern, it's light illuminated small pieces of the dusty cargo. The second man who came down started to look around, not moving much away from the rest of the group.

"Where in the hell is everyone? "
"Deserted. Which makes everything in the hold legally forfeit. Take what suits you."

The second man says as he points toward two black coffins on the ground. Even from the first look, it is obvious that they were expensive. Black wood covered them and on top laid a golden crest.

"What do you make of that?"
"Open it up."

The man hesitated for a bit, he wasn't sure if he should. In the end, he obeyed the order and with a lever opened the coffin. To their shock, inside the coffin laid a body of a young man with a dagger in his chest. The corpses body was well preserved but it was grey and covered in dark veins. The man who opened it dropped the lid of the coffin in shock and they all stepped a few steps away.

"What the hell?!"

He exclaimed. Suddenly to the shock of the men, a door opens in the dark. That sound brings the attention of the men from the coffin. Without any sound, Astrid runs across the shadows and pulls one of the men into the dark. She quickly snaps his neck and starts to feed off his neck. Using the confusion caused by the sudden disappearance of one of them, Rebekah snatches another of the men. The man who is still alive brings up his lantern to see who's taking his men. Since both Astrid and Rebekah had finished feeding of the poor men they chose to make themselves known. Together the appeared behind the man, their eyes still covered in black veins and with blood at the corners of their mouths. Astrid silently informs Rebekah that she can speak first.

"Hello."

The simple greeting scares the man and he turns around to face the two women. Astrid pulls out two handkerchiefs and passes one to her friend to clean herself of blood.

"Lovely to see such a handsome face after a long journey. Do you agree with me, Astrid?"
"I do. It is quite pleasant to see a living soul once more."
"Can I eat him, brother?"
"I'd rather you didn't."

Elijah says as he appears from the shadows. The now scared man starts to feel even more perplexed and frightened. As an attempt to calm the man down, Elijah gives him a small smile.

"There's no need to be afraid." Elijah says as he approaches the man. He makes eye contact with the scared man and it's already over. He is compelled to obey every order given to him. "And do exactly as I say. You will remember nothing."

"I will remember nothing." The man repeats back.
"We've had a very long journey, wherein which, unfortunately, we lost all of our crew. Therefore, I will ask you kindly to transport our belongings to the shore."
"What kind of hell demons are you?"
"We're vampires, darling. The Original vampires: Rebekah, Elijah, Astrid, our brothers Kol and Finn; may they rest in peace."

Suddenly a loud noise coming from outside stops her from talking further. They all turn back to the stairs, where at the entrance on the deck in Klaus. In his hands is a dead corpse of a man and his mouth is covered in blood.

"Are we saving the best for last?" He comments.
"And our half-brother, Niklaus. Ignore him; he's a beast." Rebekah says with contempt.
"I have to agree with you on this one." Astrid says to Rebekah.
"Now, now. You don't have to be so rude to me Astrid."

Klaus says before he drops the body down the stars at the feet of the two women. Elijah comes closer as well.

"We fled Europe and survived the seas. Would you rather I arrive hungry on the shores of our new homeland?" Klaus continues to speak.
"Niklaus, your manners are, as always, without equal. Sir, would you be so good as to tell us where it is that we have landed?"
"The French colony of Louisiana, off the shores of a town they have named New Orleans." Came a frightened reply.
"Thank you so much. Oh, I do recommend that you find yourself further assistance for the luggage. My sincere apologies."
"Oh, they do seem quite sincere Elijah."

Astrid mumbles before following both Elijah and Rebekah up onto the deck of the ship, leaving the poor man to figure out how to transport everything to the shore. As the man turned around to start the work be finally saw the fate of his comrades. The interior walls of the ship were covered in blood and dead bodies laid on the floor. Astrid joined the rest of the siblings at the deck, who looked at the shore of their new home, not knowing what will happen to them.

New Orleans, 1820

A party was in the full swing at the Governer's house. Many guests chattered and laughed. Many women walked around and gossiped at one another about the dresses and jewellery. The Governor who was also the host of this party was a very popular man, who invited many of his associates and patrons to the party. One of his biggest patrons was the Mikaelson family, who had an almost free reign over New Orleans and had their secrets safe simply by giving the Governor repeated payments of gold. In order to keep the Mikaelson's support on his side, the Governor would constantly throw lavish parties for them. At first, Astrid enjoyed the parties but they soon started to bore her. The only reason why she continued to attend them is to keep making and spreading her associations and influence. The big reason why she also came is to supervise Rebekah's meetings with the Governor's son, Emil, who Rebehak became fond of. It was during one of those parties that everything changed.

The music was playing across the room as both Astrid and Rebekah entered the large room that was filled with guests. They both looked beautiful. Rebekah had her hair done in a tight bun with braids and curls on the top. She wore a light white dress with a bluish-green coat over it. The coat was made out of silk and it reached the floor and her elbows. Simple pearl earring adorned her ears. Astrid wore a contrasting dress. Her dress was dark green with purple bows on the sides and on the front. Her brown hair was placed in a tight bun with bangs curled on her face. Golden earring and a golden necklace embellished with a few purple gems enhanced her skin. People bowed to them as they passed and they bowed back since manners were highly important back then. As they passed through the crown a young man, who was dressed in fine robes, approached them. Seeing the young man Rebekah started to walk a bit faster in order to meet up with him. Astrid knew what was happening and left the young couple to have a moment alone before she joined them. When their chaste kiss ended, she approached them.

"Good day to you Emil."
"Same to you Madame. Hope you are enjoying the party?"
"Quite. Have you seen Klaus or Elijah by any chance? It appears I cannot find them."
"I'm afraid that I cannot help you, Madame."
"Shame. Well then, I will go look for them. And you can have a dance together. After that please find me, Rebekah."
"Of course sister. One dance and then we will find you."
"That is all I ask."

Astrid said before bowing to Rebekah and Emil. When they bowed back she turned around and started to look around. After failing to find either of the brothers, she climbed the stairs. There the corridors were empty as the guests kept only to the lower floor. Astrid listened very closely and soon heard sounds. Since the human guests were on the lower floor, the sounds could only belong to one of the siblings. Lucky for her, instead of one brother, she found both. She found Elijah kissing a familiar Creole woman against the wall and Klaus was sitting on a lounge chair between two bodies that belonged to women. Before she could approach any further, the woman, whose name was Celeste, spoke.

"Your brother. He's gone too far."

She commented to Elijah. Indeed it was true, both women were silent as Klaus feed on one of them. It was clear that they were dead. Astrid now came shoulder to shoulder next to Elijah.

"Indeed he has. Have you no manner Nik?" She scolded him.
"Niklaus, there is no hope for you, is there?" Elijah joined in.
"Of course there is, Elijah. Nik only has to find it. But judging by his behaviour all these years, he won't even try. Isn't that right dear Nik?"

Astrid said once again. Klaus raised his head from the dead woman's arm and looked at her. Instead of bitting even harder as he would do if Elijah was the one complaining, he let the hand go and pulled out a napkin to wipe out the blood. For Astrid's sake, he would do anything and she knew that. Not a moment later after he cleaned himself did Rebekah approach with Emil.

"Are we interrupting?" She asked.
"Yes." Came a reply from Klaus.
"No." Was the reply of Elijah.
"Unfortunately." And that was the reply she received from Astrid, who tried to hide the bloodied napkin.
"Dearest Elijah. You've only ever wished happiness for me. Emil and I are in love. Please, let me turn him." She begged her brother.
"Rebekah, the governor has graciously agreed to hide a lot of our... indiscretions. It would not do to turn his son into one of us."
"Please. For me."
"Rebekah, I do not think that is a good idea. What if...." Astrid started to speak to Rebekah in order to discourage her from doing it. But before she could finish the sentence Klaus interrupted her.
"It's not going to happen, Sister. If we turned every man you dropped your knickers for, then human beings would cease to exist and we'd have no bloody food." At that comment, Emil, who kept quiet during the talk spoke up. He intended to defend his beloveds honour.
"How dare you, sir! You would do well to treat –"

Unfortunately, before the young man could finish the sentence Klaus rose up from his place and grabbed him by the throat. With slow steps, he started to push the man toward the balcony where once they reached the end planned to push him. Astrid ran toward Klaus in order to stop him from killing the human. She got there just in time before he was pushed and pulled Klaus' hands of Emil.

"Stop it Niklaus! This is not the proper way of proving your point. There is no reason why you should endanger his life!"
"This is the only way to prove my point, Astrid. Don't you see?! Humans are fragile, they break and they die every day. Why should we turn this one man when soon after his death, Rebekah will move on?!"

Astrid went to push Klaus further away from Emil but she did not she Emil move. He wanted to help Astrid and at the moment forgot that they were not humans. So he found himself on a partial way of her push and that was the end for him. The strong force pushed him over the balcony and he fell several stories down before hitting the ground. His death was instantaneous. It took one second for Astrid to connect what has happened and once she did, her brain shut down. Tears started running down her face as she covered her mouth with her palms. She was in such a state of shock that she did not register the cries of Rebekah, nor did she register Klaus taking her away to the back entrance, where their carriage awaited them. He forced her into the carriage and signalled to leave. Once the carriage made quite a distance from the Governor's house, Astrid makes a movement. Her tears stopped streaming down her face but her hands were still trembling. Her make up was smudged all over her face. She just couldn't calm herself down and the constant guilt did not help her mind. Seeing the state she was in, Klaus kept his mouth shut and just embraced her. He knew that his touch was the only comfort he could give her. It was just like in the past when they were human and she lost her beloved mother. Astrid kept repeating that one second in her head, over and over again, torturing herself with the notion that if she had done something different Emil would still be alive. Her consciousness screamed at her 'Guilty! Guilty! You murderer! Rebekah will never forgive you! Never!'. Those thoughts twisted in her mind until she ended at her breaking point. Suddenly Astrid fled the warm embrace, stud up and in desperate plan took off her Lapis Lazuli ring. She threw the ring at Klaus and opened the carriage door letting the sunlight in. The sun started to burn her skin.

"Astrid no!"

Klaus yelled as soon as he realised what her plan was. She was planning to kill herself out of guilt for one man's death. He immediately shut the door, locking it and without a second thought, snapped her neck. The sound of neck snapping never sounded so sick to his ears, but he knew it was the only way to stop her. In her current vulnerable state, she could do something truly foolish. Klaus gently placed her body down on the seats and picked up the ring that was on the floor. With a gentle motion what no one would ever associate with Klaus, he slid the ring back onto her finger and placed a kiss over it.

"What am I going to do with you love?"

He muttered to himself as he tenderly caressed Astrid's lifeless face. The carriage continued to run its course until a beautiful house was reached. As the footman opened the doors, Klaus picked up the body in a bridal style and approached the entrance of the house. A black maid opened the door and worry immediately appeared on her face, seeing her favourite mistress in such a state.

"My Lord, have mercy on us! What happened Master Klaus?"
"Nothing concerning you Ida. Return to your work at once. I will handle Astrid."
"As you wish Master. Ring if you need any assistance. I shall return to my work at once."

The maid said before closing the door and hurrying back to her assigned post. There she started to spread the word about poor Mistress's health to other servants. They all became very worried since they adored their kind Mistress. She treated them humanely and never hit them. Unlike their previous masters who would beat and abuse them constantly. Ida still remembered when she and a few other black servants were purchased by Mistress Astrid at the slave market.

The Louisiana sun shone brightly. A dozen of slaves came off a boat, their limbs covered in chains. Men and women were carted off to plank stands and displayed like prized cattle to the potential buyers. Among the crowd was Astrid, dressed in a silk satin dress with a lace umbrella to keep the sun away from her skin. She sat in an open carriage as she passed near the slave market. People made way for the carriage as it approached the core of the market.

"Stop here George. I wish to take a look."
"As you wish Mistress."

The servant stopped the horse and opened the doors of the carriage for his mistress. Astrid came out and without looking back to check if the servant was following her, approached one of the slave owners. Seeing a rich woman approach him, he immediately gave her what he assumed was a charming smile and bowed.

"Madam. It is a pleasure seeing you here again. Have you come to check out the new merchandise?"
"I have Philip. The last time we did business I was quite satisfied with the purchase, so I returned once again. I hope you will not disappoint me with bad merchandise." She replied in a cold tone.
"You Madam?! Never. I would never dare to cross you, Madame."
"We shall see that. Now show me the latest arrivals."
"Right this way Madame."

The sleazy man leads her to a group of young woman. There were five of them in total, all pretty young, around the age of 20 to 25. The women noiselessly looked at the floor as Astrid approached every one of them.

"Have they been beaten?"
"No Madame. They are all quite docile so there was no need so far."
"I see. I will not be pleased if I find that anyone has laid a hand on my merchandise."
"You have my word. So does that mean that you will buy them, Madame?"
"Yes, I believe I will. I am willing to pay 3500 dollars for all five of them."
"3500 dollars?! But Madame, these two are worth at least 800 dollars each!"

The man yelled at Astrid. He had hoped to gain a bit more for all five of them since he knew that Madame Astrid could certainly afford higher prices. Astrid looked the man into the eyes and compelled him.

"You will sell them to me for 3500 dollars, not a dollar more. Understood Philip?"
"Understood Madame. The set price is 3500 dollars. I will bring you the ownership papers to sign and the keys to the chains."

The man turned around to do as he said. Astrid meanwhile took one last look at the women she now legally owned. They all seemed like they made peace with their fate of being slaves until their untimely deaths. She then turned back toward the road heading toward the city and called upon one of the boys hanging near the market. When the young boy approached her she looked at him and say.

"What is your name boy?"
"Noah Madame."
"Now Noah, I have a task for you. I will give you 1 golden coin if you run and hire a man with a wagon equipped with horses. Tell him I have some slaves to transport. He will receive proper payment. Do all that all I will give you another gold piece."

The young boy ran with excitement to the nearest farmer. All he could think of was on what he could spend those two gold pieces that he received from that kind lady. A man was soon hired and within half an hour he was ready to follow given orders. Once Astrid secured the transport she turned to the slave woman and one by one, unlocked their chains. Once every woman was no longer bound by metal shackles Astrid spoke to all of them.

"With this you are free. I will not have slaves as servants. You are now free women. If you wish I will let you leave, with proper papers confirming your freedom. Those who wish to be free and leave speak up."

One woman stepped out. She was the oldest by her features and clearly the leader of other women.

"Why are you setting us free?"
"Because I do not believe in slavery. It is simply wrong. All the servants that are employed in my house are free men and women, they receive proper payments and food for their service."
"If that is true as you say, Madame, they I will gladly serve you."
"I am glad. Tell me your name."
"It is Ida Madame. And these are Ama, Hannah, Kesiah and Aya."
"Alright then, climb in."

With haste pace, all women climbed in and sat together. Seeing as they are all set for travelling, Astrid walked back to her carriage and climbed in as well. With a simple nod, she signalled the coachmen to head back to her home. The wagon followed soon after.

That is how Ida and the rest of the servants came into Mistress Astrid's service and have remained there since. Altho they were all free, no one left. They came to care for their Mistress Astrid and served her and Master Klaus, Master Elijah and Mistress Rebekah with great care. They devotedly kept the secret of Mistress Astrid and Master Klaus from the rest of the Mikaelson siblings.

Klaus gently carried Astrid's body to her room and placed her onto the sheets with utmost care. Once he made sure that the ring was secure on her hand and that the curtains were pulled over the windows, he relaxed a bit. Klaus pulled up one of her chairs and sat near the head of the bed, looking at her angelic face.

"Oh love, whatever I could do without you?"

Chapter Text

Astrid laid still on the bed. She had woken up several moments ago but she made no gesture to show she did. Without opening her eyes, which seemed as if they were made of stone, she perceives her surroundings. At first, the feeling of comfort and peace mislead her to believe that she was indeed dead. But once the smell of flowers and dust filled her senses, she knew, that she was home in her room, and very much alive. Slowly she rose up and placed her feet on the ground. A ray of sunlight broke into the room and shone onto the blue stone. The ring looked as if it was glowing. Astrid quickly closed the curtains shut because she just couldn't stand anything, not at that moment at least. Memories of the previous events gradually began to resurface in her mind. Astrid tried to stop them, but they just continued to fly before her eyes. A stiff feeling started to spread in her body and it was developing from her neck. She knew well enough what that was the cause for her uncomfortable neck, Klaus snapped it. A surge of anger overcame the guilt and sadness. Klaus had never hit her or abused her in any way so this break of trust angered her deeply. She was so angry at him, he gave her his word that he will never hurt her in any way and yet, he did snap her neck just a few hours ago. All she wanted was to leave her room and teach her dear Nik a lesson on breaking promises. With angry steps, she walked toward the door. Just as she set her hand on the handle a thought came to her mind. What if Rebekah came back? What would she say to her? Will Rebekah hate her? Those thoughts made her step back from the door in a panic. She wasn't ready to face Rebekah and the crushing reality that she was the one who murdered Emil. A knock broke her chain of thinking.

"Astrid, love? Are you alright? May I come in?"

Within a blink of an eye, Astrid bolted the door between Klaus and her. A mere wooden door like that offered no substantial resistance to Klaus and if he wished to enter, but he respected her boundaries and wasn't intending on entering without his beloved's permission. Her voice was filled with disdain and panic.

"Go away Nik! I do not wish to speak with you! Leave me alone!"
"I cannot do that love. I need to make sure you are alright."

Astrid curled up on the floor with her back against the door. At the same time, she needed to be so close and so very far away from Klaus. She wanted his comforting presence around her but she felt that she would break if he showed her even a trace of blame. With her hands, she covered her eyes and begged to be let alone. After a while, seeing as she wasn't planning on opening the door, Klaus left to the dining room. There he poured himself a glass of bourbon, sat down on a sofa and waited. He wasn't sure how long he sat there but a noise of two pairs of feet broke the silence. He poured himself another glass before facing his siblings. Elijah was as composed as always, his stoic attitude back in full force. Celeste was not with him. It was probably better this way. Rebekah, on the other hand, looked far from composed. Bloodshot eyes and disordered hair ruined her once beautiful hair. She lost every single speck of delight on her, it was all replaced by deep sorrow. She started to walk toward Klaus but Elijah grabbed her before she made more than three steps.

"Where is Astrid Niklaus?" He asked, for Rebekah's sake.
"Locked inside her room. Currently refuses to come out. She has been like this since she woke up."
"She was resting, brother?"
"No, no she wasn't. I might have....snapped her neck on the way home."
"Niklaus! How dare you! You never laid your hands on her! Why did you do it?! It is enough what happened at the Governor's house but this as well?!"
"I had no choice, Elijah!" Klaus yelled back as he threw the glass containing his liquor at the wall. "She was about to jump out into the sunlight without her right if I had not stopped her! Do not give me lectures on what I should have done!"
"She what?!" This response came from Rebekah. Her voice was hoarse from the previous crying. Elijah was rooted at his spot. He did not expect this answer from his brother. What he expected was some kind of justification for Niklaus' foul temper outrunning his logic.
"Yes, dear sister. It is as I said. Astrid attempted to kill herself out of guilt for what happened!" Klaus' cynical reply followed.
"But...It was an accident...Even I see it as such.." Rebekah replied weakly.
"In her eyes, it was not. Think about it, Rebekah. Astrid has always been like this, even when we were humans. She would always take the blame all on herself for whatever incident happened. She continued to blame herself for Henrik's death for centuries after." Came a composed statement from Elijah. Rebekah was horrified at what guilt might do to her almost sister and without any regard for manners, ran all the way to the doors of Astrid's room. There against the door sat Ida, one of Astrid's most faithful servants as Rebekah recalled.

"You are dismissed, Ida. Return to your duties."
"But Mistress Rebekah, my duty is to Mistress Astrid. She is starving herself and refuses any food. Please, Mistress Rebekah, help her."
"I can only help her if you leave the two of us alone Ida."
"If that is what it takes, then I will leave. May God bless you, Mistress Rebekah."

Ida said before walking away from the door and leaving the hall. That left Rebekah all alone, with Astrid on the other side of the door. With a little force, she knocked on the wooden door three times.

"Astrid, I know you are in there. Please open those doors. I need to see you."
"Go away! I cannot talk to you! Please just leave me alone!" Came a reply. Astrid sounded as if she is crying.
"I cannot do that dear sister. Please..."
"No! For the love of God, I already told you, I cannot open these doors."
"You cannot or you do not want to? There is a difference sister."
"Please, Rebekah I am begging you. Do not call me sister. I am not worth it."
"Yes, you are. I do not blame you for Emil's death. It was an accident, Astrid. I saw that you tried to help. You never meant to harm him in any way."
"Do you truly believe that? You do not blame me for his death?"
"No, I do not. Now open those doors. I need the comfort of my sister."

At those tender words spoken to her, Astrid stud up from the floor where she sat crying and unlocked the door. Once the wooden door was unlocked a blur of blond hair entered Astrid's field of vision. Immediately she found herself in Rebekah's embrace. Both women started crying in each other's arms. They clasped to each other as if they were sinking in the sea of guilt and sadness and to each other, the other woman was a lifeboat which kept them alive.

 

Emil's burial preparations were finished in two days since the incident at the Governor's house. During those two days, the Mikaelson siblings tried to show that they do not blame Astrid for his death, the most prominent of them was of course Rebekah. Once the day for the burial had arrived they adored their black clothes and left to join the procession. Astrid remained in the house, dressed in black with a pearl rosary in her hands. She said that she doesn't feel worthy to be there and instead decided to spend the day in prayer for the deceased. The rest of the siblings followed her wishes and left her alone at the house. Astrid locked herself inside the dining room with few of the servants who joined her for the prayers. The servants weren't going to leave their dear mistress to grieve all alone. At the funeral procession, Rebekah walked at the end with her brothers at her sides. They were all dressed in mourning clothes, their faces sullen. At the head, a horse carriage was carrying the coffin immediately being followed by the Governor and his wife. The rest of the grieving people separated the two groups. As they passed a small forest a scream of pain gathers the attention of the immortals. Klaus stopped to look more closely. The painful sound belonged to a small black boy who was kneeling on the forest ground. Near him, on a horse, sat a white man with a whip ready to strike him again. Instead of curling on the ground, the boy seizes a rotting apple and hurls it at the man. It was obvious to Klaus, that the boy hated the man, he could see it in the boys' eyes. So when the man went to strike the poor boy again, he decided to act. With his immense speed, he takes a nearby stone and frows it at the mans' forehead. The stone hits its target and the man drops dead. Seeing that his tormentor was dead, the boy turns to face Klaus while clutching his bleeding shoulder. Rebekah and Elijah remained at their places, quietly looking at what will happen next. They weren't sure how to take Klaus' expression, they knew he was mad but at what exactly they did not know. Klaus approached the boy and stopped just a few steps away from him.

"What is your name boy?"
"Don't got one. Mama wouldn't name me till I turned ten, 'case the fever took me... then it took her." The boy replied gloomily. Klaus kneeled next to the child so he could look into his eyes.
"You're a survivor, and survivors need names. How about Marcellus?"
"Marcellus, sir?"
"It comes from Mars, the god of war, and it means 'little warrior'." He explains. Klaus then stands up and offers Marcellus his hand. The newly names boy hesitates at first but then smiles and takes the offered hand. As the two of walked back to Elijah and Rebekah, Elijah commented.

"Perhaps there is hope for our brother, after all."
"Perhaps, but the more pressing issue is, how will Astrid take to the boy?" Rebekah replied in the same quiet tone.

Klaus takes the boy by his other shoulder, careful not to affect the injured one and starts to lead him back to where they left their carriage. The boy is not alarmed to see a black servant waiting for them, but he is surprised to see him so finely dressed and what surprises him, even more, is the polite treatment the man bestowed his servant. The three adults and one child get in the carriage and with a small signal the carriage heads off. Marcellus remained quiet in the carriage, soaking in the people and their appearance. He pays his attention to the woman who is sitting across from the boy while the two brothers quietly discuss what to do next. Once they arrive at the house, Marcellus is speechless. It takes Klaus a while before he manages to convince the boy that he is allowed to enter the house and that his room will be there as well. Elijah leaves the carriage last and whispers into his brother's ear.

"Is it wise to let the boy in dressed like that?"
"I do not see the problem in his appearance."
"Have you not thought that Astrid might get a wrong impression if she sees him like that."
"I shall deal with that when the time comes."
"If you say so, brother. Do be careful with how you approach her, she might not be in the best spirit."

Klaus slightly nodded his head as to show Elijah that he had heard him. He then starts to lead the boy to the parlour. There on the divan sat Astrid, still dressed in mourning clothes being served tea by Ida, her main servant. Once Klaus makes his presence known, Ida sets the ceramic teapot down, bows and retreats to the side of the room. Astrid continues to stip her tea, not looking up.

"Why are you here now Nik? I wish to be alone."
"I'm afraid it cannot wait. There is someone I wish for you to meet."
"Who might that be? I am aware that you returned early from the funeral? Has something happened?" She took a sip of her tea after asking the questions. The tone she used was not so welcoming for further conversation.
"Something has indeed happened Astrid. It involves this young boy here."

Klaus says as he pushed Marcellus toward her. The boy takes that as a sign to great the woman.

"Hello, Madame."

Astrid nearly drops her cup at the sound of the voice. She had expected Klaus to bring a man to the parlour, not a young boy. He barely sounded 10. She looks up toward the visiting voice. He was dressed in rags and by the scent of fresh blood, she could tell that he was wounded. It did not matter to her that the boy was black, which reasonably meant that he was a slave. She promptly sets down her cup and beckons the boy to come closer so she can see him in greater details. Marcellus comes closer and is immediately sat down at the sofa next to the woman. To him, she looks kind and loving, like a mother would look like. That quickly remind him of his own deceased mother.

"What is your name boy?"
"Marcellus, Madame."
"Marcellus? What an odd name."
"I named him such Astrid."
"Well, that explains it then. You always did give odd names."
"It suits him."
"Well, maybe it does, but just to be sure we will call you Marcell in short. How does that sound dear Marcell?"
"It sounds nice Madame."
"Now let us see what shall we do with you Marcell. A bath is definitely in order, as well as a nice meal and fresh clothes. Make sure it all happens, Ida."
"As you wish Mistress. Come, dear boy. Let us take care of you."

Ida says before leading Marcell away. Astrid takes an empty cup and fills it with tea. Then she adds sugar. Without a single indication of distress, she lifts her palm and breaks the skin on her finger. She then lets three drops of blood fall into the cup before removing her palm. With the beverage ready she then rings another maid.

"Hannah, please come here."
"You rang Mistress?"
"Yes. Here is a cup of tea I wish you to give to our young guest after he is done with his bath. He must take if after his meal and before you let him sleep. Understood?"
"Understood Mistress."

The maid bows before leaving. Once the servant leaves, Klaus finally moves. He takes a seat next to Astrid, where she previously sat Marcell down. In an instinctive move, she moves a bit closer to him and places her hands in his. With her head now on his shoulder they continue to speak a bit more privately.

"I see you have taken him under your care love."
"Of course I have Nik. You are aware of my opinion on how children should be treated. But what I want to know is where did you find the boy and who does he belong to? We could get in trouble for taking someone else's slave."
"I shall handle that myself."
"Well do it quickly. It has been a long time since we had fresh blood in his house and I believe he will make a fine addition to our misplaced family."
"As you wish love. But I am curious, why have you accepted the boy so quickly?"
"Because...I see my chance of redemption in him. I have taken an unnecessary life and now, I have a chance to help one life become better."
"I see. Well then love, I shall see you once I finish some business with the Governor."
"Goodbye Nik."

They part ways after an embrace and a tender kiss. Klaus leaves the property again to arrange Marcell's freedom from the Governor. Astrid returns to her duties of running the house and checking over all the necessities that Marcell would need, like plenty of clothes and a nice room. During her inspection of his possible bedroom does she remember to get materials for his education, such as a possible tutor and writing instruments. By the time the boy is finished with his bath and meal, the room for him is ready.

Days pass and they turn into weeks and weeks into months since Marcell came into the Mikaelson home. Astrid had done everything she could to make his stay pleasant. As a matter of tutors, she had given up on the idea. No man was willing to educate a former slave, so the siblings took it up themselves. Elijah taught him how to play the piano, Astrid taught him how to read, write and speak both English and French, Rebekah decided to teach him how to properly fence and Klaus taught him horse riding and math. Marcell soaked all the offered knowledge like a sponge. Never did he protest that is was too hard for him. He would sometimes talk to Astrid about how he couldn't follow Elijah's instructions or how Rebekah would always beat him in a swordfight. Over time he began to view her as his mother and Klaus as his father to which they were both very delighted about. It was during one of their talks that he first called her mother.

"I can never land even a single hit on Rebekah. It just isn't fair."
"You are making is so much easier for people to tease you, Marcell. Of course, she is untouchable to you, she has been practising for decades. You have barely started."
"I know, I just wish she could go a bit easier on me."
"Now, now don't let her hear it. She might stop your lessons altogether."
"Oh please do not tell her mother. I enjoy her lessons, I do."

Astrid was surprised at the way Marcell addressed her. She was aware that he revered her, but never in a way that he saw her as his mother. She placed her palm on his cheek and moved his head so he could face her.

"Do not be ashamed Marcell. I would be honoured if you continue to call me mother. That is if you wish so."
"I do mother, I do."
"Then you can call me mother as much as you like."

She said before receiving a massive hug from a delighted Marcell. She laughed and held him back before gently parting from him. She gave him a mischief look.

"Now as much as I would enjoy your company, I believe you are late for your fencing lessons my dear boy. Of you go."
"Oh no." The boy said. He stands up and runs for the door. Before leaving he turned and faced Astrid one more time. "I will make you proud one day mother. I give you my word."
"I will hold you to it my son."

Astrid gently says as the door closes in front of her. Her words are too quiet for him to hear but he smiles all the way to the courtyard. There he seems Rebekah waiting for him alongside with Klaus.

"You are late Mercell." She complains.
"I am sorry. Mother wanted to talk to me again." He apologizes.

At his words both Klaus and Rebekah slightly pause. They weren't aware of the change in the connection between Astrid and Marcell. Without ushering a single word they decided that a talk with Astrid will have to occur later on. Back in the parlour, Astrid sets down her teacup, which is empty of tea and Ida comes closer to pour some more. During the process of pouring the tea, the maid looks up to her mistress and speaks up.

"Mistress, may I say something that has been on my mind for a long time? My conscience does not allow me to stay quiet any longer."
"Then speak Ida. Tell me what is troubling you. While you are at it, sit down and have a cup of tea. I have a feeling it is quite serious. "
"It is Mistress. It started to bother me on the day young Marcell came here-?"
"Is he bothering you anyhow? If that is the matter then I shall talk to him."
"No, the boy has been perfect. He belongs here, all the servants can say that. It is just that..."
"Go on Ida, no one will punish you for speaking."
"I felt something different about your aura Mistress. It felt wrong, almost evil."
"Explain."
"I first felt it when Master Klaus carried you into the house after the Governor's party. You were unconscious but your aura felt as if it was polluted as if some evil presence was looming over you. And then you locked yourself in your chambers. I felt once again when I cleaned your room Mistress. The presence was there and it had ill-disposed intentions toward you. But ever since young Marcell has arrived in this house, the presence somehow diminished."
"I see. That does sound troubling. What I do want to know, is how were you able to sense the proximity of magic here?" Astrid queried. The maid looked at her cup before answering.
"I have magic with me, Mistress. Not much like some but enough to sense it around me."
"That means that you are aware of the Other Side? That all the witches end following their departure from this world?"
"I am aware, yes."
"Which means that someone from the other side tried to push me over the edge of an emotion-based cliff."
"What shall you do Mistress?"
"Nothing. Until I come face to face with that person, I will do nothing. I do pray to the ancestors that it never occurs, but what who knows what the future brings for us. And you Ida, you will keep quiet about this talk. I do not want a single soul to learn even a single word of what was spoken today, understood?"
"Understood Mistress."
"Good, now clean this up, please. I have some pressing matters to attend to."

Astrid said before walking out. As she climbed the stair she started to think. 'So you made your move. Clever, but it would take a lot more to defeat me. Now it is my turn and you better watch out Esther. You will not control anyone, mark my words.'

Chapter Text

The summer weather was in its full swing in the city of New Orleans. The heat was high and constant rain brought a stop to the horse riding lessons at the Mikaelson estate. Seeing as he had nothing else to teach Marcell, Klaus occupied himself with art and painting. He painted portraits of Marcell, of Elijah and Rebekah and of course of his beloved wife. He took additional time with every single aspect of her painting. But even after that, he found himself restless and on edge. Elijah occupied himself with young Marcell's education and Rebekah was still mourning the loss of Emil. The only person who enjoys time with him was Astrid. And so he found himself seeking her presence once again. The heat was quite uncomfortable in the house so he went to seek her outside. Eventually, he found his beloved in the gardens behind the house. The large trees swayed their brittle branches in the wind and the sound of birds which hid in them could be heard. There among nature, a beautiful wooden gazebo was located. It's white pillars held a large roof. On the sides between each pillar white vines spread. It seemed like the gazebo came from a fairytale. To Klaus, it seemed so. Because under the shadow of the gazebo sat his beloved Astrid, the queen of his heart. Sitting alone on the chair with an old book in her hands. She was dressed in a pale yellow dress with her hair held up in a simple bun. Seeing her like this, Klaus felt a desire to paint her once again but he withholds from that. He came here to her with a purpose. As if sensing his presence Astrid look up and greeted him with a warm smile. She placed down her book on a nearby tea table. Its golden heading reflected the sun.

 

"Hello, Nik."
"Hello love."

 

He greeted her back before sitting down next to her and kissing her cheek. She smiled at his open show of affection, which became rare ever since they settled down in New Orleans and accepted Marcell.

 

"I was looking for you love."
"Oh, have you? For what purpose?"
"So there must be a purpose for me to see my spouse? Can I not be spontaneous, my love?"
"You spontaneous? I do not think so. You always did everything with a reason in mind."
"You wound me, my love. Truly." He said in a joking manner while placing her palm over his heart. "Can you not feel my wounded heart?"
"Oh stop it with your theatre Nik. You are well. I would never cause you harm."
"I know love. I know." He placed a kiss onto the palm he held in his hand.
"So what brings you to my peace of heaven? Has something happened in the house?"
"No, everything is fine. Not a single incident has happened. That is the problem."
"What? Peace is the problem?"
"Yes. We became still. Nothing exciting ever happens here."
"Please, Nik do not tempt fate. Let us enjoy this peace we currently have. I like it here. I do not wish to leave."
"Rest assured my love. I will not endanger our home."
"Will you give me your word?"
"I swear it on my name and honour Astrid that I will not endanger our home here in New Orleans."
"Thank you, Nik. I can breathe peacefully now."

 

Klaus stud up after that. He fully intended to keep with the promise he gave to her. Her happiness was his top desire and it made him happy knowing she was happy as well. But as he walked back to the house, a feeling of dissatisfaction rose in him. Dark thoughts crossed over his face as he entered inside. He wanted her to be happy, yes but this unmoving rest started to grate on his nerves. The itchiness that he felt under his skin to move, to spill more blood like in the past. The gentle sound of the piano made him stop in the hallway. Soon it was followed by the sound of Marcell and Elijah. It was obvious that another piano lesson was currently occurring. Klaus listened for a while before suddenly turning around and heads off to the cellar. The cellar was usually under a lock but with a well-placed key, the old door opened. Cold air danced across his skin as he crossed to the darkest part of the cellar. There in the corner, covered in dust laid two wooden coffins. With a strong push, he opened the first coffin and stared into the still body of his younger brother Kol. The dagger was resting in his chest, and the still brother was still attired in his clothes from Spain where he was daggered. Klaus stared for only another moment before reaching inside the coffin and pulling out the silver dagger. He placed the dagger into his sleeve before moving a step back.

 

"We will have so much fun together brother. I'm sure you will relish in it."

 

With those words, he left the cellar leaving the door wide open.

 

Inside the music room, Elijah is supervising young Marcell's piano lessons. The boy has some talent and he tries but after another failed attempt at performing the given peace he looks up at his mentor.

 

"I can't do it."
"You once said the same thing about reading. And now you are devouring from sonnets to scriptures. So devote yourself to music. Soon you will be young Johann Sebastian Bach."
"But I want to play like you."

 

Elijah gave him a soft smile that told him to be patient. Just as he was about to give the boy more instruction a sound of clapping interrupted them. They turned to face Klaus was leaning to the wall and clapping.

 

"Well isn't this nice. My older brother, my ward. Getting along like two peas in a pot."
"We should continue another time. Off you go."

 

Elijah said sensing his brother's obvious foul mood. Marcell took that as a sign and quickly left the room. In the hallway, the boy met Ida, who he came to adore soon after he joined the family. She was carrying baskets of dirty laundry.

 

"Hello Little Master, aren't you supposed to have piano lessons with Master Elijah right now?"
"I was but them Klaus came in and..."
"Ahh, speak no more. I assume that Master Klaus and Elijah have serious matters to address. Come, you can read me Hamlet as I do the laundry."
"Alright. Do you need help with the baskets?"
"Oh, no dear boy. I can manage it. Now let us go."

 

The two of them start to head toward the servant quarters outside the main house. Ida with the dirty laundry and Marcell with a book in their hands. Meanwhile, the two brothers were still discussing in the music room.

 

"Congratulations. I assume you've been drinking?"
"In Astrid's presence? Never. She despises when I drink. But alas, she is not in the house right now."
"So you did drink? Behind her back?"
"Only to remedy the lifeless monotony that has overcome this household. You know Rebekah's still pouting after the Governor's son."
"When he fell to his death, did you imagine a different outcome?"

 

Klaus poured himself another cup of wine before facing his brother again.

 

"You monopolize young Marcellus with schooling. So does Astrid as well. He and I used to have such fun."

 

He made a pause as he lowered down the bottle of wine. He continued to speak slowly as Elijah started to leave the room.

 

"If only there was someone I can share a bit of roguery. Ahh yes, there is."

 

Elijah turned back to face Klaus, wondering where his brother was going with his words. His eyes widened in disbelief as his eyes landed onto the dagger that was once in the chest of their brother and now sat in Klaus' hand.

 

"You didn't!"

 

He said in disbelief. As a response to that Klaus just shrugged his shoulders and started to laugh. Immediately did Elijah think of the worst possible outcome and started to run. Shortly after leaving the room did he smell the freshly spilt blood. In a state of panic, he ran to the cause of the bloodshed, with Klaus nonchalantly trailing after him. There in the inner garden of the large house, he found a figure of his brother Kol drenched in blood and surrounded by corpses. Just as both of the brothers came to face the youngest brother did Kol stand up.

 

"Bravo. Mm-hm." Kol said while clapping and turning to face the brothers. "That was delectable but make no mistake Nik, I'm still crossed that you daggered me. But as far the apologie goes, this is a start."

 

Kol said as he jumped onto the nearby barrel and sat there. He smiled at his brothers, all covered in blood. Suddenly the sound of a woman running was heard and not a moment later than that did Astrid appear. She was far from her previous appearance of a beautiful woman, now her dress was covered in blood and her hair was a mess. Her breath was laboured and her cheeks flushed. She seemed as if the world was ending. To her, it sure seemed so. She was slowly returning toward the house, her book in her hands. Her mind was thinking about the previous conversation she had with Klaus. The gentle breeze caressed her face. Then suddenly the breeze brought the smell of fresh blood which immediately sounded alarms in her head. With panic and hurry in her steps she ran toward the house, her book abandoned in the grass. Her despair grew stronger and stronger with each bloodied corpse she came across and not being able to find Marcell and Ida did not help her soul. Astrid suddenly stopped in her searching as she heard a voice she never foresaw. With a sudden rush, she ran to the source of the voice and finally came across the butcher. It was Kol and he seemed like he was casually talking to Klaus and Elijah. She heard the last part of his sentence regarding the apology.

 

"Nik! What is happening?! Kol!?"
"Right here, sweetheart." Kol said in a joking manner.

 

She tried to calm herself as she slowly approached the brothers. No sooner than she did, did Elijah spread his arms and turned around to show all the corpses. He finally looked at Klaus before speaking.

 

"So this is your idea of fun."

 

Astrid turned to face Klaus as well, not believing what her ears were hearing.

 

"You did this Nik? You were the one who undaggered Kol? Please tell me it is not true." She begged him.

 

"Well, you and Marcellus have grown thick as thieves. Why should I be alone?"

 

He said, completely ignoring Astrid. Being ignored like that and hearing those words leave her beloved's mouth was too much for Astrid and she left the courtyard just barely holding back tears. Klaus could smell the salt of the tears but made no move to follow her. Kol gave him a smile with mischief in his eyes.

 

"Oh dear, look what you've done Nik. Better to fix it before she makes you regret it."

 

Klaus finished his glass without a word and dropped it on the floor. His departure was accompanied by the sound of glass shattering. Slowly he climbed the stairs toward the music room, where he knew that he was expected to come. Klaus stopped for a moment before the doors to compose what he will say and then entered without bothering to knock. Not further that few steps did he make before the door violently shut behind him. He ignored the visible indication that she was using her magic to show her anger and instead walked toward her. Once again he tried to approach her, but an unseen force stopped him in his tracks. And so he waited on one spot watching her as she burned sage and spread its smoke across the room. Burning sage indicated that a silencing spell was being cast and that they needed to talk without being overheard. Curtains were already dragged across the windows and the only course of the light were the candles. When Astrid finished with her small ritual she turned around to face Klaus. In the light of the fire, her dress looked duller and the spots of blood were black. Tears left marks on her once clean face. Those same tears that Klaus promised to never let free. The lovers looked at each other, no words were spoken between them. The silence was stifling and yet no one made a move to break it.

 

"Astrid I can explain." He began to utter.
"Be quiet Klaus. Do not waste your breath on excuses. I do not care. There is nothing that I wish to hear from you. All I require to know is, why? Why did you undagger Kol?" Astrid's voice began to break as she spoke back.
"I-"
"Why?! We were happy! All of us! You, me, Rebekah, Elijah and Marcell. Was this not enough?! Tell me!"
"Let me speak." He took a deep breath before continuing. "We became still. All the fun from before disappeared. Rebekah is still pouting after that human boy and Elija keeps bothering Marcell with lectures. And you-"
"What did I do?! Tell me, is this carnage my fault? The punishment for my sins?!"
"No! It is not your fault in any way!" Klaus tried to explain to her.
"Then what was so significant that you had to break the oath you gave me mear hours ago! You promised me that you will preserve this happiness we have here. Why?" The last word she said on the verge of tears.
"Elijah has started to waste all of Marcell's time with irrelevant tutorings. There is no time for me to spend with-"
"Stop, please. I can not here a single more word of this madness. So the reason why you unleashed our most savage brother is that you were jealous?! I can not believe you would fall so low Klaus. Marcell could have fallen victim to Kol, have you not thought of that?! As a human boy, he is nothing but a source of blood for Kol!"
"Why should I be alone? Since Elijah has Marcell now, who am I to have fun with?!"
"You have me you fool. I have always been here for you. Supporting you, loving you. Did that mean nothing to you?"
"Astrid...Of course, it has. I love you."
"Well clearly not like before. Very well, I see you made your choice. Now is time for me to make mine."

 

Astrid said that while slowly approaching the still figure of Klaus. Tears were shining in her eyes as she looked at him. With gentle movements, she reached and pulled a marquise cut ring off her ring finger. The ruby shone in the light of the fire as she placed in Klaus' palm. Astrid then walked past him and with tears in her eyes stopped before the door.

 

"This is my choice, Klaus. Farewell."

 

With those words, she left the room, tears now freely falling off her face. It hurt to leave him like that, but what other option did she have. He had to learn that everything had a price, This was the price for his greed. Her heart was telling her to go back but her mind and magic were telling her that she did the right thing. It was all for Marcell's sake as well. Remembering that she had yet to find the boy, Astrid cast a simple sensing spell to feel where Ida was. Fortunately, she felt Ida's presence in the servants quarters. With newfound purpose, her legs started to lead her toward the direction of her servant. The warmth of the sun she previously enjoyed, now feel cold on her face. Within minutes of walking, she reaches the trees where the clothes were hung to dry. There in the shadow of a tree sat Ida and Marcell. They were surrounded by empty baskets and Marcell read Hamlet out loud. Seeing her boy alive and well, Astrid felt the tears on her face only these tears were out of relief. She called them.

 

"Marcell! Come here!"
"Mother, what happened? Are you wounded?"
"No son, I am alright. It is not my blood." Astrid said as she embraced the boy.
"Mistress, what happened? I felt something ominous approaching so I took Young Master outside."

 

The trio sat down in the grass, under the tree. Marcell sat on her left, his hands holding onto his mother's, trying to comfort her. Ida sat on the right of her mistress, white sheets behind her.

 

"You saved his life by doing this Ida. Klaus has impulsively decided to undagger Kol, his younger brother. If you have not taken Marcell out of the house, he would have been slaughtered like the rest of the servants in the house. Praise God for his mercy."
"Praise be. Do not worry Mistress, I would have protected the boy with my life if it was necessary."
"Let us hope that day never comes." Astrid said while closing her eyes as if praying.
"Mother, who exactly is Mister Kol? Is he truly that dangerous?" Marcell asked in wonder. Astrid could not but notice a dash of fear in his voice.
"Yes, Marcell. Kol is very, very dangerous. He is Elijah's and Klaus' younger brother. Never be alone in his presence. Either me, Klaus or Elijah need to be there with you. If not, quickly find an excuse and let me know. Understood?"
"I understand mother. But why do you call father Klaus now, you used to call him Nik before?"

 

Marcell said while looking at his mother. Astrid looked into the distance while answering. Her voice sounded sorrowful.

 

"Some things are better left unsaid."

 

Life in the Mikaelson house shifted drastically since Kol woke up. All of the drained servants had to be buried and new ones had to be hired. That became somewhat of a challenge since the story they used to explain all those massive deaths was an epidemic of cholera. Even with the new servants, the house still felt different. It changed with the presence of one more person in it. Everyone in it changed as well. Elijah became cold toward Marcell, fearing what their closeness might make Klaus do. Klaus, on the other hand, became a heavy drinker who often joined in Kol's bloody massacres. His moods ranged between homicidal to gloomy and sullen. The negative emotions would resurface every time he was close to Astrid or even when her name was mentioned. Rebekah continued to mourn and pout daily, now barely leaving her room. She did not want to have any business with her brothers. The only person who's company she accepted was Astrid. They would spend hours away from the brothers at their part of the property. It was as if a line was drawn over the property, decreeing where every person would spend their days. Even the family meals stopped, Astrid would arrange for their dinner to be brought to the garden. The men ate strictly in the dining room. The constant separation and the lack of family gatherings started to take a toll on Astrid. She was still grieving from a broken heart and now the silence made it even worse. She stopped smiling, her face lost its former healthy glow. In Rebekah's and Marcell's company she would always wear a smile and she would laugh, but it was all lies. Ida knew that and begged her mistress to at least open up to her. Astrid refused, instead, she took up the music and expressed her emotions by a violin. The life in the Mikaelson has indeed changed and it will soon reach its breaking point.

 

It was another sunny day and the two brothers played chess. Two glasses of wine were placed near the chess board as Kol and Klaus tried to best each other. They have just finished with their latest feast and decided to partake in a lazy game of strategy. Just as Klaus finished moving his knight forward, Elijah joined their company. A look of high displeasure was seen on his face altho he tried to hide it. He crossed his arms behind his back before speaking.

 

"Forty-six. An entire tenement building. You drained forty-six bodies."

 

Kol made another move on the board before replying back.

 

"Nonsense. It was at least sixty" He smirks at his brothers. "Ahh, they forgot to check the attic!"
"Ah!" Came a humorous replied from Klaus.
"Why do people always run to the attic. I mean, it makes no sense."
" It is difficult enough to keep our presence in the city a secret without the two of you doing absolutely everything in your power to draw attention to us. I honestly expected more of you Niklaus." Elijah said with disappointment.
"Well if you hope too much you will get disappointed Elijah, remember that. But who am I to speak, clearly he knows better than me."

 

Astrid interrupted in a bitter voice. She entered the room from Elijah's back. As soon as she entered the room did Klaus' mood change. He became pensive again.

 

"Ah hello Astrid. I thought you were attending to our business books."
"Hello, Elijah. And yes I was but when I realised that I am in need of assistance I came here. Perhaps I should come later when we are alone?"
"Nonsense. I am open now. I can not manage the two of them." Elijah said as he displayed the sitting brothers.
"You will stay right here Elijah. I shall handle the matters with Astrid."
"I refuse. Why should I be in your company when Elijah's is far more enjoyable."

 

She responded with a snide comment. That was definitely a wrong move for her to make. Klaus temper took a turn from the bad to the worse. With a tight grip on her upper hand, he dragged her off into a nearby room. He locked the door behind them before facing her. He was absolutely furious.

 

"What were you thinking?!"
"For what part? Me needing Elijah's help or actually preferring his company over yours? To both of those, the answer is yes."

 

Klaus started to growl at her. Black veins started to spread over his face and around his eyes. Astrid knew that she crossed the line with that one. She looked at the floor, waiting for Klaus to relax a little before speaking again.

 

"I am sorry. I went overboard with that one."
"Well make sure it doesn't happen again. Now, what was it that you wanted to talk with Elijah about? Must be important if we were not allowed to know about it."
"The only person who must remain obvious is Kol. I needed to discuss something regarding Kol with Elijah."
"Well spill it out." Klaus barked out, still mad at her.

 

Astrid looked up at him, judging is she should tell him the truth or lie. In the end, she decided to tell Klaus the truth. She never lied to him and did not want this to be the first time. With a resigned breath, she walked to a painting of flowers and removed it from the wall. Behind the picture was a panel which she opened. From the inside of it, she pulled a wooden chest. Without a word, she set it on a table before Klaus. He took that as a sign to open it. His arms froze when he saw that was inside of it. On a pile of soft fabric laid a silver dagger. The very same dagger he pulled out of Kol's chest.

 

"We have been planning this for quite a while. He is out of control Klaus. It won't be far until Mikael tracks us again and then we will have to flee again. Just like in Spain, he found is by tracking Kol's bloody trail of corpses."
"So you planned to dagger him?"
"Yes. That was the plan."
"And what if I decide to simply pull out the dagger once again if you manage to dagger him?"
"That will not be possible. I enchanted the dagger myself that only Elijah and I can pull it out. Everyone else would be killed."
"Why? Is the spell really that necessary?"
"If we want to live in peace then yes. Think about it, Klaus. What would you do when he decides to play with Marcell? When he grows bored with humans and focuses on our little boy instead?"
"I can keep him safe."
"Perhaps you can, perhaps you can not. What if Kol manages to slip you? Then what?"
"Alright, alright. I heard enough!" He yelled as he shut the chest with a slam.
"So you will help us?"
"I will. But only for Marcell's sake. This has nothing to do with you, understood?"
"Understood."

 

Astrid said with a satisfied smile. She was happy that she managed to get Klaus on their side but deep inside her heart wept after him. She missed him so terribly, but what is done is done. She made her bed and now she has to lay in it.

Chapter Text

The memory of the previous conversation left a bitter feeling in Astrid. She did not want to force Klaus' hand but it has to happen sooner than later. If not soon then it will be too late. Someone must act before Marcell gets hurt. With a tired sigh, she looked out into the murky Louisiana sky. The moon was out and shining onto the land. There was a gentle breeze on the balcony, where she stud in her thoughts. Her fingers moved without thinking. The melody that travelled through the sounded so heartbreaking and sorrowful. With the sound of the falling rain, it performed a truly haunting song. Astrid did not think about anything, she just played her violin. She was so engaged in the music that she did not feel another person join her on the balcony. Sounds were all she heard. Once she reached the end of her melody, a voice interrupted her focus.

"That was truly beautiful Astrid."

She turned toward the person who attempted to interrupt her in her solitude. There was no smile on her face, just an indifferent expression.

"I play what I feel. Music is my escape from all this. Just like yours is the piano and Klaus' is painting."
"Have you been having second thoughts? It is too late to back away now-"
"I am well aware Elijah, of what is to come. My mind is set, there is no turning back."
"Your music says otherwise."
"Then you do not know me as well as you would think. I am mourning."
"Mourning for what?"

He questioned from the balcony entrance. She just continued to stare into the rain, not looking at her companion. The wind began to grow stronger as the rainfall hit the earth at an even pace.

"For what has happened. I am mourning for all of the lives that have been lost, for the lives that were taken away from us. I mourn because that is all I could do."
"I see. Perhaps you should look to the future."
"And what kind of future would that be Elijah, tell me? Our family is broken, one sibling is daggered, one is grieving the loss of her lover and the two brothers that are alive are plotting against their younger sibling."
"You haven't mentioned yourself in your speech. Why is that so, Astrid?"
"Because I do not belong in this family. We can all deny it and pretend otherwise but the truth is that I have been a servant girl from the very start. Nothing will change that."
"Astrid I-"
"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"

The duo turned toward the newcomer. Klaus entered the room with a grim expression on his face. His look wasn't as perfect as before although he did not stink of alcohol.

"Niklaus I do not believe now is time for your antics. Leave us."
"I will leave you once you tell me where Marcellus is."
"Is he not with you Niklaus? After all, it is you who demand for more time with him."
"Do not lie to me, Elijah. I am in no mood for lies." Klaus replied, his temper rising.
"He is telling the truth, Klaus. We do not know where Marcell is."

Astrid said in a quiet voice, looking past Klaus. She was in no mood for an argument. Klaus huffed and crossed his arms, seeing as she will not look at him. After saying her sentence, she became quiet again.

"Perhaps he is reading Hamlet in the library." Elijah offered an explanation.
"I have already checked there. No one has left the property."
"But did someone arrive? Have you seen anyone come here?"
"Just some human actors. Kol's new type of prey."
"Then maybe Marcell went to see the actors perform?"
"That is possible. But-"
"That means that Marcell is alone with Kol. Elijah, we have to do something! Kol cannot be trusted to be alone with the boy."

Astrid suddenly said, panic clear in her voice. Both men looked at her for a moment before realising the implication of her words. All of this planning was made in order to ensure that Marcell was never near Kol. With hurry, they turned toward the door. As the brothers were about to leave the room Astrid ran after them but not before making a small detour. With urgent steps, she ran to the room where the enchanted dagger was hidden and placed it in her glove. There she hid it from unwanted eyes. The two brothers waited for her in the hall before the three of them went to search for Kol and Marcell. Astrid prayed that it is not too late.

The scene they found was alarming. Kol stud amongst the dead bodies of actors, a look of sadistic mischief on his face. In front of Kol, on one of the chairs facing the actors sat Marcell. The boy looked so frightened to everyone, his eyes wide and lips trembling. What scared Astrid the most was the blood on his lips.

"Oh, dear God Marcell!"

She exclaimed before running toward the boy. Kneeling in front of him she tried to asses in what condition he is.

"Are you alright?"
"M-Mother."

The boy hugged her. His grip was tight as he held onto her. Elijah and Klaus went closer to Kol, in order to keep an eye on him.

"Ssh. It is all right. I will handle this. You just go with Elijah alright. He will lead you to Ida. She will keep you safe. Go Marcell, quickly."

She said as she pushed the boy toward Elijah. He immediately took the boy by his shoulder and lead him away, not looking back. Now only Astrid, Klaus and Kol were in the room. Kol still had a sadistic look on him, while Klaus had a mad look on him.

"What have you done to Marcellus, Kol?"
"I was just introducing Marcellus to the theatre. I thought you'd be pleased? You did say that the theatre was to be a part of his education, did you not?"
"Do not take the words out of my mouth Kol. This is not what I wanted." Astrid exclaimed.
"If the lad is going to be a vampire, he'll have to learn somehow, won't he? Come, I've already fed him my blood. All you have to do is snuff him, and voilà. One of us. Well, that's what you want, isn't it Astrid?"
"No! His time is yet to come. Do not suggest killing Marcell ever again Kol, do you hear me?"

She warns him. The distance between them is only a few steps and Kol shortens the gap by coming face to face with her.

"Or what?"

He challenges her. In a flash Klaus appears behind Kol, holding his hands tightly. At the same time, Astrid pulls out the hidden dagger and stabs in right into Kol's heart. The sadistic smile is replaced by a look of betrayal and disbelief.

"We did warm you Kol. Do not touch Marcell. He is family."

Soon after Kol's imprisonment in the coffin, the life went back to normal. Some things still were sore topics and could not change. Elijah was still cold toward Marcell, hoping that their new distance will keep Klaus from waking Kol up again. Rebekah slowly started to get over Emil's untimely death and now began to spend more time with the rest of the siblings. She resumed her daily lessons in fencing with Marcell. That offered the boy a distraction from preceding events. The relationship between Klaus and Astrid remained the same, only now they at least tried to be polite in each others company when needed.

 

1835, New Orleans

The sound of swords was heard across the courtyard. Two figures were evenly matched against each other. A smaller opponent was a woman dressed in a red skirt and a white long blouse while the larger opponent was a black man who was bare-chested. They fence for a while longer until the man corners his opponent into the wall. Acknowledging defeat he steps away from her and they both remove the masks. Sweat is on both of their faces as they try to catch some breath. Marcell comes closer and leans to kiss her but just before their lips could connect, Klaus appears around the corner and drags Marcell away from Rebekah. He leads his now adult ward further away. Seeing as Klaus is not in the good mod, Rebekah left to clean herself leaving Marcell alone with her brother.

"There is nothing going on between us. I swear it, on my life."
"Your life means something to me. Give me the privilege of honesty or that will cease to be the case."
" I like her. And I think it's mutual, but I haven't done anything about it. I wouldn't, not –"
"And you won't. I love my sister, but she lacks a fortune when it comes to men. They come and go for her, but I am the constant. She's my family."
"You said I was family. Mother says so as well. I have begged you to turn me into a vampire."
"And I told you, I will turn you when you're ready. You go near Rebekah again, and you never will be."

Seeing as Klaus' words were final on that matter, Marcell went to the person who he knew would understand, his mother. Still covered in sweat from the previous spar and a white tunic over him he approached her in the library. At first, he wanted to voice his thoughts the moment he came into the library but decided not to interrupt the silence. Astrid was reading a passage from Dante's Inferno. Her magic has been dormant for centuries but now it started to act up again. Now that she could feel it around her again left a bad feeling in her chest. Reading books was her own method of figuring what her magic was attempting to show her. Small pulses of magic stopped when she stopped on the fifth passage regarding lovers. With all that what has been happening, Astrid wasn't surprised. The situation between Klaus and she did not really improve so the passage left her confused. Her thoughts went past her failed marriage and settled on Marcell. Perhaps it is time he found himself a wife of his own, she thought. Noticing her son coming to her from the entrance, Astrid set down her book on her lap. The passage still in her mind, she focused on his presence. Marcell remained standing in front of his mother, instead of sitting down on a free spot next to her.

"I see you have finished with your spars for the day. Could you not clean yourself before coming here, Marcell?"
"I did not have time mother. What I must discuss with you is urgent."
"Oh, then speak son. What is it that bothers you?"
"Mother, I wish to ask Rebekah to marry me." He says with honesty.
"Oh my, I see where the problem is."
"So will you help me?"

Marcell kneeled in front of his mother. He took her hands into his own.

"I beg of you mother. Help me convince Klaus to bless our union."
"I'm afraid that is not as easy as it might seem Marcell. You are aware that Rebekah never had luck with any of her suitors."
"Klaus said the same thing but I truly love her. I beg you mother, help me."

Marcell looked into the grey eyes of his mother. With only his look he tried to convert all of his love for Rebekah to Astrid, in hope of persuading her. With a sight Astrid looked at Marcell, her only response was a tired smile.

"I will see what I can do. But I make no promises."
"Thank you, mother. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Marcell said with a bright smile while kissing her palms out of joy. Astrid laughed and let him repeat the notion a few more times before taking her hands back and rising up. Leaving Marcell in the library, she took out to find Klaus and have a word with him. She tracked him in his study, drinking wine again.

