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FOR THOSE YOU LOVE
France, 1093 A.D.
It took them two weeks to figure out the best way to create a magical binding vow that would anchor itself on a marriage bond.
Kol went back to the family mansion to collect the books they needed – He didn't tell her what he said when he went back to their family, or if they asked him where he'd been, and she didn't dare to ask either – and they spent those days locked inside the cabin, pouring over ancient texts, and arguing about the best way to do what they wanted.
The problem wasn't the vow in itself. Not exactly.
Because if they wanted, they could have suggested a vow to never be unfaithful and be done with it. But the point wasn't forcing the other to never be unfaithful, that would take away their choice and make them wonder if the only reason the other hadn't betrayed them yet was that they were obligated to. No, the point was giving them the free will to do what they wanted, acting as they normally would but reinforcing the connection they shared so that, if they ever did betray the other, their marriage bond would break apart as a punishment. And that way, they would never be any doubt between them of their choice, because if the bond existed it meant they had chosen to remain faithful to each other.
And that's why it took them two weeks to create a ritual that would ensure the creation of the magical binding vow they wanted.
"Ready to go home then?" Kol asked after they had finished with all the preparations.
Ingrid paused, considering what she was about to do. "If I tell you I don't do this anymore and I want to stay here forever, what would you say?" she couldn't help but ask, even if she got a good idea of his answer.
"If that's what you really wanted, I would tell you I'm staying with you" he said, as simple as that "Because no matter what you want to do, I want to be by your side"
"Okay then" she said "In that case, let's go back"
"Yeah, I am" she nodded "But you have to let me talk to Nik alone"
"Oh, please, sister. I have been good. I deserve to see Nik grovel at your feet" Kol pleaded with a pout.
"I'll share the memory with you later" she promised, taking him by his arm "But this is a conversation between my husband and me"
Kol sighed, clearly disgruntled. "Fine"
Pleased with his response, Ingrid smiled and then she focused on the image of the foyer of the castle they were currently residing in. With the destination clear on her mind, she appeared them both there with an almost silent pop.
They appeared there a second later and were almost instantly surrounded by most of their family members.
"Kol! You brought Ingrid back!"
She laughed as Rebekah, Elijah and Finn squeezed them in a group hug. "I'm home" she announced, still smiling.
"Yes" Elijah smiled, smiling proudly down at her "You're back where you belong"
"He's right." Finn nodded "Your place is with us, your family"
"I knew you were coming back, sister" Rebekah said firmly, despite the tears that glinted in the corner of her blue eyes "You promised we were going to stay together. Always and forever, remember?"
Ingrid opened her mouth, ready to respond to their words, but she forgot what she was about to say when she caught sight of another person at the entrance of the foyer, watching their little reunion with an expression she couldn't describe.
"Ingrid" Niklaus said, slowly and carefully "You came back"
"I did" she said, suddenly feeling defensive "This is my home too"
Niklaus' expression turned contrite. "I never meant-"
"Maybe it would be best if we don't do this right now, yes?" Elijah proposed, putting a hand on her shoulder "You're finally home and that's all that matters. Everything else we can figure it out later."
"That's right" Finn nodded "You're probably tired, you should rest, and then-"
"It's alright. I want to talk with Niklaus" she announced, cutting her older brother off "Alone"
"You've heard her" Kol said, somehow managing to push Finn, Elijah, and Rebekah out of the house "This conversation is between them and we're going to the town so I can drink from some tasty humans"
She waited for all their sounds to disappear before she turned towards Niklaus once more. "Are they really gone?"
He nodded. "They're too far away to hear anything"
Ingrid had practiced a hundred different ways to start their conversation, and she had thought on a hundred more about what she wanted to say to him, but, at that moment, she couldn't remember a single thing. She sighed.
"I am sorry"
She snapped her head in his direction, surprised to note he had moved while she'd been thinking and now, he was standing only a couple of feet away from her.
"I am sorry, Ingrid" he repeated, earnest and sincere.
"For what?" she demanded, squaring her shoulders, and refusing to give in.
Kol hadn't been completely wrong when he had said Niklaus needed to grovel at her feet. Because, although she loved him and was willing to work to repair their relationship, he still needed to properly apologize for the way he had been behaving. He had hurt her. And he needed to make amends for that.
"For the way I treated you" Niklaus admitted with a grimace "I didn't mean it. None of it. I- I was just-"
"Jealous" she completely for him when he refused to continue speaking. "You were jealous of my relationship with one of my students. And it hurts, Niklaus. It hurts that after everything we've been through you still doubt me like that"
She had been expecting a lot of reaction to her words, but she could have never anticipated the way his expression turned nostalgic and distant as if he was remembering something very far away.
"Do you remember the first time I asked you to marry me?" he asked her softly.
"Of course I remember" she answered immediately. That was one of her favorite memories and she had done everything to preserve it. If she closed her eyes, she would be able to picture it as clear as day, the two of them in a small forest glade filled with the dead bodies of the people Kol had drunk off until they were dry, and the smile had directed at her, as bright and pure as the sun, when he had told her he wanted to spend the rest of eternity with her and he'd asked her to marry him.
"We were so young then." he mused "The concept of immortality wasn't something we had grasped yet, not truly. The only thing we knew was that we were going to live forever, and so we promised to each other forever."
An icy seed of doubt entered her heart with his words. "And you're telling me you don't feel the same as you did then?"
"That's exactly what I am saying." he declared, advancing until there was almost no space between them "Because back then I was young and naïve, and the love I felt for you was a mere fraction of what I feel for you right now, and I know for sure that my feelings are only going to grow stronger as time keeps passing us by… Back then, I thought I would be able to set you free if you ever wanted to live a normal life. I thought I could live without you. And now I know that's impossible. I love you too much to give you up."
Ingrid frowned, confused by the turn of the conversation. "I love you too, Niklaus. And I would never want to live a life without you."
