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Here Be Monsters

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“Stirring clock-wise symbolizes embracing time and all that comes with it. By embracing your life, you also embrace your death. This is the ultimate balance,” Cassie lectured as she ground the green paste inside her bowl. “Witches keep the balance and so all good, positive magic use basic steps such as these. On the other hand, the darker magic uses the opposite steps.”

Faye looked on in boredom, “Explain to me why I care?” She sighed filing her nails.

Cassie dropped her head in annoyance, “Not all the magic in the world is in your Book. Think of it like cooking. The books give ‘recipes’ but they don’t always tell you what you’re making. And if you learn the basic steps of cooking, you can create your own ‘recipes’.”

Suddenly, everyone looked interested in what she was saying, “You mean, we can create our own spells and potions?” Faye asked, “To do whatever we want?”

The blonde stared back uneasily, already seeing the danger in this, “If you know the correct steps,” She replied making a mental note not to show the girl anything dark, powerful or dangerous. No need for Faye to get ideas. She was enough of a handful already.

Looking down, Cassie realized the paste was ready, “Okay, looks like we’re done,” she smiled displaying the lumpy green mixture happily.

Adam smiled back wearily, “What exactly does it do?”

“Oh!” Cassie grinned in amusement, realizing she’d forgotten to tell them what she was making, “Let me show you.” Reaching out, she grabbed Adam’s hand. On his finger lay a band aid from where he’d nicked himself while working. Gently peeling the bandage back, she stuck her finger into the green paste and brought it to her face. Concentrating on her magic, she blew a small breath onto it, “The breath of life,” she explained as she soothed it onto the small cut.

“It tingles,” the boy breathed out in wonder as everyone crowded around to see. After a second, Cassie wiped the mixture off to reveal fresh skin underneath; the cut was gone.

“Its medicine,” Diana gasped in surprise, “Magic can be medicine!” She grinned widely.

Knowing that Diana wanted to be a doctor, Cassie quickly intervened, “It can be, but it’s a dark path, Diana. A lot of healing magic is dark.”

“Why?” Nick asked curiously.

The blonde faltered, unsure of how to explain, “Balance,” she started hesitantly, “A small cut like that is nothing, but the worse the wound, the darker the magic. People are meant to die and to try and reverse that… to some it’s unforgivable.” Cassie noticed the way Nick looked at her oddly and knew he was remembering what happened to Sally. She nodded her head at him slowly, trying to illustrate that they’d talk about it later. His nod back told her he understood.

“But what if it’s an accident,” Diana argued, “Wouldn’t it be better to bring that person back? You’re not trying to cheat death. That person will still die of old age.”

“Who are you to decide who lives and who dies?” Cassie asked simply, knowing that this question would stop Diana’s argument in its tracks. True to form, Diana had no response. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened, but nothing came out. “Two people die and four are born every second. Messing with that ratio can lead to disastrous consequences and I’m not just talking about food, space or population problems, but also magically. There are consequences to every form of major magic. Messing with death has the largest.”

“What is it?” Melissa asked, morbidly curious.

Cassie shrugged, “Honestly? I don’t know. I’ve never tried to mess with it. I hear it depends on the situation though. Zombies, ghosts and who knows what else. People come back but they don’t come back right or something comes back with them. Either way, it’s not something to mess with. Ever.” She stated looking at Diana seriously, knowing that she would be the one most tempted to delve into the magic if it meant saving a life.

Slowly, everyone nodded. After a brief silence as they all thought about her words, Faye spoke up, “So… what else can you show us?”

Hours later, Cassie collapsed onto her bed, totally exhausted. Who knew it took so much effort to teach five witches magic?

“You okay?” Nick asked from where he was leaning back against her door.

“I pray that I wasn’t this annoying when I was learning magic,” she replied, flipping over onto her stomach so that she could look up at the boy. “No offense. You weren’t that bad at all, inappropriate innuendos aside.”

Nick smirked and walked over to sit next to her on the bed. “Well, the others don’t have private sessions with you,” he meaningfully caressed her arm as he spoke.

Cassie looked up at the blond with a raised eyebrow as she sat up, “And how are things going with Melissa?” She asked pointedly, an amused smile on her lips.

A scowl came across his face. “She’s not my girlfriend,” he stroked her cheek purposefully, but there was no longer any heat to his touch.