"I see you are drinking again."
"What do you want Astrid? I am in no mood for any of your lectures." Came his scornful reply.
"I am here because of Marcell and Rebekah."
"Ah, I wondered when you would show up with that topic. I see it did not take long for Marcell to run to his mother for help."
"Klaus please, be rational. Marcell loves her and she clearly loves him as well. Why won't you give them your blessing?"
"And why should I? What has he done to prove to me that he truly deserves my sister?"
"She is my sister as well you know."
"I am well aware and yet, for all these centuries you have kept your mouth shut on that little truth. I wonder why?"
"Please Klaus, for Marcell's and Rebekah's sake. Let them be together."
"I need proof."
"Then test him. Give him a test that will prove it to you that he truly loves her."
"Alright then, I will. Any thoughts?"
"No, I leave the rest in your hands. I have done my part. Goodbye Klaus."

With a curtsy Astrid left his office, leaving him to ponder on the idea with some help from wine. Passing by the library entrance she stopped only for a second to give Marcell a small nod before moving on. She felt happy for the first time in a while, hoping that they manage to receive Klaus' blessing. Klaus remained standing in his office, the glass of wine still in his hand as he looked outside. He thought of reasons for and against giving Marcell the blessing and turning him. He was against the idea but once again Astrid managed to make him do otherwise. All of this, his brother's imprisonment in the coffins again and now this, he did out of love for her. He still loves her, he admits to himself. But his pride does not let him say it out loud. With a fleeting glance, he looks around his office. Everything is in order, a slight layer of dust covering it. In the end, his eyes fall onto the painting of the entire family. He painted that one, for Marcell is in there as well. With resolute steps, he takes a closer look at it before flipping the painting. On the back side, a silver dagger is glued on. He gently separates it from the painting and holds it in his hands. It feels heavy in his hands, the meaning of it obvious. Finally coming with a resolution he grabs his coat and storms out of the room looking for his sister. He has decided what to do. Klaus finds Rebekah still in the courtyard, practising some of the moves. Seeing her brother approaching she lowers her masks to see him openly.

"What do you want Klaus? I am not in the mood for talking."
"Well, that is a shame because I am."
"Fine, say it and get lost."
"Such manners Rebekah. Anyway, I have decided regarding young Marcellus and you."
"You have? What do I have to do?"
"You, nothing."

Klaus says before flashing directly in front of her. Rebekah has no time to react before a dagger is shoved in her chest. He grabs her limp body before she hits the ground and quickly places her on her bed.

"It is all up on Marcellus dear sister."

With those words, he leaves the room, now with one person on his mind, his ward Marcellus. Klaus finds him in the library, now clean and washed.

"Ah, just the person I wanted to see. Hello Marcellus."
"Klaus. I see you are in a better mood."
"I am and why should I not be? After all, I have decided about your fate regarding my sister."
"Really?"

Klaus just hums in response while browsing across the shelves filled with books. He had a look of utter boredom on his face. Marcell, on the other hand, looked happy. He rose up to thank Klaus but gets stopped by Klaus' hand. It was a universal sign to stop and so he did.

"Is something the matter Klaus?"
"Did you really think this will be that simple? Oh no, Marcellus. You must make a choice."
"A choice?"
"Yes. You can decide to undagger Rebekah and spend all of your human days together with her or you can become a vampire and leave her daggered. So what will it be?"

Klaus said before bitting his wrist. The blood started to drip out of the wound as he offered his wrist to Marcell.

"I-I..."
"Come on Marcellus, the clock is ticking. You are running out of time here. Make your choice."
"I choose..."

Chapter Text

1887, New Orleans

The sound of the clock ticking filled the dusty room. Curtains were drawn across the windows, obstructing the view to the flooded streets below. Candles cover every single accessible surface as they bath the room in their tender light. A single large bed resides at the end of the room, it's headboard against the wall. At the foot of the bed, an untouched chest is placed, dust thick on its surface. The air in the room is stale, the smell of dried flowers from the vases penetrating it. Across the bed, a decorated wooden table is placed with a single chair at its end. The rest of the furniture is highly outdated. No-one alive could live in that room. That was the truth since on the bed laid a woman. Her chest wasn't moving and her skin was a sickly shade of grey with black veins over her once beautiful face. She was dressed in a simple white dress that came out of style decades ago. She would have looked like a princess cursed with eternal sleep if it wasn't for the dagger embedded in her chest. Everything in the room is silent, other than the sound of the clock ticking. Everything is still, other than the waving flame of the candles.

The sound of the wooden door opening breaks the eerie silence. Metal hinges creek under the stain of movement after so many decades of no usage. A woman dressed in fine silk bustle enters inside. The light of the candles reflected from the deep blue fabric of her dress. Light brown hair tamed into ringlets. Her face bare of any make-up, her pale skin clean and with the barest hint of rose colour on the cheeks. A calculating look in her grey eyes looked across the room and descended onto the body of the dead woman. With determined steps, she approached the other woman and pulled out the dagger. A clank was heard as she deposited the dagger on a tray. She then sat on the only free chair at the table. Not a single word escaped her mouth for the following hours that it took for her friend to wake up. Only when Rebekah completely gained conscience did Astrid speak.

"Where am I?"
"Hello to you too Rebekah. Always a pleasure to see you."
"Astrid? What are you doing here?"
"Supervising your awakening. It took a lot but I managed to convince Klaus to let me undagger you."
"What day is it? How long have I been daggered?" She said disorientated.
"Today is Sunday Rebekah. Quite past morning mass."
"I have been daggered for a week? It seemed quite longer than that. I-"
"That is not all that happened."
"Marcell... What has Klaus done to him? Tell me."

Rebekah demanded with worry in her voice. Astrid didn't reply for a while but instead, she rose from her chair and sat down next to Rebekah on the bed.

"I'm really sorry to tell you this but...more than a week has passed. The year is 1887 Rebekah. You have been daggered for fifty-two years. I tried to undagger you sooner but-"
"What? What do you mean it has been fifty-two years? Where is Marcell? Please tell me he is alright?!"

Tears started to gather in Astrid's eyes as she lowered her gave onto the floor. The cold facade she wore on her face fell down. Rebekah tried to make Astrid face her and look her in the eyes but pulled back once she felt tears on her hands. Seeing her friends tears, Rebekah immediately assumed the worst and started to tear up herself.

"Did he kill him? Is Marcell truly dead?"
"I'm afraid it is much worse. Partially is it my fault as well."
"Tell me, Astrid. I need to know."
"Klaus gave Marcell a choice. He could undagger you and live with you as a human or become a vampire and give you up."
"No... Marcell would never do that to me."
"I'm afraid that there is more to come to Rebekah."
"What worse can be said?"
"Klaus lied to Marcell. He wanted to see what choice we would have made. Even if Marcell had picked to free you and remain human, Klaus would have still turned him. It was all a part of Klaus' test to see if Marcell is truly worthy of you."

Rebekah started to openly cry. She hoped that is was all a lie, she truly wished that Astrid was feeding her lies but she couldn't. Deep down she knew it was true and that Astrid, the only person who she could always rely on was not deceiving her. Seeing her sisters' tears Astrid took out a handkerchief. Slowly she wiped Rebekah's tears making her look into her eyes.

"Do not cry, Rebekah. He is not worth your tears."
"How can I not cry?! I loved him!"
"I know you did but with time, your broken heart will recover."
"How can you be so sure Astrid?"
"Because I once loved in a similar way you loved Marcell. My heart got broken as well."
"What happened?"

By this point in the conversation, Rebekah stopped weeping and slightly calmed down. She gave Astrid her handkerchief back and sat close to her, close enough for their shoulders to touch. Astrid followed with her finger the embodiments on the silk handkerchief. When she crossed the blue initials A. A. F. she spoke again.

"There was a man once. Back when Marcell was still human and he just came into our house. I loved that man, I truly did, and he loved me. We were happy but..."
"Was Klaus involved?"
"Not at the beginning. We tried to keep it a secret from everyone. It was our secret. Then it all stopped when Klaus made his move. He undaggered Kol and we had a fight. He was enraged with me and I paid the price of interfering."
"He killed him, didn't he? Klaus killed the man you loved."
"Oh, how I wish he did. That would have been more merciful. No, Klaus didn't kill him. He did something much worse."
"What did he do? Please tell me, sister, what awful thing did Klaus do?"
"I would rather not say it. In the end, he let him live. But at a great price. The man I once knew and loved was gone."
"I am sorry about him Astrid."
"It is alright Rebekah. I had sixty years to mourn. You, on the other hand, have just woken up."

Astrid said in a gentle voice while putting the handkerchief aside. Noting that Rebekah has calmed down she rose from the bed and approached the chest. Dust danced in the air as she opened it and pulled out various parts of undergarments and finally a brown dress. The fabric of the dress was far more simple and less flashy than the dress Astrid wore. Astrid placed every piece of fabric gently on the bed.

"I made sure that your clothes match the latest trends. Since there are many layers I will send the rest a servant to help you get dressed. The rest of the clothes are put aside. I'll leave you be now Rebekah. I still have much to pack."
"You are leaving?"
"Yes, I believe its time for me to leave this city. I want you to come with me Rebekah and get some distance from all that what has happened."
"Really? You-You want me to come with you?" Rebekah said with tears gathering in her eyes.
"Of course I do. I cannot leave you all alone here with a broken heart. Klaus and Elijah cannot understand what you are going through and I'm quite sure that seeing Marcell is not a good thing right now. So I urge you to join me. If you choose so, meet me at the entrance of the house. You can have servants unpack your new clothes or send them after us."
"Alright just give me some time to think."
"I understand."

Astrid said before leaving Rebekah alone in the room. The blond woman remained seated at her bed, contemplating deeply about the offer of fleeing the town. She was so deep in her thoughts that she did not hear a servant enter.

"Mistress Rebekah, it is good to see you again."

Rebekah immediately looked toward the familiar voice. At the door, she saw an old black woman, dressed in fine middle-class clothes. Lines covered her face and hands. She was leaning on a cane. She seemed somehow familiar to Rebekah, yet she could not recall from where.

"Who are you? How do you know me?"
"Oh Mistress, it has been years since I came to serve in this house. Mistress Astrid freed me so many years ago. I understand if you cannot remember me, after all, I am old now, really old."
"Ida?! Is that truly you?!"
"Aye Mistress it is me."
"What happened to you?"
"I aged, I grew old. Time did not spare me. But I am thankful that I was alive to see you one last time."
"I always thought that Astrid would turn you one day."
"Oh, Mistress wanted to turn me. She offered many times. But I couldn't accept. I had a good life with my husband, had children and grandchildren. Even had suck luck to live to see my great-grandchildren."
"I see. It seems like you had a good life."
"I had. And you deserve to have a good life as well. Now let me help you get dressed in these clothes."

Ida approached Rebekah in slow steps, her cane restricting her speed of movement. With old hands, she helped her immortal mistress get dressed. Once all of the pieces of fabric here in their place, Ida styled her blond hair into a twist and handed her a hat to put on top.

"You are really Mistress."
"Thank you Ida. I guess this is goodbye."
"It is and I hope you are happy, whatever choice you make."

Ida said and curtsied to Rebekah. Rebekah gave her a small smile before leaving the room in search of Astrid.

While Rebekah and Ida talked, Astrid went back to her room to make final preparations for her department. With all her clothes packed and ready to be sent, there is nothing else for her to do. The furniture will remain here in New Orleans, while her clothes will go with her. White sheets were placed over every piece of furniture except for a small desk and a chair. There was a blank piece of paper and an expensive fountain pen. Astrid sat on the soft chair and started to write. At first, she struggled with what to write but after some thinking, the words started to pour out. She wrote to Klaus, reminding him of the good times before they broke apart. She begged him not to undagger Kol again and to treat Elijah and Marcell well. The ending of her letter she signed with 'Yours from the very start, Astrid.' She tried to hide the appearing tears that came with the realisation that she was really leaving. It was almost unthinkable to her. She's been by his side for the last 800 years, even longer is she counted the human years as well. Astrid looked at the candle flame as she dripped wax onto the letter, sealing it. Once she finished her small ritual of making sure that everything was in its place, she went to open the door. But before she could open those door, they opened and a person came in the door. Astrid's hand remained in the air, ready to grasp the handle. Instead, she found herself face to face with Klaus. He was dressed in a clean suit, his hair cut and a faint trace of beard on his face. He hadn't touched more than a glass of wine over dinner in years, an effort of obtaining Astrid's trust and love back. Over fifty-two years that have passed their relationship has developed, there is no more yelling and anger but there is also no love. They managed to get back at the stage where they were almost like close friends but the love has died. Astrid looked him in the eyes, neither of them speaking.

"I see you are leaving."
"I am. We have discussed this. I am leaving this city and Rebekah is coming with me."
"Where are you headed? Do you need help with finding living quarters?"
"No, but thank you for offering Klaus. I have already handled that. We will take the carriage and then a train to St. Louis. There we will live with an acquaintance of mine."
"Are you sure you do not want to stay here with me? Please, Astrid, do not leave."

Astrid let out a tired sigh. She did not want to leave and break her promise to him, but she needed space away from the city that caused her so much pain.

"I'm sorry Klaus but I'm still going. I need it as much as you do, trust me. I'll send you a letter once we settle down."

When she went to walk out when she accidentally dropped her handkerchief. Klaus picked the piece of fabric from the floor. He called after her just when she placed her hand on the handle.

"I see you kept the handkerchief I gave you."
"I did. You can have it back now."
"No. I gave it to you as a gift. You must keep it."
"Well since you ordered me, fine. Anything you say."
"Please Astrid, I didn't mean it that way. Listen, if anything happens, I want you to contact me immediately."
"Alright, I will. Goodbye Klaus."

Astrid said in a slightly annoyed voice before leaving the room. On her way down she almost collided with a butler that was heading up.

"I am deeply sorry Mistress Astrid."
"It is alright Lucas. No harms done."
"Are you leaving already Mistress?"
"Yes, and I need you to make sure that all of my clothes and Rebekah's are delivered on the previously mentioned address. Do you understand?"
"Yes Mistress, it will be as you wish."
"Good, now take care Lucas and make sure Elijah and Klaus do not burn the house down."

The servant nodded his head and continued his way up. Astrid meanwhile continued to descend the stairs and found herself at the entrance of the house. When she opened the main door a carriage waited for her to take her to the train station. Rebekah already waited outside, stroking the horses. With a nod, they both approached the carriage and entered inside. The interior was nice but not intended for a long journey.

"I guess this is it."
"Do not worry Rebekah. Time will pass in no time and you will feel much better."
"We'll see."

With those words, the carriage started to move further away from the house they spend centuries living in. Away from the memories, good and bad.

Chapter Text

The train started to slow down as it advanced to its final destination. The train station was swamped with people as they all exited the train. Workers helped with the heavy luggage and other packages. Small boys wandered around, blending in with the crowd as they searched for a loose money purse or a coin from charitable gentlemen. Everyone was talking, laughing as they caught up with visiting relatives and friends. White smoke filled the air above the trains. Astrid emerged at the exit of her train chariot and looked around her from a higher position. All she could see was a sea of heads. She wondered how different the air seemed from the one she was used to in New Orleans. She did not even exit the train station and she already felt the difference. A man offering his hand to help her come down snapped her out of her musing and with a small smile of gratitude she accepted his hand. Once she came down she let the hand go and evened the non-existing crevices on her blue dress. The man that offered her help was quite handsome and even she had to admit that. For years she has used Klaus as a male beauty model. He had black hair and a moustache. His brown eyes fit perfectly on his face. He seemed slightly nervous.

"Is everything alright Miss?"
"Oh yes, I'm fine, thank you." She looked him in the eyes as she thanked him.
"Ah, where are my manners. My name is Joseph Wright. Do you need assistance with your luggage?"
"That is very kind of you sir but no thank you. I am merely expecting my sister to come out and we will be on our way. My name is-"

Before she could fully introduce herself she heard Rebekah call her.

"Astrid! Have you seen my fan? I cannot find it."
"I have it right here Rebekah. Come on, we have to hurry."
"I'm coming."

Rebekah yelled back before exiting the train herself. Joseph helped her down as well. Her blond hair shone in the light as she breathed in the new air.

"Well finally. I was getting sick of the train."
"I'm glad you are enjoying the site. Sister, this is Mr Joseph Wright."
"A pleasure Miss..." He greeted the second sister.
"Rebekah, Rebekah Mikaelson. The pleasure is mine as well."
"Now Rebekah, I do not want to spoil your mood but we do need to hurry. I have already arranged for our transportation to lead us to our new home. It was a pleasure meeting you Mister Wright but I'm afraid that my sister and I must be on our way."

Astrid said as a farewell and walked away from the train and the crowd with Rebekah next to her. They disappeared in the crowd in a hurry, leaving the young man alone. He remained there dased and continued to stare at the direction where he saw the most beautiful woman in his life leave. He prayed to God that he will see her once more.

Astrid leads her sister through the crowd and approached the awaiting carriages. There near the horses, she sees an elderly woman sitting with a black umbrella in her lap. The woman was dressed in dark clothes, her black hair tied in a tight bun with grey hairs making their appearance. Her posture showed discipline and strictness but had laugh lines on her face. Their eyes met and after nodding to each other, the two sisters advanced closer. Rebekah did not trust the woman and that could be seen on her face but she did trust Astrid, so she kept quiet. The woman emitted a strange aura around her, it reminded her of mother and Ida for some reason. Astrid gave the woman a curtsy, with Rebekah soon following her example.

"Hello, Dowager Usherwood. I hope your health is fine."
"It is. Thank you Miss Akselsen for wondering. I have received your letter and decided to allow your stay at the Institute."
"My gratitude. Now regarding-"
"Excuse me but what are you talking about? What institute?" Rebekah cut in, not understanding what they were discussing.
"I'm sorry Rebekah. I completely forgot to explain anything. This sister, is Dowager Elisabeth Usherwood, Matron of St. Louis' Institute for young women. She has agreed to grant us accommodation at her house for the duration of our stay here in St. Louis."
"Well, that is quite generous of you Dowager Usherwood." Rebekah thanked the woman.
"I agreed but do not think you will stay there for free. Everything has a price." The older woman replied back, sharing some words of wisdom.
"We already discussed the price, I assume my payment is acceptable."
"Your Miss Akselsen is, your sisters on the other hand..."
"That is why I propose that she joins some of the classes, to get up to date with history and such. I shall work for the both of us until she graduates and then she can help."
"Allowed. Now shall we depart from here? The air is starting to bother me."

Astrid was just about to agree and follow the woman but got held up by Rebekah. Rebekah grabbed her sister's arm and did not let her move. A look of anxiety and concern was on her face.

"Astrid, please. What is happening? Who is that woman?"
"Relax Rebekah. That is Dowager Usherwood. I have known her for many years."
"But her presence seems weird. And why do you have to work? We are the Mikaelsons'. Isn't it below us to work?"
"Do not say anything like that ever again, do you understand me? With the attitude like that, you won't survive in this society. As for the weird feeling, that is simple. She is a servant of nature, as are the rest of the girls attending the Institute." She scolded her sister.
"You brought us to a lair of witches?! Are you mad?!"
"No Rebekah, I am not mad. The witches do hate us vampires, but they have agreed to put cloaking spells on us and in return, we help them. The cloaking spells will hide us from Mikael since our protection from New Orleans does not work here. Now, do you see why I did what I did? It was to protect us, especially you who is still not familiar with this time."
"But how did you even manage to convince her to help us. As far as I know, witches hate us."
"Simple. Back in New Orleans, I was a patron to all witches living in the city. If they needed help, money or someone to solve their disputes they would come to me. Generation after generation would come to me for words of wisdom. I was an undeclared leader of witches in the city and they were under my protection and law. Some witches left to other cities and I remained in touch with a few, like with Dowager Usherwood for example. Now, can we leave?"
"Alright, lead the way."

Astrid and Rebekah linked their arms together and started walking toward the carriage. Inside the carriage sat dowager Usherwood, waiting for them.

"Now that we are at it, tell me more about that handsome fellow at the train station sister." Rebekah teased.
"Oh shush Rebekah."

Astrid said while laughing with Rebekah. It was a long time since she saw Rebekah smile like that, without care and burdens. At that moment Astrid vowed to make Rebekah smile like that every day.

A few months have passed since the two sisters arrived in St. Louis and life was blooming for them. Rebekah finished with her studies in record time and remained at the Institute to help as a tutor, keeping in touch with few friends she made there. Lack of her brothers dominating presence made her shine and stop using her mask of indifference and arrogance. Astrid started to enjoy her new life as well. Back in New Orleans with every turn, she would face a reminder of her failed marriage to Klaus. It was a constant and nagging reminder that she failed. Now here in St. Louis she was free of all that. With the help of witches covering spell, she did not have to fear Mikael finding and killing them. She could almost imagine that she was human. Soon after arriving she started her new job as a history and music teacher at the Institute and a chaperone when needed at social balls and occasions. Her free time she spent with Rebekah, at the massive library or at the park when the weather permitted. The young witches that she tutored were wary of her at first, her being an Original vampire and all, but soon warmed up to her. They would ask questions and in return receive honest answers. They started to see her as their guardian and an older sister, to who they can tell all of their secrets and dreams. Life was good for Astrid and Rebekah. They both made plenty of memories in the city, one which stands out. It happened mear day after the sisters arrived at the home of dowager Usherwood.

The weather was pleasant as the three women sat in the back parlour, enjoying the weather and discussing some small gossips. For a strict looking woman, Elisabeth Usherwood was a major gossip. There was not a single rumour in the city that she did not hear about. That proved to a big source of fun and information for the two immortal sisters. A doorbell rang from the door, to which the hostess stud up and went to answer.

"If you'll excuse me for a moment."
"Of course. We'll just wait here."

The woman went out of the room and they could hear her greet the newcomer. It was definitely a male, judging by the voice, and their host knew them. Soon they heard two pairs of footsteps approaching. Both Astrid and Rebekah looked at each other and without saying a word, giggled in their fans. They were in a mood for small jokes.

"I'm so glad you came to see me, my boy. But as you can see I already have guests. Ladies, this is my nephew Joseph Wright, my late brother-in-law's son. Joseph these young ladies that are staying with me are Rebekah Mikaelson and Astrid Akselsen."

The young man took off his hat and went to greet the young ladies, but halted when he recognised that he was face to face with the same beauty he met at the train station. A blush crept on his cheeks as Astrid smiled at him. She looked even more beautiful to him that the last time.

"A pleasure ladies."
"Ours as well, Mister Wright." Rebekah said for her and her sister.

"Miss Akselsen came her with her sister looking for a change in scenery. The poor girl was widowed mear days after her wedding. Such a shame isn't it Joseph? To become a widow in such an early age."
"It is. My condolences Miss Akselsen."
"Oh think nothing of it, Mister Wright. I have found my peace regarding his early death. He would have wished for me to move on, and altho it pains me so, I will follow his wishes."
"I'm sure that he is watching over you from the Other Side." Elisabeth sat down to her previous seat and took back her cup "Now let's end this grieved conversation about death and the Other side. I see you came to visit me bearing some news, my dear Joseph. Why don't you sit down and serve yourself with some tea?"
"That is very nice of you Aunt, but I do not wish to bother the ladies."
"Oh nonsense, Mister Wright. Astrid and I would enjoy your company if you are willing to stay?"

Rebekah said while nudging her sister with her elbow. It was a subtle move, but Astrid was well aware of what Rebekah was trying to do. It was a habit both of the sisters shared, and it was a desire to play matchmaker whenever possible. Before it was Astrid that played matchmaker for Rebekah, constantly trying to find someone who will love Rebekah for what she really is. Now that Astrid became a 'widow' it was Rebekah turn to pay back all those favours. It did not pass her notice that altho Astrid claimed that she was happy being a widow, that she was lonely. So in Rebekah's eyes, meeting young Mister Wright turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Months passed since the sisters arrived in St. Loius and met dowager Usherwood and Mister Wright. Over that time Rebekah managed to arrange as many as possible incidents where Astrid and Joseph would meet. Whenever she would see them talking, even just a few words, she would grin. After a few of those accidents, Astrid realised what her sister was attempting to do but let her be. It made Rebekah happy and she had some company other than the female students. Four months after arriving, Astrid and Joseph announced their engagement to the public. Altho it was a public declaration, Astrid begged her sister not to tell anything regarding her engagement to Elijah or Klaus. Never the less, few days after that she received letters arriving from New Orleans. In Elijah's letter, he congratulated her and sent her his regard. It was a brief and polite letter, perfectly reflecting Elijah's nature. Marcell's letter was a bit different. He sent her his love and gratitude for raising him for all those years and wishing for her to find her own happiness. She smiled while reading what he wrote to her. Astrid didn't receive a single word from Klaus. All that he sent her was a miniature portrait of her and a single blooming rose. The portrait was done is such details that it almost seemed alive. The rose was red in colour, its petals just opened with a sweet fragrance spreading. Those gifts caused the greatest reaction out of everything she received. She spent the following day locked in her room crying, remembering what once was and what could have been. After encouragement from her students, Astrid gathered herself up and seemed almost normal the next day. But deep down she cursed Klaus, for reminding her of the love she tried to suppress deep inside of her. Now seeing that rose near her bed, which she charmed to never wither, it would remind her every day. She tried to get rid of it, too through it away and forget about it, but....she just couldn't. So she placed it in one place and tried to ignore it. But the newly awakened feelings of past love would not let her be. Every time she would walk in the park with Joseph, she would laugh but the laugh never truly reached her eyes. When her fiancee managed to sneak a small kiss on her lips, it would just remind her of when Klaus did the same when they were human. Astrid tried to remind herself that is was Joseph and not Klaus that she was dancing with. She tried to hide it, but some people managed to notice. Those people were her sister and Dowager Usherwood. Rebekah thought that Astrid's marriage to Joseph will help her move on but seeing her sister getting more miserable as her wedding approached she started to doubt. Dowager Usherwood at first was happy her nephew found someone to love, but she just couldn't move over the fact that his chosen bride was an original vampire. If only she could convince her nephew to marry Mary, one of her most prominent students.

Soon came the day of the wedding. The sun rose to great a glorious morning. The wind was scarce and there were no clouds in the sky. The final preparations were finishing. The only thing stopping the ceremony to start was the bride herself. Local women praised her for her beauty, kind nature and the luck to obtain such a catch. The house where the bride resigned was decorated with flowers and festive decorations. It looked like a small piece of heaven. In her room, the bride finished placing final detail on herself, the veil. It was long, see-thru and it reached to the floor. The bride was dressed in a cream-coloured silk satin gown. Behind her bustle spread the train of fabric that dragged over the floor as she walked. Glass pearls decorated and silk chiffon decorated her sleeves and fabric. There were pieces of fresh flowers in her brown hair. Pearl earrings decorated her ears. The bride was truly a sight to see. If anyone could see her, they would be rendered speechless from her beauty. Atho she looked like an angel in that dress, Astrid felt as she was heading toward her own funeral. She has already cried all of her tears the night before, now there were no more tears to shed. Now she only felt numbness inside of her. A knock on the door interrupted the silence in the room.

"Astrid? Are you ready? We need to head toward the church."
"Yes. I'm coming just give me a second."
"Alright but only a minute. The bride cannot miss her own wedding."

Astrid took one last look at herself in the mirror and grabbed the bouquet. The pink lilies made a dashing contrast to the dress. She was ready. The bride went to open the door and almost got hit by Rebekah's knocking hand. She took a look at her blond sister and the dress she wore. It was white as well, but it had blue details over it and a short veil over her head. Astrid sowed the dress herself.

"Astrid...You look perfect."
"Thank you, sister. Shall he head down to the carriage?"

Astrid said in a humble voice, wanting to stop Rebekah from praising her further. Both sisters came down from the upper floor and exited the house. In from of their residency a black carriage decorated with flowers was waiting for them. A single grey horse was pulling it. Dowager Usherwood and her brother awaited the bride and her bridesmaid. Both were dressed in fine clothes. Once everyone was seated in the carriage, they departed toward the church. Church bells rang across the town announcing the wedding. With every sound of the bell, Astrid felt a tear on her face. Rebekah noticed her sisters tears and immediately took out a handkerchief to wipe out the tears.

"Please do not cry sister. This is your wedding day, you should be happy."
"Oh, how I wish I could make this tears become tears of joy. But I just can't. I feel my heart breaking as we approach closer."
"Then why are you doing this? If it is making you so miserable, why are you going through with it?"
"Because I gave Joseph my word, I promised him that I will be his bride. I cannot go back on my word Rebekah, it is not me."
"You will go through with this even if it means that you will be miserable?"
"I follow my word, Rebekah. Do not worry, I will get used to the sadness one day."

Rebekah said nothing in return, just took back her handkerchief and readjusted the veil. The senior companions kept quiet the whole time. Soon they arrived at the entrance of the church where the rest of the procession waited for them. At the head of the procession waited Joseph, neatly dressed and with a smile on his face. He looked like a man in love and that broke Astrid's heart even further. They exited the carriage one by one with Astrid being the last one. She exited the carriage with Joseph's help, as he offered her his hand just like the first time. Once her arm was secured at his, they approached the opened door and took their first step.

Chapter Text

The interior of the church was beautiful. The light came through coloured glass windows and shone on the gathered crowd. First walked Rebekah in her white and blue dress, with Joseph's friend as the groomsman. She smiled as she walked toward the altar. Behind them came Astrid with Joseph. The crowd whispered about the bride, they could not contain their wonder at her beauty. Joseph heard some of the comments and smiled, it made him proud to hear how people admire his future wife. Astrid, on the other hand, ignored all the whispers and looked around the crowd as they passed. She saw many bright faces in the crowd but then she saw one person she did not expect. Astrid, for a split second, saw Klaus in the crowd. It almost made her falter. Seeing him there, even if he was here only by her imagination, opened the gate of all those emotions Astrid tried to suppress ever since she put on the wedding dress. When she went to look at Klaus for the second time, he was gone. The rest of the short walk to the altar seemed like an eternity. Finally, the bride and the groom reached the altar and the ceremony could begin. The priest leading the ceremony was an old man, with thin white hair and kind smile on his face. He looked at the man and at the woman before speaking in a clear voice.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocence, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace."

He then took a pause to see if anyone would object. Astrid waited in silence, her heart beating in her ears as she expected to hear Klaus interrupt the ceremony. But it never happened. The priest then continued.

"Joseph wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?"
"I will." Replied Joseph in a steady voice.
"Astrid wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?"

Now it arrived her turn to say words that will seal her fate. Astrid looked at Joseph, then at the priest and then finally they ended up in the crowd. She searched for Klaus in the crowd but could not find him. Her silence lasted only a second or two before she focused back on Joseph and the words she was about to say.

"I-"

But before she could answer, the church doors opened with a powerful racket. The entire crowd looked at the man who interrupted the ceremony. Astrid's heart skipped a beat when she realised who the man was. It was Mark Rutter, the butler of the Usherwood Estate. He was covered in blood and cuts, his right arm clearly broken.

"Fire! Fire at the Usherwood Estate!"

Those words caused panic among the crowd. Women screamed and men started to run toward the estate, hoping to stop the fire before it spread. Joseph joined them, leaving his yet-to-be wife at the altar. Astrid remained standing all alone there, just looking at the direction where the men ran to. With her keen sense of smell, she could detect the smoke caused by the burning house. She was almost in trance, not completely comprehending what just happened. When she looked closer at Mark's body, she noticed a carved letter M on his skin. Rebekah snapped her out of it by placing a hand on her shaking shoulder.

"It's him. Mikael has found us. He's here." It came out as a terrified whisper.
"Are you alright sister?"
"Yes, I am fine. I'm completely fine."

Astrid muttered out without actually perceiving her surroundings. Everything still seemed surreal. She tried to focus on her sister but just couldn't. Everything around her started to spin around her. Astrid tried to gain balance by holding onto Rebekah but lost conscience before she managed to make a single step.

Three days have passed since the Usherwood Estate burned to the ground. Dowager Usherwood couldn't handle the loss of her only home and passed away the next day in sleep. Another day has passed and the sisters found themselves having tea after the funeral in Josephs house. They have just returned from the graveyard so the mood was still serious. The wedding was postponed, the next possible date not yet decided. Joseph's house was spacious and it was still decorated for the wedding celebration. The three people sat in the silence, their thoughts accompanied by the sound of an old clock.

"It was him sister. There is no doubt that he is here in St. Louis."
"It can't be. You said the witches hid us with their magic. How is possible that he found us?"
"There is nothing that he will not do if it meant that we will be dead."
"Excuse me my dear, but who are you talking about?"
"We are talking about Mikael, Rebekah's father. He has been hunting us for centuries."
"Isn't Mikael your father as well my dear? I mean, you two are sisters, right?"

Astrid gave him a small, sad smile and shook her head.

"No. Rebekah and I are not sisters. I was simply raised at her home since they took me in as an orphan. We are sisters in all but blood."
"But you look so similar."
"Astrid would always explain that is was a gift from our ancestors and magic. Since we look similar, we can pass more easily as sisters."

Rebekah explained. The silence that followed after that was brief before Joseph spoke again. It hurt Astrid to keep such a secret from Rebekah and that she had to constantly lie about it.

"So what will we do now? Is there any way that we can deal with him?"
"No, there isn't. Even before Rebekah and I came here we knew that if we were found that we will have to run. We've been running from that monster for centuries and we will continue to run."
"So when do we leave dear?"

Astrid choked on her drink when she heard what Joseph was asking. After calming her beating hear and wiping off the spilt tea she turned toward Rebekah.

"Sister please go and pack our belongings. Make sure you pack us lightly. We will leave soon. I will handle the rest."
"Alright, but please take care."
"I will now go."

Rebekah studs up and left them alone in the room. Astrid turned and finally faced Joseph who had a look of determination on his face.

"You are not coming with us, Joseph."
"What do you mean?! I am your fiancee. I have the duty of keeping you safe!"
"It is too dangerous for you. You are human. Mikael is dangerous for us vampires, he will snap you like a branch the moment he sees you with us."
"Then turn me, make me one of you. That way we can be forever together and I can protect you as your husband."
"But you are not my husband. The priest never finished the ceremony. And honestly, I do not think I am ready for marriage."
"But why? Your husband has been dead for years, didn't you move on?"
"I do not think I ever moved on, not completely at least. Do not worry, you will find your own happiness one day."

Astrid said before taking his hand and looking into his eyes. With little to no force, she compelled him.

"You will move on. You will tell everyone that I died from smallpox and that Rebekah left to bury me in England. Finally, you will court young Mary. You will seek comfort for my death in her presence."
"I will seek Mary's support."
"That's right. It was nice knowing you, Joseph. Stay safe."

Astrid said before kissing his cheek and leaving the room. She found her sister with only one suitcase in her hands waiting for her at the door. With a nod, they exited the house and ran to the woods. The sun was setting down so they didn't have to worry about anyone being out. After an hour or so of running, they sensed that someone was following them. The sisters ran even faster but their pursuer just ran faster as well. Finally, they reached a clearing where they turned around. They decided that it was better to deal with the pursuer now rather than later. Astrid and Rebekah stud close to each other, for they had the idea of who was following them. Their worst fears came true as Mikael appeared from the dense woods. Astrid prayed to ancestors that Rebekah doesn't notice the similarity between her and Mikael. They shared the same hair colour and she had inherited his eyes.

"So you finally realised that you cannot escape me, have you girls?"
"What do want Mikael? Leave us alone!"
"Now you know I can't do that Astrid. You are monsters and you need to die!"
"We will not be dying! Not today, not in a hundred years."
"Oh, but you will. Today is the day I get rid of two monsters my wife created. And after I get rid of you I will kill the rest of the monsters you call family."

Both sisters tensed as they prepared to defend themselves. Mikael reached into his coat and pulled out a white oak stake. They knew that is he manages to stab them with that stake they are dead. Astrid's mind ran full speed while she tried to find a way for both of them to survive. Suddenly she figured it out. She had a trump card in her sleeve, she had her magic. It was her biggest secret but this was a life and death situation. She then gripped Rebekah's hand and whispered.

"Rebekah listen to me. I need you to turn around and on my mark start running. Don't turn around and do not stop until you reach your brothers."
"But what about you? You cannot deal with Mikael by yourself, he will kill you."
"Trust me Rebekah and do as I say."
"No, I-"

Before the sisters could finish arguing Mikael charged at them. Astrid was the first one to react and she pushed Rebekah out of the way. Rebekah hit the tree nearby and saw her sister pinned down to the earth by her father.

"Astrid!"
"Run Rebekah! Get to safety! I can handle it! Go!"

Astrid yelled before kicking Mikael in the stomach and pushing him off her. She spun up and showed him her fangs. Rebekah was too scared of Mikael to obey her sister.

"Damn it, Rebekah! Move already!"

She yelled as she kicked the man. Mikael dodged her attack and went instead to attack Rebekah. Seeing that her sister was about to be attacked Astrid did the only thing she could do and started to chant a spell. Immediately Mikael fell to the ground as she broke bone after bone in his body. Thanks to his healing factor those bones healed almost instantly so Astrid could break them over and over again. Usually, Astrid didn't enjoy causing pain to others, but when someone threatens her family she will retaliate. So she couldn't hide that small trace of satisfaction as she watched him moan in pain of the earth. Finally, as Astrid starts to feel her magic losing its effect on Mikael she flashes to his body and snaps his neck. When she looked up at Rebekah she came face to face with a look of sheer horror and fear. Seeing as her sister will not move Astrid grabbed Rebekah's arm and started to drag her through the woods toward the general direction of New Orleans. Rebekah soon snapped out of it and pulled her hand away from Astrid's. She walked a few steps away from her sister and spoke, with tears appearing in her eyes.

"What did you do?"
"Rebekah..."
"What did you do to Mikael? Tell me!"
"I just used my gift. I was born with it and kept after I became a vampire."
"You have magic. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I wanted to protect you."
"You lied to me! You lied to our family!"
"I'm sorry-"
"Oh you are sorry?! I do not believe you!"

Astrid looked at her sister. Rebekah was now in full rage mode with red eyes and tears streaming down her face. She knew that Rebekah would be upset but she honestly didn't expect such a reaction. It made her feel terrible about herself. There was no way that her sister will ever forget about it unless Astrid does something she swears she would never try. She will compel Rebekah to forget what she saw. Astrid slowly approached her sister and with her finger lifted Rebekah's face so that there was eye contact.

"You will forget me ever using magic. We fought Mikael together and managed to snap his neck. He yelled at you and me which made you cry."
"He made me cry."
"That's right. Now let us go home sister."

Both sisters started to run through the dark forest. After a few hours of running, they came upon a road. They took a small break there to see in which direction to go when suddenly a carriage appeared. The man inside yelled for them to stop and came out.

"Dear God what happened to you ladies?!"
"Oh, terrible things kind sir! My sister and I were robbed as he headed to New Orleans for my wedding. Some foul men stopped our carriage and took everything from us! Thank Heavens that they didn't defile us!" Astrid said while Rebekah just started to cry.
"Dear God. Come now dears, I can take you to New Orleans. I am going there myself."
"You will? Oh, bless your soul kind sir."

The man took off his coat and offered it to Astrid. She placed it on herself to hide the dirty dress. Once the three of them were inside the carriage, the coachman urged the horses to start moving again.

"Tell me my dears, what are your names?"
"I am Astrid and this is my younger sister Rebekah. Thank you again sir for saving our lives. Your death will not be in vain."
"My death?!"

Before he could say anything else Astrid snapped his neck and offered one of his still warm hands to her sister.

"It's dinner time. We need to eat if we want to arrive safely to New Orleans."
"You are right, thank you."

Both sisters drained the man of his blood and just before they reached their destination, they drained the coachman as well. The moment they arrived in front of the Mikaelson's house they stormed in, not bothering to knock. Their rucksack got the attention of both brothers.

"What the bloody hell is happening down here? Who is accountable-?!"
"Oh, Klaus I missed you!" Astrid cried as she hugged the enraged Klaus.
"Astrid?! Rebekah?! What are you doing here?!"
"It is good to see you both but please be kind and explain to us why are you dressed like that and what happened." Came a reply from Elijah, who was currently being squished to death by Rebekah.
"Mikael found us. He set fire to our house to make us flee and then followed us."
"He what?!"

Came once again from Klaus. Rebekah started crying again once Astrid uttered Mikael's name.

"Perhaps it would be better if I took our sister to our room to compose herself."
"Please do Elijah. She needs her rest. I'll stay here and explain everything to Klaus."

Elijah gave her a final nod before leading the distressed Rebekah to her bedroom. Klaus decided that the hallway was not the best place to discuss anything and lead Astrid into his office. Once they were all alone in his office did they spoke.

"Tell me what happened."
"Rebekah and I have finished packing and I compelled Joseph to believe that I died from a disease and that Rebekah was leaving to bury me. Once we were in the woods Mikael showed up and attacked us."

Klaus let out a small growl at hearing the last part. His grip on her hand tightened but she didn't say anything about it, she just continued.

"He had the white oak stake with him so I didn't have any choice. I used my magic to break his bones and snap his neck. Rebekah saw everything Nik. Everything! She then started yelling at me for my magic and..."
"Shhh, everything is alright now love. You are home, safe from Mikael. Take a deep breath and tell me what happened with Rebekah. She seemed a bit upset in the hallway but not at you love."
"She's not mad at me now, but she was before. I used compulsion on her, made her forget that I had magic and changed her memory of what she saw. And now I feel terrible about it."
"What you did, you did out of necessity. I believe that you wouldn't harm Rebekah is it didn't have a good reason why."

Klaus pulled Astrid into a tight hug, not wanting to let her go now that she was back in New Orleans. He missed her so much. He missed her presence, her smile, the way that she laughed and he especially missed her kisses. Klaus dug his nose deep into her hair and took a deep breath of her scent. Her smell always calmed him down and reminded him of home, even if she was covered in dirt and grass like now. Abruptly his nose picked up the smell of salt, Astrid was crying. He pulled back a little to look at her.

"I'm so sorry Nik. I am such a fool."
"You are no fool love."
"I am. I made such enormous mistakes. I yelled at you, I broke my promise to you that I will never leave you. I'm sorry. You probably don't want to see me again so I'll leave..."

Before she could completely stand up, Astrid was pulled back down. She found herself back on the sofa with Klaus' lips on hers. His kisses were passionate and deep, he held her tightly and was not about to let her go anytime soon. When he finally let her go, her tears have stopped and she traced her lips with her fingers.

"You are going nowhere love. You came back and you are staying here. I am not letting you leave me ever again."
"I want to stay here with you as well Nik. But you can't expect things to go back like they were before. Too much time has passed, we can't just ignore it."
"You are right and that is why I will win your heart over again. Just like I did when we were humans."
"You will? You still want me? After everything I did to you?"
"I will always want you Astrid and I will prove it to you. Just let me show you what you mean to me."
"Alright, I will."
"Now I believe a nice warm bath is in order, isn't it?"
"You know me so well Nik."
"Well love, when you love someone for as long as I have known you, you learn a thing or two. Shall we, my love?"
"We shall."

Chapter Text

Mear hours after arriving back in New Orleans both Astrid and Rebekah were bathed and cleanly dressed. They took back their old rooms, which were cleaned and prepared for their stay. Most of their clothes had to be ordered since it all burned in St. Louis and the sisters packed only the essentials in one bag. That bag contained a few dresses and an old encased book. Emotions were still running high so only after calming down, the sisters could have had a proper reunion with the rest of the family. The reunion included Marcel who hearing about his mother figure and old love immediately dropped his business in the city and came back to greet them. A spark could be seen it the eyes of old lovers as they were reunited, but with Astrid's insistence, Klaus lets them be. She made him promise her to leave Rebekah and Marcel alone so that they could figure of things between them by themselves. Altho the sisters knew they were safe in New Orleans, they were still paranoid and afraid of leaving the house for the first few months but after some time managed to continue with their lives. And so life went to back as it was once before the fighting started. Klaus even started to slowly court Astrid, just like he promised her. They, of course, kept it a secret but everyone could see that they were mending the bridges that were broken in the past. The fight affected the whole family and so the peace was welcomed by all. After another decade, Rebekah and Marcel received Klaus' blessing to be together. Elijah meanwhile dedicated his time to help the city. Finally, after more than six decades of fighting the family was at peace.

 

1916, New Orleans

 

The house was quiet. Elijah has left a few hours ago to deal with an issue regarding ports and Rebekah is taking a nap. The only people awake in the house were Klaus and Astrid, both searching for Marcel who was missing. Astrid was searching for Marcel on the lower floor while Klaus looked at his bedroom. Finding no one on the lower floor Astrid went up the stairs to join Klaus. She climbed the stair and went to find Klaus and Marcel. She tracked both of the men in Marcel's room and entered without knocking. Upon entering Astrid immediately noticed that something was wrong in the room. Marcel was dressed in a military uniform while Klaus appeared remarkably upset. She immediately went to stand next to Klaus in an attempt to calm him down and figure of what is happening. Klaus gave her a quick look before focusing on Marcel once again and yelling. Marcel had his back turned toward them, turning only for a short moment to see his mother's figure appear.

 

"You are not leaving this bloody house Marcel!"
"My enlistment papers say otherwise."

 

The son replied back showing his parents the paperwork. Astrid's hand flew to her mouth as she read with Klaus what the papers said. She couldn't believe that her son was going to fight in Europe.

 

"369th Regiment. They called them the Harlem Hellfighters. The boat leaves tomorrow."
"It this lunacy because I once forbid you to be with Rebekah?"

 

Marcel snatches the papers out of his parent's hands and folds them. He made no more to reply to Klaus.

 

"So, now you are going to fight the Germans? Have you any consideration for what your mother might think about this?"

 

Receiving no answers from Marcel, Klaus continued to rant.

 

"Fine. Go. But remember, Marcel, this is your home! We are your family and if you haven't learned that in the century since I took you in, then learn it now! A family are not just people who coddle you, who grant you your every whim. They are people who fight for you, who you fight for, and if this family endeavours to stop you from making a tragic error of the heart, then, by all means, express your discontent, but what you do not do is abandon us!"

 

He finished with his rant. Marcel did not look at Klaus or Astrid during the speech, instead, he looked at the floor. But when Klaus finally finished, he sent his father figure a hard look and picks up his bag. With one more he slings in on his shoulder and leaves the room. On his way out of the room he took one last glimpse at his father and mother and listened to the last words that were sent at him.

 

"Fine. Go! You'll be back!"

 

Seeing Marcel leave the room for the possibly last time made Astrid's legs move. She ran after Marcel, leaving Klaus all alone in the room. Seeing him just a few steps away from the door she shouted.

 

"Marcel wait!"

 

The young man stopped at the door and turned back to face his mother. He regretted the way his parents found out about his enlistment when he saw the tears that fell out his mothers' eyes.

 

"Are you planning on stopping me from leaving mother?"
"No Marcel, I am not. I know that when you get an idea in your head you will not let anyone stop you. You got that from your father, you know. So instead of stopping you, I will only beg you to return safe and sound home. Will you promise that to your mother?"
"I will."
"Please say it, for my sake."
"I promise you that I will return home safe and sound mother. You have my word."
"Good. As a Mikaelson I will hold you up to it. Now there is just one thing need to give to you before you leave. I had it prepared just for this moment."

 

Astrid said before taking off a silver St. Michael medallion of her neck and fastening it over Marcel's neck.

 

"The medallion will keep you safe until you return here."
"But this is your medallion mother."
"Nonsense. It is now yours. If you insist, you can give it back after you return."
"Alright then, I will."
"Good now give me a hug before you leave and do forgive your father for yelling. He only yells because he wants to keep you safe, he means no harm."

 

Marcel says nothing back to his mother as he gives her one last hug. He enjoys the warmth of his mothers embrace one last time before pulling back and opening the door. The door closes behind him with a deafening sound echoing across the house.

 

1918, New Orleans

The Mikaelson house was highly decorated for the return of the only son. Astrid spared no expenses when it came to decorating the house and Rebekah helped as well. Klaus, of course, complained regarding the cost but after a talk with Astrid said nothing. He was glad the war was finally over and that Marcel was returning home. Astrid prepared a large dinner for the family by herself and had Elijah collect Marcel's favourite blood type of person. And so it came the day when Marcel was supposed to land in New Orleans. The house was ready and everything was in place. The women checked every last detail while the men just sat in the living room both nursing a glass of scotch.

 

"Nik are you sure you did your part right?"
"Astrid, I'm an immortal vampire, of course I did my part perfectly. Now sit down and have a drink, you'll worry yourself to death."
"Niklaus is right Astrid. Worrying will not help you at all."

 

Elijah added while pouring Astrid her drink. Klaus pulled her down on the sofa and handed her the drink. She didn't take a sip immediately, just starred at the liquid.

 

"Is something the matter sister?" Rebekah asked.
"I have a bad feeling about something."
"It's probably just the nerves about seeing Marcel again. It will pass."
"No, it's not that. It's something worse, something terrifying."
"Do you have any idea about what it is?"

 

Klaus asked. The siblings learned to trust Astrid's gut instinct. It got them out of danger when she foretold that Mikael will find them in England. They used her predictions as warning bells as when the time arrives for them to move.

 

"I am not certain. But we need to be ready to flee if needed. Blood will be spilt soon in this city."

 

That worried everyone. Marcel was due to return today and they didn't want to expose him to Mikael's cruelty and possible death. Astrid took a sip of her drink to break the tension. Mear moments after she swallowed the drink warning bells were sounded in the city. The alarm was loud and it broke the silence. A servant barged into the room, panic set on his face.

 

"What is it?! Speak up!" Klaus spat at the man.
"Someone set the warehouses on fire! Witnesses claim that it was just one man. They claimed his name is Mikael."

 

The sound of glass shattering could be heard in the room. Shards of Astrid's glass covered the floor and the rug was soaked with her drink. Everyone couldn't believe what they were hearing. Their father has found them, he was here to hunt them all down. Astrid's words came true. If they do not flee immediately, the town will be drenched in blood. All four sibling immediately went into actions. The men grabbed the wooden stakes and get the car ready to drive. The sisters disappeared to pack some clothes for them all and on their way back grabbed their coats. Everyone met at the entrance of the house and pilled into the car. Klaus immediately started to drive as fast as he could without gaining attention. Astrid and Rebekah just starred at their home for so many years as it was getting smaller and smaller. After a few hours of driving, they stopped at an abandoned farm. Elijah exited the car, soon followed by Klaus and Astrid. Rebekah remained in the back seat, she fell asleep soon after they left the city boundaries.

 

"So Niklaus, where are we going now?"
"I think out best option is to go to New York, after that we should go to Chicago."
"Are you out of your mind Niklaus?! Why must we tempt fate and remain in America? It would be a far better option to leave this continent altogether and go to Europe again."
"Are you saying that we should leave this rich country and leave for a continent destroyed by war?! And you claim I am foolish Elijah!"
"Enough both of you! Bickering will lead us to nowhere! You make a point Elijah but it is absolutely absurd to head toward war-torn land. So much blood has been shed there and one day, it will be shed again. The hate that we hear of in Europe will come back one day. It will be better if we stick to this continent."
"I see. So should I assume that nothing will change your opinion, will it Astrid? You have always been the one to follow Niklaus so blindly. Almost akin to a pet."
"How dare you call her like that! She-"

 

Klaus went to attack Elijah but Astrid placed her palm over his heart and stopped him.

 

"Let him say what he wants Nik. We already know that nothing will change if you attack him, it will only help Mikael find us sooner."

The brothers exchanged heated glares but said nothing. Astrid waited for a bit to see if both of the brothers have calmed down before she decided to speak. She carefully picked her following words.

 

"I know tensions are currently running high but we must be above it. We are the Mikaelsons, we are above all of this. A long time ago we promised to each other always and forever, now let us keep that promise."
"That is a very nice speech Astrid but it still doesn't help us with deciding where to go?"
"Have some goddam patients Elijah, won't you?" Klaus snapped at him.
"Let us put it vote then. You have suggested that we head to Europe and Nik is for the idea that we remain here. With mine vote for Nik's idea, it is up to Rebekah to decide."
"Don't even bother with Rebekah's vote. We know she will follow you and Niklaus wherever you go."

 

Elijah said before leaving the farm and the field. He disappeared with a burst of speed, leaving Astrid and Klaus standing alone in the field. Seeing her older brother leave Astrid started to cry. It broke her heart seeing another of her siblings breaking the old promise. Klaus saw the tears and hugged her tightly. He just held her in his arms and whispered that everything will be alright in her ear. Their position reminded him of when her mother died, she was crying the same way as she was now, utterly heartbroken.

 

"Everything will be alright Astrid. Elijah is a strong one, he will manage. Please stop crying. Do not make me beg, alright my love?"

 

Astrid pulled back a minimal distance from Klaus to see his face and wiped her tears.

 

"You haven't called me that in years Nik."
"Yes well...that has been my fault. But it still is true. I still love you, just like from the very first day that I met you."
"You couldn't have loved me from that day. We were too young."
"Well, I did. Of course, I wasn't aware it was love for quite some years but I did love you from that day. Even if you threw blueberries at me."
"I can't believe you still remember that. I hoped you forgot that detail."

 

She laughed. Klaus was pleased that he managed to make her stop crying and made her laugh instead. He hugged her tight and kissed her brow.

 

"Well of course I did and nothing will ever make me forget that love. Remember Astrid, I love you."
"I love you too Nik."

 

Klaus looked down and kissed her. Altho years have passed since he kissed her, the feeling of her lips on his felt like coming home. They were still so soft against his, it took his breath away. They parted after a few moments, their eyes still closed, enjoying the feeling of being so close. Klaus took a step back and took her by hand. He started to lead her toward the car.

 

"Come now love. Let us find a new city for you to live in."
"For us." She corrected him.
"For us love. Always and forever, just like I promised you."

Chapter Text

1920, Chicago

 

An expensive car parked on the crowded parking lot. It looked like many others there, not standing out in any way. The first person leaving the vehicle was the driver, his face and body hidden by a hat and a long black coat he wore. He was a tall individual, with a lean figure. Following his example, two women exited the car as well. Both wore coats with fur on them, to keep the cold away. Both women were similar height, the brunette only a bit higher. Their outer appearance screamed wealth and money. They didn't say anything as they walked toward a closed food store just a few feet ahead. The silence was followed by a sound of heels hitting the wet road as they walked. There they turned left and entered a dark alley and knocked on the door that was hidden behind the crates. The brunette woman knocks on the door and a doorman opens the door slightly to see who is there.

 

"My husband needs his medicine, sir. As well as my sister and I."
"Of course. Come on in miss."

 

The man says before opening the door fully and letting them enter inside. Once the group was fully inside they heard the familiar sound of jazz performers and crowd. Leaving their coats at the designed area, the second woman, whose blond hair was pinned in a loose bun turned toward her companions. The three of them just passed some velvet curtains and found themselves on the top of a staircase. From there they could see the mingling crowd and the performing band.

 

"I still do not understand. Why do you have to introduce Nik as your husband Astrid?"
"It was Gloria's idea actually since she's the owner of this lovely place, she's the one that sets up the passwords. This is ours."
"Oh fine." Rebekah muttered not really being annoyed.
"Cheer up Bekah and let us get wasted."
"Well not completely wasted. I will not be the one to drag your drunk bodies back to our apartment. Last time was a bloody nightmare." Klaus cut in.
"Oh cheer up Nik. You need a drink as well. Also, don't forget you owe me a dance from last time."

 

Astrid said before grabbing Klaus' hand and dragging him toward the dancing crowd. They all passed next to the band and the main singer called out to them.

 

"Well, what a fantastic evening now that you are here. Why hello Astrid."

 

She greeted Astrid. Klaus and Rebekah just moved on to occupy their regular booth.

 

"Gloria. You look divine tonight. The crowd behaving themselves?"
"Just like any other night. Any requests?"
"Maybe one later. Nik does owe me dance after all. Better make it count."
"Alright then, I'll see you later. Ciao darling."
"Ciao Gloria."

 

Astrid said before leaving the crowd to join her family. Once she sat into the booth Klaus offered her a glass of champagne which she immediately accepted.

 

"Thank you Nik. You are quite a charmer."
"Just doing my part. Have I mentioned that you look absolutely ravishing tonight?"
"Oh please. You're making me puke and the party hasn't even started yet."

 

Rebekah complained. Klaus only smiled at that and spread his arms over the top of the seats. It was Astrid that replied back.

 

"So then, let me give you a small dare just so you do not get bored. You can have fun with your challenge and leave the two of us be."

 

She searched the crowd before finally selecting her target. In the end, she picked out a young man who was just entered the bar. He was wearing a suit just like any man there. He had brown hair and deep brown eyes. Astrid nodded her head in his direction, knowing that Rebekah would follow.

 

"Him. Your dare is to steal his drink and do that by leaving him completely speechless."
"Ha, that's easy."

 

Rebekah said before leaving the booth to join the crowd on the dance floor. Klaus turned his head toward Astrid.

 

"Was that really necessary love?"
"Yes Nik, it was. You are getting a little too open with your compliments. Altho it is flattering to hear them, people like Rebekah might figure out what is happening. God forbid if those rumours then reach Mikael."
"Fine, I'll tone down with the compliments a bit, but you still deserve them."
"Thank you."
"On the other topic. Did you do it deliberately or did you send Rebekah to flirt with the Ripper of Monterrey purely on accident?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about Nik."

 

Astrid said before taking a drink of her champagne. Klaus gave her a smirk, knowing that he caught her in the act again.

 

"Sure. So you weren't playing matchmaker again, fine. But if Rebekah falls for a moron, it will be on your soul."
"Oh relax Nik. It will be fine and stop with theatrics."

 

The couple watched as Rebekah not only stole the drink but licked a stray drop of blood from the corner of his lips. The man was speechless as Rebekah whispered something into his ear and then left. She then with an expression of pure satisfaction sat back at her place.

 

"That was very risky Rebekah."
"Please spare me your nagging Astrid. I am in no mood to hear any of it. And why are you complaining, it was you who dared me to do it in the first place."
"I dared you to steal his drink, not to almost reveal our secret."
"You know what, I had it with you. I'm going to get another drink."

 

Rebekah said before drinking the whole glass of champagne and leaving to get another one. Astrid just huffed and took another sip of her drink.

 

"I don't know what has gotten into her."
"Well, perhaps it's the fact that you are acting like you are her mother love. And I did not sign up for babysitting duty. with you."
"I know, I know." Astrid said half-heartedly as she stared into the crowd.
"Cheer up love. Come on, I did promise you a dance, didn't I?"

 

Klaus said as he stud up and offered her his hand. Astrid smiled when she saw that and let him help her up. He still held her satin gloved hand as he leads her to the dance floor. Seeing the two of them approaching the dance floor Gloria started a new song, perfect for dancing. It the midst of the crowd all Klaus could see was Astrid, dressed in her perfect black and gold dress, with a pearl necklace he gave her for a birthday around her neck and a bright smile on her gorgeous face. She loved dancing and Klaus was willing to do anything to keep that smile on her face, even if it meant dancing. They kept dancing until the early hours of the day before they collected their coats and left. Rebekah followed they back at the same time, the fight forgotten between two sisters.

 

Days continued the same way. The three Originals continued to visit Gloria's bar every single night. During those night Rebekah would always separate and go pursue her own fun, mostly in the company of young Stefan Salvatore, the Ripper of Monterrey. At first, both Astrid and Klaus let them be, thinking it's just some harmless attraction, but as the couple grew closer Klaus started to worry. He was concerned with what kind of influence might that man hold over Rebekah, he might even make her disobey him. Astrid tried to soothe those concerns but it was in vain. Then one night Klaus had enough and decided to see what kind of a vampire Stean truly was. One night, both Stefan and Rebekah were feeding off a neck of one young woman. They were clearly enjoying themselves and started to kiss once the woman died. It would have gone way further than what was proper if Klaus hasn't intervened. He approached the couple and pulled Rebekah out of the booth with his hand. Astrid was only a few steps behind him.