"I know." he admitted "And it's not your love for me I doubt…. I doubt the part of you that still yearns for children, all these decades later."
"Please, my love." he interrupted, firmly "Don't try to deny it. I know you. I see the hidden yearning in your eyes every time you see a small child in the street or every time you teach your young students and they made you laugh. I see it. And I hate myself for not being able to give you what you want, to give you what anyone else in this world would be able to give you." he paused and then added "And then I see you with all of them, wand-wielders like you that understand a part of you I can't fully grasp, and I can't help but think how easy it would be for any of them to give you what your heart most secretly desire."
Niklaus lifted his hands to cradle her head with them, as he stared down at her with an expression full of sorrow. "But I know that's not an excuse for my actions." he admitted "I let my rage and jealously got the best of me, and I ended up taking it out with you. And I did the very thing that t I promised myself to never do, and that's hurting you… And I am sorry, my love. So very sorry for causing you pain and making you run away from the home we built together."
Ingrid stared at him, disarmed by his words. "You are a silly, silly man, Niklaus Mikaelson." she told him "You're right. There's a part of me that would love the chance of having a child of my own, but what you have failed to realize is that I want that child to be yours too…. You're the love of my life, Niklaus. And I couldn't bear the idea of losing you, not for anything, not even for a child of my own."
There were tears glinting in the corner of his blue-green eyes when rested his forehead with her and whispered to her pleas of forgiveness, words of devotion, and promises to change. And she knew he was talking from the very bottom of his heart.
"I forgive you, Niklaus" she told him seriously, staring into his eyes "But I can't do this all over again in a few decades. I can't live my life waiting for the moment your doubts cloud your judgment again and you take it out on me again. I refuse to."
"It won't happen again, Ingrid." he said immediately "I promise."
"You can't promise me that." she refuted "No when we have eternity ahead of us and none of us know what's going to happen next."
"Ingrid-" he began, only to cut himself off, and then, starting to look distressed, he asked "What are you trying to say?"
"I am saying I love you, and I know you love me too." she told him with a small but sincere smile "But unless something changes, we're going to end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again for the rest of eternity, and I don't want that for us."
He paused, studying her expression intently. "You have an idea."
"Kol had an idea." she corrected him "And he hunted me down to tell me all about it."
Niklaus lifted a single eyebrow, clearly skeptical. "Are you sure his idea includes me? Our brother has made it perfectly clear what he thinks of me at the moment."
"Of course it includes you. Kol knows I need you by my side to be the happiest woman in the world. And he would do anything for my happiness, just as I would do anything for his."
His expression softened at her words. "What is his idea then?"
Ingrid smiled wide and proceeded to explain to him the details of the magical binding vow they had designed. And, by the time she had finished, Niklaus was smiling down at her, bright and hopeful and loving. "I will do it. I will promise myself to you for all eternity."
"I will too." She swore.
And, on the next full moon, they proceeded to do just that.
There wasn't a way to explain her feelings towards Teddy without sounding insane or too naïve, Caroline reflected.
For all accounts, they had just met a few days before. And, logically, that would mean she shouldn't have any strong feelings towards him – besides the acknowledgment that he was Aria's son – but there wasn't anything logical about the protective and loving instincts the blue-haired kid had evoked in her basically since the moment they had met for the first time.
Caroline hadn't grown side-by-side with Teddy – not in the way she had grown up with Bonnie and Elena – so there were a lot of things – simple, common things – they didn't know about each other, but she felt like she knew Teddy on a level that went deeper than stuff like that. They were connected by something greater and more binding than simple, human words could explain, and Caroline felt incredibly lucky about experiencing something like that.
In her relationship with Teddy, there wouldn't be second-guessing herself, that competitive need to prove herself, or even the fear of being accepted wholly. It wouldn't be like her relationship with Bonnie and Elena, or even the relationship she shared with her mother. Because the bond they shared wouldn't allow for something like that to happen.
Teddy was her sibling – in the same way Tyler, annoying as he was, was her sibling – and that was that. They were family despite their blood, and nobody would be able to break that bond.
So, waking up early after staying awake for almost the whole night in order to show Teddy around the town where Tyler and she had grown up, didn't feel like a shore. She was happy to do so because any moment spent in the company of Teddy felt like an adventure.
With him, it was too easy to get distracted.
Maybe that's why it took her almost fifteen minutes to notice Tyler had stopped answering her texts and he had failed to show up at the Grill even though, the last time they had spoken, he had told her he was a few minutes away.
She told herself there wasn't any reason to panic as they asked for Tyler's food to take-away after she called him a few times and she was sent to his voicemail. He had only been walking towards the Grill through the busy streets of their town in broad light. To think something had happened was absurd.
Caroline sighed, resigned.
Okay – she conceded – maybe she was worried about Tyler. But only because they lived in Mystic Falls, where everything seemed to happen, and anything seemed to be possible after the revelation of the existence of magic. And taking into consideration their luck, Tyler's sudden disappearance could only mean something bad had happened.
The problem was that she had no idea what could have happened, or even why it had happened. They had been so careful about the secret of Tyler's lycanthropy that nobody besides Aria, Teddy, and Caroline herself knew about it, so the Salvatore brothers had no reason to go after him, and no matter how far-gone Elena and Bonnie seemed sometimes, she couldn't believe they were capable of doing something that would harm Tyler. Besides, they had all been keeping a low profile because of the full moon and Teddy's visit, so there should be no reason why he could have become a target.
And yet, with every moment that passed without him showing up, it became more evident something had happened to him.
"Maybe we should go looking for him?" Teddy suggested, clutching Tyle's order to his chest as they stood outside of the Grill.
Caroline frowned, considering what to do next.
