HELLO! I am back and with a new chapter! Seems like I keep torturing you guys with long waits, but personal stuff just keeps getting in the way and they are a priority. STILL, I am not giving up on updating and continuing the story. It's gonna be a bumpy road from now on, but I am making this happen. Also, it doesn't help that I am working on developing other stories to post, but this is the priority.

So, on to the response to your amazing reviews:

-Love . Fiction . 2022: Hello! Just going to remind you that this is a complete remake of my original story of the same name with quite a lot of big changes. Still, I hope you enjoy it! And yes, Gwen is Klaus' adopted daughter in this story. I kind of wanted to change up the relationship from besties to father-daughter.

-Kitttkatt01: I am so glad and happy that you still love this story! And I remember your old user and how loyal you've been to the story, never forget the ones who take the time to read my stories and even take the time to write a review. Lots of love!

-Guest: Hello! I would love to review your story, but I haven't found the time to read it. I hope to find some time in the future!

Disclaimer: I own nothing from The Vampire Diaries and claim no ownership over anything pertaining to it. I only own my characters.


rights and wrongs

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Juniper laughed into her phone without a trace of mirth in her tone as she sat on the driver's seat of one of Klaus' cars—a 2010 Ford Fusion that was a nice navy blue. She parked the vehicle near her destination, focusing her gaze on the establishment that was reflected in the rearview mirror. "So, your mother is backed by a very large number of dead witches through their living descendants."

In all her years, Juniper had visited many spots boiling over with the power of a dead witch, but she had yet to hear about many dead witches manifesting their power through living witches to aid in a ritual. While she was excited and intrigued about the Bennett bloodline and its history with Mystic Falls, she was more concerned about the possibility of them not being able to stop Esther. That was a lot of power they were dealing with. Many ideas ran through her mind, but there was no spell that she could cast to counter Esther's ritual. Among the ideas, she thought about causing a disturbance in the flow of magic with her own, but she wasn't strong enough or possessed any special blood to do it. On the other hand, if Gwen was there, there was a possibility that fae magic could be enough, but Esther was smart, and she would take precautions to prevent that.

"Well, that makes things a lot more complicated." Juniper unraveled her hair from the bun she had placed it in to allow it to cascade past her shoulders. "No wonder your mother can perform such a complex spell in so little time. We don't have a lot of options to work with."

"Yes, but I have found that the Salvatores have the uncanny ability to do miraculous things," Elijah said from the other end of the line. "Even more so when Elena's life is at stake."

"Still, from what you've found out, your mother is channeling Bonnie and her mother. Breaking the link Esther has to them would involve either killing them both or killing one of them," Juniper said as she stepped out of the car with her purse. "Are you sure they're capable of going that far?"

"For Elena Gilbert, they're prepared to sacrifice anyone and anything," said Elijah. "Where are you now?"

"I'm at the Mystic Grill," Juniper said as she stopped before crossing the street to reach the illuminated establishment, looking both ways. "While I couldn't locate Gwen, I was able to find out where your brothers are." She looked up at the sky after reaching the other side of the road. The position of the moon made her a bit uneasy as she felt how her magic naturally grew the higher the celestial body climbed in the night sky. "Elijah, we don't have much time. I can feel the moon will reach its apex soon. We took too long."

"I'm already on my way," Elijah replied before ending the call.

Juniper took a deep breath as she stored her phone in her purse, collecting her thoughts and mentally preparing herself for a possible volatile reaction Klaus might have when she explained things to him. While they had some strange but good vibe going, she didn't think that mattered if Gwen's life was in any type of danger. She quickly shook off any perturbing thoughts and whatever nervousness she felt before reaching for the front door of the Mystic Grill and pulling it open, sighing in relief at the warmth the place provided that chased away the night's chilly breeze.

The brunette witch scanned the room that was filled with indistinct chatter and music, searching for Klaus and Kol as she ignored the hostess that greeted her and offered to guide her to a table. When her eyes roamed over the people at the bar, she sighed in relief when she saw Klaus there, leaning against the counter with a drink in hand. She quickly made her way to him and met his eyes when he caught sight of her. She almost stopped and turned around to leave when she felt an uncertain flutter in her stomach when he smiled at her, but she shook it off and decided it wasn't worth thinking about.

"And what brings such a wicked witch to this fine establishment?" Klaus asked as he took a sip of his drink, grinning at Juniper over the rim of his glass.

Standing in front of the Original hybrid, Juniper folded her arms over her chest with her head cocked to the side. "Searching for the Big Bad Wolf," she retorted, causing him to chuckle. His laid-back demeanor and smile told her he had been drinking for quite some time and in large quantities. "There's another wicked witch we need to talk about."