Cassie rolled her eyes and moved away from his hand. Getting serious, she said, “Let’s get this over with. I’m exhausted.” She crossed her legs and waited for Nick to do the same across from her. “Close your eyes and picture the darkness. Don’t just see the darkness, but embrace the thought until it becomes your reality. It is all you see, it is all you feel, it is all you know. Follow that darkness as deep as you can. You are following it deep inside your very being. You will follow it until you can’t follow it anymore,” Cassie intoned deeply, closing her eyes to follow her own internal path.

After a few moments, Nick spoke up, “I’m there.”

“Good,” Cassie smiled, not opening her eyes. “This is your magical core. For right now, just feel it. Recognize that this is a part of yourself. That this is where your power comes from.” After giving Nick a few minutes, Cassie spoke again, “Now, keeping your eyes closed and focused on your magical core, I want you to use your magic. Focus on a glass of water. You will feel a tendril of magic escape. Follow the tendril’s pathway outside of your body. Sense how it will meet with mine. Focus on the glass of water now.”

Cassie opened her eyes and watched as they did magic together, the glass appearing. In a second, Nick opened his eyes too, “I did it. I saw my core and I saw how my magic met with yours…”

The blonde nodded, “That’s the binding. Go home and try and do it all over again. You’ll feel something restricting your magic. That’s also from the binding. Don’t fight it; you’re not strong enough yet. Just get used to your core and get a feel for your restrictions. In a couple days, we’ll try this again and see how far we get with getting you back your individual power.”

Nick stood up, cracking his bones from sitting still so long. He raised a hand in goodbye and left her room. She heard the front door open and close as he left. Looking out the window, she noticed him walk up his porch. She slid the window open, “Don’t forget to keep practicing!” She yelled out causing him to look up in surprise. He waved his hand at her in a ‘yeah, yeah’ gesture and went inside his house.

Cassie once more went back to her bed to lie down. She let her eyes flutter shut as she promised herself a quick nap before getting to work on the large pile of homework she had waiting for her.

A shrill ring echoed through the quiet room. Cassie grumbled as she blindly groped for her phone, “Hello?” She asked groggily as she tucked the phone between her ear and her pillow, curling back into her bed.

“Cass,” Stefan gasped from the other end, “I don’t know what to do. I didn’t remember, but now I do. I have no idea what’s going on in my head. Cassie, please.”

Wide awake now, the blonde sat up. She grabbed her clock and winced at the hour, “What happened? Tell me what’s going on.” As Stefan spoke, Cassie found it easier and easier to stay awake. Just hearing his story pumped adrenaline through her veins. “Klaus is going to need a way to find the necklace,” Cassie stated once Stefan finished.

“We’re heading back to Gloria’s in the morning. But Cassie…”

The blonde nodded her head, “Because the compulsion was just released, the memories feel like they happened yesterday even though it’s been ninety years. You need to breathe, Stefan. Work through your thoughts and memories.”

Even though she couldn’t see him, he nodded through the phone, “It’s just that…”

“You feel genuine loyalty to Klaus now. Before, you were protecting Damon, your brother, and Elena, the woman you love. Now, you feel like Klaus is also your brother and Rebekah is also the woman you love,” Cassie summarized, not needing Stefan to say the words to know what he was thinking, “Ideally, I’d say take a step back from all of them, but I guess you can’t really do that. You’re bound to Klaus and now to Rebekah.”

“So, I breathe and work through it,” Stefan gave a self-deprecating smile at her advice.

The girl shrugged, “At least until you get back here. By then, I’ll probably have thought up better advice.”

He let out a chuckle in genuine amusement, “Alright. I’ll see you soon.”

“You’ll have to introduce me to your new girlfriend,” Cassie teased as she heard Stefan’s sigh of exasperation as he hung up.

Settling back into bed, Cassie fell asleep trying to think of better advice to give to her friend. It was barely two hours later that she woke up. She had set her alarm early so that she would have time to finish her research on Heather Barnes. Throwing herself into a cold shower to wake up, Cassie then donned jean capris and a floral spaghetti strap top and began to work.

“Zachary said my mother did something terrible to Heather Barnes. He said it was worse than death,” Cassie started a few hours later at school.

“So what did you find out?” Diana asked as the two girls made their way through the busy hallways.