Normally, she would have agreed with him. But if something truly bad or dangerous had happened to Tyler, the last thing she wanted to do was to involve Teddy in any of it. He might be a wizard but – aside from the fact that he had left his wand in the house – he was still a human child and Caroline wasn't about to put his life at risk. Not even to search for Tyler. And she was sure Tyler would have agreed with his decision.
(Because if her attachment towards Teddy felt surreal most of the time, it was nothing on how protective Tyler was of the little kid who one day could become a werewolf like him.)
And besides, Caroline reasoned with herself, if Tyler had ended up involved in a dangerous situation, the one who was able to solve everything and guarantee nobody got hurt in the process was Aria.
"I think we should go back to the house and tell your mom." She decided, taking his hand, and starting to walk in that direction. She wasn't about to let go of Teddy, no until she was sure he was safe. "She might know something we don't, and if she doesn't, she'll have a better chance at finding him than we do."
Teddy nodded after a moment of consideration. "I'm pretty sure mum can track any of us with the help of our magical bonds."
"Then the sooner we tell her about this, the sooner we'll know where Tyler is." she smiled at him, refusing to let go of his hand and relaxing slightly with the confirmation that Aria could find Tyler right away.
"Do you think he's fine?" Teddy asked, his hair changing to a worrying grey and looking a little bit pale.
"Of course he's fine" she assured him "Tyler is a tough cookie and he hates to lose, so if something did happen, then I'm sure he's not going to stop fighting until we get there"
"Right" Teddy nodded with forced cheerfulness "And he's a werewolf so he's stronger than normal people."
"Exactly" she agreed with a smile and guided him towards the path through the woods that led straight to Aria's house. But seeing the worry still shining in his eyes, Caroline decided to distract his mind for the time being. "Tell me, Teddy, is it normal?"
"Aria's ability to track us with the bonds." she elaborated, keeping her voice even while also keeping a wary eye on their surroundings. There was something that wasn't right, something that was making every instinct in her body wake up in something akin to alarm.
Without conscious thought, she started to walk faster, pulling Teddy along with the death grip she had on his hand. If something happened, her first priority was him.
"I'm pretty sure it's not." Teddy admitted, oblivious to the tension that was rising in her "You're only supposed to be conscious of the feelings the bond brings forth, like how I knew in the instant I met you guys that you were my siblings. But mum developed the unusual and extremely rare ability to be aware of her magical core and all the bonds connected to it after…. After that thing that happened at the end of the war."
Caroline nodded, accepting his words without questioning further because, suddenly, she was sure that they weren't alone in the woods anymore even though nothing seemed to be abnormal.
They were surrounded by a large group of people who were using the trees for cover. She couldn't see them, and their scents weren't noticeable among all the others smells around them, but the sound of their heartbeats was impossible to ignore or fake. There were fourteen people in the woods beside the two of them.
"Get behind me." she ordered Teddy in a whisper. "And be prepared to run."
"There's no need for that." a voice admonished almost immediately.
A relatively young man – who looked to be around his mid-twenties – came out from behind a tree and planted himself directly in front of them, effectively blocking their path. The man was smiling slightly but she didn't like the cold glint in his eyes as he stared at them, or the way her instincts were telling her it was best to break his neck as soon as possible.
Despite his smile, this man was dangerous, and Caroline needed to get Teddy far away from him.
Almost as if he was reading her thought, the kid grasped her arm from his position behind her in a silent warning to be careful. "He's a werewolf, Care."
Well, at least that explained why her instincts were telling her to rip his heart out and then burn his body until there was nothing else but a pile of ashes. It was good to know there was a reason for her sudden murderous thoughts besides her vampirism.
"I am." the werewolf agreed, staring at Teddy with too much interest for her comfort "And you're an untriggered werewolf" His eyes then went to her, and the contempt there almost made her take a step back "who is in the company of a vampire."
Caroline smiled winningly with all the confidence she could muster, as if she wasn't considering all her options in her head. They were too many of them, maybe it would be best if she called Aria for help instead of running until they were safely behind the wards of Aria's house. "Well, that's not the strangest thing this town has seen I assure you."
"No, I suppose not." he said, advancing towards them until they were within touching distance "Not when you're also very close to Tyler, are you not? You both reek of each other."
All her plans to contact Aria came to a screeching halt as soon as she heard him mentioning Tyler, and that single moment was their undoing.
"Tyler?" she repeated with sudden comprehension "You're the ones responsible for his disappearance!"
"Who's to say he didn't join us voluntarily?" the werewolf asked, with a voice entirely too calmly to be anything but false "After all, he's a werewolf that belongs with his kind and you're nothing but disgusting vampire." and then, with a movement too fast for her to follow, he proceeded to spray vervain on her with a bottle she hadn't notice he had been carrying.
She screamed as her face burned, hotter and more terrible than anything she had ever felt. It burned her so much that, for a second, she almost considered clawing the skin off her face because, surely, anything was better than the pain she was feeling. And the only reason she didn't do it was because she was still holding Teddy – who was yelling in concern for her – behind her and she refused to let him go.
Not when the enemy was willing to attack without provocation like this.
In her pain, Caroline almost missed the moment the gun went off, but she didn't get time to do anything besides raise her arms in a vain attempt to protect herself. However, she didn't need to do anything, because a golden shield formed around her, bouncing back the wooden bullet towards the man – who was so surprised he almost didn't avoid it – before disappearing as if it had never been there. And, in that single second, she understood she couldn't count on another miraculous save like that, not for another eight hours at least.
They didn't have any time to waste. They needed to run, and they needed to do it now.
With that in mind, she ignored the burning pain she still felt in her face, turned around, and scooped Teddy in her arms at super speed, taking off in the direction of Aria's house without bothering to wait around to see what the rest of the werewolves were doing.
It was a mistake.
They didn't make it more than a few meters before wooden bullets were raining down on them from everywhere all at once, and she was forced to protect Teddy with her own body as much as possible. But even in the middle of all the horrible, horrible pain, she was feeling from all the points in her body where the bullets had hit, she was aware that, despite her best efforts, Teddy was probably getting hit too, because she could smell his blood in the air.