This had Klaus pausing as he was about to take another sip of his bourbon. It wasn't hard for him to figure out who she was talking about, considering that the only other witch in town who could have Juniper looking so tense would be his mother. "Does this have anything to do with whatever it is you have going on with Elijah?" he asked, downing his drink in one gulp, and leaving the empty glass on the counter behind him before he straightened up. "What's happened?"

"Can we step outside?" Juniper asked him, preferring a less noisy setting.

Klaus inhaled deeply as he looked to the side for a moment, collecting his thoughts and calming himself. Something had to be incredibly wrong, he could feel it in the way that his skin crawled and how every fiber of his being was suddenly on edge. By the look Juniper was giving him, he already knew he wasn't going to like whatever it was she wanted to talk about. And for some unknown feeling that he chalked up to paternal instinct, he thought that whatever was wrong had something to do with Gwen. He felt it in his bones, heard it through Juniper's unsettled heartbeat, and saw it in the witch's troubled gaze. Throwing one last glance at his brother playing at the pool table and trying to woo a woman, Klaus moved around Juniper and began to make his way out of the establishment with Juniper following behind him.

The pair stepped out into the chilly night and crossed the street to reach the Town Square, a spot that gave them some distance from prying ears and would allow them to talk freely. Klaus' silence made Juniper a bit concerned, but she gave him a moment to gather his thoughts and collect himself. While they were in a bit of a time crunch, she knew him well and was aware that he needed some space. The last thing she wanted was to put him in an even worse mood, especially when he probably had a generous amount of alcohol in his system.

"Klaus?" Juniper tried to get his attention, but he was still not looking at her. His back was to her, so she couldn't gauge his emotions. Receiving no response, she tried again. "Klaus?"

Impassive eyes focused on the witch when the hybrid turned to face her. "Start at the beginning," was Klaus' response.

So, Juniper told him everything. She began from when Elijah first approached her with a few concerns he deemed harmless to their encounter with Elena. It wasn't an easy task for her, given that she feared for her life after every word that left her mouth. She was waiting for him to lash out or decapitate her or something, but what she didn't expect was the utter silence on his part as he waited for her to finish narrating what she had been up to with Elijah. What she dreaded most was telling him that Gwen was currently missing and was probably with Esther and Finn, so she was unable to find the correct words to explain the halfling's role in Esther's schemes.

"So, my mother means to destroy her entire family. As if she hadn't already when she turned us all into vampires," Klaus stated with a scoff as he paced around a bit, needing to filter out his anger and frustrations in some way without going on a rampage. "No, now it's our fault and we need to pay for whatever sanctimonious guilt she feels instead of taking responsibility for her actions by herself." He turned to Juniper with a wide smile that failed to hide the fury swimming in his eyes. "A splendid mother indeed. I'll do her the enormous favor of sending her back to the Other Side."

"There's something else, Klaus," Juniper said around a gulp, unable to meet his intense gaze for what she needed to say next.

Klaus huffed and grumbled, "Oh, there's more."

"I have reason to believe that…" Juniper trailed off before clearing her throat, hoping that her nerves would calm down, "Esther might have Gwen with her." When his eyes widened, she continued. "Having no white oak to kill you all, the next best option she has is to reverse the spell that turned you all into vampires and apply it on your brother Finn. Once that is done, he'll be human, and she would be able to kill him and the rest of you as well without needing to turn you all human. But, for her plan to be able to work, she would need vital ingredients, which I imagine includes fae blood."

"Where are Gwen and Esther?" Klaus asked as he tried and failed to get a hold of Gwen by calling her.

"We don't know. Elijah struck a deal with the Salvatores to stop Esther," Juniper answered, talking as slow as possible. He looked like an agitated animal about to pounce at how on edge he appeared to be. "We just need to stop the spell," she tried to placate him.

Klaus huffed out a laugh as he stood in front of Juniper. "Although Elijah's idea of keeping Elena with Rebekah was superb, the cockroaches of this town will still aim to aid Esther in their pursuit of my death."

Frowning, Juniper crossed her arms over her chest. "How could they do that without risking putting Elena in danger?"

Suddenly, Klaus softly gasped as he paused in front of the witch, raising a hand to place it over his chest. It was subtle, but he felt it. It was like something cool had pricked his heart before slowly spreading throughout his body. It felt like a cold hand had grasped his heart. While it wasn't painful, it was uncomfortable. Only one thing came to mind that told him what might've happened, especially after Juniper revealed his link to his siblings and how everyone was scattering about. One of his siblings had to be in some sort of danger.

Klaus took a moment to analyze everything. Juniper mentioned that Elijah was on his way to meet them. Rebekah was with Elena in an unknown location. Finn was with their mother. This left only one of his siblings unaccounted for.

"What is it?" Juniper asked Klaus, noticing his odd behavior.

Klaus glanced back at the Mystic Grill and mumbled under his breath, "Kol."