 

"Get up Rebekah. It's late, we are leaving."
"Get off me!"

 

She yelled as she went to get rid of his grasp. Astrid went to calm him down.

 

"Let her go Nik. I'm sure violence isn't needed here, right Bekah?"

 

Astrid peacemaking attempts were ignored.

 

"Who is this guy?"

 

Stefan went to defend his date. Rebekah immediately spun around and went to his side. His hand was protectively placed over Rebekah's shoulder.

 

"Stefan, don't. He'll kill you. He's a lot stronger than he looks."
"I'm sure we can manage without killing anyone, right Nik? There is no reason to use violence here." Astrid presented the peacemaker once more.
"So this is the famous Stefan Salvatore. I've been hearing so much about. You're right, he does have funny hair. I'm boredRebekah. I want to go. And you are right Astrid, we can resolve this without violence. If only Rebekah would do as she was told."
"I am not your girlfriend Nik. I do not have to go with you at your every whim."
"No, but you are my sister which means...you do as you are told. You have to do as I say."
"Now, now you two. Stop bickering like children. Why don't we all sit down and have a drink? I'm sure Mister Salvatore will be kind enough to join us as well?"
"I suppose I should."
"Excellent. Now, why don't we all head back to our table?"

 

Astrid said out loud but actually directed the question to Klaus, who knew better than to start a fight when she was mad. The group of four sat back and a server placed down drinks for all of them down. Klaus spread his arms again with his left arm touching Astrid's shoulder. On his right side sat Rebekah and Stefan at the end. Klaus had a daring look on his face as he observed the man Rebekah claimed was her love.

 

"So Stefan, enlighten me. What makes you worthy of an Original like my sister? She's pure vampire and you're no more than a diluted bloodline."
"Do not listen to Nik Stefan. He's an elitist."
"With a reason too." Injected Astrid before taking a sip of her drink.
"Hmm. And where's the rest of your family?"

 

Stefan asked back. Astrid had to admit, the man had guts mentioning their family in front of Klaus. Klaus just gave him a smirk and replied without any hesitation.

 

"Well, let's see. Um...I killed most of them. "
"But not all of them."
"Some of them still roam this lands."

 

The sisters said. Stefan looked at Rebekah and then at Astrid, trying to see their reactions.

 

"And you're okay with that?"
"Well, we all had the chance to choose a side. I chose the right one, eventually. "
"And I never doubted my choice either. I've followed this path for a long time."

 

Astrid followed with her answer. The group sat for a moment in silence before a man stormed up to their table and yelled at Stefan.

 

"Where the hell is my wife?"
"I do not know. I give up." Stefan said while making a gesture of giving up.
"You think you're so tough? Hiding in your bar, drinking your liquor? A telephone call to Chicago P.D. might set you straight."

 

The group all started to laugh and went to watch how Stefan will handle the man making a scene. Stefan just looks at the man before calling a woman from the crowd.

 

"Lila? Lila, please. Come here a second."
"Oh thank God. Come on homey, we are leaving."

 

The man starts to leave with his wife but Stefan suddenly stands up and stops them. He grabs the mans arm and compels him.

 

"Oh, no, no, no, no. No. You're sitting. Right here with us."

 

The man sits down next to Astrid who moved closer to Klaus and Lila sat next to Stefan. Stefan then pulls of Lila's glove and takes a pen knife out of his pocket. With a small amount of pressure, he cuts the woman's wrist and lets a fair amount of blood mix with his champagne. The rest of the vampires look intrigued while the man is disgusted.

 

"What the hell are you doing?"
"You'll see. Thank you so much, Lila. Why don't you go and bandage that up?"

 

He tells the woman who stands up and leaves the booth. Stefan then leans toward the man and looks him directly into the eyes, compelling him.

 

"I'd like you to join me for a drink. "

 

He pushed the blood mixer champagne toward the man. The man looks at all of them with clear disgust.

 

"What kind of sick freaks are you?"
"You have no idea."

 

Came a quiet whisper from Astrid but no one heard it, no one except Stefan, who gave her a passing glimpse before focusing back on the man. The man took a sip of the offered drink and immediately started coughing.

 

"I did not catch your name."
"Go to hell!"
"Why don't you take another sip? Come on, I'm sure it's delicious."

 

Stefan encouraged the man to drink as Klaus and the women laughed at the man's misfortune.

 

"Please, don't make me do this."
"Your name."
"Liam. Liam Grant."
"Well then Liam, why don't you finish the drink."

 

The man takes his shaking hand and forcefully swallows the blood in one gulp. Klaus laughs one more time as he clinks his glass to Liam's.

Some time has passed and the newly formed group of four met up again at the speakeasy. The mood was high at the bar and everyone was dancing. Among the crowd were Rebekah and Stefan, happily dancing. Klaus gave them a blessing after the night with bloody champagne. He sat at the bar with Astrid, both enjoying their drinks. They have danced before so they were taking a break. Smiles were on both of their faces. Life was good for them, they were having fun and enjoying the privileges of being immortal. That peace actually bothered Astrid, her history of perfect things ending too soon on her mind. Yet she didn't voice it out loud, fearing she might attract bad luck. Klaus looked at her as if sensing her inner thoughts and stud up to take her dancing again. But suddenly, as if he could sense something bad approaching, he started to look around. Abruptly, bullets started flying across the air. People start to panic as they try to hide from the approaching police. Stefan pulls Rebekah behind the bar where Astrid and Klaus were already hiding. He then picks one of the bullets off the floor and looks at it.

 

"It's a wooden bullet. They know."
"Then that means that he is here as well."
"Do not say that Bekah, you'll brink bad luck on us."
"Well it's true Astrid!"
"Quiet both of you. We have no time for your silly arguing."
"So what should we do Klaus?"
"Astrid and Rebekah will leave first. We can keep their back and watch out for any approaching danger."
"But what about you Nik?"
"I'm gonna be fine Astrid, don't worry. Now go."

 

Klaus said before pushing both Rebekah and Astrid toward a hidden exit Gloria mentioned in the past. The girls push against the crowd as they tried to reach the exit when suddenly a group of men fires a rain of bullets in their direction. Rebekah manages to run into the protection of the passage but Astrid trips and ends right on the path of the bullets. She shuts her eyes tightly, awaiting the inevitable pain to come but...it never does. The crowd commotion is still there around her, but the pain never came. Astrid opens her eyes to see Klaus crouching over her body. He was almost entirely covering her body with his. Stains of blood started to spread over his chest to where the bullets hit his body. He seemed in pain but it was soon replaced by a look of relief when he realised that she was safe. Astrid started to tear up.

 

"You bloody fool! Why would you do that?!"
"Because I love you, that's why. Remember Astrid, I promised you always and forever. Well, I'm keeping that promise."

 

Klaus said before reaching into an inner pocket of his suit and pulling a familiar ruby ring. The age did not change the ring as it was obvious that it was well taken care of. Seeing that ring again made Astrid start to actually cry.

 

"Oh, Klaus. You kept it."
"Of course I kept it love. I kept it with the intention of placing it back on your finger again."
"If you promise me to follow me alive then you will."
"I'll take your word for it."

 

Klaus said before placing the ring in her hand and giving her a deep kiss. Astrid kissed him back, not as their last kiss but as a promise. They broke the kiss and he pulled her up on her legs before pushing her toward the exit. She took the clue and started running, now being extra careful of the bullets. When she turned toward the exit she caught a glimpse of Rebekah's blonde hair. She knew that once her sister and she were safe outside, Klaus will follow.

 

After he kissed her, Klaus forced her toward the safe exit. Seeing her safely leaving he could finally tidy up the loose ends. Turning back he saw Stefan kneeling on the floor, reaching for something that fell. In a second, he appeared in front of him.

 

"Stefan. I'm sorry, but the fun has to end here. We had fun while it lasted."
"What do you mean?"
"You must forget Rebekah, Astrid and me. Until I say otherwise, you never knew us, Stefan. Thank you. I had forgotten what it was like to have a friend."

 

With those words the compulsion set into Stefan's mind making him forget everything. Not bothering to check on him again, Klaus turned and ran to where Astrid and Rebekah went off to. He found dazed Rebekah starring into the tunnel he came from and Astrid nervously pacing near their getaway car. Seeing the state of his sister Klaus looked at Astrid for an explanation. She just nodded her head telling him that she will explain later.

 

"Hurry up, Rebekah. Let's go! Astrid is already waiting for us!"
"He'll be here any second. I know he will."
"Do you want us to die Rebekah?! We've been found. We need to move."
"I'm not leaving without Stefan."
"Sister please." Astrid begged her.
"Stefan's not coming. We have to disappear. He'll draw too much attention. Let him go."
"What did you do to him Nik?"

 

Klaus ignored her question and starts dragging her toward the car. Rebekah shakes off his hand and takes a step back in defiance.

 

"Come on. We don't have time for one of your tantrums."
"I don't want to run anymore, Nik! All we do is run. I want to be with Stefan. Where is he?"
"Fine. Then choose. Him or us."

 

Klaus said as he gave her an ultimatum. Rebekah said nothing as Astrid came closer to them. She looked to the floor. If she didn't do that, she would have noticed Astrid reach into her purse.

 

"That's what I thought. Get in the car. Let's go."
"Good-bye Nik. I'll miss you to Astrid."

 

Rebekah said. Nik froze in mid-step, not comprehending what he heard. When he finally turned around Rebekah started to walk back toward the tunnels. In a fit of rage, Klaus rushed past Astrid toward Rebekah. He grabbed her shoulders with the intention of stopping her.

 

"You are not leaving us."
"I am. Good-bye Nik."

 

His sister said before shaking away his arms. She was so focused on getting away from Klaus, that she didn't notice Astrid approaching her from behind. When she finally got away from his grip she turned to face Astrid. In less than a second it took her to realise what is happening, Astrid has already embedded a dagger into her heart. Klaus grabbed his sister's greying corpse and placed it into the back seats of the car. The lone couple entered the car without a word and drove off into the night. After a few streets, Astrid looked away from the window.

 

"I compelled her again. She saw us kiss and the ring."
"I know."
"And you are not upset? I compelled our sister to forget something, again. Isn't that a way of the cowards?"
"I'm not upset love because I trust you to use this ability of yours for good reasons."
"Thank you Nik."
"You are welcome love. Now regarding that ring of yours, when will you let me make you an honest woman again?" He joked.
"If you can, you can marry me right now. Wherever it is, I will say yes."
"Well then, we better make a small stop on our travels."

 

Klaus said before turning left on the road. Astrid recognised the road he had taken, he used the same road to drive her to the church she loved to attend mass in. They will probably wake up and compel themselves a priest to marry them, but Astrid honestly couldn't care. She was ready to say 'I do' again.

Chapter Text

Modern time, New York

 

The sounds of guitar mixed with background noises of the city. The light tap of the rain against the large windows overlooking the city, the sound of buses and taxis in the streets below and the barely noticeable sound of people living their lives in the large city. Those were the sounds that captured Astrid's senses as she translated page after page of a thousand-year-old grimoire. Her mind was focused purely on that, nothing else. Pages of written and translated words scattered across the floor around her, her back pressed against the couch. She didn't bother with fixing her hair, instead, she just made a messy bun. An empty cup of blood and coffee next to her. Outside the apartment, she would always be seen dressed in perfection, but inside her apartment, where she felt completely safe, she wore just a cotton tank top and yoga pants. On the surface, she looked like any normal college student, killing themselves for an essay that is due. That is exactly what Klaus thought when he entered the apartment. He took off his leather jacket, put down his keys and went to greet his love. He walked through their cosy and surprisingly modest apartment and kissed her on the cheek.

 

"Hello love. I see you are still going at it."
"Hey Nik. I'll be done soon I promise, just a few more pages."
"You said that before I left and that was three hours ago."
"I know, I know. But I'll finish soon."
"Good. Wouldn't want you to overwork yourself."
"Nik I'm a vampire, to me, there is no such thing as overworking."
"Well pardon me for wanting to take care of my wife." He joked.
"I'm sorry. Will a kiss make it better?"
"It might, but who knows."

 

Klaus said before shrugging his shoulders. Astrid grinned at that and placed a chaste kiss on his lips. But instead of the kiss ending there, Klaus pulled her closer to him and deepened the kiss. They separated after a few more moments, happy expressions on both of their faces.

 

"What brought that on?"
"Well, I haven't seen you in a long time."
"It's been three hours, you said it yourselves."
"And I have some good news."
"Really? Do tell."
"Apparently Elijah has found the Petrova Doppelganger. She is in Mystic Falls and he is there as well."
"Do you think he will try to do something to stop us from acquiring her?"
"Knowing our brother, yes."
"Then I suppose we will have to do some recon before that."
"I can already hear the gears spinning inside your beautiful mind, you have an idea don't you?"
"I do. You are in luck because just after you left, I translated a spell perfect for this occasion. With my magic and some of your blood, I can transfer your consciousness from your body temporarily into a different one. You take your pick of the occupants from the city and voila, perfect spy."

 

Klaus smiles at her enthusiasm and plants a solid kiss on her lips.

 

"Have I told you how I love the way your mind works?"
"Mhhh a couple of times but it never hurt to hear it again."
"Well, I will keep saying it over and over again because it's true."
"You might want to consider that. I invited Maddox and Greta over for dinner again. You can inform Madox and hit the road tomorrow morning."
"Fantastic. Now regarding my blood, how much will it be necessary?"

 

The rest of the day and evening was spent discussing the spell and when their witches have arrived the conversation focused more on how Madox will learn and perform the spell identically to Astrid. During that conversation over dinner, Klaus pulled back from the discussion as magic was not his fort and let Astrid talk with her students in peace. Maddox and Greta have been in their service for years. The couple has first stumbled upon Maddox when he lost his parents and no one in the local witch community would take care of him. Immediately upon seeing him Astrid's motherly instincts kicked in and with few words and promises to Klaus, they took him in. The boy flourished under Astrid's teaching and Klaus' rule. Greta, on the other hand, was a different case. She was a daughter of a male witch that served Elijah. She ran away from her father and brother in order to join Klaus instead of following Elijah. Astrid had her homeschooled with Maddox. By the end of the night, the spell has been performed and Astrid was left alone in the apartment with her husbands still body and Greta as her only company.

 

Following the next few weeks, Astrid received phone calls from Maddox with detailed reports of what has happened. She learned about how Klaus managed to track and compel Isobel Flemming, the Doppelganger's biological mother to spy and bring them the Moonstone and Katherine, who to her surprise was actually in Mystic Falls. She was also told of how with Isobel's help, he subdued Alaric Saltzman, the local history teacher and successfully performed the spell. She laughed at descriptions of how Klaus tried to teach a bunch of teenagers history and the '60s. From personal experience, she knew that he hated that decade. While wanting to participate in some fun baiting of the Doppelganger, Astrid knew that her part of the job was to keep Klaus' body safe from any harm and to continued Greta's training in magic and spells. When Maddox called out of the blue, asking for a protection spell for Klaus' human skin, she started to worry. And when she received further details, she had enough and dialled Klaus' phone. For the next half an hour she yelled at him, calling him stupid and idiotic for deciding that the best was to kill a witch with a power of a hundred dead witches was to bait her until her own magic kills her. Thankfully the plan worked and the next evening Astrid received the news that the Bennet witch is dead. She mourned for a short that the bloodline of her mentor has died but got over it quickly. With the young witches death, Astrid packed everything portable in the apartment and set off with Greta to Mystic Falls where the counterspell for the possession will be done.

 

Step by the step she climbed the building stairs toward the apartment. Greta followed her with two compelled men carrying suitcases. She knocked once on the door and was greeted by Maddox's face appearing. He lets them in and directs where the suitcases should be put. Astrid sees Klaus in Alaric's body sitting by the counter and Katherine quietly sitting at the couch.

 

"Come on in ladies."
"Thank you Maddox. Hello Nik."
"Hello love. You sure have a lot of luggage here."
"Well would you rather prefer for me to forget your body?"
"Of course not love."

 

Klaus says before approaching to kiss her. He wraps his arms around her and brings her closer. But before he could kiss her she placed a finger over his lips, stopping the approach.

 

"Let's change you back to your real body. I prefer kissing that one."
"Can I kiss you then?"
"Ask me that after we finish the spell."

 

Astrid replies back before walking toward the largest suitcase the men left alone. Greta and Maddox have already made a circle of candles around it and with a flick of her hand, Astrid lit the candles. Quickly the two human witches started chanting the words to reverse the spell. With a sudden gust of wind in a closed room, the candles were extinguished. Alaric's body hit the ground as his conscience was transferred back to his original body. The only sounds that could be heard other than breathing was the opening of the suitcase. Slowly Klaus stepped outside with a grin on his face.

 

"Well love. What about that kiss now, huh?"

 

She just laughed before planting a kiss on his lips. It would have progressed from that if it wasn't for the presence of Katherine in the room. Greta and Maddox have taken their cue and left the moment the spell was completed.

 

"Why hello Katherine, fancy seeing you here."
"Astrid. I see you are still alive."
"And dagger free to."
"Guess it is worth sleeping with Klaus."

 

In a blink of an eye, Katherine found herself slammed to the wall with Klaus' hand choking her.

 

"What was that you said about my wife?"
"Let her go Nik. You can punish her as much as you want later, we have a ritual to prepare for."
"You are right love. Where shall we start?"
"Well thanks to Isobel, we have the Moonstone and we know where the Doppelganger is. Now we just need a werewolf and a vampire. The witch part is covered as well."
"Any suggestions? Since you've taken so much care of my body I'll let you pick them out."
"Consider it done. Now if you excuse me, I had a long drive and I deserve a shower. After that, I will start with the werewolf part."

 

The next day Astrid called Maddox and picked him up from the local hotel he was staying with Greta. After receiving all the pieces of information that weren't in the e-mails she headed toward the Lockwood Estate with him. The Lockwood family was a werewolf line and with the Mayor being dead, the only werewolf available was his young son Tyler Lockwood, who was unfortunately out of town. Nonetheless, Astrid had a plan. She knocked on the front entrance of the estate, Maddox quietly standing behind her. A woman entered the door and looked at the two strangers at her door.

 

"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I'm terribly sorry for bothering you but we have some information about your son. We know that he is missing and we want to help."
"What is it? Is he alright?"
"I'm afraid we can't discuss this in the open, it's quite personal."
"I understand. Please, come in."
"Thank you."

 

They enter inside. The woman leads them to a fancy living room. Astrid stops the woman near the stairs and looks her in the eyes.

 

"What is wrong?"
"You do not have to worry. Your son will come home. Call him on the phone and tell him you've been in an accident and you need him."
"But I'm not hurt."
"Not yet. Maddox will take care of that. Make sure her wounds are serious but not fatal. A push down the stairs will do the trick."
"Understood."

 

Maddox replies before taking the woman upstairs. Seeing as the bait will soon be set Astrid leaves the property. The young werewolf will come to see his mother in the hospital and that is when they will catch him. Her prediction came true after two days. A trap was set in front of the hospital, Greta and Maddox will subdue the werewolf and anyone is his company. To her utmost joy, not only did they capture the werewolf but they also got their hands on a baby vampire and even another werewolf. Their explanation was that having an extra one couldn't hurt. The baby vampire was a pretty blond girl. From Katherine, Astrid found out that she because a vampire only because Katherine smothered her with a pillow after she had an accident and there was vampire blood in her system. So Astrid took pity on the girl and decided not to sacrifice her but just use her as a distraction until the ritual. Klaus managed to peacefully acquire the Doppelganger. But then, just as she thought that things were running smoothly something happened. Maddox was killed. She felt his death in her blood as she made sure all her witches were connected to her, for safety reasons. And it turned out useful. She felt his death as it was happening to her which made her pissed and wanting revenge. None hurts her witches and gets off without any retribution. There was also the matter of keeping Greta safe since she was the last loyal witch left. Astrid wanted to keep Greta safe by keeping her in the apartment to which the young woman rebelled against. That conversation wasn't pleasant.

 

"You are staying in this apartment Greta and that is final!"
"But I trained for this. You that me all I know. You even said that when the time comes I can help you with the ritual."
"I did. And I hate to break my promise but your safety is more important. I can manage the ritual by myself, what I can't manage is to lose my last student. Greta, listen to me. I care about you. You are the last one and until this ritual is complete I cannot risk anything. I can turn you but only after the ritual. Understood?"
"Fine but I still don't like it."
"I know sweetheart. But you'll manage."

 

Astrid says before hugging Greta. The young witch hugged back just as tightly before leaving the room to watch some television. Astrid just smiled at her typical behaviour after a fight.

 

"Well, I'm off to lead the Doppelganger toward the ritual site. Take care of yourself Greta. And keep an eye on Katherine."
"I will. Bye Astrid."

 

It's the middle of the night. Astrid picked up the Doppelganger, who's name was Elena, and started to quietly lead her through the dark forest. The girl kept constantly asking questions, which Astridpromptly ignored. It was only when they got close to the ritual site that she started paying attention back on the girl.

 

"Where are we going?"
"This way girl. Do try to keep up."
"God, I can't see in this dark. I'll trip over something."
"You don't have to worry about tripping anymore. We are here."

 

She says before moving her arm slowly in the air. To the girl's surprise, fire lights up all across the clearing illuminating the site. In the middle of the field laid a dead body of a woman. The girl instantly recognised her as her aunt Jenna. Tears started to well up in her eyes as she tried to wake her aunt up.

 

"No, no, no. I did everything you asked. Why did he kill her?"
"She's not dead. She's in transition."

 

As if her words were some kind of a signal, Jenna immediately woke up and starts looking around her, confused at what was happening. Astrid kneels in front of her and pulls out a blood bag.

 

"Here. This will help. Drink it. I promise it will not hurt."
"No don't!"

 

Elena tried to intervene but Astrid just blasted her away and spelled a ring of fire around her which restricted her movements.

 

"Do not even try. I spelled the ring, you are not going anywhere. Now, about you."

 

She turned toward the aunt who was still confused. With a pocket knife, Astrid ripped the blood bag open and offered it to the woman who drank it desperately. After emptying the bag Jenna turned toward the woman silently asking if there was more, to which Astrid just moved away and mode another ring of fire, this time trapping Jenna. Before Elena could say anything a scream brought their attention toward a woman lying nearby in the dirt. She had her arms around her and was screaming.

 

"And there is the final piece. All is set."
"Why are you doing this? Witches are supposed to be servants of nature. Their duty is to keep the curse sealed."
"Well, it's a good thing then that I am not just any witch. I am THE witch. And my duty is to Klaus. It always has been."
"Well isn't that heaven to my ears."

 

Came from Klaus who appeared out of nowhere. He walked closer to three rings of fire and without caring that everyone was watching, dipped Astrid and kissed her deeply. After the kiss he looked at the three women, his arm still around Astrid's waist.

 

"Hello my lovelies, shall we begin?"
"Do you have the Moonstone?"
"Right here love."

 

Klaus says before passing the stone to Astrid. She looked at it for a second before dropping it into a stone bowl. Sparks started to fly as the stone was destroyed. The destruction of the stone signalled the beginning of the ritual. Astrid started to chant in Latin as Klaus approached the first sacrifice. The first ring of fire, that was around the werewolf disappeared and the woman tried to run away. But Klaus was much faster and he pushed her to the ground before ripping her heart out. Without any hesitation, he brings the heart and squeezes the blood into the fire. The pooling liquid inside the bowl starts boiling.

 

"It is working. Time to do the next step Nik."

 

Their eyes make contact and Astrid nods. Just as Klaus starts to approach Jenna, a man appears on the cliffs above them. It was Stefan, they already knew that Stefan was trying to protect Elena. He offered to take the place as a vampire sacrifice instead of Jenna. Klaus starts to think but Astrid had enough of the waiting and was still thirsty for revenge for Maddox's death.

 

"Quit stalling Klaus. I want the ritual done soon, probably before someone else decides to interupt."
"Alright then. Whatever you wish love."

 

Klaus says before snapping Stefan's neck. He drops the body on the dirt and approaches Jenna who is still in the ring of fire. The ring slowly disappears and even before Jenna could run, Klaus stakes hew with an already prepared wooden stake. Elena starts to scream and cry upon seeing her aunt die. He then drops the bloodied stake into the fire and the flame intensifies. Then Klaus approaches the last sacrifice and pulls her up from the dirt. He leads her toward Astrid who is still chanting over the flame. With a quick confirmation from Astrid that everything is progressing perfectly he bites Elena's neck and starts to drain her dry of her blood. With every mouthful of blood he drank, Elena became weaker and weaker until her eyes dropped and her heartbeat stopped. Feeling that she had died Klaus dropped her body on the floor. In the same moment that her body hit the floor, the flames in the stone bowl died.

 

"I can feel it. It's happening."

 

He whispers as he approached the middle of the field. He looks at the full moon before his bones suddenly started to break and his eyes became yellow while black veins typical of a vampire still remained under his eyes.

 

"Yes, yes, yes. I can definitely feel it."

 

Astrid was about to mention something but suddenly something throws Klaus into the air. The fire that died out suddenly came back and Astrid turned around, trying to find the cause of it. Her eyes landed on a young witch, the one Klaus claimed to have killed. Just as she was about to start a counter curse, a vampire appeared behind her and snapped her neck. Klaus screamed seeing a vampire attack his wife.

 

"How dare you?! How dare you lay your hands on her!"

 

The witch continued to chant her spell as the wind picked up on speed around them. Klaus' screams got louder as the chant continued. Out of nowhere, Elijah appears above Klaus, who is lying on the ground.

 

"Elijah?"
"Hello, Brother."

 

He buries his hand into Klaus' chest and grabs the beating heart.

 

"In the name of our family that you killed Niklaus..."
"I didn't bury them at sea!"
"What?!"
"Their bodies are safe. If you kill me, you will never find them. I can take you to them. I give you my word brother."
"Niklaus if I find that you lied to me..."
"I have no reason to lie to you, Elijah. Not now."

 

Elijah grasps his heart one more time before pulling out his hand. He then ignored all shouts of warnings and threats, just grabbed his brother and disappeared into the woods where Klaus could finish his transition in peace.

Chapter Text

The sun rose to the sky as Astrid woke up. Her body was still lying in the same field the ritual was happening, the scorch marks of the fire still visible. Her neck stiff from being broken. She studs up, dusted herself off and ran with her immense speed back to the apartment. Katherine was still trapped there, alongside with Greta who was keeping watch.

 

"Astrid you're back. How did the ritual go? Where is Klaus?"
"The ritual went just fine. The curse is broken. Unfortunately, we ran into some minor issues."
"How minor?"
"Well, Elijah made is appearance. He tried to kill Nik, but I know he failed. Nik probably managed to convince him to switch sides."
"So what now?"
"Now we wait. I will take another shower, using all that magic made me a bit tired. While I'm doing that, you dial our special friend. Tell her we need to meet up. I'm sure she will be here in less of a day."
"Alright then. Where should we say to meet up at?"
"Just give her this address and don't forget to invite her in. I set the wards in your name."

 

Right to Astrid's prediction, a woman appeared at the door four hours after the call ended. Astrid welcomed her in with a wide smile and open arms. The woman was a redhead, with blue eyes and a bit taller than her host. Unlike Astrid, who looked like she was in her early twenties, Sage was in her mid-thirties.

 

"Sage, it is so good to see you."
"You too. How long has it been? A century or two?"
"Honestly a century too long. Now, unfortunately, I didn't call you all the way here to catch up. We have major things to discuss."
"About what? The full moon was yesterday, wasn't the curse broken?"
"It was. That is only one part of the whole plan. With Nik's curse being broken we are one step closer to being a whole family again. All that remains is to settle down and deal with Mikael. With him still alive we are not safe."
"So what should I do? How can I help?"
"I need your help in tracking down Mikael. After he is dead, I can reunite you with Finn."
"You really will help me reunite with Finn?"
"Of course I will. You two are destined for each other. It's a real shame that you aren't my sister-in-law yet but that can be fixed as soon as we are safe. Then I can convince Nik to undagger Finn and the rest of the siblings. They've been collecting dust for so long."
"Consider it done."
"Thank you, Sage. I hope I hear from you soon."

 

Astrid says before leading Sage to the front door and closing it after her. Now that Sage has been informed and up to the plan, all she could do was wait for Klaus to come back. So she did. About a day later, when the sun had set behind the horizon the group of three got a guest.

 

"Katherine, be a dear and please let our guest in. I'm sure Mister Salvatore would like a word."
"Fine."

 

Katherine stands up and lets Stefan in. He is not surprised to see Katherine or Greta, but he is surprised to see Astrid. Last time he saw her, his brother Damon snapped her neck during the ritual.

 

"How?"
"Sit down Mister Salvatore, I'm sure you have a lot of questions."
"I actually came here to make a deal."
"A deal? What kind of deal?"
"My brother is dying. He was bitten by a werewolf. I need a cure. I thought that since Klaus lived for a thousand years, that maybe he knows a cure."
"And what would you do in return for the cure, if that cure does exist?"
"I would do anything. He's my brother. I can't let him die."
"Now that might be a problem. Why should Nik let him live when he dared to break my neck?"

 

Stefan had no answer to that question. He was still processing the fact that the witch that he saw die was standing before him and drinking blood from a wine glass. Before he could form an answer Klaus walked into the apartment with Elijah right behind him. It seems that Elijah was also unaware that Astrid was even in the town. She walked toward Klaus, placed a small kiss on his lips and hugged him before going back to sit next to Greta on the couch.

 

"Hello, Nik. Look who decided to drop by."
"Well, you just keep popping up, don't you?"
"I just need your help....for my brother."
"I already explained the situation to Mister Salvatore and he is willing to pay any price for a cure. Isn't that cute Nik?" Astrid mentioned.
"Well, whatever it is, it's gonna have to wait a tick. You see, I have an obligation to my brother that requires my immediate attention."

 

Klaus moves past Stefan and stops next to Greta, who slipped him a silver dagger that Astrid prepared beforehand. Elijah looks at Stefan before answering the quiet accusation.

 

"You understand how important family is, or you wouldn't be here. My brother gave me his word that he would reunite me with my own."
"And so he shall."

 

Said Astrid before Klaus appeared behind Elijah. Stunned Elijah couldn't do anything as he was turned around and stabbed in the heart. His dead body dropped on the floor and stayed there, no one made a motion to move the body. In the next moment, Stefan found himself thrown into the wall with a wooden stake in his stomach.

 

"Now what are we going to do with you? Any ideas?"
"I just want the cure. Make me a deal and I'll do anything you want."
"Now what use do I have with you? You the way you are now, all tamed and docile, are just no use from me. Not the mention that your brother had the audacity to break my wife's neck."

 

Silence rang the apartment as Klaus sipped on blood. Greta already knew they were married but to Stefan and Katherine that was big news. They pissed off an immortal hybrid by hurting his wife, who altho was still alive and enjoying the show, was still attacked by Damon. It did not look good for them. Klaus was enjoying their reactions and kneeled in front of Stefan.

 

"Now I heard about this one vampire, crazy bloke, always on and off the wagon for decades. When he was off, he was magnificent. 1917, he went into Monterrey and wiped out an entire migrant village...A true ripper. Sound familiar?"
"I haven't been like that in years."
"But you could be. All you need is a small push in the right direction."
"My wife is right. A push is all you need. And that's the vampire I can make a deal with. That is the kind of talent that I can use when we leave this town."

 

Stefan kept quiet, thinking about what was suggested.

 

"I'm sure he needs a little persuasion."

 

She nodded her head at Katherine's direction. Klaus smirks at her suggestion. In a flash, Klaus got behind Katherine and bit her in her arm, venom already spreading through her veins. She screamed in pain. He then bit his wrist and forcefully fed the girl her blood. The poisoned bitemark healed in front of everyone's eyes.

 

"You want the cure? There it is."
"Your blood is the cure?"
"Gotta love Mother Nature." Astrid said with a satisfied voice.
"Now...let's talk, you and I."

 

Klaus leads Stefan to the bar and they both sit down. There a few empty chairs between them Astrid sits on the last seat next to Klaus. Without a word, she passed him a knife, which he uses to cut his palm. All that blood that came from the wound he poured into a glass vial. The blood was ruby red. Stefan just sits there, staring at the blood.

 

"There it is. You want to save your brother? How 'bout a decade-long bender? And I have big plans for you when we leave this town."
"I'm not like that anymore."
"But you could be darling." Astrid says.
"Well, that's too bad."

 

Klaus says in fake disappointment and starts to slowly pour the blood into the sink. Stefan starts to reach to stop him.

 

"Wait."
"Now that's more like it. I want you to join me for a drink."

 

He throws him a blood bag along the counter. Stefan takes it. Klaus and Astrid watch while drinking their glasses of blood. Stefan takes a sip from the blood bag.

 

"Finish it. All of it. You do everything I say, and I save your brother. That's the deal."

 

Stefan finishes the blood bag. Astrid takes the empty bag and replaces it with a new one. He looks at her but she says nothing.

 

"Again. Drink."

 

And so he drank a blood bag after another. In the end, Klaus made him drink four blood bags. With every bag, he started to lose his control. It became harder for him to drink and breath.

 

"No more. Not until you give me the cure."
"Not until we make a deal. It's your choice, Stefan. You can either remain here living your life in Mystic Falls, or you can embrace what you truly are, leave town with me, and save your brother's life."

 

Klaus crouches down, picks up and offers it to Stefan. Stefan snatches it and drinks vigorously.

 

"That's the spirit. Astrid, please be a dear and send our package to his brother."
"Of course."

 

Astrid takes the vial and places it into Katherine's hand. She makes eye contact with her and compels her.

 

"Take this vial with Damon and get right back, ok?"
"Ok."
"No!"

 

Came a pained scream from Stefan, who was now on his knees on the floor. Katherine took her cue and left the apartment running for her life.

 

"She will never take it to him."
"Well, that's your problem. Now come on, pick up Elijah body. It's time for us to leave. Astrid, love, are you and Greta ready to go?"
"Yeah, I'm ready. I already sent Greta back to New York. If we need something, I'll call her to come."
"Then let's go."

 

The now newly formed group of three took Elijah's corpse to a warehouse where a ready empty coffin was waiting. Two men placed the body inside and Klaus closed the coffin.

 

"Put him with the others. We're leaving town tonight. So...Did Katerina make it in time?"
"You won't be seeing her again."
"Oh, we know darling."
"She was on vervain, we are aware. My wife knew that from the moment your brother gave it to her. I've been around a long time, Stefan. I rarely get played for a fool. Besides, she won't get far. You'll help me see to that."
"What is it you really want from me?"
"All will be explained in time. Once we leave this tragic little town."
"Then are we done here? Can we go?"
"Not quite. You see, Astrid and I have a gift for you. Love, please bring her here."

 

Astrid walks to a wooden case and pulls out a girl from behind it. The girl was obviously compelled not to run because she looked terrified and still didn't run. Astrid leads her by her shoulder, smiling at the men.

 

"See, I wanna make sure you honor our deal...that you'll be of use to me."

 

He moves the girl's hair, revealing a nasty bite mark on her neck. It was apparent that someone already fed from her. Klaus looks at Astrid who at that moment wiped a small spot of blood with her thumb from the corner of her lips. She had a look of no regret on her face.

 

"I asked the girl to be untouched for our new companion."
"Well, I got hungry. I took only a small bite, you can't blame me. She smells divine."
"Alright then. If you liked her then I'm sure Stefan will as well. You always were a bit of a connoisseur regarding blood."
"Thank you. Well, what are you waiting for Stefan? Dig in."

 

Astrid encouraged him. The said man did nothing, just continued to stare at the scared girl. Klaus sees the hesitation and tightens his grip on the girl.

 

"I could have compelled her to behave, but a real ripper enjoys the hunt."

 

He lets the girl go. The poor girl starts running away and screaming out of fear. The now moving target initiates Stefan's hunting instincts. He chases after her and appears before her in a blink of an eye. Then, even faster than he appeared, he sank his teeth into her neck, draining her dry. He drops her body only once her heartbeat stops completely. Stefan looks back to Klaus and Astrid, a crazy look in his eyes with blood covering half of his face. They look back at him with a look of pride. Astrid pulls out a napkin and gives it to the bloodied man. He takes it and wipes out most of the blood. Seeing him clean, Klaus deemed that they were ready.

 

"Now we can go."

Chapter Text

The summer heat was unbearable in the car. The sound of crickets was louder than her own thoughts. Three months have passed since the curse was broken and all that they have been doing was track one guy, all across the country while leaving a track of dead corpses. Astrid was currently sitting alone in the car, the leather seat sticking onto her sweaty skin. She absolutely despised Tennessee, the heat was unbearable and the mosquitos didn't help at all. The smell of mosquito repellants bothered Klaus' nose, so she didn't use them. She was alone in the car, Klaus had already left with Stefan to check another house, that was placed in the middle of nowhere, to see if the guy was there. The entire summer they spent tracking one guy who could lead them to a werewolf pack, and they were extremely rare. Astrid volunteered to stay in the car, not wanting to expose herself to heat longer than she should. Altho not directly participating, she kept her ears sharp on any actions. A whistle caught her attention. A quick glance showed her that it belonged to a young blond woman, searching for her dog.

 

"Rudy. Come on! It's too hot to make me come looking for you."

 

The woman picks up some dog toys from the grass. When she turns around Klaus suddenly appears in front of her. Her pulse quickens in surprise, not expecting a person to just appear out of thin air.

 

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
"Can I help you?"

 

Astrid had to admit, the girl quickly composed herself. Never the less, when Klaus turns on his charms, he gets what he wants, one way or another.

 

"Yeah, my car ran out of gas a couple of miles back. Eh, I feel like I've been walking forever yours is the first house I come to so I was just hoping I could use your phone?"
"Don't you have a cellphone?"

 

The girl questions, not believing his words. Smart question, but useless in the end. Klaus pulls out his phone from a back pocket and shows it to her.

 

"Battery died. Look, I promise I'm not a serial killer I just wanna use your phone."

 

Astrid had to laugh at that part. Never has she heard a bigger lie. Immediately she focused on hearing the rest of the conversation, not wanting to miss anything.

 

"Sure."
"Soo, I can come in?"
"No, I'll get the phone and I'll bring it out to you."

 

That was the moment when Astrid knew that Klaus had enough of playing nice. He was going to use a different method now.

 

"I thought you country folks were supposed to be more trusting."
"I'm from Florida."
"Well, that explains it."

 

After that, it quietens down and Astrid cannot hear anything else. She assumed that Klaus compelled the girl to finally let him in. After a few minutes Klaus lets Stefan come in, he has been waiting at the front door for an invitation. Once Stefan was inside and received his orders, Klaus exited the house and with a satisfied look entered the driver's seat of the car. Soon the screams started to come out of the house.

 

"You look like a cat that ate the canary. Don't try to deny it Nik, your face says it all."
"Well, why shouldn't I be satisfied love? We finally know where Ray Sutton is."
"After we broke the curse, you promised me to take us on our second honeymoon. Instead, I am dying in this heat, surrounded by mosquitos while searching for one lousy wolf."
"I promised you a honeymoon love, and you will get one. Just as soon as we take care of some business."
"I'll take your word for it Nik."

 

Astrid says before looking out of the open window toward the now silent house. The screams have quieted down a while ago, while the couple was talking. Out stepped Stefan, his whole upper body covered in blood. He approached the car while trying to rein in his bloodlust. Astrid saw his approaching figure and tossed him a towel, which he caught.

 

"Clean yourself up, won't you Stefan? I will not have blood on my leather seats. You hear?"
"Cristal."

 

Came a short reply from Stefan. During those three months he had to spend with Klaus and her, he noticed a pattern. Klaus was in charge, he made all decisions and gave orders. Astrid was mostly quiet, reading a large grimoire and following orders. But there were moments where she would straight out take over and make Klaus listen to her orders. She spoke up to minimise the amount of bloodshed and Stefan respected her for that. It was a weird combination but they seemed in balance. The only thing that bothered Stefan was that no matter who was in charge, he had to obey them both. He cleans himself off the best he can before entering the car. He remains quiet as the car speeds off, his thought still lingering on the two girls that he just killed.

 

They drove for hours, stopping only for gas. Around four in the morning, they reached a bar called Southern Comfort. The place didn't seem much to Astrid, but appearance could be misleading. Klaus parks the car in front of the bar but didn't make a move to exit. So neither Astrid did Stefan. They were waiting for orders. After a few moments of thinking, Klaus looked at Stefan using the rearview mirror.

 

"Go make sure that everyone inside remains quiet, Astrid does not want another bloodshed."
"Fine."

 

He leaves the black car and enters the bar. Klaus and Astrid remain in the car, nor saying anything to each other. The silence was comfortable, it didn't contain any awkwardness. Astrid looked at her wristwatch, deciding that ten minutes were more than enough for Stefan to complete his given task. Once the given time has passed she want to open the door and exit the car but was beat to it by Klaus. Sensing her about to move, he flashed outside the car and opened the door for her, offering her his hand as well. Astrid accepted the offered hand and exited. She placed a brief kiss on his stubbled cheek and walked off toward the entrance to the bar. Her flannel shirt flapping behind her in a gentle breeze.Jeans shorts tightly hugging her upper legs with leather sandals to finish the look. To Klaus, she looked like a real tease, all dressed like that in Tennesee heat. The couple entered the crowded bar, heading straight to the bar where their target was ordering a drink. Klaus reaches the man first, with Astrid right behind him.

 

"Ray? Ray Sutton?"
"Who wants to know?"
"We've been looking everywhere for you. We started in Florida, Pensacola. We met a young chap there who you used to work with before you moved to Memphis, now he directed me to two lovely young women. And they led us here, to you."
"Us?"
"My wife and I."
"I think I'll be going."

 

He tried to leave the bar but Astrid blocks his way. He tries to go around her but she stops him again. Klaus just laughs at his failing attempts at leaving.

 

"Not so fast mate. You only just got here, now your type is very hard to come by."

 

Stefan appears on the other side of the man, completely blocking him from leaving. He pushes Ray back to the bar.

 

"I wouldn't do that."
"Vampires."
"You're swiftly swift Ray! Yes! My friend here is a vampire. He compelled everybody in the bar so don't look to them for any help. My wife and I, however, are something else, a different kind of monsters. I've got some vampire, I've got some wolf. While my wife has a bit of a vampire in her, mixed with quite a lot of magic."
"You what?" Ray asks confused.
"A hybrid Ray, we are both hybrids. You see I want to create more of me. Now you being the first werewolf that I've come across in many a moon, pun intended Ray! I need you to direct me to your pack. So, where can I find them, Ray?"
"I won't tell you. And compulsion doesn't work on me."
"Well what a shame, but don't you worry sweetheart, there are ways other than compulsion."

 

Astrid says before patting him on his cheek and calling up the bartender. With a small compulsion, she orders a couple of shots. From her purse, she pulls out a small satchel and crushes the wolfsbane into the drinks.

 

"Now please, don't make this harder for us. I mean you no harm, I just need some information for my husband here, alright?"
"Oh, this is going to be fun, Ray."

 

Klaus says as she passes him a shot filled with alcohol and wolfsbane. With a nod of his head, he wordlessly ordered Stefan to chain Ray up to the wall. How the chains got there Astrid had no clue, so she just sat down at the table next to Klaus and watched as Stefan tried to prie out any information from the werewolf. After a while, he starts using wolfsbane covered darts on him, the darts landing on vulnerable spots and the plant caused even more pain. Ray was clearly in pain, but even when he started to bleed he kept his mouth shut. Stefan mixes another dart into the liquid before tossing it at Ray and hitting his neck. Astrid observes all of this without any word.

 

"Ray, you can end this right now. Just tell me where your pack gathers for the full moon."
"I can't."
"I know, I know. You live by a code and all that, but see he's not gonna let me stop until you tell me. And I do whatever he says so, that's the way it goes around here."

 

Stefan says before nodding in Klaus' direction, indicating who was boss here. A woman approached the seated couple, places down another round of drinks and whispers something into Astrid's ear. She nods in return and after receiving the message turns to face the woman.

 

"Well, thank you, Claudine. You'll just tell your friends to keep up the good work."
"Of course."

 

The woman walks away and Stefan, who was trying to overhear the conversation, approaches them.

 

"My brother still on our trail?"
"He is. But I'm sure Nik will deal with him when the time comes, right Nik?"
"I will go deal with him right now if you want."
"If that means that our trip will be even shorter, then sure. Knock yourself out."

 

Just as Klaus was about to stand up, Stefan appears next to him and makes him sit down. There was a brief look of panic in his eyes, but that was hidden almost immediately.

 

"No, no, no! Let me handle it."
"Why should I let you leave?"
"Cause, you'll know I'll come back."
"Will you? Will you really come back?" Astrid questions him with one of her perfectly done brows lifted.
"You saved my brother's life; I owe you a great dept. I'll make sure he doesn't bother us anymore."

 

He says before leaving the bar. Now only Astrid and Klaus are left to watch over the tortured werewolf. His painful pants are almost covered in the sound of people laughing and talking around them, obvious to what was happening. Blood was now pouring from a wound over his brow and into his eye. Astrid took pity on the guy and stud up with a napkin in her hand. When he lifted his head and saw her approaching, he flinched, expecting more pain to come. Instead, he felt a gentle pressure over his bleeding wounds as she methodically cleaned each of them. It confused him, why was she helping him when not a minute ago she was watching him get tortured. When he went to open his mouth, he managed to utter a single word.

 

"Why?"
"Why what?"
"Why are you helping me?"
"Because I mean no harm to you. I know my husband uses violent means to achieve his goals, the least I can do is minimize the pain he causes around him. We just need to find that pack Ray, that is all that we need. I promise you as a servant of nature, no one will get hurt, not on my watch."
"How can I know you are telling the truth?"
"Because I never lie about something so important as this. Please Ray, help us so we can help you."

 

Ray thinks for a moment and looks at the woman who showed him kindness. He could hear her heart beating and never did her heart skip a bit, which meant that she was telling the truth. He swallowed his spit and nodded his head.

 

"Alright, I'll tell you."
"Excellent. I'm glad you chose the easier way Ray."

 

Astrid says before reaching up and breaking the chains that held him up. He rubs his painful wrist and looks at where she sat. She took back her old position next to Klaus, who remained surprisingly quiet during their little talk, just sipping on his drink. Astrid motioned with her hand to the empty chair across from them, he obeyed and sat across the hybrid and the witch. A waitress brought him a beer. After she left a silence set on the table. Ray still scared of what might happen to him and the power couple plotting their next move.

 

"So what will happen to me now?"
"Well if everything goes according to my plan and dear Stefan returns on time, you will proceed to lead us to your pack. Once there I will proceed to turn every last one of you."
"Excuse me?"

 

Ray says confused to Klaus. Astrid sights and begins to speak before Klaus starts one of his rants.

 

"What my husband meant to say, is that if you ingest his blood and then die, you will become hybrids, immortal like vampires and strong as werewolves. You will no longer be haunted by the pain of turning every fool moon, now it will be by your choice if you turn or not."
"It sounds too good to be true, where is the catch?"
"After being turned you will have to remain with us. We will have to teach you control. Nothing other than that will change, you will just gain a stronger pack."

 

Klaus looked at his wife as she talked. If he was the one in charge with the talking, the man would have already been forcefully fed with his blood and dead. But here they were, one step closer to the werewolf pack and all thanks to her kind nature and silver tongue. The rest of the night ends up spent on idle chatting and drinking. Few hours after the dawn breaks out Stefan finally returns to the bar.

 

"You're back."
"Did you doubt me?"
"Not for a second. I knew you'd pass the test. You still care for your brother, for your old life."
"Nah, I don't care about anything anymore."
"Careful Stefan, you might trip over your long nose." Astrid warned him.
"You put on a good show, Stefan. I almost believe you. Let's hope, for your brother's sake, he does. You never stop caring about family, do you?"
"Of course he still does, you are brothers after all."
"I-I.."

 

Stefan couldn't form any words in his head. He tried to explain what exactly happened but was cut off by the very same man that he tortured mean hours ago. Astrid noticed their little stare down and smirked before standing up and placing a hand on Ray's shoulder.

 

"Ray here agreed to help us track the werewolf pack so no need to torture him anymore Stefan. He is our guest now, be nice to him. Now, since the sun is already up it's time we hit the road, agreed Nik?"
"Of course love. The sooner we head out, the better. So chop-chop Stefan, we are heading out."

 

The couple stands up and heads to the car, closely followed by Ray and Stefan. The couple took the front seats, with the vampire and the werewolf in the back. Ray way seated behind Astrid so he can give Klaus clear directions on where to go and which turn to take. Their next destination, Spooky Mountains, a six-hour long drive. The drive was quiet, songs coming from the radio were the only noise that was heard other than the sound of breathing and pages flipping. Some two hours after leaving the city, Astrid pulled out an old grimoire and started reading it. That is how the four of them spent the next six hours until they reached the mountain range. When they finally managed to reach it, it was already past noon and the weather was clear.

 

Ray exited the car first and started to lead the group up a mountain trail, which looked well used. The birds were singing as they climbed the trail, trees and bushes all around them. When they started climbing, Astrid handed Stefan a heavy backpack to carry. Alongside with it came a threat that if he damages it, he will suffer punishment. So he silently obeys, wondering what could be so heavy and important in there. After two more hours of climbing, they finally reached an area covered with half made tents and quite a large number of people. They all stop what they are doing and stare at the newcomers. Ray approaches them first, as a sign that everything is alright and that there is no harm. A woman meets him halfway, she looks concerned at the traces of blood on his clothes.

 

"Ray, what is going on? Who are they?"
"They mean no harm Monica. They approached me yesterday, saying that they can help us deal with the fool moon."
"What do you mean? Ray, you damn well know that there is no cure for the pain. Every fool moon we turn, that's it."
"Actually, if I may interfere. I have a proposition that will completely get rid of that small problem."
"And who are you?"
"Forgive the intrusion, my name is Klaus."
"You're the hybrid."

 

The woman says when she realises just who is in front of her. The Original hybrid was brought to their camp, alongside with a vampire and a woman who almost seemed like a witch, just something more. What they wanted with her pack she didn't know, and that scared her. The look on Klaus' face didn't help either.

 

"You've heard about me. Fantastic."
"What my husband was meaning to say was that we have a way to completely stop your transitions every fool moon."

 

Astrid ignored the gasps that were heard when she uttered the word husband and just continued.

 

"The deal is that you must drink his blood first, then after you die and come back, you will be in transition. Then you must drink human blood to complete the change. If there are humans among you that are willing to donate a small amount of blood per werewolf, that would be great. I have only brought several bags of blood, not sure how much of it will be for everyone."
"Can we think about it?" Monica askes.
"Of course. Take your time. This is a big decision to make, so I understand that you need time. May we sit while you talk?"

 

Monica nods and leads them to the nearby rocks. They sit there and watch as the werewolves gathered around each other and discussed. Ray went off to present their side of the deal and give more information while Stefan just stared into the sky, not bothering to observe his surroundings. Klaus sat down at the largest rock and pulled Astrid down on his lap. She placed her head on his shoulder as his arms held her to him. Klaus drew invisible patterns on her uncovered skin.

 

"You should have let me speak love."
"Yeah right. If I had let you speak, half of them would already be dead with broken necks. We need a better way of reaching to them, violence will not help us. Not with them."
"And you are sure that your way is better love? I'm not doubting your ability to smooth talk anyone but are you sure that this is the best way to win them over?"
"Yes Nik, it is. This way, they will be more loyal to you after the transition."
"More loyal to us, don't forget. If they do become part of my hybrid pack, you as my wife will be the Alpha's mate, my equal. They will obey you as they would obey me."
"Whatever you say Nik. I believe you."

 

Any further talk was stopped the werewolves broke out of their circle and approached them. Monica and Ray were leading them. There was a brief staredown between them before Monica spoke.

 

"Alright. We agree. We want to become hybrids."
"Excellent, who wants to go first?"

Chapter Text

Klaus and Astrid faced a group of werewolves. They have just finished negotiating the terms and resolved any issues so now they were ready to proceed. In the end, it was decided that one werewolf will be turned since it was a night of full moon and no one could predict what effects it will have on the transition. While the rest of the wolves were preparing, Ray was seated down on one of the rock seats. Astrid went to explain to him everything one last step before the sun set down. She did that because she could feel that he was getting more nervous by the moment.

 

"Everything will be alright Ray. Nik will feed you his blood, which you must swallow at least three mouthfuls, and then I will break your neck. It will be painless."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I had my neck broken twice. That is a rarity on its own, since no vampire, no matter how old, cannot count the number of times that their neck was broken with one hand."
"That sounds quite impressive."
"If you train and watch your back, you might achieve it as well. Now, are you ready Ray?"
"I am."
"Good. Nik, please pass the blood here."

 

Klaus, who was quiet so far, passed a thermos bottle to them. He had filled it with his blood while he was listening to Astrid speak. He regretted letting her neck be broken even those two times, which both were his fault. Once by his own hands and the second time because she helped him. Even after all that, his wife stayed with him and came back even after his promises were broken. That is one of the reasons why he was so insistent on breaking the curse, to protect her. He watched as Ray drank his blood and smiled as the man gagged on it. After checking that he had ingested enough blood, Astrid quickly placed her hands around Ray's neck and with a quick twist, it snapped. Gently she placed his body on the ground and moved closer to Klaus. He placed an arm around his wife's shoulders and together they waited in silence. The sounds of nature and werewolves walking around surrounding them. Stefan was quietly brooding in the back, no one was paying attention to him.

 

Few hours have passed at just as the sun was about to set, Monica came to the couple who was still watching over Ray's unmoving body.

 

"The moon will come out soon. Are you sure you wouldn't rather be somewhere away from us? You might get bit."
"Thank you for your concern Monica but we are fine. Nik is a part werewolf himself so he won't be harmed. If Stefan gets bit, well my husband's blood will heal him. The same goes for me. Werewolf bite cannot kill me, it might hurt just a bit."
"Alright then. If you need us, the pack will be running toward the west."
"Thank you. Take care of anyone that comes here. I fear that there might be some intruders tonight."
"Alright."

 

Monica nodded in understanding before leaving with her pack. Now only the three immortals and a dead wolf were left.

 

"Why did you say that love?"
"Why did I say what Nik?"
"The part where the bite wouldn't kill you. What if you are wrong?"
"What if I am right? There is no need to question it, I know that even if I do get bitten, that you will be there to cure me."
"You have quite a lot of faith in Klaus' mercy?"

 

Stefan jumped into the conversation. Astrid looked over her shoulder toward him and smiled.

 

"Of course I do. He's been my husband for over a thousand years. There is no other person that I trust more."

 

She said before turning back and kissing Klaus. The kiss was brief but it showed trust she had for him. Stefan was about to say something else but was interrupted by Ray's sudden resurrection. His body was shaking as if he was cold and sweating at the same time. He seemed confused as to where he is and what is happening. Astrid immediately flashed in front of him and kneeled so that they were on eye level with each other. A blood bag was ready in her hand. She had to come closer now since the sun had already disappeared behind the horizon.

 

"Glad to see you up Ray. Here drink this, it will help."

 

Ray greedily drank the offered blood. After the blood bag was all empty, he looked up to her quietly asking for more. Astrid stood up and helped his walk toward a seat. He was still shaking so she had to carry him with his arm around her neck.

 

"I'm sorry Ray. That's all for now. You have to leave some for others as well."
"What is happening to me?"
"You have transitioned. With the blood in your system, everything should settle down soon. The shaking must be an after effect."
"So is this your master plan? Build an army of hybrid slaves?"

 

Stefan suddenly said, breaking the silence. Both Astrid and Klaus turned toward him, displeasure her face and annoyance on his.

 

"Have you not been listening to what we were saying to those werewolves, Stefan? They are not to be slaves, that was never the plan. Nik's plan was to have..."
"Soldiers, comrades." Klaus stated.
"Exactly that."
"For what war, might I ask?"

 

Klaus motioned with his eyes to Ray, silently telling her to take care of him while he handled Stefan.

 

"Oh, you don't arm yourself after the war has been declared, Stefan. You build your army so big that no one ever dares pick a fight."
"What makes you so sure that they'll be loyal?"
"My dear wife has already won them over. After this, their loyalty will only grow. Besides, it's not difficult to be loyal when you're on the winning team. That's something you'll learn once you shake that horribly depressive chip off your shoulder."
"That's why you're, uh...you're keeping me around? To witness my attitude adjustment?"

 

Klaus already opened his mouth to reply back but stopped once a smell of blood hit his nose. Astrid's cry also caught all of his attention away from Stefan.

 

"Nik! Something's wrong! Something is terribly wrong here!"

 

She yelled. She was sitting next to Ray, who was still shaking as if with fever. He didn0't look better, he actually looked much worse. There was blood coming out of his eyes and ears. Astrid's hands were already covered in blood as she tried to help him. Klaus gently pushed her aside to take a closer look, Stefan not far behind. Stefan took one look at Ray and turned toward Klaus.

 

"That shouldn't be happening, should it?"
"Well, obviously."

 

Sarcasm dripping out of Klaus' voice.

 

"That's some master race."
"Lose the attitude."

 

Klaus said not wanting to hear any more of Stefan's annoying voice. Astrid came back with tissues in her hands, to try and clean Ray of blood. But just as she was about to touch his face, Ray suddenly pushed her into a tree and ran off. The force of the push was so strong the tree almost broke in half. Klaus instantly went to help his wife stand up while looking at Stefan.

 

"Go get him."
"You can't be serious?!"
"I said. Go. Get. Him."

 

Stefan ran after the deranged werewolf. He managed to pin him to the ground, but Ray in his craziness bit him and managed to once again run off. The pain quickly spreading through his body. Just as he was about to stand up and return back he saw in the distance a figure of three people he wanted to see the least right now. One of them was his brother. Stefan turns his back to them and comes face to face with Klaus and Astrid, whose long brown hair had pieces of leaves in them. Klaus had a serious look on his face, that meant business.

 

"Where did he go?"
"He, uh...he got away. Forget him. Let's go."

 

Stefan tries to leave but Astrid stops him by getting in his way. She doesn't say anything, a serious look on her face. Klaus noticed the bite and grabs Stefan's wrist, not letting him leave.

 

"A fatal werewolf bite. Ouch."
"Yeah. I'm gonna need your blood to heal me."
"You get our hybrid back, you can have the cure."
"You can't be serious Astrid. Come on."
"You better hurry, 'cause that bite looks nasty."

 

Klaus says before letting go of Stefan's wounded arm. The couple then leaves him alone, they returned back to the camp leaving Stefan to track the demented hybrid. Few hours have passed and the full moon was brightly shining in the sky. The sounds of wolves howling echoed across the mountain as the couple sat close to each other. A fire was cracking in front of them, illuminating their faces with its' warm glow. They were quiet. Klaus was gently taking out leaves out of her hair, so gently as if he was grooming her. Astrid relaxed on his shoulder, enjoying the small show of affection.

 

"Don't you want to run with them? After all these years, your curse is finally broken. You can shift into the wolf again and run with the pack."

 

Klaus doesn't stop with his ministration. He just looks up to the moon before answering the question.

 

"And leave you all alone. Of course not love. I will never leave you. You helped me so much. No amount of praise or gratitude will be enough for what you did."
"You're such a charmer."
"Only for you love."

 

Their tranquil silence was interrupted by Stefan's arrival. He looked much worse than before and he carried a body on his shoulder. The dead body turned out to be Ray, who judging by the hole in his chest, was missing his heart. Astrid went to observe the body closer while Klaus stepped closer to Stefan, demanding why his first hybrid was dead.

 

"I had no choice. He was completely rabid. I'm sorry."

 

Klaus was not pleased with his answer. In a fit of rage, he threw a beer bottle against a tree, the shattering glass gleaming in the moonlight. Astrid flinched at his action, which Klaus immediately noticed. He gave her an apologetic look before starting to pace between her and Stefan.