A moment later, several bullets pierced through both of her legs all at once, breaking them apart, and Caroline fell to the ground with a cry, still hugging Teddy to her chest and trying to protect him from harm.
"That's enough of that, vampire" the werewolf from before said, appearing in front of them and pointing his gun to her forehead.
In the half of a second before he fired, Caroline opened her mouth, ready to plead with the werewolf for Teddy's sake. Not Teddy. – she wanted to say – Please, he's innocent. Don't hurt him. Let him go. But she didn't get the chance to say anything before the wooden bullet pierced through her head, killing her instantly.
Once, not long after his mum blood-adopted him, Teddy had asked her why she wasn't aging like his uncle Neville and every other adult he knew. And his mum – who usually got nothing but smiles for him – had frozen in her place with an expression he had never seen before and, after a long, long moment, she had smiled sadly at him and said everyone had made sacrifices to win the war, and her sacrifice was the chance to grow old as normal people did.
Teddy hadn't understood what she meant, but his mum had seemed so sad as she said those words that he had decided to not ask any more questions.
Instead, the next time his uncle Neville had come to visit them, Teddy had used the first moment they were alone to ask him about it. And, after his uncle had gotten over his shock, he had told Teddy a bit more about the war, about why the people in Great Britain always talked about his mum or looked at her with eyes full of wonder, and why they had been forced to move away.
"Aria sacrificed herself for all of us." his uncle Nev had said, his eyes looking at something far, far away, completely lost in his memories "She died, and then she came back to kill Voldemort, ending the war with a single spell and becoming a legend in the process… But when she died, something happened to her and because of that, she will never grow old. She will look the same in ten years, and in a hundred years, and for as long as she lives… And that's something no one outside of our little family can know, okay? You've to promise to keep it secret, kiddo."
And Teddy had promised to keep it secret, of course; even if back then he hadn't really understood the necessity of it. But his uncle's story had left him with even more questions than before and full of curiosity about some things. And – in his childlike mind that didn't fully understand the implications of what he had learned – the thing he had been the most curious about was how it was possible his mum had died but now was still alive. He'd demanded his uncle to tell him every single detail about that.
Teddy had never been able to forget his uncle Neville's reaction to his words. The way he had gone pale, his eyes adopting a glint full of hunting sorrow, and how he'd taken him by his shoulders, looked straight into his eyes, and told him in no uncertain terms that he should never ask him about that.
"It's not that I don't want to tell you, kiddo." his uncle had said after Teddy had finished stuttering his promise to never ask about his mum's death "It's just that I can't… There are some experiences that hunt you no matter how much time it passes and seeing my best friend's body in front of me and believing her dead…" his uncle had cut himself off, his expression contorting in pain "…is one of those things." Maybe his uncle had seen the plain confusion he'd been feeling in his face because he had smiled down at him, the same sad and broken smile her mother had given him when she'd said her sacrifice was being unable to grow old, and he had said "I know you're too young and innocent to understand what I am saying, and I hope you never get to fully understand. The pain of seeing someone you love die in front of your eyes is not something I wish for you, Teddy."
So many years later, and Teddy thought he could finally start to understand what his uncle Neville had been talking about.
Because the panic, pain, horror, and fury he felt as Caroline fell to the ground – deaddeaddeaddeaddeaddeaddead – was not something he would ever want to remember. And, at the same time, it was likely he would never forget.
"Caroline!" Teddy cried out, crawling towards her body.
It wasn't for forever – he told himself, half-hysterical, as he held her body in his arms – It wasn't for forever. Her heart had been left intact and she was a vampire. As long as they didn't do anything else, she was going to wake up. She wasn't dead, not forever.
He hadn't lost her yet.
"You shouldn't cry for a vampire." the werewolf who shot Caroline declared, squatting in front of them and waving his gun in a silent gesture to the rest of his pack. A moment later, the rest of the werewolves came out from the hidden spots they had used to shoot at them without mercy. "They're monsters that don't deserve it."
The cruciatus curse was not something he had ever thought himself capable of casting, not after hearing about how Bellatrix Lestrange had used that curse to torture his uncle Neville's parents into insanity, but in that moment, staring at the impassive face of the man who had shot Caroline in the head without hesitation, Teddy wanted to cast that curse more than almost anything else in the world.
If he hadn't left his wand on his nightstand that morning after deciding there was no need for it if they were only going to explore the town, Teddy knew – down to his very bones – that he would have cast that curse. Damn the consequences. "The only monster I see is the one who shot my sister in the head." He declared with tears still falling from his eyes, staring straight back at the other werewolf.
Instead of getting mad as he'd been expecting, the man smiled without humor. "You and Tyler, you're both too young and naïve to understand that vampires are nothing more than blood-sucking monsters that need to be exterminated… They are not pack, much less family." he spat "Now, get away from her."
"Why are you doing this?" he demanded, refusing to let go of Caroline's body for a second. She was his family – his sister – and she was going to wake up soon enough and he refused to let go of her body, not for anything. "We don't know you. We haven't done anything to you."
"My name is Brady." the werewolf told him, getting to his feet, and glaring down at them "And two of my pack mates were killed by the vampires of this town. So, I'm going to kill every single of them, starting with this blonde as soon as she tells me everything I need to know…. Now, let her go. I'm not going to repeat myself one more time."
Teddy clutched to Caroline's body even harder, horrified. "If you think I'm going to let go of my sister after what you just told me, you're as crazy as you're evil."
Brady chuckled at his words, waving his gun at something behind him. And, between one moment and the next, someone behind him had hit him with the back of their gun, causing Teddy to fall to the ground, groaning in pain and more than a little dazed.