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A scowl was permanently etched on Gwen's face as she kept her arms folded over her chest. While she was frightened of what Esther planned to do with her, she preferred to hide her fear behind her anger. She was even more annoyed to find that the high concentration of witches was messing with her magic. Normally, she would have had no problem fending it off, but she was painfully reminded of how vulnerable she truly was, especially because of her status as a hybrid. On any other day, she could have dealt with Finn if she played her cards right, but the combination of Esther, Bonnie, and Abby made things a bit more complicated for her. The situation was even more difficult with a boundary spell that had iron as its foundation.

An idea was beginning to form in her head, but it was not to escape. As a halfling, she still had the power of faeries, so that still allowed her an advantage over witchcraft. If she couldn't escape, then she would do anything to stop Esther's plan in any way that she could. And even if she couldn't stop it, she could at least delay it.

For now, she just watched what Esther and her son had set up from where she stood on one side of the pentagram that had been drawn on the ground with salt in front of the abandoned home that housed the spirits of many dead witches. Esther was on another side that was opposite where she stood, standing closer to Bonnie and her mother. Finn was tasked with placing five torches on each point of the star on the edge of the pentagram's circle, lighting them all up with a branch Esther lit on fire.

Checking her phone once more, Gwen cursed in her mind when she found that she still had no signal. With night having fallen, she was beginning to worry and wondered if she would be found in time. Ignoring her own life, she didn't want to be the reason Klaus and the rest of his siblings died, so she had to be careful with what she did next. All she needed to wait for was the perfect chance.

"The pentagram represents our connection to magic," Esther explained to the Bennett witches who stood beside her. "The salt is a symbol of the Earth."

Bonnie nodded to the torches that Finn finished lighting up. "And the torches?"

"Five torches," replied Esther. "One for each of my children."

"What's the spell you're doing?" Bonnie asked Esther.

"As the witch who cast the spell that made them vampires, I can also reverse it," Esther answered the young Bennett witch before turning her attention to her oldest son just as he finished lighting up the torches. "While I won't be able to turn them all human again, I don't need them all to be human, not when their lives are linked as one. My brave Finn will be the sacrifice. With his death, his siblings will meet the same fate."

Abby frowned at this and turned to Finn to ask him, "And you're just willing to die?" As a mother, she couldn't fathom the thought of killing her child. Yes, Esther's children are terrible, but they are still her children. Such cold detachment frightened Abby.

"My mother's releasing me from an eternity of shame," was Finn's answer. "It's not a sacrifice, it's a gift."

Such words made Esther's heart waver, but the pressure that was on her shoulders from the rage-fueled witches who tortured her in death pushed away any maternal instincts. She was tasked with a mission, and she needed to see it through, regardless of what she felt.

"When will you start?" Bonnie asked Esther, breaking the Original witch away from her thoughts.

Esther smiled at Bonnie. "I can begin now." She took her hands out of the pockets of her pocket and focused on her magic. "No reason to give the rest of my children any time to figure things out."

Gwen bent down and picked up a rock that had a sharp edge. "What about me?" she asked Esther. "What role do I play in your grand spell?"

The blonde witch lowered her arms and gave Gwen a small smile filled with sympathy, which irked the halfling. "Faerie blood was used to give my children immortality, but now I need to take it away. Sadly, your role is one I take no pleasure in manipulating," she explained as she took a few steps toward Gwen, now standing in the middle of the pentagram.

Frowning at Esther, Bonnie asked, "What are you talking about?"

"I need to die," Gwen stated, not at all perturbed. All she had ever known about witches was their greed and malice with Juniper being the only exception.

That threw Bonnie into a slight panic. "Wait, no one said anything about killing anyone."

"Sacrifices need to be made. As a witch about to commit one of the biggest crimes by killing a child of Nature, this spell is not easy for me to do," Esther said as she turned to face Bonnie. "Believe me, I wish this wasn't necessary, but there is no other way. Don't you want to keep your friends and whatever family you have left safe and finally free from the poison that is my children?" she asked the young Bennett witch. "As the mother of the people I am about to kill, I am prepared to make such a sacrifice."

This gave Bonnie pause. As much as she didn't like the idea of someone dying and using their sacrifice to kill others, she agreed with Esther. So long as Klaus was alive, the people she loved weren't safe. Others dying was a tough pill to swallow, but she had to be okay with it. Her friends were her family, so she was prepared to withstand anything to ensure they were free of danger.

"Well," Gwen began as she held the rock in one hand and placed the pointy edge over the palm of her left hand, "I'm not ready to make that kind of sacrifice." She screwed her eyes shut as she prepared herself for the pain that came with slicing her hand open, shocking those around her. She splattered her blood around her, especially over the lines of the pentagram that hissed when her blood landed on it. "No choice but to start over on such an intricate spell," she told Esther with a smirk on her lips.