 

"I should be able to turn them. I broke the curse. I killed a werewolf. I killed a vampire. I killed the doppelgänger."
"Maybe we missed something? With a curse this old, there has to be a catch Nik."

 

She tries to comfort him. Stefan looked uncomfortable, the pain from the bite getting even worse. Klaus notices his pain.

 

"You look like hell."
"Last I checked, I'm dying...and you don't want to heal me."

 

Stefan admits. His answer made Astrid move. She moved away from the body after she closed Ray's eyes and came closer to Klaus.

 

"Give the kid the cure. He deserves it after all the shit we put him through."

 

He turns around from Astrid and takes an empty bottle of beer. He bites his hand, makes a fist, puts the blood draining from it in the bottle and holds the bottle out to Stefan. Stefan accepts the bottle and drinks the blood. In mear seconds, the wound heals and no scar or blemish was left on his skin. He looks back at them, expecting further instructions.

 

"So what now?"
"Now we will wait for the rest of the pack to return. Since Ray's death was partially our fault, we will assist them with the funeral."
"How do you mean partially? I killed him Astrid."
"But did you dose him with a large dose of wolfsbane? The amount he was given could briefly drive any wolf to insanity due to pain. So do not blame yourself for his death, you lessened his suffering."

 

Astrid finished her small monologue, returning to Klaus' embrace near the fire. Next to their previous seat was her backpack, she left it there when they first arrived. Abruptly, an idea comes to her head. She was a witch for goodness sake. She could ask the spirits what was wrong.

 

"I have an idea. Let me use my magic and ask the spirits."
"I do not think that is a good idea love. Many of the dead witches did not want to see my curse broken."
"If they refuse I will just force the answers out of them. My magic can make them comply."
"If you are sure. Just promise me that you will stop if it becomes too much."
"I am not some amateur witch Nik. I can handle it."

 

Astrid says before taking out the same large grimoire she read before and opened it on a random page. With a few mumbled words, the pages started to move until the right page was found. Astrid grinned as she read the spell requirements.

 

"Pass me the knife from the backpack Nik, would you? The silver one."

 

He does as he is told and after giving her the knife, takes a few steps back closer to Stefan. He knew better than to bother her when she is performing magic. Stefan remained quiet, curious how the witches perform magic. He never actually saw any spells other than Bonnie Bennett's but she was just a beginner. Astrid on the other hand, was a senior practitioner, a true master of the art.

 

Astrid came closer to the fire and kneeled in front of it. Once she was ready, she took the knife and cut both of her palms holding them together as the blood dripped into the fire. She turned her face toward the full moon and started to chant in Latin. As she chanted under her breath, the fire started to crack more fiercely and the sudden wind around them started to become faster and faster. Astrid chanted louder and louder, her face in a frown as she did not yet receive an answer from the witches. Blood started to drip from her nose as she tried to force more and more magic into her chanting. Klaus was starting to get worried, the amount of blood she already sacrificed to the fire would kill a normal witch and yet Astrid kept going. His instincts were telling him to stop her before she truly hurts herself. When he noticed that blood tears started to come out of her eyes he knew he had to do something. In a burst of speed, he grabbed her and took her away from the fire. Her chanting has stopped but her eyes still seemed to move under her eyelids. He held her in his embrace as he tried to wake her up by tapping her face.

 

"Come on love. Wake up."

 

This continued for a few more minutes until Astrid finally opened her eyes. She opened her eyes and once again found Klaus' face above hers.

 

"Well this brings back memories, doesn't it?"

 

She joked. Klaus wasn't amused at her attempt to lessen the seriousness of the situation.

 

"What were you thinking love? You could have hurt yourself?"
"But I didn't."
"What that blood really necessary?"
"Yes actually. Since the witches aren't really fond of me as an immortal witch-vampire hybrid, I had to appease them with a blood offering. It was the only way Nik. wouldn't have done it if it wasn't necessary."
"Fine, I believe you. What did you find out?"
"I'm curious about that myself. What did the witches tell you, Astrid?"

 

That one came from Stefan. Astrid looked from her laying position and was surprised to see the actual concern on the young vampire's face.

 

"They were quite stubborn. At first, they were berating me for letting you break your curse but after I started putting pressure on them they stopped."
"Stopped how?"
"Just that. They stopped talking. I tried to ask them again but there was something there, a force that prevented me from reaching them and them from reaching me."
"So what now love? I am not letting you do that ritual again."
"Now, we go to Chicago. I need another witch to help to figure this out. And I know just the one."
"Alright then. Stefan, you hear the lady, we are leaving once we bury our friend Ray here and deal with the pack."

Chapter Text

After the failed transition of the first hybrid Ray and Astrid's inability to contact the witches, which caused her to hurt herself in the process, Klaus was very eager to reach Chicago. It was there that his wife believed laid the answer she couldn't give to him and he was ready to murder someone if they do not find the answer. And to be honest, he was getting sick and tired of driving across the states. It was a night when they arrived in Chicago, the city they once called home. Memories of all the fun times flashed before his eyes, and he had a hard time distinguishing the memories from reality. Only Astrid's touch could snap him out of his musing. She didn't say anything, just gave him a sad look that said that she understood what was going inside his head. Her warm hand gently touched one of his hands that wasn't at the weel. Without a word, he would take her hand and place a kiss on it, thanking her for understanding. During the entire drive, it was almost as if there was just the two of them, unfortunately, Stefan was still a part of their small road trip. He was mostly quiet, remained like that ever since the full moon and the almost fatal werewolf bite. The only thing that changed was that his mood turned sourer, he was complaining more often. After a few hours of driving, Klaus parked the car at an abandoned parking lot, under an old building. Few lights were working but in total the building looked completely abandoned. Klaus exited the car and opened the car door to Astrid. Once again she took his hand and exited the car. Stefan exited without the word, keeping close to the car while the married couple came closer to the edge, looking out the open space across the city.

 

"Welcome back to the Chicago, love."
"Been so long since we were last here. Remember that night when we woke up a priest to marry us. You even managed to get me a wedding dress in such a short time."
"I sure did, anything for you love."
"What are we doing here?"

 

Came an abrupt question from Stefan. At that moment, Astrid had to admit to herself, Stefan's presence was starting to grate on her nerves. She missed being alone with Klaus, with Greta's and Maddox's occasional appearance. His now constant brooding and pointless questions did nothing to smooth her agitation at their current predicament. The fact that she, a thousand-year-old immortal witch couldn't get an answer of a few dead witches, was a blow to her ego.

 

"We are going to see my favourite witch. Astrid is quite convinced that she can help us with our hybrid problem."
"And what does your wife think about this, calling a different woman your favourite?"
"I am completely fine with it. I adore her as well, knew her for years. I have nothing to worry about, Nik married me and that is it. From now on, keep your mouth shut Stefan or I will make you shut up."

 

Astrid said to Stefan as she turned around to face him. Displeasure was heard in her voice, but it wasn't directed to the mentioned witch, it was directed straight at Stefan. Under her gaze, he looked at the floor. Being the centre of her negative attention was really uncomfortable to Stefan.

 

"Well now that you are done teaching Stefan here a proverbial lesson, why don't we head out to find our witch, my dear?"
"Anything to get him to shut up. Let's go Nik. I want to get there before the sun reaches the peak."

 

Astri said before grabbing her purse out of the car and exiting the parking lot, with Klaus right next to her and Stefan tailing behind them. It was like she had an internal GPS system in her head, Astrid knew exactly with was they were supposed to go and lead them across the waking city. It was almost noon when she stopped in front of an old building, it was old and currently closed bar but as if ignoring the closed sign, they entered inside. The interior was dark, with few lights on and all of the chairs turned upside down. Upon seeing the place they entered, Stefan walked in front of the couple and looked around. The bar was so familiar to him, he remembered spending hours there during the 1920s.

 

"I can't believe this place is still here."
"You got to be kidding me."

 

Came a voice no one expected to hear, not in this time. Everyone turned their eyes to the figure of a woman who was standing at a far corner of the bar. As she walked closer to them, her features became more and more familiar. She had buzzed blond hair, dark skin and a familiar smile that was now laying on an aged face. With or without wrinkles they could still recognise that it was Gloria. Klaus gives her a smile and starts to speak, trying to break the silence.

 

"So a hybrid walks into a bar, says to the bartender... "
"Stop. You might be invincible, but that does not make you funny."
"I keep telling him that as well Gloria."

 

Both women smile at that. Klaus just continues smiling, not being bothered at all by their comments. Only Stefan remains puzzled.

 

"You're Gloria? Shouldn't you be... "
"Dead and rotting? Now if I die, who's going to run this place, huh?"
"Gloria is quite a powerful witch."
"I can slow the aging down some. Herbs and spells. But don't worry, it'll catch up to me one day."
"It was me who actually supplies her with those herbs. She will not die of old age, not on my watch."
"That you Astrid."
"Anything for an old friend. Now, I'm afraid we're not here to catch up."
"I already know. Don't worry."

 

Klaus turned around while the women happily chatted and faced Stefan.

 

"Stefan, why don't you go and fix us up a little something from behind the bar?"
"Yeah, sure thing."

 

It was obvious that he didn't want to do anything here but he still obeyed and went out to the bar. Once he was at a safe distance, Gloria leads Klaus and Astrid down on a couple of seats.

 

"You know I can help you with your ageing problem. Just a small dose of my blood and you can become an immortal witch like me, a hybrid. If we add another spell to that I can give you back your youth back."
"That does sound tempting, but what I want to know is why? I know you for a very long time, Astrid, you never make offers like this if it doesn't mean that you get something in return. Let's just cut down the chase. What is it that you want from me?"
"I just need a favour for Nik. That's all."
"I'm aware. A hybrid out to make more hybrids? That kind of news travels."
"So what did we do wrong. We broke the curse. Astrid was the one to lead the ritual. But she is convinced that we missed some kind of a loophole." Klaus said.
"Obviously you did something wrong. Look, every spell has a loophole, that part she got right but a curse that old...We'd have to contact the witch who created it."

 

Astrid tensed at the mention of Esther. Even after all these years, the mention of her name left a bitter taste in Astrid's mouth. Klaus noticed her reaction and grabbed her hand and at the same time not taking his eyes of Gloria.

 

"Well, that would be the original witch. She's very dead."
"Thank God for that." Astrid mumbled.
"I know. And for me to contact her, I'll need help. I know your plan Astrid was to borrow my strength as well, but if you haven't gotten through yet, then even if I help nothing will change. For me to help you I need her. Bring me Rebekah."
"Dear Rebekah is a bit preoccupied at the moment. Is she really that needed Gloria?"
"For you to get your answer, yes. She has what I need. Bring her to me."
"What is this?"

 

Stefan suddenly brings the attention back to himself. He is still at the bar. In his hand is an old picture, a one Astrid could easily recognise. It was a photo of Klaus and Stefan, from when they were friends in the 20s.

 

"Well, I told you, Stefan. Chicago's a familiar place. "
"But this is me. With you."

 

The doubt in his eyes was clear. It was obvious that it was him on the photo but he did not remember any of it.

 

"Well, now we know you at least aren't blind."

 

Came a sarcastic reply from Astrid. She was clearly out of patience for anything, and Klaus was well aware of it. It was usually him who had a short temper, but when magic was the topic of conversation, then it was Astrid who had an even shorter fuse. Klaus stood up before anyone could say anything more, grabbed his jacket and lead the three of them outside, leaving Gloria to attend to her bar. He walked with a fastened pace toward the garage, not saying anything. The two of them that followed him did not say anything, one still confused and one very annoyed. Klaus walked back to the car and instead of entering the car, he passed it and climbed up a few floors of stairs. There the trio found themselves in a warehouse. Stefan was still holding the photo from the bar in his hand when he reached out and pulled Klaus by his shoulder, effectively making the hybrid turn around and face him.

 

"This doesn't make any sense. Why am I in this picture?"
"Well, the obvious answer would be that we knew each other in the past."
"That makes no sense. How can't I remember meeting the two of you?"
"That is a long story, Stefan. We actually met at that very same bar we were just in. At first, I hated you, I truly did. But Astrid and my sister Rebekah managed to convince me to give you a chance."
"I'm starting to regret it, you know."

 

That came from Astrid, who seated herself on a chair that was placed near some large boxes. She had her arms crossed and was looking at her nails, showing just how little she cared about that subject. Klaus walked closer to her and the boxes, which once the sheets were removed from them turned out to be coffins. Five coffins to be precise and Astrid was almost sitting on one of them.

 

"Your sister. So I knew another Original vampire."
"If you can't handle it, then don't ask."

 

After saying those words Klaus approached the coffin closest to Astrid and together they opened the hatch. Inside laid the body of a person they haven't seen in so many years, still dressed in the same white dress and pearls around her neck. The only difference is that there was a dagger deep inside her chest, her skin was grey and covered in black veins. Upon seeing her face again, both Astrid and Klaus had affection appear on their faces at seeing their dear sister. Klaus even reached out to caress her cheek. Stefan approached slowly from behind at caught a glimpse of Rebekah's face.

 

"I don't recognize her."
"Please don't let our sister hear that. Sometimes when provoked, she has a temper even worse than Nik's."

 

Astrid teased Klaus with the last part.v He looked up and their eyes met, with the coffin between them. She gave him a barely noticeable nod with her head before he reached and pulled out the dagger out of Rebekah's chest.

 

"Don't worry Nik. I'll take care of her when she wakes up. There's a guard nearby that she can feed on. You go and take care of some other business."
"You're right love. I'm quite certain that she will not be pleased to see my face the moment she wakes up. Come now Stefan, we have work to do."
"I still want some answers."
"And you'll get them. Let's leave first."

 

The two men left the nearby presence of Astrid and the coffins but still remained in the hearing reach of her. She focused on what they were talking about.

 

"Before she said 'our sister', so does that mean that the two of you are married? I thought you two were just married."
"We are. My wife and I do not share a single drop of blood. As my brother probably already explained to you, my mother had an affair with a werewolf with resulted in me being born as a bastard. The same goes for my wife as well, it's just the other parent. She is Mikael's daughter, my step-father's child he had with her married mother."
"So both of you are related to other Originals, but not to each other."
"Ten out of ten for you Stefan. Now, we need to hurry. Rebekah will be waking up soon."

 

After that they left, leaving Astrid to keep guard over Rebekah's body. The time slowly passed as Astrid waited for her sister to wake up. Finally, after an hour has passed, she finally noticed some movements in the limbs which signalled the awakening. She beckoned the man to approach and looked down to her sister's face.

 

"You can get out of the coffin now. I know you are awake. Come out and feed or I will drain him without you."

 

In a flash, Rebekah disappeared from the coffin, drained the man of his blood and reappeared in front of Astrid, a composed look on her face with no trace of blood on her lips.

 

"Not sure how much time has passed, but when did you become sadistic? Last I remember, you were the peacemaker among us just like Elijah."
"Yeah, well I ran out of patience. The whole day has been one giant mess, starting with Nik's driving."
"Speaking of Klaus, where is that bastard? I have a dagger I need to shove into his chest."
"Off with a friend, he'll come back soon. And just you know, the dagger will not work on him. He broke his curse a few months ago."
"Really? Well, that's just bloody fantastic. Now how will I make him suffer?"
"You can spend a lot of his money on new clothes, now that you are awake you will need a bit more modern clothes."
"Alright, you are in charge here sister. I have one question thou. What will Klaus say about you ordering us around?"
"He's used to it."
"Klaus used to being ordered around by you, that I have to see."

 

The sisters laughed at the idea of being able to order Klaus to do anything they wanted. Rebekah's thoughts were more focused on making him pay in all different petty ways she could think off, while Astrid's thoughts were more focused on back massage and possible honeymoon ideas she could make him pay for her. Astrid didn't mention any of her thoughts to her sister, even if they stopped keeping their marriage secret, old habits die hard and so she kept her mouth shut. They talk and Astrid catches Rebekah up on all the things that she missed during her imprisonment in the coffin. After a while, they hear someone approach and remain where they are, not moving a bit. Not a moment later, Klaus appears and looks at them with an even face. A bottle of liquor in his hand, dust covering its glass surface.

 

"Hello sister. So nice to see you awake."
"Wish I could say the same, Klaus."
"It appears that our sister is not in the brightest of her moods."
"She been daggered for the past 80 years, can you blame her?"

 

Astrid commented to Klaus. To that, he just smirked and raised up the bottle in his hand. Immediately her eyes zoomed onto the bottle.

 

"What is that? Is that wine?"
"Your favourite too. Don't worry Rebekah, I have brought something for you too. A peace offering."
"It better be a good one Klaus. I'm still thinking of showing that dagger into your chest."
"Don't worry. You will like it. You can come on in now."

 

Klaus calls out to the other side of the room. From behind the shelves walked out Stefan but there was something different about him. When his and Astrid's eyes met, she saw a sign that he somehow recognised her. Before arriving in Chicago, she was a total stranger to him and now it seemed like Klaus gave him back his memories. Upon realising what he just did, Astrid turned to face Klaus with surprise in her eyes.

 

"You broke your compulsion?"
"Well, I thought it would be a fitting apology to Rebekah. So now she can help us with what Gloria needs." He explained.
"I knew you woke me up for a reason. You always want or need something from us. What is it this time Klaus?"

 

Rebekah asked. She was annoyed and angry at the ideas that she was freed from the coffin only because something was needed from her. What also confused her was the way Klaus treated Astrid, he was never like that to any woman, not even her and here he was bringing her favourite wine as an apology even. She observed the changes in the appearance of both of them. What she didn't notice before is that Astrid started to wear multiple rings on her fingers. Her sister was always more for practical than decorative purposes, so the second ruby ring confused her. Her brother's words snapped her out of her musing.

 

"I know you have something that we can use to contact the Original witch."
"The Original witch?"
"Becca please, I know we might ask much and I would rather completely forget about that woman but we need it."

 

Rebekah started to think about what was needed from her. In a subconscious action, she started to move her fingers on her upper chest and neck, almost as if caressing something that is not there. Then as if a lightning bolt has struck her, she turned around and started looking and yelling.

 

"Where's my necklace? What did you do with it? I never take it off!"
" I don't know. I didn't touch it."
"Sister please calm down. I'm sure we can find it. Maybe it fell off somewhere in the coffin."

 

Astrid tried to calm down Rebekah as she frantically started to dig inside the coffin, looking for the necklace. Worry and concern started to spread in the air as Rebekah frantically searched.

 

"We need to find it. Now, I want it back!"
"Just wait for a second, alright. Calm down!"
"I can't calm down Astrid, not when the necklace is missing."
"That necklace cannot be that important, can it be?! Please tell me sister that is not what Nik needs?!"
"Fine then. I won't tell you that."
"Oh my God, Rebekah!"
"Enough from both of you! I had enough of your yapping and whining!"

 

Klaus roared making both women shut up instantly. The tone clearly said that he was pissed which made the sisters take a step back in fear. Stefan made the biggest step back since he wasn't used to the worst parts of Klaus' moods. The three Originals vampires looked at each other in silence, torn between what to do. The silence was haunting as it spread across the warehouse, embracing any forms of life in it in its darkness.

Chapter Text

The loud music blasted through the store as the day passed in Chicago. Once the tensions finally subdued, they came to a realisation that Rebekah was in a dire need for modern clothes. And so the men found themselves drinking glass after glass of store's champagne while Astrid carried more and more clothes to Rebekah. The women started to try out the basics first, short sleeved basic shirts and underwear. After that, they went on to try different types of pants, dresses and skirts. At first, Rebekah complained at the shortness of some dresses, to which her sister immediately took them away and replaced them with a bit longer ones. Astrid knew that getting Becca used to the new types of clothing will take time, but thankfully she took to it was like a fish to water. Now she was trying out a pair of tight dark blue jeans and an off-shoulder shirt. Astrid got herself a new outfit as well. A silver sleeveless turtleneck top and black tight pants with black heels and large silver hoop earrings as a top. Her long brown hair was now in a high ponytail. She exited the changing room and made a few steps in front of Stefan and Klaus, who were serving themselves with more champagne. Astrid was sitting on an armrest of Klaus' chair, making sure that the men do not overdo it with alcohol.

 

"So what do you think?"
"I love it. We can buy more of these shirts, right?"
"Of course. Now we need..."
"Are we done here?"

 

Came from a bored Klaus, he had just finished another glass of champagne and was going to pour another glass. Astrid took the bottle away from him and gave it to one of the passing assistants.

 

"And why are you so grumpy Klaus? According to Astrid we still need to get shoes for me."
" I needed one thing from you for my witch to find out why my hybrids are dying, one thing. Your necklace. And you lost it."
"Don't blame Becca for it Nik. Things get lost all the time. We'll find the necklace, don't you worry."
"I'm not worried, I'm annoyed."
"Well ignoring Klaus' grumpiness, what do you think Stefan?"
Rebekah spun around in front of Stefan. He gave her a look and immediately replied, almost as he practised it in his head.

 

"I like it."
"I can always tell when you are lying Stefan."
"I think that he's just tired. You have to forgive him for that Rebekah. The poor guy hasn't slept in a while, can you blame him? With all that bloody drama that has been happening."
"Only you can find an excuse for anyone sister."
"It is not an excuse if it's the truth. Now let's grab all those clothes and let Nik pay for them. We still need to go over the shoe section."
"Fine."

 

Rebekah huffed before storming off to the shoe department, a compelled assistant closely following her in order to assist her. Stefan looked at his empty glass before standing up.

 

"All right then. I'm going to get some fresh air."

 

He announced to the two vampires. Klaus made no sign to stop him since he did not care that much anymore. Astrid noticed that he froze for a small second at the door as if he noticed something or someone. He managed to compose himself very quickly, but she still managed to catch that small moment of weakness. When she herself looked outside the window, all she could see was a crowd of people, among which walked a very familiar brunette. Astrid could recognise that curly hair anywhere, it was Katherine. But why was she doing here in Chicago, so close to Klaus? She didn't ponder on that thought as her focus was back on helping Rebekah pick out shoes. Stefan returned some half an hour later and they continued to spend the rest of the morning shopping. When noon passed the group went to Gloria's bar, which has closed just for that occasion. All the chairs were turned upside down and in the middle of the room, Gloria prepared a table covered in candles and a very large and clearly old book. The siblings all sat at the bar, Klaus now nursing another drink which made Astrid frown at while he was pouring it for himself. Stefan was the only one who decided to stand a bit closer to the witch and away from the Originals. Gloria has been holding her hand over the book for a while now and everyone was getting impatient, especially Astrid who was mad that Gloria refused her help in doing the spell.

 

"What is she doing?" Asked Stefan.
"She's failing."
"It's hard to find something when you don't have anything to go on."

 

Came an annoyed response from Gloria, whose eyes were still closed over the book. Astrid gave Rebekah a nudge with her elbow, persuading her to move closer to the witch.

 

"Then use Rebekah. She was the one wearing it for a thousand years. Maybe she has some kind of a connection to it."
"See? Now she is actually helping here, unlike the rest of you. Come now sweetheart, give me your hand."

 

Rebekah walked toward the desk and sat on one of the edges where was enough space to sit. She gave Gloria her hand, which the witch grasped with both of her hands. Stefan started to shift on his feet, a clear sign of being nervous.

 

"She's, uh, she's looking for the necklace, huh?"
"Obviously Stefan. What do you think she's been doing so far?"

 

Came an annoyed response from Astrid. Before a fight could break out, Gloria started to chant louder and louder until suddenly it all stopped. She let go of Rebekah's hand and looks at Klaus and Astrid.

 

"I found it."
"So where is it?"
"It doesn't work like that, doll. I get images. There's a girl with her friends..."
"Yes. A dead girl with her dead friends, if I don't get my necklace back."
"Let her finish Rebekah. There is obviously something more. Go on Gloria."
"Well, I'll have to dive back in to get the details."
"So dive."
"Now hang on a minute Nik. You damn well know that spells like this cannot give you an instant answer. Let her collect her thoughts and do the spell later again when she will have a clear mind."
"See. For a non-witch, she understands. I need more time to get my ju-ju back."
"So why don't you take Stefan and Rebekah with you Nik and take them feeding. I'll stay with Gloria in case she needs anything."
"Fine. But only because it is your idea. If anything goes wrong, I'm holding you responsible."
"Fine with me, now go."

 

The three vampires leave, so now only the two witches are in the room. Gloria looks at Astrid from her lower position at the desk.

 

"Are you not going to feed as well?"
"I will when I get hungry. Right now I want to discuss with you what you saw."
"I already told you. I saw a girl with..."
"No, no, no. I already know about that part. What I want to know about is the part that you kept quiet. The one that you willingly held back."
"I didn't."
"Don't lie to me, Gloria. I've known you for over 90 years. Now give me your hand."

 

The older woman involuntarily giver her hand to Astrid who takes a deep breath and grabs it just like Gloria did to Rebekah previously. Immediately she starts to heard pieces from a conversation. One of the voices seemed familiar to her, but what caught her attention was the subject of their conversation. They were talking about Stefan, the very same one that was currently in Klaus' company. Once she heard what was left of the conversation, she let go of the hand.

 

"Well, that's interesting."
"Tell me about it."
"Any ideas on how to proceed? You are aware that I cannot keep this away from Nik, he'll find out eventually."
"Let me handle it. From what I noticed, Stefan was fare more interested in what I exactly heard than Klaus himself. My bet is that he will approach me first."
"Fine. Do it your way. I'm going to feed. Be back in five."

 

Astrid left the bar and entered the busy streets. Quickly she picked out her meal, a young man that was waiting for a bus, compelled him to follow her to a side street and drank from him until she was done. After she cleaned up she compelled the man to clean the would and continued with his day as if nothing happened. She was just about to head back to the bar when she saw someone approach the entrance as well. Astrid his in the alley and looked more closely. It was Stefan, who was acting really suspicious for someone who was connected to all this. After he entered inside, she entered after him not a moment later. When she gets quietly inside, she only again sticks to the shadows near the walls as she observes the scene in front of her. Gloria is wiping the bar down as Stefan approaches her. The older witch senses that Astrid is watching them but makes no sign to show it. She looks at Stefan instead.

 

"There you are."
"Thought you were resting."
"Well, now we both have a secret."
"What did you see?"
"It's what I heard that's interesting. You know, the girls with the necklace, they were talking about you."
"Yet you didn't tell Klaus or Astrid. Why?"
"Because no way in hell I am helping that damn hybrid or his hybrid witch. The necklace is a talisman from the original witch herself. I want it."

 

Gloria was well aware that Astrid was listening to every word they were saying so she carefully picked her words. Stefan walked a few paces away from her, away from the bar.

 

"Well, I'm sorry. I can't help you."
"Don't be difficult. You know, I'd hate to have to tell Klaus what a liar his sidekick is."

 

Hearing her attempt at blackmail, Stefan turns around and lunges at Gloria with an attempt to kill her. Before he could take a step toward her, Astrid cast a strong spell on him that caused him to have constant brain aneurysms. Stefan grasped at his head as Astrid stepped out of the shadows. She slowly started to increase the pressure inside his head.

 

"Guess we'll have to get it outside of your head the hard way, huh?"

 

He passed out. Astrid looks at Gloria and they both know what to do. In almost choreographed moves they prepare the room for a ritual. All the windows were closed, all the lights turned off. The light was instead provided by countless candles Astrid set on fire with a wave of her hand. The candles were set in a circle around a table on which laid a shirtless and unconscious Stefan. Near him is a table filled with herbs and various ingredients including a large knife. Two large containers are placed on the floor right under Stefan's wrists. Soon after they set everything up, Stefan starts to awaken. Just to ensure that he doesn't move they cast a paralysis spell on him.

 

"What is this? Why can't I move?
"Relax dear Stefan, it's just a paralysis spell. It's here to make sure you stay put for what's coming next."

 

Astrid says before giving Gloria a nod to start. Gloria grabs the knife and starts cutting large wounds on Stefan's wrist, at the same time as she was talking.

 

"Just got to get the information out of your pretty little head. You know, witches nowadays, they're into that new age stuff, but...we're a little more old school voodoo."

 

She moves back to the table and grabs two little iron hooks. With precision, she places them inside Stefan's wounds making him scream in pain. Astrid says nothing, just observes and waits for information.

 

"I won't tell you anything."
"You don't have to. There are other ways. Astrid was the one who actually recommended this one."

 

All the blood that falls out of his wounds ends up collecting inside the containers that are on the floor. Every time a drop of blood falls inside it makes a hissing noise and creates a small amount of vapour.

 

"You feel that? That's your essence. Your spirit. It lets me make a connection. Herbs help, too. Diviners, sage, witch hazel."

 

Gloria rubs a handful of dried herbs on her pals and approaches Stefan.

 

"But my favourite and the speciality of the week is...vervain."

 

She places her hands on his chest. The moment his skin got into contact with vervain he started screaming. The dried herb was burning his skin and causing him such intense pain. Gloria continues the process a few more times.

 

"I'm impressed. You've got discipline, Stefan. It's not going to do you much good, but...Just let go, honey."

 

She starts getting visions inside her head. At first, they make no sense but soon it starts to clear up.

 

"There's the girl with the necklace. You love her. You'd do anything for her. And you have. A lot of darkness, a lot of guilt. All to keep her away from Klaus. Why would he be interested in one girl?"
"Don't do this. Please don't do this." He begs her.
"She's the doppelgänger. She's supposed to be dead, and that's why Klaus can't make hybrids, isn't it?"
"Alright, I heard enough. Seems you have kept a very, very big secret from us, Stefan. Gotta give it to you, you sure are willing to do anything for that girl."
"What do you want me to do with him?"
"Get rid of him, Gloria. Nik does not like traitors and neither do I."

 

Astrid orders her before leaving the bar. She didn't even make block away from the bar when she felt that the paralysis spell has ended. Which meant one or two things. It could mean that Gloria killed Stefan or the more possible one, that Gloria was somehow killed instead. The latter one was a more amiable option because Astrid knew Gloria, even if she was in a good mood, she would not kill him that fast and Stefan was still in mostly good shape. He should last much longer under such torture. But she didn't turn back. She just continued to walk toward where Klaus and Rebekah were. That was inside the warehouse. Once she climbed the stairs, she found them sitting on the coffins. They were both on the couch. Seeing her approaching, the blond siblings looked up at her.

 

"You're back early love."
"Yeah well, Gloria's dead. I left after I got the answers. She was killed after I left."
"Who dared to kill her."
"My guess is Stefan or whoever interrupted Gloria's torture."
"But why would you torture Stefan? He's with us."
"You know, sometimes I envy your ability to be so blind when it comes to the men you love Rebekah. It seems your dear Stefan was keeping the fact that the Doppelganger was alive a secret."
"What?!"
"Calm down and sit down as well Nik. No need to be upset. It seems that the necklace was there for a while."
"So we're going to Mystic Falls." Klaus concludes.
"Now before we deal with Stefan."
"Any ideas sister?"
"Well, he still doesn't know that his cover was actually blown. He still might think that I will keep my mouth shut. So let Rebekah talk to him and you can even break his neck as a way of payback, ok Rebekah?"
"Sure."

 

So the siblings decide to set up a trap. Rebekah insisted that she could handle everything and that she will call them once she deals with him, so that leaves Klaus and Astrid with nothing to do. Seeing as they will finally have free time without Stefan or Rebekah, Klaus quietly suggests they leave for a date. After all, he says, they haven't been on one in a while and she deserves it for doing all this. She agrees with a large smile on her face. The couple leaves the building in a hurry while holding hands. They decide to go to a club where there are plenty of feeding options to pick from. After their appetites were sated the couple went for a walk of all things. Their aimless walking took them to the Adler Planetarium that was completely abandoned, perfect just for them. The night was a bit cool so Klaus gave her his leather jacket to keep her warm as they gazed upon the sky. The stars were shining brightly that night. The couple was lying on the top with Astrid's head resting on his shoulder and his arm wrapped around her waist. They remained like that for a while before Astrid looked up into Klaus' eyes. Her chin resting on his shoulder.

 

"Are we ever going to tell the truth to Rebekah?"

 

He let out a long sight before answering.

 

"We will."
"When Nik? When?! I'm tired of hiding. I'm tired of keeping it a secret, of lying to everyone especially our family."
"I gave you my word Astrid that I will keep you safe. I intend to keep that promise. Once I create my hybrids and we deal with Mikael, we will wake up the rest of our siblings and tell them everything."
"Everything?"
"Everything. The whole truth."
"They'll hate us for it."
"Let them hate us. They'll get over it eventually. What we did, we did for theirs and our sake, for our family."
"Always and forever. Right, Nik?"
"Yes, love. Always and forever, just like I promised you."

 

They sealed those words with a kiss with the stars as their witnesses. Unfortunately, their romantic moment was broken by the sound of Klaus' phone going off. It was Rebekah texting him that she handled Stefan and was ready to leave. Astrid groaned as they rose up.

 

"Do we have to leave?"
"Would you rather leave Rebekah all alone with our daggered siblings?"
"You're right, let's go."
"After you love."

 

The couple involuntarily leaves the Planetarium and heads back toward the warehouse, where their sister was waiting for them to head out to Mystic Falls. It was going to be a long night, they could already tell.

Chapter Text

Instead of leaving Chicago the same way they came, the trio took a large truck which was filled with coffins and the passed-away body of Stefan, whose neck Rebekah snapped every few miles. They had a compelled human follow them with their truck. They reached Mystic Falls in the middle of the night and parked in front of the high school since the parking lot there was almost empty and Astrid said that she has a hunch. Believing in his wife's hunches, Klaus parked the truck near the school and left the vehicle. The sky was covered in thousands of stars and the wind was gently blowing across the city. The couple felt none of that as they focused on the turn on lights of the high school. Every few minutes they see a figure of random teenagers move near the windows and hear quiet laughter echoing across the halls with their hearing.

 

"It seems we will have an audience tonight Nik."
"Seems so. That won't bother you, will it?"
"No of course not. The more the merrier."
"Good. Now let's not waste any time."

 

He turns back toward the truck where Rebekah is sitting at the end of it. The back door of the truck is open. He addresses his sister.

 

"I can count on you dealing with Stefan."
"Don't worry Nik. I'll deal with him."
"Good."

 

With that, the couple leaves the proximity of the truck and enters the building. Surprisingly, the main door is unlocked for anyone to enter. They avoid being seen by any of the students, not wanting to sound the alarms too early. They followed the quiet sound of a particular human's voice, as it carried out through the identical hallways. The couple reached a while double door just as it opened, making them come face to face with the alive Doppelganger. The look on the girls face at the moment she realised just who was in front of her, brought just a small spark of sadistic pleasure inside Astrid's mind. A long time has passed since anyone feared her like that.

 

"There's our girl."
"Klaus!"

 

The poor girl tries to run away but before she could make a step into a different direction, Astrid appeared in front of her and held her by her hand in a tight grip.

 

"You are supposed to be dead. What a surprise to see you alive and well sweetheart."

 

The sarcasm was clear in Astrid's voice as she started to lead the poor girl through the halls of the school, which were conveniently empty of any humans. Klaus was walking a step in front of them, with an angry look on his face.

 

"You put a rather large kink in our plans, sweetheart. The whole point of breaking the curse and becoming a hybrid was to make more hybrids. I haven't been able to do that. Now my bet is, it has something to do with the fact that you're still breathing."
"If you're going to kill me, just do it!"
"Kill you? Oh no, no, no. Not until we make sure that is what needs to be done for the spell to work. I'm not going to let Nik kill you until we get our answers."

 

They reach the gym where half of the floor is covered in plastic cups. A dozen or so students are walking around, talking and helping each other. As the trio walked closer to the centre of the gym they are started to get noticed by the student population. Klaus to speak in an American accent, just to further mess with the kids.

 

"Attention, seniors. You have officially been busted. Prank night is over. Head on home."

 

The students start to abandon their posts and prank items. Klaus stops the two students that are closest to them and speaks in his normal British accent.

 

"You two. I remember you."
"I'm sorry. Who are you?" The girl questions him.
"Oh, don't worry, I wasn't in my right head last time we met."

 

He says before compelling her again and the boy as well.

 

"Lift your foot up, please, Dana."

 

When the girl obeys. he turns to the boy and tells him command as well.

 

"If she drops her foot, Chad, I want you to beat her to death. Understood?"
"Yes."
"Good."
"Don't, Klaus. You don't have to hurt anybody."

 

Elena begs him. Instead of Klaus answering, it is Astrid that opens her mouth in reply.

 

"But we do sweetheart. How else will we prove a point here?"

 

Elena did not know how to respond to those words. For one, she was still in shock of seeing Klaus back in Mystic Falls. And secondly, how was Astrid still alive. She was certain she saw Stefan break the witches neck back when the ritual happened. So how the hell was she still alive?!
While Elena was trapped inside her thoughts, the time was quickly passing in the real world and the girl was starting to lose her balance. She desperately tried to stay on one foot because she knew that if she drops her left leg even for one second, that she is dead. When her foot drops close to the floor again, Astrid sees the need to comment.

 

"Keep it up, please. I would hate to stain the floor with your blood. It would be such a waste of fresh blood."
"Where's Stefan? What did you do to him?" Elena asks.
"He's on a bit of a break right now sweetheart."

 

Suddenly from the same door that they entered the gym, came inside a black girl and a boy. The girl was obviously a witch, Astrid could tell that, even if she was quite an inexperienced in magic. The boy was just a human. The moment Elena saw them she tried to warm them to run.

 

"Bonnie, get out of here!"

 

The two teens didn't even have time to realise in just what kind of danger they were in before Astrid appeared behind Bonnie and stopped her from leaving. Klaus remained near Elena, making sure that she doesn't run. He dismissed the two teens who were barely holding on and they sat on the floor, scarred for life.

 

"I assume you're the reason Elena's still walking around alive?"
"That's right. If you want to blame someone, blame me."
"Oh, there's no need for blame, my dear. You see, your little amateur interference seems to have caused some undesirable side effects. And since you caused the problem, I'm going to have you find the fix. So you better fix it or there will be hell to pay."

 

It was as if practised. The moment Astrid finished with her threat, Rebekah walked into the gym, dragging with her a young werewolf, the very same one they previously used as bait. The young wolf struggled against Rebekah's grasp but she still leads him toward the rest of the group.

 

"I'd like you all to meet our sister Rebekah. Word of warning...She can be quite mean." Klaus introduced her.
"Don't be so mean to her. After all, she did bring you a werewolf."

 

Astrid said in mock strictness. There was no real bite in her words and Klaus smiled. The young man was then thrown into Klaus arms who grabbed him by his neck and made him face the rest of the mortal creatures around them. Astrid close to his side.

 

"Leave him alone!"
"I'm going to make this very simple...Every time I attempt to turn a werewolf into a vampire hybrid, they die during the transition. It's quite horrible, actually."

 

He bites his wrist and forces it on the werewolf's mouth. Astrid picks up from where he left off and finishes the threat while Klaus is busy making sure that the boy had enough blood.

 

"We need you to find a way to save the hybrids, Bonnie Bennet. And for this young man's sake...You better hurry."

 

With that Klaus breaks his neck, making the heavy body drop on to the wooden floor. Seeing their dead friend's body hit the floor, made both the witch and the human break into a run. They ran back to the hallways, away from Klaus and the vampires. Rebekah made a few steps around the Dopplerganger, looking at her appearance.

 

"So this is the latest doppelgänger. The original one was much prettier."
"Don't be so mean Becca. You'll hurt the poor girls' feelings."
"And I should care why?"
"Well..."
"Enough of you two. This is not a beauty contest. Rebekah be a dear and take the wolf boy elsewhere, alright?"

 

Rebekah obeys and drags the dead body away, leaving Astrid and Klaus to be once again alone. Well mostly alone, they pretty much ignored the two scared teenagers that were still on the floor. The couple climbed the spectator seats and waited for something to happen. For what they weren't sure, but something will surely happen soon. True to those words, Stefan soon walked in. His front side of the shirt was covered in one large pool of dried blood. Klaus barely gave him a look.

 

"Came to save your damsel in distress, mate?"
"How heroic." Astrid sniggered.
"I came to ask for your forgiveness. And pledge my loyalty."
"Well it's kinda too late for that Nik, isn't it? I mean, he already broke his pledge once, what good will it do to us this time?"
"My wife has a point here Stefan. What good will you do for us? We certainly can't count on you when the Doppelganger is in question."
"Elena means nothing to me anymore. And whatever you ask of me...I will do."

 

Astrid leaned closer and whispered something in Klaus' ear, to which he simply nodded his head before addressing Stefan again.

 

"Fair enough. Let's drink on it."

 

He stands up and points with his hand at the direction of two human teenagers.

 

"Kill them. What are you waiting for? Kill them."
"No! Stefan, don't. He's not going to hurt me. He already said..."

 

The girl gets interrupted by Astrid who grabbed her from behind and tilted her neck. Her vampire fangs almost touching the girl's neck. Seeing the girl he cared for so close to vampire's deadly fangs, Stefan reacts and attacks Astrid. Klaus intercepts the attack and with fury grabs Stefan by his throat.

 

"She means nothing to you? Your lies just keep piling up."
"Let her go! I'll do whatever you want, you have my word!"
"Your word doesn't mean much. I lived by your word all summer, during which time I never had to resort to this..."

 

Klaus forces the younger vampire to lock eyes with him and compels him.

 

"Stop fighting."
"Don't do this, don't do this."
"I didn't want to. All I wanted was your allegiance. Now I'm going to have to take it."
"Don't...Don't..."
"You will do exactly as I say when I say it. You will not run, you will not hide, you will simply just obey."
"No. Stefan!"

 

Elena screams at Stefan but it's all in vain. He's now completely under Klaus control, obedient to his every whim and order. Klaus takes a few steps away from the compelled vampire and makes a hand gesture, encouraging him to feed on the two teenagers.

 

"Now kill them. Ripper."

 

Stefan had no other choice, his free will was taken away and he violently killed both of the teenagers. First, he drained the girl and then the boy. As the Ripper stud over the dead boy's body, he reached up to wipe some of the blood of his face. The two senior vampires were unfazed by his behaviour while Elena looked at him with horror in her eyes.

 

"It's always nice to see a vampire in his true element. The species has become such a broody lot."
"I agree with you Nik. Vampire these days just lack that something, they're not like us. They are not true predators."
"No. You did this to him. You turned him into a monster."
"I only invited him to the party, love. He's the one dancing on the table."
"And what a dance it was."

 

Astrid commented, sounding almost like a proud mother bragging about her kid. Now that the two humans were dead, the only sound that was heard across the gym were the sounds of Elena's panicked breathing as she watched two of her classmates die. Out of nowhere, a pissed off Rebekah storms into the gym demanding answers.

 

"Where is it?! Where's my necklace?"
"Sister please restrain your temper. You won't get any answers behaving like this."
"I don't care Astrid. She has my necklace. Look."

 

Rebekah pulls out a white phone. The couple never brought her one, so they assumed she stole it from someone. Klaus looked Astrid in the eyes, letting her know that she needs to handle that. He was running out of patience here.

 

"Well, well, well. Your list of lies is getting longer and longer Stefan."
"Just tell us where is it you bitch?!"
"Watch how you speak Rebekah. No need to swear here. Now... tell us dear Doppelganger, where is the necklace?"
"I don't have it anymore."
"You're lying!"
"Rebekah behave! Klaus get her away!"

 

Astrid called to Klaus, who just grabbed Rebekah and stopped her from biting Elena. While her husband is dealing with an enraged blonde, Astrid approached the human girl and forced her to make eye contact. She compelled the girl with ease.

 

"Come on sweetheart, tell me where the necklace is."
"I don't have it anymore. Katherine stole it."
"Figures. We should have dealt with that woman before we left. But no, Nik needed a bloody messenger."

 

Astrid complained. Like her husband, her patience was also starting to get rather thin. She walked away from Elena, passed Rebekah and Klaus and approaches a clock. With just a few buttons she sets the large buzzer to count down twenty minutes. Once the timer was set, she walked back toward the still Stefan and placed another compulsion on him.

 

"If your junior witch doesn't find a solution in twenty minutes, there will be another dead body here. That dead body will be Elena's. Once the time runs out, I want to drain her dry. If she tries to run, shatter her spine but don't kill her."

 

With that, she leaves Stefan all alone in the gym with terrified Elena, but not before making Klaus and Rebekah follow her into the hallways. Once the trio was out of the earshot of Elena and Stefan, Astrid slowed down to walk just a bit behind Klaus and turned to ask him, in a bit of an uncertain voice.

 

"Did I do good?"
"Love you did it perfectly."
"A bit too much like Nik, but sure. It was good."
"Thanks, Becca."
"Don't mention it. Really, don't mention it."

 

The trio came to a crossroad and they decided to split. Rebekah will go and wait for the werewolf to wake up from his temporary death while Astrid and Klaus will go track down the witch. They managed to pass only two more hallways before Klaus suddenly showed Astrid into one of the walls. Astrid had no time to voice her complaints because she found herself been almost kissed to death by Klaus. His lips were glued on hers and he did not show any signs of stopping any time soon. She started to kiss back almost immediately, not wanting to be a passive character in the kiss. After some time passed Astrid pushed Klaus away, her desire to breath overcoming her lust.

 

"What was that? Not that I mind, but still, I wonder."
"Well, I couldn't really control myself. Back there in that gym, when you compelled Stefan, I almost lost control just listening to your words. You don't realise just how bloody hot you were, do you?"
"I'll take that as a major compliment, but unfortunately we have a lot on our list right now. Once we deal with all this, we are not leaving our bedroom for the week."
"Only a week?"
"I honestly don't care for how long, I just want this done."

 

Their moment was broken by a sound of two pairs of feet approaching. One of the person's hearts was bitting in a more irregular beat but was slowly returning to normal. The couple listened in on to the conversation.

 

"As soon as you're feeling better, I'm going to kill you."
"It worked. I saw her. I saw Vicki."
"You did?"
"She said she had a message for you."
"For me?"
"From the witch that put the hybrid curse on Klaus. She said that Elena shouldn't have survived Klaus' ritual. The hybrids can't transition because Elena's still alive." "Tyler..."
"He's going to die, isn't he?"
"I wouldn't be too sure about that."

 

Klaus says as he comes from their hiding place, to confront the witch and the human boy face to face. Astrid took a look at both of their appearances. Both of them were soaked to the bone.

 

"What's wrong? Did you go for a swim? When your friend's life is literally dangling in your hands? And don't worry about your wolf friend, when it comes to hybrids, we will always pick hybrids first."

 

Before she could continue to speak, a sound of a buzzer echoed across the school, signalling that the time is up. Astrid crooked her head to heart the sound better before looking back to the witch.

"It seems your time has run out. Nik, honey, get the girl before she gets killed. I'll get the Ripper."

 

She didn't wait for a reply, just disappeared from the hallway. It took her less than a minute to track the loose Ripper, she found him in a cafeteria ready to stab himself with a makeshift stake he made out of a broken broom. She grabs him by his arms and throws away the stake, letting it slide across the polished floor.

 

"Not that's not what I told you to do, now was it? It seems you can't follow even these simple instructions."

 

He tried to push her away, but since he already was too exhausted from resisting the compulsion, he did not have any left strength to fight back. So there was a little he could do when Klaus barged into the cafeteria, with Elena in his hands. Astrid observed all this while sitting on top of one of the lunch tables.

 

"Now this is fascinating. I've never seen this before, have you love? The only thing stronger than your craving for blood is your love for this one girl. Why don't you turn it off?"
"No!"
"Come on. Your humanity is killing you. All the guilt must be exhausting. Turn it off."
"No!"
"His will sure is strong. But everything will break if you apply enough pressure on it."

 

Following his wife's advise Klaus slammed Stefan into the wall and forced another compulsion onto his mind.

 

"Turn it off!"

 

The change was instant. Gone was the look of constant pain and only insatiable hunger remained.

 

"What did you do?"
"He fixed him. Isn't this what you wanted as well dear Elena, for your Stefan to be free of pain? Sure he's lacking all other emotions as well, but that's a small price to pay, isn't it?"
"I-I.."
"You don't have to answer that, it was a rhetorical question anyway."

 

Astrid says before climbing off the lunch table and grabs Elena's wrist. Before the girl could react, she bites the wrist and places a small chemistry vial onto the wound, effectively collecting the blood.

 

"We have the blood, now let's go attend to our newest hybrid. I'm sure that he's wide awake by now."
"Alright, but you're the one breaking the news to Rebekah that she can't kill the Doppelganger. Stefan, you are free to go. Elena, do not dare to leave this room, we will hunt you down if you do."

 

With that, the immortal couple leaves the human girl behind and heads toward the direction of where their sister is watching over the turning werewolf. They found her in a chemistry classroom, alongside a blond vampire and the werewolf who seemed in pain.

 

"Well, we bring news. The witch says that the Doppelganger must die."
"Really? Can I kill her sister?"
"No Becca. Knowing that damn woman, we need to do the opposite of what she told us. Restrain the baby vampire please."

 

In one quick move, Rebekah restrains the blond vampire, leaving Astrid and Klaus to loom over the werewolf. She pulls out the vial filled with fresh ruby blood and brings it closer to the young mans face. With her other free hand, she strokes his cheek.

 

"You must be in so much pain. Don't worry, this will help. Drink it."
"No! No, no, no, Tyler, don't!"
"Please be quiet girl. Do you want your friend here to live or to die? I'm trying to help him survive."

 

The nurturing voice Astri used finally convinces Tyler to ignore the worried voice of his friend and empties the vial of its contest. The effects could be seen almost immediately. He starts to couch and rolls down onto the floor, gripping his hair in pain. Screams start to leave his mouth, accompanied by groans and writhing. When it all finally comes to an end, he looks up at Astri d and Klaus, showing them his new yellow eyes and vampire fangs.

 

"Now that's what I call a good sign."
"Alright then. While you're busy admiring your new hybrid, I'm taking the Doppelganger to the hospital."
"Why? Is she hurt? What did you do to her?!"
"Don't you worry about your friend there, she's just going to make a small donation, for a better cause. I'll see ya in the hospital. Bye Nik, Becca."

 

Astrid leaves the school, but not before collecting the terrified girl who she compelled to lose consciousness.

 

When Elena woke up, she was confused. She did not know where she was and the beeping sound annoyed her ears. She notices a nurse approaching her and gathers enough strength to ask a question.

 

"Where am I?"
"In the hospital, sweetie. You suffered through a terrible ordeal."
"I have to get out of here."
"Ah. Not an option. You've lost a lot of blood. You're lucky your friend brought you here on time."
"My friend?"
"She's been sitting right there this whole time. Looking over you like a guardian angel."

 

Elena looks at the direction the nurse showed her and sees Astrid sitting on one of the hospital chairs, looking like she was honestly worried about her friend. Astrid gives her a smile, that was meant to be comforting but with Elena's experience with her, it looked terrifying.

 

"You are confused from all that blood loss."

 

This time, Elena saw that the nurse was pointing at a blood bag resting on her bed near her.

 

"Wait...You're taking my blood?"
"Of course. It's very important for your friends Klaus and Astrid. Just don't fight it, sweetie. You need plenty of rest."

 

The nurse injects the poor girl with sedatives, making her fall back into a deep sleep. Seeing as the girl will not struggle anymore, Astrid stands up and approaches the nurse.

 

"Can I help you, dear?"
"Yes, please make sure that she gets plenty of rest and pack all of the blood bags. Including the one, she is filling right now."
"Sure. I'll bring them in a minute."

 

Astrid turns back and starts to pack all the stuff she left lying around the room. Once she made sure that everything was set and after she received a portable freezer filled with blood bags, she sets off to the exit of the hospital. No one looks at her as she exits the hospital and starts to head toward the parking lot where their truck was parked. Not even five feet from the hospital and Klaus suddenly appeared, dragging her in an opposite direction. He was in an obvious hurry.

 

"Nik, what's going on?"
"No time to explain love. We need to leave. We have a big problem on our hands. And we need my hybrids to deal with that. Maybe you can even start with making your hybrids as well. God knows we'll need them as well. I'll fill you in when we get to the car."
"How big can it be Nik, for us to need our hybrids?"
"It's Mikael."

 

That one name managed to promptly terrify Astrid. Immediately she knew that whatever was happening, it was serious and could cost them their heads if they don't play safe.

Chapter Text

The sound of birds singing made a beautiful difference in Astrid's ears, comparing to the constant sound of cars and driving her mind has been subjected to for the past week or so. They've been driving all across the neighbouring states, searching for werewolf packs that were willing to become vampires. Under Astrid's stern supervision, Klaus promised not to force a transition onto anyone. So any werewolf that refused to become a hybrid was free to walk away. Altho considering all the pain they go thru every full moon, no one actually refused. The couple first started on the werewolves from Ray's pack. The pack them sent them to Alabama, where they picked another dozen werewolves and turned them all into hybrids. That brought their total number of hybrids to thirty. After giving the instructions to the newly turned hybrids, they turned back and went to New York, where Greta waited for them. Just before they entered the state of New York, Astrid received a text from Sage. She gave it a quick glance before putting the phone back into her purse. Klaus waited for an explanation as to what the message said but when time passed and she just continued to stare out of the window, he breached the topic.

 

"So will you tell me what the message said or do I have to guess?"
"It was Sage. She was reporting on her search for Mikael. As far as she knows, Mikael is still un-active. No traces of him or witnesses. Nothing. Like he's a ghost, there but undetectable."
"So he's a wild card."
"Oh yeah. That's why we're heading back to New York. Greta has gathered a few witches what I can turn."
"Well, we better hurry then. Time is of the essence."

 

Klaus said before making a sharp turn and speeding up, effectively cutting the time of arrival by fifteen minutes. They arrived just when the moon showed its face between the tall skyscrapers. Astrid unlocked the door of their old apartment with her key. They expected maybe a few witches including Greta, what they came home to was at least twenty or even more witches. Among the female witches, there were also nine warlocks. That was a rarity by its own. Male witches were rare, the power usually travelled by a female line of succession, skipping the males in the family. Nevertheless, the couple didn't show the surprise on their faces, partially to conserve the position of power and not to show any weaknesses. Astrid dropped the keys into a key-bowl, tossed the jacket over the couch and approached Greta who had a wide smile on her face.

 

"When you said you have good news, I expected maybe eight witches at best. Not this much."
"You told me to gather all who were willing to join you. I did as I was told."

 

One of the witches studs up from the gathered group of witches, by the appearance she seemed like the leader as she was the oldest by the appearance among them. She looked like she was in her mid-thirties while some of the witches were barely twenty. She approached Astrid, without fear and didn't flinch under the judging gaze.

 

"We have chosen to follow you out of our own accord. Greta has already explained everything to us. Those that you see here are willing to follow you and your new path."
"Does that mean that you refuse to follow the words of wisdom from your elders?"
"The elders of our clans are too blinded with pride and power. We wish to carve out a new path, our path."
"Good. As long as you remain loyal to me and my husband, you will have nothing to fear. The world will be yours to discover."

 

Astrid promised to all of the gathered witches as she spoke to them. Her gaze went over every one of them, judging them and making sure that no ill thoughts were in their heads. Once she was completely certain that no one was going to change their mind she beckoned Greta to follow her to the corner so they could have a quiet moment.

 

"Has anything happened while we were away? Be honest with me Greta."
"We did have some minor incidents with some warlocks that came here searching for sanctuary. They came from Europe..."
"Why would they come all the way here?"
"Apparently, they were exiled from their clans for saving some vampires. One of the boys was actually caught dating a male vampire which was a big no-no for his clan. They wanted to purify him."
"They were going to stip him of his very magic just for loving a vampire?! What is wrong with the European witches in this century?!"
"Calm down, I handled the situation. I have one of your sources forge them passports and American citizenship papers."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"Because...I didn't want to worry you. You already had so much on your plate and I didn't want to bother you with anything else."

 

Astrid hugged Greta and placed a soft kiss on her brown, comforting the distressed witch. Seeing Greta so worried about not wanting to disturb them while they were away, made Astrid feel like a mother taking care of a daughter she did not see in a long time. After the tender moment was over and the two women separated, Astrid looked into Greta's eyes while holding her by the shoulders.

 

"Wipe away any tears that are in your eyes and let us prepare your new transition."

 

She leads the girl back to the group and once everyone was seated again, Klaus spoke up for the first time since they arrived.

 

"I assume you can handle the rest love. I'm going to go check on the coffins and feed."
"That's a great idea Nik. Do please send us a few fresh ones, the girls will need to feed later. I don't think the blood bags will make the cut."

 

He placed a kiss on her cheek before exiting the apartment. Now that the witches were all alone they could start with the process of turning them into hybrids, turning them into immortal bloodthirsty witches. Astrid took the silver knife that was offered to her and made a large incision on her wrist, letting the blood spill freely on the floor and the carpet. They already had an unspoken agreement that Greta will have the honours of being the first witch hybrid. So Astrid offered her bloodied wrist to her pupil and watched as she took two mouthfuls of her blood, without any flinching or hesitation. Once the pupil had enough, Astrid removed her wrist and with a snap of her fingers on her healed hand, broke her neck. The rest of the witches watched in silence, waiting for their turn. She turned toward the waiting group and spoke, her voice barely above a whisper.

 

"We better hurry ladies. Altho I am immortal, I do not like when my blood is getting wasted."

 

Two days later, Astrid had departed from New York with Klaus, letting Greta take charge over her newly turned cover of witches and warlocks. Now the couple was walking around Portland, resting after tracking another pack of willing werewolves. It was nighttime. The peace they had in the woods was broken by a loud sound of Klaus' phone ringing. He went to answer it but Astrid spoke before that.

 

"Who's calling?"
"Stefan apparently."

 

Klaus said as he looked at the caller's ID. Their eyes met, he was standing among the dead werewolves and she was sitting on a fallen tree. He answered the call and immediately put the phone on speaker.

 

"This better be good Stefan."
"Your father's dead."

 

At those words, Klaus stopped pacing around and Astrid froze in her spot as well. She knew she heard it right, her hearing was perfect. It was the meaning behind those words that failed to properly load inside her head. Klaus continued to speak, not wanting to show a single moment of weakness.

 

"What did you just say?"
"Oh, my mistake. Not your actual father and not dead. Mikael. Daggered. What do you want me to do with the body?"

 

Once again, their eyes made contact and Astrid wordlessly mouthed 'Make him explain'. He focused back onto the phone and conversation with Stefan.

 

"Well, first I want you to explain to me exactly what happened. Don't spare a single word."
"Alright fine, this is what happened. He managed to sneak into the house, followed Elena back here. Damon and I managed to vervain him and found a dagger on him. My guess is that he planned to use it on Rebekah since it doesn't work on you."
"I wanna see him. I want to see his rotting body for myself."
"Well, he is here. Come by whenever."
"If you are lying to us Stefan, your compulsion will expose you. So, answer with your life: Is what you are saying the truth?"
"It's true. I saw it with my own eyes."

 

Astrid let out a deep breath which she wasn't even aware that she was holding in. Relief swept through her and yet there was still doubt in her mind that it isn't true, that Stefan somehow found a loophole which allowed him to lie through the compulsion. She reached out with her hand, signalling that she wanted the phone. Once it was in her palm she began to speak.

 

"I wanna talk to Rebekah. I need to make sure that she's alright."
"That's not a problem. She is right here."
"Hello, Astrid."
"Becca, dear sister, what is this about Mikael being daggered? Are you hurt?"
"It's true Astrid and I'm fine. I miss you both. I'm miserable here."
"I know. We're coming home soon, don't worry. And Rebekah?"
"Yes, sister?"
"I love you. Don't forget that. We're going to take care of everything."
"I love you too. Bye Astrid, say hello to Nik too."

 

Astrid hanged up the phone, ending the call. Almost immediately, both of them started to head toward the waiting truck. Their destination, Mystic Falls.

 

It was around noon and they were already driving for a few hours when Astrid felt that something was wrong. Until then she was feeling happy, calm and a bit tired from the constant driving in the truck. Then suddenly, out of the blue, a sharp piercing pain started to spread across her chest, originating from her back. The numbing feeling remained for a while while she desperately grasped at her chest, wishing that the feeling would end. Klaus almost drove them off the road, his attention now solemnly on Astrid. She gritted through her teeth at him.