With blurred eyesight, he saw how one of the other wolves started to take Caroline's body away from him and he tried to force his body to move, so he could stop him. "No! Don't-"
"I think it's time for you to sleep." Brady said, hitting him once more on the back of his head and making him fall unconscious almost instantly.
The thing that woke him up was the screaming.
There was something familiar about the voice screaming, something that made his inner wolf snarl with protective rage. And in the instant the thought entered his mind, all his memories came back to him, remembering how he had lost consciousness and to who that voice belonged.
Tyler opened his eyes, alarmed and pushing past the fog in his mind to call for her. "Caroline!"
His only answer was more screaming, and it took him about ten seconds of looking around to understand five consecutive things.
One, he was sitting with his hands and feet bound with grey, cold metal chains – strong enough to not break even after he used all his strength – that, judging by the way they were burning his skin, someone had poured wolfsbane over them.
Two, Caroline was trapped in a small cage not far from him, her arms were bound behind her, both of her legs were broken, and she was bleeding profusely from the wounds that marked her collarbone and indicated she had been shot, repeatedly.
Three, Teddy was with them too. Unconscious and tied up like Tyler, only with less heavy chains. He was bleeding too. He could smell the fresh blood of his wounds that, judging by the small marks on his clothes, had been caused by bullets.
Four, the fuckers responsible for everything were the pack of werewolves who had ambushed him and knocked him out, and then, evidently, they had managed to track down Caroline and Teddy and kidnapped them.
Five, the fuckers responsible were dead men walking. Because when Tyler got free from his restraints, he was going to enjoy hunting them down and killing them all. And the more painful their deaths, the better.
After he had activated his curse and he had started his lessons to control the rage that burned under the surface of his emotions, Tyler had made a pact with himself to never kill again. Not unless it was in self-defense, and it was the last and only option. He hadn't wanted more blood in his hands. He was a werewolf, but that didn't mean he was a murdering monster.
But this – he thought, rage and concern boiling on him in a way he had never experienced before, as his eyes went from Teddy's unconscious body and the way Caroline's screaming had turned into an almost silent weeping as she made herself a small ball on her cage – had crossed a line. Nobody hurt his family – hurt his siblings! – like this and got away with it.
For this, for them – to protect them, to get revenge for them – Tyler would bloody his hands once more without hesitation.
"Good, you're awake." the fucker he remembered as the leader said, coming out from his position on the far corner, from where he had been shooting Caroline with the gun he carried in his hand "Maybe with your help, the blonde will be more cooperative."
"Go to hell, you bastard!" Tyler spat, furious "I'm not going to help you with anything!"
"Really?" the older werewolf asked, lifting his gun, and shooting at Tyler's leg, making him cry out in pain "Are you sure about that?"
"Go – to – hell!" he hissed between gritted teeth, trying to push the pain at the back of his mind.
The night before, all the bones of his body had been broken so he could turn into a wolf for the first time. This – a messy, little bullet wound – was nothing in comparison. He was stronger than the pain he was feeling.
Last night had proven him that.
"So problematic." the older werewolf sighed, picked another gun – one that reeked of wolfsbane – and pointed at his other leg. "And here I was, trying to make this experience as painless as possible for you and the little one." And then he fired at his leg.
Tyler threw his head back and howled in pain, the damage of the bullet being maximized by the burning of the wolfsbane.
"Stop!" Caroline cried out, visibly in pain and still bleeding but forcing herself to talk for his sake. "Don't hurt him! Please!"
"Oh? You're ready to talk then?" the man asked, turning around with a grin filled with smugness. And, suddenly, Tyler understood what his role in this whole interrogation was.
"I-" Caroline began, her eyes going from Tyler to Teddy before she seemed to resign herself to something "I don't know how many vampires are in town, and I don't even know who the hell Jules was but… but I do know what happened to Mason."
The older werewolf advanced toward her immediately. "Tell me" He demanded.
Caroline threw a sympathetic look at him before she started talking, retelling the story she had told Tyler what it felt like a lifetime ago. It still hurt to hear how his uncle had died – especially because he could imagine how much pain Mason had been in before he had been killed – but he didn't miss him as much as before. He cared for his uncle and wished he was still alive, but he couldn't deny that the little, odd family he had formed with Teddy, Aria, and Caroline made him far happier than Mason had ever done.
When the short story was over – Tyler had to give it to Caroline, she had told the truth and, at the same time, she had avoided mentioning anyone whose last name wasn't Salvatore – the older werewolf nodded, his impassive face not disguising the cold fury shining in his eyes. "And the shield?" he demanded after a moment "The one that appeared in the forest. It was made of magic, wasn't it? How did you do it?"
Tyler held his breath, his eyes going to the bracelet shining in Caroline's right hand without conscious thought, suddenly remembering everything that piece of jewelry could do. Aria had explained to him the protections of Caroline's bracelet when she had made his necklace, offering to put similar protections on his but he had declined the shield for physical attacks, thinking it was overkill.
Considering what had happened, he was going to ask Aria to rectify that at the soonest opportunity.
"I didn't do anything." she said immediately "I'm a vampire, I can't use magic"
"The who is the witch who did it?" the older werewolf pressed "I've never seen magic like that"
Caroline pressed her lips on a firm line, pale but resolute. "I don't know any witch."
It was a lie, an obvious one at that, but Tyler silently willed the older werewolf to believe her. Because if he didn't then he would keep his torture sessions, and that would never end. Not when neither Tyler nor Caroline, would ever betray Aria's trust by revealing her secret.
For a long moment, nobody moved, and then the older werewolf smiled slightly, freaking Tyler out. "I don't believe you." he declared "But I have what I need, for now, so you can keep those secrets for a little longer."
And without adding anything more, he turned on his heels and marched out of the trailer. With his hearing, he could hear him barking orders at the rest of his pack. Apparently, the werewolf had decided to take half of his pack in search of the Salvatore brothers – Good; he hoped they killed each other – and leave the rest guarding the perimeter around the trailer.