With a deep breath that he found was a mistake, Finn's mouth watered at the enticing smell of faerie blood. He slept for a thousand years without learning true control over his bloodlust, let alone how to manage being exposed to faerie blood. He couldn't describe it. He had never smelled something so pleasant. It was as if he could drift away into a blissful dream if he only had a drop of the mouthwatering liquid.

Faerie blood was so overwhelming for Finn, his body moved on its own without him being aware he was moving. He simply lunged at Gwen with veins protruding below his darkened eyes and sharp fangs out, but she was ready for him. The young halfling managed to conjure up enough fae magic as a small ball of pulsating green light that she shot at him, watching it spread throughout his body in soft green currents that disappeared. Finn yelled out in pain as he dropped to one knee as his entire body throbbed, feeling his skin burn as if he had been exposed to sunlight as blisters formed all over his body. He noticed how slow the healing was and chalked it up to the power that all faes possessed.

The small victory Gwen achieved was short-lived when she felt like her throat was burning. Her hands flew up to her throat as she tried to alleviate the searing pain she felt, choking on what she felt was like still-burning ashes. She looked up to see Esther with a hand raised and manipulating the small particles of iron in the air and sending some of it inside of Gwen. The witch made sure it was only enough to immobilize the halfling.

Bonnie and Abby stood to the side, conflicted as to what to do. While they both felt it wasn't right to kill a faerie, they couldn't pass up on the opportunity to rid the world of one of its greatest and most terrifying creatures—the Originals.

"I would appreciate it if you remained still and made this easier for all of us, including yourself," Esther instructed as she watched Gwen fall on her knees while coughing and holding her throat. She waited until Finn climbed back up on his feet before releasing her control over the iron, deeming it enough to keep the young girl from making any more trouble. "It seems that Niklaus managed to pass down some of his impulsiveness," she sighed.

"Not the best role model," added Finn, finally feeling his skin heal itself almost completely.

"Go to hell," Gwen managed to choke out as she glared up at both Esther and Finn.

Suddenly, something shifted in Finn as a familiar feeling began to claw its way throughout his entire body. A frightened scream would have escaped him, but his voice was no longer working as his skin began to turn grey and veins protruded all over his body. He was still conscious enough to look at his mother and hoped that his plea for help reached her. He didn't want to go back to that darkness. He didn't want to be forced into that painful sleep and wake up in an unfamiliar time where he was out of place. And yet, he had no control as his body fell to the ground, shocking the witches and halfling standing around him.

"Something's wrong," Esther mumbled as she stared at Finn's lifeless body.

Gwen huffed before a small smile appeared on her face. "For you maybe."

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Standing in front of the Mystic Grill on her own, Juniper had her eyes closed as she muttered a simple locator spell, whereas Klaus preferred to be proactive and stormed into the establishment in search of his younger brother. The spell Juniper was using wasn't too complicated, given that it only allowed her a sense of direction, much like a compass. All she had to do was rub a drop of Klaus' blood between the thumb and index fingers of her right hand and she would know where to go. And that was exactly what happened just as Klaus exited the Mystic Grill.

"What?" Klaus asked Juniper as he watched her look to the side.

"Your brother is still in the area," said Juniper. "He's very close."

Klaus focused on his hearing and sense of smell. With Juniper confirming that his brother was nearby, all he had to do was catch anything out of the ordinary or follow the scent of his brother's sharp cologne. Unlike the regular vampire or even an Original, the benefits of being the Original hybrid were sharper senses, which included even better supernatural hearing and scent. He managed to catch a whiff of his brother's cologne in the air, which was coming from around the back of the Mystic Grill.

One moment Klaus was there and then he wasn't, which confused Juniper for a moment before she followed his blurry movements. Juniper reached the top of the stairs that led to the alleyway around the back of the building and saw Klaus standing over the groaning bodies of Stefan and Alaric on the ground with Damon being the last one standing. Her eyes fell on Kol's prone form and walked down the stairs to reach him, passing by a beaten Stefan. She saw the dagger in Klaus' hand, which confirmed that Kol had been daggered, as did the stain of blood she found at the center of Kol's shirt.

"I should have killed you months ago," Klaus huffed at Damon, his hands itching to grab the heart of the oldest Salvatore and pop it like a balloon.

"Do it," Damon goaded, squaring his shoulders as he prepared himself for an attack. All he needed to do was keep Klaus occupied, at least long enough to formulate another plan. "It's not going to stop Esther from killing you."

"So, it is true," Klaus said as he sighed through his nose.

Damon smirked. "You didn't know I was friends with your mummy?" he taunted the hybrid, even though his body was screaming at him that he was in grave danger.

Juniper joined Klaus' side after making sure the dagger's effects on Kol were slowly disappearing. "Where is she doing the ritual?" she asked Damon.

"Hell if I know," said Damon.