 

"Focus on the damn road before you get us killed."

 

Klaus managed to gain control of the car and continued to drive like before. She slowly got used to the feeling inside her chest and leaned back on her seat.

 

"Will you tell me now what the bloody hell was that?!"
"It was a reaction to a spell. Before we left, I placed a small monitoring spell on Rebekah, whatever she feels I feel."
"So what did you feel? We talked to her yesterday, she seemed fine."
"I'm not completely sure, but whatever it is, it's bad enough to make me worry."
"You suspect that they might be planning a trap for us back there?"
"There's a high possibility, yes. That's why we are using our backup plan."
"Fine. I'll leave it to you to set everything love. You start calling and..."
"Just focus on the road, ok Nik?"

 

The rest of the ride was filled with silence between them. Klaus decided to focus on making sure that they reach Mystic Falls as soon as possible while Astrid was busy making calls. She had Greta gather all the witches on their side and bring them there as soon as possible, she had Monica, the werewolf they met through Ray lead all the hybrids there as well. By the time the couple reached their destination, a good number of hybrids was already waiting for them in the woods near the Lockwood Estate. Klaus parked the vehicle in front of the large house where Tyler waited for them. He was sitting on the front porch. Seeing them come out of the car, the young hybrid walked toward to greet them.

 

"Hello, Tyler. Thank you so much for setting the party at your house."
"It wasn't a problem Miss Astrid."
"Oh please, call me Astrid. Tell me, how is your mother doing? Last I heard, she was in an accident."
"She's fine, thank you for asking."
"Good, good. And what about the band? Have they arrived yet?"
"Yeah, they're setting the stage in the backyard now."
"Perfect. You are a real sweetheart Tyler. If you need any help, there are hybrids waiting to help in the woods. It would be too suspicious if a large group of strangers is in your house in the middle of the day."
"Got it. I have a question actually."
"What is it?"
"What should we do with the homecoming party? It's supposed to happen in school, not here."
"Flood it. There's no need to completely destroy the building, just make it temporarily unusable."
"Alright then. Make yourself at home."
"Thank you, Tyler, have a nice day."

 

Astrid said before picking up her purse and walking inside. Klaus held the door for her so she could enter and followed her upstairs. Tyler went toward the wood in search for the rest of the hybrids that arrived, leaving the couple all alone in the large house. The couple walked upstairs, toward a separated guest. On the already prepared bed laid two bags of clothes, fresh from the dry cleaners. She had Greta send her the specific clothes to her for the party, for her and for Klaus as well. For tonight's party, she arranged a clean black suit with a navy blue tie for Klaus which he put on with no objection. For herself, she prepared a navy blue strapless silken cocktail dress. It fitted perfectly around her figure as she sat down to place silver heels. To perfect the look she placed a pair of silver drop dangle earrings. She didn't place any necklace around her neck. As she sat at the vanity mirror, her hair placed over her shoulder in curls, she moved her left hand around her neck while admiring her appearance.

 

Astrid tried to be strong. For Klaus, for Rebekah and even for the sake of sleeping through the night. But the possibility of finally ending her worry about Mikael finding them brought up to the surface some long-buried fears. She feared that Mikael might hurt Rebekah or Nik, that the pain she felt in the car meant that Rebekah was hurt. But what brought her comfort was the knowledge that now, she can openly use her magic against Mikael. With Klaus' curse being broken, the two of them can now handle Mikael with no worry about the other one getting left behind or hurt. She was willing to place her life on the line if it meant that her family will be safe and Klaus was on the very top of the list of priorities.

 

Astrid was snapped out of her thoughts by small kisses placed over her neck and moving down on her uncovered shoulder. She moved her head even more to the side, showing Klaus trust by letting him have full access to her vulnerable neck. She opened her eyes and looked at the reflection in the mirror. Klaus sat behind her and pulled her closer to him by wrapping a hand across her stomach, effectively bringing her close to his chest.

 

"Are back with me love?"
"Well, this is quite a wake-up call Nik. How could I possibly resist it?"
"Mm-hm. The party will start soon. We should probably start to head down."
"If you say so. Let's make this night memorable."

 

Astrid said before getting up. Klaus offered his arm to her, which she accepted and the couple descended down the stairs toward the party, ready to face anything that comes their way.

Chapter Text

By the time the Doppelganger arrived at the Lockwood Mansion with her friends, the party was in full swing. The band was loudly playing in the backyard, with a huge crowd of high school students dancing and singing along. There wasn't a single visible part of the mansion that wasn't filled with teens in suits and dresses. Astrid slowly mingled through the crowd, perfectly fitting among the crowd in her blue dress. While she was walking around the drunk teenagers she noticed that Stefan has arrived and was currently talking to Tyler, who was being a good host and was distributing beer. Stefan noticed her looking and she turned around to track Klaus, but not before sending him a wink. Not a moment later the bend ended their latest song and the couple's entrance to the stage was welcomed by loud applause. Klaus brings them closer to the microphone. Astrid gives the audience a large smile before greeting them.

 

"Good evening everyone!"
"We wanna thank you for being here with me to celebrate! It's been a long time coming!"
"We cannot express how much your attendance here means to us! So enjoy the party!"

 

Their words were followed by even louder applause by the crowd. Klaus and Astrid left the stage, letting the band take over again. Instead, they tracked down Stefan and pulled him aside from the large mass of humans.

 

"This is quite a homecoming."
"I've been planning my father's death for a thousand years. I don't really care about the party so I let my wife have free hands with the organisation of this. Gotta admit she did an excellent job."
"Thank you, Nik."
"So, what now? Will you stop running?"
"Mm-hm. Now we will reunite our family."
"Your family. You mean the people you cart around in caskets?"
"What we did, we did for their sake and protection. They'll let it go eventually. What matters now is that Mikael is dead."
"Speaking of family, where is Rebekah? I haven't seen her." Klaus asks.
"I have no idea. I thought she was coming with Matt."
"Oh, be honest now, Stefan. Where is our sister?"
"I said I have no idea."

 

Astrid felt as if something wasn't right. The numb feeling was still strong in her memories, so not seeing Rebekah anywhere sounded some alarms. The fact that Stefan had no idea where she was additionally worried Astrid. Before their departure, they compelled Stefan to watch over Elena and Rebekah, as a safety precaution. Still, she didn't let her worry and suspicion show on her face, instead, she smiled.

 

"Well wherever she is, I'm sure she's having fun. Now onto more pressing matters, where is Mikael's body? I want to see it."
"My love's right, this wouldn't be a party without the guest of honour, would it? Bring him to us."
"All right. Perhaps there's something in it for me...? My freedom from your compulsion?"
"You will get your freedom when you earn it, dear Stefan. Until then you just have to work for it."

 

It was obvious that Stefan wasn't satisfied with Astrid's answer. He gave them a bitter smile and walked away, letting the couple enjoy in the brief feeling of victory. Their moment of peace was broken when Tyler approached them.

 

"The black suit looks nice on you Tyler."
"Yeah,umm...thanks. Are you having a good time?"
"We are. I must say, this party you and my wife threw is quite a success."
"My mom would seriously freak if she saw all these people here."
"Thankfully that won't be a problem. I had your dear mother compelled and she's now in the church, praying for your friends."
"My mother's not religious. Why would she be praying?"

 

Klaus started to move and got in front of Tyler, Astrid still next to him.

 

"I want you to look around. There is Bonnie, there are Elena and Matt and there's your pretty little girlfriend Caroline. The epic dance was wrecked tonight and who came through with the party? You did, with some Astrid's help. What a pal. But who are all these other people here?"

 

He moved his arms and pointed at different people in the crowd. They were barely noticeable in the large mix of semi-drunk teenagers.

 

"I have no idea. I've never seen half these people in my life."
"That's because we've invited a few dozen friends of our own. That's my friend Monica..picked her up along the way in Spooky Mountain. That's Astrid's friend Tony from New York and let's not forget the Seattle contingent."
"Are they all hybrids?"
"Well, they also love a good party. And they, like you, were sired by me. Some were sired by Astrid. Her hybrids are extra special. They wish to serve their masters. So if anyone should so much as make a move against me or my beloved, they may feel obligated to retaliate. You're free to warn your friends."

 

Once Klaus observed that his little message has sunk in properly, he took Astrid by her hand and walked back to the house, where various drinks were available. Tyler meanwhile left to warm his friends of the possible danger they were all in. Once he picked up a bottle of cold beer for himself and a glass of wine for his date, the couple went back outside, to observe the crowd from a terrace. Not even fifteen minutes after the message was sent via Tyler, Elena walked pass them, alone without a date or a drink. She wasn't looking anywhere near them, just tried to walk by. Astrid reached out and touched Elena's forearm, stopping her in her spot. The skin to skin contact was very brief, but it was enough for Astrid to perceive a memory in her head. Elena froze at the contact but still turned to face the couple.

 

"Where's your date?"
"Getting me a drink."
"Would you like some of mine?"

 

Astrid offered her half-full glass of wine. The girl wordlessly rejects it, by taking a small step back and moving her head a bit.

 

"Well, seems we have you to thank for Mikael's demise." Klaus continued.
"You have our gratitude."
"He came at me. I didn't have a choice."
"Nevertheless, for a human as fragile as you, that is quite impressive."

 

Astrid noted. Klaus continued her sentence.

 

"It's not easy for a human to dagger an Original."
"It wasn't the first time."
"Right. You already daggered out brother Elijah.....Is something wrong? You seem nervous."
"I'm not nervous. I just don't like either of you."

 

Astrid leaned closed to Elena as if she was about to whisper a secret to her. The human girl froze at the close proximity of the witch.

 

"That's a real shame, you know. We could have been such great friends."

 

The teasing undertone clear in her words. Elena wasn't sure if the woman was joking or actually serious about the friendship thing. Astrid could almost taste the fear radiating off the girl and once she had her full, she moved back to Klaus, his hand back around her waist. He had a smirk on his face during the duration of the small interaction.

 

"Let's get straight to the point then, shall I? People have been after us for 1000 years. And I am always one step ahead. My wife as well. So whatever it is you're thinking of trying, go for it, give it your best shot. You won't succeed."

 

Elena got the message loud and clear, so the moment he stopped taking she took the opportunity and left. Her pace was a bit faster than a normal walk, she almost started running but managed to control herself. She wasn't going to give them even more satisfaction in seeing her scared. Once the couple was finally alone again, Astrid turned in his grip so now they are face to face. He looked down to see what was the matter and found himself staring into a pair of grey eyes that he fell in love all those centuries ago. Colourful lights from the nearby stage did not disturb the beautiful and sharp colour of her orbs. There was something on her mind and it was visible to him through her eyes. Klaus placed his palms on her cheeks, silently telling her how much he loves her.

 

"What is the matter, love?"
"It's just that...After all these years of running, I cannot imagine not doing that. Not needing to run and hide from Mikael. I accepted the fact that that was our fate. Never did I thought that this will finally end."

 

Klaus placed a kiss on her forehead as if waning the bad thoughts.

 

"It is done. After tonight we will be free from him. Our family will be complete again."
"And we will tell everyone about us?"
"Exactly. No more hiding and lies love."
"Alright."

 

The couple separated from their close embrace and put some space between them. Astrid grabbed her now empty glass of wine and slowly headed toward the house for a refill. Klaus was not even a step behind her, holding his hand at her lower back. She looked at him from the corner of her eyes and smiled.

 

"What is it, love?"
"Even after more than five hundred years as a vampire, Katerina is still terrified of us."
"Is that so?"

 

He asked, not even trying to hide the amusement in his voice. She nodded her head as if saying some interesting, new information.

 

"Oh yes, couldn't you just taste the fear rolling off her? She tried to hide it, but it was so obvious."
"It seems like the squad is actually attempting to do something since Katerina is here."
"Let them try. No one can stop us."
"And no one will. Now, why don't we head inside? I heard that they set the ping pong table. Maybe we could play a round or two?"
"Only if we drink something good, I cannot stand the taste of that cheap beer that they are drinking."
"I'm quite certain someone will lens us a vein."
"Let's rather stick to alcohol only. I would rather avoid blood of drunk teens."
"As my lady commands it, shall we?"

 

Klaus offers her his arms and the two of them move toward the house. The house was filled with people just like in the backyard, but Klaus had a few of his hybrids clear out an area where they could play and talk without looking around. Every once in a while a hybrid, from Astrid's side or Klaus' would turn up and give them an update on the situation. They had hybrids all over the property, thus almost literally having walls with ears. An hour passed until something happened and the time for action arrived. This time it was Monica who brought the news.

 

"You have a visitor."
"Well, tell our visitor that visiting hours are over."
"He says his name is Mikael."

 

Klaus dropped the ball in his hand into the cup and looked at Astrid who was sitting on a nearby sofa. They share a look and without words agree on their next action. Astrid stands up and approaches Klaus, who already turned to Monica and gave her orders. One of Astrid's witch hybrids follows behind Astrid, keeping a close eye on his sire.

 

"Then we mustn't keep him waiting. Move everyone out back. We're going to have a little chat with our dad. Tony, you know what to do."

 

The vampiric warlock nods his head and turns to leave the room. The rest of the nearby hybrids starts to lead the rest of the humans into the backyard so the house soon became empty. The only noise that was heard came from the band and people outside, no one was in the house anymore. No one except for Astrid and Klaus. They just remained standing near the ping pong table, enjoying the silence before the family reunion. Astrid walked the remaining steps that made the distance between them and reached out to smooth out any creases on his suit.

 

"Better make sure you look perfect for the family reunion. Do not want to disappoint father, do we?"
"How are you so calm love? I've known you for over a thousand years, I've loved you for even longer. So why are you so calm?"
"Because I believe in you Nik. I am done running and I know that no matter what happens, that you will be there to save me. So let's go deal with that vile excuse for a father and man."

 

He leaned down his head and kissed her. It wasn't an innocent kiss nor was it too much. It was a perfect mix of love and unspoken promise. Once they separated to catch their breath, they still remained close enough that their noses could touch.

 

"Let's get our freedom love."
"Let's."

 

Astrid says before taking his offered hand and walking with him toward the front door. It was wide open. Mikael waited for them at the door, dressed in a simple suit. Klaus' appearance immediately turned bitter, all traces of love and laughter gone. Astrid remained firmly placed at his side, a look of hatred and anger now marring her beautiful face.

 

"Hello, Niklaus. Didn't expect to see you here Astrid."
"Why? Did you think that I would be dagger with everyone one? Or did you expect me to be somewhere else, away from the men's business."
"Nothing like that."
"Now don't lie father. It's bad enough that I breathe the same air as you, no need to hear you speak as well."
"Now, now love. Let me handle the rest. Why don't you come inside Mikael? Oh, that's right. I forgot you can't."
"Or you can come outside if you want."
"Or I could watch my hybrids tear you limb from limb."

 

On those words a dozen or so hybrids gathered behind Mikael, ready to attack once the signal was given. Among Klaus' hybrids, Astrid spotted a few of her own. They blended with their surroundings, pretending to be part of Klaus' hybrids.

 

"They can't kill me."
"True. But it'll make a hell of a party game. All I have to do is rub these two fingers together and they'll pounce."
"The big bad wolf. You haven't changed. Still hiding behind your playthings like a coward. You only forget. They may be sired by you, but they're still part vampire. And they can be compelled by me."

 

At the ending of his speech, Monica appeared behind Mikael with Elena/Katherine trapped in her arms. Altho they showed surprise on their faces, inside they were laughing. Before the party, both Astrid and Klaus made sure that all of the hybrids couldn't be compelled. Astrid's explanation to that was that she had a gut feeling that it will be necessary. So now all of the hybrids had small bracelets or necklaces filled with vervain, keeping them free from compulsion. Seeing as Mikael had brought up the big guns, so to speak, and threatened Klaus with Doppelgangers death, they had enough.

 

"You sure are pulling all the tricks there are, aren't you Mikael?"

 

Astrid said, with a nonchalant tone in her voice. Mikael was visibly surprised at the lack of concern for their precious human.

 

"I beg your pardon?"
"Oh, it's nothing. It's just that you actually think you can be one step ahead of us. Well news flash, we've actually predicted this possibility. Monica, be a dear and take our guest somewhere safe, please."

 

Monica nodded her head and just as she was about to drag the girl away, Mikael let out a roar in anger. He pulled out a dagger and stabbed Katherine in her stomach. She let out a pained sound and collapsed at the front porch, her blood slowly starting to dye the fabric of her dress. Astrid looked at the girl almost unimpressed before looking up back at Mikael. Now smirks were both on her's and Klaus' faces. It was now their turn to fight back.

 

"That was nice. But did you know that my wife has a hidden trick up her sleeve as well?"

 

The moment Klaus said that Astrid started to chant a spell. Mikael managed to stay on his feet for a bit longer but finally succumbed to the pain caused by the spell. Finally, his hurt body hit the floor. Klaus was the first one to approach him while Astrid continued to chant the spell, knowing that if she stopped Mikael will wake up too soon and Klaus will be in danger since he had to exit the house to get to their father. Klaus checked all of the inside pockets of his suit but couldn't find the white oak stake. That was their only way to kill him, also the only way that they could be killed as well.

 

"Something's wrong here. The stake is missing."

 

Sensing that something wasn't right, Klaus stud up from his kneeling position next to Mikael's body and turned around. He was about to take a step back toward Astrid when he spotted Damon trying to quietly approach her from behind. In his hand, he had the white oak stake they were looking for. Immediately he ran toward her.

 

"Watch out!"

 

Just as he managed to push Astrid out of the way, Damon pounced. The stake that was supposed to end in her heart, ended in Klaus' stomach. It hurt but it wasn't going to kill him. Astrid stopped her chanting and turned toward the two struggling men.

 

"Nik!"
"I'll be fine."

 

He yelled back at her while struggling with Damon over the control over the stake that was in both of their hands. Astrid was so focused on watching them that she didn't notice when Katherine stud up from the floor. She had a wooden dagger ready in her hands to stab Astrid. Just about as she was about to attack Astrid, Stefan appeared and pushed Damon off Klaus. Stefan them held his brother down as Klaus stud up from the floor and grabbed the stake. Realising that she missed her chance Katherine ran away, away from the two most dangerous vampires in the world. Seeing as her husband now had the stake in his possession, Astrid yelled.

 

"Hurry up before he wakes up!"

 

Klaus gripped the stake and ran toward Mikael, who regained his consciousness by now and stabbed the stake right into his heart. Mikael's body instantly set of fire and he burned out until only ashed of the wood and his body remained at the front porch.

 

"What the hell did you do?!"

 

Damon yelled, still pinned to the floor.

 

"He's earned his freedom. Thank you, my friend. You no longer have to do as I say. You're free."

 

With that Klaus' compulsion over Stefan was broken and he was free. Immediately Stefan took the opportunity and disappeared, his brother following him not a moment later. Dead silence spread across the front yard as the flames slowly died out. The couple just stared at each other, not believing that they were finally free. Free from Mikael, free to reunite their family and to be honest to the world about their love. Then, they started laughing. Klaus grabbed Astrid by her waist and spun her around, her laughter even louder.

 

"Put me down Nik! Put me down!"
"You want down?"

 

He asked while laughing. He dropped her down and immediately caught her again as she screamed in fright for a second. He then placed her down to earth, his arms still around her waist. Now her arms were around his neck as well. The smiles never leaving their faces.

 

"That wasn't nice Nik."
"When was I ever nice love?"
"You had your moments."
"I guess I do."

 

They laughed before departing back into the house. The party was slowly starting to end, the guests departing. The couple went upstairs to change their clothes into something more mobile. Once they were done, they departed from the house. Klaus drove the truck to a remote parking lot, where they last left off the truck with the coffins. The couple was walking across the parking lot, almost reaching the moving truck, when Klaus received a phone call. Just minutes before that, Astrid left another voice message for Rebekah. Without a single word between them, Klaus put the phone on the speaker again.

 

"Stefan! Miss our company already?"
"I'm just calling to thank you for my freedom."
"Oh, I like to believe I'm a man of my word, more or less."
"Thing is, it came at too high of a price. You took everything from me, Klaus."
"Let bygones be bygones, trust me. Resentment get's old."

 

By now they've already reached the truck and were about to open it.

 

"You know what never get's old? Revenge."

 

That lights up worry inside Astrid. She didn't like the direction the conversation was going, but she kept her mouth shut. Now, she felt as she had a genuine reason to worry about. Blood drained from her face as she opened the truck to find it completely empty. All the coffins were missing.

 

"Nik!" She exclaimed.

 

Since they were on the speaker Stefan heard what she said.

 

"What's the matter, Klaus? Missing something?"
"What are you doing?"
"Just enjoying my freedom."
"I will kill you and everyone you've ever met!"
"You do that, and you will never see your family again. I wonder Klaus, as someone who has been one step ahead for a thousand years...are you prepared for this?"
"You-?!"
"Oh, and one more thing Klaus."
"What is it?!"
"Say hi to your wife for me."

Chapter Text

Three days have passed since Stefan took the coffins. The tension was high in the house the couple lived in. It was a temporary solution until they regained back what was rightfully theirs. Klaus was sitting at the sofa with the newspapers in his hands when Astrid came down the stairs, all dressed up in sports clothes for running. Her hair was in a high ponytail and earphones were hanging off her neck. He looked up from the papers and at her.

 

"Where are you going?"
"Out. I need some air. I might check on our Doppelganger as well."
"Alright then."
"Order something. I'm in no mood to cook."

 

Astrid said before placing a kiss on his lips and leaving the house. She ran for a while across the town, memorising all the important places of the town. In one of the side streets, she noticed that the Doppelganger was running. She kept her distance but still continued to tail the girl. After a while, her presence was noticed and Elena started to run faster, hoping to lose her. Of course, Astrid wasn't going to let her go that easily, so she ran faster. As Elena made a sharp turn, Astrid instead used a shortcut and jumped over a fence and went across a yard, effectively getting ahead of her. All the while Elena wasn't aware who is exactly following her. When she stopped to catch her breath and look behind her, expecting to see her pursuer, the hybrid witch saw her chance and sneaked behind her. Elena's heart skipped a beat when she turned because Astrid was right there, not even two feet away from her.

 

"What a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect to run into you while running."
"Astrid."
"That's my name sweetheart, don't waste it."
"What do you want?"
"Me? Nothing. It's what my husband needs that we should discuss."
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"You don't? Fine. But let me impart you with some words of wisdom. You see, over time I developed ways of dealing with waiting. My husband, on the other hand, didn't. He gets impatient very easily, and for your sake, I hope you can fix that very soon. Because when he gets like that, bodies start to drop like flies. And God knows who might get hurt."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Oh no sweetheart, I'm just giving you some guidance. Now, unfortunately, I have to go. Have a nice day."

 

Astrid says before walking past Elena and running off. She ran a ta steady pace until she reached the house. There she opened the door and headed straight to the upper floor, toward the bathroom to catch a quick shower before lunch. When she came down, dressed in fresh clothes, she found Klaus pouring blood from a blood bag into two glasses. He passed one of them across the counter to her and she accepted it, taking a sip from it.

 

"I thought you were going to order lunch."
"I did."
"I mean something like Mexican or Italian, but this works too."
"I made a call to one of the blood banks nearby. Had a hybrid pick it up."
"Thank you, Nik."

 

She said before finishing the rest of her glass. He smiled at her and once both of the glasses were put away, went to put on his leather jacket and grabbed the keys. She noticed that he was headed toward the door and grabbed her purse, following soon after him.

 

"Where are we headed?"
"I thought you might be in a mood for a drink to the pub. Who knows who we might run into."
"What a fine idea."

 

The couple drove their car to the Mystic Grill, the city's only real bar and restaurant. Since it was already past noon, most of the younger population was gathered there, including Elena and Damon. The couple spotted them almost as soon as they entered and it seemed as if they were flirting. Quietly they approached them, careful not to be noticed.

 

"Ah, ah- I'm not saying you have any attractive looks. I'm saying this is my least favourite one..."
"Noted. See if I can make any improvements."
"Don't mind me."

 

Klaus says out of the blue, effectively scarring both of them. The vampire and the Doppelganger turned around, surprise clear on both of their faces as they noticed just how close the hybrid couple was. Klaus chose a close spot to them and seated himself and his wife on a nearby high table. Elena was so surprised to see then, altho she already saw Astrid, that she uttered only one word before Damon took over as a spokesperson for both of them.

 

"Klaus."
"You gonna do this in the Grill? In front of everyone? It's a little beneath you, don't you think?"
"I don't know what you are talking about. I just came down to my local pub to grab a drink with my beloved wife."

 

He then motioned at Astrid, who was still sitting quietly and smiling with a charming smile on her face.

 

"I'm surprised you stuck around town long enough for happy hour."
"Our sister seems to be missing. Need to sort that out."
"Cute blonde bombshell, psycho. Shouldn't be too hard to find."
"Truth is I've grown to rather like your little town. Think me and my wife might fancy a home here. Oh, I imagine you're wondering how does this is affecting you. The answer is: not in the slightest. As long as I get what I want and everyone behaves themselves you can go on living your little lives however you choose."
"So I've been told."

 

Came from Elena. Now all eyes were on her.

 

"So glad you are willing to take my words to heart Elena. It would be a crying shame if you don't."

 

Replied Astrid. Her head was placed on her palm as she observed them. Chills went through their spines under her chilling and calculating gaze. Damon still manages to gather enough courage while under her cold gaze to ask a question.

 

"What the hell is she talking about Elena?!"
"Oh. Your precious girl didn't tell you? We accidentally met while running and I gave her a few words of wisdom for her and all of her friends."
"And why would you be even talking to her?"
"I wasn't aware that talking to another person is illegal. Also, who are you to tell me what I can do and cannot do? Know your place child."

 

Astrid said as her tone took a sharp turn to the dangerous area. It was clear that Damon was about to cross a deadly line. He heard it clearly in her voice and backed down. Klaus just enjoyed watching his wife teach the younger vampire his place. The conversation continued from the point before Damon challenged Astrid.

 

"So what is it that you want from us?"
"Well for starters, you can tell us where we might find Stefan."
"Stefan skipped town the second he was freed from your control."
"Well, you see that is a shame. Your brother stole from us. I need him found so I can take back what's mine."
"That sounds like a Klaus and Stefan problem. Why don't you use your wife to track Stefan down?"

 

The last sentence was spoken by Elena, who was mostly quiet so far in the conversation. Neither Astrid nor Klaus liked what she said and he went to approach. Realising what she just said, Elena hid behind Damon who shielded her with his body.

 

"Well, this is us now expanding our reach."
"And please, for your sake and ours, don't waste any more of our precious time here. Get us Stefan and your city will be safe. Ta-ta."

 

Astrid said before finishing her drink and leaving the bar with Klaus. They exited the doors of the bar and just as they stepped outside on the sunshine, saw a familiar boy approach. It was Jeremy, Elena's younger brother. He started hanging around with Tyler these past few days and he actually spoke to Astrid a few times. She liked the boy, he seemed nice. Had a major case of curiosity that could get him killed but she answered all of his questions whenever they stumbled on each other. So she hated what she was going to do next. Astrid turned to Klaus and kissed him on the cheek.

 

"I'll be back in five minutes. Don't wait up."
"Fine. I'll be in the car."

 

She nodded her head and went to meet Jeremy halfway. When he saw her approaching he smiled at her, he honestly liked her as a person and he didn't understand why Elena or Damon hate her so much. That unexpecting smile made Astrid feel even more guilty.

 

"Hello, Jeremy."
"Oh hey. Have you seen Tyler? We were supposed to meet in the woods again."
"Target practice, again? You'll hurt yourself with that crossbow, Jeremy."
"I'll be careful."
"To answer your previous question. Tyler is currently doing a small errand for me. I'll tell him to meet up with you once he's finished."
"Thanks, Astrid. I'll see you around."
"Jeremy wait!"

 

He stopped walking away and turned back to face her again. Astrid bit her lip before looking him directly into the eyes. The compulsion got ahold of him the moment he locked eyes with her.

 

"I need you to do something for me. When Klaus gives you a call, and it will be soon, I need you to exit your house and stand in the middle of the road. A car will start to approach you. Once the car gets close enough...I need you to jump to the side. You will not let the car hit you, you must live. Do you understand what I'm asking from you, Jeremy?"
"I understand."
"I'm so sorry Jeremy but Klaus says this is the only way they will listen."

 

She walked away, furiously trying to suppress the tears that almost made their appearance. Once she entered the car Klaus turned his head to her side from the driver's seat and looked at her. He smelled the salt in the air but didn't ask anything about it.

 

"Did you do it?"
"I did. Are you happy? I just sentenced a young boy, an innocent human, to death just so you can make your point."

 

She lied. Klaus' instructions were to make sure that the boy gets hit, not that he jumps out of the way in the last moment. That part was added by Astrid, without his permission. She just couldn't sacrifice that boy like that. The fear of almost losing him would be a good enough motivation for Elena.

 

"I wouldn't have made you do this love if it wasn't necessary."
"Necessary?! He's just a boy Nik!"
"Love..."
"You know what, I don't care. Just drive."

 

Klaus didn't say anything after that, just started the car and drove off. They drove around for a while, not wanting to return to the house and since their new home wasn't done yet, still in the early stages of renovation, they didn't have anywhere else to go. After an hour of uncomfortable silence, they pulled up to the Salvatore house. Klaus exited the car and started to approach the front door but stopped once he realised that Astrid wasn't following him. He turned around and saw her looking at him, still sitting in the car, a sullen expression on her face. Their eyes met and she held eye contact with him before letting out sight and exiting the car. She walked up to him and continued to stare at the door. Klaus reached out and clasped her hand before letting go and entering the house first, he understood that she needed some time alone to gather her emotions in check. He quietly opened the door, not needing an invitation to enter inside and immediately went to the living room. He finds Damon fixing himself a drink at the bar and without a sound, comes closer. His presence was recognised once Damon turned around with his drink in hand.

 

"I think it's about time we had a drink, don't you?"
"I'd say we're overdue. Where's your Mrs. you always bring around? I thought you two were a set."
"Oh, we were. She's just fixing her make-up. Altho I see that as unnecessary. She's gorgeous without it."
"Charming."

 

Damon says with a grimace on his face as he takes another gulp of his drink.

 

"So why are you really here?"
"Well as I previously mentioned, I'm here for a drink."
"Just you? Not her as well?"
"I'm not in the mood for your cheap stuff."

 

Astrid says as she strides into the living room. Damon gives her a long look and fixes another drink for Klaus. Once both drinks were in their owners' hands, they toast and take a drink.

 

"You know, we've actually got a lot in common, you and I."
"Really? Well, yeah. Maybe we can bond over our mutual loathing of my brother. Why are you so mad at him? Did he steal something? "
"Our family, the Originals. I had them daggered, boxed-up awaiting the day when I saw fit to wake them. And he went in and pinched the bloody lot."
"Of course he did. Such a buzzkill, my baby bro. Well, I'd love to find him. Just the trouble is, I sure as hell don't work for you."
"I'm afraid Mister Salvatore, that very soon you won't have a choice."

 

Damon looked at Astrid, who was seated on the nearby sofa and was gazing at the fireplace. He wasn't sure what to take her words for since her behaviour was much more different than in the Mystic Grill. He kept his attention on her and Klaus didn't like that. So he pulled out his phone and dialled a number. Once again, the younger vampire's attention was back on him. The moment the sound of phone call getting answered, Astrid flinched. That movement went unnoticed by the two men.

 

"There you are! So, that thing you were told to do...why don't you go ahead and get on with it?.... Also, Astrid sends her regards as well."

 

He hanged up after that, placing the phone back into his jacket. A suspicious look was coming off Damon, as he wasn't yet aware of what that one call might do to make them cooperate. Klaus just gives him a smile, walks over to where Astrid is sitting and helps her get up.

 

"I'm afraid mate that our drink is going to be postponed. We are on a tight schedule."

 

He says before leaving the large house and driving off. They drove for half an hour before stopping in front of a run-down residence. It was a large mansion and it clearly saw better days. Noises of construction could be heard as they approached the mansion. Hybrids were already busy with constructions and paid them no mind. Astrid slowed down as Klaus started to issue directions and orders to hybrids regarding the construction. She watched him while leaning to a dusty table, as he pointed to the nearby wall.

 

"Make the men open up this wall. We need sun. I want a fortress, not a dungeon. Also..."

 

Before he could finish the rest of the sentence, Tyler appeared in the hallway. He looked mad. Astrid perked up once she saw him get closer.

 

"You said you were going to send them a warning."
"I did mate."
"Tyler, a word please."

 

Astrid suddenly said before walking forward and dragging Tyler away from Klaus. The teen wanted to object but the look on her face told him it was better to comply. Once they were far enough not to be overheard by Klaus but still in his eyesight, Tyler freed himself from her grip.

 

"So what is it that you want from me? Have another person to kill?"
"Lose the attitude Tyler. I personally made sure that Jeremy is safe from Nik."
"He almost got ran over by a car one of the hybrids was driving."
"Keyword is almost. When I compelled him I made sure that he is not in danger. He was supposed to jump to the side at the last moment. Did he?"
"I'm not sure. Alaric pushed him out of the way before he made any move."
"The local vampire hunter slash history teacher?"
"Yeah. He got hit by the car instead."
"Is he alive?"
"I think so. Before I left I saw Elena check his hand where he usually wears his ring. Altho I could smell a lot of blood."
"The infamous Gilbert ring. Able to revive the owner is they are killed by a supernatural being. How I would love to get my hands on one of those."

 

Astrid said with an almost manic look in her eyes. A ring that could revive a person, now that piquet her interest. The magic that was used to create one of those was not familiar to her, perhaps it was in one of the Benett books that belonged to Emily. She was snapped out from her daze by Klaus' hand on her shoulder. He got bored with ordering the hybrids around and went to check what they were talking about. Once she gathered her thoughts back, Astrid gave a smile to Klaus and faced Tyler again.

 

"I think we talked about this enough. Thank you for telling me this Tyler. You are free to go."

 

The young teen turned around and started to leave the dusty building. Just as he was about to leave the hall, Astrid called out to him.

 

"Oh and one more thing Tyler. Please do keep your emotions in check. We wouldn't want you to do something stupid just because you're feeling a tad bit of guilt."

 

He turned around to face the couple but once he looked up, they were gone. As if never being there in the first place, phantoms of the old building.

 

Later that day, long since the sun sat down, Klaus received a phone call from Elena asking to meet at the Salvatore house. They left immediately, not wanting to waste any time. Once again Klaus drove the car. The car ride was pleasant, Astrid's foul mood gone from before so things were back to normal for the couple. The door of the Salvatore house was unlocked and they strode in as if owning the place. There, they found Elena, all alone waiting for them in the living room. She rose up once she saw the two Originals in the house.

 

"Klaus. Astrid."
"Hello, sweetheart. You rang?"
"I did."
"Well, what is it? Unlike my wife, I have no patience when it comes to idle chatting? Do you have news regarding Stefan?"
"I couldn't find him. But I have something else to offer instead."
"Go on. Whatever you have to offer must be quite valuable if you're offering it instead of Stefan."

 

Astrid said as she approached Elena. The human took a step back as the immortal witch came closer to her. No matter how much she got used to her presence in the town, Astrid still terrified her, sometimes even more than Klaus. By what she heard from Stefan, it was her that could control even Klaus if she wanted to and did not lack any sadistic tendencies that her husband had.

 

"It's not here. It's in the cellar."

 

The girl said before quickly moving away from Astrid and heading toward the stairs that lead to the cellar. She leads them through the cellar before stopping at one of the locked iron doors. With a heavy push, she managed to move the door and opened it so that the vampires could also see what was inside. There, on the dirty floor, laid Rebekah's daggered body. She was dressed in a short red dress.

 

"Our poor sister. I can't turn my back on her for a moment. It seems you were right after all love, she was indeed daggered."
"I am hardly wrong Nik. So what do you want in exchange for Rebekah? I doubt that you are returning her to us out of the goodwill."
"You can have Rebekah. I want my brother Jeremy. A deal is a deal."
"The life of our sister in exchange for your brother? Yeah, I'd say that's a bargain. Consider him spared."
"Just a fair warning sweetheart. When you make a deal with us, be sure that you read the fine print. Your brother is now sparred but honestly, it was a huge waste you just made. He was safe from our actions even before this deal."
"What...So that means-?"
"You wasted your life card on someone who didn't need it in the first place. Well done sweetheart."

 

Astrid said in a tone that almost sounded patronising. A wide smile on her face. Klaus had a similar expression on his face.

 

"We'll take our sister back now. Now all that is left is dealing with Stefan."
"I told you I don't know where he is."
"Well, that's not our problem. Fortunately, you have no shortage of loved ones. If I don't find my family the question you should be asking yourself is who's gonna die next! Bonnie? Caroline? Damon? It's only a matter of time before Stefan gives me what I want."
"And believe us, we will get what we want."

 

Astrid said before opening the door even more and leaving. Klaus was right next to her, with Rebekah still body in his arms. The couple exited the house and entered the car. Rebekah was placed at the backseats of the cars, laid down so that she fits. The drive back to the renovating house was a quiet one, in the air was the sense of accomplishment. All the lights were turned off, with all the hybrids camping in the woods around it. One of Astrid's conditions for using hybrids as the workforce was that they will only work during the day. The night was up to them to spend as they wished. Klaus entered inside and placed her on a worktable which Astrid previously cleaned from all the work plans that were there. Once his hands were free, he backed away a few steps and just looked at Rebekah. Astrid joined him, wrapping her arms around his waist and placed her head on his shoulder. He hugged her back and placed a kiss on her forehead.

 

"We'll get them back I promise love. We will have our family back, that I swear to you."

Chapter Text

Five days have passed since Astrid had to compel Jeremy and there was still guilt eating at her consciousness. She made herself busy from those thoughts by combining all the female hybrids at her disposal into a singular home decoration squad. Together they sat at a large dining table and discussed what colour scheme to use on which room and matching furniture. Her decisions were final and when she finally ran out of rooms to decorate and the mansion was finally done, Astrid let her thoughts linger on her actions from the previous day. She regretted it, she regretted putting Jeremy in harms way just so that they can make a point. Why can't that foolish girl and her vampire boyfriends squad just do as they are told? Astrid was never the one for spilling innocent blood, especially not teenagers of this town. Unfortunately, Klaus had no issue with spilling blood if it meant that he gets what he wants. That was another thing on her mind, how to convince her husband to stop with unnecessary bloodshed. With a sight, Astrid searched the mansion looking for him, before finally finding him standing over Rebekah's coffin. The polished wood shone on the sunlight that entered from the windows. Klaus heard her approach and left the vicinity of the coffin to place a kiss on her forehead. It was left unsaid, but he could tell that something was bothering her yet again.

 

"Everything will be fine love. We'll have our family back soon."
"How soon? I'm tired of waiting."
"Soon enough. Monica, be a dear and take Rebekah to her room."

 

He addressed the hybrid and she nodded her head before pushing away the coffin. That left Astrid and Klaus all alone in the room. Since they were finally alone, there was no need to keep a strong front in front of the hybrids. Now, she could show her beloved and he to her, what was truly on their mind. Klaus immediately picked up on her bad mood, so he held her in a tight embrace before letting her go and looking into her eyes. He lifted her chin and looked into her grey eyes, they seemed so troubled these days.

 

"What's the matter, love?"
"Something is coming Nik. Something big will happen and it will change everything."
"How can you be so certain?"
"I've been having these witch dreams as you often put it. Just like in the past. I can't see anything clearly, there's just a feeling of something approaching."
"Anything happening soon?"

 

She nodded her head, denying it. A look of confusion and worry marring her features.

 

"We will have visitors soon. That much is clear."
"Well then, we better get our home ready before that. It would be rude to have guests stay in this ruin of a building."
"Too late."

 

Astrid said as she gestured with her head behind Klaus. There, behind the couple, leaning against the doorframe, was Stefan. His moody self was unwelcomed there and Astrid made sure that he could clearly see it just from her posture. Klaus on the other hand, took up a more neutral body position, not letting anything slip to Stefan.

 

"I'm surprised you're still in town. I gave you your freedom, you could have gone anywhere."
"I live here, Klaus."
"Well, if we're playing this game, then...we were here first. Viking settlements and all."
"You know, I don't like your hybrid friends. They're everywhere, kind of like fleas. I want them gone and I want you gone as well."
"Well, that's a real shame because we are not leaving. This is our home. We fought for years to finally have it and no brat like you will take it away from us."
"We're not leaving this place. And just for the sake of the whole situation, why don't you stop drinking all that vervain. You absolutely reek of it and it probably isn't pleasant."
"Why should I? You'll just take my free will again."
"Okay, granted, yeah, that was a little extreme, but I get a little moody. Just ask my wife or even better, my siblings. Speaking of whom, isn't it time you handed them over?"
"Klaus, get your hybrids out of Mystic Falls or I will remove them myself."
"Are my ears deceiving me or are you that stupid to actually dare to threaten us? I always pegged you for the smarter type Stefan. Seems I was wrong."
"I am dead serious."
"So what if you are? If you continue to threaten me or my wife, I'm gonna be forced to retaliate. Kill people. And it will get messy again. Just keep in mind that Astrid gets much worse than me after she has to clean up after my messes."
"Do whatever you want, I don't really care. Or you know what? Maybe I do. Maybe I care so much, that I'll drop Elijah in the Arctic."

 

Stefan replied in a serious voice. It was clear by his body language alone that he honestly didn't care what happened to the humans of the city. But Astrid did. No matter how cold her face was, she always was partially reluctant to actually cause harm to innocent humans. Klaus called it her human self, back when things were much simpler. So over time, she developed quite a poker face, good enough to fool anyone and yet kept her human compassion buried deep inside. But when Stefan casually mentioned that he might drop Elijah in the Arctic, all the sympathy she had evaporated. She was mad as hell, but she didn't openly show it. For if it was visible, then that meant that she was weak enough to let her enemies see that they actually hit their mark with their words. And she was having none of it. Astrid made a move toward Stefan but was stopped by Klaus. She looked at him in silent, demanding why he was not letting her teach the kid a lesson. Klaus just gave her a long stare, while a calm expression was still on his face and pushed her gently back to where she was before. The immortal witch took the cue that he was in charge and backed off. That actually surprised Stefan, he expected Astrid like that, count on it in fact, so when she backed away so easily worried him.

 

"Well, maybe I'll be willing to lose one brother if it meant killing yours."
"Try it, I dare you. Actually, when I think of it, I'm pretty sure you won't do it."
"And how can you be so sure about that mate?"
"Because your wife is holding you on such a tight leash that you won't dare make a move without asking first for her permission."

 

Stefan replied boldly. Everyone in the room was silent, the only sound that could be heard was the sound of hybrids lingering in the nearby rooms. Astrid couldn't believe what she just heard. That kid must have a death wish if he's speaking to Klaus like that. She looked between Klaus and Stefan. One had a cold expression on his face, while Klaus out of al people had a smile on his face as if he just heard a joke. Then, in a blink of an eye, Stefan found himself slammed to the wall, with Klaus' hand tightly gripping his heart. The Original Hybrid leaned closer to whisper into his ear.

 

"Next time you decide to open your mouth like that, I'll give you a choice. I will rip out your tongue or your heart. You can have your pick."

 

After delivering his warning, Klaus pulled out his hand and walked back to where Astrid was waiting for him with a rag in her hand. By the time he cleaned off his arm of blood, Stefan vanished, leaving the couple once more alone. Astrid was still internally fuming at Stefan's audacity and started to pace around. Her husband just observed her and said nothing, he just pulled out a blood bag and started drinking it. Once the smell of blood processed in her brain, she stopped pacing while her foot was still in the air. She turned her head toward him and faced him.

 

"If you have something to say, say it, love. I cannot read your mind."

 

Klaus commented before taking another sip from the bag. Astrid's eyes narrowed as she openly showed just how displeased she was with what just happened.

 

"How could you let him get away with what he said? You let him leave with his heart still beating. If it was me, I would have ripped his tiny, little heart to shreds."
"And that's the problem. You don't think a lot these days. You just act. You have a tendency to follow your emotions instead of your brain sometimes. That is not the smartest thing to do right now."
"So you say that I should better keep my mouth shut and obey your orders?!"
"Gods no love. What I'm trying to tell you is that you can get easily provoked into doing something rash just by letting someone provoke you. What Stefan did just now was to try to provoke us into making a rash move. That could have ended in us making a mistake he would have loved to utilise against us."
"Fine."

 

Astrid said as she crossed her arms over her chest and looked away. Klaus knew, even when he couldn't see her face anymore that she was pouting. To him, it was one of the things that reminded him why he loved her so much. Seeing as she wasn't going to say anything else, he placed down the empty blood bag and approached her. With two of his fingers, he lifted her chin and made her look into his eyes.

 

"No matter what happens love, I will never make you obey me. You are my wife, you belong by my side, not behind me like a shadow. Remember that."

 

He said before kissing her on the lips, his fingers still holding her chin. Astrid relaxed under the kiss. She missed being so close to her husband. All that has been happening around then didn't let them have some personal time alone. She missed just sitting with him, not thinking about who to kill next or when will she see her family again. Once Klaus' fingers stopped touching her skin she opened her eyes and smiled back at him. Her gentle smile was returned with a smirk. Astrid almost rolled her eyes at that. Figures Klaus would give her his famous dimple smirk, he knew just how much she loved it.

 

"Am I interrupting something?"

 

Came suddenly from the doorway. The sudden intrusion broke their trance and they quickly made a bit of a distance between them. Klaus regained his vague, calculating face as he faced Tyler. Astrid still kept a smile on her face as she approached the young hybrid.

 

"Oh no, no, no. Welcome Tyler, I'm so glad you could come."
"Thanks. So why did you call me here?"
"Well mate, you see, we have an issue to deal with. What happened is Stefan had two paths in front of him and he chose the one that made me angry. I need you to help me do something about that."
"What do you need?"
"Can't you just leave me out of it?"
"What would be the point in that?"
"Seriously man, can't you just get one of your other hybrids to do your bidding? I lost my friends, my girlfriend."
"The boy has a point Nik. Let him be. We affected his life enough as it is."
"You haven't even heard my idea, love."
"I don't care. It's better if we do not involve any more innocent people into this fight."
"Astrid, we already had this conversation."
"We did. We will not hurt Caroline or anyone else, it's bad enough that we put Jeremy in danger."
"It was necessary and it still is. We need to show them that they should fear us."
"Then target the vampire brothers or maybe that vampire hunter you possessed. I cannot rest while my guilt is screaming at me for harming a defenceless person."
"She's a vampire!"
"A baby one. She didn't even have a choice on that matter, Katherine killed her."
"What the hell are you talking about?! Who is 'she'?"

 

Tyler broke the argument between the couple. Both of them turned to face him, expressions of frustration on both of their faces. Astrid gave a meaningful look to Klaus before storming off toward the front door, dragging Tyler with her. Once they exited the house and Astrid closed the door behind them, she turned to explain.

 

"Can you answer my question, Astrid? Who the hell is 'she'?"
"That's Caroline. Nik has plans for her."
"He wants to hurt her?!"
"His original plan was to have you bite her."
"But hybrids bite can kill a vampire."
"I know, that's why I'm opposed to that. Caroline has done nothing to us, she's innocent. Listen Tyler, I need you to warn them. They need to give us back the coffins. Nik won't stop hurting people until he has what he needs, what we need. And I know you care for Caroline, you even drugged her with vervain back at the party just to keep her safe."
"You know about that?"
"I do. One of my hybrids heard you and I found the empty needle with traces of vervain inside. I understand that you care for your friends but please Tyler, make them see reason. Before someone gets really hurt."
"I will. You can count on me, Astrid."
"Thank you, Tyler, enjoy the rest of your day."

 

She said with a kind smile before dismissing Tyler. The teen got into his car and drove off and Astrid remained at the porch until he completely drove off. Once she was all alone, Astrid took a couple of deep breaths and tried to organise her thoughts. Once she felt that she was calm enough, she went back inside. When Astrid returned to the room where she thought Klaus was, she was surprised to see that he was gone. Instead, she found on a nearby table an apology note laying next to a blooming rose and a cupcake. Where he got the cupcake in such a short time, she didn't know but she couldn't contain her smile at his obvious gesture of apology. Inside the note, he wrote that he was sorry for making her upset, altho he didn't say it directly and she had to read between lines, but it was honest. At the end of the note, he mentioned that there was a fundraiser party at the Lockwood Mansion and that they were invited. That last part made Astrid check her phone. Realising that she has only a few hours to get ready, she slips the phone back to her trousers and sets off to get ready for the event. When Klaus knocked on her door, telling her that its time to head out, she comes out. To him, she looked beautiful as always when she dressed up for events. The black A-line dress fitted her perfectly with a simple pearl drop necklace to finish the outfit.

 

By the time the couple arrived at the Lockwood mansion the people already arrived. Soon after stepping inside they were greeted by the hostess, Carol Lockwood. Alongside her was another young woman. Both women greeted the Originals.

 

"Klaus, Astrid. I'm so glad you could come."
"It was our pleasure. My wife and I love to help with such projects."
"That's very nice of you. How much are you willing to donate for the restoration project?"
"I was thinking we could match your current amount."
"Wow! That-that is quite a lot. Are you sure you can match that amount?"
"Of course we can. Nik and I are from old families. It's good that it is used for something nice."
"That's wonderful. Have you met Doctor Fell?"

 

The hostess gestured at the young woman at her side. The woman smiled back at them. Nik went to kiss her palm.

 

"We haven't. A pleasure Doctor Fell."
"Likewise."
"You are a Fell? From one of the founding families?"
"Astrid love, if you're going to discuss history, do you mind if Carol and I go grab a drink? You know how I do not like to constantly talk about history."
"Sure Nik, I'll see you soon."

 

Astrid said before Klaus and Carol left their vicinity. Now only the two women remained near the table on which was placed a model of the new bridge.

 

"So Doctor Fell..."
"Please, call me Meredith."
"Only if you call me Astrid then."
"Alright then, Astrid. I have a question for you now. What are two vampires such as you and your husband doing at this party?"

 

Astrid didn't seem fazed at the open accusation of being vampires. She turned to her side and observed the model. She ran her finger over the bridge before turning to face the woman again.

 

"My husband and I are here to donate to this project. We mean no harm to anyone in this city, you have my word, Meredith. After so many centuries of living, there is little that I can actually do that I haven't done before. Projects like this are always nice because I can help with something."
"I see."

 

Meredith said but it was clear that she didn't trust her completely. Astrid just gave her another charming smile before walking away to find Nik and Carol. She finds them near the buffet table, a drink in both of their hands. Carol smiles at her as a greeting while Klaus kisses her cheek.

 

"Have you sated your curiosity for history love?"
"I did Nik, don't worry. I'm not like Elijah, too stuck in the past. By the way, this is a splendid party, Carol."
"Thank you. But this wasn't just me, many of the council members helped as well."
"Nevertheless, bravo. It is really pleasant here. I just hope that the council is not bothered by our presence here, us being hybrids and everything."
"Oh no, no. Tyler explained everything to me. I understand. The council won't bother you, trust me."
"Thank you. I do have a few questions about this restoration project since my husband and I are funding it."
"Of course, what do you want to know?"
"Why are you restoring this bridge? Why not something else?"
"This bridge has quite a history, unfortunately, most of it isn't nice. The most recent tragedy was when Grayson and Miranda Gilbert drove off the bridge with their daughter with them. Elena survived but her parents drowned."
"Tha's so tragic, isn't it Nik?"
"Quite. It's always sad when someone loses their parent."
"I'm glad you understand. That is why I am so adamant about restoring that bridge, to prevent any more unfortunate death."
"I understand that this is a sad subject, but I would rather prefer if we could move off the topic of early deaths, it's making me a bit uncomfortable."
"I'm sorry Astrid, I didn't want to be rude."
"It's alright, is there anything else that is interesting about its history?"
"Well, it's been here since 1912 and the original Wickery Bridge sign and the bridge are made from the same wood, some type of oak I think."
"Interesting. Tell me, Carol, what about the sign? Won't it be also restored?"
"I'm afraid we do not have enough fundings to pay for both the sign an the bridge."

 

Astrid suddenly got a gleam in her eyes and she turned her head to whisper something into Klaus' ear. He patiently waited to hear what she had to say and after she finished, he smiled at her and nodded his head.

 

"Of course love. Do as you wish."
"Is something the matter?"
"Nothing bad I promise. My wife has just come up with an idea that she could fund the restoration of the bridge sign. After all, my money is going to the bridge itself."

 

Carol looked as if Christmas just arrived early. She couldn't stop smiling at Astrid.

 

"That is wonderful news, Astrid. I cannot say how grateful this city will be."
"Anything to please the Mayor."

 

Astrid joked. The trio laughed and chatted a bit more until they were approached by a pissed off Damon. She decided to keep quiet for this one, letting Klaus do all the talking.

 

"Look at what the cat dragged in. Nice vest."
"Thank you very much, good to see you, Damon. And you arrived just in time. We were discussing whether you would be the other big benefactor alongside us."
"What do you say, Damon? Klaus and Astrid have made a very generous pledge. You know how we're chomping at the bit to begin the renovation."
"Carol, don't take this the wrong way, but do you realize that you've been kissing the ass of an immortal hybrid who ruined your son's life?"
"Oh, come now. Some would say that I saved it from all that nasty full moon business. I've never had to go through it myself more than twice, to be honest, but still, I'm very sympathetic."
"Tyler likes Klaus and Astrid very much. I haven't heard a single bad thing about them since they arrived in this city. They are treating my son very well and I'm thankful for that. They even promised to protect out town Damon."
"From who? His hybrids are the one the town needs protection from."
"Well, they would be free to go if your brother would kindly return our family. My wife is missing them terribly, as I am."
"Not gonna happen." Damon hissed.
"That's what I thought, which is why we've come to an agreement with the Mayor. You and the Council stay out of our business, I stay out of yours. Your town gets protected, my hybrids get left alone and everybody will be happy. All you have to do is to get Stefan to stop decapitating my friends."
"Please Damon, just get your brother under control, or the Council will be forced to take action against him."
"You've gotta be kidding me!"
"We are not kidding one bit, Mr Salvatore. My husband and I enjoy living here and we want to call this place our home as well. So for the sake of peace, get your brother to kindly back off."

 

Astrid finished with a stern face. She was actually enjoying the evening, talking about history and socializing with the locals. Altho she had to admit, this wasn't that bad either. Seeing Klaus handle the situation so well and manipulate it to their advantage, caused shivers on her arms. The cherry on the top was when Carol herself made it clear to Damon that the Council will get involved against Stefan and him if they do not obey.

Chapter Text

The party was a success. The Mikaelson couple mingled among the crowd and managed to convince most of the city council that they indeed do not pose a threat and that the hybrids are under control, with no incidents at all. Actually, that might be a lie. It was soon after they had a conversation with Damon that they smelled blood. It was faint, not detectable by humans but as hybrids, they managed to detect it. With an excuse, they found themselves on the upper floor, near one of the vacant rooms. Once they moved the heavy rug, the stench of fresh hybrid blood hit them full force. It was obvious that someone dared to attack and kill one of their hybrids who was stationed there as a safety precaution. By Astrid's guess, she would say it was either Stefan or Damon. Both of which recently got themselves a grudge against them.

 

"Which one do you think it was?"
"Can't really say Nik. Damon is pissed at us but he knows that a wrong move will get him killed. And Stefan, well... he honestly has nothing to lose. Without his emotions, he is a loose cannon and we cannot rely on his brother to restrain him."

 

Seeing as there were no other clues, they placed the carpet back to its place and went down to say their goodbyes to Carol. The hostess was obviously disappointed that the biggest donors were leaving already, but after they explained the situation she promised to pass it onto the council, to let them know that the Salvator brothers were not that concerned about keeping humans of the town safe and that they were not willing to abide by the deal. So now the couple found themselves in one of the furnished living rooms, sitting by the crackling fireplace as they played chess. They played a slow game, which required patience in order to win the game. Due to their familiarity with each other, they were able to predict the opponent's moves, which only made the game even more exciting and at the same time slow. After all, in order to win a chess game, just like in real life, you had to have the patience to wait and enough wisdom to adapt. That is how the couple managed to survive all those centuries, with strong will and a gift for waiting. Astrid was just about to move her knight when two things happened. The large grandfather clock rang, announcing that it was midnight. The second sound was the sound of the large wooden doors slamming into the walls as Tyler ran in. Astrid placed down her piece and took a better look at the young hybrid. He was panting as if he ran quite a distance and there were fear and regret in his eyes. Klaus looked up from the chessboard as well.

 

"What is it Tyler, that made you come all the way here in such a hurry? And don't you know how to bloody knock?! That door was expensive."

 

He yelled, getting upset at being interrupted during the personal time. Astrid had more compassion for the teen. She leaned back in her chair and seeing as the teen truly had something important to say, she studs up but did not come any closer.

 

"What is the matter Tyler? Were you not supposed to be at a party?"
"I am...I mean, I was. But something happened and I-I..."
"It's alright. Whatever happened, we will take care of it. Take a deep breath, like this."

 

She patiently said as she showed him how to calm down enough in order to explain everything to them. He managed to slow his breath to a reasonable speed but he still couldn't stop pacing.

 

"We-We were sitting in one of the tombs. Caroline invited me to her birthday party and when I showed up, most of the group was already gone. I-I asked Caroline if-if we could speak alone, just the two of us. I-I kissed her and...."
"And what? We cannot help you if you do not tell us Tyler."
"I bit her ok! I bit Caroline and now she's dying! And it's my fault!"

 

The teen exploded at Astrid. She didn't take his anger and yelling at her as an offence, she understood that the quilt was eating at the boy and that he did not know how to express it. Once her brain completely processed what he yelled, they were both on their feet. Klaus followed his wife's example, mostly concerned about not making her more under stress that it was necessary, and there was a small part of his that he will never admit to anyone other than his wife, but he did care a little bit about what happens to the blonde baby vampire. From what he heard from Tyler, she reminded him of Rebekah back when they were mean children, innocent and unaware of the real world around them. They grabbed their jackets, the car keys and a small package, that was placed on the side. Just as they exited the mansion and approached the car, they stopped. Klaus' hand was still placed on the car handle but he didn't make a move to either open it or leave it. Tyler was right behind them, not letting the distance between them be too large. The reason why they stopped was that they heard movement that did not belong to their hybrids. They let half of the hybrids leave, let them enjoy their new life without the moon curse. So now it was a question who it could be. Astrid looked at the reflection in the car, not bothering to turn around. It was Klaus who spoke first, calling out whoever was hiding in the shadows.

 

"As you see, we are in a rather large hurry so what do you want Damon?"
"Stefan just grabbed Elena."

 

Both spouses turned around and leaned against the car, both taking a casual position as if they were debating weather. Still dressed in the same clothes from the fundraising party, they looked like two models posing for a photoshoot.

 

"Well, he's getting desperate."
"I'd say."

 

Commented Astrid. Damon did not look pleased with Elena's kidnapping being taken so lightly. He made it clear on his face and in his tone.

 

"He's gonna try and use her against you. Do what he says, get rid of your hybrids."
"Or what? Stefan would never dream of killing her."
"You sure about that? He just tried to behead someone in the middle of a Council party. He's operating on crazy right now."
"So it was him. It seems my love was right about that. Poor James...."
"Now is not to mourn for some stupid hybrid. Stefan is the priority. He's gone completely crazy!"
"Well, crazy or not, that kind of love never dies. He's bluffing."
"Maybe he is, maybe he isn't but if you don't want to believe him, believe me. I know my brother better than anyone, and right now, I don't have a clue how far he is willing to take this. So if he says blink, I suggest you blink."
"I'm afraid you haven't really understood what Nik just said. It is not in Stefan's nature to kill the ones he loves. Sure he might try to kill you, but he can never finish the action and truly end someone's life. Take that as proof that somewhere deep down, Stefan does truly care for you or someone else, such as Elena."
"Well thank you for the psychological insight into my brother's head but how the hell will that make him return Elena?!"
"That is your problem Mr Salvatore, not ours."