After a long moment, the crazy pack of werewolves stopped being around the hearing distance of the trailer.
"God." Caroline murmured, closing her eyes, and resting her head on the wall beside her "Could this day get any worse?"
"I don't care if the Salvatore brothers are killed." he admitted, relaxing in his seat for the first time since he'd woken up, stretching his hurting leg on the floor, and trying to not wince. It hadn't healed completely yet, and it wouldn't do it until he took the bullet. And, for obvious reasons, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
Caroline opened one eye to look at him before closing it again, pretending to not hear him. "How's Teddy?" she asked instead.
"Still unconscious." he said, peering at the younger boy and soothing his worries with every new beat of his heart. "What happened?"
"You, first. What happened to you?"
He sighed. And, for the next minutes, they exchanged stories about how they had ended in their current sorry state. "I'm sorry I led them to you guys." he apologized, feeling the guilt twisting in his heart.
If he hadn't acted so cocky, then maybe he would have escaped before they detected Caroline's smell on him and Teddy and she wouldn't have gotten hurt. Instead, he had gotten knocked out and left them to get hurt.
"It's not your fault" Caroline denied immediately, opening her eyes to glare at him "If we are handing out blame, I got my part of the blame too. I should have contacted Aria as soon as I saw them, but I thought we could escape… Teddy is hurt because of me."
"You protected him, Care." he told her fiercely "He would have gotten hurt worse if you haven't been there."
"He wouldn't be hurt at all if not for me, and that goes for you too." she said, resigned "The only reason they hurt you both was because of me… Because I'm a vampire."
"Don't think like that." he ordered, frowning "Don't ever, Care… You're a vampire, I am a werewolf, Teddy is an untriggered werewolf and a wizard, and Aria is a witch too powerful for her own good, and that's that. That's who we are, and why we work as a family."
A little smile painted itself on Caroline's face at his words. She opened her mouth, but she closed it again when they both heard Teddy's heart rate accelerating, signaling he was waking up.
"Teddy?" he asked, trying to get closer to him as much as he could "Can you hear me, Teddy?"
The little wolf frowned, twisting in his place for a moment before he opened his eyes with a loud gasp. "Caroline" he mumbled, looking more than a little dazed "Where's Caroline? Is she alright?"
"Hey, hey, hey!" he murmured, worried for her and his injuries "Calm down, Teddy. Caroline is right here, everything is fine. You need to calm down because your injuries are going to worsen if you keep moving like that."
The younger boy blinked, rapidly, and the confusion in his green eyes started to disappear bit by bit. "Tyler?"
"Hey, Teddy" he said, trying to smile "I'm glad you're awake. We were worried about you"
"Hey, Teddy" Caroline said, smiling at him despite the dried blood on her face.
"Caroline" Teddy mumbled, staring at her with a twisted expression. The kid looked one second away from breaking up crying and Tyler would like to avoid that "You're alive"
"Perks of being a vampire" she smiled, winking at him.
The kid huffed a small laugh that turned into a grimace when he tried – and failed – to move.
"Are you alright?" he asked, worried that his injuries were worse than they had believed.
"My head is killing me." Teddy murmured, grimacing "And my whole-body aches… what the hell?"
And suddenly Tyler was acutely aware of how fragile the kid was. He didn't have the same super healing Caroline and him had. Injuries that were nothing to them were hell for Teddy, and this was probably the first time the kid had gotten this hurt.
God, he hated those bastards. He hoped they died soon. Or better yet, he hoped Aria defeated them and let Tyler kill them.
"We need to figure out a way to get out of here." he decided, knowing Teddy needed medical attention as soon as possible "We need to get out of here before they come back and start over again."
Caroline grimaced. "What do you have in mind?"
"Our best bet is Aria." Tyler said immediately because he knew there was no way they could get out without help, not with the way they were bound and locked "The problem is that I got no idea how to contact her to let her know what happened."
"The only way I know is with my bracelet." Caroline admitted, moving her bound hands "And, for obvious reasons, that's not an option"
"How long we have been here?" Teddy asked, frowning in confusion "Mum is going to get worried if we don't go back to the house."
"It has only been a couple of hours." he said, shaking his head with a frown "And we can't wait for that. Aria was in a meeting with someone important when I left the house, and she thinks we're exploring the town together. It might take her a couple more hours to realize we're missing… We can't wait that long."
Just thinking what those fucking bastards could do to any of them – but especially Teddy – in that time made him want to break something, preferably their throats.
"My necklace" Teddy said suddenly, sitting straight up with his eyes fixed on the shiny pendant on Tyler's neck "Our necklaces"
"What?" he asked, confused for the turn of the conversation, and then, when he understood, he shook his head, wondering if Teddy was concussed "We're tied up, Teddy. Remember? There's no way we can't activate any of the runes in them."
"We don't need to, we just need to take them off." the blue-haired boy said in a rush, his voice filled with unexpected excitement "A couple of years ago, I snuck out to explore a forest in Amazon and I got lost… And this huge snake attacked me, and my necklace broke off while I was trying to escape, and mum showed up alerted by that."
"So, if any of you break off your necklaces then…" Caroline said, blue eyes suddenly shining with hope.
"She'll know immediately" Teddy nodded "And she's going to come to investigate what happened."
"Break them off, uh?" Tyler mused, feeling hope burning inside his chest. Aria would come for them, and she would fix everything, as she always did. "Stay still for a second, Teddy." he asked, locking his eyes at the necklace hanging off the boy's neck.
It took him a bit of maneuvering – and a lot of pain from his injured leg – to get close enough to Teddy to be able to bow down, rip apart the chain of the necklace with his werewolf teeth, and then spat the broken chain before straightening up again.
"And now we wait" Teddy said, grinning.
"Now we wait" Caroline and Tyler agreed, nodding.