"You're lying," Juniper argued, sharing a look with Klaus. "Even if you don't know their exact location, you must have an idea of where they might be." The air around Damon became slightly heavy with her magic. "I'm running out of patience, so I suggest you start talking."

"You can't find out where they are with your magic or you would have found them by now, which means that you need me alive to procure their location and I ain't telling," Damon replied. "Not until you tell us where Elijah left Elena with your psycho of a sister." Just as Juniper opened her mouth, he cut her off. "Be smart about this. Esther has your pet and I know for a fact that you care about her," he said to Klaus, glad to have gotten the reaction he wanted when he saw the Original hybrid tense up.

Klaus approached Damon and stood a foot away from the vampire, his face eerily calm. "Where are they?" he asked.

Damon sighed, feigning a sad expression. "Poor Tinkerbell. I guess she's gonna get more than her wings clipped tonight."

Klaus lunging at Damon was not what the oldest Salvatore was expecting, but he was saved by a familiar voice yelling, "Leave him!" All eyes looked to the top of the stairs, finding Elijah still recuperating from the effects of the link to his brother who had been daggered. "We still need them, Niklaus," Elijah said to his brother.

Glaring at his older brother, Klaus asked, "Where is Mother?" Receiving no answer, he grew more agitated. "Where is Gwen, Elijah?"

Choosing to avoid an argument with his brother, Elijah walked down the stairs as he took his phone out of the inner pocket of his coat, and approached Damon. "You tell me where the witches are or I'll have my sister kill Elena right now," he warned as he held his phone up, threatening to make the call.

Frowning, Damon looked up at the town's clock tower and saw that it was eight-thirty. "You told me we had until after nine," he argued with Elijah.

With a shrug, Elijah said, "I'm sure Rebekah will be more than happy to start her work early."

With a roll of her eyes, Juniper scoffed, "Why the hell didn't do that in the first place?" She threw her arms up in exasperation.

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"Let go of me," Gwen spat as she struggled in Finn's hold. She tried and failed to conjure up her magic, but the iron in the air made that impossible, especially after Esther intensified its presence. She needed to calm down and focus on her magic, choosing to wait for another opportunity to attack Finn. "This isn't going to go the way you want it to," she argued as Finn kept a bruising grasp on her biceps with her back to his chest as he brought her to the center of the pentagram.

"Enough!" Finn growled at Gwen as he shook her as a warning, satisfied when she stopped fighting him. His eyes then turned to his mother as she walked around the circle of the pentagram, noticing the troubled look on her face. "What is it, Mother?"

"She set us back," Esther mumbled, but it was loud enough for her son to hear her. "While there isn't much damage done to the integrity of the spell etched on the pentagram, I'll need time to reconstruct what she broke." She exhaled heavily before making her way toward Gwen and Finn, a glower directed at the halfling. "You're quite smart. While quite valuable, fae blood is still an ingredient. If added to a spell that doesn't require it, it spoils the mix a bit and my connection to the other ingredients."

Gwen huffed out a laugh. "Did I do that?"

The smile Esther gave Gwen was a sardonic one. "No matter." She looked up at the full moon. "We'll just need to wait a bit longer for the connection to re-establish itself through the moon to start the spell." While she only needed the moon to reach its peak to sacrifice Gwen and begin her chant while Finn drank the halfling's blood, now she had to use that moment to get rid of the essence of Gwen's blood before starting her spell.

A frown grew on Finn's facial features as he picked up the sound of twigs snapping under approaching footsteps. He could make out four pairs. "No," he whispered, already knowing that his brothers were coming. He turned to his mother in alarm and said, "They're coming, Mother!"

Esther's eyes widened at this, having thought that she would have more time. "No, it's too soon. The moon is not high enough and we need more time," she said, mostly to herself. She then turned to the Bennett witches. "Go! Quickly!"

Bonnie and Abby were quick to follow Esther's orders and made their way into the dilapidated home of the dead witches, seeking shelter within the domain filled with the magic of said witches. It was the only thing that could protect them from Originals.

At that moment, Elijah, Klaus, Kol, and Juniper walked up to where Esther, Finn, and Gwen stood in the middle of the pentagram with the lit torches. Their appearance both relieved and worried Gwen, considering that the spell could be stopped but Esther was still a strong witch.

"My sons and Miss Blake, come forward," Esther greeted as she faced the newcomers.

"Stay close," Finn warned his mother as she stood in front of him and Gwen.

"It's okay," Esther said as she approached the edge of the pentagram. "They can't enter."

While Juniper stood next to Elijah some feet away from the circle that made up the pentagram, Klaus and Kol walked closer to their mother, but the torches flared up and indistinct whispers filled the air, creating a heavy barrier that drove back the approaching Originals, protecting Esther and Finn.

Kol scoffed as he paced in front of his mother, but his eyes were trained on Finn. "That's lovely," he said with a scornful smile. "We're stuck out here, while the favorite son plays sacrificial lamb. How pathetic you are, Finn."