 

Astrid said before entering the car. Klaus at the same time entered the driver's seat and started the cat, Tyler already waiting in the backseat. The car drove off, leaving a fuming Damon all alone on the property, desperately trying to contact his brother and stop whatever foolish plan he had in his head. They barely made it half a mile off the property when Klaus' phone rang. The callers' ID identified the caller as Stefan, to which Astrid grabbed the phone and put it on speaker.

 

"Hello, Stefan. Have you already missed our company?"
"I have no reason to talk to you Astrid, get Klaus on the phone."
"Well, that just won't do. You were supposed to say 'Of course I missed your company, Astrid'. Why don't we start over?"
"I am in no mood for your silly games Astrid. Put Klaus on the phone or I will drive Elena right off the Wickery Bridge."

 

That immediately made all three of the immortals tense. Tyler wanted to yell at Stefan for daring to threaten Elena's life but he kept his mouth shut, hoping that Astrid and Klaus might do something. Klaus gripped the steering wheel hard, so hard that he made marks on his palms.

 

"Do I have your attention now Klaus?"
"What do you want Stefan?"
"I want what I said before. Your hybrids out of this town."
"Well, that's not gonna happen until we get our family back."
"Okay, well then I'm gonna drive your blood source off Wickery Bridge."
"I don't believe you, Stefan. You won't kill her."

 

A sound of heavy breathing could be heard over the speaker, indicating to the immortals that Elena was right next to Stefan in the vehicle. She sounded as she was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

 

"That son of a-"

 

Astrid went to say but was stopped once she saw the expression on Klaus' face. He was mad, as in mad with a capital M. Soon after she stopped talking, a could of Elena trashing around could be heard. It lasted less than a minute but it was followed by a sickening sound of her trying to vomit whatever was in her mouth.

 

"What's going on?"
"I just fed her my blood. No more hybrids if she's a vampire."
"You won't do it. You're bluffing."
"Really? Try me, because your coffins are next to go. Say goodbye to your family Klaus."

 

Over the phone, they could hear Elena. SHe was screaming and begging him.

 

"Stefan, slow down! Stefan! Stefan, stop it!"

 

Hearing her so scared made Astrid immediately willing to do as Stefan demands it. But she knew that this was Klaus' business, he was the one who had to relent to the demands. And he did. He was not willing to risk even the slightest chance that his family might be in danger.

 

"Fine, I'll send them away. You win."

 

But Elena still continued screaming as the car gained more and more speed, fastly approaching its destination, the Wickery Bridge. Klaus yelled once more at the phone.

 

"Stop the car, Stefan!"

 

Thankfully Stefan did as he was told and just before he ended the call, they were able to hear the sound of brakes slowing the car. It brought a sense of relief to Astrid, altho Klaus remained tense. Tyler knew better than to speak and just remained quiet in the back, slowly trying to process how Stefan, the guy he once went to school with, could endanger the 'love of his life'. Astrid placed her hand on Klaus' leg and gave him a slight squeeze, trying to wordlessly say to him that he can relax, that they made a right more and avoided a major catastrophe.

 

"It will be alright Nik. We can handle it without your hybrids. He made a fatal mistake here."
"And what is it?! He almost killed our Doppelganger and we couldn't do anything to stop him!"
"He forced you to get rid off all of your hybrids, but he never said anything about mine. We have Tyler here as well, he is a permanent resident of this town, he has nowhere else to go. You're going to help, right Tyler?"
"Of course I will. Elena's my friend. I will do anything I can to help."
"See. And by forcing your hand just now, he got himself a one-way ticket to hell. And it just so happens that I named one of the basement rooms 'Hell'."
"You know just the way to cheer me up, love."
"I aim to try."

 

She said with a grin before receiving a brief kiss from her husband. When the kiss finished, they focused back on the road. Klaus put extra pressure on the gas pedal, forcing the car to go faster than the permitted speed limit. They wasted enough time dealing with the troublesome Stefan, that they were not sure just how much time Caroline had left. Following Tyler's directions, they arrived at the Sheriff's house where once the car was turned off, Tyler ran off. The guilt was too much for him to face everyone else, not right now at least.

 

The couple exited the car and knocked on the door. The door was opened by Matt, the human who managed to contact Esther on the Other Side. It was clear by the expression on his face that he was not happy to see them at all.

 

"We mean no harm. Tyler came to us in panic, he begged us to help Caroline and here we are. Nik and I will not hurt anyone."
"You made him do this to her. He would have never done something like this."

 

Matt said as he turned a bit to say it to Klaus, accusation clear in his voice. He was not afraid to voice his opinion on the immortal hybrid. But still, Astrid continued to speak in a patient voice.

 

"We are here to help Matt. Nik's blood can cure her of the werewolf bite. Please ask the Sheriff to let us inside."

 

The Sheriff heard the last part and approached the door. She was still dressed in her uniform, the gun resting on her side, with the safety switch off. She tried to put up a strong front, but Astrid could still see a glimmer of hope in her eyes hoping that there might be a way for her daughter to survive. Astrid understood that feeling, the need to protect your child and do anything to keep them safe. She understood because she felt the same way a long time ago, back when Marcell was just a young boy. She missed that but quickly snapped out of those memories. Now was not the time to think about the past, it was time to help another mother save her child. Once the Sheriff came to the door, Matt left, probably in the direction of the living room or kitchen, in a small attempt to give them some form of privacy while at the same time being able to jump in to help. Astrid cleaned her throat before speaking.

 

"What do you want?"
"We mean no harm to you Sheriff Forbes, or to Matt or Caroline."
"Why should I believe you? You had Tyler bit my daughter."
"That was purely coincidental, I swear. Tyler is a young hybrid, he's still a teen. I have warned him to be careful, but we cannot expect perfect control from him, not at this stage. Please, let us help."
"Even if I do help you, I know how this thing works. You want something in return."
"Believe me when I say this Sheriff Forbes, as one mother to another, I do not want anything. I just want to help you save your daughter. I might have lost my child, but that does not mean that you cannot save yours."

 

The surprise on Sheriff's face was obvious, she did not expect that kind of an answer. She expected demand for support against Damon and Stefan, certainly not something like this. As a Sheriff, she had to learn how to properly read people. From what she gathered while observing both Originals, she saw that they truly meant to help them. Astrid's pain was obvious, while Klaus' was more controlled and hidden but still there. That is what finally convinced her to let them inside.

 

"Come on in."

 

She opened the door and let them inside. Before Matt could voice any protest, she leads the couple to her daughter's bedroom, where the poor girl was almost passed out due to pain.

 

"She's inside. The hallucinations stopped just before you arrived."
"If she's having hallucinations already, then that means the bite is progressing faster than the werewolf one. We need to do something now Nik."
"I know love. Sheriff Forbes, please give us a moment alone."
"Fine just please help her."

 

The tired mother said before moving out of the room, leaving only Astrid and Klaus with Caroline. As soon as her mother left her vicinity, Caroline opened her tired eyes and looked at the approaching couple. Klaus was the first person she noticed. Her voice was weak as she spoke.

 

"Are you going to kill me?"
"On your birthday? You really think that low of me?"

 

Klaus used a gentler voice than usual, not wanting to scare the girl even more and cause the venom to spread even faster. The slower her heart worked, the slower the venom will spread. Caroline replied without waisting a beat.

 

"Yes."

 

If this was any other situation, Astrid would have laughed at the girl's response. Still so fearless even on a brink of death. It reminded her of how Rebekah was before she turned bitter before she had her heart broken too many times. In slow steps the came closer to the girl, approaching her as if trying not to frighten a baby deer.

 

"Dear Caroline, we will not harm you. I already gave my word to your mother and if necessary I will give it to you as well. We came here to help, Tyler brought us here actually. The boy was scared to death when he came to us."
"He...."

 

Caroline tried to speak but suddenly stopped as another wave of pain hit her. She didn't speak after that. Astrid sensed the pain she was in, the closeness let her taste a small amount of it. She approached the laying girl and moved a blond bang of hair off her face, giving the girl some small comfort.

 

"It will all be alright. The pain will end soon, don't you worry."

 

She let her eyes wander from the girl's face down to her neck where the bite was covered by her shirt. With one of her fingers, she lifted the fabric, to finally see the deadly wound she received. Black veins spread all across her chest, most of her shoulder looked as if the skin was peeled off, with blood over the skin. The alarms sounded in her head, her old healer's training telling her that the girl did not have much time left.

 

"Nik get here and do something. She needs the blood now!"

 

Klaus remained composed as she took his wife's position on the bed, now him observing the wound. The girl winced when he removed the fabric.

 

"My sincere apologies. This was not meant to happen. I never ordered Tyler to bite you. Happy birthday by the way. I quite love them."
"Yeah. Aren't you like...a billion, or something?"
"Close sweetheart. We are about a thousand years old. It might seem a lot to you, but one day you might reach that age as well."

 

Astrid said from the end of the bed, where she sat near the girl's feet.

 

"You have to adjust your perception of time when you become a vampire, Caroline. Celebrate the fact that you're no longer bound by trivial human conventions. You're free."
"No, I'm dying."
"That is also true. But we will soon change that. if you wish so."

 

Astrid replied back. Klaus leaned close to Caroline as if telling her a secret Astrid is not supposed to hear, but of course, Astrid could hear it anyway.

 

"And I could let you die if that's what you want. If you really believe your existence has no meaning. I thought about it myself, once or twice over the centuries, the truth will be told. But I'll let you in on a little secret. There is a whole world out there, waiting for you. Great cities and art and music, genuine beauty. And you can have all of it. You can have a thousand more birthdays. All you have to do is ask."
"Ask and you shall live the life that is destined for you. Live and you won't be lonely any more."

 

They finished. They said their parts, now it was up to Caroline to make her choice, to live or to die. Either way, they will be there to help her. To heal her or to give her a merciful death, free of pain.

 

"I don't wanna die."

 

Astrid smiled at that, the girl had a will to live, a goal to fulfil. She rose up from her position and approached her on the other side of her, facing her back. Gently she lifted her head and placed it on her folded knees, which served as cushions to left her head high enough to swallow the blood Klaus was going to offer her. The girl did not panic as her head was lifted, instead, she relaxed as Astrid gently started to pet her hair. Klaus bit his wrist and extended the bloodied arm close to her mouth.

 

"There you go, sweetheart. Have at it."

 

Caroline bit the wrist. As she drank blood, both Originals looked at each other. Silently they swore not to let things like this to happen, for innocent children like her to get hurt. If they are going to deal with a problem, they will be quick and up to the point, no more games. Once the girl had enough blood in order to heal, Klaus removed his wrist and Astrid removed her knees from underneath her head. As Caroline started to fall asleep, Astrid pulled out the small box she had brought with her. It was an impulsive decision, to bring the box with her but now she understood that it was the right decision to do. She placed the wrapped box on the nightstand near the bed and with Klaus exited the room. Just as she was about to exit the room after Klaus, Astrid turned around and whispered to Caroline.

 

"Happy birthday Caroline."

 

And closed the door, letting the girl sleep and heal in the peace of her own home, away from the war that was silently raging outside.

Chapter Text

Caroline woke up as the sunlight streamed through her windows onto her face. The waking up process took time as she felt as if she was hit with a truck and drugged with a lot of vervain at the same time. She opened her eyes to see a figure sitting near her bed, dressed in a wrinkled uniform.

 

"Mom?"

 

The Sheriff smiles down at her daughter and speaks up.

 

"Hey honey, I just came to see you before heading off to work. How are you feeling?"
"Like I've been drinking too much and now have a massive headache."
"Yeah, Astrid said that might be the side-effect of the cure."
"Wait, that was all real? They were really here?"
"They came with the cure and left as soon as you showed signs of healing from the bite."
"How did they know that I was bitten?"
"Apparently Tyler ran all the way to their house and brought them here. Astrid said the boy was too ashamed of what he did to show his face and I don't blame him if I had seen his face last night I would have shot him."

 

Caroline remained silent, half risen from her bed. She didn't want to talk about Tyler right now, definitely not right now. Her mom gave her a smile before standing up and leaving. The teenage girl got out of her bed and went to dress for the day. Just as she was about to place down her hairbrush, she noticed something small on her nightstand. It was longer than it was wider, long enough to fit into her entire palm. When she opened it she couldn't contain her gasp. Inside laid a beautiful, expensive bracelet with infinity symbols made out of diamonds with small sapphires between every symbol. It shimmered in the morning sunlight as she observed it. Caroline honestly didn't know what to do with something as valuable as this, she never had jewellery like that. She decided to return it to Klaus and Astrid as soon as possible. Just as she was about to put it back into its case, her hunger hit her. She wasn't hungry for food, instead, it was blood that she craved. So she decided to go outside and hunt some game in the forest. Caroline was so distracted by her hunger that she just placed the bracelet around her wrist, thinking she will return it easier that way and exited the house.

 

She moved quickly and silently across the forest. She ran for a couple of hours but couldn't find any animals anywhere. It was as if they were all avoiding that part of the woods where she hunted. Caroline stopped running and looked around herself, the woods looked just the same as they did yesterday and the day before that, and yet there was something distinctive that she couldn't pinpoint. A sense of rest was missing from the forest but somehow it did not bother her. She looked around, trying to sense any kind of living creature and did not manage to sense a creature actually approach her. When she finally glanced in front of her, she was startled to see a petite fawn right in front of her. The tiny creature did not run or cover from her, instead, it looked right into her eyes as if showing her its courage. When Caroline leaned her head to the side, the fawn did the same. That action repeated itself two more times, each time causing the vampire to become more and more curious about the tiny creature.

 

"Who are you?"

 

She asked the little creature, not really expecting any kind of reply. But then the fawn started to walk. After making a few steps it turned its head back to check if she was following behind. When she did not, it let out a diminutive sound and made a few more steps. The forest creature repeated that action one more time before Caroline finally understood that she was supposed to follow. And so she did, where the fawn went Caroline was right after it. They haven't walked for a long time, maybe a half an hour, or so had the girl thought before they reached a meadow.

 

Caroline has never seen a meadow like that anywhere Mystic Falls when she was a child, not even when she was exploring with Bonnie and Elena. It was beautiful, the grass was tall and lush, the sky clear and the wind gently caressed the nearby tree branches. The fawn leads her further into the open field, closer to an old oak tree where more fawns, does and even a few deers rested under its extensive shadow. The meadow wasn't that large so they reached its centre quite soon. Just as Caroline stepped into the shadow she sensed another presence. It was as if they appeared right in front of her eyes, in one moment there was no one there and in the second there was Astrid, sitting among the large roots of the tree with another fawn laying in her lap. She looked like a wooden nymph Caroline once saw in a fairytale, dressed in a green dress, barefoot with her braided hair reaching the grass. There were even daisy's in her hair. Caroline could only stare in wonder at the woman. Astrid, of course, felt the girl approaching and her eyes on her, so she decided to spare the girl of any more future embarrassment. She looked up at her and gave her an inviting smile, letting her know that she means no threat.

 

"Hello, Caroline."
"Hey."
"Don't be shy, come sit here."

 

The older woman gestured to a spot near, her, it wasn't to close to invade anyone's personal space and yet it wasn't far enough to enforce a filling of detachment. The still stunned girl did as she was told and as she walked to her spot, tried to gather back her gathering. She still couldn't contain her curious gaze as she looked around. It was Astrid's laugh that brought her attention back to the woman.

 

"I'm sorry. You said something?"
"I did. I simply said that you must be enjoying this place."
"I am. It's beautiful. How come I never found it before?"
"Because this place no longer exists. Time slowly erased it from this plane of existence. You can see it because this place is partially recreated from my memories. I used the already existing location and simply cast a small layer of magic over it, making it appear as it was once one thousand years ago."
"Wow. Bonnie could never anything like this."

 

Astrid couldn't contain a snort at the last comment. Caroline looked at her confused, not understanding what in her sentence caused such a reaction.

 

"I'm sorry, it's just that comparing my magic to your friends is like comparing Mona Lisa to a kindergartener's drawings. They are two completely different things."
"Why?"
"Let me be frank with you Caroline. Your friend Bonnie thinks of herself as a powerful witch just because she is a Bennett and has received some power of one hundred witches. But what she lacks is experience and willingness to listen to more experienced witches, which I hardly doubt she had much contact with."
"Is that why you talk to me? To say bad things about Bonnie?"
"No of course not, I brought you here for a different reason entirely."
"You brought me here?"

 

The girl asked, not believing what she was hearing. The hunger she felt before was almost completely gone and now replaced with curiosity and wonder. Astrid gave her another smile before taking one of her palms between her own.

 

"Of course. Who do you think lead the fawn to you and you to this meadow? No one could enter this memory if I do not allow it. I simply wanted some time alone to talk to you, without anyone interfering."
"Talk, about what?"
"About yesterday. And the consequences that might leave upon everyone."
"Oh."

 

Caroline said, her good mood immediately turning sour. She did not want to think about Tyler and how he almost killed her. She did not want to think about where her friends have disappeared to, not even coming to see her. Astrid did not need her magic to see that the matter was not so appealing to the younger vampire. Instead, she decided to use a different approach. She looked down at the girl's wrist where the bracelet was and lifted in more into the sunlight. The sparkling stones shone like stars on her wrist.

 

"I hope you like the bracelet. Nik designed it himself, I picked the stones."
"It's beautiful, too beautiful and too expensive for someone like me. I can't keep it."

 

Caroline went to take off the bracelet but Astrid firm hand stopped her before she could remove it. The Original vampire lowered Caroline's hand until it was back on the ground and looked into her eyes.

 

"The bracelet belongs to you. It was meant for you and it will remain with you. It is rude to refuse a gift."
"But why did you give it to me?"
"Because it was your birthday yesterday. We were planning on giving it today, as a belated gift letting you enjoy your birthday in peace with your friends. That, unfortunately, did not happen."
"Yeah because Tyler just had to bit me."

 

Astrid's smile slipped a bit as she scolded Caroline. She had a plan inside her head, and no amount of teen drama will disrupt it.

 

"Whatever you are thinking about him right now, perish those thoughts. It was never Tyler's intention to hurt you like that."
"Are you making excuses for him?"
"No, I am simply telling you the truth about what happened. Young Tyler did not mean to hurt you, he just lacked control."
"Control over what? His teeth?!"
"Yes. Exactly over that. You have to keep in mind that he is still lacking a few things even as a hybrid. The first one is experiencing, he is still newly turned no matter how you look at it. It will take years before he had control some vampires have. He wasn't born to be a vampire, he was born as a wolf a complete opposite. The second is that he is a teenager, his hormones are still pretty messed up especially if we account for the approaching full moon."
"So you can actually explain all this? How do you know this much about hybrids and teenagers in general?"
"As a thousand-year-old vampire, you get to have a lot of spare time on your hands. Being a witch and having the Original Hybrid as your husband is also a big bonus."
"Wow."
"Trust me, it's not that hard to learn all that when you have an eternity for it. That brings me to the second reason why I wanted to talk to you, I wanted to talk to you about your diet? I assume you are drinking animal blood.
"Yeah, what about it?"

 

Caroline asked, her voice getting a little defensive. She did want to hear how Damon and the rest of the human drinking vampires are superior to her and Stefan who drink animal blood. Astrid could feel the mood of the conversation change so she concluded that a change in scenery might help. She rose up from her position in the grass, the sudden movement making all of the gathered forest creatures look at them. The fawn that was sitting next to her went to join its mother. Astrid now on her feet, motioned for Caroline to follow her as she started to walk away from the massive shade. She leads them back into the forest. It was as if the pause button was pressed again, all of the sounds were back. The birds were once again singing in the branches, small animals ran around the bushes and under the roots of the trees. The life of the forest was back. They were not walking for a long time before Astrid once more cut the silence and spoke, her voice soft as the breeze moving between the branches.

 

"Do you recall, back when Damon Salvatore was bitten, how much time has actually passed before he started showing clear signs of the bite?"
"I don't know. Two days maybe."
"And yet you were on your death bed mear hours after you were bitten. A hybrid bite is no more fatal than the bite of a werewolf, just can be given on any day and not only on the full moon."

 

Caroline remained quiet, not having an answer on her tongue. She waited for Astrid to continue speaking, feeling almost like a student listening to a teacher's interesting lesson. Finally, she stopped talking and abruptly turned to the right, her sharper senses detecting movement before Caroline did.

 

"Now, regarding whatI'm going to tell you next, I ask of you to keep an open mind and spare me any of your comments until I say my part. After that, I will not bother you with that subject again. Alright?"
"Sure, alright."
"Splendid. Now let me tell you something. No matter how much our friend Stefan claims, animal blood is not a perfect substitute for real human blood. Our desire for human blood was a curse placed upon us by Nature, as a punishment for what we wanted. Drinking animal blood you might lessen the desire to kill but it also makes you more passive, weaker than the regular folks. You and Stefan are prime examples. No matter how much animal blood Stefan intakes, he will still be weaker than his brother, who is on a regular diet of proper blood. It is not a good idea to follow his diet. Stefan is a Ripper, he is constantly switching from one side to another. One moment he is drinking gallons of animal blood, next he is drowning in human blood. There is no middle ground for him, no silver lining when it comes to feeding. But there could be for you. You just need to balance it properly. If it's guilt that's bothering you, that can be solved as well, without making you flip the switch."
"What switch?"
"Haven't they taught you the basics of being a vampire? Very well, seems it falls on me to properly educate you. The Switch is just what is it called, a switch. Just instead of turning the light off and on, you do that with your emotions. No more grief, anger or sadness. Just an endless feeling of bliss or something close to it. Can't really explain it."
"You've never done it?"
"I was close a few times but trust me. But trust me, you will regret your actions once you switch it back on if you ever do. The guilt will hit you full force. Anyway, we stranded off the topic. There is a way for you to feed off humans without sounding the alarms and without any of the guilt. Do you want to see?"

 

Caroline nodded her head in agreement. She was really intrigued by what Astrid was saying. The immortal witch game her a bright smile before running off toward the source of the previous sound. It was a pair of hikers, two boys, probably from the nearby college campus. They were sitting down in the shadow, hunched over a map of the mountain trails. They were completely unaware that they just became the prey. Caroline realised just what is about to happen and reached out to stop Astrid but her hand was just swatted away. Astrid turned her head back to Caroline and mouthed 'Watch me'.

 

Astrid stepped out of her hidden spot behind the tree and walked toward the two boys. She deliberately stepped on one of the dry branches, alerting them of her presence. The taller one noticed her first.

 

"Jerry, Jerry! Look, over there!"

 

Now both boys were looking at her, they seemed almost in trance. Caroline couldn't blame them, she was in the same position just a while ago. Astrid slowly approached them, her footsteps as light as clouds as she walked over the grass.

 

"Hello, fellows. What a beautiful day it is."
"He-Hello Miss."
"Miss? I haven't heard that one in a while. Nice to know that there are still gentlemen around. Are you hungry boys, cause I sure am."

 

Astrid said and flashed in front of them, catching both of them by their jackets. The boys were too scared to say anything other than letting out a few small sounds before she compelled them.

 

"Now you will stay quiet and still while my friend and I grab a quick bite, ok? Caroline, please come here."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, now come."

 

Caroline did as she was told and walked toward them. The two boys showed no signs of being scared or even aware that she joined their presence. Astrid uncovered their forearms and offered one to Caroline.

 

"Here. Bite at the wrist. Easy access to the blood and not as tricky to bend them to reach the neck. Come on, have at it."

 

Astrid encouraged her, she even used her nails to break the skin in Jerry's wrist. Triggered by the scent of the blood, Caroline dived in with much gusto. She bit the offered wrist and started drinking. Astrid followed with the same action with the other guy. Once Astrid drank enough to sate her hunger and not put the human in danger, she pulled herself and Caroline away from both of them. A quick bite on her finger and a few drops of her blood found themselves in the human's mouth, instantly healing any traces of their feeding. Astrid compelled them once more.

 

"You will not remember us. You never saw us here. You just slipped her hurt your arms. Finish your hike and safely return to your home. Understood?"
"Understood Miss. Have a nice day. Let's go, Mike."

 

The boys left without any further words, completely unaware of what just transpired. Caroline had dried blood on her lips and tried to calm her raging heart. Astrid noticed her lack of composure and approached the baby vampire. She placed her hands over the girl's shoulders and spoke.

 

"It's incredible, isn't it? The feeling you get after feeding directly from the body, while their heart is still pumping blood."
"I-I..."
"Shhh. I understand it's a big jump from animal blood to fresh human. Just remember, the key is in balancing between them then slowly switching to human. Compel, feed, clean, repeat. That's the process. Repeat it after me."
"Compel, feed, clean, repeat."
"Very good Caroline. Now, I'm going to leave. I see that you need some time alone to process everything, so take care."

 

Astrid did not wait for a reply. She was gone in the blink of an eye.

 

Klaus was in the main living room, adding another painting to the already vast collection. With swift movements, he applied another layer of fresh paint on the canvas. Altho he was focused on his painting, he was still aware as another person entered the room. They hummed a song under their breath, clearly being in a good mood.
The person came closer and closer until they were just behind Klaus. Klaus placed down the paintbrush, not turning around, just admiring the picture.

 

"How long are you going to stand there love?"
"Well, that depends Nik. How long am I going to wait for you to turn around?"

 

She replied back. Klaus let out a chuckle and turned around. What he saw made him break out into an even bigger grin. There she was, standing just a small distance from him, dressed only in a bath towel with her hair made in a messy bun. It was clear she was just out of the shower.

 

"Well, would you look at that. Done with your wood fairy look, are you love?"
"Look who's talking. If I recall correctly, it was you who locked us in our bedroom for hours the moment I stepped back into this house. And let's not mention, you are painting me wearing the so-called 'fairy outfit' right now."
"Alright, alright easy love."

 

Astrid smiled and turned around, walking away. Klaus could not keep his eyes away from her walking figure, already memorising it for his next sketch. Just as she was about to leave the living room, she called out to him over her shoulder.

 

"Are you coming Nik or what? I think there are still some knots in my back that you didn't reach before."
"I'm right behind you love, right behind you."

 

Klaus said tossing to the side a dirty rag and following the sound of her giggles.

Chapter Text

Astrid would have usually waited for a little longer before making another visit to the Salvatore house, but the mear thought of her family rotting somewhere she couldn't reach made her really impatient and prone to rash decisions. She was getting antsy regarding their lack of actions against Stefan after he forced their hand. All those emotions manifested in her constant need to bake. When she wasn't baking, she would pace around the library while constantly rearranging the book order. Even after years of being married together and never truly leaving the presence of each other, Klaus still had little patience for her nervous antics. He could still tolerate it to a higher level than some people, but it was enough even for him. So when she turned to head once more toward the kitchen, he dropped his sketchbook and dragged her out of the house. Astrid huffed at being dragged away but didn't say anything else. She was well aware that her behaviour was getting on Klaus' nerves. She just couldn't help herself, sometimes she just craved her husband's attention and wanted him to make a move, any kind of move, to get their family back or to distract her. So he took her out of the house and drove them off to the Salvatore house which was conveniently empty. They entered inside and for a brief second listened if anyone was actually there, but once receiving dead silence as a reply, relaxed.

 

"So...Why did you bring us here?"
"Well, I thought it was high time we paid another visit to our dear friend Stefan."
"And the fact that was driving you crazy with my antics had nothing to do with it?"

 

Klaus just continued to look around, not bothering to reply to her question. He would have answered if she was actually upset about it, but the smile on her face told him that she held no grudge against him for dragging her outside.

 

"Fine. Since you insist on staying here, why don't we turn on some music, huh?"

 

Just as she was about to turn on the music when Stefan stepped inside the house. They waited for a few moments, expecting him to immediately enter the living room. Stefan did not look pleased to see them in his house.

 

"What are you doing here?"
"Enjoying our stalemate."
"Not helping Nik."

 

Astrid grumbled to Klaus. She was in no mood to taunt the guy that held her family hostage. And she was getting rather antsy about it.

 

"What do you want?"
"The question is what you want? Our hybrids left town as you demanded, so please tell me what I need to do to get my family back."
"Well, see...Klaus...I'm not negotiating."
"And you understand, that holding them indefinitely is the same thing as dropping them in the ocean?"
"No, No. You leave Mystic Falls and then give me a call in a few years and we'll talk."
"You son of a-?!"

 

Astrid almost attacked Stefan, not being able to comprehend his audacity. But she was held back by Klaus' hand on her shoulder.

 

"Hold back a second Love. Let me talk to Stefan first. Listen, mate, I can give you another chance. Just one more. Let's make a reasonable deal."
"Or what? You make one move and I will drop..."
"Yes, right. Crazy Stefan. How is that working out for you? Any friends left?"
"Because I sure don't see them anywhere around here."
"Even Astrid agrees with me, Stefan."
"I don't care what you or your whore of a wife-"

 

Before Stefan could complete his sentence, he found himself slammed at the nearest wall, with a wooden stake just inches away from piercing his heart. Klaus had his hybrid face, black veins with yellow eyes and fangs making quite a terrifying look. He was beyond angry, the only thing holding him back from killing Stefan was the fact that only this baby vampire knew where his family is hidden. If it wasn't for that, he would have ended his life a long time ago.

 

"Now Stefan, be careful with that tongue of yours. It could get you into a whole lot of trouble. So you better keep it under control or one day you might find it lacking."
"I'm not afraid of you Klaus."
"Well, you should be mate. After I'm done with you, your brother will be next and that lovely Doppelganger after that. I'm sure they will last far less than you when I get my hands on them. Also, I'm quite sure my wife wouldn't mind lending me a hand with your brother, she still has a score to settle with him, a broken neck for a broken neck. You understand how that goes."
"So what, you think I will fear and obey you just because you threatened Damon and Elena?"
"Oh, no sweetheart. The last part was a warning to them. Be a dear and deliver it to them, ok? Good. Now, Nik and I will be on our way. Take care, Stefan."

 

Astrid said in a completely nonchalant voice. It seemed like she hadn't heard his comment or the sadistic threat her husband fired back in retaliation. Or just decided to ignore it. Either way, Stefan pissed off the wrong couple. But nothing happened, Klaus just removed his hand from the stake, leaving it near the heart and the Original couple left. Astrid couldn't contain a smirk from appearing on her face as they left the house. They started to talk as their feet lead them to the forest.

 

"Glad I took you outside the house love?"
"Quite. Thank you. I really needed to get some fresh air."
"Any ideas on what we shall do next?"
"Let me take a quick look."

 

Astrid said before sitting down on a fallen tree. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths. Her hands were spread across the rich earth and between small roots. Slowly she started to detach from her surroundings and instead explore the fragile veil of time. She rarely used her magic to look at the future, since it was much harder to do. As a human, she had visions once in a while, which stopped once she died. Now, the only way for her to catch a glimpse of the future, other than having a gut feeling was to connect with nature by separating her consciousness from her body. It had its flaws and dangers. There was a chance the witches may not welcome her, forcing her out and possibly resulting in physical or brain damage. Thankfully, with enough practice and some guidance, Astrid learned how to bypass the witches and reach those who are more cooperative. So now she could catch glimpses of the present and the future. The past was sealed away for her, needing a different spell to see into that. With no control over what she is seeing, Astrid let herself go and did not put any resistance with the visions entering her mind.

 

The first place she found herself was dark. Stone walls were covered in chains and dust was everywhere. She saw that she wasn't alone, three more were there as well. A man she did not recognise, who was standing near Caroline and Tyler, all chained up. Astrid couldn't hear what they were saying but it didn't matter to her, what was important was the fact that Tyler was willingly breaking every bone in his body.

 

"Well, that just won't do."

 

Almost as if triggered by her words, the scene changed. Now she was standing in front of a house. The house itself saw better days but it was clearly lived in. What was interesting was actually the person living there. A black woman exited the house, her keys still in her hand as she stared at the approaching car. At first, she couldn't recall why the woman looked so familiar, but once her eyes landed on one of the women exiting the vehicle, she understood. She was standing right between Bonnie Bennett and her mother, who according to Carol Lockwood, abandoned her family when Bonnie was very little. On the passengers' seat sat Elena, still with her phone in her hands.

 

"Bonnie we need to hurry up. Stefan said he can't stall with Klaus for much longer."

 

Another thing caught her eye, a car parked a small distance away. The car did not stand out, but the driver did. It was Greta. Clearly, she played a key figure in the future because if she did not then Astrid would not have noticed her. Astrid took one more look around, carefully memorising her surroundings so it can be tracked later on. Just as she finished her second turn her surroundings started to melt and lose its shape. It was a clear sign that her time was up.

 

"Guess I'm done here."

 

She closed her eyes and prepared to be re-introduced to her body, which from experience she knew wasn't going to be a walk in the part. Slowly Astrid started to count down from ten, which each number getting closer to waking up. The first thing she became aware of was the sounds of nature around her. Then her vision cleared and she saw Klaus watching over her from the same position he was before she went into a trance. He was keeping an eye on her, making sure that nothing attacks her in her vulnerable state. Astrid smiled at him and cleaned off her hands of the dirt. He offered his hand and helped her stand up. Hand in hand, they slowly treaded through the forest back to their home. It gave Astrid time to process what she saw.

 

"We have a problem Nik."
"Regarding what love? I can't read your mind, no matter how much I would like. You saw the visions, you have to tell them."
"I had two visions. The first one was in the present, regarding Tyler. He's trying to break the sire bond."
"And is he succeeding?"
"Considering his motivation is Caroline, then probably yes. I was hoping we could avoid this."
"You saw it before?"
"I did. That's why I had the discussion with Caroline, to try and convince her to let his hybrid side at peace. But nooo, that bloody teen just had to prove his love for her."
"We will deal with that. What was the second vision about?"
"It seems that the reason our dear Stefan is not returning our family is that he's stalling for time. The Doppelganger and the Bennett witch are searching for the witch's mother."
"They are planning something. The question is what."
"Who cares Nik. We're going to put a stop to that. Lend your phone please, I need to make a call."

 

Klaus pulls out his black phone and hands it over to Astrid who immediately dials a number. It doesn't take long for the caller to answer.

 

"Hello, Klaus?"
"Greta darling, it's Astrid."
"Astrid, hey. It's so nice to hear from you! I had a hunch you would call. How can I help you?"
"There is someone I need you to track for us. How far away are you from Monroe, North Caroline?"
"Conveniently for you, I just passed the welcoming sign for that very same city. Any specifics I need to look out for?"
"She's a witch from a Bennet line. Not quite sure she practises magic anymore."
"Another Bennet witch. Doesn't seem that hard."
"Also a quick warning. You'll have company. Her daughter and the Doppelganger."
"Sure. Any special treatment for them?"
"Compell the mother to find out where the coffins are. It's high time we get what is ours."
"Roger that. I'll call you as soon as I get the answers."
"You're a doll Greta, bye."

 

Astrid hanged up the phone with a smile on her face and placed it back into Klaus' hand.

 

"I missed that smile on your face love."
"Gotta admit, so did I. So now that we sent Greta to do her part, we have free time until she calls back"
"Hm-mm. I am also quite sure there is a nice vintage bottle of bourbon waiting for me and a very special bottle of wine for the lady."
"Is that so? Well kind sir, lead the way."

 

The couple continued to slowly walk toward their house, behaving as if they were on a date. They laughed and talked over drinks which then continued over homemade dinner. Hours passed and they were unaware of it, completely preoccupied with each other. In the end, they even ended up washing the dishes by hand even thou they had a dishwasher. Standing close to each other with their shoulders touching was a perfect ending of their day. Just as they were done with the dishwashing and Klaus handed Astrid the last plate to dry his phone rang. When he checked it, he looked up at his wife who just placed the rag back in its place. She turned around and leaned on the countertop.

 

"What is it Nik?"
"Greta has the location of the coffins. She texted the address."
"Great! Let's go and pick them up."

 

Astrid runs to the hall and grabs her jacket and leather boots. With quick movements she got herself dressed and they left the house heading toward the dark forest. They ran for an hour in the dark until they reached an old house, it was in a terrible condition, Astrid thought that it was only a matter of time before it collapses. They stopped on the front porch, just outside the front entrance and looked at each other. Astrid had previously warned him of the danger inside that place. With so many dead witched against them, they will have a hard time entering and getting out. He replied back with his infamous smirk and with a sentence.

 

"Let me handle that love."

 

And they entered the house. There were no traces on anyone on the lower floor of the house so they followed the traced in the dust toward the basement. These, just as they came down the stairs, they saw Damon standing in the middle of the room surrounded by candles.

 

"What took you so long? Hiding behind your witchy friends. And in squalor, no less."

 

Before Astrid could make Klaus apologize to the witches, all the candle flames doubled in size. His words angered the witches. Because of that, they found themselves crumbling on the floor, grasping at their heads in an attempt to stop the excruciating pain. Damon gloated as he leaned over them, looking a bit too much smug.

 

"Insulting a bunch of dead witches...not smart. I made the exact same mistake the first time I came in here."
"Do not patronise us, Damon Salvatore."

 

Astrid managed to say before the pain intensified and she fell down on her knees screaming. Hearing his beloved wife scream made Klaus snap. He slowly managed to rise up, while ignoring the increasing pain and yelled.

 

"Well, you know, the funny thing about witches is, that living or death, they care about their own. A hundred dead witches have a thousand living descendants.."

 

Astrid screams even louder as the pain gets even worse but Klaus continues, planning to end the pain as soon as possible.

 

"And I have no problem, killing every last one of them if I don't get my coffins back. As we speak, my hybrid friend is prepared to end the Bennett line."

 

As if those were the magic words, the pain abruptly disappeared and the candle flames returned to their former size. Damon's smug face slowly fell as he watched Klaus help Astrid to get up. Now there were two Original hybrids out for blood, his blood. This time, Astrid addressed the room.

 

"Well now...the coffins please."

 

The coffins appeared in front of them covered in a thick layer of dust. Seeing her family in front of her, Astrid could only smile as the spoke again.

 

"Thank you."

 

She looked at Klaus expecting to see the satisfaction on his face as well. Her smile slipped when instead she still saw anger.

 

"Where is the fourth coffin?"

 

Immediately she looked back at the coffins. It was true, the last and the final one was indeed missing. Dread spread across her heart as she realised just which coffin was missing.

 

"Show us!"
"Well, here's the thing. They can't. It's not here."
"You are playing a very dangerous game here Mister Salvatore. What did you do to the coffin?!"
"Well, Bonnie gave me the heads-up. I didn't have enough time, to get all four, but I did have time to get one."
"I will tear you, limb from limb. And only then, when you're a riving mass of blood and flesh, will I rip your heart from your chest. But before that, I will let my wife have some fun as well. She especially loves to play mind games."
"Sorry. The same rules apply. You know, leverage and all. I know you want your family back. But something tells me, you want what's in that coffin a lot more."

 

When he said that he disappeared, away from the two hybrids that wanted to skin him alive. Once they were alone Astrid let out a frustrated scream. Her emotion showed itself in her magic, making all the candles burn with intense flames. When her scream stopped, the candles calmed down. Astrid turned to Klaus, wordlessly seeking his help.

 

"What are we to do Nik? I need that bloody coffin. If I do not recast the binding spell before Samhain then the bloody woman will walk this land again!"
"I am well aware of the consequences."
"Oh yeah? Well here's another motivation for you! When that spell breaks, the enchantment over Kol's dagger will disappear with it and everyone could undagger Kol!"
"Why is this the first bloody time I am hearing about this?! You were supposed to tell me that ages ago!"
"Well if I recall correctly, things weren't really the best between us back then!"
"So it's my fault?!"
"It definitely isn't my fault!"

 

Astrid screamed at him before turning around and walking a few steps away. With quick movements of her palms, she wiped the few tears that managed to escape her eyes. Once she felt she was calm enough, she turned around to face her husband. Seeing her cry made him re-think his words, almost immediately regretting snapping at her.

 

"Look Nik, I know I should have mentioned that earlier but back then we were so mad at each other. And when we got back together, I didn't want to destroy that fragile peace we had."
"I know love, I'm sorry too. I should not have shouted at you like that."

 

Klaus said before pulling Astrid into an embrace and kissing her hair. He took a deep breath of her scent, the scent of fresh flowers and spring always managed to calm him down. They remained in that position until they both calmed down. Then they separated but still remained at arm's length of each other and looked at the three coffins.

 

"So what shall we do with them Nik?"
"I think it's high time we take them home, don't you agree love?"

Chapter Text

It was past midnight when all three coffins were secured and safely deliver to the Mikaelson Mansion. Their surfaces weren't covered in thick layers of dust, instead, the wood was freshly polished and cleaned, by Astrid's orders. A maid cleaned up the last coffin as Klaus and Astrid entered the room. They felt the need to check once more that their family was truly back and not stashed away at some haunted house. The couple remained quiet as they watched from the edge of the room as the maid picked up her supplies and turned to walk away. She nods at their direction to say goodbye but doesn't manage to take two steps before dropping dead, a bloody hole in her back. Behind her, stud Elijah, his right hand outstretched and bloodied, a still-warm heart in his hand. Astrid was speechless and Klaus could utter only one word.

 

"Elijah."

 

In return, Elijah just pulls out a handkerchief from his front pocket and starts to clean his hand of blood, the heart forgotten on the floor.

 

"You look surprised to see me. So it wasn't you that removed the dagger from my chest?"
"You look like you could do with a drink. And we have a lot to discuss, so shall we?"

 

Klaus gestured with his arm toward the dining room that was just up ahead. Elijah did not reply back, instead, charges Klaus and rams him through the nearby glass door. Astrid instantly responds back, forcing Elijah against a wall, her forearm against his throat applying pressure.

 

"You have no reason to be mad at him Elijah. He promised to reunite you with our family. It is not his fault you created a loophole!"
"Astrid! I should have known you are going to take his side."
"Of course I'm going to take his side. He killed Mikael!"
"What did you just say?!"

 

Elijah said, his face and posture screaming disbelief. Astrid removed her arm and steps back, finding her place next to Klaus who recovered from being tossed.

 

"It is true. I killed him with his own weapon."
"And we watched him burn. He is truly gone Elijah, no more running from the monster."
"Then why do our family remain in these coffins? Finn for over 900 years, Kol for over two century."

 

He asked while gesturing at the coffins. Even after two hundred years, Astrid couldn't help but flinch when Elijah mentioned Kol. She wasn't mad at him any longer, but there was still plenty of issues between them, unsolved issues she rather wouldn't address.

 

"Because of Stefan Salvatore. He holds the one thing keeping me from freeing them. There are things that you do not know about our past, Elijah. Our mother's death. Things I never wanted you to know but I'm ready to tell you now. I only ask that you remember the oath of loyalty you once swore to me. Swore to Astrid."
"Please Elijah, do it and we will explain everything to you, nothing will remain hidden."

 

Astrid implored her older brother. Klaus came even closer and placed his hand on Elijah's shoulder.

 

"Always and forever. I need you to stand by my side. Be my brother. Help me destroy Stefan and I promise you our family will be whole again."
"Alright. I will help you. But I want answers first."

 

Astrid let out a deep breath. What Klaus did was a risky move, getting close enough to Elijah to if anything goes wrong, becoming a primary target. She smiles and approaches the brothers.

 

"Whatever you say, Elijah. But wouldn't a shower and perhaps a haircut be first in the order?"
"She does have a point brother."
"Where-"
"Third door on the left, second floor. I had it furbished according to your taste and clothes prepared. Most were from the house you stayed before. Hope you like it."

 

Astrid quickly answered Elijah's unspoken question. He nodded his head and left the room, leaving the couple alone. Almost immediately, she found herself in Klaus' arms, almost getting squeezed to death.

 

"Nik...I...can't...breath..."
"Don't you ever dare do something like that. Elijah is older than you, he could have easily harmed you."
"I still have my magic."
"And we agreed to keep it a secret, at least until we wake the rest of the family. Lord knows how they will react. And what is the secret comes out before we are ready? We'll lose our trump card."

 

Klaus let out a sight before letting her go. He had to admit she had a point.

 

"You're right love. You'll tell them when you decide. It's your secret after all."
"And what will we tell Elijah about our secret?"
"Well...we have gotten rather close. It will be up to him to decide just how close we truly are."
"You truly are one of a kind love."
"I know. Maybe you can show me just how much you think that after Elijah leaves. I'm quite certain he will leave as soon as he gets some answers."
"Let's not keep him waiting then. Shall we?"

 

Klaus asked offering his ar to her like a proper gentleman. With a carefree laugh, she accepted his offer and let him lead her to a dining hall where further explanation will be offered to their older brother.

 

Next evening, the table was set for guests. Apparently, Elijah thought it was a good idea to invite the Salvatore brothers for peace talks, to resolve some of the tension between all of them. Seeing as they will have company, Klaus called and ordered back some of his and Astrid's hybrids. Not too many, so the council did not get alarmed. When the bell rang Elijah went to open the door and Astrid remained next to Klaus, waiting to greet the quests. For the evening, she chose to dress to match her family. Elijah wore an all-black suit, Klaus chose a black henley shirt with a suit jacket over it, black of course. So naturally, she wore all black too. A black off-shoulder cocktail dress paired with black heels. The only colour on her came from her burgundy lipstick and a single pearl on a silver chain. Behind the couple was the table, all set up with warm food steaming on the plates. Two female servants stud farthest away from the door, one hybrid from Klaus' and Astrid's group who volunteered to keep vigil while posing as servants. Astrid held her arms together on her stomach as Elijah brought the brothers. Her posture reflecting perfect control as the hostess, standing right next to the host.

 

"Damon. Stefan. Elijah tells me, you seek an audience. Very bold. Let's discuss the terms of our agreement like civilized men, shall we?"

 

It was clear that neither Salvatore actually wanted to be there, they didn't have to voice it out loud. Elijah spoke to them as he walked toward the table.

 

"It's better to indulge him."

 

Hearing that Astrid couldn't contain a small laugh. She honestly missed the banter between Elijah and Klaus when they weren't on each other's throats. Unfortunately, Stefan was in no mood to pretend even for a short while.

 

"I didn't come here to eat, Klaus. Fact, I didn't want to come here at all. But I was told I had to cause you would hear us out."
"Well, we can sit and eat or I can remove your head and place it on a pike. The choice is yours. If you do choose the second option, please step outside the house. It takes a while to remove the bloodstain from the fabrics and I am not looking forward to the cleaning part."
"Seems like the lady of the house spoke Stefan. It looks like she means business."

 

Damon commented to his brother altho his words could be heard by all in the room. Astrid gave him a smug smile before gently pressing Klaus' wrist, indicating for the stalemate to end. They all sat down on their places, Astrid between Klaus and Elijah, not by her choice. Klaus made it clear before that he was not letting any on the Salvatore brothers sit anywhere near her, especially not Damon who snapped her neck. Once the meal commenced, there wasn't much talking. Everyone ate while Stefan refused to eat anything, he didn't even try to hold the utensils. Klaus broke the silence first.

 

"You lost your appetite."
"Eat. I thought we agreed that we would leave the grumpy Stefan at home."

 

Damon encouraged his brother who still looked like a grumpy child. Stefan finally began to eat served food. Seeing as now finally everyone was eating, Klaus smiled at his wife and brother.

 

"That's the spirit. Isn't it nice? Five of us dining together? Such a treat. Is this what you had in mind when you pulled the dagger from my brother?"
"Well, I know how he felt about you, so I figured the more, the merrier."
"Well, Elijah and I have had our share of quarrels over the century. But we always make it through."
"So there is no reason to bring up the already done deeds Mister Salvatore. It certainly isn't the reason why we are gathered here isn't it?"
"Kind of like you and Rebekah, right? Where is she, by the way? Last I checked she was still daggered because you were afraid to face her."

 

Stefan continued to speak, completely ignoring Astrid's presence. That lessened the smirk on Klaus' face. He hatted when people disrespected her and ignoring her presence was a clear sign of lack of respect to him. Astrid gently moved his foot with hers, warning him not to lose his composure at the table and give the two brothers satisfaction.

 

"If you're referring to the fact that Rebekah knows he killed their mother, we've already come clean to Elijah. And to be completely honest, the bitch had it coming."
"Astrid that's enough."

 

Klaus warned her, his voice becoming a bit sharper at the end. He was telling her to watch her tongue and Astrid knew she did step over the border on that one. So she looked at their guest with an apology in her eyes and smiled.

 

"Please don't mind what I say. I had a glass or two before dinner."
"It's alright, we don't mind. Hey, Stef, remember when you killed dad? Might want to dial down the judgment until dessert."

 

Damon said with a joke in his voice.

 

"We're here to make a deal, Damon. Doesn't mean we need to kiss his ass for seven courses."
"I'm just saying we have a long evening ahead of us. Pace yourself."

 

After Damon's last comment, nobody spoke. An awkward silence filled the room as their empty dishes were taken away and the next course was served, it continued after that. Elijah wanted to break the tension so he spoke to Stefan.

 

"Stefan. Where is the lovely Elena tonight?"
"I don't know. Ask Damon."

 

The dismissive response made both Astrid and Klaus laugh but only Astrid tried to cover it. She attempted to cover her amusement with a glass of wine but it was clear she was laughing too. Elijah looked at both of them confused, he was not aware that the girl switched brothers.

 

"Oh I'm sorry we haven't previously mentioned this Elijah but it wasn't that important to us. Sure we were aware but this is far more hilarious."
"Well now that you had your fun, Astrid. Mind telling me what is this about lovely Elena?"
"One more word about Elena and this dinner is over."
"You know what, probably best just to keep Elena in the do-not-discuss pile."

 

Astrid just nodded her head toward Damon and her finger over her mouth, jokingly saying that she will keep quiet. Unfortunately, Klaus was not done yet having his fun. It was him who brought up the next subject.

 

"You're probably right. It's just the allure of the Petrova doppelgänger, still so strong. What do you say, brother? Should we tell them about Tatia?"
"Now why should we discuss matters long since resolved?"

 

Asked Elijah, who was immediately followed by Astrid.

 

"Nik, drop that subject, would you? It's been a long time since that."
"Well, given their shared affection for both Elena and Katerina, I think our guests might be curious to learn about the originator of the Petrova line."
"Well, we're not going anywhere Elijah. Please, do tell."
"When our family first settled here, there was a girl named Tatia. She was an exquisite beauty. Every boy of age desired to be her suitor, even though she'd had a child by another man. Well almost everyone, Niklaus for some reason never showed any interest in loving her like other men."
"Let's just say my mind was preoccupied with someone else."
"Well whoever she was, she is long gone."

 

Said Elijah. The Salvatore brothers exchanged looks between each other, neither of them not believing Elijah did not notice the relationship between Klaus and Astrid. Still, they kept quiet and listened as the story continued.

 

"Our mother was a very powerful witch. She sought to end my obsession over Tatia and so she took her. Klaus and I would later learn that it was Tatia's blood that we consumed in the wine on the night where our mother performed the spell which turned us into vampires. It was due to my affection to Tatia that Niklaus and I...grew estranged. Harsh words were traded, we even came to blows, didn't we, brother?"
"But in the end, we realized the sacred bond of family."
"Family above all."

 

Came a mantra from Astrid. Both brothers looked at her and lifted up their glasses. Together the three of them toasted on an old family promise.

 

"Family above all."

 

Nothing interrupts the comfortable silence that follows the toast. Seeing as most of the food was eaten, Elijah decided that it was high time they switched onto business talk.

 

"So, why don't we move this evening along and discuss the terms of this proposal?"
"That's very simple. The two of them get their coffin back, in exchange, they and the Original extended family leave Mystic Falls forever. Stefan, I and Elena live happily ever after. No grudges."
"You know, usually I would say that is a fair deal but here's the catch Damon. Elena is the Doppelganger. She is needed to make more hybrids. Where she goes, we go or more likely, she follows us."

 

Klaus stands up and starts to pace around the table. The rest of the vampires remain seated. After a few minutes of passing around, he speaks up.

 

"Astrid has a point. Let's say I do leave her here, under your protection, what then? How long before one of you turns her into a vampire? Or worse, how long before she dies caught between your feuding? You see, each one of you truly believes that you're the one that can protect her, and that is simply a delusion. Gentlemen, the worst thing for Elena Gilbert is...the two of you."

 

That made a clean effect on Damon, who gave a weak smile, looked at his brother and stud up. He left the room with an excuse of needing some air. Elijah almost immediately follows after him, saying he will handle it. That leaves only Stefan alone in the room with Klaus and Astrid. Klaus finished his pacing and was now staring at Stefan, who did not last long under the dual focus of two Originals. His excuse was that he needed to find a bathroom to clean up. So when they were finally alone, Klaus approached Astrid's chair and placed his hands on her sides and leaned next to her ear.

 

"Do you trust him?"
"I don't trust any on them Nik. Not even Elijah. He was too quick to follow after Damon. I bet that he is plotting something with them and it was necessary for them to stall for time."

 

She said before finishing the last gulp of wine in her glass and placing it down on the empty dining table. Klaus steps away from

 

"Very well. I shall handle it love. You just drink your wine."
"I am not an alcoholic Nik."
"No, but I feel like I need a drink. Unfortunately, the situation is not really for me to drink, so you'll have to do it for me."
"Oh, the horror."

 

She mocked. No sooner than she finished the sentence, Stefan returned from the bathroom. There were no traces of forced politeness he had before, just pure hate and displeasure.

 

"I sure hope you have enjoyed the evening Stefan, I sure did. What a nice idea on your part."
"Well, I guess the only reason you agreed to this evening, Klaus, is to drive a wedge between me and my brother."
"Oh no, you're doing that well enough on your own. Because of Elena, you're gonna lose your brother and you'll only have yourself to blame."

 

Both Elijah and Damon re-entered the dining room, each older brother going back to their family. Damon stepped forward.

 

"What do you say, Klaus? It's time for you to put something on the table. We've made our offer, now you counter."
"Okay. I offer Elena's future happiness. You see, what she needs right now is to be rid of you lot. And to fall in love with a human, maybe that nice football player, you know the blond one?"
"Matt Donovan? Really?"
"Yeah, why not? They'll marry, live a long and fruitful life, and pop out a perfect family."
"And continue the Petrova bloodline. Every few hundred years, you'll have a new doppelgänger to drain and never run out of hybrids, right Klaus?"
"Consider it a small return on our investment in her well-being. See, after you hand us back the coffin, we'll ensure her safety for the rest of her natural life. You know it's what's best for her. So, what do you say Stefan, hmm? Do we have a deal?"

 

Stefan stepped away from his brother and walked closer to Klaus. Astrid still remained seated in her chair, looking at everyone like a queen on her throne. Klaus and Stefan extended their hands, ready to shake them when Stefan spoke, his voice barely louder than the wind outside.

 

"Nice try, Klaus. But no deal."

 

With those words he signed himself a death warrant, Astrid thought as she watched Klaus immediately break Stefan's arm and leg. While he still had the element of surprise, he pushed Stefan's broken hand into the flames and did not let go even as the younger vampire's skin started to burn. Damon, of course, tried to help his brother but was held back by Elijah.

 

"What are you doing? Stop!"
"Bring us our coffin Mister Salvatore and Nik might let your brother live to see another day."
"I'll get it."
"Good. Elijah, please go with him. You keep him honest. And when you return, I will make good on my promise to you and Nik will hand over our family."

 

Elijah nodded his head and he and Damon disappeared from the dining room.

 

"Go ahead and kill me. I know you'll do it when he brings the coffin."

 

At that comment, Klaus released his hand and pushed Stefan away from the fireplace. Astrid just turned her head to the side and watched as Klaus slammed Stefan into the next nearby surface.

 

"You really have given up, haven't you? Where's the fight? Where's the ripper?"

 

At that moment Stefan decided to push back. Suddenly, Elijah and Damon re-entered the room. They stopped next to the female servant who is carrying a tray. Klaus was confused, as was Astrid.

 

"Elijah...why haven't you left?"
"Where are your manners, brother? We forgot dessert."

 

He said and removed a cloth from the tray, uncovering two silver daggers. Astrid instantly studs up, knocking down the chair in the process. Fear and shock clear on her face.

 

"What have you done Elijah?!"
"We should ask Niklaus that question, Astrid. You see, I've learned not to trust his vulgar promises. We're doing this on my terms now."

 

After his dramatic revelation, another person entered the room. It was Kol, the person Astrid dreaded to see the most.

 

"Kol."
"Long time, brother."

 

Both Astrid and Klaus tried to slowly back away but their way was blocked by another person, dressed in even older clothes. Astrid could only utter their name, the name she hasn't spoken in almost nine hundred years.

 

"Finn."
"Hello Nik, I think we need to talk."

 

That made them turn their heads into another direction. The last voice came from Rebekah who had the last silver dagger in her hand, ready to be used. Astrid and Klaus were effectively surrounded by all of their siblings with no clear means of escape.

 

"You're free to go. This is family business."

 

Elijah dismissed the Salvatore brothers, who immediately left. Now it truly was just them, the family was back together and they were out for blood, Klaus' blood. Astrid was not going to let that happen, not while she's alive and breathing. She decided to first approach Rebekah, her sister always had a special place in her heart.

 

"Rebekah, please. Put the dagger down, there's no need for violence here. We can talk about this."
"There is nothing to talk about."

 

Finn yelled and with large steps went to attack Klaus. In a moment of pure panic, Astrid turned around, exposing her back to Rebekah and spread her arms at Finn, forcing her magic to break blood vessels in his brain. He immediately fell down in pain while clutching his head and Astrid tensed up as she walked closer to Klaus. It all happened while the rest of the family was watching. That sealed her fate. The family now knew she had magic and there was no possibility she could compel all of them. With dream blooming in her chest, Astrid called out to her sister.

 

"Please don't make me do this Rebekah! Don't make me put you down as I did with Finn! I do not want to hurt you, any of you!"

 

No one knew what will happen next. Everyone was on their toes as Astrid's spells effect lessened at Finn stud up again. Both Klaus and Astrid were standing next to each other, standing against their siblings. The tense situation was broken by the loud sound of a door opening. Not a moment later, into the room walked one person Astrid never wished to see again. The woman who made her childhood hell, the woman who did nothing to stop Mikael's beatings and the one who cursed them to this immortal existence. Esther.

 

"Mother?"

 

Came a broken and hopeful sound from Rebekah, the dagger temporarily forgotten in her hand. Esther did not reply to her daughter's plea, instead, she continued to walk until she was in front of Klaus and Astrid. Neither of them looked her in the eyes.

 

"Look at me! Do you know why I'm here?"
"You're here to kill me."
"Niklaus, you are my son and I am here to forgive you. I want us to be a family again."

Chapter Text

Everyone was silent as their brains processed what Esther just said. It especially came hard to Astrid. There, in front of her, was the woman who once made her life a living hell and was now preaching peace. A person who was craving mother's affection might fall for that, someone like Rebekah but Astrid did not believe a single word that came out of the woman's mouth. So she decided to take the matter in her own hands and deal with it.

 

"Yeah like we are going to believe the shit you are saying! I don't believe a single word you are speaking, Esther! Don't you recall our last conversation?!"

 

Klaus immediately snapped out of the stupor and walked closer to Astrid. Both of them observed the rest of their family with a hard look in their eyes, distrust hidden behind the cold facades. By standing close to her, he clearly stated who he trusts the most.

 

"She is right. If you truly want peace mother, why did you not say that sooner or why didn't you stop Finn from attacking me?"
"What a minute Nik! You're going to let Astrid curse mother like that?! And why the bloody hell are you taking her side?!"

 

Rebekah screamed at Klaus, obviously taking her mother's side. The three brothers remained quiet, observing what is happening in front of them with interest.

 

"Of course I'm going to take her side! She's-"
"Enough all of you! Rebekah, please do not fight with your brother. I came back and all I want is peace in this family. If Astrid does not believe me, then that is up to her."