Because there wasn't a single doubt in the mind of any of them that Aria was going to come and save them all.
His sister was barely holding it together, Kol mused as he peered at her over the rim of his cup of tea.
They were sitting on two of the soft and comfy armchairs that decorated the elegant sitting room inside his sister's house, with a collection of different appetizers and teapots laid out on the table between them. And, for the last few hours, they had done nothing but eat and drink and not talk about anything of importance.
And Kol knew her well enough to recognize the mounting tension on her despite the smile painted on her face.
He also knew the rest of their family was probably going to get mad at him for telling her everything in one go, without giving her time to process it bit by bit, but he was sure he had made the right decision earlier.
His sister – Ingrid; Aria; they were both one and the same – hated being lied to, and hiding things was as good as lying in her eyes. And if he hadn't told her the truth and she had found out on her own, then her trust in them would have been terribly affected.
This way was better in the long run.
"On the scale of one to one million, how much are you freaking out right now?" he asked, genuinely curious.
She huffed a small laugh, surprised. "Am I that obvious?"
"Not really" he shrugged, smirking with confidence "I just know you that well"
She laughed at his words but there was a glint in her emerald-green eyes that told him she was mulling over everything, deciding her next step. "Because you were basically my twin in my previous life." she said slowly as if she was testing the words in her mouth "A life where I was the Immortal Witch, and I was family with Original Vampires."
Kol leaned into the armchair, smiling in a silent challenge at her. "Is there a question in there somewhere?" he dared her because he knew she had questions. He could practically see them in her eyes.
"You know me too well." his sister snorted, shaking her head "It's not even funny."
"I can pretend if you want." he offered "But I don't think you do… I think you're unsettled by all these revelations, and you got no idea how to deal with this, but I also think you're curious about me, and our family, and there's a part of you that wants to take a leap of faith with all this and see if you land on something even greater than what you had yesterday."
His sister stared at him for a long, long moment before she exhaled and nodded. "I have a lot of questions."
"I'm immortal, sister dearest." he smiled "I got all the time in the world."
"Let's start with immortality." she suggested, leaning on her seat in his direction "Everyone knows the Immortal Witch lived for centuries, forever young and powerful. How does that happen? How does a normal wand-wielder witch end up immortal?"
Kol considered her question carefully – going over his memories at a fast pace in his mind and selecting the ones that would clear up things better for her – before answering. "Immortality is not the correct word for what you were." he started, putting his cup back on the table "For all intents and purposes you were human, vulnerable to any injury and common illness like any other human in the world. But your age was frozen in time because it was bound to our immortally."
"Your immortally?" she inquired, tilting her head to the side in a familiar gesture as she analyzed his words "You mean the immortality of the Original Vampires?"
He nodded. "We were human once too, I told you that. And when we were turned into vampires without our choice or consent." he paused, fighting back the anger that was always present when he thought of what his mother had done "We were turned by our mother, a very powerful Wiccan witch who knew a little too much about dark rituals and spells… But to do a ritual that would break every law in nature and create a new magical creature, she needed a lot of magic, much more than she had at her disposal. So, she used the magic of a very, very powerful witch to fuel the ritual, almost killing her in the process, and in doing so she bounded the witch to us, frizzing her age in the process."
"So, my own aunt tried to kill me?" For some reason, she seemed more amused than horrified.
"She helped kill all of her children." he shrugged his shoulders with forced indifference "I wouldn't take it too personally. Mother was insane and didn't particularly care what she needed to sacrifice to get what she wanted."
His sister smiled dryly. "Sounds like I am lucky to not know her in this life."
"She's dead, has been dead for almost as long as we have been vampires." he confirmed without caring too much about it "And, honestly, the world is a better place without her,"
"Talk about mummy issues." she deadpanned.
He couldn't help it; he threw his head back and laughed. Delighted once again to have her back in his life. "You should hear about my daddy issues."
"An immortal family full of drama and issues, sounds like fun"
"You've got no idea" he snorted, smiling.
Her eyes were shining in mirth and the smile on her lips was real, and he knew then that she wouldn't need her memories to fit right in with the rest of their family. She would fit right in from the moment she met them again, just like she had fit with him since the moment they had seen each other again.
He still wanted her to remember, of course. But that was because he was selfish like that.
"I still got a lot more questions." she said after a moment, picking up her cup of tea and taking a sip "Lots and lots of questions."
"And I have told you already, I got all the time in the world to answer everything you want to know."
His sister nodded with a smile, lifting her cup, and then freezing completely for a long moment. And then she was getting to her feet with an expression of alarm. "I need to go."
"What's happening?" Kol asked, getting to his feet at vampire speed.
She didn't give him a response immediately, staring at him with an intensity that surprised him, as she seemed to be searching for something in him. And then, finally, she spoke. "I think my children are in trouble."
Kol froze, remembering Teddy's smile and bright, blue hair, and he considered the possibility of losing his nephew when he just found him. And he didn't need to think before he spoke next. "Take me with you. I'll help you get them home safe."
"…I believe you." she declared, extending her hand towards him, a hand he didn't hesitate to take.
A second later, the familiar sensation of disappearing engulfed him, and he was transported alongside her to a small clearing deep in the woods, where a shabby-looking trailer rested directly in front of them. "There are three people inside the trailer." he informed her immediately, extending his senses around them "And six wolves in different points of these woods. Though they're too far away to hear us unless we cause a ruckus."
She nodded, not questioning him.
He froze a second later, starting to feel the familiar and burning need to kill something. "Teddy is inside the trailer." he told her, having detected the now familiar feeling of his magic "And I smell the blood of different people in there, lots of it."
His sister's expression turned thunderous in a way that promised murder in the imminent future, and she didn't waste a second opening the door of the trailer with a small wave of her hand, marching inside with Kol hot in her heels.
A trio of voices called, sounding deeply relieved.