"Be quiet, Kol," Esther silenced her youngest son in defense of her oldest, meeting his eyes with a steely gaze. "Your brother knows virtue you cannot even imagine."

"Whatever you think of us, killing your own children will be an atrocity," Elijah piped in.

"My only regret is that I did not let you die a thousand years ago," Esther countered.

"If you think you're righting a wrong, you're mistaken," said Juniper. She almost wished she hadn't spoken up when Esther's hardened eyes fell on her, but she needed to help get Gwen out of the situation she was in. "There are consequences for killing a faerie, even if she's only a half-breed."

Esther took a deep breath and said, "My brethren and I are prepared to accept such consequences."

"You're one of those witches," Juniper scoffed.

Elijah leaned close to Juniper to whisper in her ear, "Is there nothing you can do?"

"I wish, but this place has been consecrated with the deaths of too many witches to count," Juniper exhaled as she looked at the house, trying and failing to feel for the exact number of spirits connected to the building. "I don't have the strength to fight that many and there's iron in the air, which explains why Gwen is not using her magic."

"Enough," Klaus said as he approached the edge of the pentagram, locking eyes with his mother as he stood as close as he could. "I won't ask again, so pay close attention, Mother. Release Gwen, or I'll gladly send you back to hell."

Without wavering, Esther met Klaus' furious eyes with her own. "For a thousand years, I've been forced to watch you. Felt the pain of every victim, suffered while you shed blood," she said with such a calm voice before her gaze shifted to Elijah. "Even you, Elijah, with your claim to nobility, you're no better." She looked at each of her children in front of her. "All of you are a curse on this earth stretched out over generations. If you've come to plead for your life," she paused when her voice almost broke when she felt the moon reach its peak, prepared for what would come next, "I'm sorry, you've wasted your time."

Taking a step back, Esther turned to Finn as he held onto Gwen. Staring at her eldest son, she could feel her resolve crack, but she pushed back any doubts when memories of years past returned. The screams and pleas for mercy filled her mind. The innocent blood and lifeless eyes sickened her. What truly tore her apart was that her children were the monsters who committed such unforgivable sins. She felt tired, she truly did. Her soul was weary. She only wanted peace and salvation for herself and her family. And so, she was prepared to shoulder the responsibility of a witch and the burden of a mother who failed her children.

The matriarch of the Mikaelson family locked eyes with Finn and nodded. "It's time. Wait until I'm done," she said as she felt the power of the full moon envelop her. She closed her eyes and worked on reinforcing her spell and purging the essence of fae blood.

Gwen glanced at Klaus who became even more agitated as the seconds ticked by. She then looked at Juniper and found nothing but worry. If she wanted to protect them and save herself, then she would have to do it by herself. The halfling closed her eyes and focused her power on her hands, feeling the soothing tingle run over her skin as her hands glowed a soft green. It hurt to use her magic while being exposed to iron, but she fought through it, even when it felt like her insides were burning. She managed to lift her arms to place her glowing hands over Finn's hands, sending her magic into his body, which caused him to yell before throwing her forward to escape her burning magic.

Gwen yelped when she collided with Kol, but he cushioned her fall as he held her against him, screwing his eyes shut when the powerful scent of fae blood reached his nostrils. He had to crouch as he concentrated on keeping himself from ripping into the halfling's neck. He would have let her go, but he felt that any further movement would destroy the control he had over himself. Gwen felt how Kol's hold around her shoulders and waist tightened the slightest bit, but she ignored it as she held onto him, relieved to finally be out of one danger.

"Gwen!" Juniper gasped as she went to the halfling.

"No!" Esther gasped as she took a step toward Gwen but stopped when she realized she almost left the safety of the pentagram. She looked up when a body blocked Gwen from her sight, only to find an eerily calm Klaus as he glared at her so fiercely that she found it hard to maintain their locked eyes.

Finn grunted as he approached Esther. "I'm sorry, Mother."

Then, something else happened that broke Esther from her staring match with Klaus. It was as if something snapped within her, leaving her feeling cold and bare and empty. That only meant one thing. "No," she mumbled as she lifted her arms to reach out to her deceased brethren. "Sisters, do not abandon me!"

Just as the torches flared up in furious agony, Finn reached out to grab Esther and pull her back. "Mother!"

Kol was quick to shield Gwen with his back to the torches. Klaus noticed how Juniper had passed him to reach Gwen, so he grabbed her to pull her away from the torches and shield her with his body by holding her close. Elijah turned away and covered his face from the intense heat of the flames. And just as the fire lit up high into the sky, it vanished. All eyes returned to the pentagram to find it empty and desolate.

.