 

Astrid swallowed the words of anger, she was not going to look like a villain and let Esther play her kind-mother act in front of the siblings, not for long at least. She will deal with her, sooner than later. For now, she will go with the flow, until she could reason with each of her siblings.

 

"Esther is right. I apologise for my behaviour. Now, I assume you would all like to freshen up before we talk some more."
"That is very nice of you Astrid, lead the way."

 

Said Finn. She nodded, immediately taking up the role of the Lady of the house and leads them to their designed rooms. As they walked she started to explain more about their rooms.

 

"We made sure that all of your rooms are soundproof, to preserve your privacy. I already took care of your wardrobe. All the clothes should match your size and there is plenty to choose from. Finn, I especially made sure that there are history books for you to catch up, a lot has happened while you were daggered."
"That is very thoughtful of you Astrid."

 

She only smiles at him before leaving him in his room and leading the rest of them to their own rooms. Upon reaching her room, Esther announced that she needs to rest and will not be appearing for the rest of the night. Astrid, of course, started thanking whatever god was listening in her head. Once Klaus and Astrid were finally alone in their room, they let themselves go. They didn't speak but it was clear that one wrong move could mean danger for both of them. Klaus tightly held Astrid's palms, which were shaking, as they sat on their bed. It was clear that the way she held herself prior was fake, a mask for her to hide behind and now, she was vulnerable in front of him. Once the clock stroke midnight, the lovers stud up from their bed and head toward the largest living room, not bothering to change out of their previous clothes. They kept quiet as they entered the room and remained like that while she brought in three cups of blood, carefully handling each of the cups and placing them on a nearby table.

 

"We have to tell them the truth."
"I am aware of that love."
"I knew that it was coming the moment I used my magic on Finn. So why am I so terrified of them?"

 

Astrid admitted, her voice barely a whisper. Klaus reached and pulled her by her hand, making her come closer to him. He looked at her, his palms on her cheeks. Astrid leaned into one of his palms, seeking the familiar comfort.

 

"Well isn't this an interesting scene?"

 

Instantly they separated from their embrace and looked where the voice came from. They did not hear anyone sneaking upon them. It was Kol and by the smirk on his face, he was definitely enjoying it. He switched from his old clothes into something more modern. Behind him were Finn and Elijah, both having calculating looks on their faces.

 

"Well if you're done having your fun, maybe you would want to sit down so we can talk."
"Lok at you Astrid, all taking control and everything."
"Shut up Kol and let's get this over with! I want answers!"

 

The yell came from Rebekah, who stormed into the hall. She also didn't change out of her clothes, just fixed her hair and makeup. It was obvious that she was mad and in the middle of one of her hissy fits. They all sat down on the nearby furniture. Klaus and Astrid took one loveseat for themselves while the rest of the siblings sat or stud behind the couch opposite of them. Between two pieces of furniture was the coffee table with three glasses of blood. Kol immediately grabbed one of the two glasses with human blood, while Finn hesitated. Rebekah did not even bother with the offered blood.

 

"It's animal blood, Finn. I am well aware of your aversion to human blood. If it doesn't suit you, there is plenty of fresh game for you to hunt in the woods."
"This will do."

 

Finn said. Astrid nodded her head and did not say anything else regarding that. She understood that this will be the closest he will come to thank her since there was still a lot of tension between them.

 

"So we assume you want some answers? Who wants to have the first go?"
"What the hell was that Astrid?! What did you do to Finn?"
"And it starts."

 

Klaus said, more to himself than to others but it was still heard. Astrid let out her breath and resisted the urge to jab her elbow into her husband's ribs.

 

"That was magic Becah. I have magic."

 

The moment the word magic left her mouth, she noticed Kol tense at the corner of her eye. Her eyes were on Rebekah so she didn't see anything else. Astrid knew that she will have to tread carefully with this subject. Even after one thousand years, the subject of Kol's lost magic and magic, in general, has always been tense. It always made Kol into a ticking time bomb or at least that's how Astrid saw him.

 

"Now before you blow another fuse, let me explain sister. Yes, I have magic and yes, I had it for a long time. I am a hybrid, just like Nik only I am a witch-vampire one. When we first turned, I had a hard time adjusting just like Kol. It happens when a witch loses their connection with magic and nature. But unlike Kol, my magic came back."
"When?"

 

The question came from Elijah. This time Astrid couldn't control her reaction and glared at him. The memory of him holding her back as Esther and Mikael cursed Klaus forever fresh in her mind.

 

"When?"

 

She spat at him, anger clear for everyone to hear.

 

"It returned to me as you held me back. It came back as I was forced to watch a mother curse her own son, her own flesh and blood!"

 

By the end of her miniature tirade, she was on her feet, yelling at Elijah. In her siblings' heads, she looked ready to spit fire or acid even.

 

"That is enough love. It is all in the past now."

 

Klaus said as he used his hands to lower her back on the lover's seat and to calm her down. Their siblings looked in silent amazement as their own brother who they previously saw only as a monster, comfort the woman they have known since they were human, someone they called their sister.

 

"That's all fine and dandy but what the hell is happening between the two of you? Since when do you know how to calm anyone down Nik?"

 

It seemed that it was Rebekah's turn to ask her question. Astrid made herself comfortable on the sofa, her left side of the body completely in touch with Klaus'. This time it was Klaus who decided to start answering.

 

"Where you do want us to start?"
"The beginning Nik and don't you dare skip anything, I'll know if you're lying."
"Fine. We met when we were five, six maybe."
"We were defiantly six." She corrected him.
"That was when we first met. I was hiding in the forest after one on Mikael's beatings. She actually threatened me with a stick."

 

Klaus had to laugh at that memory. Once again, the family was surprised at how at ease he seemed. Astrid had to smile at that as well. Oh, they were so innocent back then. Who would have guessed that those children would later become killers?

 

"We started a food fight. Tossed blueberries at each other."
"Wait I remember that day. Mother was so angry at you. The stains weren't going away even after hours of washing." Commented Finn.
"Yeah, that was fun. Anyway, that was our first-ever encounter. We kept on meeting in secret until Rebekah got involved. With few carefully placed words, I got her to convince Mikael to make her live with us."
"Wait? So you manipulated me even then?"
"I did. You were even more gullible than you are now Rebekah."
"You are wasting time brother. Continue with your story"
"I will continue since Nik has an attention span of a hamster."
"Hey!"

 

Klaus protested with no real anger in his voice. Astrid just ignored him and continued speaking. All of the siblings leaned closer, wanting to hear the whole story.

 

"Now, let's skip a bit. I found the Moonstone and delivered it to Nik in England. We were about to do the ritual but Katerina just had to escape. So we packed and took a little trip. I have to confess, maybe I overreacted back then regarding Katerina's punishment."
"Overreacted, regarding what?"
"Regarding the massacre of the Petrova family."
"You did that?"

 

Questioned her Kol. This was the first time he spoke at all. Astrid nodded her head at him and looked at the floor.

 

"It was my idea, yes but it was Nik who got blood on his hands, literally. My hands were stained only figuratively. I'm ashamed to admit that my temper got the best of me."
"What temper? You are the calmest person I know, other than Elijah here."

 

Rebekah stated. She was confused about her sister's words. They just didn't make sense for her. Astrid crossed her arms over her chest and looked at the rest of the siblings. She knew that it was time for them to learn her two biggest secrets.

 

"Think of it like this Becca. I have tight control over my anger and so does Elijah. Imagine a seal over those emotions, the tighter it is, the more control we have. Unfortunately, when under a lot of pressure or when a lot of things happen, I lose control and lash out. It usually leads to some pretty bad things."
"Like the massacre of the Petrova family."
"Exactly like that Elijah. That was one of the instances, the second one had much more impact on us. And I need to confess, Kol was actually the straw that broke the camel's neck."
"What did I do?"

 

Kol objected.

 

"You massacred our entire staff. But that wasn't what set me off. It was the fact that Nik undaggered you without any warning. And the consequences were felt centuries after that."
"Tell us already sister."
"Well...I ended my marriage that lasted for five hundred years. I gave Nik my wedding band back and refused to speak to him for a while."
"I remember that! I wasn't paying much attention but you and Nik were always arguing and yelling at each other. There wasn't much peace when the two of you were in a room."

 

Exclaimed Rebekah. The three brothers looked at them, finally connecting all the dots. Elijah, who was there to witness most of their interactions, looked as if only now he saw them.

 

"How could I have been so blind? It was obvious right from the start. How you always took each other's side, never actually fought until then."

 

Klaus nodded his head and spoke, letting Astrid gather herself. She was unnerved by the confession and there was yet another secret to reveal.

 

"It's true brother. I loved her since we were young. After that, we weren't together anymore but we did try to patch things between us."
"But what about Joseph? You almost married him back in St. Loius."
"I almost did. But as I was walking towards the altar I realised that I was fooling myself. Nik was and is the only one for me. It was stupid of me to think I can get over five hundred years of marriage just like that. Do you remember that story I told you when you were undaggered before our trip to St. Louis?"
"The one with the napkin and the initials? I do."
"It was an anniversary gift from Nik. I still kept it, I even have it now with me. But let's move on from that topic. It's in the past and there it shall remain."
"Nicely said, Astrid."
"For someone who has been daggered for nine hundred years, you are pretty accepting of the fact that I got a divorce, Finn."
"Something tells me that things worked out in the end, didn't they?"

 

He glanced down on her left hand, where her wedding ring was still in place. Astrid smiled and stroked the ruby stone with her thumb.

 

"Yeah, tied the knot again in 1921."
"When was that exactly? I don't remember you ever going to church for a wedding."
"You were there was well Becca. You, the priest and some witnesses we snatched off the street. Unfortunately, we had to compel them all to ignore the dagger in your chest."

 

Before Rebekah could say anything back, Kol started cackling. Tears almost made an appearance as he struggled to gain his bearing. Rebekah, of course, took offence to that and crossed her arms, glaring at him.

 

"What is so funny Kol?"

 

She asked her brother, her attitude telling everyone that she was in her bitchy mode. When he finally got some air in his lungs, he explained while there was still some amusement in his eyes.

 

"You finally got to participate in a wedding. Wasn't that one of your greatest wishes or something? Shame you were daggered during the ceremony."
"You bastard-"
"Enough! I will not have you fighting on the first night that we are all together as a family."
"Well said, Elijah. I am going back to my room."

 

Finn said as he went to stand up and leave. Before he could walk away from the couch, Astrid's hand snatched his and held him back. A sudden panic flashed across her face, a panic to which he couldn't find the origin of.

 

"Please just stay for one more thing. You need to hear this."

 

Finn sat back among his siblings, patiently waiting to hear what she wanted to say. Once again, she took a deep breath to gather her nerves and confess.

 

"Esther wasn't the only one who was unfaithful in the marriage. Mikael cheated as well."

 

The siblings wanted to protest but were held back by Elijah, who raised up his hand in a signal for them to keep quiet. His eyes narrowed as he looked at her, carefully judging her every word.

 

"Where is your proof, Astrid? I would love to believe that you are telling the truth but there has to be more than just your word."
"I will give you a proof. It is sitting right in front of you, has been at your side for a thousand years. You shared your meals, tears and blood with this proof. For I am the proof, standing right here."

 

Her sibling stared at her, not uttering a single word. Just starring at her. Astrid started to internally panic and instead of calmly explaining the rest, she started to ramble.

 

"I mean, you have to admit, it makes sense. Why people would always say that Rebekah and I are sisters just by looking at us. We kinda look similar in some small parts. And I have the same hair colour as Kol and the same temper as Elijah. So please don't be mad, I wanted to tell you-"

 

Astrid's rambling was suddenly stopped by Rebekah's approach. In a blink of an eye, the sisters ended up from being separated by a coffee table to sitting on the same sofa, one holding tightly the other one. Rebekah's arms were wrapped tightly around Astrid. It was clear that she had no intention of letting go any time soon.

 

"Don't ever think that I hate you. You are my sister and I can't hate you for that. We have called you a sister for centuries, the fact that you are actually related to us changes nothing."

 

Astrid started to tear up. All she ever wanted was to tell her siblings the truth and to be accepted as a part of the family. Her marriage to Klaus was one of the ways of officially entering the family, but she wanted to tell the truth. The only thing that was stopping her was her fear of being rejected and spurned upon as a bastard. So hearing Rebekah say those words felt as if she received an invitation to heaven, feeling so happy and relieved to have finally found her place in the family.

 

"Thank you....sister."

Chapter Text

The late-night talk was finally over somewhere around three in the morning. Seeing the time, Astrid ushered everyone to their rooms, acting like a mother hen. The following morning they all gathered in one of the smaller kitchens which had an island connected to it, making the family breakfast much more fun. A large variety of fresh and warm food was served on the aisle for everyone to pick from. Finn was the first one to appear, closely being followed by Kol, Rebekah and Elijah. Rebekah immediately dived for the pancakes. Talking to each other was easy, the family bonds slowly started to mend. Finn jumped up to the chance to inquire more about the modern time he found himself in. Elijah slowly and patiently answered all his questions, with Klaus or Astrid jumping in every so often with their answers. The family of six sat together and ate, feeling like a true family, united and together at last. Sure, there is still a lot of issues between them, issues that will not disappear just like that but they are willing to work so that they could finally be at peace. That feeling of easygoing interactions abruptly ended when Esther walked into the dining room. Astrid immediately tensed, ruining the relaxing atmosphere that was in the room. The older woman ignored her and sat on the only empty spot, between Kol and Finn. Klaus settled his palm over his wife's knee, silently showing her his support. Esther just sat there, looking at the food in slight distrust, not bothering to serve herself. It was as if she expected for Astrid to serve her food, to show her superiority in the family over her bastard daughter-in-law. Of course, Astrid didn't give a damn about her mother-in-law and just continued to eat her food. Did not even bother to lift her gaze off her plate as she cut herself another bite and placed it into her mouth. Only after she chewed her piece did she speak.

 

"You don't have to be afraid Esther. I am not as petty as you to slip something into your food and drinks."
"I m not afraid and what I did wasn't petty. It was necessary."

 

Astrid slammed her hands on the wooden surface as she rose on her feet, shaking the entire table. Every occupant at the table stopped eating. After last night one question remained unanswered. Why does Astrid hate their mother so much? What could have caused their forgiving and kind sister to actually hate someone? Cold rage started to rise in Astrid. She sunk her nails into the wooden surface while trying to restrain herself.

 

"Necessary?! You claim what you did was necessary?!"
"Yes."

 

Came a calm reply from Esther. Unlike Astrid, she remained seated and composed. Not a single emotion was shown on her face.

 

"Mother I do not understand what Astrid is talking about."

 

Finn tried to interfere and seek some answers but Astrid cut him off. This was the moment her biggest secret was going to be told to her family. She dreaded this moment as much as she was looking forward to it. To finally show everyone Esther's true colours. But she did not want the pity that she would receive as well.

 

"Well let me enlighten you then brother. Back when we were humans your mother ensured that I would never have children of my own. She made me barren."
"Mother would never-!?"

 

Rebekah immediately went to defend her mother. None of the siblings wanted to believe that their mother would have done that, but considering her track record so far, it actually wasn't that big of a stretch. Astrid still continued to talk.

 

"You don't even know how lucky you were Rebekah. If we had remained human you would still be able to start your own family. My choice was taken away from me! As well as my precious baby!"
"What baby?!"
"You were pregnant?!"

 

Came surprised shouts, from which siblings she couldn't tell.

 

"I was about two months along when I confided in Ayana who sought advice regarding my pregnancy with Esther. I mean, who would even think that a mother of seven would willingly and with intention murder an unborn child. So she sent some herbs that she claimed were for my morning sickness. Ha! What a sham that was! I lost my baby that very same night!"
"Mother explain yourself! How could you do this?!"

 

Demanded Elijah. He was furious and altho he never knew about the child, he felt a deep loss for never getting the chance to meet his little nephew or niece. Esther crossed her arms and lifted up her chin in defiance.

 

"I did not want her to share the same fate as Tatia. To bear a bastard child."
"My baby had a father! It was Nik! I was going to tell him."
"It was for your own good."
"No, it was not. I would have gladly given my life for the chance that my child might live but that was the problem wasn't it?! If I had died during labour, the child's werewolf gene would have activated and everyone would have known that Nik wasn't Mikaels! You did this out of purely selfish reasons."

 

Esther rose up from her position, her composed posture long gone. She looked furious, still believing she did the right thing and Astrid was just an ungrateful brat that married the monster of the family.

 

"I will not tolerate your ungrateful attitude any longer. When you decide to apologise come to find me. Finn, son, follow me."

 

She stormed out of the room with Finn slowly going after her. Before he exited the room, he turned back at the door and sent Astrid a glance, silently apologising for his mother's actions. The awkward silence that followed after their departure. Without any previous indication, Astrid stud up and without a word started to walk around the kitchen. She picked up the empty dishes and placed them into the sink all the while not saying a single word. She would just wipe her eyes with the end of her palms. Once all the dishes were put away she turned around to face the rest of the family. Her eyes were red from the restrained tears.

 

"If you would excuse me."

 

Astrid exited the room, desperately trying to restrain the coming tears. Rebekah went to stand up so she could follow her but was stopped by Klaus' hand on her wrist. She looked at her brother with betrayal in her eyes. The hybrid answered the silent question.

 

"She needs some time alone. It took her centuries before she opened up to me and now that she suddenly told all of you, she needs to calm herself. So please Becah, let her be."

 

Rebekah huffed and sat down at her spot. With a fork, she moved pieces of her eggs across the plate.

 

"Why would Mother do such a thing?"
"Who knows. That woman should not be called a mother. Anyway, just leave her be for a while."
"We shall respect your wish brother."
"Thank you, Elijah."
"Not that I want to break the brotherly bonding moment but where is Kol?"

 

The three siblings looked around the kitchen, desperately trying to locate their unpredictable brother. Seeing as he wasn't there, Klaus said what everyone was thinking.

 

"Fuck."

 

They frantically stud up from the table and started to search the entire house for their brother. While they searched for him, Kol went after Astrid. He found her in a massive library, surrounded by old tomes and grimoires. She had a pillow on her lap as she stared into her open palms. She had heard the sound of someone approaching but did nothing other than wipe another stray tear.

 

"Leave me be Nik! I am in no mood for your company."
"Good thing then that I'm not Klaus."

 

Astrid flinched as she looked up to where the voice came from. Kol was leaning on his side on the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest and the mischief smirk on his face. She didn't say anything, instead, she just stared at him, a small pout on her face.

 

"What do you want Kol? I am in no mood for your company either."
"Did you know that when you pout you look even more like Rebekah? She has the same expression when she is throwing one of her tantrums."
"I am not throwing a tantrum."
"Sure you aren't. You are just trying to become our sister."

 

Astrid smiled a bit at the sister part. So far only Rebekah called her sister, so hearing her place in the family being recognised by Kol was nice.

 

"Nice place you got here, love the books."
"That's funny since I never pegged you for a book type Kol. Sit."

 

She gestured at an empty chair near her. Kol grabbed one of the heavy books and casually started to lip the pages.

 

"So...why keep your magic as a secret?"

 

Astrid let out a sigh and rose from her position at the window still. She approached Kol and removed the book in his lap, making him stand up. He did so with no words whatsoever, just curiously looking at her, wondering what her answer will be. Astrid grasped both of his hands between her own and took a deep breath. As she slowly exhaled the air out of her mouth, Kol felt something moving across his skin. At first, it was nothing but then the feeling grew and grew until it almost overtook all of his senses. Astrid's touch was the only thing that was grounding him in. Slowly the overwhelming feeling diminished, leaving the two siblings close to each other.

 

"Take a deep breath Kol. Try to focus on my voice."
"What was that?"
"It's my magic. At times I get overwhelmed by it and it makes me act in a certain way. Has been doing that ever since I turned."
"So what does it have to do with anything?"
"As I previously mentioned, it acts as my basic instincts, like Nik's wolf side. So since I wanted to be a mother and lost the baby..."
"Your instincts will seek out a replacement. Another child for you to take care off."

 

She nodded her head.

 

"Exactly. And any true mother would do anything to protects its young."
"Like dagger their own brother."

 

Kol said with venom in his voice. He expected Astrid to flinch at the accusation but she just looked directly into his eyes.

 

"I will not apologize for that Kol. I acted on my instincts to protect my family. You posed a danger to everyone that was under our roof, including Marcel. I will admit, I could have handled that a bit better but what is done is done."

 

Kol took a long look at her and once he found what he was looking for, got a massive grin on his face. The mischief was back in his eyes, which told Astrid that the topis of discussion was over and that all have good between them, that Kol no longer held any resentment over being daggered.

 

"So, how about a field trip? I have to admit I am up to some hunting."

 

Astrid let out a matching grin and nodded her head.

 

"I know just the place. Follow me."

 

And with that, the two Original siblings were gone from the room.

 

It was well past midnight when Astrid returned to her bedroom. Klaus was still up, adding finishing touches to another of his sketches. He took one look at her, the scent of fresh blood hitting his senses. Her shirt was covered in blood. Judging by the various smells coming from it, they came from different people.

 

"Had a fun day love?"
"I think so, yes. You know Nik, I think we misjudged Kol. He really knows how to lift up the mood."
"By bringing you in on a killing spree? Last time I went out with him, you gave me back your ring."

 

Klaus inquired. As he spoke, Astrid moved around the room, changing out of her dirty clothes into something cleaner. What she grabbed was one of Klaus' disregarded shirts alongside with clean underwear.

 

"Yes but you two hunted innocent people. This time we had a specific type of targets. Criminals, specifically child molesters, rapists and abusers."
"It seems you had your fun."
"Oh, I did. It was so fun to see them squirm before they died choking in their own blood."

 

She said, getting a dreamy look in her eyes as she remembered their screams as they pleaded for mercy. As she was busy recalling how every one of their blood tasted like, Klaus made his move. In a flash, he dropped his sketchbook and pinned Astrid to the bed, effectively ending her line of thoughts. She looked up at his and matched the smirk on his face.

 

"Have I ever told you how appealing you look all worked up and covered in blood?"

 

He asked as he leaned down to lick a few stray drops of dried blood off her neck which she missed to remove. Astrid shivered under his administration.

 

"Well, why don't you show me instead?"

 

It was pretty clear that neither of them got a lot of sleep that night. The following morning Astrid was in a pretty good mood, humming while she cooked breakfast. Only Kol knew what made her so happy, while the rest of the siblings looked at her in wonder. Klaus pretended he wasn't aware of anything by hiding his face in his coffee mug. Kol had a huge smirk as he opened his mouth.

 

"So, it seems someone finally got laid."

 

Finn and Elijah choked on their coffees due to the shock of Kol's open crudeness. Astrid just smiled as she placed more eggs on his plate.

 

"Speaking of getting laid, Finn, any luck finding Sage?"

 

Finn looked up from his plate, a frown on his face.

 

"me for it either.No and I have no clue where to seek first. Unfortunately, I have no time to look for her. Mother has other ideas. She wants to throw a ball and invite the city to it. To celebrate being a family."

 

Now Astrid and Klaus both had scowls on their faces. They did not like Esther's attitude, she acted as if she was the mistress of the house. which she clearly wasn't.

 

"A ball? How...odd."
"Is that your reaction to mother announcing she wants to throw a ball? You just say 'odd', Astrid?"
"Well, what do you expect me to say, Elijah? To say no? Lord knows that old hag will still throw the ball anyway. It's better if we just go along with it. I choose my fights and this is not one of them. Plus, a ball actually sounds like a splendid idea."
"Guess it's decided then. We shall have a ball."

 

Klaus finished his coffee and placed the mug down. Quietly he leaned closer to Astrid and spoke.

 

"Can I have a minute of your time alone love? We need to discuss something."
"Of course."

 

She said before dropping the mop in her hands and leaving the kitchen with him. They entered one of the smaller sitting rooms.

 

"So what's the matter Nik? Why did you need to talk to me alone, without our family around?"
"Because I wanted to check if you contacted Sage."

 

Hearing that, a large smile appeared on Astrid's face. Oh, she would enjoy teasing him. There weren't many chances for her to do that since he was always serious.

 

"Oh, that's very sweet of you Nik. Thinking of your older brother's love life as well. Tell me, why are you asking? Is it because we can finally be together so you want Finn to be happy as well?"

 

She teased him, the smile never leaving her face. Klaus got a scowl on his face as he processed her words.

 

"Get off your high horse, woman. I just want to tell her to stop looking for Mikael."
"Sure, that's the reason why."

 

She wanted to tease him a bit more but stopped once she saw that he wasn't in the mood for it. Astrid knew when not to push at her husband's temper. She quickly became serious.

 

"I did. I called her as soon as Mikael's ashes were cold. She's currently enjoying some girl time with Greta and the rest of the witch clan."
"Well call her back, make sure that there are no issues between the hybrids."
"Sure. I will give her a call after breakfast."

 

The call lasted for an hour. The conversation with Sage didn't last more than ten minutes, it was Greta who hogged all the time on the phone with her mother figure. The young witch-hybrid wanted to immediately head back to Astrid, but the original hybrid objected. in the end, they came to an agreement that Greta and Sage will come to Mystic Falls with dozen of clan's hybrids in two days, one day before the ball as part of the surprise and Astrid had to admit, as part of her back-up plan in case anything goes wrong. The rest of the witchy clan will remain in New York since they have either found jobs they can't immediately leave or have enrolled in college classes. In secret, she prepared a room for Greta, while just adding more sheets to Finn's room since Sage will definitely stay there. But just to make sure that Finn was ok with that, she cornered him the following day in one of the smaller living room where he was watching documentaries.

 

"Say, Finn, would you be opposed to having a roommate?"
"A roommate? What for? Aren't there enough room in this house?"
"No, of course, we have more than enough rooms. It's just that I'm wondering."

 

Finn looked at her, not believing her excuse. He squinted his eyes, trying to find any hint of lies in her words. Astrid just gave him a tight-lipped smile.

 

"Is something on my face brother? You keep looking at my face."
"It's because you have the same expression as Kol when he is planning something especially devious. I've learned not to trust that expression in the past."
"Oh come now. You are being paranoid and that's not your job. Nik is the paranoid one in the family, not you."

 

Astrid said before walking away, her hand waving back at him. Finn continued to stare at the retreating figure of his sister. Her appearance could fool anyone in believing that she's a member of a completely normal family. He had to laugh at the mear thought that his family is far from what would be described as 'normal' by any human standards. Seeing as she was gone, Finn focused his attention back to the documentary, not aware of the schemes that were developing in his sisters head.

Chapter Text

Within three days everything was set. Drinks were delivered, clothes tailored made and invitations sent. The two surprises arrived and were ushered to their respective rooms, with Sage hiding in one of the guest ones for one night. Finally, the night has arrived. Kol is standing in front of the large mirror, fixing his tie while Rebekah sitting in her emerald green long dress having her nails painted. Finn and Elijah were dressed in suits as well, already ready for the ball. They were going over the final details which their mother insisted on. What concerned them the most was how to make sure that there is plenty of space between their sister and mother. The tension from the big fight was still present any time the two women would be in the same room, so they had to make sure their mother was distracted. Astrid would recognise distraction a mile away so mother was a safer option. While the two brothers argued, another conversation was about to start. This time by Kol.

 

"Rebekah? Tell me how handsome I am."
"Oh, Kol. You know I can't be compelled."
"Well, I think you look rather dashing brother."

 

Both Kol and Rebekah turned their heads toward Astrid who appeared at the doorway. She smiled at their surprised faces and approached her two siblings. Both Elijah and Finn stopped talking and came closer, interested in what will be said. Astrid reached out and straightened Kol's tie. She spoke as she removed the nonexisting dust off his shoulders.

 

"There. You look quite dashing Kol. I'm sure your date will be impressed."
"My date sister? I do not recall asking anyone to accompany me."
"Well, of course, you have a date. This is a ball in which we will show our family to this town. Everyone else has a date and yours is waiting in the next room. Should I call her here or will you meet her at the staircase?"

 

Kol frowned at what his sister was saying. He did not want a date. Gods know who his sister has found for him.

 

"You better bring her here. But if I do not like her, I won't hesitate to kill her. And you will owe me a favour."
"Of course, that only seems fair."

 

Kol's face got an even bigger frown after hearing those words. Astrid was not the type to just throw away people's lives for a bet, that was more his game than hers. So whatever she was planning with that 'date', she must be certain to win it. She disappeared and returned not a minute later, closely being followed by another pair of footsteps. Kol expected another average girl, a brunette or a blond like the ones he saw when he and Astrid went hunting a few days before. What he got to see, what a dark-skinned beauty. Dresses in an A-line long red tulle dress and with her dark curly hair going over her shoulder. To Kol, who enjoyed death and wasn't disgusted by getting covered in blood, seeing that woman dresses in a blood-red dress with a grin that could match his own was a dream come true. He turned toward Astrid, his mouth slightly opened in shock. She just laughed in return.

 

"I told you I knew how to pick them. Now Kol, this is Greta. She's my protege."
"Enchanté miss."

 

Kol murmured as he leaned down and placed a surprisingly soft kiss on Greta's hand. Greta smiled and let him kiss her hand.

 

"Hello, Kol Mikaelson. I have heard a lot about you."
"All bad I hope."
"Oh, the worst. But that is what makes you so charming in my eyes. Astrid was true to her words."
"So she was."

 

Kol concluded. He placed her hand into his and turned toward his sister. Satisfaction was clearly seen in her eyes as she looked at them.

 

"It seems you have won this round sister. We shall see you later but right now, me and Miss Greta shall have a word or two."

 

He said before leaving the room, Greta happily walking by his side. As they departed, they left three Originals staring into their backs, all of their mouths open in silent shock. The first one to gain back their bearing was Elijah, who upon closing his mouth came a little closer to his sisters.

 

"I can hardly believe my eyes. I have never seen Kol be so civil and calm in the presence of a lady"
"Well believe it, Elijah. I had no doubt that Greta will charm him. Our brother is already smitten by her."

 

Elijah looked at her with doubt. He had a hard time accepting that one girl could change Kol like that but then he remembered just what effect Astrid had on Klaus. Perhaps miracles really did exist.

 

"How can you be so sure, sister? Won't he pose danger to her?"
"Not at all Finn. Kol might be rather violent and bloodthirsty at times, but he was like that in the past due to everything that happened to us. We all needed an outlet and that was his. Even in the case that he does attack her, I have no fear. Greta is the first one to be sired by my blood. Her magic is especially strong. Nothing like mine but enough to handle Kol if he gets out of control."
"So, you matched them to control Kol?"

 

Astrid glared at Elijah. Anger made a brief appearance in her eyes, warning him that he came close to the setting of her temper with that comment. Even after all this time since they've reunited as a family, Elijah still doubted at his siblings. He still looked at them as loose cannons, ready to fire at any given moment without notice. Kol was just that in his eyes, a loose cannon. She gritted her teeth as she spoke.

"I matched them together because I believe that they could have a nice future together and because they have similar personalities. I believe in my brother Elijah, do you?"

 

Before Elijah could respond to her challenge, Klaus entered the room. He was dressed in an immaculate suit just like his brothers, the only difference was that his tie was navy blue.

 

"I thought you said no fights tonight love, so why are you starting one?"
"I am not starting a fight. I am just teaching Elijah a valuable lesson on family trust, that is all."

 

Klaus nodded and planted a kiss on her neck. His arm went and remained firmly placed on her hip, keeping her close to him.

 

"Are you ready to go? Mother is already expecting us at the hall."
"In a minute. There is just one more matter to settle before we go. Did you bring what I asked?"

 

"The special box for Finn. Yes, I have it."

 

He said before pulling out a small box out of his jacket. Astrid took it and separated from Klaus the box still closed in her hands. She approached Finn and spoke. A smirk on her face.

 

"Brother, do you recall the conversation we had regarding you getting a roommate?"
"I do although I do not understand why that is important? Why do I require a roommate? I am happy alone."
"Well, that's a shame. She would be so disappointed. After all, she waited so long for you."

 

Astrid said with a fake pout on her face. Finn became confused. He had no idea what she was talking about. Who was waiting for him? Astrid almost laughed at the confused expression on her oldest brothers face but she held her composure.

 

"At least she can say goodbye right?"
"I suppose."
"Darling, why don't you come in? It seems your stubborn man is being a bit of a fool."

 

The still confused Finn turned to the door, not knowing who to expect. The first thing he saw was black. The black dress was sawn in a mermaid style and it made a contrast to the woman's red hair. Finn couldn't take or believe his eyes. There, right in front of his, not even ten feet away, stood the love of his life, the only woman he ever loved. They have been apart for over nine hundred years but she still looked like a goddess to him. He made small moves toward her, afraid that if he took a wrong step she will vanish away. Nevertheless, he finally found himself standing right in front of her. His fingers hovering over her cheek, still afraid to touch. Sage did that for him. She leaned into his touch, finally feeling the sensation of their skins touching after so long. The touch seemed to snap Finn out of his trance as he immediately grabbed both sides of her face and kissed her as if she was the only source of light in the darkness. Perhaps in his immortal darkness, she truly was. It was a touching moment. Two lovers finally reunited after centuries of separation. Once the couple ended their kiss, they turned toward the grinning Astrid and Klaus, who once again ended tightly pressed against each other.

 

"I have kept my promise, Sage."
"You did Astrid and I thank you for that."
"I just…how did you do this sister?"
"I never lost touch with her Finn. When you were daggered, I kept my eye on her. Whenever we moved to another continent or country, she would follow."
"But why?"
"Because she's family. And I would trust only our family to protect you if anything were to happen to me and Nik. She would have immediately come for your coffins and keep you safe. Now, there is something I need to give you dear brother before the ball starts."

 

Astrid says before stepping away from Klaus' embrace and coming closer to the newly reunited couple. She placed the small box into Finn's hand and wrapped his fingers around it. He wanted to ask her what was inside the box but she winked at him and placed a finf+ger over her lips, telling him not to ask the question.

 

"The garden outside is quite lovely. I'm sure it's perfect for the two of you to reconnect with a little privacy."
"But won't mother object to us missing the begging of the ball?"
"Let me deal with Esther. You deserve some time together."

 

Astrid said with a smile on her face as she gently pushed the couple into the hallway. The moment she closed the doors behind them, she turned around and leaned onto the doors, her hands behind her back.

 

"Well, that went well."

 

Silence rang across the room. Both Elijah and Rebekah were surprised and in awe at what she just accomplished. Finn was the one sibling that wasn't especially close to any of them and had a rather bad opinion of them being vampires. But now he actually looked happy, like there was a new light in his eyes. Klaus just smirked at his wife. It was always entertaining when she played matchmaker and always got her way in the end. The was she pulled other people's strings was a thing to see.

 

"So, Rebekah, you loom stunning. Green really suits you."
"Don't try to start a new topic, Astrid. I saw what you did there. Why in the hell did you find a date for Finn and Kol?! Finn, I can somehow understand but Kol?!"
"I don't see the point of you complaining. Don't you have a date to the ball by the name of Mister Donovan?"
"I won-what what?!"

Rebekah said, confused at what she just heard.

 

"You have a date to the ball. Mister Donovan came to the house yesterday and asked to speak to you. Since you were at the town, getting your dress fitted I volunteered to pass on the message. The young man was truly sorry for not being able to take you to the prom so he hoped that this could fix things between you. I suggest you give him a chance sister. You might be surprised."
"Fine, but that doesn't let you off the hook. I'm still mad at you for not telling me about Sage before this."

 

Rebekah pouted but didn't say anything else. Elijah decided that it was high time to leave for the ballroom in an attempt to avoid his sister's matchmaking grasp. Unfortunately for him, Astrid appeared right in front of his as he made a move for the door. A terrifying grin on her face as she looked at him.
"Oh, and where do you think you are going Elijah?"
"The answer to that question is quite obvious. I am going to the ballroom before it starts. I have no time for your matchmaking."
"Fine, you can go but know this, I will not let anyone in our family be without a date for this evening. Now since my main focus was Kol's and Finn's dates, I couldn't find anyone for you."

 

Elijah couldn't resist and he let out a sigh out of relief. He was thanking whatever god that existed that his sister couldn't do her matchmaking on him as well. Her following words broke his line of thought.

 

"However, that doesn't mean I didn't find a dance partner for you. You don't have to be the entire night with her. That is up to you, but at least one or two dances wouldn't hurt."
"May I know who my date is?"
"Caroline Forbes. I send her an invitation as a gesture of goodwill. Surprisingly, I grew fond of her. And before you start her a rant against her Becca, remember this. You will be returning to the high-school and let's be honest, you need friends."
"I have friends."
"No, you don't Rebekah. You have minions as Nik did. Mindless minions that do your every bidding. That are no true friends. Just try and get along with her. I'm not saying you need to instantly become BFF'S, I'm just asking of you to be polite. For my sake, please?"
"Fine but I make no promises."
"Thank you. Now, please move along. I just need to get ready myself and the ball can begin. I won't be too long."

 

The rest of the siblings left the room, leaving Astrid to calm herself down before heading up to her bedroom, where hidden in her closet, was her dress for the evening.

 

Finally, the time has arrived. The ball has officially started and the Mikaelson siblings mingled among the town population, while a live small orchestra played classical music. Rebekah and Klaus were standing aside, near the stairs, talking.

 

"So where is Astrid?"
"How should I know?"
"Well, you are the one who married her. Also, you were the last one to see her."

 

Before Klaus could answer his annoyed sister, Esther appeared near them. Almost instantly he tensed up, not wanting to talk to his mother. It was clear that she wasn't in a good mood.

"Niklaus, where is that woman of yours? Gods would think that she never gets anything done if she is this late to anything."
"First of all, 'mother', she is my wife and-"
"Me being late is still in the borders of what is called being fashionably late."

 

Came a reply from the top of the staircase. The three family members looked up. Once he saw her, Klaus forgot whatever he was about to say. Astrid looked radiant in her royal blue off-shoulder dress that featured a slit on her right leg. She didn't wear any other jewellery other than a three-strand pearl necklace that reached her breast bone. A large smile was on her face as few strands of brown hair framed her face. The rest of the hair was pulled up in a french updo twist. Klaus offered his arm to her as she reaches the bottom of the stairs.

 

"You look magnificent love."
"Thank you, Nik. You look quite charming as well."

 

Esther looked at her, a frown still prominent on her face.

 

"And where were you? You are late."
"Relax Esther. This is a party. Smile. You wouldn't want to let guests think that there is something wrong in our family."
"This is 'my' family, remember that. You are just included because tricked Niklaus into marrying you."
"Oh? Is that what you really think? So according to you, I managed to trick Nik into marrying me two times, both of which were centuries apart."
"Do not twist my words, Astrid."

 

She almost growled out. Which, coming from a human witch was quite impressive. Klaus tried to hide his laughter with a cough but the moment he did that, Esther turned her attention onto him.

 

"You better teach your wife her place Niklaus. She will bring shame to all of us with her behaviour. And since you're at it, dispose of that peasant woman hanging on Finn. It is a disgrace to see such Finn in the presence of that loose woman."

 

Now all three of the Original siblings had to frown at Esther's words. Astrid was fine with her being insulted, but once her mother-in-law from hell turned her mouth on Sage, that was when she drew the line. She was just about to open her mouth to put Esther back into her place when Finn appeared, with Sage on his arm. The couple looked truly happy as they came from the gardens. Astrid kept quiet until she was sure that the couple was within hearing limit and then she spoke.

 

"Now, now Esther. Where did all those foul words come from? Didn't your own husband teach you how to speak to others? It seems he did a poor job, seeing as you have such a loose mouth yourself. Better watch out, since I'm quite sure Finn will not be happy with how you speak of his beloved."

 

By the time Astrid finished with her rant, Esther was red in her face and the happy couple wasn't so happy anymore. Seeing her eldest son approaching, the mother quickly gave an excuse about needing to find a restroom to freshen up. Once she was gone, only then did Finn and Sage approach them.

 

"What made mother so upset?"
"Oh, nothing important brother. So tell me, any good news?"

 

Astrid asked, a knowing smirk on her face. The confrontation with Esther was almost entirely forgotten. The couple remained quiet for a moment and then a huge smile broke out on Sage's face. She raised her left and a ring shone on the light. The ring was a simple princess cut diamond with a band of white gold. Rebekah grabbed Sage's hand to have a better look and once she let go, immediately noticed the smug look on her sister's face.

 

"You knew this would happen, didn't you?"
"I just knew that Finn needed a little push in the right direction, that is all. After all, I keep my promises and I promised Sage to reunite her with you. I mean, after so many years of waiting, isn't it time for her to join our family officially?"
"Congratulations are in order brother."
"Thank you, Niklaus. It seems you and Astrid won't be the only bonded couple in the family."
"As happy as I am, has anyone seen Kol?"
"He is somewhere with Greta, don't worry. He's behaving like a true gentleman."
"And you know that how exactly?"
"I use, what is it that you Nik loves to call it, witchy ju-ju? Also, he is right there, talking to the Mayor."

 

She said as she moved her head in a direction where Kol was. Indeed, he was talking to Mayor Lockwood, with Greta on his hand. It seemed they got quite along. Out of the corner of her eye, Rebekah spotted another figure entering inside.

 

"Would you look at that. The Doppelganger wasn't satisfied with one of the Salvatore's, she had to have both of them."

 

It seemed that it was true. Elena did enter while accompanied by each Salvatore brother on her arm. Seeing her, Finn froze for the second but quickly focused back on his fiancee. Astrid didn't comment on his reaction, it was understandable. He's been daggered for nearly nine hundred years. The last time he saw that face, they were still human and no blood was spilt. Seeing as the mood has somehow dampened, she took Klaus' hand and gave it a squeeze.

 

"Have you seen Elijah? It's almost time for the waltz."

 

She asked as a diversion. Klaus shrugged and took her hand into his, leading her away. Rebekah went away to search for Matt and Finn headed off to the bar, wanting to get a drink for Sage and himself. There he stumbled upon the very same Doppelganger that started this whole mess. Once he answered the question the girl had about his mother, he came back to Sage, drinks forgotten. Why in Heaven's name would that girl have a need to talk to their mother? With that one question in his mind, he waited by the staircase. Soon, the entire family was gathered at the stairs, their dance partners by their sides, except for Matt, who wasn't that comfortable around all the vampires. It was Elijah, who announced the waltz.

 

"Tonight's pick is a centuries-old waltz, so if all of you could please find yourselves a partner, please join us in the ballroom."
"May I have this dance love?"
"Of course Mister Mikaelson."

 

Astrid said with a small curtsy and accepted his hand. The gentle sound of a waltz filled the dancing hall. The hybrid couple held each other close as they danced around the room. From a corner of their eyes, they spotted both Kol and Finn dancing with their respective partners. Rebekah was dancing with Damon. Astrid did not like the way her sister glared daggers at the dancing Doppelganger.

 

"I fear that Becca might be up to something. Since Elijah stopped her from attacking the girl, she's been itching to harm her somehow."
"Well, what would you do? Rebecca is quite stubborn when she sets her mind on something."
"We need to distract her, at least for tonight until we find a more lasting solution."
"Do as you wish. I'm afraid that she would explode at any of my attempts of restricting her."
"Fine."

 

The song came to an end and the dancers bowed to each other. The guests now mingled more freely amongst each other, some separating to dance in the middle. The Original family gathered once more near the stair, semi-drank champagne glasses in their hands. Sage was there but for some reason, Finn was missing. She claimed that he needed a moment alone. No one questioned it. Surprisingly, it wasn't Astrid who spoke first. It was actually Rebekah, who currently without a date just like Elijah.

 

"You seem in a foul mood. What did annoy you this time Elijah?"
"Noting concerning you Rebecca."
"Come now 'Lijah. You can confide with your sisters, I promise we won't snitch you out to mother."

 

Rebecca said, not even trying to hide the teasing tone in her voice. The entire group watched as he let out sight and pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

"Fine but not a word was to reach mother, do you understand?"

 

The siblings were surprised. Elijah had never yielded to Rebecca's demands that fast. Whatever was bothering him had to be serious. Astrid has a slight idea of what might be bothering her older brother but she kept her mouth shut, letting him say it in his own time.

 

"I caught Miss Elena on the upper floor, she claimed that our mother had asked for a private meeting with her. Other than that she didn't say."
"And you suspect that something is amiss with that, don't you?"
"Yes but-"
"There is no but here Elijah. I have never trusted Esther and it's becoming clear that you don't trust her either. Well, not like you have before."

 

Astrid said, her tone clearly stating her displeasure at the current topic of the conversation. She took a sip of her champagne, to stop herself before she said anything too rash. Before anyone could join in on the conversation, Finn appeared. He looked a bit put off but everyone was too busy focusing on Astrid and Elijah to truly notice.

 

"Is everything alright Finn? You disappeared right after the waltz."
"I am alright."
"Fine, I'll believe your judgement. Now, to make my point. We cannot trust her Elijah. No matter how much any of you want your mother back, it's been over one thousand years. She's been stuck on the other side for so long, it won't be a surprise if she lost her mind halfway there."
"That was uncalled for Astrid. Mother might be planning something but you have no right in insulting her like that. Until we know for sure that something is happening, we will do nothing."
"You want proof? I'll give you enough proof for you to believe me. That woman wants to harm us."

 

The silence that followed was a bit uncomfortable. Astrid and Elijah continued to look directly into each other's eyes, neither of them wanting to be the first one to look away. Strangely enough, it was Finn of all people who looked the most uncomfortable. He couldn't meet anyone's eye and constantly looked to the side. Astrid caught onto his discomfort and decided to look into it.

 

"Something wrong brother? You do not look so happy for a person finally reunited with their family."
"I-I have a confession to make. What Astrid said it true, mother does wish to harm us. That's why she asked to meet the Doppelganger alone tonight."
"And you speak about it only now?!"
"Calm yourself Nik. Let him speak. Can't you see he's struggling enough with this?"
"Mother asked me to help her because she still believes that I wish to die. That I am repulsed of being a vampire but that is not the case anymore. She had me bring the girl to her and then leave. I was ready to do it but then Astrid reunited me with Sage and I saw that we can be a proper family, without constantly stabbing each other in the back. I am so sorry."

 

Finn said, the quilt in his voice clear for everyone to hear.

 

"And she asked for nothing else from you?"
"Nothing. Just to make sure that the knife is sharp enough for when she needs it."

 

Astrid turned to Kol and Greta, who were silently listening to the whole thing. It was almost obvious that the gears in their heads were turning, they were thinking of all the possible ways in which Esther might attempt to harm them with magic.

 

"But for what would she need the knife?"
"To make someone bleed of course."

 

Spoke Kol. An intense look on his face appeared as he continued to speak. Any left traces of mischief on his face were gone. He was dead serious now.

 

"Blood is one of the strongest ingredients in any witches spell. If you have enough of it, hardly anything is unreachable. But blood magic is also very volatile. I met less than a dozen witches who could perform it and be left unscared."
"But for what would she need the girl?"
"For her blood. Think about it. This all started with the blood of a Doppelganger and it will end with the Doppelganger blood."
"And you think that her blood will somehow kill all of us?"
"Completly nonsense-"

 

Rebekah started to say but was stopped by Astrid who quieted her down by raising her palm.

 

"That actually makes sense. A lot of binding spells involve blood and since Doppelganger blood could be considered magical by itself, it could definitely work. Think about it Becca, if one dies, we all die as well."
"So what can we do to stop the spell?"

 

Kol took over the explanation part.

 

"The spell will work only if we ingest the blood. If one person doesn't drink the blood, the chain will be incomplete and the spell will fail in the end."
"It's decided then. Everyone will keep an eye of any possible way that mother could slip into the food or drinks. We need you to continue to play the part of a suicidal son Finn if that is alright with you. We can't let Esther know that we are onto her. Any idea in what she could put the blood in, Finn?"

 

The eldest sibling nodded his head, silently telling that he had no clue from where the blood will come. The rest of the siblings continued to mingle around for a while before it was time for the toast. The sound of Christal rings caught the attention of the entire hall. There, at the top of the staircase, stud Esther with a glass of red-tinted champagne in her hand. Waiters started passing around more glasses of the champagne. The siblings accepted the glasses without any protests, not wanting to tip their mother that they were onto their plans.

 

"Good Evening, Ladies and Gentleman. Waiters are coming around with champagne. I invite you all to join me in raising a glass. It provides me with no greater joy than to see my family back together as one. I would also like to welcome two new additions to my family. I'd like to thank you all for being part of this spectacular evening. Cheers!"
"Cheers!"

 

The entire crowd responded back as they took a sip of the offered drink. The siblings passed barely noticeable nods amongst each other and tipped the glasses to drink. Astrid and Rebekah were the ones who let the liquid touch their lips but did not consume any of it. They just mimicked the motion of drinking and once Esther removed her gaze from them, lovered the glassed and wiped the remaining drops off their lips. Then, when the siblings were free to mingle with the quests once more, Astrid slipped the rest of her drink into a vase of flowers that was placed near the balcony, far away for anyone to see her do it. The rest of the evening went without a single hitch and Rebekah even got a promise of a possible date in the nearby future with Mat. And when Damon tried to pull some moves on a slightly tipsy Rebekah, all four brothers finally got to play the roles of protective big brothers. That resulted in at least five different death threats with colourful and brief descriptions of torture, all the while Sage, Greta and Astrid watched the whole thing with smiles on their faces. It was a perfect ending to a mostly perfect night.

Chapter Text

The morning after the ball the siblings slowly crawled out of their rooms, all still tired from the previous night. They all followed the fresh smell of food to the small kitchen on the side of the mansion. Among the first to appear were Kol and Elijah. Astrid was already sitting there, sipping on her coffee.

 

"Good morning fellows."
"How in God's name, can you be so cheerful so early in the morning?"
"I discovered something called coffee Kol. You should try it."

 

Kol follows her advice and pours himself a cup of coffee. Elijah poured himself a cup as well and observed Astrid with caution, while she watched Kol with barely concealed mischief. He received the answer for her look the next moment when Kol finally tried the coffee. His reaction was instant and Astrid laughed out loud. Even Elijah had to smile at his younger brothers reaction. Kol's face was all scrunched up due to his unfamiliarity to the bitter taste of the coffee. It was completely adorable, altho Astrid knew better than to voice it out loud. She would have Kol on her ass and it was too early in the morning to be dealing with him.

 

"How on earth are you drinking this disgusting stuff?"
"Not like that I don't. I love to add sugar and milk into it, Nik is the one who likes it all black."
"I will never try this foul concoction ever again."

 

Both Elijah and Astrid rolled their eyes at that. After Klaus, Kol was the biggest drama queen in the entire family. She passed the cups of milk and sugar to Kol who eagerly added them to his coffee. Then, the three siblings served themselves with french toast. Soon after that, brought by the delicious smell of breakfast, came a slouched Rebekah. She tried to avoid looking up at anyone, especially at any source of light.

 

"Well, well, well, there's our girl!"

 

Rebekah flinched at the loud noise, still not completely done with the hangover. Astrid grabbed the nearby magazine and hit Kol over the head with it. The younger Original placed his hand at the spot and looked back at her.

 

"Ouch! What was that for?"
"You know what was that for. Leave your sister be. Can't you see that she has a headache? Becca, dear, have some coffee."
"Yes, mom."

 

Kol said with fake annoyance in his voice. Rebekah smiled at the way her sister handled Kol, who usually wouldn't give up on annoying her that easily. Astrid's smile slipped off her face at the mention of Esther. The rest of the siblings soon realised that the time for jokes was over. It was time to get to business and deal with their homicidal mother.

 

"Speaking of mothers, what shall we do with yours?"
"Don't we all have to be here for this discussion?"
"I see no reason why we should. Nik is out dealing with the hybrids and I see no reason why we should bother Finn and Sage. Let them enjoy their engagement for a while without any further tension."
"So, the plan?"
"For a linking spell like this, Esther cannot really only on her powers. Not even the full moon will give her the needed boost. She needs more power, from at least two witches. And it's quite obvious, just who will help her."
"The Bennet witch."
"That's right Elijah, Bonnie Bennett and her mother."
"It does make sense that Miss Bennett would help our mother. Since we came here, she's not been our biggest fan."

 

Astrid nodded her head at Elijah's conclusion and gathered the plates to wash them later. Once they were in the sink, she turned back to her siblings.

 

"You don't have to worry about a thing, Becca. Kol and I will handle the witches when the time comes. And I trust you, Elijah, that you will keep an eye on the gang for us."
"I was thinking of paying Miss Elena a visit regarding what happened last night. I do not like being lied straight in my face."
"You have fun. I will be buried under layers of dust and old paper. Oh, and Kol?"
"Yeah?"
"Do say hey to Greta when she finally gets out of your bed. It's a real shame I couldn't say goodnight to her last night, with you two leaving in a hurry."

 

Realising what she was hinting at, a blush appeared on his cheeks as he ducked out of the kitchen. Elijah just shook his head before leaving as well, leaving the two sisters alone on finish cleaning up the kitchen before both leaving to start with their tasks.

 

The rest of the day passed in a general way. Nothing happened in any drastic way. Sometime after noon, Elijah returned from his walk in the woods acting rather troubled but everyone just let him be. It was obvious that whatever the Doppelganger told him, he didn't like. By that time, Klaus has returned to the mansion with both Greta and Kol behind him. Now only Fin and Sage were missing. The living room was starting to fill with unresolved tension that slowly began to spread through the air. Each of the couples sat close to their counterpart.

 

"Will you finally tell us what you did to the Doplleganger girl, brother?"
"I have not harmed the girl if that is what you are inquiring Astrid. She's merely trapped in the underground cave systems, possibly unconscious"
"Possibly?"
"Well, I didn't really check on her after getting her down there."
"How naughty of you 'lijah."
"Rebecca please...."
"Moving on. I know I said that we should leave Finn and Sage alone but we should have seen them at least once, right? There are absolutely no sounds coming from their room and I'm starting to worry."

 

Almost as if summoned, a crash came from the floor above. The siblings shared a look and went to investigate. They found the engaged couples room in a perfect condition with only one wooden chair broken into pieces. The pieces of wood were pilled against the wall, which itself had a large dent on its surface. Sage was still placed in a position that clearly indicated that she was the cause of the noise and broken furniture. Her anguish sounded the alarms with the Original siblings. Elijah was the first one to speak.

 

"What happened Sage? Where is our brother?"
"I do not know! Last I remember was getting back to this room and then Finn started acting strangely. He didn't seem like he was in control of his own body. Then everything went black."
"Figures. It's so Esther's style to knock you out with a sleeping spell and kidnap Finn. She's probably planning on using his a target for the spell tonight. He gets hurt and we don't then the secret is out and she will find another way to screw us over."
"Makes sense sis. So what will we do now?"

 

Kol asked. Astrid crossed her arms and started taping one of her manicured fingers over her lips. She remained quiet for a while, thinking before she turned towards Elijah.

 

"Have you contacted the Salvatore brothers after trapping Elena?"
"No."
"Then let's do that. Instead of getting our hands dirty, let them do it. Esther is using the powers of the Bennett line witches, dead and aline. The only way to break it is if one of the witches is no longer a witch. Someone just needs to turn her and the bond will be severed."
"That is all fine and well, but who will sire her?"
"Me, Kol. We will make the boys turn her with my blood."
"Won't that turn her into a witch hybrid?"
"It might just do that Elijah. But here's the catch. For every witch I turn, Nature and ancestors must judge them worthy. Even if Abby Bennet does transition, she might not have her magic, making her a regular vampire. The bond will still be broken."
"There, problem solved."

 

Klaus finally spoke. Everyone looked at him, observing his relaxed stance. He was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed. He looked too calm for a person that might be dead in a few hours if they screw up.

 

"What? I know that I am handsome but you don't have to stare at me like that."
"I think they are amazed at the level of calmness you are showing Nik. In the past, you would have done something rash by now."
"I do not see what the big deal is. I killed the hag already once, the second time won't be that hard either. Not if I have the rest of the family on my side."

 

All the vampires nodded their heads, some more noticeably than others but everyone showed that they were agreeing with Klaus.

 

"I'll get the blood and Elijah could be on his way."
"I will go with you. It will be much faster if you do not have to return here with the blood."
"Fine, whatever suits you."

 

The brother and sister separated from the group and proceded to the kitchen where they usually have breakfast. Astrid dug around the cabinets for a while before pulling out a glass jar. With a quick slash of the kitchen knife, she filled the jar with her blood. There was at least a pint of her blood, which wouldn't affect her too much but since she hadn't had fresh blood in a while, the skin on her face turned a bit lighter than her usual healthy tone.

 

"There. A pint of my blood. Make sure that the boys use every last drop of it. I don't like seeing my blood go to waste."
"I will make sure they do. Goodbye, sister."

 

Astrid walked back to the living room, where most of the family moved. Rebekah was missing as well as Sage. She sat down next to Klaus, who pulled her tightly to his side. His grip was quite strong but she never said anything. Altho he was silent the whole time, Astrid knew her husband well enough to tell that he was still worried, for her or for the family she wasn't sure and didn't care. She placed her hand over his, her wedding ring touching his. Their eyes met, worried blue with the comforting grey eyes.

 

"Do not worry Nik. Esther has no chance against us."
"She does not worry me, love."
"Then what is on your mind? We are finally united against a common goal. Or is that the problem here? No one will betray us Nik."
"You cannot say that, love. We have never gotten all along so perfectly for this long, something bad will happen."

 

Astrid gently grasped his chin and gave him a soft smile.

 

"Call it a woman's or witches intuition, but I know that everything will turn out just fine."

 

The couple spent the rest of the evening up to the ritual just cuddling. Altho they moved to their bedroom since both of them still weren't used to showing much affection in front of their siblings. Once the time came to confront their mother, everyone had a glass of blood for good luck and headed into the dark forest as the full moon slowly rose into the sky.

 

The bright light of the torches did nothing to lift the mood. The siblings all exited the forest into the plain field in one line, side by side. There, before then, was the latest cause of trouble in their family, their mother Esther. Astrid looked around, trying desperately to locate Finn. Sage was behind then alongside with Greta, they were made to stay behind since they didn't want to risk it. Elijah had said that it was between them and their mother but that if they wish, no one will stop them from going. So here they all were, finally united as a family. Esther showed no fear as seeing her children approach her nor did she back away. She remained rooted in her spot. Everyone was suspicious about why she wasn't moving and then they took a closer look. She had nowhere to go. The salt circle and the torches closed her off from others and Finn's body was lying on the ground behind her. He seemed like he was under heavy sedatives but Astrid and Kol knew better. Their brother was under one of Esther's sleeping spells since drugs or potions would interfere with the ritual. Esther needed his blood to be clean.

 

"My sons. Come forward."
"You have forgotten about me as well Esther. Altho I can forgive you this mishap, after all, I am quite a fan of how you spruced this place for a family reunion. Planning something special?"
"Be quiet Astrid. After tonight, I will finally end the misery that I started."
"Whatever you think of us, killing your own children will be an atrocity."
"Be quiet Elijah. Out of all my children, I thought you would have understood the reason why I am doing this. For a thousand years, I've been forced to watch you. Felt the pain of every victim, suffered while you shed blood. Even you, Elijah, with your claim to nobility, you're no better. All of you. You're a curse on this Earth. Stretched out over generations. If you've come to plead for your life, I'm sorry, you've wasted your time."
"Oh, I see where Nik and Kol get their sense of drama from. That was quite a monologue you just performed there Esther. But let me make something clear to you since apparently, all your brain cells have remained in the grave. When you have turned all of us into vampires, you disrupted the balance of nature. That is why white oak can still kill us etc. And when Nik became a hybrid, the need to balance that out appeared as well. So nature created me. An immortal vampire-witch hybrid. A perfect counterpart to Nik. A yin to his yang. The balance was established once more. So imagine what would happen if you suddenly kill us, if a balance that has lasted over a thousand years disappearance. You cannot undo your work, not after all this time."
"Whatever you are planning, it won't work Astrid. I will correct my mistakes."

