I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
He awakes to the smell of her hair. She despises her traitorous curls, but it was one of the first things he took a shining to when he first met her in that darkened alley in London. He still vividly remembers how her riot of honey brown curls spilled over her shoulders unbound in a fashion considered far too indecent for the time. Her warm doe eyes both challenged and scrutinized him, and yet when faced with one of the most powerful creatures in this world, her eyes held that studious curiosity that enthralled him. She had helped his next meal, a mousy brunette woman, escape and he was determined that this girl with a recklessly brave streak would take her place. As fate would have it, he finally cornered her in a dead end alleyway. Seeing no exit, she squared her shoulders and challenged him with those eyes. Under the moonlight, he drank in her beauty and the magic that seemed to sizzle around her with a promise of retribution. He thought her ethereal in that moment. His next thought was to sate his thirst, but that moment of hesitation was all she needed before she did what she does best - slipped from his grasp and disappeared with a crack. Even months after their initial encounter, it still chills him to think how close he was from snapping her pale delicate neck or draining her till her brown eyes no longer held that spark he had grown to love; how close he was to losing and never knowing the witch before him due to his recklessness and apathy. He would still be lying in a cold, empty bed at his estate in London, alone and never knowing her brilliant mind and her soft smiles.
He holds her tighter then - possessively, passionately, futilely - and breathes in the scent of her hair. He never knew he could be so obsessed with another being, but how could he not? She is fascinating, intelligent, powerful, brave, stubborn, bossy, and so self-assured. In all of his years as a vampire, never before has anyone made him feel so alive. He wishes they could stay this way forever, peaceful, bare, and tangled in the sheets. No worrying how she'll get back to her world, thus leaving him forever. No worrying about the siblings he had left in New Orleans. No worrying about his father who wanted him dead. Just the two of them pressed against one another in this little town in Norway.
And yet, nothing ever lasts. She twists and moans in his arms as she stretches her sore muscles until she is face to face with him. She opens her eyes then, looking up at him in that peculiar way as if she's trying to decipher the enigma of his being. She almost reaches for his face and he readily welcomes her touch, but then she then looks at the clock and just like that, she slips from his grasp once more.
"Why didn't you wake me up?" she chastises as she flicks her wand about to freshen up and dress for the day. Per usual, she skips the corset. He has never known her to wear one. "We have a long day ahead of us."
She is now at the vanity, trying to tame her wild mane in vain with a series of potions he's unfamiliar with and a sturdy brush. He easily lets the sheets fall from his waist and crosses the room until she is once more in his arms and pressed against his chest. He can feel her heart thrum against him through the stiff cotton of her gown, reassuring him that she was really there and not some phantom of his imagination.
"Leave it. It looks better down."
"I must keep up some semblance of propriety in this era," she snorts in return. "Nineteenth century England had always been very particular about how women dress, not that it's anyone's business."
"If I may so eloquently say, to bloody hell with propriety," he replies, smirking as he rests his chin on her head, "And I don't see you squeezing into those ridiculous corsets."
"Yes, well I'm not a masochist. After all, I do enjoy breathing and my organs being in the correct place." And there was that sharp wit he loved so much.
"The coven won't care whether or not you wear a corset and they sure as won't care how you do your hair."
"Perhaps their beliefs of propriety are influenced by your presence," she huffs, finally giving up and shooting him a mock-accusatory stare, fighting a smile, "you just want me to leave my hair down."
"Guilty as charged." He raises his hands in surrender before pulling her up into his arms so that her clothed body is pressed against his bare one. "The coven isn't going anywhere. Let me take you out. Let's go dancing."
Her pink lips pull into a frown and she untangles herself from his hold once more. "You know we can't. Every day I'm here means another day lost for me. One day, I might find a way back to my friends and family. If I'm lucky, I may be able to return to the same time I was brought to this world so that they won't spend years being worried sick about me. However, I can't control what age I am when I return to them. What if it takes me years to find the answer? What if a lifetime isn't enough time? I want nothing more than to go out with you and forget about this mess, but how can I when every day, every hour, and every minute counts?"
"If it's time that you are worried about, then let me turn you," he insists. It is the fourth time he's offered. "You'll never worry about growing old, running out of time, or dying."
She scowls at him then, stepping away from him. "You know I can't."
"No, Kol," she interrupts him harshly, "is this offer to benefit me or to benefit you?" He doesn't reply because they both know the answer. He is scared to lose her. "I can't give up my magic in exchange for immortality. My magic is vital in my search for a way home and I've seen what immortality can do to people. I don't want to be anything like Voldemort."
"You don't want to be anything like him or you don't want to be anything like me?" he accuses, mindlessly turning his frustration on her. "Am I so repulsive that you'll do anything to leave me? Sleep with me and use me long enough to access my connections if it means that you can return home far away from my reach? I can turn you if I wanted to and you wouldn't be able to stop me." His heightened sight sees her hand but he doesn't stop her from slapping him. She knows he could have stopped her as well, leaving them both painfully aware how much of a hold she has on him. It is her turn to gather him in her arms and he crumbles.
"But you won't," she murmurs against his hair as she cradles his head in the crook of her neck. He knows her words to be true. He cares and respects her too much to stoop so low, and even if he did, she would be lost to him forever.
"Am I not enough?" he beseeches.
She takes a moment to consider her answer and the silence is deafening. "I am not using you to fulfill my own agenda. I do deeply care for you, Kol. Never doubt that, but I need to go home. I need you to understand this. It's not because I don't care about you or that you are not enough for me. I don't belong here and I have people who need me. We just ended a war and they will only think the worse when they realize my disappearance. How can I stay here and be happy with their suffering on my conscious?" She holds him for a while longer and he has no words to offer her. Minutes later, she finally stands and offers him her hand. "Come, you must get dressed. I promise we'll go dancing tonight as long as we're quick."
Her smile is forced because though she would love to go dancing, it is another night longer from seeing her friends and family. He nods numbly and takes her hand. He doesn't feel like he's won even though she's agreed to go with him. If anything, he feels like he's lost now that she's sacrificed something so important to her for his own selfish desires.
He's dressed and they're out the door in fifteen minutes. As they walk down the sunny roads of the small coastal village, she clutches his arm and he holds hers just as tightly. He could walk away from her instead of helping her find a way to leave him, but he doesn't. Perhaps his past self would have, but now that she's turned his world on its head, he knows he can never go back to being the person he once was.
His time with her is limited, he knows. One day, she'll finally find what she's looking for or worse, he'll see her suffer in her despair as she withers before his eyes. Perhaps she is right to curse immortality because he can't imagine his eternity without her. The thought grips his heart and he grips her tighter. He loves her, he bemoans, but he can never dream of having her heart because her heart belongs to a world he will never know.
A/N: So this is more of a plot bunny one-shot that I just needed to crank out. I might add another chapter or two in the future though as I have a couple vignettes in mind.