"Thanks," Gwen said to Juniper as she inspected the bandages the witch had wrapped around her left hand. The wound still throbbed, but the pain was beginning to dull with the help of an ointment that Juniper applied on the wound to speed up healing and hide the scent of faerie blood. "I seriously don't want a repeat of tonight," she said as she slouched on the stool with her arms resting on the counter of the kitchen island.

With a deep exhale, Juniper stored away the items that she used to create the ointment for Gwen's wound in a small bag. "I completely agree," she said as she stood next to the halfling, rubbing a hand up and down Gwen's arm in what she hoped was a soothing gesture. "We need to work on your proclivity to getting kidnapped."

"Yeah, it's getting embarrassing," said Gwen.

Juniper chuckled under her breath as she picked up her bag to take it back to her room. "You just need to practice with your magic," said the witch. "You were pretty crafty with it tonight, especially with the amount of iron in the air, but you can do so much more."

"Do you know any faeries that can teach me a few tricks?" Gwen asked with a mocking grin, sarcasm lacing her voice.

"No," Juniper sighed. As much as she would like to help her friend, the witch lacked the knowledge to teach Gwen about herself and her magic. "Does Nik know anything about it?" she asked. "Someone who has been around faeries might know more and could point you in the right direction."

Gwen shook her head. "I doubt it. He knows about them, but not much else."

"We'll figure something out," Juniper said, pursing her lips. "I'm turning in. This day has been too eventful with little time to process everything that happened."

"I'll go up soon," Gwen said, smiling softly at her friend.

"Night," Juniper called over her shoulder as she left the kitchen.

"Good night," Gwen called back.

Taking a deep breath, Gwen hopped off the stool and went about the kitchen to make herself some chai tea that had a hint of vanilla, needing something to soothe her throat and warm her body. She was facing the stove when she poured the liquid into her pink mug, dropping a cinnamon stick inside to stir the tea with as she drank it. The plan was to curl up in a living room and watch some TV, which was her intent as she turned to leave the kitchen, but she was startled when a body blocked her way and chased away those plans with a surprised shriek escaping her. She looked up to find a smirking Kol staring down at her. Thankfully, she had a good grip on her drink and prevented any spills. That surely would have soured her mood.

"You should be glad I didn't spill my favorite drink," Gwen huffed as she managed to scowl up at Kol halfheartedly.

Kol simply glanced at the drink in the halfling's hands, taking a sniff to find it was tea. "So, a tea lover," he hummed. "I imagine you'd prefer wine over whiskey."

Gwen hummed, her eyes going anywhere but Kol's face, especially with how close he was. "You'd be right," she said, clearing her throat.

Chuckling at how nervous she was, Kol took a step back. He would have teased her further, but the night had been grueling enough for her. "I hear you're looking for a teacher," he said, leaning back against the island counter, folding his arms over his chest.

"You were eavesdropping," Gwen clarified with narrowed eyes, taking a sip of her tea.

"Maybe," Kol said with a shrug of his shoulders.

"You said you knew about faeries and magic, right?" Gwen asked, recalling their talk when they went to the Mystic Grill.

Smirking, Kol answered, "A lot more than my siblings do, especially since I was the only one who tapped into magic before being turned into a vampire. I was quite the prodigy."

Gwen hummed as the gears in her head began to turn. "And you lived with a lot of faeries," she added, to which he nodded. "Bekah said that you were close with one of them." The moment the words left her mouth and saw how his face darkened, she wished she could turn back time to take back what she said.

"I was," he sighed heavily, struggling to push back memories he refused to revisit. "Not that it's anyone's business."

"Sorry, I just want to learn about faeries and their magic," Gwen quickly explained, looking to erase the glare directed at her. "June is still trying to figure out anything she can about my magic, but her focus is more on my blood. Nik and Bekah have limited knowledge," she paused as she took a deep breath to steady herself. "I just want to be strong."

After what she said, Kol's eyes softened. He understood where she was coming from but was rather surprised by what she was asking. From his thousand-year experience, faeries preferred to run and hide. They lacked any real will to fight, even if it was to defend themselves. He had never met one that wanted to fight back against those who used and killed them. Not even the faeries from his time as a human used their magic to fight, leaning more for a peaceful life, preferably within nature's embrace. Maybe if faeries had tried to fight back against their enemies, they wouldn't have died out. Yet, here was a faerie asking to learn more about herself and her magic to be able to defend herself. And he could give her what she was asking for, but he wasn't going to waste an opportunity to have a good time.

"Can you teach me?" Gwen asked when Kol had yet to say anything.

Kol's silence was unnerving for the young hybrid. She was aware that she was taking a gamble, but Gwen didn't consider herself a complete fool. From how Kol talked about witches and faeries, she could tell he had a vast knowledge about them. It also helped that he was a witch himself once upon a time. Who better to help her than someone familiar with what she wanted to learn? Yes, she was warned about him and his wicked personality, but she had faced wicked vampires before. While she wouldn't put it past him to toy with her and eventually kill her, there was something about him that Gwen wasn't afraid of. Maybe she truly was a fool for it, but she wanted to move forward, even if it meant taking risks.