“After the fire she spent two years in psychiatric hospitals. Then she was released and she just dropped off and disappeared,” Cassie shook her head, annoyed with herself for not finding out more.

 

”Does she have any family?” Diana tried.

“A brother in Thin Creek. No phone listing but he does live close to here. Want to go with me after school and check it out?” Cassie offered, wanting to extend her hand in friendship. After the dance last Friday, she felt like she really owed it to Diana to be her friend, especially after the weekend revelations about Cassie’s magical knowledge.

”Yeah, of course,” the girl nodded before pausing as she remembered something. “Wait, I can’t go today.”

“Can’t go where?” Adam asked as he joined the duo.

“Hey, you,” Diana smiled giving him a welcoming peck on the lips. “Thin Creek,” she answered.

He looked at the two incredulously, “Why do you want to go to Thin Creek?”

“We’re trying to find out what happened to Heather Barnes. She has a brother there,” the brunette explained.

His brow furrowed in thought, “You think he knows something?”

 

Cassie smiled awkwardly at him, her last conversation with Diana still weighed heavily on her mind, “Well, its worth checking out. But I can go by myself. Not a big deal,” she offered, already seeing where this would head.

“You don’t want to do that. Thin Creek is a sketchy area,” Adam said worriedly.

Diana nodded in agreement before turning to her boyfriend, “Adam, why don’t you take her? I can’t reschedule my counseling eval,” she offered.

Cassie turned to look at the girl incredulously. A couple of nights ago, Diana was confessing how she knew how Adam looked at Cassie and now she was throwing the two of them together? “No, its fine. Really, I’m fine.”

“Heather was in that fire sixteen years ago. Maybe she can tell us what happened to our parents,” Diana looked at Adam coaxingly, knowing she was pushing all of the right buttons with him.

Unable to resist, Adam gave in, “Sure. I’ll pick you up after school,” he said to Cassie.

“Okay,” the blonde agreed hesitantly, outnumbered.

“It’s okay, really,” Diana smiled reassuringly, “We’re friends. We’re in this together.”

A little while later, Cassie had just gotten out of her morning math class when her phone rang. Looking down, she noticed it was Stefan again, “Hey, sorry, no new advice,” she smiled, putting away her books in her locker.

“I need your help,” were the first words out of Stefan’s mouth.

Looking around, Cassie discreetly tucked herself into an empty classroom, “What’s going on?”

“I thought I had everything under control, but I don’t,” Stefan paced frantically, running his hand through his hair, “I thought I could get to Gloria and ask her or maybe compel her. But Katherine detoured me and by the time I got there, Klaus and Rebekah were already having her work on the spell.”

“Woah, wait. Katherine?” Cassie asked in surprise. She did not expect that. If there was one thing she thought she could count on, it was that Katherine would run in the opposite direction of danger and sticking around Klaus was the very contradiction of that.

“Apparently, she wants in on my Anti-Klaus plan,” he shook his head in disbelief.

“You have an Anti-Klaus plan?” Cassie laughed.

Stefan gave a self-deprecating chuckle in response, “Nope. My plan consists of throwing as many obstacles in Klaus’ way as I can. Unfortunately, that’s proving difficult when Gloria’s found the necklace.”

“Klaus knows about Elena?” Cassie asked in surprise.

“Not yet. Gloria saw her but didn’t know that she was the doppelganger, but soon she’ll realize it and tell Klaus. I need to go stop her,” Stefan spoke, walking out the door, intent on returning to the bar.

“And I’ll call Damon,” Cassie offered.

Stefan paused, “What?”

“Well, think about it. If I can get Damon to give me Elena’s necklace, then that’s one more obstacle between Klaus and Elena,” she explained her reasoning, getting more onboard with her own plan now that she was really thinking about it.

Stefan shook his head, “But if Klaus finds out…”

“It’s a magical necklace. It would hardly be surprising if it fell into magical hands. Besides, you came to me for help first. He knows how I operate. If he had come to me asking about the necklace, he would be the one I’d help,” she reasoned.

“He’s not going to like this,” Stefan warned.

“Ehh,” Cassie shrugged hanging up the phone before dialing Damon’s number.

“Cassie! Twice in one week. To what do I owe this pleasure?” Damon spoke loudly, a crowd of voices could be heard behind him.

“Where are you?” she asked.