 

Astrid smirked at her words. It was clear that what she just said made perfect sense in Esther's head. The stubborn woman wasn't just going to accept the fact that she was wrong, that her ultimate goal was never going to happen. The immortal witch took a deep breath and looked at the glowing moon, absorbing the bust of power it gave to her.

 

"Ahh, but you see. It's already too late. You are too late Esther."

 

Esther wanted to fight back but suddenly all the torches flared up. Panic flooded her mind as she felt her connection to the Bennett witches shatter, all the magic that was under her control was now gone. The Original siblings all started to approach her and in a moment of pure panic, Esther made all the torches explode, temporarily creating a cover for her to escape. When the smoke finally cleared, she was long gone. The siblings were in a daze, considering how fast everything happened. A scream made them all focus on what was before them. Their brother Finn who was still non-responding was now being cradled in the arms of his lady love Sage.

 

"Finn! Wake up! Come on, say something!"

 

Astrid hurried closer to the couple, dragging Kol behind her. The brother and sister kneeled next to their brother and took a look. Almost instantly their fear disappeared. Finn was going to be alright. As she escaped, Esther snapped his neck.

 

"Don't worry Sage. He'll be fine. His neck is just broken. We will take care of the rest, you our brother home."
"Alright. We will be waiting for you there."

 

Sage raised Finn's body and ran off, disappearing into the dark woods. The two siblings turned back to face Klaus and Elijah. Everyone had a tired look in their eyes. Altho they were aware that Esther wanted them dead, seeing her actually try in broke something in all of the siblings. Astrid let out sight and nudged Kol with her elbow.

 

"Let's go home Kol. I'm in a mood for some hot chocolate."
"That sounds quite tempting sister."

 

The younger brother laughed and a smile appeared on their faces. The distraction allowed everyone to focus on something else, so they can slowly start to forget about what happened. Astrid wrapped one of her arms around one of Kol's and started to walk with him towards the woods. The five siblings spent the rest of the night awake, drinking hot chocolate mixed with a bit of alcohol and blood, exchanging embarrassing stories and jokes from the times long gone. As the dawn slowly approached, only Klaus and Astrid remained in the living room. They started to collect the dirty mugs and placed them on a tray. Astrid balanced the tray on her hip and looked at Klaus.

 

"Go to bed Nik. I will be there in a moment. There is just one more thing I have to handle."
"The dishes can be washed later on. Come join me in bed."

 

She just nodded her head, shifting the tray a bit before reaching up and kissing him.

 

"I was not talking about the dishes. But do not fret. I won't be long."

 

With that, she picked up the last of the mugs and carried them to the kitchen. Once they were all in the sink, she exited the mansion and ran across the forest. She followed no trail, no scent or sound. What she followed was her instinct, she went to the direction where her magic sent her. When she stopped, Astrid found herself in front of a house that had a familiar smell of Bennett witches. It wasn't much comparing the mansion where she lived but who was she to judge. Astrid knocked on the door and waited. She didn't wait for long and the front door was opened by Caroline, dressed in a black mourning dress. The young vampire was clearly surprised to see her. Astrid let out an awkward cough, hoping to break the silent staredown and smiled. A voice came from the inside.

 

"Caroline, who is it? Did Elena come here again?"
"Ummm...I'm not sure you should get here."
"Who could it be Caroline?"

 

The sound of footsteps became louder as the girl came closer to the door. Astrid found herself face to face to a Bennett witch, the daughter of the woman that her blood was currently turning into a hybrid. Seeing the Original witch in front of her, Bonnie hurried and tried to slam the door shut but Astrid placed her foot on the door's path, stopping her.

 

"Please her me our Bonnie. I just need you to listen to what I have to say for five minutes."
"I don't want you here. Leave!"
"I mean you no harm young Bennett witch. At least let me help your mother complete her transition."

 

Bonnie stepped away from the dor but still remained close to the door. Caroline looked between the two witches, before turning toward her friend.

 

"Bonnie, at least hear what she has to say. You don't have to invite her in."
"Fine. What do you want?"
"I want to apologize."
"Well you did, now leave us alone."
"Just let me finish. I wanted to apologize for dragging you and your mother in our family fight. This was between us and Esther and she had no right to involve you two into this. I am not here to speak on my mother-in-law's behalf, rather I need to ask for forgiveness for my actions. My blood is turning your mother into a thing you hate the most and I needed to come here to fix my wrongdoings."
"You can reverse the transition?"
"No, that is beyond my magic. What I can do is help her once she awakens."
"We know how to handle that. They helped me when I first turned."
"I know you mean well Caroline but this and your case are polar opposites. You had Stefan on your side to help you hunt, you had both Elena and Bonnie ready to help you. Abby's case is different. She's transitioning into a hybrid, not a vampire. For the last step to occur she needs another dose of my blood, human or animal blood won't work. And even if that works, I sincerely doubt Bonnie would want any of the Salvatore's near her or her mother. Am I right?"
"She's right Care. I don't want to see any of them."
"So please let me in, she is nearing the end of her transition and she needs my blood as soon as possible."
"Fine but give me your word that you won't come to my house any time you want."
"Sounds reasonable. I, Astrid Mikaelson, swear on my magic that I will not enter the Bennett house unless invited once more."

 

The girls looked at her, curious about her words.

 

"When a witch gives her word, she is binding by her magic to fulfil the given word. Not many witches use them nowadays since its part of old traditions."
"Alright, come on in."
"Thank you. Now, I already said, there is not much time for me to work with."

 

Astrid said as she entered the house in a hurry. She did not ask for directions, instead just followed her magic to find the body of Abby Bennett. It took less than a minute to find the cold corpse. Astrid sat on the side of the bed and leaned over Abby. She looked back at the door where Bonnie and Caroline were looking from.

 

"Better step away. Once she wakes up, she will crave blood. That will be the only thing on her mind, to find the right blood. She won't spare you even if you are her daughter. At that moment you will just be an obstacle to her survival."
"But won't she be aware of her actions? Like my dad and I were?"
"Normally yes but this transition is different in two ways. She once was a witch and it's my blood that is turning her. When I usually turn a witch, the said witch must give me her voiced consent to be turned. Abby never gave that consent. So I am not aware of how she will react once awake. Now, spet back and do not cross the door. For yours and your mother's sake."

 

The two girls stepped away and made a distance from the bed, looking at what was happening from the living room. Once she was assured that they were at the safe distance, Astrid focused back onto the lying woman. With her right palm, she ghosted over her face and leaned, quietly whispering.

 

"It is time to wake up sister. Come join me in the land of the living."

 

Abby's eyes suddenly opened wide and she launched herself at Astrid. Black veins covered her eyes and that was the last thing Astrid saw before a pair of fangs pierced the skin on her neck. Abby drank as if she's spent days in a desert. The Original witch flinched in pain as she tried to remove the newly turned vampire off her. For a vampire that young, she had a strong grip. Finally, Astrid managed to get her off her and tossed her away. The force behind the push was hard enough to break Abby's neck against the wall, leaving Astrid bleeding on the floor. She grasped at her neck, trying to slow down the blood flow.

 

"You can come in now girls. It's safe now."

 

Two pairs of feet immediately ran to the room. Bonnie went to check on her mother while Caroline helped Astrid get up from the floor.

 

"Are you alright?"

 

Caroline asked, passing her a towel which she immediately pressed against the wood. The towel started to soak in blood.

 

"Yeah, this should heal soon enough. Just didn't expect her to react so violently. Now, make sure that she has plenty of blood when she wakes up and keep her away from the general population for a while. If any additional problems pop up, call me. Caroline has my number."

 

As she was about to leave the bedroom, Bonnie spoke.

 

"Why? Why would you help us after what we tried to do to you?"
"Why? That answer is a complex one. I could say that I pitied you, that I felt sorry for the little witch who played with thing way out of her league but none of that is true. The most basic answer I can give you is that I felt like I owed it to you. Your ancestor Ayana opened up her home for me when I lost my mother. I guess I didn't want to see you lose your mother as well. Goodnight Bonnie. Take care."

 

That were the last words she spoke before she dropped the towel and disappeared from the property. The haunting silence spread across the room as the two girls moved the body from the floor back onto the bed.

 

"She's really not a bad person Bonnie. She's different."
"How can you tell? All vampires are selfish and don't care about anyone else."
"But she came here and helped your mom. And she even got hurt while doing but she didn't ask for anything in return. She was also really nice towards me when Tyler bit me. She saved my life back then. Just try and don't put her in the same box as Damon and Stefan, ok?"
"I'll try."
"Great, now let's order some pizza and binge-watch rom-com's."

 

Caroline said before dragging the tired Bonnie into the living room for some distraction. Back at the Mikaelson mansion, Astrid successfully snuck back into the mansion and after cleaning any traces of blood off her, snuck into the bed as well. Klaus moved a bit in his sleep and she let out a sigh, happy that she didn't wake him up. Just as she was about to fall asleep as well, a hand wrapped itself around her midriff and pulled her against Klaus. A raspy voice spoke against her ear.

 

"And where were you love?"
"I'll tell you in the morning Nik. Now go to sleep."
"I'll hold you on that."

 

He said before placing a kiss behind her ear. Soon both of them were sound asleep, the rest of the world forgotten.

Chapter Text

What Astrid didn't suspect was to receive the call from Caroline that soon after helping them. She expected the young witches' pride to last at least two weeks, letting her rest from all the drama that has been happening. But it showed just how desperate Bonnie was, willing to swallow her own pride for her mother. With a sight, she snapped an old grimoire and stud up from her comfortable position on the couch. Klaus looked up from his sketch pad, the loss of the weight her legs created on his lap suddenly gone.

 

"Of too somewhere love?"
"I'm afraid so. The Bennett witch seems to be asking for me. Seems like Abby is not taking this whole transition that well as they had hoped. So, it's up to me. God, when have I became a babysitter for a witch and a barbie vampire?"
"When you choose to spare their lives instead of taking my path and killing them."
"Right. Well then, I'm off. Call or howl, if anything happens."

 

She said, not even attempting to hide her laughter as she walked out of the room. Her exit was followed by a slightly louder growl, which she didn't take to heart knowing that it was Klaus' ways of following on with her joke. Astrid got int her car and followed the GPS directions that were sent to her after the call. Four hours of driving later, she found herself in front of the house that belonged to Abby Bennett-Wilson. A slam of the door served as a signal for her arrival to the property. Bonnie opened the door.

 

"You came."
"You seem surprised Miss Bennett. Have you doubted my promise?"
"No, I mean, yeah kinda."
"I gave you my solemn word Miss Bennett. A s a Mikaleson and as a witch, I am bound to uphold it."
"It's just that, a lot has been happening and..."
"I understand, I do. Worry can mess with anyone's mind. Now, show me where your mother is."
"She's in the garden."

 

Bonnie said before stepping outside and walking around the house towards a small garden. Most of the plants were dead or dry but it still looked somewhat taken care of. In the middle was Abby, just staring into space. The two witches stopped just out of bounds of the garden.

 

"She's been like this all day ever since I made her the daylight ring and we came here. I don't think she's taking this very well."
"You'd be surprised with what we witches can handle. For a recently transitioned hybrid, your mother is handling it really well. What is bothering her is the lack of our connection to Nature. She seems to be stuck in the grey area, not completely cut off or accepted."
"So, you can help her?"
"I can. Where is Caroline?"
"She went to get some fresh blood."
"Good. Abby needs to feed as well. When she gets her, please keep inside the house. I need some time alone with her."
"Sure."
"Oh, and about the human."
"Jamie? Abby's been taking care of him. How do you know about him?"

 

Astrid gave the young witch a faint smirk and replied.

 

"The clear sound of his heartbeat and the unreckonable smell of a male human that I sensed when you opened the door, not to mention the obvious male truck parked upfront."
"Oh."
"Is he aware of her 'condition'?"
"He knows but I'm not sure he's feeling really comfortable about all this."
"Just keep him away, for a short while."

 

Astrid ordered before stepping into the garden towards Abby's still figure. The two women just stud there for a while, one not acknowledging the presence of the other. Finally, Abby spoke.

 

" I can't feel it any more. My garden, it's gone. I can't feel anything."
"I had a feeling you wouldn't. Seems the coin landed on the shattered side."
"You're that woman, aren't you? The one from before?"
"Yes, I am. It was my blood that turned you and it was my blood that made you who you are now."
"Why? Why did you turn me into this?"
"You better ask yourself that sister. You could have refused my blood, refused the transition and simply passed away. So why didn't you?"
"For Bonnie, and for Jamie."
"See, you have two very important reasons to live. Do not make them watch you waste away in this garden. Spare then and yourself of that pain. Now, regarding your loss of magic, I can't do anything to restore it back. The ancestors and magic deemed you unworthy of possessing that gift anyone but that doesn't stop me from helping you reconnect with Nature. Do you wish for that?"
"I do. I used to feel the nature around me, that's why I like living here. Nature is all around me. Now I feel like something vital is missing."
"Well, I'm here to fix that. Let's sit down sister."

 

Astrid leads Abby to a nearby bench and sat her down. She placed both of her hands over Abby's and closed her eyes. Abby followed her example.

 

"I cannot just reconnect you to Nature. That is beyond me. But I can help you do it yourself. I will briefly make a bond between us, what I feel you will feel as well. That's why we both need to focus only on this. Once you feel my connection to nature, you will concentrate on seeking that as well by yourself."
"But what is I don't sense it?"
"You will. Even turned witches like you still regain faint traces of the connection with Nature. Now, focus and feel."

 

Astrid whispered as she slowly started to disconnect to the outside world. Her only connection to it, the feeling of Abby's hands touching hers. It didn't take long for her to focus solely on the connection. It existed within her for over a thousand years, always being there as a part of her and her magic. A push insured that Abby felt the faint sense of it before retreating it back.

 

"I felt it. It felt different than I remembered."
"Of course, it did. Your connection to Nature was already weak enough before this, now it is completely severed. Now is your turn. Focus and seek it."

 

And that is what the next few hours looked like, with Astrid continuing to assist Abby. Finally, when Abby managed to make a connection, Astrid stepped away to observe the woman. Abby looked more at peace with her new status as a vampire.

 

"Thank you."
"You have no reason to thank me, sister. It was a pleasure to help one of my own. Let's go back inside. Your daughter is worried sick for you."
"I won't hurt her? Won't I pose a danger to her?"
"With me around, hardly. Your lack of control was a side-effect from the broken bond. Now that is back in place, there is nothing to worry about. You'll be amazed at just how much control you have."

 

The reunion between mother and daughter was a touching one. Astrid observed from the side, not wanting to interrupt.

 

"So, is it safe for her to be around humans?"
"Theoretically yes but I wouldn't push it. My suggestion is that she comes with me to New York."
"What is in New York?"
"The rest of our clan Abby. You do not have to stay there forever but at least for a few months, depending on you and your choice. It will help you adjust when you're surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters. You can come with us as well Bonnie, perhaps you learn a thing or two."
"Mom?"
"I want to go, Bonnie. I'm still a danger to you and Jamie."

 

It wasn't long before both Bennet witches agreed to go to New York with her. When introduced to the rest of the hybrid clan, both mother and sister were surprised at the number and the feeling of belonging between all hybrids. In the end, Abby decided to stay for a while with Astrid while Bonnie decided to go back. Astrid compelled a taxi driver to take her back since they user Astrid's vehicle to get there.

 

It took two days in total for Astrid to make sure that Abby will not skip town or something similar. Once that was secured, she went back to Mystic Falls. The mansion was eerily silent as she walked through it.

 

"Nik! Where are you?"

 

Her only response was the echo of her voice. With a huff, she dropped her bag at the entrance and headed toward the most likely place to find anyone in the house, the living room. She had luck since there she immediately found Klaus, once again drinking bourbon. His entire attention seemed on the amber drink his hand.

 

"Pray tell what's so special about the bourbon that you'd rather pay attention to it than to me? Also, where for Heaven's sake is everyone?"

 

Now it seemed was his turn to huff as took a final swing of his drink and slammed the glass down onto the table. Then he pulled out another clean glass and filled both of them. One of the glasses went to her, which she accepted without a word.

 

"You'll need this. Trust me."
"Fine. But you better tell me everything that I missed. Starting with why our home is so quiet and empty?"

 

She threatened him, one of her fingers that wasn't holding the glass pointed straight at him. He just stared at her until she drank it all in one go. Only after that did he start to talk. As he spoke and spoke, Astrid started to see why he insisted on her finishing the glass before hearing anything. The stuff she heard was unbelievable.

 

"I can't fucking believe it! I'm gone for two days and this whole town goes to hell! First, you tell me that Finn and Sage eloped and are probably halfway across Europe by now! Then you tell me that Kol burned all the wood from the old bridge and then ran off with Greta to Denver of all places! And as a cream of the crop, the brats still managed to find the white oak for their stakes! Which we only found about because Becca tortured Damon. What was her reason for doing that again? Boredom?!"

 

By now she was pacing around the coffee table, her empty glass abandoned at the same table. Klaus just followed her moving figure with his eyes, not bothering to make a single move or to say anything. He knew from experience that when either of them got worked up like that, that is was a bad idea to interrupt. A sound of glass shattering snapped him out of his thoughts. It seems that Astrid reached the pinnacle of her bad mood and had thrown the glass at the wall.

 

"I told you to call me if anything was happening. Why the hell didn't you?!"
"I had it all under control."
"Yeah, sure."

 

Astrid said, disbelief clear in her voice. It was obvious she didn't believe his words. Her arms were crossed across her chest and she was looking at the windows, not even making eye contact with him.

 

"Is there anything else you'd like to say before I go to town? Any more secrets you are keeping stashed away in this mansion?"
"I have the Bennett witch."
"You what-?!"
"I have the Bennett witch. She's locked away in one of the guest rooms with a few of your book. I've snatched her as she returned to Mystic Falls."
"That was two days ago Nik. Please tell me she's not been locked here for two days."
"Of course not. She also had access to the bathroom and balcony."
"I'll deal with you later Nik. I swear on whatever you see holy, that if there is anything else that you are hiding from me, you'll be sleeping on the couch from now on."

 

Astrid stormed out of the living room absolutely livid. A quick incantation and she knew the exact room where Bonnie was being held. She entered without knocking to find Bonnie hunched over the table, surrounded by grimoires.

 

"I told you already. I can't work well under duress."
"Then I guess it's time for you to go home."
"Astrid!"
"I owe you a deep apology, Bonnie. Had I known that my husband would have done something like this, I would have returned to Mystic Falls sooner. You are free to go and do as you please. Your mother is safe in New York, she sends her love."
"Why was I held here?"
"To keep up the illusion of the binding still working. We have no idea where Esther is planning so this was our insurance. What Nik didn't think about was the fact that we don't need your magic, we have mine."
"So there is no connection?"
"No, it never actually existed. But who knows where Esther is getting her information. Better make sure than be sorry later on. Before you leave, there is one more thing I'd like for you to pass on to them. Regarding your friends' desire to stake all of us."
"Fine, what is it?"
"You need to be aware that, whenever something disrupts the balance, Nature finds a way to balance it out. Every vampire on this planet was sired by one of us, by one of the Originals. Take the Salvatore brothers for example. Altho they were turned by Katerina, the original creator of their bloodline was one of us. So imagine what would happen if one of the Originals would to die? Their entire bloodline would die with them. That is thousands upon thousands of vampires all across the world. Something like that cannot go unnoticed."
"What does that have to do with Nature?"
"By killing all of the Originals, they'll kill all the vampires that exist. Including our dear friend Caroline. Such a mass holocaust will disrupt the balance of the world and no one could imagine what consequences that could have on the world. So please, for all of our sakes, mine and your friends, tell them to give up trying to kill us."
"I'll try."
"That's all I'm asking from you. Have a nice day Bonnie."

 

Astrid said before leaving the room. Still pretty pissed at Klaus she didn't return to the living room, instead, she focused on finding her sister. She found Rebecca in one of the smaller ballrooms, torturing Damon. The plastic sheets that were meant to protect the floor were now covered in blood. And right in the middle of the room, was Damon hanging the air by a pair of bear traps. Rebekah was currently trying to carve out a vein on one of his arms.

 

"You know, if you want to really hurt him, why don't you hang his upside down? It will at least make him have a blood aneurysm. The possibility of affixation is also high."
"Nik told me the same thing when I first started playing with him. And I'll tell you the same thing that I told him, I know what I'm doing."
"Fine, just wanting to help my sister. No need to snap at me."

 

Rebekah lowered the knife and stepped away from the passed away Damon. She turned back to face Astrid and sighted.

 

"You're right. I'm sorry."
"It's alright Becca. I am pretty mad myself. It seems like men in our family are incapable to do anything right. It all falls on us women."
"What did Nik to now?"
"What didn't he do? I'd rather not tell you but trust me, it's nothing worth mentioning. I see that you're rather busy, so I'll let you be."

 

The two sisters hugged before separating to each what they intended. For Rebekah that was continuing Damon's torture, for Astrid, it was to call Kol and make sure that he and Greta were alright.

 

The phone rang for a while before it was finally answered.

 

"Finally, it took you a while to answer Kol."
"Um, who is this?"

 

Asked a voice. Astrid froze in place. That voice sounded so familiar to her as if she had heard it somewhere before.

 

"This is Astrid, Kol's older sister. May I know who is answering my brother's phone?"
"My name is Jeremy. Kol and I are friends. He's currently in the batting cages so I answered in his stead. He told me its alright if I do it."
"I see."

 

Astrid said, her mind thinking of the implications for Kol's surprising show of trust. It was unlike Kol for him to let another person answer a call for him, the list was short. Maybe her and Greta even but that was all.

 

"Could you please hand him the phone, there is something I need to talk to him about."
"Sure, he's coming this way. Here."

 

She could hear that the phone changes hands and another person spoke.

 

"Sup' sis."
"You really picked up on the modern slang, didn't you Kol?"
"I've been practising. So tell me sister, what is the reason behind your call?"
"First of all, you decided to leave Mystic Falls with Greta just like that? No phone calls or messages? Honestly Kol, I'm starting to feel a little left out. Both you and Finn leave without a single notice. And was that Jeremy Gilbert I just heard on your phone. Since when are you friends with him?"
"It's a long story."
"Well, I have time."
"You maybe do but I don't. It's almost my turn to go swing again."

 

Astrid laughed at that.

 

"Ok, I'll stop with the inquisition. Just answer me one more question. Why Jeremy out of all humans?"
"Because...he gets the whole messed up family situation. I don't know how to really explain but I think we actually be friends."
"That's nice. You have fun there, Nik and I will handle Esther. You just have fun. Oh and Kol?"
"Yeah?"
"My experience tells me that most friendships are based on truth, so if you want to remain friends with Jeremy, tell him the truth. He might hate you for it but at least you'll be honest with him. Unlike everyone else. He's been lied and excluded for a long time. His sister even had him compelled. So trust him and everything will be just fine."
"Since when have you became this family's therapist?"
"Oh, I don't know. Probably sometime in the '80s. That when I got my psychology degree."
"Whatever. I'll call you some other time."
"Sure and say hey to Greta for me."

 

With that, she ended the call. She just came home and this mess waited for her. Astrid crashed on her bed and stared at the ceiling. The witch let her thoughts roam and soon found herself asleep. She must have slept for solid seven or eight hours because when she woke up it was dark outside. The clock on the nightstand showed that it was quarter past ten.

 

"Damn, I overslept."

 

Astrid went to get up and noticed that someone had placed a blanket over her. Not only that but they also seem to have brought a bed tray filled with food. Between the still-warm cup of jasmine tea and a strawberry custard tart, was a vase with two white tulips. She smiled as she looked at the white petals.

 

"Seems someone is getting a headstart on the apology."

 

Quickly she finished the food and changed from the ones she slept into fresh ones. Abandoning the empty tray she headed towards the now dubbed 'torture hall'. No sound was made as she moved across the halls, blending in with the shadows. It seemed like Rebekah decided to take a break from torturing Damon as he was just hanging there, passed out. Astrid stepped out of shadows to take a better look at him.

 

"You look like hell."
"And here I thought I was nailing this look."

 

Came a sarcastic reply from Damon. His head was still lowered on his chest but he at least looked a bit more alive. Before she could reprimand him for his words, the doors behind her open and Stefan walks into the room, a duffel bag on his shoulder. His eyes widen once he sees the state of his brother. Astrid turns to face him and raised her palms in a universal peace sign.

 

"Rebekah had fun with him. I did nothing. Now, what do you want?"
"I'm here to see Klaus."
"I'm here."

 

Klaus said as he and Rebekah stepped out from the side door. Astrid hid her reaction as she did not expect them to come out from there. The three siblings are now standing in front of Stefan, blocking his access to Damon.

 

"I'm here to make a deal."

 

That claim was followed by him dropping the duffel bag, revealing that the content.

 

"Eight white oak stakes. Made from the Wickery Bridge you forgot to burn."
"I knew it. Why didn't you check after Kol? You're aware that he often leaves things unfinished, especially if he's in a hurry."
"Now is not the time love."

 

Klaus said, trying to keep it between the two of them.

 

"I want Damon in exchange for the last eight weapons that can kill you."
"And what do we get as a guarantee that you don't have any more of these hidden somewhere?"
"Because there aren't."
"Let's be certain, shall we? Love, if you could."
"Sure Nik."

 

Astrid walked to Damon and with her hand grasped his face, forcing him to look into her eyes. Her nails dug into his skin as she compelled him.

 

"Tell us the truth, Damon. How many stakes have you made?"
"Eleven."
"Good boy."

 

Astrid smiled as she patted Damon on the cheek and returned to her place next to Klaus.

 

"You really shouldn't have lied, it's not nice at all."
"I'll get you the other three."
"Yeah, that'll be nice. Or since you lied, maybe I'll just compel your brother to chew out his own tongue."
"Oh come on Nik. That's a bit overboard, don't you think? Stefan was the one whole lied, he should lose his tongue. Damon can simply be relieved of his head."
"What is wrong with you?"
"What? It's your fault you know. We really hate liars, especially if they are lying to us."
"Now, don't make this harder than it has to be and hand over the stakes Stefan."

 

Stefan begrudgingly reached into his jacket and pulled out on of the stakes. Rebekah took it from him and left the room, to find the nearest fireplace and to burn it, leaving Stefan alone with the couple.

 

"You'll get your brother back and then you will deliver the two other stakes. Understood?"
"Fine. I'll be back."
"That's what we are counting on. Have a pleasant evening Stefan."

 

She said before he left. Now only her and Klaus were left in the room. Damon and Stefan had left as soon as they could considering the shape Damon was in.

 

"The tulips were a nice touch."
"So you forgive me?"
"Not even close Nik. I'm still mad at you."
"Fair enough but you can't be mad at me forever love."
"We shall see."

Chapter Text

A sigh passed her lips once more. It seems stress was to become a daily occurrence for her. The witch turned off her phone and for a while, just stared at the chessboard. A few pieces were scattered around the board, both black and white. It looked like everything around her either ended up completely wrong or did not have the desired effect. Her figure sat directly in the sunlight that came from the windows, warming her up. The smell of old books and parchment could be smelled all through the room but Astrid wasn't aware of any of it. Her attention was somewhere else, more precisely it was on the other side of the country in Denver. Less than ten minutes ago, she received a call from Kol, who quickly briefed her on what happened. Starting from him getting stabbed with a wooden baseball bat to Damon and Elena kidnapping Jeremy in an attempt to find who sired the Salvatores. He reassured that he'll cut short their little search quest which proved to be even easier since Jeremy would keep him one step ahead by texting him the info. That part surprised Astrid. It seemed like Kol did follow her advice and told everything to Jeremy, causing an additional rift to appear between the boy and Elena. Evidently, Jeremy liked Denver and Greta and Kol's company so he wasn't that keen on returning to Mystic Falls. That was only one of her siblings and already she had a headache. Next on her list of worries came Rebekah, who thankfully still went to school and was preoccupied with some decade dance at school. From where she should be getting back any moment now. The rest of the mansion was eerily quiet. Klaus was busy with a new painting. Due to its larger than normal size, it will take a while for him to finish it. Astrid knew that he was just giving her space, after what happened last night and she appreciated that. It was just that, right now, she had no idea what she wanted. Seeing at all this thinking was leading her nowhere, Astrid stud up from her place and wandered the empty halls. A commotion in the main living room caught her attention. What she expected was to find Rebekah having a fit because something in that school wasn't going her way. Astrid did not foresee to find her sister standing over Esther's body, just staring into space. Klaus was nowhere to be seen.

 

"What did just happen?"
"She's dead."
"I can see that Becca. How in the seven hells did she get inside without me knowing it?"
"I don't know!"
"Fine. So tell me, what do you want to do with her body?"
"What do you mean?"
"She's your mother. Elijah, Kol and Finn are out the town and I doubt Klaus would care much what happened to her but you do. So do you want me to find a coffin for her or should we cremate her?"
"Let's bury her in a coffin."
"Alright. I'll make a few calls. Don't worry Bekah, I won't say a word to Nik if you want to have a moment alone with her. Even if I despise that woman, you deserve to say a final goodbye to her."
"Thank you, Astrid."

 

Astrid just hugged her sister and left the living room. When she closed the door behind her, she finally could breathe normally. For Rebekah sake, she tried to keep any hatred she harboured for that woman away from the surface but now, there was no need for that. Astrid shook her head as she continued to walk through the hallways.

 

"Good grief, not this now."

 

She mumbled to herself. The silence was her only reply back.

 

It took only a brief phone call and Esther's body was carried away to be placed in one of the remaining empty coffins. Rebekah retreated to her room and both Klaus and Astrid let her be. But after half of the day, Klaus' patience snapped and he decided that it was high time for them to collect the final stake. With a little nagging from her sister, Rebekah had joined them. They waited for a while in the Salvatore living room, having invited themselves in. Finally, Stefan appeared from the basement, clearly having the location of the final stake.

 

"That wasn't too hard, was it?"
"Give the boy a break Nik. He has the information just like we agreed upon. Now Stefan, please do not cause us more grief and tell us."
"I can't."
"Oh? And why is that?"

 

Astrid asked, slightly tilting her head as if confused.

 

"Because Alaric refuses to tell me the exact location. The only way he will hand you over the stake if he goes there himself."
"That's absurd even for you Stefan. I had a higher opinion of you."
"There's nothing I can do. He says it's going to be him or no one else."

 

Before Astrid could say anything else, Rebekah stepped forward and with confidence spoke.

 

"I'll go."
"Are you sure Rebekah? Don't you need more time to mourn?"
"I'll be fine. I can handle one human hunter."
"Alright. If you say so, I'll believe you. Take care sister."

 

Rebekah nodded her head and headed down into the basement. She soon returned with a bound Alaric and the two of them left the house. Now Stefan found himself facing the hybrid couple

 

"Now that's been taken care of, allow us to pass on some news. You can call off your brother and his toy, Kol dealt with your only clue. Call them back before our brother gets bored and permanently stakes your brother."
"Damon is not a dog."
"Well, he sure acts like one, constantly following after that girl, his tail tucked between his legs. And wasn't he sniffing around your prize long before you two broke up."
"Enough! Unless you have something useful to say, get out of my house!"

 

Stefan yelled. Astrid just huffed at his attitude as the couple left the house. Once they were a safe distance away from the house, Klaus looked at his wife.

 

"Usually I'm all for a good teasing but that was bit unlike you. Something on your mind?"
"Everything and nothing."
"So, as usual?"

 

Astrid smacked him on the shoulder while he laughed. She couldn't resist and smiled as well. The uncomfortable silence that was between them broken. The couple walked towards their mansion, hand in hand. After a while, Astrid spoke.

 

"Say, didn't Bekah mention that the theme of this decades dance are the 20s? Tell me, are you up for some dressing up before we leave this godforsaken town?"
"Only if you model if for me first."
"Deal, let's go."

 

Just as those words left her lips, Astrid suddenly found herself in a Klaus' arms, her feet of the ground. When she looked up, a wide smirk met her eyes and she knew that she's either regret those words or have the time of her life. It's fair to say, there wasn't much modelling that day. A couple of hours after, Rebekah returned to the mansion with a stake in her hands. She searched for them in the main rooms finally found them in Klaus' painting room. Him focusing on his work and Astrid laying down on the nearby couch, a book in her lap. Klaus didn't look from his work.

 

"You have it?"
"Yeah, I have it here. Who wants the honours?"
"I'll do it."

 

Astrid said as she closed her book and tossed to the side. She took the stake into her hands and tossed it into the fireplace. A quick spell and the stake was up in flame. The three siblings stared at the burning stake. Klaus placed his arm around her waist, not saying a word.

 

"That's that I guess. It's finally over."
"Good. Go pack your bags, Rebekah."
"What?! Why?!"
"We're leaving. Nothing is holding us back here. We can go without worry."
"Well, I'm not going!"
"Rebekah!"
"Let her be Nik. Listen, Rebekah, you can stay if you wish. But Nik and I are leaving this town for good. Just please understand, that if you stay, you will be on your own, no one to watch your back. We will stay until after the decade dance. Alright?"
"Alright. Thank you."
"Anything for you sister."

 

Astrid said before hugging Rebekah. It took a second for Rebekah to hug back but eventually, she did. When the two sisters broke the hug, Astrid smiled, tucked a strand of Rebekah's blond hair behind her ear and left the room to start packing. Klaus didn't say anything as he went back to focusing on the painting. The night soon came and the couple departed from the mansion, expecting to find Rebekah already at school.

 

By the time they reached the school, the party was in full swing. Teenagers were dancing everywhere and it was difficult to get from one place to another. The first familiar face they came upon was Caroline. Seeing her made Astrid smile as she had truly grown fond of the girl.

 

"Caroline. You look splendid."
"Astrid. I didn't expect you here."
"Yeah, well... Rebekah put a lot of effort in this and it was the least we could do for her before we leave."
"You're leaving? When?"
"As soon as the party ends, maybe tomorrow morning. We've put you thou enough suffering, it's time for us to go. I also need to thank you."
"For what?"
"For not fighting her regarding this party. I could tell that it meant for her to just be a normal high school student."
"Glad to help."

 

Caroline said, a guilty expression on her face. Astrid did notice the younger girls lack off enthusiasm but did not comment on it. Pearls shone in her hair as she turned around her head while looking for her sister.

 

"Speaking of Rebekah, have you seen her?"
"No. She didn't show up when we were setting up the decorations."
"Strange. I swear that I saw her leave the mansion."

 

Before any more words could be said, almost by fate, both Klaus and Tyler appeared with drinks in their hands. Tyler stud behind Caroline while Klaus handed one of the cups to Astrid.

 

"Tyler. What a pleasant surprise. I wasn't aware that you came back to Mystic Falls."
"None of your darn business Klaus."
"Boys, boys. No fighting please, this is Rebekah's party. Let's have some fun, for her's sake."
"Whatever. Let's go dance, Caroline."

 

Tyler said before dragging Caroline away. The poor girl could only look back for a second, silently apologizing before getting lost in the crowd. Astrid let out a sight.

 

"I'm not going to say anything this time, but for the rest of the night, please do not antagonise anyone. For my sake."
"Fine. I'll try."
"That is all I'm asking of you."

 

She said before planting a kiss on his lips and dragging him to the dance floor.

 

"Now what do you say, let's show these kids what real dancing is."

 

They danced the next couple of song, each time drawing more and more attention on themselves. After a few songs, the couple felt a bit winded and went to the side, to compel and briefly feed on a random student. Once that poor soul was cleaned up and gone, they returned to the dance floor for their last dance of the night. The song that was played was a slow one. Klaus gently dipped her and planted a kiss on her open throat. Astrid felt goosebumps appear on her skin as he brought her back up. He pulled her closer and whispered into her ear.

 

"Remember this song love?"
"How could I forget? It was the first song we danced to after our wedding in Chicago. You claimed that from that day onward, it will be our song."
"True."

 

He said before spinning her around. As the song came to its end, he took her palm and kissed it.

 

"You ready to go love?"
"Yeah. take me home Nik."

 

The couple left the dance floor, hand in hand. Unfortunately, the good mood didn't last long. A white line blocked their exit, an unknown force stopping them from leaving. Astrid kneeled closer to it, not able to touch it but close enough to have a better understanding of what they were dealing with. Salt lines, most likely creating a boundary spell she told him. Klaus' good mood immediately evaporated.

 

"I have a bad feeling about this Nik. We are missing something big here, I can feel it."
"You're correct about that love. Something is wrong. Why don't you explain it yourself Stefan, since you know more than we do?"

 

Klaus said at Stefan, who almost unnoticeably approached from their backs. It was clear that he was stuck in the school as well and was unmistakably not happy about it.

 

"Well fancy seeing you here Stefan, enjoying the party?"
"Not really in the mood for your fake politeness Astrid. We're all stuck here."
"If you're going to be rude Stefan at least be useful before Nik finds your attitude towards me disrespectful and decided to cut your life short."

 

The barely veiled threat reached its meant destination and Stefan nodded his head before turning around and going back to the school. Seeing as he will not speak to them, the couple followed after him, eventually reaching a classroom. There they found Damon, Stefan, Jeremy, Matt, Bonnie and Jamie all standing around a pile of lit candles. Seeing Jeremy, Astrid faltered in her step but tried not to show it.

 

"Hello, Jeremy. I'm sorry it came to this. You shouldn't have been dragged in any of this."

 

She said. Jeremy nodded his head in understanding, he knew that she wasn't referring only to the current situation but was also mentioning Denver and even the fact that she compelled him to stand in the middle of the road.

 

"Yeah, I know. But what could you do? Elena's my sister."
"The things we do for family. Hello Bonnie, Jamie. How are you two?"
"How do you know my name?"

 

Jamie asked. He had never seen that woman and did not understand how she could act so casual towards him.

 

"Your mother spoke a lot about you and Bonnie during our time together in New York. She sends her love. So tell me Boonie, what is stopping a capable witch like you from breaking the spell?"
"Esther if fighting me off. I'm not strong enough."
"That's impossible. She's not that strong. Unless..."
"Unless what love?"
"Unless she's channelling something else now. A different source of immense power."
"Like a hotspot?"
"Yes, exactly like a hotspot Jeremy. Unfortunately, there is only one hotspot that she would dare to use."
"You think she's there love?"
"Where else would she be? Esther always loved symbolism."
"Care to let us in on it then?"
"The old graveyard. Somewhere there is the exact spot I tore out her heart."
"Lovely."

 

Came a sarcastic reply from Damon, who was leaning against one of the walls. Astrid barely paid any attention to him. Instead, she took Klaus' hand and went to exit the classroom. Just before they exited, she turned her head and looked once more at everyone.

 

"I trust that you will do the right thing. We'll be getting some drinks. Call if needed."

 

The call never came because not even an hour has passed when Astrid suddenly felt the barrier break. She immediately told him and the two of them disappeared from the school property, not even leaving a note behind them. The old graveyard was silent as they made way towards the hotspot, which as it turns out was right next to the Salvatore family crypt. The couple silently approached closer, hearing commotion inside the crypt itself. Esther's body was left laying on the cold ground so Klaus just picked it up and immediately left. Back at the mansion, once Astrid secured Esther's body in one of the coffins, they were ready to undagger Rebekah. As it turns out, she was hidden right under their nose this whole time. Astrid reached out and pulled the dagger out. Quickly she handed it to Klaus for him to place it next to the other daggers.

 

"Klaus. Get the bags and the car ready. I've already packed Becca's part as well. We should leave as soon as the sun gets up."
"Where's the rush love? Esther is dead and so will soon be that hunter of hers. We can take our time leaving."
"I just...I have a bad feeling, a really bad one."
"Is it that bad?"

 

When she just nodded in response, he let out a sigh and said.

 

"Alright. I'll trust your instincts. They haven't lead us astray."

 

With that he left the room, allowing Astrid to deal with Rebekah. It didn't take too long for her sister to fully wake up since just a day has passed. Rebekah woke up with a loud gasp, air filling her lungs. In a blind panic, she attempted to leave the coffin bt only managed to fall on the ground. Astrid immediately reacted and hugged her while speaking in a calm voice.

 

"It's okay Rebekah. You're fine. Take a deep breath, ok?"
"But-But...Esther....she..."
"I know sis. We handled it. She's dead. You can relax now."
"She was right in front of me. Saying that she was sorry. Then..."
"I know, I know. Relax. What is done is done, no one will blame you. "Now, get up, dry those eyes and go pack your stuff."
"We're leaving? Yes, tomorrow. I guess Esther was already possessing you when I told you that, so she hurried up her plans. Better to get out of this town as soon as possible before something else happens."
"What about the party?"
"It ended an hour ago. I'm sorry you had to miss it but was splendidly made. You should be proud of your work."
"Can we at least stay for the cleanup?"
"Sure. Whatever you want Bekah. I'll turn up for the day, I had enough excitement. You should sleep too."
"I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night sister."

 

The two sisters departed, each going to their rooms for the night. Silence spread across the mansion, all was quiet.
But in all that darkness, no one noticed as Astrid tossed and turned on her side of the bed. Gasps of pain could be heard coming from her mouth as she tried to escape an invisible threat. In her dreams, something was chasing her, a black figure that screamed death and danger to her. Never since she became a vampire did she feel so afraid. Her feet dragged across thorny earth as she tried to escape. Every time she looked across her shoulder, thinking that she had managed to escape, the creature was right there, a white oak stake in their hands. It came closer and closer, so she pushed forward but eventually, her luck ran out and it pounced onto her. Her strength came to no use to her as the creature easily overpowered her. A quick flash of white and the stake found itself embedded deep in her head. Astrid woke up with a scream, fingers wrapped in the blanket and cold sweat on her body. The scream woke Klaus up and he rose up to see what made his wife scream bloody murder. He found her sitting up, hands clenched so tightly the skin on her palms was broken and shaking like a leaf. Her eyes were unfocused as if she was still trapped in her nightmare.

 

"Love, what is wrong? Say something."
"I-I-I...."
"Easy love. Take a deep breath. Whatever you saw, it's not real. You are safe, we all are. Breath, that's it."

 

He held her hand as she took shaky breaths. Immediately as her eyes regained focus, tears started to come out. Klaus reached out to wipe them.

 

"What made you cry, love? Tell me."
"There-There was this being, it hunted me. It had the white oak stake in its possessions. But that is impossible, we destroyed them. Unless Esther lied and..."
"Focus back on the story, we'll deal with that later, ok?"
"Ok. It hunted me in the woods. I've never felt so scared. It was as if I was the prey and it was the vampire. It managed to stake me."
"Then what happened love? You screamed."
"That was it. I woke up as it killed me. Oh Nik, I have a bad feeling about this. Something really bad is going to happen to us."
"It's alright love. We're leaving tomorrow anyway so try to relax. If we don't get enough sleep Rebekah will wear us out before we can leave this town."

 

Astrid let out a small laugh at that and setled back in the bed, facing Klaus with his hands around her.

 

"You're right Nik."
"I usually am."
"Shut up and sleep."
"Love you."
"I love you too Nik."

 

The couple soon fell asleep, each guarding the other against bad dreams.

Chapter Text

The following morning everything was supposed to go as previously discussed. Rebekah was meant to go to school and clean up after the party, after which they would pick her up and by lunchtime, they would be long gone from that town. Astrid was meant to wake up refreshed with no recollection of the previous night's dream. To exit the bed and take a shower. Quickly followed by her husband who skipped the shower and jumped straight to packing. Unfortunately, none of it happened. Rebekah indeed did go to the school, accompanied by loud slams of the doors as she walked. Those noises woke Astrid up, who looked worse to wear. Her mind reflected her outer appearance as flashes of the nightmare lingered in her head. Which resulted in her bolting out of the warm bed and heading straight to the toilet. The sound of her retching woke Klaus up who immediately went to help. He found her on her knees, bent over the toilet and pale as the porcelain tiles. Immediately, he moved her hair out of the way and waited until she could speak. Five more minutes passed before Astrid separated from the toilet. A mixture of blood and saliva remained on her lips as she failed to clean it off.

 

"Are you alright love?"
"I'm fine Nik. Well.. mostly fine."
"Do you need anything?"
"Don't worry, it will pass eventually. It was probably stress. Has Rebekah already left?"
"Yes, I assume a while ago."

 

Astrid rose up and washed her face, removing any of the remaining blood. She started to walk to exit the bathroom. Klaus stopped her from exiting, not satisfied with the answer.

 

"You are not telling me something. What is it?"
"There is nothing to tell. I just felt sick a bit, nothing more."
"We're vampires, love, we don't get sick. Try again."
"I keep telling you. There is nothing wrong with me. Now let go of my arm and let's start packing. The sooner we leave this town the better."

 

Klaus let go of her arm and remained in the bathroom. Few stray drops of blood were still on the white tiles and the floor mat still had the imprints of her knees on itself. She was hiding something from him, something bad. He decided not to delve too much on it as he walked after her, picking things randomly to pack them. The fact that his wife hid something from him irked him at the corner of his mind.

 

They spent the next hour packing in silence, not even meeting each other's eyes. Their silent packing was interrupted by Rebekah's frantic entrance. Faint bruises could be seen on her neck and arms as she ran to them.

 

"We have a problem. A big one. Alaric Saltzman just tried to kill me."
"That's impossible. He's body should be cold by now."
"Well, he looked pretty alive when he tried to stake me."
"Okay, okay. You two chill for a bit alright? So you claim that Alaric is back from the dead and tried to kill you?"
"Yeah, I just said that."
"Did you notice anything else about him? Why didn't he follow you?"
"Probably because Caroline distracted him. The sun was up and he wasn't wearing his sunlight ring."
"Good, that's very good. Without the ring, we have until sundown to get the hell away. Becca, go pack your stuff. Tyler will soon come over to help."
"Fine."
"And just for the sake of my mind, please try to lose the hostility with him. The boy is still sired to Klaus."
"I make no promises."

 

Rebekah said before heading towards the kitchen to get some fresh blood. Tyler appeared soon enough and just started carrying boxes and doing as he was told. Most of the essentials were packed within six hours and ready for transport. When they were ready to leave Astrid suddenly stopped walking, right in front of the door.

 

"We can't leave. Not yet."
"Pray tell why not. Everything is packed and nothing should be holding us back."
"I just need to check on Caroline. I feel bad for not seeing her one last time. Especially since she helped Becca escape Alaric. Please Nik, it will only take a minute, five at most."
"If it will mean that we will finally get going, then fine."
"Thank you, Nik. I promise we'll be done in no time."

 

She said with a smile on her face and walked towards the car, her good mood clear. Klaus just signed and followed after her. Unfortunately for him, things did not turn out as he had hoped. After knocking on the front door of Elena's house they received a rather rude welcome in the form of Damon.

 

"What do you want?"
"Hello to you too mate. We just came here for a small thing and we'll be out of your hair soon enough."
"I just wanted to say goodbye to Caroline. Is she around?"
"Since when do you care about what happens to Blondie?"
"That is none of your business but I did grow fond of her. Now tell me where she is or I will enter inside and get the answer myself. Remember, my patience is not infinitive."
"Nice try but neither of you two have been invited inside and I doubt you would be now."
"Care to bet on that Damon?"

 

Astrid said, the challenge clear in her voice as she stepped closer and closer to the doorway. Slowly, she passed with her right foot through the marked doorway and stepped inside. Astrid watched with glee as Damon's expression fell. The rest of their little group watched from afar in the kitchen.

 

"Now that I've made it clear that I will not tolerate any more of your bullshit, tell me where Caroline is."
"She's trapped with Elena in the school. Alaric is holding them hostage until we can deliver Klaus to him."

 

Damon said, unwillingly while under the compulsion. The command ended as soon as she got her answer. Astrid took a step back and was once again next to Klaus.

 

"So what is the plan?"
"Ok, first of all. There is no plan involving you two. So you can screw yourself and let us deal with it alone."

 

Just before Klaus was about to threaten Damon, Bonnie stepped forward, a daring look in her eyes and spoke.

 

"Look, I have an idea on how to deal with Ric. My mom used a desiccation spell on Mikael that immobilized him for over 15 years. If I can get it, I might be able to use it on Alaric."

 

Astrid looked at the girl in shock, her mind quickly realising the possible consequences.

 

"No. Absolutely not. Are you out of your mind Bonnie Bennett?! That spell cost your mother her magic, she was lucky to still be able to feel Nature. Spirits know what might happen to you."
"It's our only choice. What else can we do that doesn't put one of us in danger?"

 

Astrid frowned bur said nothing in return. She knew that Bonnie had a point but still, it did not sit well with her. Especially since she promised Abby that no harm will befall her daughter.

 

"Fine but only if I supervise you. That is my only condition."
"Deal, now let's get a move on. We've got eight more hours of sunlight. After that, he's free."

 

The agreement came from Stefan who finally ran out of patience. Few more words were exchanged before everyone moved to the Salvatore house for further planning. In one of the side rooms, Bonnie received instructions on how to proceed with the spell from Astrid.

 

"A spell that allows you to desiccate a vampire is never easy. It requires you to tap into dark places of magic, places even I avoid. I know you are strong Bonnie but I fear that the temptation might be too much for a young witch like you."
"You have known me for less than a year, you can't know what I can and cannot handle."
"Alright but remember, I have warned you. So the spell allows you to stop a vampire's heart. The blood will stop flowing and his body will desiccate. It might sound easy but that is where the tricky part lays. Doing magic requires balance. Every spell, ability or magic a witch does requires a balance to work. Think Bonnie, think. What can counterbalance the act of stopping a vampire's heart?"
"You don't mean..."
"Yes. Exactly that. You need to stop a human heart. That is the price Nature demands from us for this spell. A balance must be kept. Find a human willing to die and then text me, I'm off to take a nap."
"Elena and Caroline are in danger and all you can think of is napping?"

 

Astrid shot Bonnie with a stare that would freeze anyone's blood in their veins. She came back to the table where they were previously sitting and slammed her hands down. She was looming over Bonnie with her hands in a domineering position.

 

"Now you listen to me, Bonnie Bennett. Just because I am not pulling my hair out of their roots in worry, does not mean that I do not give a damn about them. I do care and the fact that the reason why they are in danger is that I forgot to deal with Esther's playtoy properly pains me. So get that judgmental ass in line before I decide to walk away and leave you all to die. Capiche?"
"I-I...."
"Glad we got that cleared out."

 

Astrid said, feeling satisfied after yelling it out. With a quick spin on her heel, she walked out of the room. She left the poor girl find the solution on her own and instead went behind the house, looking for a place to sit and detach from all that has been happening. She walked for a while, not really paying attention to anything and anyone when suddenly she tripped. Astrid managed not to fall on the ground and when looking around to see who tripped her, realised that she, a thousand-year-old witch-vampire hybrid, managed to trip over her own feet.

 

"Well, that's a first."

 

She murmured to herself as she looked around. Deciding it was not worth staying there, Astrid headed back to the house only to find Klaus on a verge of a mental breakdown. He was skillfully hiding it from the rest of them but it was clear to her that her husband was on the verge of mass slaughter.

 

"Nik?"

 

His head snapped in her direction. Astrid immediately noticed that his body posture changed, from tense to relieved and worried.

"Where have you been love? I couldn't find you."
"I was outside for some fresh air. I was gone for ten minutes top. What's the big deal anyway?"

 

Klaus looked at her, his eyes checking over her form.

 

"Love, you've been missing for six hours. I've looked everywhere for you. The sun is almost setting and the kids came up with a plan for dealing with Alaric."
"No, wait, that can't be. I was here just a moment ago, there is no way that six hours have passed. Oh, gods."

 

The blood pounded in her ears. Her heart thudded in her chest. Her hands shook. Her feet tingled. Her vision disfigured as if she were looking through a fish-eye lens. She couldn't focus on anything as she lost balance and crumbled on the floor. Klaus quickly caught her before her body hit the floor. Gently he placed her in a sitting position with her back on his chest as he held her tight and whispered in her ear.

 

"That's it, love, take a deep breath. Focus on my voice and my heartbeat."

 

It took some time but Astrid managed to calm down enough to be aware of her surroundings. Seeing as she had calmed down, Klaus bit his wrist and offered the opened wound to her, bringing it close to her mouth. He urged her to drink.

 

"Have a drink. It will help."

 

She just started to push his arm away, her hands trying to get it as far away as possible.

 

"I can't."
"Yes, you can. Just a small sip."
"No, I can not. It smells wrong. Please put it away, I feel fine now."

 

Astrid claimed as she tried to get up. Klaus watcher her get up but said nothing. The sun was almost down and they needed to make their move while they still had time to spare. So seeing as she wasn't going to pass out any time soon nor was she willing to sit this one out, Klaus grabbed his car keys and drove them to the school parking lot where the gang waited for them. All eyes were on them as they came closer and closer.

 

"Look who finally showed up. Thought you decided to bail on us."
"Shut it, Damon. No one want's to deal with you right now. Our issue is the hunter. I assume you have everything set up witch."
"Yes. Here's the vial of my blood. It bridges us all together so that when I stop Jeremy's heart, you'll have the power to stop Alaric's. You need to make a physical connection to his bloodstream; a vein, artery, something connected to his heart."
"Quite a clever solution Bonnie, altho it is not without risk. So, are we ready?"

 

She asked while looking at every person there. Bonnie pulled out a small vial of blood and passed it to Stefan, then to Damon and finally to Klaus.

 

"Now, before we go in, there is one thing that we need to clear out. If I die, you all die with me. You were all sired by my bloodline, as well as Tyler and sweet Caroline. So no backstabbing in there."
"Or you're just lying to save your ass."
"Are you willing to take that risk, Damon?"
"Boys, that's enough. We need to deal with a bigger threat. So get to it."

 

The three vampires headed towards the school, all taking a different entrance in hopes of surprising Alaric. Meanwhile, Bonnie retreated into the woods with Astrid and Jeremy. The human boy was laying on the ground with both women next to his sides.

 

"It's time. They landed a hit."

 

Bonnie places her hands above Jeremy and begins to chant a spell. Astrid just observed from the other side, just in case she needs to intervene or help. Suddenly, Bonnie opened her eyes in confusion.

 

"Something is wrong. The connection is broken."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Something happened and now I can't desiccate Alaric."

 

Astrid was about to comment when a text caught her attention. Quickly she read it and placed the phone back. It was from Rebekah. Apparently, her sister was ready to go and was waiting for them in the Mystic Grill. A faint smile appeared on her face. At least Becca was alright in all this chaos.

 

"Wait! I feel it again. The connection is back."
"Then use it while you can. I will help if you need it, just tell me."
"Ok, here it goes."

 

With every word she spoke, Jeremy's heart slowed down until it was silent. Black veins spread from her palms and moved closer and closer to her face. The grass around them had started to die out and Astrid knew that she had to stop it before Bonnie put herself in more danger.

 

"Bonnie, Bonnie! Come back! It's over, you've done it."
"I did?"
"Yes. Now revive Jeremy before his body gets cold."

 

The veins on Bonnie's face start to creep away. Bonnie breathes for a moment, clearly feeling the effect of the dark magic. She then places her hands above Jeremy and recites a spell to revive him. Words pass her lips but nothing happened, Jeremy remained lifeless. Now both Astrid and Bonnie started to worry. In a panic, the young witch started to hit his chest, hoping for a reaction. With a gasp, Jeremy woke up and props himself on his elbows. Seeing as they were both alright, Astrid took it as her cue to leave and silently retreated into the shadows born from the setting sun. She tried calling his phone but Klaus didn't answer, instead, she got his voicemail. That discouraged her a little bit, adding more layers to her already growing anxiety. But she tried not to let it get to her. So she sent a text to Bonnie, apologising for yelling at her at the Salvatore house saying that she didn't mean to be so furious at her.

 

The motor of her car purred as she parked in front of the Mystic Grill. With graceful movements, she exited the car and entered the bar. Many eyes followed her figure as she walked past them towards a corner booth where Rebekah was playing with the straw of her drink. Astrid slipped into the booth.

 

"Having fun Becca?"
"No, and why didn't you bring me with you? Nothing fun happened here."
"Well I'm sorry but it's over now. You can stay here or leave with us. We've been thinking of going south like Miami or New Orleans."
"New Orleans sound nice."
"I know. By the way, have you heard from Nik? He's not answering any of my calls and I'm starting to worry a bit."

 

Rebekah just ignored her last comment as she was used to her sister's constant worry over everyone and everything. She thought that Astrid just over-exaggerated her worry.

 

"He must have turned his phone or it got damaged during the fight. Relax, he's fine. Now, tell me more about..."

 

She began to speak but it all sounded like static to Astrid's ears. Not a single word reached her brain. At the same time, everything started to have a watery quality, as if everything was covered by a layer of water. She was snapped back into reality when Rebekah snapped her fingers in front of her eyes to gain her attention. Astrid looked at her sister in wonder, not understanding the look of panic on her face.

 

"Oh, thank God. What's wrong with you? I've been talking to you for the past half an hour and you've just been staring into space with a weird smile on your face."
"What smile?"
"That one right there. The one you have on your face right now."
"Oh."
"Yeah, oh. Anyway, let's pick up Klaus."
"We? Really? You're coming with us?"

 

Astrid asked, suddenly very excited at the idea of once again travelling with her younger sister. Rebekah on the other hand just looked done with all the shit that's been happening in this small town. From the vampire hunter, hell-bent on killing them, to her sister acting really strange as time passed by.

 

"Then let's find Nik and get this show on the road."

 

Astrid exclaimed as she dragged her sister out of the restaurant but not before tossing a hundred dollar bill on the table. The ride to the mansion was short, curtesy of Astrid driving over the speed limit. Both exited the car and Rebekah had a hard time following her sister as she practically ran toward the house. Another weird thing she could put on the list of Astrid's new behaviour. When she finally managed to catch up to the brunette, she found her standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by suitcases.

 

"Astrid?"

 

She asked in concern as she approached her. Astrid remained rooted on the spot, her eyes focusing on something that wasn't there.

 

"You can smell it, can't you? The smell of death is overwhelming."
"Astrid? What's going on? Come on, you're freaking me out."
"He's gone and I did this to him. I desiccated my own husband and now his body is gone. They took it. I helped them do this."

 

She rambled on. Rebekah didn't know what to do. Altho she had medical training as a war nurse, she had no idea how to handle her sister having a panic attack. Luckily she didn't have to worry too much as she promptly passed out. On a first glance, nothing was visibly wrong with Astrid but Rebekah was more concerned for what was happening in her head. She moved the passed out woman to the couch and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. When she came back, Astrid's body was gone.

 

"Astrid?"
"Yes?"

 

Came a reply from behind here.

 

"Christ Astrid, don't do what."
"What's the matter?"
"You don't remember? You had a panic attack and passed out. You really freaked me out."
"Huh. Weird. I feel fine now. Anyway, the Salvatore brothers must have used the spell against Nik. We never specified that the spell can only work on Alaric so they must have used a loophole. Which unfortunately also means that Alaric is still out there, hunting our asses."
"You seem pretty calm to me considering..."
"Considering what, the circumstances? Oh, I am out for blood but we need to be careful about this. They will pay but we can't be impatiente since we are still Alaric's target."

 

As they talked, they slowly started to unpack a few of the suitcases, to have some spare clothes to change into. During the unpacking process, Astrid stumbled upon Klaus' phone laying on the ground. With sadness, she held it in her palm for a while before slipping it in her back pocket. A phone call broke the stagnant silence.

 

"Hello? Carol, is that you? I didn't recognise the number."
"I'm sorry. I'm calling of a spare one. I need to be quick. We've been watched."
"Alright, I'm listening."
"Alaric showed up at the council meeting and told everyone about Tyler and Caroline. Now Liz and I have been put on a watch list. But I don't think this is the worst part yet. There've been rumours of organising another vampire hunt in this town."
"I see. Thanks for the heads up. I'll try to help Caroline and Tyler if I find them. Take care."
"Thank you. You as well."

 

With that, she ended the call. A determined look appeared in Astrid's eyes as she dialled a new number and waited. She wasn't waiting for since the receiver answered almost instantly.

 

"It's me. We're in some big trouble here brother and we need your help. How soon can you get here Elijah?"