"Even if it's not much, I'll take anything you can offer," she added.

"How about we make a deal?" Kol proposed as he straightened up in front of her.

Frowning, Gwen asked, "What kind of deal?"

Kol raised his arms at his sides before dropping them. "I'm new in this day and age. You can understand why I would be in dire need of someone to help educate and guide me in my travels," he began as he approached Gwen, backing her up against the wall. "During such travels, I can trade your company for lessons. You'll also be under my protection and well provided for."

Gwen's mind was a mess. She thought that he would be staying a while longer and wanted to take that time to learn whatever she could from him, but his proposal threw her plans out of the window. She was about to reject his offer, but her mouth opened with no words coming out. She initially thought about Klaus, but then another desire began to creep up from within the depths of her soul. Just thinking about stepping out into the world both terrified and excited her, which was why she was at a complete loss as to what to tell Kol. Gwen was surprised to find herself wanting to go with him. She damned her insecurities and cowardice for holding her back.

Noticing the conflict reflected in her hazel-green eyes, Kol decided on another approach. "How about this?" he began. "I can't go too far until this business with Esther and Finn is solved, which I imagine won't take too long, not with Nik and your witchy friend on the case, so you'll have until then to give me your answer." Unable to help himself, he reached up and tucked a bang behind the halfling's right ear before taking a step back. "I would stay until our problem is solved but being too close to Nik with daggers lying around isn't a comforting thought. I managed to put my contact in your phone. I am confident I will be hearing from you with a pleasing answer." Taking one of her hands in his, he lifted it to his lips and placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles, still grinning. "Take a leap of faith, Gwen Moone."

In a blink of an eye, Kol was gone, leaving Gwen with a gaping mouth and a hand tingling where his lips had touched her skin. She had been unable to say anything as her heart thumped erratically at the thought of taking his offer. It was so tempting that she almost left with him then and there, but she needed to think. She recognized that her hesitance was mostly due to her fears, but she had to think things through. For one, if she were to go with Kol, she would need to figure out how to keep Klaus from murdering them both.

In a parlor room on the first floor, Klaus stood in front of a lit fireplace with an arm folded over his chest to prop up the elbow of his other arm that had the fingers holding his chin in his pensive state. He was oddly calm after the events that transpired. His mother's actions failed to surprise him, not after what he did to her. There was also the fact that he felt something off about her, but he couldn't quite tell exactly what it was. All that was left was to figure things out and solve the problem he and his siblings found themselves in.

Another thing that was bothering him was how much danger Gwen had been placed in recently. Tonight, it was yet another close call that had Klaus feeling like transforming into his wolf form to hunt down both Esther and Finn. The image of tearing into their flesh and ripping them limb from limb was quite vivid, but he couldn't be so reckless. There was no guarantee that he would be able to track them, not when Esther could cloak them and make it seem like they vanished from the face of the earth.

The Original hybrid grew alert when he felt someone enter the room, but the unique scent told him it was his sister. "I thought you'd have gone by now," he said without turning around to face her. "Elijah's leaving and so is Kol. Esther and Finn are gone, too."

"I hated you when I learned you killed our mother, but I realize now that after a thousand years together as a family, you're the only one who never left me," said Rebekah.

Turning around to face his sister, Klaus said, "Well, aren't we a pair."

"There's something I think you need to see," Rebekah said as she pulled out her phone and held it up to show Klaus one of the videos that she took of Elena earlier in the tunnels.

"Come to brag about your skills as a torturer?" Klaus sighed as he took his sister's phone to look at the video that was playing. "What am I looking at?"

"The images on the wall behind Elena," Rebekah pointed out. "The Natives told the story of our family history. Look at the images on the far wall."

Klaus frowned when he recognized how the drawings showed events that had to have happened after he and his family left their home in the New World. "What is it?"

"A Native worshipping at the great white oak tree," Rebekah answered.

Klaus' blood chilled, not at all liking what he was seeing. "We burned that tree to the ground," he mumbled as he glanced up at Rebekah.

"Look at the markings that precede it," said Rebekah. "That's the native calendar."

With a shake of his head, Klaus whispered, "This can't be right."

"A white oak tree, three hundred years after we fled back to the Old World," Rebekah said, her voice wavering a bit due to how anxious she felt at the idea that the tree could kill her and her siblings could still exist. "There must have been a sapling, a new tree to replace the old. That tree could kill us." She locked eyes with her brother, and she knew that they had a lot of work to do. "It's not over, Nik."

A sigh had Klaus and Rebekah turning to find Juniper standing at the doorway. "Well, I guess I'm staying for a while longer."


End of chapter!

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