He let out a sigh of boredom, “Founders’ Party. Don’t ask. So, what’s up?”

“I need you to give me Elena’s necklace,” Cassie stated simply.

“Sorry, I think I must have misheard you. I could have sworn you just said you want me to give you Elena’s necklace. But I know that’s not right because A. how would you even know about that and B. why should I?” Damon smirked taking a sip of his beer.

A tight smile crossed the blonde’s lips, “You know how I know about Elena and her necklace. Stefan is still one of my best friends. More so, since you killed Lexi.”

“You’re still talking with him?” Damon asked probingly.

She rolled her eyes, “If you’re asking if I know where he is, the answer is still no. However, we do still talk and he told me to get Elena’s necklace.”

“And why would he tell you that?” the older man asked, “In case he didn’t also happen to mention, that necklace is a symbol of his love for Elena.”

“It’s a symbol of his love for someone,” Cassie muttered, thinking about Rebekah, “Look, Klaus is looking for it. He’s been having a witch scry for it. If you don’t want him finding out Elena’s still alive, you need to give that necklace to me.”

“What do you mean ‘his love for someone’?” Damon asked, totally ignoring the more important point.

“Damon!” She yelled angrily.

“Alright!” Damon began moving away from the party, “Elena’s having her witch friend look at it.”

“Good,” Cassie smiled, “You can have Bonnie send it to me using magic.”

Damon’s brow rose when she name dropped, “What else has my brother been telling you?” He asked curiously.

“That he practically laid his girlfriend on your lap and you still couldn’t keep her away from him,” Cassie snarked cruelly.

Over the phone, she could hear Damon grind his teeth in anger, “You know, you never explained that. What do you mean he laid Elena on my lap?”

“What?” a muffled female voice could be heard over the line.

“Not now, Elena. The grown ups are talking,” Damon cooed to the other girl like she was a child.

“Huh, so that’s what the infamous Elena sounds like,” Cassie wondered out loud, “I’m pretty sure she’s older than me,” she mentioned.

“She is,” Damon returned to their conversation, “But you’re much more mature,” he smiled smugly, knowing he was annoying Elena.

“Damon, who are you talking to?” Elena asked with an impatient brow raised.

“No one. Mind your own business,” He retorted before speaking to Cassie, “Now, you were telling me about what Stefan said?”

“Only that he loves Elena and he loves you and that if he can’t be with her, there’s only one person he trusts to take care of her,” the blonde spoke, idly twirling a lock of hair. The silence on the other end made her smile. It was rare that Damon was ever humbled.

“He said that?” Elena asked, more clearly now. Damon had obviously put the phone on speaker.

“The infamous Elena Gilbert. You have something that I need,” Cassie sidestepped the question. She had never intended for Elena to hear what she had told Damon. In fact, she had never really intended to talk to the girl at all. Cassie didn’t know her, but she knew that she didn’t like her.

“I do?” the girl asked in surprise.

“Cassie wants the necklace. She says that Stefan told her to get it,” Damon explained quickly.

A new high pitched voice spoke up, “How do we know that she’s telling the truth?” she said suspiciously.

Damon responded for Cassie, “She doesn’t lie.”

“I hide things, I bend the truth, I speak in riddles, but I really hate lying,” She explained.

“Just because you hate lying, doesn’t mean you don’t do it,” another new voice, this one a lower female tone, spoke up.

Getting annoyed, Cassie exploded, “Okay, can you people introduce yourselves? I’m getting confused.”

“I’m Caroline,” the first voice said perkily.

“Bonnie,” was all the last voice said.

Nodding her head, the blonde smirked, “The baby vampire and the Bennett witch. Gotcha. And you’re right. I do lie. But not often and not right now. Normally, I’d say call Stefan and ask, but even if he wasn’t busy killing someone right now, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t pick up.”

“Why’s he killing someone?” Elena asked worriedly.

Rolling her eyes at the girl’s naivety, Cassie responded, “Because he’s not going to like the answer Gloria’s going to give him. Now, the necklace?”

“I thought you said you didn’t know where Stefan is?” Damon smirked.

Cassie sighed, “And I thought we both realized I was lying. The necklace?” She asked forcefully.

“I thought you didn’t lie,” Bonnie interrupted.