In front of him, his sister had frozen once more, staring in horror at the scene inside the trailer, her eyes going from Teddy and Tyler Lockwood, who was chained and injured and bleeding on the floor, to Caroline Forbes, who was chained inside a cage and had all the signs of having been tortured.
She took a deep breath and said, completely serious. "Heads are going to roll tonight… Kol, get Caroline out of there." she ordered, advancing in the direction of the two boys and waving her hands to free them of their bounds.
"Right away." he moved quickly to the cage, noting with interest that the bars had vervain on them before he put his hands on them and rip them apart with ease. That done, he ignored the wide-eyed baby vampire and ripped the chains in her hands "You're free, blondie."
"Thank you" she murmured, getting to her feet on unsteady legs.
"No problem" Kol shrugged, turning towards his sister and nephew, intent to make sure he was alright. Teddy was on his feet, supported by the Lockwood kid – whose healing had kicked in as soon as his sister had taken out the bullet with wolfsbane from his leg – and his sister was hovering over them both, checking their injuries "He will need several potions to get back on top shape." he told his sister, making the list of each of them in his head, even as he promised to deliver torture followed by a bloody death for everyone involved in this.
Nobody hurt his family and got away with it.
"I know" his sister answered, lips pressed on a firm line "I'll ask Kreacher to get them as soon as we get home."
"No need" he shook his head "I've all the potions he needs in my temporal apartment in the city, I'll get them for him."
His sister sent him a quick smile – and they both ignored the curious eyes of the three other occupants inside the trailer, who were following their conversation with rising curiosity – before turning in the direction of the blonde vampire, scanning her from head to toe. "Are you alright, Care? Any death-threatening injuries?"
"Nothing a hot bath won't fix." the blonde answered with a smile that even he, who didn't know her, could tell was fake.
But instead of saying anything about that, his sister sent the blonde an understanding smile. "Then we better get you all home"
"That would be great" the blonde said, her smile more genuine this time.
A noise in the distance made him turn slightly to the side. "Are we killing the wolves now or later?" he asked his sister "Because some of them are getting closer"
"Now sounds pretty good" she decided, her eyes shining with the need for blood and death.
"Excellent" he grinned, marching out of the trailer, and hitting the exterior of it with all his strength, denting the thing and alerting every supernatural being around of his presence.
"Subtle" his sister commented when the werewolves started appearing.
"That was never my forte"
"I can see why" she agreed, nodding. "You take the ones on the left?"
"Consider it done"
The werewolves never stood a chance.
The clearing soon turned into a bloodbath as they systematically killed every single wolf on sight. And it felt good to fight with his sister by his side once more, to rip hearts apart while she moved around him with perfect coordination, casting curses and killing the werewolves with an ease that spoke of experience.
In no time at all, they were standing around a small pile of bodies.
"That was fun" he smiled, widely "We should do it again soon"
She laughed. "Somehow, the fact that you enjoy killing doesn't surprise me in the least."
"It's because you're getting to know me." he told her with a wink.
Their little moment was interrupted by the Lockwood kid, who was staring at them wide-eyed alongside Teddy and the baby vampire from their position by the door of the trailer.
"I'm sorry" the werewolf said, slowly, looking directly at him "But who are you again? And why are you here?"
Kol opened his mouth, ready to respond, but Teddy beat him. "His name is Kol" he said, sending a smile in his direction "We met him earlier today. I didn't know he was a vampire but he's nice."
"Seriously?" his sister demanded, turning towards him to give him an exasperate look.
"In my defense, it was a coincidence I bumped into him." he told her, shrugging his shoulders with innocence.
"That still doesn't answer my question." the Lockwood kid insisted.
There were a lot of ways he could have answered his questions, most of which would have sated their curiosity and not told them anything about his connection with Aria. But he wouldn't have been him if he did that. After all, he did love causing trouble.
"My name is Kol Mikaelson" he announced, smiling with mischief "I'm one of the original vampires and Aria's brother."
In the instant Elijah appeared in the house, eyes shining with something he couldn't identify and demanding to talk with them in the study right away, Klaus knew something had happened.
And that surety only grew when, instead of telling them anything, Elijah chose to pace along the length of the study, not looking at them.
"What happened, Elijah?" Finn demanded with a frown "Why are you here?"
There was a long pause, and Klaus didn't miss the way Elijah's eyes went in his direction before he looked quickly away.
"What are you not telling us, Elijah?" he pressed with a scowl, starting to get irritated "It's obvious is something important or you wouldn't have returned…. Is it Ingrid? Something happened to her?" he demanded, as a tendril of worry grew inside of him at the very thought.
Ingrid had to be alright. She had to. Thinking otherwise would do nothing but drive him insane.
At his words, Elijah finally stopped moving and turned in their direction. "No, everything is fine with Ingrid." he assured them "But something did happen… Earlier today Kol and Rebekah figure out Ingrid's real identity."
"That's wonderful news" Finn proclaimed, smiling "That means we can all go to Mystic Falls now"
"It's excellent news." Klaus agreed, staring at Elijah with narrowed eyes "Which made me wonder why you are so on edge."
Elijah took a deep breath, turning to look directly at him and ignoring Finn completely. "I have to tell you something." he said, face serious "And I need you to promise me you'll stop and think before you do anything."
"That's not the kind of promise I like to make." Klaus declared, shaking his head.
"Please, Niklaus." Elijah pleaded "… It's something related to Ingrid, and it's very important."
In his head, he cursed his brother for knowing what to say to make him do something he would not normally do. Because they both knew he would do anything and everything for Ingrid.
"Fine." he conceded "I promise to stop and think through whatever is that you need to tell me."
Elijah smiled, visibly relieved. "Ingrid's name in this life is Aria Dorea Potter." he announced solemnly "And she is the mother of an eleven-year-old child."
And for a long time after that, there was only silence.
So, what do you guys think?