“I was helping Stefan. For him, I’d lie,” Cassie was getting really tired of the others dancing around the topic, “Look, we’re running out of time.”

“Why does Klaus want the necklace?” Damon finally asked the most important question.

“Stefan told you how things are going wrong with the hybrids, right? And that it’s because of Elena? Klaus wants to talk to the original witch and in order to do that, he needs the necklace. Now, Stefan is killing Gloria to buy me enough time to get the necklace. By giving me the necklace, you are putting obstacles in Klaus’ path, keeping him from finding Elena and giving Stefan and Katherine enough time to come up with a plan.”

“Katherine?” Elena asked in disbelief.

Cassie threw her arms up in exasperation, “Is that all you heard in what I just said? The fact that your ex is working with his ex?”

“What is she doing there?” Damon asked thoughtfully, “She’s usually the first to run from danger. She must really love Stefan,” he spat angrily.

“Or hate Klaus,” Cassie input, “Now, please! The necklace!”

The others were silent over the line and Cassie knew they were all giving each other meaningful looks as they debated silently. Finally, Damon spoke, “Judgy’s sending it now.”

Looking down at the desk she was leaning against, Cassie smiled as she noticed the necklace next to her, “Thanks.”

“Be careful,” Bonnie warned, feeling obligated to help the other witch, “It has its own magic,” she said before hanging up.

Cassie looked at the object curiously before slipping it into her pocket and dialing Stefan back. Not receiving an answer, she left the simple message of, “I’ve got it.”

Later, after school, Cassie and Adam drove out to Thin Creek. She wanted to learn about Heather Barnes, but she also really wanted to hide the necklace. Unfortunately, that would have to wait until after her little field trip with Adam.

“This is looking more and more like a bad idea,” she muttered looking around at the deserted houses. Adam reassured her. “What is this place?” She asked.

“Used to be an old fishing village,” he explained. “Most people moved away; this is what’s left,” looking around, he walked up to one of the decrepit houses, “This is it.” He knocked on the door and the two jumped when a man opened it. “Hi, we’re looking for Wade Barnes,” Adam spoke hesitantly.

“Actually, we’re looking for Heather Barnes, but we know that Wade lives here,” Cassie clarified, Bonnie’s remarks about lying earlier making her touchy.

“I’m Wade. What do you want with my sister?” He asked gruffly.

“My mother, Amelia Blake; she was friends with Heather when they were young,” the blonde girl explained without actually answering his question. His responding scoff earned him odd looks from the two teenagers.

“You knew Amelia?” Adam stated more than asked.

“I knew her,” Wade said but added nothing else.

Cassie looked up at him cautiously, “My mother died a few months ago. I was hoping to ask Heather a few questions. Do you know where she is?”

Wade looked at her silently for a moment before nodding toward his house, “She’s right here.”

“Oh!” the witch said in surprise, “Would it be alright if we talk to her?”

“No, it wouldn’t,” the man said cruelly.

Adam finally spoke up, “Maybe that’s something Heather should decide.”

“You think so?” Wade asked in a weird tone that made the two hesitate, “Then come on in.” The two teens looked at each other before entering the house. They followed Wade to a back room where they noticed a woman sitting in a rocking chair.

“Heather?” Cassie asked, leaning over to look at the woman.

“She hasn’t moved in sixteen years,” Wade said bitterly, staring at Cassie.

She looked up at him, “What’s wrong with her?” She asked hesitantly, feeling sick to her stomach with worry; worried that her mom had done this to Heather, worried that something else had.

“Years back there was a fire at the boatyard,” Wade spoke shakily, as he tried to contain his emotions.

Adam looked up at the familiar story, “We know.”

“Some died, some survived… if you call this surviving,” he said, the bitter tone returning to his voice once more.

“Do the doctors know what caused it?” Adam asked hopeful, but knowing that he wouldn’t like the answer he would get.

“No one does,” he said softly looking at the still woman before his gaze turned back to Cassie, blame in his eyes, “She went there with your mother.”

“Why?” She asked softly.

“I don’t know,” he responded, but something in his voice made it seem like he expected Cassie to know, “Kids used to go to that boatyard to party and have fun. She was a different person back then,” He said softly.

Nodding slightly, Cassie leaned down to talk to Heather, “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Her eyes widened when she felt the necklace in her pocket heat just as Heather lunged forward to grab her by the arm.